Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Fiscal Mess in Washington

It’s been a while since I last wrote a column here.  My current educational endeavors leave precious little time for much more.  Also, I have resisted the urge to add to the chorus of left versus right, liberal versus conservative rhetoric that now constantly pollutes many news outlets.  But now, like so many other Americans, I have just about had enough!

Washington DC is broken folks.  If we can’t agree on anything else, can we at least agree on that it is difficult to get much done when our political leaders insist on making their disagreements personal?  Mr. Obama and Congress constantly blame each other for their inability to get anything meaningful done.  There is absolutely no trust between Democrats and Republicans and no sign that the most extreme elements of both parties will be giving up the reins of power in their respective parties anytime soon.

Now the most recent “deal” to reopen the government (a misnomer since only about 14% of the government was actually “shut down”) is nothing more than another kick-the-can-down-the-road deal that accomplished essentially nothing.  Yet another committee has been formed to work on some sort of budget deal.  I don’t have much hope that this committee will find much more success than the last one.  This nonsense has to stop!

The director of the White House‘s National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, said recently in Washington DC jargon that entitlement cuts were in the cards.  Democrats are going to have to accept that.  Republicans are going to have to accept tax increases.  No one knows exactly what that looks like yet and neither party is going to like the compromises that they must make.  They don’t have to like it to do their jobs and do what is necessary to get our government working properly again.   

Will Democrats and Republicans come together and actually go to work for the American people?  Will they find they find the resolve to make sensible cuts to spending that must be made?  Will they find the backbone to stand up and increase taxes in the face of certain groups who oppose any such moves no matter what?  It is difficult to be optimistic given the track record of Washington DC in recent years.

Out here in the pews, we don’t see principled positions passionately articulated by committed public servants.  We see obnoxious self-serving career politicians campaigning on the fact that they will not compromise.  They are not arguing about some tenant of the faith that is simply not open to compromise.  They are arguing about what to do about the fiscal mess this country is in.  This is not a new problem and they now have over 17 trillion reasons to come together and do something about it!

Friday, November 01, 2013

What is Success for the Christian Academic? Obedience

What is Success for the Christian Academic? Obedience
Matthew 28:19-20; James 3:1
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20 ESV)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1 ESV).

A great many people today attend college and earn undergraduate degrees.  In fact, nearly 31% of Americans have earned a bachelor’s degree as of 2012 yet we do not consider these people academics.  Only 8% of Americans earn a master’s degree and rarely are these learned people referred to as academics.  Those with earned doctorates, about 3% of Americans, are generally considered academics.  These scholars spend years in study en route to obtaining this high level of education. 

For the Christian academic, career routes include local church ministry and serving in higher education in a college, university, or seminary.  Regardless of where the Christian academic finds himself, the topic of success must be considered.  After all, if he does not know what success is how is he to know if he has attained it?  It is my opinion that the overarching theme of success for the Christian academic is obedience.

Obedience in personal life: the Christian academic would do well to first remember James 3:1.  Christian academics will be held to a higher account.  This should lead the Christian academic to be obedient to the Scriptures in all aspects of life.  As such, the Christian academic should model the Christian life to students, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.  To virtually anyone looking into the life of the Christian academic, the fact that he is a Christian should be self-evident and above reproach.

Obedience in ministerial life: the obedience in the personal life of the Christian academic easily overlaps his ministry.  Here we see the Great Commission clearly as he seeks to make disciples regardless of the ministry setting (e.g. minister of education, college/seminary professor, etc.) in which he finds himself.  As he is obedient to Jesus’ command to go and make disciples, the Christian academic must also remember Matt. 28:20 where he is commanded to teach these new disciples all that Jesus has commanded.  That does not mean he may teach the parts of Scripture that he likes or finds enjoyable or is without much difficulty or controversy.  The Christian academic must be obedient and teach the entire counsel of God from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21.

Obedience in others: ultimately, the Christian academic who has been obedient in his personal life and in his ministerial life will know if he has achieved success if he has taught others to be obedient and keep the commands of Jesus Christ.  If he has made disciples, taught them to observe all that Christ commanded, and those disciples are now going themselves and making more disciples, the Christian Academic can say, albeit humbly, that his education filled life has been a success.