I have now spilled much ink contending for the proposition that religion and politics must mix, using the Jaffe memo as my leaping off point. On the face of it, such a proposition would fly in the face of the notion of a ‘separation between church and state.’ However, it is important to note that …
if one applies a higher standard of inquiry against claims that they might deem extraordinary, then claims they find to be ordinary will ordinarily be accepted- without demonstration at all. Here again we see skepticism turned on its head: the skeptic is not skeptical about the things he is prepared already to believe. It is only the things he deems unlikely that he is skeptical about- God alone knows how the skeptic determined something was ‘unlikely.’
It is a fact of human nature, I think, to quickly accept things that one is already prepared to accept. If I am told tomorrow that some Democrat in high office has failed to pay his taxes- again- I will pretty much accept it as a fact because I have become accustomed to Democrats doing such things (eg here, here, here, and here). We should expect nothing less from the people who believe that we should all pay higher taxes; by ‘we all’ it is known they mean us all. I am prepared to believe it as a pretty ordinary claim in the realm of things and therefore will demand very little evidence to support it. So you see, I am not exempting myself from this human tendency.
This ministry hosts a regular online round table discussing matters of substance and controversy. Christians and NonChristians are invited but it is not necessarily an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ debate. Past topics have included matters of controversy only amongst Christians and due to the flexibility of the discussion, topics can change on a dime. UPDATE: With …
ACM is happy to announce that it has released Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians and that this work is available to purchase from outlets such as Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The edition contains an index to help readers track down concepts and terms that Luther may have referenced. ISBN 9781936830008
If you were looking for a thread that ties all five of these challenges together, it is this: the general view, even among Christians, that there is no objective reality to the areas under dispute. That is, we are all arguing about our own opinions, nothing more. It’s like sitting around having an argument about one’s favorite flavor of ice cream. As such an argument is roundly seen as absurd (and I would agree). Thus- even within the Church- the highest transgression is presenting your favorite ice cream flavor as the absolute best. Now this, paradoxically, I have said is something that apologetics can treat (after saying in 3 parts that it can’t. 😉 ), but read carefully on how precisely.
This is attitude that everything is just subjective is manifested most clearly and dramatically in regards to the marriage and the family. To help understand why, let me provide some anecdotal illustrations.
For example, no doubt many of my readers will be aware of the argument against those who oppose gay marriage that if these people really cherished marriage, they wouldn’t themselves support divorce or have the same level of divorces as those outside that community. I am not here highlighting the apparent hypocrisy involved. I’m talking about something else. Another illustration will perhaps help: “Why won’t God heal Amputees?” You see the argument now: if there is a God, surely he would want to heal people, including amputees. The same reasoning undergirds the absurd but common perception among atheists that a praying people will be healthier, or that in an experiment where one group is prayed for but the other group that isn’t, the group prayed for should show better health. (C. S. Lewis exposed this type of experiment as deeply flawed- who in good conscience, if they cared for the sick people would abstain from praying for one group just to prove a point?!?!?)
When I was a high school religion teacher I ran into a bit of trouble because, for the final exam, I expected the students to be able to recall facts from the Bible that we had covered that semester. Yes, I know. If it had been chemistry class, recalling chemistry facts covered in the semester would have been an obvious thing to have on the exam. I think the reason there was resistance to requiring that students know biblical facts is because a lot of people- even parents of kids in Christian schools- don’t actually think the Bible is true. To them, ‘religion class’ is absurd; the only thing one needs to know is that God loves you and accepts you for who you are.
That is essentially ‘Sunday School’ religion, and basically why so many people today are falling away from the faith. After all, it isn’t like its true or anything, right?
So, my title is meant to poke atheists (and get some web traffic 😉 ) but what follows can be useful to anyone, Christians included, who wish to actually understand the Bible. Unfortunately, many people don’t. This is largely because they don’t grasp the over-aching framework of the Scriptures. This is then coupled with the fact that what they do know consists largely of Sunday School versions of popular Bible stories at best or Disney re-tellings of those stories at worst. However, even people who buckle down to read the Bible straight through will likely fail to understand it if they don’t keep some important principles in mind. So, note: if you are an atheist whose knowledge of the Bible stems from nothing more than Sunday School from 1st grade to 8th grade… pay attention.
A friend posted a pretty interesting essay today on family values I submit for your reading. I liked it and don’t have much objection to it. After detailing the prominence and priority of ‘family values’ at communicating Life he makes this statement: Luther summed it up succinctly: love and serve God; it falls to the …
It all boils down to the same kind of thinking: those who labor in spiritual fields are merely charity cases who should be happy with whatever they get, even if they be scraps. Your local United Way offers you no service or benefit. That’s a charity. Your ‘spiritual worker’ is by your side through thick or thin and has taken the time to educate himself so he can be there in a meaningful way. That’s a benefit you receive, a service rendered to you. You have an obligation to render to the worker his wage.
There is much more to be said on the issue and certainly there are a lot of generous people out there. However, I wonder how the dynamic would change if many of those generous people, instead of thinking that the organization was obligated to them, because they were generous with them, understood that they were obligated to the organization. I just wonder.
The next time you hear that your church or favorite ministry needs a new printer don’t eye your old piece of crap. Go buy them a ‘first fruit’ printer. 😉 You know, one that works. And tells them that you value what they’re doing for far less than they rightly deserve.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)
How many times have you heard someone complain that their congregation talks about money way too much? You may have said the same. Your complaint may very well be valid, and yet the congregation’s need is probably genuine. Probably, in most churches, the leadership would much rather not lodge any requests at all. Ideally, people would be ‘Gospel motivated.’ When it becomes difficult- or impossible- to meet the payroll or pay building expenses, the leadership has to bite the bullet and issue the plea(s).
What is really going on is a lack of familiarity with what the Scriptures say about money and a lack of courage or foresight within the leadership to teach about money. Actually, a lot of it is that some folks don’t even care what the Scriptures say on the issue. Their views on money, like so many other views, are born of one’s own ‘natural reasoning.’ This post is not about them. This post is about folks who do care. Let me share some of my experiences leading a ministry that relies a great deal on donations. But first, let me state plainly what I hope this post will accomplish:
The reader will open up their Bibles for themselves and study what it has to say about money (time, talent, and treasure) from beginning to end.
I am very pleased to announce that our first edition of Athanatos Christian Ministry’s newest endeavor, Literary Apologetics.Mag, has been released as of yesterday, Nov. 1st, 2010.
The website is: http://literaryapologetics.com/
The basic purpose of the magazine is to deliberately and intentionally cultivate a perspective within the Church that acknowledges the important role of the arts in our culture in shaping viewpoints and- and this is important- seeks to participate and emphasize the arts (rather than withdrawing from them, or condemning them).
You can read the current edition online by going to the link above or you can download the magazine in several editions, including a digital book version (epub) and in a print ready pdf, by going here.
The title of this post does not do the matter justice. The word ‘abuse’ is too mild, and it might be even more accurate to say that in actual fact the sweeping trend within Christendom is that there is outright plain ignorance on what these terms mean. The charge only matters at all to those …
I was raised hearing that slogan, “Whatever a man can do, a woman can do better.”
You know, I think I actually believe this. At least, at the level of the individual I think that somewhere out there is some woman who can do whatever specific task usually considered as something a man does better.
An age old question that most people trace back to Jurassic Park is, “Just because you can do something, does it follow that you should do it.” In actuality, we can trace this sentiment back further, to the Apostle Paul, who said: “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.”
Even if we conceded that women can match and even out-perform men it doesn’t follow that they should.
I don’t know where I heard it now, but one of the most compelling arguments that I have heard for why women should not be pastors comes from simple human nature: if a man knows that someone else will do something, he’ll let them do it; if a woman knows that if she doesn’t do it, no one will, she’ll do it. The net effect is that over time, women will take on any and all tasks and men will let them do it. This will start a reinforcing cycle, where men keep dropping off and women keep pitching in, until at last men will leave it all to the ladies.
I just read a very fine blog entry from a person detailing 8 things he hates about Christianity. I thought I would follow suit.
#1-#8. The Church is systemically unloving.
If all of the law is summed up in two commands- Love God and love your neighbor- I don’t see why all the things we may hate about Christianity cannot, and should not, be reduced to their inverse.