Recently in Faith Category
A British couple explains why they're waiting for marriage, and how they're able to handle the pressure. A very winsome presentation. "We don't want to portray ourselves as these holier-than-thou people. But it's actually possible to have a functional relationship, in which you express physically that you care for someone, without having sex. There is a middle ground, and that's what we're trying to get across really, by agreeing to do something like this. I've had people ridicule me, and they get really explicit. They cannot get their heads around it.
"And I think another thing that is really a motivation is that, well, the Bible says that our faith is not just for ourselves, but for other people. Ore and I are trying to be a light for others. If there's one person who sees what we're doing and thinks, "I want to do that too," then thank God for that. It's another added pressure but at the same time we're honoured to carry that burden."
British cinema chains have banned an advertisement for justpray.uk which features people saying the Lord's Prayer. As Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield, goes through the seven petitions of the prayer, he explains why its understandable that the Lord's Prayer would be offensive in the context of a cinema.
"We are created and loved and called into friendship with God who is our father and into community with our fellow human beings who are therefore our sisters and brothers. Only someone who has found this new identity can stand against the advertising culture which night and day seduces us to define who we are by what we spend....
"Third, and most powerfully, the Lord's Prayer teaches us to live with just enough. This is the most dangerous reason why it cannot be shown with the adverts at the cinema. It teaches us not to want more. It teaches contentment, the most subversive virtue of them all....
"There are only 63 words in the Lord's Prayer. It takes less than a minute to say them.
"Yet these words shape our identity, give purpose to our lives, check our greed, remind us of our imperfections, offer a way of reconciliation, build resilience in our spirits and call us to live to the glory of our creator.
"No wonder they have been banned in the boardrooms of consumer culture."
"Jesus's parables would offend us, too, if we hadn't heard them so many times--or if we were paying better attention.
"In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we can all understand why the older brother, the one who has kept his nose clean, is offended by his father's eager welcoming of the wayward brother. It's a little shocking to realize that Jesus presents the older brother as just as big a jerk as the younger brother. Consider how much more shocking it would have been for Jesus's original audience, who hadn't already been told what they were supposed to think about the story.
"The parables are driven by that dissonance between the truth and the way we feel about the truth. Jesus shows us what the kingdom of God looks like; if we allow ourselves to be offended by that vision, we begin to see what needs to happen in our hearts."
This entry includes audio of Flannery O'Conner reading "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and quotes her comments about the story.
MORE: Flannery O'Conner says that Ayn Rand "makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky."
Bryan Chapell, former chancellor of the denominational seminary, describes in detail the distinctives and history of the Presbyterian Church in America -- the largest Bible-believing Presbyterian denomination in the US.
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.