Last Build Date: Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:39:34 -0500Copyright: Copyright 2014
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:39:34 -0500
Two articles I read this week vindicate my decision to write my new book, "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel." It's not just Christianity's values that are under attack but its core claims.
I was well aware when undertaking this project that some Christians would be put off by the very idea of Christian apologetics. According to them, we don't need to defend the faith. Respectfully, that's not what the Bible says.
Peter tells us, "Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).
I think obedience requires us, then, to attempt to answer the challenges asserted against the faith, when appropriate, including the two lodged in the articles I read this week. I'll deal with one of those in this column, a piece in the Daily Mail by writer Michael Paulkovich, who argues that "Jesus never existed." He says there is no extra-biblical evidence that Jesus was a historical figure.
Few, if any, serious scholars make this claim anymore, as there are numerous non-Christian references to Jesus, from Jewish historian Josephus to first-century Greek historian Thallus to early-second-century Roman legate Pliny the Younger to Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius to Greek writer Mara bar Serapion to Greek rhetorician Lucian of Samosata to pagan critic Celsus.
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:37:37 -0500
We mention President Obama's narcissism not as an exercise in name-calling but because it continues to be relevant to how he conducts himself in office, and it's not pretty.
This undeniable character trait was on full display in his interview with Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes," in the sense that he simply cannot entertain the possibility, much less - infinitely less - admit the possibility that he has made a mistake or exercised poor judgment.
If anything remotely positive happens on his watch, he presumes to take full credit for it - way more than the normal opportunistic politician. With the killing of Osama bin Laden, for example, Obama boasts as if the raid were his initial idea and he delivered the kill shot. Most people in his position would play down their role in such an event and give credit to our special forces personnel who made it happen.
But when things are going poorly, Obama either candy-coats the reality or pretends he's an outsider powerless to do anything but complain about it. No president has ever been so committed to eschewing accountability.
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 08:36:42 -0500
Eric Holder has announced his resignation from his position as U.S. attorney general after almost six years of turning the Justice Department into a partisan political vehicle instead of a law enforcement institution.
It's too early to tell as of this writing what prompted his resignation. One would like to think his legacy of scandals and corruption finally caught up to him, but we have no reasonable expectation that this is the case, given this administration's agility at escaping accountability for any and all wrongdoing.
No, I doubt it's his malfeasance in connection with the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal, his obstruction of the congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service scandal or any other of a number of legitimate reasons warranting his repentance and resignation.
Republicans and other lovers of the rule of law also have little reason for optimism as to the character of Holder's eventual successor, for anyone President Obama selects will doubtlessly be of the same bent - strong on partisan politics and weak on justice.
During their tenure, both Holder and Obama have also used the Justice Department as a vehicle to promote racial grievances, and they've made no secret of their obsession. It's hard to miss that they both view the United States justice system as deeply tainted by institutional racism.
They would have us believe that the system routinely and habitually discriminates against blacks and that law enforcement officials throughout the nation target blacks across the board, from traffic stops to drug charges to criminal assault and other violent crimes.
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 08:35:06 -0500
Well, the wild and crazy 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is at it again, this time ruling that in a conflict between bullies and the First Amendment, bullies win.
The court let stand a previous ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that school officials of Live Oak High School can prohibit American students from wearing to school clothing featuring the American flag because of threats made against the American students. You read that right: not threats made by the American students but threats directed at them by others.
Admittedly, it's hard to surprise sane people anymore with all the wrongheaded things going on in this country, but this just won't do. It's one thing to insist, for example, that English be the official language; it's one thing to forbid American students from heckling Mexican students for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday. But it's altogether another thing for the school administration - and then the courts - to prevent peaceful American students from wearing flag apparel because it might provoke some rowdy students who don't approve of American students demonstrating and displaying their patriotism.
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:28:16 -0500
In my new book, "Jesus on Trial," I explain how the Bible itself serves as its own apologetic. Holy Scripture, if we'll give it a chance, can bring us to faith. So one of the main goals I have with my book is to encourage people to crack open this amazing book and give it a chance to work in their lives. They may be surprised.
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). "From infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
I must say that I didn't always have this high opinion of the Bible. When I was a young lawyer, in my skeptical days, I was visiting my friend Peter Kinder, now Missouri lieutenant governor, at Christmastime. He had brought some of his law school classmates home to stay at his parents' home during the Christmas break.
Thu, 11 Sep 2014 08:25:29 -0500
Jesus' apostles and other disciples were willing to die for him. But so what? Haven't the followers of other religious leaders and even some political leaders been willing to die for them, as well? What makes Jesus' followers so unique in this regard?
I address this very question in my new book, "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel," because I used to wonder about this, too. What, if anything, distinguishes the Christian martyrs?
New Testament scholar Gary Habermas offered an insight that I hadn't considered before, and I find it enormously probative.
"One grand distinction," he argues, "makes all the difference in the world. Like other examples of religious or political faith, the disciples believed and followed their leader's teachings. But unlike all others, the disciples had more than just their beliefs; they had seen the resurrected Jesus. This is a crucial distinction. Their faith was true precisely because of the Resurrection."
Mon, 08 Sep 2014 08:15:04 -0500
In case you haven't heard, despite all the noise we've been trying to make about it, I have a new book out, "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel," and I'm excited about it.
It is on Christian apologetics, which means it defends the Christian faith and its truth claims, but it also includes my personal journey from skeptic to believer and a discussion of basic Christian doctrine. What good is it to believe that Christianity is true if you don't have some idea what it stands for?
Why would I, a lawyer and political columnist, change course in this book and write about religion instead of politics? Well, to be honest, I wasn't sure I should write about this subject when I first considered the idea, because I wasn't sure that as a layman, I had the required credentials to undertake such a task.
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 18:38:29 -0500
Do you remember the left's chants about President George W. Bush: "Have you had enough yet?" Well, I could easily ask that about President Obama, but instead I'll ask: "Do you believe us now?"
Some of us have been saying from the beginning that something just isn't right about Obama. Something is very different about this man -- something that distinguishes him from every U.S. president in my lifetime.
All the talk about his birth certificate aside, I have long believed he really doesn't think like an American. Before you jump on me for suggesting there is an American way of thinking, let me assure you I'm not referring to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any of the other identifiers liberals routinely use to bludgeon conservatives into psychological submission. Oh, sorry, I shouldn't have used a metaphor involving violence, as the left also turns those around on us, disingenuously implying we mean them literally.
It's been obvious from the start that Obama doesn't think like an American, by which I mean he doesn't embrace the American idea. You are free to disagree with that, but I doubt you'll ever explain to our satisfaction his desire to fundamentally transform a nation whose ideas he endorses.
Not only does Obama have major issues with America, as founded, but he also appears to have a remarkable naivete concerning evil in the world. As low as his boiling point is concerning conservative opposition to his agenda, he seems not to have one for Islamic terrorism. From designating the Ft. Hood terrorist shootings as workplace violence, to insisting on closing Gitmo, to treating enemy combatants as innocent-until-proved-guilty criminal defendants, to calling the war on terror an "overseas contingency operation," to deliberately omitting the terms "Islam" and "Muslim" from any description of Islamic jihad, to behaving as though Muslim terrorists can be pacified through rational negotiations, he clearly does not get it.
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:35:54 -0500
I hope and pray that my Democratic friends are outraged by yet another criminalization of political differences with the bogus criminal indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
What is this all about, you ask -- in case you haven't heard?
Well, a grand jury indicted Perry on Friday on first-degree felony charges for allegedly abusing his powers by vetoing $7.5 million of funding over two years for the unit run by Texas state prosecutors who investigate public corruption. Perry is also charged with the third-degree felony of coercion of a public servant.
Perry didn't do this under cover of darkness; he threatened to veto the funding bill and followed up on his threat.
Why did he threaten and carry out this veto? The public integrity unit investigates allegations of corruption and political wrongdoing in Texas. The unit was overseen by Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's office. Perry said he was not about to allow a woman of Lehmberg's character supervise an ethics department with a budget of $7.5 million of taxpayer money. "If Travis County wanted to separately fund that office," said Perry, he would have had no objections to it.
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 16:37:44 -0500
I am constantly amazed at the tendency of some to use the perspective of hindsight to condemn decisions of those who did not possess the supernatural gift of predictive prophecy at the time they made their decisions.
So when a friend asked whether I believe that those who supported George W. Bush's decision to attack Iraq should feel remorse, considering the chaos and genocide occurring there now, I said "no," with some qualifications.
I believe that Bush and his team based their decision to invade Iraq on the best available intelligence (as to weapons of mass destruction) and a reasonable belief that Saddam Hussein fostered and supported terrorism -- not to mention his serial violation of multiple U.N. resolutions -- and thereby represented a threat to the national security interests of the United States and its allies.
Democrats, who initially supported the war for political reasons, later conveniently withdrew their support for political reasons and lied through their teeth about their former support and the facts leading to it. Through their relentless, vicious attacks on Bush, they systematically undermined the public's confidence in the war and our ability to optimally wage it.
Should the Bush team have better anticipated the strength and resilience of the insurgency after our toppling of Saddam? I suppose so, but in this age of terrorism and asymmetrical war, I'd contend that such events are less predictable than they might have been before.
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:59:15 -0500
President Obama claims that the extremism and reality-challenged nature of his political opponents explain his limitless policy failures, which, of course, he also refuses to acknowledge. This is truly rich but nothing new.
Obama told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, "What you've seen with our politics ... is increasingly politicians are rewarded for taking the most extreme, maximalist positions." He continued: "Sooner or later, that catches up with you. You end up not being able to move forward on things we need to move forward on. ... We need to rebuild our infrastructure. You go to the Singapore airport and then you come back to one of our airports and you say, 'Huh?' We're not acting like a superpower."
Obama said we need "to revamp our education system." "All these things are doable. Our fiscal position, actually, now is such -- you know, the deficit's been cut by more than half -- where we're in a position to make some smart investments that have huge payoffs, that historically have not been controversial, historically have garnered bipartisan support. But because of this maximalist ideological position, we've been blocked. ... That ideological extremism and maximalist position is much more prominent right now in the Republican Party than the Democrats."
How did he describe the Republican maximalist extremism? He noted that while "the Democratic consensus" is "pretty common-sense, mainstream" and generally "fact-based and reason-based," the Republican position is "a lot of wacky ideological nonsense. He said: "We're not denying science. We're not denying climate change. We're not pretending that somehow, having a whole bunch of uninsured people is the American way."
Can you say "delusional"? Republicans are extreme? Not fact- or reason-based?
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:54:54 -0500
It's time to revisit the widely disseminated myth that compromise in politics and governance is the highest virtue.
Recently, I heard a television host whom I like and respect lament that Congress left town without taking action on our border crisis. Members of Congress, the argument goes, just need to get together, put aside their partisanship and get something done. After all, even couples going through an acrimonious divorce can sit down in the same room, close the doors and work out some agreement.
But getting something done isn't always preferable to doing nothing, especially if the proposed action would make things worse. Would this host, for example, say that granting instant amnesty to every one of the people who have crossed our border illegally in this latest surge would be preferable to not acting? I pray not.
I think part of the problem is that this host assumes that President Obama shares the host's good faith -- that he wants to work with Republicans in Congress to enforce the border and properly deal with those who have entered illegally.
How do you compromise with someone who doesn't even share your goals and who has no intention of compromising with you, even if he pretends otherwise? President Obama arguably brought on this invasion himself by issuing his lawless executive order in 2012 declaring that he would stop deporting young illegal immigrants if they met certain requirements. He sent an unmistakable signal that children entering the nation illegally would receive amnesty -- and we have concrete evidence that this was a driving factor in the current border invasion.
Mon, 04 Aug 2014 21:58:57 -0500
Tell me: Has any other United States president ever goaded the opposition party to bring impeachment proceedings against himself? Has any other so sneeringly mocked and taunted the other party?
President Obama is not only not the uniter he promised to be; he is the agitator in chief. Just consider the contrast with President George W. Bush, who didn't even defend himself often, much less deride, needle and dare Democrats to oppose him.
It's just like Obama, the dutiful disciple of 1960s leftist radical Saul Alinsky, to divert our attention from his official misconduct by demonizing Republicans and conservatives rightfully challenging his lawlessness.
Obama knows he has habitually exceeded his executive authority, but it's not so much the frequency of his overreaches that is unique. He boastfully claims he hasn't issued so many executive orders as his predecessors did. But that's just more of his misdirection.
It's not unlike his absurd statement that there has been more oil drilling under his administration than under others. What tripe. He conveniently omits that most of the drilling has occurred on private, not government-owned, land.
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:32:28 -0500
Have we arrived at the point in our nation that a Democratic president and powerful members of his administration can act as lawlessly as they choose without any significant objection or protest from the Democratic Party, the liberal media and Democratic voters?
Deny it as they might, liberals seem to have less fealty than conservatives to the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.
Stop right there, you say. Democrats are no different from Republicans. Both parties are equally guilty.
Well, as much as it pleases some to invoke moral equivalency excuses when caught in wrongdoing, it simply isn't true that Republicans and conservatives are anywhere close to being as culpable as Democrats and liberals in thwarting the Constitution and the rule of law to achieve their ends.
There is a simple reason for that: Liberals believe, as a matter of their ideology, that the ends justify the means. We see it in practice every day. Liberals routinely distort facts and manipulate language to achieve their ends. As part of that, they will say that Republicans are guilty of precisely what they are doing. Manufactured projection is one of their most effective tools.
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:05:52 -0500
True, the Halbig case, if it makes its way to the Supreme Court, will present an opportunity for Chief Justice John Roberts to redeem himself from his abominably activist salvation of Obamacare. But more important, it will be an opportunity for the high court to reaffirm this nation's commitment to the rule of law.
In Halbig v. Burwell, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that under the Affordable Care Act federal health insurance subsidies are available for policies purchased only on state exchanges and not those purchased on the federal exchange.
If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will also have a rich opportunity to slap down the out-of-control, politicized Internal Revenue Service. Under this administration, the IRS has behaved as though it were a super-legislature with authority not just to promulgate regulations beyond its narrowly prescribed statutory power, but also to change laws wholesale in order to serve the administration's policy ends.
A proper wrist slapping of the IRS might well send a long overdue message to all federal administrative agencies -- take the renegade EPA, for example -- that they don't have carte blanche to do whatever they decide to do.
The ACA provides for the establishment of state exchanges through which consumers can purchase health insurance. The law did not make the establishment of such exchanges mandatory, and only 14 of the 50 states did so.