Ezekiel 16 paints a sublime portrait of the Creator God’s love for his chosen people. This God expresses his love saying, “I pledged myself to you and entered into covenant with you…and you became mine…I bathed you with water and washed off the blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and with sandals of fine leather; I bound you in fine linen and covered you with rich fabric. I adorned you with ornaments” (8-11). This poetic expression of God’s passionate adornment of his beloved people is moving. There is, though, an interesting detail earlier in the chapter which is not to be overlooked. The word of Lord through the prophet says, “As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you out of compassion for you; but you were thrown in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born” (4-5). I find it fascinating anc comforting that the metaphor chosen by God to express his love to his people is that of an unwanted, unloved, and left for dead newborn. The one whose cord was not cut, who was left unwashed, abandoned by her parents, and thrown in a field to die, this is the one that the Lord chooses for himself to raise up as his own making her the object of his covenant love. When God wanted to express his passionate love and loyalty to his people, he chose language not altogether unlike a partial birth abortion. Evidently, God loves babies that no one else does.
Christianity Today published an interview with Jim Wallis in May of this year discussing a number of his views on issues like abortion, marriage, and poverty. When asked about his position on abortion Wallis answered, “The abortion debate has really gotten very stale. It’s a symbolic battle that takes place mostly only in election years…But the abortion question is real. It’s a moral issue. The number of unborn lives that are lost every year is alarming. It’s a moral tragedy…” (53). It’s good to hear Wallis concerned about the abortion question. However, the interviewer goes on to ask about Wallis’ advocating of a prophetic voice on social issues such as abortion comparing it to Wilberforce’s battle against slavery(54). Wallis answers, “I don’t think that abortion is the moral equivalent issue to slavery that Wilberforce dealt with. I think that poverty is the new slavery. Poverty and global inequality are the fundamental moral issues of our time. That’s my judgment. People make the mistake of defining prophetic by politically left and right categories, and that the further left or right you are, the more prophetic you are. They’re not biblically prophetic; they’re politically ideological” (54).
Now, I agree that poverty is an important issue. Clearly Jesus spent a lot of time with poor people and those on the fringes of society. However, I can’t imagine how anyone can think that the outright slaughter of innocent babes is not the moral equivalent of slavery. If Wallis wants to talk about the prophetic voice, how about this? If you were to do a word study on the idea of hell in the gospels, you would find that one of the words rendered as hell is Gehenna (e.g. Mark 9:43). If you find that interesting enough to track down the meaning of Gehenna, you would find that Gehenna was the valley south of Jerusalem where two Judean kings, Ahaz and Manasseh, burned sacrifices to a false god. They even burned their own sons as sacrifices to Molech (2 Chron 28:3, 33:6). Because of this, the valley was cursed and became the Jerusalem garbage dump. It was a place where the flames never went out and the stench of burning garbage never ceased. This was Jesus’ image for hell. His image for eternal destruction was the burning pile of garbage on land that was cursed because Judean kings sacrificed their children there. How’s that for the prophetic voice? Sometimes I think we are so calloused that I wonder if we would know the prophetic voice if it were shouting in our faces? The slaughter of defenseless children is most clearly the subject that the prophetic voice is concerned with. That is not to say that poverty is not an important issue. It is to say that poverty is not a bigger issue than abortion. The wholesale slaughter of 50 million unborn children in last 25 years is the precise subject and content of the prophetic voice. It’s the sort of thing that Jesus would use as a metaphor for judgment and destruction.
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealously?” 1 Cor. 10:21-22a
The Apostle Paul offers relatively little reflection on the Christian practice and significance of the Lord’s Supper in his letters. If not for 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 we wouldn’t know any of Paul’s thinking about Communion. The above verse is Paul’s first mention of the Communion meal and it comes as Paul is warning the Corinthians about the danger of apostasy or falling into destruction (1 Cor. 10:12-14). It is in this context that Paul brings up “the cup of blessing that we bless” and “the bread that we break” (16). He says that the cup is a “sharing in the blood of Christ” and the bread is a “sharing in the body of Christ” (16). The cup seems to indicate fellowship with Christ through the New Covenant in his blood (cf. 11:25) while the bread appears to indicate the fellowship and unity in the Church, the body of Christ. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (17). So, we might say that the meal involves both vertical participation with Christ and horizontal participation with the Church. To partake at the Lord’s table somehow involves both fellowship with Christ and fellowship with his Church.
Paul goes on to use the Lord’s Supper to create distinction between Communion and the cultic meals which were held as part of worship to pagan gods. Paul does not acknowledge the existence of other gods and actually declares that when the pagans sacrifice, “they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (20). It is at this point that we encounter the verses italicized above. You cannot go eat at Jesus’ table and then go eat at the table of demons. Now we modern folks may read this and think little of it. After all, I don’t know anyone who sacrifices to idols and eats at the table of demons. However, this injunction could be particularly troubling to a craftsman in first century Corinth. In the Greco-Roman world, one had to be a member of a trade guild to obtain material with which to work. This would include material like lumber or metal. Each trade guild had its own patron deity and the guild meetings would involve a meal in honor of the deity. The reason this would be a problem for Christians should be clear. Paul is saying that you cannot come to the Lord’s table on the first day of the week and then go off to the table of a false god on the second day of the week. Even if that is how you obtain the material you need to practice your trade and provide for your family.
The point here is that there is only one Lord, and his name is Jesus. To come to his table is to announce your singular devotion to his lordship. The Communion table is an affirmation of the supremacy of Christ everywhere and in everything. To go eat at another table, or at the table of demons, is to deny the supreme lordship of Christ.
This should also be troubling to thoughtful Christians who perceive that the modern Church is often fighting for a place at any number of tables while forgetting the centrality of our Lord’s table. We want our voice to be heard. We want to be heard at the school board, but we don’t want to declare that Jesus is lord over our children’s education. We want to be heard at the city council meetings and we want a place at the lobbying table to make our voice heard in Congress. But we don’t want to remind the governing authorities that Jesus is lord and that they are his servants (Rom. 13:4). We just want to get our turn to vote. The problem is that when we run off to sit down at any old table in order to be heard, then we are implicitly denying the lordship of Christ. Some might respond by saying that we cannot positively impact society if we don’t get involved in the conversation. I’m not saying that Christians should not be involved in the conversation. I am saying that we should not play by their rules. We do not have to choose between bad and worse. Sometimes making our voice heard means walking away from the table when everyone else at the table denies the supremacy of Christ.
It is only when we forsake our Lord’s table that we lose our voice. The Church should make its prophetic voice heard in society by sitting only at the table of our Lord and refusing to be seated at any table where Christ is not seated at the head of the table.
On Super Tuesday, James Dobson released a statement to The Laura Ingraham Show saying, “I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.” Expressing his personal opinions and not those of non-profit organization Focus on the Family, Dobson criticized McCain for his opposition to traditional marriage, support of embryonic stem cell research, and his vote against tax cuts which ended the marriage penalty. Dobson also charged that McCain, “has little respect for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve fillibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language.”
Dobson challenged McCain’s conservative loyalty saying, “I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has sounded at times more like a member of the other party. McCain actually considered leaving the GOP caucus in 2001 and approached John Kerry about being Kerry’s running mate in 2004. McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president.”
Dobson also voiced his belief that, should McCain capture the GOP nomination, “this general election would offer the worst choices for president in [his] lifetime.” Dobson added that he certainly would not vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and that, if McCain was nominated, he would not cast a ballot in the presidential election for the first time in his life.
I am curious to see how much of an effect Dobson’s criticism of McCain will have on evangelical voters. Dobson is one of the more respected Christian leaders in the United States. Will evangelicals follow his lead and stay home in November if the choice is between McCain and one of the two Democrat frontrunners? If so, perhaps it would send a message to the powers that they have become distanced from a significant portion of their constituency.
On Thursday, Dobson endorsed Republican Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.
He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.
He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.
Congressman Paul introduces numerous pieces of substantive legislation each year, probably more than any single member of Congress.
Ron Paul is running for President of the United States.