If Trump Becomes the GOP Nominee, the RNC is Responsible

There is a way that the GOP can be saved. The Wall Street Journal maps it out here.
Since a Virginia court case earlier this week made it clear that a state may not enforce laws overriding the rules of a political party, it is now up to the GOP rules committee to adopt a rule allowing delegates to vote for the candidate they now believe will be the best person to take on Hillary Clinton. If the delegates vote for Trump, so be it. If not, the GOP might have a chance in November.
Right now, it is the Republican establishment and evangelical leaders who are propping up Trump’s nomination. If RNC leaders thwart the Free the Delegate movement by blocking rules changes (as they are reportedly doing right now), then they are responsible for presenting Donald Trump to the nation as the GOP standard bearer. A simple rules change will allow delegates to exercise their responsibility to choose the best candidate. Without it, Trump will become the nominee.
Evangelical leaders (e.g., Eric Metaxas, David Jeremiah, etc) who have come out for Trump have already tarnished their reputation. There is about a day left for them to recant and encourage the delegates to vote for rules changes which will allow the possibility of multiple ballots at the convention. It is simply impossible to take seriously any evangelical leaders who has come out for Trump. This election cycle has really revealed some things to the rank and file for the first time.
Check out these websites and do what you can.
Free the Delegates
Delegates Unbound
If the effort to stop Trump are unsuccessful, then consider this third party effort.

Donald Trump Says His Experience Shows That Blacks Who Feel System is Rigged Might Be Right

Donald Trump’s been all over the place with his views of the African-American experience. Yesterday, he said he can’t relate to African-Americans because he isn’t one. He says Obama has been a divider and we need a cheerleader. Then he declines an invitation to speak to the NAACP, where he could cheerlead a little. Then he told Bill O’Reilly he could relate to the system being rigged against blacks because it is rigged against him.
No really, watch what he said below:

He was right the first time. He doesn’t get it.

Virginia Court Decision Frees Delegates, Paves Way for GOP Convention Fight

Today, a Virginia law binding delegates to the results of the state’s primary was overturned by a federal court today paving the way for a delegate challenge to Donald Trump’s nomination. The case was brought by Beau Correll who sought to prevent enforcement of a Virginia law binding delegates to the primary results. He does not want to vote for Trump and now he doesn’t have to. Judge Robert Payne concluded:

For the foregoing reasons, judgment will be entered in Correll’s favor on Counts I and II and the Commonwealth will be permanently enjoined from enforcing Va. Code § 24.2-545(0).

According to the Free the Delegates movement, the rules committee is set to allow a vote on a rules change favorable to the anti-Trump forces. The stars would have to align just so, but the potential for a Convention surprise is much greater now.
UPDATE: For some reason, Trump is spinning the results as if he won. See his Facebook page. He is actually citing the statement of facts as the judgment.

David Barton: Christian Professors Oppose Him Because They Were Taught by Pagan Professors

David Barton has said things like that before but at Charis Bible College last week he claimed he has the truth because he has “all the original documents.” Watch:

In this video, David Barton renews his war on Christian college professors. He claims we were all trained by “pagan” professors and just say what they taught. However, he is right because he has all the original documents. It is hard to imagine a more arrogant position. He surely knows that any documents of consequence in addressing historical questions are archived and available to historians and scholars. We all have access to the same information. He may have some original letters and other documents but the works of the founders are easily available for review. I challenge Barton to produce an original document of consequence to any of his historical claims which cannot be found elsewhere.
In my case, my history training came at Cedarville College, hardly a bastion of pagan professors.
Historians reading this post: Who is the Christian historian who debates him on Facebook that says America is inherently bad? Does that describe anyone? I think he must be exaggerating.
Another question: Who has parsed his Charis Bible presentations and said how wicked Barton is? Wrong yes, many times. But wicked?
Many Christian historian believe God had a role in history. However, they believe He also wants us to bear true witness, to get the facts right. His role in history isn’t an issue. What is important is telling the story as it was, not making up or embellishing narratives.
Charis Bible students, if by chance you are reading here, check this, this, this, this, this and this out.

What Really Happened with Saeed Abedini?

FreesaeedPhoenix Preacher is beginning a multi-part series about the case of Saeed Abedini, the Iranian born Christian preacher who was imprisoned in Iran and became an internationally famous symbol of religious repression in Muslim nations. PP was a champion of Abedini’s cause while he was in prison but has now come to doubt key aspects of the narrative. The post today opens an exploration of those key claims. His introduction sets the tone:

When Saeed Abedini was imprisoned in Iran in the summer of 2012, the church here and abroad set about to free him with one of the biggest campaigns in recent memory.
Abedini was presented to us as an innocent missionary, a man of God imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ.
He was held in horrible conditions we were told, tortured and beaten, often at the edge of death.
The church mobilized as rarely before as organizations like the American Center For Law and Justice, men like Franklin Graham, and hundreds of churches and individuals took up the cause.
Millions of dollars were raised, millions of words written and messages sent to free Abedini before it was too late.
The more we learn, the more we call into question the truth of the narrative we were fed.

Despite the stories of regular beatings and illness while in prison, PP presents photos of Abedini in an Iranian prison looking quite healthy. PP raises the possibility that Abedini’s condition was embellished in order to generate more donations and keep the story alive.
Many people were shocked to hear his wife’s allegations of domestic abuse. Clearly, those stories were not front and center during his captivity. At least some of what was presented to the public wasn’t accurate, that much we already know. The question is what else, if anything, was also untrue?
The American Center for Law and Justice raised funds on the situation and should be accountable for what they knew.
At this point, PP has offered the photos which do raise questions. I plan to follow the series to see what else he brings to the table.

Why It Was Important to Get the Iowa Civil Rights Commission Story Right

On July 5, the Alliance Defending Freedom law firm posted an alert which inflamed religious conservatives with worries that the sky was truly falling in Iowa. Here is the opening two paragraphs:

DES MOINES, Iowa – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing an Iowa church filed a federal lawsuit Monday against members of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, among others, to stop the government from censoring the church’s teaching on biblical sexuality and from forcing the church to open its restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.
The commission is interpreting a state law to ban churches from expressing their views on human sexuality if they would “directly or indirectly” make “persons of any particular…gender identity” feel “unwelcome” in conjunction with church services, events, and other religious activities. The speech ban could be used to gag churches from making any public comments—including from the pulpit—that could be viewed as unwelcome to persons who do not identify with their biological sex. This is because the commission says the law applies to churches during any activity that the commission deems to not have a “bona fide religious purpose.” Examples the commission gave are “a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public,” which encompasses most events that churches hold.

Note the active language: the lawsuit was filed “to stop the government from censoring the church’s teaching…and from forcing the church to open its restrooms…to members of the opposite sex” as if the government was actively censoring religious speech and forcing churches to open restrooms.  In second paragraph, ADF wrote that “the commission is interpreting a state law to ban churches” as if the commission had just developed this interpretation and was enforcing it on Iowa’s churches.
This alarmist language set off some alarms. In response to a tweet from Russell Moore, Princeton professor Robert George tweeted

His tweet was in response to a tweet from Moore who reacted to a tweet from ADF’s Erik Stanley.
It seems obvious that all concerned believed ADF was reacting to a new threat to religious liberty from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Thus, when I corresponded with Iowa Civil Rights Commission executive director Kristin Johnson, I was surprised to learn that the Iowa legislature added sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s civil rights code in 2007 and the Commission had written guidance to the public including churches in 2008. I was even more surprised to learn that the Commission had not taken any action against a minister or church. In other words, nothing had happened. The sky was not falling.
What had happened is that someone noticed admittedly vague and confusing language about churches complying with the law in “a church service open to the public.” That sounded like a Sunday worship service. However, after some emails with Johnson at the ICRC, it became clear that Iowa wasn’t about to shut down churches for preaching on homosexuality. The wording was chosen based on a meaning of “services” in Iowa non-discrimination law as an economic good or service without a religious purpose. The Commission did not have in mind worship services and quickly changed the language in the guidance to make that clear.
Some Iowa religious leaders declared victory as if they had beaten back the secularist agenda. However, the truth is, no Iowa church was ever censored or forced to do anything by the Commission.
Why is this important?
It should be important from the standpoint of truthful communications. Donors who contribute to ADF should get the full story. At the end of the day, ADF believes it is necessary to challenge the law because they believe it isn’t clear what a “bona fide religious purpose” is. Since churches haven’t had to deal with these matters, they are a little unclear on which of their activities might not be considered bona fide by a state agency. I can see the need for some guidance on these matters, especially as churches determine what building use policies to establish. However, there is no crisis.
I believe saving crisis mode for an actual crisis is important because I also believe that years of alarmist rhetoric have helped bring us Donald Trump. Religious right advocacy organizations have worked the evangelical community into a frenzy, always in fear of losing our rights. We are now in a position where evangelical leaders are recommending a strong man type to come and save us. The desire for political salvation has never been greater. Evangelical leaders who support Trump have boiled down Christian engagement in the culture to a central theme: control the Supreme Court. Hang everything else, just don’t let Hillary appoint a justice.
A question for those who support Trump for this reason: Who appointed Anthony Kennedy?
We do need to be vigilant but also we need to be wise about when to sound the alarm.
If Iowa’s Civil Rights Commission was really telling pastors what to preach and controlling how churches use their facilities, then yes, sound the alarms, let’s get all hands on deck. I would be right there too.
In the mean time, I urge evangelicals to save the crisis language for a real crisis.

Pastors School Is Coming to The Trinity Church in November

Want to know what to do this winter? Head to Scottsdale, AZ and go to Pastors School with Mark Driscoll, Jimmy Evans, Robert Morris, Brady Boyd and Jimmy Witcher

You too can build a healthy church in just three days.

Perry Noble Out at NewSpring Church over Excessive Use of Alcohol (VIDEO) (UPDATED)

UPDATE: A little while ago, NewSpring put up Noble’s and the church statement read in church this morning.
In a dramatic announcement this morning during the worship service, a representative from NewSpring told his congregation Perry Noble had disqualified himself from ministry due to excessive use of alcohol. The elders decided he should step down.
In a statement from Noble, he denied any sexual or domestic difficulties and indicated that he was receiving psychiatric care for his substance abuse.
Since early last week, Noble has been at the center of rumors of domestic problems including alcoholism and a difficult marriage. Watchkeep blog first reported that Noble had been fired. When I contacted NewSpring, Suzanne Swift, communications director, told me to tune in to the church service to hear an announcement from Noble and the church but did not deny that Noble had been fired. Then the Christian Post cited an anonymous source alleging problems with alcohol and Noble’s marriage.
Church sources steadfastly refused to comment and church members expressed sorrow and confusion over the news on social media. Some speculated that the rumors were generated by NewSpring as a hoax or gimmick. Many members on social media pledged to stand by Noble and the church.
Part of Noble’s statement:
Audio of the elders’ statement saying that this process has taken place over the past several months and included marital issues.
On Treatment
I hope Rev. Noble seeks help which doesn’t spiritualize the real medical issues implied in the statement. He said he is seeing a psychiatrist. We know that treatment can be effective along with social support. He is to be commended for seeking help.
Apparently, the church is going to provide for the family while Noble focuses on his recovery. To me, other than the goofy PR statement, the church seems to be taking a commendable path by relieving him of duties while providing for his needs and treatment (assuming it is appropriate treatment). Taking him out of ministry may relieve him of the pressure of feeling like he has to come back to ministry at all. For some people, certain jobs (in this case being a minister) may lead to cues and triggers which are hard to handle without resorting to addictive behavior. At the end of this, he may find he should go into something else.  I wish him the best.

Gospel for Asia's Believers' Church to Start Over 500 Schools; K.P. Yohannan St. Johannes?

This is an intriguing video posted today by Indian Narada News.
If this video is what it seems to be, K.P. Yohannan’s India educational staff believe St. Johannes schools are named after Yohannan. While I am not aware of a formal induction into sainthood, Yohannan is the supreme authority in Believers’ Church.
The video establishes that Believers’ Church is working toward over 500 schools which will charge tuition. In some locations, the government requires some seats to be given to the poor. However, elsewhere schools are operated without charity as a goal.
American donors have for years been giving money thinking they were helping poor kids go to school. Some poor kids probably have gotten some education but much of that money has apparently gone into building a tuition generating dynasty for Yohannan’s church. GFA in the states still uses his book, Revolution in World Missions, which decries the use of mission money for schools and hospitals. It appears that donations are being solicited under false pretenses.
Things have been quiet here on the GFA front but this expose may bring renewed attention to the organization.

A Critical Review of Eric Metaxas' Book If You Can Keep It

The Daily Caller posted my review of the book. Regular readers will see that I draw on my prior work for much of it. In any case, go over and check it out.
Daily Caller…
I conclude:

Although the frequency of errors does not match David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies which was withdrawn from publication by Thomas Nelson in 2012, I can’t recommend the book and believe Metaxas and the publisher should publicly address the problems identified here and by other reviewers such as evangelical history professors John FeaTracy McKenzie, and Greg Frazer.