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Friday, September 19, 2003

And I do not think the evangelical denominations are just interest groups for the GOP. Rather, I feel that the mainlines are interest groups for whatever social cause is in fashion. Without the Gospel, they are just civil groups that make religious noises every now and then. Christians in posession of the true Gospel can stand outside the political fray and make valuable contributions to both parties. Yet as long as one party (the Democratic Party) remains committed to defending "abortion rights," they will not gain the allegiance of Christians who might generally agree with other policies.
I was reading about mainline church opposition to U.S. invasion of Iraq. My instructor was lamenting (or observing, to allow a claim of objectivity) the lack of impact those leaders' opinions had on Bush's policy. The list of denominations was less than impressive. ELCA, PCUSA, United Methodist? C'mon. Most real Christians are either considering leaving these denominations, or have already done so. If Christians perceive that the Gospel itself has been forsaken, why would leaders' opinions on "just war" theory mean anything? You can't assume that the more "conservative" elements are all Southern Baptists and independent evangelicals, either. Religion scholars have failed to account for the creation of new "mainline" denominations to replace the others, where doctrine and practice has remained strong and traditional, better explaining the huge groundswell of support for the war policies of our President. This is a much better explanation than hordes of independent evangelical Jerry Falwells. Christianity still has an enormous influence (though diminished) on national policy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

So, today is the day for talking about whether Christians can lose their salvation. Can we? Depends on what a "Christian" is. Someone who walks, talks, and even acts like a Christian might not really be one. (1 John 2:18-19) "False sons in her pale," indeed. But we are assured over and over in Scripture that we will not fall away on account of God failing us. (John 6:37-40, Ephesians 1:13-14, John 10:27-30) Nor can we commit any sin so great that we cannot be forgiven if we truly repent (1 John 1:8-9). The real theme of Romans 8-9 is not election, but rather assurance. The same could be said for the first two chapters of Ephesians. How did we get where we are, and where are we going? Will God lead us out of the slavery of sin to perish in the desert of our own efforts? Surely not! The same grace that called us out of sin and death will sustain us. If we were dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and we were made alive with Christ (Eph. 2:5) surely He is strong to hold us. For that grace is not haphazard, and it is never withdrawn. Philippians 2:12-13 reminds us to fear and tremble, not in terror, but in awe because our God is at work in us (and through us) and He will not fail!
What of those warning passages like 2 Peter 2:11-22, or Revelation 2? What do you feel as you read them? Do they cause repentance, or are you unmoved? Do you sense Jesus' deep love, or do you feel nothing? If we want to follow Jesus, we will not "accidentally" fall out of His grace. If we live in complete willful disobedience all the time, however, should we not fear that we are lost? But Christians today need assurance more than they think. "Once saved, always saved" doesn't do this assurance justice at all; it reduces everything down to a moment, or a decision. But God's people endure, and grow. They do not believe in Christ, and never think of him again. They must be sanctified, made more like Christ. Jesus prayed this for the apostles and for us in John 17:17. He said we must stand firm. And by grace, we will.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Crumpets. Tea and crumpets. I can't think of anything to say. It has been my experience that no one ever reads 2 Peter. That is, unless they're quoting something about losing your salvation, or other such foolishness. I'll do what can only be described as a column on this. Anyway, I've read Paul's letters a billion times, but has anyone ever quoted from the book of Amos? I've had people ask me if that book is in the Apocrypha. No, it's in the Old Testament, and it's not disputed. Don't ask me about Joel, either. You should know this stuff.
Today, class was supremely interesting. It's my Congress and Legislative Policy course. My instructor said that parties are getting stronger, and becoming more ideologically pure (less overlap). Let's hope so.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Much was made of the fact that George W. Bush did not meet with a single bishop (including his own) from the United Methodist Church before deciding to move against Iraq. On the other hand, I saw his bishop on a program discussing religion and salvation. If one is a Christian, or even knows a lot about it, one expects to hear a certain answer to the question, "How must I be saved?" Regardless of denomination, the answer, with little variation always is: "Repent and believe in the name of Jesus, God's only Son, our Lord." Never changes. Never should. Well, this guy said some ridiculously pluralistic drivel about how all religions are the same. Yours truly had to conclude that perhaps this man was no disciple of Jesus at all. I myself am not the Judge, but were I the President, I'd ignore this man's "religious opposition" to my policy in the same manner.
I don't have any worries about Warner keeping perspective. But I know that I'd have a hard time if it was me.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

A little over a year ago, I unequivocally stated that Kurt Warner should be the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. Today, I am changing my decision. It pains me to write this; I love Kurt Warner. He's my favorite football player. In case you're wondering, yes, it is because he's a Christian. Warner plays for my hometown team, and he's my brother in Christ. (Aside from the fact that he's also really good) Yet, Marc Bulger is better. I won't say that I'll have a Marc Bulger card or jersey. I won't follow his career when he leaves the Rams. But he deserves to start for my team. I will never have the intense loyalty to Bulger as I do to Warner, and Marc will have to understand that is true for many St. Louis fans. If they trade Warner, there's going to be an uproar. But what else will you do? 47 million dollars was paid to Warner after the Super Bowl victory. You can't have a backup with that much money! A seven-year contract. This is only year four. This trade's a no-brainer. All that being said, I feel I need to remember Warner's accomplishments. Three of the best years from the quarterback position ever were turned in by Warner. He owns the highest career passer rating (AKA QB rating) in football history. He is also a two-time Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl Champion, and Super Bowl MVP. Yet I hope he puts his worth not in these things, but in Christ, who is "the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:23b, NIV)
You may be thinking, "Jason, it's only football." And you would be correct. But some people make their living playing this game. No doubt Kurt Warner derived some measure of pride (and rightly so, in this case) being the best quarterback in football on the best team in football. The Rams were every bit of that once, and so was Kurt. Now it is no more. It doesn't even feel like the same team. Even if they win another title, they'll never be like the '99 Rams. They were invincible. I mean that. Warner threw 41 touchdowns that year, with the record standing at 48. Some guy named Dan Marino did that. Some argue Marino is the best ever. Anyway, I'm going to remember the guy who gave a fairly winning-deprived football town (remember the football Cardinals?) its only title. If we won in 1940 or something, just stuff it, 'cause nobody alive now was there, and nobody cares.