Posts

Showing posts from September, 2004
Polygamy and Gay Marriage
What Americans United for the Separation of Church and State says.

Today, as the House of Representatives debates and takes a roll call vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment. The constitutional amendment limits marriage to one man and one woman, and is clearly designed to end the practice in some states of sanctioning or licensing same-sex marriages. As I have previously said, I don't believe that same-sex marriages should be sanctioned by the government, but it is not a hill that I would die on. If the governments do sanction these marriages without requiring churches who object to the practice to accept them, then I have no problem with the matter. But there's the rub: How can a church that legitimately believes that the Bible condemns homosexual relations (including marriage) not be sued for violations of civil liberties if it declines to recognize a gay marriage if such marriages are legal?

Of course, there are many reasons to believe that gay m…
Relativism Results in What?
Frank Peretti visits the issue in a young adult book

My nephew recently passed along to me a copy of a young adult book by Frank Peretti entitled Nightmare Academy. For anyone not familiar with Mr. Peretti, he is the author of some of the best selling fiction works in Christian literature such as This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness (now available in a single volume) and The Visitation. His books have a very Christian world view, and are enjoyable reads by anyone with a view of an active supernatural (specifically, heavenly) realm.

Nightmare Academy is the story of a family of investigators (known as the Veritas Project), and specifically Elijah and Elisha, the two teenagers in the family, who are retained to find out what happened to a runaway child who turned up with an almost completely blank mind. Their search leads them to a place called the "Knight-Moore" Academy which takes in runaways for the purpose of seeing what will happen to…
When did traditions recording Jesus' teachings
and deeds begin to be formed?

It is often assumed that traditions about Jesus' teachings and actions did not begin to be collected until after his death and reported resurrection. Support for this is sometimes seen in Paul's obvious focus on Jesus' death and resurrection and the fact that the Passion Narrative expressed by all four canonical gospels seems to have been one of the first traditions to be become gathered together.

But there is good reason to doubt this picture. Jesus had a public ministry that lasted around three years. He traveled throughout Galilee and Judaea during this time, teaching to various crowds. But in addition to the speaking to crowds, Jesus had his followers. The Twelve Disciples are the best known, but there were many others. And it seems clear that Jesus' followers did more than just follow Jesus around and listen to what he said. They were charged with their own missions to spread t…
Abortion and the Incarnation of Jesus

I just finished reading a book by Michael J. Gorman on abortion--Abortion & the Early Church: Christian, Jewish & Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World. You can read my full review here. It's a small (101 pages) but excellent introduction to early Christian attitudes on abortion and its relationship with Jewish and Pagan views on the same subject. One point that Gorman made near the end of his book struck me as a point I had not yet considered on the abortion issue. He sees in the incarnation of Jesus further Biblical support for the pro-life view that human life begins at conception:
"The Scriptural affirmation that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit is not without significance (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35). For Jesus to become incarnate, to become truly human, entailed his participation in the full range of human experience--from conception through death." Jesus' humility in the Incarnation sanctified and digni…
What did the earliest Christians preach?

Kerygma is a Greek word which means “proclamation, announcement, preaching.” Kerygma has, however, become something of a technical term in New Testament studies. Professor C.H. Dodd, in his influential book The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, used the term kerygma to describe the earliest “preaching” (i.e., public proclamation) of Christians. He distinguishes it from didache, which is doctrine (or, perhaps anachronistically stated, Sunday School). Whereas kerygma is meant to bring converts into the church, didache is meant to train people who have already converted.

What were the earliest Christian “proclamations” intended to attract new converts? According to Professor Dodd, the earliest kerygma can be found in Acts. Among the most important references:

• Acts 2, Peter is recorded as giving a speech on the day of Pentecost;
• Acts 3, Peter’s speech after healing the lame man;
• Acts 7, Stephen’s speech before his martyrdom;
Is 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 an Interpolation? No.

1 Corinthians 15:3-11 is an important passage because therein Paul provides the earliest written evidence of Jesus' resurrection. Notably, Paul recounts how he had "passed on" on this tradition that "he had received." The tradition explains that Jesus died, was buried, and appeared alive to Peter, the Twelve, John, the Apostles, the Five Hundred, and finally to Paul. Obviously, the tradition preexists Paul's own ministry and was given to him by other Christians. Moreover, Paul had the opportunity to discuss the tradition with at least some of the witnesses cited within it (Peter and James). Thus, the earliest tradition about the resurrection and appearances of Jesus pre-date those in the canonical gospels by decades and the tradition was espoused by someone who had the opportunity to discuss it with others who had experienced Jesus' resurrection. Pretty good historical evidence.

No doubt it is because…
Good News for Lutherans
Beer is good for you.

Beer, a health food? That's what some Canadian researchers report. A study from the University of Western Ontario finds a brew could be good for you. The researchers say beer has antioxidant boosters that could help fight cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But the key is moderation. The researchers found three beers would have the opposite effect.
Beer in Moderation Could Be Good for You

As a Lutheran, this is good news for me. I enjoy a good Wicked Ale on occasion. So, I guess that I am being consistent with nutrition in my moderate drinking (as long as I don't overdo it). But I have always wondered whether enjoying a beer is being "given to wine" in violation of I Timothy 3:3. I know Martin Luther didn't consider it a stumbling block. Anyone have any thoughts on that?
Can We Finally Consider This issue Dead?
At least until someone tries to add a codicil to their will

Having sex with corpses is now officially illegal in California after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill barring necrophilia, a spokeswoman says.
Schwarzenegger outlaws sex with corpses

Still, I wonder what would happen if the corpses consent to the sex in their wills prior to their deaths? Would this law be an unconstitutional violation of the two consenting adults right to privacy?
The Miracles of Jesus: A Historical Inquiry
A new in-depth essay

Layman, one of our members and bloggers, has just had an essay he wrote on the Miracles of Jesus posted on Christian Origins. You can find it here. Here is a portion:

What I intend to provide in this article are good reasons for believing that Jesus, his contemporary followers, and his contemporary enemies, believed that he was a miracle worker. I also happen to think that—if we can set naturalistic assumptions aside—this article provides enough justification to explore the life and works of Jesus in more detail to see whether there is a possibility that Jesus in fact performed inexplicable deeds. Such an inquiry would need to be much more extensive than this one.
It is well worth the read.
Hate Laws threaten Christian Evangelism
Problems in Reaching out to Muslims

One of our contributors, Nomad, recently posted an essay about hate crimes and the risks associated with them. His post can be found here. Now the same issue is coming up in Britain where Parliment is considering putting in place legislation which makes it a crime to "ban incitement to religious hatred." Personally, I don't know anyone who wouldn't agree that we shouldn't incite religious hatred, but the problem with these laws is the vagueness as to exactly what "inciting religious hatred" consists of.

Barnabas Fund, a UK-based charity working with Christians in Islamic societies, has now launched a campaign to raise concern about the measure.

It noted that Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain - a mainstream umbrella body - said during a BBC radio program that defaming the character of the prophet Mohammed should be illegal under the proposed new la…
Terri Schiavo's Faith May Save Her
Tangibly, that is.

I would guess that everyone is familiar with the story of Terri Schiavo, the brain damaged woman in Florida who is at the center of another storm--a storm about the right to end another's life. Her husband, being the loving sensitive type, wants to starve and/or dehydrate her to death because she is in a chronic vegetative state. Her parents, also being loving sensitive types, have offered to care for her in order to keep her alive. The courts in Florida have sided with the caring husband over the caring parents and have ordered her feeding tube withdrawn. The legislature in Florida, in conjunction with governor Jeb Bush, is fighting to protect her life. At the moment, the Florida Supreme Court is trying to decide whether the latest actions taken by the legislature to keep her alive are appropriate exercises of the legislative power.

Well, it turns out that Ms. Schiavo's parents may have come up with a trump card: Ms. Sc…
Sorry, I've been otherwise occupied

Sorry about the delay in posting. I have been very busy and haven't had the time needed to update this page. That should end today.
Fully God, Fully Man
Is this like a square circle?

A skeptic once told me that the concept of “fully God, fully man” is equivalent to a “square circle” in that it is not logically possible for something (or someone) to be “fully God and fully man” at the same time. After thinking about it, I concluded that the comparison to a “square circle” is incorrect.

The “fully God, fully man” concept, as I understand it, is not difficult. It springs from the Christian belief that all men are born with a soul which animates them and makes them more than simply biological machines. When we die, according to Christianity, our souls go to heaven. In Jesus’ case, He was not born with a soul which was created at birth. Rather, the spirit of Jesus became the soul which animated Jesus’ body. Thus, in all respects He was human--he had a human body, he required air, he had a heart, etc. Anything that one can think of that is a "necessary" attribute of humanity, Jesus had. However, the soul…
Jesus, Hell, And The Argumentum Ad Baculum
Is Christianity a fallacious appeal to force?

I recently received a response to one of the CADRE posts which made a claim which I have seen on many occasions. The anonymous poster (*sigh*--always annonymous) said:

A classical argumentum ad baculum, my friend. But what else could one except, since Christianity as a whole is one big argumentum ad baculum?
For those of you who are a bit rusty on your logical fallacies, the “argumentum ad baculum” is the “appeal to force” or, more precisely, “the argument to the cudgel.” As described in Fact Index, a person engages in the agumentum ad baculum “when one points out the negative consequences of holding the contrary position.” In other words, if an employee says “I disagree with the war in Iraq,” and a second employee counters “if you hold that view you will be fired” as a means of changing the mind of the first employee, then the second employee has clearly used the argumentum ad baculum.

I really d…
Well-known Atheists
A clarification of an earlier comment.

I have been taken to task in a couple of places for a comment I made about the best known atheist thinkers. I wanted to take a moment to respond and clarify what I said (which seems to be a legitimate means of proceeding since Antony Flew was permitted to clarify some statements he made that led some people to believe that he was no longer an atheist). Here are my original comments:

I have to admit that I don't keep up with the latest spokesmen for atheism--mainly because I don't care who they are or what they say. I have learned a few names such as Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, and Steven J. Gould, but I couldn't even begin to tell you the names that may be touted as the latest advocates for non-belief.
At the risk of misinterpreting the comments, some people have suggested that this shows that I am in some way narrow minded or even close-minded for not being willing to consider atheistic thought. Let me clarify…
Does the Left Hate Bush because he believes in God?
Youngstown's Democratic mayor thinks so.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Democratic mayor of Youngstown told Republican convention delegates today that he supports George Bush and that some of his fellow Democrats don't like the president because he believes in God.
From WTOL-TV, "Democratic Ohio Mayor Addresses GOP Convention"

Wow. I think it takes a lot of guts to say something like that. However, he is not alone. Consider the following from political commentator Cal Thomas in an article entitled "Black eye for the Bush guy" where he details the reasons that he believes liberals hate George Bush:

The third and perhaps most important reason Bush is hated is his faith, which is genuine. Bush believes God exists objectively and that He has spoken unambiguously to those who would pay attention. Unlike Clinton, who puts on religion when it helps him politically but takes it off when it interferes with his appetites, Bush we…
Anglicans are testing the limits of tradition

I am saddened by what is happening in the Anglican Church, especially here in North America, espcially as it must be impacting those who have long served within this church community, and now see it abandoning more and more connections to the historic Christian faith.

The article below by Fr. de Souza is in today's National Post, and will be replaced in a few days, so I offer it in its entirety. I expect that it will appear later at Fr. de Souza's home page with his other articles found at http://www.newmanhouse.ca/desouza.shtml and needless to say, I recommend this page highly as well, as he often imparts words of great wisdom.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/news/comment/story.html?id=0cd6fe4a-4f86-43e4-9a7c-bb745899c13e
Father Raymond J. de Souza
National Post
Wednesday, September 01, 2004

An important conference concludes today in Ottawa which might rec…
Antony Flew's Tantalizing Letter
Is he seeing the wisdom in ID?

I have to admit that I don't keep up with the latest spokesmen for atheism--mainly because I don't care who they are or what they say. I have learned a few names such as Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, and Steven J. Gould, but I couldn't even begin to tell you the names that may be touted as the latest advocates for non-belief. One of the few names I am familiar with is Antony Flew. Mr. Flew (I don't believe he has a doctorate--only a Masters) has been an outspoken atheist for nearly fifty years. He is the author of such works as Darwinian Evolution, Crime, Punishment and Disease in a Relativistic Universe and Atheistic Humanism. He has debated William Lane Craig about the existence of God (and the debate has been preserved for us in a book entitled Does God Exist?: the Craig-Flew Debate). Certainly, he has to be included in any list of the premiere atheist thinkers.

It appears that around 2000 or 20…