What Really Happened In Houston

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Over at First Things, Mark Movsesian has provided an adequate summary of “what’s happening in Houston.” The mayor’s office tried to subpoena documents from local pastors. The pastors cried foul, even though the mayor’s staff might have had legitimate grounds for the subpoenas. Movsesian thinks that the subpoenas won’t be allowed in this case.

Then he provides this analysis:

Still, even if these pastors succeed in resisting the subpoenas, significant damage has been done. It’s hard to see how this episode will not chill religious and political expression. Most people, quite rationally, want nothing to do with lawsuits and subpoenas. They don’t want to make legal history. The lesson they will draw from the episode is this: If you want to avoid trouble, don’t make politically-charged statements about religious convictions that the government doesn’t approve, even if you’re at a private meeting in your own church. In fact, don’t revise or retain such statements. Otherwise, who knows? You may one day have to lawyer up.

I think he’s exactly wrong in this.

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Where’s Your Allegiance? A Louisiana Boy in Texas

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I am not a Texan, but I’ve lived in Texas for the last two years. Even after two years, these Texans continue to surprise me. Last night at our city’s Fourth of July celebration, I was once again reminded that I am a stranger living in a strange land.

At the celebration, a military guard presented the flags so that we could pledge allegiance before we demonstrated our patriotism through witnessing a pyrotechnic display. This was all well and good.

I felt very American at that moment. I was standing in a minor-league baseball park with my children, looking upon Old Glory as we listened to a young lady belt out “The Star-Spangled Banner.” What could be more American than baseball parks, the flag, and a family dressed in red, white, and blue? I along with a few thousand compatriots pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. But then things got weird.

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Where Is the Kingdom of God Today?

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Once upon a time in a land called Judaea, there lived these guys called Pharisees. Now the Pharisees kept looking for the Kingdom of God, and they felt that if they could teach the people to be good enough, then God would establish his kingdom in Jerusalem. This idea made sense to many people at the time, but then this guy named Jesus showed up.

Jesus taught that the Pharisees were looking for the right thing but that they were looking for it in the wrong place. The Kingdom of God is not a political kingdom in space or time; it’s spiritual and eternal. Jesus’ own disciples had trouble understanding this idea. Even at the very end of Jesus’ time on earth they were saying, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Eventually the disciples would figure it out, and they spread the gospel that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice brings about the kingdom. The early church grew.

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Christians and Elections: Three Thoughts

Another presidential election cycle has ended, and some frustration and disappointment exists in the Christian community. Exit polls show that almost eighty percent of evangelicals voted for Romney, whose views on social issues more closely aligned with traditional Christian teaching. It is understandable for these evangelicals to experience some post-election blues. No one likes losing an election.

Some Christians, however, experience spiritual angst when their candidate fails to win office. How could a sovereign God allow the wrong candidate to win? Is this some sort of divine judgment? Or will we now experience some divine judgment since America has made the wrong choice?

I think these questions are probably the wrong ones to ask. Continue reading