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Showing posts from December, 2017

Christian Freedom in a Postmodern Western World

The Gospel is the basis for freedom of speech.  Islam, which means ‘submission,’ offers the world an inseparable combination of religion and government; with no separation of religion and state, with laws that enforce compliance, with punishments for any who convert to another religion, and with a tax on non-Muslims.  Western governments, on the other hand, have established governance on notions of freedom and equality that protect the individual’s choices and lifestyle and limit government.  Over against Islam’s ‘submission,’ the West has offered ‘freedom.’
Yet the West is now turning against religion or, more particularly, against Christianity.  It is no coincidence that the more the West moves away from its Christian culture, the more it chips away at its own foundations of freedom.  This is because it is moving away from a Christian understanding of ‘freedom.’  In fact, the Postmodern West’s notion of freedom is increasingly similar to Islam’s notion of submission.
The Christian …

Are All Evangelicals Orthodox?: The Church, Ordination, and Prayer for the Sick

Evangelicalism is not a particular denominational confession or tradition in the Church.  It is a movement—an orthodox, Christian movement in Protestantism that relates to the Reformation and is an extension of German pietism and the great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries.  (By 'orthodox' I simply mean what the Church has typically taught everywhere, always, and by all through the centuries that is grounded in Scripture.  I am not referring to the Orthodox Church in particular.)  It is best described historically, especially if the alternative is a political description.  This historical definition allows a definition in terms of what united different orthodox movements operating within and outside wayward, Protestant denominations over the post-Reformation centuries.  However, has Evangelicalism remained untainted by the Enlightenment’s Deism, secularism, and rationalism—its anti-supernaturalism and denial of miracles?  I think not, and I will seek to illustrate this w…

Jesus Christ, No 'Great Man' of History but the 'Middle of Time' Itself

Napoleon Bonaparte’s spectre no doubt still hung over Europe in 1940, when Thomas Carlyle wrote his ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History.’  Yet he built his case that great men create history with reference not only to Napoleon but also to Oliver Cromwell, to the Norse hero, Odin, to Mohammed, Dante, Shakespeare, Luther, Knox, and to men of letters like Johnson, Rousseau, and Burns.  Wrote he,
For, as I take it, Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world's history, it may justly b…

Some Christian Thoughts on the Culture’s Recent Outrage Over Sexual Harassment, Impropriety, and Abuse

All eyes are now focussed on a serious issue in our society: what seems a pandemic of sexual harassment, impropriety, and abuse.  While the latest iteration of this is mostly focussed on politicians, the issue in one form or another has often been in the news: the Hollywood culture, the Catholic Church’s pedophile priests, workplace sexual harassment, and so forth.  How does or should a Christian assess the news?  Several Biblical answers are worth keeping in perspective.
1.The fundamental problem is not simply acts of wrongdoing but a wicked heart, sin against God, and human depravity: The following passage might be an epitaph for any number of the persons guilty of sexual sin now in the news:
Psalm 36:1-4 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.  2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.  3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.  4 He …

The Christian Wedding Cake Maker and the Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court today heard arguments in the case of a Christian wedding cake maker sued for not baking a wedding cake for a homosexual couple’s wedding ceremony.  
American, public ethics is often considered on the slenderest of criteria and typically by trying to determine how the virtue of ‘freedom’ should be understood and applied in various cases.  While this line of argument has seen good results in some cases, it often proves to be inadequate for many ethical issues.  At times, there is a conflict of freedom: whose freedom wins over someone else’s freedom?  At other times, it is inadequate as a test to decide a moral issue.  Parental authority, punishment of criminals, decisions about war, and so forth are not considered on the basis of, or merely on the basis of freedom.  Indeed, as the ancient Greeks realised, there are many virtues to consider, not just one or two, and even the cardinal virtues for them totaled four—and they did not include freedom!  (They wer…