January 2008


On a recent Stand to Reason broadcast, Greg Koukl discussed some bad reasons to vote for, or not vote for a presidential candidate. His insights are worth passing on here.

In this presidential race, some of the candidates stand out. On the Democratic side we have a woman, and an African-American. On the Republican side we have a Mormon and an Evangelical former pastor. Some people are basing their vote largely, if not entirely, on these distinctions. But is this a good way to determine who we will vote for?

Let’s take the Democrats. Is it acceptable for a woman to vote for Hillary Clinton simply because Hillary is a woman? You might think this is acceptable. But let me ask you this: Is it acceptable for someone to not vote for Hillary simply because she is a woman? I imagine you would say no–that such is sexist. What about Barack Obama? Is it acceptable for an African-American to vote for Obama simply because he is black? You might think this is acceptable. But let me ask you this: Is is acceptable for someone to not vote for Obama simply because he is black? I imagine you would say no–that such is racist. Greg asked, if it is sexist to refuse to vote for Hillary on the basis of her gender, is it not equally sexist to base one’s vote for Hillary on her gender? And likewise, if it is racist to refuse to vote for Obama on the basis of his race, is it not equally racist to vote for Obama on the basis of his race? I think a reasonable conclusion is that it is equally sexist, and equally racist. To vote for a candidate simply because of their gender or race is not a good basis for voting.

What about the Republicans? Can the same thing be said for a vote for or against Romney, or for or against Huckabee? Yes and no. Unlike race and gender, religion is ideological in nature. Race and gender are ideologically neutral. Because religion is ideological in nature, it affects the way people view the world, and the decisions they make. Romney’s religious views and Huckabee’s religious views may cause them to make decisions that would differ from the other, as well as from the other candidates. As such, one’s religious persuasions can play a legitimate factor in who we cast our vote for.

But in another sense, basing one’s vote on a candidate’s religion is just as misguided as basing one’s vote on a candidate’s gender or race. We must ask ourselves how–on a practical level–
one’s religious views might affect their ability to perform the function of an executive and commander-in-chief. What matters is their ability to perform their job, and that job is not that of a spiritual adviser. When we elect a president we are not electing a national pastor. We are electing someone to command the army, enforce the Constitution, pass/deny legislation into law, nominate federal justices, and be our diplomatic representative to the nations. So the real question is how one’s theological persuasions will have a bearing on those particular job functions. In most cases, I think it has very little to do with it.

Many Evangelicals are tempted to vote for Huckabee because of his religious beliefs, and against Romney because he is a Mormon, even though they prefer the policies of Romney over Huckabee. They reason that they cannot vote for Romney because he is part of a Christian cult. I think this is terribly misguided. Again, we are not electing a national pastor. We are electing an executive. How would Romney’s Mormonism affect his ability to do the job of the president of the U.S.? The only area one’s religious views might have a bearing on their job as president would be on issues of morality and social justice. Does s/he believe abortion, same-sex marriage, and embryonic stem cell research is wrong. What is s/he willing to do to fight those moral evils? And just because one is of a particular religion does not mean that they will automatically hold the same moral values as us. Think Jimmy Carter. And just because they hold the same moral values as us does not mean they will fight for those values. Think of the many politicians who claim they are personally opposed to abortion, but do not believe abortion should be made illegal. Think Giuliani. What matters is the candidate’s position on the issues that are pertinent to the job of the president; not their religious beliefs or religious affiliation. Remember that when you cast your vote in the primaries, and in the general election in November.

What a relief! After a dismal finish in Florida, Giuliani is going to withdraw from the presidential race. Thankfully this election will not come down to a choice between to pro-abortion candidates, and thankfully, the Republican party was not “forced” to nominate a pro-abortion candidate for the Republican ticket, which could have proved disastrous to the pro-life influence in the future of the party.

Why did Rudy fall? A year ago he was the clear front-runner in all the polls. Maybe the pro-lifers in the party stuck to their principles in the end. Maybe they saw there were better candidates. Maybe Rudy’s strategy of betting it all on Florida doomed him. Whatever it was, he is out, and I am happy!

I just finished reading a very interesting article in the L.A. Times on abortion titled “Abortion’s Battle of Messages.” The authors are former presidents of abortion-choice groups. Frances Kissling is the former president of Catholics for a Free Choice, and Kate Michelman is the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. What they say in the article is as interesting as what they fail to say.

They admit that the pro-life movement is a formidable foe with strong arguments and good tactics. They also admit that pro-lifers have moved the debate from the woman’s choice, to the status of the unborn. They also admit that the cards are currently stacked against them in the abortion debate.

Then they note some areas they need to re-message if they hope to convince America of their position. They ended the article by saying, “If pro-choice values are to regain the moral high ground, genuine discussion about these challenges needs to take place within the movement. It is inadequate to try to message our way out of this problem. Our vigorous defense of the right to choose needs to be accompanied by greater openness regarding the real conflict between life and choice, between rights and responsibility. It is time for a serious reassessment of how to think about abortion in a world that is radically changed from 1973.”

That’s what they say. What they did not say is how to deal with the challenges posed by pro-life apologists. They did not attempt to show why our arguments are mistaken. They did not attempt to show that the unborn are not human persons in the human community. They did not offer any content for repackaging the pro-abortion message. They merely presented the daunting challenge abortion-choicers are facing if they hope to turn back the tide. I think that shows us where we are at in the intellectual aspect of this debate: on the winning side.

A common argument for abortion is the argument from bodily autonomy. It is reasoned that a woman — and only a woman — has the right to decide how her body is going to be used. If she does not want to share her body with her developing child, she has the right to rid her body of it, even if that requires ending the child’s life. This argument is summed up nicely in a common mantra of abortion-choice advocates, “My body, my choice.”

Much could be said as to why bodily autonomy is not a good justification for abortion rights, but I do not wish to focus on that here. Instead, I want to focus on a tactical approach to exposing the bodily autonomy argument for what it is: a sham. Let me show you how.

Only the most ardent abortion advocates believe in unrestricted abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Most abortion advocates draw the line somewhere, even if they differ on the precise temporal location. Some say abortion is no longer permissible once the baby reaches viability (roughly 23 weeks). Others say the line should be drawn at seven months. Wherever the line is drawn, the fact that a line is drawn between morally permissible and morally impermissible abortions demonstrates that the argument for the moral permissibility of abortion from bodily autonomy is an ad hoc, rather than principled argument. Here’s why.

(more…)

Back in November I directed you to a couple of brief articles by Dan Wallace on Biblical textual criticism. His series has continued since then. For those who are interested, here are the other links (in historical order):

The Nature of Textual Variants
Textual Variants: What Issues Are at Stake?
Textual Variants: What Issues Are At Stake? Part 2
Why Did Scribes Make Mistakes when Copying Scripture? Part 1
Why Did Scribes Make Mistakes when Copying Scripture? Part 2
The Significance of Scribal Corruptions to the New Testament
The Composition of the Original Text

Many of us spend a lot of time commuting. What better way to pass the time than listen to some great teaching, or discussions on matters related to Christian truth. There is a wealth of free audio resources on the web from top-notch thinkers that will help think more clearly about issues of truth. Here are some I would recommend:

Apologetics
Stand to Reason radio
Stand to Reason podcasts
William Lane Craig
Apologetics.com

Theology
Converse With Scholars
Southern Bapist Theological Seminary lecture series

Mix
Veritas Forum
Breakpoint

I guarantee that your mind will be stimulated, or your money back!

If you are like me, you can’t help but to stare at those who look and dress anti-socially. You know, piercings in unimaginable places, hair styles that require enormous amounts of creativity and hairspray, or clothes that even fashion designers would not sport on the runway. What do you say if you get caught staring, and the person says to you, “What are you looking at?” I’ve come up with a little line: “If you want to look different from everyone else in society, don’t be surprised when everyone else in society looks at you differently.

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