Recently in Faith Category
A Presbyterian pastor from Ghana teaching at PCUSA (liberal Presbyterian) church puts forth an African Christian perspective on the gay marriage debate in the Global North and gets to the heart of the different reaction in the Southern Hemisphere:
"As I have reflected on the consultation, I have come to the conclusion that the doctrinal differences between American liberals and African traditionalists originate in deeper conflicts. We may argue about what the Bible says about sexuality, but there is a broader, unstated disagreement over the Bible itself. For mainstream Western society, the Bible is an ancient text that might arouse intellectual curiosity or become the subject of historical analysis, but it is hardly a sacred book. It has no more authority in American culture than the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King's speeches, and other notable historic statements. Dropping the language of "obedience to Scripture" and "conformity to the historic confessional standards" from the PC(USA) Ordination Standards underscores this point.
"The Bible has a very different status in African societies. Where Christianity has become dominant in the last century, the Bible remains a sacred text, relevant and living. The Bible is more than a compilation of historical documents. It is, in very significant ways, an African Testament. For large segments of African Christian societies, the world of the Bible is contemporary. Old and New Testament narratives of sacrifice, polygamy, plague, agriculture, dancing, shepherds, tensions between nomadic pastoralism and peasant dwellers, epidemics, and war have immediate relevance. Andrew Walls remarks, "You do not have to interpret Old Testament Christianity to Africans; they live in an Old Testament world." The word of God is literally "living and active" in the African context. A leading African theologian, Kwame Bediako, has said:
"'In becoming Christian I discovered I was becoming African again. I was recovering my sense of the spirituality of life. I was recovering my sense of the nearness of the living God. I was recovering my African sense of the wholeness of life. I find in becoming Christian, I am being more African than I think I was. I am being more who I am. '"
He has much more on the contrast between the western and African churches -- the importance of community in Africa, the West's fixation on sex and its deification of choice.
"As an African, I'm aware that we too must address many of the issues raised by the sexual revolution, including homosexuality. We cannot pray or preach it away, and it is not just a "Western problem," as some in Africa would like to think. But my years here have convinced me that Americans are uniquely ill-equipped to help us find our way. American culture is distorted by a fixation on sex, and conversations about sex are dominated by ideologies that shut down discussion. To use the words of Desmond Tutu: "For goodness' sake, leave us alone to do our own thing, even if it means making mistakes. At least they will be our mistakes.""
The Swiss Re Center for Global Dialogue is on the grounds of Villa Bodmer in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, near the shores of Lake Zurich. The 40-room mansion was built by industrialist Karl Martin Leonhard Bodmer in the late 1920s. It was formerly home to the Baptist Theological Seminary, which purchased the estate for $240,000 in 1948 and began classes on the site in 1949. Mrs. Bates sang there in the early '80s as part of the University Baptist Church (Fayetteville, Ark.), collegiate choir, New Creations, and she and I walked around the campus and ate a picnic (tinned meat and fresh bread) in the car park during a trip to central Europe in September 1990. After defunding by the Southern Baptist Convention and the liberation of the former Warsaw Pact countries, both happening in 1991, the seminary changed its name to the International Baptist Theological Seminary and moved to Prague in 1997. The seminary's chapel remains on the site and is home to the International Baptist Church of Zurich.
F. X. Turk (grandson of a Hungarian kulak) says it's time to sweep away the euphemisms:
"That is actually what is on the table: being part of a celebration which calls sinful sexual unions holy. If I refuse, I'm a kulak - part of the hated class who cannot be allowed to own property anymore, who cannot be allowed to buy or sell anymore, and who must be called out as immoral and as enemies of the new way of life.
"I am really not that concerned that gay people (at least superficially) say they want to be 'married'. I am concerned that anyone who objects to the new moral definitions is clearly being called politically unfit for use."
"After millennia of marriage being uncontroversially a union between one man and one woman, and after a decade of electorates in most states (and President Obama in 2008) upholding that traditional definition, the Left has used the courts to redefine the institution. People are fired for having taken the losing side. On college campuses, the current fights are about banning even the articulation of traditional views....
"Religious liberty is the terms of surrender the Right is requesting in the culture war. It is conservative America saying to the cultural and political elites, you have your gay marriage, your no-fault divorce, your obscene music and television, your indoctrinating public schools and your abortion-on-demand. May we please be allowed to not participate in these?
"But no. Tolerance isn't the goal. Religious conservatives must atone for their heretical views with acts of contrition: Bake me a cake, photograph my wedding, pay for my abortion and my contraception."
The writer is an atheist, a fiscal and foreign policy conservative, not at all a social conservative. Bottom line: If you have a problem with religious freedom laws, you're probably a totalitarian leftist. Some excerpts:
"Because that's all the gay 'rights' activists are doing here -- they are forcing people who disagree with their political beliefs to endorse those political beliefs anyway, using the crushing power of the state to compel assent....
""This is not about serving gays, this is about acceding to gays' (and non-gay Gay Enthusiasts') demands that those who dissent with gay weddings nevertheless be forced to endorse them....
"If a minority of bakers refuses services to gay weddings, what actual damage befalls gays? There are still many, many more bakers who will bake them their cakes. So what is the actual harm?
"They never answer this question -- they never ask it, so they couldn't answer it -- but the actual answer would be: 'The harm is finding out that someone disagrees with my Sacred Belief on gay marriage.'...
"What is being pursued here is not gays' right to have wedding cake. They have this, of course, and do not need the law's insistence to get it.
"What is being pursued here is hardcore gay-identity crusaders' insistence that no one has the right to disagree with them on their Sacred Belief, and that the law can and should be perverted into punishing ThoughtCrimes.
"What we are seeing here is the enforcement of a new religious code, one which puts "secular" leftist values at the center of religious dogma, and then uses the power of the state to punish heretics, apostates, and blasphemers.
"It is ugly, cruel, and stupid, as are most things the left wants."
Sola scriptura: Christian Research Institute series on Roman Catholicism
An examination of the agreements and differences between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals. In Part 3, the authors show that the Bible does indeed teach Sola Scriptura, contrary to Catholic claims.
- Part 1: An Evangelical Appraisal of Contemporary Catholicism
- Part 2: An Evangelical Appraisal of Contemporary Catholicism
- Part 3: The Catholic‐Protestant Debate on Biblical Authority
- Part 4: The Catholic‐Protestant Debate on Papal Infallibility
- Part 5: The Catholic‐Protestant Debate on Justification
Credo House: Early Church Fathers on Sola Scriptura
Credo House: Six Myths about Sola Scriptura
Credo House: Five Views of Tradition's Role in the Christian Life
Credo House: Category archive on Roman Catholicism
Dr. Greg Bahnsen: Is Sola Scriptura a Protestant Concoction? A Biblical Defense of Sola Scriptura: Bahnsen also delves into the problems with the Roman assertion of oral tradition as a separate source of authority as well as the misinterpretation of the use of the word "tradition" in the New Testament.
"Gregg Allison's new book is good news to all who have long desired a reliable theological guide in dealing with Roman Catholicism. Based on a painstaking analysis of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, it covers the all-embracing trajectory of Roman Catholic theology and practice. Instead of juxtaposing ephemeral impressions and disconnected data, the professor of Christian theology at Southern [Baptist Theological] Seminary in Louisville provides a theological framework that accounts for the complexity of the Roman Catholic system and its dynamic unity....
"Building on the "nature-grace interdependence" and the "Christ-Church interconnection," Allison helps the reader to make sense of both areas of agreements and disagreements while pointing to the hermeneutical grid set at the beginning. For example, the Catechism teaches a doctrine of "justification by faith." What the catechism means by "justification," though, is a synergistic work that is not forensic (legal) in nature but transformative and administered via the sacramental system of the Church and by taking into account one's own merits. The word is the same, but the theological meaning, confirmed by the devotional practices of Rome, strays far from the biblical understanding of justification. The same is true as far as all other key gospel terms are concerned."
Illustrator Josh Ray has produced a series of ten drawings called the Ink Well, currently on display at the Cafe on Broadway in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. "Each of the 10 pieces is inspired from a hymn, and the images themselves are created solely from the words of the hymn, handwritten in ink over and over again. The Image is meant to signify the meaning or the imagery behind each hymn." The background of each image is the sheet music of the song, and even the staves and the notes are revealed to be, on close examination, the words of the hymn. The hymns illustrated are "Amazing Grace," "In Christ Alone," "O for a Thousand Tongues," "I'll Fly Away," "Jesus Paid It All," "It Is Well with My Soul," "The Battle Belongs to the Lord," "All Creatures of Our God and King," and "Our God Is an Awesome God." Prints are available for purchase, starting as low as $35 plus shipping and handling for a 9" x 11" print.
Lewis discusses joy in a letter found tucked into a copy of Lewis's The Problem of Pain which was bought in a used bookshop.
"Real joy seems to me almost as unlike security or prosperity as it is unlike agony...."
"It jumps under one's ribs and tickles down one's back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o' nights. It shocks one awake when the other puts one to sleep. My private table is one second of joy is worth 12 hours of Pleasure. I think you really quite agree with me."
In a postscript, he added:
"Don't you know the disappointment when you expected joy from a piece of music and get only pleasure: Like finding Leah when you thought you'd married Rachel!"
"I think I can say from experience, from history, and from the Bible: Every Christian needs more spiritual food than one meal a week. That doesn't work physically; it doesn't work spiritually. Temptations are too relentless. Doubt is too frequent. Satan is too active. Tribulations are too heavy. Conflicts are too many. Emotions are too volatile. Perplexities are too difficult. Faith, hope, and love are too threatened, to think I can deal with these all week long simply from one word I got on Sunday. I can't do it. And I don't think anybody can."