Saturday, March 30, 2013

Defective ecclesiology

More than any other criticism of AHA I find this one to be the most serious. Namely, I find AHA's existence and governance outside the authority of the Church to be more than a little disturbing. The attitude in the author’s argument demonstrates a seriously defective ecclesiology. Christ authorizes ministry through His Church and only through His Church. Moreover, godly leaders recognize the significance of formal structure and the importance of humble submission to their spiritual leaders. They do not adopt the typical American cowboy Christian idea that they are just going to go take care of business themselves.


Reminds me of something I read in the Gospels:


And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not wait for permission from his ecclesiastical superiors to pull him out?”

Cowboy Christianity

More than any other criticism of AHA I find this one to be the most serious. Namely, I find AHA's existence and governance outside the authority of the Church to be more than a little disturbing. The attitude in the author’s argument demonstrates a seriously defective ecclesiology. Christ authorizes ministry through His Church and only through His Church. Moreover, godly leaders recognize the significance of formal structure and the importance of humble submission to their spiritual leaders. They do not adopt the typical American cowboy Christian idea that they are just going to go take care of business themselves.


Here I must agree with Ed. If a Christian layman sees a toddler wander into a busy intersection, that hardly gives him an excuse to take it upon himself to go rescue the child. That’s cowboy Christianity.

What makes you think you have the right to do the right thing just because it’s staring you in the face? You need special permission to do the right thing. We have standards, you know! Before you’re authorized to rescue the child, you must fill out a 4404-QZ Intervention form, signed by your pastor, and witnessed by an elder.

After the paperwork is complete, you can go back to the intersection and peel the flattened toddler off the pavement. 

The power of empty gestures

Pope Francis is getting kudos for footwashing. Never underestimate the power of an empty gesture.

i) To my knowledge, footwashing is a standard feature of the Maundy-Thursday Mass. Hence, this doesn’t say anything about the pope’s humility. He does it, not because he’s humble, but because that’s a liturgical requirement (i.e. the pedilavium). It would be surprising if he refrained from doing it.

ii) Footwashing is hardly confined to the church of Rome. Several Protestant denominations observe footwashing on Maundy-Thursday.

In addition, some Protestant denominations practice footwashing on a regular basis. Not just once a year.  

iii) However, some commentators praise Francis for washing the feet of prisoners and AIDS patients. Well, what about that?

iv) To begin with, washing their feet while the cameras are rolling doesn’t strike me as an exercise in humility. That’s calling attention to yourself.

Ironically, it’s quite possible to pridefully perform a rite that signifies humility. Spiritual showmanship. Doing it to prove to others what a humble guy you are.

v) In addition, why can’t AIDS patients wash their own feet? Is it because they are too weakened by the ravages of AIDS to care for themselves? But if that’s the case, then an annual, ritual ablution hardly meets their needs. Shouldn’t we be praising the hospice orderlies who care for them on a daily basis?

vi) For that matter, why should a man in his mid-70s be washing someone else’s feet? If push comes to shove, shouldn’t the younger generation wash his feet? People his age often suffer from arthritis. It isn’t easy for some of them to wash their feet or clip their toenails.

vii) Someone might object that I’m missing the point. The point of footwashing is the symbolism, and not because people need other people to wash their feet. Well, what about that?

For starters, does footwashing pack the same symbolic punch in a culture where most folks wear socks and shoes, bathe or shower once or twice daily? Where many women have pedicures and painted toenails?

Perhaps the closest analogy to 1C footwashing would be washing the feet of a street person or diabetic with foot disease.

viii)Moreover, if we’re really serious about the symbolism, shouldn’t we consider cross-cultural equivalents? 

ix) Is Jesus only concerned with symbolism? Not only did he wash the feet of the disciples, but he died for them.

What about orderlies in hospitals and nursing homes. Or janitors? Or mothers caring for their babies? Or an elderly husband or wife who cares for his failing spouse?  Isn’t that closer to the spirit of footwashing?

"Loving gay couples"

The argument for “marriage quality” takes heterosexual pairing as the paradigm. But are they comparable? Do they really love each other?

From what I’ve read, homosexual men don’t appear to bond psychologically with one another the way men and women bond psychologically. Rather, homosexual men always seem to be on the lookout for fresh meant. Young new bodies to sodomize.

In addition, homosexual men don’t appear to bond emotionally with other men the way heterosexual men bond emotionally with other men (e.g. normal male friendship).

Some homosexual men have lifelong “partners,” but that seems to be platonic, even if it started out sexually. And that’s set apart from a steady stream of homosexual trysts and one-night stands with other men.

The closest analogy to the homosexual man is the womanizer. A heterosexual man who goes from one woman to the next. Yet even womanizers can become deeply or uniquely attached to a particular woman. A woman who’s the love of their life. But they lack impulse control. The womanizer suffers from some deep-seated insecurity or void which he’s always trying to fill. Rather like an alcoholic who’s dulling the pain or emptiness.

As for lesbians, that seems to be a sexual relationship that’s grafted onto female friendship. Since they reject men, then sex with women is their only fallback.


Marriage parody

http://takimag.com/article/gay_marriage_sucks#axzz2OwGPskF0

Returning to the past

Liberals contend that the Gospels are historically unreliable because they were written so long after the events. Of course, that’s a circular argument inasmuch as it presumes the liberal dating (and authorship) of the Gospels.

But it also overlooks the fact that older folks frequently remember earlier events more clearly and distinctly than later events. Here’s an interesting anecdote from Warnie Lewis, fourteen months after the death of his famous brother:


Oddly enough as time goes on the vision of J as he was in his later years grows fainter, that of him in earlier days more and more vivid. It is the J of the attic and the little end room, the J of Daudelspiels and the walks and jaunts, the J of the early and middle years whom I miss so cruelly. An absurd feeling, for even had he lived that Jack had already died. Perhaps it has been sharpened by the fact that I am reliving something of the middle years by going through our old walking tours in my diaries, and I can see him almost as if he was visible, on a path in front of me, striding along with a stick and a pack in his shapeless old fisherman’s hat…Not that I idealize those days for they too had their hard times; but then they were bad times shared with J and that made all the difference.

Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis (Harper & Row 1982), 255.


Out of the wardrobe

Now that we know that June Freud (née June Flewett) was the inspiration for Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia, it’s interesting to go back and read about the impression that she made on Warnie Lewis (C. S. Lewis’s brother). It’s like walking back out of the wardrobe into the real world:

Tuesday 2nd January, 1945


Our dear, delightful June Flewett leaves us tomorrow, after nearly two years…She is not yet eighteen, but I have met no one of any age further advanced in the Christian way of life From seven in the morning till nine at night, shut off from people of her own age, almost grudged the time for her religious duties, she has slaved at The Kilns, for a fraction 2d. an hour; I have never seen her other than gay, eager to anticipate exigent demands, never complaining, always self-accusing in the frequent crises of that dreary house. Her reaction to the meanest ingratitude was to seek its cause in her own faults. She is one of those rare people to whom one can venture to apply the word “saintly.”

Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis (Harper & Row 1982) 180-81.


Blame it on the Jews

http://www.timesofisrael.com/greeks-find-cause-of-all-their-woes-the-jews/

God is Raising Up "Noahs" in this Wicked Generation

http://www.jeremiahcry.com/2012/01/the-dream-of-jeremiahcry-ministries/

How Are You Using Your Opportunities?

There's been a lot of talk lately about the high percentage of young people who support homosexual marriage. Think of how that percentage reflects on their parents, among other influences in their lives. Part of the reason why academia, the media, Hollywood, the music industry, and other sources have had so much influence on how young people view homosexuality is that parents and other alternative sources have had so little influence. How many men have been spending hours watching basketball this month, but haven't had a single discussion with their children about theological, political, ethical, or other more important issues, like homosexuality? How many fathers have never had such a discussion with their children about any such issue or have only done so rarely? We often hear about how important it is that parents spend time with their children. Fathers should attend a child's school play or take their son to a football game, for example. Or teach him how to cut the grass, how to shave, etc. Why is there so much emphasis placed on that sort of thing, but so little emphasis placed on the need for men to exercise intellectual leadership? Are you teaching your children not only what they should believe, but also why they should believe it, how to research an issue, how to respond to objections, how to interact with opposing positions, etc.? Are you setting aside time at the dinner table, during car rides, or in other contexts to do such things? If you don't shape the intellectual life of your children, who will?

Much the same can be said of how pastors influence congregations, how teachers influence students, etc. In other contexts, like with coworkers and friends, we have less of an opportunity to influence people, since we're not in a position of authority over them. Still, we have some influence. Whatever your context, are you making much of your opportunities to influence the people around you? Have you used the recent news stories about homosexual marriage to discuss homosexuality or this Easter season to discuss the evidence for Jesus' resurrection, for example? How many of these opportunities do you let pass by? Would we be seeing what we've seen with the cultural shift on homosexuality (as one example among many) if there wasn't widespread neglect in this area? Parents are the most guilty group of all, but there's a lot of blame to go around. Maybe you should be spending less time with basketball, television, and housework and more time doing other things.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A New Level of Utter Depravity in this Country



http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/video-planned-parenthood-official-argues-right-post-birth-abortion_712198.html  

"Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist representing the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor."

This is the FIRST time ever that Planned Parenthood has come out and supported this—and without any shame.

This is their head lobbyist giving their official position. These people are monsters.

This is pure Satanic evil.

We are living in dark days.

Janie Moore & C. S. Lewis

I’m not a C. S. Lewis scholar. And I’m not a blind devotee of Lewis. However, I think it’s wrong to libel the dead.

I’m struck by the confidence with which some writers assume that Lewis had an affair with Janie Moore. I could certainly be mistaken, but I don’t find that very plausible.

To begin with, suppose he did. Since Lewis was an atheist back then, there’d be nothing shocking or scandalous about his indulging in premarital sex. No one expects a young unattached male atheist to be celibate.

That said:

i) It isn’t normal for a teenage boy to have an affair with the middle-aged mother of a friend.

ii) Moreover, why assume Lewis was so desperate that he had to settle for her? He was an eligible young bachelor. A student at Oxford. Surely there were available pretty single girls his own age.

Most of us have seen pictures of Lewis when he was baggy, balding middle-aged duffer, but as a young man he cut a sharper profile.

So I can’t think of any compelling reason why an eligible young bachelor would settle for the mother when he surely had more appealing options to choose from.

iii) I don’t think it was at all unusual back then for young bachelors to have older housekeepers.

iv) Lewis lived with his brother Warnie. So should we also assume that Warnie had an affair with Moore?

v) Although Lewis, as a young atheist, would have no moral compunctions about premarital sex, even he would realize that banging on the mother of your late best friend, who entrusted her to your care in case he died in action, would be reprehensible. Deeply dishonorable. A betrayal of the first magnitude.

vi) It’s also possible that Moore was a substitute mother figure, after Lewis lost his own mother at the age of 9.

vii) Seems more plausible to me that he was simply honoring the pledge he made with his wartime comrade that if one died, the survivor would care for the decedent’s parent.

viii) Perhaps some people think that’s just a cover story. But is there any reason to think comrades in the trenches wouldn’t make a pact like that? WWI had horrendous casualties. Seems likely to me that many comrades said to each other, “If I die, look after my mother (father, brother), but if you die, I’ll look after yours.” Surely those conversations weren’t unusual in the infantry.

Jesus Created the Institution of Marriage

“So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam no companion who corresponded to him was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, he took part of the man’s side and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.” (Gen 2:20–24 NET)



On Marcus Pittman and vendettas

Recent events have led me to ponder the following questions: What good is it to say that one is submitted to a local church's leadership if one persistently speaks folly and heaps shame upon that church? What good is actually being submitted to a local church's leadership if that church never helps the submitted person see where he is saying foolish things in widely public arenas?

That's where I am with regard to Marcus Pittman of Crown Rights Media, an organisation that I (and we at Abolish Human Abortion) have wanted to like and with whom I (and we at A//∀) have wanted to work closely. Yet Pittman and his compatriot(s) have been busily engaged in driving us away from them.

This latest example has left me shaking my head more than most of the other examples I've seen.

I had been in a conversation on the Facebook page of the director of the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma's director, T. Russell Hunter, with an inquirer who was asking me about ecclesiology and whether an individual Christian would ever be in the right if s/he were to call out sin in another group of people who regularly meet in a building on which the sign includes the word "church".

As part of my answer, I told her this:

We don't need to be ordained by some ecclesiastical body, touched on the shoulder with the Scepter of Ecclesiastical Approval, to do what Jesus said.
We need to just go ahead and do what Jesus said.
This is, as far as I'm concerned, a no-brainer. Who seriously thinks that no Christian should do anything until his pastor tells him? Are we to demonstrate no initiative of our own before loving our neighbor? Does Marcus Pittman phone his presbytery to ask them whether he should share the Gospel with Joe Doe on the street (and I'm talking about when he doesn't have a HD camera with him)?

Yet Pittman, though having long since left off any participation in that thread, was waiting with bated breath for someone to say something he could sink his claws into. And in my comment, for whatever reason, he found it!

What the Anti-Church people say "We don't need to be ordained by some ecclesiastical body, touched on the shoulder with the Scepter of Ecclesiastical Approval, to do what Jesus said. We need to just go ahead and do what Jesus said."
What Jesus Said - "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

This is simply laughable.
I am good terms with every church I have ever attended. I recently left one church to join another immediately, and my current church received with joy my family and me into membership 4 weeks ago. My church has two elders.
Yes, I am a credobaptist and thus am a member of a Baptist church. I don't see Pittman ripping Dr. James White with the same type of sloganeering and pathetic fault-finding just because they differ in ecclesiology.

No, this isn't about ecclesiology at all. This is about Pittman (and to some extent his associates) doing what they can to find fault with anyone associated with Abolish Human Abortion.


I entirely and wholeheartedly reject and disaffirm the label "Anti-Church". How dare Pittman say this about a brother. This is a serious accusation of serious sin. One would hope Pittman would have some evidence. Alas, he has none.


Obviously in principle I agree 100% that "We need to just go ahead and do what Jesus said" includes joining and submitting oneself to a church with elder government. Pittman can (and, apparently, just might!) search in vain among the millions of words I've written for any indication I disagree with that.

That to which I object is the Rome-flavored idea that somehow we must await permission from our church's elders before obeying what the Scripture says.
Would Pittman's church's elders really prefer that he ding-dong them before doing good works? Do they need to be the source of every idea for doing good works in which anyone in their congregation engages? Or would they prefer that the congregants take it upon themselves to obey the Scripture with joy, of their own volition? Isn't the job of an elder tough enough without having to write an encyclical granting the faithful the right to obey Jesus every time a new specific possibility pops up?

There is nothing wrong with what I said. If Pittman were engaging his obviously prodigious intellect in fairness, he would see that and assent to it, but he is not inclined to be fair these days, not to brethren against whom he is an acting as an enemy. It is truly sad to see, and I am grieved.

New Research On The Shroud Of Turin

The Shroud of Turin has been in the news a lot lately, due to a new book that's come out claiming further scientific testing that dates the Shroud around the time of Jesus. See the March 28 entry here for an overview from Barrie Schwortz, including a discussion of some of the problems with Giulio Fanti's claims at this point. We'll have to wait to see how things develop. Dan Porter has been covering the story on his blog as well. There's already good reason to reject the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud, such as Ray Rogers' work published in 2005. We'll see how much Fanti's research adds to that. From what I've read so far, I agree with the general thrust of Schwortz's comments. Fanti's work looks somewhat promising, but there are problems with it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why Gays Hate Jesus

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I am testifying about it that its deeds are evil.” —Jesus


"Marriage is a fundamental right"

Ted Olson argued (or asserted) before the Supreme Court that marriage is a “fundamental right.” From that premise, he reasoned that homosexuals are being denied that “fundamental right.”

But even if we agree with that characterization, the argument is equivocal in more than one respect.
Even if marriage is a fundamental right, that doesn’t make it a Constitutional right. Not all human rights or civil rights are enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution is a very limited document, and deliberately so. It’s a non sequitur to infer that if marriage is a fundamental right, then it must be a Constitutional right.

The Constitution is silent on many social issues. There’s a reason why we have Congress, as well as state legislatures.  

Dealing with doubt

http://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/are-you-skeptical-of-your-faith/

The X-Files

http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2013/03/fact-checking-carrier-ii.html

Literal hermeneutics

One of the important matters I wanted to address with my series on Ezekiel’s temple is that of hermeneutics and their application in the interpretation of prophetic passages like Ezekiel 40-48.  I certainly acknowledge there are difficulties for my literal take on those chapters. However, there are also some profound difficulties for Reformed covenant folks who utilize a non-literal, more spiritualized view of the Ezekiel’s temple.

Because my literal hermeneutics place my theology in a position of criticism in what I would consider important matters of atonement, Christ’s cross work, and human salvation, I think it is necessary to demonstrate internal, theological and orthodox consistency with my literalism.


I don’t think that’s the correct way to frame the issue. Amil interpreters (at least the astute, scholarly proponents) employ a consistent hermeneutic. They use the grammatico-historical method. They don’t shift hermeneutical gears when they come to Ezk 40-48.

For a comparison, take the Gospel of Matthew. A conservative evangelical scholar will interpret most of the Gospel factually, yet he will interpret the parables fictionally. However, interpreting the parables differently than the surrounding historical narrative doesn’t mean he suddenly flipped the switch to a different hermeneutic when he comes to the parables. He’s using the same hermeneutical principles throughout. And those principles make allowance for different literary genres.

Likewise, if he understands Mt 2:15 typologically, that’s consistent with his hermeneutical package.

Cold-Case Christianity

Some people may be interested: Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels is currently available for free on Kindle. I haven't read it though so I can't say whether it's any good.

Coalition Conscience

There are several helpful resources here.

NARTH

I can't and don't vouch for everything on NARTH, but the website might be worth perusing:

NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance.

NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care. We welcome the participation of all individuals who will join us in the pursuit of these goals.

The Multi-Faceted Evidence For Jesus' Resurrection

The evidence for the resurrection is often framed in terms of the testimony of the resurrection witnesses and the empty tomb, as if any hypothesis about what happened only has to address those two lines of evidence. Sometimes the empty tomb isn't even included. We should keep in mind that there's a lot more involved, though. The New Testament documents often refer to the resurrection as a fulfillment of prophecy and refer to how the apostles were empowered to perform miracles by the risen Christ, for example. Then there's extra-Biblical evidence, like the Shroud of Turin. Jesus' resurrection not only is a good explanation of the testimony of the resurrection witnesses and the empty tomb, but also is a good explanation of Paul's acquisition of the ability to perform miracles, the image on the Shroud of Turin, and other evidence that isn't mentioned as often. The same skeptic who has to find a way to dismiss the testimony of resurrection witnesses like Peter and Paul and dismiss the empty tomb also has to find a way to dismiss the other lines of evidence. There are more than two lines to account for here. I believe most people who follow these issues closely are aware of that fact, but it's not acknowledged enough, and we need to keep it more at the forefront of our thinking. The resurrection evidence is broader and deeper than we often make it out to be. There's merit to taking something like a minimal facts approach toward the resurrection in some contexts. That approach can be taken too far, though, and can leave people with a false impression about how much evidence we have for the resurrection.

Homosexual Marriage: It's A Matter Of Who You Know

It's often said that people are more likely to support homosexual marriage, or the homosexual movement in general, if they know somebody who's homosexual and realize it. It's true that how you view homosexuality is largely a matter of who you know. It's not surprising if a nation deeply in love with sexual sin, and looking to ease its conscience by approving of other people who behave similarly (Romans 1:32), would keep broadening its definition of which sexual behavior is acceptable. We don't have much self-control. That's why we as a nation are more than sixteen trillion dollars in debt, have acquired more than 110,000,000 sexually transmitted infections, and have had tens of millions of abortions in recent decades, for example. Yes, it's largely a matter of who you know.

"You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father also." (John 8:19)

End something

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U5sPXSvFXY

The homosexual marriage agenda

http://savingmarriage2011.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-sort-of-marriages-do-homosexual.html

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Carrie acquitted!


 

(Reuters) - Today, in a packed courtroom, Carrie White and Liz Sherman were acquitted on charges of murder by arson.

Carrie was charged with incinerating her classmates on prom night, while her codefendant, Liz Sherman, was charged with incinerating staff and patients at the asylum where she was staying.

Lead defense attorney Robert Shapiro used the celebrated “Carrier” defense to get his clients acquitted. In a famous debate with David Marshall, Carrier denied that Jesus ever miraculously healed anyone. Carrier insisted that all his cures were “psychosomatic.”

Taking his cue from Carrier, Mr. Shapiro argued that his clients didn’t really incinerate anyone since pyrokinesis is, by definition, psychosomatic: mind over matter.

Apparently, that was sufficient to convince the jury, although some veteran courtroom reporters privately speculated that jurors were afraid of what Hellboy might to do them if they convicted his girlfriend.

Blind Christian leaders

Sam Logan, past president and chancellor of WTS, on homosexual marriage (Facebooks excerpts). Why are Christians who ought to know better so morally confused about morally unambiguous issues?



I think this is worth considering, especially the parts about all the damage that heterosexuals have done to the institution of marriage. And if you really want to know where THAT damage began, take a look at John Milton's, THE DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF DIVORCE, written in 1643 (at the very time the Westminster Assembly was meeting).
· 8 hours ago ·

  • Boz Tchividjian likes this.
  • Talbot Logan To reduce the legal issue to "access to basic rights" I think it not an accurate nor fair summation. There are currently in excess of 1000 Federal benefits that are denied to same sex couples including Social Security survivor benefits, the right to inherit from a spouse, mandated family medical leave, partner immigration protection, tax on health benefits etc. Federal benefits are even more important for military personnel and government employees whose same-sex spouses are not accorded the same benefits. That is why this is an important issue.
  • Talbot Logan There is not a call to ask any religious institution to change their views or their definitions of their tenets. But unfortunately, the government has already redefined marriage by offering specific protections under the law and it is that "meaning" that needs to change. And as a gay may, I deny the author's denial that "changing the meaning of the word will improve the acceptance of gays in society". Many social injustices have been corrected by taking words and phrases that have been exclusionary and even hateful and redefining and/or eliminating. I deny that the author, since he is not a gay man, can even understand that what I don't want is access to basic social “rights.” I want to be treated with the same dignity and respect and protection as every American. That I believe is a God-given and inalienable right and supports the greatest commandment of "love thy neighbor as thyself". Far from "basic".
  • Sam Logan Very good clarifications, my son. THANK YOU! I agree with you that what our government has done is "unfortunate." I agree that this needs to change and I support that change in every way that I can. I agree that, no matter what they think about gay marriage, evangelical Christians (starting with your father) need to be much more agressive and creative in "loving ALL of our neighbors" as ourselves. We/I have done a terrible job at that, not just with respect to gays but also with respect to the poor, to those of different races, AND to those of different religions (including Muslims, who probably are more discriminated against in our society than any other single group). And, as you will have note in my comments about this piece, I think its strongest point is what it says about how the greatest damage to the institution of marriage has been done by heterosexuals. So THANK YOU for your corrections and clarifications!

 *****************************************

As a friend of mine pointed out:

Interestingly enough, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal already rebutted this claim back on January 16th, by citing a correspondent:



<<<
You quoted Lisa Arnold and Christina Campbell as complaining that "more than 1,000 laws provide overt legal or financial benefits to married couples."

This is a false statement that has propagated through many news reports and opinion pieces. I can't be certain where Arnold and Campbell got it, but I'll bet it is based on a misreading of this report and its antecedents, widely and inaccurately referenced in Defense of Marriage Act arguments.

This document merely lists 1,138 "federal laws in which marital status is a factor." It includes entries for which marriage confers neither benefit or penalty, many in which marriage is penalized, and very few in which married couples get benefits. Here's a sample of entries in the document:

• Mail-order bride business (Category 6, Title 8, Part IX, § 1375)

• Eligibility under first-time home-buyer programs (two singles get $16,000 but a married couple gets $8000)

• Gold Star Wives of America

• Membership of Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission

The fact is that taxes make marriage extremely expensive for almost all successful opposite-sex couples, more so if they have children, even more so under the new Obama tax rates. Income tax liability is generally lower (not higher, as Arnold and Campbell assert) for unmarried earners, and lower still for single parents than married parents.

The only notable exception to the marriage penalty is for same-sex married couples in community property states, who (thanks to DOMA) divide their income 50/50 and file single or single head-of-household returns--which always saves them a bundle compared to any other tax status.
>>>

Taranto comments: "Some of those gays may be in for an unpleasant surprise if the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA."

*******************************************************

I’m grateful that Westminster Seminary is under new management.

‘Comical Stampede’ of Democrats Suddenly Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

http://www.nationalreview.com/blogs/print/344008

Is Limiting Marriage to Unions of a Man and a Woman Discrimination?

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/03/is-limiting-marriage-to-unions-of-a-man-and-a-woman-discrimination/

I have six biological parents.

http://www.pearceyreport.com/blog/2013/03/minnesota_lawmakers_let_6_adults_claim_biological_parentage_of_the_same_child.php

Ed Dingess, the work of the church, and the Gospel


recent article from one Ed Dingess grants us at Abolish Human Abortion excellent opportunities for clarification of our own position and convictions, and we'd like to take the time to comment at length on Dr. Dingess' statements.

First, though, we'd like to ask anyone who has not read our recent article The "Great Commission" Without Abolition Is Dead to please do so, then return here to read on.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Dingess begins with a very poor understanding of who we are and what we do. The entirety of his article, in fact, seems to take as its reference point no more than two or three pages from our website. We have put out a great deal more material than just that one website, and it would behoove someone who desires to be a thoughtful critic of ours to do a bit more research than that.

That said, this statement:
whose stated purpose is not necessarily to abolish all human abortion, but rather to “instigate,” and to “inspire” pro-life individuals to become more “assertive” and “actively” involved in abolishing abortion
most definitely disturbs us, for it is not what we have intended to communicate. And honestly, re-reading the page to which Dr. Dingess refers, I can sort of see what he means. To that end, plans are in motion to revise the material on our website.
For any reader to come away from our site with the notion that, for example,
There is no necessary connection between this coalition and the Church of Jesus Christ other than the fact that the Church condemns abortion as murder and so too does AHA.
or the notion that
It is telling that the gospel is not referenced until you scroll down nearly to the end of this page
is, like I said, disturbing.

So, we'd like to thank Dr. Dingess for reminding us to reflect our thinking more clearly on our website. Over the past year, we have grown in our understanding of what needs to be done, who we are in relation to this issue, and what really matters. The Gospel has always been central, but thankfully the Lord has been leading us to understand even better the paramount importance of it, so that Jesus take center stage in everything we do and say. Where we have failed to exalt Jesus in any way, we repent here, now, publicly, of it, and we are grateful for the assistance.

We are, after all, fallible human beings.

Having said all that, Dr. Dingess could have gotten a better understanding about us by consuming more material than a few webpages. There are our Daily Abolitionist videos, our videos from the What Must Be Done conference, our blog, especially recent interactions with Roman Catholics and aborticians. So Dr. Dingess would do well to expand his research before commenting on a group like us in this way.

Now, I'd like to move on to topical treatments of parts of Dr. Dingess' commentary.

ABOLITION AND THE CHURCH OF JESUS
Dr. Dingess is entirely incorrect to say that "(t)here is no necessary connection between this coalition and the Church of Jesus Christ". Abolition is a work of the church of Jesus, the invisible church, for it is a work that God demands from each human being, and those who are born again and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God will unfailingly desire to do the will of God during our lives.

Of the Two Great Commandments, one is "Love your neighbor as yourself." Right now in this country, 3500 of the smallest and weakest of our neighbors are being murdered every day. If Dr. Dingess or anyone else can find a greater destruction to our neighbor than abortion in the culture to which we have access, we'd certainly like to know about it, that we may turn our attention to abolishing it.
We'd like to ask Dr. Dingess to consider carefully what sort of oversight men like William Wilberforce, or William Lloyd Garrison, had in their pursuits of abolition. Who will stand up for the weakest of our neighbors? Who loves light rather than darkness, so as to expend one's energy, time, resources, etc for people we don't even know? Will this be the work of unregenerate people who love darkness rather than light? No! Just as it was the followers of Jesus who rose up in 2nd century Rome to rescue unwanted babies left on riverbanks and garbage heaps and who rose up in the 18th and 19th centuries to abolish the systematic oppression of people with dark brown skin, once again His followers in the invisible church are rising up to abolish this grossest of violations against love of neighbor in our culture.
The invisible church is just as real as the visible church, the visible church being a mix of partly members of the invisible church and, virtually always, enemies of God. Both churches are real, and both are important. We strive to neglect neither.

Abolitionists, as obedient to all that the Scripture teaches and reveals, are enjoined to be members of a local body of believers. We are men and women under authority, and we are glad to submit ourselves to the authorities that God puts into place.  Yet we fail to see in Scripture where every "ministry" must be under the "authority" of "the pastor" and elders of a local church. We agree with this in the sense that it is good for all Christians to be under the spiritual oversight of godly elders.  But does this mean that any work that a Christian does should be part of an officially-sanctioned program run by an institutional church? Is it not true, rather, that pastors should both desire and exhort the members of their churches to be actively seeking to serve Christ in the world, and not passively waiting for some governing body to issue an edict of what we are supposed to do?

Who is the authority over the work of AHA? It is simply Jesus the Messiah, the King of the universe and of His Church. If we are not being led by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, then we have no business being involved in this work. Jesus alone will direct the building and advancement of His Kingdom. Any mere human effort to add to what Jesus is doing will simply result in wood, hay, and stubble to be burned up in the Final Judgment. We desire that Jesus be both the positional as well as the functional head of our groups and our work.
Dr. Dingess (as well as many, many others who oppose us) functionally conflate the institutional visible church with the true Body and Bride of Christ. The work of abolition is a work of the latter. And the latter is one in Christ, and suffers no true division from institutional and denominational boundaries.


ARE THERE LOST PEOPLE IN AHA?
Of course it is possible, even likely that, there are those who take the name "abolitionist" and yet are unbelievers.

We are not a church. Yet only the most deluded and blind would think that there is no chance that their own church contains no unregenerate people, no false converts. That's the whole point of Jesus' institution and the Apostle Paul's reiteration of the need and proper process for church discipline.

We are up front and honest with everyone, as much as possible, about who we are and our strategies. We evangelise each other, sharing the law and the Gospel day after day.

We tell the unregenerate that we can work together towards the common goal of ending abortion, but we can never truly be on the same page because our core worldviews are different. But why would we tell people who want to work with us to go away? We want to be around non-Christians! There are those of us who resort to going out to the party district of their city late at night when they'd rather be in bed after a long week at work, or take vacation time off work to go onto the university campus, so as to share the law and the Gospel with lost people, and does Dr. Dingess think we should be intentionally telling those who want to be around us to take a hike?


ABOLITIONIST = CHRISTIAN?
One of the biggest problems with Dr. Dingess' article is the representation that we somehow equate being a "member of AHA" with being a Christian.

We never state that all Christians must self-identify with AHA. Again, if that is what people come away with when they visit our About Us page, we want to correct it, so this is another chance for us to sharpen our website.

To answer the question, all Christians must be salt and light in the world. This is the command of Jesus, and it's all over the Bible.
Here is just one place:
Ephesians 2:8-10 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The good works that don't save us in verse 9 are the same good works that God has created us to do in verse 10.
The opposite of good works is bad works, and bad works are sin. Sin not only damns to Hell, it causes evil in the world, destroys relationships, wrecks communion with God, darkens the heart and spirit, and sears the consience. 1 John makes it clear that a lifestyle marked by sin is an indicator of the unregenerate condition of that person's heart.

Make no mistake, however. We question how it is that someone can call himself a Christian and yet take virtually no action on the issue of abortion. What other social evil is occurring at a level of 3500 deaths per day? Not all Christians need belong to AHA, but all Christians should have an abolitionist spirit and be engaging their culture in some fashion, because the culture is dark and evil, the people are lost and dying, and we have the light, the cure, the solution.

Consistent Christians are abolitionists but not necessarily tied to or self-labeled to associate with AHA. And of course, there is a host of evils out there. Christians can abolish other evils. AHA is not the actual thing we are calling people to. We are calling people to take up their cross, follow Jesus, love God entirely, and love neighbor as self. It's just that this is the way we see it played out in our time and on this issue. This is why we ask, "What does Christianity look like in a culture that murders its children?" Abolition is a principle and ideology that applies to any sin or evil, and as mentioned above, this is the most obvious legal evil facing our nation and the largest violation of love of neighbor at the moment.


DINGESS' PROBLEMATIC VIEW OF GOOD WORKS, SALT AND LIGHT
Dr. Dingess says:

The Church should preach the gospel, condemning abortion along the way without getting distracted by it...The Church cannot afford all these distractions
That is indeed what we are doing, as members of the Body of Christ.

Yet as he goes on to point out later, preaching the Gospel is not all we are commanded to do. We are commanded to teach others to observe all that Jesus commanded, to make disciples, and obviously we are ourselves to obey all that Jesus commanded as we do so. And He said that one of the great commandments is to love neighbor. Well, we see 3500 of our neighbors put to death by their mothers and hired hitmen in this nation of ours. We can't love them if they're dead; we are to deliver the helpless and weak from death.

Yes, this is a by-product of disciple-making. Does Dr. Dingess think that disciples are made only by sitting around and ingesting thousands of pages of theological tomes? We love books; don't get me wrong. We know, however, that actual love walks, talks, and moves. The happy side effect of discipling people as we love neighbor is that the "disciplee", as it were, gets to see how real love is played out, how suffering is endured, how patience is built up, how sin is dealt with, as we live real lives of agitation and assistance.

And see, we just plain disagree that the systematic murder of 55 million children since 1973 is a "distraction". Would Dr. Dingess have adopted the same refrain in the Third Reich in 1943? "We can't afford these distractions of all these Jews being shoved into ovens; let's just make disciples."

One is almost forced to inquire, about such an attitude: Is this real biblical priority expressed here, or is it Bible-y excuse for the fear of man?
Dr. Dingess goes on to make an erroneous point while quoting 1 Peter 2:9-12 for support.
The command to let our light shine comes within the immediate context of keeping the commandments. In other words, the good works referenced by Christ do not emphasize social works. They mean living out the Christian ethic before the world. Peter says as much when he quotes Christ, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."
A few responses here:

1) Dr. Dingess does not inform us how precisely "social works" are different from "living out the Christian ethic before the world", especially as it pertains to abolition. He may be misunderstanding what we mean by "social works" (though I don't recall any of us using that term and neither our website nor our blog use it). Thus we will thank Dr. Dingess to be more careful in the future with his representation of our own words.

2) If he wants to live out the Christian ethic before the world, I'd like to ask Dr. Dingess what better suggestion he has than abolition, given that 3500 babies per day are murdered in this nation, and 55 million in 40 years.

3) How would Dr. Dingess propose we better keep the commandment to love neighbor as self in this kind of world? He doesn't say.

4) The passage itself says what we are saying. "Keep your behavior excellent", "...your good deeds", etc.

5) The earliest Church, as mentioned, were abolitionists of infant exposure, outright infanticide, abortion, child abandonment, and the gladiatorial games. They apparently thought 1 Peter's command was worth following.

6) This kind of language easily lends itself to supporting the false dichotomy between loving the born and the preborn. We are to love all people, their age unimportant.

7) Dr. Dingess may well profit from this recent article, the aforementioned pre-requisite reading.

8) What will Dr. Dingess make of other commands to do good works in the New Testament, such as Titus 3:14 - "Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful"?

Who has a more pressing need than the baby, who is a human being just like you or I, who is about to be murdered by his own mother and the hitman she pays to hold the weapon or administer the weaponised pharmaceutical?

Dr. Dingess states:

Hence, the light and salt argument that AHA puts forth is based on a misunderstanding of Christ’s command. While it may extend to caring for widows and orphans because this is indeed Christian love, it is entirely unrelated to the cause of exterminating social evils such as abortion.
How silly of us think that preborn children abandoned by their parents were orphans!
If one is inclined to be pedantic on this point, shall we conclude that, no, they are merely victims of parental homicide, so let's ignore them?

We are not called to end human trafficking.
1) That's easy for Dr. Dingess to say, living in a culture that still benefits, to this day, from the tireless efforts of men like Garrison, Wilberforce, Clarkson, Sharp, and Lovejoy.

2) We eagerly await Dr. Dingess' doubtless prompt publication of his critique of Louie Giglio's End It movement, in that case. Giglio should stick to making disciples. Those women trapped in sex slavery will figure it out. We have to make disciples.

We are called to live holy and to let the word see that holiness because it is the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
And how do we do that if we see "...a brother or sister (who) is without clothing and in need of daily food, (and we) say to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body"? "What use is that?" (James 2:15-16)
Does living holy include ignoring the blood of those under the knife, who are suffering death from weaponised pharamaceuticals?

The gospel is not “abortion is murder, Jesus died for sinners, place your faith in Christ."
No, it most certainly is not. Dr. Dingess made that up, and it is difficult to restrain a biting response to such misrepresentation of our position. Hopefully Dr. Dingess will read this article carefully and digest some of our other material before replying and will repent of what he has publicly said. We have never and would never say such a thing; to whom precisely is Dr. Dingess responding?

We will unhesitatingly accept that repentance at that time, for we love Dr. Dingess and long to see him obey Jesus fully as the Holy Spirit gives grace.

More than ever, the Church must distance itself from even the appearance of being a political movement. We are not a wing of the conservative party.
This is true, as "the conservative party" (by which I presume he means the Republican party) hasn't done close to enough! Honestly, it has barely even tried. Of course, political parties aim to be elected next cycle, generally. That's part of the problem.

Nowhere will anyone find any indication that we intend to be a political movement. We are, rather, engaging the culture - all parts of the culture - with the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus is Lord of all, not Lord of some.

There are those who denigrate us as "right-wingers", Republicans, fascists, etc. These are false and unkind pejoratives, which we reject.


ETERNAL?
We have serious work to do that has eternal consequences.
Murder and ignoring murder all around us also has eternal consequences.

And so does the fact that this nation is now without 55 million souls. Might one of those have been one who had as much Gospel potency and impact as a George Whitefield, a John Wesley, or a John Calvin? Might a man like that change some significant eternal consequences in this life?

We'll never know now.


TURNING A BLIND EYE
Perhaps another partial explanation for Dr. Dingess' strategy for not ending abortion is the fact that Dr. Dingess doesn't think that abortion will be abolished:
Human abortion is a very wicked social evil. There is no question about it. It is the law we live with in America. Is it going away? I don’t think it is.
There you go. It's not going away, so why even fight it?
Did Jesus call us to concern ourselves with how this will all turn out in the end? Or did He command us to love our neighbor as self?

Does Dr. Dingess know for sure that "just" preaching the Gospel and making disciples will cause unbelief to go away, that all people will be converted? If not, by this same logic, he shouldn't preach the Gospel or make disciples. If his response is "But Jesus told us to preach the Gospel and make disciples," he has failed to realise that Jesus has also commanded us to love our neighbor, and he has defeated his own objection.

This is the result of shallow thinking. We are to go forth in the strength Jesus provides us, to do what He told us to do. If we fail, we fail, and in our lives and hearts we exalt Jesus. If we succeed, it is all because of Jesus. If we fail, it is to the glory of Jesus, Whose power is made perfect in weakness.
The only way to truly end social ills is through a changed heart, a regenerated mind. That comes from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This, however, is absolutely right, which is why we welcome Dr. Dingess to join us.

You see, one of the pro-life movement's main strategies has been to ignore the Gospel in its work, searching for larger numbers and more political clout by diluting the message such that they are actually, at this point, hostile to the proclamation of the biblical Gospel. For this they will face fearful judgment, but we are not them. Dr. Dingess, an abolitionist loves neighbor and preaches the Gospel, both, at the same time. You can do both. Let us show you how, as we ourselves learn more and more and better and better how to do it.

Carrier fumbles the argument from evil

David Marshall recently debated Richard Carrier. Among other things, Carrier deployed his own version of the argument from evil, which Marshall has posted:


i) A basic problem with Carrier’s argument is that he fails to distinguish between the internal argument from evil and the external argument from evil.

The existence of infant mortality isn’t even prima facie inconsistent with the existence of the Biblical God. It’s not as if the Bible depicts a world in which no child ever dies of illness, in glaring contrast to the real world where children die every day.

Death is a fixture of Bible history. In Scripture, everyone dies–sooner or later. Likewise, the Bible acknowledges the existence of disease. Indeed, Carrier appeals to the healings of Jesus to document that fact.

The Bible doesn’t depict a disease-free world. The Bible doesn’t depict a world in which everyone is immortal.

Therefore, there is no prima facie discrepancy between Biblical theism and human mortality. So why does Carrier think human mortality is an undercutter or defeater for Biblical theism? From a Biblical perspective, the coexistence of the Biblical God with human mortality is clearly compatible, for the obvious reason that Scripture acknowledges both.

It’s as if Carrier deployed the argument from water to disprove Biblical theism. Carrier cited statistics regarding the volume of freshwater in lakes, rivers, glaciers, icecaps, and aquifers. He cited statistics about snowfall and rainfall. He cited statistics about the volume of saltwater in the oceans.

He then triumphantly explained how the existence of water disproved the existence of Yahweh! But since the Bible doesn’t deny the existence of water, how would the existence of water be inconsistent with the existence of Yahweh?

ii) The Bible has a theology of death. There is a theological rationale for death. Carrier doesn’t even engage that argument.

Human mortality a divine curse. We live in a fallen world. Exposure to natural evils like disease and death are hallmarks of our fallen condition.

iii) Although death is a curse, death has fringe benefits. Many of us exist because others have died. Take replacement children. Or widows and widowers who remarry. Take war, which results in dislocation. That, in turn, results in men and women mating with different men and women than if they hadn’t migrated from the war zone. Same thing with famine. A fallen world has compensatory goods.

iv) Although death is a curse, immortality in a fallen world would be a curse. To live in sin century after century, millennium after millennium, to be trapped in a fallen world, to be unable to die, is no less punitive than death. Indeed, that’s what the Bible means by everlasting punishment.

Many unbelievers begin killing themselves long before their natural lifespan has run its course. Many unbelievers begin killing themselves in their prime. They drink themselves to death. Or escape into recreational drugs. Or commit suicide.

They can’t stand to be sober. They hate getting up in the morning. They dread the prospect of getting through another day. They are miserable, depressed. The emptiness of their godless existence is unendurable.

v) Death is the great reminder of how life without God robs us of everything we hold dear. In a fallen world, time is often our worst enemy. The thief of time. The passage of time devours our past. Steadily consumes everything that makes life worthwhile.

Coming face to face with the death of friends and relatives forces us to confront our desperate need for divine healing. Physical healing. Spiritual healing. Emotional healing.

vi) The Bible has a doctrine of immortality. That’s an eschatological promise. Although death is the Last Enemy, death won’t have the last word.

Having to wait for something makes it more precious than instant gratification. Dying makes eternal life more precious. Frequently we don’t know how good we had it until we lose it.

As an internal argument from evil, Carrier’s argument fails–badly.

vii) What about an external argument from evil? But from that perspective, why is infant mortality evil?

To begin with, Carrier supports abortion. So he’s shedding crocodile tears when he feigns indignation over the death of babies.

viii) In addition, from his Darwinian perspective, high rates of mortality for young offspring figure in the balance of nature. That’s a common phenomenon in the animal kingdom. Out of large litters, only a few survive to adulthood. Most offspring die to feed predators, scavengers, and detritivores. Carrier complains about germs and parasites, but that’s an integral part of the ecosystem. Has Carrier bothered to consider what would happen to life on earth if we eradicated all germs and parasites? Has it occurred to him that that would be detrimental to life on earth?

From a Darwinian perspective, the death of simian primate offspring is no different than the death of prosimian primate offspring (e.g. gibbons, lemurs, orangutan, marmosets). Of course, because it’s our own species, natural selection has programmed our brain to form emotional attachments for certain members of our own species, like offspring. But that has no objective significance.

ix) Carrier makes hay about Christ’s opposition to ceremonial handwashing. Is Carrier really that illiterate, or is he just playing to the galleries?

In context, this has reference to ritual cleansing, not hygienic cleansing. Ritual ablutions don’t use antiseptic soap and water. There’s nothing inherently sanitary about ritual ablutions.

x) Carrier said:


No. Jesus argued that we don't have to wash our hands before we eat, that washing is a human tradition, with no endorsement from God. And that nothing we put into us can harm us. And as he is claimed to have said in the Gospel of Mark, not even poison. Clearly, Jesus knew nothing about germs. Nor did he know that faith doesn't make you immune to poison, either.

a) Carrier is partly alluding to the Long Ending of Mark. But that’s probably a scribal interpolation.

b) In addition, Carrier is alluding to Mk 7:14-23 (par. Mt 15:10-20). Once again, is Carrier really that illiterate, or is he just playing to the galleries?

Jesus is discussing “defilement,” not hygiene. “Defilement” is a cultic category. It refers to ritual impurity, not unsanitary conditions.

Moreover, Jesus is contrasting manmade purity codes (concocted by the Pharisees) with actual sin. Moral evil. Moral pollution, not physical pollution. 

xi) Carrier makes tendentious claims about the healing miracles of Jesus, as well as post-biblical healing miracles. He says it’s all psychosomatic.

Really? Raising Lazarus from the dead after three days in hot tomb is psychosomatic? Why doesn’t Carrier visit the county morgue and test his theory on the cadavers.

Of course, Carrier would deny the historicity of that event, but that’s different than classifying it as “psychosomatic.”

He also disregards evidence to the contrary. For instance:

R. Gardner, Healing Miracles (DLT 1987)

C. Keener, Miracles (Baker 2011)

B. Palmer, ed. Medicine and the Bible (Paternoster 1986)

M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil (Simon & Schuster 2005)

G. Twelftree, Jesus The Miracle Worker (IVP 1999)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Substitute Jesus

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:13-15).

Somewhere along the way, Michael Patton lost sight of a simple, vital truth. Christians are called upon to put their faith in the Jesus of the Gospels, not the Jesus of the scholars. In the Jesus of the Evangelists, not the Jesus of the apologists.

That’s how Christ chose to make himself known to posterity. These are the authorized biographies.

We are required to put our faith in the canonical Jesus of St. Matthew, not the reconstructed Jesus of Matthew Brook O’Donnell; in the canonical Jesus of St. Mark, not the reconstructed Jesus of Marcus Bockmuehl; in the canonical Jesus of St. Luke, not the reconstructed Jesus of Luke Timothy Johnson; in the canonical Jesus of St. John, not the reconstructed Jesus of John Meier.

Jesus is not a scholarly construct. If that’s the only Jesus you trust, your Jesus is an idol. The projection of a scholar’s redacted imagination.

I appreciate the work of Christian scholars who defend the historical Jesus. I appreciate the world of Christian apologists who defend the Resurrection. If that’s an aid to faith, fine.

But God gave us the four Gospels. There’s where we encounter Jesus.

The Gospels aren’t raw ore to sift for nuggets of the historical Jesus. God didn’t give us the Gospels to take apart, edit, then reassemble in some residual digest. That’s a substitute Jesus. 

The Gospels are interpretive histories, and rightly so. Facts without context are deceptive. 

In unus plus unus

I used to be a convinced Protestant.  A contented Protestant. Then I was overtaken by a fatal doubt.

One day, as I was reading through 1-2 Corinthians, a terrifying question swept over me: What if I’m miscounting?

I mean, sure, they’re numbered in our editions of the NT. But that’s an editorial addition. In the original Greek of 1 Corinthians & 2 Corinthians, it doesn’t say that Paul wrote two letters. Rather, you read one letter by Paul to the Corinthians and another letter by Paul to the Corinthians.

Now, I kept counting and recounting. And every time I counted 1 & 2 Corinthians, they always added up to two letters. I never got three or four.

But then I remembered, as Bryan Cross is wont to say, that for me to add them was making myself my own arithmetic authority.

Sure, Paul wrote one letter to the Corinthians, and another letter to the Corinthians. Paul said he wrote each letter. But he never said he they were two letters.

How could I be infallibly certain that I hadn’t added wrong? For me to infer or deduce that if Paul wrote one letter to the Corinthians, and another letter to the Corinthians, he wrote two letters to the Corinthians–that these were exactly two letters, rather than five–was quite a leap of faith. A bridge too far. What if I’m a butterfly who dreamt that I read 1-2 Corinthians?

I mean, sure, other Protestants have also done the math, but what if they miscalculated?

It was only when I read the ex cathedra encyclical In unus plus unus ("On one plus one") by Pope Numerus III that my heart was calmed.

I honestly don’t understand how Protestants can live with the unbearable anxiety of having to number books of the Bible.