Friday, November 09, 2012


A recent exchange I had at Justin Taylor’s blog:

November 7, 2012 at 8:37 am

“We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues.”

I agree with this, but in all reality the only way that America will see and agree with any Biblical moral conviction is not through our trying to convince them to agree with us. It has and will utterly fail. The only way that the tide of immorality in America will be stemmed is through the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men. That means that the church needs to get off it pew and preach the gospel message with all their heart, soul, and strength.

A question was raised to me recently: “What would happen if the church actually lived as God calls us to in scripture?” My answer: “Amazing things.” Including the changing of the moral landscape in America.

    steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. No single silver bullet is going to work on everyone. Due to natural revelation and common grace, some unbelievers are open to rational persuasion. To deny that is Manichaean.

    Even if you could evangelize everyone, that wouldn’t convert everyone. Evangelism is not a substitute for law.

    God’s calling isn’t limited to evangelists. There are many different Christian vocations.

“I saw almost no substantial critiques of Mitt Romney throughout this campaign, besides the obvious Mormonism motif. My eyes did not see one negative mention of the “47% comments…”

Try this:

November 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I was unable to vote for Romney because I don’t know that he has a stable moral core — so how can I reasonably trust him? I haven’t the faintest idea who he is or what he stands for, nor am I sure that he even knows…Obama offers no panacea, but at least I think we know who he is and what he wants to pursue.

Is it really okay with so many Christians that Mitt Romney was waving his sabre (militarily and economically), talking about Iran and China…

    steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    So you prefer voting for someone you know is evil rather than voting for someone who may or may not be evil. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    And what about Iran?

Mark T
November 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm
It’s way easier to pretend poor people don’t exist — but the church doesn’t do a very good job of helping them if we can’t even *see* them (and your whole proposal rests on the ability to see them, which you apparently don’t).

    steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Obama is contributing to poverty.

David Davis
November 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

I agree with some of your points about morality but I strongly disagree about the role of government. Morality should be encouraged by example and good works. Not at the point of a gun held by a tyrant. A lot of “tough” laws are destroying families and branding people as criminals for life who should be given a chance to improve.

    steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    What laws are you alluding to?

steve hays
November 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Mark S

“Why would anyone ever want to be a Christian after talking to these people? The racism, conspiracy-mongering and hyper-individuality reached epic levels among Christians this election season.”

You yourself are indulging in prejudicial, defamatory stereotyping.

“Don’t believe me?”

No, I don’t.

“Go back and look at all those emails your Christian friend circulated.”

What emails would those be? So, no, I still don’t believe you.


What’s shameful is your own bigotry.

“By the way, did anyone get any of those emails Christians were circulating about Romney’s Mormonism and his high ranking positions in the church? No? Oh yeah, they don’t exist because Christians conveniently ignored it.”

You suffer from self-reinforcing ignorance. You despise conservative Christians, so you don’t bother to actually study what they said or didn’t say.

Romney’s Mormonism was an issue during the primaries in both election cycles. But once he became the nominee, the relevant comparison was Obama.

“How about we start embracing the immigrant?”

No one is stopping you from doing that. Why don’t you invite them to stay in your home? Why don’t you give them your credit card or debit card?

If you really cared about the plight of immigrants, why don’t you move to Latin America, roll up your sleeves, and try to fix the problem at the source?

It’s not as if the immigrant issue has been ignored by conservative Christians. Take James Hoffmeier’s The Immigration Crisis.

However, American can’t host all the poor people of the world. American wage-earners aren’t responsible for providing for all the poor people of the world.

“How about we start demanding Wall Street and big corporations follow the same standards those ‘shiftless poor folks?’ Why don’t we demand corporations and big oil care for and protect God’s creation?”

Why is big business bad, but big government is good?

Green policies hurt the poor by shutting down job-producing industries while hiking the price of food and fuel.

“How about we invest in our teacher and schools so that every child has an opportunity to succeed?”

We sink thousands of dollars per child into public education. Money is no substitute for competent teachers, a quality curriculum, and motivated students.

“How about we stop worrying so much ourselves and ‘our’ money and look at ways we can invest in our communities?”

Why don’t you sell your laptop, discontinue your internet carrier, and give to the poor?

“How about we care for the orphan, adopt, take in the foster child.”

You’re fond of telling others what to do. When are you going stop talking about doing things and start doing what you talk about?

Steve hays
November 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Caleb W

“Also, Greg and others, legalizing abortion does not force you to have an abortion, nor does it prevent you from helping others not to have them. Sheesh, the way social conservatives talk, you’d think Obama was forcing women to have abortions. You want to prevent abortions? Try befriending and supporting the women who feel like it is their only choice. Yes, there will be those who do it for other reasons, but you might be surprised what actually being involved in the lives of people different from you can do.”

Also, Caleb and others, legalizing child abuse does not force you to abuse children, nor does it prevent you from helping others not to abuse them. Sheesh, the way social conservatives talk, you’d think NAMBLA was forcing men to abuse little boys. You want to prevent child abuse? Try befriending and supporting pedophiles. Yes, there will be those who rape little boys anyway, but that’s no reason to criminalize child abuse.

steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Caleb W

    “Abortion and child abuse are clearly different issues.”

    In terms of how you chose to frame your position, they are relevantly similar.

    “So is slavery, another topic that social conservatives like to invoke in the abortion debate.”

    Just because you say so?

    “The old tactic of changing the words around to suggest that what I said also supports child abuse is tired.”

    Actually, it’s a reductio ad absurdum.

    “Also, invoking NAMBLA a tired rhetorical flourish.”

    That’s not an argument.

steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Caleb W

    “It is only a successful reductio ad absurdum if you show that an absurd result follows from the acceptance of my argument. I do not think that your statement about child abuse follows from the acceptance of my statement about abortion because child abuse and abortion are not ‘relevantly similar.’”

    My counterexample closely paralleled your argument. Anyone can compare them, back-to-back. Naturally you’ll deny it, but saying that and showing that are two different things. All we have is your bare denial. Big deal.

    “In brief, NAMBLA is a fringe group of pedophiles that has nothing to do with this discussion.”

    Their fringe status is irrelevant. I responded to you on your. Now you’re drawing ad hoc distinctions.

    You thought you could get off a free round of cheap shots. The moment you encounter real resistance, you fold.

steve hays
    November 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Caleb W

    “Comparing and paralleling my argument to the example that you gave is not the same thing as a reductio ad absurdem. I just think that should be clear.”

    One way of performing a reductio is to mount an argument from analogy, using an absurd, but analogous parallel. Hence, if the analogue is absurd, so is the original position.

    “Your second reply is incomplete. Whether or not their fringe status is relevant, I’m saying that invoking NAMBLA is irrelevant to the abortion discussion. I think you did it for rhetorical reasons. Could you clarify for me why you did?”

    It’s part of the argument from analogy. I used child abuse/pedophilia as the analogue. And NAMBLA takes the place of your statement about Obama not forcing women to have abortions.

steve hays
November 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Caleb W

“That is, why don’t more American Christians complain when the government uses their money to develop and maintain nuclear weapons, prosecute illegal or unjust wars, spend trillions of dollars on machines designed to end human life, promote economic activity that is corrosive to the very conditions of possibility for life on earth as such, or stop caring for the poor or elderly, etc. To limit yourselves to abortion strikes me as odd.”

i) We don’t limit ourselves to abortion. We’re concerned with other issues, like mainstreaming homosexuality, euthanasia, speech codes, secular indoctrination, &c.

ii) You’re taking your own moral valuation of these issues for granted, then imagining that other American Christians are inconsistent or hypocritical. But they don’t share your operating assumptions regarding the moral status of these issues. You’ve generated a bogus inconsistency by imputing to them a perspective they don’t accept.

BTW, several hostile commenters on Justin’s post commit the same blunder. They treat their chic hipster Jim Wallis/Ron Sider viewpoint as a given, not bothering to argue for their assumptions or acquaint themselves with opposing arguments, then project hypocrisy onto evangelicals like Justin Taylor or Albert Mohler. It’s a nice back-patting exercise, but it’s not intellectually serious.

    steve hays
    November 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Caleb W

    “I do not think that your analogy is valid. You just asserted it. Abortion and child abuse, I am saying, are not analagous.”

    Here’s your original argument:

    “Also, Greg and others, legalizing abortion does not force you to have an abortion, nor does it prevent you from helping others not to have them. Sheesh, the way social conservatives talk, you’d think Obama was forcing women to have abortions. You want to prevent abortions? Try befriending and supporting the women who feel like it is their only choice. Yes, there will be those who do it for other reasons, but you might be surprised what actually being involved in the lives of people different from you can do.”

    You didn’t build any qualifications into your argument which would essentially distinguish your argument from my analogy. If you’re going to deny that my analogy is truly comparable, then you need to qualify your original contention to show how they are crucially different.

    Of course, that’s dicey for you. The moment you attempt to qualify your argument, I can qualify my argument in tandem.

    Do you have any qualifications, which are not ad hoc qualifications, that essentially distinguish your argument from my analogy? How do you limit the force of your argument to eliminate my analogy? What are the key differential factors?

    “Your ‘analogy’ would be like me saying “Accepting the Bible as the word of God because it says it is, is like accepting the Koran as the word of God, because it says it is. So if you accept the testimony of the Bible you must accept that of the Koran.” I think you would agree that this is not a valid reductio, but it seems to me to be the same kind you are trying to use against me.”

    You have it exactly backwards. You’re the one who presented an unqualified argument for the rape exception. Given the unqualified terms of your argument, it is, indeed, valid for me to introduce a parallel unqualified analogy.

    “All you (and Andy) are doing is saying ‘Well, if you allow for abortion then you must allow for [insert morally repugnant thing here].’”

    No, that’s not what I’m doing. Rather, I’m mimicking the contours of you own argument.

    “But you have not given an argument for this leap of logic other than the fact that you think abortion is clearly morally repugnant, and so its legality opens the door to other acts.”

    You keep missing the point. You’re the one who framed your position so broadly that it invites these comparisons. If you reject the comparisons, then you need to go back and recast your argument in narrower terms.

    Mind you, that might not salvage your argument. Success would depend on whether you can introduce some principled distinctions that exclude my analogy, without reintroducing my analogy in revised form.

    “I’m saying that the overwhelming political emphasis is on abortion (and gay marriage).”

    The liberal social agenda is incremental. It generally attempts to gain a foothold, securing one goal at a time, then using that to soften resistance to the next installment.

    Indeed, when social conservatives predict the trajectory of the liberal social agenda, they are dismissed as “alarmist.”

    Euthanasia has been more of a backburner issue, but that’s beginning to move to a frontburner status as liberals increasingly try to mainstream euthanasia.

    We see the same thing happening with pedophilia, where there’s a move in psychological journals to begin laying the groundwork for abolishing the age of consent.

    “I also think it is fine for me to posit the moral status of the issues that I mentioned.”

    In which case we don’t have to take your examples seriously.

    “You get to assume your denial of their moral importance without justifying it.”

    I can’t present a counterargument to a nonexistent argument. Since you haven’t bothered to make a case for your examples, there’s really nothing for me to respond to. It’s hardly incumbent on me to refute your bare opinion.

    “I never called Al Mohler or anyone else a hypocrite. All I said was that is was strange to me that the pro life movement does not also interest itself in other issues that have to do with life as such.”

    That’s what you insinuated.

    “You’re making assumptions about the intellectual ‘seriousness’ of people you don’t know who disagree with you based on a few blog comments.”

    Since you don’t give supporting reasons, your examples have no persuasive value.

    steve hays
    November 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Caleb W

    “You are abstracting the fetus from the context of the womb – the woman’s body. I know the arguments against that view, but don’t find them convincing enough to use the law to force women to remain pregnant.”

    That’s what the womb was made for. It’s designed to host a baby. Protect and provide for the baby. That’s its intended function. If you want to talk about context, that’s the larger context.

    And we’re not talking about generic “women.” A pregnant woman is a mother. The “fetus” is her baby.

    So this is an issue of parental responsibilities.

steve hays
November 8, 2012 at 10:55 am


You need to acquire basic reading comprehension. Go back and reread what I wrote, then trying responding to what I actually said. It helps to keep you honest.

It’s just a fact that Scripture distinguishes between different sources of poverty. According to Scripture, some people are poor due to circumstances beyond their control (e.g. oppression, bad luck). Other people are poor because they are lazy or spendthrift. Because they don’t plan ahead. They live for instant gratification. They fritter away their youthful opportunities.

That may not fit with your politically correct, radical chic ideology, but the Bible draws those distinctions.

Homelessness has different causes. Some people are homeless because they can’t hold down a job due to alcoholism or drug addiction. Some people are homeless due to mental illness. Liberal organizations like the ACLU deinstitutionalized many of the mentally ill. So they wound up on the street.

BTW, “giving to the poor” is not a solution to poverty.

You need to explain how your vague reference to Mt 25-27 supports your contention. For instance, the parable of the virgins (Mt 25:1-3), is a classic example of some folks who plan for the future (the wise virgins) in contrast to others who procrastinate until disaster overtakes them (the foolish virgins).

Likewise, in the parable of the sheep and goats (Mt 25:31-46), that, in context, has reference to persecuted Christians.

steve hays
    November 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm


    “Steve you understand the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 is referring to persecuted Christians only?”


    “Please explain your interpretation of this passage and I think this will explain much about our differences.”

    If you bothered to consult some standard commentaries on Matthew, you’d discover that my interpretation is the standard interpretation. And you’ll find the supporting arguments in standard commentaries. Do your homework.

    “And you said you don’t give to the poor, but you still care for them.”

    You suffer from persistent reading incomprehension. I didn’t say if I do or don’t give to the poor. It’s none of your business. That’s just a diversionary tactic.

    “What does this mean?… that you don’t give ‘handouts?’ Or that you help them get work and not be lazy?”

    Every Christian doesn’t have the same calling in life. The church has many different members who perform many different roles. Brush up on Acts 6.

    “I have to ask you seriously though, wasn’t the Gospel ‘handed out’ to you? Weren’t you lazy, broken, not fulfilling your potential, absolutely poor and bankrupt spiritually, so God HAD to rescue you out of your absolute impoverished state and made you rich in Christ?”

    i) I see. You think saving grace is comparable to food stamps?

    ii) Welfare programs don’t “rescue” the poor from poverty. Rather, they foster a culture of poverty. Try reading a few articles by Tom Sowell for starters.

    “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If you say to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but you do nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? Isn’t faith without deeds dead?

    That’s yet another example of your sloppy reading. That has reference, not to the poor in general, but to poor Christians. How affluent Christians ought to be charitable to poor Christians.

steve hays
    November 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm


    “Pot calling kettle black? I haven’t been here very long, but from what I’ve seen most of your posts have been hyper-partisan replies to other people’s comments.”

    That’s rich coming from a hyperpartisan like yourself.

    “If I didn’t know that you purported to be an evangelical Christian, I would have though you were one of Rush Limbaugh’s staff members. (You probably take that as a complement [sic]).”

    I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh. You’re stereotyping conservatives, which is a reflection of your prejudice.

    “And this is relevant to the plight of the working poor because…?”

    Eugene didn’t confine his comments to the working poor.

    Of course, if you really cared about the working poor, you’d lobby to lower state and local taxes on the working poor.

    “You haven’t bought into the pathetic ‘47-percent’ narrative of the GOP, have you?”

    I already addressed that red herring in a response to Joel. Do try to keep up with the actual state of the debate.

    Oh, and Romney was making a point about how Democrat politicians foster a culture of dependency on gov’t. But maybe you prefer Democrat policies under which employment grew by 0.15% while dependence on food stamps rose by 46%.

    “In case you didn’t know, a large percentage of the working poor is very hardworking. They work 50, 60, 70+ hour jobs with very little to show for it.”

    You’re going off on a little tangent, which is irrelevant to what I actually wrote.

    “If you interacted with them (and it is pretty obvious that you don’t), you would know that.”

    Democrat economic policies contribute to the plight of the working poor.

    “And besides, why are GOP Christians always going off on tangents about “categories of poverty” when it comes to the poor? Can you mention a single scripture that supports weighing the poor on a scale and determining who makes the cut for ‘NOT LAZY’ before helping them? (The scripture must be taken in context, too; for instance, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 doesn’t cut it…if you don’t know why, find a bible commentary.)”

    Try reading standard Bible commentaries on Proverbs (by Bruce Waltke or Tremper Longman).

    “But then, you proceeded to rattle off a rather filtered, conservative-friendly list of causes for homelessness, and the most common causes (abuse and domestic violence, inaffordable rent, decline in public assistance, lack of affordable healthcare, lack of adequate support for veterans, etc.) were somehow left off of your list. Why is that. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.”

    You haven’t provided any evidence to refute my statement (which is easily documentable) that substance abuse and deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill are sources of homelessness.

    Of course, the litany of things you allege contributes to poverty exists in deep blue cities in deep blue states, so liberal social policies haven’t solved those problems (not to mention exacerbating those problems).

    “Exactly…isn’t why Jesus admonishes us so strongly not to do this.”

    Given your garbled syntax, it’s hard to tell what you’re even trying to say.

    “I don’t have time to address the rest of your post. The classic interpretations for those scriptures have NOTHING to do with the neoconservative commentary that you ascribed to them, and you know it.”

    Try to keep track of the argument instead of just emoting and reacting. I was responding to Eugene on his own terms. He cited Mt 25-27 on the issue of poverty. If that has nothing to do with poverty, then you’re objecting to his argument, not mine.

steve hays
    November 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    His question was a diversionary tactic. Moreover, giving to the poor isn’t the same thing as caring for the poor. Do we have policies which make it easier for the poor to get out of poverty? That’s the real issue.

    “DO you have any Latino or African American Christian friends who would be affected negatively by many of the policies of the GOP, from immigration to healthcare?”

    Of course, that begs the question by tendentiously assuming that GOP policies harm Latinos and African-Americans, whereas it’s actually Democrat policies which harm Latinos and African-Americans.

    BTW, it’s not the responsibility of US wage-earners to subsidize the healthcare of Latin Americans, even more than it’s the responsibility of Latin Americans to subsidize the healthcare of US wage-earners.

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