February 19, 2020

Recommendation and Review: UnChristian America: Living With Faith In A Nation That Never Was Under God by Michael Babcock

Interesting fact: Michael Babcock teaches humanities at Liberty University and has written a first class book saying the church’s emphasis on the culture war instead of the Gospel was a mistake.

Interesting fact: Even though Babcock is a creationist (a minor point in this book,) I haven’t read anyone who has put the errors of evangelicalism in its focus on the culture war more clearly or persuasively. Stereotypes fall apart in this book.

Interesting fact: Babcock is obviously an admirer of Jerry Falwell and deeply committed to the mission of America’s largest fundamentalist university, but he does a five-star job describing the quixotic ambitions of Falwell, Ralph Reed and many other culture warriors.

I’ve had Michael Babcock’s book, UnChristian America, on my review pile for months, but I never really wanted to get into a political book. After all the fireworks over CEC, I thought it might be a good time to see what Babcock had to say.

I was pleasantly surprised to find in Babcock’s book almost exact statements of my own views on the church, the place of the Gospel, the errors of the evangelical culture war and the mission of the church in an aggressively secular culture.

(Babock makes the first chapter available, but trust me, the good stuff is well into the book.)

My only complaint is that some of these sections were too short, while some of the detailed history of the Religious Right were a bit long.

Babock does one service for many IM readers: He demolishes, with Biblical and historical weapons, the entire idea of America as a “Christian nation.” You won’t find a better discussion of the subject, and coming from an LU professor, that’s a sign of enormous change in the evangelical landscape.

A very interesting and informative book, especially appropriate for those interested in the history of recent evangelical political activism. Essential reading on the “Christian nation” heresy.

Comments

  1. I am looking forward to this read. The best book I have read on the “Christian nation” heresy is Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd based on his sermon series “The Cross & The Sword” that sent 1,500 out his church door. Claiborne’s “Jesus For President” hits many of the same chords and goes a bit further.

    BUT I’m glad to see someone from “the right” bringing clarity and correction to this heresy as well. Boyd and Claiborne often get slapped with the “liberal” label when they highlight this blurring of the Kingdom of God with the political right.

    Will Babcock’s argument get a wider reading from evangelicals than Boyd and Claiborne? How does his argument differ?

    Have you read “Myth”, Michael? Thoughts? Comparisons?

  2. Interesting. This really is a change. When touring Mount Vernon, there was a group of students and a professor from Liberty U having an outdoor discussion. The emphasis of the lecture was how the founding fathers were Christian and how the founding principles of the country were Christian. Later, a guide at Mt. Vernon, pulled us aside and told us the other side of the story. Clearly the historical data shows that the majority were deists.

  3. Some founders were Christian, some were deist, some we don’t know enough about. We don’t need to worry about the founders to look around and see the US isn’t a Christian nation now.

    What does he say about abortion? If I was king of Christians, we would still be protesting abortion and voting pro-life, but we’d make the same arguments humane society and tree huggers make. In my view, abortion is no more a religious issue than murder or robbery is.

  4. I did read “Myth.” I agreed with him. Douglas Wilson pretty much destroyed the book in a review series at his blog.

  5. “Interesting fact: Even though Babcock is a creationist (a minor point in this book,) I haven’t read anyone who has put the errors of evangelicalism in its focus on the culture war more clearly or persuasively. Stereotypes fall apart in this book.”

    Could you explain this statement? I have a hard time seeing how someones views on creation would hinder them from a proper critique of evangelicalism.

    Also aren’t all Christians creationists of some stripe; whether they be young earth, old earth, intelligent design, and even those who hold to a form of theistic evolution?

  6. Steve Newell says

    Sounds like Mr. Babcock may be using Luther’s theology of two kingdoms to explain the difference between the “kingdom of the right” (the church) and the “kingdom of the left” (society) without realizing it.

  7. Church History teaches us a lot of things, and one is that Christians with political power very often come to look like the world.

    I know that it seems counter-intuitive to us. We want to use the power for good, to remold America after our values. Very often we end up looking very un-Christlike.

    What does it mean to be servants of the Servant? What does it mean to have Christ’s values and priorities?

    I know that some would ask the question; “What happens when Christians become very prominent in society or become the ‘majority'”?

    I would ask first of all “Is it really true that the majority of the population are believers?” and second I would say that we are to be Christ-followers no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

    I really appreciated imonk’s comments on his last post concerning the salary and lifestyle of Christian teachers/profs. That kind of mindset, if it is modeled after Jesus will change a lot more about us then just how we spend our money.

    imonk, I greatly appreciate the Christo-centric tone and focus of your posts. I believe as much as we can we have to stop filtering Jesus through the American sieve.

    Thanks and God bless

  8. Dan Allison says

    Sure, all of this is true. So are books like “unChristian” and some of the stuff by Tony Campolo. Why do I have the nagging sense that somehow it’s all disingenuous and aimed at abandoning our commitment to unborn children, aimed at conceding on abortion? I agree with most of what you write, Michael, and most of what you recommend (by linking us to it), but my deep feeling is, Hey, we have to find some way to stand up for these babies, or what good, really, is our witness?

  9. Have you read America’s God by Mark Noll? It’s one of the best books I’ve read on how American Christianity developed in a unique direction, as much influenced by the secular values of the enlightenment and republicanism (little “r”) as vice versa. This book really made a lot of the puzzle pieces fall into place for me.

    http://www.amazon.com/Americas-God-Jonathan-Edwards-Abraham/dp/0195182995/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237561199&sr=1-1

  10. As an alumnus of Liberty University, I will definitely read this book. My disillusionment with evangelicalism started, ironically enough, while I was a student there 20-odd years ago. Somehow seeing it all up close & in living color completely changed my perspective.

    Another book written by a former LU professor is “Blinded by Might” by Ed Dobson and Cal Thomas. This was an early attempt to dismantle the Christian political machine; good read, but it doesn’t get quite as far into the subject as “Unchristian America” sounds. There were many broken-hearted students on campus when Ed Dobson left for Grand Rapids.

  11. I, too, caught the import of your paragraph:
    Interesting fact: Even though Babcock is a creationist (a minor point in this book,) I haven’t read anyone who has put the errors of evangelicalism in its focus on the culture war more clearly or persuasively. Stereotypes fall apart in this book.

    I had picked up from one of your earlier comments that you probably consider all creationists to be uneducated, deluded simpletons. So if your stereotype was damaged by this book, that truly is a good outcome.

    I was for 15 years a biology prof at Liberty and helped build the Museum of Earth and Life History there. I’m also a member of the Creation Research Society (http://creationresearch.org/), an organization of folks with advanced degrees in science, medicine, and engineering who consider the evidence for supernatural creation to be superior to that for naturalistic evolution.

    Lane

  12. >…you probably consider all creationists to be uneducated, deluded simpletons.

    No, that’s a stereotype of Christians who aren’t creationists.

    I consider creationists to be mostly wrong. That’s all.

    Within the Christian family, I consider many of them to be intolerant of other Christians and I deplore their efforts to make YEC a first oder issue of Christian unity.

    peace

    ms

  13. >Why do I have the nagging sense that somehow it’s all disingenuous and aimed at abandoning our commitment to unborn children, aimed at conceding on abortion?

    Babcock is pro-life.

    Are you basically saying that everyone who doesn’t buy the whole culture war is actually a closet pro-abortion supporter?

    What does “Stand up for these babies” mean? I can name twenty ways to have a pro-life witness, and 18 of them are considered unimportant by almost every pro-lifer I know.

    “Nagging sense” = reasonable inference?

    ms

  14. ProdigalSarah says

    You don’t need to read any further than The Constitution to understand that the US is NOT a Christian nation.

    From Amendment I
    …Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    From Article VI –
    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    We should be eternally grateful that we do not have a state religion.

    Whether or not the founders were Christian is not the issue. They had the foresight to realize that one’s choice whether to worship or how to worship should be a personal decision, not one to be mandated or limited by government.

    …no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… says it all.

    Even if every single citizen in the US was a Christian, we would not be a Christian nation. We would still be a nation free to choose Christianity, so long as we still respected our Constitution.

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Could you explain this statement? I have a hard time seeing how someones views on creation would hinder them from a proper critique of evangelicalism. — RP

    Probably the fact that Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles (THE Litmus Test of Whether You Are REALLY A Christian) has seriously wrecked the credibility of anybody with “views on creation” once they address anyone outside the four walls of the Kentucky Creation Museum. The amount of Invincible Ignorance you get with YECs is right up there with the callers when Art Bell opens up the phone lines around 3 Ayem.

    (And don’t tell me about Intelligent Design (TM). That heir to a 400-year Christian philosophical tradition got hijacked into being just the latest coat of camouflage paint for YEC Uber Alles. Culture War Without End, Amen…)

    And once your credibility has been wrecked, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve done a “proper critique of evangelicalism.” Anything you say will be considered the ravings of a fringe lunatic.

    My disillusionment with evangelicalism started, ironically enough, while I was a student there 20-odd years ago. Somehow seeing it all up close & in living color completely changed my perspective. — CJ

    “Nobody should see laws or sausage being made.”
    — Otto von Bismarck

  16. Michael’s article in current issue of Alernet.org

    When you get a chance drift over to http://www.alternet.org/ These folks picked up Michael’s ” collapse” article.

    Check out the responses.

  17. ProdigalSarah says

    Of course our nation has been shaped by Christians and Christian tradition, but it has also been shaped by the traditions of all the various groups that settled here.

    If Christianity ever becomes the minority view in this country it will be because Christians have failed to convey The Good News in our homes, our communities and churches.

    When enough Christians no longer understand why they are Christian, Christianity could become a minority view. But this has noting to do with our Constitution or whether or not we are a Christian nation. The reason will be that too many churches have become about everything but The Good News.

  18. Okay, ignorant foreigner jumping in feet first, but something about your shout-out looking for Evangelical Untouchables and the list of representative denominations got me thinking, Michael.

    Could the committment to the ‘culture wars’ be in part, or one reason for it at least, in that this seemed like a clear-cut cause around which everyone could gather? That the range of opinions, doctrines, and choices under the Evangelical banner was so wide and so splintered that there was no common theological distinctive everyone could agree on, but everyone could agree about the flag or the Constitution or keeping “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or whatever?

  19. ProdigalSarah says

    1Correnthians 2:1,2 “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

    Never mind about a Christian nation. When the loudest or most often heard message from Christianity is anything other than this we dilute the message. Dilute enough and there is no meaningful message.

  20. “Interesting fact: Babcock is obviously an admirer of Jerry Falwell and deeply committed to the mission of America’s largest fundamentalist university, but he does a five-star job describing the quixotic ambitions of Falwell, Ralph Reed and many other culture warriors.”

    I’m intrigued by how Babcock can remain an admirer of Falwell, be deeply committed to that university’s mission, yet still call the church’s choice of culture war over gospel a mistake. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it sounds like he’s walking a very fine line. I saw Falwell strictly as GOP operative. Maybe I ought to read this book to see how Babcock does it.

  21. Michael: while I share this sentiment

    Within the Christian family, I consider many of them to be intolerant of other Christians and I deplore their efforts to make YEC a first oder issue of Christian unity.

    I would be careful about painting with too broad a brush. I appreciate your past statements that seem to indicate you realize that educated and godly believers can hold (and self-evidently DO hold) a variety of opinions and theologies on this issue.

    I’m definitely with Lane and others in affirming that one can love science, education, and modern positions and still be some kind of creationist. My appeal to all is to spit out Dawkins Drink: creationist does not equal willfully ignorant or against education and progress. We just find Darwins’ theory (in the MACRO sense) thoroughly unconvincing.

    As Michael has pointed out, not worth dividing over, but lets respectfully agree to disagree.

    Greg R.

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy — “Seeing the sausage made” was probably the best thing to happen to me spiritually; it started stripping away the extra stuff (believing in Jesus And). I happen to be a YEC Christian, but I don’t make an argument of it. First, I don’t see in Scripture that it’s a requirement of salvation; second, arguing about that issue strikes me as rather like arguing over who built the house while it’s burning down around your ears.

    As far as ID theory, you’re right — that’s just smoke and mirrors. If the “power” that created the universe has a mind or is like a mind, then ID is definitely a religious view; if it doesn’t, then it’s just another form of evolution.

  23. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    You don’t need to read any further than The Constitution to understand that the US is NOT a Christian nation. — Prodigal Sarah

    More accurately, it was a nation whose founders (even the Deists and Enlightenment types) still included some Christian influence.

    Years ago, when trying my hand (unsuccessfully) at fantasy role-playing game design, I noticed a phenomenon: The best person to write rules on a particular aspect (like combat damage or skills or equipment list) is NOT the “Expert” on the subject. The best person is someone One Step Removed from the Expert (TM), still knowledgable about the subject yet not immersed in it as the Expert (TM) is. Because the immersed Expert (TM) will go into microscopic detail and complexity about His Own Expertise to the detriment of everything else.

    And the Founding Fathers (as a group) were One Step Removed from Christian Theonomy, where they could understand and incorporate the features without bogging down in Insider’s detail.

    If the Constitution was written for “A CHRISTIAN (TM) NATION”, it probably would have mutated into something similar to those of Islamic Republics (written by Imams who are Insider Experts in Islamic Law) with much the same results, micromanaging everything in the name of Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice.

    I happen to be a YEC Christian, but I don’t make an argument of it. First, I don’t see in Scripture that it’s a requirement of salvation… — CJ

    I am definitely NOT a YEC. (Theistic Evolutionist with Special Dispensation for “ensoulment”, as per my Church’s current policy statements on the subject.) Problem is, too many Christians have made YEC THE Litmus Test of your Salvation. Along with Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist and Culture War Without End, Amen.

    As far as ID theory, you’re right — that’s just smoke and mirrors. — CJ

    The thing is, ID per se can trace descent from the “Natural Theology” meme which influenced Western science from the 17th to 19th Centuries and was probably responsible for Western science in the first place — the idea that God was rational and had created a rational cosmos which worked according to law, not whim. And that studying this “Natural Revelation” (through science) would be “discovering/thinking God’s thoughts after Himself”. Not science per se, but an underlying philosophical rationale for science.

    THAT was the intellectual heritage of the original Intelligent Design ideas.

    Contrast this heritage and history with the “Intelligent Design (nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean)” that the term has come to mean today — just another weapon in the Culture War fight for YEC Uber Alles.

    It’s like when Stephen Jay Gould found out that “Natural Selection” was used (in so many words) to justify Naziism (in the memos and minutes of the Wannsee Conference); i.e. the perversion of the idea.

  24. Headless Guy: sorry to go on about what is obviously a tangential issue to this post, but this comment bugs me

    (And don’t tell me about Intelligent Design (TM). That heir to a 400-year Christian philosophical tradition got hijacked into being just the latest coat of camouflage paint for YEC Uber Alles. Culture War Without End, Amen…)

    Yes , it’s used that way by many, but this is a gross caricature of the thought and movement. I’ve read enough of your posts to know that you are well read enough to know better. I’m not saying this to convince you of any view (yes, mine is old earth ID), but pushing ID into a caricature throws YOUR credibilit under the bus, for me. I’ve been around many ID folk who agree that much of what the YEC camp produces is fluff and fish-wrap. My local chapter of science geek apologists, Reason to Believe includes ZERO young eathers (last I checked) You are just stumbling into the same kind of ditch that many christians stumble into regarding evolution: gross overstatement and caricature.

    As thinking people, we can do better. And by better, I don’t mean sign up en masse to Discovery Institute, but at least describe groups and views accurately.

    thanks for enduring my afternoon rant.
    Greg R.

    PS: I have heard, in person, a nationally known YEC’r tell the group I was with that to not accept his brand of YEC was to cast serious doubt on that person’s salvation….so I’m sympathetic to fighting that kind of excess….but not with another brand of excess.

  25. Richard Hershberger says

    >>…you probably consider all creationists to be uneducated, deluded simpletons.

    >No, that’s a stereotype of Christians who aren’t creationists.

    >I consider creationists to be mostly wrong. That’s all.

    >Within the Christian family, I consider many of them to be intolerant of other Christians and I deplore their efforts to make YEC a first oder issue of Christian unity.

    Oddly enough, change the topic of creationism to intolerance of homosexuality and I could have written just this.

  26. Richard:

    I think you make a good point.

    I do believe marriage is first order issue, btw. That would probably be the biggest area of controversy.

    ms

  27. ProdigalSarah says

    Headless Unicorn Guy

    Could you please recommend reading material on the origins of ID? I’d like to read more because my own negative opinion is based on current use of the concept. I think it is a mistake to attempt to explain God through science.

    I find myself going back to 1Kings 19:11, 12 … Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

    Science can explain seismic activity, storms, volcanoes. But how can science construct an experiment to explain the gentle whisper?
    My feeling is that those who want ID taught in schools are making a terrible mistake. If it is taught in science class it must be held to the same criteria. I do not believe that God can be dissected.

  28. Just for Quix says

    @SSC — I’m not a YEC by any stretch nor even an IDer. Nevertheless I recommend you don’t answer dogmatics with another form of it by expanding the theory of evolution _by natural selection_ to attempt a certain answer of the uncertain mechanism(s) of abiogenesis.

    I’m not playing games with what “theory” means, either, by saying that, as I think a mechanism of evolution is likely a good string of inquiry and explanation. But a sympathy toward the scientific method and the establishment’s dominant paradigm does not necessitate that Materialist Positivism trump in the realm of philosophy and faith, including abiogenesis. Let’s be clear the evolutionary theory is that _natural selection_ is the mechanism of of micro and macro evolution, and while that theory is HUGELY useful, it is not without its limitations in the biological realm from which it originated and INCREDIBLY stretched (as far as we are demanding dogmatic certainty) in the realm of abiogenesis.

    If you want to keep ID out of the realm of science curricula you have a friend in a believer such as myself. But don’t presuppose all we opponents of ID or YEC march (or even MUST MARCH) to the drumbeat of Positivist folks like Dawkins.

  29. Just for Quix: you wrote

    If you want to keep ID out of the realm of science curricula you have a friend in a believer such as myself. But don’t presuppose all we opponents of ID or YEC march (or even MUST MARCH) to the drumbeat of Positivist folks like Dawkins.

    touche….and we have a deal if you agree that ID folk, like myself, do not walk in lockstep to (fill in your favorite fundamentalist, YEC-or-GAWD-HePP-YEW, fire breather)

    my point is that these kind of stereotypes and caricatures work BOTH ways, and seem to me to be MUCH less than accurate and helpful.

    ProdiagalSarah: you didn’t ask me, so blowthis off if you want, but I’d recommend William Dembski’s anthology of essays (various authors) entitled “Uncommon Dissent” or Philip Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial”. end of commercial

  30. Just for Quix says

    @ gregr: fair enough. ID can be a nuanced position, for sure. I am more an opponent more within the realm where it becomes a proposed mandated science curricula perspective, than on philosophical and faith grounds. And in a “classical” pre-ID sense, like others have spoken of earlier in this thread, I am not only quite supportive of it appearing within philosophical studies, but think a good science and humanities crossover curriculum could wonderfully encompass and healthfully contextualize “both” (read: multiple contradictory) perspectives. Regretfully, the latter is not likely to ever happen in public High School education. (Or for that matter, at many Christian private schools I have experienced.)

    Walls seem to help us all to ‘get along’ better.

  31. Thanks for the book recommendation. I don’t know that I’ll be reading it though. I’ve read ten or eleven such books already; I’m already sold on the premise; I can already make the arguments against patriotic idolatry. But the people who really need to read it are too busy practicing their idolatry, and when called upon to defend it, they try to change the subject to, “Don’t you care about the unborn?” or “Hurricanes aren’t caused by global warming; they’re caused by gay marriage!”

    …Or, in the case of the above comments, they get distracted by creationism.

  32. The problem with the “Christian right” (CR) was love of this world. They raised money from their political constituencies and refused to go in to the political wilderness over the very issues they heralded. And, for money, they continually lied about what was going on. They knew that Bush, even in 2000-2001, was going to advance the homo agenda (by quietly keeping Clinton’s executive order on “sexual orientation” in the federal civilian workplace in effect). Later, when Bush openly sent homo couplings as official state department ambassadors around the world (Romania, I think, was one), they said nothing. The legal acceptance of homosexuality is a highly significant spiritual issue which will grow in to a raging fire and ultimately destroy the U.S. Nevertheless the CR rationalized their support for Bush, especially in 2004, as “better than the alternative.” Thus they never told their followers the truth about Bush because their followers “could not take the truth” and would stop giving money if offended with the truth. And it would have cost Bush the election if people had been widely told the truth after Bush showed his hand. The idolatry of the CR was in their holding on to political power (so they thought) and their own “ministries” when events called for then to go in to the wilderness. If they had done so, they would have carried some spiritual authority in to the wilderness with them. Think Moses. And they would have found the Lord Himself in the wilderness. Think the burning bush. “Let us go to Him outside the city, bearing His reproach.”

  33. Walls seem to help us all to ‘get along’ better.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this….too true. I immediately thot of all the crazies on BOTH sides of this issue , actually this could be MAnY issues in the variety of culture wars, and we are all playing Robert Frost: “Good fences make good neighbors….” well, no one gets stabbed or shot, if that’s what you mean, but meantime we grow up not knowing each other.

    In the creation evolution discussion, sound bytes and cliches are usually cut and pasted together and we wage war against (take your pick: Godless evolution or Brainless anti-science creationism)

    As an aside, I will thank Michael Spencer and this blog in particular for shaking my paradigm, NOT that I am any less convinced about ID, but I’m much more willing to LIVE WITH the other viewpoints within the KINGDOM of God. The gospel compels me, usually kicking and moaning, to major in the majors, and as I’ve already said, I’m sympathetic to those who’ve had YEC crammed down there throat, or else. That does not spell “mature faith” to me.

  34. Curtis: thanks for the link to alter.net, but wow, was that hard to read or what ?? These folks are break dancing on my grave…meanwhile I’m doing my best Monty Python: ‘excuse me sir, but I’m really not quite dead yet….yes I’m feeling MUCH better, really….as they wheel my thin you-know-what out in an ox cart. Such passion against the church in general and ev’s in particular. I could only read about a dozen comments, out of well over one hundred offered. Whoa, boy, this will be an interesting century. Time to dust off “Foxes Book of Martyrs”.

  35. Dave Gonzales says

    The whole idea of “culture war” or no culture war is a red herring. Babies are killed by abortion. The most effective thing we can do to promote life is try to make abortion illegal. Everything else pales in comparison. If there is near zero chance to make abortion illegal in America or another country, then the next best thing is to get people to understand how wrong abortion is, and to get them to see that it should be illegal in a sane society.

    Helping pregnant women is great, but it is clearly #2 to this above.

  36. Dave,

    If we make abortion illegal, what do you propose as penalities? Who gets blamed, who gets punished?

    I would love to see abortion eliminated because there is NO need for it. No one abused, or any of the other many causes that women and men have to make that decision.

    But, punishing the victim is just as wrong.

  37. With respect to the abortion issue, we definitely shouldn’t stop trying to make abortion illegal, even if we have to do it incrementally. It’s not, strictly speaking, a religious issue, but it is one that our religion expects us to speak and act on. However, I’m with Anna A on this, and it is my firm belief that the only way to make abortion illegal in this or any country is to first make it unthinkable. That requires a change of heart before a change of law.

    We will NEVER change the law before we do that, and the rabidly anti-life crowd understands that VERY WELL. I also think we lose ground when we try to tie it specifically to a religious viewpoint TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. Don’t talk about “ensoulment” etc. to the GP because that just muddles the issue of when life begins. (Examples are Reformed and Conservative Judaism) This is an issue that RCs, Orthos, EVs, Orth Jews, etc. have to get together and hold our noses and be willing to work with people of vastly differing lifestyles and religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

    Remember that Jesus dined with tax collectors and prostitutes.

  38. So, to Dave G. I think making abortion illegal is NOT the most effective thing we can do to stop abortion, because frankly, it’s “pie-in-the-sky” thinking we can make it happen before we change peoples’ hearts.

  39. In the early 20th century, the Christian Right in the United States managed to get alcohol both made illegal and unconstitutional. But they never bothered to change people’s hearts first; they figured making it illegal would be all the moral impetus Americans needed to stop drinking.

    The consequence? Back-alley liquor, fortunes made providing it, cities and governments corrupted as they were encouraged to look the other way, and people killed as a result of consuming tainted alcohol. Marijuana prohibition is causing the same problems today.

    All of this because the people were not convinced that liquor warranted banning; and the bulk of the people are not currently convinced that marijuana—or abortion—warrants banning. Despite all the pro-lifers out there who want abortion gone, not enough of us want it to be illegal as well.

    It is so much easier to pass a law against it than it is to get the word out and convince people, one at a time. But the Christian Right prefers to pass a law.

    Anyone recall that this tactic was once used to spread the gospel? And how utterly hypocritical both Christians and the Church became as a result? The only folks who think it would still work obviously don’t know their history. Must’ve been reading the revised “Christian Nation” version of it.

  40. I’m not dogmatic on young earth vs old earth, but I don’t see how one can reconcile macro-evolution with Christianity’s presentation of God as a good, omnipotent and omniscient deity. If a God created death and suffering as the impetus for evolutionary advancement, that God is clearly evil and sin is no cause of death. Thus, no savior is necessary.

  41. >If a God created death and suffering as the impetus for evolutionary advancement, that God is clearly evil and sin is no cause of death. Thus, no savior is necessary.

    Have you ever read a book by someone who didn’t agree with that premise? I know the AIG/YECers are tenacious about this, but I’d challenge you to read a book on creation/evolution by a Catholic or an old earth Reformed author.

    Clearly, there are other ways to approach it. A distinction between death in rel to God and literal biological death is possible.

    It’s very hard to say one doesn’t believe in evolution and to say there was no death at the outset. A lot of design is based on it.

    But it’s not my field and I don’t want to argue the point. Just want to say there are many you don’t have that logical conundrum.

    You are saying God’s goodness depends on a turn of Biblical interpretation. Death entering the world is not a scientific statement in Romans 5, but a statement about redemption history.

  42. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Clearly, there are other ways to approach it. A distinction between death in rel to God and literal biological death is possible. — IMonk

    That’s an argument I brought up when the old GC list was melting down into continuous Creation-vs-Evolution flamewars. After which, I learned once more that “Any nail that sticks up gets hammered down. HARD.”

    But recently along the same lines, I heard somewhere on the Web that the original Hebrew of the Genesis “On the day you eat the fruit, you shall surely die” was more like “On that day… Death Will Touch You”. That “death entering the world” was more along the lines of “consciousness of mortality and Death” entering Adam & Eve. Can anyone out there (including Torah scholars) confirm that as a legitimate/plausible interpretation?

  43. Michael do you have a favorite in this area…??

    “….but I’d challenge you to read a book on creation/evolution by a Catholic or an old earth Reformed author.”

  44. If “the church’s emphasis on the culture war instead of the Gospel was a mistake” I wonder if it is also seen that the current emphasis on “global warming” in some churches is seen in the same context?? I would submit that that issue is every bit as political.