Christian Voter’s Guide Bible Study

Two studying about voting in the BibleFor church this morning I threw together a quick Bible study about voting (or not voting). Below is the result with a couple modifications based on member input (or you can download it as a PDF file). The Bible never speaks to voting, but there are plenty of principles in Scripture that can be applied to it. (Please also see “A Christian Voter’s Guide” and “A Christian Voter’s Guide (2012).”)

Do you have any suggestions for additions, improvements, or corrections? Please either comment below or contact us…I really appreciate any input you have.

Finally, you’ll notice I don’t actually tell you what each Scripture says when it comes to voting. Personally I think they are all applicable (otherwise I wouldn’t have included them), but I don’t want to tell you what to believe. Additionally, having the verses actually included in the Bible study sheet is for convenience—I encourage you to open up your Bible and read each in context. Again, I believe they are all applicable, but don’t trust me any more than you would a politician. Trust the Bible and the Holy Spirit leading your own brain instead. 🙂 [Read more…]

A Christian Voter’s Guide (2012)

Ribbon with the word 'Vote' on itBack in my original "A Christian Voter's Guide," I suggested some basic principles in deciding how to vote:

  • Vote based on your worldview
  • Some issue are so significant they almost dwarf all others
  • You should be fully convinced in your own mind
  • There is a lot at stake when it comes to the direction our country takes

I still stand by all of those (although I recommend you read the original article to better understand their individual applications).

This year, at least in my universe of Christians discussing politics, the most contentious issue is whether a Christian should vote at all. For instance, having both candidates claim to be Christians, but neither likely to actually be, for some, means we should vote "absent" on November 6, 2012. (This is not the only reason given for not voting.) [Read more…]

Why I Am a Heretic

I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.

AKA, "What I Believe"

Guy preaching with a staff and a stone tabletI had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:

Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying

To which I replied:

Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?

My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂

Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.

So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) [Read more…]

Do Views Exist On a Linear Trajectory?

Often when we see the excesses of a given group—political, religious, or etcetera—we connect them with one end or the other of the given categorization’s spectrum. It is as if we pull out some graph paper, draw a straight line, and are convinced that anyone’s view can be plotted on it. A little bit left of X, a little bit right of Y…a bit more liberal than A, a bit more conservative than B.

And we lionize that thoughtful, considerate, and mystical class that falls right in the middle…you know…the “moderates.” (Although it should be noted that in this paradigm a moderate is a big fat zero.)

Sometimes thinking of viewpoints this way makes sense. Denominations are often connected in overall thought with differences only being a matter of degree and non-essential doctrines. The same is true with politics—is it not fair to consider Code Pink to the left of, but on the same half of the line, as Democrats? The Tea Party, albeit somewhat of an unruly son, the child of Republicans (perhaps with some Libertarian DNA snuck in)?

But what of organizations and viewpoints the great majority would find excessive? Where would you place skinheads? Anarchists?

Individual lunatics?

The reason I ask is because I believe, at least with politics, part of the reason people choose to apply the linear paradigm is because they can use it to assign guilt by association. See a racist?! Clearly it shows the natural result of Republican thought!!! See an anarchist?! Those darn Democrats have struck again!

But are either fair? The anarchist example might be best. Should they be plotted around Democrats or Republicans? Given their other (likely) viewpoints and the folks they hang out with (e.g. at a G20 protest), it would seem fair to plot them left of the Democrats—on their end of the spectrum. However, given the Republican’s historical (but not necessarily constant or recent) commitment to as few laws possible and minimum government, shouldn’t it go (heading right on our graph paper) Republicans -> Libertarians -> anarchists?

Which is it?

I suspect most of us could easily expand our plotting to 2D…for example a Libertarian would be to the right and either above or below (depending on what the Y access defines). But would that really be be enough for every case? How about 3D?

I don’t believe so. I would argue some viewpoints, and definitely some people, exist in a totally different dimension. Their thought universe is wholly different than pretty much anyone else’s who has at least one foot in reality. To even speculate about connections to Democrats or Republicans is at best disingenuous and/or illogical, and at worst outright character assassination. There is no benefit; do we really believe if Democrats would tone down their language anarchists would suddenly embrace the rule of law? Or if the Republicans would stop their war-like metaphors skinheads would start embracing African Americans?

No, there is no benefit to connecting thought-outcasts with mainstream organizations other than to demonize our opponents. It isn’t an honest discussion, it is a strategic attack.

I have focused on the political because, I’ll admit, it’s easier for me to come up with examples…but it has theological implications.

To mimic Greg Gutfeld on Red Eye, if you don’t agree with me you are a Sabellian anarchist who is a closet member of the John Birch Society and believes in the Moral Influence Theory!

Reacting to a Shooting

Pistol with bloodThis past Saturday a lone gunman allowed the demons in his mind to escape in the form of a deluge of bullets, starting with one into the brain of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. By the time bystanders were able to wrestle him to the ground six people had been killed (including a nine year-old girl) and fourteen more had been injured. As of writing this article, Congresswoman Giffords is holding on in intensive care, but she is not out of the woods yet. This morning President Obama and his wife held a national moment of silence for our country to corporately remember the dead, the injured, and their family and friends (who are also victims of the demented assailant).

When a tragedy happens (especially of this magnitude), people naturally want to understand how it could occur—and to have swift judgment and punishment of the perpetrator(s). Every initial indication is that Jared Lee Loughner acted alone (and that he was a psychopath with a strange brew of political beliefs), but anyone watching, reading, or hearing the news know that our predilection for blaming was instantaneously in full force. We were informed that the rhetoric of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and conservatism in general drove the shooter to target the congresswoman and spray her supporters with deathly lead. Myriad liberal talking heads, and the majority of the media, were quick to incriminate the aforementioned list—although the media often did it by (for example) "innocently" juxtaposing mentions of Sarah Palin’s map that had a gunsight over Congresswoman Giffords’ district during last November’s election with discussions of the gunman’s motivation. (When they wanted to really establish the connection they quoted Giffords herself stating that Palin’s "targeted list" could lead to violence—"When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action"1).

And depending on your political bend, you were likely either joining the condemnatory chorus or decrying how hypocritical it was that those who said not to jump to conclusions about motives when Major Nidal Malik Hasan gunned-down thirteen at Fort Hood last year now couldn’t wait for the smoke from the bullets to clear before damning various people and groups.

[Read more…]

A Christian Voter’s Guide

VoteThere are a good number of individuals who will find great discomfort in the title of this article. If you are a non-Christian…it may elicit fears of fundamentalists trying to elect their confederates so as to…in a nefarious conspiracy…change America into a Taliban-style Christian theocracy! Even if you are a believer, the title may be unsettling because throughout the ages the gospel has suffered at the hands of unholy amalgamations of religious and secular authority. A strong argument could be made that followers of The Way should be apolitical so as to avoid the leaven that ruins the whole loaf.

[Read more…]