December 28, 2009

A Bible teacher and a hip hop legend discuss abortion


Back around the time of the '08 election, I got into a dialogue on the subject of abortion with Speech, the front man of the Grammy-winning hip hop group Arrested Development, on his blog. It was somewhat surreal, as I've been a HUGE Arrested Development fan since the early 90's!


I thought the dojo readers would enjoy our discussion, so here it is. We talked politics, abortion and how one allows one's Christian faith to influence both. It was a great exchange and we both enjoyed it.

(BTW, drop by Speech's site and check out the stuff he and AD have been working on. If you think they stopped with "Mr. Wendell" and "Tennessee" you're out of the loop!)



AnonymousJames-Michael said...

Other than if the mother's life is in danger (which every pro-life legislative measure has always allowed for) should abortion be legal. Abortion is one of the last human rights abuses that our country continues to support. It is society saying that the lives of certain persons are not to be considered fully human. Anyone remember the 3/5ths law, Jim Crowe, colonial slavery?? I'm not a McCain supporter, but when it comes to the issue of protecting the rights of those in the womb, his stance is light years better than Obama's--who condones the right to kill life in the womb for any reason at all. This is the biggest blight on Obama's life and will have eternal ramifications. I pray his Christian faith one day works its way into his stance on this politically acceptable holocaust.

September 4, 2008 11:40 AM

AnonymousSpeech said...

Thanks for the compliment brother. I really appreciate it.

AnonymousSpeech said...

As a Christian, I do believe in having the baby, instead of abortions. But church and state are separate, and Jesus himself did not expect the Govt. to agree with him. There are many other atrocities other than abortions (ie:) violence, War, poverty, not showing favortism, all of which Jesus felt very passionate about as well!

Sp

September 4, 2008 3:10 PM

AnonymousSpeech said...

I am a God fearing man. And yes I agree that God makes no mistakes. However, I also know that all Americans are [not] Christian, and that we also have the death penalty which takes judgement out of God's all knowing hands as well. And many Republican states favor that penalty. i also know that our Lord, hates violence but our administration indirectly has killed thousands of people in the name of war, I also know Jesus says to give to the poor and bring justice to those without it. and many of the laws don't favor the average poor person instead the rich only. (Favoritism) which our Lord does not like. So it's a bit more complex than abortion only, sin comes in many ways and we all have to decide which ones we will fight against for the best efficiency.

September 4, 2008 3:34 PM

BloggerJMS said...

Hey Speech,

I'm a long time fan (since '93) and have much love for you. I'm also a pastor. I agree that Jesus didn't expect the government to agree with Him, nor did Paul. But they also lived in a political system where they had no voice that mattered when it came to shaping the law.

I'm not a republican, and I generally dislike the religious right. But I have to say, on the issue of abortion-on-demand, if we continue to support people who so thoroughly support it, then we are no better than those who agreed with Wilberforce in Parliament but still voted to keep the slave trade legal because there were "other evils to worry about".

Sorry man, I just think this issue is one that followers of our savior cannot continue to turn a blind eye toward or continue to support those who do.

Which is too bad because I kinda like Obama in general. But voting for him, for a Believer, is like an abolitionist voting for a slaveholder in the 1800s.

Be blessed,
JMS

ps: drop by my blog "the discipleship dojo" if you ever wanna dialogue about other things of a controversial or biblical nature.

pps: Zingalamaduni is a serverely underrated album! I can't help think of "Warm Sentiments" while writing this... :)

September 5, 2008 10:35 AM

Anonymousspeech said...

Thanks for the encouragemet! And for the support! remember Bush is also Pro-life. Yet abortions are still happening. Republicans Use this divisive issue every election, and it works! Comparing the issue to slavery, is too extreme to me. And yet, I am NOT pro-abortion. I know Barack isn't either.
As a Christian, I teach abstinence until married. That is a 100% God given solution to this issue. All else is man's versions of solutions after their persistent rebellion and disobedience.
However, we will get what we deserve this election. Just as we did the last 8 years. I know God is great & Jesus saves! All else, despite my passion, is still chasing after the wind. Ultimately futile.
Thanks & respect for you all for writing in.

September 5, 2008 10:58 AM

Obama does not SUPPORT abortion, he supports the womens right to choose, yet he like I and probably all people dispise abortion and feels we need to focus on lowering unwanted pregnancies, like the Republican vice presidents daughter, that wa an unwanted pregnancy. And as a nation we all have to figure out how to make youth understand the importance of abstinence.

etc etc. I have to go

but thanks for writing in.

SP

September 5, 2008 2:37 PM


BloggerJMS said...

Thanks for answering my comment, Speech. I want to make it clear that I'm not a Republican and I don't condone much of what's happened under the current admin. However, I DO condone the appointment of Supreme Court Judges who are committed to protecting unborn life, which would not have happened had Obama been prez.

I don't see how you can dismiss the comparison to slavery though. Slavery was one group of humans deeming another group of humans less than human (3/5ths if they had to put a number to it!). Abortion-rights does the same thing by deeming one group of humans (those in the womb) less than human and therefore not given the basic right of all human rights--the right to life (much less liberty and the pursuit of happiness).

I know you love the Lord and I know you're frustrated, but we need more people like you, people with a voice, to stand up (no matter who they vote for) and say that the killing of children in the womb is full-on evil. It's justified and argued for on the basis of extremely poor logic and is morally untenable. As long as people (particularly culture-shapers such as yourself) continue to categorize it as "just another social problem", things will never change. I firmly believe that when all is said and done, both history and God Almighty will hold all Americans since 1973 who have not vehemently spoken out against this legal infanticide in the same boat as all those Germans in the 30s-40s who did not vehemently speak out against the evil that permeated their society.

As far as the Obama/McCain election, I simply cannot fathom how someone can bring such glorious change to this nation when he WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORTS abortion-on-demand, even the horrific and unnecessary D&E (Partial-birth) procedure. Until Obama openly repudiates his full on support of "choice", he has no moral ground upon which to stand.

For all McCain's faults, he at least understands that the most vulnerable people in our society deserve to be protected from being killed in the name of "choice" (i.e. convenience). This doesn't mean I'm gonna vote for him; I still haven't made up my mind as to whether or not I'll do a write-in vote. But it does mean that he possesses the moral high ground on the most important issue of all--the issue of a person's right to life.

Blessings, man.
JMS

September 8, 2008 5:04 PM


BloggerJMS said...

Hey rj,
I agree with your post above. Well said. Regarding the abortion issue in particular, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you check out www.abort73.com. It's a movement by predominately 20-40somethings of all political stripes who are committed to fighting the current widespread ignorance regarding the nature of abortion in this country right now. Please take the time to go there and at least watch the video stream. Just as people needed to see the full extent of devastation caused by apartheid in S.Africa, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda, and racist brutality in the American south, people desperately need to see what being "pro-choice" actually entails when it comes to real life individuals.

Peace,
JMS

September 8, 2008 5:11 PM

Anonymousrj said...

JKS, i certainly will check that out! Thanks!

I am going to get on my high horse for a minute, so I appologize in advance.

A little over 2 years ago my wife was pregnant with our third child. During a routine ultrasound, it was discovered that our baby had spina bifida. We were then sent to a specialist in that field (high risk pregnancy), where we were presented with several different options. One of the options presented was abortion. Neither my wife of I ever concidered this for even a breif moment. But since her birth, I have often thought about those options. It is definately not without reason to believe somewhere, some time, someone has chosen to abort their baby in a similar situation. And it saddens me to no limit. My daughter is with out a doubt the greatest blessing that God could ever bestow upon me. She has changed my life for the better and made me become a better man. It could never be more evident that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

I can see how someone might want to abort because the conseption is under less than ideal situations. But I speak from the voice of experience when I say it shouldn't even be an option. The easy road is not always the best one.

September 8, 2008 5:45 PM

AnonymousSpeech said...

Enough of all these people who don't agree with ME!

(Just kiddin')

Anyway, I agree with the one dude who said, can't we all get along? I think we can! Especially if everyone would just agree with me! Gosh is that too hard! ;-)

(just kiddin' again)

OK for real, I will look more into the abortion thingy (read up on it), cuz I do feel it is VERY IMPORTANT!

I still don't vote for a president based on one issue alone, (Abortion) nor would I EVER vote for the McCain that is running now (for MANY reasons). And to the pastor that claimed Barack has NO moral claims to anything. I find that interesting considering even Mary Magdalene or the prostitute Rahab in the book of Joshua had some moral worth although she may had been a women of the streets. Or Paul had worth despite once authorizing the death of Christians.

I THINK Jesus MAY disagree with your carte-blanche approach to this one issue. Although I don't think he'd disagree with your passion for it. I agree with your passion as well.

Life isn't about one issue, its about many issues, sin being at the root of most and we all fall short in many ways.
It seems to me that the blame for the death of the child belongs to the people who chose to have the procedure done, more than the system or politician that allows it to exist. (Although I do see where the politician may not be innocent in the matter either) however, It's ultimately up to God, not us, to make the final condemnation.

Also, let me say, that as a younger man, I payed for two abortions for women I slept with, (I hate my decision now) and my wife had one earlier in her teen life. Are we condemned according to your views now? Or just like the person who lies or cheats on his taxes, we are in need of a shepherd that can teach us repentance and mercy. I sure think the latter. I'm taught that no sin is worse than any other (there's one exception - but that's another blog topic)

Anywhooo, I am PROUD to vote for Barack, despite some radical and sometimes ridiculous views against him.

Like for instance, the brother who said, look at Chicago and judged Barack based on that. What if we all judged 72 yr old McCain based on every 72 year old person that drives too freaking slow on the highway.
Maybe a few folks have been reading too many strictly right wing extremist blogs. (Just my opinion)
I love Barack's vision, reliance on HOPE instead of fear, and his viewpoint of political leadership... Not to mention a good deal of his plans for our country! YES WE CAN! And I believe we will! :-)

SPEECH

September 8, 2008 8:18 PM

BloggerJMS said...

Hey Speech, let me clarify one thing that I believe you may have misinterpreted me as saying. I'm NOT saying that Obama has no moral worth. Nor do I condemn those who have suffered through the horror of abortion (it destroys more than just the lives of the victims, it also leads to much more hurt and pain for those involved). As a pastor I've been blessed to give hope and encourage a number of people who have lived with the regret of abortions earlier in life and as an artist I even did a series of paintings about the grace and forgiveness Jesus offers to women who've gone through it (which you can see on my myspace artwork album at myspace.com/jms7327).

I want to make this clear because I'm not against PEOPLE who support abortion, I'm against ABORTION and its legality. Just as Wilberforce and other abolitionists were not against the people involved in the society that had legal slavery, but they were wholeheartedly against IT REMAINING LEGAL and saw it as a blight on the face of their nation.

What I DID want to say is that if Obama, or any pro-choice republican such as Giuliani for that matter, stands SO FIRMLY in favor of keeping abortion-on-demand (i.e. abortion where the life or health of the mother is not in danger) legal, then THEY FORFEIT the right to label any other issue as immoral because the issue of protecting INNOCENT human life at its most vulnerable stage is foundational to all other issues regarding other rights and injustices.

Please excuse my use of caps above, I am not "yelling", I'm simply using them for emphasis.

I'm encouraged to hear that you (and you too RJ) are going to look more into this issue. And again, I want to emphasize that I'm not partisan, nor am I a McCain supporter or an Obama hater. I think they both have tremendous leadership ability and have various strengths and weaknesses. I predicted a few months ago that Obama will be the next prez and if he is then I will pray for him as our nation's leader and welcome his leadership, recognizing that it is God who raises up ALL leaders in His sovereignty. But until Obama lets his professed faith in the Lord of life and prince of peace affect his support of state-endorsed genocide (over 20 MILLION victims since Roe v. Wade in '73, the majority of whom were female or people of color), I will be unable to respect him as a social reformer or morally upright leader. In my mind, he will be like Robert E. Lee during the civil war--a professing Christian who personally hated slavery, yet fought as hard as he could in support of the Confederacy that condoned it.

Anyway, enough sermonizing. Sorry, I am a pastor after all! Heh heh!

Speech, I've got nothing but love for you and the rest of the AD family. And I wanted to let you know that Heroes of the Harvest is probably my favorite album I've bought in a long time. Keep doin' your thing, man!

And if you're ever in Charlotte, come worship with us! www.gsumc.org

Blessings,
JMS
www.abort73.com <--for those who want to know more than the sound bytes or slogans...

September 9, 2008 9:14 PM

AnonymousSpeech said...

That's why I love these blogs and discussions! JMS, I'm actually feeling you right now. I DO better understand your views and honestly, I am leaning more towards sharing them (to some extent) than I ever have been. My vote choice remains the same, (Obama) yet, our conversation and the humility within it, has caused my heart to be moved towards better discernment on this issue.

By the way, killing babies, nor oppression of people is not my area of undecidedness, (I fight against that) I think it has been the issue of WHEN a child is "alive" that has stumped my passion on the issue.

Again, thanks for your comments, and love of Heroes album, the group all appreciates you and the invitation to church is extended to you as well, if you are ever in Atlanta.

www.thegacc.org

your brother,
SPEECH

September 10, 2008 8:08 AM


BloggerJMS said...

Hey Speech,
Cool, man. I'm not trying to get anyone to change their vote necessarily. I believe we (Christians, at least) are called to ground ourselves in God's revealed Word and the life-changing power of the Gospel and then seek to live out that Gospel in the society in which we find ourselves placed. In our case it means voting for the candidate who we feel will most likely bring the highest level of good to this country and ultimately to this world. And because we all have differing perspectives, experiences, cultural conditions and desires, we will not always agree on which candidate will best exemplify Godly secular leadership ("Godly secular" sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but I think you know what I mean).

I personally see flaws with all 4 of the main players in this game. For me--where I'm at right now, given what I believe grieves God's heart regarding "the least of these"--I cannot see a more grevious error in human judgment than someone supporting, even fighting to maintain, the right to take a life that God already knows as it is being "knit together in the womb", to borrow the language of the prophet Jeremiah. This is why I pray that Sen. Obama (or possibly Pres. Obama) will experience a true transformation of the heart regarding this injustice and our society's blindness to it. This issue is particularly troubling right now because, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Sen. Obama is in favor of witholding medical care for babies that end up surviving abortions--i.e. after the child is burned with the saline solution and pulled out with pincers, if it is still alive, the doctors should be allowed to simply discard it as medical waste. This is a position that is common among the most ardent proponents of abortion-on-demand (N.O.W., Planned Parenthood, etc.), but I'm hoping that I have my facts wrong on this and that Obama recognizes this for the evil it is.

As you can see, I am much more passionate about this issue of abortion-on-demand than I am about the other issues in our current politics. Not that they are all unimportant! I just see them as "specks" compared to this "plank" we have in our national eye right now. I would like to recommend two books to you as you continue your seeking of God's will and discernment on this issue. Both opened my eyes to things I did not know or had not considered before and I've yet to hear refutations for all of the points they raise: 1. "Politically Correct Death" by Francis Beckwith (http://www.amazon.com/Politically-Correct-Death-Answering-Arguments/dp/0801010500/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221360345&sr=8-1)

and
2. "Pro-life Answers to Pro-choice Arguments" by Randy Alcorn (http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=37519&netp_id=210236&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers)

Thanks for the invite to GACoC; perhaps I'll one day be able to take you up on it...though given my occupation, Sundays are a bit hard to travel on... ;)

Be blessed, brother!

JMS
gsdisciple.blogspot.com

ps: "Lost Soldiers"...easily my favorite track on Heroes! Every hip hop fan should hear it!

September 13, 2008 10:47 PM

AnonymousSPEECH said...

OK,

I don't vote because of one issue only. I vote PROUDLY for Obama, because #1.) I am surrounded by friends and neighbors who are hurting deeply from this administrations policies! Obama is about helping 95 percent of the nation cut taxes. He's about more fair laws that will help keep people out of the prison systems, he will help mend the Horrible relationships and reputation we have throughout the world. (I travel a Lot)
I understand peoples passion on stopping abortions. It's obviously a divisive issue to say the least. (Meaning it divides the country every election) Which honestly makes me upset! Because basically every Republican promises the results you are looking for on this issue, but after 8 years of BUSH, (A republican) where are we with it?

Does not all the deaths here and abroad from this unnecessary war mean anything to you?
All the unfair tax laws that penalize the poor and excuse the rich, does that fair fine in your morality test?

Corporations making billions off of predatory loans, forcing average hard working Americans to lose homes, many times under that stress, wrecking marriages, hurting children! Does all of that fit fine with you?

Education being unfair and unbalanced, poor kids destined to cyclical poverty and hopelessness, is that fine by your pro-life friends seemingly heightened morality!

Pro-gun stances even (machine guns and criminal assault rifles) are a Repubulican hot button issue! In my community, these guns are falling into the hands of children and older dummy's that are literally blowing each other up on the city streets, but that issue to Pro-lifers is not enough to make their moral meters perk up at all! Thus they protect the right to have these types of guns, knowing that they are supplied and sold to inner city gang members and drug dealers!

I have heard some call all ANY ISSUE that's not abortion simply dust in the eye of America and the abortion issue is the only plank in the eye of America. I think it's because Pro-lifers have become so narrow sighted in the injustices of this world, they they have also become blinded by their own cause!

And I am a Christian, I am fine with stopping abortions. I hate them!

However, this ONE issue tends to ignite people to vote for an other wise horrible candidate, that supports literally 90% of the Bush policies! After he is elected, (if he is) let's see what he is actually able to do to help your one cause. If he doesn't do it, then shame on Americans, who have been bamboozled yet once again, by the ole "Abortion issue".

SPEECH

September 16, 2008 8:48 AM


BloggerJMS said...

I feel your frustration, Speech. You're criticizing the Republican party for hypocrisy and narrow mindedness. Since I'm not Republican, I can agree with these critiques. But don't you think that instead of pointing out other evils doesn't justify supporting those who (proudly) uphold others? This is my conundrum every election year. But in my heart I can't vote for someone who supports legal genocide, no matter how bad the other candidate is...thus I'll often end up writing in a candidate rather than being forced to choose between two evils.

All Obama would have to do to get my vote is stand up against abortion-on-demand. But unfortunately, he's too dependent on his allegiance to the Democratic party to oppose the one issue where they are unquestionably on the wrong side of a severe human rights violation. And when someone fights to promote the taking of innocent lives (whether it's the war mongers on the right or the abortion proponents on the left), they lose the ability to make moral pronouncements in my eyes.

That being said, I won't be upset if Obama wins. He'll certainly improve our international image and will probably have some great educational initiatives. He's definitely a much better orator than McCain and is definitely cooler (hello, fist-bump!). But I can't help but fear that 90% of the "change" rhetoric is mostly just that...rhetoric. He is part of the Capitol Hill gang, after all. Senators (whether they're named Obama or McCain) are notorious for keeping the status quo...and voting for higher salaries for themselves. I guess I'm just cynical.

Blessings,
JMS

September 16, 2008 4:51 PM

AnonymousSPEECH said...

I love having these talks with you JMS, cuz at least you're intelligent about it. You can see my frustration dripping off the page! :-)

My (proudness) in supporting Obama is not based on someone allowing the killing of babies. Again, I disagree with that practice.

None the less, I think we all come from different perspectives (and that's fine.) Let me explain mine...

NOT voting or even "writing in a candidate" is NOT an option for me, a black in America, who only 139 years ago was NOT allowed to vote at all!

We've seen this country perpetrate atrocities towards us that are too serious to simply not vote because we disagree with certain parts of both parties policies. That is a luxury that I CANNOT AFFORD!

The things I mentioned that are other evils: (guns, war killings, jail, HIV, education injustice, etc.) are too close to home for ME to ignore them, in order to make a "statement" at the polls. That too is a luxury that I cannot afford.

Most registered black voters likely feel the same as I do on this issue. Although you may be surprised to hear that many blacks disagree with abortion, and agree with no sex before marriage, and monogamous marriages! BUT there are cultural ill's that plague the black community that DO NOT plague most white communities.

And these cultural truths prey on our values and neighborhoods at alarming rates.

The statistics and ratio's of whites to blacks in these areas show the urgency of correcting these ill's for blacks and minorities.

I do think however that YOU can afford to "not vote" or what have you. Many of the things that you may take for granted (as a white man in America) are not things that I can take for granted. I must be involved!

Our "inalienable" rights have been conditional far too often.


I'm NOT saying EVERYTHING is about race, but when some say NOTHING is about race that's naive and simply wrong.

Speech

September 16, 2008 5:36 PM

BloggerJMS said...

I hear you, Speech. I do think there are very important racial issues that come in to play and I'm not naive enough to tell everyone to "be colorblind".

I know that most black Americans oppose abortion-on-demand...that is why I get so grieved at the fact that so few who have public platforms actually come out and voice this to the party that assumes all black Americans are on their side. If black leaders showed as much passion and hatred of institutionalized genocide as they do against institutionalized racism and oppression, the Democrats would be forced to come to grips with this issue and oppose the ultimate injustice of killing persons while they grow in the womb. This is one reason why leaders like, for instance, Tony Evans, impress me so much. They are willing to speak out passionately in favor of all human rights. I feel that you are among the few individuals in our culture who are committed to Jesus who could actually make a HUGE difference in cultural perception of abortion-on-demand, just as you and AD have done with racial injustice for the past 2 decades. If you conscience is not troubled by voting for someone who is so in favor of abortion-on-demand remaining legal then vote for him...but in doing so, continue to cry out to him and others in the Democratic ranks to stop their support of this evil.

As for me, I don't vote for a write-in candidate to make a statement. I do it because a democracy is built upon voting for who you think best represents you. When neither candidate represents me, and there is no other option, I must vote according to my conscience. To not do so would be sin (Rom.12-14).

But I really do understand your points about having to do something with your vote about issues that are disproportionately present among the black community (and to a lesser degree, other minority communities in this country). Most white people like to say "I understand...I have black friends...I feel your pain...blah blah blah" when we both know that's not true. However, God saw fit to have me raised in the inner-city of Savannah (Hitch Village projects if you're ever down there!) where my Dad was the pastor of a church where my sister and I were among the handful of white kids. As a result, I was introduced early on to issues of race and daily realities that my friends faced that for some reason (I now know why!) I did not.

All that to say that I'm passionate about issues of racial injustice, latent bigotry, naive "white guilt", and institutional oppression. (Why do you think I became such a huge AD fan after hearing "3 years, 5 months.."?? ;) But I'm just as passionate about educating people to include abortion-on-demand among them, and at the top of the list of institutional cultural evils in our country. Those leaders in the struggle against the other evils in our society who sit by silently and avoid speaking out against abortion-on-demand in order to stay unified with their party of choice will have to appear before our LORD and account for their complicity in perpetuating it.

So support Obama, get others to support Obama, fight for the change that Obama is promising...but, like Esther, use the platform and influence God has blessed you with to influence Obama and others in his party to oppose legalized genocide masquerading as "choice".

Anyway, I too enjoy discussing this with you and, in addition to being a little star-struck (lol!), am continually impressed by your passion and commitment to our Savior. Politics aside, we stand unified in our overall allegiance...and for that I give thanks to God. :)

JMS

September 16, 2008 7:14 PM

BloggerJMS said...

Jody,
I'm afraid you've misunderstood me (I assume I'm the PASTOR you are referring too! :). While I'm not a Republican, in the past I have voted for Republican candidates in various positions who have put forth pro-life legislation (only to have it vetoed by Democratic Presidents or joint efforts by Democratic and moderate Republican senators and house members). I've voted for candidates who've spoken out against and voted against partial-birth abortion and underage abortion. So I'm not sure what exactly you are talking about when you say that "no pro-life candidate" has ever "made good" on their promises. I don't have any illusions that a pro-life president can end abortion-on-demand in this country...but one who wholeheartedly supports it sure as heck can't.

At the end of the day, I don't want to be like the Germans who stood by and said nothing about the evil in their midst or the Rwandans who stood by and allowed their neighbors to exterminate others of a different lineage or my fellow southerners who tolerated the Jim Crow water fountains and their white-hooded relatives. I believe with all of my heart that abortion-on-demand is every bit as horrible (and in terms of sheer numbers, much more damaging) as these other historic injustices. Therefore, for me to NOT oppose it with everything I have, is simply not an option.

This election doesn't make or break this issue, nor will it solve it. But it does provide a national opportunity to unmask this societal evil and educate others to stand against it and include it among their list of things that need to "change".

Blessings,
JMS

September 16, 2008 7:25 PM

BloggerReelphat said...

JMS,

I totally feel you, my friend. I honestly do. The problem is, this has been an issue for MANY years. The opportunity for it to be "unmasked" was the same statement that people used in the two elections where Bush won.

You appear to be a HIGHLY intelligent gentleman so, let me ask you this: If this issue CAN be unmasked, wouldn't it be more fruitful for the church to make it an issue for people to pay attention to ALL the time and not just every 4 years? As well, being a part of the "church," I see a possible solution being that the church could actually look to make a difference locally and have it grow. For instance, if churches of various denominations could ban together and actually work towards making a difference on this issue at a local level, would there be a greater chance for change?

Does the church, or you individually, oppose bars and drinking with everything you have because of the damaging effects of drunk driving and the many people who die from it or domestic violence due, in part, to alcoholism? How about the evils of racism and it's damaging effects? Guns that fall into the hands of unlawful citizens?

I agree with your analogy pertaining to the Germans(as we shouldn't sit back and not be involved) but, don't you ALSO think that it is inevitably naive for members of the church to base their vote solely on this issue? Better yet, from a moral standpoint, can the church afford to condone a pro- life habitual liar?

To be quite honest, I think you(the church) could get more accomplished dealing with a leader who is prone for change and actually listens to the constituents, as opposed to, banking on a candidate who will tell you anything to make you feel like he's in your corner but, will leave you high and dry after election day.

Besides, pro- life won't be the biggest issue any of us face if McCain does what he has been talking about and decides to get into it with Iran.....we'll have to worry about how long before somebody pushes the red button. Family values and the issue of abortion starts in the HOME, NOT the White House.

Blessings to you too, my friend.

~Jody

September 16, 2008 8:26 PM


BloggerJMS said...

Jody,
I don't disagree with any of what you just said. I'm not a supporter of McCain, nor are many evangelical Christians I know, including within my own church!

I also agree that churches should focus on opposing abortion-on-demand 100% of the time rather than every 4 years. This is why we support things like crisis pregnancy centers, adoption, foster care, mentoring, sex-education, etc. This is why I constantly point people toward non-partisan organizations that oppose abortion and educate about it such as

www.abort73.com

or

www.feministsforlife.com

It's not a partisan issue. The only thing that makes it become a partisan issue to many people is the fact that one party officially endorses it and one party officially opposes it.

The most fitting analogy I can think of is this. Imagine you are an abolitionist living in Georgia the late 18th century. Slavery is an entrenched social reality that many people have come to accept as a sad fact of life. Nothing looks like it will change any time soon. There are two candidates running for president. One of them shares your views on slavery and promises to try to fight for abolition, but you disagree with most of his other views on domestic and international issues. The other candidate agrees with your views on pretty much every issue...except he is a slave-owner and supports the rights of slave-owners whole-heartedly because he doesn't consider slaves to be fully human, and because there are too many other societal issues he thinks we should address.

My question is, as an abolitionist--someone passionately committed to ending the slave trade and who constantly tries to show people the evils of it year round--regardless of whether or not you would vote for the abolitionist candidate, could you honestly in good conscience vote for the slavery proponent? I could not. Their core view of human life (evidenced by their endorsement of slavery) goes against everything I stand for and makes all their other ideas and positions pale in comparison.

That is how I feel every election year. I don't really like the Republican candidates, but I can never vote for the Democrat candidates because they support something deeming one group of people (those in the womb) not fully human and therefore not protected by the most fundamental human right.

I HATE the fact that McCain is associated with war-mongers like John Hagee. Likewise, I HATE the fact that Obama believes doctors should have the right to discard babies who survive the abortion procedure as "medical waste." How can I in good conscience vote for either?

This is why I am independent. This is why I sometimes choose to write in a candidate who represents me rather than give tacit endorsement to those perpetuating large-scale evils.

Thank you for this dialogue. Be blessed, my friend.

JMS

September 16, 2008 11:36 PM

December 22, 2009

My upcoming classes...open to anyone interested!


Beginning Jan. 31st I'll be teaching two courses at Good Shepherd's Passage School of Theology. Passage is GS's way of bringing the highest level of Biblical, Theological and Ministry education to those outside of a seminary setting (and it's one of my favorite things about GS as a whole!).

The course I'm teaching along with their descriptions are:



Biblical Studies 202 - Invitation to the Old Testament (aka. The Hebrew Bible)

Duration:
12 week course, Sunday mornings at 11:30am

Description:
The Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament as it is commonly referred to by Christians, makes up 77% of God’s written word. Yet for many Christians it remains largely unknown and/or unread. The Hebrew Bible is often-confusing to the modern Christian reader…but it doesn’t have to be. This course is designed to give students a walk-through of the Hebrew Bible, enabling them to gain a big-picture understanding of what God was doing through Israel and how that is crucial for any understanding of what He goes on to do in the New Testament through Jesus and the Church. Students will explore the main sections of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the various genres, motifs, images, and stories found in its pages. The goal of the course is to ground the Christian in a thoroughly Biblical understanding of the Hebrew Bible so that they can then more fully understand and appreciate the message of the Gospel.
Expected Cost: $1o-15


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Biblical Studies 204 - “Apocalypse Now??”

Duration
: 10 week course, Wednesday evenings 6:30pm

Description: War in the Middle-East! One-world Government! Tsunamis! Earthquakes! Are we living in the “Last Days”? Is Armageddon right around the corner? What does the Bible teach about all this? Is the Apocalypse at hand?? Questions like these concern what theologians call “eschatology”, that is, study of the end-times. In this course James-Michael Smith will lead participants through a survey of various ways Christians have looked at the end times and the relevant Biblical passages. Challenging popular misconceptions put forth by the media (both Christian and secular), “Apocalypse Now??” will equip the reader of Scripture to understand and interpret the Bible’s teaching on eschatology in a thoughtful and reflective manner and read Scripture on its own terms rather than through the lens of modern imagination. Regardless of one’s end-time views, this course will challenge as well as edify the believer in their walk with the God who controls all human history!
Expected Cost: $15-20

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These courses are open to anyone (but preference may be given to those who have completed BS 101 - Bible for the Rest of Us...which, for those who have not taken it yet, is also being offered this semester!).

To register or for more information, contact Good Shepherd's Connections & Communications Pastor, Rebecca Grayson.

Old-Earth testable model offers alternative to Young-Earth and Neo-Darwinian accounts

Old-Earth testable model offers alternative to Young-Earth and Neo-Darwinian accounts

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December 15, 2009

Pre-order "Bible for the Rest of Us" on DVD!!

Here's a sneak peek at the cover for my new DVD course "The Bible for the Rest of Us":



Here's the text from the back cover:

"Does studying the Bible sometimes make you feel like a dummy? You’re not alone! The Bible is a confusing book. But it’s not just for scholars and clergy-it’s for the rest of us too. This 6-session course takes a closer look at how to read, study, interpret and understand God’s Word more accurately and responsibly.

Each week participants can follow along in their workbooks (which are included in PDF format) as topics such as translation, inspiration, text-criticism, and interpretation are explored in detail. On-screen notes, charts and graphics help bring the information to life and provide an in-class feel ideal for small groups or Sunday School classes. The course is divided into five parts, with each session between 20-40 mins. in length:

Part 1 - Bible Basics (5 sessions)
Part 2 - The Hebrew Bible (2 sessions)
Part 3 - Interpreting the OT (3 sessions)
Part 4 - The New Testament (2 sessions)
Part 5 - Misunderstood Passages (4 sessions)

Whether you’ve studied the Bible for decades or just received your first copy, you’ll definitely be exposed to a fresh encounter with God’s Word each week!

"The perception in America is that Christians are products of a blind allegiance to the Bible. Unfortunately, this view is fairly accurate. Bible for the Rest of Us will change that. This course transforms a person's understanding of the bible and will empower them to grow into more informed and educated believers." --Chris Macedo - Pastor of Worship, Good Shepherd UMC

“James-Michael's "Bible for the Rest of Us" was an excellent experience. It was better than some of my seminary classes. James-Michael combines a heart for God and intimate knowledge of his word with a high capacity to teach with humor, wit and simplicity. Its a real treat for anyone interested in learning more about the Bible on its own terms.” --Rich Tuttle - United Methodist Pastor

“Standing on a firm theological foundation, James-Michael is able to clearly communicate the timeless truths of the Christian faith in a way any listener can understand and appreciate.”
--David Hickman - Executive Director, CharlotteONE

James-Michael Smith (M.Div, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is a teacher/speaker who writes as the national Methodist Examiner [www.examiner.com] and The Olio [theolio.org]. He served for five years as pastor of discipleship at Good Shepherd UMC in Charlotte, NC where he oversaw the church’s PASSAGE school of theology, Discipleship, Adult Education, FUSION Young Adult Ministry, Men’s Ministry and Small Groups. He speaks on occasion at CharlotteONE: (www.charlotteone.org), a citywide worship gathering of young adults in the metro Charlotte area. He loves teaching about and discussing obscure biblical passages, philosophy of religion, the Hebrew Bible, and theological or spiritual truths (as well as anything pertaining to the Simpsons, MMA, or Ron Burgundy)."


I'm taking pre-orders for it now. The cost of the 4-DVD, 16-session course is $100 (about 1/3 the price of comparable DVD curriculum sets!) and it should be ready to ship by New Years. If you'd like to reserve a copy, just click on the paypal link. Or you'd prefer to pay by check you can email me at jamesmichael7@yahoo.com for details on how to do so.

*Note: Those who have completed the course in person at GSUMC or AFUMC can get it for half price!!*

SAMPLE CLIPS:

Introduction to the course:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z6apsAQCvM&feature=player_embedded

Scripture and Science:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv2h9WQd2ic

What does it mean to be 'Lukewarm'?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chwwiW8hKog&feature=player_embedded

And please tell everyone you know, particularly Pastors and Small Group leaders. Grassroots marketing is where it's at! Depending on the success of this curriculum, there might be more to follow! :)


Blessings!
James-Michael





Bible for the Rest of Us DVD course




December 13, 2009

Running the race

So, this past weekend I ran a marathon.

Yes, you read that right. James-Michael Smith, the non-runner, ran 26.2 miles. I finished the Kiawah Island Marathon in 4 hrs, 58 minutes and 39 seconds. I was hoping for between 4:30 and 5:00 so accomplished that goal (though I was a little disappointed that I had to slow down and walk at mile 21 for a little while).

What's really cool is that I was able to run for a good friend who injured her hip during training and wasn't able to run. She let me run in her place and was even there to cheer me on and run the final mile with me. It was answered prayer because originally I missed the registration deadline and thought I wouldn't be able to run at all.

The purpose of running the marathon for me was to see how it compared to earning my black belt in terms of difficulty and endurance. And while it was definitely grueling (especially the last 6 miles!), my black belt test was much more painful in terms of overall soreness and feeling absolutely dead at the end! But it did give me a good idea of what serious runners go through and just how dedicated they are to their sport. For instance, my roomate, and runner extraordinare, Wade Barts ran it and finished more than an hour and a half faster than me!

The greatest part was running it with a number of my good friends and having friends there supporting us. Having people cheering for you and supporting you the whole time is a wonderful feeling. It definitely helps to know you're not running the race alone.



I bet this is one of the reasons why the authors of Scripture used the image of long distance running to present the Christian life on so many occasions:

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:4)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1Cor. 9:24)

I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. (Gal. 2:2)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? (Gal. 5:7)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2Tim. 4:7)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3)

December 8, 2009

'Lukewarm' Christians?

'Lukewarm' Christians?

A look at the background behind the letter to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3 reveals the meaning of this phrase...and it's not what most people have come to believe it to mean. Historical context is crucial; especially when it comes to NT Interpretation where most of the texts are letters to specific people or groups of believers at specific times in history.




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November 29, 2009

The lion and the lamb in SW GA

I had the privilege of teaching a combined group of adult Sunday School classes this morning at Americus First UMC down in Americus, GA (where Habitat for Humanity's headquarters is located among other things) and it was a great way to end a trip home for Thanksgiving. The adults there, most of whom were in the 50s-70s age range, were awesome. It's so great to come across adults who realize what it means to be lifelong learners.

The subject of my talk was interpreting the book of Revelation, with a specific focus on the theme of apocalyptic irony and upside-down symbolism in the book. This is one of the most helpful keys to interpreting Revelation without going off into doctrinal crazyland, as so many have done in the past. We looked at how in Revelation, Jesus is said to be a "Lion", but is seen in reality as a slaughtered "Lamb" (ch.5). Likewise, the faithful servants of God who are sealed and protected from the "wrath of the Lamb" (a seemingly oxymoronic statement if there ever was one!) are said to be "144,000" from "the tribes of Israel", but they immediately are seen in reality to be "an innumerable multitude" from "every tribe, language, people group and nation" (ch.7).

Thus, the 144,000 who are sealed are in reality all those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes"...even if that path should lead to suffering persecution and ultimately death (chs. 7 & 14). It's not some class of super-saints who will enjoy a closer existence with God in an etheral "Heaven" while the rest of God's people live forever here on earth (as Jehovah's Witnesses often teach), nor is it confined to ethnic Jews who come to faith in Jesus during the "Great Tribulation" 7 (or 3-and-a-half, depending on who you talk to!) years before Jesus sets up a Millennial earthly kingdom in Israel (as many Rapture-Theology proponents have taught). The 144,000 of Revelation are all God's faithful followers, willing to lay down their lives for the One who laid down His life for them, depicted through Apocalpytic prophetic imagery as the true "army of Israelites"...with the true "Lion of Judah" being the slain Lamb leading the charge!

Revelation is such an amazing book!

Blessings,
JMS

November 22, 2009

The struggle of studying Scripture

Here's the intro from my DVD curriculum "Bible for the Rest of Us", where we discuss the struggle involved in studying the Bible, why it's okay to experience such a struggle, and the importance of community in engaging in the struggle.



Anyone interested in pre-ordering a copy of the full set of DVDs can email me at jamesmichael7@yahoo.com. The cost for the entire course is $100 and includes PDFs of the participant's workbook.

Also, those who have taken the course already at GSUMC or AFUMC get a %50 discount!

JM's Audio Teaching Archive

Check out sermon.net/jmsmith for some of my messages and teaching sessions:

Bruce Lee quote of the day...