A more critical reaction to Dr. Benjamin Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast

February 11, 2013

Dr. Carson is the head of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, one of America’s foremost hospitals and medical schools. Despite the worshipful headlines, he is not running for President. That is not his vocation and I am sure that Carson would agree that he is poorly suited for that position. He seems like a nice man and one senses in the speech that he genuinely tries to be fair-minded.  These comments are intended to be taken in a similar spirit of generosity.

It would be better for the Doctor to lose the chip-on-the-shoulder persecution complex that is so typical for Evangelicals. It is a remarkable that a man subjected to such intense opposition should subject himself to four speeches in a week. That is exactly what he said. Four speeches in one week and you have to wonder if it might be possible that he was compensated for these acts of public mortification. Nothing like good old fashioned cash to ease the acute suffering of rejection.

This persecution thing is important because it is very unattractive and becomes a hindrance to our witness for the gospel.Did he have to play the Merry Christmas card? I don’t know anybody who is afraid to wish another person a Merry Christmas. Anybody who wants to see real religious persecution should visit China. I agree that we should all be more considerate of differing opinions and I can not wait for that idea to start catching on with the people who seem to take such strong exception to some of my opinions. As one coming from an old Mobile family (from before the unpleasantness!), it is possible to note a very fine line between political correctness and good manners. My parents taught me to be kind and gracious with others. (Yes, I know. Put it in the footnotes.) Carson thinks political correctness is a horrible thing. I agree and I also oppose malaria, traffic jams, and water bugs.

Evangelicals are presently in a peculiar position. Having cried wolf for decades every time somebody gets their feelings hurt, the real wolf shows up in town and we are hard pressed to get anybody’s attention. We are so unfamiliar with the fundamental teachings of scripture that it is impossible to give a coherent answer as to why same-gender “marriage” might be a problem for society and a conflict with God’s intention. Carson’s presentation may be persuasive to those who are already convinced, but there is an entire nation that still needs to hear about the good news. When Benjamin Carson talks about the Christian religion, people listen. It is no disservice if somebody suggests some ways that he could improve.

Coming directly to the point, Carson politicized the gospel. In the strictly political discussion, it is a serious over-simplification to equate a family budget to the national budget. Gosh, anybody ought to be able to figure out the difference. For Carson, if the family has a problem, it is the children who must make up the difference. Somehow, Dr. Carson promotes a flat tax based on a biblical understanding that is, at minimum, incomplete. The Old Testament tithe supported the temple and the priests. Old Testament Israel did not have a standing army and was not a world power. If it were, Old Testament Israel would have depended on the King and Head of State, the Lord God. And he brought up so-called “death panels.” Where did that come from? Does Dr. Carson think this properly represents Jesus Christ?

I laugh at the lighthouse joke every time I hear it. Carson is a wonderful speaker and a fine Christian. He is right about learning and the state of education. Dr.  Carson has an entertaining way of telling his story. What a wonderful thing it is to recount all the hardships of life, and never play the victim card! (Being a victim is never acceptable, is it?)

Two final thoughts come to mind. First, the President should avoid all future National Prayer Breakfasts. How much self-congratulation can one group of people stand anyway? Second, Evangelical Christians need to do much better if we are to reach pagan America with the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

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4 Responses to “A more critical reaction to Dr. Benjamin Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast”

  1. James Says:

    Perhaps your opinion would make sense if the National Prayer Breakfast was a religious event. It is actually hosted by Congress, and organized by a Christian organization on their behalf. It was originally called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast and it is clearly a political and social event, not a Christian mission. I have yet to find any mission statement for the National Prayer Breakfast that says anything at all about prayer or religion, so I am not impressed with the notion that its purpose is to spread Christianity to pagans. I also see nothing about the particulars of the NPB that would indicate it was ever done for Jesus or the gospel. All the information I have seen regarding the event clearly makes it a political event. By the way, in the Federal budget, it is still the children who have to make up the difference – as soon as they become taxpayers. The fact that the government spends more than it receives in revenue is pretty simple, and I didn’t hear Dr. Carson over-simplify anything. I would argue that it is politicians who over-complicate things.

  2. Candace Powers Says:

    One, he is not an evangelical Christian he is in fact a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian. No one seems to want to bring that out. Angus T. Jones joins the same faith and everyone said he has joined a “cult”. Dr.Ben Carson gives a speech and not one negative word said against his faith. Praise God. What I wonder is, what is the difference? Same faith two different people.

    • patlynch Says:

      Seventh Day Adventists hold the correct doctrines concerning the Trinity, Jesus, and Scripture. They practice the Christian faith, even if they reject the Sunday sabbath and eating meat. Adventists seem to be Evangelical so far as I can tell. I have never heard that anybody was being held against their will by this denomination, so they hardly seem to be a cult.


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