Review of Ask the Question: Why We Must Demand Religious Clarity from Our Presidential candidates

Ask the Question: Why We Must Demand Religious Clarity from Our Presidential Candidates by Stephen Mansfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of the best political books I’ve read in awhile. Its thesis is that it does NOT violate the separation of church and state for citizens to ask a political candidate, especially for the office of President of the United States, about his or her religious convictions. On the contrary, that it is our responsibility to do so.

As with any book like this, your first question is, “Well, what’s the author’s bias?” And in this case, it is hard to find one. His previous books include both “The Faith of George W. Bush” and “The Faith of Barack Obama.” The appendix provides the text of three political speeches which Mansfield presents as the best modern examples of the intersection between religious faith and the presidency. One is from John F. Kennedy, one from Ronald Reagan, and one from Obama. It’s hard to see any bias other than the fact that religious convictions matter. They matter in determining how a president will govern. And I have to be honest, even though its hard to admit as a conservative evangelical: Mansfield makes a compelling case for why Mitt Romney would have been a great President, not in spite of his Mormon faith, but because of it. His chapter on Mormonism as a uniquely American religion convinced me that Mormon values would make a positive contribution to the character of a President, regardless of whether or not I believe Mormons are going to heaven.

The book was published in 2016, and has nothing to say about Donald Trump. It seems to anticipate Hillary’s candidacy, because it devotes an entire chapter to how she was shaped by her religious convictions. I wonder what he would have to say about Trump’s acceptance by the religious right, despite the fact that he is utterly unable to articulate any religious worldview whatsoever. Or maybe I don’t have to wonder. A quick search told me that he has written about Trump. I’ll have to check that out.

What was most interesting to me was the argument that a President doesn’t just need to articulate a religious viewpoint; he or she needs to have a grasp on what other religions believe, and how those beliefs shape geopolitics. Because no matter how much Trump tried to make it so, it is impossible for America to be isolationist. And because religion matters even more to our enemies than it does to our allies, it is crucial that American voters “Ask the question” to any aspirants to the highest office: What do you believe, and how will that impact how you lead?

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Philippians #3: Striving Together, On Our Own

Is our Christian life a team sport or an individual pursuit? Paul’s answer to the Philippians: yes.

March 17, 2019, Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL
James Jackson, Lead Pastor
Text: Philippians 1:27-2:13

Click Here for Manuscript: 3. Striving Together On Our Own Manuscript

The Throne Room: Revelation 4-5

One Throne. Two Chapters. God in Three Persons. One response: WORSHIP.

March 17, 2019, Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL

James Jackson, Lead Pastor

Text: Revelation 4-5

Click Here for Manuscript: Revelation 4-5 manuscript

We ended our time of study with a time of worship. While a video of Kari Jobe’s Revelation Song played, we read and prayed aloud the five songs of Revelation 4-5. Because of copyright restrictions, I didn’t put the song in the video. But you can watch the video here as you meditate on Revelation 4-5.  Blessings!

The Seven Churches in Revelation, Session 2: Ephesus

When a church falls, it usually drifts from sound doctrine. Ephesus fell in the opposite direction.

January 13, 2019, Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL

James Jackson, Lead Pastor

Text: Revelation 2: 1-7

To the Church in Ephesus

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’


A Person’s a Person (The Sanctity of Human Life)

What does it mean to be pro-life? Expanding the conversation

January 20, 2019
Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL
James Jackson, Lead Pastor

Text: Psalm 139:13-16; Matthew 25:31-46

Click Here for Manuscript: a person’s a person manuscript

In this sermon, I tried to get people to think about more than just abortion when they think about being pro-life. And more than that, to think about what it means to be Christian and biblical before they are political. I would love to get your feedback. Thank you for checking it out.

Here’s a link to Daniel Darlings’s book, The Dignity Revolution, which was a major resource for this sermon.

Exiles #8: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Some things you need to know before the world ends…

August 27, 2018

Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL

James Jackson, Lead Pastor

Text: 1 Peter 4:1-13

Click here for sermon manuscript: 8. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Review of “Messy Grace” by Caleb Kaltenbach

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction by Caleb Kaltenbach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a challenging book for me as a conservative pastor. I appreciate Caleb’s story, and I am thankful for his testimony. And it isn’t that I have a problem with loving members of the LGBT community without sacrificing conviction. It’s that I haven’t figured out how to do it yet in a way that they will believe I am actually loving them.

I know all about “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Let’s not go there, because most of my gay friends have a hard time believing I love them if I call who they are a sin. Sexuality is so wrapped up in identity that they literally cannot hear me say, “I love you, but I don’t love what you are doing.” Caleb does a better job with this than anyone I’ve read who takes the Bible at face value (without trying to make the argument that the Bible doesn’t really mean what we’ve translated it to mean when it condemns same sex behavior). In fairness to the author, that is beyond the scope of his book. He is simply telling his story, and its a story conservatives need to hear. But we have to figure out how to engage in compassionate dialogue when we disagree on whether or not something is a sin. For me, it’s like trying to have a conversation with someone who is absolutely convinced their gossiping is really just sharing prayer requests, or that their bigotry is really just a desire to preserve their southern heritage. I can love them, I can accept them, I can plead with them to change their minds, but if they don’t see as sinful what I believe the Bible calls sinful, we get to the end of our conversation very quickly.

And when we are talking about someone’s sexuality, it becomes an attack on a whole different level. Calling out gossiping or bigotry is calling out behavior. Calling out homosexuality, from the perspective of the gay or lesbian, is calling out identity.

The most helpful line in Caleb’s book is that “God doesn’t call us to make gay people straight. He calls us to help lost people be found by Jesus.” Everything else is up to the sanctifying work of Christ. My prayer is that our churches will give all sinners a refuge and a haven for that sanctifying work to be done. And I fear the door won’t be open (or even if it is, that members of the LGBT community will never walk through it) if we don’t agree on what is sin and what isn’t.

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