Russell and Duenes

Archive for June 2012

Planned Parenthood v. Casey: The Worst Constitutional Decision of All Time

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So says Michael Stokes Paulsen, University Chair and Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis. If I don’t agree with him that it’s the worst, it certainly has to be one of the worst. I first read the case while teaching ethics to my high school seniors. Paulsen makes a good argument for this being the worst of all time, but it matters not. His call to action in light of it is certainly right:

“It is therefore important to fundamentally de-legitimize the Casey decision, to confront it head-on and deny its authority as constitutional law, and further, to challenge directly and undermine the pretensions to unquestionable authority over the Constitution made by the Court that rendered it. If Roe and Casey are not sound expositions of the Constitution, their authority should be repudiated by all other actors in our constitutional system. It is the shared, sworn duty of the other branches of government to interpret the Constitution—it is not the province of the Court alone—and it is their duty to check, and resist, such egregious judicial violations of the Constitution. Roe and Casey should be declared unconstitutional, forthrightly and unequivocally, and declared therefore to be of no legitimate authority. The decisions should be resisted with all the legitimate constitutional powers at the disposal of the president, the Congress, the lower courts, state officials, voters, jurors, and citizens.”

The deeply disturbing thing is, the so-called “conservative” president Bush, who also claims to be a Christian, never denounced the decision, that I know of (and what would it matter if he did, but I didn’t know of it? Such a covert denouncement would be worthless.). We have president Obama denouncing Citizens United – a harmless case in the grand scheme of things – in a State of the Union address as though it were Dred Scott. Yet conservative and Republican leaders can’t muster any words to condemn and decry the Casey decision, a decision that more greatly entrenched the legality of human butchery in this nation well into the tens of millions since 1992 when it was decided. This speaks volumes. Would that George W. Bush and other Republicans had the courage of Abraham Lincoln when Lincoln lambasted and delegitimized Dred Scott.

All of this turns my mind and heart again to Christian education. One of the things we desperately need in Christian education – at the high school, college, and seminary levels – are classes on biblical-theological and biblical-philosophical ways to analyze and respond to legal decisions such as Casey and others. That we don’t see such classes as germane to “the gospel” has, in my view, been problematic for our witness in this age. It’s hard to delegitimize something that is “out of sight, out of mind.” I would love to be part of rectifying this deficiency, and hopefully, by God’s grace, I will be. I encourage you to read both of Paulsen’s articles (here and here) on the Casey decision, and not take the view that, because you are not in the legal arena, it is of little or no concern to you.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

June 30, 2012 at 11:49 am

Some Musings: Healthcare, Pastors with Unbelieving Children, The Prophets

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I have nothing to add to the millions of words that have already been written about the Court’s actual decision in the Obamacare case. In my view, there was nothing surprising about the decision. Americans have been opting for statist tyranny over liberty and freedom for many decades now, and so why should we expect different notions from our Supreme Court justices? And anyone who thinks that Obamacare, once implemented, is going to improve American healthcare and control healthcare costs over the long run simply needs to look at the great efficiency, vision,wisdom, competence, and cost-effective means by which government runs all of its programs. The Court has only given the American people what they want, namely, more enslavement to government bureaucrats. And in November, we’ll find out if they want even more.

In a post I wrote a bit over two years ago, I said: “Titus 1 says that the elder in the church should have “faithful” or “believing” children, who are “not accused or charged with dissipation or rebellion.” 1 Tim. 3 says that an “overseer,” which I would take to be essentially equivalent to an elder, “must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) Now I try to imagine myself, or some other man, as one who has been in pastoral ministry most of his young life. He’s earned an Master of Divinity (MDiv) or even a Doctor of Ministry (DMin), and doesn’t have a lot of other job qualifications. He’s even seen a good amount of “fruit” in the church he pastors or serves as an elder. And this man’s children reject Christ and rebel against his authority. They are clearly not believers by any outward manifestation. Now, the Bible says that such a man should not be an elder, overseer, or pastor (for I can’t see any biblical argument for pastors to be excluded from the above Scriptures while elders and overseers aren’t. I’m not even sure that a pastor and an overseer could be distinguished biblically.). He’s disqualified. I take that to mean that whether the church asks him to step down or not, he should step down. But he’s highly invested. His whole “career” has been the pastorate. He’s not qualified for other jobs. Should he still step down?” I was thinking about this post the other day, and wondering if I’d changed my view. I don’t think the biblical teaching can be denied, but I tried to imagine myself being in the position I described above, namely, a pastor who has always and only been a pastor and who is not qualified to do anything else. I imagined, say, a pastor who has been in “vocational ministry” for 21 years, is now 45, has a wife, a 17, 14, and 10 year old to support, and I thought, “Surely he is not called to abandon his duty to support his family in order to step down.” I do think the issue is more complicated than I have made it. Perhaps there is a problem with the way we do pastoral ministry in our modern world. Perhaps we have too many “vocational” or “professional” pastors. But Paul does say that certain men should make their living from the gospel. But should we nullify one teaching of the Scripture in order to uphold another? I don’t know. I know how I would feel if I were a pastor and had a disobedient and unbelieving child in my home and believed I needed to step down. Perhaps that is something I might make allowance for when I enter the ministry, knowing that it could be a possibility. Just throwing out ideas.

On the topic of pastoral ministry and church, I’ve been in a study lately of the prophet Micah. I find the prophets challenging, not least because they are prophesying to a theocratic nation, founded and based upon the holy law of God. I find myself unattracted to opposite interpretive poles when it comes to the prophets: One pole being the interpretation wherein Jesus fulfills the OT prophets and so, in Christ, the OT prophets are relevant only insofar as they point to faith in Christ. This seems to leave us with mental agreement with the prophets, but no application, since the prophets are essentially superseded. The other being the “social gospel” approach to the prophets, where modern Christians try to turn Amos, Micah, Isaiah, and the rest into preachers of socialism and the enlargement of the modern state for handling the “compassion” and “justice” of which the prophets speak. This view conflates life in ancient Israel with life in a modern, secular nation-state, and they are not the same thing. Yet that’s the problem. We are Christians, living in predominantly urban areas, in a highly complex modern economy, with complex and varied social interactions that take us many miles from our homes, governed by strangers in our seats of power, far removed from political and economic decisions that affect our daily lives in ways we cannot fathom, separated from our extended families, sequestered away from the poor and destitute – for the most part – enjoying wealth on a scale far beyond what anyone else in previous history could have comprehended. At least that’s true in America. So I find myself asking: What lessons are we to learn and apply from the prophets? And when I say “we”, I mean, “we, the church.” I don’t me simply “me”, the individual. Are our churches even structured in such a way that the message of the prophets could hit home and be applied by us? If not, how would our church systems and structures have to change? Do we care to think about how they would have to? What kinds of repentance would it require? What does “worldliness” mean in Micah’s preaching? Cussing, having extramarital sex, watching “bad” stuff, lying to others, not going to church, and not paying one’s tithe?

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

June 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

Sexual By Design: Trailers for Douglas Wilson’s Q & A

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-D

HT: Justin Taylor

Written by Michael Duenes

June 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Ethics

Don’t Judge Too Quickly

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One good effect – at least I think it’s a good effect – that law school has had on me is that I now seem to judge situations less quickly. I’m less apt to assume that one side of the story is the whole story. When one is forced to look at a fact pattern closely, and to consider each detail with great care, one comes to see that there are many angles from which to view any given situation. This does not mean that I’m a relativist, or that seeing the whole picture means there are no “right” answers or no truth. It just means that I am beginning to see how limited my knowledge is in any case, and that I ought not to judge too quickly. I ought not to judge a lawsuit as “frivolous” before knowing both sides of the story. I ought not to say, “That guy deserves no defense” before knowing the best arguments his defenders have made. I ought to give more people the benefit of the doubt, and be more charitable in my assessments. I ought to adopt more of a “wait and see” attitude to new statements or contexts. As the Scripture says: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Prov. 18:17)

Written by Michael Duenes

June 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

Obamacare Mandate is Worse Than You Think

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-D

Written by Michael Duenes

June 27, 2012 at 4:42 am