Institute on the Constitution Promotes Indoctrination of Students; Calvin College Has an American Club?

At least that is what this Institute on the Constitution’s Facebook post says:

Founder of the neo-Confederate Institute on the Constitution, Michael Peroutka, is here speaking to high school students in Hudsonville, MI. Watch the video below:

Post by Institute on the Constitution.
Peroutka tells the students that the American view is based on a biblical view of law and government. He then sets up a straw man by contrasting what he considers to be the biblical view with the pagan view of law and government. He says you can call it socialist or communist, but it is the view which is marked by teaching evolution.  He says this kind of government will give you health care, retirement and “put an RFID chip in your wrist to, we want to know where you are all the time.” The contrast drawn by Peroutka is apparently designed to scare the kids into buying into his Christian reconstructionist view of government. They look a little bored so maybe very little of the stuff is getting through.
About two weeks ago, I wrote about how Liberty University’s Liberty Counsel plans to defend the IOTC’s American clubs in public schools. It seems clear from a review of the IOTC Facebook page that Peroutka and staff are serious about starting these clubs in local schools.
While in Michigan, Peroutka apparently stopped in at Calvin College to promote the American Club there. This, to me, is a shocker. I didn’t think there would be a taste among that many students for what Peroutka is selling.

Is the Latter Day Saint Church a Denomination of Christianity?

Last Friday, Latter Day Saint Glenn Beck told Liberty University students that Mormonism is a Christian denomination. While I focused briefly on the Grand Council reference in the speech, blogger James Duncan referenced Beck’s statement about Latter Day Saints and Christianity in his post on Beck’s speech in Liberty’s chapel.  Beck said:

I share your faith. I am from a different denomination, and a denomination, quite honestly, that I’m sure can make many people at Liberty uncomfortable. I’m a Mormon, but I share your faith in the atonement of the savior, Jesus Christ. In my faith, we have a guy who gave his life for what he believed in. You don’t have to believe it; I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you, “What is it that you believe? Are you willing to give your life?”

Unlike some other speakers who deviate from Liberty’s evangelical affiliations, Beck made a religious claim. It is incredible that Liberty allowed this to be said without any response or disclaimer. Given the enthusiastic response of LU leaders and the student body, I wonder if Beck’s claim is accepted and taught at LU.
Al Mohler addressed the claim that Mormons are members of a Christian denomination. As he points out, the LDS movement began as a rejection of Christianity and a claim that the LDS church had recovered the true Gospel.

Once that is made clear, the answer is inevitable. Furthermore, the answer is made easy, not only by the structure of Christian orthodoxy (a structure Mormonism denies) but by the central argument of Mormonism itself – that the true faith was restored through Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century in America and that the entire structure of Christian orthodoxy as affirmed by the post-apostolic church is corrupt and false.
In other words, Mormonism rejects traditional Christian orthodoxy at the onset – this rejection is the very logic of Mormonism’s existence. A contemporary observer of Mormon public relations is not going to hear this logic presented directly, but it is the very logic and message of the Book of Mormon and the structure of Mormon thought. Mormonism rejects Christian orthodoxy as the very argument for its own existence, and it clearly identifies historic Christianity as a false faith.

As I noted yesterday (and blogger Duncan also demonstrates), Beck spoke from the foundation of his Latter Day Saint theology. About that theology, Mohler wrote:

The major divisions within Christian history (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism) disagree over important issues of doctrine, but all affirm the early church’s consensus concerning the nature of Christ and the Trinitarian faith. These are precisely what Mormonism rejects.
Without doubt, Mormonism borrows Christian themes, personalities, and narratives. Nevertheless, it rejects what orthodox Christianity affirms and it affirms what orthodox Christianity rejects. It is not Christianity in a new form or another branch of the Christian tradition. By its own teachings and claims, it rejects that very tradition.

LDS founder Joseph Smith clearly taught that his angelic visitors told him that none of the denominations of Christianity were correct. From Smith’s writings 1:19-20:

18 My object in going to ainquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
 19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the gpower thereof.”
 20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.

Some of the silence in response to Beck’s claims may be due to the endorsement of David Barton. Barton has claimed that Beck is a Christian who identifies as a Mormon out of loyalty.  Also, some of the silence may be due to the fact that Beck donated money to Liberty and promised to do more.
In any case, from both an orthodox Christian and the historic LDS perspective, the case for the LDS church being a denomination of orthodox Christianity isn’t credible.

Mark Driscoll Appears on James Robison's Life Today Show; Also Appears on T-Shirt

I guess moving out of celebrity status is hard.
Mark Driscoll appeared as a guest on James Robison’s show today discussing Driscoll’s  book A Call to Resurgence. The interview was tame compared to his interview with Janet Mefferd back in November 2013.  As you can see from the transcript, Robison didn’t bring up any uncomfortable issues.
In mid-March, Driscoll said he would be doing “very few media appearances, if any.” Until Easter, Driscoll’s live preaching was mostly to staff. I wonder if the Robison show was one of “very few” appearances or is the media blackout now over.
Driscoll also recently appeared on a t-shirt:

Note the “Pastor Mark Driscoll” next to Saves. At least Jesus got top billing.

Donald Sterling is not a Democrat and other reactions from the Twitter feed

By now, many people know that Los Angeles Clippers soon-be-former owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA due to his comments to his girlfriend berating her for hanging out with black people. He isn’t so great when it comes to how he treats women either but I don’t think that had any impact on his sanctions.
Some conservatives tried to paint Sterling as a Democrat. For instance, Conservative Chick tweeted:

American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer joined in:

However, according to the LA Times, he hasn’t donated to Dem pols in over a decade and is a registered Republican:

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon congratulated NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for his leadership: has a collection of NBA tweets.
Alas, this tweeter said:

Andy Borowitz analyzes the situation:

On the Sterling is a Democrat thing, apparently Matt Drudge beat that drum but has now removed his tweet to that effect.

The Virtue of Distraction

Marten Scheffer, professor and scientist with appointments in The Netherlands and Uruguay, has a brief, but thought provoking, essay in today’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA)on nurturing creative associations. Hopefully, you don’t have to subscribe to read it. Scheffer begins:

Although thinking is the core business of scientists, we rarely ponder how it thrives best; this is ironic, as there is abundant scientific insight to draw upon. For example, it is now known that thinking has two complementary modes: roughly, association versus reasoning (1). We systematically underestimate the role of the first (1), and the way our institutions, meetings, and teaching are organized heavily reflects this imbalance. By contrast, many of the greatest scientists systematically nurtured a balanced dual-thinking process. We should follow their example and reform scientific practice and education to catalyze the unusual combinations of knowledge that often turn out to have the highest impact.

How does Scheffer suggest we make progress toward more creative associations? Nap and goof around:

Recent experimental work confirms that our capacity to make novel associations is boosted by rapid eye-movement sleep (3) and by undemanding activities that allow the mind to wander (4). This finding suggests that it may be good in a daily routine to alternate our cognitive work with naps or activities conducive to mind wandering.

I’m in. In fact, I’ve been in for a long time.
Scheffer also suggests interdisciplinary pursuits (I’m there), walks (short ones I hope) and talks (with gluten free food and a tasty beverage):

The idea that taking walks, reading things unrelated to your research, and hanging out with strangers in a campus pub should be considered part of the serious process of thinking, but might well meet with skepticism in practice. Should we really set time and space apart for things that distract us from our jobs? Yes we should, because many of the breakthroughs in science were made by people who were distracted.

I knew there was virtue in distraction but now I can get busy being more distracted so I can finally get to the breakthroughs.
*Marten Scheffer, The forgotten half of scientific thinking. PNAS, April 29, 2014, vol. 111 no. 176119, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404649111.

Glenn Beck Talks Mormon at Liberty University

I honestly have a hard time figuring out Liberty University.
After finding themselves in some hot water over Mitt Romney, and then more recently Benny Hinn and Ron Godwin’s past devotion to Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, you would think they would take more care about the speakers in their chapel. However, last Friday, LU featured Mormon enthusiast Glenn Beck in their chapel. Right there in front of their motto “Training Champions for Christ Since 1971,” Glenn Beck spoke from his Mormon theological base to young evangelicals.
Right Wing Watch had the story yesterday. Here is a clip where Beck refers to the Mormon doctrine of pre-existence (begin at 26:45)
To the Liberty students, Beck refers to the Grand Councils which apparently is a reference to the pre-mortal meeting to decide the plan of salvation and other matters, according Mormon theology. I wonder how many classes the LU profs have to spend undoing what happens in chapel.

Pastor Mike Wilkerson Leaves Mars Hill Church

Until this past weekend, Mike Wilkerson was the Biblical Living Pastor (Pastoral Care) at Mars Hill. Widely respected, Wilkerson helped develop the Redemption group concept (website for Redemption Group Network) which is the Mars Hill effort to provide lay counseling. Here is the announcement:

From Pastor Scott Harris:
Mars Hill Family,

One of our long time friends and pastors, Mike Wilkerson, has decided to step down from eldership at Mars Hill.
Mike has been a part of Mars Hill for many years, and we are grateful for his leadership, particularly in helping us build our biblical counseling and Redemption ministries across all 15 churches. We love Mike and wish him well as he will continue to run The Redemption Group Network which exists to help churches develop their own Redemption Groups ministries.
In the meantime, Pastor Cliff Ellis from Mars Hill Church West Seattle will be assuming Mike’s responsibilities over Biblical Living ministries.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of praying over Mike and for his family at the 7pm service in Ballard. Since he just got back from Latvia and plans to move out of state this coming Saturday, this was the only time we had to do it but are thankful we got the opportunity. Please join me in praying for the Wilkersons as they pursue what God has planned next for them.
In Christ,
Pastor Scott

What seems unusual about this announcement is that the announcement came only a week before he plans to move. Given his level of leadership at Mars Hill (a ministry director – just under the executive elders) and his popularity at the church, it seems abrupt to announce one week and be gone the next. Given the church’s commitment to biblical counseling (nouthetic counseling), I wonder if Wilkerson’s departure will signal a greater involvement by Board of Advisors and Accountability member Paul Tripp, who is also a leader in the biblical counseling movement.
In any case, ongoing staff turnover must be of concern to MHC leaders. The 20 ex-pastors have been quiet recently but I understand that some discussions about mediation (although no actual mediation) have taken place. However, the only official answer to my inquiries about the matter is silence.

David Barton Continues to Spin The Jefferson Lies in Florida and Ohio

According to this Florida Today report, David Barton is slated to speak at the Space Coast Prayer Breakfast in Melbourne, FL this Thursday.
The reporter provided the details of the event and noted that Thomas Nelson pulled from publication Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies. Barton continues to spin the situation as being the result of “two professors.”

Barton’s most recent book, “The Jefferson Lie, Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed,” was withdrawn by publisher Thomas Nelson because of factual errors, but will return.
“Thomas Nelson withdrew the book after two professors criticized it. But it’s coming back out at some point. You can’t just get rid of history simply because you don’t like it.”

While Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President was used by Thomas Nelson as a resource, it is beyond dispute that The Jefferson Lies was widely criticized by academic historians, both Christian and otherwise.  The book was voted Least Credible History Book in Print by the readers of the History News Network and garnered many critical reviews from real historians. In prior posts, I debunked Barton’s “two professors” claim.
The real story is why Barton continues to be invited to speak about the founding era when he has been so widely discredited as an authority on the subject.
Tonight, Barton speaks at Urbana University in Ohio.

Should Christian Scholars be Watchdogs? My Interview with The Pietist Schoolman on David Barton

Grace College history professor Jared Burkholder today published an interview with me on fact checking David Barton’s claims.
Go check it out. Being an historian, Burkholder’s questions were thoughtful and included some analysis of his own. For instance:

Jared: In my mind, Barton’s problem is a methodological one rather than simply getting things wrong. And often the issue is that his faulty approach leads to misguided interpretive conclusions. Simply put, Barton does not engage in the critical study of history. Historians are trained to be critical, which means they must be ruthless questioners and skeptics – especially of themselves. They seek to maintain a certain amount of distance between themselves and the events they narrate so the conclusions are as objective as possible. Historians are expected to make arguments, or course, but one’s judgment is supposed to be free from bias. This is not to say that this is a perfect process; perceptive readers can usually detect at least some bias in all sorts of historical writing. Sometimes we even categorize historians in one school of thought or another based on their bias. But sometimes it becomes apparent that a writer’s presuppositions or a particular political or religious agenda is overtaking the careful process of questioning that makes for solid and useful historical writing. This is certainly the case with Barton. Warren, would you agree?  If you could boil it down to a few sentences, what is the crux of the matter regarding Barton’s historical work? In other words, is there a root issue, which in your opinion, leads to “bad history?”

You can read my answer and the rest of our exchange at the Pietist Schoolman.

Underground Newspaper Shut Down At Cedarville University

John Fea brings word that The Ventriloquist, an underground paper at Cedarville University was shut down earlier today.
From the paper’s website:

On April 23, distribution of the April issue of The Ventriloquist was forcefully shut down by Cedarville University president Dr. Thomas White and VP of Student Life Jonathan Wood.
As usual, distributors were set up outside the DMC to pass out copies to students leaving the university’s mandatory chapel service. Before chapel was dismissed, White and Wood walked around the distribution stations confiscating papers. Wood forcefully removed papers from the hands of at least one distributor.
When queried, White and Wood stated that The Ventriloquist required prior permission to distribute the issue. Per the student handbook (available online in PDF format here), the only activity that specifically requires prior permission is a “demonstration.” The handbook does not provide a definition of “demonstration,” but The Ventriloquist has distributed twelve issues in similar fashion over the course of the last four years with no warning or retribution from university staff.

As an alum, I am sad to hear about this and about the drift to the far right which seems to be gripping the school.
Also, I can relate to the students who write for the paper. When Paul Dixon became president of the college during my time there, he appointed the public relations department to oversee the paper’s content. In essence, this shut down the school paper because the newspaper staff resigned in protest.
It can now be revealed that I was co-editor of an underground paper published stealthily to replace the absent newspaper. We printed the paper secretly and distributed it literally in the middle of the night. After awhile, the papers started disappearing from where we left them (mostly in the student mail room) and we had to get creative in ways to spread them around. What goes around comes around I suppose.
When I first went to the “Ville” in 1975, men were not allowed to grow beards or mustaches and long hair for men was forbidden, women could not wear pants to class, and movies and dancing were prohibited. I got into some hot water for playing Stairway to Heaven at the new student talent night. Music preferences were monitored. Generally, I pushed the rules as far as I could. As a relatively new Christian, I didn’t get the legalism. In years following graduation, Christian rock and pop artists were featured in chapel and other kinds of moderation followed. Before coming to Grove City in 1994, I had an informal interview at Cedarville.
However, I received a pretty good education and I know there are fine people still teaching there. I am disappointed to think that the school could be returning to a stifling rigidity and legalism that marked the early days.