ornament 21 April 2004 ornament

Around the Blogosphere…

Be sure to check out Daniel McConchie’s weblog, McConchie on Bioethics. It’s a frighteningly insightful blog covering the perils of technological amorality. This week he covers the implications of the mouse that was conceived and born without the use of a male, and the MRI readings that indicate political affiliation.

Matt Hall has moved from Blogspot to Movable Type—update your URLs to www.matt-hall.net.

Jason Steffens has a new addition to his family. Be sure to stop by and congratulate.

Jon Cronan has some breathtaking pics and commentary from his recent venture to Mt. Everest base camp. It’s climbing season, you know.

Theologian Peter Leithart has a very meaty blog that offers thoughtful insights on a wide range of topics. Be sure to have a look.

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The Left’s Rapture of the Mind

Many on the left have a difficult time understanding why Americans generally support Israel. Some, like George Monbiot, writing in the U.K. Guardian, concludes that it has to be because so many “fundamentalist” Christians believe in the Rapture, and therefore think that the eschatological process must be helped along by siding with Israel.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, not all evangelicals believe in the rapture—a fact that would shock many on the left. Second, even among the dispensationalists I know who espouse belief in a secret rapture, very few cite this as a reason for supporting Israel. The view that Monbiot cites is indeed held, but nowhere near the 15-18% of U.S. voters that he cites in his article.

Most evangelicals who urge support for Israel do so on the basis that it is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is the country most like America, and it does not have a penchant for state terrorism. A nation exhibiting these features elicits much more affinity from Americans than nations who label the U.S. as the “Great Satan.”

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ornament 20 April 2004 ornament

When Honesty Is Not That Honest

Chris Ayers, a pastor in Charlotte, NC, wants the church to be honest about biblical interpretation when it comes to homosexuality:

Homosexual Christians do not need churches that force them to live a lie. They need love, acceptance and affirmation. Saying homosexuals should be tolerated is not enough. Saying homosexuals are welcome in a church just as all sinners are welcome is not enough. Saying gay and lesbian clergy can be clergy as long as they are celibate is not enough. It’s time for the Church to be honest about biblical interpretation. It’s time for the Church to boldly tell the world homosexuality is not a sin.

It’s difficult to say with certainty what exactly Ayers is getting at here—he avoids making any real distinctions between homosexuals and homosexual behavior, but the tone of his argument seems to indicate that homosexual behavior is not a sin.

If this is so, it’s curious that Ayers should call on the church to be honest about bibiblical interpretation. The bulk of biblical scholarship agrees with the consistent teaching of 2000 yeas that homosexual behavior is sinful. Perhaps what Ayers is really calling for is to be honest that in this case, Ayer’s own experience trumps biblical interpretation.

I understand Rev. Ayers’ emotional arguments. It’s hard to tell someone their behavior is sinful. But it’s also much more loving to do that than to deceive them into thinking that such behavior is honoring to God. Jesus had strong warnings against doing such a thing. [Matthew 18:6] Sin affects us all, and to affirm someone in their sin is to but lead them further away from God. Love is not mere sentimentality. Sentimentality is safe, warm, and can mislead the best of us. Love, on the other hand “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” [1 Cor 13:6]

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Emerging Into What?

The postmodern, or “emerging” church movement is one that is unique enough to attact press coverage from time to time. After all, it is this uniqueness that supposedly attracts its followers. These groups pride themselves on looking as much unlike a traditional church as they can, an idea that stems from the notion that traditional methods of Christian worship are played out, and must be reevaluated for the postmodern culture.

One example of this “emergence” in a Raleigh, NC church is a retreat from a word-based faith:

“We think our generation learns by story and by image,” said Tyler Jones, the 29-year-old pastor. “If you give us a piece of paper to read, we’re less likely to remember that.”

The obvious problem with this line of thinking is that Christians have 66 books of the Bible to deal with, which unfortunately for Pastor Jones, doesn’t have any pictures in it. Here we find a clear example of a church that is capitulating to the culture rather than being a transforming presence in a hostile world. Even the element of worship commanded by Jesus are conformed to the culture:

Communion, or the ritual sharing of bread and wine, is likewise laid-back. At the end of the service, the pastor invites people to take Communion from a tray in the rear. On occasions when the church doesn’t have bread for Communion (all its baked goods are donated from local restaurants), it has used angel food cake.

When the Lord’s Supper is relegated to the status of hors d’oeuvre, something is definitely awry. Colleen Carol Campbell, writing in National Review, gets it right:

In a decadent culture, the demands of traditional morality appeal. In a sea of pluralism, the clarity of orthodoxy attracts. Religious leaders should keep that in mind when they are tempted to dilute their theology and soften its demands in order to reach more souls. To attract the postmodern pilgrim, it seems, holy boldness is a better choice.

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ornament 19 April 2004 ornament

Reinventing Reinvention

The arguments for postmodernist morality keep getting curiouser and curiouser. Take, for example, ex-Anglican priest David Bryant’s stance in a column extoling the virtues of free love:

Life hurls at us a constantly changing network of ethical dilemmas. For the Victorians, it was chimney sweeps, slaves and poverty. In the 21st century, it is genetic engineering, cloning, drug addiction and a host of others. Throw in the ethical material that has sprung from the cross-culturalisation of our society, and you have a heady, often intractable, mix.

We have to confront this mishmash by constantly reinventing our personal morality, trying to take quality-weighted decisions and making tentative value-judgments. No one else can do it for us, least of all a code of rules laid down three millennia ago. It is a lonely path, but offers immense rewards. We need to put an upbeat spin into our thinking about sexual morality, starting from the point of original blessing rather than original sin (an observation that got its promulgator, the Catholic priest Matthew Fox, defrocked).

Sexuality is not something to be sniggered at or argued over. It should not be entombed in archaic laws, nor forbidden or reluctantly tolerated as a pandering to human weakness. Nor should it be hijacked and turned into a gender argument about who should sleep with whom. It is a unique blessing, a source of deep fulfilment, a profound joy, there to be enjoyed, reciprocated and appreciated.

Sexuality is indeed not something to be sniggered at, but I would surely be sniggering at Bryant’s argument were it not so common among postmodernists of every flavor.

The sad thing is that arguments like ex-father Bryant’s are self-defeating and their proponents don’t even realize it. Upon what, pray tell, does he base this need for constant reinvention of sexual mores? What if I decided suddenly that his process for moral revision needed to be revised?

In fact, I have decided most certainly that it should. Modern sexual morality should not be tied down to the sweeping cultural changes that are taking place. That way of looking at things has run long since run its course. Rather, biblical Christianity should inform one’s morality on sexual issues.

Three you go Mr. Bryant—problem solved, eh? (snigger, snigger)

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ornament 18 April 2004 ornament

Cold Blooded Hiking

Ringed Snake

As I was hiking this weekend, I came upon this little critter on the trail. He appears to be a ringed snake, or diadophis punctatus. He was a little slow moving, so I imagine he was either just emerging from hibernation, or had recently eaten.

I’m glad I helped him off the trail with a stick rather than my hands (I guess I’m not a Mark 16:18 Christian), as they apparently can give off a pungent odor if handled. He did finally scurry off into the brush.

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ornament 16 April 2004 ornament

Journalism and the Modern Soothsayer

Prophecy may indeed be the world’s second oldest profession. Throughout the ages there have been those who insisted that they had a window into the future. Some were successful (Isaiah, Jeremiah) and some were not (Charles Taze Russell). Its seem that the mantle of the prophet has now been picked up by news agencies, ever-hoping to be the first to announce a story.

It seems that USA Today had already prepared a story saying that runner-up Kwame Jackson had won “The Apprentice” reality show. And oops! It got printed the day after the real winner was announced.

It really makes one wonder just how many news stories are writted before the actual events occur. I’m reminded of the CNN scandals from a couple of years ago where it was revealed that CNN had prepared obituaries for several people who were still living, including Vice President Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and others.

Last week, as I was writing this entry, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the notion of instant gratification has gone a little too far in our culture.

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ornament 15 April 2004 ornament

TruePravda: Redneck Accessible

In the spirit of multiculturalism, TruePravda is now translated into Redneck-ese for those who are literate in such languages. Click here to translate.

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A Study in Contrast

Victor Davis Hanson has one of the best arguments I’ve seen yet against those who would seek to appease the Islamofacists. Hanson writes in the Spring 2004 Issue of City Journal:

Most important, military deterrence and the willingness to use force against evil in its infancy usually end up, in the terrible arithmetic of war, saving more lives than they cost. All this can be a hard lesson to relearn each generation, especially now that we contend with the sirens of the mall, Oprah, and latte. Our affluence and leisure are as antithetical to the use of force as rural life and relative poverty once were catalysts for muscular action. The age-old lure of appeasement—perhaps they will cease with this latest concession, perhaps we provoked our enemies, perhaps demonstrations of our future good intentions will win their approval—was never more evident than in the recent Spanish elections, when an affluent European electorate, reeling from the horrific terrorist attack of 3/11, swept from power the pro-U.S. center-right government on the grounds that the mass murders were more the fault of the United States for dragging Spain into the effort to remove fascists and implant democracy in Iraq than of the primordial al-Qaidist culprits, who long ago promised the Western and Christian Iberians ruin for the Crusades and the Reconquista.

Read the whole thing. We have indeed overlooked the rising threat for too long. Backing away from it now would be foolish if we wish to protect American lives from those who want us dead whether or not they are appeased.

The use of force alone is only a temporary fix if the dangerous worldview of radical Islam is left to exist. Here is where the boundaries of government end. American Christians should pray that Islamic nations are met with the liberation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—just as we pray for those in need of liberation in our own country. Proclaimation of the gospel in Islamic countries angers the heralds of appeasement just as much as (perhaps even more than) American military action. Christians must stand strong as well, and not shirk the giving of those in Islamic countries the only true hope they can can have.

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ornament 14 April 2004 ornament

Responsibility, Control, and Terrorism

The 9/11 Commission is a sham. If were only really about making the country safer. Instead, everyone’s searching for someone to blame. The those on the left think that the Bush administration is at fault. This is either an election-year ploy or they really believe it. I’m rather inclined to think that some have actually talked themselves into believeing that Bush is responsible. Take the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle, for example:

The most striking impression of the president’s third prime-time news conference was his determination — to the point of stubbornness — to refuse to acknowledge any mistakes. He was asked the question in various ways: Does he feel any personal responsibility about Sept. 11? Does he feel a need to apologize? Does he regret any of his actions — such as the war on Iraq – – after the attacks?

The editors find it appalling that Bush hasn’t acknowledged any responsibility for 9/11.

Others, on the right, think that President Clinton is to blame for not taking serious enough action against Osama Bin Laden. As much as I dislike Clinton’s foreign policy, and while I agree he could have done more, Bill Clinton was not responsible. Clinton made some reprehensible mistakes, but he didn’t drive a 767 into a building.

The 9/11 Commission should be interrogating al Qaeda if they’re looking for responsibility. Instead, they look for responsibility here. If we can find who is responsible among the victims, then we have a perceived control over the situation. Those are responsible can be dealt with, and everything is hunkey-dorey.

In reality, we must deal with an enemy we can’t control at the moment. An enemy that is responsible for the death of thousands and who is bent on adding thousands more to the count. Shouldn’t the 9/11 Commission be focusing its efforts in the direction of preventing terror rather than ascribing blame to the victims?

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