Professors Speak on Capitol Hill

Moreland and Hazen discuss faith, politics and science in D.C. lectures

Oct. 7, 2011 By Jason Newell

Two Biola University professors recently traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of an ongoing effort to offer biblical perspectives on issues facing those who work on Capitol Hill. J.P. Moreland, a distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, and Craig Hazen, director of Biola’s Christian apologetics program, each delivered lectures related to the Christian worldview and public life.

Moreland, author of such books as Kingdom Triangle and Love Your God With All Your Mind, spoke to a group of congressional staff members on Sept. 30 as part of the Faith & Lawlecture series. In a lecture titled “A Biblical View of the Nature of the State,” he outlined several ways in which the Bible should and should not be used to guide the actions of the state.

Ultimately, he said, it is essential to understand the differences between how the Bible views the roles of individuals and governments. Jesus called for compassionate care for the poor, for example, but saw this as the voluntary responsibility of individuals moved by a heart of compassion — not something that should be coerced by the state, Moreland said.

A few days after Moreland’s lecture, Hazen, who also participated in the Faith & Law lecture series earlier this summer, spoke to a group of journalists gathered in a pressroom of the National Geographic Society building on Oct. 5.

In his lecture, “The Interaction of Religion and Science,” Hazen discussed problems with today’s naturalistic culture and suggested that although “science is an excellent way to know things, it is not the exclusive way to know things.” Everyone knows, for example, that it is wrong to torture babies for fun, but this knowledge can’t be explained by science, he argued.

Faith, if properly approached, is not opposed to knowledge, he said. Christianity, contrary to how it is often portrayed, is not a religion of blind faith. The claims of Christianity — chief among them the resurrection of Christ — are knowable and testable, Hazen told journalists.

The lectures were part Biola’s ongoing participation in efforts to encourage thoughtful, biblical discussions about law and politics. In recent years, several other Biola professors — including William Lane Craig, Scott Rae, John Mark Reynolds and Paul Spears — have been hosted in Washington, D.C., by the Faith & Law organization.

You can read more about the latest faculty lectures in Biola’s student newspaper, The Chimes.

Written by Jason Newell, Biola Magazine. For more information, please contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu or via phone at 562.777.4061.

Comments

  • Josh Oct. 14, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    "Jesus called for compassionate care for the poor, for example, but saw this as the voluntary responsibility of individuals moved by a heart of compassion — not something that should be coerced by the state, Moreland said." In other words, Christians should support the Republican party and not support social programs like welfare, universal health insurance, etc. Does anyone see huge ethical and moral problems with using the Bible to advocate for certain political ideologies? Biola is walking a very fine, dangerous line here.

  • Albert Oct. 16, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Josh, I see your point that the line may be fine and dangerous. I'm mostly curious as to what are your reservations against using the Bible to argue for a political ideology. What is the moral problem that you have? Nevertheless, I would not automatically conclude that Moreland was necessarily advocating a certain political ideology. He simply made an argument that has bearing on the function of civil government. Of course, this carries nontrivial implications regarding how people should respond in the political arena. More importantly, wouldn't there be a moral problem if Christians did not, to the best of their ability, take a stand for what is good and right in politics, much less any other area?

  • Josh Oct. 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Albert, thanks for responding to my comment. I also see your point, and would agree with you that I would be more concerned about apathetic Christians that stopped caring about the world and culture around them. My main concerns come down to the context of the message and the way it's carried out. First, it's a private, non-profit school that is using it's money and resources to send faculty members, clearly representing Biola, to an event that has political/lobbying purposes. Schools and programs like Biola have gotten into serious trouble for doing things like this, because technically they could lose their religious non-profit status with the IRS if they advocate for certain political positions or parties. Perhaps my bigger issue is that anyone can probably find verses in the Bible to support their ideology. Therefore, it seems dangerous that we as Christians should try to represent the Bible as having a clear position on matters of governance, since there is a wide range of disagreement even among the Christian community on these matters. This is especially concerning when it's coming from someone in a position of leadership, since students are very impressionable. Finally, related to my first point, is the morally grey area of explicitly using religion to influence governance. For example, the article says that Moreland "outlined several ways in which the Bible should and should not be used to guide the actions of the state." In my opinion, the Bible should NOT ever be used to guide the actions of the state, period. If it is used like that, it makes us by definition a theocracy. Too many people died and have suffered great persecution to have religiouus freedom in this country. Therefore, why should one religion (or religious book, like the Bible), be used by our government to dictate it's beliefs on the rest of society? I hope I'm not coming across as anti-religion, as my faith definitely influences my decision making and political ideologies. I'm just concerned with the explicit, active approach Biola and other religious groups are using to influence the political realm. We need to be really careful with this and think through the long-term potential consequences of these actions.

  • Scott Oct. 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Albert, Thanks for your intelligent responses to this article. I think that your concern about the institution walking a thin line and possibly jeopardizing the non-profit status may be valuable to assess. However the use of the Bible to influence governance of the state happens every time you vote if you are a believing Christian that engages in the public arena and if you allow the Bible to shape and guide your own values. That is freedom. While it is true that there are many ideologies/value judgements that can be supported by scripture on either side, such as the death penalty for instance, I see no conflict of interest to allow certain conclusions to be voiced, even in an event such as this. Theocracy is when the administrative body or hierarchy of government is subordinate to a religious hierarchy. We are far, far away from that in this country my friend, and that I think we would both agree, is a good thing...

  • Steve Oct. 20, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Prof Moreland's argument in favor of the government's abandonment of social program is naive in the extreme. Every Christian knows that most Christians are selfish failures of Jesus at heart. The American church would NEVER give enough to address all the welfare needs of needy Americans. Just go to any major American suburban church and count the fancy cars. You think all the Christian owners of those cars are going to drive cheaper cars so that others can have medical care? I think this is a cloak for Prof. Moreland's greed. Steve

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