God’s Light Artillery

Many often lament the unchurched state of northwest United States. It feels like a different world from other parts of the country where churches on every corner reflect an understanding of the world that is, on the surface at least (or at most?), Christian. We easily forget how young our country is and how the spread of the faith to the West has always been slow. I’m looking at a map here of the US in 1850. It’s only half settled, and Texas is the westernmost state. Every western state is less Christianized (138-288 Religious Adherents per 1,000 people) than the rest of the states. Frontiersmen were generally not church planters. Alexis de Tocqueville saw them as “adventurers impatient of any sort of yoke, greedy for wealth, and often outcasts from the States in which they were born. They arrive in the depths of the wilderness without knowing one another. There is nothing of tradition, family feeling, or example to restrain them.” Perhaps this is overstated. It came from a Frenchman afterall.

The Methodist preacher went after these wild lands and grew the church so effectively that historians have called the nineteenth century the Methodist Age. Nancy Pearcey describes them:

By contrast [to state supported clergy], the Methodist circuit preachers became a legend on the frontier. They traveled constantly, virtually living in the saddle. They were willing to preach to tiny frontier outposts, even to individual households. Most were single (they were on the road too often to maintain a family), worked for almost no money, and literally died young form the sheer hardship of their lives. One minister dubbed them God’s “light artillery,” perfectly adapted to the frontier. They had a reputation for braving terrible conditions and bad weather, so that during particularly bad storms it used to be said, “There’s nobody out tonight but crows and Methodist preachers.”

Physical danger is no longer the issue in the unchurched west, and now the church needs men who will put roots downward that will bear fruit upward for generations. The need is dire for new artillery.

Congress to Consider Making Churches Hire Homosexuals

When Congress returns from recess they will discuss the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would add sexual orientation to the list of privileged–oh, uh, I mean, protected–classes. Since the ELCA just voted to allow gay clergy, if ENDA passes I look forward to applying to the ELCA as a staunch hetero-monogamous male trapped in an even severer fanatically committed heterosexually monogamous body. They won’t discriminate me based on my sexual “orientation”, right? Right. As in yeah.

This would be a wonderful overplay by Congress, a grand opportunity to for every church with a kernal of salt to lose their tax exempt status. While they’re at it, they should really consider stopping religious organizations from hiring based on religious preferences. How long will a pluralistic enlightened society such as ours put up with narrow fundamentalist bigotry and discrimination? Aslan is Tash, Tash is Aslan. Tashlan Bless America!

Priests of Evolution

Philosopher of science Michael Ruse is willing to say out loud what many other are not: evolution is a religion. In her sturdy book Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey quotes him:

“Evolution came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity…[it] is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion–a full-flegded alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality.” Ruse hastens to reassure his readers that he himself remains “an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian.” And yet, “I must admit that in this one complaint…the [biblical] literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”  

Although obvious to those familiar with the history of science, the religious nature of evolution continues to escape it’s lay-devotees. And this has to be borne in mind when engaging them. Never mind that the fossil tree is 97% empty or that Richard Dawkins has stated on camera that intelligent design is 97% unlikely but it’s quite possible that aliens planted the designs of life on earth millions of years ago. Now why is this religion allowed in the classroom (the science classroom, that is; no quibble with it in English or philosophy class), but no other?

Expecting a Bumper Crop

Preaching on Ezekiel 34:26, “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing”, Spurgeon offers this:

The object of God, in choosing a people before all worlds, was not only to save that people, but through them to confer essential benefits upon the whole human race. When he chose Abraham, he did not elect him simply to be God’s friend, and the recipient of peculiar privileges; but he chose him to make him, as it were, the conservator of the truth. He was to be the ark in which the truth should be hidden. He was to be the keeper of the covenant on behalf of the whole world; and when God chooses any men by his sovereign, electing grace, and makes them Christ’s, he does it not only for their own sake, that they may be saved, but for the world’s sake. For, know ye not that “ye are the light of the world;”–“A city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid?” “Ye are the salt of the earth;” and when God makes you salt, it is not only that ye may have salt in yourselves, but that like salt ye may preserve the whole mass. If he makes you leaven, it is that, like the little leaven, you may leaven the whole lump. Salvation is not a selfish thing; God does not give it for us to keep to ourselves, but that we may thereby be made the means of blessing to others; and the great day shall declare that there is not a man living on the surface of the earth but has received a blessing in some way or other through God’s gift of the gospel.

Eschatology should be determined less in the light of difficult millennial passages and more in the light of God’s promises and the efficacy of the atonement. Spurgeon was no postmillenialist by name, but he expected the Gospel to do the work of blessing every family on the earth, a consequence required by no other eschatalogical doctrine. I should be quick to add that all evangelistic progress is made by sacrificial preaching and living, that no crop comes unless a seed goes into the ground and “dies.” Jesus went into the ground and died, and biblical hope is nothing other than a bumper crop.

Healthy Riots

One good fallout from local town halls is the face to face interaction the public gets with their elected representatives.

What some democrats and nationalized health care proponents are calling “anti-American” and “mobs”, intelligent critics like Camille Paglia are calling like it is–rational reactions to false promises.

Obama’s aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.

You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you’re happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

Paglia wants to know when heads like Nancy Pelosi’s are going to roll, and that is a good question. But it must be admitted that for all of her shrill outrage and rhetorical blunders, Pelosi is simply carrying out Obama’s policies. When it come to the issues, they are, insanely, one. Calling for replacements who will tow the party line and yet still appear to be in their right mind is not easy, just look at Howard Dean.

It’s looking like enough Americans see the dire consequences of nationalized healthcare to give lawmakers pause which puts Obama in a hard place. Not only will he have to take a loss in the form of a vastly reduced bill, he will also now have to deal with a battered cabinet. His plummeting approval ratings are all bound up with them and the Dems have so much power that no Republican contingency can serve as a scapegoat. One can only hope that these events reveal to more people the gargantuan inefficiencies and waste that the government perpetrates. Maybe someday we’ll even get a candidate who tells our country to produce more, budget, save, and live within our means, and then plan (without lying) to run the nation the same way. Like Ron Paul with charisma. I’m not holding my breath.

New Wheels for the Rich or Foolish

Minimum wage laws make it so that very few people whose labor is worth less than the set price will have jobs, right? Right. The poor suffer. It’s not a complicated argument.

Similarly, what happens when lots of low cost cars are purchased by the government and then destroyed? The supply is diminished, demand remains the same (or rises), and people, the poorer among us, who need cheap cars are hurt with less to choose from and (often therefore) higher prices. The government incentivized this by trading cash for clunkers. Who would turn in these clunkers? People who either have jobs and money and can afford to buy a new car or people who are irresponsible and can’t afford it but buy on credit anyway. Either way, the government subsidizes wealthy or foolish. Sound familiar? It’s just like nearly everything the government and its regulation does. The sting of unintended consequences.

We can only hope that people will see the same thing coming with nationalized health care.