The Gorsuch Nomination – A Temporary Reprieve

Picture from The Denver Post online

Yesterday the President nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. By all accounts, Gorsuch is a highly qualified nominee, possessing the skills and temperament needed by a Supreme Court justice. His nomination will be fiercely contested in the poisonous atmosphere of Washington politics, of course, but that is to be expected.

From what I have read about Judge Gorsuch, his track record of decisions indicates he possesses a robust view of religious freedom. His opinions – ranging from the Hobby Lobby case to the Andrew Yellowbear case – reveal a firm commitment to defend the free exercise of religion from governmental intrusion. And as a Christian concerned about the growing threat to religious liberty in America, I am thrilled with this nominee. Continue reading

The Inevitable Self-Destruction of Identity Politics

The Women’s March (photo from CBS News website)

During a drive through New England last year, Kristi and I stopped at an old gas station to refuel and use the restroom. The bathrooms were unisex facilities. When we got back to the car, Kristi lamented how nasty her stall was. At that point we joked that the greatest opponents to the transgender push for “bathroom equality” will eventually be feminists. Women are not going to tolerate using the same public bathrooms as men for very long!

Feminism and transgenderism are two examples of “identity politics” – political activism that revolves around social/racial/sexual identity. And right now the liberal political landscape is dominated by the politics of identity: the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the LGBTQI movement, the feminist movement, and so on. To be fair, identity politics are not exclusively leftist – on the Right there are efforts like the white nationalist movement. But identity politics are primarily a liberal  phenomena. Continue reading

Learning How to Live with Each Other

Right now I am in the midst of rehearsals for a local production of 1776. If you have never seen the show, it is a musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Ever since I saw the movie as an eight year-old I have wanted to play the role of Benjamin Franklin, and now I have my chance! It is going to be a lot of fun.

One of the pivotal moments in the show occurs when the issue of slavery arises. The southern colonies object to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration because it expresses criticism of slavery, and the southern delegates walk out en masse. Benjamin Franklin concludes that the clause will have to be deleted in order to regain their votes for independence. This compromise elicits an angry response from John Adams, and an equally impassioned reply by Franklin – Continue reading

A Time for Cheerful Courage

Saint-Georges et le dragon (St. George and the Dragon), Gustav Moreau, 1889-1890

In just a couple of days, the Obama presidency will end and the Trump presidency will begin. What will not change is the primary loyalty of Christians. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” says Paul in Philippians 3:20, and no election can change that. By the same token, no election can fundamentally alter the hostility the world feels toward the lordship of Christ. And while the new administration may be less prone to use the levers of government to limit religious freedom, there is no doubt that the broader culture’s hostility toward the faith is only going to intensify.

In other words, we have come to the very circumstance facing the readers of Peter’s first letter. These Christians were not yet in the crosshairs of the government, but they were on the receiving end of growing social hostility against the church. The pagans “speak against you as evildoers,” Peter says in 2:12. The Christians were “slandered,” and their good behavior was “reviled”(3:16).  He goes on to say that the unbelievers “malign” (4:4) the people of God, and that his readers are “insulted for the name of Christ” (4:14).

So these disciples were scorned by the pagans around them for the moral commitments they made. The civil government, however, was not yet involved. In fact, Peter says that under ideal circumstances the government will protect Christians from anything worse happening (2:14). But it is clear that Peter sees trouble on the horizon, a time when even doing good would not spare Christians from harm (3:13-14a).

We are facing much the same situation today. Anyone who publicly challenges the prevailing dogmas of our decadent culture on issues like same-sex marriage can expect ridicule, insults, and contempt. A pleasant fellow on Twitter once told me he was praying for me to break my neck! And the power structures of the media, academia, and big business have made no secret of the social pressures they seek to accelerate against us if we openly stand for the gospel.

So how should we respond? Continue reading