Saturday, March 23, 2013
The following is from Adolph Saphir:
Remember that man's life does not consist in what he has, but in what he is. Serve Jesus and the church. Oh, let not the best years of your life be years in which you have little communion with God, and in which you do little for Christ! 'Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.' Let not your biography be summed up: 'He turned to God in his youth, he then became lukewarm, being engrossed in the cares and the business and the social demands of the world, and a short time before his death he saw his mistake, and felt that one thing was needful. For years his spiritual life was barely sustained by the prayers of friends and the weekly services of the sanctuary. He might have been a pillar in the church, but he was only a weight.' This be far from you. Oh, serve the Lord with gladness, be strong, quit yourselves like men, and abound in the work of the Lord. ‘Draw nigh to God.'
HT: Malcolm Maclean.
Friday, March 22, 2013
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (Jn 6:66-68).
If Calvinism is true, salvation is a condition, not a relationship. A relationship requires free consent.
Kurt Wise reviews Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History by Stephen Jay Gould. It's an old review (1997) but more or less still relevant today.
As for Gould's book, much of it is known to be incorrect (cf. Simon Conway Morris' The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals). But insofar as I understand it his main ideas are still alive and well.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
So Rex was sent to Farm Street to Father Mowbray, a priest renowned for his triumphs with obdurate catechumens. After the third interview he came to tea with Lady Marchmain.“Well, how do you find my future son-in-law?”“He’s the most difficult convert I have ever met.”“Oh dear, I thought he was going to make it so easy.”“That’s exactly it. I can’t get anywhere near him. He doesn’t seem to have the least intellectual curiosity or natural piety. Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’”“Julia,” said Lady Marchmain, when the priest had gone, “are you sure that Rex isn’t doing this thing purely with the idea of pleasing us?”“I don’t think it enters his head,” said Julia.“He’s really sincere in his conversion?”Next week the Jesuit came to tea again. It was the Easter holidays and Cordelia was there, too.“Lady Marchmain,” he said. “You should have chosen one of the younger fathers for this task. I shall be dead long before Rex is a Catholic.”“Oh dear, I thought it was going so well.”“It was, in a sense. He was exceptionally docile, and he accepted everything I told him, remembered bits of it, asked no questions.”
I have seen too many people who walk away from the faith due to their trust in some non-essential issue coming unglued.Ironically, this is exactly what happens to many who study the Bible. Charles Darwin tells about how his faith was initially dislodged due to discrepancies in the Scriptures. Bart Ehrman goes in the same direction.
There was nothing that obligated God to this form of revelation (or any form at all!). Christ could have come and lived a perfect life, gained representation, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and never had it recorded in the Scriptures. How would we know about the Gospel? I don’t know. Maybe angels, maybe word of mouth, maybe direct revelation, or maybe not at all. The point is that God did not have to inspire any books in order for him to be who he is and do what he did. The Bible does not make Christianity true; the Bible simply records true Christianity through inspired words and thoughts.
While I do believe a sustained argument can and should be made for the inclusion of these [Pastoral Epistles] in the canon, whether or not Paul wrote these letters does not affect the truthfulness of the Christian faith. While these letters are extremely valuable for issues of personal integrity and ecclesiology, the essence of the Christian faith remains intact without them. This goes for 2 Peter as well – by far the most contested book in the New Testament. William Barclay, author of the Daily Bible Study Series (as far as I know, still the best selling commentary set of all time), did not accept Petrine authorship of Second Peter. While I disagree (like Calvin, I believe that Peter was behind the letter, though he did not directly write it) this did not in any way disqualify Barclay from being a Christian and a committed servant of God.
There are many people who spend an enormous amount of money holding seminars, building museums, and creating curricula attempting to educate people on the importance and evidence for a six-thousand (give or take) year-old earth.
Some believe that the entire earth was covered with water. Others believe it was a local flood, isolated in Mesopotamia. Some even believe that the whole event did not really take place and is not meant to be taken literally. These believe that the story itself is a polemic against other gods and other flood stories, essentially saying in a parabolic way that God is in charge, not your other gods. Whichever view one takes, this does not affect Christianity.
Unfortunately, many Christians believe that the theory of evolution is somehow an anti-Christian theory invented by Satan to destroy Christianity.
The Joliet Diocese readily admitted that David Rudofski was sexually abused during his first confession at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena. It offered him an in-person apology from the bishop and more than six times his annual salary in the hope of putting a quick, quiet end to yet another ugly incident involving a priest.
But Rudofski wanted more than money.
The south suburban electrician wanted the diocese to truly pay for its repeated and, oftentimes, willful mishandling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy — and he insisted on a currency far more precious to the church than money. He demanded that the diocese settle its debt by turning over the secret archives it maintained on abusive priests and making them available for public consumption.
"What was I supposed to do? Take the money and run?" Rudofski said. "How would that help anybody else? If people don't know how this was allowed to happen for decades, they can't prevent it from happening again."
The diocese, however, fought Rudofski's efforts for more than a year before agreeing to turn over the personnel files of 16 of the 34 priests with substantiated allegations against them. It also issued a news release adding his alleged abuser, the Rev. James Burnett, to its still-growing list of accused clergy.
The files, which Rudofski's attorney shared with the Tribune after redacting the names of other victims, contain more than 7,000 records detailing how the diocese purposefully shielded priests, misled parishioners and left children unprotected for more than a half-century. They also raise new questions about whether the church has been forthcoming about the number of local priests involved in the scandal and the percentage of clergy confronted with credible claims.
Though the Joliet Diocese's botched handling of pedophile priests has been well-documented in recent years, the records offer the most complete portrait of the ineptitude and indifference that greeted the allegations almost since the religious district's inception in 1948. The errors span more than six decades and involved three bishops, 91 places of worship and more than 100 victims.
Researchers and Roman Catholic Church officials have previously said that about 4 percent of priests nationally committed an act of sexual abuse against a minor between 1950 and 2002, with church officials claiming the rate of abusers within the priesthood is no different from that among other professions.
However, the files show that the Joliet Diocese — which includes parishes in DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties — had double or triple that percentage in the 1980s. In 1983, for example, more than 13 percent of priests serving in the diocese would later have credible abuse allegations leveled against them.
Reached at his home in New Lenox, retired Bishop Joseph Imesch, 81, said he didn't want to discuss details of the revelations in the documents.
"I'm not going to rehash all of this. I know what I did; I know what I should have done," he said, expressing frustration with the way news reports portrayed his conduct.
Here is the real difference between the way Protestants and Roman Catholics deal with the “sex abuse” that they say happens in all churches:
Given how Obama has fared with the War on Terror, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, not to mention drones of doom delivering death from the skies, and so forth, I think it might've been more prescient for the Nobel Committee to have awarded him the Nobel War Prize instead of what he did receive.
Well, unless to them WAR IS PEACE. (If so, then I wonder what FREEDOM and IGNORANCE mean to them?)
On the plus side, this might go toward explaining how someone like Yasser Arafat also won in the past.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Here's a brief excerpt from Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's chapter "Atheists: A Psychological Profile" in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism:
Who Are They? Demographics
In representative surveys of the U.S. population in the 1970s and 1980s, the unaffiliated were found to be younger, mostly male, with higher levels of education and income, more liberal, but also more unhappy and more alienated in terms of the larger society (Hadaway and Roof 1988; Feigelman, Gorman, and Varacalli 1992). According to 2004 Gallup data, based on 12,043 interviews, the 9 percent of Americans who say they do not identify with any religion whatsoever or who explicitly say they are atheist or agnostic tended to be politically liberal, Democrats, independents, younger, living in the West, students, and those who are living with someone without being married (Newport 2004).
In Australia, secularists are much better educated than the rest of the population, socially liberal, independent, self-assertive, and cosmopolitan. In Canada, census data and national surveys show that those reporting “no religion” are younger, more male than female, more urban than rural, as well as upwardly mobile (Beit-Hallahmi and Argyle 1997).
Being an atheist overwhelmingly means being male. Data from all cultures show women to be more religious than men (Beit-Hallahmi 2005b). Recent polling data from the United States show that the statement “there is a god” was endorsed by 72.5 percent of men and 86.8 percent of women. The statement “I don’t believe in any of these” was endorsed by 7.0 percent of men and only 1.3 percent of the women (Rice 2003).
Parents and the Making of Atheists
Findings regarding those who come from religious homes and then give up religion show that they have had more distant relations with their parents (Hunsberger 1980, 1983; Hunsberger and Brown 1984). Caplovitz and Sherrow (1977) found that the quality of relations with parents was a crucial variable, as well as a commitment to intellectualism. Hunsberger and Brown (1984) found that lesser emphasis placed on religion in home, especially by the mother, and self-reported intellectual orientation had a positive impact on rejecting the family’s religiosity as a young adult. Dudley (1987) found that alienation from religion in Seventh-Day Adventist adolescents was correlated (0.72) with the quality of their relationship with their parents and other authority figures. Alienation was tied to authoritarianism and harshness on the part of the parents. But parents may also have a more consonant effect on their children’s religiosity. Sherkat (1991), analyzing large-scale U.S. surveys in 1988, found that parents’ religious exogamy and lapses in practice led to their children’s apostasy. Thus, children may be following in their parents’ footsteps or acting out their parents’ unexpressed wishes.
Attachment theory (Kirkpatrick 2005) assumes that interpersonal styles in adults, the ways of dealing with attachment, separation, and loss in close personal relationships, stem directly from the mental models of oneself and others that were developed during infancy and childhood. Attachment styles can be characterized as secure, avoidant, or anxious/ambivalent. Secure adults find it relatively easy to get close to others. Avoidant adults are somewhat uncomfortable being close to others. Anxious/ambivalent adults find that others are reluctant to get as close as they would like. Kirkpatrick (2005) reports that in a study of 400adults in the United States, those having an avoidant attachment style were most likely to identify themselves as either atheist or agnostic.
Does losing a parent early in life lead one to atheism? Vetter and Green (1932–33) surveyed 350 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, 325 of whom were men. Among those who became atheists before age twenty, half lost one or both parents before that age. A large number in the group reported unhappy childhood and adolescence experiences. (The twenty-five women reported “traumatic experiences” with male ministers. We can only wonder about those today.) Vitz (1999) presents biographical information from the lives of more than fifty prominent atheists and theists as evidence for his theory that atheism is a reaction to losing one’s father.
Portman is wrong to think the golden rule compels him to approve of homosexuality. It does not. He’s not wrong, however, to regard the golden rule as relevant to the issue of whether believers are compelled to seek to deny the secular, legal rights and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples.
How can believers deny them their fictitious nonexistent right to homosexual marriage? It’s like denying the right of unicorns to gallop on the moon.
“I’m still not quite clear how Sen. Portman should have reacted.”
“Would the father be demonstrating “righteous living” if he had kicked his son out of the house upon the announcement of his sexual immorality (as ostensibly still happens to one out of three people when they come out of the closet)?”
“Should Portman have pulled his son out of Yale…”
“…and sent him to conversion therapy?“
“Should he have consistently reminded him of his sin, regardless of whether the son is acting upon his orientation?”
“How would YOU affirm the Gospel in handling this situation, if your son/daughter confided in you that he/she is gay?”
Lauren, what do you tell your heterosexual friends or family who are getting divorced or who have been divorced and remarried? Christ Himself was clear on this: to divorce your wife is to force her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. He provides ONE exception: infidelity. Otherwise, to repent of divorce means you either remain single and celibate … or you reunite with your first spouse. That’s it.Do you tell these heterosexual friends/family that they will spend an eternity being tortured as well if they don’t “repent” of their unbiblical behavior?
Adultery effectively dissolves the existing marriage. Hence, it’s not possible to continue committing adultery against the same (ex-)spouse. Therefore, you analogy is flawed. You need to read a few good commentaries on Mt 5 and 19 concerning divorce and remarriage.stephennhays March 19, 2013 at 12:56 am #
To begin with, I’m just remarking on what Mt 5 & 19 teach. They don’t say everything there is to be said about marriage.In addition, you’re confusing marriage with a marriage ceremony. For instance, it's possible to have marital vows without marital intent as well as marital intent without marital vows.stephennhays March 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm #
You continue to confuse marriage with a marriage ceremony. As Jesus himself implies in Mt 19:4-6, the key features of marriage are consummation, monogamy, and marital intent. A public ceremony is preferable, to have a community witness, but that’s not the essence of marriage. If the couple is reconciled, then they simply revert to the status quo ante.A common law marriage can be a genuine marriage, from a biblical standpoint. For instance, traditional Catholic countries refuse to recognize biblical grounds for divorce. A husband could walk out on the marriage, leaving the wife stranded (or vice versa). The innocent party has no recourse to divorce under Catholic law. But if the innocent party entered into a common law marriage, that would be legitimate from a biblical standpoint.stephennhays March 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm #
Not if you read evangelical commentaries on Matthew. Adultery, not divorce, is what dissolves the marriage. Divorce is simply a formal recognition of the fact that the adulterer effectively ended the marriage by his (or her) sexual infidelity. Desertion is another case in point (1 Cor 7:15).stephennhays March 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm #
Buddy, do you not know the difference between fornication, a common law marriage, and a marriage ceremony?stephennhays March 19, 2013 at 7:17 pm #
D. A. Carson, in the revised edition of his commentary on Matthew, interacts with Instone-Brewer.
On Gay Unions, a Pragmatist Before He Was a Pope
Argentina was on the verge of approving gay marriage, and the Roman Catholic Church was desperate to stop that from happening. It would lead tens of thousands of its followers in protest on the streets of Buenos Aires and publicly condemn the proposed law, a direct threat to church teaching, as the work of the devil.
But behind the scenes, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who led the public charge against the measure, spoke out in a heated meeting of bishops in 2010 and advocated a highly unorthodox solution: that the church in Argentina support the idea of civil unions for gay couples.
The concession inflamed the gathering — and offers a telling insight into the leadership style he may now bring to the papacy.
Few would suggest that Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is anything but a stalwart who fully embraces the church’s positions on core social issues. But as he faced one of the most acute tests of his tenure as head of Argentina’s church, he showed another side as well, supporters and critics say: that of a deal maker willing to compromise and court opposing sides in the debate, detractors included.
The approach stands in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who spent 25 years as the church’s chief doctrinal enforcer before becoming pope, known for an unbending adherence to doctrinal purity. Francis, by comparison, spent decades in the field, responsible for translating such ideals into practice in the real world, sometimes leading to a different approach.
“By the way, while I’d rather not chat with Steve anymore…”
“…something important needs to be clarified. Science has to be done under the assumption of methodological naturalism. Let me define. Philosophical naturalism is a metaphysical belief that only the material/natural universe exists. Methodological naturalism is a method of assuming, for practical purposes, that only material causes exist for material events.”
“You do this in science.”
“When you’re not doing science, you can believe in supernatural causes/realities all you like.”
”Here’s why you must be a methodological naturalist in science. Science can only deal with natural causes. Why? Because science often makes it’s most important discoveries by holding variables constant (dependent variable), manipulating one variable (independent variable), and testing for the manipulated variables’ effect.”
“God, or any other supernatural force, can’t be held constant to test for it’s effect. It’s that simple.”
My involvement in this case has generated a certain degree of consternation among conservatives. How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the "traditional" definition of marriage and press for an "activist" interpretation of the Constitution to create another "new" constitutional right?
My answer to this seeming conundrum rests on a lifetime of exposure to persons of different backgrounds, histories, viewpoints, and intrinsic characteristics…
Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation.
At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership.
We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities.
Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society.
The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.
Legalizing same-sex marriage would also be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation's commitment to equal rights. It is, some have said, the last major civil-rights milestone yet to be surpassed in our two-century struggle to attain the goals we set for this nation at its formation. This bedrock American principle of equality is central to the political and legal convictions of Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives alike.
Subsequent laws and court decisions have made clear that equality under the law extends to persons of all races, religions, and places of origin. What better way to make this national aspiration complete than to apply the same protection to men and women who differ from others only on the basis of their sexual orientation?
I cannot think of a single reason—and have not heard one since I undertook this venture—for continued discrimination against decent, hardworking members of our society on that basis.
Various federal and state laws have accorded certain rights and privileges to gay and lesbian couples, but these protections vary dramatically at the state level, and nearly universally deny true equality to gays and lesbians who wish to marry.
The very idea of marriage is basic to recognition as equals in our society; any status short of that is inferior, unjust, and unconstitutional.
The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights that we have as Americans under our Constitution.
It is an expression of our desire to create a social partnership, to live and share life's joys and burdens with the person we love, and to form a lasting bond and a social identity.
The Supreme Court has said that marriage is a part of the Constitution's protections of liberty, privacy, freedom of association, and spiritual identification. In short, the right to marry helps us to define ourselves and our place in a community. Without it, there can be no true equality under the law.
The California Supreme Court described marriage as a "union unreservedly approved and favored by the community." Where the state has accorded official sanction to a relationship and provided special benefits to those who enter into that relationship, our courts have insisted that withholding that status requires powerful justifications and may not be arbitrarily denied.
The explanation mentioned most often is tradition. But simply because something has always been done a certain way does not mean that it must always remain that way.
Otherwise we would still have segregated schools and debtors' prisons.
Gays and lesbians have always been among us, forming a part of our society…
...and they have lived as couples in our neighborhoods and communities.
For a long time, they have experienced discrimination and even persecution; but we, as a society, are starting to become more tolerant, accepting, and understanding.
California and many other states have allowed gays and lesbians to form domestic partnerships (or civil unions) with most of the rights of married heterosexuals.
No matter what you think of homosexuality, it is a fact that gays and lesbians are members of our families, clubs, and workplaces.
They are our doctors, our teachers, our soldiers (whether we admit it or not), and our friends.
They yearn for acceptance…
…and success in their lives, just like the rest of us.
Conservatives and liberals alike need to come together on principles that surely unite us. Certainly, we can agree on the value of strong families, lasting domestic relationships, and communities populated by persons with recognized and sanctioned bonds to one another.
Confining some of our neighbors and friends who share these same values to an outlaw or second-class status undermines their sense of belonging and weakens their ties with the rest of us and what should be our common aspirations. Even those whose religious convictions preclude endorsement of what they may perceive as an unacceptable "lifestyle" should recognize that disapproval should not warrant stigmatization and unequal treatment.
When we refuse to accord this status to gays and lesbians, we discourage them from forming the same relationships we encourage for others.
And we are also telling them, those who love them, and society as a whole that their relationships are less worthy, less legitimate, less permanent, and less valued.
We demean their relationships…
...and we demean them as individuals. I cannot imagine how we benefit as a society by doing so.
I understand, but reject, certain religious teachings that denounce homosexuality as morally wrong, illegitimate, or unnatural…
...and I take strong exception to those who argue that same-sex relationships should be discouraged by society and law.
Science has taught us, even if history has not, that gays and lesbians do not choose to be homosexual any more than the rest of us choose to be heterosexual. To a very large extent, these characteristics are immutable, like being left-handed.
And, while our Constitution guarantees the freedom to exercise our individual religious convictions, it equally prohibits us from forcing our beliefs on others.
If we are born heterosexual, it is not unusual for us to perceive those who are born homosexual as aberrational and threatening. Many religions and much of our social culture have reinforced those impulses. Too often, that has led to prejudice, hostility, and discrimination.
The antidote is understanding, and reason. We once tolerated laws throughout this nation that prohibited marriage between persons of different races.
Citizens who have been denied equality are invariably told to "wait their turn" and to "be patient." Yet veterans of past civil-rights battles found that it was the act of insisting on equal rights that ultimately sped acceptance of those rights. As to whether the courts are "ready" for this case, just a few years ago, in Romer v. Evans, the United States Supreme Court struck down a popularly adopted Colorado constitutional amendment that withdrew the rights of gays and lesbians in that state to the protection of anti-discrimination laws. And seven years ago, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court struck down, as lacking any rational basis, Texas laws prohibiting private, intimate sexual practices between persons of the same sex, overruling a contrary decision just 20 years earlier.
I have no doubt that we are on the right side of this battle, the right side of the law, and the right side of history.