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All historic and important figures, including those remembered in sculpture and statues, were imperfect sinful human beings.

—King David, the shepherd-poet-king and man after God’s own heart, was a murderer and an adulterer. 

—The great Reformer Martin Luther wrote horrible anti-Semitic pieces, yet he blessed the world with his considerable work and legacy. 

—Thomas Jefferson, maybe the most brilliant President whose Declaration of Independence is a gift to the world, omitted Native Americans, owned slaves, and lived secretly with a Black slave mistress.

—Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the greatest President, preserved the Union and freed the slaves, but earlier in life made a number of racist statements. 

—The great Civil Rights and non-violence leader Martin Luther King, Jr was a serial adulterer, as was JFK. 

So who is without sin? None.

If perfection or purity is our standard, we will honor no one but Jesus.

I’m not sure I can answer when it is reasonable to honor someone other than to say it’s our stewardship to figure it out by making judgments based upon our spiritual discernment (Phil 1:9-11). And given Christian liberty, (Romans 14), we may make different decisions. And in the public venue, it's a matter of lawful democratic process, e.g., to determine what Confederate statue to remove or not to remove. 

As I said, no one is perfect, so while I cut my teeth on Rock n Roll, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Supremes, Sonny n Cher, and many others, there’s a lot about these artists’ lives and character that leaves much to be desired (the case in my life too) and that I could not possibly endorse. 

Same for movies: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry are fun to watch, but they aren’t innocents. 

Raise the cultural bar: same for the great masters—Michelangelo, Da Vinci had weird stuff in their lives, but their art is unsurpassed. So it goes. 

It’s the dilemma of human nature, created in the image of God and capable of incredibly noble acts, but sinful hearts capable of ignoble acts of the worst kind too. The crime boss who loves his daughter, the war hero who is a thief, the serial killer who helps take down a drug ring… Same for religious, political, military leaders, some who do great things but one and all who fall short.

There’s something else, repentance and forgiveness. King David wasn’t the man after God’s heart because he lived a perfect life but because he repented, exalted God, and God forgave him. This is what’s missing in some current social movements aimed at making all things right—no room for forgiveness, just outrage; no mercy, just judgment. 

I believe we should live justly and seek justice, but I’m also glad God grants me mercy not the judgment I deserve.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I grew up in a Christian home, in best sense of the term, with parents who were believers and took me to our fundamentalist Baptist church two or three times per week. The church, and our family, were Bible believing, fundamentalist in terms of doctrine, meaning belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, a literal Bible, and salvation through Christ alone. Thankfully, they were not the “militant” or angry kind of “Fundamentalists” I met later.

I have enjoyed the enormous blessing of growing up in that Christian home, of attending if not being taken to church whether or not I wanted to go, of experiencing a Christian higher education, and of a career working largely within and around Christian nonprofit organizations. All were formative.

In college, I began to think of myself as “Evangelical,” maintaining fundamentalist doctrine but more “culture-engaging,” which fit well with my interests in the social sciences and later Ph.D. in political science. I’ve always encouraged Christians to get involved in social and political matters.

In college, too, I began to develop my political thought, reading Christian philosophers like Francis A. Schaeffer, and considered myself conservative, but even then, I was not quite comfortable with that label, much less a Republican label, though I voted Republican.

Later, I refined this, considering myself conservative in political thought but not “Capital C” Conservative. I affirmed conservative political and social beliefs but did not subscribe to an “Ism,” as in Conservatism. From time to time, I supported moderate political issues.

Fast forward to the 1980s and “Fundamentalist” started to mean, via Big Media, Ayatollah Khomeini and the like. This certainly was not me, for sure, nor was I comfortable with all that the Religious Right and the Moral Majority presented in those years, led by Fundamentalist pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr. Then in the 1990s and on into the early 2000s, George W Bush’s campaigns and presidency, “Evangelical” was more or less coopted by Big Media and portrayed as “Values voters” or “Family values” or just Republican. There were nuances here, of course, but all this made me uncomfortable because these new meanings and applications were not necessarily what I meant when I used the term.

During my Cornerstone University President days, 1991-2008, I gradually set aside both these labels, especially when I started writing more, e.g. for my long-term radio program “Making a Difference.” I wanted to write not as a Conservative, or much less a Republican, but as a person with a Christian worldview, simply trying to apply my Christian thinking to everyday life, including ideology and partisanship.

Fast forward again to 2015-16 and the Donald J. Trump campaign, then into his presidency, when “Evangelical” came to mean, in shorthand for some Big Media journalists, Trump supporters. 

For my tastes, things got so bad that by January 2016, I declared on Facebook that I was no longer going to use the terms Republican or Evangelical to describe myself. I’d be an Independent and a Christian, conservative in both regards.

In my view, though I am still on the conservative side of the political spectrum, about as many Conservative and/or Republican leaders periodically act poorly, immorally, selfishly, etc. as do Liberal and/or Democrat leaders. While I was never comfortable with ideological or partisan labels, I am even more so now, so I’ve stuck with the Independent and Christian self-designations.

I believe in “unalienable” rights, those natural, universal human rights given to us by God, which no government either grants or ever can or should take away, as gloriously described in the Declaration of Independence:  

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I support religious liberty for all, and I embrace and am grateful for the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” 

I believe in free, pluralistic, democratic republican government, limited government, and government of, by, and for the people, rule of law and justice, private property, and free enterprise. I’m glad for the United States of America’s history as a “Great Experiment” in democratic government, the “First New Nation.

I am prolife from conception to death, or anti abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy, and including so-called "born-alive" babies who survive abortions. 

I consider myself pro-immigrant and want a reformed legal process by which “illegals” or “aliens” or “undocumenteds” can become citizens, especially DACA kids. I’m glad for the United States of America’s history as “a nation of immigrants.”

I am patriotic, of course about my home country, but more than this, about its ideals regarding human freedom and government as codified in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments

I do not confuse my Christian faith with nationalism. I do not think the USA is perfect, or better always than other countries, just admirable in its ideals if not always our history or our actions. Like all else in our lives, our country and our patriotism must be critiqued by our Christian worldview.

So, I am more interested in being a good Christian citizen than being a Conservative or Republican or Independent or any other similar designation.

I am more interested in being a good Christian than being a good Evangelical or similar designation.

I’ve not covered the waterfront here. Not possible, and perhaps I’ve forgotten something, but these are some basics.

I am most interested in “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15).

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

The blame-game is in full swing.

In the wake of the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers May 25, 2020, the country has been thrown into a period of social unrest, peaceful protests and decidedly non-peaceful riots including looting, arson, larceny, vandalism, and destruction.

The issues are racial injustice and police brutality.  So, who’s at fault for what's now called “systemic racism”?

I don’t have an easy answer, and this isn’t about trying to trivialize or distract from these issues. Clearly, there are patterns of wrongdoing, including specifically police who’ve killed without provocation or needlessly, yet not been held accountable by criminal justice systems, this despite many reforms. This must change.

My point here is to note the blame-game. Who created this racial injustice?

Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. Left blames Right, and vice versa. Conservatives, who may be different from the Right, blame Liberals, and Liberals, who may be different from the Left, blame Conservatives. Some blame not just bad cops or rogue police officers but all police officers, or at least police departments in general, hence movements to “Defund Police.” Some blame religion or the Church. One argument laid the blame for centuries of racism at the doorstep of Evangelical theology.

Blame and recriminations are an all-too-human response to crisis. Point the finger at someone else. It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Gen. 3:12). So, it’s expected. 

But blame doesn’t get us anywhere. In fact, until we work through the blame-game period we aren’t going to listen to others, try to discern truth from fiction, or debate, much less forgive, change, and make progress.

It will likely be a while yet because feelings are so raw, and people are angry. They want to vent, some peacefully and productively and sadly some violently and destructively.  

What we need is honest evaluation of facts, listening, and a moral discussion of what’s right and the right way to introduce meaningful reforms.

One thing we know. Jesus said, ““Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone,” (John 8:7).

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I can only remember maybe 3 sermons on racism or prejudice, and frankly two of these were mine. The point is, the topic is not, at least in the circles I’ve moved, a frequent flyer.

I have a friend who noted that many national Christian leaders have spoken in the ten days since George Floyd’s appalling death. Yet one wonders if local churches will deal with this issue head-on?

It’s a time if ever for the Church to lament, to listen, to speak, to lead the fellowship in understanding and reconciliation, to take action toward change.

It’s worth noting the Church universal and Heaven will be characterized by diversity, all God’s children. Yet Sunday morning at 11:00 am remains the most segregated hour of the week.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I cannot remember once in my life a person saying, “You can’t do that,” or “You aren’t welcome,” because I am a WASP male. I’ve been with Black American friends or international colleagues, gotten separated in the crowd, then saw them treated in inappropriate ways. 

I remember being pushed around in high school by “tough kids,” but that was nothing. I’ve been mocked a few times for my Christian faith, but this was nothing. I’ve been denied certain opportunities or access based upon my professional position or my ability to pay, but this is just economics, not discrimination as such.

Never have I experienced the disrespect, pain, dehumanization, despair of racism. 

This makes me want and need to lament and to listen in the wake of George Floyd’s needless gruesome death in the street in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, and the video that went viral sparking protests around the world.

Whether or not the police officer did what he did because Mr. Floyd is Black or otherwise is beside the point. The fact that a white law enforcement official exercised illegal and unnecessary lethal force upon an American citizen, in this case a Black citizen, provides a window into the ugly heart of racism. And this grievous incident is one of a sad pattern

America must change, once and for all, setting aside the sin of racism.

God forgive me if I have ever conveyed racist attitudes or actions. 

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Years ago, in my other life as a university president I noticed a phenomenon that repeated itself time and again. 

1-When I talked for a while about academic quality, inevitably, someone or more than a few would say, “Dr. Rogers doesn’t care about Christian spiritual development.” I’d think, What? I always said our commitment to quality flows from our Christian worldview. I was just emphasizing our need to develop our academic program, not taking a stand against anything else. 

2-When I talked for a while about spiritual development, inevitably, someone or more than a few would say, “Dr. Rogers doesn’t care about academic quality.” I’d think, What? I always mention integration of faith and learning. How can anyone think I don't understand or care about other important matters? ...And so it would go. 

People assign motives, even positions, based on their perception of what I didn't say at that moment.

Something similar is happening now on social media. I've been criticized, assigned partisan views I don’t hold simply based upon what I did not say and may not believe, or on what someone didn’t see me reference in other posts. At times, it can be "condemned if you do" or "condemned if you don't."

Recently, we witnessed via viral video the tragic and terrible death of George Floyd, killed senselessly and needlessly by coercive force applied by a Minneapolis police officer. This is sin. It is more than sad; it's sickening, and it is part of a pattern of similar injustices against Black men or teens perpetrated by American police officers. This must be discussed and we must find our way toward change that roots out racism and illegal police procedure.

In response this past week, peaceful protests took place in dozens of American cities, which are lawful and needed. Unfortunately, people of some ilk yet to be fully understood, apparently from both the Far Left and Far Right as well as locals running amok, took over protests and turned them into riots featuring vandalism, larceny, looting, arson, and violence. Businesses were damaged and destroyed and some lives were lost. 

So what should we talk about? 1-the killing of a Black man for no reason by law enforcement officers, an egregious pattern of racism in this country, 2-the wanton lawlessness resulting in the destruction of property owned by people who had nothing to do with the racist killing of a Black man by police.

Here again, if you post about race killing and not the riots, someone or more than a few, will say, "You don't care about riots," or vice versa. Or if you post about both, someone or more than a few will say, "You aren't prioritizing the right matter and you're being side-tracked." I admit all three perspectives are possible, but I also believe it's possible to talk about these social pathologies sequentially or in an integrated way without being guilty of uncaring or missing the point. 

People rush to judgment, particularly on social media. If you don't say what they want to hear, then you are judged.

Undoubtedly and admittedly in terms of full disclosure, I've been guilty of this along the way too. But I try not to do so, because to do so is not good critical, independent thinking, which we desperately need.

If anything, this tendency to rush to judgment is worse than it used to be, another outcome of growing polarization and hyper-partisanship in our culture.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.