The Callous Theology of James Dobson

When I received this piece from Peter Wehner, I wanted to publish it right away — and the fastest way to do so is as a guest post.  For those who don’t know, Pete has been one of the leading evangelicals in Washington for a long time now.  He served in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, and headed George W. Bush’s in-house policy shop, the Office of Strategic Initiatives. He co-authored City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era with Michael Gerson, and Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism with Arthur C. Brooks. Presently he is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and writes frequently for Commentary.

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Peter Wehner

The Callous Theology of James Dobson

By Peter Wehner

Some Christian conservatives seemingly cannot help themselves.  They have to try to find some deep theological explanation for the evil we witness in places like Newtown, Connecticut.  But often in doing so, they injure the very faith they seek to represent.  
The latest example is by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who, in speaking about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said this:

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me, and we have killed fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition.  Believe me, that is going to have consequences too.

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us.  I think that’s what’s going on.

Let’s see if we can untangle some of this, beginning with this observation: In the New Testament, suffering and death are more often evidence of obedience than disobedience to God.  When the Lord told Ananias to go to Straight Street and place his hands on Saul (later Paul) to restore Saul’s sight, the Lord said to Ananias, “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  The two most important figures in Christianity – Jesus and St. Paul – died violent deaths (according to Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded by the Romans).  So the effort to create a cause-and-effect – in this case, turning your back on God leads to mass shootings and violent death – is itself theologically misguided.

The workings of God in the midst of tragedy cannot be reduced to a simplistic moral mathematics in which sin yields to disaster, in part because America is not a covenant community on the model of ancient Israel. The community of faith is found in every nation.  Believers share the blessings and tragedies of their neighbors. Rather than declaring the suffering of their neighbors to be deserved, they should work and pray for the common good.

A second point: Earlier this year we learned from the FBI that violent crime rates in the U.S. are reaching historic lows.  Since 1993, for example, the rate of violent victimization has dropped by more than 70 percent.  Those findings undercut the Dobson thesis. If America has gotten less godly, why would God’s judgment (which Dobson believes manifests itself in violent crimes) be getting less, not more, severe?  On the flip side, the number, rate, and ratio of abortions in America are lower today than in the past.  So why would God lash out now, when the abortion rate is going down, rather than before, when it was going up?  And how would Dobson explain why the murder rate was higher when same-sex marriage wasn’t even being discussed and more people believed in God?  One can see how terribly confused Dobson’s argument is once it’s actually scrutinized.

Third, Mr. Dobson assumes he knows the mind of God and what most grieves, angers and moves His heart.  But surely Dobson knows that Jesus mentions divorce more often than he mentions homosexuality (which Paul addresses but Jesus does not).  So why is same-sex marriage on Dobson’s list but divorce is left off?  And what about the other things that concern God – like indifference to the poor, not caring for the stranger and alien in our midst, a haughty spirit, and riches?  When I listen to James Dobson and I read the gospel accounts, two jarringly different portraits emerge.

Now, assume you were a parent of one of the children who was gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School and you heard a well-known Christian figure like Dobson declare that the worst thing you could possibly conceive of – the murder of your first-grade daughter — was a result of the wrath of God.  If you believed this, it would only add to your grief.  And if you didn’t believe it, it would only add to your anger.  And what would Dobson say to the father of the boy who had just dedicated his young life to the Lord?  Why was he the target of God’s judgment?  Because Washington State passed a same-sex marriage initiative?

Why is it that tragedies often bring out such callous statements – including from the very people you would hope would show some measure of grace, discernment, and perspective?  And why are some of the most offensive statements made by some of the nation’s most visible (conservative) Christians?  I am at something of a loss to explain it.

Since in the past I’ve criticized other Christian leaders for making similar statements, I wanted to explain why I, an evangelical Christian and social conservative, find them to be disquieting.  It’s because they discredit a faith I cherish – and what these people say is not the expression of the faith I hold.  For them politics, not faith, is their interpretive lens.  Christianity becomes a blunt instrument in an ideological struggle.  The result is that people of faith explain a brutal massacre by connecting imaginary dots.  And the fact that doing so damages the Christian faith seems to bother them not at all.

Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris couldn’t have done it any better.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • rebecca w

    Thank you for posting this! So true. So needed.

    • http://yahoo.com Frank

      Dr. Dobson is simply stating the obvious to those who know and have studied, the full council of GOD, namely the Old and New Testaments. In Isaiah 9:10-11, Isaiah recites a verse that Israel used in defiance of GOD. They would rebuild with quarried stones because the Assyrians tore down the wall of bricks and would replant with stronger cedar trees where the sycamore trees were cut down by the Assyrians. At first glance, it appears to be a rather noble call… but in their hearts of Israel, they were going to muscle through this disaster on their own strength and did not turn to GOD to gain understand and knowledge, as to why the Assyrians attacked in the first place. GOD had been calling Israel to return, he used the prophets, disasters, and finally the invasion of their land. Still, Israel refused to turn to GOD. A comparison could be made for the conduct of America. We turn from GOD in defiance, toss HIM out of our courtrooms, governments, classrooms, and have continued to banish HIM from our country. Dr. Dobson is simply stating that GOD through HIS Scriptures & prophets have warned Israel time and time again, repeatedly asking them to return to HIM but they ignored HIS call. That is where America is today. GOD has now removed HIS hand of protection from our nation. If we don’t return to HIM, then the consequences will continue to get much more grievous. Scripture says…GOD shall not be mocked. America has shaken its fist at GOD. Homosexuality has gone rampant, abortions have killed/murdered 50,000,000 innocent babies. In ancient days, Israel did the same thing by sacrificing their babies to the idols / false gods of Molech and Baal. Divorce is occurring at epidemic proportions. Disobedience is the way of the land. What more will we as a nation need to wake up. I commend Dr. Dobson on his stance of the Holy Bible the living word of GOD. Scriptures also state to beware of false prophets and teachers.

      • Yvonne

        America ≠ Israel
        Americans ≠ God’s Chosen People
        And talk about muscling their way through disaster, what do you call America’s “War on Terror”? And have we ever considered why “the (Assyrians) attacked in the first place”? If you consider America to be a “Christian nation” have you ever considered God’s thoughts on America’s failure to “love your enemies, and bless those who curse you?”
        Christians are aliens in the nations, including the United States.

        • http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/ Richard

          Yvonne,

          I agree, America does not equal Israel or God’s chosen people. The Bible does give us examples of God bringing judgment on non-covenanted nations. I find the presentation in Isaiah 19.1-15 particularly enlightening and to have potential applications for today. I develop some of these thoughts here: http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2012/12/newtown-ct-gods-judgment.html

      • Buckeyechaplin

        I understand Peter Wehners view of James Dobson and would say that he (Wehners) is not completely wrong in his view. Reason: I have held similar thinking process’s before. So while I can see some of Dobsons view being highlighted as questionable I can also see that some of Wehners view are still in “tunnel vision” mode. Not that Wehners view is not correct but that is all he can see at present. So both men are correct.
        In the absence of God are all the disasters that Dobson points out the need to return to the Living God. And why he says it is Gods judgement. In His absence is the evil that consumes. And so the judgement that appears to follow is because we have allowed God to be kicked out of our schools and courts and city/public places. We are a free willed people and God made us like that so He could be welcomed and worshiped willingly and He will not stay where He is not welcomed. And so we must realize why these things happen; because of His absence!
        The Lord does not deliver us from ALL evil, but makes us able to go thru it. He will take us from “faith to faith” So that we can stand the fire by being ‘in His presence’.
        After all…What do you think God wants from us?

      • Chris

        Frank, why do other countries have even more liberal, anti-Christian policies and don’t get their schools shot up? Why are schools in Europe safer than ours when they haven’t had God in decades?

    • US Army (retired)

      The fundamental problem with Wehner’s pointless and senseless attack against Dobson and the Christian faith, which he claims to uphold, is that Dobson’s statement is correct and has a firm biblical basis while Wehner’s arguments, which are for the most part secularly based, are more in line with the convoluted ramblings of a false prophet. Or another “prosperity New Age” so-called pastor. Unfortunately, it is Wehner’s argument that is “theologically misguided” and provides more than sufficient cause to question his claim that he is what he claims to be; an Evangelical and a man of faith. The FACT that God gives men over to their sinful desires when societies turn their backs on God is a theme repeated throughout the Old and New Testaments (Psalms 81:12 and Romans 1:24 are just two examples) and Dobson’s statement was clearly made within that context. In short, Dobson’s statement is BIBLICALLY CORRECT.

      “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” — John Adams (1770)

      • Lori

        AMEN! to US Army retired…it’s just another example of someone trying to sugar coat the truth!! Dobson is correct.

      • http://bolgthebliss.blogspot.com Rick

        Dobson has been in left field theologically since the inception of his Focus on the Family radio show. He has said some of the most ridiculous statements throughout his career as a psychologist and has now retreated into full psycho-babble. The problem is that no one can judge how faithful they are by the events that happen to them in this world as the book of Ecclesiastes clearly demonstrates. We do not understand providence because does as He pleases, allowing the righteous to suffer, and the wicked to prosper. There is no sense to Dobson’s comments biblically.

      • Josh Lyman

        If Dobson is correct, then why are the same (and to the likes of Dobson, worse) “sins” in places like Europe and Canada not being met with the smiting that you seem to think a god would do? What is so special about America that God punishes the, but lets Canadians off scott free?

        • John Haas

          Well, there’sjust one Middle Eastern nation where they have gay pride parades: Israel. And they get hammered by their neighbors pretty regularly. Obviously, the two are connected . . .

          • Josh Lyman

            Which explains why Syria is being hammered as we speak.

          • Doug

            So Israel wasn’t getting “hammered by their neighbors” before starting Gay Pride parades?? Looks like someone needs to read up on their history. Westboro wants you back, how did you get loose?

          • John Haas

            And let’s not even get started on the great dinosaur wipe-out . . .

    • Rennie C.

      I think Mr. Wehner’s bio is very impressive, from a scholastic perspective, however, I think his analysis of a short quote from Dr. Dobson, strays from the point, and offers an obscure explanation of Dobson’s “opinion”. He doesn’t seem to see the examples of Abortion and the redefinition of marriage as ANY resultant effect of our post-Christian society. It is this type of social view that allows the continue decline of our social norms because the self-presented Christian leaders such as Mr Wehner, bad mouth other Christians, rather than reveal and analyze the real problems we face in Government and the courts. Lord help us if there are more Christian leaders like Mr. Wehner.

  • http://kristadalton.com Krista (@KristaNDalton)

    “But surely Dobson knows that Jesus mentions divorce more often than he mentions homosexuality (which Paul addresses but Jesus does not). So why is same-sex marriage on Dobson’s list but divorce is left off? ”

    I, too, was horrified by Dobson’s statements. But I would like to make it clear that the first half of the podcast specifically talked about divorce. Not that it makes it better, as Dobson was pointing to Adam Lanza’s parents’ divorced status as a “cause” of his violence. But I do think we should have our facts straight.

    Thanks for your post!

    • JohnC

      Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality because it was an unlawful behavior. Why state the obvious? And why go into detail on something that exists in a tiny percentage of people, maybe 1-2%, if even that amount in that society? Divorce on the other hand was lawful but it was grossly abused to the detriment of women in that society. So what did Jesus preach? – the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. And why did he preach it? Because the Pharisees were trying to trap him with their warped theological questions. He never had to bring up the issue of homosexuality because it was considered an abomination.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel H. Evans

    I want to thank you for publishing this. I’ve been struggling with a lot of anger this week as evangelical after evangelical has publicly attributed this act to God’s judgment, or to gay marriage, or to “systematically removing God from public schools.” The notion that the actions of a highly unstable, armed individual could be prevented if only we forced Jewish kids to pray Christian prayers in public schools is as irrational and uniformed as it is hateful. It’s been an embarrassing week for the evangelical community, and I am so grateful that prominent evangelicals are starting to speak out. We’ve got a lot of work to do to repair our testimony after this.

    • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

      “If only we forced Jewish kids to pray Christian prayers in public schools.” I think it’s very helpful to name it that way because it’s never been about taking God out of schools but about not forcing people of one religion to pray to the God of another.

      • Peter T

        I thought we Christians and the Jews prayed to the same God. A Jewish theologian wrote that he always prayed the Lord’s prayer when with his Chrisitan friends and continued to show on which Jewish scripture each line in the Lord’s prayer could be based. And I, as a Christian, have no problem to pray “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God; the LORD is one.”

        • Jim Carls

          “And I, as a Christian, have no problem to pray “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God; the LORD is one.””
          But we are talking about government-sponsored prayer in public schools that are, by definition, meant to serve all citizens, which you seem to have forgotten. In any case, I’m sure you would also not mind if the government forced your kids were forced to say Muslim prayers, since Islam is also an Abrahamic faith and celebrates the life and eventual return of Jesus, too.

  • http://thereforeiambic.blogspot.com Elena Johnston

    Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

    For this there are no words
    but only groanings.
    Still, we must speak;
    we must speak on behalf of the silence.

    Words are wind, or of the wind;
    explanation is a vapor.

    Yet not a sparrow falls
    unseen, but the unseen wind
    still broods upon our void,
    and with deep groanings speaks our silence.

    • verb

      This is a very silly, meaningless post or really bad poetry.

  • Mama B

    Dr. Dobson is one of many evangelicals steeped in a punitive mindset. All sin, all disobedience, must be punished. We must hit our children and break their wills to make them obedient. If that’s what’s required of parents, how much more than must God punish us? It’s no wonder he thinks this tragedy was God’s wrath. This theology demands retribution.

    • Mark Granlund

      Yes, Mama B. This punitive mindset is getting old and, I hope, being diminished. You cannot only find this punitive mindset in the conservative interpretation of religions, but also politics, finance, etc. Why is it we need to punish people? I understand a need for laws so people do not injure others in a variety of ways. But why must an apriori approach to everything be punitive. Love others, support others, help others to heal – then the world may become healthy.

  • steven

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    A-freakin’-men!! Seriously, I have held back from writing the sort of correction that you have simply because I don’t think I could have done it with the grace and charity, as well as smart statistical analysis woven throughout the solid biblical reasoning. Thanks for this article.

  • David French

    And let’s not forget Job — a righteous man — who suffered terrible calamities (including the loss of children). His story is not a comforting one, but it does illustrate that one can hardly draw a direct line from suffering and death to the wrath of God against cultural sins.

  • http://www.mattbrady.net Matt Brady

    Thank you for publishing a very well thought out and articulate piece that echoes the discomfort so many of us Christ followers are feeling in the wake of this tragedy and by the comments from those that should know better.

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    A thousand Amens.

  • Brantley Gasaway

    Thank you, Peter, for these reflections.

    And thank you, Tim, for posting this and living up to the recognized need to push back on the errors you perceive on the Right (as well as the Left). While I’m more sympathetic to Rachel Held Evan’s and Fred Clark’s analyses of the Religious Right than you are, I am glad to see that it was not only them but also you who called Dobson out for this.

  • http://choosetotrust.com Scott Perkins

    Statements like this seem to be more for the comfort of the speaker, so they can maintain their own sense of order in the world.

    I love to comment about speaking for God. Seems to me that God spoke before bringing disaster in order to give opportunity for repentance.

    Instead of compassion, we are seen to wield judgment. Which Paul said was for God alone to give.

    We are losing influence in this nation, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  • Dave

    Notwithstanding Dobson’s seemingly ill-conceived comments about this terrible tragedy, he has, over many years, done much for children and families. Grace is warranted.

    Having said that, I do believe that it is very easy to stray off course if we aren’t careful. The author has captured the essence of the slippage prone to many public evangelical figures: “For them politics, not faith, is their interpretive lens. Christianity becomes a blunt instrument in an ideological struggle.” Hebrews 12:1 is the antidote: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”(NIV)

    • Ally

      Good? I think that founding a hate group to disseminate lies in order to restrict the rights of gay Americans. Such action does not benefit children or families.

    • Bill

      Yet, Dobson has talked like this for years and years. No mulligan, if you please!

    • Bart Breen

      The article is graceful and grace toward Jim Dobson doesn’t require giving him or other evangelicals a pass when they present God in this manner. Shame on you Jim Dobson for this statement. Now go, and do better since it appears you’re all about behavior.

  • http://bibchr.blogspot.com Dan Phillips

    A good reason for objecting to Dobson’s statement would be to note that it isn’t a good idea to try to read God’s unrevealed counsels, and on that basis to explain the movements of providence.

    A bad reason would be to make sure Americans aren’t too worried about the consequences of their deepening and worsening rebellion against God, or to anesthetize Christians and shut up from warning of those consequences and pointing people to the world-tilting Gospel of Jesus Christ as their only hope.

    • Don Fulano

      Amen. This incident is definitely a part of those “unrevealed counsels.”
      OTOH, I don’t see where Dobson says that Christians won’t endure suffering- it seems to be a strawman argument. And Scripture does say that God will judge the *nations*.

  • Jeremy Smith

    They are getting these ideas from stories of places like Ninevah, Sodom, and Gomorrah. In these places God destroyed or threatened to destroy the entire city because of sin. These cities did not have a covenant relationship with God either. Let’s be honest. God is fickle and capricious.

  • William J. Green

    So, you’ve never heard of Ananias and Sapphira? They were struck down by God for “obedience?” Balderdash! And what was Paul BEFORE he was struck down and blinded on the Road to Damascus. A PERSECUTOR OF CHRISTIANS! You are correct to point out that we have TWO Covenants but if YOU’RE suggesting a “process god” you’re wrong.

    God has always warned against and in divers times and manners some PUNISHED evil doers even as He does not punish others until AFTER their earthly demise. Suffering by Christians normally occurs as a result of OBEYING God and being PERSECUTED by UNGODLY, evil people. Annihilated babies in their own mothers’ wombs is a quintessential example: if any human being is wholly or in part innocent they are and EVIL people, protected by evil laws, slaughter them with legal but NOT eschatological impunity!

    If by “. . . turning your back on God leads to mass shootings and violent death,” you mean God will sometimes “give people over” to their depraved minds and sinful ways and allow the natural progression of consequences to occur without omnipotently intervening to prevent some or all of them, then yes, that is exactly what has happened in history, is happening presently, and I daresay will continue to happen absent national repentance. This is GOOD THEOLOGY with historical Scriptural precedent.

    “Earlier this year we learned . . . ,” well, it is late in the year and we are NOW learning that crime rates are once again beginning to rise. We only have annual historical data for 2011 but early indications are that beginning in mid-2012 crime, including violent crime, has been on the increase. Exactly as we would predict given the horrific socio-economic sitz im leben and America’s increasing hatred for God. Just check out the city with some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation: Chicago. Punto!

    God does not ONLY manifest His anger and wrath in violent crimes, He also does so in storms, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires, illnesses, diseases, and other tragedies sometimes termed “Acts of God.” Amen.

    “Mr. Dobson assumes he knows the mind of God and what most grieves, angers and moves His heart. But surely Dobson knows that Jesus mentions divorce more often than he mentions homosexuality (which Paul addresses but Jesus does not). So why is same-sex marriage on Dobson’s list but divorce is left off? ”

    CORRECTION: Dr. Dobson does not ASSUME he knows the mind of God, He Biblically believes he and all of us like believers have been GIVEN THE MIND OF CHRIST!

    “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. . . We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord
    that he may instruct him?” BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.” 1 COR. 2:10b-16

    And you are WRONG about Dobson not speaking up about divorce. He does so regularly. Hence, “Focus on the FAMILY!” Family presupposes “marriage” which gives rise to the family.

    BTW: Whose Gospels are YOU reading? The Gospel of Thomas and other apocryphal Ingannation?

    BIG EGREGIOUS ERROR: Not speaking in the “I” and speaking instead in the “YOU” for all of US. “If you believed this, it would only add to your grief. And if you didn’t believe it, it would only add to your anger.” The fact is you do NOT know how any of us would react to the Truth. But there are only two broad possibilities: 1) With acceptance and humility, or 2) Rejection and loathing. Jesus was the Way, the TRUTH, and the life and indeed most people then by the end of His life, and an increasing number today are REJECTING the Truth and bringing down upon themselves and U.S. the righteous consequences of rejecting the Truth of God!

    The faith you cherish and the faith you hold just isn’t the faith that Jesus lived, taught and commanded us to live. Thus it is no wonder that you oppose those of us who live that very faith. We know that evil exists, that Satan is prowling around seeking people to devour, and that just as he did with Job is seeking and getting from God permission to wreak boundaried havoc upon the good and the evil, just as the rain falls upon the crops of the righteous and unrighteous. I suggest you read, re-read, and read again Job and notice that God answers Job’s question WHY? with WHO — and the answer is always the same: Himself. And that means BOTH love, grace and mercy, and righteous anger and eternal judgement.

    And please learn about the character of God by reading, re-reading both the Noahic Flood and the Crucifixion. Good PUNISHES sin one way or another! Conclude by reading Ananias and Sapphira!

    • bpuharic

      Well I guess SOME Christians are insane. A god who slaughters children because he’s mad at gays? Seems you can kill a man but you can’t love one. Nice going, Christianity!

      • http://www.borderballads.com Matthew Barlow

        You win the award for best reply ever.

      • Don Fulano

        Gotta love an argument that boils down the essentials into an unrecognizable mess.[/sarc]

      • Josh Lyman

        But he only slaughters American children because of American gay people. Canadian gay people are fine!

    • http://http//edwardcropper.blogspot.com/ Edward Cropper

      I agree with a great deal of what you say.
      God has given all judgement to His Son. Our Lord now sits on a throne of Grace, and Grace is what He is showing this sin sick world. The day will come when the Day of Grace has ended, then real Judgement will be revealed.
      The Evil that erupted in Newtown is just another example of the result of Adams fall. God gave His Son to redeem this world and Mankind for the most part told God to butt out. Apart from The Lord Jesus He has given them their wish.
      Mankind doesn’t give God the time of day and basically denies His existence, yet when things like Newtown happens those same ignore-rs want to know why He allows it. Consistancy thou art a jewel !

    • MW

      Having the mind of Christ means having perfect insight into the cause and effect judgments of God? Hmm. You lost me there. In that story of Job you suggest reading a lot of times, The Lord seems pretty adamant that we are not privy to the cause of every action he undertakes (nor flawless interpreters of his judgment), a notion that is reaffirmed with regularity throughout Scripture, and by Christ himself on multiple occasions (when questioned about the man born blind, the adulterous woman, and the eschaton are the ones that jump immediately to mind). The point with which I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Wehner is that Dr. Dobson at best reckless in his presumption about the wrath of God at Sandy Hook. The man has become a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal.

      Also, please turn off your caps lock.

    • Stephanie

      Well said. I completely agree with you. Your not alone in your thinking and knowing God’s truth and believing it.

    • John C

      Very well written William. Wehner’s argument that suffering and death came from obeying God is nonsense. Who inflicted suffering and death on them? Godless, evil people. Wehner is indirectly blaming God for their suffering and death. Does not compute. Ephesians 6:12 is the crux of the matter. Without God, humans are corrupt to the core. And from time to time, we get to see a smidgen of what happens when total depravity is at work.

    • Ally

      Poisonous post. Focus on the Family is a HATE group, so designated for disseminating LIES presented as truth for the SOLE purpose of denying gay people civil rights. Clearly you do not worship Jesus Christ but Leviticus and his Old Testament presentation of God wrapped in human prejudices and emotions. Your post says more about you, William, than it does about God and truth.

      • DOP

        Ally, you’re obviously a lesbian!

    • John Haas

      Yes, by all means, please read the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) and see if anywhere in the account it says that “they were struck down by God.”

    • Van Waldrop

      Amen! Speak it Brother!!!

    • John

      Mr. Green,

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry in anger after reading such nonsense.

    • John

      Mr. Green – pay close attention to the story/ report about Ananias and Sapphira. They were punished for their very own sin, not for that committed by anyone else.

  • Nick Stuart

    Dobson spent decades surrounded by a claque of sycophants who affirmed and agreed with his every utterance with the regrettable result that now he can’t understand that everything he says might not be greeted with unanimous approbation. Whether on balance he’s helped or hurt the family and the cause of Christ would be an interesting discussion for another day.

    That said, as we descend into an every increasingly secular society which refuses to retain the knowledge of God, where children are taught that a good person is someone who recycles and fights climate change, where children are not taught that there is such a thing as objective right and wrong, &tc. We can expect that the general coarsening of our culture, and disintegration of our civil, religious, and family institutions will be punctuated by horrific crimes of various descriptions.

    • bpuharic

      I think you’re falling prey to exactly the type of thinking Wehner warned against. America is not a covenant community and has had greater evils in the past than we do today. It’s only the self centered Christian who would call secular America ‘immoral’.

      • kate

        So you are saying you believe America is “moral?” Just wondering. If America is ‘secular’, that means, go ahead and act immorally, b/c ‘we’ don’t believe in or follow God or his precepts?

  • bpuharic

    As a liberal atheist, it’s good to see not ALL conservative Christians are insane. Dobson has a wide following so when he speaks, he damages Christianity both for Christians and in the eyes of those of us who are non-believers. He’s not the only nut in the movement and the more other Christians come to excoriate people like him, the greater the credibility of Christianity will be.

    • Leo

      Village atheist tedium. No Christian is worried about their credibility in your eyes. You should be worried about your credibility in our eyes. Chesterton famously asked his atheist opponents to put forward their systematic morality before criticizing his faith and it wasn’t usually pretty and certainly never coherent. And although I might share some of your sentiment about Dobson, spare me your confidence that he is damaging Christianity. I would bet Dobson’s general beliefs are only going to become more popular not less. This does not make them more or less Christian but it would confirm my prediction the country’s “secular” future is not tenable and any action to persecute Christianity, which I expect, will only strengthen it.

    • Stephanie

      bpuharic~ You have stated you are a liberal atheist. What is your truth? What I mean is what is it that you truly believe in and have faith in? Anything? Your opinions are strong but not grounded on anything but your opinion. Grasping at straws must be exhausting. Your also are trying to prove your point by posting under a lot of people’s posts and trying to discredit and shame their opinions. WE are not insane just truly believe in something and have the foundation in TRUTH to back it. The BIBLE is a resource that has been founded to be true even though man has tried for years to discredit it and make the words of it not founded to be true. I hope you find what your searching for one day.

  • http://www.tammymaltby.com Tammy

    Proudly insightful Peter.

    Might I simply add:

    If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

    If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

    Love never gives up.
    Love cares more for others than for self.
    Love doesn’t strut,
    Doesn’t have a swelled head,
    Doesn’t force itself on others,
    Doesn’t fly off the handle,
    Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
    Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
    Puts up with anything,
    Trusts God always,
    Always looks for the best,
    Never looks back,
    But keeps going to the end.
    Love never dies.

  • http://bethyada.blogspot.com/ bethyada

    There are several concerns with this post.
    I am uncertain if Dobson has read this particular shooting correctly, but he seems to be reading the story correctly. He is right about where the US is heading spiritually, and there is some evidence that God is allowing you reap the consequences of your decisions. It is not beyond possibility to see God starting to judge your nation.
    The comments on suffering are correct to a point, Christians are promised suffering, something the needs to be preached more. But you cannot conflate suffering for righteousness with suffering in general. A person may suffer for unrighteousness, as per Peter’s warning. But more importantly, this does not relate to nations in the same way. A righteous person in a nation may suffer if God judges a nation such as Elijah.
    Truth an sensitivity are conflated in the post. Dobson may be correct and insensitive, or correct and sensitive (not enough of his comments are quoted to gain a good context). But that a greiving parent may find Dobson’s comments hurtful does not tell us if they are correct or not, this is merely an emotional appeal by Wehner.

    • Stanton

      So God really is murdering children and other innocents by proxy because God hates gays and hates the very idea of treating them as human beings with feelings, and not as subhuman trash to be lynched at the community’s convenience?

  • Ken Cottrell

    Great article – and long overdue. I believe that the worst problem by far facing us Evangelicals is not the secular culture around us, rather it is that too many Evangelcals seem to have a stronger identity as a conservative,pro-gun Republican than as a New Testament Christian.

    • DOP

      Really, Ken? What is a Conservative, but a God loving person, ready to defend his family (with or without guns), fiscally conservative, community oriented, helping thy neighbor, respecting his parents and children, fiscally sound, working person not asking for governments help or favor? does that suffice your requirements?

  • http://stowellbrown.blogspot.com/ Flyaway

    It is my understanding that crime has been increasing since the 60′s.
    http://ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/StatebyState.cfm?NoVariables=Y&CFID=3023459&CFTOKEN=af783d112adbb6a2-7519A0B2-0D69-1F48-5CFD4CA43C1991B4

    I also wonder why all of these massacres have been done by 20 something young men. Is there a correlation somewhere?

    • Keith Rhudy

      Dobson’s statement is Biblically correct sir

    • MW

      The article says crime has been dropping since 1993, which your website confirms.

    • Jessie

      According to the website you provided, the violent crime rate in the US has been decreasing since 1992. Even the total number of violent crimes has gone down since that same time.

    • James d.

      It’s all about how you use the data. Technically, the crime rate is up from 1960, but that would ignore the patterns in all the intervening years. When most people say we’re at a historical low, they generally mean murder, which IS at a lower rate in 2010 than 1960, and when they say violent crime has declined, they most often mean from the post-1960 heights. If you look at the violent crime rates (not the sheer number, as population growth must be factored in), rape is as low as it’s been since 1976 (and possibly earlier, as reporting of rape is notoriously less than 100%), robbery is at its lowest since 1967, and aggravated assault at its lowest since 1977.
      We can do better, of course. But the worst violent crime in America, as Wehner notes, was happening (and then over) long before a number of today’s hot issues came to be debated.

  • Marvin B.

    According to scripture God is many things; and like it or not, He sometimes has been a God of retribution. For example, in the Old Testament God rain down fire and brimstone on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins of homosexuality. Later the nation of Israel, after years of serving God turned their back on God getting involved in idol worship and other gross sins. After repeated warnings by various prophets and failing to repent and turn back to God, He allowed there homeland to be overrun by there enemies, resulting in many deaths, or being captured and taken back to the invaders country and forced into slavery. So it’s not Dr. Dobson punitive mindset, these examples of God’s retribution can be found throughout scripture, all the way to the last book in the Bible, Revelation. But more important, while God hates sin, God is a loving God. His word states that very clearly. In fact He sent His son Jesus Christ that each one of us might be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God. While I agree with Dr. Dobson’s description of the present state and direction of today’s American society, I do not believe what befell those innocence kids and teachers in Newtown were a direct retribution sent by God. Setting aside the possibility that Adam Lanza might have been mentally ill. The problem is, and has been since the dawn of man – A Sin Problem. I think this was the point Dr. Dobson failed to make. As long as sin exists in our world sometimes bad things are going to happen to good people. Sin won’t be completely eradicated until Christ second coming. But the Good News is, God created us in His image and He loves us. He is there to strengthen and guide us through difficult times, when life takes painful turns. We only need to call on Him. When such horrific and senseless acts like occurred in Newtown shakes us to our core, I think prayer for God’s help, strength, understanding and guidance for the families involved (and all of us for that matter), is the best tonic that any of us can offer.

    • Arthur C.

      Saying Gomorrah was destroyed because of homosexuality is pure fabrication. You can believe it if you want, but it is nowhere in the Bible. Saying Sodom was destroyed because of the “sin” of homosexuality is certainly one interpretation of Genesis, but a tenuous one at best. Ezekiel 16:49-50 does not include homosexuality on its list of the sins of Sodom. And the parallel story in Judges 19 makes it excruciatingly clear that the crowd was thirsty for murder, not sex.

      • DOP

        Arthur, trying to justify your homosexuality, does not make it any less true.

  • Brad

    A well-written article. Suffering of innocent kids defies my grasp. All we as Christians can do is grieve with all who have suffered the loss of a child in Newtown or Aurora or what-ever town is next.

  • Clay Knick

    Excellent article. Sane, good theology. Wise.

  • http://michaelsamson.blog.ca Mike Samson

    These kinds of comments by Dobson are simply unbelievable. It betrays a theology of revenge so prevelant today among so many, finding ultimate expression in the “Rapture” doctrine. The fantasy of revenge par-excellence where Christians gaze from heaven upon the damned in pure delight in the greatest cosmic in-your-face ever… Even William J. Green above seems to understand the very cross of Christ in terms of punishment and wrath…

    What are the parents of the little victims of this tragedy supposed to think or say if or when confronted with this way of thinking? God “allowed” your children to be massacred because he is angry, prone to fits of rage, and has decided to teach all of us a lesson. This was the will of God for you and your children. Hopefully your children didn’t tell any lies the day they were shot, because you know what that means. If you don’t, the Ray Comfort’s of the world can explain it to you.

    Or maybe we tell them the opposite, that this wasn’t the plan of God, that somehow the plan of God was thwarted, and that this was entirely the work of Satan! Somehow the all-knowing God didn’t forsee this tragedy, or the all-good God chose not to stop it, or the all-powerful God knew it was coming and wanted to stopit, but didn’t have the power. And so we chalk it all up and say it is a Mystery, like Job we should not question, and like Dobson, we scramble for some sort of theodicy that would allow us to save face and maintain our worldview, no matter how contradictory, or irrational we know it to be…

    I think in light of the Christian Mystery, we can say at least one thing about these horrible events that may give at least some ray of hope to the victims, and to all of us who have and will suffer at some point. Is our suffering meaningless? Is it empty? Or do we as Christians have the truest and deepest answer to give to the question of the problem of evil and suffering n the world? In the Person of Christ, the Word made flesh, God comes to us, as one of us, revealing the Father to us, but also revealing us to ourselves. Christ not only reveal God to man, but He reveals man to man. The Word is incarnated, conceived in the womb of a virgin, is born and lives among us, as one of us. It is in the Passion, in His suffering, that our suffering is given it’s meaning, as it is swallowed up into the Mystery of the Divine Love. Christ suffers not only for us, but with us, as us! When the sky goes dark, and the earth quakes, all of the suffering of humanity is joined to the suffering and death of the Son of God, is swallowed up, and redeemed in His resurrection. God is not removed form our suffering, and does not remain aloof from it. In the Person of Jesus, God condescends and enters into our suffering with us, transforms it in Divine Love, and redeeming it forever in His being raised from the dead. All that is left is for the full unveiling of this Mystery to the whole of the cosmos…

    It is love that has won the day, not wrath and punishment. We ought to offer hope and not misguided fantasies of revenge…

  • Keith

    I think your article misrepresented some of what Dr. Dobson said. He never said the children died because of the wrath of God, nor did he say that their parents were at fault. He said that the evil of our culture had grown to the point that the unthinkable is now acted out, becoming more and more common.

    • Richard Williams

      This piece is a deliberate misrepresentation of Dobson’s position. 35 years on the radio, over 80 books, advisor to President Reagan, and a buckler to millions of evangelical families, Dobson’s sterling reputation and character is well-established. This author’s pathetic attempt to tarnish Dobson’s reputation has backfired. Wehner comes off as petty and small-minded. He’d make an excellent anchor at MSNBC though.

  • http://bethyada.blogspot.com/ bethyada

    Timothy, having listened to Dobson’s podcast I find myself disagreeing with Wehner’s post even more. Dobson was predominantly talking about the breakdown of the family and divorce, the part quoted is how he thinks things will worsen. Nor do I think he presents a callous approach to the victims. My fuller response is here: http://bethyada.blogspot.com/2012/12/shields-of-earth.html

    I suggest those who agree with Wehner listen to the podcast, though unfortunately it is 25 minutes long and I haven’t found a transcript.

    • Ally

      I read your post and am far from convinced. The bible leaves a lot open to reading between the lines, and fundamentalist Christians are happy to fill in the gaps for those unfortunates who listen.

    • Lana Stephenson

      Thanks you for your sanity. The Dobson message is well worth the 25 minutes!! http://www.drjamesdobson.org/Broadcasts/Broadcast?i=32d0ea7c-eeb2-41fb-9c05-f6e0c733d58a
      Wehner’s critique is short cited, and based soley on one paragraph.

  • Brian P.

    Timothy, what you’re not getting is that this is just the way it is. This is the shtick. This is Evangelicalism. Sure, I suppose you can try to change it but, sheesh, it’s friggin’ comic to the rest of us.

    • Don Fulano

      Who exactly are “the rest of us”?

      Does Nancy Pelosi speak for Catholics?
      Does Harry Reid speak for Mormons?
      Did Bernard Nathanson speak for atheists?

  • greigman

    What a bunch of mindless drivel. We are talking about arming all the schools and it’s not safe to be walking down most of our larger city streets and we are reading and joining in the chant that crime is down? Also, we can push God out of our lives as a nation and there is no consequence? Well, I guess that means on the personal level too! Well, bring on the booze, drugs and prostitutes because Peter Wehner and his Kool Aid drinking fans says it won’t change our lives at all. God will just be pleased as punch and continue His blessings that made us the greatest country in the world.
    No, this elitist self-absorbed rabble is why we are losing His blessing and the rats are scurrying around to find “other” reasons for the carnage because a sinful nation may reflect poorly on them. Instead of seeing this as the logical conclusion that it is, we nit-pick at Dr. Dobson’s “using one word or thought more than another” so to avoid the truth we all know he’s saying.
    Yes Toto, kids are killing kids, kids are watching death and sex on TV every night, kids are playing video games where they can chop women up, men are doing men and women are doing women…and God is in anguish as we self-destruct and push his blessings away. And…you people defend this Wehner dope while chastising Dr. Dobson. How have we survived this long?

    • DOP

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • http://dangerchrist.wordpress.com/ dangerous christian

    When the day comes that Christianity dies in America, and the church is discredited to the point that God wants nothing to with it, evangelicals at that time can look back and thank such “representatives” like James Dobson for putting the nails in the coffin.

    • DOP

      Guess you are putting the nails in the coffin, not Dobson.

  • http://www.hdnazarene.com Tim Stidham

    I think that there is evidence of moral decline in America and tolerance for sin in the lives of believers. There is less regard for God as well. I think this does contribute to the weakening of a culture. Economic forces have been weak too. Once people believe a culture may be in decline they become less hopeful. This fearful mindset leads to desperate actions by some. Combine this with a culture of violent imagery in movies, TV, games, and blog comment streams and I think the weak-minded among us become affected.
    I think abortion is a terrible sin. I think same-sex marriage is wrong. I think God agrees. But I don’t think he decides a nation’s fate based on referendum results. If scripture says anything, it’s that God looks on the hearts.
    So Wehner is right that Dobson is blinded by a decades long political battle as he interprets the above anecdotal “data”. But I don’t think Americans should be comforted that we’re on the right track spiritually. I don’t think violent acts are God’s retribution. But it would seem to be the devil’s random cruelty expressed in a culture that is leaving God in their past.
    America isn’t a covenant community. But the church is. So we Christians do need a little revival service. We need to admit we’re not all we could be. We’re not taking the lead enough in setting an example.
    And we don’t care for our neighbors very well. And we don’t put enough funding to help the mentally ill. We don’t follow up on unstable people like we should. And we parents sometimes get confused about how to love our kids. And it’s really hard to know when to support them 100% and when and how best to be firm with them. It’s also hard to pass a meaningful faith on to them authentically and to teach them how to bear with the community of faith in love, remaining faithful church members across decades.
    These things bring a healthy stability and hope to families. I’ve seen it when we seem to get it right.
    Having the mind of Christ hasn’t made us perfect at this stuff. We need God to help us get better at it.
    We need to stop blaming the other for the problems of our culture. We need to look within and repent. Then take loving action to help the most vulnerable. If every Christian did this sincerely I do think it would bring something closer to the Kingdom than what we see today.

  • Ed

    With regards to Dr. James Dobson I think the entirety of his life’s work, writing, and commentary should be considered as context and grace given. I prefer to think that Dr. Dobson was expressing a larger concept and maybe the exact specific words he chose did not convey what he intended fully.

    What I think can be said about our nation turning it’s back on God Himself, as well as Biblical principals, the Ten Commandments, Jesus Christ’s example, dying to self, loving and serving others, etc. is that there are natural consequences. Many of God’s warnings are not because God Himself is going to reach out His hand and smite someone. God loves us and has great compassion and mercy. But God also knows the beginning, end, and everything in-between for every individual He creates. He understands that when life itself is not honored, when babies are murdered in the name of choice, when we choose ourselves over anyone and everyone else, when there are no absolutes, no truths other than what we individually choose to believe as truth, that we will see an increase in violence. If life itself is not valued, honored, if there are not absolutes, if there is no god, if there is no judgment, then taking life means nothing because life means nothing. But if we follow the teachings of God, including loving our neighbors as ourselves, not murdering, not coveting, etc. then there will be less taking of innocent life. What was so terrible about this tragedy is the callousness of it, killing the most innocent among us, children, who are full of life and laughter, not yet self-aware and self-conscious, normally full of joy and love unless abused or neglected. The loss is unimaginable. Not just to their families but to our country and world. Among those precious children would have been leaders, teachers, pastors, firemen, police officers, businessmen and women. Most if not all would have learned, grown up, fallen in love, married, had children of their own. They would have become part of other families through marriage. They would have started businesses and hired people or been productive employees for someone else or government servants, etc. But what is so sad and tragic is we allow the killing of millions of babies who are just as innocent, just as precious, just as full of life, just as capable of love, and it doesn’t shock us anymore. That is what I think Dr. Dobson was trying to say. The taking of life is something that is done far to often whether due to abortion, murder, suicide, war, or even capital punishment. We have many accomplishments as humans, but we have yet to learn how a seed becomes a seed and houses the spark of life and creates new life much less how exactly human life is created. We understand the mechanics but we can’t replicate it. We can only take life, we can’t give it. We started taking it with the first family, the first two brothers, the first murder. We have been taking it every since. Evil exists in the world, and I think the only justifiable reason for taking life is to save life. If someone is so full of evil that they are intent on taking life, they should be stopped, killed if necessary. If a mother’s life is truly in danger then the pregnancy causing the jeopardy should be ended but all efforts to save the baby like the tremendous work that is done by March of Dimes and dedicated staff at NICU’s worldwide. Life should be valued, preserved, protected, enabled, and only taken when doing so saves lives. But that isn’t what happens anymore. Abortions are legal, cheap, and common. We go to war without truly weighing the cost and pursuing all other options, even our waste shows an indifference to life as a large percentage of the animals and other living things that die to provide our “needs” are thrown away. I am a hunter but there has not been a time I have killed that I did not feel respect, some sorrow, and thankfulness for the sacrifice. I don’t waste what I kill whether in the woods or in the grocery store. I understand the cost. We no longer understand or teach the cost of being self-centered, thinking only of one’s self, pursuing only what matters to us without regard for anyone or anything else. Ultimately that kind of thinking is at the heart of all murders. They do what they want, take life without giving it a second thought. I think Dr. Dobson was trying to say our society has become too self-centered, self-indulgent, and we can’t even see the evil we do or allow in the name of convenience or choice or retaliation or self-interest. Movies, music, and video games are filled with appalling and grotesque violence. Then we wonder how someone could do something so evil and we blame it on the tools they used. As bad as this was it is not even the worst murder at an elementary school in the last 100 years in America. There was one earlier in the century where a custodian who worked at the school and saw those precious children and their parents and siblings every day yet he plotted to blow up the school and killed nearly 40 children in the blast or subsequent car bomb that he set off to kill himself and the superintendent. Not saying that a deranged mind could ever be stopped from executing evil plots but it would help if the culture we live in did not glorify violence and devalue life. If there is no absolute then who is right and who is wrong? Who is to say that murder is wrong if every person can have their own personal morality? We need to stop putting God in a box confined to Sunday at church and the rest of the week push Him out of our lives. We need to teach love and tolerance and forgiveness and second chances and live as being precious. People seriously need to ask themselves how outraged they would be if a psychotic killer killed babies in nursery in a hospital, babies that had just been born and taken from their mothers. Then ask themselves what for God’s sake is the difference in abortion? Especially partial-birth abortion or late-term abortion regardless of the method? It is the taking of innocent life by someone who does not have that right because we all have the right to life. We need to have a serious national debate about the sanctity of all life, including abortions, wars, capital punishment, murder, and sacrifice. This is a bad example but when there is so much death real or imagined and so many “justifiable” or “accepted” reasons to take life it lessons sensitivity to the taking of life in much the same way that talking about huge numbers like trillions or hundreds of billions lessons the real cost. It is real but it doesn’t seem real. We need to learn to morn the loss of all life, especially that of the most pure and least able to defend themselves among us. The debate shouldn’t be about what tools we kill with but why and in what circumstances we kill. Taking life should be rare and only to preserve the life of an innocent or innocents so that taking a life actually saves lives and there should be a real and present danger, not just a threat.

  • Lisa

    Thank you. Mr Wehner. This socially and politically liberal Christian is relieved to know that Mr Dobson & Mr Huckabee don’t speak for all of her conservative brothers regarding this tragedy.

  • Shari

    For 25+ years, I have listedly to Dr. James Dobson and his virtually infallible advice. I stand by his columnn now because, unfortunately, it’s sad, but true. We cannot condone the killing of millions of innocents, kick God out of our Public School systems, arenas and parks, redefine His definition of marriage and not expect tragic consequences. Evil abounds, and Americans are encouraging and growing it daily. God is letting it abound because He is a gentleman and will not trod where He is not welcome. Thus, the tragedys like Newton, Columbine, Pearl River, Benghazi, World Trade Center and millions more.

  • Poppy Dixon

    But Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris aren’t trying to destroy Christianity.

  • Leo

    “(O)nly the self-centered Christian(who) would call secular America immoral ” ? Really, bphuric ? And when is “secular” morality (sic) anything but self-centered ? In fact, why are you even trying to use that meaningless term? Does it “sound” smart? When you leave home or Starbucks and meet new people you’ll discover the majority of Americans remain Christians and the great majority of them find America to be immoral on many levels. Just because America is not the worst country or maybe the worst it has been does not relieve it of great contemporary evils. I hope you’ll meet people of other faiths, for instance practicing Jews or Muslims. You’ll be surprised to find the majority also find “secular” America to be likewise immoral. Your mind will become less narrow.

  • Walt Scrivens

    I think a better Biblical comparison would be found in the Old Testament; the Israelites told God they wanted a king, so they could be like other nations. God granted their request and the next few hundred years were marked by a few good kings and a lot of bad ones. The people turned away from God and worshiped idols, and eventually the nation was overcome by foreign invaders and the people went into exile.
    In our country, over the last half-century we have expelled God from our schools, eliminated Him from our government and forced Him out of the public square. We have told God to stay in the churches and don’t bother us. He has granted our wish, and we are reaping the harvest of bad leaders, increased crime, moral degradation, unconscionable debt … It is only a matter of time before the whole thing falls apart if we stay on the present path. Unless we change. Unless we go back to the roots of our country’s success: “One Nation Under God”.

  • http://judahslion.blogspot.com/ Rick Frueh

    The foundational probthat God no longer deals with nations as entities during the New Covenant period. Preach to “every creature” is our commission, however playing the game of “Risk” while arbitrarily assigning divine motives appeals to the self righteous masses. And the best that God can do is 20 children? Hitler accomplished much more than that. It is all so western.

  • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

    Growing up in the Evangelical world, James Dobson was highly revered by my parents and their friends… Reading statements like this, I can only hope he will lose credibility and influence in American Christianity, and that people stop paying attention to this clown.

  • jesse bruce

    After reading this article I understand what Jesus meant when He excoriated the pharisees for diligently studying the scriptures yet utterly failing to recognize and intimately know the God Who wrote them.
    Peter left us with a tangled mess of red herrings and straw men that is mostly unworthy of addressing, nevertheless a couple of things…

    These is not nor ever was any division or discrepancy between what Jesus said, and Paul wrote. The scriptures were inspired by the Spirit of God, including the account of John in Revelation chapter 2 where Jesus warns a certain prophetess in the church that He was going come and kill her and her children if she didn’t stop teaching the people that sexual immorality was okay – in a country that had no covenant with God.

    David said in the Psalms that a society will see violent men increase in proportion to the exaltation of vileness within a culture, and we are certainly seeing this today. Jesus rightly identified that the pharisees were bereft of a true knowledge of God because in their hearts they coveted and sought the acceptance and acclaim of their peers. The “theological world” today is filled with men and women whose only experience with God is an occasional “spiritual” feeling. What really matters to them is how they are perceived by those they consider their peers – both religious and secular.

    Jesus and Paul knew The Father. There is nothing in this convoluted article that suggests the same can be said of Peter Wehner & Timothy Dalrymple

  • Aaron M

    While I agree that Dr. Dobson’s conclusions and comments are extreme, it would seem that many of the other commentors here are dismissing the Biblical principal of Galatians 6:9. In the physical world Newton defined the 3rd law of motion, ‘For very action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. Galatians 6:9 states the same law in the spiritual world, ‘Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap’. When we as a society spend 30 years telling our children that it is okay to simply dispose of an unwanted pregnancy (sowing), we cannot be surprised when the next generation does not value human life and disposes of life with equal indifference (reaping). I agree that these events are NOT the evidence of God’s judgement, they are however the natural consequence of the slow moral decay of our ‘Judea-Christian’ society.

  • Paul Ritchie

    Our pastor’s sermon was on Luke 13:1-5, which seemed quite a bit more on point:
    13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

  • Jodi

    So, Creator is not judging America for its past sins towards the Native people or the slave trade. Nor its foreign policy collateral damage either. I guess God only cares about white people.

  • Martha

    These statements from visible Christian evangelicals makes me ashamed to say I am Christian. In fact I don’t title myself THAT any more. I have a belief system and will explain it but not with that word!! Christianity has become fanatical and without love which is the theme of the New Testament!!!

  • John Haas

    Escellent thoughts from Mr. Wehner that illustrate, especially, that calling folk like Mr. Dobson a “religious extemist” is really a misnomer. As Mr. Wehner shows, Mr. Dobson’s problem is he’s not theological enough.

  • http://www.bouldevardsda.org Brikony

    Thoughtful stuff. The idea that Christians insist on viewing God as a vengeful God (burning people forever), seems to often make them vengeful people.

  • Ryderwriter

    Though I do not necessarily agree with Dobson, nor do I necessarily even like or support him, nothing that is written by Mr. Wehner disproves or weakens Dobson’s quote selectively included here by Mr. Wehner. The fact is that all evil is the result of people turning their backs on God and the scriptures. That was true since Eve first listened to the lie “Hath not God said…”
    Evil manifested itself when Jesus was tortured and crucified as well as when Paul, or Peter, or John the Baptist were killed. In each case, their deaths were screaming, irrefutable evidence that people were turning their backs on scriptures and on the Almighty God.
    Mr. Wehner’s position here is empty, weak and borders on both a useless ad hominem argument but certainly a straw man argument.

  • http://stephenmatlock.com stephen matlock

    I’m past the grief and shock of Newtown, and even past the anger.
    I’m at the point where I do not understand my own co-religionists, the people who, like me, call upon the name of the Lord.
    There is frankly just so much anger and hate and barely concealed violence in the speech and actions of Christians, especially when it comes to their guns. People who carry their Bible around and wish they could evangelize more, who think that their neighbors deserve love and salvation and the good news of Jesus Christ, become crazy when someone mentions that their guns are weapons of violence
    Dr. Dobson, whom I respect, was flat-out wrong to trot this out. Canada (and other nations) has same-sex marriage. If God wants to punish a nation for not following biblical laws, then why does Canada get off and America get the judgment?
    I love my country–it has been good to me. But we have got to open our eyes and see that we are an extremely violent and self-centered culture, and we who are believers in Christ must consider that our Lord did not tell us to preach peace by means of guns. If we ourselves as Christians are so in love with guns and so fearful of evil, how can we have a message of hope and safety in Jesus Christ? Where is our own faith?

  • maria graciela amorim

    As a mother of 2 teens and as a person that works for public schools I still do not get how in USa you can so easily get in any school without being cleared First.After several masacres like this took place.People here do not learn?Really? And they have not made their mind yet about Security for children and youth.God is Not in he evil side of this sad happening.Stop arguing please and work FOR THE NEEDED SOLUTION. GOD IS IN COMMON SENSE!

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    Thanks for this.

    There have been two related responses to this tragedy from certain Christian conservatives that have rankled a lot of people, and this article tackles both of them: there’s (like Huckabee) blaming the secularization of society for spreading moral relativism and confusion about right and wrong, and then there’s the same argument but with “God Almighty … has allowed judgment to fall upon us” added on.

    They both ignorantly and callously shout “I told you so” to a grieving nation, but I find the Huckabee version mildly less offensive; at least he’s clear that this is a tragedy. By bringing God and judgment into this, Dobson gives the impression that Lanza was an agent of righteousness collecting dues in a heavenly protection racket. (Or are we to believe that Dobson would ever find God’s judgment unwarranted?)

    • http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/ Richard

      You might be interested in the philosopher Jerry Walls response to Mike Huckabee’s comments. I found a part of his discussion here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/12/jerry-walls-on-newtown-massacre.html

      • Kubrick’s Rube

        Thanks, that was interesting. This may be due to his more targeted audience and the format of expression, but I think Walls makes a much more nuanced case than Huckabee does. (Walls isn’t assigning blame in his piece.) Walls mainly speaks to Huckabee’s original statement, less the expanded list of social ills Huckabee used to clarify his point. To the extent that Huckabee was speaking to a contradiction in contemporary Christian life that is exposed in tragedy, I have no complaints. But Huckabee, especially in his clarification (where he expanded his point past school prayer), clearly blamed secularization and moral relativism for the tragedy itself, and as Mr Wehner explained in his second point above, this theory is not backed up by the trends.

      • John Haas

        From the blog:

        “The attitude he cites is manifest in everything from lawsuits over Christmas trees . . .” Now, there’s an attempt to “marginalize God” if I’ve ever seen one. (Of course the Duritans outlawed Christmas so . . . Roger Williams, in turn, thought the Puritans were marginalizing God–though not by outlawing Christmas, but by their brutal treatment of dissenters and their dishonest, greedy dealings with the Indians. Goes to show how much Williams had to learn! He should have been speaking up for . . . Christmas trees!)

        “. . . God is never discussed in history class . . .” And some great discussions we would have, given how theologically literate our social science teachers are . . .

        The key phrase in Walls’ post was “the last fifty years.” That’s when history starts for these people–the 1950s. Which, in fact, they know nothing about. They merely have heard others repeat this mantra over and over again, so they do too.

  • Darrell Kohr

    Mr. Wehner, thank you for your cool and thoughtful and well informed commentary. I applaud you for decrying anyone who says, “God is punishing us for our sins” when they are talking from fear of self-righteousness. While Mr. Dobson is right in a minuscule way, what he says will never bring anyone closer to understanding the mind of God. His declarations can only sow chaos.

    To clear up the chaos, to untangle this even farther, let’s step back one more step than you did. In the beginning of man’s culture, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and many other cultures looked around and they saw the sea behave one way, lightning behave another, and sometimes even the laws of nature in one town behaving differently in one town than another. They attributed this to many gods, each with their own set of natural laws ruling the world about us.

    The Jews saw one set of natural laws in the world and said that this must be because there is one God with one set of natural laws. Science and time has born this out and most of those polytheistic religions went by the wayside.

    The Jews also said that there are good paths and bad paths through this world. When people follow the good paths, good things will happen… rich wholesome life, certain successes, and a place in a good eternity. When people follow a bad path, bad things will happen. I think that simple logic points to this as being an equally valid view of the world.

    Mr. Dobson is right in that, we as a nation have not cared for or even monitored the mentally ill and distraught among. We are not doing the good and responsible things. God has sown consequences into the fabric of the world. We will have to suffer the consequences, the wrath if you must term it that way, that God has sown into the world he made.

    Paul was adamant that the trials he faced (and by extension those that we face) are opportunities for us to discern Gods will on this earth to grown and become strong in His will. In this way, all evils have the ability to reform us and strengthen us. I think that you started on this path, but never finished.

    This, I believe, is the terrible truth that Adam was smitten with in the garden of evil. From then on, man had to choose whether to run in fear from bad, from evil, from tragedy, or to face it and grow from it and turn it to good. It is in our hands. This is our terrible punishment and our hope.

    Please, please do not tear yourselves apart in the theology and demagoguery. Christianity is not complicated or hard. Be good or face God’s consequences. Recognize the good (God’s will) and grow in the terrible choices. Let’s not make this any harder than it is.

  • http://michaelsamson.blog.ca Mike Samson

    I guess my comment was unnacceptable. Strange, my blog is Catholic, and Evangelicals, (I have many friends who are Evangelical) post some of the most unkind things you can imagine on my own site. I cannot understand what exactly is wrong with what I said above that requires moderation, but to be honest I find it pathetic on your part.

  • http://notesfromdennisfischer.blogspot.com Dennis J. Fischer

    James Dobson knows how to get people to send him money by repeatedly creating a crisis mentality. Yes, he is overly political and deeply legalistic. By the way, Billy Graham stated on the Larry King Live show several years ago that he is a lifelong Democrat. Indeed, there are more ways to kill a baby than through abortion alone. How about lack of access to proper healthcare for mother and baby? Truly, Republicans are not more pro-life than the Democrats are. The inaccessibility of affordable healthcare and elective abortions are BOTH murder and BOTH issues need to be addressed. Typically, however, Republican pro-lifers simply ridicule healthcare for all mothers and their babies. As Christ-followers, we need to be more consistent in our views.

  • http://www.soulation.org/positivelyhuman L. James Everett, III

    In my opinion, Peter Wehner didn’t interpret Dobson fairly, nor did he interpret the Bible fairly. He needs to go much, much deeper. The question isn’t merely why do children die. The question is, why does anyone die? And the Bible (not just the meager New Testament reference, which was yanked out of its broader, deeper context) answers that question very early on. The New Testament needs to be interpreted as a Jewish document, in context with the rest of the Bible that came before it. Seen in that light, it’s not Dobson Wehner seems to have a problem with–it’s the Bible (which may be why he ignored most of it). Ignoring the Biblical teaching on death is what injures the faith, not necessarily what Wehner is doing. We all need to go deeper on this. I’ll link my writing on it, below.
    A Crucial, but Ignored Question
    http://soulation.org/positivelyhuman/?p=1041

  • John R

    To be perfectly honest I did not give much serious consideration to your piece because you lost me when you started using violent crime statistics. The reason for much of the drop can be seen in the increase in proficient trauma care. Gunshot wounds, stabbings, things that would have surely taken someones life 20-25 years ago, are not as likely to cause immediate death because of on-the-scene-care and ER care which utilizes more life saving knowledge and techniques than ever before. Or, in the words of my old college professor, “People just don’t die like they used to”. This is the main reason for the drop in homicides and the sharp increase in aggravated assaults. Also, be wary of taking anything at face value. We must know how they are defining violence and “victimization”. (Also, read the rest of that article for the cautions against getting excited too soon about this). As far as abortion rates go, couldn’t it be that many young women simply have easier access to contraceptives now than ever before (especially since our government is pressing this), lessening the need for abortions? Mr. Wehner, please do more research before using statistics of any sort. That is my chief pet peeve with any author. Thus, my criticism.

  • http://www.sujetosalaroca.org Eduardo Flores

    I don’t think Dobson was affirming that those children and teachers were killed because God was punishing them for their sin. I believe he was talking about all of those terrible things happening in America (and the world for that matter). I think he was being theological in his way of thinking. Just read Romans 1 and see what Dobson was getting at. Men have turned their back to God and to the truth they know of Him and because of that God’s judgment is upon them. What was their judgement? God gave them to all the things they wanted to do: murder, homosexuality, disobedience to their parents, etc. I think you’ve misread or misheard Dobson’s comments.

  • Branton

    Really? You mean this country would have to be in covenant with God, like Israel, for His judgment to actually fall upon us? You mean God can’t remove His protection from this nation? You honestly think that the USA became a great secular nation without the intervention of God? We may not be a theocracy but God most certainly brings nations up and brings nations down in Scripture. Babylon was used to judge Israel and then God judged it.

    Mass shootings have happened in our past, but the increase in the violence and the heinousness of these crimes is indicative that God is turning this nation over to its own devices. As far as your pastoral assessment that this remark does not comfort these grieving parents, what pastor in his right mind ministers to parents by talking about the possible causes for this act? The fact of the matter is that death, in any form, and in any way it comes to you, is the judgment of God for sin, whether your own, someone else’s, Adam’s, or simply by living in a fallen realm. I fail to see how Dobson’s words are “callous” or provocative. I say this as someone who does not agree with a great deal that Dr. Dobson teaches, but I could not resist responding to this criticism of him because it is, frankly, unbalanced.

    Daniel 10 demonstrates that behind the scenes of earthly conflict is a parallel spiritual conflict that lies behind the events we observe. There is also evidence in Daniel 10 and 11 that nations, rulers, etc. are assigned spiritual messengers (angels, both holy and demonic) who war against one another. The results are the wars, conflicts, wickedness, success, etc. of the various nations and rulers of the earth. This spiritual warfare is what is behind the Newtown act. Before we completely dismiss Dr. Dobson’s remark, we would do well to examine passages such as these. I’m very disappointed in this assessment and how many otherwise faithful believers appear to be in agreement with it.

  • Branton

    Really? Mr. Wehner means to say that this country would have to be in covenant with God, like Israel, for His judgment to actually fall upon us? He actually means that God can’t remove His protection from this nation? Does he honestly think that the USA became a great world power without the helpful intervention of God? We may not be a theocracy but God most certainly brings nations up and brings nations down in Scripture. Babylon was used to judge Israel and then God judged Babylon.

    Mass shootings have happened in our past, but the increase in the violence and the heinousness of these crimes is indicative that God is turning this nation over to its own devices in the pattern of Romans 1. As far as his pastoral assessment that this remark does not comfort these grieving parents, what pastor in his right mind ministers to parents by talking about the possible macro-causes for this act while they’re grieving? We weep with those that weep and discuss the assessment later. The fact of the matter is that death, in any form, and in any way it comes to you, is the judgment of God for sin, whether your own, someone else’s, Adam’s, or simply by living in a fallen realm. I fail to see how Dr. Dobson’s words are “callous” or provocative. I say this as someone who does not agree with a great deal that Dr. Dobson teaches, but I could not resist responding to this criticism of him because it is, frankly, unbalanced.

    Daniel 10 demonstrates that behind the scenes of earthly conflict is a parallel spiritual conflict that lies behind the events we observe. There is also evidence in Daniel 10 and 11 that nations, rulers, etc. are assigned spiritual messengers (angels, both holy and demonic) who war against one another. The results are the wars, conflicts, wickedness, success, etc. of the various nations and rulers of the earth. It would not be inconsistent to say that this spiritual warfare is what is behind the Newtown act. Before we completely dismiss Dr. Dobson’s remark, we would do well to examine passages such as these. I’m very disappointed in this assessment and how many otherwise faithful believers appear to be in agreement with it.

  • http://none just a guy
  • Nathan H.

    I don’t agree with this post and certainly don’t think our “leaders” need to get caught up in theological debates during these times. We need to be united as believers in Christ and support what He tells us in scripture and proclaim it! I clearly understood what Dobson meant by his statement, and if you’ve heard him over the years and read his literature then you know his heart too. He is not a callous person. Our nation is most certainly in a position right now to be seeing Gods wrath poured out. In fact, I expect it. I pray for our nation to turn back to Him, but we are on a steady decline that I’m not sure we will recover from as a nation. When we read in scripture about God’s judgement on a nation, or events that happened as a result of His plans being fulfilled, it doesn’t always look pretty. Many times children were some that died as a result. Is God callous and cruel? If you know the Word, then you know the answer is NO! Maybe none of us can fully understand his plans, but we certainly get an idea of His heart through scripture. I understand what Dobson is saying, and frankly, have no problem with his statement.

  • Charles Buntin

    The main problem here is the same that cost several GOP amateurs in thodicy and in politics. If they really don’t understand the the deeper things ( 1 Cor 2:7-16) they would be better off keeping a reverent silence.

  • Harry

    Wehner draws unwarranted inferences and conclusions from that Dobson quote and he seems to deliberately misinterpret Dobson’s words. Dobson in no way made a direct cause-effect link to the sin of any person or persons involved in last week’s terrible events as Wehner infers in his 2nd paragraph. Wehner’s the one connecting Dobson’s imaginary dots without much regard for what Dobson actually stated in the brief quote. Towards the end of the article he appears to accuse Dobson of coming to his conclusion through the lens of politics rather than through his faith. Really? Where is the warrant for that?

    The plain reading of Dobson’s quote sure reads a lot like Romans 1 to me. Dobson isn’t pulling this out of hat, God has spoken and has provided us a lens with which to interpret our decaying society. God is increasingly giving us over to a debased mind, to practice the litany of vices and rebellious actions and attitudes cataloged in v29-31. Perhaps stats show violent crime has trended downward of late but it should be rather obvious to every Christian that our society continues to plummet further away from righteousness. When one quotes stats which apparently indicate that violent crime is in decline, is one saying our society isn’t in decline ? Be careful of proving more than you intend.

    I certainly do not agree with Dobson on a number of his positions but this attack on the man’s statement, and really his motives, is over the top. I’m thankful a person of Dobson’s profile can draw the nation’s attention to teachings like Romans 1 as we grieve the latest overt manifestation of evil in our nation.
    Comparing the effect of Dobson’s words here to the work of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins is utterly shameful.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    “Mr. Dobson assumes he knows the mind of God and what most grieves, angers and moves His heart.”

    But, of course, Dobson will fall back on “God is inscrutable” when he chooses (the genocide of the Canaanites, Noah’s flood, for example). Dobson’s god thinks just like Dobson. How convenient!

    “Why is it that tragedies often bring out such callous statements – including from the very people you would hope would show some measure of grace, discernment, and perspective?”

    Perhaps because religion and power are easily mixed in America.

    As an atheist and fellow Patheos blogger, I don’t often agree with an evangelical, but Peter Wehner’s comments were right on target.

    • jesse bruce

      Although I don’t completely agree with Dr. Dobson’s belief that this tragedy was judgment from God, I doubt very much that he would say that God’s reasons for the way He dealt with the canaanites, and Noah’s flood are inscrutable to us. God’s actions are always firmly rooted in absolute true love out of which flows justice.
      It doesn’t require a genius mind to understand why the destruction of the canaanites and indeed the destruction of all mankind at the time of Noah had to happen. However, it is mostly wasted effort to attempt to explain such matters to atheists who by nature tend to be irrationally cynical, and therefore incapable of examining God’s methods to any true depth.

    • kate

      Bob (Seidensticker) ……Dobson’s God think just like him….., everyone who has walked the earth, save Jesus, himself, thinks the exact same thing. You, me, everyone believes their god thinks like they do. You may say you’re an atheist, but in my thinking an atheist’s god is him/herself.

  • Russell Tipping

    I totally agree with your comments. While we are at it I would like to add that I also believe Christians should spend less time looking for conspiracy theories and publishing poorly researched material and more time loving their enemy and channelling the love of God through their own actions.

  • Stan Bryan

    It is very clear from the Old Testament that the God of history is at work within all the nations (not just Israel) to reward or punish according to their morality or lack thereof. No, we cannot always discern exactly what God is doing or draw a direct line from someone’s suffering to his immorality (Job). But the religious experts of our day who ignore any connection between immorality and judgment remind me very much of a similar attitude when Jeremiah preached God’s judgment. They actually murdered Jesus partially because he predicted Jerusalem would be destroyed for not listening to God’s messenger. Dobson may not be a perfect prophet, but I am glad someone has the courage to warn our country that one of the lessons of scripture is clearly that when nations reject God, He can and will deal with it in very serious and unpleasant ways.

  • Lilly

    I just cannot help but think that God is saddened by all of this bickering within his bride, the church, giving into the fleshly inclination to point fingers and blame, instead of following Jesus’ example and resolving to fix our eyes on loving our brother and spreading Jesus’ message of salvation. I for one choose to see the greater good Dr. Dobson has done in his lifetime, and not pounce on this possibly incorrect statement he has made. If one person turns Dr. Dobson off the radio because the Christian community has condemned and ridiculed him, that is one less person who just might have been exposed to God’s word. Surely our time could be spent more wisely than this? I am not sure Dr. Dobson was “promoting his agenda” when he made this statement. More likely, this was a knee-jerk reaction to the horror of Sandy Hook. Is that wise? Probably not. Either way, I choose to see the big picture and make allowances for him out of brotherly love, seeing the greater good that he is doing and has done with his works for God.

    Love you Christian brothers and sisters! All of you! Let us keep our eyes and hearts focused on doing God’s work, always.

  • http://christianlythinkings.wordpress.com/ Stephen J. Higgins

    Context is important for both of these writers (Dobson and Wehner). To quote portions from someone’s speech you can change the context of the one speaking to fit your mindset. Also, Dobson in context needed to trace the tragic conditions with real faith filled comfort and now what’s to such violence.
    The truth is…Yes, thankfully there is a reduction in violence here to the unborn and to the born of all ages but still to many. And did you know that on that sameday in Afghanistan 10 young girls were killed by a bomb because they wanted to go to school. And volience in the Middle East against Christians because they were Christians and the list goes on.
    We live though in an uneasy age that has the church in transition between generations and forms and the evangelicalism thankfully is ending and a new form developing. That stress brings a void in leadership and those that have been in leadership (Dobson and the like) seem to be still willing some-times to speak up with a hammer rather than a hand up. BUT beating up on one another publically doesn’t do either, keep it to a private note and speak publically in what should be said if you think you’re right and they are wrong. Jesus and Paul both talked about the need to speak to one-another and only with other witnesses if there isn’t an agreement.
    So, Wehner needs to be a Christian thinker rather than a Christian critic we have enough of them in a mags which I have stopped reading…right!
    As Christians it is to know that at the end of a life spent in the pursuit of knowledge Faust has to confess:

    “I now see that we can nothing know.”

    That is the answer to a sum, it is the outcome of a long experience. But as Kierkegaard observed, it is quite a different thing when a freshman comes up to the university and uses the same sentiment to justify his indolence. As the answer to a sum it is perfectly true, but as the initial data it is a piece of self-deception. For acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired -(thinking Christianly). The only person who has the right to say that they are justified by grace alone is the person who has left all to follow the Messiah. Such a person knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace, and that the call is inseparable from the grace. But those who try to use this grace as a exemption from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves.
    “I discovered early on and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, which is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith…Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    This is still true and we need it even more – speak with a Christianly thinking mind (mind of Christ) rather than with a voice (or in writing ) without thinking Christianly as both of this men seem to have done. I would love to hear them speak into solutions that are wholistic and not with the single track they both are on!

  • robert

    The guy cannot untangle squat. He tries to use Christian faithful obedience such apostle Paul, to an all knowing, all powerful, Holy God almighty, who rescued us from our sin thru our Lord savior God the Son Jesus to make a meaningless worthless point. What does the number of times a word is mention have to do with anything? And why bring grossness of homosexuals and lesbians into this tragedy. You reap what you sow wehner as an Evangelical you such know that but you your agenda is obvious, wolf in sheep clothing. Just because abortions or down or other gross are down does not mean a thing. What about aborded babies born alive being left to die? Robert

  • Steven Kuzins

    On the eve of celbrating Christ birth were debating the love and wrath of God. We must think we have the mind of God. That’s what Eve thought before she disobeyed. she reasoned with the serpent. We have been doing this ever since trying to justify our behavior and disregard our sin. the Isrelites didn’t get it judgement upon judgement. There would only be one solution God would have to come Himself were in two days going to celebrate His birth an Angel came to bring a message of great joy a Child would be born and He shall be called Emanual/ Jesus which we now know God is with us. But when you read the Gospel account of John 1:9,10 The True Light which gives light to everyone was coming into the world He was in the world and the world was made through Him yet the world did not know Him. What we forget or choose not to remember why He came, He came to die The Son of God who knew no Sin Became Sin for us. He died he was murdered Crucified Horribly for My Sin and your Sin Yes Your Sin put him on that Cross. The Sin that is still in the world today. There will come a day that it will end . God is a loving God But surely He is a Rightoues God that cannot look upon Sin. We are seeing a progressive Judgement upon this land to bring people to repentance . As the phrohets spoke from the begining of time they continue to speak Some hear and some don’t but when that day comes knows no man surely there wil not be another oppurtunity. His Mercy cries out through all of scripture. It’s His mercy that allows us to wake up each day to scorn Him or Worship Him. But as I said that to will come to an end.

  • Carrie

    It would seem some Christians aren’t allowed to point out what they see happening in our culture without other Christians heaping scorn on them for saying it.

    One can look at our culture and say it reflects the cultures Paul speaks about in Romans 1. Paul isn’t talking about a group of people that have a “covenant” with God. Paul is speaking to a society that has forsaken God. American culture in this new age has in fact forsaken God. As a result we (the culture as a whole) are being given over to a reprobate mind – that is a mind that can not distinguish between right from wrong, good from bad, true from false.

    God isn’t pushing people into this situation. He is merely loosening His grip, as to slowly remove His hand of grace from our country.

    That is a form of judgment.

    Those Christians that are scoffing at that should worry a little less about what the “unchurched” think about this and concern themselves more with warning people. We are living in dire times (we have always been living in dire times for that matter) therefore the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loudly and people need be warned of what awaits them if they reject it.

    Calling these horrible events judgment doesn’t make God into a monster anymore than saying if you do not repent you will perish for all eternity.

    But then I would venture to guess the people who scoff at James Dobson are not that likely to even bring up the issue of hell as it relates to the Gospel invitation.

  • Liam

    This residual Calvinism persists in our culture like a herpes virus (Dobson here has a case of the shingles in moral theology), and gains perverse power when married to the cultural pelagianism of uplift (that we can achieve whatever we want to achieve if we only want it badly enough and exercise enough willpower; the negative of this is that, if we don’t achieve our goal it’s because of lack of willpower or sufficient desire – this becomes New Age est/Forum/The Secret/Law of Attraction poison). Together these form important parts of the foundation of our civic religion. Easily confused for Christianity in some parts.

  • Ray Aranda

    Bethyada nailed it. I too listened to the Dobson Podcast when I first started reading people’s responses to the quote attributed to him to make sure I had my facts straight. He wasn’t commenting SPECIFICALLY about the Sandy Hook shootings when he said that. The quote is taken out of context. I don’t listen to Dobson and wouldn’t consider myself a “follower” of his either. In fact, I CAN imagine him saying something like he’s being accused of saying. But it appears he DIDN’T. Please, be sure you have the facts. You don’t have to agree with Dobson’s assessment of why American society is decaying, but at least quote him correctly and be sure you’re not erroneously attributing something to him or anyone.

    • http://bethyada.blogspot.com/ bethyada

      Thanks Ray.

      One of my concerns here is that people are not taking Jesus’ warning about being careful how they judge. We are to judge, but be must do so cautiously.

      Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. (John 7)

      So many comments here reflect that they do not understand the context of everything. They are so quick to disparage Dobson with little understanding of what he said. They are judging by appearances.

      They may still disagree with Dobson, but as it is many seem to be judging with wrong judgment.

  • Susan Best

    James Dobson has a superiority complex. In addition, he has an “us” versus “them” political view. The “thems” must be punished. It is the Grace of God that has given Mr. Dobson his charmed life. A little humility is in order here. I don’t think the words, “there but for the Grace of God go I” has ever crossed that man’s lips.

  • wood deming

    Obviously Dobson was referring to massacres all across the world over several years . Some christians walk with ” weak grace ” as described first by C.S. Lewis and thus feel that no afflictions come from God , regardless of all the biblical examples . And certainly Dobson was not saying the event in Connecticut was due to transgressions of the parents and relatives of these precious kids . But I think cultures do suffer retribution when the majority of its people turn away from Him . Let’s all grieve with these families ; look to God as the great comforter ; read , study and pray ; and , finall , cotinue trying to walk as a little christ_ loving the Lord and loving each other .

  • Bill

    Although this article is a creative spin of biblical truth, Dobson is still correct.

  • George

    The Bible says that even some of the elect will be deceived in the last days. This writer fulfills that prophecy.

    • Joseph D’Hippolito

      George, would you conceive the possibility that Dobson may be the one who is deceived?

  • bob christenson

    Wow, I don’t know where to start. Peter Wehner is obviously bought into the social gospel. First of all I’m tired of the Christians who keep saying that “why are we making a big deal of the marriage deal when Christians don’t say a word about divorce”. First of all when secular society starts asking for special recognition and appaluse and puts on big parades for divorce I will bet that Christians will match the volume that the gay rights people yell with. Second Dobson talks about divorce all the time. My pastor acctually preaches alot against divorce. To use the early churches sufferings as an example of what Dobson is saying is totally out of context. Sorry but none of the kids in Conneticut died for preaching the Gospel. Unless theres more to this article where does he say that the shootings were Gods judgement? I think Wehner is being Callous. To say are country hasn’t gotten more immoral since 1993 is laughable. What do you do with scripture telling us about Sodom and Gomora? I really doubt Dobson believes that he sent that kid into the school as a Judgment. I don’t always agree with Dobson but for Wehner to through him under the bus like this is sin and he should apologise to Dobson.

  • JohnM

    To start with – I’m not an apologist for James Dobson, I have my own points of disagreement with him. However:
    1. The bottom line of what he said was “I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.”, which, if I understand him here, is a little different than what some of you seem to be implying he said, at least based on what you chose to quote. Not all divine judgement is necessarily a matter of God actively striking down and laying low, though that has happened (If you think I’m overstepping hold that thought). Sometimes judgement is a matter of God giving people up to the natural consequences of their own choices and actions. My thought, unless and until some one shows me different, is that that sort of divine judgement has been the more common in human history, whether or not that is what is happening in America now.

    2. I don’t know if Dobson is right either. But you’re SURE Dobson is wrong? And I am too? You KNOW , no way God does/has done anything like Dobson said? Wasn’t part ofthe criticism of Dobson that he assumes he knows the mind of God and what most grieves, angers and moves His heart? He doesn’t, but you’re sure you do? For example you know divorce angers/grieves God more than homosexuality? Okay, that’s more than I know. You know that if we’re murdering less this year than last year God isn’t so grieved over the fact of our continued unrepentant violence? I DON’T know that. After all, don’t we see in scripture where God’s judgment sometimes fell after a period during which he gave people/nations time to repent, but they continued to commit the same kinds of actions? Nothing there about year-to-year statistics. How many legally sanctioned abortions are ok?

    No, I don’t know that America is worse than any other country so that we should be singled out as the special object of God’s wrath. When I look at history I don’t know that we’re living in a particularly darker period than ever before either. I do know though, there are consequences to choices. Nations and individuals reap what they sow.

  • http://Jesusliftedup.com Joe Moriarty

    Wow! This certainly applies to what I learned today about “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1) We can be presumptuous in thinking we speak for God because we know His Word, or think we know His Word. The tongue, or in this case, written word, reveals what is contained in the heart. Only the Spirit of God can discern the thoughts and intents of a persons heart, so we are called to love one another (as another writer in this discussion spoke of concerning 1 Corinthians chapter 13)
    We are called to reflect the mercy of God which we have received. As one who has been forgiven much, I am to forgive those who have offended me. The Pharisee, in his religiously self-proclaimed exalted position, was thankful he was not as bad as other men, the publican, abased, cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18: 13, see context)

  • http://intellectualoid.wordpress.com Reader John

    Krista already pointed out that divorce is very much on Dobson’s list.
    But were it not, it still would be simplistic to imply from Jesus’ silence on homosexuality that He didn’t care..
    For whatever reason, there’s a movement to valorize homosexuality, which will greatly affect religious freedom (among other ill effects), while there’s no comparable movement to valorize divorce. You join battle where it’s being fought, and there’s a pretty agressive attack coming from homosexuals and homophiles.

  • Sean C

    The “Wise Men” of religion have tried to explain God since the dawn of man. We only have religion because men (like Dobson and every other priest, pastor, etc) have claimed an understanding of the unseen and unknowable; and they have all made great careers and enjoyed comfortable lifestyles at the expense of ‘tithers’. This is merely another example of a ‘wise man’ claiming to know something about God that is unknowable. I wish they would all just keep their opinions to themselves.

    If I can refer to any verse in the bible, I would site “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”. Since the Just and Unjust includes everyone on the planet, as we are each one of these, the verse can be rephrased “It rains on everyone”. This could be simplified to “It rains”. Yes, It rains. Period. Whether you are just or not. It does not rain on Who you are, but rather Where you are. I am sad to my core that those children in Newtown were in the wrong place at the wrong time when it rained in Newtown. I, a 46-year old man, have literally cried multiple times while watching the coverage.

    So, back to Dobson and the ‘wise man’. Please keep your opinions to yourself. You only think you know what you know. You won’t know anything for sure until you die. In the meantime, be happy that your livelihood is supported by people that have fallen for your claim to have some insight on their God.

  • Mike

    In times like these, the spokesperson for God needs to ask not just “Is this theologically correct?” but also “Is this pastoral?” Mass tragedies are not the time for explanations of theodicy as “judgment of God”, but rather a time to lift up God as a healer of the broken-hearted. There are other times to make these jeremiads.

  • Mimi Lane

    Thank you for your article. I agree with you and I appreciate the way you have articulated your thoughts.

  • Greg Taylor

    I am disappointed in Peter Wehner.

    Looking at what Peter has done and the books he has written, it seems to me that he is so deeply involved in the intersection of religion and politics that he cannot see the forest for the trees. He needs to step back to see the situation from a broader perspective.

    Peter is looking at Christian involvement in politics as being the the way to reform America. I believe that that is the wrong focus for Christians. We are at a standstill in regards to abortion. We are loosing ground in regards to homosexual marriage. It is evident that homosexuals will get what they want regardless of what we do. If we step back from those two issues, how much worse will it get? Not much at all! While we have been battling those issues, millions of unborn babies are being killed and we are creating generations of young people who actually hate Evangelicals. We are alienating the current generation of young people. Our efforts are doing much more harm than good.

    The only way that America can be reformed is by the church to unify in the effort and to collectively implement II Chronicles 7:14. Since the beginning of the Moral Majority, we have been increasingly focusing on politics to reform America. That was viewed as being a shortcut that produced more bang for the buck. No shortcut will work. America must come together and collectively implement II Chronicles 7:14. The first action is to unify. The second one is to humble ourselves and repent of trying to do things our way (via politics alone) and start doing things God’s way (II Chron 7:14).

    Matthew 6:33 says that if we seek His kingdom, then we don’t have to worry about other things; they will take care of themselves. By doing that, we will be refocusing our attention to evangelizing and increasing the kingdom of God instead of politics. That way, the bigger the kingdom of God, the more we would automatically influence politics. By the way; what’s more important: saving a few innocent unborn lives, or winning millions more people to the Lord?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Pete has a pretty sophisticated understanding of the limited role of politics and the great significance of the church. Just because he’s involved in politics, I wouldn’t assume that he takes politics as the end-all, be-all. In fact, one of the final points he makes in this piece is to criticize the baptizing of a basically political impulse in the language of faith.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Dobson and the commenters here miss these important points:

    First, God hates murder, which, by definition, is the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17). However, He has given humanity the responsibility of preventing it (Genesis 9:5-6). The problem is that we have grown so used to murder that, generally, we greet the news with a yawn.

    Second, God is close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34). He grieves at least as much, if not more so, than the parents of the massacred children. He fights on behalf of the vulnerable (such as widows and orphans, who represent the extremes of the category during Biblical days).

    Third, we have become a society that shifts responsibility away from the perpetrators. Just as “progressives” do this when they blame the ostensible lack of gun control, Dobson does the same by blaming abortion and same-sex marriage.

    The NRA didn’t murder those 26 victims. Abortionists didn’t. Advocates of same-sex marriage didn’t. Makers of video games didn’t. Adam Lanza did. He and only he is responsible. The fact that very few people point to that undeniable fact shows just how far our societal judgement has deteriorated.

    Finally, Dobson blasphemes God by using Him as a testimonial to his political and social views. He and his fellow conservatives aren’t the only ones; the “religious left” has done the same for decades. But blasphemy is blasphemy, regardless of its source.

  • bigtexan2

    People may disagree about the cause and effect of judgment on a nation, but no one who reads and understands the Bible can question whether nations are judged for their morality or not. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” So says the Scripture. Just exactly where Sandy Hook fits into the divine strategy for America, it is hard to be specific. Certainly, the God of Scripture takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, much less in the death of the innocent. But sin has its consequences in a nation. What person who understands and believes the Bible can question that the aggregate sin of a nation may reap the judgment of God. Innocents may suffer when a nation turns its back on God. Millions of innocents have suffered the horrible death of abortion in America. Jesus made plain that the offense of little ones merits the judgment of God: “it is better that a milestone be put around their necks and they be cast into the sea.” The innocents are guilty of nothing. It is not God who is responsible for their deaths. Their deaths are the result of evil run rampant in a nation. A society that promotes violence through movies and video games, that approves of the killing of infants in the womb — that society can expect to suffer such things as Sandy Hook. That evil grows as the nation rejects its Christian roots, its moral foundations, and becomes increasingly secular. America may not have a covenant relationship to God as Israel does, but “to whom much is given, much is required.” No nation in history, apart from Israel, has enjoyed greater spiritual light and blessing than America. Sandy Hook is merely a symptom of the reprobation of America. Tragically, we can expect to suffer even more the consequences of our rebellion.

  • bigtexan2
  • Ben C

    One of the major things that has been wrong with the American Chruch for the last 20 years is who our leaders have been. Dobson is the poster child for what I mean. We have had a child psychologist as our chief spokesman and leader. This is what the Chruch has wanted not theology, but psychology. Trying to fix the whole cultures sin with politics instead of a broken heart over our own sin. I know he has retired, but as the bumper sticker puts it so well I wish he would focus on his own @&?!$ family.

  • David Weber

    I do find great hope in the statistical reality that Dobson, et.al., are preaching to a demographically diminishing audience. Younger people are, in greater and greater numbers, rejecting this old way of seeing Jesus through the eyes of fear and its subsets of anger, separation, and self-righteousness. This reality shows up in both church attendance and in the results of the last presidential election. I (a pastor) would much rather have young people leaving churches that understand Jesus only in the projections they make of themselves, than remaining in them as members full of answers that need defending by whatever means possible. Outside such churches, they will have a much greater opportunity to discover the Christ alive in the world, and still making all things new. Behold!

  • John

    May I humbly add my amen to this article? I often wonder what our insatiable desire to acquire political power is going to mean to evangelicalism in the years to come (after all, political power is ultimately what we’re after that we might justify ourselves before men). We are destroying our testimony, and maybe that’s just what needs to happen. Perhaps then when all that is left is the grace of the gospel for we wretched people, the Lord will work through us again to draw men to himself.

  • Keith

    Whenever I hear influential conservatives relate a specific calamity to God’s judgment, I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 13: And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
    The problem with these statements is that they’re limited to certain times and places and certain sins, and nationalized. Terrible things happen in the world because of sin, and that started with Adam and Eve. Things haven’t been getting worse here or anywhere else recently; the world reached rock bottom at the Fall. The whole world is lost, always has been, we’re all equally guilty, and only repentance and faith in the Savior saves us from judgment.

  • http://www.biblebaptistelmont.org James Barker

    Peter Wehner sounds like one of the false prophets of Judah. The prophet Jeremiah repeatedly warned the people of God’s judgment, but the false prophets kept contradicting him. “Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart” (Jer. 14:13, 14).

  • wood deming

    We can interpret the Bible differently but the words never change . We can pray for better understanding ; pray for more faith : pray for strenght to walk in Christ and seek out more understanding from great teachers . But it is disappointing to see the anger , lack of understanding and lack of knowledge of the scriptures on relatively basic topics . And look at all the tangents discussed .
    Let us take a timeout and individually study the concepts of free will , evil , afflictions and what has happened in history to secular cultures . Looks like we all need training in apologetics and much prayer about these subjects . And all of us pray for the victims and families , as well as those involved in other such tragedies , on a daily basis . Dr. Dobson is not the problem .

  • Scott Nicol

    Dr Dobson is referring to the Almighty allowing difficulty and tragedy to come in to our lives either to keep us from continuing in sin or to use the event to take pur faith to a deeper level. I know first hand the pain of losing a child unexpectidly before Christmas. It is gut wrenching. Yes you question God! Yes you soul search! After a long journey of crying out to God and refection.. God reveals Himself in the stillness of a moment in a deeper more intimate way. Yes God could have prevented my daughters death but He ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN. Our residence is not here but we are mere travellers in a foreign land. Ours is the Kingdom of God and whether we enter at age 90 or age 6 that is the only true reality!

    Yes God could have prevented Sandyhook… He could have put obstacles in the young mans path… But He did not.. He allowed it to happen.. Pause and wait for the stillness to hear His voice and direction. Our thoughts are not His nor are our ways thw same as Gods.

  • http://mrhackman.blogspot.com Andrew

    It is wild listening to some of you folks defend Dobson. It is like in the horror movies where the nice couple makes a wrong turn onto a dark road… only to wind up in a town that is noticeably -off- and gets more frightening with every passing moment. You people are pure “Children of the Corn” material. :)

  • Angel

    I seriously doubt Dobson, noted child psychologist, and known for his love for children, was saying someones precious baby deserved to die. To say so is a stretch at it’s best and a lie at it’s worst. True love when acted upon appropriately has the potential to heal the issues of the heart that formed the makeup of the people around the killers and the killers themselves. Potential, not certainty. But reject God, and you reject perfect love in favor of loving only what you want to, when you want to, and not loving what He loves, which always takes into consideration the highest and best purposes for each of us. Not self, but selfless.

  • Joe Johnson

    I have found myself unable to watch some of the new stories regarding Sandy Hook. The grief I feel when I do watch is immense. What an unbelievably heart-wrenching tragedy. I also then am disappointed in myself that I do not feel the same level of grief as every day thousands of little ones have their lives snuffed out before they depart the womb and in many cases, as they are part way out of the womb.

  • Chris

    Regardless of what you do or don’t believe. It is not the time or place to be telling grieving parents that their 7 and 8 year old children’s death are their own fault. That is an unloving, callous thing to do for someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, who taught that the most important thing to do is to love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40) What about men like Job who was blameless before the Lord and suffered every pain imaginable? Or St. Paul who was beheaded? Or St. Peter who was crucified upside down? Was their suffering the result of turning their backs on God? That is not what Scripture teaches. To blame the death of so many children on that would be foolish as well as unloving coming from people who have been shown much grace. Lets try to comfort and love these families as Christ would instead of pointing fingers shall we

  • David Pettit

    I have had a hard time with this article. I understand where Mr. Wehner is going with his commentary. The last thing people want to hear after something like this is that God is punishing us when, instead, we need God’s healing touch. My problem with the article is that the first two thirds are irrelevant and kind of ugly.

    It’s ridiculous to say that people who preach the word are far more likely to suffer than sinners. Everyone suffers when something like this happens. Have people suffered for their love of God? Are some of them suffering now and will others suffer in the future? Absolutely! But what will happen when the Lord returns? Believers will be called home and the rest will be left behind to suffer. Suffering is not exclusive to believers. Evil affects us all, and when we as a country say to God that we can handle this on our own, we will have moments where evil has its way with us. Then we want to angrily shake our fists at the heavens and blame God. Choices have consequences and as a country, we’ve chosen to do it on our own and we’ve opened our arms and embraced evil. When God has been brushed aside so that we can do it ourselves, good people will suffer too.

    At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, do you really believe the numbers on violent crime that are released by a government agency? Do they even define violent crime the same way they did 20 years ago? You know that they redefine things in order to skew information to their favor, right? Let’s simplify this: If you have children ask yourself one question, do you let your children have the same amount of freedom to go play when and where they want as you had when you were their age? I’m guessing the answer is no. If so then you know that our society is more violent and evil than it was even 20 years ago.

    Am I mistaken, or did you just quantify killing babies? Are you saying that we shouldn’t be as at risk of God’s judgement because there are fewer babies being aborted? So how many babies is it okay to murder before we deserve judgement? I mean, there were just 20 children murdered in an elementary school and I’m pretty sure had the killer not taken his own life that the majority of Americans would have been calling for the ultimate punishment to be brought upon him. But since we’re doing this on our own, it’s okay if we deal out the judgement and punishment as long as it’s on own terms. One abortion is too many and as long as the majority of America says it’s okay to kill unborn children we are still telling God that we can do this on own and we don’t need his help and leaving ourselves open to the evils of this world. Oh and as far as I’m concerned, abortion is murder and murder is still considered a violent crime. Just saying.

    Which one is worse, divorce or same sex marriage? According to you, divorce is a bigger sin because Jesus talked about it in the Bible. That argument is irrelevant. I don’t think I recall the reason Sodom was destroyed by God was because the divorce rate was over 50%. Sin is sin and America is steeped in it. Let’s not start comparing them.

    Mr. Wehner, I understand where you are coming from in the rest of your article. As a country, we are turning our backs on God. Is it possible that horrible things are happening to our society and our economy because of that fact? Yes it is. Is that what we need our spiritual leaders broadcasting to the public even before the victims have been laid to rest? No. These are the times when we need the healing of God’s love and strength that can only be found when we run to his arms. Was Mr. Dobson completely wrong about what he said? No. Was he completely right? Probably not. Was his timing really bad? Yes , I think it was. I don’t doubt either yours or Mr. Dobson’s love and passion for the Lord. But just like Mr. Dobson’s timing was bad, so were your arguments. I think you both let your passion get the best of you.

  • Tom Wiley

    Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” – Joshua 24:19

    Why do we blame Dr. Dobson and others for stating the obvious? We are just shooting the messenger. Can we expect anything other than judgement for our sins?

    “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” – Galations 6:8

    • Tami Miller

      Thank you, Tom, for these excellent thoughts and especially pointing out Gal. 6:8. I truly believe this is what Dr. Dobson was saying in his broadcast – we have reaped what we have sewn. We cannot continue to expect that life in America will continue to be a bowl of cherries as it seems to be for so many people who are naive enough to think that our free life here will continue on just as it has for 200+ years.

  • scotty perey

    First off, my intention here is not to attack or challenge anyone’s faith. I would only like to point out that, for all of his Bible quoting — which anyone can do, to justify most anything if they are cunning enough — Dobson has served in a crucially useful role (a requisite one, really) in promoting an agenda that is far more POLITICAL than it is spiritual or godly.

    James Dobson is the poster child for the “religious” right movement that began in the late 70s and found its firm foothold in American politics on the advent of Reagan’s election. It was the beginning of the end in so many ways, and we are still recovering from the fallout. The movement, for all it’s platitudes and constant references to Jesus and morality, was actually espousing the exact opposite of what Christ represents… it served an entrenchment of the domination by a few, both internationally and domestically, and all for the purposes of making exorbitant amounts of money, ultimately. And sadly, it worked. (and note the report that just came out with the data on the rise of hunger and homeless and hunger in the U.S…. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/21/hunger-and-homelessness-rise-dramatically-in-the-u-s-study/ Make no mistake, this continuing trend is not casually but directly related to the policies that were ramrodded by these same players)

    I don’t cast Dobson in this position flippantly or rhetorically or metaphorically… he was a KEY player in this, quite the point guard for what was a very calculated an concerted effort, and an extremely well-organized effort at that. I do not doubt this… my only question concerns the degree to which he was cognizant and complicit in all of this, or simply just a self-aggrandized dupe.

    Dobson and his ilk are featured in the EXCELLENT (though a little disturbing) BBC series called “The Power of Nightmares” referenced in the link below. I fully expect many here to write me off as a “liberal” (although that’s not really very accurate) for what I am writing, but even if just one person’s interest was piqued enough to investigate this documentary, then my time and energy will have been well spent. The show offers a very provocative thesis that describes the development of the “neo-conservative” movement, a philosophically/intellectually atheist political cabal that pulled the strings behind the scenes of what too many people took as a sincere effort to make America a “Christian” nation. It is quite a profound narrative, especially when you regard how incredibly the neo-cons paralleled what was also developing concurrently and in tandem with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism (and it’s no small coincidence, when you consider the extent to which the CIA was instrumental in forming Al Qaeda!). The story is actually quite remarkable… right down to the fact that the two ostensibly “opposing” camps were actually and coincidentally born not that far from each other: the neo-cons at the University of Chicago and the modern militant Islamic fundamentalism in Greeley Colorado, of all unexpected places!

    The moral of the story, is that the way to control people is through fear. Before our generation, it was the “Reds”… then once that was “taken care of” we had the “Drug War.” Now it’s “Terrorism”… Our “leaders” are so in constant need of a boogeyman to scare us with, to justify the erosion of our liberties, as well as the wars that are still making HUGE profits for the same folks trying to scare us.

    And James Dobson was a major contributor to all of this. He played a very important key role, because without the support of a nation of very well-meaning Christians, their agenda would not have been accomplished. And I am very hard-pressed to think of any single thing that has made me more sad and sometimes even depressed so consistently throughout my adult life. So my hat’s off to Mr. Peter Wehner. His essay fills me with hope that people will not allow the wool to be pulled over their eyes like this again by people like Dobson.

    Thank you for listening, and perhaps even considering what I have offered, and may Christ guide us all in these very demanding and complicated times!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDUJwKgXu5Q

  • http://Patheos bill Lummus

    I agree with the writer of this article. It seems that the Evangelical voice of this nation has weakened because we have used selective interpretation and aloud ours selves to become proud and power-hungry because we misunderstood our strong personal feelings were the Holy Spirit(Boy, could I quote some Scripture on this, but most of the readers know them from memory)….If the Sandy Hook Tragedy was really Gods judgement(albeit random Judgement), we will have to re-explain the NT Scripture about God’s Judgement begining with the “House Hold of Faith”…Not a random elementary school…

  • Josh Lyman

    I am always puzzled as to why the god worshipped by Dobson et al, are so obsessed with America. If not having school prayer, legalising gay marriage, and the like were so upsetting to him, why is he not smiting the hell out of Canada, The UK, New Zealand… ?

  • Brian

    While I understand the evolutionary basis of a moral resistance to abortion (preserve the mothers and the infants and obviously everything in between), any bible based resistance is a bit silly. The number of different times that old Testament God kills children and orders children killed is astounding, then he threatens to rip babies from mother’s wombs and elsewhere to bring starvation so mothers will fight with their husbands over who eats the baby. Did any Christians ever read the bible? Pro-life may be a moral stance–but unless the bible is guilty of outrageous contradictions, God has no particular respect for born babies so why special consideration for the unborn?

    On the James Dobson point–his statements represent what he knows will spark free publicity and donations. There will always be such men, saying such things, while there is such desire for a made-up hate-and-anger driven God. Christians really don’t trust God to get it right at final judgment so they want judgment and condemnation now, while they have some influence. Watch Dr. Dobson by the way and he’ll soon be talking about how God is blessing–strange flip-flopping.

  • Joe

    I’m fed up with Christian speakers pointing at every catastrophe that occurs and implying the “wrath” of God has fallen upon the nation for their disobedience and sin. When in history ever is there a time when these kinds of events are not taking place? There are always wars and famines and murders and so on, and so on. There has never, ever been a time when this stuff doesn’t take place every second of every day in history. If God was handing down earthly punishment for these things relative to what mankind has been doing then man would have been wiped out centuries ago. The flood was the closest God came to this but he chose a different method of dealing with sin. America and every other country are just countries. God doesn’t care about man made political borders! There is no more sin today than there was a generation ago, or two generations ago or ten generations ago, etc.

  • Rain

    “But surely Dobson knows that Jesus mentions divorce more often than he mentions homosexuality (which Paul addresses but Jesus does not). ”

    Jesus cures diseases by casting out demons more often than he mentions divorce. Jesus says zero about doctors as far as I know. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Justin Brown

    I appreciate this blog post. But I do want to warn everyone that ALL sin will be punished by God one day. We cannot take this blog to an illogical conclusion and say God doesn’t punish sin anymore. He does. But like he said we cannot necessarily attribute this awful tragedy to God’s wrath. His theology demands retribution but so does the Bible. Jesus spoke a lot about judgment. With that said, the only hope for our world is the gospel.

  • Nancy Smith

    Excellent essay. Excellent point about Dobson seeing faith through a political lens. But the political lens is closely focused on our cherished faith, too, of course. I read quite a few left-wing newspaper comments, tweets, etc. I see how much the atheists have come to hate us. Comments such as Dobson’s are seized upon and paraded as proof of “hateful Christians.” As you say, “grace, discernment, and perspective” are what is needed in those who lay claim to the cameras.

  • N.T.

    A minor note: The Guttmacher Institute, originally a branch, and later an affiliate, of Planned Parenthood, has a vested interest in politicizing its data. They received funding from Planned Parenthood until 2010, according to their own records. When they start publishing data collected after 2010, you might be able to trust them… or you might not. They’re the only ones doing this research, and their data depend on abortion providers properly reporting every procedure, so it’s hard to fact-check them.

    Also, for some reason, all of the links in Mr. Wehner’s article are “mailto” links, which is rather annoying when trying to open them.

    As for Dr. Dobson’s comments, they are insensitive at best and destructive at worst.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Yeah, the Guttmacher Institute is notoriously politicized. On the simple numbers of abortions, however, I think they’re on pretty solid ground. Thanks for the note about the links.

  • Tami Miller

    Honestly, Mr. Wehner, when I read what I wrote my first thought “is this a joke?” According to what you write I gather that you think America IS a godly nation and we have NOT turned our backs on God. How can you possibly think this? We are NOT a godly nation and we HAVE turned our backs on God and this grieves the heart of God.

    You are accusing Dr. Dobson of knowing what grieves, angers, and moves the heart of God. Mr. Wehner, as believers in Christ and his Word we do know what grieves, angers, and moves the heart of God. Just look at John 11:35 – “Jesus wept” at the death of Lazurus and what about Jesus’ anger in the temple at the “sinners” – the money changers, the gamblers, etc, etc, etc. – Jesus was angered at sin. Look at God’s anger toward the Israelites in the Old Testament. It is not about knowing the mind of God, but rather about knowing his heart.

    While I do believe that Dr. Dobson could have shown a little more compassion to the dear people of Newtown in his broadcasts immediately following this tragedy, what he did say was NOT wrong. Dr. Dobson never once said that these people deserved this or that America deserved this, but rather I understood him to have said we are reaping what we have sewn. (as a comment above shows in Galations 6:8) How can we not expect senseless tragedies like this to occur when we have a 50% divorce rate in the US or when our children don’t know who their real mommies and daddies are or when we legalize no fault divorce and homosexual marriage? Yes, God will send his judgment and his blessings and yes God sends his rain on the good and the bad. We all deserve God’s judgment – none of us deserve anything good that we have, but by the grace of God do any of us have even our very lives. We hardly even know the wrath of God yet nor can we even imagine it, but it will come on those that have turned their backs on him and it will come in the form of death and decay. You are VERY mistaken in your critique of Dr. Dobson. He is not a man who is callous, but a man who loves and cares deeply.


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