Friday, March 30, 2007

righteous anger, christianity and james dobson

It has always amazed me how misunderstood the emotion of anger is, especially among Christians. Far too many Christians are under the impression that it is somehow "un-Christian" to express outrage over sin and injustice. Where does that come from? The Bible certainly doesn't say that.

I am also amazed about how quick we humans are to elevate other humans to "icon" status. Celebrity worship is out of control in our culture, and it afflicts the Christian as well as the non-Christian.

This whole James Dobson thing really has me puzzled. To be specific, I am puzzled about the reaction to his comments. I am not at all puzzled about what Dobson said, because he was very clear about what he meant, and the subsequent "clarifying remarks" did nothing to alter the meaning of his original words. No, I am puzzled by the Christian reaction to his words.

Let's be very clear about what Dobson said. He said that he didn't think that Fred Thompson, a man who Dobson admitted he didn't know, was a Christian because he had never heard Thompson talk about his faith. Let's also be very clear about the circumstances surrounding that comment. Nobody called Dobson and solicited his opinion. He called U.S. News senior editor Dan Gilgoff completely out of the blue to offer his opinion about Thompson. Why would he do that? Why would he say such things about a man he admitted he didn't know? Was it a coincidence that Dobson made these unsolicited remarks so soon after deciding to support Newt Gingrich for president? Folks, God gave us a brain, and He gave us the ability to reason. Honestly ask yourself those same questions that I just asked and see what answers you come up with.

The reaction of many in the Christian community has absolutely blown me away. Several people that I know locally really tore in to me because, as they said, Dobson's contributions to the Christian conservative cause elevates him above criticism. One of those people actually said, "If Dobson said it, he must have a good reason, and who are we to question him?" Huh??

Henry Martin, a good and decent man and a strong Christian, really tore in to me in his comment to my post. He accused me of vilifying a good man for expressing "honest doubts" about Thompson, he accused me of being hateful, and he even took a swipe at my relatively small audience, compared to a great man like Dr. James Dobson.

The oh-so-liberal Hee-Haw commented on my post that I was just as guilty as Dobson. I assume he is referring to my comments about people like Jimmy Carter and Thomas Ehrich.

To everybody who expressed an opinion, publically and privately, I would make the following points:

1. James Dobson is just a guy. He's a guy who I happen to agree with most of the time on most of the issues, but he is just a guy. Contrary to what is apparently Christian conservative consensus, he is nothing special and nothing divine. He is just a guy, same as you and me. This hero worship thing is quite unseemly. Get over it.
2. Although Dobson is just a guy, he is a very smart guy, and I find it hard to believe that he didn't realize what kind of reaction his remarks would provoke. I find myself back to my original questions: Why did he say what he did, why did he seek the reporter out to make those comments, and are the answers to these questions in any way connected to his apparent support for a Gingich presidential bid? Although I have very definite opinions about the answers to those questions, I can't read minds or hearts, so I won't speculate further.
3. Although I can't read minds or hearts, I do understand English (in spite of my southern Indiana upbringing) and what Dobson said was as clear as a sunny day. "Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for. [But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination. According to the Bible, a Christian is a person who believes that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected on the third day as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and who loves God with their entire being, and who asks Jesus to be the Lord and Master of their lives. I don't see anything in there about having to send a resume to Dr. James Dobson. Dr. Dobson went out of his way to question Thompson's eternal salvation, based on NOTHING. That is horrible, and all Christians should be outraged.
4. Let's play "pretend" for a minute. Let's pretend that Fred Thompson had publically questioned the authenticity of the Holy Trinity (like Jimmy Carter has). Then I could understand Dobson's criticism. Let's pretend that Thompson had supported each and every murderous, tyranical despot that has ever come down the pike (like Jimmy Carter has) and that Thompson had gone so far as to work to help these despots retain power. Then I could understand Dobson's criticism. Let's pretend that Thompson was preaching and teaching a false gospel (like Thomas Ehrich does). Then I could understand Dobson's criticism. Fred Dalton Thompson has done none of those things. Fred Thompson is a baptized member of the Church of Christ. If Fred Thompson had done any of those things, then Dobson would be absolutely justified in making his comments.
5. Read John 2:12-25 (;&version=65). The notes in my Life Application Study Bible say this about verses 15-16:

Jesus was obviously angry at the merchants who exploited those who had come to God's house to worship. There is a difference between uncontrolled rage and righteous indignation- yet both are called anger. We must be very careful about how we use the powerful emotion of anger. It is right to be angry about injustice and sin; it is wrong to be angry over trivial personal offenses.

Ask yourself this question: When Dr. Dobson called in to question Fred Thompson's eternal salvation based on NOTHING, was that a "trivial personal offense," or was that a sinful injustice? You make the call. In the meantime, I stand by everything I have said.

See also


Blogger Henry Martin said...

Hondo, you said:

3. Although I can't read minds or hearts, I do understand English (in spite of my southern Indiana upbringing) and what Dobson said was as clear as a sunny day. "Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for. [But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

And then you go ahead and dispute the motives of that statement as being either bad or even evil! The words are what they are - opinion. Did YOU know Thompson's religious affiliation when you jumped on his possible candidacy back when it was a rumor? A Christian that does not let others know his faith should not be expected to be KNOWN as a Christian. Why is it that you have practically ignored Mike Huckabee, a known Christian and strong Republican governor?

I do not support Dobson as some sort of hero above reproach. He is, however, an authority on things both Christian and conservative. If I take his support for the conservative Newt Gingrich as it stands in the article, it sounds just like any other pundit's opinion of the man's abilities. That is as far as I am willing to go with that.

As far as his accepting Gingrich's confession, that may seem like gullibility, but the confession WAS made openly on Dobson's show. It may just be that Dr. Dobson has some discernment in this area (he IS a psychologist who has studied human behavior from both secular AND religious points of view).

I respect your opinion, but I think you should reserve your "righteous anger" for true sin rather than parsing public statements for hidden motives.

I appologize for taking a "stab" at your audience size. Ever since I have stopped daily blogs MY audience has practically dried up to nothing. I have only had about HALF your hits in about the same amount of time. Thank you for YOUR faithful visits. I will try to keep up my visits to your blog as well.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Ray Charleskou said...

Fred Thompson was interviewed on FOXNews Sunday. He supports the legalization of illegal immigrants who are in now in the US. One of the founding principles of the Constitution is "faithfully executing the laws of the United States." He starts out his pre-campaign as an advocate for a criminal class. Keep in mind, most illegals are Social Security frauds. And about one-third to one-half are hard core felons.
Thompson should stay at "Law and Order," a job he took while still an active seanator.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Hee-Haw said...


First of all, thanks for the acknowledgement of my contributions to your forum.

My personal opinion is that you do often cross the line and pass judgemnet on people’s hearts that only God can know. But moving beyond that, I think that you are right that Dobson is only a man and should be far from any elevated status (afterall if a man of God believes he (or acts like he) supercedes his human condition, then I do not think he can any longer claim to be a man of God anymore than any other common street urchin).

By the way, just to clarify, my “liberality” is only a state of mind, a way of thinking, an opinion, perhaps even a “trivial person offense.” And my often “righteous indignation” at your politics and actions Hondo, may often be sinful in some kind of way I don’t yet understand on my spiritual journey, so for that I am sorry for any unessecary offense and hope that you accept me as your brother in Christ despite our very pronounced differences and strongly clashing ideas; even when I am shit-stirring on your blog.

But back to Thompson…a few points…

Thompson is “notable in his passionate support of Scooter Libby, whose defense fund he sits on.”

Thompson stated “the so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi's way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won't cut it in this country," adding “Gandhi's way isn't the American way” which goes against Gandhi’s philosophy of non violence which makes sense to a lot of intelligent people in the world, though apparently Fred Thompson. “So when Fred Thompson says that according to him 'Gandhi's way isn't the American way' what he is essentially saying is that 'compassion', 'humility' and 'sympathy' is not really the American way. It is not American to sympathize with Iraq. It is not American to be humane to any Muslim. It is American to be a 'hero' and slay them all for peace.” This is a wee bit dangerous in today’s world climate, and down-right un-American.

Thompson goes on to absurdly compares George Bush's war on terror with WW2, quite frankly an insult to every WWII Veteran, and they are quickly leaving us, along with their wisdom.

Notably, (whether you agree or not) Thompson voted against background checks at gun shows; voted against a law restricting violent videos for minors; Voted NO on 1998 GOP budget; Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes; Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women; Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation; Voted YES on Amendment to prohibit flag burning (who really cares? Us vets don’t. Why make it an issue? Call it “free speech” and ignore it); Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds; Voted YES on repealing federal speed limits (bring the Autobahn to the USA? Bad idea); Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education (which doesn’t work, and never will work (but between you and me, that’s what I preach to my own daughter)). On a positive side, he Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.

He would certainly be an interesting candidate, but could have benefited from a little military experience if he wants to be an effective commander-in-chief at this time.

Thanks for allowing my “liberal?” thoughts on your blog…

10:06 PM  
Blogger hondo said...

First I'll answer your questions, Henry, then I have some for you.

No, I didn't know Thompson's religious affiliation when I heard the first rumors of his candidacy. There's a lot of things I don't know about Thompson, but that's what the campaign is for. Question--what does that have to do with Dobson saying that Thompson isn't a Christian? The difference between me and Dobson is that I didn't pop off with a reckless, hurtful comment with no facts to back it up.

Why have I ignored Huckabee? Because he isn't a true conservative. Huckabee is a good and decent man and a Christian, but he isn't a true conservative. He supported a half-cent sales tax increase while in office, and he supports "some kind of mechanism" to make illegals legal after they get here. That spells amnesty. Question--what does that have to do with Dobson saying that Fred Thompson isn't a Christian?

Now, my questions. Why did Dobson say what he did? He could have said that he didn't know anything about Thompson's religious beliefs, and that evangelicals would need to hear him talk about his faith in order to feel comfortable with him. There wouldn't have been anything wrong with that, but that's not what Dobson said. Dobson said that he didn't think that Thompson was a Christian, and he had nothing to back that statement up with. Why would Dobson say such a hurtful thing with no proof? And don't play it off as "just his opinion." That's not good enough.

Why would Dobson solicit an interview with a reporter? What was he hoping to accomplish with sharing his opinions? I think this is a legitimate question, and I don't consider it to be an act of treason to the Christian conservative cause to raise the question. James Dobson is not God, and I have no problem asking a question about his motives.

Last question: James Dobson expressed his opinion about the eternal fate of Fred Thompson's soul, with no supporting facts/logic/reason, and you have no problem with that. I expressed my opinion that Dobson was real wrong and that there is at least an appearance of a political motive, and you blew a gasket. Why does Dobson have the right to express an opinion and I don't? Now, don't misunderstand me. I welcome criticism--if I didn't like the give and take of having my views challenged, I wouldn't blog. But I'm puzzled as to why you think that it's bad to criticize The Great Dr. Dobson. Henry, he's just a guy, no different than you and me.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression."

If only Dr. Dobson would spend some time contemplating Matthew 7:3-5. He is a hypocrite, plain and simple...

"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

2:16 AM  
Blogger hondo said...

Amen, Anonymous! In this instance, there's a big old Sequoia in Dr. Dobson's eye!

11:26 PM  
Blogger OrdinaryColoradoan said...

Ray Charleskou you are mistaken.

Try reading the actual transcripts.

Thompson did nto support amnesty - lying is wriogn and you know it.

Stop it.

From the transcripts:

WALLACE: You also favor comprehensive immigration reform. I want to...

THOMPSON: No, no, no, no.

WALLACE: Well, let me put up on the screen something that you said last year about illegals, and let's take a look at it. "You're going to have to, in some way, work out a deal where they can have some aspirations of citizenship but not make it so easy that it's unfair to the people waiting in line and abiding by the law."

Now, you said, "Look, it's just not realistic that we're going to round up 12 million people and ship them all out of the country."

THOMPSON: Well, that's true, as a general statement. We woke up one day after years of neglect and apparently discovered that we have somewhere between 12 million and 20 million illegal aliens in this country. So it became an impossible situation to deal with.

I mean, there's really no good solution. So what do you do? You have to start over. Well, I'm concerned about the next 12 million or 20 million. So that's why enforcement, and enforcement at the border, has to be primary.

I think most people feel disillusioned after 1986 when we had this deal offered to them before, and now we're insisting that, you know, we solve the security problem first, and then we'll talk about what to do with regard to other things — certainly no amnesty or nothing blanket like that.

But figure out some way to make some differentiation between the kind of people that we have here.

You know, if you have the right kind of policies, and you're not encouraging people to come here and encouraging them to stay once they're here, they'll go back, many of them, of their own volition, instead of having to, you know, load up moving vans and rounding people up. That's not going to happen.

THAT last part is pretty clear that Sen Thompson wants the illegals to GO HOME. Not have an amnesty.

As far as Dr Dobson is concerned - wonderful books. Poor political judgment. Matthew 6:1 and 7:1 apply well here.

2:31 AM  
Blogger Henry Martin said...

Hondo, you remain adamant on your assessment that anouncing what you THINK and what your IMPRESSION might be are hate speech. That is what bothers me about your original rant against Dr. Dobson. It doesn't matter that Dr. Dobson has been dealing with Christians for over thirty years and should have some impressions upon which he could base his opinions. He went out of his way to admit that Thompson was a good conservative, but then stated his doubts about the man's chances with the Christian base. It's as simple as that.

If you define a conservative as one who eskews ALL taxes, no matter what their purpose, then how can a government be supported? User fees? Did not Jesus admonish us to "render to Caesar what is Caesar's"? Taxes of some sort are necessary. Sales taxes are the most just of all taxes.

Bringing up Huckabee had NOTHING to do with your lambasting of Dr. Dobson and everything to do with your seemingly glowing SUPPORT for Thompson. It is a wonder that there are SO MANY conservatives talking of running in this race! From sitting congressmen and senators to governors that have just fulfilled successful tenure to the former mayor of the world's most famous "city state"! It is certainly going to be an interesting ride!

12:22 AM  
Blogger hondo said...

Henry, I am absolutely shocked at the way you are distorting my comments. I don't know if you are intentionally misquoting me or not. I don't know if your rage over some honest criticism for The Great Dobson is blinding you or not. I don't know why you are misquoting me, but you are, and that is very sad.

You stated that I am defining a conservative as someone who is against taxes. That is an untruthful statement. I have never said such an idiotic thing. I said that conservatives are against increasing taxes. Taxes are necessary, but they should be as low as possible. With as much government waste as there is, I believe that cutting spending is always preferable to raising taxes.

You said that I have offered "glowing support" for Fred Thompson. Again, that is an untrue statement. Please read the following quotes from me about Thompson. They represent everything I have ever said about the man on this blog:

"This rumor that Fred Dalton Thompson is considering a run for the presidency is very interesting, but I don't have any idea if it's true. He is said to be pro-life, pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-Second Amendment and pro-free enterprise. I'll have to do a little more research on him to determine if that is really true, but if it is, Thompson would be an intriguing candidate. We shall see."---March 7

"With regards to 2008, GOP primary voters should be asking one question--which candidate is the strongest conservative? I guarantee it isn't "Rudy McRomney!" GOP voters need to be looking in the direction of Duncan Hunter, or Tom Tancredo, or Sam Brownback. If Gingrich or Fred Thompson enter the race, they would be worth looking at as well."---March 20

"As I looked through Thompson's record I had to resist the urge to cheer. Right down the line, I agreed with his positions over and over again. Abortion, national defense, gay marriage, guns, taxes, budget---I found myself in 100% agreement with the actor/senator. One person who commented on my blog a couple of days ago raised a point about Thompson that I do find fault with. This person said that, in a FOX News interview last week, Thompson stated his support for amnesty for illegal immigrants. I have not yet found proof of that but, if that's true, it would be a HUGE red flag for me. As I've said repeatedly, though, this is a long campaign, it's way too early to endorse one candidate or another, and we have lots of time to see where these guys really stand on the issues."---April 1

I think that you are allowing my challenge to your hero worship of The Great Dobson to color your thoughts about what I really said. If you truly believe that all of the above constitutes "glowing support" for Thompson, then you need a class in reading comprehension. That might also help you with taking an honest look at what Dobson really said.

Henry, I am saddened by another thing. Twice, I have posed several very simple questions to you concerning the comments made by The Great Dobson. You have twisted yourself into a pretzel avoiding having to answer those questions. Instead of just answering those very simple questions, you have repeatedly twirled and spun and changed the subject. I have to ask myself, why? Do you find it too uncomfortable to face the truth that might be found in the answers to those questions? Do you somehow find it to be "sacrilegious" to ever question this man who you hold in such high esteem? I am puzzled, Henry. I know that you are not a liberal, but you are using the same tactics that liberals always use when they have their ideas challenged by a conservative. It's not pretty when they behave like that, and it looks even worse when a good and decent Christian conservative such as yourself resorts to their playbook.

I think we will just have to "agree to disagree" on this topic, Henry. We are never going to agree with each other on what Dobson said or on his possible motives. That's OK. Disagreement and discussion are not necessarily bad things. God bless you!

1:57 PM  
Blogger Henry Martin said...

The reason I said you "defined" a conservative by his tax policy is because you discounted Mike Huckabee as not being a "true conservative" because of a half-cent sales tax he pushed through his legislatute.

And YES, your quotes DO amount to a glowing support for Thompson. I don't know much about him, really. But what you have said about him sounds great. I never "quoted" anyway, and I qualified my opinion with a "seemingly." I am VERY careful with my use of words and I comprehend just fine, thank you. I will admit, that your last quote hedged your bets very well. It is clear that you are not "endorsing" anyone just yet.

ALL Dobson said was "I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression." Nothing more, nothing less. What you make of it is your opinion, and that's fine.

I am sorry you are "disappointed" with my responses to your rants against Dobson. Yours are not the only opinions I have been challenging on this very quote. Another conservative online that I have been emailing for over eight years had the same reaction you did.

I have only taken the WORDS at face value. I have not twisted anything nor tried to psychoanalize anyone. Without a good Christian testimony a candidate will probably NOT get the base behind him. That is what I got out of Dr. Dobson's remarks.

It is late, and I was going to deal with this subject on my own blog because I have expended quite abit here and in recent emails without it being a bit more visible. It is fascinating how people jump on slight remarks and totally turn things in unexpected directions!

Thanks for putting up with these remarks. Perhaps by this weekend I might get some of this on my own blog. :-)

11:24 PM  

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