Friday, July 31, 2015

The Difference Between Planned Parenthood and ISIS

From Doug Wilson:
This is one difference between ISIS and the Democratic abortion rights coalition, one that shows that the latter is trying to do their dirty business in a society that still has a residual conscience. Both are willing to pursue their respective beheadings, the former because they believe Allah wills it and the latter because Mammon beckons with a Lamborghini. But in both cases, someone has their head chopped off. That part is similar. But ISIS beheadings are usually done on a beach in broad daylight in order to strike fear in the hearts of their adversaries. Planned Parenthood beheadings are done out of sight because they think that if all the baby parts were to be sold publicly, people might come away with the wrong impression.
He then concludes:
But Planned Parenthood doesn’t stop there. There is is ready money to be made after the magic choice. There’s gold in them there thoraxes.  And, as mentioned, Obama’s DOJ is acting like a band of ayatollahs stoning the rape victim, opening up an investigation designed to punish the righteous and cover for the guilty. These are the people that we chose to run the country.

William Wilberforce put the central moral dilemma before us this way. “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

We Are All Descendents of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Introduction

We Are All Descendents of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Introduction

In his book On the Shoulders of Hobbits Louis Markos reveals the relationship between narrative and theology and why we need a proper understanding of both. He writes:
Though the restoration of theology and philosophy to their proper place is essential and primary, it needs to be accompanied by something else that will embody and incarnate it in the life of each individual citizen. For Western civilization has lost more than those laws, creeds, and doctrines on which it was built; It has lost as well the sacred drama that gave flesh and bone to those ‘naked’ creedal statements. We need the truth, but we also need to know how to live in and through and by that truth.

What we need, in short, are stories. (10-11)
The relation between narrative and theology is evident both biblically and experimentally. The primary sources on Jesus are predominately narrative yet it would be inaccurate to suggest that the Four Gospels are simply a collections of stories. They are, in a real sense, works of theology. It is also true that our lives - our stories - are a reflection of our theologies. The decisions we make, the friends we choose, the words we speak, and the bridges we burn are a reflection of per-conceived theological conclusions.

This is the real beauty of fiction. By drawing us into another world, the author is drawing us to consider theology. In recent years, this idea has repeatedly been made evident in the classic works of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. These two deeply religious men wrote masterful works of fantasy that were as much a reflection of their theology as it was their creativity.

There is another classic, more ancient work that reveals the relationship between narrative and theology that is increasingly gaining more attention: Beowulf. This is the first in what will be a series of posts on the theology of Beowulf which, I believe, centers on the anthropological conclusion that we are all descendents of Cain like the monsters of the story.

Admittedly, we are here today discussing Beowulf because of the work of JRR Tolkien. Not only did he incorporate portions of Beowulf in his Middle-Earth stories (like Smaug the Dragon) but he was the first significant figure to draw our attention to the old English tale. He did so in a major lecture a year before publishing the Hobbit.

In recent years my love for Beowulf has grown immensely and I find myself reading and studying it over and over again. I love the story, the writing, the role it has played in both Tolkien and Lewis, and the theology behind it.

Before we explore its theology, it will be best to examine the story's significance and its narrative. To that we turn to next.

For more:
"Beowulf": A Review
A Shrewd Apologetic: Doug Wilson's Take on Beowulf
Beowulf: Resources and Links
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary

All Around the Web - July 30, 2015

Joe Carter - She's Having a Fetus

Darrell Bock - The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Common But Mistaken Claims

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with Danny Akin

Huffington Post - Scalia Gets It Pretty Much Right

Don Whitney - Six Reasons to Pray the Bible

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

From Lewis's Pen: Pure Pelagianism/Augustinianism

From Letters to Malcomb:
The real problems are different. is it our faith that prayers, or some prayers, are real causes? But they are not magical causes: they don't, like spells, act directly on nature. They act, then, on nature through God? this would seem to imply that they act on god. But god, we believe, is impassible. All theology would reject the idea of a transaction in which a creature was the agent and God the patient.

It is quite useless to try to answer this empirically by producing stories - though you and I could tell strange ones - of striking answers to prayer. We shall be told, reasonably enough, that post hoc is not propter hoc. The thing we prayed for was gong to happen anyway. Our action was irrelevant. Even a fellow-creature's actin which fulfills our request may not be caused by it; he does what we ask, but perhaps he would equally have done so without our asking. Some cynics will tell us that no woman ever married a man because he proposed to her: she always elicits the proposal because she has determined to marry him.

In these human instances we believe, when we do believe, that our request was the cause, or a cause, of the other party's action, because we have from deep acquaintance a certain impression of that party's character. Certainly not by applying the scientific procedures - control experiments, etc. - for establishing causes. similarly we believe, when we do believe, that the relation between our prayer and the even is not a mere coincidence only because we have a certain idea of god's character. Only faith vouches for the connection. No empirical proof could establish it. Even a miracle, if one occurred, "might have been going to happen anyway."

Again, in the most intimate human instances we really feel that the category of cause and effect will not contain what actually happens. In a real "proposal" - as distinct from one in an old-fashioned novel - is there any agent-patient relation? which drop on the window pane moves to join the other?

Now I am going to suggest that strictly causal thinking is even more inadequate when applied to the relation between god and man. i don't mean only when we are thinking of prayer, but whenever we are thinking about what happens at the Frontier, at the mysterious point of junction and separation where absolute being utters derivative being.

One attempt to define causally what happens there has led to the whole puzzle about Grace and free will. You will notice that Scripture just sails over the problem. ‘Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling’ – pure Pelagianism. But why? ‘For it is God who worketh in you’– pure Augustinianism. It is presumably only our presuppositions that make this appear nonsensical. We profanely assume that divine and human action exclude one another like the actions of two fellow-creatures so that ‘God did this’ and ‘I did this’ cannot both be true of the same act except in the sense that each contributed a share.

In the end, we must admit a two-way traffic at the junction. At first sight, no passive verb in the world would seem to be so utterly passive as 'to be created'. Does it not mean 'to have been nonentity'? Yet, for us rational creatures, to be created also means 'to be made agents'. We have nothing that we have not received; but part of what we have received is the power of being something more than receptacles. (48-50)

All Around the Web - July 29, 2015

Ross Douthat - Looking Away From Abortion

Charles Krauthammer - Planned Parenthood Video Is Game-Changer

Canon and Culture - History as a Guide to Contemporary Debates

Denny Burk - President of Planned Parenthood did her cause no favors

Yahoo! - Online symptom-checkers are often wrong

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introduction

"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introducing a New Series
"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introduction

Why is the doctrine of Christ's deity so important? In their book The Deity of Christ, Drs. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson offer the six following reason taken from Ronald Tacelli's book Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions:
  1. The divinity of Christ is the most distinctively Christian doctrine of all.
  2. The essential difference between orthodox, traditional, biblical, apostolic, historic, creedal Christianity and revisionist, modernist, liberal Christianity is right here.
  3. The doctrine works like a skeleton key, unlocking all other doctrinal doors of Christianity.
  4. If Christ is divine, then the incarnation, or “enfleshing” of God, is the most important event in history.
  5.  There is an unparalleled existential bite to this doctrine. For if Christ is God, then, since he is omnipotent and present right now, he can transform you and your life right now as nothing and no one else possibly can.
  6. If Christ is divine, he has a right to our entire lives, including our inner life and our thoughts.
This thesis is repeated in Dr. Millard Erickson's book Christian Theology. There he writes:
The study of the person and work of Christ is at the every center of Christian theology. For since Christians are by definition believers in and followers of Christ, their understanding of Christ must be central and determinative of the very character of the Christian faith. Consequently, particular care and precision are especially in order in the doing of our Christology. (678)
What we believe about Christology informs what we believe about everything else. Consider the few examples given below.
Theology Proper - If Christ is God, then this will inform us on the magnitude of the incarnation, it proves the Trinity, and Christ truly becomes the Word.
Creation - Christ, as God, plays/played a role in creation. Thus he always has and remains its Lord.
Anthropology - If the body has no value, then why was Jesus incarnated bodily (in contrast to the docetics) and raised bodily (in contrast to liberalism and other heresies)? 
Hamartiology - If Christ must be born of a virgin, then original sin corrupting every man makes sense.
Soteriology - Why did Christ come? If He for sinners, then our only hope of salvation is Him. How did He bring salvation? Our interpretation of the atonement explains what we believe about justification, sanctification, glorification, and the rest.
Ecclesiology - If Christ is Lord and Head over the church, then our church polity, structures, and mission is defined by Him. We seek His Kingdom and glory, not ours awaiting the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Eschatology - Christ returns and sets up His eternal Kingdom. Anything short of that is heretical eschatology.
None of this should surprise us. Christian theology should make much of Christ. He is the hub of the wheel; the center of it all.

All Around the Web - July 28, 2015

Carl Trueman - The Coming of the Age of Gibberish

Russell Moore - Why I’m Hosting Presidential Candidates

Kevin DeYoung - Ten Proposed Commandments for Christian Parenting

Komo News - Ruling: State can force pharmacists to dispense Plan B

ABC News - Two Moms, One Dad, Two Babies Make One Big Happy Polyamorous Family

The Gospel Coalition - Are We on the ‘Wrong Side of History’?