Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Issues, Etc." Executed!

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been a frequent guest on the Lutheran radio program, "Issues, Etc," first with Don Matzat and later with Todd Wilken, both Lutheran pastors. This is sponsored by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The program intelligently addresses cutting edge cultural and theological issues from a solidly Lutheran perspective. (I am not Lutheran, but was a welcome guest because of my commitment to Protestant orthodoxy.) It was refreshingly free from commercials. I always looked forward to these interviews. Now, for some reason, the program has been yanked--out of the blue. Even the archives were taken down, but are now back from what I read.

Several years ago, I was on the program when Pastor Wilkens suprised me by asking what I thought of Bill Clinton (then President) speaking at a Willow Creek "leadership" conference. This was shortly after the time of his impeachment. I said, "Are you serious?" Todd assured me that he was. To that I replied, "Well, I wouldn't ask a pig to give a lecture on cleanliness." Todd appreciated my answer.

I encourage Constructive Curmudgeon readers to consult the following links, one of which is a petition to reinstate "Issues, Etc." It would be a shame to lose this fine and courageous Christian radio program. There are too few like it!

Here is the petition.
This is The National Review blog.
This is the First Things blog.


Tom said...

Ah, Doug. Once again the odd juxtaposition of a plug for Os Guiness on civility and a rather uncivil attitude toward Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tom:

I don't think that you should insinuate that Mr. Groothuis is hypocritical. At some point, someone needs to “shout out” unrighteousness “from the rooftops.” Mr. Groothuis is one of the most eminent evangelists/apologists within conservative evangelicalism. He knows what he's talking about.

Mr. Groothuis:

I have a question. A fellow student brought this article ( about science and religion. I know that the science is probably over your head, but I was wondering if you could give us your biblical opinion from the perspective of a philosopher, evangelist, and apologist.

Thank you very much for your ministry of upholding conservative evangelicalism and biblical apologetics from an intellectual perspective. I appreciate your calling in my liberal environment. Your writings along with Henry Morris have been a great blessing in a society that persecutes conservative evangelicals.

Mrs. Jasmine Regina-Roberts

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Sometimes strong language is needed when egregious acts are performed. The man had been impeached, but the Senate didn't have the guts to ratify it. Then Hybels put him in front of a thousand pastors to teach on leadership. It was beyond the pale utterly. See James 3:1ff on the heavy weight of responsibility on teachers.

John the Baptist and the Hebrew prophets often denounced corrupt political leaders, as did Jesus. I'm not in their category, but the example should not be merely historical, but have present day effects.

Robert Velarde said...

Issues Etc. was a great program--an intelligent, commercial-free voice of sound theological thinking, apologetic engagement, and reasoned cultural interaction. I had the pleasure of being on the broadcast several times.

While I don't know the details of the cancellation of the program, I certainly do wish it to be reinstated or for Todd to find another home on the air. Far too much Christian radio is full of fluff to let a fine show like Issues Etc., and a fine host like Todd Wilken, vanish.

Tom said...


"Hypocritical" seems sort of strong, but there is a pretty clear irony.

Doug and Jasmine:

I suppose it is true that there is a time and place for uncivil language. But the prophet's voice will be heard less clearly if it is not constantly bellowing. And I'm not sure how insinuating that Bill Clinton is a pig (or was a pig a decade or more ago) in the context of a lament for a cancelled radio show can be seriously thought prophetic.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


I gave a vignette from my appearance on the show. It illustrated their willingnes to take hard stands--by putting up with me!

Jesus called Herod, "that fox," so I think my analogy is fitting. You won't agree, but you know my view of the Clintons.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


My comment was more a rebuke to Bill Hybels than to Bill Clinton.

Tom said...


As always, thanks for the spirited and civil discussion.

This is probably obvious to all, but in the sentence below from my previous post has a "not" that's not supposed to be there (in proofreading, I misread my own sentence and then over-edited).

"But the prophet's voice will be heard less clearly if it is not constantly bellowing."

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Am I constantly bellowing?!

Tom said...


Nah. The point was intended to be broader: even the prophet should pick his/her battles. Not all abominations should be shouted down with uncivil tones.


The Daily Fuel said...

Beyond the pale is when presidents are not impeached for taking the country to war under false pretenses, not when they are almost impeached because the lied about extramarital affairs and then were invited to give lectures on leadership.

Does James say anything on the responsibility of leaders of armies? On Easter Sunday, the 4,000th U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq. That is over a thousand more dead than on 9/11. Not to mention all the innocent Iraqi lives lost or ruined. Where is the sense of proportion?

The Daily Fuel said...

Correction. I said "almost impeached". Bill Clinton was indeed impeached. He was not convicted. Which makes the judgment of Congress even more tragic. That it would pursue the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying on his sexual conduct.

President Bush is smarter than Clinton, because neither he nor the vicepresident will testify under oath (about 9/11, about Plamegate, about the firing of the state Attorney Generals, about FISA and illegal suirveillance, about the war in Iraq.) If I were him, I wouldn't want to testify under oath either, though. The penalty for perjury for lying about sexual activity in the Oval Office is removal from office. The penalty for treason is death.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


You are back!

1. Clinton was impeached, not almost impeached. The Senate did not ratify it, but the Congress did impreach him. This may seem technical, but it is the law of the Constitution. Clinton lied under oath; this is no small thing for a President to do.

2. Concerning Bush: I think he acted on the best intelligence he had about WMD. To say he lied is going too far. Why should anyone think that? Intelligence is tricky and not perfect. Moreover, Sadam may have shipped out his WMD to Syria or somewhere else. We certainly gave him enough time to do so with all the UN resolutions and warnings.

3. The Bible says that all people are accountable to God for their thoughts and actions, leaders included, Fab included! See the last verse of Ecclesiates, for example.

Justin Geis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Geis said...


You would seriously contend that the current president of the United States should be put to death for treason?

I would assume that you would then contend that all the experts talked about in this 2002 CNN article should be put to death too?
(Put the two pieces of the link together, it was too long to fit on one line)

Please note this sentence from the article..."Iraq told the United Nations in 1995 it had produced 30,000 liters of biological agents, including anthrax and other toxins it could put on missiles."

Iraq itself stated that it had chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Which false pretenses for going to war were you talking about?

The Daily Fuel said...


I am not saying that anybody should be put to death. I am, in fact, against the death penalty myself, under any and all circumstances. Even for this president. I am just saying that death is one of the penalties on the books for treason, and someone in the administration is guilty of treason for outing Valerie Plame. The administration has been very adept at hiding the true culprits.

Now regarding false pretenses. Weapons inspectors, who were doing their job effectively until the administration recalled them in preparation for the war, felt that the WMD justification for war was highly questionable. That did not keep Condoleeza Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the President himself from using "mushroom cloud" images to justify the war in Iraq. Satellite imagery has never been able to confirm that WMD were moved out of Iraq prior to the start of the war. The yellowcake uranium argument was known to be false to the president even as he included in the 2003 SOTU message to the nation (regardless of what the Butler report or say: both arguments are obsolete in light of evidence that surfaced in 2006).

I call these justifications for war false, with a high degree of confidence, as I am highly confident that the president and the people he surrounded himself with hold the truth in very low regard. You can feel free to call them wrong pretenses. If they had been right, the Administration wouldn't have had to re-sell the war to the American public every few months, adducing a different (and completely bogus) reason for it.

Tom said...


While I'm not sure that Bush lied when making his case for the Iraq war, there is little doubt that he had his mind made up very early regarding the existence of WMDs and paid scarce attention to what the intelligence community was finding (or not finding, as the case may be). In fact, there was at least one key claim in his 2003 State of the Union speech about what the intelligence showed that not only turned out to be false but was *known* to be false by the CIA at the time the speech was given.

You should read either Thomas Ricks' *Fiasco* or Bob Woodward's *Plan of Attack.*

The Daily Fuel said...

In addition to the books Tom recommends (I personally have lost some respect for Woodward), you could watch Bush's War (online) from the Frontline website on (The first part aired last night, and the second will air tonight.)

Incidentally, since Bush has been in office he has consistently slashed funding to PBS and appointed people to the board of CPB whose job was to "balance" the editorial perspective of public radio and television with a larger conservative presence (I guess you can chuck the Fairness Doctrine out of the window when it hurts you, and resurrect it when it suits you). Who needs PBS when you can have FOX or a gazillion conservative talk radio programs, right?