Dr Wayne Grudems Response

August 30, 2016

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters who follow the Agora web/blog:

 

I am delighted to share a response from Dr. Wayne Grudem to my brief article, titled “Dear Trump’s Theologian” a few weeks ago. Wayne is professor of theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona and holds a doctorate in New Testament. His book, Politics-According to the Bible: A comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scriptures, Zondervan, 2010 is a must read for individuals who are interested in a perspective by a well versed Conservative theologian who is at the forefront of modern thought. Our conversation was initiated when he wrote a recent article titled, “Why Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice for the Presidency of the United States.”

     My understanding is that Grudem’s statement represents his views and not that of the Seminary where he teaches. Likewise, I do not represent my denomination, and does not endorse either candidate. My response will be posted next week to the Wayne’s statement below. Our conversation clearly demonstrates that we can have civil discourse without ranting and name-calling which is often the case in so many exchanges. I hold a doctorate in Ethics from Emory University with one of the minor core areas being Politics and Theology. For several years I taught a graduate course in Theology of Politics both at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena and Oral Roberts University School of Theology and World Missions. My primary mentor during my early training in ethics was the late Dr. Kenneth (Snuffy) Smith, Professor of Ethics, Crozer Theological Seminary (Martin Luther King, Jr. primary mentor). At the doctoral level my primary influences were , Dr. Theodore Runyon, Systematic Theology and Dr. Theodore Weber (Just War Ethical Theorist) at Emory’s Candler Graduate School of Theology. Our conversation in our limited time frame is informed though we do not claim to be experts in politics.

Read Dr. Grudems Response

DEAR TRUMP’S THEOLOGIAN

:                                                     August 16, 2016

                  Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

 

Dear Wayne (or, if you prefer, The Reverend Dr. Grudem):

    We have never met in person, though I visit Phoenix once a year to preach for a vibrant, thriving ministry. I have never formally been invited to Phoenix Seminary, I have stopped by anonymously to visit a class or two and enjoyed the experience. I am known in some circles to be a preacher and teacher of ministers over several decades. While I am somewhat in awe of your bearing the burden of breaking the news of Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice (see Townhall, July 28, 2016), it is very interesting. While we bear a similar interest in ethics and theology, I would welcome the opportunity to talk theo-ethical political shop with you. Given the seriousness of this forthcoming presidential election, it appears you’ve got your hands full after your published stance.

      Wayne, you raised several valid points as to the value of voting for a flawed candidate if that person can do the most good for the nation. You state that you even spoke against Donald trump at a Pastors Conference but has gone full circle and has endorsed him as a good moral choice. You clearly reject the “Boy Scout Approach” to politics, i.e. a candidate should be morally pure in order to lead the nation. A purist may not necessarily make a good President. In the last six decades we had several presidents who were flawed morally but whose political accomplishment were profound and shaped the future of our nation. Then you come back and employ a hermeneutic of suspicion when you view Donald as the best candidate and view Hillary as evil. Are you doing this on the basis of your strong belief about gender issues? Does Donald’s misogynistic views carry weighty implications for the presidency in a pluralistic nation? Wayne, remember, you must also overlook Hillary’s flaws the same as you do Donald’s if she is just as qualified for the task.  Wayne I am a Black African-American theologian-ethicist who gets nervous when any proposed leader speaks loudly about walls to keep people out and further denigration of persons who are already here because of their religious beliefs. I have bad dreams of a 450 year sojourn in this nation of bondage and slavery where voter registration is still being tampered with. Yet Donald promises not to change because he is representative of scores of people who are stymied by the same old tactics that have been employed by Conservatives. In the last two Presidential elections it was Marriage and Abortion. This time Conservatives cannot trust a candidate who cannot keep her email server intact, Therefore! Therefore! Therefore!

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A RADICAL CALL TO UNITY

                                                                               Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

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     Uniformity is not necessarily unity…please do not get them twisted.  Wearing the same religious garb or uniform is merely uniformity. Unity evolves from within. Unity must be sought after and desired if it is to be realized within the Body of Christ and our nation. It is a totality of oneness derived from the human spirit. With such a totality there can even be unity in diversity. However, uniformity is like a forced march…one obeys because of rules, pressure and compulsion. Authentic unity takes place when we respect each other for who we are and provide an opportunity for respectful dialogue to hear what the Spirit is saying through each of us. As a denomination we are facing the end of an era. An era is a distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic. The new era appears to be pointing to the need for a shift in leadership. The leadership styles of the past will not fit the new emerging challenges of the present. Respectfully, no single leader will successfully lead our denomination apart from a radical shift in style. One does not pour new wine in old wineskins according to Jesus. The ferment of the new wine is too strong for old wineskins. New wineskins are needed.  Radical new models of leadership are needed for our present situation.

     Hopefully, the denomination will transition to term limits in response to a rallying cry from our COGIC base constituency for same. Several Traditional mainline Black denominations have successfully transitioned to term limits without major upheaval.  When leaders are elected indefinitely they begin to substitute their limited authority for spiritual power. Lord Acton was correct – “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”   They argue that when leaders remain in office too long they often become selfish, self-serving and greedy. They confuse their term of office as a personal possession and not a great opportunity to serve God’s people through quality leadership.  Our founding Chief Apostle Bishop CH Mason was never caught up in unnecessary power struggles, taking sides and being divisive. He was never accused of absolute power and a lustful greed for money.

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A CHALLENGE TO THE NATION

Dr. Leonard Lovett

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  I had decided to remain silent and ride this one out. The fire in my heart like Jeremiah began to burn. The wanton murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota has spurred righteous indignation. The weak insipid response of the President was disappointing to say the least. His speech writers really got it wrong this time. To say this is not about race but an American problem is to diminish what most African-Americans experience on a day-to-day basis as being simply routine. Mr. President I respectfully ask how can you say in one breath this is not racial and proceed to give a litany of racial disparities that involved African-Americans and end with the tired phrase “all life matters ?” In context there is a disconnect between what you are saying and Black life “that really matters.” You proceeded to address the bias in the minds of Police Officers and on and on with useless tired rhetoric that failed to deal with a systemic problem, namely, institutionalized racism at its best. I am not blaming, but rather challenging you as leader to assist us in finding a way out of this morass

  What prevents you during the end of your second term from issuing a Moratorium on the killing and decimation of Black lives by racist bad cops? No all cops are not bad. There are many exceptions to the ones who have participated in the killing of Black men like animals within the last five (5) years. Six decades ago I marched against segregation so we could live in a nation without fear. Today when a cop blue lights you, most of us are almost gripped by fear of the unknown. A personal friend of mine told me that a cop stopped his son who was licensed to carry a weapon. He told the cop that he had a weapon. The cop told him to retrieve the weapon. He refused and told the cop where it was. His refusal saved his life. The cop in a laughing manner told him that had he reached for the weapon it would have been his life. That kind of behavior is all too often frequent and must be reported and never tolerated.

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The Trump Syndrome:

trump2Dr. Leonard Lovett

Donald Trump suffers from an incurable disease, and the diagnosis is clear: Diarrhea of the mouth and Constipation of the brain. He does not think before he speaks, therefore the prognosis is bad. We must never trust him with nuclear codes. He has started the “fear tactic” again, by attempting to re-define Islam. His persistent confusion of Islam as a historical faith is all too often confused with the extreme abusers of Islam such as Isis and other extremist who use the religion of Islam as a pretext to exact violence upon peoples of the West.  Islam as a faith has made major contributions to the building and development of civilization. Abuse of religion is at a premium in America.  Does anyone remember Jim Jones who led close to a thousand persons to their death in Guyana by drinking  a mixture  of water laced with a deadly poison and promised them a home in heaven? Banning Muslims from entering the country has the smell of Adolph Hitlerian savagery. Building  walls instead of bridges to keep Mexicans out is far more dangerous than we would like to admit. He may be insulting relatives of the maids, janitors and maintenance workers who keep his real  estate empire afloat by working for low wages.  Is that what the democratic experiment has come to?

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WILL GOD ABANDON A NATION?

Leonard Lovett, PhD

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   Mitt Romney is at the mike again. We best remember him for an astounding and resounding lost in the 2012 presidential election after making an insensitive remark about forty-seven percent of voters he had written off as being non-essential. His assignment has changed. He is at the mike to “clip the wings” of Donald Trump who he perceives as a fake who has deceived Americans and may win the presidency by default if the Republicans do not get their act together. A Harvard neuroscientist, Howard Gardner has indicated that Trump has a mental disorder that fits the parameters of a “certifiable textbook narcissist” that makes him a dangerous world leader. That a “person with this mental disorder has an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.”

[see Bobby Azarian, Raw Story, Jan 18, 2016] That Trump easily fits into the category of ruthless leaders such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Trump has excoriated Mexican immigrants (like his wife) who are in search of a place to thrive and live a meaningful life. Banning Muslims from entering the country has the smell of Adolph Hitlerian savagery. Is that what the democratic experiment has come to? Here we go again, Mitt Romney, a loser has come to fore to bail out a political party that has virtually lost its soul by bashing their front runner. At least Donald Trump leads in the trek toward the Republican Primary as he boasted about his wealth and promises to bring jobs and currency from abroad back to America.

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Can Leaders Remain Too Long?…When its Time to Say Goodbye

Leonard Lovett, PhD

Time to go copy insertActs 13:36 [LAB] “For after David had served his generation according to the will of God, he died and was buried, and his body decayed.”

 

     On an idyllic Thanksgiving holiday morning I called one of my Philadelphia sons in the Gospel and asked him, how often do you change the oil in your automobile? He was vague with his response and finally admitted that he went by the service sticker info and occasionally the mileage. After convincing him that this was not a gimmick, he remarked that he really did not have exact information to the question. After getting his attention I asked the real question, how often should we change leaders in the church? I had just googled an article on, “When Should You Change Your Oil?” –Ronald Montoya The first thing suggested is to “let the manual guide you.” Secondly, “trust your oil life monitor.” The monitor based on mileage and will switch on a maintenance light when the vehicle reaches a predetermined mileage range. Numerous sensors throughout the car records conditions and habits of the driver. Thirdly, use the time estimate. The Toyota Prius recommended an oil interval of one year or 10,000 miles. Fourthly, get an oil analysis. An oil analysis will tell you the condition of your oil, and can reveal any problems that your engine may be experiencing such as traces of fuel and coolant in the engine oil. The article concluded that the 3,000 mile oil change myth is designed to keep people in the business busy. If this much attention is given to an automobile, what about our church leadership? Who monitors how long leaders remain in office in the church? I believe that we need to devise a system where leaders cannot remain if office indefinitely. This applies to pastors, Bishops and all church leaders including, but not limited to our National Supervisor and Supervisors, Presiding Bishop, General Board, Board of Bishops and Jurisdictional Bishops in the Church of God in Christ.

     I am convinced that my calling is to stand “in defense of the Gospel” according to Philippians 1: 17 and to challenge church leadership. I do not respond to unsigned internet lies and garbage generated by cowards. The only thing I have is “the pen of a ready writer” according to Psalm 45:1. What I say may be offensive to some and liberating to others. I plan to write an open letter to the Church of God in Christ in January and publicly resign as Ecumenical Officer, an appointment by Presiding Bishop G.E. Patterson in 2004. All the details of my Ecumenical journey and much more will be set forth in my forthcoming book scheduled for Winter/Spring 2016, titled, Why COGIC Must Change or Die…Recapturing the Essence of our Holiness-Pentecostal Faith. My book will detail the root of our present crisis and a possible alternative course of action out of this morass. With the eye of an historian and the passion of a theologian who has served the church, God has enabled me to be fully capable of engaging in meaningful discourse about the future of our faith.

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Why is Such A Shaking Going On?

Dr. Leonard Lovett

Shaking

 

Isaiah 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens and the earth shall remove out of its place in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger.

The present crisis we are experiencing is really not about the guilt or innocence of the Presiding Bishop or the credibility of the accusers. Speaking prophetically, this crisis is about whether we are going to risk profaning the name of God throughout the global village by foolish choices as the largest Classical Holiness-Pentecostal body in the world. Heretofore we were revered by ecumenical and cross denominational enclaves. Unfortunately we are losing our voice due to posturing and infighting over worthless positions and plain idolatry within our ranks. Where are the spiritual Fathers and Mothers who were fonts of wisdom, mother wit and plain common sense? Why are we listening to card-carrying, money seeking false prophetic clowns who are merely saying what we want to hear? It has become a fad to call oneself a prophet in our current religious environment. Pastors why are you having a feeding frenzy with this kind of foolishness in your church? Why are you looking for another religious “fix”? Can you imagine Isaiah, Elijah, Ezekiel or Amos being invited to a modern day Prophetic Conference? They would have been averse to a gathering of so-called prophets renting a fancy upscale hotel simply to falsify the truth to each other about their present and future situation. God forbid that we as a church fall victim to this kind of gamesmanship, deception and veiled witchcraft. When are we going to stop playing with God?

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When is Enough, Enough? Greed as Idolatry

Dr. Leonard Lovett

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     I was intuitively urged to explore the biblical notion of greed as a form of idolatry after reading a scathing article in the Washington Post by Michelle Singletary in her The Color of Money column.

The title of the article was engaging: “Where Money Meets Faith, bring Skepticism…Be careful your pastor isn’t fleecing his flock.” She discusses Rev Robert “Dr. Shine” Freeman, a fifty-six (56) year old Maryland minister who was recently sentenced for twenty seven (27) months in prison pleading guilty to obstructing bankrupt court proceeding. That Shine took the command “let us pray” into “let us prey.” He preyed on people. He hid assets to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts. Shine was ordered to pay more than $650,000 in restitution to four (4) church members who took out loans to buy cars and a mansion. What Freeman did comes under the category of “affinity fraud.” Affinity fraud occurs when people use a personal connection such as religion or ethnic status to gain people’s trust and their money.

     Nearly one in four Ponzi schemes involve- affinity group targets according to studies by several reputable consulting firms. The three (3) most common affinity groups targeted by Ponzi schemes, accounting for eighty-five (85) percent of such cases, were the elderly or retired, religious groups and ethnic groups. Whenever a too-good-to-be-true is coming from someone you trust or respect and endorsed such as your pastor, raise the red flag. Freeman used his church members in the name of Jesus, to get what he could not afford, eleven (11) luxury vehicles worth a million dollars, a leased jet, a $1.7 million 9000 square foot house purchased by a member. Recently, a Bishop asked me whether I could recommend a “name” speaker to complete his conference calendar. I replied, do you want someone who can “entertain” or “challenge” the people? Entertaining, “grab your neighbor” false prophetic fundraisers are a “dime a dozen.” To find someone who will “stretch your people” to new levels of maturity and growth requires different search engines. Your ministry is like a tree, when it stops growing it is preparing for inevitable death.

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