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MAD stood for mutually assured destruction during the Cold War. The theory was that neither superpower would start a nuclear war because each had the power to destroy the other so no one would win. MAD obviously worked because the superpowers were rational enough to “get it.”

All that came to mind as Secretary of State John Kerry returned to the US waving a metaphorical piece of paper declaring peace in our time with Iran. Why Obama and Kerry would find the mullahs in Iran trustworthy is astounding. Why they would find the mullahs in Iran rational is equally astounding.

Our Israeli friends who have everything to lose are not going to wait around to see if a nuclear Iran is trustworthy or rational. They cannot afford to be stupid or naive.

Lying when the ends justify the means

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There was an interesting column on Townhall the other day.

The tile of the column was Obama Lies Like a Marxist and the author is Terry P. Jeffrey from CNS News.

The good old days when a lie was a lie and Jiminy Cricket would call him on it.

The good old days when a lie was a lie and Jiminy Cricket would call him on it.

Jeffrey quotes Obama:

“They’ll have to finally acknowledge that this isn’t a government takeover of our health care system,” he said. “They’ll see that if Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. And if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”

Americans knows by now that the President’s statement and it’s variations used over 30 times is a blatant and boldface lie and that the President knew it was a lie when he said it and repeated it time and time again. And no even more lies are being told to cover the original lies.

At the end of the article Jeffrey quotes another American President, Ronald Reagan:

In his first press conference as president in 1981, Ronald Reagan, who would lead the West to victory in the Cold War, startled the liberal press when he accurately described the mendacity of the leaders of the Soviet Union, who were seeking a “one-world socialist or communist state.”

They “have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is what will further their cause,” said Reagan, “meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that, and that is moral, not immoral.

In my opinion Jeffrey is spot on and his observation should terrify us.

Every dictator and tyrant throughout history has lied through his teeth and not thought it immoral on the basis that it advanced their agenda. It’s a variation on the ends justify the means and then calling the ends moral.

Some will argue that politicians all fudge the truth, obfuscate the truth, mangle the truth, obscure the truth, blur the truth, confuse the truth and in general twist truth like silly putty and to a degree they of course do.

But having said that there was a time in this country when there were limits to what a President could get away with. I point to President Richard Nixon who lied his socks off about Watergate and for his trouble ended up resigning in disgrace rather than face impeachment. This administration makes the Watergate conspirators look like boy scouts by comparison.

Nixon crossed an invisible line and Republicans and Democrats alike recognized the line had been crossed and Nixon had to go. Not so today with most highly polarized Congress since the American Civil War.

President Obama and his administration trot out one lie after the other and then lie again to cover for the first lie. A complacent and sympathetic media aids and abets the lying because it knows it furthers the statist agenda.

President Obama said his administration would be the most transparent ever. In a way he’s right, if you know what to look for.

General Butt-Naked or General Preacher?

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I admit that the title of this blog post is an attention grabber but it’s not sensationalism or something I made up.  The General’s nick-name when he was a Liberian warlord was General Butt-Naked and now he’s a preacher.

Liberia is a tiny country on the western coast of Africa. The name of the country means “land of liberty” and the people speak English, but not because it was an English colony. The people speak English because Liberia was an American colony (of sorts) started by freed slaves sent back to Africa by the American Colonization Society in the early 19th century. The capital of Liberia is Monrovia named in honor of James Monroe who was President of the US when the country was founded in 1820.

No. 30; American view of Africa from 1839

No. 30; American view of Africa from 1839 (Photo credit: Edu-Tourist)

The country was dominated by the descendants of the original freed slaves and were called Americo-Liberians. A military coup over-threw the ruling class and the country was wracked by a succession of civil wars in the 1990’s. General Butt-Naked emerged during the civil wars and quickly gained a reputation for being among the most brutal warlords within the competing factions.

Blahyi today, preaching in his church.

Blahyi today, preaching in his church.

He earned the nick-name General Butt-Naked because he went into battle naked except for tennis type shoes wielding a machete. He believed that some sort of magic protected him while naked and indeed no bullet ever touched him.

General Butt-Naked (his real name is Joshua Milton Blahyi) is the subject of a fascinating three partstory in the English edition of Der Spiegel Online. The author is Jonathan Stock.

The gist of the story and the question the author seems to ask is how does a warlord, who readily admits to 20,000 deaths and too numerous to count atrocities become a preacher and start to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ?

It should be noted that Liberia (now peaceful since the civil wars ended in 2003) does not prosecute war criminals. Stock tells us why in the article and notes that the UN and other international agencies do not have the where-with-all to prosecute either. This means that for all practical purposes General Butt Naked got away with murder.

Yet, Blahyi (formerly General Butt-Naked) says that should he prosecuted because of some change in the law he would plead guilty and face prison time or even the death penalty should that be his sentence.

Blahyi, now in the garb of a preacher visits his surviving victims or their families seeking forgiveness. The reception he receives is a mixed-bag given the absolute horror of his crimes. Blahyi’s victims would be chopped up piece by piece until they died, women raped then murdered, unborn children ripped from the bellies of their mothers and Blahyi and his soldiers (many of them children themselves) would eat victims hearts and body parts.

Child soldiers in Uganda but the use of children as soldiers is common in Africa and elsewhere. Blahyi trained them to without pity and not feel anything as they raped and murdered.

Child soldiers in Uganda but the use of children as soldiers is common in Africa and elsewhere. Blahyi trained them to be without pity and not feel anything as they raped and murdered.

The horror of Blahyi’s atrocities is compared to the credibility of his conversion.

The author of the three-part series states that Blahyi is either a fraud or that he truly has changed. Later in the article Stock raises a third possibility that if the people of Liberia believe Blahyi has changed then it really does not matter if he has truly changed or is a pious fraud simply trying to escape justice in a country that has no judge.

It is an intriguing possibility that Stock suggests but Stock is wrong in at least one respect. Blahyi does have a judge. Blahyi may not have a Liberian judge or a UN judge but he will face a judge who knows the heart like no human can.

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:22-24 ESV)

The Gospel, America and Politics

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Russell D. Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist (my denomination)  Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He said this at his inauguration ceremony at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.

The “end goal of the gospel is not a Christian America. The end goal of the gospel is redeemed from every tribe and tongue and nation and language dwelling in the new Jerusalem”

As readers of my various blogs know (and those who know me personally) I am a political person and am not shy about my conservative views. I sincerely believe that our Constitution is under siege and that we are plunging head long into a left-wing statist quagmire that will take away our liberties and radically transform our nation into something the founders would never tolerate nor imagine.

To halt the plunge I exercise my right to vote and to donate to candidates (esp on the local or grass-roots level) who share my views. I also write from time to time to my representatives. I also write on the intersection of the Scriptures and politics and pop culture hence the name of this blog. I care about where our country is headed.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no illusions about America becoming a Christian nation. Moore is spot on, America, or any other nation becoming Christian is not the end goal of the gospel.

As I read Moore’s quote in Southern Seminary Magazine I immediately thought of these passages:

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10 ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, [10] and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
(Revelation 7:9-10 ESV)

Revelation 21.5

As these verses illustrate the end goal of the gospel is the gathering of the redeemed from every nation, every tribe and every language into a kingdom and new Jerusalem.

Moore also said this: “The kingdom of God is not made of the moral. The kingdom of God is made up of the crucified.”

I believe that what Moore has said here has more than a few applications but for me as someone who is a Southern Baptist pastor and blog writer I have to ask my self every time I write something on my blog or post to FB, am I hindering or helping the gospel or at least doing the gospel no harm with my views or more to the point, how I express my views.

I learned a valuable lesson a number of years ago and I have to remind myself of it lest I unintentionally harm the gospel.

I had written a position paper at the request of the Sr. Pastor I worked with. What it had to do with is irrelevant.

So, thinking I was pretty good at that sort of thing I got to work affirming some things and denying some others. When I was finished there was no doubt where we stood as a church. A masterpiece thought I!

At the time, our church was in a type of alliance with other like-minded churches and the subject matter was of concern to all. Knowing this I asked another pastor to read over my position paper hoping that he’d tell me how wonderful it was. Instead, he gently asked me a key question. He asked me what was I trying to accomplish with the position paper?

My first thought was isn’t it obvious. It was to take a strong stand against “xyz” and let everyone know where we stood.

So, that’s how I answered.

He said, well, that’s nice but who are you trying to persuade?

Wham!!! Good question. Great question. He went on to say it was a well-written paper but I failed to show people what a gospel-centered alternative looked like. He was right. There was nothing redemptive about the position paper. It was me simply planting the flag and waving it as high as I could.

I appreciate this kind of flag waving!

I appreciate this kind of flag waving!

It’s relatively easy to undermine something and if that’s all you want to do then have at it. It persuades no one and probably unnecessarily alienates people who otherwise might give you a listen.

So it is in politics, a subject many people feel passionate about, including myself. I have to ask myself that question my pastor friend asked me years ago, who are you trying to persuade. The answer to that question should determine, how I write, what I write about and what do I post? Am I helping the gospel go forward or am I hindering it. My answer to the question is not a political statement, it’s a priority statement.

Moore also said this: “We will fight for justice, and we will fight for liberty and we will fight with our forefathers for all those things that have been [guaranteed to us] by the Constitution as Americans, but we will also remember that we are not Americans first. We belong to another kingdom.

I couldn’t agree more Mr. Moore.

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