Monday, January 26, 2009

A Mentor Stirs Up Controversy

When I was a student at Liberty University I was deeply influenced by two men who I consider heroes of the faith. The one you are familiar with, Dr Jerry Falwell. If you know me you know my great admiration for Dr Falwell and the ministry he had in my life. But the other man you may not be as familiar with. His name is Dr. Ed Dobson.

Dr Dobson was the Vice President of Student Affairs at Liberty. Without question, Dr. Dobson is the very best preacher I have ever heard in all my life. Even after Dr Dobson left Liberty to pastor Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I continued to eagerly listen to his messages from Sunday each and every week on the internet. To this day, I still try to emulate Dr. Dobson in my preaching. As students at Liberty, my wife would baby-sit for the Dobson’s and so I had the privilege of being in his home and even eating around his table. My roommate and I even painted the outside of the log cabin style home they lived in.

Dr Dobson was one of the men who helped Dr Falwell begin the Moral Majority that became such a huge political force in the 1980’s. He later pastored in Michigan but ultimately resigned from his effective ministry at the church he pastored in Grand Rapids after being diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He is currently a volunteer Vice President at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Recently, Dr Dobson stirred up some controversy as he spent a full year trying to live exactly like Jesus. He decided to do this after reading AJ Jacobs book, “The Year of Living Biblically” (a book I have also read and enjoyed). This resulted in Dr Dobson spending a year following the Old Testament laws about eating, clothing and behavior. USA Today wrote that he “observed kosher dietary requirements to not mix meat and dairy products and gave up his beloved chicken-and-cheese burritos.”

USA Today went on to say that, “Dobson celebrated Jewish Holidays such as Yom Kippur and Passover and often prayed at a synagogue. He refrained from work and travel as much as possible on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, but made an exception to watch his grandchildren play soccer.” Due to the Old Testament command not to trim beards, he let his grow long and shaggy as seen in the above picture.

But the controversy came when Dr Dobson admitted to two things. Before I share them let me state that I am not condemning or condoning either step that Dr Dobson decided to take. I’m just sharing what he did. First, he allowed himself to have an occasional alcoholic drink. USA Today quotes Dr Dobson as saying, “If I’m at a party with a bunch of people who don’t know the Lord and they offer me a beer, I’ll take it. People at bars are wide open to talk about anything, including God.” But the greatest controversy came when this once co-architect of the Moral Majority admitted to voting for Barak Obama for president because he believed he was the candidate that best represented the teachings of Jesus (again, I’m not endorsing anything…just sharing something I found very interesting). Tomorrow I will post Dr Dobson’s response to this controversy as posted on the Cornerstone University website.


Mary Barr said...

I recognized the man sitting behind Dr. Ed Dobson, but couldn't quite remember who he was. Now I know. It's Dr. Joe Stowell (sp?). I remember him from his Moody Bible Institute days. He is also a great communicator.

I read Dr. Dobson's (Ed, not James - ha!)response to all of this. This should cause a bit of "traffic" on your blog tomorrow and even more comments. Very interesting. Thanks for "stirring the pot" a bit.

Pastor Scott said...

You're right, Mary. Dr Stowell is also a very good communicator. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

Broncosfan said...

This is certainly interesting. I would imagine that following the dietary restrictions of the O.T. and eating only the food's the bible calls "good" would have many health benefits. This also would include wine which the bible calls a "good gift" in many places. I'm wondering if Ed will ever put this year long journey into book form?

Anonymous said...

I read Dr Dobson's response as well.
I get the feeling that he thinks social programs wil solve all of the worlds problems. From history we have plenty of examples of how the opposite is true.
I see the Church as a whole in America heading toward this belief and it is disturbing. Not just for what socializm does to economys but for what the socialist do once they get enough power to tell the pastor what to preach.
I think there is also a chance he is loosing his mind because of his illness(not kidding.) We need to pray for him.

Pastor Scott said...

Broncos fan - yes, Dr Dobson is working on putting what he has learned through this adventure into book form. I look forward to reading it when he is done.

Anonymous - I understand all your points but frankly I reject your final point that thre is a chance that he is losing his mind becuase of his illness. I'm not sure how well you know Dr Dobson but I do not beleive that this was anything but genuine.