May 27, 2015

Russell Moore Doesn't Understand Basic Economics

Russell Moore does not understand basic economics. Which is a shame, considering the fact that he leads the public policy arm of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. (the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, henceforth the ERLC).

Brian Jacobson of The Reformed Libertarian explains:
. . . the Faith for Just Lending Coalition claims these Payday loan companies are preying on the poor by charging unjust interest rates and fees. Of course this begs the questions [sic], what is the just interest rate for a loan? We must look to the basics, what is the interest rate and why do people get loans? The interest rate may be rightly described as the price of money. In the case of a loan it is the cost of money now versus money in the future. People seek loans when their rate of time preference favors a certain amount of money now as opposed to the future. The loan takes place then when a second person has saved or acquired a certain amount of money and prefers to give up that money for the sake of more money later. It is essentially that of supply and demand for money, just like any other good.
Moreover, the policies that Moore and his buddies are advocating will only end up hurting those they are supposed to help (read the rest of Jacobson's article here for an explanation). This should come as no surprise to anyone who has studied the effects of government intervention in the free market. It is an empirically verifiable fact that government regulation tends to exacerbate the problems it is supposed to solve. Statists (like Moore) simply refuse to accept this.

I highly doubt that Moore's progressive, big-government, pro-regulatory state approach would sit well with most of the Southern Baptists whose interests he supposedly represents. Unfortunately, there is very little accountability at the top levels of the SBC. The average SBC church member has little or no idea where the money he gives each week actually goes. Most have never even heard of Russell Moore. They don't even realize that the ERLC exists. 

Personally, I think it's time we defund the ERLC. Russell Moore is a great preacher, but he is a terrible public policy advocate. He needs to stop pushing his progressive agenda on the rest of the convention and go back to the pulpit where he belongs.

May 19, 2015

When Free Trade Really Isn't

Over at The Acton Institute, Elise Hilton recently posted this article in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Why does she come down in favor of the TPP? Because it is a "a free trade agreement . . . that purports to increase economic growth, jobs and free trade."

The problem is that, despite the doublespeak, this so-called free trade agreement is no such thing. Far from representing free trade, the TPP actually represents crony capitalism on a massive scale.

Richard Ebeling of The Mises Institute explains:
. . . the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a free trade agreement. . . . like all other trade agreements in the post-World War II era [the TPP] is a managed trade agreement.

That is, governments of the respective participating nations negotiate on the terms, limits and particular conditions under which goods and services will be produced and then bought and sold in each other’s countries. The Japanese government, for instance, is determined to maintain a degree of trade protectionism for the benefit of Japan’s rice producers, who are fearful of open competition from their American rivals.

The U.S. government is under pressure from the American auto industry, for example, to continue limiting greater competition from the Japanese automobile industry. American labor unions want to restrict the importing of goods produced at lower labor costs abroad than U.S. manufactured goods, because American consumers might prefer to buy the lower priced foreign products and thus risking the loss of some of their union members’ jobs.
You can read the rest of Ebeling's article here. In it, he explains the benefits of free trade. The only problem with free trade is that sometimes it really isn't. 

May 12, 2015

So, Just How Wrong Is Andy Stanley?

Is Andy Stanley a dangerous heretic?
Andy Stanley Trashes Expository Preaching; Calls it "Easy" and "Cheating"
Or a typical megachurch pastor?
The outrage over Andy Stanley on verse-by-verse preaching: a lesson in pseudo-discernment
For my money, he's somewhere in-between.

We're All Feminists Now

Every year on Mother's Day, congregants are treated to sermons extolling the virtues of womanhood.

On Father's Day, those same churchgoers will most likely hear their pastors browbeat all the men in the congregation for being lousy fathers and husbands and failing to live up to their role as spiritual leaders. They probably heard some of this during the Mother's Day sermon as well. In between uplifting illustrations about the joys and sorrows of motherhood, the pastor will make sure he scolds all the men who are too lazy to show up for church (never mind the fact that this doesn't apply to any of the men in attendance because they are, after all, in attendance).

Are women inherently more virtuous than men? Of course not. Why, then, have I never heard a Mother's Day sermon about the common sins and failings of mothers? I know of at least one pastor who, when given the opportunity to do just that, lost his nerve. He was preaching verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible and the passage which fell on Mother's Day would have allowed him the perfect opportunity to call the women in the congregation to repent of a sin quite common among female church members. Instead, he took a break from his expository series to preach a typical Mother's Day sermon, taking time out from lifting up the mothers in the congregation only to hector the men (again, never mind the fact that the real offenders weren't even present).

If men are no more sinful than women, then why have I never heard a Father's Day sermon in which godly fathers are lifted up and encouraged rather than mercilessly demoralized and emasculated? If pastors want to cultivate a culture of godly manhood within their congregations, perhaps they should find a better strategy than nagging.

Most Evangelicals don't even question this practice. They just assume that women ought to be exalted while men ought to be called to repentance. It seems that the contemporary brand of feminism (the belief that women are not merely equal to men but are inherently superior to them) has infiltrated the church. This kind of thinking may make for a mildly-entertaining television sitcom, but it has no place in Christ's church.

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