SCOTUS on Same Sex Marriage: “No Social Transformation Without Representation”

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In the midst of all the debate back and forth on the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage, did you catch the “no social transformation without representation” in Justice Scalia’s dissent?

But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even a thin veneer of law. Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its

provided for a means by which the People could amend the Constitution,” or per- haps “. . . and therefore they left the creation of additional liberties, such as the freedom to marry someone of the same sex, to the People, through the never-ending process of legislation.” But no. What logically follows, in the majority’s judge-empowering estimation, is: “and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its People’s understanding of “liberty”—at the time of ratification or even today—the majority focuses on four “principles and traditions” that, in the majority’s view, prohibit States from

This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Judges are selected precisely for their skill as lawyers; whether they reflect the policy views of a particular constituency is not (or should not be) relevant. Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South- westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

This is one point where American needs to give real attention. Scalia’s dissent may reveal a frustrated Justice, but his insight is wiser than the majority’s Opinion. I think social liberals should welcome Scalia’s warning rather than disagree with him. Yet I doubt that ever will happen.

Oh, and then there are those last words within Scalia’s dissent about the Court’s (and America’s) impotence:

With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

Ref:  SCOTUS 576 U. S. ____ (2015), SCALIA, J., dissenting

Teen Reading: A Code of Silence, by Tim Shoemaker

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51WlTy2Db+LWith no homework in sight for three months, summer break affords great time for much leisurely reading by children, teens, and young adults. However, getting your teenage boys to read with excitement and consistency can be a challenge. Therefore, I am grateful when I run across a series that can hold the attention of my sons. Recently I found the “Code of Silence” series by Tim Shoemaker. (I think of The Three Investigators series when perusing the books.)

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Although some of the reviews of the series suggest that readers might be turned off by the sanitized approach of the writing, I disagree. I think that the adult vileness and licentiousness that has come to characterize teen reading is unnecessary to write a good story. I am grateful to Shoemaker for providing good writing for teens while allowing them to retain a sense of innocence and mystery toward adult themes.

 

Hiestand and Wilson: The Pastor as Theologian

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Pastor TheologianJust a little while ago, Gerald Hiestand gave me a signed copy of The Pastor as Theologians: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision (Zondervan). I am eager to dive into the book (but I have other necessary readings that are competing for priority at the moment). Here is a teaser from the opening chapter:

Pastor theologians aren’t extinct, but sightings are rare. This is because pastors no longer traffic ideas. They cast vision, manage programs, offer counsel, and give messages. We expect our pastors to be able to preach; we expect them to know how to lead; we expect them to be good at solving problems and giving direction. None of this is inherently wrong. Indeed, all of these are important pastoral tasks. But we no longer view the pastorate as an intellectual calling (11).

What happened to the intellectual calling? Why do churches overlook this aspect of pastoral work? How are churches strengthened by pastors who understand that they are, and must be, their congregations’ chief theologians? How do we recover this calling? Hiestand and Wilson will help us find our way back to this calling.

(Want to help strengthen significantly your church’s Gospel ministry to you, your children and grandchildren, and to those who need to hear the Gospel? Read The Pastor as Theologian from cover to cover, give a copy to an elder you know [or if you’re Baptist, to a deacon, if you are friends with one believes in reading for spiritual growth and understands that he should do so for his church’s sake], and gift one to your pastor with an encouraging note attached. If you are a pastor, you should not be offended if a member gifts you such a book; instead, be encouraged that you have a member who cares for you and the congregation.)

I am benefiting from Hiestand and Wilson’s pastor-as-theologian-approach to ministry to my family and our congregation. May your congregation have such joys.

 

What is the Church?

In one of our recent chapels, a few Moody students performed a small skit in which they proposed to be the Apostles attempting to gain an understanding of the idea of “church.” However, as you will see, their debate is quite modern rather than ancient.

The audio quality is not strong, as the recording is from a cell phone rather than through the chapel audio system. So there are occasions in which the rumblings of the audience drown out the actors. Yet you can hear most of the production.

Congrats to my two students, Laura and Hannah, who were instrumental in the skit!

 

 

Guaranteed Pure by Timothy Gloege

UnknownI just received notice of the publication of Timothy Gloege’s, Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism (The University of North Carolina Press). Here is the publisher’s description:

American evangelicalism has long walked hand in hand with modern consumer capitalism. Timothy Gloege shows us why, through an engaging story about God and big business at the Moody Bible Institute. Founded in Chicago by shoe-salesman-turned-revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody in 1889, the institute became a center of fundamentalism under the guidance of the innovative promoter and president of Quaker Oats, Henry Crowell. Gloege explores the framework for understanding humanity shared by these business and evangelical leaders, whose perspectives clearly differed from those underlying modern scientific theories. At the core of their “corporate evangelical” framework was a modern individualism understood primarily in terms of economic relations.

Conservative evangelicalism and modern business grew symbiotically, transforming the ways that Americans worshipped, worked, and consumed. Gilded Age evangelicals initially understood themselves primarily as new “Christian workers”–employees of God guided by their divine contract, the Bible. But when these ideas were put to revolutionary ends by Populists, corporate evangelicals reimagined themselves as savvy religious consumers and reformulated their beliefs. Their consumer-oriented “orthodoxy” displaced traditional creeds and undermined denominational authority, forever altering the American religious landscape. Guaranteed pure of both liberal theology and Populist excesses, this was a new form of old-time religion not simply compatible with modern consumer capitalism but uniquely dependent on it.

I would love to read this work while I am enjoying an American Church History class at my church on Sundays. However, it will have to go into the summer reading pile.

Todd Wilson on Rights

“If we are going to faithfully follow Jesus we are going to have to become increasingly comfortable with releasing rights for the cause of Christ.”  – Todd Wilson, “Giving Up Rights to Gain Rewards,” on 1 Corinthians 9, April 19, 2015.

In this morning’s sermon, Todd mentioned reconsidering (my term) the absolute rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I think Christians give up the right to rights when you say “Yes” to Jesus’ summons to salvation. As Todd asked, “What if Jesus had demanded rights?”

All “rights,” as “claims on other people to treat you a certain way” (Wilson), are not germane to humanity or necessary for a peaceful society. A Christian ought to be wiling to sacrifice any legal right for the sake of the Gospel.

Thank you, Kevin DeYoung, for speaking clearly, courageously, truthfully, and boldly on homosexuality

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If you have not picked up a copy of Kevin DeYoung’s, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? (Crossway), you should pick up a copy immediately. Kevin, in as simple, sensitive, and nice terms as possible, lovingly dismantles pro-homosexual arguments and rhetoric that make up our current common attempts at moral discourse. Especially significant is his chapter, “What About Gluttony and Divorce?” Before you allow someone to attempt to silence your efforts to label homosexual behavior “sin” by suggesting that believers ignore other sins, read this chapter.

Thank you, Kevin, once again, for giving us a tool to help us speak Christianly and intelligently both inside and outside of he church.

New Book by MBI Student: Cora Perdió su Maní

71WgxHMt3lLI am excited for my undergraduate MBI student, Casey Zoppa, on the release of her co-written, bilingual children’s story, Cora and the Lost Peanut: Cora Perdió su Maní (CreateSpace). Casey served as a storywriter and as the illustrator. The book began as an extra credit project. I hope you will support Casey and her team by purchasing copies of the book.

Congratulations Casey!

I look forward to many other works to come from your pen and crayons!

Baptist Press Article: Baptist College “Ground Zero” in Gay Marriage Debate

Originally posted on Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.:

Bapt. college ‘ground zero’ in gay marriage debate

by David Roach, posted Wednesday, March 18, 2015

“For reasons only known in the heavenly realms, American Baptist College has” become “ground zero for this battle over same-sex marriage in the Baptist church,” Dwight McKissic, co-coordinator of the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, said at a March 17 press conference in Nashville.

The fellowship is a coalition of pastors who minister at congregations in cooperation with the National Baptist Convention USA Inc., America’s largest predominantly African American Baptist denomination.

Other pastors present at the press conference alongside McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone…

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