A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Goodness Is God's Work

Even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own stream-- he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. And that has practical consequences. As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot towards repairing that body. Cut it, and up to a point it will heal, as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble-- because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out."

"That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or-- if they think there is not-- at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it."

--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Can a Christian Politician Campaign as a Christian?

By the title of this post I am not asking whether a Christian can campaign for office on some kind of Christian platform. The nature of my inquiry instead is given the rough and tumble and even nasty nature of the world of politics, can a politician who embraces Christian faith run a campaign that looks Christian in character?

Many years ago, a parishioner of a church I was serving at the time asked me if I ever considered running for political office. I responded in somewhat glib fashion, "I deal with enough politics in the church as it is. Why would I want to intentionally set foot directly into the fray?"

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"We Like Jesus and Not the Church, Because We Don't Know Jesus"

The title of this post is a quote from Jonathan Storment in an excellent post published over at Jesus Creed. Jonathan writes,

To be sure, Jesus will offend different people in different ways.  The wealthy of the world will take offense at the teachings on wealth, or the command to the Rich Young Ruler.  For the conservative people Jesus' radical redefinition of family and family values is offensive.  Or for the progressives, Jesus' hard line stance on things like marriage and divorce, or the protection of children, are really bothersome.  Jesus will offend everyone!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Were the Old Testament Prophets Radical Reformers?

Christians today tend to view prophets as radical reformers offering something new. In fact, in the modern West we have tended to create an antithesis between the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament-- the Law was about conserving what was whereas the prophets were about moving into new ways into the future. We see this with Walter Rauschenbusch and the social gospel, as one example.

But when one looks at the New Testament, such an antithesis is absent. Jesus is portrayed as having come to fulfill both the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27), and the Protestant Reformed reading of Paul's understanding of grace as from the prophets in opposition to the law has been decisively discredited.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Did Peter Abandon the Jewish Food Laws at Antioch? #3

Galatians 2:11-18

Paul rejected his Jewish Christian brothers' insistence that Gentiles still needed to take up the yoke of the law, even though they believed in Jesus Christ. In Paul's view such an attitude continued to place the Gentile believers in the category of "sinners." The phrase "Gentile sinners" may very well been employed by the "men from James" as a reference to the Gentile believers. The term would raise questions in the minds of those Jews having table-fellowship with the Gentiles. Should they eat with sinners, that is Gentiles who do not possess the law (Psalms 27:3; 54:3; 91:7; 124:3; 128:3; Tobit 13:8; Jubilees 23:23-24; 4 Ezra 4:23), or more importantly, who do not follow the halakic rules?

The very concept of "sinner" in reference to the Gentile Christians meant for Paul that his Jewish brothers had missed the point of justification by faith. His argument in 2:15-18 and beyond is that in Christ God has justified the Gentiles through faith, even though they remain Gentiles. They remain Gentiles, but in Christ they are no longer "sinners." Justification by faith is not simply the way one enters the covenant, it is the way one lives in the covenant. Therefore, circumcision and table-regulations were not to be required of the Gentiles. The inheritance of Abraham now belonged to the Gentiles as well (3:14).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Scriptures and Prayer for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Epistle: James 1:17-27

Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
O Father of lights, from whose word of truth we have been born as firstfruits of your creatures: make us quick to listen and slow to speak, that the word implanted in us may take root to nourish all our living, and that we may be blessed in our doing and fruitful in action. Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2015

How About a Little Fact-Checking Before Posting that Facebook Meme?

The second President of the United States, John Adams said, "Facts are stubborn things." He was certainly right when it comes to politics. As I have said often on this blog, the first casualty in politics is the truth. That is true not only because there are partisan voters who are willing to outright lie if it furthers their agenda, but also there are those who are more than willing to spread such lies without bothering to check and discover whether or not the propaganda they are promoting is in actuality the truth. For both kinds of persons, I submit that nation-state politics has become their religion.

Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than on social media, where anyone can create a meme that is simply untrue so that partisan minions on both sides of the political aisle will mindless spread the falsehoods on the social media wall.

Politifact, a website dedicated to truth in politics writes of such memes:

In Need of a Caption