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)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ben Franklin and America's Federal Fowl

Ben Franklin was very disappointed that the Bald Eagle was chosen as America's national bird. Instead, Franklin wanted the turkey as a national symbol. In a letter to his daughter he wrote,

For my own part I wish the Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Christian Mistake of Trying to Turn the World into the Kingdom

"...[W]e believe that it is time for the church to recognize that it is in a missionary situation in the very culture it helped to create. Of course,... the church ought to be in a missionary situation at any time and in any culture. However, it happens that we have lived during a time when Christians thought that they had made themselves a home from which they could become missionaries to others. Because we Western, Northern-European Christians had succeeded in fashioning a 'Christian' culture, we could now speak to everyone else's culture. That was a tragic mistake."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Eschatological Analogies

Theology must be eschatologically oriented. Eschatology is the doctrine of last things (eschaton means "last" or "end" in Greek). It is principally concerned with the fulfillment of God's purpose for his creation.

In many Christian circles, particularly in the United States, people think of the study of the end times as a kind of eschatological weather forecasting, in which Christians try to line up the current "signs of the times" with biblical prophecy, as is literarily portrayed in The Left Behind book series. But this approach to eschatology seriously misinterprets the biblical text. To say that theology is eschatologically oriented is to state that God has a purpose for his people, human history, and for all of creation; and that God is leading history to its divinely desired goal.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Scriptures and Prayer for Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Judges 4:1-7 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18

Psalter: Psalm 123 or Psalm 90:1-12

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30
God of the covenant, even when we fall into sin, your Spirit invites us to remember that you chose us to be your servant people. Awaken us to the power and gifts you pour into us for the good of creation, and grant that we may be trustworthy in all things, producing abundantly as we work to build your realm. Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Defendant Accidently Presents Evidence Against Himself

Man drops cocaine in his hat while in court on a drug charge
From Associated Press
November 10, 2017 8:44 AM EST

EAGLE, Colo. (AP)-- Authorities say a man who was in a Colorado court for violating his bond on a drug charge is in even more trouble after a wad of cocaine fell from his hat while he was in front of the judge.

The Vail Daily reported Wednesday that 43-year-old Juan Jose Vidrio Bibriesca was standing next to two other defendants at an Eagle County District Court podium when he took his hat off and a square of folded paper fell out. A police officer watched the paper filled with cocaine fall to the floor, and after reviewing surveillance footage, authorities determined it fell from Bibriesca's hat.

Bibriesca was then walked to the county jail. He was charged with narcotics possession and another bond violation.

Booking documents don't indicate if he has hired an attorney.
Information from: Vail Daily, http://www.vaildaily.com/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Doctrine as the Language of Theology

Every discipline or subject has its own way of speaking; that is, its own language. Without a particular language it is difficult to speak in a precise way about astronomy, sociology, or auto mechanics. Without its own language, it is also tough to speak theologically.

I remember many years ago when I was a graduate student at Duke University, I had to meet someone in the biological sciences library. While I waited, I leafed through some scientific journals and began to read whatever caught my eye. I had a very difficult time understanding what I was reading because I was not familiar with the language of biology; although I did know some basic terms from my very limited study of biology, such as osmosis, metamorphosis, and fission. But the language of biology is much larger than scientific terms. It includes the meaning of those words and how those words are employed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

John Wesley on Predestination

There was much in the theology of John Calvin that Wesley appreciated and affirmed. He wrote that on the doctrine of justification he and Calvin were but a "hair’s breadth" away from each other. Wesley also liked much of Calvin's doctrine of the Holy Spirit (He thought Luther's account of the Spirit was stunted).

But when it came to the Calvinist understanding of predestination, John Wesley pounded the pulpit expressing himself in no uncertain terms. Even though he published an essay entitled "Predestination Calmly Considered," there was nothing gentle about Wesley's response. In his sermon "Free Grace," Wesley referred to the Calvinist view that God has assigned some to hell as portraying "God as worse than the devil." Like Calvin, Wesley believed that God is the one who takes the initiative to offer salvation. Without grace salvation is impossible. But, unlike Calvin, the offer is made to all, and all persons through God's prevenient grace have the opportunity to respond. Divine grace is necessary for saving faith, but such grace can be resisted by the individual.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's Not Me, Myself, and I, and God: To Abide in Jesus is to Remain the Church

Different studies and polls have confirmed a direct connection between highly individualistic views of religion and lack of moral clarity. In short, the more that emphasis is placed on religious faith as primarily an individual and private exercise, the less strict the views on morality. In contrast, the more religious faith as seen as a community endeavor, the better defined are the moral views.

In his book Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah takes note of this. Eighty-one percent of the American people say that an individual should arrive at his or her own religious beliefs independent of any church. The result of this religious individualism is a vague form of spirituality that requires next to nothing in reference to a change in one's behavior. In other words, when we get to define what is true for us religiously, we get to define what is right for us morally, and thus what becomes wrong for us morally is usually quite small. We arrive at faith on our own terms; terms that make no demand on our behavior. This is the scandal of self-defined salvation.