Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ha Ha!

James Dobson is apparently the authority, also, on who is or is not distorting Scripture.

If you're not from Illinois, you may not understand. But I am from Illinois, so I'm always a bit suspicious of those in Illinios politics (sorry Marc) and the Chicago machine. I'm not sold on Obama for reasons other than that. But who is J.D. to declare who is rightly or wrongly using Scripture?

I'm sure there are some things that JD actually knows something about -- spiritual arrogance, self-publicity, moral condescension, oh yes, and some psychology . . . but is the interpretation of Scripture really one of these? Somehow, I doubt it.

Amazing . . .


Marsha said...

Plain scary---on both sides--wackos abound------

PS--Illinois is not so bad--if you disregard the corrupt governor and the little-know-charismatic-Presidential-nominee-with questionable credentials.

Eric said...

Obama's question "which Christian?" is not that far removed from the hottly discussed (at least in post-modern circles) "which Jesus do you follow?"

It is quite ironic that Dobson would belittle Obama's understanding. I think BO asks a fair question: which Christianity? Dobsons? Sharptons?

Fair question.

Evan and Julia said...

I don't know why we allow JD to speak for us. Whether I agree with him or not, which I don't, he is simply not the person in our Church or in our culture to make this claim.

And if I understand what I think you're saying, Eric, I would say I hope to heaven it's neither. -- It seems to me both JD and ASh represent a "Christianity" that is devisive, politically motivated and antithetical to the subversive nature of the reality of the KoG.

Heath Countryman said...

Let me point out a speck while sure to be ignoring my own plank, but the irony of this post is that you accuse Dobson of "spiritual arrogance" and "moral condescension" all the while engaging in the exact practice you decry.

Lest we forget, it was Obama who brought Dobson into the discussion. Perhaps Dobson was completely wrong in his analysis. But that does not make it correct for us to use the same low-brow tactics in order to discredit his point of view.

That last paragraph made me cringe.

Evan and Julia said...

This looks like a fun conversation to jump in on, thus once again procrastinating on my paper due tomorrow.

That's not spiritual arrogance or moral condescension you're hearing in Julia's post . . . it's called righteous indignation! There's a difference you know.

Anyway, I want to focus on the real point at hand. Which is, in my estimation, that politics and the church not only make strange bedfellows, but in the end, non-followers-of-Christ bedfellows.

It has always bothered me that JD, reflecting the current American "Christian" landscape has taken up with the empire of the consuming, unjust, warmongering, abusive Right wing politics (before you all balk, I'll quote Jim Wallis, "The Right is wrong, and the left just doesn't get it."). We cannot continue to frame our story this way. To me it makes us look like Israel in Ezekiel 16 (You'll have to read it to find out). We need to sever our ties with Rome, folks! Jesus Christ is LORD! not Bu-I mean Caesar.

Also, Heath, I have to say your excuse for JD sounds like the old school yard "he hit me first" argument. JD probably should've just eschewed BO (that's kind of a funny acronym) silently. Between the two, we can see who the bigger man is . . . or can we.

I would say what Julia is saying, ultimately, is that JD does NOT speak for the 2 billion Christians across the globe, yet he continues to try. Now, on the other hand, Julia admitted freely that BO does not speak for us either. We prefer Christ as our voice box, and we're looking for a candidate who would rather feed the hungry, clothe the poor, care for the widow and orphan than run for president.

Father, help us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God!


Heath Countryman said...

A few things...

1) I know what righteous indignation is, thanks! But I see the post as simply "indignant." Really, I do not find much redemptive quality in that final paragraph.

2) I made no excuses for Dobson. Not even close.

3) There are definately not 2 Billion Christians, and

4) You left out, "fight for the rights of the unborn" in your list of what a Christian should look for in a candidate. But hey, it looks like that criteria is increasingly unpopular in the church these days, especially since the new emergent darling is on the wrong side of that fence.

Evan, I wouldn't expect you to take my side on this... I just find this post to be missing the mark that it intended to hit.

Evan and Julia said...

Tom Minnery, a senior vice president at Focus on the Family, responded: "Without question, Dr. Dobson is speaking for millions of evangelicals because his understanding of the Bible is thoroughly evangelical."

And this isn't arrogance because . . .?

[from the AP newsstory: Obama dismisses Dobson criticism about Bible By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer]

Evan and Julia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan and Julia said...


Your right, I'm sorry for missing "fight for the rights of the unborn." Sometimes, I just assume that everyone wants babies to live, but forget because that's the one thing we really do well.

Also, I'll take indignation because I know that Julia feels, "anger aroused by something unjust." I feel it too, when JD speaks for me, as an . . . write it! . . . evangelical.

aprox. 2 billion people who claim to be Christian (let God sort 'em out), 1.3 muslims, etc. I left out the optimum "claim to be" clause.

This is fun, we should get together for dinner sometime!

(I forgot to sign my name before)

Evan and Julia said...

"But that does not make it correct for us to use the same low-brow tactics in order to discredit his point of view."

Sorry to make you cringe, Heath.

If I had a multi-million dollar para-church organization from which to herald my opinions as authoritative, my "tactics" might be as low-brow as you suggest. However, I'm doing little beyond expressing my valid assessment that once again JD's words and actions contradict who he claims to be. If that's too mean, sorry. JD's public image seems to be built on things about which he can claim no authority. He's a psychologist, a family counselor, and he may be very good at it. But I wouldn't know because instead of truly focusing on families, he's ultimately used his place in the public stage to "set the agenda" for evangelical Christianity. If that's not arrogance I'm not sure what is. I have every right to make that judgement, especially when he erroneously claims to speak for me.

Um, thanks for the chiding, though?

P.S. Sorry Evan left out pro-life, but I don't think we really view it, or our political views in general, in liberal or conservative categories. We are absolutely and consistently pro life - when it comes to abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, environment, etc. We just don't believe the right wing has a monopoly on that issue.

Heath Countryman said...

Actually, Tom Minnery is probably correct regarding the number of people Dobson speaks for... There probably are millions of Christians that see things Dobson's way. You and I are not among them, but that does not mean he is incorrect in his assesment.

Also, you might claim arrogance on the part of Minnery for that statement, but Dobson was not the one who said he spoke for millions of Christians. To believe that Dobson sees himself in that light would be an assumption.

Also, to address another earlier point of yours, let us not forget that Dobson is also very critical of McCain to the point of directly denouncing him as well, a position that does not support your assertation that he has "taken up with the empire of the consuming, unjust, warmongering, abusive Right wing politics." (I would also take issue that right wing politics is any of those things.)

Yes, I also find a good argument to be fun... Glad you are enjoying the debate...

Heath Countryman said...


I think if you reread Dobson's comments, he did not claim to speak for all Christians. To assert he did is unfair. Dobson clearly was speaking for himself. And he has as much right as anyone to voice his opinion. If other evnagelicals jump on board with him, well then your problem really is with more than just Dobson.

And regarding the "chiding," I sense you are offended by my comments. But if a post is open for comments, then you really should not take offense (if that is what it is) at those who take issue with the substance or tone of your post. I addressed the substance of what you wrote. And given that you were clearly "chiding" Dobson for "chiding" Obama, my comments are not outside of the framework of the original tone. However, in my "chiding" I have attempted to refrain from ad hominim attacks, which I believe make up the substance of your final paragraph in the original post.

Eric said...

Ahh... I love a good argument! How ya doing Heath? We were at MVNC together in the late 90's.

As far as JD or AS versions of Christianity, it was more a literary device taking two extremes as a statment of "the many versions that are out there."

Oh, I suppose I could get into the rest of the debate, but I am not in much of a debating mood today.

There is truth in both arguments. Sadly, JD does speak for many (probably most) "evangelicals." I do think that is a fair assertion on their part. Just because I am not part of that majority, or just because that particular hermeneutic is not definitive of evangelicalism, it certainly is descriptive of it.

As far as the arbortion issue. My problem is that too many Christians/evangelicals have reduced all of the issues to this one. So if I support BO (which I don't), then the conservative response would be that I obviously am supportive of the pro-life agenda. In reality, there are far too many issues facing our world that are deserving of a Christian response to reduce it to "fight for the rights of the unborn."

Are not the rights of the poor or the imigrant or the sweatshop child worker, or the underage child-prostitute not as important? Shouldn't "right to life" include a response to genocide, euthanasia, assisted suicide, war, and the death penalty? Aren't economy and ecology worthy of redemption and grace.

It is not that "right to life" has fallen out of vogue with evangelicalism, but rather that evangelicalism is starting to look at the big picture and understand (thankfully) that there is more than one important issue.

Each of us must look at all the options, and weigh carefully and prayerfully which candidate can best address the most crucial issue of today while best positioning us for a bright tomorrow.



Heath Countryman said...


what is your last name? I do not recogize you from your picture...

In regards to "right to life" issues, I would not agree that all of your categories fit logically within that framework.

Certainly, a right is given by God (not government) and should only be removed by government when given a just and moral cause. Using this framework, "right to life" would imply that due process is to be given to all people, regardless of age, etc., before life is taken. Capital punishment is not strictly a "right to life" issue because those being put to death have been given due process. One can argue against it on other grounds, including moral grounds, however since due process is aforded one cannot argue that a person was denied their "RIGHT to life." Certainly "right to life" does not include war, ecology, or economy. Those are different issues entirely. I would agree that genocide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide are all "right to life" issues and should be opposed.

But given the proportional nature of the issue of abortion to other issues facing American society, it seems hollow to argue that it is but a small part of a bigger picture.

For example, one may argue passionately against the war, and with good cause. I find myself at odds with the administration over both the original invasion and the conduct of the war. But to place the war in Iraq side by side with the modern holocaust of abortion is simply not morally equivelant. Both may be wrong, but the damage done by the war in terms of human suffering pales in comparison to the loss of life from abotions in the same period. Total deaths in Iraq since the invasion, both civilian and military, do not even fill one month's worth of murders from abortion. And while one may argue for justification in regards the war, it cannot be argued that there is a moral justification for 99.9% of all abortions, certainly not from a Christian perspective.

My point is not to say that Iraq is ok because the body count is lower (or poverty, heathcare, etc...), but simply to point out that among the issues that are out there, there is simply no one issue that compares with abortion in terms of morality.

So when a candidate comes down on the side of the acceptable murder of unborn children, what can he really say or do after that that gives him any moral authority to lead?

And I think that is ultimately the point that Dobson was trying to make, albeit poorly.

Evan and Julia said...

Heath, Your argument about the moral inequity between war and abortion might be valid if someone had said that the Iraq war is a pro-life issue. The fact is that the Iraq war was not at issue. (This would be an irrelevant conclusion fallacy.) The issue at hand is that the modern holocaust that is abortion is morally equivalent to war itself. War is the embodiment of evil, just as abortion is. To say that God is not just as furious about th e whole of abortion as God is about the whole of war or any of the other pro-life issues is, I believe, to miss the point of what supporting LIFE is all about.


Eric said...

Last name = Frey. I grad from religion dept. in 1999.



Heath Countryman said...

Evan, you don't seem to be engaged in the conversation very thoroughly. Check out Eric's comment. He clearly was placing war and abortion on equal footing, and I was responding to that point. My example of the Iraq war was but one example that I gave in my overall respone to eric's list. I do not see "war" as a right to life issue which I thought I explained well enough.

But it is interesting that you think all war is evil. Certainly there is an element of evil in all war. But I do not believe that a forceful response (be it the police responding to an intruder in your home or a nation responding to the force of another nation) is inherently evil.

Thus, I disagree with your assertion that war is the embodiment of evil.

In fact, war is often a necessary response to evil. While peace is always the ideal state, just societies (and even God himself) have found it necessary to use force or put down the forces of evil. You and I are direct beneficiaries of such uses of force. I am grateful for these sacrifices and I applaud those who made them. Their's was a life which exemplified the true nature of love.

I hate violence and morn over death. But I do not see the world through the same lense as you. I would prefer that there was not a need for war. But I also do not want to live in a world where good people allow evil people to have free reign. I know this is the cornerstone of pacifism and some argue it is the only Christian response, but I do not see it that way. In fact, I see the opposite side of the issue. I believe pacifism often REQUIRES active use of force and that inaction (even in the extreme case of taking another life) is often a distinctly non-Christian thing to do. Anyways, you and I will obviously not agree on this point.

I think war saddens God, but I do not hold that he is "furious" over it. Becasue ultimately I believe that the use of military force is often a necessary response for a moral society.

Evan and Julia said...

"You don't seem to be enganged . . . " Just as a subpoint, if Julia's statement about JD's argument being arrogant was ad hominem, then this fits the criteria as well.

God is a respecter of life. An unborn baby is a life. A born person is a life. Then, if God is concerned for the death of an unborn life then he must also be concerned for the death of a born life. It follows, Heath, whether or not you think so.

As far as it goes, again your argument fails to prove your point adequately. War is the result of evil in the world. I would go so far as to say that war is the embodiment of evil. If we are to be a people living out the mandate of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, then we must see war as evil. Does evil deserve a response? Absolutely! Is that response a continuation of the evil that is war? Perhaps in a fallen world, it can be. The moral equivalent, I might add, would be the bombing of abortion clinics (an evil response to evil). I think you would agree that this would not be good or Christ-like.

So, on this, Heath, let me engage in the conversation a bit more thoroughly. You assume by your statement that government has the authority to remove a right when removal is deserved. However, if we are to be called Christian and Christ gives grace, which is justice and mercy when neither are deserved, then we too must give grace and fight for the right's of the the undeserved.

Now, back to the original issue.

The issue of JD calling BO's interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount a "fruitcake" interpretation is Julia's original issue. Julia was saying that JD does not seem to be accountable (in his public persona representing a so-called para-church organization) to the Church for his interpretation, yet he accused BO of having a "fruitcake" interpretation. This begs the question.

Heath, you originally responded to Julia with a logical critique. However, your response did not meet the criteria of a valid and sound argument. In addition, I want to point out that this is Julia's and my blog, we have invited people to comment upon our blog by checking the box that says, "allow comments." It is by invitation that you are able to comment. The use of some of your language feels to us a bit presumptuous and condescending (if that is the way this sounds now, it truly is not intended to be), for example, "I just find this post to be missing the mark that it intended to hit." Next time we would like you to use less offensive diction and syntax.

Heath Countryman said...

"if that is the way this sounds now"

It does. Hey pot, it's me kettle. You are black.

The comment of missing the mark was actually an admission that I could see what Julia intended with her comment, but nonetheless felt that the language used detracted from the point.

I have been giving this some thought after reading your last comment and I have decided that I will just bow out of conversations here...

I enjoy a good argument, however I have endeavored to argue the issue. The post was about personal opinions, which I disagreed with. I have stated my disagreements openly and with sound reasoning from an opposite perspective. But I am not one to stay if not welcome and certainly do not wish to be a blight on your blog. At the same time, I do not intend to have my comments moderated or marginalized when I have at no time been condescending in either my intent or my language. I have asserted my opinion which you do not agree with. That is fine. But your syntax and diction have been equally offensive to me, yet I have sought to remain on issue.

The lecture given in your last post tell me this is probably not a place for me to continue contributing: "Next time we would like you to use less offensive diction and syntax." Let's just not worry about a next time...

Anyways, blessings.

To each his own, I suppose.

Eric said...


Let all join hands and sing together:


can't you all feel the love.


keith said...

Just wanted to say hi and love you all, i love jesus.