Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Who do you trust?

I don't claim to know much at all about Bowe Bergdahl, but I tend to believe most anything David Brooks says, and he says President Obama did the right thing, just screwed up terribly on the hype. That may well be true.

I don't know whether Bergdahl was a deserter or a collaborator, or whether he, like Cacciato in Tim O'Brien's great Vietnam-era novel, just simply decided to walk home. I don't know.

But I do tend to believe the people I trust, and, for better or for worse, I trust his preacher. Why? Because the man is OPC--that's Orthodox Presbyterian, a tiny denomination whose biggest churches, I believe, are in Oostburg and Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, where I grew up. I went to grade school with whole gangs of OPC kids. Few of them were flaming liberals. 

The OPC had only recently broken ties with the mainline Presbyterian Church, their quarrels led by a learned prof named J. Gresham Machen, who left Princeton Seminary in the Thirties fearing what we used to call "modernism," which questioned most anything truly miraculous in Bible, from the parting of the Red Sea to the Virgin Birth.  

J. Gresham Machen wasn't about to allow empty orthodoxy to rule.  
Christian experience is rightly used when it helps to convince us that the events narrated in the New Testament actually did occur; but it can never enable us to be Christians whether the events occurred or not. It is a fair flower, and should be prized as a gift of God. But cut it from its root in the blessed Book, and it soon withers away and dies.
I've been to Synods of the OPC, where men--which is to say, men only--fight long and hard over theological questions so obscure you need an M.Div. degree to read the scorecard. When it comes to theology, OPC preachers are precise. They're not lefties, believe me. 

So it turns out that Bowe Bergdahl and his family are OPC, and that a OPC preacher named Pastor Phil Proctor has been mentoring the family, on and off, for the five years that have passed since young Bergdahl left his post and got himself interred by Afghan Taliban. How does Rev. Proctor see the whole story? 

"This whole thing is the dog of politics wagging the tail of the conservative Christian conversation," he told Christianity Today. "Folks are failing to recognize that this is a political football and was from the beginning. The Bergdahls are just the flavor of the week, and next week it's going to be a different scandal. That's politics."

Wow. I think I can hear coals popping to flame beneath him on Fox and Friends

Rev. Proctor isn't finished.
But these are brothers and sisters in Christ. We can have political views on whether Bowe should be in prison, or whether Bob should say the Arabic version of "shalom," but to adopt the rhetoric of the day and use it to guide conversations among Christians about another self-professed Christian--I'm saddened by that.
If you find all of that shocking, you should remember what lots of Christians are saying these days: we live in an evangelical world in which theology is far less important than politics, where talk radio makes heartier converts than the church down the block. 

But here's Pastor Proctor on grace and peace:
We live in the grace of God and as we are immersed over and over again in appreciation of his grace to us in Christ; it lives out in peaceful relationships. I would hope that we as believers can be more eager to pursue peace.
CT asked him if he thought Bowe Bergdahl was a deserter. "I honestly don't know," he said, and drew an analogy:  "If we saw a Christian couple whose daughter had gotten pregnant or whose son got caught with a bunch of cocaine, we would cry with them and we would help them to walk through the valley," he said. "Right now, we're watching a lynch mob, and Christians are getting engaged in the lynching. In any other situation, we'd be hugging the parents and weeping with them."

I got history with the OPC.  I trust them. 

I don't trust Steve Doocey, and I don't trust Rush either.  Sorry.

No I'm not.


Anonymous said...

Just because Bowe Bergdahl was raised OPC and you were raised CRC does NOT make either of you a Christian conservative and him an innocent soldier who just walked away.

The jury is out on Bowe, but in your case, the issue is settled... you are not a conservative.

By the way, what denomination did his fellow platoon members attend, you know the guys who labeled Bowe a deserter? They just might be OPC also?

Flying Dutchman said...

I think what most people are upset about are the conditions of the trade. 5 four-star Gen's for a buck sgt. AND, who will be watching these known terrorists in Qatar? A nation that supports funds to Hamas, the Muslim brotherhood and al-Qaida. The POTHUS put a price on every American serviceman and woman head. Shame on him. A community organizer who has no clue of what is going on in the REAL world.

Anonymous said...

So I am a conservative and I grew up in a military area most of my life. Between witnessing the chest bumps, the hooorahs and camaraderie, I also watched military members exude... ... I will never...ever...ever....leave a man behind. No matter how injured his fellow soldier was, he would lay his life on the line for him and bring him home, dead, injured, alive, in pieces if he had too.

Obama did the right thing. He did not leave one of our boys behind. I believe that this soldier had some mental things going on. What sane man would leave a military base in a war zone? I also believe that his captors brain washed him... tends to happen after years of captivity.

Could he be just a plain deserter? Sure. But he is ours and we promised to bring him home no matter the cost. No matter the cost. That is what soldiers say. That is what they do.

Put the ropes away for a little while and listen. Our nation seems to have a problem with listening and patience.

Being a conservative, a liberal, a moderate, or nothing at all, comes with its own pitfalls and sins. God is not a republican, a democrat, or a whatevercrat. He is God.. he is right and true. I think we should all go to him and ask for his guidance before we open our mouth on anything. maybe then will some truth in all this garbage come out.

By the way I think it is stupid that I had to list the fact that I am a conservative republican for my opinion to be heard and hopefully respected. But being around conservatives I know that I have to show my card to be heard.

Maybe this issue is what is truly dividing our country. Listening to people that are different then us. If you think I am wrong and we should not let the evil doers speak..... I have a stone to give you..

jdb said...

Thanks for the insight; I hadn't picked up the background on the family pastor. His comments on grace and peace are "right on". We also share an appreciation for David Brooks and his words of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

So do we have to wait 5 yrs. to get our Marine back from Mexico? How about a trade for 1 Marine and 14M illegal immigrants.

Anonymous said...

Hello I Have a Stone to Give You.
Truth may not lie somewhere in the middle. I am a retired soldier and I trust those fellow platoon members who were told to sign disclosure forms before I would listen to David Brooks or CECIL blogger.

Anonymous said...

JCS blogger

Anonymous said...

and where do you get the idea he is still OPC? he prayed to Allah in front of the whole country.

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter if he is a CRC,OPC, Catholic, or atheist? What bothers me is the return of the 5 four-star Gen's. We have a soldier in Mexico, that needs to be set free and should have been without all the signatures needed for Obama to even address it. Seems a bit hypocritical to leave one and not even make an effort to free him. Also seems hypocritical of him to do nothing for the woman in Sudan whose husband and children are USA citizens. Obama also had a Muslim father and "Christian" mother. According to the reason given for her death sentence, he also would be a candidate for it as he also claims to be a Christian even though he had a Muslim father. We have a humanitarian children's refuge problem at the border, not an immigration problem. What makes children with an average age of 14, leave their homes to cross the Northern dangerous country of Mexico to be safer? I have been a republican all my life, but as I read my Bible it says to feed our "enemy", give him water, and to do so is to do so as unto the Lord. How can we show them love of Christ if we toss them out of the country with a kick in the pants and very vocal your not welcome thrown on them like a bucket of ice water? Yes, I am for immigration laws that need to be followed, but these children have a home country that is full of violence and danger that leaves few options but to escape. We, the church, have the greatest opportunity ever to be the hands and feet to these children. We should be sending down truck loads of food, water, clothes.

Anonymous said...

These kids are being used as political pawns. The church is definitely commanded to feed the poor, BUT could do that BEFORE they left their own country. Their parents are sending them here and Obama is letting them in through our supposedly secure border.