RSS

Category Archives: Religion

“Middle East Meltdown” Book Review by Tommy Davis

"Middle East Meltdown" Book Review by Tommy Davis.

 

Unsinking the Titanic: Repairing the Hole that is America’s Debt Dilemma – Part 1

by Providence Crowder

 The Problem

There is a war of ideologies being waged on the American political scene.  Those on the left and right sides of the political spectrum are simply unable to come to a viable compromise concerning prominent socioeconomic issues of today.  In the meantime, while the politicians in Washington fight, the director of the Congressional Budget Office—Douglas W. Elmendorf—warned in his 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook that the United States is headed towards the biggest economic downfall since World War II.  He testified:

Policymakers will need to increase revenues substantially as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches to keep deficits and debts from climbing to unsustainable levels.

The CBO reports that for 2011, the federal government faced a 1.3 trillion dollar budget shortfall—the third largest to date—continuing its trend since 1969 of spending more than it takes in.  Only in the years 2009 and 2010 were the deficits greater—those years produced the largest budget deficits in modern history.  Elmendorf recommended early action and more sacrifices “for the benefit of younger workers and future generations.”  Simply put, the U.S. economy is in BIG trouble!

America, the most prosperous nation in the world, is currently the biggest debt owner in the world.  This colossal debt is reprehensible and represents instability and insolvency to our lenders.  Our looming liabilities threaten to eliminate the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and the loss of this status would be catastrophic.  It would bring an instant devaluing of our investments, drastically drive up the cost of goods and services—hyperinflation—and create a radical change in American life as we know it.  All Americans would experience a significantly lower quality of life.  The idea of the American dollar collapsing should cause all Americans to take pause.

This Is What One Trillion Dollars Look Like

Jay Richards[1] explained that “Money has value only if trading partners believe it has value.  This is why currency quickly becomes stove fuel when people stop trusting it.”[2]  Our colossal debt is not the result of insufficient tax revenues because we are taxed at a level sufficient enough to pay for the necessary functions of government.  America’s problem is excessive and wasteful spending.  Any average American who has lived beyond his or her means could warn the federal government of the end result of its imprudence—reduce spending or risk losing everything.  At a whopping $13,561,623,030,891 of debt—according to the 2010 U.S. Treasury report—multiple years of deficit spending by the federal government has left our children to bear the burden of our irresponsibility and profligacy.  The interest alone on our nearly $14 trillion dollar debt make our meager attempts at debt solvency unrealistic.

The Cause

Many on the left, namely Democrats, choose to blame President George W. Bush for the economies troubles.  On the right, Republicans give President Obama the brunt of the blame.  Yet the administrations of both of these presidents, with their big spending and bailouts, and massive expansions of government have exacerbated the debt problem.  We also owe a huge debt of thanks to Democrat President, Bill Clinton, for our more recent recession and debt fiasco.  Back in 1995, the regulatory revisions made to the 1977 “Community Reinvestment Act” under the Clinton administration greatly weakened the housing market.  Initially the law was enacted to ensure that banks were fairly addressing the lending and banking needs of those people in low and moderate-income neighborhoods that they accepted deposits from.  Yet the Clinton administration’s 1995 revisions forced banks to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to people with little or no credit, and even people with bad credit—lending to these high risk borrowers under the guise of “the convenience and needs of the communities.”[3]

In other words, “if banks wanted to continue to indulge from the hand of government-created money and insurance (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), then they had to prove to government agencies that they were lending these indulgences to even the un-creditworthy in their community.”  The revisions to the Community Investment Act became a powerful mandate that reshaped lending practices.  This act was a recipe for economic disaster that the banks initially opposed because they didn’t want to be “forced” into bad lending.  Regardless, congress passed the initiative, alluring banks into lending big money to people with little or no credit.

To his credit, in 2003 President Bush attempted greater oversight of the two major government-sponsored lenders of the subprime, or risky loans—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—yet Democratic opposition shut his measure down, accusing Bush and the Republicans of all things, racism.  Shocking!  We know the end of this sad story—the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis led to the collapsing of a housing bubble that brought the banking and real estate industry to their knees.

To add insult to injury, the Federal Reserve Board’s response to the mortgage crisis was grossly irresponsible and unethical.  Wayne Grudem noted that “The Federal Reserve decided to pump reserves into the financial system by purchasing $1.2 trillion in assets, including $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities from companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac . . . leading to increased inflation and thereby robbing everyone in society of the value of their dollars and their contract.”[4]  Simply put, the government rewarded reckless and irresponsible behavior by loaning hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bailout the big banks and the mortgage agencies, with more than half of  the money going to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Economist Thomas DiLorenzo described that the current financial debacles are simply the “chickens coming home to roost after more than 30 years of progressive government interference and artificially deformed markets.”[5]  The current crisis is not a sudden or surprising occurrence, but the eventual result of salvation politics.[6]

No one is innocent in this scandal of magnificent proportions, not even the voters.  The recent political protest movement, Occupy Wall Street (OWL), self-righteously protest the “Wall Street” bankers and the “1%” of the rich.  Yet these crooks are the ones who knowingly elect politicians who extort money from others to subsidize irresponsibility and greed—they vote for big government.  OWL’s voted for crony capitalists who afforded political favors and preferential treatment for their friends at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Many of them voted for our current president, Obama.  He handed over a trillion dollars in taxpayer funds to bailout Fannie and Freddie, and the auto-industry and banks they now protest!

These OWL’s are the same who continue to vote for increased government spending on federally funded entitlements—the biggest debt busters of all.  Currently, the federal government is scrambling to fund its existing entitlements in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, retirement pensions, and welfare.  The funding of future entitlements is an even greater concern.  If the Federal Reserve continues the practice of pumping dollars into the system to keep up with government expenditures, Wayne Grudem asserts that “we can soon expect to see record high interest rates and/or inflation, coupled with the collapse of many entitlements.”[7] According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, entitlement spending as a percentage of GDP has now doubled that of U.S. spending on national defense.  An increase in entitlement spending and a decrease in spending on national defense, a core constitutional function of government, indicates clearly—our government’s priorities are misguided.[8]

Stay tuned for Unsinking the Titanic-Part 2, Ethical Implications.  Excerpt: “Spending of this sort is immoral; it is sure to hurt the poor and others who are dependent upon the government for their livelihood.  America’s reckless entitlement spending has baited many American’s into dependency and has promised future payments that won’t be worth the paper they are printed on.”

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Problem of Evil

by Dr. Tommy Davis  revdrtommydavis@gmail.com

There is an unavoidable dilemma that the world has had to contend with since the beginning of humanity.  It is clearly defined and noticeable, but there is little consensus as to its purposeful origin.  No suitable explanation of the origin of evil has ever been formulated.   The problem of evil is a reality that affects every segment of our society.  Natural evil concerns the devastation, suffering and loss caused by tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, fire, disease, famine, to name some; moral evils that reflects the underlying philosophy of the culture; and social evils, which deals with ethical relationships between humans.    As a metaphysical entity, evil is entirely opposed to good in nature and function.  Perhaps it is necessary to point out the person behind all the forces of evil.

One of the most misunderstood characters in the history of the world is Satan himself.  There are many assumptions concerning him.  Some people believe that he does not exist, and some believe him to be a powerless personality; and some people go to the far extremes and place the devil everywhere which gives him the status of omnipresence.  We will examine the Scriptures to see how the Bible describes the devil.  It is crucial that this subject matter be analyzed from a biblical perspective to dismiss the false assumptions and portray the reality of this spiritual being.

One need only to look around at the calamitous events that takes place daily in the world to notice that some form of adversary exists.  Hopefully we can conclude that all contributions of evil are a result of Satan’s fall from heaven.  It should also be noted that Satan does not desire to be identified as the culprit.  While he seeks to hide his identity, God rather exposes him!  Satan exists because God created him and later determined (as opposed to being good) that Satan was evil.

In the book of Ezekiel, Satan is described as being the most beautiful of angels.  The prophet wrote:  “ You were the anointed cherub who covers;  I established you; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:14-15 KJV).  Again, it is important to establish that only God can determine the nature of a thing.  During the week of creation, it was God who said that it “was good” (Genesis 1).  God alone reserves the right to determine all things (see Isaiah 45:7).

Satan, which means adversary, is mentioned quite often in the Bible.  He is referred to by every New Testament writer and cited at least 13 times by Christ Himself in the New Testament.  Satan has many names in Scripture.  He is called Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24), the deceiver (Rev. 20:10), the dragon (Rev. 12:7), a liar (Jn. 8:44), the accuser (Rev. 12:10), the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5), the ruler of darkness (Eph. 6:12), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), and Belial (2 Cor. 6:15).  What did Satan do that God would find iniquity in him? Most scholars agree that the prophet Isaiah records the fall of Lucifer.  He writes,

“How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut to the ground, You who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14 NKJV).

Lucifer was so beautiful and powerful that he wanted to usurp God’s authority.  Therefore, his chief sin was pride.  It is evil because God said it was.  The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).  Thus, as we see, Satan has characteristics that identifies with rationality and deceit.  Such actions are emulated by humans.  Our ignorance and rejection of the truth is contradictory to God’s standard.

Various perspectives have been formulated in an attempt to identify the origin of evil.  Dr. Norman Geisler wrote:

“Although every worldview has had to deal with the problem of evil, it is an especially acute problem for theism.  Of the three major worldviews, Atheism affirms the reality of evil and denies the reality of God.  Pantheism affirms the reality of God but denies the reality of evil.  Theism affirms the reality of both God and evil.  Herein is the problem; how can an absolutely good Being (God) be compatible with evil, the opposite of good?”[1]

In respect to Dr. Geisler’s quote, the major worldviews at least allows for the word “evil” to exist in their vocabulary.  Thus, those who would actually deny that evil exists still incorporate the term as a concept.  To be more clear, if the skeptics, who deny evil, really believe it does not exist, then they would not even indicate the term!  The moral wickedness that humanity experiences involve sickness, misery, self-centeredness, folly, and crime in revolt against God.  People who deny that evil exist often have complaints when they are offended!  Take for example, social evils, which can be identified as corrupt politics, drunkenness, cheating, and racial discrimination.  Do we redefine these problems, or call it what is— vice?

God is omnipotent (all powerful); omniscient (all knowing); and omnipresent (everywhere).  Since God is all powerful, evil can only exist at His pronouncement.  At some point in time when evil was brought forth, it had already taken its toll before mankind was created.  In Genesis 1:4-31, God had proclaimed at least seven times that what He created was “good.”   Why do the Scriptures record this?  There had to be an opposing idea—-something contrasting with good.   Since God is all knowing, He was aware of evil or there would have been little reason (logic) to make pronouncements by calling His creation good.  God is not subject to rules and regulations because he is God.  Therefore, even if God created evil, He would still be a just God.  This is a prerogative that we fail to attribute to an all-powerful God. He writes ALL the rules!  He is NOT subject to them!

When God created man, He gave him direct instructions and said to him: “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….” (Genesis 2:16-17a).  In his sinless position before God, Adam obeyed naturally.  Perhaps he asked himself what good and evil was.  One cannot be recognized apart from the other.  At this point, evil was a nonrepresentational perception.  Adam would only know “good” after the Fall.  Only God was aware of the distinction.  After the Fall, evil became a problem for mankind because the consequences was now physical (see Genesis 2:17b).  The aftermaths of sin now saturated the thoughts of humanity which influenced our desires.  The only antidote to such evil is the cleansing work of Christ.

In Ephesians chapter six, the Apostle Paul gives vivid illustration how we can guard against and overcome satanic influences.  In his letter to the church at Ephesus, he encouraged them to put on the whole armor of God;  not some of it, but all of the armor of God.  Paul wrote,  “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10).

It is significant to note how we go about doing this.  First we have to recognize that we are fighting a spiritual enemy.  After taking up the whole armor of God we have to resist Satan by taking a stand against him and receive the truth of God’s Word (v. 14).  Then, believers are instructed to “put on the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14).  This tells us that we have to be sure we believe in the righteousness that only comes through Christ alone.  We are justified and made righteous by grace through faith.  It is God’s Word that matters—not our presuppositions.

Believers are also instructed to have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace (v. 15).  Thus, we have to be ready at all times to present the Gospel. We have to make sure that we are feasting on the Word of God and be quipped to preach the Gospel.  Also, the shield of faith (v. 16) protects us from the satanic influences like doubt, discouragement, and the zodiac (false prophecies).  These are things that CANNOT penetrate our armor, but we will not lift our armor if we don’t recognize this as an attack (opposing ideas).  Wayne Grudem wrote, “In thinking about God using evil to fulfill His purposes, we should remember that there are things that are right for God to do but wrong for us to do: He requires others to worship Him, and He accepts worship from them.  He seeks glory for Himself.”[2]

Evil is real; and the effects of it will surround us whether we acknowledge it or deny it.  Since God is ALL powerful (omnipotent), ALL knowing (omniscient), and present everywhere (omnipresent), it is impossible for Him to be unrighteous because He is the One who wrote ALL the rules!  Whatever God says—GOES!  Good and evil exists because God defined the terms.


[1] Norman Geisler,  Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 219

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994) 329

 

Tags: ,

The Healthcare Question—America’s Mixed Bag

by Providence Crowder

What is Healthcare?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this healthcare question. And if I am honest with myself, I’d say that there is no easy fix. People on both sides of the debate, the right and the left, oversimplify the problem by debating whether or not healthcare is a “right.” Healthcare has been defined as the diagnosis, treatment, preservation and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans through services offered by the health profession (www.thefreedictionary.com). Good health is a desired physical and mental state; every person wants good health. But, through the passing time, lifestyle choices, accidents, heredity, and other factors, good health throughout life is not guaranteed. Even in receiving healthcare services, good health is not guaranteed.

In America, our liberty to make bad choices concerning our health has been costly. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other ailments are symptomatic of a free nation that is enslaved to its deadly habits (smoking, drinking, promiscuity, overeating, etc.). Yet, we Americans demand comprehensive AND low-cost healthcare services to aid us in regaining and maintaining good health when our lifestyles or other factors cause our health to fail us.

Identifying the Problem

Talks of rights are somewhat unproductive. When it comes down to it, everyone has a right to almost everything except to infringe upon the rights of others. So naturally, some will tout their right to healthcare services because “Everyone has a right to life and human dignity!” Others will say, “You absolutely have the freedom and the right to obtain healthcare services if you so choose, but not with MY money! You do not have the right to force me to pay for your healthcare services.” We must look beyond this talk of rights and look at the real issue: everyone wants good health and a quality of life. When a person’s health fails, no one, regardless of class or ability to pay, deserves opportunities for improved health over and above another. So here lies the problem: How do we in America help the most citizens obtain access to quality healthcare services regardless of class or ability to pay?

Looking at what we have already done, we have used free market, government control, and charity/volunteer based solutions within our current healthcare system. All have benefited some group of Americans in some way because each has some attractive quality about it. That is why all three have found their way into the current system. Yet, the system is broken and is in need of reform.

Finding a Solution

Among those who identify themselves as liberals, moderates, and conservatives, reforms have generally been sought using one of two solutions— greater government control or increased free market solutions. Besides these two, I suggest allowing volunteer agencies, such as charities and faith based initiatives, to play a greater role in the reform debates. They have not been excluded from the talks, but by and large, the other two have dominated the talks. Volunteer and faith based agencies were the leading healthcare services providers in this nation in times past, before talks of Medicaid and Medicare. They have advocated on behalf of the poor and those with no ability to pay from the beginning. They have ensured that the “least” in society have had access to quality care during a time when the government’s job was to govern. With greater support from local communities and government at all levels, we can encourage volunteer activity and contributions through a variety of means, including educational and tax incentives for volunteers, medical professionals, medical supply companies, etc. Faith-based and volunteer agencies can once again take a leading role in healthcare services in America.

Brief History of Public Health

The emergence and ideas of public health and health services are not new; they were birthed out of necessity. Without going into the whole history of public health, I will mention that epidemics such as the bubonic plague, influenza, smallpox, malaria, yellow fever and syphilis, were catastrophic events that helped move communities all around the world towards public health solutions. Governments, communities, and health boards struggled to find remedies for treatment, containment, and prevention. As well, great industrialization and an overall increase in urban living (largely due to the industrial revolution) have caused problems with the spread of germs and disease, and have caused great unsanitary conditions for people living in overcrowded areas. Again, communities and health boards responded by developing hygiene and environmental regulatory systems and public health laws. Because health maintenance is so wide-ranging, the health profession has become one of the largest and fasted growing professions in modern times.

Blessed are those who live in nations where healthcare professionals are abundant, because the people in these nations have greater access to treatment and medication that is often lifesaving. Poor nations struggle to give their citizens the safety net of services that are provided by wealthier nations. Because good health is so important, and the risk of accident, illness, or disease is high for all, healthcare insurance has become a viable solution for citizens in many nations to supplement the costs of receiving treatment and medication, should it be needed.

Market-Based Health Insurance: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

In capitalist societies, citizens have a variety of health insurance companies to choose from among those in the marketplace and these insurance companies offer a range of services. Because in the free market, competition drives down costs, citizens can often find low-cost coverage plans that are tailored to their individual or family needs.

Some argue that the capitalist model leaves too many people uninsured and unfairly reduces access to quality healthcare for the poor. They maintain that access to quality healthcare should not depend upon class or income status. For the uninsured, a trip to the hospital may push some into bankruptcy. For these individuals, trips to the emergency rooms ultimately drive up healthcare premiums after hospitals redistribute the costs of providing services to them (in America, federal law prohibits hospitals that participate in the Medicaid program from denying urgent care to the uninsured).

Additionally, greedy insurance companies take advantage of some citizens by denying coverage to some elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Opponents argue that Insurance companies should not be allowed to decide who lives and who dies.

Government-Run Health Insurance: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

In some socialist and communist societies, the government either provides a government run-option or is sole provider for healthcare services. Some argue that the socialist model ultimately leads to less access and poorer health services than in the capitalist model. Wayne Grudem has stated that “Government is never an efficient provider of economic goods because it does not have to face the competitive incentives of the free market . . . Federal government control of health care will inevitably mean a steep increase in costs, a decline in quality, a decline in freedom of choice, and a decline in the availability of certain kinds of medical care.” Additionally, “If a nation’s government controls health care, then some rationing system will be necessary to decide who gets treatments and who does not; and there will be widespread instances of denial of care; for a government simply cannot provide an infinite supply of care for everyone who asks for it.”

The current government-run healthcare systems in America, (Medicare and Medicaid) are expensive and highly problematic. According to a 2009 study done by National Center for Policy Analysis:

The 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports show the combined unfunded liability of these two programs (Social Security and Medicare) has reached nearly $107 trillion in today’s dollars! That is about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and 10 times the size of the outstanding national debt. The unfunded liability is the difference between the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees and what will be collected in dedicated taxes and Medicare premiums. Last year alone, this debt rose by $5 trillion. If no other reform is enacted, this funding gap can only be closed in future years by substantial tax increases, large benefit cuts or both . . . Medicare’s total unfunded liability is more than five times larger than that of Social Security. In fact, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit enacted in 2006 (Part D) alone adds some $17 trillion to the projected Medicare shortfall – an amount greater than all of Social Security’s unfunded obligations . . . More than one-third of the wages workers earn in 2054 will need to be committed to pay benefits promised under current law. That is before any bridges or highways are built and before any teachers’ or police officers’ salaries are paid.

Those figures are catastrophic! America simply cannot afford another government-run health care program; the costs to run the current programs are unsustainable. Doctors and healthcare professionals have already felt the pinch every time the government has reduced their reimbursement payments for services. Expanding government control of the healthcare industry is sure to make doctors, healthcare practitioners, individuals with chronic illnesses, high risk employment, and the elderly among the biggest losers. Opponents argue that the government should not be allowed to decide who lives and who dies.

Furthermore, the American government has not yet figured out how to provide a means for each citizen to receive basic needs such as adequate food, shelter, and clothing, so they lack credibility in promising the poor yet another entitlement that they cannot deliver on. With the billions of dollars spent each year fighting the War on Poverty, and with “free” money, housing allowances, and medical insurance provided for the poor, why has poverty worsened? Kenneth Blackwell has noted that “The Democrats War on Poverty has failed.” He then quoted a 1998 State of the Union address from Ronald Reagan:

My friends, some years ago, the Federal Government declared war on poverty, and poverty won . . . Today the Federal Government has 59 major welfare programs and spends more than $100 billion a year on them. What has all this money done? Well, too often it has only made poverty harder to escape. Federal welfare programs have created a massive social problem. With the best of intentions, government created a poverty trap that wreaks havoc on the very support system the poor need most to lift themselves out of poverty: the family. Dependency has become the one enduring heirloom, passed from one generation to the next, of too many fragmented families.

Again, government is never an efficient provider for goods and services as evidenced with government-run healthcare and other government-run programs.

Volunteer-Based Solutions: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Many nations have felt the moral obligation to care for its poor and sick. America is no different. American citizens by and large have agreed to have their earnings taxed for the purpose of providing some state and federally funded insurance for its poor and elderly (Medicare and Medicaid), but many warn that the government has overreached its constitutional authority in forcing some citizens to pay for the healthcare premiums of others.

Throughout most of America’s history, citizens of good conscience volunteered their time, money, and skills to build and work in hospitals and care centers for the purpose of caring for its sick, poor and elderly. They were the founding and leading providers of healthcare services in America! Christians in this nation built schools and hospitals and cared for men, women, and children of all races, classes, and cultural backgrounds. This was in response to the Christian call to “heal the sick” and “care for the poor.” The role of Christians in responding to a variety of human needs, especially those of the poor, has been marginalized in recent times by the broadening role of the American government. As noted in a recent article by Evangelical and Catholic Christians, “It is increasingly the case that wherever government goes religion must retreat, and government increasingly goes almost everywhere.”

Like government welfare, charity (another means of welfare) too has had some adverse effects. For those with no ethics of responsibility to self and community, charity alone may have the unintended consequences of removing the incentive for these individuals or families to save for instances of illness and make healthier lifestyle choices. It has had the effect of creating an entitlement mentality that cannot soon be reversed. Benjamin Franklin, on The Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766, noted:

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burden? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.

The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners.

President Franklin observed that too many provisions for the poor has had the adverse effect of creating dependent and irresponsible citizens.

Americans Will Decide

The wisdom of America is that the American people decide how they want to be governed. The healthcare safety net in America provided through the free market insurance companies, the abundance of hospitals and healthcare professionals, the volunteer agencies and free clinics, and the government subsidies for the poor and elderly make the United States healthcare system a mixed bag. Everyone agrees that reforms to the current system are needed. Ultimately, the American people will decide whether those reforms lead America towards more government control or towards a freer market; added with that choice, Americans would be wise to re-visit the reasoning and power behind volunteer and faith based initiatives to alleviate the debacle caused by the healthcare dilemma.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Abolitionism and the Evangelical Heritage

by Providence Crowder

Donald W. Dayton produced a remarkable historical summary of America’s evangelical[1] legacy in his work entitled, “Discovering an Evangelical Heritage.” This book provides compelling evidence that confirms “the Christian witness” has a powerful impact upon society when the gospel is put into action.  Unlike contemporary evangelicalism, which by and large evades questions of social responsibility,[2] Dayton sets out to prove that the evangelical heritage left by nineteenth century evangelicals such as Catherine Booth and Charles G. Finney demonstrated that the gospel and social responsibility were once intimately integrated.  He provides thrilling accounts of how the nineteenth century evangelical “abolitionists”[3] understood that to right societal wrongs, social injustice demanded a radical and Christian response.  The abolitionist movement was chiefly political and religious; abolitionists believed that slavery was a sin.  Through moral suasion, they set out to change laws in an effort to permanently abolish it.

Dayton revealed how many of the nineteenth century evangelicals joined in on the abolitionist movement and subsequently set the stage for the feminist movement; these activists rejected the governmental laws that legitimized slavery and oppressed women; they instead chose to submit a higher moral authority—God  as opposed to government.  Evangelicals were among the first to reject segregation in worship and ordain women in the ministry; their revivals bore a significant influence on social reform in America. 

Political Activism and Abolitionism in the American Evangelical Movement

Donald Dayton was successful in establishing that the marriage of politics to social responsibility was lived out in the lives of many evangelicals in the past and is a huge part of the American evangelical heritage.  Although the new trend in American evangelicalism, the “religious right,”[4] or the Christian conservative movement, shares much of the same vision for morality in government and society as did the nineteenth century evangelical abolitionists, I have observed that the religious right seems predominantly idealist and less reformist; some have taken to political activism.  Modern social concerns of the Christian conservatives include abortion, same-sex marriage, poverty, and socialism, but most evangelicals by and large avoid direct confrontation of the issues choosing rather to emphasize piety and personal conversion. Modern evangelicals by and large place an emphasis on the authority of Scripture and  ascertain that preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ supersedes the calls for social reform; their convictions are not determined by their social milieu but in the expression of faith that is uniquely connected to the person and work of Jesus Christ.[5]

Nineteenth century evangelicals’ “liberal” [6] theology, according to its critics, tended to ground its theology in human experience;’[7] they held a unique concern for social justice and civil rights in their plight against racism and slavery in America. On the contrary, the nineteenth century Christian social reformists would say that to not stand against the sin of slavery was unquestionably un-Christian.  These Christians submerged themselves into politics, joining themselves to the Republican Party, the anti-slavery party, to bring about morality in government, to change unjust civil laws, and ultimately abolish slavery. 

Evangelicals were labeled radicals because the opposed the establishment, the Democrat Party, and liberals because they sought to change laws that denied freedom and equality for blacks and women; they demanded justice for all Americans.  However, after the civil-rights era, the evangelical descendants of the nineteenth century failed to show the same concern for social reform as their ancestors, believing as Evangelist Billy Graham, “While some may interpret an evangelist to be primarily a social reformer or political activist, I do not! . . . My primary goal is to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”[8] During the post-civil rights era, liberalism in America took on various new meanings, more secular in nature.

Social Responsibility and Revivalism in the Evangelical Movement

Early on in the nineteenth century, Oberlin College, “a hotbed of radicalism,”[9] was a major contributor and advocate in the fight against slavery.[10] The school was founded on the principles of evangelist and revivalist Charles Grandison Finney, the “father of modern revivalism.”[11]  He suggested that the gospel had given men and women a social responsibility to shape society.  Finney believed that resistance to reform hindered revival and that he proclaimed:

Revivals are hindered when ministers and churches take wrong ground in regard to any question involving human rights . . . the church cannot turn away from (the slavery) question . . . Silence of Christians upon the subject is virtually saying that they do not consider slavery a sin.[12] 

Finney further believed that the Church is perjured and the Spirit of God departs from her if she refuses to speak out on the slavery issue.[13] 

Oberlin College, its students, and professors, became politically and socially committed to the cause of abolitionism.  Members of the Oberlin Colony left the conservative Whig party and joined in the Republican ideology to help push the antislavery agenda forward.[14] In most elections, “the Oberlin College voted solidly Republican.”[15]  Although these abolitionists used politics as a tool, the Oberlin members did not see abolitionism as a political plight but a moral obligation.  Rich businessmen Arthur and Lewis Tappan, as a moral obligation and “evidences of piety,” spent their lives and fortunes to support initiatives such the “Underground Railroad,” free churches,[16] and anti-slavery societies.[17] The Oberlin colony rejected fugitive slave laws[18] and saw civil disobedience as a necessary Christian response to laws that upheld slavery.[19]  Many were persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs.  One Oberlin prisoner was quoted as saying, “We belong to no modern school of politics or theology . . . but we belong to the school of the Fathers, who having been driven from their native land by the persecution of their government, taught their children that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.”[20]

Preaching the Gospel to the Poor in American Evangelicalism

Many conservatives during the nineteenth century believed that the Church should be less concerned with social issues and should “preach the Bible not politics.”[21]  Nonetheless, the evidence presented by Dayton suggested that social injustices such as slavery proved to be the most divisive issues in the nineteenth century Church.  The Methodist branch of Protestantism, for example, experienced a split; those with antislavery sentiments formed new branches.  Under the leadership of bishop Orange Scott, the Wesleyan Methodist Connection was born.[22] Combining “piety and radicalism”[23] these Methodists attacked the sins of the Church, insisted that Christians side with God and stop neglecting the poor, and called Christians to discontinue the corporate guilt of being silent on the issue of slavery—they set out on a mission to spread the gospel of abolitionism.  

Evangelicalism Today

 Dayton has noted that during the period after the Civil War, evangelicalism experienced a drastic decline in social reform—the sin of slavery had been abolished.[24] Since then, time has not faired favorably for evangelicalism.  Urbanization and industrialization complicated the revivalist reform vision and the emergence of biblical criticism, Darwinism, and new geological discoveries caused the troubled movement to lose its great vision for America that once led its fervor for social reform.[25]  Furthermore, the rise a premillennialist[26] eschatology[27] has “undercut the social reform of earlier years.”  The reversal in social reform is demonstrated in prominent and influential seminary schools who insist that Christianity was never designed to dismantle social institutions—their focus has shifted from reform and ethics to doctrine. [28] 

The poor response and sometimes outright opposition of the twentieth century evangelicals to the civil rights struggles of the 1950’s and 60’s are a clear indication of the detachment to the spiritual heritage once held of the evangelical to transform the world through reform.  Many evangelicals have seemingly forgotten its legacy and lost its appetite for social justice as they had when they stood firmly against slavery.  

My Review

One issue, even one as large as slavery, does not and should not define a Christian’s theology.  Jesus is the focus of the gospel message, not any one social evil or concern.  Nonetheless, the nineteenth century evangelical’s immense opposition to the cruel and inhumane treatment of enslaved blacks was certainly biblical.  They believed that all men were created in the image of God; no man should be permanently subjugated to another.  They agreed with the founders of this great nation in their declared independence from England that “all men were created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights by their Creator.”  Their care and concern for the poor and oppressed was consistent with the biblical teachings of Jesus Christ.   

Unfortunately, social activism in America is now largely a secular sport and the American government, not the Church, by and large provides free food, shelter, and clothing to the indigent; free legal counsel and work among prisoners; public schools and hospitals (none of which are really free); these were all ministries developed and voluntarily performed primarily by the Church.[29] In modern times, the government has taken to the business of providing a “gospel to the poor” and has perverted God’s message of justice.  Under the pretense of “equality” and “fairness,” the government has extorted its citizens through heavy taxation and burdensome legislation to fund “charitable” programs for the poor.  They have usurped the blessings associated with freewill giving and charity.

In reality, both the Church and the American government have done a great disservice to the poor.  Concerning the government, the political powers that be have convinced the poor that they don’t need God and they don’t need the Church, but they need the government to survive and to meet their needs.  The American government has failed the poor because they have done nothing in advising them towards godly and purposeful living, and many of their policies have done permanent damage by enabling the indolent poor to become dependent, lazy, and forego personal responsibility.  The government has also failed the people because they have ignored the power of community and voluntary giving.  The result has been increased class-warfare, strife, and covetousness among the people, and dependency of the perpetually poor upon the government.  Concerning the Church, she has failed the poor because she has not defended them against ungodly and oppressive governments; and she has willingly surrendered her ministry of helps for the sick, the elderly, the orphan, and the widow to a secular state who is more concerned with maintaining their dependency and allegiance through political manipulation than seeing their souls saved.

My Review:  Moving Forward in the Twenty-First Century

Although the notion of social reform in and of itself is a good thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ should not be replaced by the social gospel.[30]  There have been causes and movements throughout all times, there are many sins to confront (namely all of them), and there are many souls to be converted.  Christians should not dwell so much on social issues that they, as Justo Gonzalez has asserted, “become preoccupied with the existing social conditions” and forsake Christian evangelism and discipleship.  The Church’s mandate is to both preach the gospel AND stand against sin in the world.  Christians are both proclaimers of the good news to the lost and defenders of the poor and oppressed.

 Evangelicals have a responsibility to stand against sin and stand on the authority of Scripture as a framework in which to critique modern concerns.[31]  When the Church fails to do both, Satan, the god of this world, will step in with his own gospel and distort God’s truth.  For example, when the Church fails to speak out against the sin of abortion, it ceases to be a moral authority on the subject.  By their inaction and silence; by not proclaiming God’s truth and standing against it, the Church becomes irrelevant.  Satan is then given ample opportunity to persuade many souls to his cause.  

Trusting in God’s moral framework, or standard, in which to “judge” good from evil will prove to help Christians avoid the pitfalls of conforming to cultural norms that are counterintuitive to the gospel; this the abolitionists did when they opposed slavery although it was “legal” and acceptable to most of society at the time.  The twenty-first century looks bright for Christianity.  Today’s Christians should examine modern issues through the lens of Scripture and avoid worshipping the ideological gods of our modern day; Socialism, Capitalism, Communism, Marxism, etc.  We are the voice of truth and we are called to action, radical action; proclaiming the good news and standing against sin in the world.


[1]  The term “Evangelical” has been applied since the Reformation to the Protestant Churches by reason of their claim to base their teaching pre-eminently on the Gospel.  Revivals were a key element of their religious worship and practice.  In some Protestant branches, they lay special stress on conversion and salvation by faith in the atoning death of Christ.  In other branches in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, evangelicals campaigned vigorously for the abolition of the slave trade.  Social and political reform disappeared from the evangelical program when personal consecration and world evangelism became its focus.  Evangelicals in the twentieth century have experienced a revival and a new concern for politics and social justice.  Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. “Evangelicalism.”

[2] Donald Dalton, “Discovering an Evangelical Heritage,” (USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2007), 36.

[3] “An abolitionist is a person who advocated or supported the abolishing of slavery in the U.S., especially before the Civil War.”  Definition retrieved from Dictionary.com on October 11, 2011 from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Abolitionist

[4] “Christian right” is a term used predominantly in the United States to describe “right-wing”Christian political groups that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies. Religious conservatives principally seek to apply the teachings of particular religions to politics, sometimes by merely proclaiming the value of those teachings, at other times by having those teachings influence laws.

In the U.S., the Christian right is an informal coalition of numerous groups, chiefly evangelicals and CatholicsIt is strongest in the South, where it comprises the core of the Republican Party.  Besides conservative positions on domestic issues such as opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, the Christian right is a strong supporter of Israel in foreign affairs.  “Christian Right,” Retrieved from wikipedia.org on October 10, 2011 at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right.

[5] Alister McGrath, A Passion for Truth, 126.

[6] Liberalism came into use early in the 19th century.  It has been defined as ‘the holding of liberal opinions in politics or theology.  If taken to mean freedom from bigotry and readiness to welcome new ideas or proposals for reform, freedom, and progress.  It is a characteristic which many people will readily profess.  In more recent times, the word has held a more secular or anthropocentric humanism meaning which has origins in the Renaissance and is inconsistent with biblical and dogmatic orthodoxy.  ODCC, s.v. “liberalism.”

[7] Ibid., 125.

[8] Dayton, 8

[9] Ibid., 35.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Revivalism is a type of religious worship and practice centering in evangelical revivals, or outbursts of mass religious fervor, and stimulated by intensive preaching and prayer meetings.  In the USA, revivalism has been credited with a considerable influence on social reform.  ODDC, s.v.“revivalism,” and  Dayton, 15.

[12]  Dayton, 18.

[13] Dayton, 18.

[14] Ibid., 43.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Free Churches were a form of protest by the reformers and abolitionists to the practice of selling and renting pews for the construction and maintenance of church buildings.  Renting pews was a practice that alienated and humiliated the poor and often times prevented them from attending church.  In free churches, pews were open to all regardless to class or wealth. Dayton, 66.

[17] Dayton, 67.

[18] Ibid., 49.

[19] Ibid., 48.

[20] Dayton, 61.

[21] Ibid., 49

[22] Ibid., 76.     

[23] Ibid., 77.

[24] Ibid., 122.

[25] Ibid., 125.

 

[26] Millennium is the belief in a future thousand-year period of blessedness.  The premillennialist group maintains that the millennium will follow the Second Coming of Christ and postmillennialists believe that it precedes the Advent, and prepares the way for it by the spread of righteousness over the earth.  The abolitionists and nineteenth century evangelicals were postmillennialists, hence their focus on social change.  Post-Civil War, eschatological views shifted to premillennialism, hence their focus on preaching the gospel, personal salvation, and repentance.  ODCC, “Millenarianism.”

 

[27] Eschatology is the doctrine of the last things; that is the ultimate destiny both of the individual soul and the whole created order.   ODDC, “Eschatology.”

 

[28] Dayton, 128-129.

 

[29] Dayton, 129.

 

[30]The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early 20th century. The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially social justice, inequality, liquor, crime, racial tensions, slums, bad hygiene, child labor, weak labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war. Theologically, the Social Gospel leaders wanted to operationalize the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “thy will be done on earth.” They typically were post-millennialist; that is, they believed the Second Coming could not happen until humankind rid itself of social evils by human effort.  Social Gospel leaders were predominantly associated with the liberal wing of the Progressive Movement and most were theologically liberal, although they were typically conservative when it came to their views on social issues.”Definition retrieved fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_gospel on October 16, 2011.

 

[31] McGrath, 62.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Booker T. Washington on Black Victimhood

by Gary DeMar

Black racists are coming out of the woodwork. It’s hard to imagine how vile and bigoted they are in their attacks on Herman Cain. Such treatment has a long history. Today, it’s an industry.

A number of black “leaders” (e.g., Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) have made their living by promoting black victimhood and white guilt. Jesse Jackson has been shaking down corporations with the scam for decades.  Booker T. Washington (1865–1915) warned of such people within the black community in his 1911 book My Larger Education. He described them as “problem profiteers”:

“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” (p. 118)

Washington could have had in view, although writing nearly a hundred years ago, black people who are railing against Herman Cain and other blacks who have not succumbed to plantation living. Cain doesn’t present himself as a victim, and this disturbs people like Al Sharpton. Cain lived at a time when there were “colored” water fountains, segregated schools and neighborhoods, and racial discrimination that few people today can imagine. If anyone has a right to play the victim card, it’s Cain. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He stayed out of trouble, worked hard, and made something of himself without the help of a cadre of “poverty pimps.” Cain is the antithesis of the Democrat Party and 90 percent of blacks who support it.

Washington continues with a story that encapsulates what is wrong with so many black “leaders” and their guilt-ridden white supporters. Those victimizing blacks are other blacks:

A story told me by a coloured man in South Carolina will illustrate how people sometimes get into situations where they do not like to part with their grievances. In a certain community there was a coloured doctor of the old school, who knew little about modern ideas of medicine, but who in some way had gained the confidence of the people and had made considerable money by his own peculiar methods of treatment. In this community there was an old lady who happened to be pretty well provided with this world’s goods and who thought that she had a cancer. For twenty years she had enjoyed the luxury of having this old doctor treat her for that cancer. As the old doctor became — thanks to the cancer and to other practice — pretty well-to-do, he decided to send one of his boys to a medical college. After graduating from the medical school, the young man returned home, and his father took a vacation. During this time the old lady who was afflicted with the “cancer” called in the young man, who treated her; within a few weeks the cancer (or what was supposed to be the cancer) disappeared, and the old lady declared herself well.

When the father of the boy returned and found the patient on her feet and perfectly well, he was outraged. He called the young man before him and said: “My son, I find that you have cured that cancer case of mine. Now, son, let me tell you something. I educated you on that cancer. I put you through high school, through college, and finally through the medical school on that cancer. And now you, with your new ideas of practicing medicine, have come here and cured that cancer. Let me tell you, son, you have started all wrong. How do you expect to make a living practicing medicine in that way?”

I am afraid that there is a certain class of race problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.

If the patient gets well, an entire industry of victimhood will get cancer and die. This would be the best thing for the black community. Until blacks throw off the shroud of victimhood, they will be at the mercy of “doctors” who treat a cancer that does not exist but that they are paying for.

Article by Gary DeMar

Gary DeMar        Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. Author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, he also hosts The Gary DeMar Show, and History Unwrapped—both broadcasted and podcasted. Gary has lived in the Atlanta area since 1979 with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and are enjoying being grandparents to their grandsons, Calvin and Paul. Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).

 

Two Kinds of Promiscuity

By Star Parker

Last week the House passed with bipartisan support the Protect Life Act, which amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to assure that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund abortion. It also assures that health-care providers that do not wish to provide abortions are not forced to by government.

The bill’s Republican sponsor, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., had co-sponsored essentially the same amendment along with then-Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., when Obamacare was in the making in 2009.

Because a similar provision was not in the Senate version of the bill, and had no prospect of making it through the Senate, Stupak stood as a major obstacle to the passage of Obamacare.

In the end, the ways of Washington prevailed, and Stupak caved to pressure from the White House. He agreed to support the health-care bill without his anti-abortion provision, in exchange for President Obama issuing an executive order prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions in health care provided in the framework of Obamacare.

An executive order is a flimsy substitute for law; thus Rep. Pitt found another pro-life Democrat, Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., to co-sponsor his amendment, which has now passed the House 251-172.

However, Pitt’s new bill faces the same prospects as the amendment that he cosponsored with Stupak in 2009. Its chances of passage in the Senate are remote.

So why bother?

After the bill passed, I was asked on a PBS talk show, “To the Contrary,” if Republicans were being frivolous in taking up congressional floor time to deal with abortion when what Americans want today is congressional action on the economy.

My response was “no, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and actually in light of Obamacare, it is critical for lawmakers to protect health-care workers and hospitals with a conscience clause.”

In fact, the attention the bill has gotten in the short time since it passed the House indicates that the level of interest in abortion, and the potential use of taxpayer funds for it, remains high.

Two high-post Democrats – former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Democratic National Committee chairwoman – issued statements criticizing the bill shortly after it passed.

According to Pelosi, the provision assuring that health-care providers, including hospitals, are not forced to provide abortions, even though they receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, means “that women can die on the floor and health-care providers do not have to intervene.”

Wasserman Schultz said, “This extreme legislation is dangerous for women’s health and does nothing to address the jobs crisis facing American families.”

Liberals love to frame the killing of developing humans as being about women’s lives, health and rights.

But, according to the Center for Disease Control, about 3 percent of abortions are performed for reasons of a woman’s health. Abortions that are performed because a woman’s life is in danger amount to a fraction of 1 percent. That leaves more that 96 percent for convenience with some 50 percent repeat customers.

Regarding abortion, the liberal agenda is really about two things – 1) an alleged right to sexual promiscuity and, 2) an alleged right to have others bear social and financial responsibility for that promiscuity.

Fortunately, a sizable part of the American population doesn’t see things this way. And, fortunately, a sizable part of our population remains in awe of the miracle of life and our responsibilities toward all aspects of life, both in and outside of the womb.

It doesn’t take that much thought to realize the fallacious thinking that suggests that matters of economy and matters of morality have nothing to do with each other.

The “right to abortion” culture is simply a subset of the entitlement culture, the culture that says your life is about making claims on others rather than personal responsibility.

Disrespect for life and disrespect for property go hand in hand. We can’t divorce our sexual promiscuity from our fiscal promiscuity. Restoring personal responsibility in both areas is what we need today to get our nation back on track.


Star Parker is president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, and author of the recently re-released “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It.”

 

Personal Philosophy of Christian Education as it Relates to Blacks

by Tommy Davis

I think now more than ever in America, Christian education is the very schooling that would provide a form of consensus in the Christian community that transcends culture.  In a time when liberalism and contemporary philosophy have taken over our schools and seminaries, there needs to be an evaluation and action taken that would allow our educational conclusions to be shaped by historic Christianity.  Deeply affected by the storm of conflicting ideas are the contemporary predominantly black American churches which have allowed it to be taken over by emotionalism rather than doctrinal orthodoxy and Christian educational thoughts.   This has led to a higher murder rate among black Americans, a massive school drop-out rate, a high incarceration rate, political ignorance, and contemporary segregation in the inner cities and the church.

As a jail chaplain, I am deeply troubled by some of the strategies used by volunteers who are involved in jail ministry which include Bible studies and worship services.  The flaws that exist in their educational philosophy are only making discipleship more difficult to accomplish.  Therefore, I wish to apply my philosophy of Christian education where volunteers of all ages are trained for jail ministry, and during training seminars in churches where tutoring programs are chartered for those at risk of dropping out of school or going to jail.

This educational initiative does not target black Americans as the only group.  It is prepared to emphasize and address the educational deception prevalent in clustered and crime ridden communities.  Generations of ignorance have consequences such as fatherless homes, poor education, and crime.  Therefore, this educational philosophy would have to incorporate and answer correctly the philosophical questions in the area of metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology.

Metaphysics is the study of being or reality.  Metaphysics is the most notional and abstract branch of philosophy.  Since metaphysics basically means “beyond physics” or beyond the natural realm of things, it is a speculative area.  Also, metaphysics is a theoretical construct; it is subject to unreliable presuppositions if not Scripture.  It is safe to build ideas upon what is revealed in the pages of the Bible.  Therefore, a theological groundwork must influence our metaphysical deductions.  According to James Wilhoit,

“Often Christian education has been accused of drifting far from orthodox theological teaching, particularly in regard to the Christian view of human nature and spiritual growth.  This drifting is unfortunate, for Christian education is lost unless grounded in biblically based teaching.  No matter how much zeal a Christian educator may have, it is of little use without an awareness of the essential theological underpinning of the faith.”

God is spirit, but He revealed Himself in the physical, in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Metaphysical questions regarding the existence of God were answered in God becoming flesh.  The Bible says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 KJV).  Our definition of a Spiritual God must come from the Scriptures.  If Jesus is the sinless God/man come down from heaven, then who are we?  Since Jesus came from God, the position to adopt is for mankind to understand that God had something to do with our existence as well.

Since epistemology deals with how we arrive at our conclusions, it is important to establish a guiding principle that would help us arrive at intellectual destinations that corroborates all areas of what we already know to be truth.  Epistemology is closely related to teaching and the learning process.  How do we know something?  One way to arrive at judgments is to seek information outside ourselves or from sources that are credible.  The Bible provides a set of eternal truths; and it is from this source that educational pursuits must be subjected.  It is the Bible that reveals God’s paradigm.

The Bible must be the check and balance in the quest for answers.  If Christian education is to be truly Christian, it must derive from the Christian creed.  In the Book of Acts, Luke records that the believers devoted themselves to the apostle’s teachings (see Acts 2:42-47).  It is important to note that the disciples acted upon what they learned from the apostles.  The relationship between apostle and disciple is that of trust and truth.  The disciples believed (trusted) that the apostles were transmitting truth.  The truth came from the Old Testament Scriptures as the apostles taught and interpreted the events that now make up what we call the New Testament.  The apostles’ epistemology derived from revelation rather than a political sect or some worldly philosophical idea.

Black Christians in America seem to overwhelmingly vote Democrat, but display a form of conservative values.  It may be safe to say that the majority of black Christians are against homosexual marriage, abortion, and racism when it comes to black people.  Yet, black Christians vote for the very liberal Democrats they do not agree with.  This may be due to getting a fiscal advantage with all sorts of Democratic programs like housing projects and extended welfare benefits.  Also, blacks are taught that Republicans were responsible for racism and slavery, when in fact, it was the Democratic Party that promoted slavery, segregation, and all sorts of Jim Crow discriminatory laws.

It will not take much investigation to find that Christian education is the antithesis of liberal political philosophy.  Voting values also falls into the area of axiology because if one says they are against homosexual marriage, and yet vote for politicians who promote pro-homosexual legislation, it proves that some are dishonest regarding values, or ignorant of the facts.  An axiological statement is still being made if we place fiscal opportunities over morality.  A holistic Christian education is neither white nor black, rich nor poor, Democrat or Republican.  Therefore, judgments should be arrived at using Scripture as the controlling criterion.

Axiology is concerned with values and aesthetics that specify what is good and right.  The issues of ethics and religion also fall under the grouping of axiology.   Axiology is a very important philosophical position because people are motivated by what is important to them.   Moral values are under attack in the world as people seek to redefine the value system based on faulty presuppositions rather than biblical revelation.  For example, the State of New York recently passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.  Obviously, homosexual marriage is non-existent in the Bible but people have adopted a value system based on an incorrect epistemology.  Crucial to the development of our axiological judgments are correct metaphysical and epistemological positions.   Christians must believe the right things about God and the right things about people.

In order to transfer the proper ideas, we must have proven positions and valuable relationships.  Transmitting truths is a great task.  The Bible is the foundation for all truth.  To educate people is to imply authority.  Christian education is unique because the primary textbook in which all knowledge must flow is from the Bible.  The Christian educator must take command as an authority figure.  The student must take a subordinate intellectual position.  Even though the student/teacher relationship is based on transferring intellectual capital, there must be some form of trustworthiness in the relationship in order for credibility to increase the effectiveness of communication.

Education implications penetrate the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:9 the apostle Paul reminds the Church at Philippi to practice what they had learned from him.  In 1 Timothy 4:11 the apostle Paul presses young Timothy to command and teach the things written in Paul’s epistle.  In Ephesians 4:11 it is stated that God gave teachers and pastors to the church in order to build her up.  We are built up by the truths found in revealed revelation.  God’s truths are objective truths.  Information is transmitted for a reason.  According to George Knight,  “The aim of the Christian teacher is not to control the minds, but to develop them,  The use of questions can be a major instrument in that development process.”   This is a great observation by Knight because pupils should become more intellectually independent of the teacher as they apprehend truths.  That way the development process can lead to maturity.  Maturity leads to the ability to make informed decisions.

In the book of Hebrews, the author chided the believers for their lack of spiritual development.  After the biblical author explained the eternal priesthood of Christ, the author expressed interest in sharing more with the Hebrew believers but stated that they were slow of learning.  The author also stated:

“For when the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For every one that useth milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14).

The above passage of Scripture also speaks volumes in regards to pastor and parishioners.  Some believers attend church for twenty or thirty years and never participate in any form of ministry.  They have not grown to the point of serving in or outside the church. The objective of transmitting truth is to produce some form of action later on in the pupil.  Therefore, teaching provides the Christian with the ability to be obedient and serve Christ.

To the wise Christian educator, certain philosophical concepts can be incorporated into the curriculum as long as the Scriptures remain the controlling authority.  I have been influenced by realism, the philosophical model that holds there is a real external world that can be known.  But realism alone is just a reality and must not reject the metaphysical.

I have also been influenced by essentialism, which is a philosophical concept that arose in the 1930’s that found interest in transmitting truth in the classroom.  Essentialism is the idea that reliable basic truths must be transmitted in order for students to engage and contribute to the culture in which they must live.  Essentialism takes into account that life is a building block and certain agreed upon facts must be shared that allows the next generation to continue the advancement of society.  The definition regarding what is fundamental or essential must be acquired from Scripture.

Another feature that impresses me about essentialism is the fact that this educational concept recognizes that learning is hard work and requires effort.  In one of my previous response papers I wrote that the essentialists incorporate the perspective that learning requires discipline and sometimes is accomplished through much effort.  I also wrote that scientists have determined that our brains change as we acquire news skills and information.  This is opposed to being hardwired in which we would function based on a predetermination rather than cognitive development.  In addition, I made the point that musicians are not born musicians; they become instrumentalists’ through practice.  Athletes become good at sport through a willful interest and rehearsal that allows them to utilize the brain’s flexibility to acquire new habits and develop their skills.

By highlighting essentialism, I am not agreeing that other concepts are not important.  The position of essentialism emphasizes the authority of the teacher.  While it may not clearly define truth, essentialism characterizes the relationship between student and teacher that find some biblical support.  For example, in his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul instructs him to train qualified men who will teach others (see 2 Timothy 2:2).  In the book of Titus the elders were told to hold firmly to what they have been taught (1:10).

While I do emphasize the authority of the teacher, the primary matter should be on what is taught.  In order for me to have a great influence in the area of Christian education, I must teach in a manner that glorifies God.  The right things must be said about political parties in relation to the Bible.  The correct things must be communicated about God, about mankind, and about the world whether seen or unseen.  Thus, the core purpose of Christian education is to produce disciples among those who have given their lives over to Christ, therefore fulfilling the Great Commission given in Matthew 28.

 

Politics over policy

ECONOMY | President Obama’s plan goes after the wealthy while leaving entitlements alone | Edward Lee Pitts

 WASHINGTON—House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama have now delivered two speeches in five days seemingly aimed at targeting our nation’s economic woes. But what did the two party leaders really accomplish? They bluntly threw down their policy gauntlets ahead of next year’s crucial election.

Obama delivered his speech on Monday in the White House Rose Garden before just as many laughing partisans as reporters. Like a well-trained sitcom studio audience, they chuckled at all the right lines—at least from a Democratic perspective.

In unveiling his $1.5 trillion in new taxes, the president lectured Republicans that raising taxes on the wealthy “is not class warfare. It’s math.” He then threatened to veto any deficit reduction plan that does not include new tax revenue.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

“We can’t just cut our way out of this hole,” Obama said. “It’s only right we ask everyone to pay their fair share.”

But rewind to last Thursday when, during a speech to the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., Boehner laid down his own marker. Tax increases, Boehner said, “are off the table. It is a very simple equation. Tax increases destroy jobs.”

These strong lines in the sand place in a pickle the joint congressional committee now meeting to find, by Nov. 23, at least $1.5 trillion in mandatory deficit cuts over the next decade.

“The good news is that the joint committee is taking this issue far more seriously than the White House,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement released soon after Obama’s speech Monday. McConnell attacked the president for the “massive tax hike” and for “punting on entitlement reform.”

Obama’s plan to reduce the deficit by a little more than $2 trillion during the next decade would increase revenue by $800 billion just from letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for families making more than $250,000. It also adds more revenue to the federal coffers by reducing tax deductions and loopholes available to wealthy earners and corporations.

Republicans have signaled a willingness to pursue an overhaul to the tax code. But Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is his party’s go-to budget guy, warned on Fox News Sunday that “permanent tax increases on job creators doesn’t work to grow the economy.”

Ryan continued, “It’s actually fueling the uncertainty that is hurting job growth right now. And don’t forget the fact that most small businesses file taxes as individuals. So, when you are raising these top tax rates, you’re raising taxes on these job creators where more than half of Americans get their jobs from in this country.”

Republicans also criticized Obama’s plan for largely neglecting mandatory spending.

The plan does reduce spending by $580 billion in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. But these cuts go after the medical providers and not the growing rolls of beneficiaries.

Conservatives warn that reimbursement cuts to doctors treating Medicare and Medicaid patients may harm the needy by driving medical providers away from high need areas.

Obama’s plan does not touch Social Security and does not propose erasing the eligibility age for any entitlement beneficiaries—something his own deficit reduction panel last fall suggested.

Republican lawmakers are calling for a greater focus on reforming an open-ended benefit system that does not foster efficiency.

“In a three-and-a-half-trillion dollar budget, two–thirds of which is entitlements, there is enough slop in the system that you can find a trillion and half in savings,” said Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., who also sits on the new super committee. “People kid about waste fraud and abuse. But it’s real.”

Obama’s plan has vitally no chance of passing a Republican House. And the president and his White House staff obviously know that.

So Monday’s proposal and speech became more about bolstering Obama’s chances for a second term by reassuring his liberal base. Democrats believe that their storyline of going after the wealthy and protecting entitlements will resonate with voters next fall.

The differences between the two parties are now clear to anyone still confused after nearly three years of Washington partisanship. Obama’s economic-plan-turned-campaign-speech on Monday hammered home the sentiment that solving the nation’s job problems will play second fiddle during the next 14 months to the top goal for all lawmakers, from the White House to Capitol Hill: protecting their own jobs.

Copyright © 2011 WORLD Magazine
Articles may not be reproduced without permission
Published September 19, 2011

 

Sharing Christ with an Inmate

by Tommy Davis

Just recently as I reported to work, I performed the usual duty of reading the internal letters from the inmate population.  An inmate wrote to me and asked that a chaplain visit his housing unit because he had needed some spiritual counseling. He wrote that he had “burned too many bridges” and had no one to turn to.    It is a regular occurrence to receive letters from inmates asking to see the chaplain.  The requests are usually for permission to make a phone call free of charge. Unlike the other letters, this inmate wanted direction.

That same day I went to the inmate’s housing unit and sat down to speak with him.  I listened to his concerns.  He shared with me how he keeps returning to jail and don’t know why he continues to commit crimes.  As we proceeded further into the conversation I noticed that he had his Bible with him. I then asked him what he knew about Christ.  The inmate told me that he accepted Christ but keeps turning away from Him.  I had concluded it was now time for me to clarify the Gospel message with him.

I began by emphasizing that we all have sinned and currently fall short of the requirements to be saved.  I shared with the inmate that the Bible says that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).  Since he had already recognized his shortfall, I explained to the inmate that he was like most people who wanted Jesus to be his Savior but not His Lord.  This one man had to come to terms with reality regarding his repeat incarceration.  I explained that Romans 6:23 stated that the payment for sin is death.  Sin always involves payment of some kind, but only God can rebuild the bridges that we burned down.  But in order for those bridges to be rebuilt, we have to actually follow the Savior by allowing Him to be Lord over our lives.

The inmate looked at me very surprisingly because I had told him that he wanted Jesus to be his Savior but not His Lord.  I explained to the inmate that he doesn’t have to go around “burning bridges” in an effort to achieve false goals.  I then asked him was he ready to

Before we prayed, I wanted to make sure that he really understood the Gospel message.  I went on to say by receiving Christ, we can think of the illustration in the courtroom.  I told the inmate to picture himself in front of a judge to be sentenced to death.  When the judge pronounced the sentence, Jesus walked in to be carried away by the deputies on our behalf.  I quoted John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”   The inmate started to cry a little.  I had also shared with him how I was incarcerated and Christ redeemed me from the penalty of my sin.  I then became a bridge builder along with Him.

Finally, I asked the inmate if he would be willing to make an unashamed prayer by repeating after me.  He agreed.  We prayed and the inmate confessed his sins and asked Christ into his life to be his Lord and Savior.  He began to sob right there in his dormitory.  I embraced him and assured him that he was now a member of Christ’s church.

revdrtommydavis@gmail.com

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Religion

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.