Archive for October, 2009

One Citizen’s Opinion

Far be it from me to pose as a military expert or planner, but I find myself wondering at this stage of the war in Afghanistan whether it wouldn’t be better to radically change strategies. What I am thinking is a removal of troops and a clear warning that any and all signs of terrorist friendly activity will be bombed into oblivion, no questions asked. The former Soviet Union learned the hard way that subduing Afghanistan is very difficult, and it seems that our current executive and congressional leadership is not interested in supplying the amount of forces necessary to do so now.

The tide was turned by the surge in Iraq precisely because President Bush refused to play politics with the decision—he went against the politically expedient decision in order to make sure that the military had what it needed to get the job done. Although I was just a child, my view of things is that the way politicians messed up with Vietnam can never to be allowed to happen again. Our military can get the job done whenever it is given the resources to do it, but whenever politicians back home start playing games, the cost in lives rises dramatically. Either commit to do the job fully or back away and do it surgically from the air and the occasional insertion of special forces.

Don’t let life imitate art.

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The [Un]Conservative Bible Project

And now from the “Another Bad Idea Department” comes the Conservative Bible Project. Frankly, it is such a stupid idea that I wonder if someone isn’t trying to pull off a bad joke. Seriously, could anybody really be this clueless?

Here’s the basic gist of it—current translations use words that are not as conservative as they ought to be, so a new online translation that properly uses conservative terms and ideas is needed. Their reasons for why it is needed:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.

An example of what they mean:

Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the “social justice” movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word “volunteer” is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word “comrade” is used three times, “laborer(s)” is used 13 times, “labored” 15 times, and “fellow” (as in “fellow worker”) is used 55 times.

Let me start with the example before moving to the seriously troubling part. What they have to say about socialistic terms is why it seems like they must be trying to create a spoof of some sort. The use of “laborers” is socialistic? I wonder if King James realized that he was undercutting his throne by letting those socialists use labourers in Matthew 9:37? (But, who knows, the extra u might show evidence of pre-socialist ideas where you were not swallowed up into the machine.) These people can’t be serious. If they are, it’s very sad.

 Most troubling, though, is the suggestion that there is a “lack of precision in the original language” that needs improvement because of “underdeveloped” terms. This is really a backhanded way of saying that the Bible as originally given was not conservative enough in its language, so we need to improve it. I still can’t help but think that someone is spoofing here—this is exactly the line of argument that liberals make when they want to follow the so-called trajectory that they see in Scripture by moving from an ancient, unenlightened view to a modern one (e.g., on gender issues or homosexuality). Basically, here conservatives (falsely so-called) are adopting the same trajectory strategy—Jesus introduced concepts that weren’t fully developed yet, so now we can “translate” them into fully developed conservative ideas. This isn’t conservatism at all. It is heresy. Hokey heresy, but still heresy.

 Somebody please tell me this is simply an unfunny joke.

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A Man without a Movement

As I’ve been preparing for our annual pastors’ conference, one of the items that my thoughts keep bumping into is the concept of movements, as in fundamentalist movement or new evangelical movement. I know there is talk from time to time about the difference between the idea of fundamentalism and the fundamentalist movement, and I think I understand what is being said. The reason I say that I only think I understand is because I still struggle with the movement part of that equation—at least the movement part as it relates to our current situation.

Good men disagree with me on it, but I’ve been of the mind for some time now that there really isn’t a fundamentalist movement (or a new evangelical one for that matter). The first time I can recall saying something like this publicly was in early 2005, so it is not a new development in my thinking. I clearly can see the existence of a fundamentalist movement during the early to mid 20th century as Bible believing people and churches mobilized to take a stand against modernism, but it seems to me that nothing like a movement exists today. And I wonder if you can really have a movement without something like that which animates and energizes people and churches.

It seems that the very definition of movement would need to include some objective or purpose. In fact, Webster defines movement as “a series of organized activities working toward an objective” and “an organized effort to promote or attain an end.” Fundamentalism was brought together by its opposition to liberalism—it moved in the direction of “an organized effort to promote or attain the end” of defending the Faith against modernism. Later, its energies were catalyzed by opposition to New Evangelicalism. As time has passed, though, no one objective or end has proved compelling or unique enough to hold the movement together.

That is not to say that fundamentalism doesn’t exist. I think it does, but I think it does so more like a belief system than a movement. IOW, it is more like dispensationalism than it is home education. Dispensationalism has a core set of beliefs which distinguishes it from other hermeneutical approaches, but I think one would be hard-pressed to argue that there is “an organized effort to promote or attain the end” of establishing dispensationalism as the dominant approach to Scripture among believers (though I’d personally sign up for that movement). The home school movement, on the other hand, clearly represents “an organized effort to promote or attain the end” of advancing home education.

What I am basically saying is that I believe you can be a fundamentalist (because you hold to the belief system) without being part of the fundamentalist movement (because I don’t think there is one). Personally, I think our whole obsession with movements is not good, but that’s another post for another day.

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Discerning Good from Evil

Does anybody else find these numbers from the recent Pew poll something less than encouraging?

• White evangelical Protestants are very likely to say abortion is morally wrong (74%).

• A majority of white evangelical Protestants (58%) say their religious beliefs drive their views on abortion. This figure approaches seven-in-ten (68%) among white evangelicals who attend services at least weekly.

What struck me as funny is that I was pointed to this survey by an article that cited the survey in this way, “71 percent of white evangelicals think abortion should be illegal, compared to 44 percent of the rest of the country.” (I tried to track down where this number sits in the survey and could not find it.) It seems as if the author of the article considers that to be a number which reflects positively on evangelicals—they score 27 points higher in the unity scale on this subject than the rest of the country. Not to be Johnny Raincloud, but when I say the numbers for who says that “abortion is morally wrong” I thought to myself, 26% of “evangelicals” in this survey are not very likely to say that? Wow. Woe is me, wow.

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