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Archive for the month “September, 2010”

>Bonhoeffer: A Brief Review by Dr. David Pitman

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     It took me some what longer to read the last two chapters of this biography. The sadness of Bonhoeffer’s impending execution, set against his expectation that he might be released for further ministry and for his marriage, was written eloquently and effectively. I now think I know Dietrich Bonhoeffer.     Metaxas handles primary sources as well as any biographer I have ever read. I am persuaded that he separates the man from the myth (and misrepresentations) and yet manages to convey the heroic, yet humble man that Bonhoeffer was.
     The larger canvas upon which Bonhoeffer’s life is drawn incorporates themes from the sublime to the stupid; from the heights of human aspirations to the depths of human depravity. Theology, culture, politics. family, patriotism, sacrifice – Bonhoeffer’s life and death weaves it all into one seamless fabric.
     In this book you will find orthodoxy without obstinacy, self-sacrifice without self-pity, and faith without fear. This is now one of my five favorite biographies.
     I recommend this book.

>Beck, Bifurcation and the Blustery Day

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The reactions to the Beck Rally have been fascinating and foreboding.  The political left was predictably  appalled by it all.  The political right was unpredictably undercut by friendly fire, especially from some of the more erudite evangelicals. This vividly illustrates how zealous some are to protect the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I commend them and I count myself among them.
Dr. Russell Moore, whom I greatly admire, warned, “It would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ. That’s a very bad trade-off.”  I agree; what a horrible trade that would be.  Beck’s Mormonism has many alarmed that he is using politics to advance the cause of the Mormon cult and Mormon false doctrine; hence deceiving many to accept or even to become Mormons.  In the most recent Presidential campaign some were concerned about Senator Obama’s religion: is he a Muslim?  does the Rev. Wright represent Obama’s Christianity?  Legitimate questions still lingering.
Having been a political observer now for many years, I am not surprised by the controversy.  What cost Al Smith the Presidency in 1928 was still an issue in 1960.  Kennedy was elected by the narrowest of margins.  Part of his baggage was his Catholicism. Clinton/Gore in 1992 made much of  their membership in Southern Baptist Churches (not sure where their letters are now); it must have helped them some.  But honestly, Ross Perot triangulated the conservative vote and was very much a factor.  I have since forgiven the SBC.
Dr. Jerry Falwell was forming his Moral Majority in the late 1970’s, and his odd couple blending of co-belligerents – Catholics, Jews, Christians (and Mormons) delighted many conservatives.  Some labeled Dr, Falwell a king-maker and perhaps he was.  I always thought Reagan had the great political fortune to run against the most incompetent President in the second half of the 20th century; but I could be wrong about that. Falwell’s Liberty University (affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention) hosted Beck (affiliated with the Mormons)  as its commencement speaker this year and very few evangelicals protested.  At least I heard very little about it.
As a young pastor in 1979, I preached some warnings about the slippery slope of ecumenism, one sermon was titled Why I Cannot Join the Moral Majority.  I took some grief over that.  I was young, very young;  later on two former Falwell insiders (Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson) wrote Blinded by Might and they agreed with me (that ‘s the way I remember it and I am telling the story.)  Good men disagree now about signing The Manhattan Declaration: for example, Albert Mohler says yes; Alistair Begg says no. 
My warning about the Beck factor is simple:  Be careful with the “evangelical” anxiety over Beck, (some of which I share). Avoid the logical fallacy of bifurcation.   Bifurcation is a false dilemma, when someone is asked to choose between two options when there is at least one other option available.  I reluctantly say that Dr. Moore’s warning, though well-intentioned, falls into this fallacy. Sharing Beck’s political views does not mean I must convert to Mormonism. 
Some evangelicals may suffer from a genetic disorder known as YDD.  My Papa called them yeller dog Democrats i.e., they would vote for a yellow dog if it was a Democrat.  I am sure there are blue tick hound Republicans, too.  I will be kind and observe that some of these YDD cases are recessive genes but they can assert themselves at odd times.  Be warned that some of these evangelicals do not share consistent conservative political views; that makes them more likely to criticize Beck.  They have the right and the duty to do so. They have freedom of speech and freedom of religion (and come to think of it, so does Beck.)
Christians in the political arena nearly always (I want to say always, but that would be a logical fallacy) must act as co-belligerents with some whose religion is antithetical to ours.  Political choices are nearly always the lesser of two evils.  Christians in a representative Republic must participate; I know it is not easy.
What about the Blustery Day? Well, I just like Winnie the Pooh and threw that in for free. 
No, it does have some connection because Christians are warned not to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, When political winds are blowing you had better hold on tight to the anchor of God’s inerrant, infallible Word.

>Presidential Doctrines

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Monroe Doctrine
 Guaranteed Freedom for Nations in the Western Hemisphere, or “America Helps Her Neighbors.”
Truman Doctrine:
 “America helps those who resist Communist Aggression.”
Eisenhower Doctrine:  
“America helps those who resist Communist Aggression, sometimes, in some places.”
Kennedy Doctrine
“America will defend any friend and aggravate our foes.”
Nixon Doctrine
“America will help any friend, or any foe for that matter.”
Carter Doctrine
 “America will boycott the Olympics if you hurt our feelings.”
Reagan Doctrine:
“America will defend any friend and defeat any foe.”
Bush (41) Doctrine
“America will do whatever it takes… up to a point.”
Clinton Doctrine:
“America will do … whatever, as long as it is pointless.”
Bush (43) Doctrine
“America will talk tough and back it up.”
Obama Doctrine (explained last evening):
“America will find it tough to talk but we can always back up.”
(with apologies to Bush 43)  or:
“Walk politely and carry a big purse.”
(with apologies to TR) 

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