Christian Politics with "Principled Pluralism"

As I wrote recently, "We Haven’t Advanced Very Far" in how Americans understand the role faith should play in politics.

Christianity is greatly influencing the way this current election is being handled by both the Republicans and the Democrats. After the last twenty-five years of American politics, many of us are sick and tired of the Religious Right. Some of us are going into this election season in the same mode of operation, looking at who is the best "Christian candidate." Others are so sick of the attempts to theocratize the nation that we are advocating for a strict separation of church and state.

Arising out of the chaos of all this, a question is being asked: "Isn't there a way to do politics that is distinctly Christian without advocating a theocracy?" In other words, isn't there a way for Christians to be engaged in politics while being civil? Can't we hold fast to our faith and boldly proclaim it in the political realm without sacrificing the political pluralism needed to live in a free society?

Perhaps my favorite Christian voice in politics is James Skillen of The Center for Public Justice (CPJ). In a document detailing the distinctives of the CPJ, he writes of a very important component of Christian engagement in politics. It's called "Principled Pluralism."

The Center’s philosophy of principled pluralism flows directly from its conviction that governments have not been ordained by God for the purpose of separating believers from unbelievers, giving privilege to Christians and the church, or serving the interests of one nation over others. This is a religious conviction that mandates publicly established religious freedom for all. Governments have the high calling to uphold public justice for all people living within their territories. States are not churches or families; public officials are not national theologians or clergy. States are public-legal communities that exist for the protection and enhancement of the common good.

The word "pluralism" in this context means at least three things. First, it means recognizing that the state itself is but one institutional community among others in society. The American republic, as a political community, is part of a diverse social landscape that includes families, businesses, schools and colleges, social-service organizations, and much more. The jurisdiction of American federal and state governments is (or should be) limited to the making, executing, and adjudicating of public laws for everyone who lives under the jurisdiction of those governments. The authority of government is not limitless. Governments may not ignore or displace other kinds of human responsibility in other institutions.

The word "pluralism" also means, therefore, that government should recognize and uphold the diverse organizational structure of civil society. Government should not treat human beings merely as individual citizens; human beings also exist as family members, faith-community members, economically organized employers and employees, and in dozens of other capacities and relationships. "Principled pluralism" means that government is obligated to do justice to society’s nongovernmental organizations and institutions as a matter of principle. This is why the Center for Public Justice is concerned with the order of society and the proper relation of government to the many different kinds of human relationships and organizations in society.

Finally, "pluralism" means that there should be constitutional recognition and protection of religious life in society. Principled pluralism means that government should give equal treatment to different communities of faith. Government should not have the authority to decide what constitutes true religion. Therefore, government should not try to establish one religion or to enforce secularism in public life. Most religious ways of life seek expression beyond the walls of a church. Most guide their adherents in the way they should live in society and not only in their worship and creedal confessions. Justice, therefore, requires equal treatment of religions in public as well as in private life.

All three of the meanings of pluralism articulated above are essential to the Center’s Christian-democratic, principled-pluralist understanding of a just political community.

Skillen wrote a book on this subject, Recharging the American Experiment: Principled Pluralism for Genuine Civic Community, and Os Guinness has recently written a book pleading for the same kind of thing: The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It.

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Yes, Income Redistribution is WRONG.

Commenters on my last post had some great input about how income redistribution is wrong. Yes, I agree.

It is wrong for the government to coerce the rich to give to the poor, and it is wrong when the government is set up as a plutocracy to redistribute wealth away from the rest of society for the benefit of the rich. Here's some words from a new book for us to ponder.

We now have almost three decades of experience with the idea that markets will solve our problems. The promised results are not there and there is no reason to believe that they are over the next horizon, just a few more subsidies away. Elec­tricity costs more and its delivery is less reliable. Many hundreds of billions of tax dollars have been diverted to the rich, leaving our schools, parks, and local government services starved for funds. Jobs and assets are going offshore, sometimes to the detriment of not just the economy, but national security.

We have layered subsidy upon giveaway upon legal absolution for reckless conduct in a chaotic attempt to protect jobs, and it has not worked. We pour billions into subsidies for sports teams and golf courses. Our health care system costs us far more than that of any other industrial country and yet we live shorter lives than the Canadians, Europeans, and the Japanese. We stand alone among modern societies in making tens of millions of our citizens go without health care, many of whom die or become disabled because of this nutty idea that medicine is a business, not a service. We have erected obstacles to the earnest but poor who seek to better themselves through library study and higher education.

And our politicians in both parties are hypocrites of the first water, nearly every one of them. They vote to make the poor sacrifice again and again so that the rich can have more, yet they run for office handing out photos showing that they regularly attend religious services. To those who do not get this last point, take a moment to ponder the inner thoughts of the Pharisees. Do you think they thought themselves evil? Of course not. In their own minds, they had justifications for what they did, assuring themselves that they were the most moral of men.

Except for our technology, our electricity and powerful motors, we are the same as the ancients. And like great societies that we can look back upon, which reached a high point and then headed down the road to oblivion, we too are taking from the many to give to the few. “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want,” it says in Proverbs 22. Wise words to memorize.

We have become a society in which this injunction, and many others like it, is ignored. Even when we seek to help people, as with the drug benefit for older Americans, the mechanism often is designed first and foremost to take care of the corporate rich. The net effect of our policies, the evidence for which is overwhelming, is that we are redistributing income up. Through subsidies and tax cuts and rules that depress the incomes of most workers, the immediate future looks very bright for the already rich. Indeed, to borrow from the song, their future’s so bright they gotta wear shades.

Excerpted from Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston (January 2008).

Let's honestly dialogue with the viability of the idea that the American political system is becoming increasingly corrupted by what Johnston is identifying here.

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Inequity between the Rich and the Poor

Byron asked, in commenting to me on my previous post on Faith and Politics, "What does being "pro-rich" mean? What's wrong with it?"

Here's what I mean:

It means that oppressive income inequity is a Christian issue. In the United States, we are in danger of entering another "Gilded Age" like at the turn of the previous century, where we had anti-democratic concentrations of wealth and power. We are experiencing an increasing disparity between the ultra rich and the rest of the nation.

There is certainly nothing wrong with wealth made by working hard, working smarter, being entrepreneurial so that you can sell products in a robust capitalistic economy. But the rich no longer primarily get rich by these means; they get rich through investments that are tax-sheltered and by hoarding their wealth by not sharing in the tax burden. They get rich by getting the government to pass laws so that they can increase wealth, do business without risk (by government bail-outs) and through tax subsidies for corporations so that the taxpayers carry the burden of the risk of their doing business. Government is not meant to be in bed with the rich for their benefit. This is anti-democratic.

Republicans pass tax laws that are clearly for the purpose of making the rich richer and that do not help the middle class and the poor. In 2006, the average tax cut for households in the top 1% of American income helped the rich increase their income by 5% (those with incomes of more than $1 million - the top 2/10 of the top 1% of Americans - felt a boost of 5.7%). That’s much better than the 2.5% increase for the middle fifth of households, and scandalously greater than the 0.3% gain for the poorest fifth of households.

Also, tax cuts have been designed to protect the dynasties of wealth in this country through eliminating estate taxes enabling the transfer from one generation to the next huge wealth without any taxes being charged. The Republicans labeled these “death taxes” making it sound as if everyone who makes money through Daddy being rich should be able to get that money free and clear as if it was not income. Warren Buffet, however, just testified to congress that the use of the phrase "death tax" is "intellectually dishonest" and "clever, Orwellian and dead wrong." He testified that “dynastic wealth, the enemy of meritocracy, is on the rise. Equality of opportunity has been on the decline. A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy."

Roth IRAs is another example. They were originally created to help regular Americans with retirement. In May, Roths were made available to the very rich. Now, Roths are being used not as retirement accounts for the middle class but as tax shelters for the very rich.

While the the Republicans and President Bush have worked hard to help the rich with these tax laws, they have cut $39 billion over the next five years from domestic programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and $99.3 billion from 2006 to 2015.

Evangelical Christians, instead of trumpeting the Republican part line, need to ask some hard questions about these facts.

There are going to certainly be some who favor a trickle-down economic theory. And that’s fine. It is part of the debate.

But it seems that the Christian needs to first know the facts and then assess these from a Christian vantage-point that takes serious the Bible’s injunctions about how societies and governments often do their best to favor the rich and oppress the poor.

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." (Pr 14:31) "He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty." (Pr 22:16) "A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops." (Pr 28:3).

"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." (Isaiah 10:1-2)

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.'" (Zechariah 7:9-10).

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." (Jesus in Luke 4:18)

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Faith and Politics: We Haven’t Advanced Very Far

This year’s election has been one infused with religious rhetoric, from both the Republicans and the Democrats.

Romney made a speech on December 6th about his Mormon faith and attempted to speak about how faith can properly interact with politics. Romney called Jesus Christ “the Son of God and the Savior of mankind" (though Mormonism's understanding of these terms differs significantly from that of Christianity). He then went on to say,
“It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. . . . Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: does he share these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty?”

John McCain has spoke at Liberty University to bring back the Religious Right. Rudi Giuliani being both pro-choice and pro-gay marriage has raised eyebrows, especially when some evangelicals support him due to his steadfast stand on military strength against terrorism (even Pat Robertson endorsed him). Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, is open about his faith, saying in a recent advertisement, “Faith doesn’t just influence me; it really defines me. I don’t have to wake up every day wondering, ‘What do I need to believe?’” as the words "CHRISTIAN LEADER" floated across the screen.

The Republicans are fragmented between several camps because of the inconsistencies of the Republican party platform have finally shown up as large cracks. How can the same party be pro-Christian values and pro-rich? How can the same party be pro-war and pro-life? The wide-open race among the Republicans is also a product of “President Bush’s unpopularity and the fact that even members of his own party want to turn the page on the past seven years.” Bush's identity as an evangelical Christian has muddied the waters in that many of his own (that is, evangelicals) feel that he has led them astray. Some are still with him, siding with him on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Others are supportive of the war in Iraq. However, many others are showing concern about poverty. Others believe that a Christian president should seek peace and not jump to preemptive war. Others are very concerned for the environment and global warming, and therefore disagree with Bush. The cracks are beginning to show: and they run between these very Christian concerns.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards have also told us about their personal Christian faith.

came to faith in a United Church of Christ.

has been a committed Methodist since she was a child.

Edwards has been a life-long Southern Baptist who admits his faith waned until it came “roaring back” after the death of his son in 1996.

All three say they see their Christian faith in terms of social justice. But the democrats are very new at using religious rhetoric in politics, and they appear to be as pandering to religious voters as the Republicans have been.

So, Christians are trying to figure this out. The question we think we need to ask is: “Who is the candidate that best reflects Christian religious convictions?”

The reason the candidates are speaking “religious talk” is to pander to the many Christians who simply believe that if we have a person of faith in office, we will be somehow better off. If the president reflects God’s values, they think, God will then bless the nation and divinely lead us.

But this is simply too shallow for a truly Christian political philosophy. It doesn't take seriously God's "common grace" in political institutions and it does not see the role of religion in government as part of an overall "Principled Pluralism," seeking to find biblical principles of justice that apply without preference for anyone's professed faith over another, in a diverse society. (To understand these terms, see Wikipedia's entry on the Cultural Mandate.) It also does not honor the way that the American Constitution has set up the place for religion in the public discourse of politics.

The question that we Christians need to be asking ourselves is: Can we have a dialogue about how our Christian faith informs the role of government in society in relation to the other institutional and organizational spheres in society?

We need to understand the role religion has in politics, one that does not infer a theocratic paradigm.

As James Skillen recently wrote in The Center for Public Justice’s Root & Branch,
“What is missing from the candidates' professions of Christian (and Mormon) faith is a philosophy of the political community that clarifies the responsibilities of government in relation to the responsibilities that belong to all the other institutions, organizations, and relationships of human society. What we need is a Christian public philosophy that connects directly to office holding, policy formulation, and governing. Americanism and the liberal political tradition do not generate such a philosophy, and that is why we have what we have.”

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The Purpose-Driven Image of God

Just having "Purpose-Driven" in the title of this post guarantees readers!

The book with that title has sold over 25 million copies. Evangelical Christians hand out these books to their non-Christian friends, hoping that they, too, will find purpose through Christ.

Rick Warren, who I deeply admire and have learned a lot from as a pastor and ministry leader, states that the five purposes of God for humanity are these:
  • Purpose #1: You Were Planned for God's Pleasure (Worship)
  • Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God's Family (Fellowship)
  • Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ (Discipleship)
  • Purpose #4: You Were Shaped for Serving God (Ministry)
  • Purpose #5: You Were Made for a Mission (Evangelism)
Now, these are tremendous insights into the nature of Christian discipleship, and I thank God for Warren’s success in getting this message out. But are these really God’s revealed purposes for humanity? Are these the purposes for the redeemed humanity in the community of Christianity?

When we start with where the Bible starts, with the Imago Dei, then we begin to understand the fundamental purpose of humanity, and therefore the purpose of those who are redeemed toward that purpose.

In Genesis 1:28, God says to those first humans, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

There is the mandate for humanity; in that verse we find our purpose. This has been called the “creation mandate” or the “cultural mandate” by theologians. It is the mandate that God gives to us humans.

As I think of the many evangelical churches doing “Forty Days of Purpose,” I wonder if we haven’t missed the point. I ask,
  • Shouldn’t the purpose of humanity be directly linked to what God mandated in the first chapter of Genesis? Shouldn't our "purpose" have something to say about our care of the earth and of the creatures living here?
  • Shouldn't our "purpose" have something to say about our doing the work of cultivating the earth and creating a culture in society?
  • Aren’t we humans, as a corporate race, meant to be the image of God together? Does the very notion of having a “purpose-driven life” feed into an individualistic, Americanized Christianity?
  • What would the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28 look like if there had been no Fall?
  • What does the cultural mandate need to look like now in light of the Fall and of the redemption that is in Christ?
There are deep implications of the Imago Dei in humanity for our understanding of why we exist as the human race. Since humanity is created in the image of God, we are to reflect God back to him in worship and out into his creation in service, we are to represent God as we fill the earth and subdue it, as we rule over the non-human creation.

The Imago Dei sets us on the right course for living the "purpose-driven life." Your votes in the poll in the side column reveal that we are beginning to understand the importance of the Image of God, and that we are starting to move in the right direction.

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New Poll - Imago Dei

Be sure to vote in the poll found on the side column -

What is the meaning of the Imago Dei (Image of God)?

Evangelism and the Image of God

On college campuses, where I spend a lot of time in my capacity as Area Director for a college outreach ministry, I often run into some very zealous evangelists. They are very excited and dedicated people, sometimes carrying crosses, always handing out pamphlets, and often engaging students in conversations about how depraved they are. I have no doubt that these evangelists are on campus because they deeply care their about cause and about the students they are talking to. But I roll my eyes as I listen intently to their message.

They stand there, talking down at these students. Their message starts with each individual’s sin and ends with the biblical solution to that sin: Jesus dying on the cross for their atonement. The essence of humanity, according to these evangelists, is our individual depravity. We each are sinful through and through, and thus each of us is destined to hell. God wants us to escape this evil world and the lusts of our flesh and lead us away to heaven, where we will can with God forever.

As I walk away from the Student Center and all that confrontational stress, it strikes me: I actually feel sorry for these evangelists! Since all humanity is created in the Image of God, each and every human being has dignity. Period.

Now, these evangelists were not out-right heretics like the ones that come to my door (denying the divinity of Jesus). They are not that bad. But they have bought into a form of Christianity that does not embrace the fullness of what it means to be human and the true greatness of the redemption in Christ.

The ultimate essence of what it means to be human is not that we are sinners. Human essence is the imago Dei, the reflection of the divine Trinity. There is a divine spark in each and every person and in each and every human community. Certainly, sin has entered into that and severely taints this and very often grotesquely twists it. Certainly, ever since the Fall, humanity has taken on a new nature: the sin of Adam. But this is not the ultimate essence of humanity – it is not what God has created us to be. God greatly prizes us because we are made in His image. This is why he so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. God sees our potential as his “image and likeness,” and therefore does not let us go to destroy ourselves and our society. He has created people that are special to him, and he will redeem a people that are special to him.

Without starting with where the Bible starts in defining humanity – as the “image of God” – these evangelists truncate the gospel to just two things: sin and atonement. While that is certainly a major part of the story, the story is bigger than that. Without a view of humanity that starts with the Imago Dei, these evangelists are missing the richness of the gospel.

We need to explore afresh the implications of the Imago Dei in humanity in order to understand and proclaim of the gospel of redemption. Since humanity is created in the image of God, we are to understand what it means that God is redeeming this image in us through Christ.

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Trinity and the Image of God

Every now and then, I hear a knock on my front door. As I approach the front of the house, I think, Maybe it’s a neighbor kid wanting to play with Joel, Kaira, or Trey. Or, maybe it’s my neighbor wondering when I’m going to return the powertool I borrowed some time ago. Or, maybe it’s Girl Scout cookie time.

No, it’s not them. It’s a couple of men in suits, one older, one younger. I’ve seen them before. I have no doubt that they are on my front porch because they deeply care about their cause and probably about me too. But I roll my eyes and open the door. This particular day, I’m wearing a t-shirt from the seminary I graduated from, which is the center of our conversation. You see, I graduated with a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and emblazoned in huge blue letters across my gray long-sleeved t-shirt was the word TRINITY.

As we talked for the next half-hour, it became increasingly apparent that we were going to go nowhere beyond this basic disagreement. I am a Trinitarian. They are not.

As they left and I closed the door and sat on my couch reflecting on this encounter and praying for these two men, it struck me: How I pity them! The Trinity is not just some theological, ivory-tower concept to me. It is the meaning of who God is, and, by extension, of who I am as a human being. Without a Trinitarian view of God, they are missing the richness of the glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all united as one yet relational through and through.

Without a Trinitarian view of God, they are missing the richness of this three-person, united, relational God creating humanity in their image. If God is that deeply relational, then what does that say about those creatures that are made in his image?

There are huge implications of a Trinitarian theology for our understanding of ourselves as human beings. Since God is inter-relational in essence, when God says, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness,” and then we read, “so God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” in the first chapter of the Bible, we are invited to begin the journey of exploring what it means to be relational creatures, created to be like the relational Creator.

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Kingdom and the Image of God

In light of Scot McKnight's current series at Jesus Creed called "Keys of the Kingdom," it got me thinking...
How does "Kingdom" relate to the Image of God (or the "Eikon" in Scot's vernacular).

The Kingdom of God is the gospel that Jesus preached. This is how Jesus’ ministry is described in Matthew: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). And as we read through the Gospels, it becomes clear that this was how he expressed his mission, time and time again.

A kingdom is a place and a people that are ruled over by a sovereign. This king (or queen) decides what is best for the kingdom and the people go about doing this ruler’s will. “Kingdom” is a very human term for the governing of a place and the society that lives in that place. In fact, by far the most common reference in the Bible is to human kings and kingdoms.

The King, then, is the person who is sovereign (the ruler) over that place and that people. As an American, I do not fully understand kingdoms or kings, because I have no experiential reference point for it. But as I watch nations with monarchs and read the history of kings and queens, I am struck by how those under their sovereignty show devotion to the ruler. In our western democratic political philosophy, we scoff at this because we know the evil of absolute power, that individuals with this kind of power will always be corrupted by it. We know that humans in power inevitably distort shalom. But imagine, if you can, a King or Queen that is benevolent, caring, wise, charitable, seeking universal flourishing for all his subjects. We know that nobody in power can be all these things all the time, but just imagine if they were this way most of the time.

Now imagine if God were the King: always benevolent; always loving; always wise; always full of grace and mercy; always seeking shalom. This is how YHWH is pictured in the Old Testament. We are introduced to this when Moses sings, “The LORD will reign for ever and ever” (Ex 15:18). YHWH confirms himself as King, proclaiming, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1).

Now, just imagine how human beings would have been had there had been no Fall. We, too, would always be benevolent, loving, wise, gracious, merciful, seeking universal flourishing for all humans and for the rest of Creation.

Imago Dei
Remember that humanity is created in the image of God (Imago Dei). According to the first chapter of Genesis, this means we are given the authority to rule over the earth as God’s viceroys. We are to rule as kings over the earth, representing the ultimate KING to the creation. This is truly amazing, especially in light of Ancient Near Eastern thought, where the gods would allow kings to be their "images" in particular places. The Genesis account democratizes the authority of king to all of humanity, and places under our care the earth that God has created.

So God created man in his own image,
_____in the image of God he created him;
_____male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
(Genesis 1:27-28)

However, because of the Fall, this ability has been severely damaged and twisted. Though we were created to be kings, we are instead a catastrophe.

Jesus came to redeem our image-bearing capability. Jesus, God in human flesh, is the Christ. Christ is the Greek word for Messiah, which literally means “Anointed One,” or “King.” Jesus is the “Son of David,” the anointed king par excellence from the line of David. As both “Son of God” and “Son of David” Jesus is the catalyst for redeeming humanity’s image-bearing purpose.

King of kings
This is why, I believe, Jesus is called the “King of kings and Lord of lords” in Revelation 19:16. We skip over that phrase thinking that it simply means that Jesus is the head honcho, the most powerful sovereign in the world, and that all the other "kings and lords" (the rulers of the nations) are nothing in comparison.

I think that misses the point. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords in a positive way. As the redeemer of the image of God in humanity, he is the King of us little kings, the Lord of us little lords... I think that is us we're reading about! All of us, not just the heads of nations. We are all meant, as the human race, to rule over this earth.

We have been redeemed to rule, to "have dominion" over the earth. And because of the grace of God who heals us of our sin and cleanses us of our selfish desire for power for our own sake, we will one day again rule with benevolence, love, wisdom, grace, and mercy...
Seeking universal flourishing for all God's creation.

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Top 10 Posts of 2007

2007 was an excellent year in the vanguard. Thank you to all who read this blog and come back for more every week.

In 2005, I had 8,070 "Unique Visitors" here at Vanguard Church.
In 2006, that number more than doubled to 22,980.
In 2007, we had 34,012 visit this site. Thank you to the 5,121 return visits! I love interacting with you on the important issues of our day!

Here were the TOP 10 POSTS of 2007:

#10: Understanding the New Perspective on Paul
Scot McKnight graciously allowed me to post here at Vanguard Church the entirety of his series on the New Perspective on Paul.

#9: Praying Community Prayers vs. Just Individual Prayers
The significance of shifting our attitude in prayer from "my Father in heaven" to "our Father in heaven."

Is Rob Bell a Godless Man, Condemned by God?
John MacArthur's book, The Truth War, makes the case that Rob Bell, the popular pastor, speaker, author, and creator of the Nooma videos, is apostate. One of a series I did reviewing MacArthur's book.

Dispensationalism vs. the Rest of Evangelicalism on the Israeli/Palestinian Controversy
John Hagee, the leader of
Christians United for Israel does not represent the majority view of evangelical Christians. Christian Zionism gets the Bible wrong and does harm in the lives of those in Palestine/Israel.

#6: Dobson, et. al. Versus the Rest of Evangelicalism
Another post about how high-profile evangelical leaders do not represent us very well. James Dobson, resident bully of the Evangelical Right, tried to persuade the National Association of Evangelicals to fire their
Vice Preident for Governmental Affairs, Richard Cizik, because he dares to expand the set of political issues that we should care about.

#5: Conservatives and the Minimum Wage
A very helpful dialog (be sure to read the comments) exploring what the Christian stand should be on the issue of the Minimum Wage.

#4: Josh McDowell – “I’m Sick of McLaren and Bell Putting Me in the Modernist Camp.”
This made quite a splash around the blog world. McDowell, author of Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Than a Carpenter, two standard popular books of modernist Christian apologetics, critiques the tenants of modernism and pleads for a more relational apologetic.

How to have an Appreciative Inquiry evangelistic conversation
Part of a series on how to re-imagine our evangelism methodology based on our belief in the Imago Dei and the potential in all human beings. It was controversial because it did not begin with our depravity and it did not center on Penal Substitution. Thanks to the many blogs out there that re-posted this and expanded the conversation.

#1 and #2: Two in the series on D.A. Carson vs. the Emerging Church
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 01
This post is #4 on Google if you look up "DA Carson Emerging Church."
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 06
The last in the series received the most comments as people weighed in on the issue.