Saturday, April 13, 2013

Inter-racial marriage and same-sex marriage

William Lane Craig on "Inter-Racial Marriage and Same Sex Marriage".

Yahweh Does Not Play Word Games

the baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.
The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. . . . He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.

And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. (2 Kings 21:10-12)

Speaking hope to the world

HT: Tim Challies.

The Bad Fruit Of Neglecting Apologetics And Other Intellectual Matters

I agree with William Lane Craig's comments in his April 2013 newsletter (I'm quoting the email edition I received):

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The papacy’s murky origins

The Wall Street Journal has a “Saturday Essay” entitled “How the Pope was Picked”.

I left a comment -- my comment is #6, linked here.

I said this:

My hope is that he will have the courage to relate research about the papacy’s murky origins. At a very recent ecumenical discussion, the Roman Catholic New Testament Scholar John Meier said “A papacy that cannot give a credible historical account of its own origins can hardly hope to be a catalyst for unity among divided Christians.” Catholic Archbishop Roland Minnerath said “At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West.” And the Lutheran scholar John Reumann said “historically a gap occurs at the point where it has been claimed “the apostles were careful to appoint successors.” All of this is related in “How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church?” James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010. It’s time for the Catholic Church to own up to this publicly.

RINO Rubio

"Secure the border FIRST, then we will talk."

This should be the conviction of Republicans including Rubio.

However, Republicans are so eager to create 11 million Democrats overnight with their immigration bill, the bill that Democrats are laughing about behind closed doors.

Enter the permanent Democratic majority:

P.S. There is the myth that these illegal immigrants want citizenship. The vast majority do not. They want the benefits of citizenship, but not the citizenship itself.

Ed Dingess: Troll

This post is a bit ironic since I'm calling attention to Ed Dingess rather than ignoring him! Also, I've failed at ignoring him many times in the past, against my better judgment, and to my considerable detriment.

So I hope this post serves as a word of warning to others. Don't make the same mistake I did! Please be aware of Ed Dingess. Or at the very least take great caution when attempting to engage him in dialogue or debate.

Of course, if you're not aware of Dingess, that's fortunate!

However, if you'd like to be aware of Dingess, you could start by checking out this comment from RWH.

I'll turn off comments for this post for hopefully pretty obvious reasons.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ancient Non-Christian Sources On Gospel Authorship

Something I wrote in a recent Stand To Reason thread:

It should be noted that many ancient non-Christian sources corroborated the traditional authorship attributions of the gospels (Marcion, Celsus, Porphyry, Julian the Apostate, etc.). Those today who reject the authorship attributions aren’t just disagreeing with the ancient Christians, but also with the ancient Jewish and pagan opponents of the religion. We find ancient non-Christian sources disputing the authorship of Old Testament books, such as the Pentateuch and Daniel, as well as some of the New Testament in a minority of cases, and the ancient Christians sometimes disputed the authorship claims among themselves (whether Peter wrote 2 Peter, whether John wrote Revelation, etc.). Thus, it can't be argued that they were just uncritically accepting whatever authorship claims were made or never thought of the possibility that the attributions were wrong. They knew that the attributions could be wrong, and they sometimes disputed them, yet we see widespread acceptance of the traditional authorship attributions of the gospels among both ancient Christians and non-Christians.

For some examples of the evidence from these non-Christian sources, see my series linked within the post here and John Cook's The Interpretation Of The New Testament In Greco-Roman Paganism (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), e.g., 140, 184, 198, 203, 235, 263, 289, 297, 301, 303-304.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Perfect Storm for America's Death

"Barack Obama, as did Mussolini, Lenin, Mao and Hitler before him, has the ability to visibly remain above the fray, appear as the champion of the people and manipulate the emotions of an ill-educated populace.  In the case of Obama he has the further benefit of being able to exploit the racial guilt embedded in the American society."

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Christian Scientific Society
Plenary Session
A friendly debate on Intelligent Design.
Prof. Martin Poenie, Department of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, Univ. of Texas at Austin
Prof. Jed Macosko, Department of Physics, Wake Forest University

Special Talk
Can Darwin-Doubting Scientists Experience Academic Freedom?
Casey Luskin, Discovery Institute (California Bar, active member)

Annual Meeting Format
The Annual Meeting is open and free of charge to all associate and full members of the society; there is no additional registration charge. Registration must be done in advance to ensure space. To register, send email to

A Devastating Critique Of James Randi

Michael Prescott has a good post on a new book by Will Storr. The book is partly about parapsychology, and it includes interviews of Rupert Sheldrake and James Randi. Here's a quote from Sheldrake, taken from the interview:

“Randi is a liar,” says Sheldrake. “He's a man of very doubtful character indeed – a rude, aggressive, dogmatic Skeptic who knows nothing about science. He's taken seriously by people like Dawkins – they worship him – because they see themselves as engaged in a war against unreason and religion. And if you're in a war, you want to have thugs on your side.”

Read what Prescott goes on to quote regarding Randi's inconsistencies and lies, as well as an exchange Storr had with Randi during an interview. Read the whole thing. There's a lot of valuable material.

No enemies on the left

"Why Doesn't Communism Have as Bad a Name as Nazism?"

In Defense of Christian Activism

Uncharted waters

The use of birds which could be released for determining the presence and direction of land (Gen 8:6-12) is not a folkloristic invention, but reflects actual navigational practice…A cage full of homing pigeons is not a bad method of direction finding.

C. Gordon, Before Columbus (Crown Publishers 1971), 77.

James Hornell [“The Role of Birds in Ancient Navigation”] shows that several ancient peoples used birds for the purpose of finding out whether there was land within a navigable distance, and in what direction. Hornell adduces references to the practice of carrying aboard several “shore-sighting birds” among the ancient Hindu merchants when sailing on overseas voyages contained in the Hindu Sutta Pitaka (5C BC), according to which these birds were “used to locate the nearest land when the ship’s position was doubtful.” The same practice is mentioned in the Buddhist Kevaddha Sutta of Digha, written about the same period.

R. Patai, The Children of Noah: Jewish Seafaring in Ancient Times (Princeton 1998), 10-11.

Birds in ancient navigation

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth (Gen 8:6-7).

In traversing their seas, the people of Taprobane [Ceylon] take no observations of the stars, and indeed the Greater Bear is not visible to them; but they carry birds out to sea, which they let go from time to time, and so follow their course as they make for the land.

Pliny, Natural History, 6.24.

One of the first Norwegian sailors to hazard the voyage to Iceland was a man known as Raven-Floki for his habit of keeping ravens aboard his vessel. When he thought he was nearing land, Raven-Floki released the ravens, which he had deliberately starved. Often as not, they flew "as the crow flies" directly toward land, which Raven-Floki would reach simply by following their lead.

Coptic Christians under siege as mob attacks Cairo cathedral

Hundreds of Christians were under siege inside Cairo’s Coptic cathedral [Sunday] night as security forces and local residents, some armed with handguns, launched a prolonged and unprecedented attack on the seat of Egypt’s ancient Church.

At least one person was killed and at least 84 injured as Christians inside the walled St Mark’s cathedral compound came under a frenzied assault from their assailants in the main road outside.

The fighting erupted after a mass funeral for five Copts who were killed during violent clashes in a north Egyptian town on Saturday. A Muslim man also died in the clashes, which happened after an Islamic institute was daubed with offensive graffiti.

Following yesterday’s service thousands of Christians poured out on to the street and began chanting slogans against Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian President and long-time member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Late last night President Morsi issued a statement in which he said he had spoken to Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic church, and had given orders for the cathedral and citizens to be guarded. He said protecting the lives of Muslims and Christians was a state responsibility and added: “I consider any attack on the cathedral as an attack on me, personally.”

The man killed in the clashes outside the cathedral was named by the state news agency, MENA, as Mahrous Hana Tadros, a Christian name. MENA said 11 of the 84 injured were police officers.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Peter Escalante puts his finger on the root of the “Two Kingdoms” debates

From Peter Escalante at “The Calvinist International”:

John Calvin, of course, said that reason and natural law themselves both point to the architectonic necessity of civil theology, ...

But more is involved here than reason and revelation. For [Roman Catholic writers], the papalist distinction between nature and supernature, and it is important to understand this lest we simply assume that evangelicals and papalists are really talking about quite the same things in these discussions.

Thus a brief reflection on the end of man is in order, since the end of man is the central affair of politics. Both [Roman Catholic writers he is referring to -- see the original articles at the link above] assert the papalist doctrine of the two ends of man, though neither really deal with the controversy about this doctrine among papalist doctors, let alone between those and the evangelical doctors. But in short the idea is that man has a temporal end – roughly what Aristotle calls happiness – and also a “supernatural” end, which is the beatific vision, in which the original nature will be aufgehoben [repealed].

The beatific vision is St Paul’s “face to face,” the final and perfect communion of man with God. Christians have always wondered what exactly the relation of this world, not simply as fallen, but even in original integrity, is to that final status promised by the Scriptures, and the controversy about that relation long predates the great reformation of religion five hundred years ago. And it continues to this day. Although it has become something of an Arcanum, it is the crucial center of the question of what it is for Christians to live in the world.

Attentive readers will see in [the Roman Catholic’s] reply not only the idea of the two ends of man, but also the idea of the donum superadditum.



Among the realities of this digital world is a whole class of web sites known as discernment blogs or watchblogs...They are the playground bullies of the Internet, shaking their fists and demanding your lunch money.

I deeply resent that. Does Challies think watchbloggers like me are such cheapskates that we’d settle for lunch money? I’m not some smalltime crook. I’m an Ocean’s 11 watchblogger!


On a serious note, I don’t think Tblog has ever said anything negative about Challies, so I doubt we’re one of the “watchblogs” he’s alluding to.

Also, I believe he’s alluding to the SGM/Mahaney scandal. That raises serious issues of institutional transparency and institutional accountability. I think some “watchbloggers” went after Challies because they thought he was sweeping that under the rug. I haven’t followed the controversy, myself.

The other thing is a national divide in terms of cultural tone: kinda like Masterpiece Theatre meets High Plains Drifter.


I’ve been watching the Vikings TV series. My forebears are Vikings on my father’s side, which we can trace back to 10C Normandy (named after the Norsemen).

The show is filmed in Ireland, with magnificent scenery. The story is ostensibly set in the 9C. Apparently, the show is roughly faithful to Nordic legends, which isn’t the same thing as historical accuracy. 

Unlike the Merlin TV series, Vikings does acknowledge the existence of medieval Christianity. Indeed, the tension between Nordic paganism and medieval Christianity is one of the show’s dramatic pivots.

Except for Athelstan, the monkish war captive, none of the other characters is admirable. All of the men are murderous looters. And the women (e.g. Siggy, Lagertha) are just as bad as the men. Ragnar’s young son (Bjorn) has a certain boyish likeability, but he will grow up to be a killer like his dad.

Normally, Earl Haraldson would be the villain. Normally the audience would be rooting for Ragnar to slay Haraldson. Problem is, all of them are villains.

Normally, heroes play off villains, and vice versa. Yet Ragnar is hardly a sympathetic character. He isn’t treacherous the way Haraldson is, but he’s still a rapacious butcher.

Theoretically, the show has great potential if the monk evangelized the pagans. But I doubt the screenwriters will take the story in that direction. That would be too Christian.

When the Vikings plunder the monastery at Lindesfarne, they naturally seize the silver and gold, but what the monks value is not the silver and gold, but the Bible manuscripts. As Athelstan says, “Without the word of God, all is darkness!” And Athelstan smuggles a codex of Scripture to have with him.

Fimmel doesn’t strike me as a natural actor. He tries too hard. You can see the gears moving. Thinks too much about acting.

I liked him better in The Beast, although he was a little off in that role, too. He reminds me of James Dean in Giant, who gave a memorable, but studied performance.

Gabriel Burne is a fine actor. I liked him in Stigmata. Dumb film, but a strong performance. Burne has real stage presence. He originally studied for the priesthood.

Unfortunately, he plays a very grim character in this drama, so it’s a limited part. By killing Haraldson in the latest episode, they kill off the best actor in the series.

There’s a good child actor who plays Ragnar’s son. And the show has some beautiful women!

Athelstan is too soft and pretty to be a realistic medieval monk. I assume you had to be a tough, hardy physical specimen to survive to adulthood in the middle ages–not a fashion model.

They also make the monk very self-conscious about explaining and defending Biblical stories in contrast to Nordic mythology and folklore. That strikes me as a very modern, pluralistic touch. I’m sure medieval missionaries weren’t bashful about touting the superiority of the Christian faith.

I wonder if monasteries were really that defenseless. Did they just trust in the goodwill or superstitious reverence of the neighbors?

There’s an unintentionally comical scene in the latest episode where king Aelle (of Northumbria) tosses his timid general into a snakepit. To my knowledge, there are no venomous snakes in Northern England. Indeed, I believe venomous snake typically reside in the sunbelt. Moreover, you don’t need to know much about snakes to see that these are boa constrictors. 

Last words

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.

(The Heidelberg Catechism)

Roger Ebert’s mother on her deathbed:

I never told my mother I wouldn't become a priest, but she got the idea. Even after starting work in Chicago, I never found the nerve, when we were visiting each other, to not attend Sunday Mass with her. She knew well enough those were the only times I went to church. What I was doing, I suppose, was going through the motions to respect a tradition that was more important to her than to me. She believed in the faith until the hour of her death. In her final days, she lapsed into a comatose state. She didn't respond to questions, and her eyes remained closed. Under her breath, barely audible, she repeated the "Hail, Mary" over and over. She was buried from St. Patrick's Church, and I tipped the altar boys.

John Murray’s father on his deathbed:

I have to give you the sad news that my father passed away last Wednesday. The news of his passing brings a peculiar feeling of sorrow, but I am also filled with a deep feeling of gratitude and joy. He was a dear and eminently worthy father, so faithful, so loving. It is an inexpressible privilege to believe that he is now with the Lord and Savior whom he loved and served for so long. Every indication points in the direction that the work of saving grace was wrought in him at a very early age and with unimpeachable integrity and perseverance he witnessed to the Lord to the ripe age of 90. His interest was lively and his faculties unimpaired, until, just a few weeks ago, his interest in things of this world seemed largely to disappear. In the last letter I had from my sister she told me that for the two days preceding, he was in the 51st psalm and repeated it again and again from the beginning to the end in Gaelic, his mother tongue, of course.

Collected Writings of John Murray, 3:82.

"Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church"

Here is a post from Justin Taylor that might be helpful to some people.

Christians and education

Prof. John Frame writes on the topic of Christians and education.

I don't know if I necessarily agree with everything in the paper. Actually, much more likely I'm not competent enough to say one way or the other. At any rate, as is the case with practically everything he writes about, Prof. Frame offers a ton of helpful insight to sharpen one's thinking.

Among other things, the article includes discussion about the role of the state in the education of children. I think this is especially relevant in our political and sociocultural climate, particularly given the debate over same-sex marriage, as it's quite possible a case for homosexual adoption or otherwise gay parents having and raising their own children will come hand-in-hand with or follow from the debate over same-sex marriage.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Homosexual parasitism

I’d like to make a small but significant point about the relationship between homosexuality and heterosexuality. Homosexuality is parasitic on heterosexuality. Every homosexual is the product of a heterosexual union–no heterosexual was ever the product of a homosexual union. So these are fundamentally asymmetrical.

And even if we qualify that by reference to modern reproductive technologies, these are also parasitic on heterosexuality.

A glossary of marital perversions

The current debate over homosexual marriage invites analogies. For purposes of comparison and contrast, let’s put these options on the table, with precise terminology.

Keep in mind that not all of these are mutually exclusive. It’s possible to combine some of these:

1. Open marriage

Where one or both spouses agree to let the other have sexual partners outside the marriage.

2. Homosexual marriage

Marriage between (at least) two lesbians or sodomites.

3. Incestuous marriage

“Incest” is an umbrella term.


“Incest” can be purely technical. For instance, you could have a blended family with two sets of kids from different marriages. Legally they are siblings, yet they are really in-laws rather than blood relatives.

Likewise, different cultures have different prohibited degrees of affinity. In some cultures, marriage between cousins is incestuous whereas that’s morally licit in other cultures. Some cultures favor endogamy.

In analogy with homosexual marriage, I think the type of incest in view would be parental incest, whether parent/underage child or parent/grown child.


A sexual relationship between a biological brother and biological sister.


Consensual sexual relations between adult family members (e.g. father/daughter, mother/son, uncle/niece, or adult siblings).


Sexual relations between a biological parent and biological child, whether minors or adults.


Sexual relations between family members of the same sex.

When Christians compare homosexual marriage to incestuous marriage,  that’s probably shorthand for something more specific, like parental incest.

4. Polygamous marriage

Marriage between three or more parties.

5. Bestial marriage

Marriage between humans and animals.

6. Pederastic marriage

Marriage between an adult and a child or minor of the same sex.

7. Pedophilic marriage

Marriage between an adult and child or minor of either sex.


Proponents of sodomite marriage typically resent these comparisons. So I’m going to say a bit more:

i) Proponents of sodomite marriage become oddly Victorian or prudish when opponents compare sodomite marriage to incest, polygamy, pedophilia, or bestiality. But when did proponents of sodomite marriage suddenly develop these sexual hang-ups? Why are they entitled to find these alternative marital arrangements morally invidious when Christians are not entitled to find sodomite marriage morally invidious?

Fact is, once you accept sodomite marriage, then there are no rules. We can define and redefine the rules at will. The rules are whatever we say they are, from one day to the next. It’s just a social convention.

ii) This isn’t just hypothetical. Muslims practice polygamy, child marriage, and–in the case of the Pashtun–pederasty. In the current political climate, it’s very easy to see how Muslims in America would demand legal accommodations on all three fronts, in the name of multiculturalism. Muslims already wield great political clout in Michigan.

In addition, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations have been softening their historic opposition to pedophilia.

iii) What about bestiality? Some American Indian tribes reportedly practiced bestiality. So you could imagine American Indians demanding a legal accommodation, just like they did with Peyote.

Likewise, OT prohibitions against bestiality presume its occurrence among pagans. Well, what about neopagans?

In addition, millions of Americans like their pet animals better than human beings.

So what really stands in the way of bestial marriage, once sodomite marriage punches through? 

Coping with suicide

As most of you have heard by now, Rick Warren’s youngest son committed suicide. I’ll just make one observation.

I assume there are parents of kids who committed suicide who torment themselves with the question, “If only we could have gotten him (her) the help he needed.”

Due to his personal wealth and megachurch position, Warren had resources for treating his son that most Christian parents can only dream of. I’m sure his son had the best professional treatment that money could buy. But it wasn’t enough.

In a fallen world, the things we care the most about are the things we have the least control over. God is our only hope, in this life and the life to come.

Conjugal fisting

Sodomite marriage has been called “the defining civil rights issue of our time.” Oddly enough, proponents don’t seem to be in a hurry to define the defining right.

They make it sound like sodomite marriage is a great idealistic cause. But what, exactly, are they defending the right of homosexuals to do to each other in a state of matrimony? 

If you have friends who defend sodomite marriage, and challenge you on your opposition to sodomite marriage, this is what they’re actually defending. This is the great civil rights cause of our time.

I’m taking the defintions verbatim from NHS safe-sex guidelines for lesbians and sodomites.

1. The right to perform conjugal anal sex:

Anal sex is putting a penis into a sexual partners rectum (insertive) or having sexual partners penis inserted in to the rectum (receptive)

2. The right to perform conjugal felching:

Felching is a practice that involves sucking the semen out of a partner’s anus or vagina, with or without a straw.

3. The right to perform conjugal fisting:

Fisting involves inserting the entire hand, and sometimes part of the arm, into the anus or vagina of a sexual partner.

4. The right to perform conjugal rimming:

Rimming involves oral (mouth, tongue) contact with the anus for the purpose of sexual stimulation.

5. The right to perform conjugal sadomasochism:

The deriving of pleasure, especially sexual gratification from inflicting or submitting to physical or emotional abuse (including being humiliated, beaten and bound).

6. The right to perform conjugal faecophilia

This relates to sexual arousal from the presence of faeces. In some cases faeces may be ingested (Coprophagia).

7. The right to perform conjugal urophilia

Sexual activity involving urine. (Can involve drinking urine, exchange of urine over or into the body).

8. The right to use conjugal butt plugs, &c.:

Sex toys can be used during sex for sexual stimulation. They can be a variety of things, some of the most common are dildos, butt plugs, vibrators and love eggs. Foreign objects are also some times used in this role; many household items are adapted for sexual purposes. Enemas and a douche may also be considered in the context of sex toys.

The Bible in the public square

Should Jews and Christians appeal to Biblical norms when debating homosexual marriage?

Some advocates of traditional marriage think we should confine ourselves to natural law arguments. Now, I have no objection to using common ground arguments in the marriage debate. Here’s a useful collection of articles that reflect that strategy:

However, as Albert Mohler and Denny Burk recently observed, the moral status of homosexuality has suddenly dropped out of the current debate, as if that’s irrelevant or out-of-bounds.

Let’s consider some stock objections to using the Bible in political discourse:

i) Only fundamentalist Bible-thumpers resort to Scripture when debating public policies issues

To begin with, even if that were true, so what?

However, that’s not true. For instance, consider Richard Bauckham’s The Bible in Politics: How to Read the Bible Politically (WJK, 2nd ed., 2011).

Bauckham is not a fundamentalist. And he’s center/left on the political spectrum.

Or take Daniel Carroll’s books: Thinking Christianly About Immigration; Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible.

Since he’s using the Bible to promote a position liberals agree with, his appeal to Scripture doesn’t generate the same outcry.

ii) Appealing to Scripture violates separation of church and state

I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but I’ve read Constitutional scholars who argue that the purpose of the Establishment Clause was to prevent the Federal government from instituting a national church. That’s it.

In fact, it doesn’t take a Constitutional scholar to recognize the fact that many modern judges are promulgating very innovative rulings. Discovering things to be unconstitutional which the generation of the Founding Fathers and states which ratified the Constitution and the Bill of Rights never deemed to be unconstitutional. The very notion of a “living Constitution” is a frank admission that many modern judges flagrantly disregard original intent.

iii) If you allow the Bible to dictate public policy, then theocracy is the logical outcome

a) To begin with, this objection is a double-edged sword. Suppose the Bible does obligate Christians to promote a theocratic state. If that’s the case, then that’s what faithful Christians should work towards, assuming it’s politically feasible.

b) However, different Christian traditions have different positions how much of OT social ethics carries over into the new covenant, or church/state relations. Take Baptists, Anabaptists, and Lutherans. Take confessional Presbyterians who operate with a “general equity” principle. Take Richard Hooker’s Anglican position in contrast to the Puritans.

c) An appeal to Scripture is not ipso facto an appeal to Biblical law. When Christians cite Mt 19:4-5, Rom 1:24-27, or 1 Tim 1:10, that’s not an appeal to Biblical law. These passages don’t belong to the legal genre. An appeal to these passages doesn’t transplant Biblical laws into modern American jurisprudence.

Rather, these involve general truths about the nature and moral status of human sexuality. Shouldn’t our civil and criminal law code be based on truths about human nature? Be based on true moral judgments?  

iv) Appealing to Scripture begs the question when debating non-Christians

a) First of all, we can distinguish between defensive and offensive appeals to Scripture. If a Christian is defending his personal view of homosexual marriage, then he’s justified in appealing to Scripture. The fact that his opponent denies the authority of Scripture is irrelevant, for the Christian is giving his own reasons.

b) When going on the offensive, appealing to Scripture would only beg the question if the Christian simply took the authority of Scripture for granted. But, of course, his commitment to Scripture is defensible. It’s quite possible to argue for the authority of Scripture. Indeed, that’s a standard topic in Christian apologetics. A Christian can give reasons for why everyone ought to believe the Bible.

c) In addition, proponents of homosexual marriage have their own burden of proof. What is their source and standard of social ethics? How do they ground objective moral norms?

d) Likewise, if they espouse naturalistic evolution, then what makes human animals property-bearers of human rights or civil rights? Isn’t a human being just a fleeting and fortuitous arrangement of matter?

But God made me this way!

I appreciated Prof. John Frame's article on homosexuality here.

Before “Infallibility” Was a Twinkling in a Pope’s Eye

In an ongoing discussion on Facebook, [a discussion of “the Johannine Comma”], a FB friend of mine said, “It would be Orwellian doublespeak (and arbitrary) to say that a pope can guarantee absolute certainty for an individual on an issue while at the same time reserve the right to remove the absoluteness of that certainty an any time.”

While this discussion focused on an area of biblical interpretation in which he concludes that epistemologically, “They are in the same situation” as evidentialist Protestants” [Pope Leo had said one thing, then a “clarification” some 30 years later said another], this very sort of thing is what was at the foundation of the medieval discussions of papal infallibility.

* * *

In a 13th century dispute over a papal decision (Nicholas III) regarding the rule of the Franciscans, Pope John XXII rejected the notion of “infallibility” (i.e, a later pope can’t change the decree of an earlier pope) because he viewed it as “an improper restriction of his rights as a sovereign”. In the bull “Quia Quorundam”, he said (see paragraph 6):

If therefore after an interdict of a general council it was lawful for the supreme Pontiffs to confirm orders [that] had not been confirmed, and for their successors to dissolve completely [those which] had been so confirmed, is it not wonderful, if, what only the supreme Pontiff may declare or ordain concerning the rules of [religious] orders, it is lawful for his successors to declare or to change to other things. Moreover it is clear that neither the confirmation of the aforesaid [Popes], Honorius, Gregory, Alexander, and Nicholas [III], was accomplished in general council, since no general council was celebrated by any of these. Granted that Innocent IV celebrated a general council, nevertheless during that [council] the above said declaration of his was not accomplished with the authority of any council. Nicholas IV, however, neither celebrated a general council, nor declared anything concerning the said rule. The aforesaid Gregory IX, however, neither confirmed nor declared the said rule, but in a general council, where there had been not a few orders of mendicants abolished, he did not abolish the orders of the said Friars Minor and [Friar] Preachers, but asserted them to be approved, saying thus: “To these [orders], which the resulting utility of the universal church, evident from these things, demonstrates as approved, We do not permit the present constitution to be extended”.

Bernhard Hasler wrote “the pope’s objection may strike us today a grotesque, but the point was well taken: Infallibility always constitutes a limit to the power of an individual pope, who is bound by the infallible declarations of his predecessors. For the time being, the bishops of Rome had no interest in this theory. Discussion of the issue faded away for centuries” (August Bernhard Hasler, “How the Pope Became Infallible”, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, © 1981, pgs 36-37).

This is one reason why the “Reformation” of Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII) looms so large. That was the “Reformation” (following the East-West split of 1054) which created the papacy as a “sovereign” in the first place. All Eastern objections to the imperial papacy were at once brushed aside, and the “Imperial papacy” was enabled for the first time to have all the earthly glory it wanted.