Sticks and stones don't break my bones but names do always hurt me...

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I felt the death of Joe Sobran keenly a few years ago. Three of us took a road trip out to D.C. for Joe's wake. We were grateful to meet some whose names we had heard through the years, but the occasion for the trip was sad and remains so to this day. Who is there to teach us a Christian view of culture and politics today? Certainly no one even close to Joe and the best of those with claims to fill in the gap Joe's death left among us are Roman Catholics. I've long recommended a rule of thumb that a man would do well to make the pilgrimage to Rome for instruction in culture, economics, politics, and moral theology, but for his doctrine and salvation he must live in Geneva.

Anyhow, in celebration of the...

sixty-ninth anniversary of Joe's birth, Fran Griffin e-mailed a copy of part one of Joe's essay, "For Fear of the Jews." Here's a taste:

Not long ago the only label more lethal to one’s reputation was that of child molester, but, as many men of the cloth are now discovering, there is this difference: a child molester may hope for a second chance.

There is also another difference. We have a pretty clear idea what child molestation is. Nobody really knows what “anti-Semitism” is. My old boss Bill Buckley wrote an entire book called In Search of Anti-Semitism without bothering to define anti-Semitism. At the time I thought this was an oversight. I was wrong. The word would lose its utility if it were defined.

As I observed in my own small contribution to the book, an “anti-Semite” used to mean a man who hated Jews. Now it means a man who is hated by Jews.

Preaching the Word of God requires that a pastor be fearless in his pursuit of truth. No man can fear both God and man and no man who fears man can ever preach the fear of God. Dad was public and unflinching in his opposition to the simony so pervasive across the Evangelical church and David and I thank God we were able to grow up and live our lives as fathers and pastors with his example before us. Joe Sobran simply added to the superstructure Dad had built within us.

If we are to be faithful preachers and shepherds, we must not allow fear of being called an "anti-Semite," a "homophobe," a "racist," a "sexist," or a "hater" to gag our preaching and pastoral care. Reading men like Joe Sobran will strengthen us for our work.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!