Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Christians and politics

I have floated the idea to our Wineskins editors about doing a segment of our Wineskins site--from now running up to the election--on "Christians and politics."

I'm not sure how I'm going to do this, but if there seems to be enough interest in some essays from some of you, I will be happy to place a special standing box on the site for interaction from now till the election. Rubel Shelly and Lynn Anderson were adamant that we not produce a "voting guide," which is certainly not what we'll set out to do.

Instead, we would provide a forum for discussion on the topic of "Christians and politics" and even delve into the notion of non-participation altogether, as one has commented yesterday. The idea of non-participation in government can go much deeper than a principled decision not to vote, and I'd like to examine the range of views and help one another make a principled decision on how to participate or not to participate.

This Ellen Goodman piece (Boston Globe columnist) is thought-provoking: Maybe Father Does Know Best?

If you want to look more deeply into the issue of Romans 13 and cooperation or non-cooperation with government, please learn more about Voice of the Martyrs (VOA), an incredible ministry begun by two men who were imprisoned, one in Cuba and one under the Nazis and Communists for fourteen years. I'll likely write more on VOA later.

6 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Blogger c said...

lee camp's book on mere discipleship has some excellent things to say about Christianity and the political world in which we live.

i definitely think politics will not solve our problems (i.e. law passing), only love and you can't make that a law or else you get back to Constantine and the issues that brings up.

i care about the political world. i haven't voted in the two elections that i have been legal to vote (i'm only 25), probably because i didn't care and plus i lived out of state at the time. i don't think you can be about both the temporal offices and the Christian realm (Martin Luther's language). if i'm commissioned not to kill and not to hate for that matter it would be really hard to be an executioner or in the military or in any "armed" forces. ideally i think we should live according to Jesus, even if that means chaos. why? well we are promised redemption, aren't we? i haven't figured this all out yet but i'm still searching for what i believe Jesus would be in this life.

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger don said...

I liked the Ellen Goodman piece, though I think I disagree with her point. What she says that rings true is that we cannot see what the world would be like had we not gone to war. I think it's a shame that we can't see into a parallel universe for all sorts of reasons, even down to the record books with or without the designated hitter in professional baseball. It would end so many arguments...........

The one thing that does bug me about the current debate is what seems to be selective memory (or collective amnesia--take your pick.) I know this is a bit off the subject of the blog, but it does pertain to the Goodman piece, so I'll try to be brief. Back when the decision was being made on whether or not to try to oust Saddam, EVERYBODY AND HIS DOG was saying 1)there were WMD's, 2)Saddam was a threat, and 3)(to a lesser extent) the intelligence had linked Iraq to Al Quaeda. I mean just about EVERYBODY except Howard Dean, I guess, thought there was a threat and that somebody had to keep Saddam from thumbing his nose at the UN resolutions. Now that we are on the back side of it, NOBODY thought it was necessary. What's up with that? I mean it was either a good idea or not, but please at least remember what you were saying before the war. Most of it is in the congressional record, from both sides of the aisle.

Okay, that's enough. I, too, believe that reliance on government to do the right thing is futile, and our only hope is the Blessed Hope. However, as stated in earlier posts, I think we need to be involved while we are here. Thanks, and good night.

don

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball said...

Greg,
I would like to think I know a little bit about the VOM. I've got 'Jesus Freaks' on my shelf at home...but I'm not sure I understand their position about governmental involvement. I tried to find something on their website, but didn't really find anything addressing that. Would you please elaborate on what you feel their position to be (in terms of the Romans 13 passage)?
Thanks

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

A "Christians and Politics" segment on the new Wineskins site is probably one of those fine ideas in theory that get's messy in practice.

(Sort of like the idea of invading Iraq must have seemed before we actually did it?)

In fact, there's already a Forum user who has posted a plea to vote a certain way out of respect to the wishes of her brother who died in Iraq.

Ouch.

But you know I'll be behind you, whatever you decide!

In fact, I'll even submit a possibility from my blog for posting on "Christians and Politics" if you decide to do it: How would Jesus vote?.

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger toby said...

Smog, Read your blog. Looks good. Tried to get into the conversation on Christians in politics, but got this email message instead. Politics don't hold the answers to our problems. And political issues are always secondary to Kingdom issues. I'd rather spend my time reaching souls than votes. But, if you want to make a impact, you have to get out of vague, ivory tower disscussions and look at what these candidates stand for. As soon as/if Kerry is elected, he will open up federal funding to embryonic stem cell research. For the first time in modern US history human research will be conducted without consent or respect to the human subject. Kerry calls this "right wing extremist ideaology". It's really an honest attempt by Bush and others to have a real discussion on the definitions of life. I've read many medical/ethical papers on the beginnings of life. They all whaffle and avoid the real question, is an embryo that is clearly human and clearly alive, a human life?
Kerry will also appoint a liberal justice to the supreme court this term. Not a big deal? I find it amazing that most of the most shattering changes in American policy have come not democratically by elected officials, but by appointed judges. Abortion was legalized by judges, not by a vote, not by elected officials. Partial birth abortion was banned by congress, then over-ruled by judges. Marriage as defined between a man and a woman was passed in Congress a few years ago. Courts have overturned this. What Kerry does with the Supreme Court will be big. It will change our nation. As soon as Kerry is elected, he will begin an arbitrary 6 month period of withdrawal from Iraq. Will the job be done by then? Will democracy be solid or will a dictator even more injust take Sadam's place? We are in the process of doing something very significant in Iraq, freeing a people who were oppressed, tortured, murdered. Over a thousand Americans died to do this work. Will a president who feels the whole thing was a mistake, waste that effort by early withdraw?
I look at Jesus' attitude to the oppressive government that he lived under. Jesus was about the Kingdom not changing the current kingdom. As a Jew, he had no right to voice his opinion to the Romans. We are Americans and we have a voice in what happens with America. If Jesus were Roman, might he have had something to say about how his country was treating the Jews?
God sets up all Kings and authorities. This American kingdom is a democracy and moved by it's people. God has given us the oppurtunity to move this kingdom towards a Christian world view.

 
At 7:55 AM, Blogger toby said...

Stem cell research is using pluripotent cells for experiments of all kinds. When we are first concieved, we are one cell. From that one cell comes all cells. But somewhere between one cell and a few billion cells there are 32 or 64 or 128 cells. This is called a lot of things, a blastocyst, a morula, an embryo a pre-embryo. These cells look very much alike. But something begins to happen to make these cells become different tissues. They start to differentiate and become specialized cells some destined to become a brain, others a heart and so on. Before they differientiate, they are pluripotent. They can be anything. Using these cells is very useful in science. These cells also seem to replicate indefinitely. So, you can see why these cells are useful and desired by science. Another reason they are so hotly pursued is cloning. If you learn how to use these cells and put my DNA in one of these pluripotent cells (after taking out the previous person's DNA) you can replicate yourself. This my seem far fetched...but we are reaching the limit of how long we can live. Medical science has tried to make us live longer and better and has now reached a wall. This idea is being actively pursued by many.
Tissue cloning is the issue that we will face in our lifetime. What if I could take your DNA and use tissue to grow you a new liver? New skin? How about cells to treat Parkinson's. Michael J. Fox is hoping and waiting for that cure. It's unlikely he would be able to benefit, but the next generation could.
This is all very exciting and possible. How could anyone refuse funding for such work? That is all you will here from a Democratic nominee at present.

Stem cells can come from three main places. Embryo's frozen in time, bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. These are all fairly easy to get. Bone marrow just takes a one hour procedure. An adult can consent to give his bone marrow for research or for treatment. Umbilical cord blood is readily available. It is reasonable for parents to give consent prior to delivery to have a few milliters of cord blood drawn. It doesn't hurt the child. This blood is usually discarded or spilled on the delivery floor. Embryonic stem cells are from those 64-128 or more cell embryos. Currently there is a large supply of these that are left over from in-vitro fertilizaion. Embyos frozen, initially formed to place in a mother's uterus. Usually when the eggs are harvested from the mother and sperm donated by the father, dozens of embryo's are allowed to form. Then 3-5 of these embryo's will be placed in the uterus to see if one or two will attach and start an in-utero pregnancy. These embryo's can be used for research. They will be allowed to grow a little longer in some cases. Most people say they won't allow them to grow past 2 weeks. But at 3 days gestation or 14 days gestation the research will require taking the embryo apart to test and use it. This will end the embryo as an embryo and it is then tissue or used and disposed. Why not let the embryo go past 14 days gestation? You can have a heart beat by 24 days gestation. (If you know a little more about this than most, you'll note most people say there is a heartbeat at 5+ weeks gestation. Obstetrical dates are calculated from the last menstral period. So when your doctor tells you 8 weeks pregnant, the baby was concieved 6 weeks ago.)
Let's take a step back. How can we even take this step to experiment on an embryo? Can you argue that this embryo is human? Alive? No. But science does it's own form of spinning the truth. I have been studying medicine for 16 years. The first time I ever heard the term pre-embryo was just about 4 years ago. It has no physiologic or genetic basis. It is an arbitrary term used to de-humanize the human embryo. So, now you will hear people occasionally talk about a pre-embryo.
Even worse, I spoke with a christian woman recently who adopted her second child recently. She told me about her fertility testing and treatment a few years before. She described implanting fertilized eggs in her uterus. Actually, she just said the word "eggs". I would love to hear more input on this, but many parents going through in-vitro fertilization aren't even told exactly what is being done.

Sorry, I left the topic. Democrats blame republicans for holding up valuable research for "right wing extremist ideaology", Senator Kerry. What you won't be told. There are other better sources for stem cells (bone marrow and umbilical cord). No one has adequately debated the life of the embryo!!! This is how all our bad decisions have been made. Poor philosophy produces poor science. When will we quit the rhetoric and talk about when does life begin? That is what President Bush is concerned. Are we dooming millions of human lives to be torn apart as embryo's? Are we about to (and already) performing genocide to a whole class of individuals? To Senator Kerry, you are a right wing extremist if you believe that life begins at conception.

My next posting will be biblical examples of unborn life.

 

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