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
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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)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Protests and Riots and Murder in Colonial America: A Little History Is Good for the Soul

As I begin this post let me say as clearly as I can-- I do not condone vandalism and violence for any reason whether committed by the oppressors or the oppressed, those in power or those without. I reject such action because I am a Christian who is convinced that one cannot make sense of Jesus' ministry presented to us in the four canonical gospels apart from his insistence on nonviolence.

With that out of the way I would like to address the matter of ignorance displayed as knowledge, particularly on social media. All of us face and at times have succumbed to the temptation of speaking in ignorance about something we think we know about only to be embarrassed by somebody who is truly within the know. I can say from experience that it is really embarrassing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

How Likely Are You To be Killed By a Terrorist? By a Refugee Terrorist?

The Libertarian Cato Institute has recently published a risk analysis report (much like the analysis insurance companies engage in when writing policies) assessing the likelihood of an American citizen being killed on native soil by someone who has come to the United States with terrorist intentions (legally and illegally). (The full report is here.) Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst for Cato looked "at every single terrorist attack committed on U.S. soil by an immigrant or tourist from 1975 to the end of 2015" and applied some basic risk analysis.

Here are the findings:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Scriptures and Prayer for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 or Amos 6:1a, 4-7

Psalter: Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 or Psalm 146

Epistle: 1 Timothy 6:6-19

Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
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God Eternal, you inspired Jeremiah to buy a piece of land when no one could see a future in it. Grant us such commitment to the future of your people, that you will always have workers for your vineyard and harvesters for your fields. Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Living Life Out of Control

I was involved in an interesting discussion recently on the idea that we human beings forge our own destinies and how that squares with the Bible's affirmation that our lives are in the hands of God. In the course of the discussion we began to talk about forgiveness and how it is easier to forgive than to be forgiven, because to be forgiven means we must let go of our fate and put our destiny in the hands of another. How true it is that we human beings like being in control of our lives. "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul;" so goes the poem that so many learn in school and recite as if in fact it were true. Falsehoods sound so believable when they are stated poetically.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Apologists #3: Justin Martyr, c. 100-165, part 1

It was Justin, who was martyred around AD 165, that presented Christianity as the best of the philosophies of the day. He told of how he studied many different philosophers without finding any satisfaction, until one day, a mysterious old man taught him about the Christian faith (Dialogue with Trypho, 8). Justin emphasized philosophy's continuity with Christianity and its Jewish roots. He taught that the philosophers received their best ideas by reading the Jewish Scriptures (First Apology, 44).

It is important to remember that since the apologists sought to defend Christianity against rumors and misunderstandings, one task that they inherited was to argue that Christians should not be persecuted by the authorities. In the First Apology, Justin states that it is reasonable to abandon these traditions which are not good. This is true because we should only love truth. Of course, Justin will argue that the authorities should abandon the persecution of Christians once they understand the truth concerning Christianity.

Justin urges those who will read The Apology to examine Christianity in the search for truth. Justin claims that his readers are wise philosophers. They should know that justice requires Christians not be condemned simply because of their name. The authorities must take into account what the name "Christian" means before condemning it (First Apology, 2, 4). Justin takes several chapters to refute the charge of atheism against Christians, since they worshiped a deity without human form. He does so by explaining what Christians believe about God and by challenging the Roman temple system of gods and goddesses (First Apology, 6, 9, 10).
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Previous Posts:

The Apologists #1: Introduction

The Apologists #2: Pagan Culture and Judaism

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Parable Not About Hell, But About Justice: A Lectionary Reflection on Luke 16:19-31

Luke 16:19-31

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus has often been used as a story that reveals the character of hell, a hot and fiery place of torment. But the story is not about hell, but is rather about justice and God's concern to make things right ultimately-- the great reversal of fortunes between the haves and the have nots. Kacy Madsen writes,
The Rich Man and Lazarus has been grouped among the “double-edged” parables, signifying that it addresses two moral lessons. The first of these lessons concentrated on the reversal of fortunes in the afterlife for the rich and the poor (Hultgren 112). This idea of reversal was derived from a rich tradition of folk-material. According to Jeremias:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hope at Ground Zero: A Lectionary Reflection on Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

The days of your tiny nation are numbered. The enemy is about to take the land and every one of your countrymen they can find with it. You are ready to flee, but before you go you put your house up for sale in the hope that someone might buy it to give you additional money for your exodus out of your homeland.