December 16, 2017

Dobson Doesn’t Represent Me

dobson.jpgThe discussion at the BHT these days has drifted towards James Dobson, and I finally posted how I feel about this good man who doesn’t represent me and my views most of the time. Criticizing anything about Dobson brings on the mail, so keep those cards and letters coming.

Update: What do I believe about homosexuality? Exactly what Piper believes. What do I believe is the best thing I can do about homosexuality? Preach salvation by grace through faith by Christ ALONE and build up a church that believes that.

James Dobson. The fact that I even have to write about him annoys me. I’d like to make my commitment to ignoring Dobson consistent, but this Spongebob crisis won’t leave me alone. Apparently, I have to say what I think about the man who speaks for me, which I don’t like, and has been maligned in the New York Times, which doesn’t move me at all, considering Dobson’s constant involvement in the culture war.

He’s a psychologist, which interests me slightly less than what color underwear my neighbor wore today. He’s written a bunch of books on parenting and marriage, containing everything from common sense to what sounds to me like backporch speculation. He has the most listened to radio program in the Christian world, a program that is sortof about families, and sortof about cultural issues and definately about building up the mailing list. He’s used his success to build an evangelical empire and is trying to change the culture. It’s a great country. He’s free to do as he chooses. And so am I.

He’s a genuine Christian. A fervent evangelist. A kind, classy man. He’s generous and has a ton of integrity. He seems to be a good father and husband. His financial honesty is unquestioned. He’s the most famous Nazarene I know. He is very compassionate, and I appreciate that. He’s helped a lot of people be better parents and happier as families, and that is great. Really great. He’s a straight talker, and that’s appreciated by me. He cares. He’s made the world better. I’m sure I would like him if we met.

He is obviously more distressed about some cultural issues than I am. He is more distressed about homosexuality in general than I am. He is really distressed that gays might be teaching my kids or trying to promote their agenda in my community. I appreciate the concern, but I don’t see it quite the way he does. Which is fine. I thought. He’s concerned about marriage amendments. He wants all three branches of the government to hear his constituency and appreciate the fervor of their votes and values. I can live with civil unions, and I don’t care if my doctor is gay or if my kid’s teacher is gay. It doesn’t interest me. My view of the Jesus and the Gospel doesn’t lead me to these cultural battles. As a citizen, I have political views, but they aren’t identical to Dobson’s.

[UPDATE: Persons concerned about the above paragraph should read an extended comment on what I mean by “doesn’t interest me,” published here “I don’t care” and “….doesn’t interest me” aren’t statements about homosexuality being wrong and sinful. It’s my attitude towards being involved in the sex life of my neighbor. OF COURSE I would tell him/her that sexual sin is wrong….IF that became the topic of conversation. As someone said in the comments, I’m right there with I Corinthians 5:9-13. Not judging those outside the church. How does Dobson read that scripture?]

I have my beliefs as a Christian. I try to live them and I try to communicate them in word and deed. I believe he is a Christian as well. I appreciate and affirm his right to lobby, raise money, make noise, protest, write Karl Rove and send millions of letters out with the phone number to call to make your congressman pee his pants in fear. I don’t think it works, and I don’t think such political involvments define discipleship as he does.

He is far from perfect. He can be a bit of a bully. Lots of people inside evangelicalism have said it. Among his peers in broadcasting, he is thought of as a man who will lead his way or make you give in and do it his way. He’s not a mean person, but just a guy who is bigger and more aggressive than the other kids and plays harder than the other kids sometimes want to play. He takes the game pretty seriously. He wants to win. That’s fine. I am not on his team, though I sometimes applaud if he plays well. End of metaphor.

He’s not in my church. He doesn’t share my confession. He’s not elected by me. I haven’t endorsed him. I haven’t bought his books or sent him money. I don’t owe him anything. Whatever he purports to “do” for Christians like me, I never asked him to do because I don’t agree with him some of the time.

So is he getting a bad deal on Spongebob? Well, you know why that is? Because he spends his time- all the time- bashing away at liberals, gays, Hollywood, Democrats and so forth on the radio and in print. So when they sense a Teletubby moment, they aren’t going to miss it. OK, I’m sorry he got misquoted, but he’s not just a big boy….he’s about the biggest boy in the game and the other side is going to stick it to him whenever they can. (The metaphor returns.) Does anyone think liberals and Democrats might believe Dr. Dobson has distorted their statements a few times on his radio show? Uh….hello?

Dobson wants hardball. He got hardball. I have little sympathy for him, because he means no more to me than the a million other preachers and Christian “leaders” who I don’t listen to, don’t support, don’t promote and don’t really care about. He wants to be the man who can walk in the Oval Office with 10 million names and starts talking about “my constituency.” I am not interested in that approach to Christian influence in politics, but I have no problem with those who do.

Dobson has spent a career telling people what I must think, do and support in my personal and political life to be a Biblical Christian and a real American. He regularly says that the end of all that is good and true has arrived if we don’t win the next vote. I never signed up for this service and I don’t want it. If he got blindsided by the press, well that’s the way they play the game in the big city, doc. I thought he knew that. I am surprised at how many Christians don’t.

Now, I will get email and comments shocked that I could say anything negative about this wonderful warrior, etc. Let me say it again: He doesn’t represent me. He isn’t my guy. I am not into his agenda. I see things differently. I don’t have to be a fan or a supporter. He’s a public figure and therefore subject to the miniscule opinions of people like me. It’s irritating, I know, but it’s why I blog 🙂

For a look at what I think happens when Dobson and company dominate the cultural view of evangelicals, read the IM essay “Why do they hate us?”

Comments

  1. Dobson got misquoted, eh? Well in this case, it’s a matter of “he who lives by the sword dies by it.”

    I remember when Cal Thomas’ book *Blinded by Might* came out. I read the book, and gave it a hearty “APIB” (Amen, Preach It Brother). A good counterbalance to the hard-charging overly-optimistic political games D.C. Christians play.

    Well, I also remember the monthly newsletter that Dobson issued regarding that book, soon after it was published. He just couldn’t find enough bad things to say about it, or Cal. Ripped it up one end and down the other. And he based his arguments off of… guess how many quotations from the book?

    Five? Four? Three?

    How about *one*. And guess which chapter that quote came from?

    None. It came from *the dust jacket*.

    Now, if I had turned in a paper in seminary critiquing someone or some book, and I only quoted it *once* (and that the just jacket!), they would have run me out of school on a rail – and have been perfectly justified in doing so. Needless to say, after that little incident I called FotF and had myself removed from their mailing list.

    Well, mabye *now* Dobson will go back and re-read what Thomas was trying to tell him then. Or maybe not.

  2. Eric Rodgers says:

    Doug: I recall having similar issues with PDL. That man’s scholarship is just terrible! Check out his citation of C.S. Lewis on p. 37 of PDL. Then read the real quote out of _The Great Divorce_ (e-mail me if you can’t find it). Next, look for Warren’s actual citation on that particular quote. You won’t find it. At, best, that’s called lip-service to a much better author. At worst, it’s plagiarism, and it drives me absolutely nuts! It regularly gets students kicked out of universities, seminaries, and other institutions of higher learning, but he keeps making his millions.

  3. Mike
    I love you website. Keep up the good work. I am concerned about a statement that you have made about the issue of homosexuality means little to you. James Dobson isn’t the issue, The Glory of God is. I find it hard to see how homosexuality brings glory to anybody except the fallen self. Dobson though not Reformed in his faith believes with Abraham Kuyper in his Stone Lectures that Christianity works in every area of our culture. Kuyper believed that Calvinism which is Mere Christianity affects every level of society yea everything in Society.
    Now the issue is not James Dobson, Sponge Bob or the Tele Tubbies. The issue is the Glory of God. I find it hard to swallow that the issue of homosexuality means little to you.
    Living at OBI provides insulation against the reality and unrelenting efforts of homosexuals to push their agenda in every sphere of life. Perhaps we should work as hard to promote our world as they do.
    Mike your website is excellent. Keep up the good work.

    Ken Bolin

  4. Ken,

    I will be glad to explain my position, and have had quite a bit to say about it in this essay: http://www.internetmonk.com/gayold.html

    Please read everything I have to say on this issue before making any detailed conclusions about where I am on this issue.

    This post was about the fact that I differ with Dobson on several key issues. If my positions differ with scripture, I am happy to be corrected. If the SBC had some confessional requirement on this subject, I would like to be aware of it.

    1) Dobson apparently considers many homosexuals to be predators and recruiters. I do not.
    2) Dobson sees homosexuality in America as primarily a political movement. I do not. Frankly, I think Dobson spends a lot of time creating walls between Christians and homosexuals that are not necessary. I know dozens of gay people and none of them are politcal activists. That there are political activist gays is a fact, but it is a distortion to speak as if every gay is out to overturn the values of a community. That is scapegoating and fearmongering.
    3) Dobson never cares to explore the hatred and fear towards homosexuals in the Christian community. I have sat at the lunch table with many Christian staff at our school- including many from local churches- who described acts of hatred they believed should be perpetuated against all homosexuals. What does this have to do with Jesus, and why isn’t Dobson talking about it?
    4) I am not the only Christian talking about Dobson’s obsession with acquiring clout by way of this issue. Read Dobson and Thomas, Blinded by Might. These are men from the Dobson and Falwell camps, with credibility.
    5) My sexual sin is an affront to the glory of God. So is the sexual sin of homosexuals. So are pastors looking at porn and employees of ministries involved in affairs. It’s all an affront to God and it all tears down families. I give Dobson credit for speaking to all of these things, but he raises money off of our fear of homosexual sinners.
    6) What do I mean by it “doesn’t concern me?” Well I sure as heck didn’t mean it wasn’t a sin. I’ve read the Bible, preached and taught the texts. But Romans 1 makes it clear that homosexuality is an EXAMPLE of human depravity and its consequences, not THE example. At the end of Romans 1 Paul includes everything from soup to nuts. The Ten Commandments flush me down the toilet every time. All of them.
    7) It rather amazes me, especially after years in youth ministry, that most churches have sexually active teens, several or many marriages in trouble because on infidelity, but the pastor will preach on homosexual sin far more than on these other sins. Why is that?

    I simply do not view homosexuality any differently than my own sin and I refuse to be manipulated by Dobson into scapegoating homosexuals as the cause of the downfall of the culture or a threat to my kids.

    I am libertarian and Lutheran in my view of government, and I have no real issues with some kind of civil union. I voted against the proposed marriage amendment on libertarian grounds: it was an unnecessary intrusion of the government into the lives of its citizens. I am not ashamed of these stands, I know they are minority stands, I don’t recommend them to my church or my students, but there is nothing in my faith that tells me the civil government must give endorse the Christian faith or its exact view of marriage. I teach my children what God says about marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Christ, but I regularly tell them that God and Caesar aren’t on the same page. What do Christian marriage and the state’s view of marriage have in common anyway?

    So in closing, I affirm all that scripture says about homosexuality, but I do not fear homosexuals or a conspiracy by homosexual activists to destroy our culture. I am not joining Dobson in his political views.

    I agree the glory of God is central. God is most glorified in Jesus Christ, not in morality, and Christ lives to mediate between God and all kinds of sexual sinners. I think we glorify God in the Gospel more than in the law alone.

    As I said, I welcome correction. Thanks for reading.

    If you are going to get me fired, give me a few days notice 🙂

    P.S. I also don’t really care for John Macarthur these days 😮 I’m in bad shape 🙂

  5. One Salient Oversight says:

    Bravo Mike (hmmm, sounds like I’m in the military).

    To tell you the truth, here in Australia I have not read anything the guy has written or heard anything he’s said – so I’ve had to rely on other sources to inform me. This includes you and…er… MacArthur.

    I actually find it amazing that NO ONE ever seems to bring up 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 in this whole argument. For me this is crucial. In 1 Cor 5 (as you know) Paul attacks the Corinthian church for allowing sexual immorality in their midst and essentially calls upon them to “not associate with sexually immoral people” (verse 9)

    But then Paul does something incredibly amazing – he qualifies his statement of verse 9 in verses 10-13 to ensure that the Corinthians do not apply this teaching TO UNBELIEVERS. So when Paul says don’t associate with sexually immoral people, he’s actually talking about “those who bear the name of brother” who are sexually immoral. He argues very strongly that unbelievers who are sexually immoral should NOT be avoided.

    What this gives us, essentially, is a precedent. How should we deal with unbelievers who are sexually immoral? We DO NOT JUDGE THEM verse 12 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders?”, and then in verse 13 “God judges those outside”.

    Yes Homosexuality is wrong and, like all forms of sexual sin, is something that God hates. What are we to do about it? Well, if the sexually immoral are “outside” the church (ie unbelievers), then nothing. If they are “inside” the church (ie claiming to be believers), then we should come down upon them like 1000 kilograms of clay-based modular building material.

    Any Christian who claims that we should enforce Christian ethics by legal means should read these verses.

    How of course can they stop this lifestyle of sin? Well, they are slaves to sin, and this requires a miraculous work of God to heal them. They must become spiritually alive. And this can only happen when the gospel is proclaimed to them.

    Dobson and others like him have lost confidence in the power of the Gospel to change people’s lives.

    Re: MacArthur. What’s he done to annoy you? That should be the subject of a future article.

  6. I used this passage just this past Sunday as a refernce to why Jesus didn’t hassle the woman at the well for being a bad person. It is an extraordinary passage, and all the more because of the rampant heterosexual sin that is going on in mose churches, especially fornication, adultery and pornography.

    Macarthur may make it to the IM weekend file.

  7. Ol'Geezer says:

    (Whatever one reads into or out of the following please keep in mind that I believe in the sovereignty of God: whatever comes to pass does so because God so ordained it. ManÂ’s efforts and accomplishments are all fall GodÂ’s providence (Ps. 20:7; 33:17; 147:10; Prov. 21:31).

    Romans 1: One should note that the specific unrighteousnesses in verses 24 – 31 are a result of not honoring God (vv. 21-23, 28). It is probably that Paul choose to expand on homosexually in vv. 26—27 because it was a culturally accepted practice and an integral part of pagan religion and worship. Therefore, Paul would have been concerned that homosexual practices would come to be accepted within the Church. (Isn’t this what is currently going on in America? Recently an Episcopal bishop(?) (a practicing homosexual) said that he would not perform any more heterosexual marriage ceremonies, including one for his son, until the Church allowed homosexual marriage ceremonies.) Regardless of Paul’s reason for emphasizing the unrighteousness of homosexual behavior, the fact is that he did and in doing so he made it the zenith (or is it the nadir) of human depravity which results from idolatry.

    1 Corinthians 5: Paul, in v. 10, clarifies what he had written previously. Whether or not the Corinthians were actually avoiding associating all immoral people is not specifically stated. A case could be made for such an inference. Possibly Paul is clarifying his previous letter because of a question raised by the Corinthians. In any case, and in light of 2 Cor. 6:14, Paul clarification is directed specifically towards spreading the gospel (not in creating amiable social contracts) since Paul knows that there are yet unconverted elect among those immoral people outside the Church. Judging people outside the Church means to consider them as “unworthy” to hear the gospel because of their behavior. Not to judge does not mean that we are to be lackadaisical with regard to their behavior. In fact, such behavior is a manifestation of their rebellion toward God, regardless of how civilized they may appear outwardly. With respect to Paul’s summary of Chapter 5, vv. 12 & 13, the contrast is not between the Church’s duty and that of civil government (or Christians functioning within civil government), but between the Church’s duty and what God will do. I do not see how 1 Cor. 5 can be used to identify what a Christian (leader or laity) may or may not do with respect to that which God has ordained for civil government.

    As a citizen of the US the fact that I am a Christian doesnÂ’t remove my right to oppose (or affirm) any law for any reason or for no reason. For example, I would suppose that most atheists affirm laws against most forms of murder. Yet, they have no bases for this other than manÂ’s opinion. Likewise, as a Christian, I affirm laws against murder, but my basis is GodÂ’s Word and not my opinion or that of other men. Nevertheless, both bases are valid (but not necessarily accepted) within our culture (legal system). Similarly, I can oppose (or affirm) state sanctioned homosexual marriages or civil unions for any reason or for no reason. If my position on this matter is based on GodÂ’s Word, to say that my position is not acceptable because it would impose my religious belief on those who hold contrary religious beliefs, is to say that we couldnÂ’t have laws against murder because such laws would also impose my religious belief on those who hold contrary religious beliefs, even if they agreed with me as to the end result. The issue then, culturally speaking, is not about reasons for goals but achieving goals.

    Within our system the means of achieving cultural goals is through representative constitutional republicanism. (Unfortunately, the judicial branch has subverted our system, but that is a matter for another day.) Accordingly, even though I am a Christian, my citizenship allows (and my Christianity requires) me to seek those goals which I think will lead to the best possible society. Within our system such seeking is a matter of amassing political power. If I base my goals on my religious beliefs and in publicizing such beliefs I gain sufficient support of like-minded citizens to achieve my goals, then I have functioned within the design of our system. Further, I have carried out my Christian duty to work for a justice society.

    Our system is based on political arm-twisting. What politician donÂ’t like about Christians doing it is that the quid pro quo most often doesnÂ’t go beyond support in future elections. And such support can evaporate with one false step.

    Now, as to a Christian leader claiming to speak for all Christians on a certain matter, I do not recall an incidence of this. Certainly there must have been some on the fringes who where not really leaders (that is, didnÂ’t have a significant following) and who have made such claims, but no one has taken them seriously. I would be surprise if Dobson, Falwell or the like ever made such a claim. What I find is that Christians who oppose the goals or even the strategies of such men do so by inference. It is much easier to say that person doesnÂ’t represent me than is to work for one believes in. Of course, if one is satisfied with the way things are and are progressing then I suppose disassociation with those who see things differently is sufficient.

  8. One Salient Oversight says:

    Thanks for your response Ol’G. Let me take issue with some of your points.

    One of the assumptions you have made is that only the God-ordained “Christian life” with all of its ethics and morals will lead to the best form of society. Atheists, you argue, oppose murder but do not realise that they base this upon Biblical principles.

    Paul’s attitude to the government of the day is interesting. The Roman empire was a dictatorial, inherently racist, expansionistic, imperialistic, corrupt and thoroughly steeped in paganism. And yet Paul says that God allowed the Roman Empire to exist and that we should pay them taxes. In fact the only time in the New testament that the Roman Empire gets any flak is in Revelation when it begins to persecute the church.

    God, in his great mercy, has allowed us to live in societes that provide us with order and prosperity. Europe is possibly one of the most secular and non-religious places in the world, and yet they are hardly suffering because of their opposition to God.

    You say that “my citizenship allows (and my Christianity requires) me to seek those goals which I think will lead to the best possible society.” No. Our kingdom is not of this world. The best possible society can only come when people bow their knees to Christ and this can only occur when the Gospel is preached.

    Christians who focus on supporting political goals that enforce Christian morals and ethics have lost their confidence in the Gospel, and have placed their confidence in human political systems.

    Here is Australia we have a society which grants our citizens freedom and wealth and order. If you use the “Human Development Index” as a comparison, you find Australia has a better overall standard of living than the USA. And yet less that 5% of our people are truly Christians. That’s why I don’t go out protesting when there is a gay rights parade – I think it is better to preach the Gospel and let God do the work.

  9. Barbara Kelley says:

    I’ve read all the articles and all the disclaimers. I’ve received the letter from FotF explaining how badly Dr. Dobson has been represented. I do think he’s been mis-represented. His quarrel isn’t with SpongeBob or any other cartoon character. His quarrel is with the pledge that students will be asked to make. This pledge is to show respect to all people regardless of color, race, etc, AND sexual orientation.

    Where I depart entirely from Dobson. I want my kids to show respect to people, all people. I don’t want them to be DISrespectful towards people, PERIOD. I realize that it’s a fine line between respecting a person whose life choices I don’t agree with and respecting those life choices. I don’t want my kids to grow up believing that every choice about sexuality deserves respect. I DO want them to grow up believing that they need to show respect to every person, regardless of their life choices. It IS a fine line, but that’s okay. I’m The Mom and it’s my job to teach fine lines.

    My question for Dr. Dobson would be this: do we want our children to treat people who make lifestyle choices different from our own with DISrespect? Is that REALLY what we want to be training our children up to?

  10. Monk,

    I am with you 100% on not only Dobson but all of the other Christian “leaders” we have. You had an excellent post some time ago called: “None dare call it marketing” about Beth Moore and Lifeway. I thought of it immediately when reading your thoughts on Dobson.

    I know in my denomination a man has to go through some pretty serious examination to be granted the authority to preach, but the Dobsons of the world seem to think they speak for all of God’s kingdom because they are syndicated on radio throughout the country.

    Thanks for the great post and the great site!

  11. Ol'Geezer says:

    Brother OSO, I regret that my earlier post failed to communicate my thinking clearly. I hope the following will achieve that.
    1. Of all people, Christians should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. It is not an either/or condition (the gospel or political activity) but a both/and condition (the gospel and political activity). Political activity does not logically imply a lost of confidence in the Gospel. Quite the contrary, it is confidence in the Gospel that inspires political activity by a Christian.
    2. All societies (and the resulting governments) are by nature religious. Some such a North Korea and Iran are extreme in their religiosity in that they attempt to eliminate all divergent religious thought. Others, such as China and Turkey are less extreme. Other societies, particularly those with Western roots are more tolerant of divergent religious thought (as long as it is not Christian thought). As a result each society has “greater evils” which should be addressed by the appropriate political activity. As an example, I think that the most appropriate political activity in North Korea is the spread of the gospel. While other evils in North Korea could be address we know from the Bible and post-biblical history that, when the bringing of the gospel is made effective by the Holy Spirit in an area or country, Christians then exercise, under the power of the Holy Spirit, other political activity (without diminution of bringing the gospel), resulting in the increase of justice within that society.
    3. Turning to the USA, the gospel has, for the most part, been freely proclaimed for almost 400 years. God willing, that will continue to be true. But what rationale can there be for Christians limiting themselves to that one political activity? God has provided the opportunity for Christians to take other political activity in the area of addressing legal evils: abortion, sexual immorality, pornography and so forth. Where is the virtue of allowing these evils such as these to remain unchallenged? Christians are not fools. We know that working to make a legal evil illegal will not, in of itself, directly bring eternal life to any individual. That is the sovereign work of God. But are we so sure that God will not use such efforts in the effective application of the gospel?
    4. There are those who say that Jesus did not act politically, but this not true. The great evil of his time was not the occupation of Israel by the Romans. The great evil of that time was the sub-political system (as allowed by the Romans) of the high priest, scribes (Pharisees) and ruling elders. Throughout his ministry Jesus confronted these people and purposely incited their anger at him. His attack on these “useful idiots” of the Roman government was political activity against that government. These Jewish leaders knew (from man’s viewpoint) that if Jesus came to power, not only would they be out of power, but that the Romans would install a more repressive military regime in Israel. Jesus’ encounter with Pilate was not a surrender of the earth (the physical universe?) to the world system of Satan, of which the Romans were then the most obvious manifestation, but was the ultimate political victory declaration. Even Pilate got a sense of what was really going on.
    5. A similar case can be made for Paul. His teaching was in direct opposition to the pagan religions, religions which were integral to the political structure of the time. PaulÂ’s epistles begin with the gospel and end how to live out the gospel. And living out the gospel was their political activity in opposition to the legal evil of their society. God did not ordain for them a society where they had the opportunity for other political activity to confront such evil. But this is not the case today for Christians in the US.

    So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (Jas 4:17).

    Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Pr 14:34).

  12. Monk,

    In a response you stated, “I simply do not view homosexuality any differently than my own sin and I refuse to be manipulated by Dobson into scapegoating homosexuals as the cause of the downfall of the culture or a threat to my kids.”

    Indeed, James Dobson has led many Christians to fail to understand the significance of Romans 1. Homosexuality is not the great sin that will be the downfall of our culture or threaten the future for our children. According to Paul, homosexuality is the thing to which God turns people to indulge on account of idolatry. Homosexuality is God’s punishment for idolatry which is the great sin of our society. God has turned our society over to wanton sexual perversion, engaging in sex acts with the same rather than the other, just as they have worshiped the same (namely creation) rather than the other (namely the Creator).

    Paul, in other words, identifies perversion of sex as God’s punishment (“he turned them over to” [a biblical expression of punishment]) for a people who have become idolaters. Many ministers of the gospel throughout the last century, so distracted by other matters (including fighting one another in the Fundamentalist and Evangelical battles), failed badly as they failed to call people to godliness and holiness, forsaking true worliness, which is worship of the created order rather than the Creator. Mass evangelism focused upon securing people to walk aisles but failed to secure hearts submissive to the Creator, manifested in godliness. How many ministers of the gospel failed because they themselves failed to have hearts radically changed to pursue godliness? I personally know many, far too many!

  13. One Salient Oversight says:

    Ol Geezer, here are my responses.

    1. Given that Mike Spencer’s current target is Joel Osteen, we sometimes need to remember WHY such a thing can happen – that a man who does not preach or teach the gospel can become so powerful and influential within the evangelical church. I actually know why – it is because the gospel has NOT BEEN PROCLAIMED IN AMERICA FOR 400 YEARS. The rot really set in with Charles Finney and his atonementless gospel during the early 19th century. It is that which has warped the American evangelical church into the mutant that we see today.

    2. So if we assume, then, that America is not so spiritually strong, we can probably understand why it is that a so called Christian nation can justify its historical actions in Haiti, Guatemala, Chile, Iran and why it is that Abu Ghraib occurred.

    3. So on the one hand we have an evangelical church that is currently gospel-less and biblically illiterate, and on the other hand we have a whole bunch of “evangelicals” who are politically active in promoting Christian morality, and even making alliances with Mormons and Moslems to further their aspirations – take a bow Mr Dobson.

    4. We also have a situation in which not only is the gospel not proclaimed in most evangelical churches, but in many of them, rank heresies like Kingdom Now theology and the Manifest Sons of God, exist alongside some mutated version of Christian Reconstructuralism. Their goal is to fight the forces of darkness in political places and to “take over” these institutions for Christ. They do this to make a more Christian society in order to speed up the return of Christ. They pray against territorial demons and believe in new prophets and apostles that will come and lead the church into a glorious new era (Peter Wagner is big on this), while at the same time they believe that God is raising up special “overcomers” to fit into these secular positions – why are George W. and John Ashcroft so beloved by these Christians?

    5. And yet in the midst of this we have no gospel being preached. Churches have, by and large, have opted to no longer preach the gospel and instead focus upon the political side of things.

    Here’s a challenge for you.

    Is Homosexuality a sin? Yes. So we should enforce laws that prevent homosexuality? Yes (I am assuming your response).

    Is Abortion a sin? Yes. So we should enforce laws that prevent Abortion? Yes.

    Is being an Atheist a sin? Yes. So we should enforce laws to prevent Atheism?

    Is being a Moslem a sin? Yes. So we should enfore laws to prevent Islam?

    Is refusing to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour a sin? Yes. Then we should enforce laws to make people into Christians.

    To my mind, rejecting Christ and being a practicing homosexual are both sinful. If we legislate against one, we should legislate against another. Do we really want a society that enforces Christian belief? If not, then why are we spending so much time trying to enforce Christian morals? Isn’t our preoccupation with enforcing Christian morals without enforcing Christian belief an indication that we are focused on works and not on faith in Christ?

    After all, the American evangelical church seems to have totally lost the gospel hasn’t it?

  14. Barbara Kelley says:

    Totally? That’s a pretty absolute word there, pal. The gospel is preached every Sunday in MY church. I think your generalizations have gone beyond sweeping and into out-of-hand.

  15. Far from totally. Turn off the tv dude 🙂

  16. Michael –

    Gonna have to dig in the files and read it all before I’m certain but I think I’ve found a kindred spirit (no its not a proposal of marriage).

    Like what I read so far; I’ll be back!

  17. I love James Dobson, so I appreciate the kind things you said about him. With a list like this (“He’s a genuine Christian. A fervent evangelist. A kind, classy man. He’s generous and has a ton of integrity. He seems to be a good father and husband. His financial honesty is unquestioned. He’s the most famous Nazarene I know.He is very compassionate, and I appreciate that. He’s helped a lot of people be better parents and happier as families, and that is great. Really great. He’s a straight talker, and that’s appreciated by me. He cares. He’s made the world better. I’m sure I would like him if we met.”-Internet Monk), I’m not sure how important it is to agree on the various side issues!

    Having said that, I also appreciate many of your articles, including this one. I just wanted to point something out. I saw James Dobson on TV being asked about the Spongebob incident. I think he was misquoted, but I really don’t think he whined about it. He just went on to give his side and to let people know what he did and did not say since it wasn’t being accurately reported. What’s wrong with that?

    Anyone with such a high profile is bound to have detractors, even within Christianity. I happen to mostly agree with Dobson, but I have no problem that you hold another view. I think you disagreed and gave your opposing view in a way that many can learn from.

    NCC

  18. Shannon Richey says:

    Frankly, I am glad you said what you did because more ministers need to do the same..one thing that non-christians I have heard have a problem with is the fact that we, as Christians, never seem to stand up against those who are perverting the message of Christ and then we whine about people thinking we are all alike. How in the world is anyone going to see the real Christ if they never hear it from people like you, Michael, and if the only image of Christianity they get are the loudmouth RR guys? That is exactly the image many, many people have of Christians and especially evangelicals…and that is really sad.

    And I am also glad to hear that I am not the only one who doesn’t give two flips what other people do in their bedroom that doesn’t harm anyone or break any laws, and who thinks that there are much better things to be concerned with.

  19. Shannon Richey says:

    RJStevens, i agree with your point and will add to it..

    Not only do some people seem to think they have more insight to God than others simply because they have a radio show, but the *listeners* often seem to think that too. Many people I have known seem to think that Dobson and Robertson and Copeland and all of that should somehow be listened to above the preacher down the street simply because these people are on the radio/tv and the preacher isn’t. They don’t consider that cameras and microphones do not a good teacher make.

  20. Paula Schmidt says:

    On Dobson’s financial honesty: He does not make money from the radio show or donations to Fotf. However, the radio show and FOTF exist to promote the sale of his books, of which he keeps 100% of the profits. He controls the FOTF board; it is not independent.

    On his theological training: None. His PhD is in Psychology. He reads Paul’s letters in individual verses, out of context, without knowing to whom Paul wrote them or what issues Paul was addressing.

    On his child-rearing advice: For me, it is uncomfortably close to the practices advocated in Germany in the early 1900’s, practices considered by many to be a significant factor in the ability for Germany to produce so many obedient soldiers able to do violence against those who were considered “the other”. There, the focus was on raising a child to be OBEDIENT AT ALL TIMES above all else, and to use physical punishment to do it.

    And finally, on his odd fixation on homosexuality: I don’t know what that’s about. I have seen many children become obsessed with a toy they see on TV that they do not or cannot have.

    Who did Jesus condemn? The “sinful” woman at the well or the Pharisee bragging about his moral superiority to others?

    How many times in the Gospel are we told to care for the poor? How many times are we told to hate, punish, condemn, or shame homosexuals?

    “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” Today, Christians are equated with hate by non-believers. This will win no one to the Gospel.

  21. Bravo on the article, I have no time in my world for people like Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, and many others I could name – some of these may truly be good men, but I honestly think that most of them are opportunist’s and are making a lot of money off of what they are doing. The competition to see who can be the most famous and powerful talking head has really gotten out of hand this generation. Like Michael alluded to, Jesus wasn’t out making political stump speeches to shut down AphroditeÂ’s massage parlor, or the Hermes Gay bath house.

    Ultimately the winners in this whole thing are the Republican Party, they figured out a way to get a strong foothold with this constituency. So they can run roughshod over the country with their policies that REALLY affect our lives as citizens as long as they say they are going to address these issues of the “so called” moral majority. When are Christians going to learn to separate their Christianity from the political process? I would think loss of jobs, health care, EDUCATION, relying on foreign oil, and a host of other issues are more important politically than your unsaved neighbor’s sexual choices.

    An interesting article might be on the subject Conviction or Commandment?

    Owen

  22. Like to watch Stargate Atlantis episodes and also Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.