Defending a Liberal from a Bible-Wielding Bully

I’ll admit it right up front – I consider myself to be a moderate. There are some areas where conservatives get it right. There are other areas where liberals get it right. It’s foolish to think that either side gets it 100% right or wrong.

But one thing that really gets my blood boiling is when a person one side seeks to tarnish (or completely strip away) the salvation of an opponent on the other side. This was just the case this week as conservative blogger Matt WalshMatt Walsh wrote a piece partially titled: It’s Incredibly Obvious That Barack Obama Isn’t a Christian.

While Mr. Walsh and I probably agree on a great many things politically, ethically, and morally, I disagree with his admitted attack on President Obama’s Christianity. I have two fundamental problems with Mr. Walsh’s attack piece. First, the beginning part of the article is superfluous and unnecessary. Mr. Walsh let’s loose with a long list of grievances that show the President’s lack of Christian faith:

– he’s part of a radical heretical sect called Black Liberation Theology
– he attacked religious freedom in America
– he “aided and abetted” persecutors of Christians overseas
– he supports same-sex marriage
– he’s dishonest
– he exploits racial tensions
– he’s generally corrupt and unwaveringly narcissistic

Mr. Walsh invokes Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:16

You will know them by their fruit

It’s quite possible that nobody ever told Mr. Walsh that reading a Bible verse requires seeing the surrounding verses as well for context. In Matthew 7:15-16 Jesus actually says:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Do you see it there? Jesus is talking about judging and gauging prophets. He’s not talking about politicians. While there may be a general life principle about watching a person’s behavior to know who and what they are, we mustn’t tweak Jesus’s words to fit our agendas.

Then, admitting that his entire list is irrelevant, Mr. Walsh says:

He could theoretically be all those things and still be a Christian.

So there is no biblical support to back up the initial accusations. They do not stand as proof of a false Christian faith. The real issue, what Mr. Walsh is really getting to, is his intense loathing for President Obama based on Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.

Leave all of that aside, then. The thing above all else that really reveals his true faith (or lack thereof) is his undying passion for, support of, and belief in abortion.

Mr. Walsh then unleashes a plethora of articles and facts illustrating Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.


Here comes my second fundamental problem with Mr. Walsh’s article. He misuses the Bible again to support his point (c’mon, this blog is about the Bible, of course that’s going to be the issue here).

Mr. Walsh “quotes” the Bible and adds his own commentary:

If anyone causes harm to these little ones, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Did you catch that? Can we all take a moment to let that one sink in (no pun intended)? You would be better off dead than harming a child. It would be wiser to literally drown in the ocean than do anything that would bring harm, whether physical or spiritual, to a child. That’s God talking. Do we think He was joking? Exaggerating? Just blowing off steam? Does he need to calm down and be reasonable, as pro-lifers are constantly told when they make statements not nearly as strident and damning?

No. This was a direct statement. A command. A promise. When you bring harm to the innocent, you commit a sin so terrible that physical death would be preferable.

Mr. Walsh is creating his own meaning to Jesus’s words. No – it goes beyond that. Mr. Walsh is putting words in Jesus’s mouth. I looked at Mark 9 in 15 different Bible versions – including my Greek New Testament, the New International Version, the King James Version, The English Standard Version, the Holman Christian Standard, heck, even the Message! I didn’t see Mr. Walsh’s version anywhere.

Because it doesn’t exist.

After Jesus’s disciples have an issue with an outsider doing exorcisms in Jesus’s name, Jesus says, “Do not forbid him…. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble….”

Jesus is NOT talking about hurting children. He’s talking about Christian behavior damaging the faith of other believers.

It is dishonest (perhaps unintentionally) to use this passage to promote a pro-life agenda, AND I SAY THIS AS A PRO-LIFE SUPPORTER. Jesus gave no direct statement, command, or promise about abortion or hurting children. Abortion existed thousands of years ago but there was still no direct command against it.

I personally believe that a high view of human life being created in the image of God should lead people away from abortion, but don’t put words in Jesus’s mouth.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. The Bible DOES talk about faith and salvation.

Peter preaches, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

A jailer asks Paul, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

We’re never called to hold to certain political positions in order to be saved. It’s about faith in Jesus. That means that, though we may not like it, there is a WIDE variety of people and political ideologies that still fall under the umbrella of Christianity.

We may not like a person’s position. We may feel that they are downright wrong. But we don’t have the ability to revoke someone’s salvation because they differ from us on issues. C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity
that we don’t have the ability to say a person is or isn’t a Christian. We are not the judge of hearts. All we can say is that a person’s behavior doesn’t seem to align with what we think Christian behavior ought to be (forgive the paraphrase, I can’t find the exact reference right now).

I am pro-life.

I will not destroy the salvation of someone who disagrees with me, even though I personally believe that abortion destroys the human created in God’s image. Even on the big issues, salvation is still about Jesus. That’s it. The closer we walk with Jesus the more our morals and values will align with his, but we’re all in different places in our spiritual growth and development.

In the end, I’ll let God determine whose faith is authentic and who is merely faking it.

That’s kind of his job anyways – not mine.

_ _ _ _ _

I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

When Atheists Abort Babies

atheist baby

I wrote about abortion once, when I was involved in a disagreement with someone who made a comment along the lines of, “A REAL Christian can’t support abortion.”

Christianity is about faith, and personal positions on ethics and morality are not a great litmus test for faith. There are people who believe in the deity of Jesus and that the only way to life in the presence of God is through faith in Jesus yet still have differing views on issues of politics and ethics. There is no monolithic voice that says, “IF CHRISTIANS DON’T BELIEVE XYZ THEY ARE NOT REAL CHRISTIANS!”

That being said, I do believe that life in the womb is a precious thing.

I do believe that life in the womb is a person.

I do believe that life in the womb ought to be protected and not disposed of.

I just saw a news piece that talked about the famous atheist Richard Dawkins talking about the immorality of NOT aborting a fetus that tests positive for Down Syndrome.

Did you catch that?

First – an atheist talking about morality. That makes me laugh. Without a higher power as the foundation for all morality and ethics all we’re left with is, “I’ll do what seems right until it no longer seems right. Then I’ll do what suits me best.”

Second – in Dawkins skewed idea of morality he feels it is better to dispose of the fetus that tests positive for Down Syndrome rather than make the human suffer as he or she grows.

Dawkins said:

I think abortion is right if the woman wants an abortion. Down syndrome is one very good, and extremely common reason, to want it.

He is asserting his own opinion of what is “good” and, as a little slight of hand argumentation, mentions that it is an extremely common reason to abort. He claims that he is not trying to use the majority opinion as an argument. If he does not intend to use it as an argument then he has no need to say it. My kids commonly have reasons for all sorts of stuff. As responsible parents, we will often tell them, “You shouldn’t do that.” Even if many women choose to abort babies who have been identified as DS babies, it does not suddenly make it right.

The weight of opinion does not change the rightness of the action. This is true for any behavior that is contrary to God’s design.

I don’t expect a blog post like this to change opinions on abortion. Those who agree with me will continue to do so. Those who disagree will continue to do so. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some biblical reasons why I believe life in utero is precious life.

Samson was dedicated to God before he was even born:

So [Samson] told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” (Judges 16:7)

Job talks about God’s hand at work in creating life in the womb:

Did not he who made me in the womb make them? (Job 31:15)

The obvious pro-life favorite:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

In the prophets:

This is what the Lord says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. (Isaiah 44:2)

Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. (Isaiah 49:1)

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

I won’t beleaguer the point – but I think there is plenty of biblical cause to understand that life as we know it doesn’t begin and end with breath.

I am saddened that people like Dawkins think it is morally right to abort babies who test positive for problems. But when you’re an atheist, there’s really nothing stopping you from saying, “I’m going to choose whatever I want for my own ease and happiness – whatever the consequences might be for others.”

And that’s tragic.

** For the record, please recall that I acknowledge that this post won’t sway opinions. And if you differ, you won’t sway mine. For that reason I will not be entertaining comments from anyone who wants to argue. There’s another time and place for that. 🙂

Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America – A Review

ERADICATE (Front Cover)

It’s a normal desire to want to live in a place where people share your values. It’s a normal part of humanity to see your culture and way of life as normative and everything outside the norm as a problem to be fixed. This is the basic premise of David Fiorazo’s Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America.

David Fiorazo
David Fiorazo

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review of the book. Even though I was reading to write a review I was anticipating reading. As a moderate Evangelical Christian pastor and a Chaplain in the United States Army Reserve the idea of a society that is slowly taking God out of the picture disturbs me. My hope was that this book could provide a vision for the way ahead – showing Christians how to move forward in the culture in which we live and live as people of faith in a world that does not share that faith.

Alas, this was not what happened.

From the outset, Fiorazo confuses patriotism with faith. He is what I have termed an “Americhristian” – someone who believes that being a citizen of God’s kingdom and a citizen of the USA are one and the same. When that confusions takes place, we place nationalism on the same plane is faith. What the author desires is not necessarily Christian, but conservative American values that may or may not necessarily be Christian. Time and again he reveals his cultural bias. In the introduction he states:

“In spite of all its failures, America is still the greatest, most exceptional demonstration of faith, family, and freedom in the world.”

Such a statement is cultural bias, not fact. If God is the God of all nations then the emphasis of faith should be living, to appropriate the Bible, as strangers in a strange land. All Fiorazo does is call people back to conservative ideology. His talking points are the same you can hear daily from Rush Limbaugh or Mike Gallagher. His primary areas of concern:

1. Education
2. Planned Parenthood / Abortion
3. President Obama
4. The Media
5. Any form of Christian faith that isn’t old-school Christianity

Regarding education, Fiorazo is not an educator. He’s a media personality. He offers no curricular evidence when he talks about modern students learning “a much different history than you and I once learned in public schools.” He offers no data to verify what he says when he claims, “Parents studied the Bible and took its application seriously.” As a pastor I can tell you that I have not seen the overwhelming majority of ANY generation study the Bible and teach it to their kids. In the end, Fiorazo is merely upset that modern education pushes all of the things he is bothered by, including: environmentalism, illegal immigration, man-caused global warming, social justice, and the Democratic Party (pg. 31). He never stops to consider the possibility that one can be a faithful Christian and support environmentalism or be a Democrat. As I said, he’s confusing faith with politics.
Fiorazo’s chapter on Planned Parenthood and abortion is actually one of his better chapters. He takes an historical look at the development of the organization and its fight for abortion and the pro-choice position.

Then the author returns to his political attacks and writes on President Obama. His thoughts are nothing new and reflect what most in the conservative right already believe – that Mr. Obama is not a Christian and is working to undermine Christianity in America. One of the problems of this book is its dated material. Written before the election, Fiorazo talks about the upcoming election between Obama and Romney and urges people to vote for Romney. Ironically, while he rails against the “unchristian” Obama, he never really touches on the fact that Romney is not a Christian. Again we see politics coming into play above faith. It’s really not a faith issue for the conservative right. Has it ever been?

Fiorazo spends a good deal of time talking about corruption and bias in the media. “We must understand some news outlets are definitely biased, and we need to listen, read, and watch!” (pg. 131). He never addresses the fact that conservative outlets are just as biased as liberal outlets. HE throws around the same pejorative language as Limbaugh and Gallagher, referring to media “elites.” He brings up the media’s love for Mr. Obama, proving once again that his real concern is political, not spiritual.

At the end of the book, Fiorazo rails against any form of faith that does not conform to his understanding of traditional conservative values. He brings up the Emerging Church, New Age, Oprah, Yoga, multiculturalism, contemplative prayer, and every other issue that is seen as a hot-topic issue for the conservative right.

When all is said and done, Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America is more about political ideology than it is about faith and spirituality in culture. You will not find any content that is unique and cannot be heard every day from conservative talking heads.

It is merely the battle cry of conservative Republicans.

You can find the book on Amazon from author David Fiorazo.

How Can a Real Christian Support Abortion?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

In a recent blog post I made the case that, contrary to some extreme Evangelical positions, Barack Obama is not the AntiChrist. You can read the original post here:

Quick summation: The President has publicly claimed that he is a Christian. The Bible makes the point that the antichrist will be self-promoting and deny that Jesus is the Christ. The end result is that, while people may be unhappy with the president and his policies, we are in no position to judge his faith.

What really got me was one of the comments someone left on that post. Someone asked:

How can a real Christian support abortion?

The question really made me stop and realize that this country needs to have an honest conversation about what makes a Christian. No, not just about what makes a Christian—about what makes a REAL Christian. It seems that some people have a belief that there is a difference between a real Christian and a fake Christian and that it is possible to discern the difference based on the political and/or ethical positions one does or does not support.

So what makes a Christian?

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Simply put, it is our faith in Jesus Christ that restores us to right relationship with God (that’s what Evangelicals mean when we say “saved”). Left to ourselves we end up breaking our connection to Him. Our faith in Jesus restores that relationship. What makes a Christian? Someone who has faith that Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one).

For millennia the Christian Church has held to the Apostles’ Creed, the set of beliefs that unifies Christians regardless of denominational differences. The Creed contains the “biggies” that unite us despite our differences. The Creed states:

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Did you see it? The part in there about real Christians vs. fake Christians and politics and ethics? No?

That’s because it’s not there. It’s not in the Bible. It’s not in the Church’s historic Creeds. Salvation is God’s gift of grace through our faith – it’s not something that can be earned by doing the right things or by avoiding the wrong things.

Dang. This means that salvation is much broader than we would like it to be! This means that we can’t throw derogatory labels on others simply because they hold to positions that we think are wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me – I personally believe that life (inside or outside the womb) is precious and should not be taken lightly. I don’t favor abortions. At the same time, we should be highly uncomfortable labeling someone as a fake Christian simply because we disagree with them on matters of politics or ethics.

Good Christians with good intentions can still disagree with each other. We get too caught up on what a real Christian looks like that we stop acting like Christ towards those with whom we disagree! Even in disagreement we can remain civil and behave decently towards each other.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that it is not possible for us to look at another Christian and judge their faith based on their behavior. At the MOST all we can say is that we don’t believe their behavior aligns with that which we consider to be Christian behavior. We give in to un-Christian impulses when we say, “Real Christians don’t support….” It’s not about ethical positions.

Because in the end the only position that has eternal consequence is our position before the cross.

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