Monday, August 25, 2008

Prayer at the Democratic Convention

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz closed the Democratic Convention tonight in prayer. I offer a few comments:

1. He prays that we should care for people, not just causes. The Democratic platform and its candidate does not recognize unborn humans as persons. Thus, it endorses aborting over a million of them a year legally for any reason or no reason.

2. He prays they should care for "the least of these," of course, not including the utterly silent, helpless, and fragile unborn humans in this category. A condor egg has more rights than an unborn human in the US--and the Democrats do not care.

3. He speaks of concern for "children," but excludes the youngest children: unborn children.

4. He prays in the name of Jesus, but only says Jesus died "to fight the forces of injustice." That leaves out the most basic reason Jesus died: to atone for our sins and set us right with God. Yes, Jesus' death had social and political consequences, but not without atonement and propitiation. That was omitted from the teleprompter prayer.

5. Much more could be said about how the prayer was framed according to a left-wing perspective on issues, but enough is enough. Donald Miller was the chaplain for The Party of Abortion on Demand. No prophets were to be found. Maybe a few of them will get arrested outside the gate.

21 comments:

Kyl Schalk said...

Keep up the great pro-life work, Dr. Groothuis. In regards to "the least of these" I would like give some information from Francis Beckwith’s book titled Defending Life. Beckwith writes, “Although severely damaged, the anencephalic child is still a self-integrated human organism. Krason offers a helpful analogy found in the work of Germain Grisez: the anencephalic is much like a human being who remains alive for a short period of time after his head is blown off by a gunshot. “Such a person,” writes Krason “is human and remains such until he dies.” Because “the anencephalic originated as a human and developed normally up to the point when the neural tube failed to close,” the child “thus can be viewed as a human being, albeit a damaged one, whose abnormality will cause his death shortly after birth, like the gunshot wounded person will die a short while after his wound.” A damaged human is not a nonhumnan. Thus, the anencephalic child, or any preborn human being who is severely handicapped, raises the same questions that arise whenever we deal with postnatal human beings who are damaged. However, their humanness is not diminished as a result of their unfortunate state.”

Chandler said...

I understand where you're coming from, Dr. Groothuis, but why do you save virtually all of your venom for the Democrats? As a fellow Christian, I can find many, many things objectionable with people like John McCain.

And why won't you ever give an argument defending your views on foreign policy? If you’ve done so and I’ve missed it, then I apologize. But I don’t think you have. From what I’ve seen, when discussing foreign policy (and certain other views, for that matter), you resort to making unsupported assertions. For example, in response to one individual, you wrote on May 15:

***
Vote for McCain! Unless you want:
1. Far more abortions, and your tax dollars paying for it.
2. Defeat in Iraq and Afganistan.
3. Coddling terrorists.
4. "Talking" to dictators.
5. Race based politics at every level.
6. Another 9/11 attack in the US…
***

Do you see what I’m talking about? Without giving any evidence whatsoever, you (1) imply that Obama’s foreign policy would lead to defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, (2) imply that Obama would coddle terrorists, (3) imply that there’s something wrong with Obama’s promise to engage in diplomatic relations with such people as Iran’s president, and (4) imply that an Obama presidency would result in another 9/11 attack.

Now what troubles me about all this is that, as a philosopher, you know better. You know that there’s no merit in just spouting off claims. The world is full of people who do that.

Look, I understand that as a philosophy professor, you probably don’t have time to follow foreign affairs as closely as you would like. And I also understand that, like most of us, it’s tough for you not to have opinions, even when you haven’t studied an issue sufficiently. Virtually all of us are like that. But as a philosopher, as a Christian, as a man whom many look up to, do you feel you’re morally justified in so forcefully stating your opinions even though (1) You haven’t studied these issues sufficiently and/or (2) You haven’t ever (at least not that I’m aware of) given a rational defense of your views?

I find this so troubling because I too am a Christian and I too am pro-life. But I also believe that the foreign policy which you advocate is immoral, that it often leads to unnecessary war, that it often results in murder.

John said...

"But I also believe that the foreign policy which you advocate is immoral, that it often leads to unnecessary war, that it often results in murder."

That's because you're a stupid liberal who doesn't have a joke PhD and hand with fundamentalists. Go to Bible college and get off this blog you viper!

TheWord said...

Jesus was anti-war in all cases, no exceptions:

"When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs."

I know my Bible because I read Rob Bell and I'm Blue Like Jazz, Man, and not an evil fundie. Can't we all just get along? Be tolerant, shut up and listen to me.

Mark O. said...

wow. The emergent church continues it's downward spiral into liberalism both theologically and politically... Reminds me of Os Guinness' book 'Prophetic Untimeliness" - The more we make relevance our idol, the more irrelevant we become to a lost and broken world... good job Miller.

Jeremy said...

Chandler:

You say, "But I also believe that the foreign policy which you advocate is immoral, that it often leads to unnecessary war, that it often results in murder."

That's great, but this is just an assertion of your belief. Do you think it is right to make these kinds of assertions without argumentation (especially after you just lambasted Groothuis for doing the same thing)?

On an unrelated note, I'm so glad to see such vitriolic cynicism parading around as parody.

Kyl Schalk said...

John,

Your name calling is evidence of the decline of liberal thought. Your “fundamentalists” label is slippery. It is not going to describe everybody. Try to use strong arguments that directly refute the strongest arguments from the opposing view. If you don’t use strong arguments, you sound like Richard Dawkins. Many of the greatest thinkers of our time are conservatives or Christians. In addition, many brilliant minds throughout history have accepted Christianity. Liberals might dominate the universities, but that does not mean that they are right. Sometimes the people with the most power are wrong! I wish you the best.

Kyl Schalk said...

(continued)

William Lane Craig writes, “You might think from the recent spate of atheist best-sellers that belief in God has become intellectually indefensible for thinking people today. But a look at these books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, among others, quickly reveals that the so-called New Atheism lacks intellectual muscle. It is blissfully ignorant of the revolution that has taken place in Anglo-American philosophy. It reflects the scientism of a bygone generation rather than the contemporary intellectual scene.”
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/july/13.22.html

If I understand your general comments correctly, they don’t go very well with the contemporary intellectual scene, John. Your name calling isn’t convincing.

Kyl Schalk said...

(continued)

I want to include one more quote from William Lane Craig. Craig writes, “…a host of Christian philosophers, writing in scholarly journals and participating in professional conferences and publishing with the finest academic presses. The face of Anglo-American philosophy has been transformed as a result. Atheism, though perhaps still the dominant viewpoint at the American university, is a philosophy in retreat.”

Jer said...

In a CT article about a lack of funding for the Blue Like Jazz movie, Miller explains why he won't put up his own money for the project:

"Writers don't make much money anyway," laughs Miller. "Like Obama says, it's above my pay grade."

Is it me, or does this glib statement insinuate that Miller agrees with Obama's answer to the "conception of life" question?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/interviews/stevetaylor.html

Jer said...
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Jer said...
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Chandler said...

Jeremy:

The purpose of my post was not to argue for my particular political beliefs but simply to point out that Dr. Groothuis often makes claims regarding various foreign policy issues without providing any sort of argumentation. By stating that I felt his foreign policy beliefs to be immoral, I was simply giving another reason why he needs to back up his claims--because not all Christians agree with him. In other words, his beliefs are not self-evidently true; therefore, far from being accepted as first principles, they need to be rationally defended.

If either you or Dr. Groothuis or anyone else would like to take the time to hear why I believe as I do, then I’d be more than happy to lay out my arguments. (If you’re at all interested, I briefly argued why I think the Iraq War was immoral in two comments I made in response to Dr. Groothuis’ August 16 post, “Obama and ‘The Least of These.’”)

I’m offended that you describe my comments as “vitriolic cynicism parading around as parody.” There was nothing vitriolic or cynical about what I wrote. What I wrote was said with the best of intentions. I’m truly troubled that Dr. Groothuis, a Christian and a philosopher, so often makes such radical statements (e.g., that failing to vote for McCain will cause another 9/11 attack) without providing any sort of evidence.

Ben said...

Prayers at the DNC are very interesting. Consider, in addition to Miller, the prayers of Polly Baca and Leah Daughtry:
http://www.demconvention.com/monday-speeches/page/40

All this has me thinking... Is pro-choice thinking actually inconsistent with the remainder of the Democratic party platform? I am pro-life and strongly settled in my convictions, rooted in Christian truth. I also happen to agree with other Republican ideals, such as conservative fiscal policy, but I am much less settled on these matters, and I think it is entirely possible to be a Christian fiscal liberal and/or a Christian pacifist (even though I am neither of these).

If the Democrats espouse such a strong belief in the dignity of all people, desiring to care for "the least of these," one can pray that their party platform in the area of abortion will one day be consistent with this stated value (rather than remaining consistent with the dollars they receive from NARAL). One can pray for the advocacy of pro-life Dems (one of whom is speaking at the convention today, Senator Bob Casey). One can pray that pro-life Dems will vote against their party for the pro-life presidential candidate in light of the possible retirement of justices Ginsberg and Stevens, even if they vote for Dems for state and local office.

For more interesting reading, consider democratsforlife.org.

On another note - chandler, I'm guessing (hoping) jeremy's "vitriolic cynicism" comment was aimed at john, not you.

Chad said...

Donald Miller would do well to read The Divine Conspiracy.

Jeremy said...

Chandler:

Don't be offended. I wasn't calling your post vitriolic. Like I said, that comment was unrelated. The next few posts after yours were my target.

Doug Groothuis said...

1. Far more abortions, and your tax dollars paying for it.

Read the Democratic Platform; read Obama's lips.

2. Defeat in Iraq and Afganistan.

O has no foreign policy experience; he doesn't believe in American military power to be used for the good.

3. Coddling terrorists.

Modern liberals do not understand evil; they chalk it up to economic "root causes" and/or blame America somehow. As Jean Kirkpatrick used to say about liberals, "Blame America first."

4. "Talking" to dictators.

He said he would do this without preconditions. It's in the record. Maybe he changed his mind by now.

5. Race based politics at every level.

Look at his record, his mentors--Jeremiah Wright.

6. Another 9/11 attack in the US…

It is far more likely, given his unwillingness to take a strong stand on domestic anti-terrorist strategies, etc.

Bill said...

It's worth noting that the Bush Administration recently altered its stance regarding "talking to dictators." The U.S has engaged in nuclear talks with Iran and sent diplomats to Iran for the first time since 1979.

Ben said...

Apparently Miller's desire was not to endorse the Democratic Party - in his own words:


“I’m honored to deliver the closing prayer at the DNC. Evangelical voices have been scarce within this party, perhaps since the Carter administration. But as strides are being made on key issues of sanctity of life and social justice, as well as peaceful solutions to world conflicts, more and more evangelicals are taking a closer look at options the Democratic Party are beginning to deliver. There is a long way to go, but sending a message to Washington that no single party has the Christian community in their pocket, thus causing each party to carefully consider the issues most important to us, is, in my opinion, a positive evolution. I am glad that, for the most part, the dialogue has been constructive and positive. Will you join me in keeping the conversation thoughtful and not reactionary?

“That said, I am honored to speak to, and especially pray with and for, the DNC."


I happen to think most people, like those of us who commented in this space, will see it as an endorsement. A more thoughtful response, in my book, was made by the guy who pulled out of that role (again, quoting):


"Cameron Strang, publisher of RELEVANT magazine, was originally scheduled to give tonight’s benediction, but decided to back out after learning that it would take place on the main stage as part of the national TV broadcast. Strang (who’s [sic] father Stephen Strang has been a vocal critic of Barack Obama) explained, 'During this political process, my desire is to keep an open dialogue with both campaigns and talk about the issues that matter to my generation of Christians. If my praying on opening night at the DNC would be perceived as showing favoritism or incorrectly labeling me as endorsing one candidate over the other—rather than being the bridge-building gesture which I intended it to be—then I needed to rethink the decision.'

It was Strang’s idea to ask Miller to take his place, and, according to Strang, Miller will now be the one representing 'this new generation of Christian voters.' Strang writes, 'I respect him immensely, and he’s a much better representative of our audience than I am.' "

(source)

Doug Groothuis said...

Ben:

Good night! There are no strides made on abortion by the Democratic Party! Read their platform, for God's sake. They are the part of abortion on demand and tax-funded!

Ben said...

DG:

I don't disagree with you there - their platform on abortion is awful. In fact, it seems to me that it's worse than it was in the past. Did I say we should support Obama, like certain pro-life Dems at the DNC and on our seminary campus would have us do? No. I said pro-life Dems should consider voting for the GOP candidate at the presidential level. I said we should pray for the Democratic Party. I said we should hope that, one day, maybe they will turn from the wickedness of abortion, and I argued why that hope is reasonable.

It is reasonable to think that future change is possible. The Dems are courting religious voters and pro-life voters. When you court a constituency, that constituency will eventually (a) have its effect on policies or (b) leave the party on unpleasant terms, leaving the party weaker than it was before it courted them. At the same time as the platform pro-choice language has strengthened, the Dems' public rhetoric has begun downplaying their support of abortion: they'll throw in a minor point about how "abortion is a divisive issue," but they won't stand up in prime time and say "the Democratic Party is the party that will protect a woman's right to choose." Yes, this is partly political savvy, but maybe it's also that the language in the platform has been strengthened because the old guard in the party is afraid of losing what they see as a cornerstone of the party identity.

I'll close with this: If the Lord tarries, I live till I'm 80, and there is still a two-party GOP-Dem system in the U.S., by that time, both political parties will probably have the same stance on abortion. I see the seeds of openness to pro-life thinking among Dems and the seeds of pro-choice thinking in the GOP, party platforms notwithstanding. I hope pro-life philosophy wins in both parties. If it does, it will start with Republicans, but it cannot stop there.