Christians, thankfully, have been standing against the social acids of sexual sin since ancient Rome.

17 Oct

From Tim Challies:

we are experiencing a sexual revolution that has seen society deliberately throwing off the Christian sexual ethic. Things that were once forbidden are now celebrated. Things that were once considered unthinkable are now deemed natural and good. Christians are increasingly seen as backward, living out an ancient, repressive, irrelevant morality.

But this is hardly the first time Christians have lived out a sexual ethic that clashed with the world around them. In fact, the church was birthed and the New Testament delivered into a world utterly opposed to Christian morality. Almost all of the New Testament texts dealing with sexuality were written to Christians living in predominantly Roman cities. This Christian ethic did not come to a society that needed only a slight realignment or a society eager to hear its message. No, the Christian ethic clashed harshly with Roman sexual morality. Matthew Rueger writes about this in his fascinating work Sexual Morality in a Christless World and, based on his work, I want to point out 3 ugly features of Roman sexuality, how the Bible addressed them, and how this challenges us today.

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Racially motivated police violence. And facts.

17 Oct

From the Phillipe Lemoine at the National Review:

According to this narrative, black men are constantly harassed by the police and routinely brutalized with impunity, even when they have done nothing wrong, and there is an “epidemic of police shootings of unarmed black men.” Even high-profile black celebrities often claim to be afraid of the police because the same thing might happen to them. Police brutality, or at least the possibility that one might become a victim of such violence, is supposed to be part of the experience of a typical black man in the U.S. Events such as the death of Brown in Ferguson are presented as proof that black men are never safe from the police. This narrative is false. In reality, a randomly selected black man is overwhelmingly unlikely to be victim of police violence — and though white men experience such violence even less often, the disparity is consistent with the racial gap in violent crime, suggesting that the role of racial bias is small. The media’s acceptance of the false narrative poisons the relations between law enforcement and black communities throughout the country and results in violent protests that destroy property and sometimes even claim lives. Perhaps even more importantly, the narrative distracts from far more serious problems that black Americans face.

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Want to run some numbers yourself?  Use the Washington Post’s resource on crime stats

The Radicals, not the Protestants, have won. From Michael Horton

16 Oct

Much of the hoopla surrounding the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has been blather. On October 31, 2016, at a joint service in Lund, Sweden, Pope Francis and the president of the World Lutheran Federation exchanged warm feelings. Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the mainline Lutheran body, said in a press release for the joint service, “I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.” Acknowledging Luther’s positive contributions, the pope spoke of how important Christian unity is to bring healing and reconciliation to a world divided by violence. “But,” he added, according to one report, “we have no intention of correcting what took place but to tell that history differently.”

Perhaps the most evident example of missing the point is the statement last year in Berlin by Christina Aus der Au, Swiss pastor and president of an ecumenical church convention: “Reformation means courageously seeking what is new and turning away from old, familiar customs.”  Right, that’s what the Reformation was all about: average laypeople and archbishops gave their bodies to be burned and the Western church was divided, because people became tired of the same old thing and were looking for nontraditional beliefs and ways of living—just like us!

The Wall Street Journal reports a Pew study in which 53 percent of US Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation. (“Oddly, Jews, atheists, and Mormons were more familiar with Luther.”) In fact, “Fewer than 3 in 10 white evangelicals correctly identified Protestantism as the faith that believes in the doctrine of sola fide, or justification by faith alone.”1

Many today who claim the Reformation as their heritage are more likely heirs of the Radical Anabaptists. In fact, I want to test the waters with an outlandish suggestion: Our modern world can be understood at least in part as the triumph of the Radicals. At first, this seems a nonstarter; after all, the Anabaptists were the most persecuted group of the era—persecuted not only by the pope, but also by Lutheran and Reformed magistrates. Furthermore, today’s Anabaptists are pacifists who generally eschew mingling with outsiders, rather than revolutionary firebrands such as Thomas Müntzer, who led insurrections in the attempt to establish end-time communist utopias (with themselves as messianic rulers).

I’m not talking about Amish communities in rural Pennsylvania. In fact, I don’t have in mind specific offshoots, like Arminian Baptists, as such. I’m thinking more of the Radical Anabaptists, especially the early ones, who were more an eruption of late medieval revolutionary mysticism than an offshoot of the Reformation. I have in mind a utopian, revolutionary, quasi-Gnostic religion of the “inner light” that came eventually to influence all branches of Christendom. It’s the sort of piety that the Reformers referred to as “enthusiasm.” But it has seeped like a fog into all of our traditions.

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Premodern, Modern, Postmodern Epistemology

13 Oct

Source: Premodern, Modern, Postmodern Epistemology

Who has gone extreme?

12 Oct

“Democrats have actually shifted more over the past two decades on many key social and philosophical issues, trending relatively quickly toward liberal positions as Republicans have changed more slightly. And the totality of it shows that Democratic voters are actually more polarized than Republicans are.”

From temporary evil, to necessary evil, to positive good. How the South came to romantacize slavery.

18 Aug

In his book The Impending Crisis, David Porter writes about the change that took place in the northern and southern minds about slavery from 1830-1860.  Prior to this period, southerners joined northerners in considering slavery immoral, evil, and in tension with either Christianity, republican and founding values, or both.  And northerners joined southerners in assuming moral responsibility for it.  After all, Southern leaders had agreed that the slave trade was evil (and favored abolishing it in 1808) and agreed that the Northwestern Territory should exclude slavery in 1787.  There were more emancipation organizations/societies in the south by far than in the north prior to 1830.   Several southern states seriously considered joining northern states setting a target for emancipation. But between 1830 and 1860, as he says, “in an era of uninhibited romanticism, sentimentality, the southern upper class built a fully elaborated cult of chivalry,… castellated architecture, a code of honor, and the enshrinement of women.”  Their defense of slavery went from it being a temporary thing, a necessary evil, to a positive good for slave and society.  When compared to the “free labor” system of northern capitalism and industrialization, it was morally superior than the “impersonal, dehumanized irresponsibility of ‘wage slavery,’ which treated labor as a commodity.”  How did this happen?  How did the conceded paradox between slave labor and Christian/republican virtue give way to an ardent defense of the morality of slavery?  Potter suggests that before the philosophy of the South changed, the New England puritanical attitude about America and the South changed.   He blames radical abolitionism.  Abolitionism was a diverse movement with many motives, not most of which were righteous or humanitarian (though some were).  Abolitionists began to publish books, articles, songs, and pictures caricaturing the South as a wasteland of backwards, anti-progress (read capitalism), biracial, slow, uneducated, mixed race, people.  Slavery to them had no place in America, not only because it was distasteful, but also (and mainly) because it created a culture of disgusting racial integration, racial intermingling, and racial diversity.  Blacks impede the progress of whites and slavery disturbed the inevitable progress of white America from assuming its place among the great rich and powerful nations of the world.  Such a system made the south a drag on white American progress (influenced, as it was, by an inferior race in their midst) and robbed white “free laborers” of their racially superior rights to labor over blacks.  Lincoln himself explained his opposition to the expansion of slavery into western territories: “I am in favor of this not merely for our own people who are born amongst us, but as an outlet for free white people everywhere.”  As for the South, it was so far gone, so out of tune with the new vision of America’s destiny (more Hamiltonian than Jeffersonian) that it needed an invading, cleansing, occupation, of a superior unpolluted species of men (New Englanders) with the right view of America (no blacks, no Catholics, no immigrants, no Native Americans, but instead an industrial and world leading superpower blessed by God and engineered by white protestants).  Think “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Instead of socially integrating with blacks through slavery, America should socially segregate from blacks through deportation (or let them simply go the way of the “doto bird,” as one abolitionist said, when they get freedom and can no longer be fed, clothed, and protected by their masters).  Only then will real progress start and America can finally be what God had destined it to be, that “city shining on a hill.”  Some went so far as to support slave uprisings (e.g., financing the violence of John Brown and mourning his execution).  So demonized were southerners over this 30 year attack that the South developed a paradigm, a narrative, to try and occupy the moral high ground seized by their radical abolitionist attackers, making them fear northern moral crusaders as inevitably coming for them, their families, land, and “adopted servants” (as they like to think of them, erroneously).  This leads Potter writes, “Northern anti-slavery men had begun to abandon their tone of gentle, persuasive reproachful in discussing slavery and had fallen not only to denouncing slavery as a monstrous sin, but also to castigating slaveholders as hideous… One should not accept the apologia that the South would itself have got rid of slavery if this indiscriminate onslaught had not compromised the position of the southern emancipationists, but it does seem valid to say that, in the face of such bitter condemnation, white southerners lost their willingness to concede that slavery was an evil — even an inherited one, for which Yankee slave sellers [traders and creditors] and the southern slave buyers of the 18th century shared responsibility.  Instead they responded by defending slavery as a positive good.”  Porter pp. 458-460.

Some questions I’m asking while off to my white evangelical church

18 Jul

Source: Some questions I’m asking while off to my white evangelical church

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