‘Dearborn Four’ Acquitted; Paul Talks to Their Lawyer

Four street evangelists were arrested in Dearborn this past summer during an Arab-American Festival. They were charged with disobeying a police office and disturbing the peace for continuing to exercise their First Amendment right to distribute evangelistic literature on a public street in an American city.

The four were acquitted recently by a jury. I spoke with the attorney from the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor who is representing them, Robert Muise.


NY Times Reviews “Stone”

UPDATE: Paul talks to the Director of Stone, John Curran AUDIO

I’m privileged to have my voice appearing alongside Robert De Niro and Edward Norton in the new John Curran film, Stone which opens nationwide today and in Detroit on October 22.

The New York Times has just posted their review of the film. The reviewer opens his review:

As far as Stone can tell, or as far as the movie initially suggests, the only thing standing between him and the outside world is an unsmiling parole officer, Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro), who, when he’s not shuffling papers, listens — in his car and at home — to Christian talk radio.

STONE: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Frances Conroy, Robert De Niro

Discovering the Gospel before Rediscovering Values

Rediscovering Values is Jim Wallis’ latest book. It is a prescription for economic recovery: applying (out of context) social justice texts from the Torah, together with selective texts from the Gospels (primarily the Sermon on the Mount), while advocating the application of some aspects of Shariah law to the United States banking system (see page 128 of his book).  The result is an over emphasis on social justice and zero emphasis on the necessity of the gospel to fundamentally transform the fallen nature of corrupt sinners before values can have any meaning at all.

Wallis makes the error of applying theocratic texts from the Old Testment, together with admonitions of Jesus from the Gospels (which are limited in their application to those who have forsaken all, denied themselves, and taken up their cross to follow Him)  to the economic and political realities of secular America.

This is a fatal flaw. To quote the Apostle Paul, “the law is good if a man uses it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:8). There is no better illustration of a man using God’s law unlawfully than Wallis’ Rediscovering Values. Wallis is counting on the law (the Torah, the social justice texts of the Gospels) to do what only the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ can do – make a man righteous so that he actually desires to “do justice, show mercy, and walk humbly with his God.” Man by nature – and by the law – is incapable of pursuing these things outside of his own self-interest.

Wallis is either ignorant of or intentionally ignoring gospel realities, including man’s fallen nature and the remedy for sin accomplished through the incarnation, humiliation, suffering, death (vicarious atonement) and exaltation of Jesus Christ.  He wants to generalize Gospel principles for people who have not been transformed by the Gospel, the end result of which is a kind of humanistic salvation that cleans the outside of the cup but leaves the inside of the cup corrupt.

Bottom line, Mr. Wallis: You can’t apply the words of Jesus to people who have no use for Jesus as Lord. Jesus didn’t come to give general principles for economic recovery or moral values. He came to revolutionize the economy by demanding that we recognize him as Lord – which is why he was ultimately crucified. Wallis is attempting to get the people who crucified Jesus to live by Jesus’ rules without Jesus as Lord.

Wallis’ out of context use of Scripture is too numerous to catalog here, but one of the most egregious is his use of Leveticus 25 (the year of jubilee) to justify forced governmental wealth redistribution. Kevin DeYoung, while not specifically responding to Wallis, offers a proper exegesis of Leveticus 25 in its historical context, which Wallis would do well to consider. You can read DeYoung’s exegesis here:

Social Justice and the Poor (Part 3)

Ann Arbor church’s efforts to help homeless fail

Update: Listen to my interview with Dr. David Apple, Director of Mercy Ministries at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia here.

From AnnArbor.com:

The First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor’s experiment in providing a rudimentary shelter for the homeless is coming to an end.

Sometime this week, a wooden pavilion the church built in 2008 at a cost of more than $15,000, will be removed and given to the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

The church, 517 E. Washington St., tried but did not have success in managing “problematic behavior” among the homeless men who slept in the pavilion, co-pastor Paul Simpson Duke said.

The pavilion was built as an alternative for the homeless who had been sleeping on the church grounds, particularly under the large portico at the entrance to the building. Some church members felt unsafe when entering or leaving the church as a result.

The church wanted to be compassionate and did not want to remove the homeless; some were ineligible to receive assistance from local shelters, Duke said. So the church settled on the idea of building the pavilion, which has a roof and floor, but no walls, and put it on the side of the church’s property.

But it became a place for people to gather and drink and take drugs, Duke said. There were fights among the people who stayed there. And the church had concerns about noise and lewdness affecting its next-door neighbors, he said.

So where did this attempt go wrong? What are the obligations of the church (locally) to lose within its ministry area who are homeless mainly because of self-inflicted causes: drug abuse, anti-social behavior, criminal activity, etc.?

We’ll discuss these questions with Dr. David Apple from Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia today at 4:00 pm ET on The Paul Edwards Program. Dr. Apple is the Director of Mercy Ministry for Tenth Presbyterian. Through their ACTS (Active Compassion through Service) they mobilize 300 volunteers every week to ministry to the homeless, people with AIDS, at-risk children, single parents, nursing home residents, the incarcerated, and people with special needs.

By developing a Bible based approach to caring for the poor they have developed a program with well-defined ground rules. They have trained their people. They understand from a biblical perspective what the role of deacon is. All of this and more combines to produce a successful approach to ministering to real people in adverse circumstances.

Tune in today (Tuesday, June 1, 2010) at 4:00 pm for more.

Catholic Theology and the Re-Sacrifice of Christ

I’m giving serious consideration to taking our entire Sunday School program through the Heidelberg Catechism beginning this fall (and continuing for as long as it takes!). One of the resources I’m working through to help me in preparation is Kevin DeYoung’s The Good News We Almost Forgot.

I was interested to read this from DeYoung on the question of how the (evangelical) Lord’s Supper differs from the Catholic Mass:

To be fair, Catholic theology does not consider the Eucharist a re-sacrifice of Christ. “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1367). Thus, Catholic theologians do not agree with the Heidelberg that the Mass is “nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ.” The sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist are one sacrifice performed in different ways, they would argue. Official Catholic teaching does not argue that Christ’s death must be repeated over and over. Rather, it teaches that in the Eucharist the death of Christ is pulled into the present for us to enjoy sacramentally. No Catholic who knows his official theology would claim that the Mass repeats the atoning sacrifice of Christ, because the sacrifice is “ever present” (CCC 1364).

I’m almost ashamed to admit that this is the first time I have ever heard this distinction. Are evangelicals closer to Catholics in our understanding of the real presence of Christ at the Table than we may have previously imagined?