Editor’s Note: Originally published on Crosswalk.com
Writing in the On Faith blog for the Washington Post, Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach claimed that evangelical Christians have “utterly marginalized themselves with their obsession over homosexuality.” Is this true? To be sure, in the aftermath of the elections, a lively debate is taking place as to whether evangelicals have been marginalized politically or, to the contrary, have actually increased in influence. But what about our alleged obsession with homosexuality?
When Rabbi Shmuley made this accusation in a November 1st debate we had on the subject of homosexuality, I conducted an impromptu survey of the audience, which was almost exclusively evangelical, asking them to respond to four questions: How many of them heard a sermon in the last year on the importance of marriage? Virtually every hand went up. The importance of devoting time and energy to the raising of their children? Same response. The dangers of sexual sin (and/or pornography)? The same response again. A sermon about gay activism? Not a single hand.
This, however, did not impress psychologist and professor Warren Throckmorton, who wrote on his blog, “While I mean no disrespect to his audience, I am not going to trust that they are a representative sample. I certainly disagree with Brown about the obsession of some evangelicals with homosexuality,” citing other examples that allegedly backed his claim.
Are the rabbi and the psychologist correct? Was my audience not representative of evangelicals as a whole? (Bear in mind that the audience consisted of people who were interested enough in the subject of homosexuality to come to the debate, yet somehow, if Throckmorton is correct, they were less exposed to the subject than those who were not there. Go figure.)
Let’s step back and think about this in terms of day to day, evangelical life. Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of sermons preached in evangelical pulpits across America, and there are thousands of evangelical books that are published, from novels to devotionals to commentaries to sermon collections to testimonies to books on doctrine, theology, prayer, discipleship, marriage, family, childrearing, worship, education, politics, missions, abortion, social action, and more. There is an almost endless stream of evangelical radio and TV shows, with millions of hours of programming, and there are hundreds of evangelical Bible schools, ministry training centers, colleges, universities and seminaries, offering thousands of courses between them.
Of all those sermons, books, radio and TV shows, and college and seminary classes, how many are focused on homosexual issues? Less than 1% would be a fairly good estimate; less than 10% could be absolutely guaranteed. (I invite Rabbi Shmuley or Prof. Throckmorton to challenge this estimate based on a survey of any of the data just mentioned, some of which is readily available.)
What about pro-family organizations like Focus on Family? Haven’t they been obsessed with homosexuality? Actually, under the leadership of Dr. James Dobson, who stressed the importance of evangelicals being involved in the political process, less than 3% of the Focus budget was devoted to homosexual issues, including funds that were designated to help people overcome same-sex attraction. So, out of a budget that reached $130 million, less than $4 million was devoted to homosexual issues. Contrast this with the budget of an organization like the Human Rights Campaign, devoted entirely to promoting gay activism, and topping $35 million in 2010. Yet it is evangelicals who are allegedly obsessed with the issue?
As for evangelical voting in the elections, it is true that certain moral issues are important to evangelicals, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, but for better or worse, issues like the economy or the reach of the government play a much more dominant role, as seen in the recent elections. Plus, how much of our time and energy is spent voting or politicking?
The truth be told, it is actually gay activists who are obsessed with homosexuality (which is no surprise, since from their perspective, this is who they are and they are fighting a battle for equality and civil rights), and they are often joined in their obsession by an all too-willing media, which is also obsessively focused on anyone who takes a public stand against gay activism. And so, virtually every day, we hear about the move to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or about gay teen suicides, or about the fight for same-sex marriage in the courts, or about gay-focused legislation like the Hate Crimes Bill or ENDA, or about some other gay-related story. And from another angle, as noted by Time Magazine‘s Michael Kinsley, “Kids are also exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant. You rarely see a reality show without a gay cast member, while Rosie O’Donnell is a coveted free agent and Ellen DeGeneres is America’s sweetheart.”
For the last two years, our president has officially recognized June as Gay Pride Month, and in 2009, he welcomed 300 gay activists to the White House to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (“This is your house,” he said to them). In the business world, 300 of the nation’s biggest companies earned perfect scores from the Human Rights Campaign by kowtowing to their demands, while on our campuses, college professors have been fired and students expelled for expressing differences with homosexual practice. Yet the moment we draw attention to today’s pervasive obsession with homosexuality or raise an objection to the queering of America, we are immediately accused of being obsessed. How convenient!
So let the truth be told. It is gay activists and their allies, not evangelicals, who are obsessed with homosexuality. We evangelicals are simply holding our moral ground.
Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, “The Line of Fire,” and author of the forthcoming book A Queer Thing Happened to America
Posted in News, Revolution & Justice Tagged with: Crosswalk.com, discipleship, don't ask don't tell, Dr. James Dobson, gay activists, hate crimes bill, homosexuality, Human Rights Campaign, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Rosie O'Donnell, same-sex marriage, shmuley boteach, time magazine, Warren Throckmorton, white house
Time Magazine sets the figure of abortions carried out in China every year at 13 million. Chinese National newspaper, The China Daily, however, says that actually the numbers of abortions are much higher with 10 million abortion pills being sold every year and an undisclosed, immeasurable number of abortions carried out in rural facilities.
With abortion figures as high as 23 million fetuses yearly, that is 7% of the American population, surely something is dramatically awry in China. Since 1979, the Chinese government has held in place a ‘one-child policy,’ that is to say, most families are allowed only one child (there are some exceptions.) Every family violating this rule is subject to increased taxes and other fines to deter couples from breaking the law in future.
The one-child policy, coupled with a culture quickly developing a liberal outlook towards casual sex, surely causes the rate of abortion to skyrocket.
How long will the Chinese government allow injustice caused by their policy?
Posted in Life & Family, News Tagged with: abortion, abortion pills, Abortions, casual sex, China, Chinese, family, foetuses, injustice, justice, Time, time magazine
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” -1 Tim. 1.15
The phrase “peccator justus” is Latin for, “justified sinner.” I am not a Latin expert, or anything close to one actually, but the two words are reverberating through my mind and heart as I type today. Here is the reason why:
On December 9th, 1968 a man named Karl Barth- a Swiss/German theologian- was working on writing a lecture. Barth was probably the most well-known theologian of the 20th century. He was a controversial man, who was known to challenge the categories of both Liberal and Evangelical theologians, and to shake the dusty definitions of God that had crippled the world of theology. He resisted the Nazi Regime’s falsely concocted version of Scripture and Church, personally mailing his statement to Hitler himself, for which reason he lost his esteemed position as a professor in Germany at the University of Bonn. The beloved Evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce noted that Barth’s 1919 commentary on Romans fell “like a bombshell on the theologians’ playground, and we are still feeling its reverberations today.”
He challenged the entire landscape of 20th century theology, jolting systems of thought and calling scholars and pastors to let God be God over their labors and studies. He said that we needed to recover the “Godness of God,” and to hear Paul’s spirit beneath the surface of the NT texts. He hand-wrote over 20,000 pages of theology over the course of 50-plus years in theological work. I may not agree with all of his theological conclusions, nor all of the decisions he made over the course of many years in pastoral ministry, theological labors, and authorship. But I really appreciate the man, and so much of what the Lord brought to the Church through him. The fruit of his labors goes on in the lives of many believers who have never heard his name and who are not likely to ever read one of his books.
Back to December 9th of ’68. Barth was 82 year of age, and by this time he “spoke of his death remarkably often and even wanted to talk about the details of his funeral.” Being the thinker, theologian, and pastor that he was, Barth had reflected on the reality of death and eternity very long and very hard for many decades. When he visited the U.S. in 1962, he was put on the cover of TIME magazine in painted form, standing in front of Jesus’ empty tomb with his own words as a banner above: “The goal of the human life is not death, but resurrection.”
Now he was aged, and even seemed to sense that his days were drawing to a close. In some of his last letters written, he made these awesome statements:
Looking back, I have no serious complaints about anyone or anything: except my own failures today, yesterday, the day before yesterday and the day before that- I mean my failures in real gratitude. Perhaps I still have bitter days ahead, and certainly my death will come sooner or later. One thing remains, for me to remember and impress upon myself…. ‘Do not forget the good that He has done!’
… How do I know whether I shall die easily or with difficulty? I only know that my dying, too, is part of my life… And then- this is the destination, the limit and the goal for all of us- I shall no longer ‘be’, but I shall be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, in and with my whole ‘being,’ with all the real good and the real evil that I have thought, said and done, with all the bitterness that I have suffered and all the beauty that I have enjoyed. There I shall only be able to stand as the failure that I doubtless was in all things, but… by virtue of His promise, as a peccator justus. And as that I shall be able to stand. Then… in the light of grace, all that is now dark will become very clear.
It’s remarkable how tender and sensitive to mercy a man becomes when he is on the edge of eternity. All of a sudden, the grudges we have held, the suspicions we have harbored, the fears which have ruled us, the possessions we’ve coveted, and the self-righteousness we’ve carried, all become utter vanity before the reality of standing face to face with the God of all creation. Before the Light of His unveiled glory, every one of us have marks of the intensest soul-stains, and we realize that all of our boasting has no merit whatsoever- all of our religious and social facades are exposed for the falsities that they are, and we are moved to cry out for the reality of mercy.
Barth was interrupted from writing his lecture by the phone calls of two friends. One of them, a man named Eduard Thurneysen, had “remained faithful to him over sixty years. They talked about the gloomy world situation. Then Barth said, ‘But keep your chin up! Never mind! He will reign!‘”
These would become his last recorded words.
“… Barth did not go back to his draft which he had left in the middle of a sentence, but put it aside until the next day. However, he did not live that long. He died peacefully some time in the middle of the night. He lay there as though asleep, with his hands gently folded from his evening prayers. So his wife found him the next morning, while in the background a record was playing the Mozart with which she had wanted to waken him.”
Interestingly enough, before he breathed his last “he had been writing a few sentences of the draft for his lecture in which he was saying that in the church it is always important to listen to the Fathers who have gone before in the faith. For ‘God is not a God of the dead but of the living. In him they all live.'”
If we would walk with a greater consciousness of the fragility and preciousness of life, and the reality of death, we would become in a more concentrated manner, a people of mercy. We all fall under the category of ‘peccator.’ We have sinned, and worse, our souls actually consist of the substance of iniquity and wickedness. Sin is not only a litany of things we’ve committed, it’s a part of our very fiber and nature as humans. Yet death approaches for each one of us, and immediately following the breathing of our last breath, we encounter the One Who made heaven and earth. As Barth said, “I only know that my dying, too, is part of my life…” The only hope that any of us have is in the cross of Jesus Christ. Only He has the power to yank us from the category of sinner (peccator), and to place us within the glorious family of those who have been justified and transformed by the power of His indestructible life (peccator justus)!
When Christ has transformed our hearts, we can face the adversities of life, and the shakings and tumblings of the Kingdoms of this world in the same vein that Barth encouraged:
“… keep your chin up! Never mind! He will reign!“
He will reign, saints, and no matter what befalls the nations in these last days, however dim your vision is at present, there is a vital and eternal hope for those who have repented and believed the Son of God. He will reign, and the proof is in your own justification before the throne of God. Rejoice, then, in so great a salvation! Let your heart send streams of enraptured gratitude to the Savior!
There will come a day when the saints will inherit the manifested reality of resurrected and glorified bodies. The propensity for sin, the pulls of temptation, the stubborn presence of pride and self-consciousness, fatigue and sickness will once and for all be removed from our experience. Our fallibility and dim sights will be totally submerged in the Light of His wonderful perfections. Glorious day!
Until then, we turn to Him day by day, that His likeness and glory might rise in our present experience. We’ve been justified by the power of a Blood which speaks better than the blood of Abel. We have a radically opened access to righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. One day, our justification before God will be manifested in full, but until that day dawns, let us receive the Spirit of Holiness in increasing measure. Let us go from glory to glory and from faith to faith, hastening the day of His return, and letting our newfound light shine before men. As A.W. Tozer once stated:
What God is seeking is a people in the earth who will trust him now as completely as they know they must at the final day.
“… keep your chin up! Never mind! He will reign!“
(All Barth quotes taken from Karl Barth: His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts, Eberhard Busch; Fortress Press, 1975, pp. 497-499; Tozer quote from an audio message)
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: F.F. Bruce, Germany, Karl Barth, Paul, theologians, theology, time magazine
The following is an excerpt from Voice of Revolution‘s purpose and vision as written on our about page:
Voice of Revolution is the online magazine of the ministry of Dr. Michael Brown, devoted to helping equip, strengthen, and mobilize a Jesus-people in the earth today: a people devoted to the teachings and character of the Son of God, a people committed to being like Him as well as to doing His will, a people who take God’s Word seriously and feel a holy calling to make their lives count for the Master, a people who believe that as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we can make a difference. And far from feeling that this is a special or elitist calling, we believe that this is the sacred privilege of every child of God – in denominations, in house churches, in fellowships of all kinds around the world. All those who truly know the Lord are called to live countercultural lives and to be ambassadors of His kingdom.
We believe that it is time for God’s people to take hold of His revolutionary purposes on the earth today. As one socialist said in the 1920’s, “We socialists would have nothing to do if you Christians had continued the revolution begun by Jesus.”
What would a “Jesus People” living “countercultural lives“ really look like? The Book of Acts describes just such a people who turned their world upside down through the gospel. They serve as the model for us, but what about contemporary history? Are there any examples of what a movement of counterculture Jesus People looks like?
Consider the Jesus Movement of a generation ago. At a time when, as one pastor puts it, the church had become nothing more than a social club; a flood of hippies left their lives of sinful rebellion and became counterculture Jesus followers. Even the mainstream media took notice of this influential movement. If you picked up a copy of Time Magazine during the week of June 21st, 1971, you would have seen the Jesus Revolution cover to the right, and you would have read the following cover story within its pages:
ALIAS: THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS, PRINCE OF PEACE, ETC.
> Notorious leader of an underground liberation movement
>Wanted for the following charges:
—Practicing medicine, winemaking and food distribution without a license.
—Interfering with businessmen in the temple.
—Associating with known criminals, radicals, subversives, prostitutes and street people.
—Claiming to have the authority to make people into God’s children.
APPEARANCE: Typical hippie type—long hair, beard, robe, sandals.
> Hangs around slum areas, few rich friends, often sneaks out into the desert.
BEWARE: This man is extremely dangerous. His insidiously inflammatory message is particularly dangerous to young people who haven’t been taught to ignore him yet. He changes men and claims to set them free.
WARNING: HE IS STILL AT LARGE!
HE is indeed. As the words of this Wanted poster from a Christian underground newspaper demonstrate, Jesus is alive and well and living in the radical spiritual fervor of a growing number of young Americans who have proclaimed an extraordinary religious revolution in his name. Their message: the Bible is true, miracles happen, God really did so love the world that he gave it his only begotten son. In 1966 Beatle John Lennon casually remarked that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ; now the Beatles are shattered, and George Harrison is singing My Sweet Lord. The new young followers of Jesus listen to Harrison, but they turn on only to the words of their Master: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Christian coffeehouses have opened in many cities, signaling their faith even in their names: The Way Word in Greenwich Village, the Catacombs in Seattle, I Am in Spokane. A strip joint has been converted to a “Christian nightclub” in San Antonio. Communal “Christian houses” are multiplying like loaves and fishes for youngsters hungry for homes, many reaching out to the troubled with round-the-clock telephone hot lines. Bibles abound: whether the cherished, fur-covered King James Version or scruffy, back-pocket paperbacks, they are invariably well-thumbed and often memorized. “It’s like a glacier,” says “Jesus-Rock” Singer Larry Norman, 24. “It’s growing and there’s no stopping it.”
There is an uncommon morning freshness to this movement, a buoyant atmosphere of hope and love along with the usual rebel zeal. Some converts seem to enjoy translating their new faith into everyday life, like those who answer the phone with “Jesus loves you” instead of “hello.” But their love seems more sincere than a slogan, deeper than the fast-fading sentiments of the flower children; what startles the outsider is the extraordinary sense of joy that they are able to communicate… click to continue reading the article …
As we seek to bring about a new Jesus People movement in our time, let’s hear the cry of a generation ago; from a people who “turn[ed] on only to the words of their Master” and “startle[d] outsiders” with their “extraordinary sense of joy.”
Posted in Revolution & Justice Tagged with: counterculture, jesus movement, jesus revolution, Jesus-people, time magazine