04 December 2009

An Extremely Busy Week

by Phil Johnson

    don't do radio interviews very often, but for a mix of different reasons this week I was asked to do five. Two of them were about the Manhattan Declaration; the others dealt with the sovereignty of God, gambling, and the issue of biblical justice.

It's really not a good week to be logging so much radio time. I have two important (overdue) writing deadlines, and I'm leaving for London Sunday night. Plus, I still haven't written the blogpost I originally planned to post last Monday. So I'm going to try to make the most of my time this evening by blending a couple of items into one post.

First some excerpts from Thursday's interviews:

The Paul Edwards Program

Paul (one of the best commentators and interviewers in Christian radio) engaged me in conversation about the Manhattan Declaration on Facebook Wednesday night and invited me to continue that dialogue on his Detroit-based broadcast yesterday. Here's an archive copy of the entire broadcast. The segment where I participated starts about an hour and five minutes into the broadcast, and goes on for about half an hour.

Here are some sound bites:
  1. Let me be clear about my position.
  2. ECT2?
  3. "Did I make a mistake?" "I think you did."
  4. "I live in a community of gospel deniers and belong to the homeowners' association."
  5. "I totally concur with that."
  6. Long term implications? I hope it will drive us back to preaching the gospel together.
Wretched Radio In the wake of the Huckabee controversy, Todd Friel interviewed me yesterday morning for Wretched Radio on the question of pardons, clemency, and commuted sentences for violent criminals. Specifically, is it always a corruption of justice to pardon a violent criminal who exhibits good behavior in prison, or can showing mercy to a felon sometimes be a good thing? Don't people deserve mercy if they turn their lives around?

Here are my thoughts on that question.

And finally,

Speaking of Justice . . .

The American Bible Society has published The Poverty & Justice Bible—on recycled paper (because, you know, that makes a statement against Global Warming, perhaps the greatest human "injustice" some of our liberal friends are capable of imagining). They've sent me four copies to give away to our blog readers, and they hoped I would review the publication at TeamPyro. Here's the most succinct review I can give you tonight:

The "Bible" aspect of this work is of course its best feature, though I'm not at all a fan of the watered-down, dumbed-down, gender-neutraled, politically-correct "Contemporary English Version" they have used. I can't see any scenario in which such a poor translation would be truly useful, and with the plethora of translations available today, this one certainly would not be my choice. Perhaps one example of this translation's deep-down badness will suffice for this short review. Here's the CEV rendering of Acts 9:22: "Saul preached with such power that he completely confused the Jewish people in Damascus, as he tried to show them that Jesus is the Messiah." (ESV: "But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.")

The worst feature of the book, however, is the way it treats "poverty & justice." The editors' and (most of the endorsers') notion of "justice" is a radical socialist's fantasy, retold in language taken straight from the canons of political correctness. Not that they really have much of any substance to say about either poverty or justice. There's a thin section of United-Methodist-style devotional essays stitched into the center of the book and unwisely titled "The Core." Aside from that, the main clues about the editors' perspective on "poverty & justice" come from the verses they have selected to highlight (or not). The highlights are in burnt orange (another unfortunate choice). Ostensibly these are all the key Bible verses about poverty and justice.

So with that in mind, I thumbed through to check a few verses that I knew would pose a challenge to the currently-popular politically-correct perspectives on "poverty & justice." It was frankly not surprising to see that 2 Thessalonians 3:10 ("If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat") didn't merit the editors' orange smear of approval. Neither did Deuteronomy 7:1-5, which spells out God's prescription for justice to the Canaanites, Perizzites, Amorites, and so on. Galatians 6:7 ("whatever one sows, that will he also reap") was ignored by the highlighter pen. Predictably, so was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and God's judicial abandonment of sinners to their sin in Romans 1.

In other words, the view of "justice" this Bible tries to promote is the same neo-Marxist perspective we have heard nonstop from Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, Shane Claiborne, most of the Emergent/ing districts of the blogosphere, and Acorn.

Anyway, I have four copies of this book to give away, and here's the deal: I'll give them to the four commenters who post the best 1-paragraph critique of the postmodern/liberal concept of "justice." No need to be wordy; a pithy one-sentence comment could well be better than a 600-word "paragraph."

Let's make Monday noon the deadline for entries. I'll be in England next week. Frank and Dan can choose the four winners and collect mailing addresses. I'll mail out the books when I get home.

Phil's signature


CR said...

PJ: Anyway, I have four copies of this book to give away, and here's the deal: I'll give them to the four commenters who post the best 1-paragraph critique of the postmodern/liberal concept of "justice." No need to be wordy; a pithy one-sentence comment could well be better than a 600-word "paragraph."

Um, well, you're obviously mistaken, maybe you were very tired when you wrote this, but you're having a contest and you're giving away four copies of this atrocious translation as a prize?

Tom Chantry said...

A contest that can only be won by someone who doesn't want to win it - what a delightful koan!

Fred Butler said...

Not that I am a Huckabee defender, but I heard him interviewed about this pardon a couple of times and after laying out the facts of the case, I think the guy is getting a bum deal from all his haters.

Paul D said...

I really want to win this one.

uhum..Do unto others as you imagine the universe should do unto you had you been given every advantage (as you deserve) and notwithstanding any errs in judgement attributable to circumstances beyond your choosing.

Paul D said...

I suppose that's not a critique, so I don't expect to win. Just in case I do - please donate the postage fee to Pioneers or missions in general and recycle the book with your old phone book. thanks.

candy said...

To the Pardon Board: I completely turned my life around in this prison and met Jesus. I go to the chapel and stuff and I plan to start a house for orphan girls from South America and Acorn said they would help me fund it.

mKhulu said...

I'd really like to have this book as "exibit A" to show how far our slide into humanism has taken us. It will be better evidence than the "African-American Spirit-Filled Women's Devotional Bible" I once saw in a bookstore.

DJP said...

Cthulhu? What?

Sir Brass said...

DJP, iä iä Cthulhu fhtagn? =p

DJP said...

That's the word on the street, Sir, yes.

Stuart Brogden said...

That insipid "The Poverty & Justice Bible" is one reason I refuse to have anything to do with the American Bible Society. I thank God for The Bible League and support them regularly and enthusiastically.

teknon said...

mKhulu - what's big?

P.S. please ignore if that makes no sense :-)


Matt Chandler got operated on this AM. Pray for him.


cr said
"you're giving away four copies of this atrocious translation as a prize?"

funny cr, that's exactly what I thought at first too. you can't just leave the junk ten speed on the lawn at night. you have to assign a value to it-- "for sale 10 bucks" next day- bingo.

:) flipper knows what he's doin

Aaron said...

As a criminal investigator for this great nation, I see firsthand the effects of this perverted view justice. And sadly, we'll see a lot more of it as a liberal administration and Congress installs more liberal judges. But unlike the President and Congress whom we can vote out in an election cycle or two, it will take generations to get these judges out.

Our legal system has become more of a chess game where lawyers for both sides try to outmanuever each other. The truth often seems to be a secondary concern. I can't tell you how many times I've had to be concerned over whether a technical consideration would result in lost evidence. I don't think justice is served when I have to worry if the evidence is going to be thrown out because my search warrant may have only covered the house and not the detached garage.

Liberals don't have to worry themselves about telling victims of crimes that they have no hope of recovering their lost assets or to see justice in this life. I can't tell you how many times I've had to console victims who have lost their life savings to scam artists. Then there was the kidnapping/murder case. I traced money all over the world and discovered a link to missing man. Evidence of that kidnapping and murder was even allowed at trial or at the death penalty phase (sentencing). It was too prejudicial (who cares if it was true or not?) On top of that, the trials lasted about six months each and took place about five years after the killings. Victims by that point had either moved on with their lives or had spent five years obssessed with "justice." Two of the three main conspirators got the death penalty under the federal system, but I'm not sure it will be carried out within the life of my career.

A lot of Christians also think life in prison is the way to go. If only they knew about the gangs, killings both inside and outside prison, and the constant danger faced by the prison guards. Oh, and the main guy in my kidnapping case, orchestrated a near escape from jail while waiting for trial.

Lastly, in my eleven year career, I've noticed one thing. People are only merciful until a crime happens to them. Then they're the first person to pick up a stone.

FX Turk said...

I don't wanna judge, lest I be judged.

samsung said...

I'll take a stab at this, just picture a Rob Bell clone on a trail, filmed in black and white, with a slight wind blowing....

"Justice and poverty are like sanctification and justification, sure there's a ton of scripture about them, but come on... we can't know what they REALLY mean.

John said...

The fundamental premisis that separates post-modern justice theory from modern justice theory is the belief that justice hinges upon inclusion in a (uncertain and relative) language game. The solution is to create a society where everyone includes everyone in their language game (the impetus, by the way, behind such things as Spanish and Ebonics in school). The fundamental flaw in this idea is that it fails to take into account the true nature of humans. People are lazy and selfish. While it might be advisable to provide equal access to the language game of power, it is self defeating to provide automatic inclusion. A metaphor can be seen in the world of sports. A good football team provides many athletes equal access to joining the team, but only those athletes possessing adequate skill are provided inclusion. This is necessary if one wants a competative and successful football team. If everyone was included, the football team would be terrible. This method of selection encourages athletes who are by nature selfish and lazy to overcome their nature for the sake of the prize. The result is a superior football team. By contrast, the inner city schools where the power class has randomly experimented with their justice theories have consistantly turned out poor and uncompetative students. I believe the fundamental flaw in postmodern justicetheory is an incorrect and unhealthy understanding of human nature.

Oh, if I win, a nice pat on the back will do. You can keep the booby-prize.

Aaron said...

Frank, we should get Phil to look up that verse and see what highlighting it received....I wonder if it has little golden stars next to it.


Not really a critque but...

Ricky Bobby:
"You gotta win to get justice. I mean, that's just life. Look at...look at Dona Shula. Legendary coach. Look at that Asian guy who holds the world record for eatin' all those hot dogs in a row. Look at Rue McClanahan from The Golden Girls. Three people, all great champions, champions of justice."

wow wow and wow
i didn't even know ricky bobby was EC.

Angie B. said...

The mistake in the postmodern view of poverty and justice is that it is far too narrow, missing the big picture. They are so busy "making the world a better place" that they have no time to contemplate doctrines that go beyond time and space--and that encompass poverty and justice, too.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Praying for you friend.

By the way, my Associate Pastor Steve Rios is in CA this week and will be at Grace on Sunday. I hope he can chat with you after your sermon on Sunday.

butterfli75 said...

..And liberty and justice for all...who share our particular Weltanschauung!

James Scott Bell said...

It amazes me when Christians say they are against the death penalty, when it's the only law that appears in all five books of the Torah.

Stefan Ewing said...

Angie B. said it best.

There is a solution to poverty and (as the use of "justice" in this context implies) social injustice—but there is only the one solution, and that is through the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The "Poverty and Justice Bible" seems to be the flipside of the Manhattan Declaration: they both address major social issues, but in a pragmatic, moralistic approach that doesn't go to (or obscures) the only true solution to all problems: the Gospel.

Aaron said...


They're only against it until somebody brutally murders one of their family members. Then they suddenly discover they think the death penalty is a good idea after all.

St. Lee said...

This topic hit so close to a previous blog post of my own, that I succumbed to the temptation to cut and paste some excerpts from it. I apologize for the length and for cheating by eliminating paragraph breaks:

Social Justice, as it is used in the political realm, basically has to do with redistribution of wealth. It is a Robin Hood mentality that would see the rich taxed until they are no longer rich, and the poor subsidized until they are no longer poor. That may not sound so bad to you until you come to the realization that if you are anywhere in the middle class, Robin thinks you are rich. Keep in mind though, that despite all the good PR, Robin is still a Hood. Progressive Christianity is, for the most part, just the application of this political ideology to the apostate church. The term "progressive" is getting to be a little too well linked to politics lately, so it is falling out of favor with the Progressive Church. The sweepstakes winner for a new name for the same old song appears to be "Red Letter Christian." So with all that said, I would like to submit a more accurate definition for the term "Social Justice." Social: of or relating to human society. Justice: the assignment of merited rewards or punishments. Put them together and you have a society getting what it deserves. A good example of Social Justice would be for modern day America to suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah. Think the cesspool that is Hollywood. Think the debauchery in San Francisco. Think the corruption that is politics today. Think Mardi Gras. Think the millions murdered by abortion. Yeah, Social Justice would be a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah treatment. So don't pray for Social Justice.... pray for Repentance and Mercy!

Phil said...

The problem with the liberal postmodern justice movement:

When God's not important to you then neither can your neighbor be.

Even shorter: John 15:12.
(I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you." CEV)

donsands said...

"I'm not sure what justice is, but I know it's not going over seas to kill hundreds of thousands, because three thousand were killed."

Aaron said...

hundreds of thousands? Gee, why don't we get somebody to come in with a random non-sequitur based on a lie? oh wait...we already have a winner.

donsands said...

"hundreds of thousands? Gee, why don't we get somebody to come in with a random non-sequitur based on a lie? oh wait...we already have a winner."

I read this a few times, and I still am clueless. I do have a pea brain, so maybe you could do some 'splainin' for me. Gracias mi hermano.

Mark Crisafi said...

Justice - When I get what I want at your expense; and you get nothing and like it.

If I win this liberal screed, please send it in a plain brown wrapper! I actually hope I do win it...it will provide good material for my blog, and I won't have to support the ABS by actually buying one!:)

Solameanie said...

The problem with liberals, whether it's theological or political, is that most of them make a foundational error -- assuming that man is basically good.

A whole lot of bad fruit comes out of a mistake like that.

Bobby Grow said...

My attempt:

Poverty and justice are only concepts constructed in culture A, only to be deconstructed by culture B; so that A's construct is true for them, and B's deconstruct is true for them --- because they work for their particular culture. That is to say that poverty and justice are relative to each culture's conception; and the one that has the most rhetorical power becomes the "truest" construct of poverty and justice --- because it "works" (but then again it only works for that culture, like "A", and there's always cultures "B" "C" etc. who are trying to reconstruct these concepts in ways that are more "powerful" than the current "A's" construct of poverty and justice.

Nash Equilibrium said...

The liberal view of justice is all about what one is entitled to, and nothing about what one deserves.

wordsmith said...

The liberal concept of "justice" seem to hinge more on notions of white guilt than on any objective standard of right and wrong. Consequently, it's easier for postmoderns to support wealth redistribution, et al, as the goal of justice while ignoring or denying evils like abortion. Liberal justice is little more than egalitarianism on steroids. (Incidentally, I think this also explains why postmoderns deny the atrocities of a regime like N. Korea and believe the fairy-tale propaganda put out by that socialist "workers' paradise.")

Rick Potter said...

The deconstructive power of postmodernism’s attempt at leveling the signs and stigma of a given culture has given rise to a social fragmentation that enslaves freedom through a purely nihilistic ideological superstructure. The eclipse of justice is prevalent in the multiplicity of Cartesian trends which span the spectrum end to end. This quasi techno-interpretation of justice has aimed its charges directly at the Church and has demanded she be interrogated for the reason of her hope in the old paths. Christianity finds itself on a collision course with the dominance of an ever changing virtual emerging reality which abhors any absolute. This nucleus of opacity (postmodern freedom) dispenses its own brand of justice within a utilitarian network of transparent significations – suspicion, uncertainty, and conflict. While suffering opposition is nothing new to the Christian, Christology has never before in the history of mankind been subjected to the kind of ruthless analysis any hollow chested street corner skeptic proffers. It would behoove us to remember these words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Coram Deo said...

Po-mo justice god,
You are the great deceiver.
The Father of Lies.

Please donate my copy to Dr. James White.

In Christ,

Bobby Grow said...

Another attempt:

Dealing with issues surrounding social justice and poverty for the PoMo is what the Gospel is for the Christian -- salvation. Which means that anthropology replaces theology for the PoMo.

trogdor said...

This view of justice is like knowing a book is terribly awful, yet giving it to someone as a prize.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Honestly, based on your review (and the picture of the cover), I'm not interested in winning the prize. However, I do have a dryer that is a little off-balance, and it might be the perfect size for fixing that. So here's my shot at winning:

J jesus

U understands

S sin happens

T therefore

I imitate and ignore the

C crooked and perverse for the sake of

E eternity

Susan said...

1. Frank: "I don't wanna judge, lest I be judged."

Congrats, Frank! You win!!

(Oh wait...you can't play. Bummer.)

2. @ Coram Deo and M. Stevenson: LOL and simply fantastic!!

Colin Maxwell said...

If I win, then Phil can bring the book with him - it'll be cheaper posting it from th UK than it will from the US.

Is there a cash prize instead?

Neil said...

The data doesn't work, and neither shall it heat. Al preached with such power that he completely confused the Norwegian people in Oslo, as he tried to show them that Gaia is Messiah. When your god brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Industries, the Coal Miners, the Oil Barons, the Conservatives, the Economic Engines, the V8 Engines, and the Creationists, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, then do not be deceived: Gaia is not mocked, for whatever fertilizer one sows, that algae bloom will he also reap. This precious value, then, is for you who hold this opinion; but for those who are uncharitable, the stone which the peers were not given the opportunity to reject, this became the very corner stone and, a stone of stumbling and a rock of unenlightenment; for they stumble because they are disobedient to our word, and to this doom they may also be appointed, if that's ok with them. But you are a tolerant race, a royal praisehood, a happy nation, a people for Gaia's own possession, so that you may proclaim the vicissitudes of him who has called you back from the light into his marvelous dark.

John said...

And Rick Potter wins the obfuscation award. "Nucleus of Opacity" is my offical Favored New Phrase of the month. :-)

Rick Potter said...

Thanks John, I appreciate that award. It was a phrase Derrida used and I was trying to turn it around for good.

Alex Houston said...

Maybe you could send them down to the KJ only pastor in north cackalackee who burned all the modern versions he could get his hands on back on halloween!!

Mark Crisafi said...

Solameanie: You said;

The problem with liberals, whether it's theological or political, is that most of them make a foundational error -- assuming that man is basically good.

A whole lot of bad fruit comes out of a mistake like that.

Can I use that?

Solameanie said...

Mark, feel free. I'm sure it will get you in the kind of trouble in which it gets me! :)

PeaNuht said...

What justification means? First it is relative to each person, what that wiccan says about it is just as important as the Buddhist, which is just as important as that Christian. (But don't listen to those RB, they are confused and don't know anything)

So if you believe that you are justified by your meditation and being spiritually close, there you go! That's all you need.

Now let’s take a couple minutes breath deep and empty your thoughts.

rockstarkp said...

Liberal-justice is simple:

If you are a liberal, your intentions matter most, and you most likely meant to do good. Thus, you are most likely innocent of any wrong doing.

If you don't agree with liberals, your motives must be evil and the fact that you didn't do what you are accused of doesn't mean you didn't think it one time, and therefore you are guilty anyways.