Judge Moore and the Women

Roy Moore, Alabama Senate Candidate

To Believe or Not to Believe?
This is the Question

Leigh Corfman
 Accuser who says she was 14

Beverly Young Nelson
Accuser who says she was 16

You'd have to be Rip Van Winkle not to know that making allegations of various degrees of sexual improprieties are almost as ubiquitous as college football coach firings. (I fear that one morning I will wake up and see Mrs. Smith on MSNBC as the accuser and myself as the accused.) The accusers are
 mostly by women, though not in Kevin Spacey's case. Those accused include men in the entertainment industry, news industry, and (cue Gomer Pile!) politics. Most of the accused confess that they did something, though some have denied the allegations and others have said their memories of the offenses are not the same as those of their accusers. It is not a good time to be a man, unless you are ready to affirm all accusers and to condemn all accused. It is likely that we are experiencing an over-correction to the problem of not listening to victims and that some of those who have been or will be accused will be vindicated.

Two of the holdouts who have not plead guilty are Congressman John Conyers (D) and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R). Moore, a former two time Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court and outspoken Baptist Christian, has been accused of various kinds of improprieties by nine different women. The state Party Executive Committee is standing by him. The Governor says she has no reason to doubt the accusers, nevertheless, will vote for Moore. Jeff Sessions, who held the seat Moore is running for before resigning to be the Attorney General of the United States, also says he has no reason to disbelieve the women. Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior Senator, has said he will not vote for Moore, but will write in the name of another Republican. Most national Republicans, including most of those who would be Moore's Republican Senate colleagues, have either said that he should drop out of the race, if the charges are true, or said that he should have already dropped out. Senators such as Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, who are "anti- establishment," have withdrawn their endorsements. 

Though the allegations against Moore range from the creepy to the criminal, Moore is not going to drop out. He and the Democrat, Doug Jones, will face off on December 12, and one will be elected. In Washington a number of Senators, Republican and Democrat, have said that, if Moore is elected, he should be seated, investigated, and then excluded from the Senate. The advantage to the Republicans of that happening is that they would not have Moore tied as a millstone around their necks next year for the the midterms and that the Republican Governor would appoint a Senator, allowing the Republicans to hold the seat.

Moore and his wife of 30 years, Kayla, have gone on both the defensive and the offensive. They deny all of the allegations. They have attacked the accusers. They explain all of the allegations as attacks by his enemies - the liberal media and not only Democrats but "establishment" Republicans, foremost of whom is Mitch McConnell, whom Moore has called out and wants replaced. In fact, Moore's "real" enemies, as he and his loyalists see it, are not progressive Democrats but mainstream Republicans. He is seeking to capitalize on the anti-establishment resentments which helped to elect Donald Trump.

I have been interested in the ways Moore's most zealous defenders, some of them pastors, have defended him.  I have  (perhaps unwisely and with no success) engaged some of them on Facebook. So far as I can discern, those I have engaged are Christians who believe there is a distinctly Christian view of everything, who assert that Christ is Lord of all ("every square inch"), and at least some of them are theonomists who believe the Law given to Israel should be the pattern for law in America. These, against the common sense reading of Romans and contrary to the historical setting of both Paul and the Roman recipients, believe Romans 13 was written to teach Christians how to relate to government as it should be, not government as it was, the Roman Empire with Nero as Emperor.

All the Christian defenders of Moore believe he is a champion of the Christian "worldview." He is persecuted for being a courageous believer and a conservative Christian who will stand up for God, the Bible, and "Christian values." He stood for God and the Bible as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and was removed from office, not because he twice refused to obey federal courts, but because he would not bow the knee to Satan and godlessness. He has exposed, is exposing, and will expose Christians who are on the side of the forces of darkness and are part of the media and Washington "establishments." They are afraid of a God-fearing man who will unmask the lying media, challenge unprincipled politicians concerned only for power and money, and shame compromising Christians who seek the praise of man rather than the approval of God. With righteous anger his defenders condemn their fellow Christians, whom they think may not be Christians at all as well as all who have any sympathy for the accusers and any doubt about Moore's innocence.  

Several things stand out to me about those who have defended Moore. First is that it seems that there is nothing that could shake their confidence in Moore's uprightness. It is similar to the case of the husband caught in the act, who says, "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?" 

Second, they accuse Moore's accusers of lying. The fact that they have come forward 40 years after the events to accuse Moore before an election he was sure to win, strongly suggests that they are part of a conspiracy to deny Moore the seat. Some are certain there is convincing evidence that the accusers have been exposed for the liars they are. The women have been discredited and their stories debunked. The Moore supporters dismiss research that shows that waiting to come forward is not at all unusual. Their confidence is not shaken by the fact that there are nine different women, and some people who worked at the mall, who allege Moore's strange behavior (hanging out at the mall to see teenage girls, which some say, led to his being banned from the mall), questionable behavior (a man in his 30s dating teenage girls), and chargeable behavior (partially undressing and fondling a 14 year old while try to get her to fondle him and seeking to force sexual his sexual advances on a 16 year old). So far as the believers in Moore are concerned, the case is closed.

Third, after saying they do not believe the accusers, some pivot to say that, if he is guilty, it doesn't matter. It was long ago. The things of which he is accused are not that bad. It may be the girls' fault if it happened. Alabama pastor, Earl Wise, a strong supporter said, “How these gals came up with this, I don’t know. They must have had some sweet dreams somewhere down the line. Plus there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20.” Whatever may have happened Roy Moore is God's man, who will speak up on behalf of God and Biblical values and will represent Christians who need and deserve a voice in the Senate. He opposes gay marriage; he is against abortion; he has questioned whether Muslims should be allowed to serve in public office; he takes a hard stand on illegal immigration. His positions are Christian. 

One of the defenses his supporters believe is unshakable is legal. (1) The statute of limitations ran out a long time ago. There is no way to establish guilt through the courts. (2) Even if something happened, where is the evidence? Come forward with it, or shut up. Otherwise, you're just gossipping.  (3) The Old Testament says that guilt cannot be established except on the testimony of two or three witnesses, and that standard has not been met. It appears that some would allow nothing to establish guilt apart from two or three eyewitnesses coming forward who were  present in the room and will testify they saw Judge Moore, wearing in nothing but his  whitey-tighties, undressing the 14 year old down to her bra and underpants, his hand cupping her the front of her bra or grabbing the front of her underpants. (4) Accused persons are innocent until proven guilty. He cannot be guilty unless a court says he is. They seem to believe that it would be wrong for a conservative Christian or a Republican who would have voted for Moore before the allegations, to believe the women and so not to vote for him. That would be cowardly at best, sinful at worst.

How could the voters of Alabama, or those of us who follow the story because we are evangelical Christians, or values voters, or political junkies, or political conservatives, come to a decision about Judge Moore? I would suggest several questions to ask:

1. What is your sense of the women making the allegations? Do the accusers seem genuine and do you have feeling that their accusations are credible? Or do find that something just doesn't ring true?

2. What is your sense of the denials of Judge Moore? Do you find yourself believing he is an honest man and that his denials are genuine? Or are you uneasy about him and his denials?

3. What do you know about the accusers  that would lead you to accept or not accept what they say? Does the fact that people who have experience say that it is not unusual for victims of sexual improprieties to keep silent and to come forward, if at all, years later, make any difference to you? Is there anything about the history and present lives of the accusers that tend to impeach them? 

4. What do you know about Judge Moore that would lead you to believe or disbelieve him? How much weight do you give to his 30 year marriage to Kayla and his faithful church involvement? Is there anything about Moore's public life and years on the Alabama Supreme Court that would create reservations in your mind about believing him?

5. What are the opinions of people you respect and tend to trust? You may put a lot of weight on what who have known him through the years say. The pastors who have spoken on Moore's behalf and said they believe him may persuade you to believe Moore. Or you may be moved by what Russell Moore (no relation to the Judge), the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, or Ted Cruz, or the editors of National Review. Where do opinions of folks you respect and trust leave you?

Answering these questions will not make the decision whether to vote for him. You could believe every one of the women and the worst he has been accused of and still vote for him. It depends on how much weight you put on your conclusion that Moore is a bad man versus how much you want to keep that seat in Republican hands. Answering these questions will not give you absolute certainty about whether he is guilty of all, some, or none of the accusations. Certainty is not possible, and the search for certainty is sure to frustrate you.

I do want to answer those who say that nothing short of legal proof is sufficient to justify making any decision other than to consider Judge Moore morally worthy of your vote. Most of the folks who say this no doubt believe what they say, but they are wrong. They ignore that there are many situations we all face that are not  legal but put us in a place of believing or disbelieving. You are considering buying a car, and get the feeling in your gut that the salesman can't be trusted, so you walk away. It's just a feeling, but you don't buy the car. He doesn't get the commission, and maybe he and his family really need it right now. You run into a person at a party, and knowing you have an appointment to see Dr. Jones next week, you ask, "Have you as a patient ever seen Dr. Jones?"  The person says, "I wouldn't let Dr. Jones take my temperature." You haven't seen anything that says Dr. Jones has been sanctioned by the state medical board or been sued for malpractice, but you invest enough credibility in the person who said what he thought of Dr. Jones that you cancel the appointment. You are a young lady who goes out on a date with Joe. Your intuition says, "This guy is creepy." So, when he calls next week, you say, "No, I don't want to go out Saturday, and I'm just not interested in seeing you again." You may be missing out on a great guy, but you don't ask him for a list of other girls he's dated so you can check him out. And, if your good friend tells you she has a date with Joe, you will tell her, "I went out with him, and he creeped me out. I'm not saying don't go out with him, but I feel I should tell you my intuition about him." 

So, what about Bill Smith? Inquiring minds want to know. I think that after much hesitation and conflict, I voted for Donald Trump. (I say "think" because I cannot clearly remember. I was recovering from knee replacement surgery and was taking opioids and cannot remember for sure whether I did or did not cast an absentee ballot.) In terms of what he has done or not done, I have not regretted that vote, if I cast it. 

If I were an Alabama voter, I think I would not vote for either Roy Moore or Doug Jones. I am fairly certain I would soon regret voting for either. I think I would write-in a candidate. Why not Moore? Mainly because of my answer to my question number four above. And, no, I am not on opioids, though I can testify they are sometimes a great mercy. 

The Dishonoring of an Honorable Man

Dr. Morton H. Smith Sleeps

1. Since I published this, my long-time friend and sort of relative (his sister, Sara, is married to my wife's brother, Jim Drexler), Joel Belz, called me to thank me for this post. Joel, a former Moderator of the PCA General Assembly, and founder of World Magazine, also attended the funeral. I thanked him for the effort he made to attend the funeral, despite his own health struggles. Joel is a man I love and respect highly. He is a blessing to me.

2. I have also heard from my friend John Muether informed me that there were extenuating circumstances that mitigate Reformed Theological Seminary's not having a representative at Dr. Morton Smith's funeral. The Chancellor and Board of Trustees President were out of the country. Many of the faculty had gone to the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The Seminary community, unlike I and others, did not hear of Dr. Smith's stroke and brain tumor, and did not learn of his death till the day he died, leaving only two days between the the day of his death and the funeral. I agree that there were mitigating circumstances. It still seems to me that RTS could have had at least one representative at the funeral. I also add that I think that RTS was not alone in the oversight/failure to honor Dr. Smith at his funeral. I have been told that the funeral was sparsely attended. This might be expected, as Dr. Smith, having reached the age of 94, had outlived his contemporaries. However, given his role as a father of the PCA, as well as RTS, I think there should have been a large number of people, including his fellow founders of the PCA and Committee Coordinators in attendance. Further, with regard to dishonor, I am grieved that Dr. Smith, despite his gracious treatment of others, was attacked by not a few young, and some older men, because of what they regarded as his sinful views regarding race. I cannot more strongly express my disagreement with them and my belief that that they dishonored one of the most godly and humble servants of the Lord who served the church.

3. Dr. Smith and I disagreed, even clashed, a number of times about important things. I know we disagreed about race. Perhaps the greatest tension between was in connection with our service on the PCA's Creation Study Committee. He was disappointed that I had adopted the view of "the days" that he had taught when I was a seminary student. If he knew it, I am sure that he was disappointed with my move to Anglicanism and change in my views of the "regulative principle." However, it would be difficult to overstate the affection and respect I have for the man. He gave me the theological foundation and superstructure of my ministry, not only as a Presbyterian minister, but also as a presbyter of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Rest in peace, Dr. Smith; rise to glory.  

4. I extend condolences to his wife, Lois, and his children, Sam and Susan. 

Dr. Morton Howison Smith is with God. He died at the age of 94 and entered the nearer presence of his Savior on the Lord's Day, November 12. His funeral was held on Tuesday, the 14th. And now he rests.

Dr. Smith was a remarkable man - a, husband, a father, a lover of nature, a pilot, a theologian, an author, a preacher, a pastor, an advisor, a denominational executive, a professor. During World War II he trained Army Air Force pilots. He took his Ph.D. under G.C. Berkouwer at the Free University of Amsterdam. He then entered a life of service to Christ.

Dr. Smith's service to the cause of Christ was extraordinary. His was varied, long, and manifestly useful labor in the Lord's vineyard. He was a professor of Bible and the head of the department at Belhaven College (9 years), the founding professor and teacher of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (12 years), a founder of the Presbyterian Church in America, the  first Stated Clerk of the General Assembly (15 years), and a founder of and Professor of Systematic Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (15 years). 

What gets the attention, however, is the profound godliness of the man. He loved the Lord, the Bible, Presbyterianism, and the Reformed faith. He walked consistently according to his profession of faith. I have heard people criticize him, as I have on occasion, but, until recent years and the era of political correctness invading the church, I have never heard anyone criticize his Christian life. 

What stands out most to me is his humility. Not his learning, nor his service, nor the praise given him by colleagues and students engendered in him pride. Of course, I do not know his heart, but it appeared that pride was not a temptation for him. He lacked hubris. He did not promote himself, or stand on his rights, or become angry at slights. He bowed himself before the providence of God even when it meant bearing false representations and mistreatment by those who chose to be his enemies, failure to come to his defence by those who knew the man better than did his critics, and ingratitude by those who owed him much. 

After the funeral I heard from a mature and temperate brother who attended. Dr. Paul Gilchrist, who succeed Dr. Smith as Stated Clerk, and Dr. Roy Taylor, the present Stated Clerk, attended the service. Whether any others who have  served or serve in the administration of the PCA attended, I do not know. 

However, my informant told me that not a single representative of Reformed Theological Seminary was present. Not the Chancellor, nor any of the Presidents of the regional campuses, nor any members of the Board of Trustees attended. While the Lord can raise up from nothing what he wills to bring into existence, it is difficult to see how Reformed Theological Seminary could have come into existence or attracted the students it did in the early years apart from the role of Morton Smith. 

How could it be that no one from RTS attended the funeral? I can only guess.

First, Dr. Smith was not the RTS kind of professor. Dr. Smith was an Old School Presbyterian (this is not to say there have not been and are not other Old School men at RTS), who wanted to see the PCA be an Old School Church and RTS be an Old School institution. I believe he thought it was possible for both, but it became evident that neither would be Old School. 

There was a time early in the days of the seminary when the seminary concluded that it was not satisfied with the "product" - that is with some of its graduates who now were ordained, serving churches, and active in presbyteries. I can recall a meeting at which the President and a leading member of the Board of Trustees called several of us to a meeting at the seminary and told us to "cool it." 

Now, who was responsible for these graduates who turned out to believe and practice Reformed theology? Dr. Morton Smith. Once, I had Dr. Luder Whitlock, the second President of RTS, speak in my church for a weekend and preach for a Reformation Day Service. During the weekend I told Luder that what Dr. Smith had given us boys was a system of theology we could learn, understand, and teach. It provided the foundation and structure of our ministries. Dr. Smith believed what he taught, but he was guilty of none of the sin, stupidity, and foolishness of us young fellows who studied under him. Nevertheless, he was blamed for our being Reformed and for our assuming we could reform our churches. 

Dr. Smith was not the sort of professor that RTS wanted shaping future ministers.

Second, Morton Smith was instrumental in the beginning of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I think it is fair to say that GPTS was founded to be what RTS did not become. The powers at RTS did not appreciate that, and, though Greenville was no threat to RTS, there was no love lost between the two institutions. It is disappointing, but not surprising, that RTS would not have wanted any of its leadership to pay last respects to a man who, though he was a key to RTS' existence, was also a key to GPTS' existence. 

Third, Dr. Smith was known to be a principled segregationist who believed his views were consistent with the Christian faith. He was not a racist. He harbored no animosity toward African-Americans. He was toward everyone a Christian gentleman. But he believed that the races should live separately, and he believed that was by God's design. (I am not aware of a single student of his who shared his views.) For all this he has been condemned, especially by young men, who, no less than those of us who were early graduates of RTS were, are certain they are right. (It is interesting that the separation of the races is now promoted by African Americans who believe there needs to be a distinctively African American theology, worship, and church.) 

Dr. Smith has been the target of a great deal of attention, condemnation, and denunciation by some older men but mostly young men, both black and white. In a display of nothing, if not hubris, these men called him to repentance for his views. So strong was their conviction that Dr. Smith was wrong and needed to repent that they hounded him as an old man in his 90s.

Now RTS has been in the forefront of "racial reconciliation" though this seems to have fallen on hard times because of the increasing desire for separation on the part of African Americans. RTS has sought to attract and equip African American students (a laudable goal), and its Chancellor has taken a lead in the cause of "racial reconciliation" (itself laudable, but as it is promoted now much influenced by liberation theology and critical race theory.)

So, if he attends Dr. Smith's funeral, how does the Chancellor of RTS go to Mississippi and face Jemar Tisby and explain why he honored Morton Smith by attending his funeral? How does RTS have credibility among those who men, white and black, who are convinced that Dr. Smith was associated with the great sin of the 20th century, if some administrator(s), or professor(s), or member(s) of the Board of Trustees attended his funeral? How do you recruit students (and every educational institution is seeking numbers) who share the views of Dr. Smith's critics? 

It's a very practical decision. Honoring Dr. Smith, though he deserves it, is not worth the heat you will take by honoring him. 

So the decision is to dishonor him. 

Does Dr. Smith care? Surely not now. Nor, I believe, would he if he could have lived and known the dishonor that would be shown him at his funeral. He did not court and was not affected by honor or dishonor shown him during his life, so why would he at his death? He was "another man's servant." That other Man is Jesus Christ. 


I Don't Want Any Moore

I've Had Enough

Roy Moore

Evangelicals, political conservatives, and Republicans have been rocked since last Thursday when the Washington Post published a story about Republican U.S. Senate nominee, Roy Moore, that accused him of one crime (which can never be adjudicated because the statute of limitations long ago expired) and of several actions which some regard as improprieties. The alleged crime is that he partially undressed a 14 year old girl whom he then fondled while attempting to get her also to touch him sexually. The other alleged actions are that he as a man in his early 30s showed an interest in and dated teenage girls.

Allegations. Let's first address the matter of his alleged crime and improprieties.

As many have noted, the crime allegation, if true, is a very serious matter. If what is alleged happened, it seems, barring further revelations, that it does not indicate Judge Moore has a "problem" - a proclivity for sexual activity with post-pubescent but young teenagers. So far as we know, there are no other allegations of  this sort of activity. Nevertheless, even if there was one act of this sort, it is scandalous behavior, and good reason for those who have favored his election to reconsider. 

So far as I know, no Republican Senator has joined with those who have defended Mr. Moore. One of the most conservative Senators, Mike Lee, has withdrawn his endorsement. All who have spoken, including not just "establishment" men such as Republican leader Mitch McConnell, but challengers of the "establishment" such as Ted Cruz, have said that, if these charges are true, Mr. Moore should withdraw from the Senate race. The National Review editors and writers David French and Jonah Goldberg have denounced Moore in strong terms and called for him to step aside. 

The response of Evangelical leaders has lacked unanimity. For example, Moore's pastor and Jerry Falwell, Jr., have defended the Judge, while Al Mohler and Russell Moore have expressed outrage (assuming the allegations are true). 

Now Christians must always say that        sins, however great (and Christians have been guilty of much worse behavior than than Moore is accused of), is never beyond forgiveness. Nor should sin against a 14 year old girl 40 years ago, if it occurred, be a millstone around the neck of Moore, regardless of what it means for his candidacy, for the rest of his life. 

We also need to put this charge in the context of the current moral outrage against sexual harassment and abuse as one revelation follows another about both heterosexual and homosexual men. While I do not know of any Hollywood women who have been accused, it seems that every week there is some female school teacher who is accused of taking advantage of her position to pursue sexual relations with male (and occasionally female) students. 

I expect some of these allegations will prove untrue, but in the current context, there is a strong inclination to take them all as true. We will do well to remember the hysteria in 1980s when children, urged by parents, prosecutors, and psychologists, made accusations of very gross forms of of sexual abuse against various caregivers. There were about 80 convictions. Most of those convicted were ultimately exonerated. It is certainly possible that we are experiencing another wave of hysteria and that this has affected the judgments that are being made about the allegations against Mr. Moore.

Regarding the "allegations" of impropriety, I am much more sanguine than others. It seems to me that there is nothing inherently wrong with a man who is 30 looking at a girl or woman, who is or soon will be, of marriageable age as someone whom he might date. One of the best men and friends I have ever known was 30 and looking for a wife. He had not found himself content with making a commitment to or asking for a commitment from any of the "possibilities." One day it occurred to him that a girl who loved horses, who had asked for a job, and whom he had hired in his veterinary practice seemed to have the qualities for which he was looking. (As he sometimes said, she was a good worker.) When her crusty father asked him what his intentions were, he replied, "Honorable." Soon they were married. She was 18 (as was my wife when we married, though I was only 21). Till he died, they enjoyed a solid marriage and an excellent partnership. They had 6 children, and somewhere in there she got her Bachelor's and Master's degrees (at his, not her father's, expense!) She was a strong woman and, as I saw it, a near perfect complement (forgive me, all you anti-complementarians) for him. Now some of those who have their underpants in a wad about a 30 year old dating a teenager with her parents' permission might hope to have a marriage half so happy.

Disqualification. Let's move to Judge Moore's qualifications for office. Even apart from whether the allegation of sexual activity with a 14 year old is true, I do not think him qualified. I expressed this view during the Republican primary. Repeating  the opinions I read at National Review, I think he is neither a conservative nor a Constitutionalist. Further, as I have written before (Roy Moore: God's Man?), he is a lawless man, or perhaps, a law unto himself, or, perhaps we should say, a typical American evangelical (he is a Baptist - see
Protestants Are Too Much like Baptists) who elevates his own conscience above the authority of church or state. 

He has twice been removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for civil disobedience. The first time he refused a federal court order to remove a  Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the Supreme Court building. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary said: "Indeed, we recognize that the acknowledgment of God is very much a vital part of the public and private fabric of our country...(but) the highest judicial officer of this state had decided to defy a court order" and, therefore had to be removed. The second time (officially he was suspended for the rest of his term without pay), in defiance of federal court decisions, he instructed probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary found he had violated the Code of Judicial Ethics and wrote: "This case is not about whether same-sex marriage should be permitted...Moreover, this is not a case to review or to editorialize about US Supreme Court's June 2015 decision, a decision that some members of this court did not personally agree with or think was well-reasoned." Rather, they found Moore's action ""grossly inconsistent with his duties" and "incomplete, misleading and manipulative." In fact, these judges found Moore's offenses in this case to be worse than his earlier defiance of a court order. 

I know some Christians will say, "But Judge Moore followed a higher law, God's." Some of the same folks will say, "We need God-fearing men in office." No, he did not follow a higher law, unless Judge Moore's understanding of his duty is to supersede not only federal courts but Holy Scripture (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:12-17, both written with the government of the Roman Empire, and specifically Nero, in mind). Nor is Judge Moore God-fearing so far as these two matters are concerned.

We need in office, not men and women like Judge Moore, but men and women willing to operate under our system of government, to obey the law themselves, and to work for change by lawful means. And those are the sort of people, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of them, we as Christians ought to want to see in office, most especially when those running for office are professing Christians. 

There are few things that could more set back the reputation and effectiveness of Evangelical Christianity than a man who would behave as a Senator as Mr. Moore did as a Judge. 

Politics. Finally, let's take into account the political implications of Judge Moore's candidacy. I begin by saying I am a conservative Republican who does not claim his political views are derived from the Bible. Nor do I believe I am advancing the Messianic rule of Jesus Christ by my political positions and activities. 

So what are the possibilities in connection with Moore's candidacy for the Senate? The best case scenario is that he would withdraw. The Republican Party in Alabama should then identify, coalesce around, and work like crazy for a Republican write-in candidate. Another possibility is that the voters, including Republican voters, will take another look at Moore, decide they don't want him in the Senate, and elect his Democrat opponent (the race has tightened and one poll shows the Democrat with his first lead)

Perhaps the worst case scenario is that Judge Moore will be elected to the Senate. Even apart from the allegations against him, Moore will be a marginalized member of the Republican caucus in the Senate. If the allegations are considered credible by his Republican colleagues, he will be further marginalized, as few, perhaps none, of them will risk contamination. 

Further, if Roy Moore wins, that will embolden Steve Bannon whom I think wants to blow up the Republican Party as it now exists and destroy mainline Republicans. After Moore, Bannon cannot succeed in getting elected many, if any, Republicans of the sort he prefers elected, but he can do a whole lot of mischief trying. 

Further the Democrats could hardly ask for a better Christmas gift than his election as we head toward the mid-term elections in 2018. It will be very easy for them to point at Judge Moore as a Republican and say to the electorate, "Do you want people like Moore in the Congress? Vote Republican!"

If lived in Alabama, and Judge Moore stays in the race, I would face a similar choice as I faced last November. Back then I knew that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would be President. The question was, "Of these two, for which will I vote?" I made my decision and cast my vote. If I were an Alabamian, I would face the reality that either Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones will be Alabama's Junior Senator. I do not believe I could vote for Judge Moore.

The Bulls of Bashan

Strong Bulls of Bashan

Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
                                      Psalm 22:12

Psalm 22 is beyond doubt prophetic of our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is also descriptive of the experience of its author, King David. In both cases, that of David and David's greater Son, the Bulls of Bashan are strong and ferocious enemies who surround with the intent to destroy the righteous sufferer.

While the ultimate and redemptive fulfillment of Psalm 22:12 is in the sufferings of Jesus, since it also describes David, who is both a type of Christ also an example of believing faith and experience, it is applicable to Christ's church and people today.

I have been thinking of the Bulls of Bashan for several days - since word came that 94 year old Dr. Morton H. Smith suffered a stroke last Thursday and that tests  revealed that Dr. Smith is also suffering from a brain tumor. To the surprise of his doctors Dr. Smith survived the stroke and today (Monday) is eating, but, as might be expected, but to our grief, the brain tumor will not be treated. Presently an effort is being made to find a residential hospice in which Dr. Smith can finish his course.

I have had a "mixed" relation with Dr. Smith. When I was a kid in seminary and arrived to take the exam for the third quarter systematic theology exam, Dr. Smith was not pleased that I was wearing Bermuda length shorts. He kicked me out, and told me to go home and change. I thought him wrong then, and I think him wrong now. A good number of years later, word got to me that Dr. Smith had criticized me for the position I had taken in defending an interracial marriage. I thought I was right then, and I think I am right today.

But, today, I, who will reach threescore and ten this week (should I be spared till my birthday) can say that through the many years since I graduated from seminary in 1972, and today, while I respect many, there is no one I respect more than Dr. Smith. It is hard to use the word "love" with regard to Dr. Smith, because, while he has always been a gracious Christian gentleman in my dealings with him, I have  never felt what we now call "empathy" and "warmth" from him. But, if love is appreciation, respect, and steadfast loyalty, then I do love Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith was attacked by the Bulls of Bashan a couple of years ago. It was not because of his having in old age turned 
away from Christian or Reformed orthodoxy. In fact his is a stalwart of Biblical faith. It was not because in old age he had turned away from godliness. His is a consistent godliness, and he has only grown to love and reflect his Savior more.  In fact, when I think of a godly old man, no one comes to mind more quickly or naturally than Dr. Smith. No, it was not for lack of Biblical faith or Biblical godliness that Dr. Smith has been surrounded by the Bulls. It is because Dr. Smith, a man born in the South in 1923, believed in and wrote in defense of segregation. You see, mistaken views about race are not only mistakes; they are sins. They are not only sins; they are grievous sins. They are not only grievous sins; they are the worst of sins. 

Now many of these brothers are young Bulls, and, while they are full of bull, they can be excused for lacking the judgment and maturity needed to judge either the times or Dr. Smith rightly. Some, however, including one who went to confront Dr. Smith and to call him to "repentance," are old enough to know better and cannot be excused for a lack of time to develop judgment. The surrounding of Dr. Smith by these Bulls reminds us that, if Dr. Smith can be described as "sinning," he is surely more sinned against than sinning. These Bulls are misguided at best, merciless at worst. What they have done to this old saint is, in any case, inexcusable.

When Dr. Smith was undergoing relentless attacks by the Bulls two years ago, I wrote three Blogs to try to give some perspective and to defend Dr. Smith. If you are interested, here are links to them:

6.24.15 Somebody Must Defend a 92 Year Old Man

6.25.15 Heaven's PCA Hounds

6.26.15 No Country for Old Men

I know that Dr. Smith has other defenders besides this Reformed Episcopalian. What I do not know is if any of the leadership of Reformed Theological Seminary or of the Presbyterian Church in America have risen to his defense. Perhaps they have, but, if they have not, their failure to do so is a great example of ingratitude, cowardice, and not having done what they ought to have done. So, brothers, if you are going to speak up for a godly man, the time is short, and the time to do so is now. 

I have no doubt whatsoever that the God, who vindicated David and David's Son, will vindicate Dr. Smith. I have no doubt that  Bulls of Bashan will finally be put to shame. The Bulls of Bashan are fierce and sometimes they win for awhile, but always they are utterly defeated.

May our Lord grant his servant a safe journey, a peaceful passage, and a happy arrival in the heavenly kingdom.

The golden evening brightens in the west; 
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
 Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
 Alleluia! Alleluia!

Two Blogs, One Curmudgeon

Why Two Blogs? 
The Curmudgeon and 
A Reformed Reformed Episcopalian

The Curmudgeon
A Reformed
Reformed Episcopalian

I have recently created a new Blog titled A Reformed Reformed Episcopalian. But first a word about the older Blog The Curmudgeon. I chose that name for the Blog, partly in jest - poking fun at myself - and partly telling some of the truth about the perspective of the Blog. But I have found, as often happens with humor, that a few took me seriously as though I meant to say that I, to quote one definition, am “an ill-tempered (and frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas and opinions.” Well, I'm old for sure. I will soon reach threescore and ten. I can be ill-tempered, though I do not think I should be nor do I want to be. I am stubborn, but I hope not so rigid that I am not willing to listen to the ideas and opinions of others or incapable of appreciating nuance and distinguishing black, white, and gray. 

Perhaps I can answer the question of what I mean by quoting a few lines from my original Blog The Christian Curmudgeon where I explained what I meant by "curmudgeon."
The curmudgeon partakes of the spirit of Linus Van Pelt: “I love mankind – it’s people I can’t stand.”... The curmudgeon is often disappointed with people, not least himself. He understands well why the Bible tells us not to trust in man...
The curmudgeon also partakes of the spirit of Network’s Howard Beale who persuaded viewers all over the United States to open their windows and shout “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” ...  He agrees with ... (Christian philosopher) Cornelius Plantinga...that things as they are “not the way it’s supposed to be.” 
He has low expectations, at least in the short run...the world is so messed up that nothing short of the personal coming of Jesus Christ in glory with power, to defeat the powers of darkness, to fix the broken world, and to set his people free from sin and death can put things right. 
In the end of curmudgeon is something of an idealist, even romantic...but he is too realistic (and, I think, too Biblical in outlook) to be a utopian so long as this present age continues. In that sense, he longs for the final in-breaking of the kingdom of God...
I hope that helps. If not, I'm sorry.

But, why two different Blogs? I noted that I had used Just a Curmudgeon Blog to comment on matters from of the American Presbyterian-Reformed (P-R) worlds and on matters of the Anglican-Episcopalian (A-E) world. It seemed to me that some might find that confusing. Some of my P-R friends experienced consternation when I wrote things that reflect my distinctive views and practices as an A-E - such as (though this is a very broad statement) clerical dress, the church year, liturgy. On the other hand some of my A-E friends wondered, if I were really an Anglican or Episcopalian (take your pick) if I followed and commented on the P-R world. In fact, my doing so might be proof that I am really "a Presbyterian with a Prayer Book."

So, if I am really an A-E, why do I follow the P-R world? Two reasons: (1) I get paid to do it. I have a one hour a day job in which I collect materials from that world for an e-zine. Now on, as they say, a fixed income, I need the money!  (2) It interests me. But why does it interest me and why do I sometimes comment? Let me explain it in this way: I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, but I live in Mississippi and consider myself a Mississippian. I am and expect to die a Mississippian, but I have never lost interest in my hometown. I visit from time to time, follow the local news, and have opinions about local issues. I have even left comments on the electronic version of The Pensacola News Journal

I am an A-E, expect to die an A-E, and to be buried according to A-E rites. But I was born and raised a Presbyterian, ordained a Presbyterian minister, and served for 41 years. Moreover, I believe in Protestant catholicity. So, why should I lack an interest in the P-R world? 

But what of a Blog on the A-E world and of the title AReformed Reformed Episcopalian? The reason for a different Blog is that I want to look at and comment on matters of the A-E world without confusion with matters of the P-R world. I want to comment as an Anglican (the word in America is used to distinguish various stripes of conservative Episcopalians who are not, even if they once were, members of The Episcopal Church, and to tie most of them to worldwide Anglicanism by means of their connection with the Global South. (Of course, while their orders are recognized by the Global South, they are not recognized by TEC.) So, inasmuch as I am a theological conservative and my denomination is a jurisdiction within the Anglican Church in North America, I am an Anglican.

But my denomination is the Reformed Episcopal Church. The church in America, whose mother is British Anglicanism, calls itself Episcopal. It would not have been acceptable after the Revolution for a church in America to be The Church of England in America. Since my church's mother is TEC, it has always called itself the ReformedEpiscopal Church. 

But why, if my church is the Reformed Episcopal Church, do I call my Blog A Reformed Reformed Episcopalian? The second use of the word "reformed" refers to the name of my denomination. The first 
use of the word "reformed" refers to Reformed theology by which I mean not Calvin's Institutes, nor the Westminster Standards, nor Calvin's liturgy, nor the Westminster Directory for Worship, but simply the theology held in common by the Continental and English Reformers. 

To ask if one can be a Reformed Episcopalian who is Reformed in that sense, while it may be disputed by some, is to ask a ridiculous question. Could Cranmer be in the Reformed Episcopal Church? May the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion be held by ministers in the Reformed Episcopal Church? May the 1662 Prayer Book (the first service of Holy Communion in the Prayer Book of the Reformed Episcopal Church) be said by a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church? I will explore these questions further in future posts. I will ask what authentic Anglicanism is, what the Anglican way is, what the via media means.  

For now it is enough to say that I am a low church, Reformed, Reformed Episcopalian, a Cramnerian, an Articles and Prayer book man. I am not a not a Puritan or a proponent of the "regulative principle." I am not a Presbyterian, and, heaven forbid, certainly not a Baptist, with or without a Prayer Book. But I am not an Anglo-catholic or one who believes that authentic Anglicanism is the Church of England after its liberation from the Pope and before its Reformation. I do not believe the Tractarians won the battle - historically, Biblically, doctrinally, or liturgically. I honor and follow our English reformers and martyrs. I believe in what the Articles and Homilies teach about such things as  election, justification, faith, and the presence of Christ in Communion. When I say Morning or Evening Prayer or Holy Communion, I do so strictly according to the Prayer Book. In light of these statements I ask, "If a Reformed minister cannot be in the mainstream of the Reformed Episcopal Church, then who authentically can?" I don't believe Reformed Reformed Episcopalians should quit the field. We have as much right to be on it as anyone else.

It is not my purpose with this Blog to be contentious but to be charitable and collegial as I explore questions. Yes, sometimes I will contend for what seems to me to be plain historical and doctrinal truth regarding the Anglican-Episcopal tradition.