October 20, 2017

Who’s On Our Team?: An Exercise in Identifying Stereotypes

brain.jpgI am getting beaten up pretty badly in the blogosphere right now, so let’s try to think about the subject of conformity. I would like to invite you to explore with me the following thesis:

Christians in America are increasingly falling into the stereotypical categories being created by the engines of the culture war, making it difficult for thoughtful people who resist categorization and do not fully identify with the polarizations of the culture war to be tolerated within evangelicalism or identified as “real Christians.” In fact, the very categories themselves fail to accommodate the rich diversities and depths of the Biblical/Christian worldview.

Take a look at the choices, read the post, and while I am not asking you to comment on all the choices, I would invite you to comment on those items that you feel most strongly support or deny my premise.

Conservative…………………………………..Liberal
Evangelical Christian………………………..Liturgical Christian
Inerrancy……………………………………….Bible as Literature
Rejection of Biblical Criticism……………..Openness to Biblical Criticism
Evangelism…………………………………….Social Action
Pro-Life………………………………………….Pro-Abortion
Pro-Traditional marriage……………………..Pro-Gay marriage
Baptist/Charismatic/PDC……………………..Mainline Denominations
Homosexuality a choice……………………..Homosexuality as human nature
Republican………………………………………Democrat
Calvinist………………………………………….Arminian
Pro-War………………………………………….Anti-War
Men as pastors…………………………………Women as pastors
Home/Christian schools………………………Public Schools
Creationism……………………………………..Evolution
Talk Radio/Christian TV………………………PBS/Networks
Blogs……………………………………………..Mainstream Media
Less government……………………………….More government
Christian entertainment……………………….Secular entertainment
Puritans…………………………………………..Libertines
Dobson……………………………………………Wallis
Piper………………………………………………Capon
Bush……………………………………………….Kerry
Southern/Dallas Seminary…………………….Duke/Harvard Divinity
Football……………………………………………Baseball
Submission……………………………………….Egalitarianism
Rush/Sean………………………………………..Stewart/Moyers
Fox………………………………………………….CNN
ESV/NASB……………………………………… .NRSV

I’m increasingly convinced that many conservative Christians are more controlled by the dynamics of the culture war in America than they are by the worldview found in the Biblical story. I’m especially convinced that all the various “options” on the Conservative “team” are becoming more and more inter-related by those who have a stake in promoting the culture war in order to promote their causes and ministries.

Thoughtful people who don’t fall into the stereotypical behavior of the group will find themselves uncomfortably criticized for not just departing from a particular position, but for abandoning the “team” during wartime. Those who articulate their views outside of the constantly repeated mantras of the team will be “problems” for the cause. Those who express doubt about any part of the team’s “cultural menu” will be seen as moving toward the other side.

By listing these various options on the usual culture war teams, I am simply suggesting that it’s not that simple, and every thinking person isn’t going to come out in the same place. It simply isn’t going to work that everyone who likes one option is going to buy them all, or buy the thinking that goes on in each option. Not everyone is going to be motivated by “team loyalty,” or see the culture war in the same terms. The pressure to conform, keep your opinions to yourself, accept the acceptable thinking, and stay with the agenda is very real.

I just don’t buy it. I can’t buy it. If you’ve read this website, you know that I can be all over the map…..because I never signed up for the map or took an oath of loyalty to anyone.

It doesn’t trouble me a bit that I agree with Al Mohler on some things and disagree with him on others. Same with Piper. Same with any Christian leader or writer. I resist the unwritten rules and all too obvious pressure to be a conformed member of the church of conservative sheep. No one canonized conservatism’s list of “shoulds and oughts.” Even if I call myself a conservative or a Calvinist, that doesn’t mean you can assume I agree with every conservative or every Calvinist. Again, reading my work should have already warned any number of commenters that telling me how I should feel about inerrancy is fine, as long as my membership in the Christian family comes from Jesus, not my views on inerrancy.

So…if the culture war cafeteria line has a left and right side, what side am I on?

I’m a conservative in most ways, but I am not concerned if am labeled a liberal on issues where I deviate from the norm. I’m an evangelical Christian who intentionally identifies with the Liturgical worship of Presbyterianism because evangelicals have become pragmatists at the mercy of merchants. I have no use for the word inerrancy, even though I love the Westminster Confession’s words on scripture. I believe the best way to read the literature of the Bible is as literature. I am totally comfortable with Biblical criticism, as long as it is honest about its presuppositions.

I really don’t care much for what is usually called evangelism. Some of it I completely reject as manipulation, but I believe that the Gospel message must be communicated in every way possible. I think that social action, missions, living a vocation, art, family life, justice and mercy ministries all combine into evangelism. The false choice between evangelism and social action seems childish to a student of church history.

I am pro-life, but I don’t want laws making moms and doctors into criminals. I can live with civil unions. I am not afraid of homosexuals in public life. My experience tends to confirm a belief that key elements of homosexuality are nature more than nurture, but it is a complex phenomenon with many components. Evangelicals are obsessed with homosexuality. It’s weird.

I’m a libertarian sympathizing Republican who could conceivably be a Democrat if a lot changed. I’m a bad Calvinist who can appreciate good Arminians. I love C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and many other Arminians. I’m for the war on terror and the defeat of terror states. I can live with anyone as a pastor because I read the Bible to say that subjection of women to men isn’t the creation order, but the result of sin.

I support public schools, but I work in a private Christian school. Why don’t we support whatever parents believe is right for their kids? I reject Young Earth creationism. I can accept some aspects of evolution, but not others. I listen to every kind of media and every kind of entertainment. Secular entertainment is better. Conservative media is sometimes more effective, but often knuckle-headed and obnoxious. I’m a blogger, and so are a lot of other idiots.

I want less government unless we need more in order to survive as a nation. I think people ought to be free to do what they want and Christians should quit protesting everything that offends them. I like Dobson on a few things, Piper on most things, Capon of anything related to the Gospel and Jim Wallis more than I did a couple of weeks ago. I voted for Bush, and I like him because I can understand him. He wants to do the right thing.

I graduated from Southern, but I think I would be mostly happy at a liberal school that takes a more progressive view of the Bible. I’m into a lot of modern scholars, but I don’t buy all they say. I treat the scholars I read as people worth listening to, but I don’t expect them to line up with everything I already believed. What would be the point?

Baseball.

Submission in Ephesians 5:21. Egalitarianism in Galatians 3:28.

Every translation has something to say. The ESV is on my desk. The Greek is in my computer. I can preach from anything.

Am I buggin’ ya?

As I said before, it isn’t important to me to line up all my beliefs with the rest of the team. I have my doubts. I have my questions. I am obstinate and stubborn, but I also might be right that we should be true to our own journey, and not true to some team in the culture war.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy this IM Essay: I Am Not A Conservative Christian.

Comments

  1. Conservative/liberal

    Ah, this one is great! I voted Bush in the election, but I was volunteering on a former professor’s political campaign. This guy is liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and all that. However, the rest of his platform sounded good to me, so I had no guilt in helping him out. My uber-conservative friends freaked out…*before* I told them anything about his positions on anything. Someone said, “How can you help a Democrat?” It’s like they believe the Dems are responsible for all the problems in the world.

    Pro-Traditional Marriage/Pro-Gay Marriage

    I’m not going to turn gay if gay marriage is legalized, so I don’t see what the problem is. People talk about how it is bad for kids and whatnot, but there really haven’t been a whole lot of studies in that area.

    Homosexuality as choice/Homosexuality as human nature

    God is not less sovereign if the Fall causes us to be born corrupted… oh wait, I’m pretty sure most Christians believe we are born sinful. If a homosexual becomes a Christian, s/he has to do what the rest of us (attempt to) do: resist temptation. Hereditary alcoholism is still alcoholism, and socialized racism is still racism.

    Christian entertainment/Secular entertainment

    There was a youth group retreat many years ago, featuring a preacher who came in and did all sorts of stupid stuff. One claim he made was that secular music will “drag your soul down to the darkest pit of hell.” Needless to say, my impressionable young self went through a “no secular music” phase. Other Christians did the guilt thing, and I went through a few of those phases before I realized that non-Christians make the movies I watch, the games I play, and the backs of cereal boxes that I read, and none of those other things has succeeded in turning me into a Satanist… yet?

  2. Donald Johnson says:

    Minor comment, I suppose, but people on the left often hate the mainstream media almost as much as conservatives and see it as the enemy. (I’m one who feels this way.) Read some of the lefty blogs and this comes out on a daily basis–there are even some devoted almost exclusively to this theme. I think the MSM is thought of as liberal because on social issues that’s how they lean, but on something like the Iraq war, they tend to go into rah rah patriotic mode.

    But there are some liberals who see the New York Times as their friend (they haven’t got the word yet) and probably no conservatives who feel that way, and I’d defend them from rightwing attacks most of the time, so I guess they’d fall more onto the left side. But they’re pretty unpopular with everyone these days.

    BTW, interesting how you put the left stuff in the right column and the right stuff in the left column. In my mind’s eye, that’s how I do it, but I’m right-handed and maybe that’s natural for a lefty to do it that way.

  3. I wrote this from my own perspective of the people who are having a large water buffalo over my essay on inerrancy, who happen to be a certain kind of evangelical-Reformed hybrid. It probably doesn’t ring true all down the line.

  4. Michael…

    I think you speak for a majority of people who have found that they don’t fit with the “team”. I was once on a team…the right-wing, conservative, innerant, christian world-view, Greg Koukl wannabe…and all homosexuals should be fired from their jobs because, by nature, they are immoral. 😉

    I’ve left the team. And I’ve found it liberating.

    Unfortunately…most people can’t tell the players without labels because they refuse to take the time to know the players or the issues. And most people are only comfortable when they can identify and pigeon-hole everyone with a label/name.

    Keep up the good work and it’s refreshing to find that I’m not the only non-team player…

    Eric the Lurker from Redding

  5. Mike,
    Another great essay. What I poorly said the other night about your comments on Jim Wallis is what you have put well here. My point was that we as Christians need to try to disengage ourselves from these cultural engines. Not that Christians can’t serve in government but so many want to use government as a means for furthering a certain worldview. Those of us on the right are especially guilty of this.

    I’m 39 years old and this past November was the first time in my life I didn’t vote in a presidential election. I’m quite disappointed with some things President Bush hasn’t done, and in the absence of a better alternative, I stayed home. It may not have been the responsible thing to do, but I guess I just wanted to prove to myself (and family & friends) that I don’t take marching orders from the likes of Jim Dobson. Nonetheless, I still regularly pray for Bush in the same way I prayed almost daily for President Clinton and his administration. Prayer isn’t the least we can do – it’s the most we can do.

    Like you I think people should be free to live out their lives as they wish without government interference, as long as others’ rights aren’t trampled in the process. Civil unions? They don’t scare me! I think God would want each of us to be free to make these choices. In the end it probably makes His job of separating the sheep from the goats a bit easier. 🙂

    On the inerrancy thing, the first thing that came to mind when I read all the back-and-forth was 2 Timothy 2:23 about “stupid arguments” (NIV) The Joel Osteen thing proved we have more than enough on our plates without turning on each other over matters that, quite frankly, are of little consequence. We have the Bible and that’s not likely to change. However it got here, it got here and we’re gonna use it ’til the end.

    Again, thanks for this forum as well as the BHT.

  6. Shannon Richey says:

    Frankly, I *like* that you don’t tow a party line or fit into a ‘team’. It shows that you think for yourself and are not afraid to stand up for that. This is something you *have* to be able to do to be an effective person and Christian, in my opinion.

    I am not saying that all people who do fit into categories don’t think, but I have been around a lot of people who do and think what they do simply because that is what someone down the line told them to think or because they are following the same trend everyone else is-which, to me, doesn’t mean a whole lot because what are these people going to do when the trends change or when things don’t go exactly as they were told they would?

  7. As I say in the post, I am concerned at how these issues are all being inter-related.

    I must be for Bush, watch Fox, accept inerrancy, home school, listen to Rush, go to a PDC church, read the ESV, oppose all compromise on social issues, listen to Christian entertianment…..

    GACK!!!

  8. While we are debating labels why don’t we throw this into the mix: http://www.popvssoda.com/countystats/total-county.html

    Steve

  9. Many issues here are trivial, even though and this is the problem, the “church” doesn’t always remember that. If you are brave enough to a) think about your position and b) listen objectively to the other side or another view point, very often you come away with – “gosh, I didn’t think of that.”

    I don’t even know which of these to rant on….too many good ones.

    How about a new one,

    People who think………….people who don’t think

    Ahh, baseball or football….that’s tough, I’m from the Boston area…Red Sox or Patriots….can’t decide.

  10. I concur. Political associations due to conservative Christians values is fairly sucky. I hold some quite liberal and progressive political ideals – I would probably vote for the Democrats if I was an American – but I’m still firmly in the Biblical camp on issues that God addresses.

  11. hah! I posted before the essay was up, and I find this awesome:

    “Evangelicals are obsessed with homosexuality. It’s weird.”

  12. Michael K. Rose says:

    As usual, a fine essay, Michael. My problem is that I have managed to move out of classic SBC conservatism but I now feel untethered. Afloat on an angry ocean without a sextant or compass. I know we come from similar pasts–My question is, when can I expect to come back to earth, to feel like it has all stopped spinning or better yet when will I come out of the American Christianity Carnival Fun House? Have you achieved a comfort level yet? Help.

  13. Come to Australia Mr Rose. No SBC here. Only Calvinists and Charismatics.

  14. Paul Whiting says:

    “I’m increasingly convinced that many conservative Christians are more controlled by the dynamics of the culture war in America than they are by the worldview found in the Biblical story. I’m especially convinced that all the various “options” on the Conservative “team” are becoming more and more inter-related by those who have a stake in promoting the culture war in order to promote their causes and ministries.”

    Pick me up if you feel I’m wrong here. But I see this happening, from my overseas perspective, with the likes of D. James Kennedy. He is starting to sound as if the gospel is identical to one side in the American “culture wars.” Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that he’s preached on George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and mythologised them as Evangelical Christians. Apart fromm this being patently false history, what really concerns me is that his pulpit is now thoroughly politicised. For months, I haven’t seen the exposition of any Scripture text in his preaching, only political grand-standing.

    This trend is even discernable in Colson’s and Peracy’s excellent text on the Christian worldview. What conerns me is how too much of it all-too-conveniently collapses the “biblical worlview” into conservative political positions. It stands in marked contrast to texts on forming a Christian worldview from Canadian Evanngelicals like Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton (“The Transforming Vision”) and Al Walters (“Creation Regained”). These Reformed thinkers seem to have a much better grasp than many American Evagelicals of the difference between gospel and culture

  15. This is a good one Michael, and it’s one that I think should go in your book, if you’re still taking suggestions.

  16. A few months ago I read a horrible article on Monergism.com written from a reconstrucuralist perspective. It was basically a theonomist who was advocating a neo-liberal economic system.

    Essentially the argument went that the government should stop handing out welfare and people should depend upon goodwill and charity – especially from Christians.

    Now whatever your political affiliations might be, the fact is that this guy was essentially advocating neo-liberal economics with Biblical ways of doing things. There was no gospel in the article at all, and very little appeal to scripture.

    I excoriated Jimmy Hendryx on this and he sent back an email explaining that he posted the article so that he could see what the reaction would be. Moreover he didn’t subscribe to the beliefs of the article… which was fortunate because I threatened to “de-bookmark” his site from my PC if he was advocatign theonomy.

  17. Paul whiting says:

    “Essentially the argument went that the government should stop handing out welfare and people should depend upon goodwill and charity – especially from Christians.”

    Funny. Governments in the 19th century tried that. It was a dismal failure and Christians didn’t exactly rush to fill the breach. Why should the combination of neo-liberal economics and punitive social welfare be any different now? How did adherence to such a mean-spirited sort of neo-liberal ideology become part of the “biblical worldview” for so many US Evangelicals?

  18. At this time in my life I am an open theist, non-hell believing, non-trinitarian, soul – sleepist.

    I feel like a third world nation that’s not even been invited to the war.

  19. …which leads to another exaggerated polemic

    Orthodoxy………Heresy

  20. Peter Foxwell says:

    It’s so much easier to pick a stereotype and declare yourself, “I’m one of those”. It doesn’t take any thought at all.

    The way of Jesus was to tell the truth without regard to which stereotype it fit. This, of course, resulted in crucifixion.

    I say you are right on. I say, “I am of Spencer”. Oops.

  21. Fantastic! Sometimes I think I’m the only one who doesn’t fit into the box. Thank you for a brilliant essay.

  22. I’m not going to get into either side of any of the issues, but here are two thoughts. The first is a quote from Steve Brown (www.keylife.org):

    “You can accept truth and trust authority only if the truth allows questions and the authority allows challenge.”

    To state that negatively, don’t trust those who assume questions are evil and challenges are based in hatred towards God. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of evangelical Christians in America make these assumptions.

    Second, call me crazy, but doesn’t unity make a lot more sense when we realize it is more about what JESUS did than about what WE do or think?

  23. Great essay, Michael, thank you for posting it! Couple things I’d like to say.

    1) Who’s beating you up all over the blogosphere? I’d like to walk over there and give them the what for (TIC) (not quite)

    2) Do you accept the Orthodox on your team? If yes, then you can count me in. Otherwise I’ll be cheering from the sidelines! I’ve gone through your list and I believe that on most issues, you are exactly where I am – in the middle.

    Here are a few of mine.

    Evangelism/Social Action: definitely the social action. Let’s face it, everyone has heard the Message already, yet a lot of people are either rejecting it, or accepting it and then changing their minds. Hmmm I wonder why? Could it be because the bearers of the message come across as too legalistic/judgemental/not so bright? If we could change that perception, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

    Democratic/Republican: neither. I don’t buy 100% into what either side has to say. I voted Kerry last year; I may well vote Republican in 2008 if I think the candidate is worthy.

    Home/Christian schools/Public Schools: whatever works, provided that it gives our children enough skills to become productive members of the society.

    Creationism/Evolution: as our priest says, “let’s face it, we do have dinosaur bones”.

    Christian entertainment/Secular entertainment: I don’t get it. To me, there’s good entertainment and bad entertainment. If it’s good, I don’t care if it uses the words “God” and “Jesus” or not. It’s still good. Same thing when it’s bad.

    Football/Baseball: I’m from Europe, so soccer.

    Submission/Egalitarianism: egalitarianism all the way!

  24. Good points, Michael. I wrote about your post at my blog. Peace.

  25. I just found your blog today and read your last three posts. We come from slightly different traditions on a few issues here and there, but your sentiment about what it’s all about and being so frustrated with choosing “sides” and this whole “culture war” nonsense is strikingly similar to my own feeling about all of this.

    Thank you for this post, and especially the last two about reading the Bible and the post on innerrancy.

  26. THE HUMAN PARADIGM – intro

    Man is earth’s Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by nature
    and nature’s God a creature of Choice – and of Criteria.
    Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive characteristic
    is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of
    his environments, institutions, and respectful relations
    to his fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom
    whose roots are in the Order of the universe.

  27. I refuse to allow myself to be stereotyped. Most issues are not as clear cut as some try to make us believe. Most issues are complicated and require some serious dialog to try to come up with an equitable remedy. Dogmatism is something, in most cases, I reject.

    Conservative/Liberal

    Talk about two words that change their intended meaning every generation! Generally these two categories today mean Conservative (Republican) Liberal (Democrat), but truly the chewing gum has lost its flavor on the bedpost overnight. If am forced to make a choice based on these two options I would have to say I would be liberal in theory and conservative in practice. Wow what a political answer, lol. I may live my life in such a fashion as not to make certain choices, i.e. drinking, drugs, sexual promiscuity, etc. However, I do not think I have the right to force other people to live their lives the way I elect to live my life, just like I would not want them to force me to live my life the way they do theirs. How can “so called” Christians expect people who are not Christians to live their lives as if they were? If some one is claiming to be a Christian, and trying to follow the examples of Christ they are accountable for what they know and should live accordingly.

    Evangelical Christian/Liturgical Christian

    Obviously this is a matter of taste, and I like my coffee with cream and sugar. I prefer the different teaching styles of most “mainstream” evangelical churches, as long as they are as close to being expository as possible in there sermon delivery: I do not like soap box sermons, they tend to be borderline unscriptural if not completely unscriptural . Liturgical sermons make better reading than listening to.

    Inerrancy/Bible as Literature

    Nothing annoys me more than the KJV onlyites! To believe in inerrancy is to believe in multiple inspirations, especially with regards to translation of ancient texts, with several of them to boot. Considering, at least as far as I know, we do not have the original articles it seems moot to me to argue the case for inerrancy. Now the other option of Bible as Literature is a perplexing option as well. This implies, to me, that the value of the bible is equal to, say, something like James JoyceÂ’s Ulysses. If the comparison is made to something like the Bhagavad-Gita then I would say I would have more of a tendency to agree. The bible is spiritual literature. It is a quest. It is also philosophical. Since I do not believe in inerrancy I chose the other option, I am just suspicious of the wording of it. I would prefer the Bible as Spiritual Literature.

    Rejection of Biblical Criticism/Openness to Biblical Criticism

    To reject biblical criticism, in my view, is to check oneÂ’s brain at the door of their respective ideology. However, one should not be so open minded that their brains fall out either. I am support of biblical criticism, it causes one to think. We have to be careful not be so critical that we fall into the laps of the Jesus Seminar crowd, where they somehow conclude that only a few of the verses in the biblical text are actually authentic. Just as one cannot, again in my view, demonstrate inerrancy of the biblical texts I am doubtful one can completely throw the baby out with the bathwater as do some of the extreme biblical critics. Discussions regarding redaction criticism, allegorical versus literal, and the like are good and worthwhile endeavors if handled in a truly scholarly manner.

    Pro-Traditional marriage/Pro-Gay marriage

    Hot topic today, eh. I hold both views depending what perspective we look at these options. As a Christian I am for traditional marriage, I would feel that it would be inconsistent of a Christian that lives their life patterned after the biblical narratives to enter into a gay union. As a citizen of a democratic society with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc I do not think it is the place of the government to define these religious moral issues. To dictate what two consenting adults do seems to me like it is a violation of our countries rights.

    Evangelism/Social Action

    For the church to grow there must be some sort of evangelism. What is being touted as evangelism today, in most circles, is entertainment and feel goodism. I think it was Booth who said something to the affect, “the danger of the 20th century is conversion without repentance.” Social action I am taking to mean reacting to the social issues that plague our country or the world. I am for social action, aids is a real world problem, health care is a real problem in this country, the educational system is another serious problem, racism is still a problem, jobs leaving this country is a problem of the nth degree. We as citizens should be seriously concerned about these problems and be active in try to find solutions for them. Solving many of these problems will have reciprocal benefits in alleviating many of the other scourges in our country.

    Pro-Life/Pro-Abortion

    I feel the same way about this issue as I do the gay marriage issue. I would not recommend abortion, but I recognize that this is not a cut and dried issue. Again, it is a religious morality issue that everyone may not share. I do not think the government should fund it, but I do not think I have the right to tell a woman, “Honey, you are going to have that child whether you like t or not!”

    Baptist/Charismatic/PDC/Mainline Denominations

    I was saved in a Baptist church. However, since I do not have the corner on the truth, as of yet, to place a denominational title on Christianity seems futile to me and destructive. Most of what separates a denomination these days is trivial matters of interpretation (in my view). Should there be a different denomination because the only thing you differ on is feet washing? Or you can or can’t lose your salvation? Or if you do lose your salvation you can never get it back? Or if you do fall away you were never saved to begin with? Or what bible translation you use? Or whether or not women can wear pants? Or is Christ coming back in two stages or one? How far you go with fruit inspecting? Is the Lazarus and Rich man passage literal or a parable? On and on we can go – will it ever stop! These may be great theological discussions, but gee whiz.

    Homosexuality a choice/Homosexuality as human nature

    I have no idea! This has not been an issue for me in my life so I can in no way relate to it. I have listened to both sides of this argument. I know that Paul says in Romans that it goes against nature. So I suppose the Christian answer would be it is a choice. Somehow I feel that this is not that easy to declare. I would not agree that it is human nature, but I somehow think it revolves around a psychological problem.

    Republican/Democrat

    Not much difference between the two these days. I am an Independent. If we are talking about what each of these parties used to represent:

    Republican – following the economic theory which holds that reducing tax rates, especially for businesses and wealthy individuals, stimulates savings and investment for the benefit of everyone

    Democratic – following the economic theory which advocates government intervention, or demand-side management of the economy, to achieve full employment and stable prices.

    I would side with the Democrats on this economic model. Sometimes you have to protect people from themselves. Not everyone is going to be as savvy as some are with regards to retirement. Some people are not going to get good paying jobs with benefits as others are. Some people are not as educated as others are. The trickle down theory, which is what supply-side economics really is, has not worked. The rich just get richer with more loop-holes and poor get poorer because they are bearing the brunt of the costs.

    I would have leanings more towards a socialistic model of government with regards to National Health Care; the tax burden is equally shared by all, etc.

    Calvinist/Arminian

    Another tough choice! I can see both points of view in the biblical texts. At the end of the day it does not really matter if one is living a Christian life anyway. Today, the Arminian position seems to be more about fruit inspecting, and the Calvinist position about purely election.

    T – I do not agree with Calvin’s assessment of Total Depravity I agree more with the Arminian position on Depravity.

    U – I do not agree with Calvin on Unconditional Election, I would side with Arminius on this one as well.

    L – I do not agree with Calvin on Limited Atonement, I would side with Arminius on Unlimited Atonement.

    I – I side for the most part with Calvin, it is mainly the wording I have a problem with, namely, the word “election”. But I do think that if God puts you to task, he will win.

    P – I side with Calvin. I interpret backsliding differently than Arminius. I feel that a person call fall away from God, but God will never give up on us, even though we may give up on him.

    Pro-War/Anti-War

    I served in the Army so I know what it like being in the military. Sometimes there are reasons to go to war: If you are attacked, if someone is trying to help stop the genocide a race of people without just cause (Hitler). But if you are going to war for oil, such as is the case with Iraq, then I am against it. Fighting against terrorism is one thing, but this current administration lied to the American people about Iraq and has not got us into something that is worse than Vietnam. The better solution is doing away with the need for fossil fuels. I am of the opinion that most wars could be avoided. The problems in the middle will never be solved as long as they maintain there religious intolerance, and there are humans on this planet or unless God was to intercede.

    Men as pastors/Women as pastors

    DoesnÂ’t matter, if they feel they are called of God and are qualified preach the word.

    Home/Christian schools/Public Schools

    Parents should have the right to chose how they want their children educated, but I would be more for the public schools in this case. The thing about Home or Christian schools is that parents have to be careful about whether or not colleges accept there particular choice of home schooling program or Christian school curriculum. In our day in age is it very important for a young person to get an accredited education. Going to a Christian college with the intent of going into the ministry is fine, but there should be a solid education to back them up if that does not work out for them.

    Creationism/Evolution

    I do not agree with the young Earth theory of Creationism, but I do think we were created at some point in time. I do agree with natural selection – the process of survival of the fittest by which organisms that adapt to their environment survive while those that do not adapt disappear.

    Evolution without God, presupposes that there has always exited matter, since something just canÂ’t come out of nothing, which in this case, theoretically, the matter would be God.

    God using evolution as means of his creation seems pointless to me, because why would he need to do that.

    CreationistÂ’s can sometimes fall into the trap of denying science of discoveries, and or trying to date things that can not be dated realistically, of course science is guilty in the dating department as well.

    Talk Radio/Christian TV/PBS/Networks

    I watch and/or listen to all of these media outlets. I am not a big fan of most of what is on so called” Christian TV, but there are still some good preachers and teachers out there on the air waves. I love PBS, Discovery, History, educational programs if you will. However, it is not below me to watch Nemo, or Shark Tales. I just watched the movie Ray – good movie. I have no conflict with watching The Last Temptation of Christ, a movie based off of Nikos Kazantzakis novel (which I actually read in Greece), and watching The Passion by Mel Gibson.

    Blogs/Mainstream Media

    Blogs is more interactive and fun. The mainstream media for the most part is a bore.

    Less government/More government

    The answer to this is it depends on the issue. My response would in essence be the same as above under Republican/Democrat.

    Christian entertainment/Secular entertainment

    Most Christian entertainment today is secular. I like Ani DiFranco, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan (his song Masters of War speaks volumes today) , and the music I grew up with like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and so on. In brief I listen to a lot of Folk Music, Jazz, Blues, Rock, some country, Big Blue Grass fan. I do not really care for rap music all that much. The point to me is music is often a message of a generation, one has to be plugged in to understand what others are feeling about the world we live in.

    Puritans/Libertines

    I would fall into the category of more of a freethinker than puritanical.

    Dobson/Wallis

    Not a big fan of Dobson, I do like and appreciate the contribution of Wallis especially in his book GodÂ’s Politics.

    Piper/Capon

    Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy (A response to the recent Tsunami) by John Piper I can not agree with.

    Capon has been accused of “minimizing the cross”, but I think he is much more compassionate then what John Piper seems to be.

    I have not read a great deal by either of these men so to really comment all that strongly on either of them would not fair.

    Bush/Kerry

    I did not vote for either of these men. I have more respect for John Kerry than George W. Bush Jr.. I have no respect for Bush, he has done nothing but destroy this country in my opinion, plus the fact that he has been placed in positions all his life by his father. I realize that most all of politics is dirty and crooked, but this administration takes the cake.

    Southern/Dallas Seminary/Duke/Harvard Divinity

    If I were to choose which seminary to go to of these options it would probably be Dallas Seminary. Although I donÂ’t know that it would matter to me all that much, it is what you put into an education that determines what you get out of it.

    Football/Baseball

    Football – even though my miserable Bears may never see a Super Bowl again.

    Submission/Egalitarianism

    Definitely Egalitarianism

    Rush/Sean/Stewart/Moyers

    They are all entertaining, but I like Bill Moyers better.

    Fox/CNN

    Neither, they are both controlled, although Fox is probably the worst.

    ESV/NASB/NRSV

    Wow the KJV is not an option, lol. I read from several translations, so it doesnÂ’t matter to me. It all depends on what the argument really is: which translation is truer to the Greek manuscripts? In which case I am not qualified to answer since I am not a Greek expert.

    Owen

  28. Shannon Richey says:

    I don’t mean to start a debate here, but I saw some answers to a particular question and had to say something:

    I would like to ask those who think that homosexuality is a choice or a psychological defect if they actually *know* any gay people. Not in passing, but intimately. Enough to know a bit about their history or be able to ask. I say this because I have more than one family member who is gay or bisexual, and I know several other gay people from school/work and work on another website with a rather active gay forum. If you ask any of these people about how they became gay or how they knew they were gay, *all* of them have said that they knew there was something different about them from a very young age or for a very long time, and not a single one of them will tell you that it was a choice they made to be this way. Many will tell you of times when they tried to deny who they were by dating/sleeping with the opposite sex or praying and praying for God to ‘fix’ them, to no avail. ‘reparative therapy’ does not work. A good number of the ones I know of from online are recovered alcoholics/drug addicts partly because the sheer depression of knowing that they were something that some groups in society today treat with such contempt (and that their own families didn’t understand) hurt so much that they had to drink to forget about it…and I will not even go into the suicidal ones. Oh, and many of them are Christian and definitely show the fruit of the Spirit.

    So, granted this is all anecdotal but I used to wonder if being gay was a choice too until I met some of these people and until my family members came out…and now there is no doubt in my mind that it is not a choice. I don’t see why someone would choose to be a homosexual, knowing everything that comes with it. But that is just me.

    imonk, if you feel the need to remove this, I understand. I just had to say something.

  29. My wife’s brother is gay, and I have know several gay people in my life, in fact when I was in Greece on the island of Mykonos I met several gay people, considering this island is a hot spot for this type of activity, apparently. Several of these people I have had occasion to have open conversations with them about this subject.

    During these conversations I would be told different things.

    1. Like you said, Shannon, some would say they always knew they were different. I had one guy tell me he knew he was gay when he was three – I had to contain myself from laughing because I do see how this was possible. However, in the case of my wife’s brother they all same the same thing, “he was always a little different.”

    2. Some of them had bad experiences with women.

    3. Some of them were molested by a male family member when young.

    I say I feel it is psychological because in all of these cases they are tormented. Some of it of course is the societal stigma of being gay, but more often than not it is more of an internal struggle. It could very well be that they are born with this “psychological disorder”, I don’t know.

    I feel that we all come into this world with certain psychological baggage. Each of us has a different level to our addictive personalities. Most addictions are psychological, in my opinion, some of them can turn into chemical addiction, but it started off with a psychological problem.

    I do not judge a person that is gay, because I honestly do not understand the real depths of it and even if I did I would not judge them, I have enough problems of my own to concern myself with.

    I will say this I find it interesting the fairly recent “trend” of the whole thing. For example, the marketing of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. It is almost like the saying that I have heard “Gay is the new Straight” – this seems a little scary to me.

    Owen

  30. Thank you for the post.

    The cultural openness of presbyterian / reformed thought makes it especially susceptible to the side-taking you note. Although the side-taking is done for the best of reasons, it nonetheless ends up marrying the age. This syncretism (for that is what it is) is not simply the product of the left, the right falls just easily for it.

    That said, myself, I want to hear what God is saying. If all I get only confirms what I already believe, it is hard to see how I will keep growing.

  31. Shannon Richey says:

    Owen, don’t mean to be harsh but a few comments.

    The DSM-IV, the diagnostic manual for mental disorders used by the American Psychiatric Association, used to agree that homosexuality was a psychological problem. However, the Association removed it decades ago because it concluded that homosexuality is NOT a disorder. There might be many, many people who are tormented who are gay but this torment very well might be because they are discovering that they are (it doesnt matter how they got that way) something that society and their families and the Christian faith treats with such contempt that…well if this were you, wouldn’t *you* be tormented? Wouldnt *you* go to therapy or cry and pray and do whatever you could to try to change yourself so you could be ‘normal’ and then be tormented when you find that, regardless of how many people pray over you or what you do, you cannot change the way you are? I know I would be. Or it could be because being homosexual does not jibe with the self-image and/or plans they had for their life and now suddenly they have to come up with a new image.
    And, well, I don’t know about you but puberty and teen-dom was pretty tormenting anyway and I am straight:) But then I am also a woman so I have the hormonal thing going:)

    Maybe some were molested or had bad experiences…but I can’t say that that makes someone gay. I don’t know if it would make someone gay if they did not already have the tendency toward that. Like the family with a really shrewish mother where one son is gay but the others are not, but they grew up in the same environment and no one was mistreated or abused in any way by anyone. Rape is rape, and speaking as someone who has been violated in such a way, the only thing it made me do is hate sex, not want it even more or turn toward women. Rape and molestation often isn’t about sex anyway…

    But then it doesn’t matter how someone got to be gay…they are here and we are to love them as we love ourselves, just like anyone else:)

    When did you go to Greece? I have heard it is incredibly beautiful:)

  32. Steve Johnson says:

    If those who want to live in a sinful immoral sick society will quit forcing me to approve and codify it in to law, then I will leave them alone. Gods grace will be there for them as it was for me.
    Wish the left was as “tolerant” of my beliefs as they want me to be of theirs.

  33. Marie Butson says:

    What amazes me is when we pride ourselves on being a “conservative Christian” and claim to “love God’s word”. Yet if there is a basic discussion on theology, take for instance the subject of justification, it deteriorates to “it means just-as-if-I-never-sinned” and “theology isn’t as important as sharing your faith”.
    I’m no fan of Dobson, unless he’s operating in his area of education: child development. The whole Focus on the Family Whining Broadcast si the low spot in my radio day.. ‘nuf said on that.
    I do not believe the homosexual lifestyle is Biblical, but then neither are the sins of pride and arrogance. I don’t want my grandkids inundated with “alternative lifestyle” propaganda, when the statistics are pretty clear that THAT alternative is pretty darned unhealthy for the body and the psyche. Yet the bottom line is that if you are willing to put aside your sexual appetites that are out of the bounds of marriage, it pretty well meets with the Acts 15 recommendations for keeping from immorality in the physical sense. (I won’t get into the thought life here..)We can’t discount God’s call for His people to be holy, and our sexual behavior is part of our testimony, for lack of a better word.
    Stereotyping drives me absolutely nuts, but it’s an unfortunate habit of mere humans. Grace allows us to blur the boundaries with some love and give a listen to others’ voices, even if we are convinced of the Bible’s inerrancy or the rightness of Calvinism. Take it from a gal raised in the Reformed tradition, and grew up in a Polish Roman Catholic neighborhood, married a Lutheran and who has spent well more than half of her married years in independent, conservative Baptist churches as a bit of rebel… but I love the Lord and His word. Give Him Glory!!!!

  34. In many respects I dont fit the standard conservative stereotype, certainly not as far as being Christian goes. My faveourite filmakers are David Lynch and Jean Jeunet, at least one of which would be considered satanic by most evangelicals. I listen to European Darkwave Industrial music, much of which is made by people with decidedly un-Christian views and all of which would also fall under the satanic label. I cannot for the life of me see the moral difference between smoking a joint of marijuana and drinking a glass of wine, and it certainly strikes me as a caricature of justice to throw people in jail for it. I dont agree with civil unions for gays as I think there is a graver need to defend marriage. But I dont think the state should regulate what consenting adults do with each other on private property, and I have no problem with the business world providing benifits for gay couples or for the state to regulate some basic legal protection for gay relationships as far as inheritence and custody are concerned.

    And yet there are many meta-issues that I agree with the Christian Right and the Right in general on. Free trade. A strong national defense. Support for Bush and the war with militant Islam. The outlawing of abortion except in cases of incest, rape and danger to the mother. The promotion of pre-marital sexual abstinency to teens. A shift to faith-based welfare. A shift in federal and state welfare provision and marriage laws to encourage lifelong heterosexual marriages and children. A shift to voucher based and home school based education. On all of these issues I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Christian Right.

    But while I happily attend a Vineyard evangelical Church (along with an Anglo-Catholic one which makes for an interesting Sunday), I find much of the evangelical Right embarrassing, ignorant, and culturally narrow minded. I like some of what Dobson says, but a lot makes me cringe too, though I prefer him to Jim Wallis who has made a career out of supporting communist state terrorism and apologising for its atrocities. His current popularity is disturbing, for the reasons given here: http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1833

    So like many I just dont fit cleanly into either camp depending on the issues. And while I want the broad republican/conservative agenda to win politically, I dont support a culture war, as it just empowers the etxremes on both sides.

  35. Memphis Aggie says:

    Lots of your categories really are overly simplistic, which , if I read you right, is part of the point. No doubt Social Action vs Evangelism jumped out at me from your list as a glaring false dichotomy in that authentic Christian charity evangelizes in the Franciscan sense. Of course stereotypes are often derived from real world examples which are then uncharitably exaggerated an applied too broadly. So I can think of politicized events termed “Social Action” that I would not call charity just as I can recall loveless and oddly frantic attempts at “Evangelism”.