Follow by Email

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Michael Horton's Recent Critque of Evangelicals


The title of Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church is emblematic of this  piece, which appeared in Christianity Today  (CT) last month. 
First, the title of the book. Is there such a thing as a Christless Christianity? For that matter, is there an alternative gospel? A Christless Christianity is no Christianity. (1 Corinthians 1:23) Christianity has a way of being binary in that regard. And as for the gospel, if it’s “another” gospel, then it’s “really not another” but rather a contrary gospel that is to be accursed by the church. (Galatians 1:7-8)
So, obviously, Horton does not think there is literally a "Christless Christianity" or an alternative gospel in the Christian church, let alone the American church. Indeed, he wrote so much just a few pages into the book. “Second, I am not arguing in this book that we have arrived at Christless Christianity but that we are well on our way.”
This sort of walking back harsh and alarming rhetoric has come to be expected from Horton. The recent CT article is no different.
Horton announces that President Trump said, we’re “one election away from losing everything.”
Horton is correct here. “As evangelicals, we would do well to correct the president on this point. If an election can cause us to lose everything, what is it exactly that we have in the first place?”
But is he really correct? Horton is definitely not correct if we recognize that Trump didn’t mean our eternal soul (or even Mar-a-Lago for that matter). Obviously, Trump didn’t mean literally (in an exhaustive sense) “everything.” A context of political momentum places boundaries around “everything.”  But to acknowledge that would have left no reason to have written this particular article. 
But let’s see what else he says.
Surely we can be grateful for any public servant who upholds the First Amendment. And we should applaud fellow believers who ply their education and experience as lawyers to defend religious freedom (as long as they don’t seek to privilege Christianity legally above other religions).
I’m not sure what Horton has in mind by “privilege,” but I have no problem seeking Christian privilege over some of the privileges that might be sought by adherents of other world religions. I know of one religion that condones polygamy. How about one that offers celestial reward for flying airplanes into buildings? I have no reason to believe that orthodox Mormons and Muslims would not want to gain equal protection under the law, like the privilege Christians enjoy in partaking sacramental bread and wine without fear of molestation. Should Rastafarianism, with its sacrament of ganja (or “wisdom weed”), get a seat at the table of the religious privileged? How about the occult?
Something tremendous is at stake here: whether evangelical Christians place their faith more in Caesar and his kingdom than in Christ and his reign. On that one, we do have everything to lose—this November and every other election cycle. When we seek special political favors for the church, we communicate to the masses that Christ’s kingdom is just another demographic in the US electorate.
Let’s take a closer look at whether evangelicals place their faith more in Caesar than Christ. If one trusts government for eternal life, they’re not an evangelical. So, when Horton refers to one who would “place their faith more in x than y,” what is he saying? Surely the Christian, by definition, places that which is most valuable in the hands of the right Person.
The word “more” is in this instance Horton’s free pass. In one very qualified sense, I have more hope in government to curtail policy than I do in God. But that’s because I believe in the Christian doctrine of decree and second causes. God is the ultimate cause of all things, but he accomplishes his decree through means – even government. (That's why I don't hope that God picks me up at the airport. I hope that Lisa does.) So, it’s not un-Christian to “hope” that legal abortion ends through legislation, or if need be from the bench. To place my hope in God without acting is fatalism. To act without prayer is humanism. It’s difficult to say much more on the matter given the vague rhetoric that permeates the article.
Let’s face it. Liberal and conservative, Catholic and Protestant, have courted political power and happily allowed themselves to be used by it. This always happens when the church confuses the kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this present age.
If to court "political power" means to lobby for better laws, then there’s nothing contrary to the gospel about it. To be “happily… used by it” certainly sounds sinful; so I’ll concede on that to make a simple point. The former does not imply the latter!
As for, “this always happens when the church…” – that is such a nebulous remark it’s difficult to comment.
“Jesus came not to jump-start the theocracy in Israel, much less to be the founding father of any other nation.”
No, Jesus came to make disciples of all nations. Horton’s problem is that Christ’s offices of Prophet and Priest have seemed to eclipse his appreciation for Christ as King.
“Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and a long period afterward that would be marked simultaneously by persecution and expansion of his kingdom. How? Armed with nothing more than his gospel, baptism, and the Supper, fueled by the freedom of grace and love of all people, the low and the high, who need to hear this saving message.”
That’s terribly simplistic. First off, the gospel is meaningless apart from law. Any good Lutheran (or Presbyterian) knows that. Secondly, the erosion of cultural norms, which were shaped by natural law and the Bible, has done much to distort the moral backdrop against which the gospel is intended to be understood. Consequently, (i) resurrecting just laws, (ii) calling abortion murder and homosexuality an abomination, and (iii) courting political power - all, in their proper place, complements the gospel mission. It does not detract from it when done properly before God.
If one wants to talk about real violence against Christians, surely the persecution of the early Christians should count. Yet every New Testament command on the subject calls us to love and pray for our enemies with the confidence that Christ is still building his church.
Does admonishment and rebuke; a clarion call to repentance; the warning of imminent judgment; shaking the dust off one’s feet; and imprecatory prayer – in any way undermine one’s confidence that Christ is building his church? Given the passivity Horton seems to describe, I’m not sure the church would ever get persecuted (after having given up its place in the world).
Now for the dialing back of harsh words:
This is not to say we should have no concern at all about the state of our nation. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians called to avoid the responsibilities of our temporary citizenship, even though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). However, many of us sound like we’ve staked everything not only on constitutional freedoms but also on social respect, acceptance, and even power. But that comes at the cost of confusing the gospel with Christian nationalism.
Well maybe Horton is wanting people to sound the same way in all conversations. When speaking about politics, one needn't insert at every turn his hope in Christ. Secondly, if Horton does not recognize what is at stake in this country, there’s not much more one can say.
In his Great Commission, Jesus gave authority to the church to make disciples, not citizens; to proclaim the gospel, not political opinions;
That’s a bit equivocal. The church as an institution is one thing. The church comprised of individual professing believers is another. Certainly, the citizens of heaven, as sojourners on this earth, may proclaim political opinions. Or as Horton put is elsewhere, “Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians called to avoid the responsibilities of our temporary citizenship…” Is Horton's issue with Christian pulpits, or is it with politically minded Christians who don't share his sense of balance? Let's not forget - God created both the heavens and the earth.
Anyone who believes, much less preaches, that evangelical Christians are “one election away from losing everything” in November has forgotten how to sing the psalmist’s warning, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (Ps. 146:3).
Remember, it was not a pastor, nor a layman known for his theological acumen, who made the statement from which Horton launches into his critique of Evangelicals. No, it was President Donald Trump who is known for hyperbolic tweets and pithy sound bites that people tend to remember.
As a final thought, "Losing everything” on an election is antithetical to true Christianity. So, either the statement was not intended to be taken literally or it’s the conviction of an unbeliever. Either way, Horton's critique becomes irrelevant.


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Rick Phillips on Civil Law

Taken from here.
The Westminster Confession describes them as “sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require” (XIX. 4).  In other words, these laws were for regulating the nation of Israel, which was then but no longer is the particular people of God.  While there is an undisputed wisdom contained in this civil law it can not be made applicable to any nation today, since there are no biblically sanctioned theocracies now.
How can “undisputed wisdom... not be made applicable...”? Wisdom not relevant? Something seems intuitively false about such a postulate. Is Proverbs no longer applicable because there are no theocracies today? How about the Ten Commandments?

The Confession does not teach that the civil law “can not be made applicable to any nation today...” Rather, it teaches the very opposite. It teaches that nations are obliged to implement the civil law as the general equity may require.
The civil codes have lost their context now that salvation is in Christ, in a spiritual kingdom, and not in Israel, a temporal nation.  
Aside from a false disjunction that would arbitrarily stipulate that a civil code and a spiritual kingdom are somehow mutually exclusive - the Reformed tradition has always maintained that salvation was always spiritual. As Paul reminded his hearers in Romans 9, “...they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” Romans 9:6-8

Moreover, it would have been interesting to read why the general equity of the civil code may not be a model for all nations just because it was a model for God's covenant nation. Why, in other words, would we think God's wisdom, as it relates to civil government, could lose its applicability upon King Jesus' commissioning the church to disciple all the nations? How could the cross make foolish civil laws that were suitable for a nation that would seek after God’s wisdom and justice? Isn’t the Son of God no less King over the nations than he is Lord over the church?
They are transformed into the judicious application of church discipline.
The author must go here because he cannot ignore that General Equity clause of the Divines. So, where does the Confession teach that the penalty for murder under the older economy is now "transformed" into church discipline? The Confession teaches no such thing. In fact, such would be an outright abrogation of the civil law, thereby not preserving its general equity.

If that weren’t enough, WCF 19.4, as it relates to the general equity of the law, calls us to compare Genesis 49:10 with 1 Peter 2:13-14. These verses have nothing to do with church discipline but rather everything to do with civil magistrate.

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of the people be. Genesis 49:10

Submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that to well. 1 Peter 2:13-14

The 1 Peter 2:13-14 proof-text pertains to punishing evildoers, not ecclesiastical censure. So, both the prima facie reading of 19.4 and the cited footnotes opppose the fanciful claim that the civil code now pertains to church discipline.
Another objection comes from the theonomists, a word that means “law of God.”  Theonomists agree that the ceremonial law is exhausted, but insist on the direct application of the civil law.  They say that God obliges all nations to live according to the laws established for Old Testament Israel.  Such people sincerely advocate, therefore, the stoning of sexual sinners and the taking of an eye for an eye.  
The author will have a difficult time citing a single theonomist who advocates stoning, or that “an eye for an eye" is law (as opposed to a biblical principle that teaches just penalty for crimes).

Regarding “sexual sinners,” the author would have us believe that theonomy doesn’t distinguish between seduction and rape, an adulterous thought and beasteality. Which are crimes and what should be the penalties? How would we justify our answers? At the very least, the antinomian will have a difficult time arguing for or against any particular penalty.
The law is not over us, to condemn us, but under our feet, to be a guide for our path.  In saying that, it is the moral law, as reflected in the Ten Commandments, to which I refer, which we have the pleasure of obeying to the glory of God and out of gratitude for our salvation.
That we might take pleasure in obeying God’s law with gratitude does not imply that the moral law is somehow “under our feet” merely to guide us. At the very least, that’s to ignore two of the three uses of the moral law. The demands of the law reveal God’s holiness and condemn us daily. It’s the condemning aspect of the moral law that drives the believer to Christ. That is not a one time use of the law but a daily discipline.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Todd Pruitt on Homosexuality and the PCA

For the Love of Those Fighting Against Homosexuality - The Aquila Report
So, to those wondering if the PCA is in the process of embracing homosexuality let me say that to my knowledge there are no pastors within our denomination promoting the acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage.
This is a troublesome statement made by a PCA minister. By "embracing homosexuality," presumably he must mean "promoting the acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage." In other words, he seems to have defined for us what it would be for the PCA to embrace homosexuality. For this servant, embracing homosexuality not just entails but reduces to promoting the acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage.

Before dealing with the heart of the premise, I'd like to tease out from that complex statement a less obvious concern - but a serious concern just the same.

Why should we believe that the "process of embracing homosexuality" has not already begun in the PCA? At the very least, is the process of having begun moving from any point A to any point B ever a matter of actually arriving at point B? For example, even had the United Methodist Church and PCUSA repented and stopped short of where they are today (point B), prior to doing so wouldn't the process of having moved toward embracing homosexuality already begun? After all, what does it mean to be stopped in one's tracks? Or, is the process of getting to a full blown acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage dependent upon a final acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage? If so, then there's no true process of getting anywhere until after we get there, which is a denial of the rational order of things.

No, we must face the facts. That same sex attraction (SSA) advocates have gained a seat at the table in the PCA is a sure indicator that "the PCA is in the process of embracing homosexuality." The only question is, will the denomination take a firm stance and resist the urge, now that it has unwittingly begun a process of embracing homosexuality? (For various reasons I think my denomination will get this right and without cutting a half-way covenant.)

But all that is incidental to my main concern.
However, the organizers and speakers of Revoice profess fidelity to the biblical position on sexual intimacy – that sexual intimacy is a gift of God legitimately experienced in marriage between a man and woman.
Remember, at the very beginning what defined embracing homosexuality was the acceptance of homosexual acts or homosexual marriage. Accordingly, affirming a traditional position on sexual intimacy (marriage) would seem to be the same thing as rejecting homosexuality. I find that woefully inadequate. At the very least, Revoice-advocates defend the legitimacy of celibate homosexuality. They believe that homosexuals need not repent of homosexual attraction, which presupposes that these folks indeed are homosexuals! So, to defend the legitimacy of SSA is to embrace homosexuality - regardless if one will "profess fidelity to the biblical position on sexual intimacy.” One is not a homosexual because he practices homosexuality anymore than one is heterosexual because he engages in any sort of physical conduct.
Rather, the debate in the PCA is over the moral status of homosexual desires. The debate extends to the legitimacy of sexual orientation as a category and whether homosexuality is a fixed albeit broken marker of human identity. There are some in the PCA who are comfortable with using terms like Gay Christian to describe Christians who have homosexual desires but choose in obedience to Scripture to remain celibate. However, there are others who believe it is vital that terms like Gay Christian or Queer Christian must not be used in the PCA; that we must not adopt the world’s understanding of sexual orientation and identity...
This much is correct. The debate is over SSA. It is also correct that conservatives in the PCA resist terms like Gay Christian. What the pastor seems to miss is that the fundamental objection is not a question of whether we "adopt the world’s understanding of sexual orientation and identity." Rather, the issue chiefly lies with the fact that the term Gay Christian is an oxymoron. There are none. Those who refuse to turn from SSA (i.e. repent!) and instead merely strive to abstain from acting on such desires are homosexuals. Their identity is not Christian in any sense but rather Gay. They're quasi-moralists, not repentant sinners. The decidedly unrepentant (effeminate included) will not inherent the kingdom of God, regardless of whether they act on their dispositions or not.
But I am deeply dismayed at their insistence on using worldly and ungodly categories and language to describe human identity and sexuality. For instance, the category of sexual orientation is deceptive.
The category of Gay is accurate if it fits. The point is it has no place in the church, not because Christians should identify themselves in some other way (of course they should), but because the label isn't appropriate for the penitent. Christians are penitent.
Then of course there is the language of Gay Christian, LGBTQ Christian, Queer Christian, and sexual minority. Is it possible that the PCA hosts, organizers, and speakers of Revoice were unaware that such language would vex and confuse a great number of their brothers and sisters in Christ? It stretches credulity to believe the present controversy surprised them.
Who is confusing whom?

Romans 1:24-27 teaches that certain shameless acts proceed from dishonorable passions (i.e. SSA). Also note that this particular sin is construed here as punishment for idolatry.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
The passage goes on to teach that God turns some over to a "reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting." SSA attraction is in the mind, from which flows shameless acts. To strive merely toward "chaste" behavior is not just foolish but disobedient. Homosexuals must agree with God. They must confess and cry out to be delivered from unnatural and deviant attraction toward the same sex.




Monday, October 30, 2017

Free Offer Of The Gospel


Q. What is effectual calling?

A. Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Canons of Dort 2.5:

Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

The free offer of the gospel (abbreviated “free offer”) has meant different things at different times. From a confessional standpoint, it can only mean that God sincerely offers salvation to all who repent and believe. The meaning is at best narrow. The confessions do not speak in terms of God’s desire for all men to be saved; they merely teach that God promises the gift of everlasting life to all who would turn from self to Christ. This promise of life through faith is sincere. It is a genuine offer. If you believe, you will be saved. This gospel is to go out to all men everywhere.

Arminians are often quick to point out that the free offer is inconsistent with Calvinism. They reason that if the offer of the gospel is sincere and to go out to all people without exception, then God must desire the salvation of all people without exception. Otherwise, they say, the offer isn’t sincere. How can God desire the salvation of all men without exception if God as the ultimate decider of man’s salvation chooses to pass over some? In other words, Arminians reason that unless God desires to save all men, which they observe does not comport with Calvinism, the free offer of life through faith is insincere when given to the reprobate. Their axiom is that a sincere gospel offer implies a sincere desire to see the offer accepted, a well-meant offer. More on that in a moment.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), representative of possibly most Calvinists today on the matter of the free offer, under the leadership of John Murray and Ned Stonehouse, adopted as a majority position the Arminian view that God desires the salvation of all men. While still holding fast to the Reformed view of predestination, the OPC affirmed the view that that the free offer cannot adequately be disassociated from a divine desire of salvation for all men without exception. In other words, such Calvinists assert that the genuineness of the gospel offer presupposes God's desire that all embrace Christ.

Subsequently, the free offer has taken on the additional meaning of a well-meant offer, or desire, that the reprobate turn and be saved. Accordingly, a major difference between Arminians and such Calvinists as these is on the question of consistency. Arminians find the free offer inconsistent with unconditional election, whereas these sorts of Calvinists (who hold to an expanded view of “free offer”) do not.

Back to first principles. What makes an offer genuine or sincere?

Can we judge whether an offer is genuine or sincere simply based on whether it is true or not? If God intends to keep his promise, then isn't the offer genuine? With respect to the gospel, if one meets the condition of faith, he will one day enter the joy of Lord. Isn't that enough to make the offer of salvation sincere? 

What was introduced in this discussion is what we might call the “well meant” offer of the gospel, that when God sincerely promises life on the condition of faith, the genuineness of the promise is predicated upon a sincere desire to see all men meet the condition. An indiscriminate call supposedly implies a desire for salvific fulfillment. Yet does a desire to keep one’s promise suggest an additional desire to see all meet the condition upon which the promise is based? Or does a sincere free offer merely require that the promise is truthful?

Well-meant offer; genuine offer; free offer; universal offer... (i.e. any offer!) now somehow implies the same thing – God desires all men without exception to exercise faith in Christ and be saved. 

Let’s do some basic theology…

What does it mean that God desires the salvation of the reprobate? Are we to believe that God desires the reprobate to do something he cannot do, namely regenerate himself and grant himself union with Christ? Or, is that to check our Calvinism at the door? Isn't it Jesus who saves? Isn't salvation of God after all? At best, if we are to remain consistent with our Calvinism, then wouldn't it follow that to argue for a well-meant offer of the gospel we'd have to posit that God desires that he himself would regenerate the reprobate unto union with Christ and salvation? Simply stated, since Calvinism affirms total depravity, wouldn't it stand to reason from a Calvinistic perspective that if God desires someone's salvation, God must desire that he save that person?

Accordingly, the question that should be considered in this regard is either (a) "Does God desire the reprobate to turn himself and live?" Or (b), "Does God desire that he himself turn the reprobate so that he can live?" Given that man is blind and deaf to spiritual things and cannot do anything to atone for his sins, how are we not strictly dealing with the theological plausibility of (b), that God desires to turn the reprobate contrary to what he has already decreed? If TULIP  is true, then (a) is a non-starter lest God desires what is impossible to occur.

Now then, is it reasonable to think that the Holy Spirit desires to turn the reprobate Godward when the Father, in eternity, did not choose the reprobate in Christ? Moreover, if Christ did not die for the reprobate and does not pray that the efficacy of the cross would be applied to the reprobate, then in what sense does God desire the reprobate’s salvation? Does God desire that for which Christ does not pray? Does the Trinity desire that persons of the Godhead work at cross purposes? Does God desire true contradictions after all? Or is this a matter of mystery? Does God have multiple wills, let alone multiple wills that are at cross-purposes? Or is this a matter of two truths that we should accept by faith? Apparent contradiction or true contradiction?

Not only can God not save the reprobate whom he did not elect in Christ; 2000 years ago didn't God act in time sealing that inability by securing salvation only for the elect? If so, then does it not follow that for God to desire the salvation of the reprobate, we should be willing to say that God, today, desires that Jesus would have died for the reprobate 2000 years ago? Or is there a third way of living looking at this? Does God live with a sense of regret or un-fulfillment? 

The OPC is quick to point out that they are not advocating a position entailing God both desiring and not desiring his decree. Fine, but then what does it mean for God to desire that men act contrary to his decree? Can God desire his decree while also desiring men to act in such a way that would thwart it? Moreover, aside from the question of whether God desires that man act contrary to God's decree, what does it mean for God to desire that he himself act contrary to how he decreed he would act? (Of course, I know no Calvinist who affirms the well-meant offer of the gospel who would also say that God desires that he elected more unto salvation, or anything like that. Yet if man cannot turn himself, as Calvinism clearly affirms, then isn't the implication of a well-meant offer that God desires to save those he has determined not to save?)

Indeed, God delights in his elect turning to Christ, but does such delight require that he also desires all men to turn to Christ, especially given that he has not seen fit to save all men?

Calling such a contra-Murray view a form of hyper-Calvinism or rationalistic appears insupportable until shown otherwise.


Free Website Counter

Friday, October 13, 2017

New Blog

Theological Fireside Chats was created for the young men at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Once per month it will be updated with the topic for the following month's discussion group.The kickoff for this fellowship was Friday night, September 15. 14 young bucks attended. Our next meeting is scheduled for one week from today: Friday night, October 20th. 

The comments box is closed. It is used for footnotes as well as summaries of all past discussions. 

Take a peak and please pray for fruitful discussion and warm fellowship.

Gloating


Proverbs 24:17-18New King James Version (NKJV)


17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him.

God is more concerned with our attitude than with his temporal dealings with the unjust. If we want God's preceptive will to be carried out on earth as it is in heaven, we should not gloat lest we provoke God to withdrawal his justice in order that his higher priority obtains, ridding us of gloating in this instance.

Obs.

1. Our greatest desire should be that God's glory be on display. In this case, his just anger, which implies his temporal retribution. Our participation in that endeavor is something other than gloating, whatever that might look like.

2. We become culpable of God's justice not being meted out on earth. (That has serious implications in the political realm when parties gloat over the moral failings of their enemies.)

Free Website Counter

My first (and probably last) abortion discussion on Facebook


I had an enlightening exchange on Facebook last night with a liberal. There’s no thread to produce because this person deleted it after their non-arguments for abortion were exposed as arbitrary and inconsistent. I pointed out only a sampling of informal fallacies - one false disjunction, one red herring, an argument from silence, all in a very brief discussion. Question begging abounded. There were also isolated instances of equivocation and ad hominem. (This is not intended to be a praise of my refutations. Far from it. It merely serves to highlight what is typical of liberals. It's not that liberals aren't intelligent. It's just that liberal ideologies are rationally indefensible.)
They deleted the posts in stages. Once I noticed what was happening I posted that I can understand why the record had been deleted given the bad showing on behalf of an unargued pro-abortion position. They strikingly responded with “showing?” as if no exchange had taken place.
Some of the highlights and observations.
The discussion did not begin with abortion. It began by my pointing out that when one is unwilling to acknowledge the faults of their own party affiliation, a tension can ensue. Rather than live in tension, those disagreements can be rationalized away by minimalizing them. Even worse, one can eventually surrender to the void and end up embracing those positions they otherwise wouldn’t so to relieve the uncomfortable tension that comes with covertly disagreeing with one's own peers. (Peer pressure isn’t something just for teens. For adults, too, resistance can give way to non-resistance. Non-resistance to embracing.)
Assuming this high school friend was still Roman Catholic (Catholic upbringing with devout mother), I simply wrote “the unborn?” (I wanted to see if they'd voice what I hoped would be a disagreement with a fundamental position of the Democratic Party.) Their coy response was that they didn’t mix religion with politics. Well, I was happy to change gears into a religious discussion, but instead I pointed out that abortion is a political matter as well as a religious matter; abortion is fair game in either arena. It was said since abortion was law it wasn’t political. Really? Then why during presidential debates do moderators ask questions pertaining to Roe v. Wade? Why do nominees to the Court suffer under congressional scrutiny on this matter? Obviously, this person’s stated reason for not wanting to discuss the matter was disingenuous.

After a bit of back-and-forth this person simply volunteered they were “comfy” with their pro-abortion position. Assuming they disagreed with other types of murder, I asked what conditions necessary for murder are not met by abortion. Crickets.
They immediately changed the subject, impugning hypocrisy to those who are pro-life yet don’t support social programs for the born. This person called these sorts "not pro-life but anti-abortion." (Implication being, if they were pro-life they’d care about the born too.)
Note the equivocation. Pro-life has a distinct meaning that pertains to the question of whether abortion entails taking innocent life. It does not pertain to one’s concern for the quality of life after birth. One might dare consider granting a revision to the label “pro-life” if persuasive statistics could be offered that would suggest pro-lifers are in favor of assisted suicide or genocide. But even then, all that might show is that pro-life people are inconsistent on the matter of sanctity of life. It would not prove a pro-life position is wrong.  
When I suggested that it is happily consistent to be pro-life while believing that giving toward social concerns should primarily be left up to individuals and ecclesiastical organizations, I was met with the insufficiency of those means. So, for this person, it’s fair to conclude that people who are traditionally considered pro-life and, also, give large sums of money to the poor are not truly pro-life but rather just anti-abortion. To be pro-life, one must not only be concerned for the poor, they must also agree with the insufficiency of giving toward those causes through other means other than government mediation. Only a big government liberal can be pro-life. False premises lead to silly conclusions, like that one.

Free Website Counter

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Trump, grammar, partisanship and hypocrisy....

""I will tell you," Trump told Hannity, "you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.""

I must believe the President doesn't mean "cannot," proven by the fact that people often do. So, at best, he either means "may not" or "should not." If the former, then he's at odds with Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), which concludes that flag burning is "symbolic speech" protected by the First Amendment.*

Yet if all the POTUS means is "should not," then I'm fine with him holding to that opinion, which I share strongly, as long as he realizes that people *can* commit incendiary acts, even under the protection of the law. They can and they may.

What possibly amuses me most in all this chatter, maybe aside from the partisan imprecision I sometimes (sometimes often?) find with Sean Hannity, is that such extreme forms of protest are typically found only among *extreme* liberals; yet mainstream media refuses to admit that such behavior is at least a bit outside the norm, let alone completely out of step with what America stands for in principle. How did such truthfulness become only a conservative virtue? Or is it situational? If conservative athletes took a knee during the previous eight years, would it have been the protesting athletes or Obama's policies that would have received the blame by conservatives? There's good reason to think the latter. Yet should being right on an issue afford sympathy toward those who'd protest in objectionable ways? I should say not. As Michael Corleone aptly stated to the infamous senator from Nevada, "We're both of the same hypocrisy..." Until either side admits hypocrisy applies at least minimally to their own dealings, good luck.

What's at play here is both parties and the networks won't give an inch on the political field. Their fear is the moral equivalency factor. I won't acknowledge my wrong doing in fear that you won't acknowledge yours and yours is much worse! The moral equivalency factor gives way to "justifying" eclipsing of truth and telling outright lies in order to win an argument. Bias reporting is now somehow justified as long as the other side is behaving more unseemly than we. (No doubt, the ungodly are more comfortable among liberals. There isn't a moral equivalency between the parties, but that's not the point. Read on...)

Christians are governed by a radically different standard. A standard that often calls us to give up yardage in this world. A standard that requires us to acknowledge guilt, regardless of how little we think it compares to that of our opponents.

At the very least, all conservatives are to be about Rule of Law, but too often Rule of Law doesn't enter into the discussion when it undermines the point we'd like to make. Expedience trumps integrity. (Apropos Rule of Law - disrespecting our country is legal, whether we like it or not. Yet the Right is conspicuously silent on the constitutional rights of these juvenile knee-takers. Just like the Left refuses to acknowledge the inappropriateness of such outrageous behavior.)

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is much is permitted in this great country of ours under the rubric of "freedom of speech." For instance, we have this "American" idea that even blasphemy should be legal lest we become like a Muslim state. Where did that come from? False dilemma, obviously, but our schools don't teach critical thinking. Maybe that's where it comes from? No, bad reasoning is an ethical matter more than one of aptitude or education. Intelligent people can appear quite foolish when on the wrong side of an issue. Stephen Hawking.

Well, I'd say states' rights got swallowed up by the Federal Government long ago. I'd also say Texas pretty much had it right on this issue of flag desecration back in '89. (Though their criminal appeals court did rule contrary to the states' original ruling and subsequent appeal, as did the SCOTUS.)

Given the perpetual erosion of states' rights, maybe we can at least uphold NFL owners' rights? While I'm hoping, maybe players might one day consider taking a knee in church on Sunday - before heading off to work, of course. *sigh*

Truth may and can triumph over party. And, it most certainly should.

(*Antonin Scalia was in the 5-4 majority. Yet interestingly enough, what ended up being a defining moment in legalizing U.S. defiance took place during the 1984 Republican National Convention due to "disagreement" over certain Reagan policies. Be careful whom you appoint I guess. Oh well... If only man-on-the-street Jesse Watters could've interviewed the communist activist that night in '89 on the depth and breadth of his ideology.)

Free Website Counter

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ridding Cities of Statues and Memorials

As a general rule we shouldn't make hasty decisions over night, especially by mob consensus, that are irreparable. The recent rage to discard monuments meets all three tests of poor judgement.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Strict Justice vs Pactum Justice


I've been considering afresh the relationship of pactum justice with respect to Adam in the CoW and how that relates to strict justice in redemption. With Adam the reward would've been disproportionate to the work. The justice would not have been according to strict justice but rather according to an agreement to over pay Adam, a pactum justice if you will. The value of the work would not have intrinsic value. No problem there I trust. 

I do find that in redemption our reward though received by grace alone is according to strict justice. The passive obedience part that deals with our demerit is more obvious perhaps, but I think some who focus on active obedience have no place to ground strict justice with respect to our right standing before God. Let me frame the dilemma and then try to solve it, but before that I'll try to address the easier part having to do with strict justice as it relates to our demerit. 

The one time sacrifice was sufficient payment to satisfy God’s strict  justice. The divine nature was required so that satisfaction could be actually intrinsic to the work. Our demerit needed the incarnate Son of God to pay for the sins of His people, for one thing to keep his human nature from sinking under God's infinite wrath. Christ being God could render God propitious and truly provide full satisfaction, a strict just payment for our sins. That's the more obvious part. No issues I trust.

The dilemma:

The Son assumed the terms of the covenant that offered a disproportionate reward for works done as a human being. So, regarding the active obedience part, I don’t see how pactum justice can be avoided and strict justice obtained if our positive merit is predicated solely on Christ fulfilling the original terms of the covenant and we grant that those original terms were according to pactum justice. I think that’s the necessary implication of a position that limits our positive standing to that which we receive only by the active obedience of Christ. If the Son took on the terms of the original covenant and if those terms offered disproportionate reward via pactum, then it stands to reason that our right standing is not according to strict justice. 

We should look at this from another angle:

Although the required work was essentially* (footnote) the same for both Adams and, therefore, disproportional to the reward, in our receiving of the whole person of Christ and not merely His obedience in the economy of redemption we do find strict justice. In other words, by union with Christ we are by grace rightful co-heirs to the heavenly Jerusalem etc. Not by His work only but by our union with the architect himself. I think if we want to speak of our reward of all things in Christ being strictly just, then I think we need to abandon the notion of merely obedient-merit imputed and start thinking in terms of Christ’s perfection being imputed in union. I fear this is eclipsed in certain quarters. Where do we ground strict justice if all Christ did for us was obey as the Second Adam in our stead as opposed to taking us into union with Himself? We have by grace what the Son has by nature and we receive that in union with Christ. I think some constructs that emphasize active obedience fail to do justice to the implications of union with the perfections of Christ – the whole Christ, which includes yet exceeds his work of obedience. There's not a strict parallel to Adam, nor is there one in Romans 5.

Footnote:

*Of course Christ had a harder task. Adam had to be obedient in a world with the serpent but not in world with human disciples of the serpent. 

Free Website Counter