Over at Religion News Service, Jonathan Merritt has decided that a web brawl with me might make for some good click fodder. This post, in which he picks a fight with me, concludes with a stirring reminder that the apostle Paul requires that Christian leaders must not be should not be “quarrelsome,” but rather “peacemakers, self-controlled, gentle, humble, and respectable.” He need not remind his gentle readers that the bozo over at Mablog is none of those!
There are some cafeteria food fights – for those familiar with this junior high school phenomenon — that are worth every biscuit you might decide to throw. Others not so much. Others are just a two biscuit affair.
Biscuit one. Merritt says that he is “unashamedly pro-life.” He says that the culture of abortion will be judged in the future to have been “a blemish.” It is one of “the most significant moral issues of our time.” But not so significant as to keep you from voting with all the cool kids. Not so much of a blemish as to prevent one from hanging with the people who think it is a beauty mark.
Biscuit two. Merritt points to the pastoral qualifications that Paul itemizes, and says that he “does not list anything resembling a political requirement.” Right, but he does give moral requirements — things like being blameless and sober-minded, and I am afraid making lame excuses for a man who enables late term abortionists to chop babies up into little constitutional pieces does not qualify as blameless. Or sober-minded.
All right. A third biscuit, and I really have to go. I don’t want to be late for class. Merritt — of course — then brings up my “disturbing” views on slavery, views that have been ventilated in this space from time to time. I confess myself baffled, nonplussed, and quite unable to keep up with Merritt’s logic. He leaps from crag to crag like an early-rising mountain goat after three cups of coffee. Did he not just finish telling us that the apostle kept political requirements for eldership strictly excluded from any consideration? Why is he now applying a political test to me? Was not slavery the premier political issue of our nation’s history?
Oh, is it because an issue can be political and moral at the same time? Ohhhhh. Like the late term abortions that the president supports? And which his supporters enable him to support?
For those Christians who want to keep the realm of the church and the so-called “secular” realm separate and as distinct as all get out, they have a little problem. You cannot take biblical values out of the common realm and then whistle them up again, as if by magic, whenever you need them. If the Bible is relevant to the public square, as I believe, then let’s have a Bible study. If it is not relevant, then banish it from that realm — but let’s be done with subsequent bedwetting reactions when the public square fails to reflect biblical values. Isn’t that what this position is insisting on?
As Lewis had it, these people castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. Or as Chesterton put it, they want to create causes without creating consequences.
This last weekend, at the conference in Dayton I just came from, I asked David VanDrunen a question that I believe goes right to the heart of this issue. I asked him what God would think of a nation whose magistrate and people had become overwhelmingly (and sincerely) Christian, and who decided to confess Christ in the common realm, in the formerly secular realm. I asked if God would be displeased with that, and VanDrunen said yes, he thought God would be displeased with that.
Well, okay, but if that separation is in place don’t come hectoring us later about what Christians did or did not do in the past about the controversial issues of their day. The Noahic covenant says absolutely nothing about segregated school systems.