My launch into the “Blogosphere” has been fun. To write an online web log or “blog” is to participate in what has been called “New Media.” It’s to experience the power of self-publishing.
Blogging by-passes publishers, editors, and editorial influences. It allows me to speak directly to anyone who cares to listen—at no additional cost to either of us.
For a writer, the blogosphere is the ultimate “free market,” a cyberspace version of the public square where we can share ideas, opinions, analysis…concerns, vulnerabilities, anxieties. We can be candid, straightforward, open. We can take the “risk” of speaking the truth as we understand it. We can be real.
The blogosphere is a great equalizer. Anyone who can write and has access to a computer and the internet can blog. And just like that one can be read by people around the world. Blogging is immediate. It’s a people’s tool, not just a tool for elites.
Blogging elicits response. In its best form it thrives on interaction. People reading this blog can email me at any time. They can share their comments, points of view, criticisms or kudos. The “I” becomes “We” as a new blogging community is formed around a common interest, idea, action, or attitude.
Bloggers are talking, influencing. It’s the newest and purist form of democracy. Blogging by conservatives helped bring the Harriet Miers Supreme Court Justice nomination to a screeching halt. Liberals have their own blogs. You can now find a blog on just about any topic representing just about any point of view.
About 1 in 6 or 32 million American adults are reading blogs, and the number is growing daily. According to Technorati, a search engine for blogs, some 18.6 million blog sites receive an average of 900,000 posts per day. Amazing.
Apparently not many college or university presidents are blogging. As far as I can tell, I am the only Michigan university president blogging, and I have so far found only two others nationally, one offering commentary and the other reading like a teenager’s diary—I assume a staff member in Admissions is writing this one, trying to reach prospective students.
Christians are also blogging—“God’s bloggers.” Earlier this fall, Biola University in California hosted the first ever Christian bloggers conference, drawing about 135 writers who try to analyze issues and events from a Christian perspective. The three-day conference attempted to understand the phenomenon, to analyze blogging itself from a Christian viewpoint. This is a promising development, because Christians have sometimes resisted new technologies as “tools of the Devil” (think T.V. or movies) while at other times have uncritically embraced new technologies as “gifts from God” (think T.V. or movies).
If you are over 30 and blogging, you’re ahead of the curve. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project most bloggers are 18 to 29 years of age. If you are a CEO and blogging, you’re also ahead of the curve. According to The NewPR/Wiki website, about 200 CEOs are currently blogging. Add mine and make that 201.
Blogging is a great new way to communicate or simply to test new thoughts, so when it comes to blogging, I’m a convert. And I say with Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond!”
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
On the day before the sixty-fourth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the United States military had to go to the United States Supreme Court to defend its ability to recruit on the campuses of the nation’s most prestigious law schools. Because of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy toward gay and lesbian military personnel, a number of law schools have denied military recruiters access to their campuses.
While the schools do not want the United States military they do want millions of dollars in government largesse. But the government has threatened to withhold these funds if military recruiters are not allowed to recruit among the nation’s best and brightest students. The government’s response is based upon a 1994 law allowing the government to withhold funds when military recruiters are not given the same access to campuses as other groups.
A consortium of some 30 law schools claims the schools’ First Amendment rights have been violated by the government’s intention to withhold millions in aid. Schools like Yale Law School contend that they have every right to oppose what they term “discrimination against gays and lesbians,” so the government’s threat to withhold funds directly undermines the schools’ right to free speech.
This case will not likely be decided by the United States Supreme Court until June of next year. But it presents an interesting nexus of current hot potato issues: academic freedom, free speech, attitudes toward homosexuality, military recruiting, government and military action in wartime.
Who among us, say thirty or more years ago, would have ever believed that the United States military would be denied access to public “pro-gay” campuses while the military is cast as “anti-gay”? This debate is not about academic freedom—faculty members are still free to express their views in the classroom as pertains to their coursework. This debate is not about free speech—law schools are still free to assume whatever position on homosexuality that they deem appropriate. This debate is about money. The law schools want their cake and they want to eat it too.
The United States Supreme Court, as it appears disposed to do, should rule in favor of the government and the Pentagon in this case. No one is forcing the schools to accept government funds, nor is any agency forcing them to accept military recruiters. The government is simply saying that there are certain expectations associated with accepting those funds. If the schools want the funds, than they need to provide access to military recruiters. It’s a simple business transaction.
This case is also about the gay agenda. The unique requirements of the military service necessitate its current policy toward gay and lesbian military personnel. The Pentagon doesn’t condemn or discriminate against them. It does say their sexual predilections should remain private matters so that they in no way affect military unit cohesiveness and operations. It’s straight forward. It’s simple. But individuals embracing homosexuality do not interpret these standards this way. For them anything short of full acceptance is discrimination by definition. That’s where the law schools fit.
Many faculty and staff members in law schools have apparently embraced this new public morality. They don’t just provide open access to the schools to all students. The schools assume, as they do in this case, a proactive stance promoting gay agendas.
I’ve said before. I am not anti-gay person nor anti-gay person civil liberties or current civil rights. I am against special rights, and I am against normalizing gay behavior in American culture. If you believe, as I do, that homosexual expression is immoral, than you cannot embrace, much less promote, each new advance of the gay lifestyle. My position is not always pleasant or easy to maintain, but it is right and righteous.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers, President or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
Great Britain is joining other European nations in another step toward the normalization of same-sex relationships. Dating to a law passed last November, beginning today, December 5, 2005, same-sex British couples older than 16 can declare their intent to form a legal partnership, commonly called a civil union. Ceremonies formalizing this union can be held after a fifteen day waiting period following the legal declaration. Among the couples planning a wedding as soon as possible are Elton John and his partner David Furnish.
France, Germany, the Netherlands, and now Great Britain legally recognize same-sex partnerships as domestic unions. Belgium, Spain, and add Canada, all legally recognize gay marriage. Either way, the legal benefits are virtually the same as those historically assigned to married heterosexual couples, including inheritance and pension rights, bereavement benefits, and next-of-kin standing. However in Britain there are some differences: pre-nuptials will be called pre-registration agreements, divorce will be called dissolution, and adultery cannot be asserted as justification for a break-up.
Meanwhile, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act allows states in the United States to refuse recognition of the gay marriages or civil unions approved by other states or countries. To date, some 13 states, including Michigan, many of them in the 2004 election, have passed some version of a “no gay marriage or civil unions” law. Only Vermont and Massachusetts have so far joined the gay marriage band wagon.
The legal standing and “rights” of same-sex couples, along with abortion, occupy the front lines of the culture wars between a vigorously secularist humanism and a religious or specifically Christian worldview. Both issues, particularly same-sex marriage, strike at the very heart of Christian truth about the fundamental defining unit of society—the union of a man and a woman in the intended lifelong commitment of marriage. Proponents of the gay agenda know that if they can win the legal right to marriage they have won the battle for full normalization of homosexual and lesbian behavior.
Yet the legalization of gay marriage, domestic or same-sex partnerships, civil unions, or whatever they may be called does not a marriage make in the eyes of God. No one who assigns any validity to the Bible’s truth claims can read the Scripture plainly and miss the multiple references to homosexual behavior as a perversion of God’s mandate for human sexuality. If you accept the Bible as God’s Word and as a trustworthy source of truth in guiding your life of faith, you cannot at the same time assume the position that homosexuality should be regarded as a morally acceptable “orientation”—opening the door to legal affirmation. Consequently, promotion of same-sex marriage is an attack on the Bible itself.
Gay marriage loudly screams, “I want to do what I want to do with whomever I want to do it.” Proponents of gay marriage do not care what history, virtually every recognized culture, the evidence of biology, nature, logic, the great world religions, and in particular biblical Christianity, say about it. So they are strenuously lobbying the rest of us, not just for acceptance but for special recognition with all the rights and privileges thereto.
In an earlier “Making a Difference” column, I made these comments: “Standing morally against gay marriage does not deny gay people their civil liberties or many civil rights as Americans. Gay people may hold jobs, pursue careers, and own businesses. Gay people may vote, be considered innocent until found guilty in the eyes of the law, enjoy religious freedom, or earn a higher education. Gay people may own property, live freely in neighborhoods, care for their own children, and now may even adopt children.”
Opposition to gay marriage or civil unions does not equate with opposition to gay people, their personhood, their civil liberties as Americans, or any of their civil rights short of creating a new one guaranteeing their right to marry. Being against same-sex marriage is not the same as being against gays or lesbians as individuals. Being against same-sex marriage is about taking a stand for what one believes God says is right or wrong.
God’s definition of marriage is a unique covenant between a man and a woman that symbolizes the relationship of Jesus Christ with his Church. This sovereign gift cannot be replicated in same-sex relationships. So God does not limit our sexual expression because he wants to deny us love or pleasure. He declares homosexuality morally wrong because it does not fit reality as he created it. Homosexual practice twists the natural order in a way that will inevitably cause rejection, loss, and pain.
This theologically based moral perspective does not justify any disrespect of human beings who practice homosexual behavior. It does not affirm and should not tolerate any kind of threatening words or actions toward gays or lesbians, nor does it in any way celebrate what has been called “homophobia.” We are all sinners in need of grace, including those of us who do not practice or condone homosexual behaviors. We should respond to gays and lesbians with compassion, not anger or rejection.
Great Britain’s surrender doesn’t make the fight for moral truth in the culture wars any easier, but it doesn’t mean the war is over. Millions of Americans, and for that matter people in Canada and the European nations referenced earlier, still believe in something called “holy matrimony” for a man and a woman. Our task is to maintain fidelity to truth, to historic orthodox Christianity, even if our position attracts the ridicule or ire of some. And we must do this as winsomely yet clearly, as compassionately yet firmly, as Christ would do it if he walked among us. We are his ambassadors.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
*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 www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
Names are a central feature of our lives. In a very real sense, without names, we are unknowable. Names tell us Who and What, sometimes even Where.
Use of a person's name signals some contact with or even knowledge of that person. To "know" a person is to know their name, even if prefaced by "Mr. or Miss or Mrs." To know a person well is to use his or her first name. To know a person really well is to use a nickname or some other endearing personal term.
Americans name people, places, and things for deeply philosophic reasons or for frivolous purposes, because they like the sound of a name, or because a multi-worded name makes a great acronym, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving—“MADD.” For Americans, names are practical if not always philosophical.
In Bible times, people gave names because the name had some special meaning. Names were more than a label.
Names were often given as a symbol of some significant event or characteristic in the life of the person. Names frequently represented the essential nature of a person and could reveal some aspect of a person's innermost being. Eve, for example, was the "Mother of all living."
The wonder of knowing the Almighty Creator God is captured in his revelation of his name to us. The name of God must not be taken in vain. God the Father chose the name Jesus. We pray "in Jesus name" in order to call upon his person, promises, and power.
Names were often changed in Bible cultures to signify some new beginning. Abram became Abraham, and Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. A newborn baby was named, Ben-oni, "Son of sorrow" by a dying mother, Rebekah, but quickly renamed Benjamin, "Son of the right hand," by a loving father, Jacob. Jesus renamed Simon, the rough fisherman, Peter. Upon conversion, the Christian-killer Saul became the Christian-"maker" the Apostle Paul. Jerusalem will receive a new name in the last days.
Name changes are a part of the history of Cornerstone University.
In 1941, an evening Bible school was initiated with the name Grand Rapids Baptist Bible Institute. With growth in students and the educational program, the name was changed in 1959 to Grand Rapids Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary.
In 1972, the college's name was changed again from Grand Rapids Baptist Bible College to Grand Rapids Baptist College. This new name described the expansion of the academic program from a Bible college curriculum (featuring Bible and Music majors) to a Christian liberal arts college curriculum (featuring Bible, Music, History, Biology, English, and several other majors).
Beginning in 1992 and concluding in March, 1994, the college and seminary Board of Trustees reviewed more than one hundred names and reduced the list to three names including Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary. From that list the Board of Trustees chose Cornerstone College as the new name. Finally, in 1999, the college and seminary were recognized by the State of Michigan as Cornerstone University, signifying a move toward a comprehensive educational model featuring adult and graduate programs, and professional studies like Business Administration, Education, Communications and Media Studies, and more.
The name “Cornerstone” is philosophically anchored in Christian symbolism and biblical meaning.
In Ephesians, Paul refers to Christians as "members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord" (2:18-21). Jesus is the "tested stone" who makes "justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line" (Isa. 28:16-17). In Christ, Christians are under construction as dwellings in which the Spirit of God lives (Eph. 2:22).
Jesus Christ is the "living Stone" and Christians,
"like living stones, are being built into a spiritual
house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual
sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ...a
chosen and precious cornerstone...Now to you who believe,
this stone is precious...but you are a chosen people, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to
God, that you may declare the praises of him who called
you out of darkness into his wonderful light"
(I Pet. 2:4-9)
For a Christian university, the symbolism of the name “Cornerstone” could not be more powerful or profound. A cornerstone is the key building stone or block in a foundation by which all other stones or blocks are measured. A cornerstone speaks of the permanency of biblical principles and values like truth, faith, beauty, virtue, righteousness, justice, liberty, peace, and love. The timeless principles and absolute values of biblical Christianity become the foundation of a moral education upon which to build a life.
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, is the unchanging cornerstone of this Christian university's educational program. It is in Christ that we live and move and have our being. He is the cornerstone that holds everything else together.
But permanent values, first things, or absolute truth, are no longer central motivating concerns for many American families. Indeed, the family structure is itself in some trouble. Consequently, contemporary American culture is losing its sense of moral parameters, and youth are coming of age in a time of considerable ethical ambiguity.
It is this fact of current history that leads the Board of Trustees, administration, and personnel of Cornerstone University to believe that the rationale for a Christian institution of higher learning is stronger than ever. For the Church to continue as a bold prophetic voice to a lost and dying world, Christians are needed who can think and act with biblical values and who are capable of being influencers, leaders, or what the Bible calls “salt” and “light.”
That’s why this Christian university’s faculty and staff members work to fulfill the mission: "to enable individuals to apply the unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world."
Cornerstone University is and by God's grace will be a place of spiritual and intellectual learning and of growth that is founded upon the chief cornerstone, Christ Jesus, and the foundational truth of biblical Christianity.
Cornerstone University is a place where students can gain a quality Christian higher education, where students not only learn new knowledge but also learn "How" and "Why" to use it and "Who" to use it for—education with ethics.
What's in a name? For Cornerstone University it’s academic excellence with Christian commitment.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
Kenneth Lee Boyd acquires a dubious distinction today. He will be the 1000th person executed for a capital crime since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976. The North Carolina man will receive a lethal injection for murdering his estranged wife and her father in 1988. Boyd emptied his gun in a rage into his two relatives while one of his sons was pinned under his mother’s body. When he tried to reload, another son got the pistol away from his father.
Capital punishment is not fun, not something to be celebrated, and not for the squeamish. It is, after all, punishment, death by lethal injection, the electric chair, or in some few cases, firing squad. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t trivial. But it is necessary and appropriate.
I do not like the death penalty, but I have always supported the right of duly appointed governmental authorities to exercise the death penalty. I assume this position, not so much because I believe the death penalty is a deterrent to crime (though it might be; the evidence is ambiguous), but because I believe crimes like murder and rape are an ultimate transgression of the law of God.
In the Old Testament, Genesis 9:6, God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man.” In the New Testament, Romans 13:3-4, God says, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
God vested in governmental authority the right and responsibility to establish order and restrain evil. Nowhere in Scripture does he rescind this mandate. While it is true governments have done evil and that men and women in authority have at times acted arbitrarily, ignorantly, and cruelly, this does not change God’s design for human government. In most cultures, capital punishment for the most heinous crimes has always been the purview of government in order to protect individuals and preserve their civilization.
Yet in recent years public support for the death penalty seems to be declining. In part this is due to new technology and DNA testing that has demonstrated that a few innocent (at least of the crime in question) men have been consigned to death row.
I recognize this. My support for capital punishment does not mean that the criminal justice system through which we arrive at such ultimate sentences should not be evaluated and improved or reformed. DNA testing is a significant advance in forensic science and should be used in every appropriate opportunity. Generous and thorough appeals processes, though often lengthy, should be made available in this most serious of decisions. Clemency, the legal means through which state governors may show mercy to inmates, is and should be exercised when extenuating circumstances warrant unmerited grace.
All of these lawful protections—guilt determined by evidence, opportunities to appeal, and potential clemency—were instituted to help assure the American criminal justice system is as fair, conscientious, and ethical as humanly possible. Capital punishment for guilty individuals only results after all these avenues of legal redress have been exhausted.
Consequently, I favor continued scrutiny of the process by which capital punishment is determined. I favor improving that process as advances in evidentiary technology allows, and I favor maintaining capital punishment. I care about Kenneth Lee Boyd, but the system has treated him with more respect than he treated his family so many years ago.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
In an August, 2005 article inThe American Prospect, author Christopher Hayes claims that students at evangelical Christian colleges and universities are taught “to live out a Christ-centered existence in all facets of their lives. But what they learn is to become Republicans.”
Hayes’ article is entitled “Student Body Right: At Evangelical Colleges Like Pat Robertson’s Regent, What They’re Taught and What They Learn Are Two Very Different Things.” In it he accurately chronicles what he calls a “U-turn” in evangelical college attitudes toward student interaction with the world. Where once many evangelical colleges considered it their mission to protect and separate students from culture, now many evangelical colleges encourage student “engagement” with culture. Once upon a time many evangelical colleges emphasized personal faith to the point of exclusion of any concern for social or political responsibility. Now, most evangelical colleges promote an active application of faith to all of life, including politics.
Hayes isn’t entirely comfortable with this shift, because he thinks it is driven by partisan designs and people like Regent University’s Pat Robertson, a person for whom he clearly holds little esteem.
Keying on Pat Robertson is Hayes’ first misstep. Robertson is better known for his broadcasting and run for the presidency than for any real leadership in Christian higher education, and he clearly has a knack for making imprudent public comments. In recent months he has almost become a caricature of himself, but in any event he is not representative of evangelical college leaders or faculty members. Hayes doesn’t seem to make this distinction.
Hayes is also bothered by the “worldview” concept common to the language and mission of many evangelical colleges. Hayes says that worldview at its best “pushes students to rethink settled positions, to wrestle with what a Christian’s duty is to the poor or the infirm or those on death row. It can create a sense of mission and moral obligation that produces students who sound strikingly like liberals…” At its worst, Hayes says, worldview “reduces to an uncritical acceptance of a handful of issue positions that have come to dominate the political energies of the religious right; it is the ideological bus that picks people up at church and drops them off at the voting booth.”
What disturbs Hayes is that a biblical worldview “cleaves the world in two, identifying in one column those first principles that are taken as given…and, in the other column, the many beliefs, values, and positions that one might hold that are less certain.” He doesn’t like the idea that abortion is considered morally unacceptable or that defense of “traditional marriage” may be viewed as foundational to a Christian worldview. He likes it even less that people who adopt these viewpoints have in recent years voted Republican.
So for Hayes, a worldview is good if it leads you to a politically liberal point of view, and it is bad if it leads you to a politically conservative point of view.
Hayes does acknowledge that political positions are heatedly debated among some Christian academics, that evangelical colleges have in recent years expressed more interest in “social justice” issues, and that surveys indicate evangelical college students exhibit little overall consistency in issue positions. But it still bothers Hayes that many of these students eventually vote Republican.
Hayes is apparently unaware of the fact that evangelical Christian institutions like Cornerstone University, though theologically conservative, take pains to encourage students to apply their Christian faith across the spectrum of political partisanship. At Cornerstone, we have repeatedly said to students, “both major political parties need Christian participation, influence, and ‘salt and light.’ Christians ought to get involved in both the Democratic and the Republican Party.”
We’ve also encouraged students to understand that while a biblical worldview makes clear what our perspective should be on moral issues like abortion and human sexuality, there are no “chapter and verses” that tell us what we should think about tax policy, modifications in Social Security, or even flag burning. The Bible speaks to moral absolutes, but it is not a political much less a partisan handbook.
God gives us trustworthy principles in his word and he expects us to apply them. He grants us truth, than commissions us to apply that truth in its propositional form to complex contemporary challenges. He wants us to think, to spiritually discern, and to use our Christian liberty and our reasoning capacity to live out our faith in the real world.
At a given point in time, this divine commission may lead Christians to vote Republican or Democrat. It may lead us to assume a Liberal, Moderate, or Conservative position. It may require that we pursue what some may call an extreme, radical, reactionary, or revolutionary platform.
The point is this: a truly biblical worldview is never captive to any political party or ideology, because a biblical worldview is permanently relevant in a way that no humanly devised philosophy or program can ever be.
Evangelical college graduates may be voting Republican these days, but that says more about perceived public morality than it does about the supposedly partisan intentions of evangelical colleges. I wonder what Hayes would say about the partisan outcomes of the public university experience?
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005