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I’ve written before about the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas and Pastor Fred Phelps. But I must write again. Why? Because I do not want to be associated in any way with Pastor Fred Phelps’s followers’ demonstrations outside the funerals of American soldiers who have died in their country’s service. I’m concerned that some people will think everyone who claims to be a Christian, everyone who believes the Bible, or everyone who happens to be a Baptist is in some way in agreement with Pastor Phelps’s warped theology and hate-mongering proclamations. Not so.

Phelps believes that each soldier’s death is a result of God’s judgment upon America for the fact that some Americans choose homosexuality. His followers travel the country to hold up protest signs with messages like “God Is Your Enemy,” “God Hates the U.S.A.,” “God Hates Fags,” “God Hates Fag Enablers,” “God Hates Your Tears,” or “Thank God for IEDs.” Needless to say, a lot of people consider this behavior a “10” on an Offensiveness Scale of 1 to 10. Some 31state legislatures have considered bills banning such protests and the United States Congress recently passed a bill restricting such demonstrations at national cemeteries. President Bush signed this bill into law on Memorial Day, 2006. Now the father of a Maryland Marine, Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder who died in Iraq, has filed an invasion of privacy suit against the church demonstrators.

Homosexuality is addressed in several passages of the Bible, and God does make it clear that he does not condone this form of human sexual expression. God also makes it clear that he is a loving, forgiving God of grace and that his ways are not our ways. So even if we believed God is not in the forgiveness business, we are still not able to look about us and say, “Lo, the Lord is doing this,” or “Lo, the Lord is doing that.” We don’t know the omniscient mind of God.

I do not know Pastor Phelps’s heart, but I assume he does indeed trust Christ for the forgiveness of his own sin. Assuming this is true, I will be in heaven with him some day. This thought does not repel me, because God has forgiven me of sins too. Nowhere in Scripture can you find a passage that allows us to say another person’s sin is worse than our own and that they therefore deserve some special condemnation. Certainly you cannot find Scripture that preaches hate.

Beyond this, even if you set aside questions about the pastor’s theology, your sensibilities and proprieties will still likely be shocked at the lack of respect Pastor Phelps and members of the Westboro Baptist Church evidence toward the grieving family and friends of fallen soldiers. There are many other places Phelps’s deluded followers could demonstrate their views. The fact that they choose soldiers’ funerals smacks more of media savvy and sensationalism than any real sense that American military efforts are somehow responsible for the state of sexual morality in the United States.

I am a Christian. I believe the Bible. For most of my life until only the past few years I have worshipped in Baptist churches. I believe homosexuality is a sin. But I do not believe God is a God of hate. I do not think American soldiers or for that matter the War on Terrorism or the War in Iraq are direct judgments of God upon America because homosexuality exists in this country. I don’t want to be associated with unbiblical hate or demagoguery, and that is what Pastor Phelps’s work represents. He is another form of David Koresh or Jim Jones, blindly leading his people into religious extremism, all in the name of God. I am sorry for this, and I am sorry for his people. I pray God’s Spirit will work within him to lead him to a new understanding of the truth of his Word.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Bill Cosby has been pulling no punches about what he considers poor choices and lack of personal responsibility among low income Black individuals. As commentator Clarence Page says, Cosby’s choice of words is harsh (“We’ve got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English…In neighborhoods that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on…These people are fighting hard to be ignorant.”), he doesn’t have all the answers, and he doesn’t have all the facts. But Cosby is at least speaking up.

Cosby is right in at least one thing—destructive forces working against Black families and Black self-reliance are as much about each individual’s values and choices as they are about community opposition, politics, or racism. The same can be said for destructive forces among Whites, Asians, Hispanics, and any other hyphenated American.

The point is not to claim naively that racism doesn’t exist or to heap all the blame and burden upon the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. Clearly racism does exist, and clearly many individuals cannot make it on their own. They need help. There’s nothing wrong or inconsistent about exercising compassion even as one calls for more personal responsibility.

But the answer to turning around individuals and even entire communities is not found solely in government help programs, more money, or pointing fingers everywhere but at the individuals making the choices. People are born in to very bad situations. People are hurt by limited education, poverty, broken families, and a host of other social pathologies. All of these negative circumstances take a toll. But people are still responsible.

Black or White, Asian, Hispanic, or new immigrant—people are free agents. Their lives are determined by their values and the choices they make based upon those values. They can exercise their moral will, apply their talent, learn, work and contribute, and demonstrate basic values like honesty and reliability. Individuals who choose not to learn, who choose delinquency and crime, who choose sexual promiscuity, who choose anger and belligerence, who choose laziness, who choose amorality, always pay a price.

Cosby is right: Poor and disadvantaged Black Americans [and I would say any other racial or ethnic subgroup] need to work harder to construct their own future and hold themselves accountable to proven value choices. Clarence Page is correct: “Black America needs to look not for what’s right or what’s left but to what works in our drive to liberate those who have been left behind by the civil rights revolution.”

In other words, it’s not about race. It’s not about power, politics, or ideology. It’s about values. This is not a “conservative thing.” It’s a time-tested, religiously supported, common sense thing.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


If you’ve read The Da Vinci Code, the book, don’t bother watching “The Da Vinci Code,” the movie. Depending upon what part of this over-long movie you’re viewing, you’ll be disappointed, befuddled, grossed out by the self-inflicted violence of one of the characters (gratuitously, because his spiritually wrenching self-flagellation is unnecessarily shown twice—in detail—I closed my eyes) , or most of all, just plain bored.

If you’re a Tom Hanks fan you’ll know he could have done so much better. If you like mysteries, you’ll not really recognize one here because most of the middle period of the movie is a seminar on what you should be thinking. If you’re a Christian, you may be offended, but more likely you’ll be relieved. If this is the “threat” to Christian faith people were worrying about they overstated the problem.

I watched the movie at its opening today because people have been asking me what I think and I wanted to give them a credible answer. I think this movie tried to do too much even if it is longer than the average flick. I think this movie at times offers blasphemous content, but the movie is so stilted the content is more deadening than spiritually unsettling.

It’s possible, of course, for people whose understanding of their faith is limited or for people who are spiritually confused to in turn be confused, misled, or spiritually harmed by the content offered in this movie. But I think it’s more likely that whoever you were and whatever you believe when you go in to the cinema will be who you are and what you believe when you come out.

Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code has sold over 43 million copies so far, so he is laughing all the way to the bank. But I read a lot of novels, and I did not think Brown’s plot was all that engaging. At times, the book, like the movie it spawned, is downright slow. I did not appreciate the author’s twisted history and theology. I did not like reading about the Lord Jesus described in a manner I considered dishonoring to him.

I am concerned about superstitious people embracing a book of fiction as truth, but I don’t think this book will have a long shelf life. I especially am not worried about the book’s ostensible threat to Christianity. There is always much new error but truth is eternal. Surely we do not think that a book as shallow as this one can overturn the evidence of centuries and of millions of people’s lives that God Is and that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Christianity has survived much greater threats than this. I’m not understating the book’s blasphemous themes. I’m just saying the Sovereign God is not surprised by them.

In my estimation, “The Da Vinci Code” movie is DOA.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part but with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Attending church without fear of your life or property is one of the greatest freedoms this free country affords us. Freedom of worship, the ability to honor God and apply his will in our lives, work, and culture, is a First Amendment guarantee, a continuing gift of our armed forces, and our great blessing.

According to Scripture, the Church is the Body of Christ, the “Church universal,” the gathering of all the Saints who name the name of Christ as Savior and Lord. The Church is a worldwide, trans-cultural, trans-racial/ethnic, even trans-historical phenomenon initiated by God in the Book of Acts. The local church is, according to Scripture, a gathering of believers, including the Lord who meets in the midst of them, that come together in a neighboring geographic community. The local church is a subset of the Church universal.

The local church is that place where believers may join hands in fellowship, worship together, pray together, evangelize the lost, celebrate weddings and new births, encourage the living, and honor Saints at their heavenly home going. The local church is where we are held accountable, encouraged, and edified. The local church is a platform from which we can launch a Christian influence upon local culture. It becomes our church home and church family.

Scripture says not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We can worship alone, but we must regularly worship together—because God designed us to need and enjoy the experience.

Church signs—marquees—were once a fairly trustworthy source of information about what happens inside the building (which can be any kind of structure…the church is the fellowship of believers, not the edifice). Unfortunately this is not so anymore. Now, whatever the denomination, you need to attend, to see what the pastor believes and preaches, and to evaluate whether the church really is a Bible-believing and teaching church. That’s the kind of church we all need to find and with which we need to identify.

At Cornerstone University we ask our personnel to be “faithfully involved in an evangelical and biblical church.” We believe in church membership, but we wrote this personnel policy statement emphasizing faithful involvement because that seems to be an even higher standard of commitment than simply attending or joining.

Attending church is a privilege. Praise God for his wisdom in ordaining the church and commanding us to participate.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

“It’s a free country,” we say, and God be praised it is. Americans are afforded choices that most in human history simply could not imagine. So the idea of a workplace “Personnel Lifestyle Statement” may strike some people as an anachronism in these anything goes postmodern times.

But every person and nearly every organization make choices about how he or she wishes to live or how they wish their employees to behave. People intentionally or often unintentionally craft a lifestyle from the myriad decisions they make about what they do, are willing to do, would never do, or consider it immoral to do. And organizations write policy handbooks directing employee actions and sometimes attitudes they believe are in the best interests of the organization’s mission. In other words, while it’s a free country and an open culture, we all live or work with “lifestyle statements” whether they’re codified or not.

Cornerstone University has maintained a Personnel Lifestyle Statement throughout its 65 year history. The statement has changed over time. Some things once considered important are no longer identified. But the purpose of the statement remains: This Christian university desires a covenant with its personnel (faculty and staff members) that establishes a Christian community that fosters the university’s educational and spiritual goals for its students and now also for its radio listeners.

Any number of covenantal agreements could be listed. As I said, some items like “No movies” or “No piercings” or “No playing cards” or “No dancing” have been removed from Cornerstone University’s Personnel Lifestyle Statement and are now considered matters for each person’s Christian liberty.

Any number of Christian colleges and universities, mission agencies, churches, rescue missions, even publishing enterprises, have operated or are still operating with some kind of employee covenant. These covenants are all a lot alike, and they are all distinctive. Their similarities are generally rooted in basic Christian beliefs or traditional habits of the heart. Their differences are rooted in denominational heritages, cultural developments, doctrinal beliefs, unique organizational histories, or simply the personal preferences of the people who founded or who now administer the organization.

For the past eighteen months, Cornerstone University has conducted a review of its Personnel Lifestyle Statement, including our longstanding standards calling for abstaining from use of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products and for non-participation in gambling. We conducted this review because we wanted to assure that the statement we embraced was “our statement” and not just one that “we inherited” from days gone by.

Our lifestyle statement review was led by a group of faculty and staff members (as well as one student added later in the process) who I appointed and who we called the Personnel Lifestyle Statement Review Team.

I have nothing but praise for this Team. The Personnel Lifestyle Statement Review Team conducted themselves with the utmost of professional excellence and spiritual maturity and constructed an open, thorough review process in which all employees were invited to participate. Most did.

The Team studied Scripture, reviewed the employee covenants of other Christian colleges and universities, conducted faculty and staff forums, invited electronic feedback, administered a survey of their colleagues, talked with members of the Alumni Board, interacted with some friends of the university, and more. The Team eventually wrote and submitted a report and the Team’s recommendations to me as the university president. The report was then read and discussed by the President’s Cabinet, a group of five vice presidents and the seminary president who work with me. Finally, I presented my recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees discussed the lifestyle statement in a meeting eighteen months ago, interacted with the Personnel Lifestyle Statement Review Team in the Board’s January meeting, and then deliberated the matter in its May 5, 2006 Board of Trustees meeting. Trustees conducted an energetic discussion characterized by mutual respect, a desire to honor the Lord, and the absence of rancor. They truly sought the Lord’s wisdom. I have nothing but praise for the Board. Thursday, May 11, 2006, we reported the Board of Trustees’ decision, along with an explanatory paragraph:

To reaffirm Cornerstone University’s longstanding Personnel Lifestyle Statement including the historical institutional standards calling upon employees to abstain from possession and use of alcohol and tobacco products and to abstain from participation in gambling.

This Board of Trustees action reaffirms Cornerstone University’s continuing commitment to a distinctive model of Christian higher education. The university will remain a higher education alternative where we model for our students a “lifestyle for a lifetime.” In so doing we will lead our students by example away from the documented serious health problems associated with use of tobacco products, the financial and social pathologies linked to problem gambling, and the potential devastation of problem drinking.

Asking our personnel to abstain from use of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products and to abstain from participation in gambling are Cornerstone University’s institutional preferences. We’re not making comments about Christian people whose views differ from our perspective, nor are we implying anything negative about Christian organizations whose policies are different from ours. We are only saying this is who we want to be. That’s our Christian liberty. While Christian liberty allows us to be “Free from” manmade rules, Christian liberty also grants us the opportunity to choose or to be “Free to” embrace standards we think best.

The university was criticized by some for even conducting such a review, partly because some people reacted to a February 22, 2006 article in The Grand Rapids Press that was headlined with the provocative idea that CU was considering dropping its “Ban on Faculty Vices.” Some people thought the mere fact of a review indicated some lessening of spiritual commitment within the university. Some people thought the review was simply a charade, masking a behind-the-scenes person orchestrating the review to a pre-determined conclusion. I understand the criticisms, but neither view was warranted.

Actually, I think CU has provided an example or demonstrated some leadership for the Christian community. Christian organizations need to think openly about how their faith applies to contemporary life and culture. Avoiding hot potato issues simply because they are controversial does not help people understand why we believe and do as we do, nor does it help them become more adept at integrating their faith with their lives.

I believe it was right for the university to defend its “right” or “responsibility” to review its own policies. I believe the review process was good for the university’s organizational culture, and I believe the Board of Trustees’ ultimate conclusion is best for the university.

If you wish to learn more about CU’s values, see the Core Values link on the homepage of the university website at If you want to learn more about the Personnel Lifestyle Statement Review see our “Frequently Asked Questions” document or the guest commentary I wrote for The Grand Rapids Press.

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

The 2006 Cornerstone University graduating class was the largest in the university’s history—742 undergraduate, graduate, and seminary students. For this we praise God.

Dr. H. B. London, Jr., Focus on the Family, spoke at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary Commencement Friday evening, May 5th, to 48 graduates. Some 19 will graduate from the university’s Asia Baptist Theological Seminary later this year.

On Saturday, May 6th, Mr. Ralph Winter, Hollywood producer of more than 25 films, spoke to two University Commencements, graduating 275 traditional age students and 348 adult undergraduates and 52 graduate students (Master of Science in Management, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership) in Professional and Graduate Studies.

Mr. Winter was invited to speak because his experience as a dedicated Christian and accomplishments in the film industry make him uniquely qualified to address the increasing influence of media upon culture. Cornerstone University recently initiated a Media Studies program focusing upon film, video, radio, theatre, journalism, storytelling, and eventually digital video animation. Mr. Winter’s professional experience connects directly to this emerging CU interest and distinctive. In his commencement address, Mr. Winter talked about the structure of the story of the Prodigal Son and encouraged graduates to develop their media savvy so that they can take Christ into a marketplace driven by all forms of media.

I continue to say that if you have not attended a Cornerstone University Commencement you do not really know the university. God is praised, the programs are excellently produced, Matthews Auditorium and Mol Arena are packed, and students are rewarded for their academic commitment and achievement.

I tell the graduates that Commencement is my favorite day of the year—better than Christmas. It’s what we are about. It’s a time of commemoration, celebration, and “commencement”—a new beginning. May God bless each graduate as he or she takes Christ into culture.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at