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Archive for November, 2007

A Lesson in Self-Control

Maybe we could learn something from these Trappist monks.

Sounds like an outstanding idea for a tent-making ministry. If you are ever in Belgium, check out this brew for me. Meanwhile, I’ll be at work on a Covenanter version. Wouldn’t the blue banner look great on a beer bottle? All I need is to discover a secret recipe from Richard Cameron, and I’ll be good to go.

HT: Rod Dreher

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This is an interesting article from Gary Scott Smith from Grove City College.

Should Christians Participate in Politics?

by Dr. Gary Scott Smith

(EP News)–The next presidential election is one year away. In 2004 evangelicals voted for George W. Bush by a ratio of nearly 4-to-1 and seemed poised to have a major impact on Bush’s second administration. However, except for Bush’s Supreme Court nominees and opposition to stem-cell research, evangelicals have gotten little of what they desired. Disillusioned by recent political developments, especially the war in Iraq and Bush’s meager domestic accomplishments, as well as the seeming lack of an electable conservative Christian presidential candidate, many evangelicals are now tempted to retreat from political engagement.

The standard excuses for Christians ignoring politics are that Christ’s kingdom is not of this earth, politics is dirty, morality cannot be legislated, the separation of church and state prevents Christians from bringing their religious commitments in politics, Christians take opposite positions on many political issues and thereby cancel each other out, and Christians should invest their time, energy and money in more important tasks such as evangelism, spiritual growth and safeguarding orthodoxy.

When Jesus said that His kingdom was not an earthly one, He meant that, in contrast to the expectations of many Jews of His day, He had not come to earth to establish and rule over a political kingdom. Jesus repeatedly declared, however, that He was building a spiritual kingdom on earth. He also instructed His followers to be light, salt and leaven—to have an enlightening, preserving, uplifting effect on their societies. Moreover, His teachings, coupled with those of various Old and New Testament writers, supply guidelines and norms for political and social life. They command His disciples to work to produce nations that insure fairness, justice and civility and promote compassion and peace.

While some have been corrupted or at least tarnished through their participation in politics, many others have maintained their character and political integrity. Politics is no more inherently dirty or corrupting than business or social relationships.

In reality, all laws are based on moral principles. Prior to Roe v. Wade abortion laws were grounded upon a set of moral assumptions; Roe v. Wade and other subsequent decisions rest upon very different moral presuppositions. The failed Prohibition experiment of the 1920s and early 1930s is often cited to prove that we cannot force people to act in certain ways by passing laws. In the 1960s, however, our nation adopted civil rights laws that clashed with the racist attitudes many Americans held. Being compelled by law to treat African Americans justly appears to have helped diminish racial prejudice in the United States.

Almost all of our founders, whether they were Christians, deists or theistic rationalists, believed that religious values and traditional Christian morality were essential to the success of the republic they created. In the First Amendment they prohibited the establishment of a national church and insured freedom of worship. The much quoted phrase “the separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution but instead stems from Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, and the third president did not mean by its use that individuals must leave their religious values at the door when they enter political life. Indeed, he did not do so himself. In a democracy, all citizens have the privilege of arguing for policies based on their personal philosophical and religious commitments.

Although promoting evangelism, spiritual formation and sound doctrine are essential parts of the Christian mission, weighty issues are at stake in the political arena. The character, leadership and policies of our presidents and members of Congress have a significant effect on our domestic life and our relations with other nations. While we can tackle many important issues—global and domestic poverty, hunger, homelessness, AIDS, environmental destruction, the sanctity of human life, the oppression of women including sexual slavery, genocide, racial and ethnic conflict—in part through private organizations and individual actions, our government has a large role to play in helping alleviate these problems. Refusing to participate in determining our nation’s priorities, shaping its policies, and directing its expenditures robs Christians of a great opportunity (and obligation) to advance Christ’s true kingdom on earth.

Political leaders will always disappoint us in some ways. Their character will not be as exemplary as we desire. They will not deliver on some (or many) of their promises. They will compromise on issues when we think they should stand strong. It’s been that way from George Washington to George W. Bush.

We need, therefore, to have modest expectations about what can be accomplished through government. We will never achieve heaven on earth. Nevertheless, let’s continue to participate in politics, by campaigning and voting for candidates whose positions we support and whose character we admire, by studying issues, and by supporting organizations whose political stances and lobbying activities we value. Through doing so we can help, as Christians have done for centuries, make our nation and our world more righteous, just and peaceable.

Gary Scott Smith chairs the History Department at Grove City College and is the author of “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush.”

Copyright to the preceding content is held by World Newspaper Publishing, except where noted. Copyrighted stories for which the copyright is held by others must be printed with copyright information. These stories may not be reprinted, broadcast, made available through electronic retrieval systems, or put to any commercial use except by paying subscribers of the EP News Service. EP News is delivered every Thursday – except Christmas week — via e-mail to subscribers. EP Extra, containing commentaries and features, is delivered every Tuesday. For information on becoming a licensed subscriber, write to: EP News Service, 201 South College Street, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28244. You can reach us by phone at (704) 661-9137 (USA), or by e-mail: warren.smith@thecharlotteworld.com.

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I am heading out this morning for Pittsburgh. If you can make the NRA event… I will see you there.

My topic: Restoring the Roots: A Localist Approach to Christendom.

Time and location in previous post.

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I will be speaking this Friday evening at the annual conference of the National Reform Association.

NATIONAL REFORM ASSOCIATION (NRA)
Publisher of the Christian Statesman

Annual Conference­ – Friday Nov. 16th 7pm
Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church

“Restoring the Roots”
Christ’s Kingship and the Centrality of the Local Community
Rev. William H. Chellis, M.Div., J.D., Pastor, Rochester, NY RPC
Founder – De Regno Christi blog – to advance discussion and awareness of Christ’s Reign over the Nations

“The Trinitarian Theocratic Imperative vs. Polytheistic Pluralism”

A Christ-centered contemplation of the Great Commission and a Journey thru History
Pastor Tony Cowley – Pastor Fairmount Presbyterian Church
Former NRA President and former editor of Christian Statesman
Contributor – Explicitly Christian Politics

WHEN: Friday, Nov 16th, 7:00 pm

WHERE: Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church (South Hills, near Dormont/Brookline)
2001 Pioneer Ave. (South Hills), Pittsburgh, PA 15226 (412 388-1099)

RSVP (Wed Nov. 14th): Patrick Marx [patrick.marx@verizon.net, (412) 260-9900 c]
DIRECTIONS (bottom) and SPEAKERS BIOS (below)

SPEAKER BIOS

Rev. William H. Chellis, M.Div., J.D., Pastor, Rochester, NY RPC
Pastor Chellis grew up in the small town of Jeffersonville in the lower Catskill Mountains of New York. There he developed a love for the simplicity of agrarian virtues and the beauty of God’s creation. Having received his B.S. in Political Science from SUNY Oneonta, Pastor Chellis earned his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law.

Pastor of the Rochester Reformed Presbyterian Church, Bill writes a monthly column for the Reformed Presbyterian Witness entitled De Regno Christi and hosts a blog discussion bearing the same name. He serves as co-editor of Semper Reformanda: A Covenanter Theological Review. Bill’s writings have also appeared in the Christian Statesman.

Bill is also an active Attorney and a serves as Walworth Town Chairman of the New York Conservative Party. He is married to his high school sweetheart Katrina.

Pastor Tony Cowley – Pastor Fairmount Presbyterian Church

Anthony Alan Cowley was born in New York City, the youngest of eight children in a Swedenborgian family. Tony lived in Bryn Athyn, PA (attending the Academy of the New Church) where his great grandfather had been a founding member of a New Church (Swedenborgian) Society. He was converted to orthodox Christianity at age 15, but struggled for five years in coming to clarity on the nature of God and the gospel of grace. He was baptized in Monterey, Calif. In 1978, and started attending a Reformed Church in 1981, while serving in the U.S. Army at Ft. Riley, Kansas as a Russian Voice Interecept Operator. He started attending the RP Seminary in Pittsburgh in 1984 while finishing his BA in Russian Literature and History at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked as a clerk and paralegal for one year, then worked for the Education and Publication office of the RPCNA from 1986-1990 while completing his M.Div. at RPTS. He was ordained into the gospel ministry by the Atlantic Presbytery of the RPCNA on June 9, 1990 at Elkins Park Reformed Presbyterian Church (near Philadelpha, PA). He became involved with the National Reform Association while in Seminary, and later served as President of the Board. He became pastor of the Minneola R.P. Church in 1998, serving on various boards and committees, including the E&P Board and the Synod Worship Committee. In 2004 he was called to pastor the Fairmount Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Sewickley, PA, where he now serves. He is married to Natalie Rose Cowley (5/25/81) and is father of five children – Sarah Marie Luper (Married to Josh Luper on November 3rd, age 24), Shawn Alastair Christian (21), Christina Elisabeth (16), Samuel David (14) and Elineke Rose (8). He has preached in Russia (1994) and Cyprus (1996) and edited The Christian Statesman and written for Semper Reformanda and the Reformed Presbyterian Witness, and is a contributor to the NRA’s Explicitly Christian Politics.

MISSION of the NATIONAL REFORM ASSOCIATION
Maintain & promote in our national life Christian principles of civil government, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Jesus Christ is Lord in all aspects of life, including civil government. Jesus Christ is,
therefore, the Ruler of Nations, and should be explicitly confessed as such in any constitutional documents.

2. The civil ruler is to be a servant of God, he derives his authority from God and he is duty-bound to govern according to the expressed will of God.

3. The civil government of our nation, its laws, institutions, and practices must therefore be conformed to the principles of Biblical law as revealed in the Old and New Testaments.

DIRECTIONS: 2001 Pioneer Ave. (South Hills), Pittsburgh, PA 15226 (412 388-1099)

From North or Pittsburgh (or coming from 376 East or 376 West):
· Go through the Liberty Tunnels heading Southbound (Becomes Rt. 19, then Washington Rd.)
· Left on Pioneer Ave. Go 1.0 mile Church is on left.

From East or West of Pittsburgh (on 51 East or West):
· Go Southbound on Rt. 19. Go .1 miles
· Left on Pioneer Ave. Go 1.0 mile Church is on left.

From South of Pittsburgh (get on Washington Rd.):
· Washington Rd. Northbound. Becomes W. Liberty Ave. then Rt. 19)
· Left on Pioneer Ave (before you reach Rt. 51 and Liberty Tunnels). Go 1.0m Church is on left

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While we are on the topic of who’s/ why’s of endorsing Presidential candidates, I would raise a different question. Should Pastor’s engage in endorsing of candidates? Does this violate the spirituality of the church?

Thoughts?

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Or subsidarity? If Janet Folger is any indication- not so much.

I am as committed to the pro-life and as traditonal marriage causes as much as the next red blood conservative Calvinist but what ever happened to federalism, states rights, and localism?

This is exactly the kind of thinking that causes evangelicals to be rabid supporters of leftish causes for the last two decades. It is also why evangelicals are lurching left even as we speak.

Thoughts?

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With the state primaries fast approaching, and with the recent endorsements made by several prominent Christian leaders, is it time for DRC to chime in with its own presidential endorsement? Is there a candidate whom the contributors here could recommend to our readers? Sure, our endorsement wouldn’t garner as much attention as Pat Robertson’s, but it might still mean something to somebody out there.

I would suggest that we consider Ron Paul as someone who might fit the bill. He might be the only candidate who has actually ever read the US Constitution. Plus, he’s a Protestant, and he was born near Pittsburgh. Sounds like the guy for me.

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