Monday, June 30, 2008

Cal Thomas, You Aren't God!

In an editorial today on, Cal Thomas suggests that despite his confession of faith, Barack Obama is not a "real" Christian because he doesn't have the right theological beliefs. He concludes the story by saying:

"Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn't meet that requirement. One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian. Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called "false prophets."

Cal, I have always believed that it is impossible to know the heart of another person. I don't even know if you are a Christian! I can only trust what you say. Only God knows the heart and whether it is committed to Jesus.

I can say this though. Being a genuine Christian is first about being committed to follow Jesus and his way. Doctrine is not the primary factor. I first decided to follow Jesus with my life. My doctrine developed later and is still in process. In fact, I think my doctrinal ideas will continue to evolve until I die. One becomes a Christian when one decides to follow Jesus and try to live a life like he lived. What I believe about Jesus comes as a secondary factor.

Cal, you ain't God! You can't possibly know Obama's heart. So, stop being so judgmental.

Here's the entire editorial:

WASHINGTON (BP)--Barack Obama's presidential campaign plans to strike at the heart of the Republican base by attempting to woo Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics to his side.

The Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody first broke the story on his blog "The Brody File." Obama's campaign for the conservative Christian vote, which has largely gone to the Republican presidential candidate in recent elections, has been dubbed the "Joshua Generation Project." Joshua, Moses' successor, led the Israelites into the Promised Land. It wasn't the group that fled Egypt in the Exodus, though. They died in the wilderness, lacking faith in God's promise. It was the next generation that Joshua led into Canaan. Apparently, if we have enough faith in Obama, he will lead us all into a new America, but if we vote for John McCain, we will demonstrate a lack of faith (in Obama) and die in the political badlands.

Obama is better at biblical language and imagery than any Democrat in modern times. He certainly beats Howard Dean, now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who once offered Job as his favorite New Testament book. This is cynical manipulation of the devout and it is no better when Democrats do it than when Republicans use religious language for partisan advantage.

Obama has declared himself a committed Christian. He can call himself anything he likes, but there are certain markers among the evangelicals he is courting that one must meet in order to qualify for that label.

Some insight into Obama's "Christianity" comes from an interview he gave in 2004 to Chicago Sun-Times religion editor Cathleen Falsani for her book, "The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People."

"I'm rooted in the Christian tradition," said Obama. He then adds something most Christians will see as universalism: "I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people."

Falsani correctly brings up John 14:6 (and how many journalists would know such a verse, much less ask a question based on it?) in which Jesus says of Himself, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." That sounds exclusive, but Obama says it depends on how this verse is heard. According to Falsani, Obama thinks that "all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God." (Her words.)

Evangelicals and serious Catholics might ask if this is so, why did Jesus waste His time coming to Earth, suffering pain, rejection and crucifixion? If there are many ways to God, He might have sent down a spiritual version of table manners and avoided the rest.

Here's Obama telling Falsani, "The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they're going to hell." Falsani adds, "Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he's not sure he'll be going to heaven, either." Again, that is contrary to what Evangelicals and most Catholics believe.

Here's Obama again: "I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I've been a good father to them, and I see that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they're kind people and that they're honest people, and they're curious people, that's a little piece of heaven."

Any first-year seminary student could deconstruct such "works salvation" and wishful thinking. Obama either hasn't read the Bible, or if he has, doesn't believe it if he embraces such thin theological wisps.

Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn't meet that requirement. One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian. Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called "false prophets."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth at CBF

In my opinion one of the most important happenings at the meeting of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship occurred Thursday morning. It has not received very much fanfare though. Each year the W.H. Whitsitt Heritage Society gives a "Courage Award" to someone within the Baptist family that has with his/her life been a model of Baptist courage.

This year the award went to Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. If you don't know that name, I could put my professor hat on and tell you to "go look him up." However, I will provide a brief description.

Rev. Shuttlesworth was the most important leader/agitator for Civil Rights in the city of Birmingham (nicknamed "Bombingham" during that era because of all the Klan bombings that happened). He served as the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1953 and although a member of the NAACP, he organized the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956, specifically for the purpose of pushing civil rights for African-Americans in Birmingham.

Shuttlesworth was a firey preacher and a force to be reckoned with. His house was bombed on Christmas Day in 1956. The dynamite was placed under his bedroom window. He came out of the ruins unhurt. In 1957, Shuttlesworth was almost beaten to death by a gang of white ruffians the day he tried to enroll his children in a white school. That same crowd stabbed his wife in the buttocks. She quipped afterwards to the press that she lamented the fact that decency wouldn't allow her to show everyone the scar!

Andrew Manis wrote the definitive biography of Shuttlesworth called A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. It is well worth the read.

Bruce Prescott on his blog, has included a video clip of the presentation to Shuttlesworth. It was particularly and appropriate award giving that Dr. King was assassinated just a few blocks down the road from where this award was presented.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Johnny Hunt's Growing Number of Doctorates

There have been a number of moderate Baptist bloggers who have giving attention to Johnny Hunt, newly elected president of the SBC. It seems, as you can see from my earlier post, that he is called "Dr." by admirers and is even introduced that way. However, he does not have an earned doctorate. His bio on his website only lists two honorary doctorates from diploma mills in Georgia.

But there is a new development this morning. It seems that during the night, his webmaster changed his bio on his website:

Now, he has three honorary doctorates. That's right! Overnight he gained a doctoral degree! Wow! That must be a record!

His bio now says that he now has honorary doctoral degrees not only from Covington Theological Seminary and Immanuel Theological Seminary (previously listed), but he has gained one from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga.

The question yet to be answered is when did he receive the Tennessee Temple degree? Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics has written a new editorial about this issue. He is following the issue closely and has called Tennessee Temple to find out when they awarded the degree. No answer yet.

Tennessee Temple University is a school that originally was founded in the tradition of Bob Jones University. But, in recent years they have been trying to gain legitimacy and to a great extent have done so. Rumor is that they are trying to become a Tennessee Baptist Convention institution which would replace Belmont University which just recently left the TBC.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pseudo-Doctorates and the New SBC President

The moderate Baptist blogosphere is sounding off over the last 24 hours about the new president of the SBC, Johnny Hunt, pastor of the FBC Woodstock, Georgia. It appears that Hunt is regularly introduced as "Dr." Hunt although his only credentials for such are 2 honorary doctorates at "diploma mill" type schools. One is an honorary "Doctor of Divinity" from Immanuel Baptist Theological in Sharpsburg, Georgia and the other is an honorary "Doctor of Sacred Laws and Letters" from the shady Covington Theological Seminary in Georgia.

Examples of two blogs have gone into some more detail about this:

The most complete discussion of it is by Robert Parham on Here's the link:

I won't repeat what they have said. However, I will say this. I have always had a little bit of uneasiness about honorary doctorates. Of course, they are meant to be just that, "honorary." They do serve as a way for a university or college to award a donor or someone who has been supportive of that university.

However, shouldn't the title "Dr." should only be used to introduce someone if that person has earned the degree from a reputable, accredited research institution of higher learning. My Ph.D. from Baylor University took me 5 years to complete. I had to do three years of seminar work, pass a language exam, take 5 comprehensive exams over the field of religion in a two-week period of time, research and produce a prospectus for the dissertation and then work for approximately a year and a half on my dissertation. Following all that, I had a 2 hour oral defense of my dissertation before a select number of faculty members at Baylor University.

There is something inherently dishonest or at least unethical when a person allows the title "Dr." to be placed in front of their name if they haven't earned the degree through the doing the hard work. And, especially this is the case if the degree is an "honorary" degree from a diploma mill!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Most Serious Non-Action at This Year's SBC Meeting

Of the bizzare things that happened at this year's SBC, which just concluded today, the most serious thing was actually its failure to act on something important. The convention refused a motion to create a national database of sex offenders who had been related in some way to SBC churches. The convention cited, among other things, the autonomy of the local church as a reason to reject this proposal.

Amazing! Many in the Convention want to identify churches which have gay members or churches that have women pastors. But they don't want to keep track of sexual predators. What this means is that a pastor could sexually harrass a church member or staff minister at a Southern Baptist church in say, Oklahoma. That pastor could be fired from the church in Oklahoma, move to another state such as Georgia and send a resume to another church perhaps not even mentioning the previous episode in Oklahoma. The Georgia church would then be hiring a pastor with a past history as a sexual predator but they would have no way of knowing.

You can also imagine how this database would be helpful to churches to prevent pedaphiles from being involved with children.

Great move SBC! Here's the story from

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All the More Reason to Throw the Rascals Out!

This story speaks for itself. While the average American out there is struggling with these rising gas prices, the Republican Party shows its true colors. I have long contended that the basic philosophy of the Republican Party is all about corporate interests and not the average person. This makes that clear.

This is even more evidence that a change needs to happen this fall. Vote Democratic!

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America's anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.
The Democratic energy package would have imposed a tax on any "unreasonable" profits of the five largest U.S. oil companies and given the federal government more power to address oil market speculation that the bill's supporters argue has added to the crude oil price surge.
"Americans are furious about what's going on," declared Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and want Congress to do something about oil company profits and "an orgy of speculation" on oil markets.
But Republicans argued the Democratic proposal focusing on new oil industry taxes is not the answer to the country's energy problems.
"The American people are clamoring for relief at the pump," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., but if taxes are increased on the oil companies "they will get exactly what they don't want. The bill will raise taxes, increase imports."
The Democrats failed, 51-43, to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster and bring the energy package up for consideration

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hillary, You Lost. It's Time to Move On!

You lost Hillary. You lost fair and square, unless you listen to Lanny Davis, Terry McAuliffe, Harold Ickes or the minions who have been creatively spinning your campaign. The rest of the leadership of the Democratic Party believes that the primary process all the way through the rules committee meeting Saturday was fair. You lost. It is time to face the music. You are not going to be president. Even if you were able to pull off some type of hijacking of delegates there is still no way you will be elected president this year. You may think that the nomination was stolen from you. You are free to think that. But, it was not and you would be delusional to think so. However, if you do try some ploy to steal it from Obama, who won it fairly, there will be such a backlash against you in the Democratic Party that your political career will be effectively over.

You lost Hillary. It is time to move on. You will, no doubt, find excuses. You will never admit that you got out-campaigned by a smarter Obama campaign. After all, you are a Clinton. The best in the political business. But, you made serious mistakes in your campaign. Here's my list of what went wrong for whatever it is worth.

It started with the inevitability attitude. You began the campaign last year with a strategy that you were someone "owed" the nomination. Admittedly, most Democrats believed that Bill's impeachment was unjust. But, that does not make you the inevitable candidate.

Your campaign did not spend money wisely. Thousands of dollars for do-nuts? Come on! Plus, you relied on big donors whereas Obama built an army of millions of small donors which will serve him well in the fall.

You never took the caucuses seriously while Obama did. You thought that you could cruise to the nomination by Super Tuesday. But, almost in the blink of an eye you went from inevitable candidate to a candidate who's campaign was in trouble. Then, with 11 straight losses after Super Tuesday, it became mathematically impossible for you to win.

You and your husband said a number of reprehensible things. Bill's race baiting (I was shocked that the "first black president" would make such racially charged statements). Your stupid story about the cork-screw landing in Bosnia. Did you actually think we were stupid enough to believe that the military would let the first lady and her entourage land in a hot lz where bullets were whizzing by? Give me a break! Your comments about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy? Shameless. So, you blew it in a variety of ways with verbal gaffes.

Finally, you failed to calculate how much the electorate wants change. The world is different since you and Bill captured our admiration 16 years ago. It is a younger electorate. They want to turn the page. You thought the electorate wanted "experience." (By the way, exactly what credentials do you have anyway? First lady for 8 years? Come on. Being around the president doesn't qualify anyone to be president). But, Obama realized the key word is "change." And so "change" trumped "experience." Your strategy was flawed from the beginning.

Nevertheless, you make excuses. Here's a list of excuses you have given so far.

(1) You accused your rivals of "piling on" because you were the front-runner.

(2) You said last month sexist attacks on you have been "deeply offensive to millions of women."

(3) The media was unfair to you - and too easy on Obama. Just Monday, Bill Clinton denounced an unflattering story on him as part of "the national media's attempt to nail Hillary" and railed, "This has been the most rigged coverage in modern history."

(4) Debate moderators were unfair to you. "Can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time?" you griped in February.

(5) Caucus-state rules were undemocratic and favored Obama's activist supporters.

(6) Obama outspent you.

(7) The Clintons were unfairly accused of playing the race card.

(8) Old pals like Ted Kennedy and Bill Richardson stabbed you in the back by endorsing Obama.

(9) If only Democrats had winner-take-all rules in states like the GOP does, you'd be the nominee.

(10) Last Saturday's party ruling on the Florida-Michigan mess cheated you.

(Taken from:

So, go ahead and continue to make your excuses. But the fact of the matter is, you lost. You lost fair and square. You got beaten by a better candidate (at least in this election). It is time to move on and the unity of the party depends on you and what you do over the next 24-48 hours.