WALKING IN THE TRUTH, 2 John 1:4-9
Summit-Teaching

  A sermon preached at University Church, Athens, Ga., 7/10/16, by Donald T. Williams, PhD To read the first sermon in this series, go here: http://thefivepilgrims.com/2016/07/18/walking-in-the-truth-2-john-14-9/   2 John 1:4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 5 And now I ask you, Lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one that we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves that you may not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. INTRODUCTION Dr. Williams preaching at University Church, Athens, Ga. No biblical writings are shorter than Second and Third John. Yet, as we began to see last week, none are more packed with practical insight on the nature of the Christian walk. In this middle portion of Second John, we are given an interesting picture of the Christian life in just those terms: it is a life of “walking in the truth.” John develops his idea of the Christian walk by joining, or coordinating, three concepts. truth, love, and God’s commandments. Walking in the truth (v. 4) is walking in love (v. 5); and walking in love is walking according to His commandments (v. 6). This is all contrasted with the walk of the deceivers of vv. 7-9, so that we are brought full circle back to the issue of truth. Whether Christ has come in the flesh is not just an abstract point of doctrine, but is the key to whether we will walk in love and the commandments as well as in truth–or, better, whether we will walk in love and in the commandments as the expression of truth. Truth, love, and God’s commandments are then being presented as three facets of the single jewel of the Christian life, which is nothing more or less than indwelling truth that manifests itself in outworking love. Let us therefore examine each facet carefully. WALKING IN TRUTH (v. 4) The meanings which most modern people would probably naturally attach to this phrase fall far short of what John is trying to convey. When we think of “walking in the truth,” we probably think of living honestly, living with integrity. Or the more mature Christian might add the notion of living in accordance with Christian doctrine, a true view of the world….

  A sermon preached at University Church, Athens, Ga., 7/10/16, by Donald T. Williams, PhD To read the first sermon in this series, go here: http://thefivepilgrims.com/2016/07/18/walking-in-the-truth-2-john-14-9/   2 John 1:4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 5 And now I ask you, Lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one that we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves that you may not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. INTRODUCTION Dr. Williams preaching at University Church, Athens, Ga. No biblical writings are shorter than Second and Third John. Yet, as we began to see last week, none are more packed with practical insight on the nature of the Christian walk. In this middle portion of Second John, we are given an interesting picture of the Christian life in just those terms: it is a life of “walking in the truth.” John develops his idea of the Christian walk by joining, or coordinating, three concepts. truth, love, and God’s commandments. Walking in the truth (v. 4) is walking in love (v. 5); and walking in love is walking according to His commandments (v. 6). This is all contrasted with the walk of the deceivers of vv. 7-9, so that we are brought full circle back to the issue of truth. Whether Christ has come in the flesh is not just an abstract point of doctrine, but is the key to whether we will walk in love and the commandments as well as in truth–or, better, whether we will walk in love and in the commandments as the expression of truth. Truth, love, and God’s commandments are then being presented as three facets of the single jewel of the Christian life, which is nothing more or less than indwelling truth that manifests itself in outworking love. Let us therefore examine each facet carefully. WALKING IN TRUTH (v. 4) The meanings which most modern people would probably naturally attach to this phrase fall far short of what John is trying to convey. When we think of “walking in the truth,” we probably think of living honestly, living with integrity. Or the more mature Christian might add the notion of living in accordance with Christian doctrine, a true view of the world….

  A sermon preached at University Church, Athens, Ga., 7/10/16, by Donald T. Williams, PhD To read the first sermon in this series, go here: http://thefivepilgrims.com/2016/07/18/walking-in-the-truth-2-john-14-9/   2 John 1:4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 5 And now I ask you, Lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one that we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves that you may not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. INTRODUCTION Dr. Williams preaching at University Church, Athens, Ga. No biblical writings are shorter than Second and Third John. Yet, as we began to see last week, none are more packed with practical insight on the nature of the Christian walk. In this middle portion of Second John, we are given an interesting picture of the Christian life in just those terms: it is a life of “walking in the truth.” John develops his idea of the Christian walk by joining, or coordinating, three concepts. truth, love, and God’s commandments. Walking in the truth (v. 4) is walking in love (v. 5); and walking in love is walking according to His commandments (v. 6). This is all contrasted with the walk of the deceivers of vv. 7-9, so that we are brought full circle back to the issue of truth. Whether Christ has come in the flesh is not just an abstract point of doctrine, but is the key to whether we will walk in love and the commandments as well as in truth–or, better, whether we will walk in love and in the commandments as the expression of truth. Truth, love, and God’s commandments are then being presented as three facets of the single jewel of the Christian life, which is nothing more or less than indwelling truth that manifests itself in outworking love. Let us therefore examine each facet carefully. WALKING IN TRUTH (v. 4) The meanings which most modern people would probably naturally attach to this phrase fall far short of what John is trying to convey. When we think of “walking in the truth,” we probably think of living honestly, living with integrity. Or the more mature Christian might add the notion of living in accordance with Christian doctrine, a true view of the world….

August 29, 2016
Questions in Evidence
Summit-Teaching

Today is the first day of the new semester.  To my students: I hope you will find some answers in my classes.  But far more importantly, I hope you will learn to ask the right questions.  Here’s what I mean. Christianity, I would argue, is true.  If this were so, you would expect to see evidence of that truth staring you in the face everywhere you turn.  So why do so many people seem to miss it?  Part of the secret is learning to ask the right questions.  For example: Why is the world there? If God isn’t there, then why is the world there?   If the universe is just matter and energy evolving by chance, why has it bothered to evolve at all?  Why hasn’t it just run down into a pool of useless entropy, since by the Second Law of Thermodynamics the usable energy in any system always decreases?  Why does it behave so consistently?  If things just happen by chance, why are all the natural laws the same today as they were yesterday?  Why do we want things to make sense?  Where did the notion of making sense come from?  If intelligence and order were not put into the universe from the outside, how did they get here?  If matter is such neat stuff that it has the tendency to evolve intelligence all by itself, why has it evolved a life form whose intelligence only serves to keep it from feeling at home in the cosmos that gave rise to it?  Why does that life form have aspirations for love, meaning, purpose, and immortality, all of which are unfulfillable, indeed, meaningless, in a universe in which matter and energy are the ultimate reference point?  Why does the universe make sense only up to a point?  More importantly why does that fact bother us? If man is not fallen, if his central problem is not true moral guilt before God, if he is not a sinner, then why do all the ink pens in the banks have chains on them?  If education is really the answer to man’s problems, why is the venereal disease rate so high on college campuses? Speaking of college campuses, why do students there talk about what they are going to do when they get out into the “real world”?  Where in tarnation do they think they are now?  When I taught at the University of Georgia, I used to tell my students that if they stepped off the curb in front of a campus bus, it would kill them just as dead as a city bus would–perhaps deader, knowing the people who drove the campus buses.  Why did they pay all that money to take courses and then try to see who could get the least out of them?  Do they really think they will suddenly become responsible and dependable workers just by moving their tassels when they have just spent the last four years practicing for the opposite…

Today is the first day of the new semester.  To my students: I hope you will find some answers in my classes.  But far more importantly, I hope you will learn to ask the right questions.  Here’s what I mean. Christianity, I would argue, is true.  If this were so, you would expect to see evidence of that truth staring you in the face everywhere you turn.  So why do so many people seem to miss it?  Part of the secret is learning to ask the right questions.  For example: Why is the world there? If God isn’t there, then why is the world there?   If the universe is just matter and energy evolving by chance, why has it bothered to evolve at all?  Why hasn’t it just run down into a pool of useless entropy, since by the Second Law of Thermodynamics the usable energy in any system always decreases?  Why does it behave so consistently?  If things just happen by chance, why are all the natural laws the same today as they were yesterday?  Why do we want things to make sense?  Where did the notion of making sense come from?  If intelligence and order were not put into the universe from the outside, how did they get here?  If matter is such neat stuff that it has the tendency to evolve intelligence all by itself, why has it evolved a life form whose intelligence only serves to keep it from feeling at home in the cosmos that gave rise to it?  Why does that life form have aspirations for love, meaning, purpose, and immortality, all of which are unfulfillable, indeed, meaningless, in a universe in which matter and energy are the ultimate reference point?  Why does the universe make sense only up to a point?  More importantly why does that fact bother us? If man is not fallen, if his central problem is not true moral guilt before God, if he is not a sinner, then why do all the ink pens in the banks have chains on them?  If education is really the answer to man’s problems, why is the venereal disease rate so high on college campuses? Speaking of college campuses, why do students there talk about what they are going to do when they get out into the “real world”?  Where in tarnation do they think they are now?  When I taught at the University of Georgia, I used to tell my students that if they stepped off the curb in front of a campus bus, it would kill them just as dead as a city bus would–perhaps deader, knowing the people who drove the campus buses.  Why did they pay all that money to take courses and then try to see who could get the least out of them?  Do they really think they will suddenly become responsible and dependable workers just by moving their tassels when they have just spent the last four years practicing for the opposite…

Today is the first day of the new semester.  To my students: I hope you will find some answers in my classes.  But far more importantly, I hope you will learn to ask the right questions.  Here’s what I mean. Christianity, I would argue, is true.  If this were so, you would expect to see evidence of that truth staring you in the face everywhere you turn.  So why do so many people seem to miss it?  Part of the secret is learning to ask the right questions.  For example: Why is the world there? If God isn’t there, then why is the world there?   If the universe is just matter and energy evolving by chance, why has it bothered to evolve at all?  Why hasn’t it just run down into a pool of useless entropy, since by the Second Law of Thermodynamics the usable energy in any system always decreases?  Why does it behave so consistently?  If things just happen by chance, why are all the natural laws the same today as they were yesterday?  Why do we want things to make sense?  Where did the notion of making sense come from?  If intelligence and order were not put into the universe from the outside, how did they get here?  If matter is such neat stuff that it has the tendency to evolve intelligence all by itself, why has it evolved a life form whose intelligence only serves to keep it from feeling at home in the cosmos that gave rise to it?  Why does that life form have aspirations for love, meaning, purpose, and immortality, all of which are unfulfillable, indeed, meaningless, in a universe in which matter and energy are the ultimate reference point?  Why does the universe make sense only up to a point?  More importantly why does that fact bother us? If man is not fallen, if his central problem is not true moral guilt before God, if he is not a sinner, then why do all the ink pens in the banks have chains on them?  If education is really the answer to man’s problems, why is the venereal disease rate so high on college campuses? Speaking of college campuses, why do students there talk about what they are going to do when they get out into the “real world”?  Where in tarnation do they think they are now?  When I taught at the University of Georgia, I used to tell my students that if they stepped off the curb in front of a campus bus, it would kill them just as dead as a city bus would–perhaps deader, knowing the people who drove the campus buses.  Why did they pay all that money to take courses and then try to see who could get the least out of them?  Do they really think they will suddenly become responsible and dependable workers just by moving their tassels when they have just spent the last four years practicing for the opposite…

August 22, 2016
The Confession Trump Needs to Make
Campaign_2016_Trump-09e5a-1425

Donald Trump recently surprised many by reading from a teleprompter words written by someone else expressing “regret” for some of the things he has said thus far in the campaign. “Sometimes,” the text read, “in the heat of the debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.” Despite its vagueness and its not really being an apology at all, this is surprising because narcissists almost never apologize for anything. It’s thus an indication of Trump’s desperation and the degree of pressure his revolving-door campaign staff is exerting on him. But even this vague non-apology was more than Trump could stand. His text included a smokescreen of excuses and self-justifications. He was, he said, “not a politician” and “never wanted to learn the language of the insiders.” He had “never been politically correct” and didn’t want to be. Of course, it was not at all through lack of “political correctness” or “the language of the insiders” that Trump has time and again demonstrated himself to be a cruel and dishonest man, but the statement is a good illustration of the adage that people will readily apologize for faults they actually consider to be virtues. Obviously Trump is not in the least sorry for having caused personal or any other kind of pain, and he would cause a great deal more and sharper pain if it weren’t for his present need for votes. His advisors, at least, obviously hope that the present fig leaf of a cheap imitation of an apology will provide sufficient excuse for those whose fears of Clinton have made them desperate for some honorable way of voting to stop her. Since Trump now seeks to restore his hopes of the presidency by reading statements written by others, and since his most recent statement is manifestly inadequate, I thought I’d offer him my help, free of charge, in drafting a confession and apology that will be deep and thorough enough to convince people like me that Trump is truly penitent and ready to be forgiven. Here’s the statement Trump ought to read (and mean): “Not just during the present campaign but throughout my life I, Donald Trump, have behaved in ways that are unacceptable both to God and to decent human beings. I desperately need and now humbly ask the forgiveness of both. I especially desire to ask public forgiveness for such of my wrongdoing as has been public or which I have made public by my own statements.” “Specifically, then, I, Donald Trump, ask forgiveness of Ivana for unfaithfulness to our wedding vows through adultery both before our divorce and by the divorce itself. I also ask forgiveness of Marla for the same offenses. I, Donald Trump, ask forgiveness of the women with whom I committed adultery, and of their husbands and children, whose families I damaged. I ask forgiveness…

Donald Trump recently surprised many by reading from a teleprompter words written by someone else expressing “regret” for some of the things he has said thus far in the campaign. “Sometimes,” the text read, “in the heat of the debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.” Despite its vagueness and its not really being an apology at all, this is surprising because narcissists almost never apologize for anything. It’s thus an indication of Trump’s desperation and the degree of pressure his revolving-door campaign staff is exerting on him. But even this vague non-apology was more than Trump could stand. His text included a smokescreen of excuses and self-justifications. He was, he said, “not a politician” and “never wanted to learn the language of the insiders.” He had “never been politically correct” and didn’t want to be. Of course, it was not at all through lack of “political correctness” or “the language of the insiders” that Trump has time and again demonstrated himself to be a cruel and dishonest man, but the statement is a good illustration of the adage that people will readily apologize for faults they actually consider to be virtues. Obviously Trump is not in the least sorry for having caused personal or any other kind of pain, and he would cause a great deal more and sharper pain if it weren’t for his present need for votes. His advisors, at least, obviously hope that the present fig leaf of a cheap imitation of an apology will provide sufficient excuse for those whose fears of Clinton have made them desperate for some honorable way of voting to stop her. Since Trump now seeks to restore his hopes of the presidency by reading statements written by others, and since his most recent statement is manifestly inadequate, I thought I’d offer him my help, free of charge, in drafting a confession and apology that will be deep and thorough enough to convince people like me that Trump is truly penitent and ready to be forgiven. Here’s the statement Trump ought to read (and mean): “Not just during the present campaign but throughout my life I, Donald Trump, have behaved in ways that are unacceptable both to God and to decent human beings. I desperately need and now humbly ask the forgiveness of both. I especially desire to ask public forgiveness for such of my wrongdoing as has been public or which I have made public by my own statements.” “Specifically, then, I, Donald Trump, ask forgiveness of Ivana for unfaithfulness to our wedding vows through adultery both before our divorce and by the divorce itself. I also ask forgiveness of Marla for the same offenses. I, Donald Trump, ask forgiveness of the women with whom I committed adultery, and of their husbands and children, whose families I damaged. I ask forgiveness…

Donald Trump recently surprised many by reading from a teleprompter words written by someone else expressing “regret” for some of the things he has said thus far in the campaign. “Sometimes,” the text read, “in the heat of the debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and I regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.” Despite its vagueness and its not really being an apology at all, this is surprising because narcissists almost never apologize for anything. It’s thus an indication of Trump’s desperation and the degree of pressure his revolving-door campaign staff is exerting on him. But even this vague non-apology was more than Trump could stand. His text included a smokescreen of excuses and self-justifications. He was, he said, “not a politician” and “never wanted to learn the language of the insiders.” He had “never been politically correct” and didn’t want to be. Of course, it was not at all through lack of “political correctness” or “the language of the insiders” that Trump has time and again demonstrated himself to be a cruel and dishonest man, but the statement is a good illustration of the adage that people will readily apologize for faults they actually consider to be virtues. Obviously Trump is not in the least sorry for having caused personal or any other kind of pain, and he would cause a great deal more and sharper pain if it weren’t for his present need for votes. His advisors, at least, obviously hope that the present fig leaf of a cheap imitation of an apology will provide sufficient excuse for those whose fears of Clinton have made them desperate for some honorable way of voting to stop her. Since Trump now seeks to restore his hopes of the presidency by reading statements written by others, and since his most recent statement is manifestly inadequate, I thought I’d offer him my help, free of charge, in drafting a confession and apology that will be deep and thorough enough to convince people like me that Trump is truly penitent and ready to be forgiven. Here’s the statement Trump ought to read (and mean): “Not just during the present campaign but throughout my life I, Donald Trump, have behaved in ways that are unacceptable both to God and to decent human beings. I desperately need and now humbly ask the forgiveness of both. I especially desire to ask public forgiveness for such of my wrongdoing as has been public or which I have made public by my own statements.” “Specifically, then, I, Donald Trump, ask forgiveness of Ivana for unfaithfulness to our wedding vows through adultery both before our divorce and by the divorce itself. I also ask forgiveness of Marla for the same offenses. I, Donald Trump, ask forgiveness of the women with whom I committed adultery, and of their husbands and children, whose families I damaged. I ask forgiveness…

August 21, 2016
Fear: A Path to the Trump-side for Evangelicals
fear-615989_960_720

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:17-18   For the past few weeks, I’ve watched an increasing volume of vitriol and bile pass through my various feeds, much of it targeted at #NeverTrump people like myself, and all of it telling me what I think and who I am.  We’ve been called “traitors”, “betrayers” involved in a “murder-suicide pact”, and even “pharisees”.  I thought I might take a stab at explaining a key motivation for one significant section of Evangelical Trumpers (by no means all, of course).  Further, while I will undoubtedly be critical in what I say, I will try to do it without any blatant or intentional insults. The reason so many evangelicals are voting for Trump and, worse, why they are on the warpath against the very people with whom they once agreed that character did matter is simple: straightforward, gut-wrenching fear and what it makes a person do. Fear is one of the most primal of all motivations.  It drives people to do things they would never even consider under normal circumstances.  It blinds them to truth, makes them cling in desperation to any hope that presents itself (even hopes that, in clearer-headed times, they would recognize as dangerous), and lash out viciously at any perceived threat to that hope.  It makes them see friends as enemies and not realize enemies are pretending to be friends. All of this seems to describe a notable selection of Evangelical Pro-Trumpery.  They once insisted that while we might forgive Bill Clinton (who did ask for it–publicly even) on a personal level, his untrustworthy character disqualified him from being president. These same people are now running down their Christian brethren who refuse to vote for another serial adulterer who claims he has never needed forgiveness in his life for anything.  The people who once opposed Larry Flynt and Hustler demand that we vote for a man who was proudly featured on the cover of Playboy.  While Trump has spent his life voting democrat, supporting democrats, and even praising Hillary Clinton, republican evangelicals hungrily devour the the few scraps of conservative hope Trump throws them.  These are scraps that, if they heard them from a used car salesman in a less stressful time, would tell them instantly they were buying a lemon.  A vote for Trump isn’t just a viable option; they present it as a moral imperative, and any threat to their hope in Trump must be dealt with summarily. But here’s the rub: some Christians’ eagerness to throw away their moral authority through blatant hypocrisy* betrays another, deeper cause of their support of Trump than fear.  It is a lack of trust, particularly a lack of trust in…

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:17-18   For the past few weeks, I’ve watched an increasing volume of vitriol and bile pass through my various feeds, much of it targeted at #NeverTrump people like myself, and all of it telling me what I think and who I am.  We’ve been called “traitors”, “betrayers” involved in a “murder-suicide pact”, and even “pharisees”.  I thought I might take a stab at explaining a key motivation for one significant section of Evangelical Trumpers (by no means all, of course).  Further, while I will undoubtedly be critical in what I say, I will try to do it without any blatant or intentional insults. The reason so many evangelicals are voting for Trump and, worse, why they are on the warpath against the very people with whom they once agreed that character did matter is simple: straightforward, gut-wrenching fear and what it makes a person do. Fear is one of the most primal of all motivations.  It drives people to do things they would never even consider under normal circumstances.  It blinds them to truth, makes them cling in desperation to any hope that presents itself (even hopes that, in clearer-headed times, they would recognize as dangerous), and lash out viciously at any perceived threat to that hope.  It makes them see friends as enemies and not realize enemies are pretending to be friends. All of this seems to describe a notable selection of Evangelical Pro-Trumpery.  They once insisted that while we might forgive Bill Clinton (who did ask for it–publicly even) on a personal level, his untrustworthy character disqualified him from being president. These same people are now running down their Christian brethren who refuse to vote for another serial adulterer who claims he has never needed forgiveness in his life for anything.  The people who once opposed Larry Flynt and Hustler demand that we vote for a man who was proudly featured on the cover of Playboy.  While Trump has spent his life voting democrat, supporting democrats, and even praising Hillary Clinton, republican evangelicals hungrily devour the the few scraps of conservative hope Trump throws them.  These are scraps that, if they heard them from a used car salesman in a less stressful time, would tell them instantly they were buying a lemon.  A vote for Trump isn’t just a viable option; they present it as a moral imperative, and any threat to their hope in Trump must be dealt with summarily. But here’s the rub: some Christians’ eagerness to throw away their moral authority through blatant hypocrisy* betrays another, deeper cause of their support of Trump than fear.  It is a lack of trust, particularly a lack of trust in…

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:17-18   For the past few weeks, I’ve watched an increasing volume of vitriol and bile pass through my various feeds, much of it targeted at #NeverTrump people like myself, and all of it telling me what I think and who I am.  We’ve been called “traitors”, “betrayers” involved in a “murder-suicide pact”, and even “pharisees”.  I thought I might take a stab at explaining a key motivation for one significant section of Evangelical Trumpers (by no means all, of course).  Further, while I will undoubtedly be critical in what I say, I will try to do it without any blatant or intentional insults. The reason so many evangelicals are voting for Trump and, worse, why they are on the warpath against the very people with whom they once agreed that character did matter is simple: straightforward, gut-wrenching fear and what it makes a person do. Fear is one of the most primal of all motivations.  It drives people to do things they would never even consider under normal circumstances.  It blinds them to truth, makes them cling in desperation to any hope that presents itself (even hopes that, in clearer-headed times, they would recognize as dangerous), and lash out viciously at any perceived threat to that hope.  It makes them see friends as enemies and not realize enemies are pretending to be friends. All of this seems to describe a notable selection of Evangelical Pro-Trumpery.  They once insisted that while we might forgive Bill Clinton (who did ask for it–publicly even) on a personal level, his untrustworthy character disqualified him from being president. These same people are now running down their Christian brethren who refuse to vote for another serial adulterer who claims he has never needed forgiveness in his life for anything.  The people who once opposed Larry Flynt and Hustler demand that we vote for a man who was proudly featured on the cover of Playboy.  While Trump has spent his life voting democrat, supporting democrats, and even praising Hillary Clinton, republican evangelicals hungrily devour the the few scraps of conservative hope Trump throws them.  These are scraps that, if they heard them from a used car salesman in a less stressful time, would tell them instantly they were buying a lemon.  A vote for Trump isn’t just a viable option; they present it as a moral imperative, and any threat to their hope in Trump must be dealt with summarily. But here’s the rub: some Christians’ eagerness to throw away their moral authority through blatant hypocrisy* betrays another, deeper cause of their support of Trump than fear.  It is a lack of trust, particularly a lack of trust in…

August 19, 2016
I’m Back
Summit-Teaching

“I’m back.” Sam’s statement to Rosie is the way The Lord of the Rings ends. Of course, one can never say these words in this life except provisionally. There is a sense in which finite mortals cannot step in the same river twice. The Hobbiton and the Bag End to which Sam returned was not the same Hobbiton and Bag End without Frodo in them, and so we move on from the supposed ending to the Appendices and the Lost Tales and learn that eventually even Sam sailed into the West. Two rangers of Ithilien and a member of the Council of Gondor Nevertheless, the phrase does have a kind of truth for a while–a day, a year, an age of men. I am “back” from Mythcon, the annual meeting of the Mythopoeic Society, in San Antonio this year from August 5-8.. But one never returns the same. How to describe a Mythcon to those who have never been? Imagine a serious academic conference with world class papers and panels on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, the other Inklings, and fantasy literature in general breaking out in the midst of a Renaissance Festival, with an Inklings meeting, a fan convention, a film festival, a Society for Creative Anachronism meeting, a theology/apologetics conference, a spiritual retreat, and an insane asylum all going on concurrently–and you will have just an inkling (ahem) of the weirdest and most satisfying convocation of Inklings devotees on the planet. Picture this astounding conglomeration as a seamless whole in which each part enriches all the others and you will have an even better idea. But you will have to attend to really understand. Warning: Mythcon is highly addictive. Like the infamous potato chip, you cannot do just one. And so I am back–but not the same. The papers were almost all stimulating and enlightening. But what makes me feel that my own–not just understanding, but life–has been deepened is the level of integration between seriousness and fun, reason and imagination, intellect and heart, represented by the whole experience which is a Mythcon. The Inklings hold that kind or wholeness before us more effectively than any other group of writers, and their influence is not just celebrated but incarnated by the Mythies (as they call themselves) who gather around their works every year. I am blessed to be a part of it.   Coming Fall 2016!

“I’m back.” Sam’s statement to Rosie is the way The Lord of the Rings ends. Of course, one can never say these words in this life except provisionally. There is a sense in which finite mortals cannot step in the same river twice. The Hobbiton and the Bag End to which Sam returned was not the same Hobbiton and Bag End without Frodo in them, and so we move on from the supposed ending to the Appendices and the Lost Tales and learn that eventually even Sam sailed into the West. Two rangers of Ithilien and a member of the Council of Gondor Nevertheless, the phrase does have a kind of truth for a while–a day, a year, an age of men. I am “back” from Mythcon, the annual meeting of the Mythopoeic Society, in San Antonio this year from August 5-8.. But one never returns the same. How to describe a Mythcon to those who have never been? Imagine a serious academic conference with world class papers and panels on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, the other Inklings, and fantasy literature in general breaking out in the midst of a Renaissance Festival, with an Inklings meeting, a fan convention, a film festival, a Society for Creative Anachronism meeting, a theology/apologetics conference, a spiritual retreat, and an insane asylum all going on concurrently–and you will have just an inkling (ahem) of the weirdest and most satisfying convocation of Inklings devotees on the planet. Picture this astounding conglomeration as a seamless whole in which each part enriches all the others and you will have an even better idea. But you will have to attend to really understand. Warning: Mythcon is highly addictive. Like the infamous potato chip, you cannot do just one. And so I am back–but not the same. The papers were almost all stimulating and enlightening. But what makes me feel that my own–not just understanding, but life–has been deepened is the level of integration between seriousness and fun, reason and imagination, intellect and heart, represented by the whole experience which is a Mythcon. The Inklings hold that kind or wholeness before us more effectively than any other group of writers, and their influence is not just celebrated but incarnated by the Mythies (as they call themselves) who gather around their works every year. I am blessed to be a part of it.   Coming Fall 2016!

“I’m back.” Sam’s statement to Rosie is the way The Lord of the Rings ends. Of course, one can never say these words in this life except provisionally. There is a sense in which finite mortals cannot step in the same river twice. The Hobbiton and the Bag End to which Sam returned was not the same Hobbiton and Bag End without Frodo in them, and so we move on from the supposed ending to the Appendices and the Lost Tales and learn that eventually even Sam sailed into the West. Two rangers of Ithilien and a member of the Council of Gondor Nevertheless, the phrase does have a kind of truth for a while–a day, a year, an age of men. I am “back” from Mythcon, the annual meeting of the Mythopoeic Society, in San Antonio this year from August 5-8.. But one never returns the same. How to describe a Mythcon to those who have never been? Imagine a serious academic conference with world class papers and panels on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, the other Inklings, and fantasy literature in general breaking out in the midst of a Renaissance Festival, with an Inklings meeting, a fan convention, a film festival, a Society for Creative Anachronism meeting, a theology/apologetics conference, a spiritual retreat, and an insane asylum all going on concurrently–and you will have just an inkling (ahem) of the weirdest and most satisfying convocation of Inklings devotees on the planet. Picture this astounding conglomeration as a seamless whole in which each part enriches all the others and you will have an even better idea. But you will have to attend to really understand. Warning: Mythcon is highly addictive. Like the infamous potato chip, you cannot do just one. And so I am back–but not the same. The papers were almost all stimulating and enlightening. But what makes me feel that my own–not just understanding, but life–has been deepened is the level of integration between seriousness and fun, reason and imagination, intellect and heart, represented by the whole experience which is a Mythcon. The Inklings hold that kind or wholeness before us more effectively than any other group of writers, and their influence is not just celebrated but incarnated by the Mythies (as they call themselves) who gather around their works every year. I am blessed to be a part of it.   Coming Fall 2016!

August 15, 2016
Philosophy: The Love of Wisdom?
Summit-Teaching

Philosophy:  phileo plus sophia, the love of wisdom.  Wisdom:  not intelligence (which is just processing speed) or knowledge (which is just information) or even understanding (which is seeing how one’s bits of knowledge relate to one another), but something more.  Wisdom is the knack of using one’s intelligence, knowledge, and understanding in useful and beneficial ways.  For Christians, it means using one’s intelligence, knowledge, and understanding in ways that glorify God, advance His kingdom, and bring blessing to His people. It may seem hard to find much wisdom in the technical arguments of professional academic philosophers today, but it is there for those who know how to look.  (It may not be in the conclusions to their arguments!)  I hope there is some to be found in the philosophical musings I have indulged in over the years, not wholly unrelated to the conclusions of my arguments.  If I want you to find it, maybe I should be able to find it myself.  What have I learned from thinking philosophically?  More to the point, what have I learned from it that I can properly call wisdom? Perhaps the first lesson is humility.  It is the glory of man that we cannot rest until we understand the world around us and understand ourselves.  We are the only species that is impelled to ask the Great Questions:  What is real?  Who are we?  Why are we here?  What is the good?  How do we know?  We are ennobled in that we ask, but we are brought low by our failure to find, or, finding, to live by, the answers. Plato, Classical Greek Philosopher To study the history of philosophy is to learn how our best thinking when unaided by revelation from above always leads to an irresolvable impasse.  It does so because, apart from revelation, we end up looking for the ultimate in a place where it cannot be found: within the circles of the finite world.  Hence we get the infamous false choices for which philosophy is famous:  Heraklitus and flux, or Parmenides and permanence?  Plato’s rationalism and realism, or Aristotle’s empiricism and nominalism? They are both right and both wrong.  Forms neither as immanent in matter nor as existing on their own but as the rationes aeterna in the mind of a personal God capable of grounding them because He is the source of both form and matter (Augustine)—for that we would need the operation of revelation on a redeemed and receptive mind.  There is no other way to get it. Without revelation and the receptive mind, we end up with people fighting over what are at best partial glimpses of the truth.  And our best thinkers never quite live up even to their partial glimpses.  Only as God stoops to us in revelation do we find answers that are whole; only as He stoops to us in grace do we accept those answers and find the ability to live them out.  If following in the footsteps…

Philosophy:  phileo plus sophia, the love of wisdom.  Wisdom:  not intelligence (which is just processing speed) or knowledge (which is just information) or even understanding (which is seeing how one’s bits of knowledge relate to one another), but something more.  Wisdom is the knack of using one’s intelligence, knowledge, and understanding in useful and beneficial ways.  For Christians, it means using one’s intelligence, knowledge, and understanding in ways that glorify God, advance His kingdom, and bring blessing to His people. It may seem hard to find much wisdom in the technical arguments of professional academic philosophers today, but it is there for those who know how to look.  (It may not be in the conclusions to their arguments!)  I hope there is some to be found in the philosophical musings I have indulged in over the years, not wholly unrelated to the conclusions of my arguments.  If I want you to find it, maybe I should be able to find it myself.  What have I learned from thinking philosophically?  More to the point, what have I learned from it that I can properly call wisdom? Perhaps the first lesson is humility.  It is the glory of man that we cannot rest until we understand the world around us and understand ourselves.  We are the only species that is impelled to ask the Great Questions:  What is real?  Who are we?  Why are we here?  What is the good?  How do we know?  We are ennobled in that we ask, but we are brought low by our failure to find, or, finding, to live by, the answers. Plato, Classical Greek Philosopher To study the history of philosophy is to learn how our best thinking when unaided by revelation from above always leads to an irresolvable impasse.  It does so because, apart from revelation, we end up looking for the ultimate in a place where it cannot be found: within the circles of the finite world.  Hence we get the infamous false choices for which philosophy is famous:  Heraklitus and flux, or Parmenides and permanence?  Plato’s rationalism and realism, or Aristotle’s empiricism and nominalism? They are both right and both wrong.  Forms neither as immanent in matter nor as existing on their own but as the rationes aeterna in the mind of a personal God capable of grounding them because He is the source of both form and matter (Augustine)—for that we would need the operation of revelation on a redeemed and receptive mind.  There is no other way to get it. Without revelation and the receptive mind, we end up with people fighting over what are at best partial glimpses of the truth.  And our best thinkers never quite live up even to their partial glimpses.  Only as God stoops to us in revelation do we find answers that are whole; only as He stoops to us in grace do we accept those answers and find the ability to live them out.  If following in the footsteps…

Philosophy:  phileo plus sophia, the love of wisdom.  Wisdom:  not intelligence (which is just processing speed) or knowledge (which is just information) or even understanding (which is seeing how one’s bits of knowledge relate to one another), but something more.  Wisdom is the knack of using one’s intelligence, knowledge, and understanding in useful and beneficial ways.  For Christians, it means using one’s intelligence, knowledge, and understanding in ways that glorify God, advance His kingdom, and bring blessing to His people. It may seem hard to find much wisdom in the technical arguments of professional academic philosophers today, but it is there for those who know how to look.  (It may not be in the conclusions to their arguments!)  I hope there is some to be found in the philosophical musings I have indulged in over the years, not wholly unrelated to the conclusions of my arguments.  If I want you to find it, maybe I should be able to find it myself.  What have I learned from thinking philosophically?  More to the point, what have I learned from it that I can properly call wisdom? Perhaps the first lesson is humility.  It is the glory of man that we cannot rest until we understand the world around us and understand ourselves.  We are the only species that is impelled to ask the Great Questions:  What is real?  Who are we?  Why are we here?  What is the good?  How do we know?  We are ennobled in that we ask, but we are brought low by our failure to find, or, finding, to live by, the answers. Plato, Classical Greek Philosopher To study the history of philosophy is to learn how our best thinking when unaided by revelation from above always leads to an irresolvable impasse.  It does so because, apart from revelation, we end up looking for the ultimate in a place where it cannot be found: within the circles of the finite world.  Hence we get the infamous false choices for which philosophy is famous:  Heraklitus and flux, or Parmenides and permanence?  Plato’s rationalism and realism, or Aristotle’s empiricism and nominalism? They are both right and both wrong.  Forms neither as immanent in matter nor as existing on their own but as the rationes aeterna in the mind of a personal God capable of grounding them because He is the source of both form and matter (Augustine)—for that we would need the operation of revelation on a redeemed and receptive mind.  There is no other way to get it. Without revelation and the receptive mind, we end up with people fighting over what are at best partial glimpses of the truth.  And our best thinkers never quite live up even to their partial glimpses.  Only as God stoops to us in revelation do we find answers that are whole; only as He stoops to us in grace do we accept those answers and find the ability to live them out.  If following in the footsteps…

August 8, 2016
Weighed in the Balances: Clinton and Trump
Clinton and Trump

  Recently, theology professor Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary wrote an article arguing that it is “a morally good choice” to vote for Donald Trump. It’s high time for a sober consideration of how Trump compares with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and whether, in light of that comparison, a vote for Trump can be justified, morally or any other way. Clinton is a known quantity. Throughout her political career she has held consistent left-wing positions, including feminism and support for abortion. She is corrupt, dishonest, and vindictive, and it’s difficult to say whether the chief characteristic of her tenure as secretary of state was incompetence or treachery. Both were present in large measure, She clearly violated the Espionage Act, and ought to be in prison. Since the mid-1990s the prospect of her as president has been a nightmare to conservatives. A vote for her would obviously not be a morally good choice. Then there’s Donald Trump. He’s supposed to be much different. However, until shortly before beginning his presidential campaign, he was actually a strong supporter of Clinton and her positions. The question is how much he has changed. Let’s look at some issues:   Immigration On immigration, Clinton favors “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to . . . citizenship.” This is code for amnesty and the wholesale importation of new Democratic voters. Trump has built his campaign by claiming that he will build a wall along the Mexican border and deport those aliens who are now illegally in the country. In fact, Trump has admitted he uses this claim to stir up audiences at his rallies. “You know, if it gets a little boring,” he told the New York Times editorial board, “If I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.” However, Trump is also in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. His version of amnesty is known as “touchback amnesty.” “I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash in a 2015 interview. He went on to claim that many of the illegal immigrants were necessary for the U.S. economy. “I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal.” So in this area, the area in which he has most touted his alleged anti-establishment views, Trump turns out to be little different than Clinton. Trump also has asserted that he favors an outright ban on Moslem immigration, but after making that claim, he backtracked in a way that bears on everything he seems to promise in this campaign. “Yeah. It was a suggestion,” Trump told Brian Kilmeade in one of his innumerable phone interviews with “Fox & Friends.” “Look,” Trump continued, “anything I say right now, I’m not the president. Everything is a suggestion, no matter…

  Recently, theology professor Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary wrote an article arguing that it is “a morally good choice” to vote for Donald Trump. It’s high time for a sober consideration of how Trump compares with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and whether, in light of that comparison, a vote for Trump can be justified, morally or any other way. Clinton is a known quantity. Throughout her political career she has held consistent left-wing positions, including feminism and support for abortion. She is corrupt, dishonest, and vindictive, and it’s difficult to say whether the chief characteristic of her tenure as secretary of state was incompetence or treachery. Both were present in large measure, She clearly violated the Espionage Act, and ought to be in prison. Since the mid-1990s the prospect of her as president has been a nightmare to conservatives. A vote for her would obviously not be a morally good choice. Then there’s Donald Trump. He’s supposed to be much different. However, until shortly before beginning his presidential campaign, he was actually a strong supporter of Clinton and her positions. The question is how much he has changed. Let’s look at some issues:   Immigration On immigration, Clinton favors “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to . . . citizenship.” This is code for amnesty and the wholesale importation of new Democratic voters. Trump has built his campaign by claiming that he will build a wall along the Mexican border and deport those aliens who are now illegally in the country. In fact, Trump has admitted he uses this claim to stir up audiences at his rallies. “You know, if it gets a little boring,” he told the New York Times editorial board, “If I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.” However, Trump is also in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. His version of amnesty is known as “touchback amnesty.” “I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash in a 2015 interview. He went on to claim that many of the illegal immigrants were necessary for the U.S. economy. “I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal.” So in this area, the area in which he has most touted his alleged anti-establishment views, Trump turns out to be little different than Clinton. Trump also has asserted that he favors an outright ban on Moslem immigration, but after making that claim, he backtracked in a way that bears on everything he seems to promise in this campaign. “Yeah. It was a suggestion,” Trump told Brian Kilmeade in one of his innumerable phone interviews with “Fox & Friends.” “Look,” Trump continued, “anything I say right now, I’m not the president. Everything is a suggestion, no matter…

  Recently, theology professor Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary wrote an article arguing that it is “a morally good choice” to vote for Donald Trump. It’s high time for a sober consideration of how Trump compares with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and whether, in light of that comparison, a vote for Trump can be justified, morally or any other way. Clinton is a known quantity. Throughout her political career she has held consistent left-wing positions, including feminism and support for abortion. She is corrupt, dishonest, and vindictive, and it’s difficult to say whether the chief characteristic of her tenure as secretary of state was incompetence or treachery. Both were present in large measure, She clearly violated the Espionage Act, and ought to be in prison. Since the mid-1990s the prospect of her as president has been a nightmare to conservatives. A vote for her would obviously not be a morally good choice. Then there’s Donald Trump. He’s supposed to be much different. However, until shortly before beginning his presidential campaign, he was actually a strong supporter of Clinton and her positions. The question is how much he has changed. Let’s look at some issues:   Immigration On immigration, Clinton favors “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to . . . citizenship.” This is code for amnesty and the wholesale importation of new Democratic voters. Trump has built his campaign by claiming that he will build a wall along the Mexican border and deport those aliens who are now illegally in the country. In fact, Trump has admitted he uses this claim to stir up audiences at his rallies. “You know, if it gets a little boring,” he told the New York Times editorial board, “If I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.” However, Trump is also in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. His version of amnesty is known as “touchback amnesty.” “I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash in a 2015 interview. He went on to claim that many of the illegal immigrants were necessary for the U.S. economy. “I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal.” So in this area, the area in which he has most touted his alleged anti-establishment views, Trump turns out to be little different than Clinton. Trump also has asserted that he favors an outright ban on Moslem immigration, but after making that claim, he backtracked in a way that bears on everything he seems to promise in this campaign. “Yeah. It was a suggestion,” Trump told Brian Kilmeade in one of his innumerable phone interviews with “Fox & Friends.” “Look,” Trump continued, “anything I say right now, I’m not the president. Everything is a suggestion, no matter…

August 5, 2016
Donald Trump and the Question of Character
Taj_Mahal_Atlantic_City_New_Jersey

In a recent article promoting a vote for Donald Trump as “a morally good choice,” theology professor Wayne Grudem, of Phoenix Seminary, addresses the question of Trump’s character. This is an obvious (I would say insurmountable) obstacle for anyone attempting to argue the moral goodness of a vote for Trump. Grudem attempts to dismiss the problem with three remarkably short arguments near the end of his rather long article. After more than 4,000 words expatiating all the terrible things he thinks will happen if Clinton is elected and all the wonderful things he thinks will happen if Trump is elected, Grudem skates past the character question in a breezy 97 words. Here they are: “I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character. In addition, if someone makes doubts about character the only factor to consider, that is a fallacy in ethical reasoning that I call “reductionism” – the mistake of reducing every argument to only one factor, when the situation requires that multiple factors be considered. In this election, an even larger factor is the future of the nation that would flow from a Clinton or a Trump presidency.”   Argument 1 Grudem’s first argument is that Trump’s character has been falsely represented as being bad. He doesn’t say what manifestations of Trump’s bad character he believes to be untrue. Let’s look at the record. Trump carried on an adulterous affair with Marla Maples while married to his first wife, Ivana. He then divorced Ivana and married Maples. Then he carried on an adulterous affair with Melania Knauss, divorced Maples, and married Melania. In his book The Art of the Deal,  Trump boasted of committing adultery with other men’s wives. Trump owned the Trump Plaza Casino, the Trump Marina Casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino, the Trump Castle Casino, and the Spotlight 29 Casino. Trump was the first to put a strip club into a casino. He also did obscene interviews on Howard Stern’s radio show.  Trump publicly mocked a handicapped man. He routinely refuses to pay contractors what he agreed to pay them, daring them to take him to court and be financially ruined by legal fees, or to accept lower payments that often ruin their businesses anyway. In a phone interview on Fox News, Trump said Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, was involved in the JFK assassination and further asserted that the National Enquirer (whose publisher is a close Trump friend) was a reliable source of news–then repeated the assertions, on camera, several months later. Finally, Trump’s record of public lying is so blatant it’s hard to know which of the many sources to site for it. Two should suffice. Politifact rates just 15% of his statements as true or mostly true, and a whopping 70% as mostly or completely false. This article documents fifteen hours of Trump’s lies. But maybe it’s all just political mud-slinging. These are matters of public record. Some are things of which Trump has boasted. You…

In a recent article promoting a vote for Donald Trump as “a morally good choice,” theology professor Wayne Grudem, of Phoenix Seminary, addresses the question of Trump’s character. This is an obvious (I would say insurmountable) obstacle for anyone attempting to argue the moral goodness of a vote for Trump. Grudem attempts to dismiss the problem with three remarkably short arguments near the end of his rather long article. After more than 4,000 words expatiating all the terrible things he thinks will happen if Clinton is elected and all the wonderful things he thinks will happen if Trump is elected, Grudem skates past the character question in a breezy 97 words. Here they are: “I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character. In addition, if someone makes doubts about character the only factor to consider, that is a fallacy in ethical reasoning that I call “reductionism” – the mistake of reducing every argument to only one factor, when the situation requires that multiple factors be considered. In this election, an even larger factor is the future of the nation that would flow from a Clinton or a Trump presidency.”   Argument 1 Grudem’s first argument is that Trump’s character has been falsely represented as being bad. He doesn’t say what manifestations of Trump’s bad character he believes to be untrue. Let’s look at the record. Trump carried on an adulterous affair with Marla Maples while married to his first wife, Ivana. He then divorced Ivana and married Maples. Then he carried on an adulterous affair with Melania Knauss, divorced Maples, and married Melania. In his book The Art of the Deal,  Trump boasted of committing adultery with other men’s wives. Trump owned the Trump Plaza Casino, the Trump Marina Casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino, the Trump Castle Casino, and the Spotlight 29 Casino. Trump was the first to put a strip club into a casino. He also did obscene interviews on Howard Stern’s radio show.  Trump publicly mocked a handicapped man. He routinely refuses to pay contractors what he agreed to pay them, daring them to take him to court and be financially ruined by legal fees, or to accept lower payments that often ruin their businesses anyway. In a phone interview on Fox News, Trump said Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, was involved in the JFK assassination and further asserted that the National Enquirer (whose publisher is a close Trump friend) was a reliable source of news–then repeated the assertions, on camera, several months later. Finally, Trump’s record of public lying is so blatant it’s hard to know which of the many sources to site for it. Two should suffice. Politifact rates just 15% of his statements as true or mostly true, and a whopping 70% as mostly or completely false. This article documents fifteen hours of Trump’s lies. But maybe it’s all just political mud-slinging. These are matters of public record. Some are things of which Trump has boasted. You…

In a recent article promoting a vote for Donald Trump as “a morally good choice,” theology professor Wayne Grudem, of Phoenix Seminary, addresses the question of Trump’s character. This is an obvious (I would say insurmountable) obstacle for anyone attempting to argue the moral goodness of a vote for Trump. Grudem attempts to dismiss the problem with three remarkably short arguments near the end of his rather long article. After more than 4,000 words expatiating all the terrible things he thinks will happen if Clinton is elected and all the wonderful things he thinks will happen if Trump is elected, Grudem skates past the character question in a breezy 97 words. Here they are: “I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character. In addition, if someone makes doubts about character the only factor to consider, that is a fallacy in ethical reasoning that I call “reductionism” – the mistake of reducing every argument to only one factor, when the situation requires that multiple factors be considered. In this election, an even larger factor is the future of the nation that would flow from a Clinton or a Trump presidency.”   Argument 1 Grudem’s first argument is that Trump’s character has been falsely represented as being bad. He doesn’t say what manifestations of Trump’s bad character he believes to be untrue. Let’s look at the record. Trump carried on an adulterous affair with Marla Maples while married to his first wife, Ivana. He then divorced Ivana and married Maples. Then he carried on an adulterous affair with Melania Knauss, divorced Maples, and married Melania. In his book The Art of the Deal,  Trump boasted of committing adultery with other men’s wives. Trump owned the Trump Plaza Casino, the Trump Marina Casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino, the Trump Castle Casino, and the Spotlight 29 Casino. Trump was the first to put a strip club into a casino. He also did obscene interviews on Howard Stern’s radio show.  Trump publicly mocked a handicapped man. He routinely refuses to pay contractors what he agreed to pay them, daring them to take him to court and be financially ruined by legal fees, or to accept lower payments that often ruin their businesses anyway. In a phone interview on Fox News, Trump said Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, was involved in the JFK assassination and further asserted that the National Enquirer (whose publisher is a close Trump friend) was a reliable source of news–then repeated the assertions, on camera, several months later. Finally, Trump’s record of public lying is so blatant it’s hard to know which of the many sources to site for it. Two should suffice. Politifact rates just 15% of his statements as true or mostly true, and a whopping 70% as mostly or completely false. This article documents fifteen hours of Trump’s lies. But maybe it’s all just political mud-slinging. These are matters of public record. Some are things of which Trump has boasted. You…

August 2, 2016

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