Welcome to tomthinking.com Saturday, March 24 2018 @ 02:01 PM UTC

Communism Lite Strikes Again

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With dismay but not surprise I read the news about Venezuela’s dictator Hugo Chavez making a move to shut down the only independent TV station in his country, RCTV—one that routinely opposes Chavez’s communism and takes a stand for restored freedoms in that South American country. Thousands of protestors took to the streets in a remarkable demonstration for freedom of speech and press, demanding that Chavez restore the license to the station instead of letting it expire. Even worse, over the weekend military forces swept in and seized the TV station’s equipment before the deadline expiration.
Rhetorical question: Why are military forces need to seize domestic broadcast equipment?
In RCTV’s place Chavez is placing a new station patterned after his brand of communism. It will be one more in the many stations already bowing the head to Chavez’s communist propaganda machine.

The Rightness of the Rope for Saddam Hussein

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It is both sad and interesting to see the world’s reaction to the execution of Saddam Hussein. I’ve long been an advocate of the death penalty. If carried out with caution and extreme care, it is a proper tool for administering justice and preventing future evils against societies.
There are a lot of good arguments for the abolitionist view of capital punishment, some of which I sympathize with. But I think the arguments for the retentionist view are far stronger, and much more in line with the Bible’s teaching—though retentionists do have some faults of their own. Clearly, the manner in which most capital punishment is carried out in modern societies does not meet the biblical standards. The death penalty is often assigned on circumstantial evidence—though often very strong. The biblical standard is multiple witnesses if guilt for execution is to be established. This does not mean that a person is not guilty and should not be punished, only that the standard necessary for a death penalty hasn’t been met. The penalty is often carried out too quickly, sometimes within hours or days of a sentence—especially in the Islamic world. But the Islamic world isn’t known for its mercy. In Saddam’s case I think a quick execution was justified. The facts surrounding his nearly 30 years of murders were more than enough to warrant the gallows, even though the actual trial only focused on an incident of 148 deaths.
In the case of Saddam Hussein, the biblical evidence necessary for Christians to support his execution was met, and passed, and circled several times.

First Source Ethics

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Recently I’ve been developing a new series of Bible studies on Basic Christian Ethics for use with our Steppe-by-Steppe project and Ministry Production department. The studies I’m developing now will be used as the framework to create a 10-episode TV series that will begin airing in the fall season.
As I’ve been studying through a list of ten ethics, I’ve approached the series from what some might consider a rather unusual point of view (my usually unusual points of view notwithstanding). I have a number of titles in my library on ethical studies at various levels: Do the Right Thing, Francis J. Beckwith, Moral Choices, Scott B. Rae, How Now Shall We Live, Charles Colson, Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There are others sitting on my shelves that touch on the subject on ethics, but for most there is a problem.

Fear & Free Media

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“All fear societies are based on a certain degree of brainwashing. State-controlled television, radio, and newspapers glorify the actions of the regime’s leaders and incite their populations against those it deems to be enemies.”

The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, has given me extra insight into the condition of media in Mongolia—and our mission of Faith and Freedom.
My ability to read the latest western books is limited by living in Mongolia (where’s a Barnes and Noblebaatar when you need one?) but during a recent trip to the States I stocked up with a good year’s supply of reading material. Sharansky’s book was my last pick-up; at the Denver airport while suffering through an 8-hour delay. Thank God for airport delays! The Case For Democracy, is one of the most insightful books on political freedom I’ve read.
You may remember from an earlier commentary that a recent analysis by Mongolia’s Press Institute and Globe International found that while there is sufficient media freedom for journalists to pursue their craft, there is, in practice, less freedom because of how ideological control of the media has developed over recent years. Keep in mind that Mongolia is a young democracy, without the foundation of Judeo-Christian traditions from which modern political freedom sprang (I explore this issue in my forthcoming book, Faith & Freedom: How the missionary principle facilitates political freedom). Like any nation going through a major political change, there are significant issues to grapple with and problems to overcome as the society experiments with new social concepts. Allow me to illustrate.

Persecution and Persistence

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I started reading Persecution by David Limbaugh this week. I realize that the book may be nearly two years old, but as I said earlier, my access to good western books is sometimes limited by my location in Mongolia.
Limbaugh begins the book with dramatic accounts of students across America who have been persecuted for their Christian faith. That persecution took the form of teachers and principals preventing students from praying over lunches, at graduations, forcing them to stop talking about Jesus with friends during recess, and much more. There are many accounts of judges and other officials threatening to arrest and imprison students if they even utter the name of Jesus.
There may not be many Christians in Mongolia, but I may have more religious freedom here than in America.
Reading the accounts in Persecution (which is a tremendous read), brought to mind the time my wife, Diane, and I thought we might be involved with a legal battle to protect our daughter’s right to express her faith. However, our situation turned out very differently.
It was early 1998, Rochele was in first grade at McCoy Elementary School in Orlando, located about 2 miles north of the International Airport. Diane and I were taking part in a parent-teacher conference to go over Rochele’s school work and get a firsthand report from the teacher about what kind of student she was. I was a bit nervous, still feeling raw as a parent, wondering how I would react to a teacher who might want to suppress my kid’s religious freedoms.
The teacher gave us a glowing report of Rochele’s work and behavior, specifically noting how she was not only well behaved, but was often held up to the other students as an example of a hard worker with good behavior. That gave us great pride, though I secretly feared she might become a teacher’s pet geek – which gives you an idea of what I suffered when I was a kid, but that’s a story for another therapy session. I digress.