I'm not happy about this election. To be absolutely honest, I think it is a tragic revealing of our national psychosis. Nevertheless, my theology hasn't changed one iota. Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Obama was chosen by King Jesus to govern the United States for the next four years. That is my view. We were players in this drama, but God is the author and director.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Amen.
Please keep in mind that I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, so the McCain-Palin ticket is not my ideal choice. I decided not to write-in Ron Paul or vote for the Constitution party because I feel compelled to vote AGAINST Senator Obama. The best way to do that is to vote for McCain - who is Obama's de facto competition. In a nutshell:
Obama scares me to death with his messianic-utopian vision rooted in government intervention. McCain at least seems to understand that government should have a limited role. Americans and American ingenuity is the answer to growing prosperity, not government programs.
The company Obama keeps is very, very troubling to me. Call me a neocon. That's fine. Obama's history is embedded in the radical left and Chicago politics. McCain at least comes from a family history of military and government service - and had the true grit to sacrifice himself as a POW. I just don't see that kind of character-formation in Obama.
People make a big deal out of Palin as a terrible choice. She has her weaknesses, but so does Biden. If I had to pick between Palin and Biden, I'm going with Palin and trusting in her creed and what experience she does legitimately have.
Can you imagine a Democratic trifecta of White House, House, and Senate!? That should be enough reason for any independent to vote for legislative gridlock and support McCain.
I am not a fan of the "new morality" that abandons abortion as part of the platform for cultural righteousness. Poverty is a problem, yes. Can you imagine how crazy things in our culture will become if the defense of "life" is further eroded? Poverty will be the least of our problems, believe me.
We need pro-business policies right now. Obama's informercial comment about businesses "fending for themselves" is naive at best. McCain's "don't raise taxes on anyone" is the right thing to do.
Obama talks about ending government programs that "don't work," but do you buy that? I don't. I do believe McCain will use the line-item veto to keep budgets in check.
Conservatism under Bush largely failed because it was not consistently applied. Now is not the time for another "New Deal." Now is the time for leadership and I think McCain has been seasoned for a time like this. Obama will be in over his head from day one.
I just read this, and felt compelled to give my own "white-anglo-evangelical-quasi-independent-male" perspective to the contrary. Voting for Obama is a serious mistake because:
Abortion - If there is ever a chance for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, it won't be with Obama. The greatest moral tragedy of our age will continue under his administration and Supreme Court appointments. True, a vote for McCain is no guarantee that Roe will be overturned, but let's at least get clear on the odds.
Poverty / Prosperity - Government doesn't create wealth. It can and does redistribute wealth ala subsidies and entitlements, but it doesn't create it. I don't think Obama understands this - at all. His policies will only make it harder for the poor to break into the middle-class.
Iraq - Obama's not going to pull out of Iraq until we're good and ready, and we all know it. We can't afford to leave a vacuum for Iran, Syria, and the rest to wade into. It sounds great to say he'll end it, but we're in for the long-haul and we all know it.
European Allies - Has anyone noticed that France elected conservative pro-American Sarkozy? Sure, Tony Blair was tossed-out, but that's no real surprise. What are we really concerned about here? That Europeans won't buy iPods? This whole angle is completely overblown.
Education - Obama is a pro-establishment, pro-teacher's union guy. Need I say more? Our system is totally broken and can only be fixed by free-market tools like vouchers to promote choice and competition.
I'm going to bed now, but I just had to respond to that blog post. It just blows my mind.
It has been many years since I dealt with dispensationalism on a regular basis, but once in awhile I will make passing mention of it and someone will ask me what it is. I tend to fumble around and give answers that are overly technical or generally incoherent, so here is my quick attempt to answer the question, "What is dispensationalism?"
Dispensationalism is a two-hundred year old strain of Protestant theology that believes the establishment of Christ's kingdom is delayed until His second coming at the end of the age. Until Christ physically returns, the world remains in a general state of corruption as the playground of Satan. The Old Covenant promises of worldwide peace and restoration will only come when the nation-state of Israel (not the gentile church) is fully established and a new temple is built under Christ's direct rule. He will reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years as he brings the world under His control. After a final rebellion is crushed at the end of the millennium the eternal state will be ushered in.
Dispensationalism is the majority-report in American evangelicalism today, but represents a significant departure from historic Christendom's understanding of the already / not yet nature of the kingdom of Christ. While different branches of the church have different nuances of the what / how of Christ's kingdom, all of them believe there is a sense in which it is already here and awaiting final consummation. The church is not merely a temporary holding place for gentile believers, but a manifestation of the new Spirit-filled temple, Christ's body, and heaven on earth. Christ will indeed come again for His bride, but His promises to the world are already being realized through the agency of His people, the church, who have been grafted into the people of Israel.
I don't believe the differences between dispensationalism and the rest of Christendom regarding the kingdom are merely academic. What Christians believe about the nature of Christ's reign shapes how they understand their own piety and the role of the church in the world. Dispensationalism leads to retreat from the world because it sees it as a place of decay. Personal piety is therefore more about "quiet times" and soul-saving than earthly engagements and transformation. For the dispensationalist, the world is destined for fire, not for progressive renewal.
I want to believe that the practical implications of dispensationalism are eroding its foundations because it fundamentally opposes the work of the Spirit in and through the church. The kingdom is here whether folks want to admit it or not. The church is the Spirit-filled temple whether folks understand it or not. The body of Christ is present among us whether they realize it or not. Satan has been defeated and is being trampled even now despite ourselves. Dispensationalism is false and time will erode its influence as much as strenuous Biblical exegesis.
One of the reasons Baptists and Presbapterians fail to understand the full import of baptism is that they don't fundamentally understand the role of circumcision in the Old Covenant. The apostle Paul wrote of Abraham,
"And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe..." (Romans 4:11)
Let's camp out on this for a second. How is cutting off the end of Abraham's genitalia remotely related to faith? What did his foreskin have to do with trusting in God? In short, everything.
Abraham received a promise of a Seed (Messiah) and that he would be the father of many nations. The challenge was that Abraham's aged wife, Sarah, wasn't getting pregnant... So, they took matters into their own hands and used a surrogate mother, Hagar, to get the job done. Ishmael was soon born to Hagar, and it is directly after this episode that God gives the sign of circumcision in Genesis 17. God in effect says to Abraham, "No, the Promise is not coming through your use of a surrogate to get the job done. It isn't coming through your efforts, but by My grace. My promise will be accomplished by Me, not by you. To help underscore this in a major way, I want you and your posterity to cut off the end of your penises. I think that will help you remember that this is all about faith and trusting Me."
There you have it. There was an unmistakable connection between the trimming of Abraham's "manhood" and "the righteousness of faith." Circumcision was not about good hygiene or cleanliness. It was a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith in God's Promise(s).
And so it is with baptism. When our children receive the promise that is "to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off," (Acts 2:39) they are receiving the sign and seal of the righteousness of faith. The faith they have is not and will not be "from" us, but from God and His promises. We are people of the Promise(s), and baptism, like circumcision, points the way (Col. 2:11,12). The way of faith.
NEWSFLASH to the bail-out haters: The United States does not have a pure free-market economy. It may be relatively more free than many others, but hear me now and believe me later, the USA is a quasi-free market with government interference very close to the center. Being laissez-faire may feel good, but it is at odds with the realities of our system.
I recently read Alan Greenspan's autobiography, and he said that budget surpluses were a problem because if the government didn't run deficits they couldn't sell debt and therefore influence interest rates and market activity / growth. Keep in mind that Greenspan is an adamant defender of free-market capitalism. Even the defenders of capitalist orthodoxy are pseudo-Keynesian in reality.
Look, we're not on the gold standard. Taxation is abusive. Fiat money is the root of consistent inflation and wild business cycles. Government spending is out of control. Wall Street is rife with excess. I could go on and on.
The point is that if the government does nothing to intervene in this, I think the consequences will be pretty serious. What I mean by serious is that the middle-class will continue to erode - and this is the ultimate threat to our democracy. If the masses cannot make a basic living and save, it will lead to chaos. You have to have a stable middle-class to pull our system off.
And that is my point. We have a system - a big integrated and interdependent system with heavy government involvement. Our system has big problems and will face some reckonings in the future. The question is whether we can pump the brakes and face them in a way that doesn't lead to chaos. That is what this bail-out is about. Pumping brakes and buying time for America to get some things on track again.
Have you ever wondered how the German people went nuts for Hitler and Naziism? Let me give you an answer - an economy in total collapse. When money is so worthless that you burn it to keep warm, things get crazy and people look for false saviors. The United States has difficult days ahead, but we can prevent disaster by allowing the government to substantially intervene. It won't be a panacea - it won't. But it will stall meltdown and societal chaos.
I don't like any of this either, but I think we need a bail-out by virtue of the way our system "works." If we just let the market work it out without recognizing the implicit government involvement that got us here (ala GSE's Fannie and Freddie) we are just being naive.
The word, "credit," comes from the Latin, "credere," which means, "belief / trust." To extend someone credit - or to lend money is to trust someone to pay it back. Our financial system is based on a belief that people will honor their commitments and fulfill their debts. America's "credit crisis" is therefore a crisis of trust and belief in our ability to make good on our financial obligations. Banks don't trust enough to lend to one another or to consumers, and consumers don't trust banks to safeguard their deposits. It is a meltdown of good faith across the system.
The background mechanics of our financial system have become very complex and are beyond the scope of this blog to untangle. However, I think we can wrestle with the foundational principles that are being exposed by the current credit crunch. Quite simply, personal responsibility and professional ethics have vanished in the face of greed. Lenders have extended too much easy credit on homes and unsecured debts because the rates of return look unbelievably rich. Getting 10% on a sub-prime mortgage or 15% on credit card debt looks like a great business to be in! Consumers have decided that failure to pay their debts back is no big deal because after all, the banks are gouging them anyway. So what if I don't pay my credit card?
Even though this doesn't characterize our whole system or even most of it - small problems have big implications because our financial system is so interdependent and over-leveraged. Our big toe is a small part of our body, but if the infection spreads to our leg, amputation and / or death may result. Time to stop with the creams and go to a major course of antibiotics. Kill the infection and make sure the patient takes care of his feet from now on.
I believe the bailouts of recent days were probably necessary and that a certain level of regulation is absolutely in order. No argument here. However, no regulation can fix the root issues of personal responsibility, professional ethics, and greed. Those are problems government CAN'T and WON'T solve. Our free-market system is utterly dependent on the "good faith" and trust of its participants. If our culture continues to drift towards Godless secularism, this will only continue to happen on a larger scale. The American capitalist experiment is ultimately dependent on the morality of its culture. As with so many issues, it is an issue of "credere." It is our collective crisis of faith.