12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

Ed Stetzer and the Future of Denominations

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Could you tell that I’ve lost my passion for live blogging?  I’d forgotten to even write about Ed until this morning. :)

But I do have several things to offer.

First, Trevin Wax is here and is ready to challenge Timmy Brister for champ of the live blog.  Here are his notes on Ed’s presentation.

Also, here is a link to the tweets I put up at the MissioScapes twitter feed.

Finally, I’d like to summarize my reaction to Ed’s super fast talking.

The gist of it all was that, yes, we will have denominations, but what they will look like has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, churches naturally will find each other and will work together if they have a passion for the Great Commission.

Still, there are benefits and burdens that go along with denominations. The burdens center around our tendency to focus on the mechanisms of our cooperation rather than our common calling.

The benefits are many and, quite frankly, are both obvious and listed in the above links.

What most struck me about the message was the forceful tone he took calling for cooperation.  This might not surprise you, but what might surprise you is that, at one point, Ed suggested that if certain people can’t get along with the rest of us, insist on attempting to run everyone else out or force us to conform, then THEY should leave the convention.

The people about whom he was speaking were obvious to the engaged SBC observer and even to the more disengaged former SBC blogger, like myself.

In terms of pointed rhetoric, Ed was somewhere between his usual provocativity and Marty Duren from back in the old days.  On the SBC spectrum of “lighting it up,” if Micah Fries is a 1 (humbly opinioned) and Ben Cole is a 10 (Shock & Awe), Ed normally resides in the middle at a happy 5.  I’d have to say that last night, Ed jumped up to 8 on a few occasions, which was kind of fun.

Especially because I agreed with him.

Had he been talking more about me (and he did from time to time) I might not have enjoyed it as much.

GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon

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GCR Task ForceIf you had told me 3 years ago that I would be sitting, at Ronnie Floyd’s invitation, in his church listening to him, Johnny Hunt and Al Mohler talk about the SBC as being in decline and the need for us to deconstruct that which is complex and bulky to get to what is efficient in accomplishing God’s Mission – I would have thought you insane.

But there I sat, front and center, listening to them say some of the things I had been thinking for years.  Even taking some hits from some dude channelling the spirit of Roger Moran until interrupted and chastised by both Hunt and Floyd, being further corrected by Mohler.

How did I get here?  Am I dreaming?

Some will complain that these guys are just classic middle adopters, attempting to lead from the middle.  Others will say that they’ve offered nothing new.  I’ve heard others say they are simple politicians, finding the flow of the crowd and getting out in front.

Those things may be.  I can’t tell you, but you see, the thing about a middle adopter is, he’s adopted.

These guys seemed pretty genuine to me.  If not, time will tell.  The telling of their sincerity will be in Orlando and it is something for which they asked.  Judge us by Orlando.

Fair enough!

Before I quit blogging about the SBC, I said that if the statesmen of the SBC stood against the wall while I stood to the mic, then the SBC will fall away into decline and there would be no stopping it.

The big deal about the principles and ideas being put forth by the GCRTF is that those speaking are not on the fringe of power within the SBC, but they are the leaders and statesmen.

About time.  Well done.  Thank God.

GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon Today

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Yep, I’m going.

I’m not sure if I’ll bother live blogging, but I might tweet.

If you are interested follow my twitter or the MissioScapes twitter feeds.

I’ll probably write a post event perspective for later in the week.

Gregory Boyd -The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church

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Interesting what this evangelical pastor has to say about the church’s involvement in the political process.  All three videos = just over 20 mins…

How do you pray for Barack Obama?

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Interesting clash of ideologies among evangelicals.  I read one report where a man was calling for prayers for the new president to fail in his aspirations and agendas.

The opposite perspective among evangelicals is represented most famously by Donald Miller, who prayed during the Democratic National Convention and tends to represent a great number of younger evangelicals by most observations.

So…  You are called to pray for the leaders of our nation.  How do you pray for Barack Obama?

Side note:  what did you think of Rick Warren’s Inagural Prayer?

Race Relations and the President Elect

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One of my great hopes for race relations in America is that there will be healing now that someone that is not a full blooded white dude has been elected.  The best case scenario is that minorities will feel that they are included in the leadership of America and that minority children will really believe the saying, “In America, you can be anything you want to be.”

Nevertheless, I have heard some skepticism on this issue.  That President Obama will not be able to meet the expectations put on him by minorities and frustration will grow.

Do you think that race relations will get better or worse in the next few years?

Why?

Can the church help?  If so, how?

Election Special

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I voted today.

If you haven’t, you should.

I am concerned about our process, though.  I walked up and just told the registrar my name, though I had my registration card and driver’s license in my hand.  I had seen several before me just say their names and he simply let them sign and vote.

No id required.

*sigh*

No wonder Indianapolis has 105% of its eligible population registered to vote.

My prediction is that Oklahoma will vote Republican and Barack Obama will receive the majority of the electoral college and become president elect.  That seems pretty clear to me, though I confess some anxiety over the issue.

What was not so certain is the two tax initiatives for citizens of the City of Tulsa.  A few months back, Tulsa wanted to develop its riverfront area in the fashion of suburb, Jenks.  The additional tax to fund the project was shot down by the voters, primarily because of the failure of the city leaders to maintain the infrastructure (mostly the streets) with the tax money it had already collected.

The cry went up and the vote came down.

So the leaders said they learned their lesson.  They came up with not one plan, but two, to fix our streets.  If one initiative passes, only its projects are funded, so the new slogan is, “Vote Two for Tulsa.”  The promise?  This time, WE PROMISE that all the tax money we raise for streets will actually make it to the streets.  Really.  We promise.

Ahem.  You have not learned your lesson.

The solution is not that you will raise a new tax, in a floundering economy, when your people are concerned with the future, in order to provide what you promised before and have yet to deliver.

Tell you what.  Reduce the size of local government and make room for the improvements from monies diverted to projects less necessary and you’ll have both the improvements and support of the citizens of Tulsa.

Sheesh!  How hard is this?

Small, Hidden Economic Stimulus

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One of the smaller and not often noted additions to the economy is the increase of margins with the decrease of fuel costs.

Many suppliers cut their margins to keep their products as close as normal when rising fuel costs increased the cost of everything.  For them, the fall of prices brings their margins back to a more comfortable place.  For those who did not cut their margins, they are facing larger than normal profits.

All of this is based on the presumption that the prices that went up quickly following the fuel costs will not fall as quickly as they are dropping.  Anyone think that is an unrealistic assessment?

If not, then small businesses should stabilize somewhat and some may even flourish.

Feminist Tammy Bruce is for Palin for the same reason Dr. Laura’s against her

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Fascinating confluence of ideas and events in politics this last year, wouldn’t you say?  Tammy Bruce, a liberal feminist is for Sarah Palin’s nomination for what seems to be the reason Dr. Laura is against her.

RealClearPolitics – Articles – A Feminist’s Argument for McCain’s VP.

and

The Dr. Laura Blog – Sarah Palin and Motherhood

The most interesting section to me, was from Tammy Bruce:

There is a point where all of our issues, including abortion rights, are made safer not only if the people we vote for agree with us – but when those people and our society embrace a respect for women and promote policies that increase our personal wealth, power and political influence.

This is all absolutely fascinating.  Especially when you look at the latest polls:

Gallup has McCain up 49% to 44%

and Zogby has McCain up by almost the same numbers over Obama in a poll released yesterday.

[HT:  Tammy Bruces article Thom Rainer via his Twitter feed, Zogby poll Ed Stetzer via his Twitter feed.]

Hmmm.  Twitter is more useful than I thought.  Mine’s twitter.com/artrogers.

Voting One’s Convictions

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voteI’ve heard it argued that to vote one’s Christian convictions, especially this year, the vote must not be cast for either of the two major party candidates that appear to have finally sewn up their party’s nomination.  We think.

The argument, as recently posted by my friend Micah Fries, goes that to pick the lesser of two evils, which McCain and Obama are supposed to be, then you have to choose “evil.”  Therefore, vote your convictions and let the chips fall where they may.

I would like to humbly challenge this thought process.

The conclusion above assumes that avoiding the election of someone that would lead us away from my overall convictions is a choice that leads to me not voting my true convictions.  In fact, to avoid leadership that would, in my opinion, shipwreck our nation is a very firm conviction of mine.

In America’s not too distant history, we have precisely two perfect examples of people voting for third party candidates in order to “vote their convictions” – one to the Republicans and one to the Democrats.

In 1992, H. Ross Perot ran as a candidate for President against George H. W. Bush, the incumbent, and William Jefferson Clinton.  While both parties hemorrhaged disenchanted voters to Perot, the Republicans were the greatest loser.  As a result, though Bill Clinton did not even receive a majority of the popular vote, the electoral college swung his way and the Republicans endured the Democrats’ most beloved leader since JFK, the “Teflon Don” of Presidential politics, Bill Clinton, who was re-elected and served for 8 years.

In 2000, Ralph Nader eschewed calls from the Democrats to step aside.  Rather, much like Perot, and like the “lesser of two evils” argument, Nader declared that both candidates, George W. Bush and Al Gore were so similar that the difference was negligible.  This was a Green Party slap in the face to Al Gore, who claimed to represent the Environmental interests.  It turns out, that Nader was probably right.  At least in evaluating Bush’s and Gore’s personal commitment to the environment, it is well documented that Bush’s ranch in Texas is a model of “earth friendly” efficiency, while Gore’s is an energy hog and burns natural gas at a rate of 12 times that of his neighbors, while only having a house 4 times as large – documented on Snopes.

What is my point with all of that?  Apparently, the environmentalists, at least enough of them, agreed with Nader and voted for him.  George W. Bush, though losing the popular vote, won the boondogle court case in Florida and the Supreme Court of the United States and the electoral college that goes with it.

What are the results of these two turns?

Many, but most tangible are the appointments to the Supreme Court.  Bill Clinton:  Ginsburg and Dreyer.  George W. Bush:  Chief Justice Roberts and Alito.

And here we are again.

A report from the Boston Globe documents the speculation that at least one if not three justices are on the verge of retiring.  It also documents that the court is very definitely split between two groups of 4 right leaning and 4 left leaning justices, with Justice Kennedy often now the swing vote.

There are justices in both “camps” that are possible retirees.

All of this is to say, whoever wins the election will most likely control the court and it will swing one way or the other.

Oh, and the Globe also reports that Obama is promising to appoint justices with a “broader social outlook” and McCain is promising to appoint justices more int he model of new Chief Justice John Roberts.

This is not to mention the vast number of vacancies on lesser Federal Benches that the left leaning Congress has declined fill, delaying the nominees of President Bush in hopes of replacing him with a more liberal President that will nominate men and women to fill the gaps in a way that will suit them better.  The lower courts are backed up to the point of violating the Constitutional right to a speedy trial and the Congress can’t hold out another four to eight years.  Allow the election of the wrong President, and they won’t have to wait.

I humbly submit to you that I will be voting for a major party candidate this year and will not hesitate to “vote my convictions” – even if he is not the one I would have chosen a year ago.  My convictions are that we return the our courts to their conservative roots and not have justices that legislate from the bench.  Presidents and Congressmen come and go, but the courts last for decades.

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