June 30, 2004

Update

Just to let you all know, my wife's surgery was moved up on us. We got a phone call at 9 this morning letting us know that we had to be at the hospital no later than 10:30. We ran around, found someone to watch our daughter, and headed out.

And sat and waited. Finally at about 12:30, she was wheeled back to surgery. By 1:50, she was out.

Apparantly, she passed the stone at some point, and we didn't know. She was really sick on Sunday, and we figure that was when it passed. The IVP that they did that showed the stone was done last Tuesday, so it had to have been in the past week.

We appreciate all the prayers and support. She'll be back to harassing me in no time!

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June 29, 2004

Prayer Request

Tomoorow at about noon, my wife is going in for surgery to remove an 8mm kidney stone from her right kidney. I'd appreciate your prayers tomorrow, and I'll let you know how she did tomorrow evening.

I'll also be posting something about the NAE's political statement tomorrow, since I haven't had a chance to finish reading it yet. I'll be taking a pretty good bit of reading material with me to the hospital. I may also get a few things finished that I've been working on or meaning to write finished and posted.

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Study of Mark: Mark 3:20-22

Now Jesus went home, and a crowd gathered so that they were not able to eat. When his family heard this they went out to restrain him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
(Mark 3:20-22 NET)


After doing all the marvelous things that were mentioned before, Jesus goes home to Nazareth, to a warm reception from His family. They think he's nuts.

Now, under normal circumstances, I could understand this. If I had a brother, and all the sudden he started running around tapping people on the head and forgiving their sins, I'd probably wonder about the state of his mental health. We have to consider, though, one important thing.

They've been living with Mary their whole lives. Mary has told them all about Jesus, and the angel's visit, and the wise me and shepherds, and everything. She's talked about when they found Jesus in the temple, and the things He said there. So they know the story. They know who Mary and Joseph say that Jesus is supposed to be. And they STILL think that their brother Jesus is crazy. They are ignoring the obvious truth of who Christ is, choosing to believe something much easier.

People did that a lot back then. Elsewhere, we learn that there were people who believed that Jesus was John the Baptist reincarnated (Matthew 16:14). Since many people saw Jesus baptized by John the Baptist, that coulsn't possibly be true. They chose to believe that, though, rather than accept what He told them about who He was.

People still do that today. Jesus seems to be whatever the latest scholar thinks He should be -- everything from a rebel priest to a social reformer to a revolutionary leader. We tend to see Jesus as who we want Him to be, rather than who He really is. This is a result of modern scholarship deciding that there are no absolutes when it comes to the Biblical texts -- since they aren't inspired by God, we can pick and choose which passages we want to believe. If we find other texts that talk about Jesus that we like better, then we can believe in those, too. Pretty soon, we have our own, personal Jesus, who doesn't make us stop doing what we want to do, who just sits there and tells us what great people we are, and never requires anything from us as far as worship or devotion.

We are a people driven by convenience. We want to believe in God, but we don't want all the "baggage". We don't want to have to obey anyone, to follow anything resembling commandments, and don't you DARE tell us that our way might not be right.

Jesus was telling people the same thing. He was saying that the things that the Pharisees had been teaching them weren't the right path to God. He was teaching them things about the Messiah that they hadn't been taught. And when they asked who He was to teach them things like that, what authority did He have -- He showed them. Who has the kind of authority that Jesus showed over sickness? Who has the authority that He claimed when He forgave sin? Only God -- and the Jewish leaders knew that. They had two choices -- believe that He was who He said He was, and have to change centuries of beliefs, or they could believe that He was wrong, that He was guilty of blasphemy and had to be stoned. They chose the latter.

We need to think about what Jesus we believe in. Our own, personal, be whatever we want Him to be and never inconvenience us Jesus? Or the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word who, in the beginning, was with God and was God, by whom all things were created?

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Moore and Moore

Michael Moore says he's not a member of the Democratic Party, that he's an Independant. He's almost correct.

Almost.

According to this article, Moore is actually registered to vote in two states -- New York (where he is registered as a Democrat, but hasn't voted since 2001), and Michigan (where they don't ask for a party when you register). So he's NOT a Democrat there, but he's not registered as an Independant, either.

I guess technically, he's independant (small i). But, also technically, he's still a Democrat. So, again technically, he lied.

I really don't care if Moore wants to make movies like Farenheit 911. As an American, it's his right to say what he wants. I do kinda think Disney wimped out in not distributing it, but that's their right, too. I don't like it when he claims to be making documentaries, when in reality he's making propaganda pieces.

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June 28, 2004

Battling the Wrong Enemy

It's time for Thanea to climb up on her soapbox. It happens from time to time and Warren has to step in to make me step down again.

Today's rant: Trying to change the world without changing souls.

As I left for a job interview today, I was listening to Alistair Begg, one of Warren's favorite preachers. He was speaking on idols and how Satan likes to deceive us. There are idols like Baal and idols like money. But what about the idols that many wonderful, devout Christians follow: causes?

Do I support the pro-life movement? Yes!

Do I believe in same-sex marriage? No!

Do I want my daughter to see gratuitous sex and violence on television? No!

But if I want this world to truly change, I have to share Jesus with everyone I meet. The Southern Baptist Convention weighed the question of pulling children out of public schools. As a teacher in a public school for the last three years, I realize how bad it can be. I also know those kids need to see the only Light which really matters, Jesus Christ. I'm sure some of you say that I can't share with those kids. What I share is love. Love that allows me opportunities to share Christ in settings outside of the school.

Can we legislate morality? One word: Prohibition. Does that mean we should eschew politics and allow America to go to Hell in a handbasket? No! But my job is to change those people who make the decisions.

Satan wants us to fight for our causes! While we are battling for causes, Satan is claiming souls. You tell me which is more important.

When I stand before God, I don't want to be accused of fighting for causes when I should have been winning souls. May God lead me to those who need Jesus Christ. He has so far, and I have no reason to doubt He will again.

So now I ask you, which battle are you fighting?

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Razormouth Is Back!!

Hit the link and head over there. I think I like the new look.

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Happy Birthday!!

Head on over to Back of the Envelope and wish Donald a happy birthday. And then read a few of his posts -- he's got some great, thought-provoking stuff over there.

Hey, the guy reads Sluggy Freelance, so he can't be all bad!

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June 27, 2004

The NAE and Christian Politics

I'm following this story with some anticipation -- and I'm about a week behind in reporting on it. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is drafting a new document concerning the role that Christians should play in the political process. According to the Detroit News story:

It affirms a religiously based commitment to government protections for the poor, the sick and the disabled, including fair wages, health care, nutrition and education. It declares that Christians have a “sacred responsibility” to protect the environment.

But it also hews closely to a traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of families, opposition to homosexual marriage, and “social evils,” such as alcohol, drugs, abortion and the use of human embryos for stem-cell research. It reaffirms a commitment to religious freedom at home and abroad.
It also addresses consevative Christians' tendancy to play party politics:
In domestic politics, evangelicals “must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party, lest nonbelievers think that Christian faith is essentially political in nature.”

The full document is available here. I'm going to print it out and read it tonight/tomorrow, and I'll comment more fully Tuesday evening. Right now, I'm excited. I think that this might start to emphasise to Christians that a lot of the things we want government and political parties to do , the church should be doing.

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Back Again

Sorry about the unforseen absence -- we decided to do some remodeling and it turned into a LOT more than we thought it would be on Friday. I just now got my computer back together, so I'm going to find out what's been happening while I was up to my neck in paint and old carpet!

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June 25, 2004

The New Wave in Christian Literature

Found this over at Christianity Today.

My own favorites:


  • Chick Publications:
    Opus Day: Everyone's Favorite Cartoon Penguin Invades the Secretive Catholic Organization
    By J.T. Chick and Berkley Breathed, with introduction by former Opus Dei leader Alberto Rivera.


  • Eerdmans:
    The Rembrandt Code: Understanding the Hidden Calvinist Messages in The Prodigal Son and Other Paintings.
    By Hendrik van den Leeuwen


  • Zondervan (emergent/ys):
    A New Kind of Code: The Church Needs to Read Heretical Fiction Because It's So Modernist, Man
    By Brian McLaren


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June 23, 2004

This Week in Church History

June 23, 1863

J. E. Renan publishes his Life of Christ to great controversy. The book itself was quite literary, the ideas were very contemporary, and so it was widely read.

Renen managed to take away everything that would make anyone worship Christ. Virgin birth, ressurection -- myths. Renen removed the divine from Christ and left the readers with little more than a man who was a great role model, but was misunderstood for thousands of years by people who claimed to be his followers.

Scientific method and archaeological discoveries have repudiated many of Renan's methods, and most of his findings. Unfortunately, he could easilly find a place at the side of John Domminic Crossan and the rest of the Jesus Seminar's board of scholars, as they seek to demythologize Jesus -- removing most of the biblical record in the process.

And yet, the folks at the Jesus Seminar would have us believe that their findings are new. Elaine Pagels wants us to think her writing is new and cutting edge, as well. Study history, and you'll find that we've been down both these roads before. Unorthodox Christologies come and go, but the Orthodox idea of Christ as Messiah, Son of God, God incarnate, goes on.

Birthdays
Today: Samuel Medley, a Baptist pastor and hymn writer (what else, for a man named Medley?).

Tomorrow: Theodore Beza, John Calvin's successor in Geneva.

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June 22, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 3:13-19

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
(Mark 3:13-19 ESV)

The Calling of the Twelve. That's how it's listed in just about every Bible I own. It's one of the major moments in the history of Christianity -- the men who were to be the closest followers of Christ are chosen and listed for us. It's interesting that they are almost always listed in this exact order -- almost a pecking order, showing how important or famous each disciple was.

Peter, James, and John: The Big Three -- those who were closest to Christ.The travel farther with Christ into Gethsemane than the rest. They are often shown to be fairly influential. Peter, who first confessed AND first denied Christ. James, one of the first called to follow Christ, the leader of the church at Jerusalem. Along with his brother John, the disciple who would have attacked the Samaritans who did not honor Christ. John, who would be called the beloved disciple -- the only one to die of natural causes. Both called Sons of Thunder for their zeal in turning to violence.

Andrew, the first evangelist, who brought (literally) his brother Simon Peter to Christ. He stays in the background through most of the New Testament -- but without him things would have been vastly different. I can picture him listening to Peter preach, nudging a neighbor and whispering "That's my brother -- he knows what he's talking about. I was there, too, when Jesus taught". Philip, also responsible for bringing a friend (Bartholomew) to Christ, the thinker. He was more studied in Scripture than other disciples (see John 1:45). Bartholomew, also called Nathanael, who spent time with God under a fig tree, and encountered Christ. Matthew, a tax collector who nobody would ever expect to be following the Messiah, but who was worthy to write a Gospel. Thomas, the doubter, who went on to greater things for Christ. James the Lesser, possibly Matthew's brother, who was martyred for his faith. Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot -- two disciples of whom little is known outside of legend.

And Judas, the betrayer. Always last, always least in the lists.

Looking at the character of these men, we can see Christ picked men not for their ability, but their attitude. They were willing to be used. They were also very fallible. Only one was present at the crucifixion. One refused to believe the testimony that Christ had risen. All were terrified men, hiding in a borrowed room from the soldiers who were surely looking for them, on the first Ressurection Day. And all who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, were to turn the entire world upside down. We wonder sometimes why these men Christ picked were so petty at times -- as when James and John request to have the seat at Christ's right hand when He established His kingdom. Why use someone such as Peter, who swore to defend Christ to his last breath, but who denied he knew Christ before his master was even dead? Why use Thomas, who refused to believe anything but the testimony of his own eyes? And why pick Judas, when surely Christ in His omniscience knew that he would be the one to betray Him?

Christ uses imperfect vessels, so that the glory does not go to the vessel, but to Him. We are incapable, but He makes us powerful -- powerful in ways that are clearly His ways, not ours. If we learn nothing else from this passage, we can learn that Christ uses us, cracks and flaws intact, so that we can give the honor and glory to Him, and Him alone.

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Bible Study

People tend to get hung up on how to study the Bible. Authors have made tons of money writing on the subject. College courses have been taught on it. But it isn't that hard to do.


  • Step 1: Pray


  • Step 2: Read the Bible

  • Step 3: Think about what you've read. Ask questions.

  • Step 4: Pray again

  • Step 5: Repeat for each passage of Scripture you are studying


Obviously, you will have to do something a little more in-depth if you are teaching an adult Bible study, or if you're researching a sermon topic, or studying for a class. But for the kind of Bible study that 99.44% of Christians do, or want to do, or should be doing, those five simple steps will do it.

Resources? Other than a Bible (duh!), I'd go along with Jollyblogger, and recommend a Bible dictionary, maybe a commentary (somethng in one volume, probably). Check out e-Sword -- it's free, and has a ton of resources available for it.

The important thing about Bible study is to do it. But be careful -- God may work in your life in ways you don't expect. Five years ago, I was an insurance agent -- in two weeks, I start seminary.

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June 21, 2004

I LOVE This Site!!

Ok, I WAS going to take tonight off -- especially after playing as well as I did. But then, I was innocently surfing around and found this.

Here is a man after my own heart. Let's beat the big air bag at his own game -- documentary film. Hear what he has to say about having his own views distorted, his own facts thrown back at him -- see how much freedom of speech and freedom of the press he wants then!

I really wish I had some cash to send this guy, because I think this film is worthwhile. Instead, I'll tell everyone I know, and some people I don't know, to make sure they watch this movie. This is a movie that needs to be distributed as widely as possible, as soon as possible.

Maybe we can send a copy of the PR sheet for the movie to every theater that shows Farenheit 911 -- see if we can appeal to their sense of equality, tolerance, and all that good stuff. If not, we can always threaten to hol our breath until they show the movie.

Naw -- that didn't work for Mom and Dad, so it probably won't work for theater owners, either. But tell them they need the movie anyway.

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Just Getting My Feet Wet

Hi! I'm Thanea Kelly, Warren's wife. He told me that he warned you I was coming, so please don't be too disappointed. He'll be back tomorrow with his usual great insight into all things theological.

In his introduction I'm sure he was kind. I'm sure he didn't tell you that I believe shows and books about ghosts are great. He might of mentioned my obsession with college football and basketball. (Go BUCKEYES!!) He probably didn't tell you that my idea of a great day involves sneakers and a battlefield. And I'm sure he didn't tell you that I'm a Trekkie. (Please don't hold any of this against him. I was like this long before he met me.)

Now, about the Trekkie thing... I don't go to StarCon dressed like a Klingon or anything like that. I would attend if I had the chance. Meeting Patrick Stewart would be really cool. But I've watched the original series since I was a kid. My dad watched it in college (at Ohio State) and watched the reruns after the news when I was four or five years old. I did whatever Dad did, so there we go.

By now, you're wondering where I'm going with all of this.

Yesterday, over lunch, Warren had one of those interesting conversation most people would think was strange. See, I'm a history teacher, so I do think differently than most. We were talking about the sermon which touched on the armor of God. We talked about the gladius, the short sword Roman soldiers carried for close combat. Warren mentioned that it had been adapted from the Iberian short sword Romans encountered in Spain. That's when I made the connection.

The Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation (STTNG) were the Romans. They meet an alien race and "assimilate" them. The Romans offered most conquered people Roman citizenship. They took any technology they could use and adapted it to their own purpose. The Romans rolled over anything in their way. Except for one thing. In STTNG the Borg eventually run into the Federation. Sometimes it appears that the Borg will win, but the Federation stands firm and eventually finds a way to defeat the Borg. That is exactly what happened to the Roman Empire with the introduction of Christianity.

As long as Christians appeared to be a sect of Judaism, they didn't seem to be a problem. After all, the Jews had been relatively docile. Once the Roman authorities began to realize that Christians would be different, they tried to "assimilate" them. As long as they also bowed to Caesar, Rome didn't care who they worshipped. But the Christians wouldn't bow to Caesar. So Caesar tried to destroy them. That didn't work either. In fact, eventually Christianity would assimilate Rome. It became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Some believe that was Rome's final victory, because it became easy to be a Christian.

My question for you is this: Are you being assimilated by this world?

I pray you are not.

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June 19, 2004

Introducing .....

DashHouse. A family site that include two blogs. Darryl is a pastor and the chief blogger. His wife Charlene has a blog as well on the site. I especially like the Reading List.

The Revealer. Nothing like a professional journalist to keep the blogosphere up to date! I like this quote from their "About Us" page:

"We begin with three basic premises: 1. Belief matters, whether or not you believe. Politics, pop culture, high art, NASCAR -- everything in this world is infused with concerns about the next. As journalists, as scholars, and as ordinary folks, we cannot afford to ignore the role of religious belief in shaping our lives. 2. The press all too frequently fails to acknowledge religion, categorizing it as either innocuous spirituality or dangerous fanaticism, when more often it's both and inbetween and just plain other. 3. We deserve and need better coverage of religion. Sharper thinking. Deeper history. Thicker description. Basic theology. Real storytelling.


Bene Diction is an outstanding blog. I've checked in there before, but I figure if it's on the 'roll, I'll remember to check it more often. Great information, and well-written.

Vigilance Matters. You have to read this. He and I discussed the whole 'leaving public schools' thing, and I enjoyed the feedback.

News From the Great Beyond. A great blog, and a finalist for King of the Blogs. Humor, personal posts, all mixed together with words of wisdom. This is a good blog.

That's it for now. I'll do this again in a few months or so. If you know of any that I should blogroll, leave me a message!

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Cleaning Out the Blogroll

I'm getting ready to lose a few links, and gain a few. There are a few on the blogroll that I barely read anymore, and I've found a few that I think are worth linking to.

Some blogs have a link policy. My link policy is: 1). If I like it, I'll link to it. I don't always have to agree with it, but I have to want to read it. 2). If you link to me, I'll link to you -- as long as you fit into rule #1.

Once the dust settles, I'll introduce you to the new guys (and gals).

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Heads Up!

Jut a warning -- my lovely wife will be blogging Monday night in my place. I will be off golfing.

I have no idea what she'll have to say. As I mentioned before, she's a bit more politically savvy than I am. On the down side, she watches CNN. On the up side, she argues with them most of the time.

The Mark study will be up on Tuesday.

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Constitution Party -- Explicitly Christian?

It is our duty to raise up Christian candidates who can then use their power to influence a return to the Biblical principles upon which our country was founded. A very good beginning to this process is to check out the only explicitly Christian platform of any political party: www.constitutionparty.org and visit Michael Peroutka's website.


This quote from Buddy Hanson appears on Michael Peroutka's website. I started to wonder if the party's platform actually was explicitly Christian. When you read pary materials, it sounds great -- no abortion at all, no gay marriage, strong defense but otherwise small government, reform of every governmental entity including the Department of Education, the House of Representatives, and the US Senate.

And they have attracted a lot of conservative Christians. Christians have grown disillusioned with the Republican Party, and it's catering to Christian ideas and issues only twice every four years. So I'm going to take some time and look at the platform of the Constitution Party, to see if it's really explicitly Christian. You can find their platform right here

  • The Sanctity of Life plank is every pro-lifer's dream, Christian or not. No abortion under any circumstances (even rape or incest). No euthanasia, infanticide, or suicide, either (though how do you enforce a law making suicide illegal?). So this plank passes the test, although it's adoption ensures that no candidate who campaigns on it will ever be elected.

  • The AIDS plank is interesting.
    Under no circumstances should the federal government continue to subsidize activities which have the effect of encouraging perverted or promiscuous sexual conduct. Criminal penalties should apply to those whose willful acts of omission or commission place members of the public at risk of contracting AIDS or HIV.
    In other words, homosexual practices involving an HIV individual would be illegal. I can easilly see this turning into a Sodomy law similar to the one that was overturned in Texas.

    Jewish law loves this plank. This follows the injunction in the Old Testament against the practice of homosexuality. The New Testament talks about the punishment of God being heaped on those who practice homosexuality, but doesn't say anything about civil government legislating against it. Have to give this one a no, if we're talking about Biblically-based Christianity. If we're just talking about what Christians would like to happen, though, it gets a yes. There's a distinction here.

  • Bringing Government Back Home. This one doesn't mention God or Christians in the plank. The Bible doesn't say anything about the size of civil government, so this one gets a no.

  • Character of public officials. Nothing in the Bible about how to select elected officials, either. This I'm giving a maybe, though, since it stands to reason that Christians should expect their elected officials to behave themselves.

  • The next several planks deal with governmental issues -- size of government, defense, etc. I'm skipping over them, although the Bible says little about these subjects. One thing I'd like to point out, though:
    we should immediately give notice of our withdrawal from the Nixon-Brezhnev Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

    Under no circumstances should we unilaterally surrender our military base rights in Panama.
    The Bible does teach us not to lie, and to be people of our word. As a nation, we have signed these treaties, pledging our national honor to keeping them. Whether we agree with them or not, it is not a Christian characteristic to go back on our word. So we've got a bunch of 'no's here.


{continued in the next post}

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Constitution Party part 2

{continued from previous post}


  • Education: The Bible teaches that parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their kids. I support school choice. I don't support ending compulsary education, which is what the platform says. I don't think the Bible has a lot to say on this, either.

  • Electoral College, Election Reform -- not a lot in the Bible about this stuff either. I'd bet a lot of good Christians would disagree with the proposals in the platform.

  • Energy: I agree with them, but I don't see a lot in the Bible about energy policy.

  • Environment: The Bible has a lot to say about the environment. It's God's creation, and we are to use it wisely. Stewardship is important, especially in the case of resources that are not renewable, or are very slow in replenishing themselves. SOme people would say that it is the duty of a Christian government to make sure that the environment is protected. Not the Constitution Party. Hands off is their policy.

  • Executive Orders -- nothing in the Bible about that.

  • Family -- I can give this one a check mark. That makes two planks that are distinctly, explicitly Christian.

  • Federal Aid and Foreign Policy bring some questions to mind. Shouldn't Christians be concerned about the welfare of people in impoverished countries? Shouldn't we be concerned with helping people overthrow tyrany? Shouldn't we be doing for the least of these? Not according to the Constitution Party. No more foreign aid, no entangling alliances, no nothing.

    The party's foreign policy would have worked a hundred years ago. Now, America is a dominant nation on the earth, and we are often called on by other countries for help. The Christian thing to do is not to turn our back on these people.

    I'd go on, but I think it's clear that, while very conservative, the Constitution Party is not explicitly Christian. They are very strict interpreters of the Constitution (which explains the name...). Pat Buchannan would be right at home with these folks. Many Christians would not be.

    The real question is -- should Christians be trying to use the civil government to bring the Kingdom of God into existance? I've talked about that one before.

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