Thursday, December 30, 2010

Theology Thursday - The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 4

Luther and His German Bible

Any discussion of Luther’s doctrine of Scripture, and in this case his promotion and defense of its perspicuity, is not complete without at least mentioning Luther’s arduous work of translating the Bible from the original languages to German.  It is no secret that the Catholic Church was vehemently against translations of the Bible in the vernacular.  It cost William Tyndale his life and John Wycliffe was hated for his work in translating the Bible into English by the Catholic Church.  So too Luther’s translation was unwelcomed by Catholic authorities.    Luther wanted nothing more than for his fellow Germans to be able to read the Bible in their own tongue.  So long as the Bible was read exclusively in Latin, the Church would never be fully Reformed.  The Catholic Church kept its stranglehold on the common men by not allowing them to read the Bible for themselves.  If the people could only read the Bible for themselves, Luther’s revolt would be validated and the cause of the Reformation would be complete.  Luther believed that once the Bible was made available to the common person, the abuses of the Church would be made evident and Catholicism would crumble.

It took Luther only eleven weeks to translate the New Testament, [1] and he published it in September 1522 (known as the September Testament).  It would not be until 1534 when Luther would finish the Old Testament and first publish the entire Bible.  Many have commented on the excellence of Luther’s translation which helped shape modern German.  Luther would continue to revise the German Bible until his death.

The Catholic response, predictably, was not positive.  Just as the Church opposed Wycliffe and other translators, the Church stood against the translating of the Bible into German.  It was standard Catholic teaching that Scripture was not clear and to translate the Bible into the vernacular will only cause more confusion.  In 1486, the Archbishop of Mainz had issued an edict

forbidding any unapproved German version in his diocese.  He defended his action on the ground that in his office he was required to guard the purity of the divine Word.  Those who were trying their hand at turning the Bible into German were the most part incapable of doing justice to their task, he thought.  In any case, he added, it is most dangerous to place the Holy Scriptures in the homes of ordinary people, where even women might read, if they could, or at least hear, since they are unable to come to a right judgment about them. [Archbishop] Berhold was giving expression to the general mind of the Church. [2]
Likewise, Johann Geiler from Kaisersburg, though an advocate for Church reform, was against the translation of the Bible into the vernacular.  He argued that

It is a bad thing to print the Bible in German.  It must be understood far differently from the way in which the text sounds.  It is dangerous to put a knife into the hands of children and let them slice their own bread.  They can only wound themselves with it.  So also, the Holy Scriptures, which comprise the bread of God, must be read and interpreted b people who have requisite knowledge and experience and who are able to determine the true sense. [3]

Geiler, here, is echoing the Catholic sentiment of his time. The Church believed that a vernacular Bible in the hands of common people was a dangerous thing.  Like most Catholic leaders at this time, Geiler believed that Scripture’s obscurity meant that only trained theologians could read and interpret the Bible for the laity with the Pope standing as the final interpreter.

Notice that the difference between Luther and the Church was not the authority of Scripture, but its clarity.  Luther held dearly to its perspicuity and thus translating the Bible to the vernacular was only natural.  The Catholic Church, on the other hand, feared that an ignorant people untrained in theology and hermeneutics would come to damnable heresies or at the very least be extremely confused by what they read.

So though on the surface the two sides were debating the merits and necessity of vernacular translations, they were really debating its perspicuity.  The belief in Scripture’s clarity drove Luther to translate the text while the rejection of Scripture’s clarity drove the Church to oppose its publication.

[1]  Luther translated at about 1,500 words per day.  See James M. Kittelson, Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986), 175.
[2]  Willem Jan Kooiman, Luther and the Bible, trans. John Schmidt (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), 86-87.
[3]  As quoted in Arthur Skeving Wood, Captive to the Word: Martin Luther – Doctor of Sacred Scripture.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969.

The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 1
The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 2
The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 3  

For more:
Theology - Luther:  Right Doctrine and Righteous Living Go Hand-in-Hand - A Message the Church Needs to Recover 
Reviews - Reviews in Brief:  Martin Luther and the Reformation 
Reviews - The Theology of the Reformers  
Reviews - The Unquenchable Flame 
Reviews - Luther: Man Between God and the Devil 
Reviews - The Trial of Luther 
Reviews - Martin Luther:  The Christian Between God and Death  
Reviews - "On the Necessity of Reforming the Church" by John Calvin
Reviews - John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology 
Reviews - Christianity's Dangerous Idea

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Piety of Hate: Identifying the Real Source of Bigotry in the Debate Over Homosexuality

2010 has only added to the ugliness of the gay marriage debate in American culture.  No surprise there.  For the past several decades, it seems that every year the debate gets more heated and the hateful accusations and word slinging gets worse.  Some of the events that have transpired this past year is no different and I wouldn't hold my breath and expect anything different next year.  Sexuality isn't just another issue, but is a uncontrollable craving for every human being and when society begins to embrace alternative sexual lifestyles and experiences, there is no turning back.

In perhaps the most important article of the year, Matthew J. Franck has called the gay agenda crowd out exposing their game plan.  One of the main arguments he makes is that those who support homosexuality and gay marriage accuse their counterparts of hate all the while express their hatred as equal if not more so than those who reject the gay lifestyle.  To put it another way:  the only thing that is intolerable is intolerance to many gay activists (and postmodernists in general). 

The Washington Post article begins by detailing just some of the recent attacks of the past year against those who disagree with homsoexuality.  Franck writes:

Some stories from recent months: A religion instructor at a midwestern state university explains in an e-mail to students the rational basis for Catholic teaching on homosexuality. He is denounced by a student for "hate speech" and is dismissed from his position. (He is later reinstated - for now.) At another midwestern state university, a department chairman demurs from a student organizer's request that his department promote an upcoming "LGBTQ" film festival on campus; he is denounced to his university's chancellor, who indicates that his e-mail to the student warrants inquiry by a "Hate and Bias Incident Response Team." 

On the west coast, a state law school moves to marginalize a Christian student group that requires its members to pledge they will conform to orthodox Christian doctrines on sexual morality. In the history of the school, no student group has ever been denied campus recognition. But this one is, and the U.S. Supreme Court lets the school get away with it

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-respected civil rights organization, publishes a "report" identifying a dozen or so "anti-gay hate groups," some for no apparent reason other than their vocal opposition to same-sex marriage. Other marriage advocacy groups are put on a watch list.

Here is just a list of pro-traditional marriage groups labeled with words like hatred, bigotry, discriminatory, close-minded, intolerant, religious fanatics, etc.  We've all heard the labels and slurs.  But the article then turns to chronicle how the left has responded to such bigotry.  Instead of simply labeling Christians and those who defend traditional marriage, they have attacked them.  Franck writes:

On a left-wing Web site, a petition drive succeeds in pressuring Apple to drop an "app" from its iTunes store for the Manhattan Declaration, an ecumenical Christian statement whose nearly half-million signers are united in defense of the right to life, the tradition of conjugal marriage between man and woman, and the principles of religious liberty. The offense? The app is a "hate fest." Fewer than 8,000 people petition for the app to go; more than five times as many petition Apple for its reinstatement, so far to no avail. 

Finally, on "$#*! My Dad Says," a CBS sitcom watched by more than 10 million weekly viewers, an entire half-hour episode is devoted to a depiction of the disapproval of homosexuality as bigotry, a form of unreasoning intolerance that clings to the past with a coarse and mean-spirited judgmentalism. And this on a show whose title character is famously irascible and politically incorrect, but who in this instance turns out to be fashionably cuddly and up-to-date.

The list could go on and on and many have chronicled many similar and on going instances.  Many have been mentioned on this website and published in my book.  What Franck mentions here are just highlights of an ongoing pattern.  Those who oppose gay marriage and homosexuality in general aren't just labeled as hate mongers, but attacked in the most vicious ways.  Somehow the hate spewing from the other side goes unnoticed and never labeled for what it really is:  hate.

The motivation for this strategy is clear.  Franck argues, The argument over same-sex marriage must be brought to an end, and the debate considered settled. Defenders of traditional marriage must be likened to racists, as purveyors of irrational fear and loathing. Opposition to same-sex marriage must be treated just like support for now long-gone anti-miscegenation laws. 

This strategy is the counsel of desperation.  I think he's right.  The fact that every state that has voted on the issue has rejected it is telling.  Homosexual activists and defendants are left with two options:  cultural evolution and the courts.  Certainly Vice-President Joe Biden has a point when he says (following the overturning of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy) that society's acceptance of homosexuality is "inevitable."  Certainly trends support the Vice-President's assertion.  However, many homosexuals aren't so patient and thus are challenging the will of our free citizens through judicial fiat and activism.

The way to enforce their will is to take advantage of both fronts by ignoring elections and pressuring judges and government and by winning the cultural argument that they are the victims of hate and never the participants of hate.  The left has incredibly achieved this as even the most loving of Christians and conservatives are considered backwards and evil for the simple fact that they disagree with legalizing gay marriage.

Franck puts its this way:

Marginalize, privatize, anathematize: These are the successive goals of gay-marriage advocates when it comes to their opponents. 

First, ignore the arguments of traditional marriage's defenders, that marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that children will have mothers and fathers, and that same-sex marriage is not an expansion but a dismantling of the institution. Instead, assert that no rational arguments along these lines even exist and so no refutation is necessary, and insinuate that those who merely want to defend marriage are "anti-gay thugs" or "theocrats" or "Taliban," as some critics have said. 

Second, drive the wedge between faith and reason, chasing traditional religious arguments on marriage and morality underground, as private forms of irrationality. 

Finally, decree the victory of the new public morality - here the judges have their role in the liberal strategy - and read the opponents of the new dispensation out of polite society, as the crazed bigots of our day.

This strategy, though advantageous to the left, is unaccepable in a democracy.  To label your opponent as haters for the simple fact that they disagree with your morality and thus anathematize them is undemocratic and goes against the purpose and process of a free society.  This is not the sort of debate that we need, but it is the sort of debate that we have been given.  In the media, right-wingers are portrayed as backward, crazy, and unenlightened.  Franck is right to conclude:

American democracy doesn't need civility enforcers, nor must it become a public square with signs reading "no labels allowed." Robust debate is necessarily passionate debate, especially on a question like marriage. But the charge of "hate" is not a contribution to argument; it's the recourse of people who would rather not have an argument at all. 

That is no way to conduct public business on momentous questions in a free democracy. "Hate" cannot be permitted to be the conversation stopper in the same-sex marriage debate. The American people, a tolerant bunch who have acted to protect marriage in three-fifths of the states, just aren't buying it. And they still won't buy it even if the judges do.

Franck's argument is well-received and needs to be taken more seriously and spread to an even wider audience.  His overall argument has been echoed before, but sadly it remains on deaf ears.  Somehow our free society has turned to labels and sound bites in public debate instead of the free exchange of ideas.

But at this point, Christians must realize that we should not be surprised.  Since the birth of our faith, Christians have been ostracized for the very message they defend.  Whether it be the early church leader St. Justin Martyr: The First and Second Apologies (Ancient Christian Writers) arguing to the Emperor that Christians were his most loyal and peaceful citizens or whether it be modern day marriage defenders, Christians have always been given inaccurate labels that distort their real beliefs and convictions.

At the same time, Christians must be careful about being consumed with the public relations war.  Sinners hate the gospel and thus hate those who proclaim it.  This is exactly what Jesus warned in His farewell address in John 15-16.  Instead of worrying about cultural labels, let us be concerned about the purity of our message.  Let us preach Christ and Him crucified and nothing else.  We offer true hope and liberty from the bondage of our sin.  Let us preach Christ and nothing else.  2011 will be no better than 2010 or previous years apart from the working of the Holy Spirit.  So instead of worry about what others think about our message, let us instead be consumed with what God thinks about our message.  Let us just preach the gospel and let God take care of the rest.

Matthew J.Franck (Washington Post) - In the Gay Marriage Debate, Stop Playing the Hated Card 

For more:
Blogizomai - What's the Big Deal:  Christianity and Homosexuality  
Blogizomai - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Blogizomai - Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2 
Blogizomai - Punishing Prejudice By Being Prejudice:  The Lesson and Legacy of Hate Crimes  
Blogizomai - The Power of the Few Over the Many:  Proposition 8, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Fiat  
Blogizomai - Christianity Without Christian Distinctives Based on Christian Doctrine is Not Christianity:  The CLS and Our Fear of Discrimination
Blogizomai - Jesus is into Offending People:  Its Time For Christians to Admit the Obvious and Proclaim with Boldness
Blogizomai - "Friendship With the World is Enmity With God": Rick Warren Tries to Have it Both Ways
Theology - The Stipulation That Paralyzes: Tony Jones and the Limit of the Emergent Worldview 
Theology - Pinata Theology: Ignore the Issue and Swing at the Distraction - What Piper Has Taught us About the Church 
Blogizomai - Heteronormativity: Another Word for Heterophobia
Blogizomai - Deja Vu All Over Again:  Prop 8 Goes to Trial and What That Could Mean for the Rest of America  
Blogizomai - Is This a Fight Homosexuals Want to Have?:  Massachusetts and the 10th Amendment   

Friday, December 24, 2010

Repost Friday: Happy RamaHanuKwanzMas!

With it being Christmas, I want to honor this great holiday with a video that perfectly highlights the way our multiculturalism culture approaches it.  I think this repost speaks for itself.

Happy RamaHanuKwanzMas!

H/t: Glenn Beck

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Legislate or Not: Condoleezza Rice, Libertarianism, and Morality

One of the biggest problems I have with libertarian political philosophy is its unwillingness to not only call something wrong and personally label a certain action wrong and thus fight for its irradiation.  Take the major social issues of gay marriage and abortion for example.  Many libertarians personally oppose abortion, but refuse to fight against it.  Their commitment to libertarianism prevents them from outlawing the practice even though they agree it involves murder and death.  So they are pro-choice in the truest sense of the word.  They are so committed to moral and political freedom that they refuse defend the innocent lives being taken.

Take former Secretary of State Condellezza Rice's libertarian argument regarding social issues.  Recently Christianity Today was given an interview with Secretary Rice and asked regarding some of her views on social issues.  The interview reads:

CT: In the past you said you worry about the government trying to legislate morality, and you know that evangelicals care very much about the issue of abortion.

Rice: I’m generally pretty libertarian in these matters, because Americans are quite good, actually, at finding a way to deal with these extremely divisive and difficult moral issues. And it’s not that I’m a relativist. It’s not that I believe everybody has their own morality. But I do understand that there are different ways of thinking about how these issues are going to play out in people’s lives, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in governing their own lives. Sometimes when things are out of whack the government has no choice but to step in. But I’m wary of the government stepping in to too many issues.

CT: Was there a time when you came to a place on that issue, where your faith informed your position on abortion?

Rice: I’m still coming to terms with it. I don’t like the government involved in these really hard moral decisions. While I don’t think the country is ready for legislation to overturn Roe v. Wade, certainly I cannot imagine why one would be in favor of partial birth abortion. I also can’t imagine why one would take these decisions out of the hands of the family. We all understand that this is not something to be taken lightly.

CT: Same-sex marriage is another issue that has captured the country’s attention in recent years.

Rice: I have lots of respect for people on both sides of this divide, because there are really hard issues. I don’t ever want anybody to be denied rights within our country. I happen to think marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s tradition, and I believe that that’s the right answer. But perhaps we will decide that there needs to be some way for people to express their desire to live together through civil union. I think the country, if we can keep the volume down, will come to good answers.

I find a couple of interesting things about the arguments put forward by the former Secretary of State.  First, Rice isn't the most consistent libertarian being that she continues to support the Bush wars.  What one thinks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how the War on Terror was fought under the Bush administration is not the point of this point.  However, it is surprising that Rice prides herself on her libertarian views and yet is a national security expert and has and continues to promote American involvement in war.  Most libertarians oppose war.

Secondly, as Denny Burk points out, Rice suggests that she's not a relativists but then makes a relativists argument.  She suggests that there are various ways to think about different issues and how these issues are going to play out in people's lives, and gives people the benefit of the doubt in governing their lives, and yet at the same time (in her libertarianism) believes that at some points government may need to step in when things are out of whack.  How, I ask, is this not a situation where government ought to step in?  Rice was willing to protect the innocent lives of Iraqi's but is unwilling to protect the innocent lives of unborn American children.

The debate over abortion and other social issues remain heated for good reason.  Libertarians simply have no answer for such difficult issues.  Their firm belief in the inherent goodness of man allows them to support dangerous policy beliefs.  Though libertarianism may have a lot going for it in terms of economics and taxes, it falls flat on many social issues that we face.

As Christians we must be careful not to get our priorities so out of whack.  Life is more important than taxes.  The gospel is more important than anything. A right understanding of the gospel demands that we defend life and worry about taxes secondarily.  Though I have great respect for Condi Rice, I must vehemently reject her reasoning and conclusions here.  Life is precious and marriage is central to our culture.  Let us defend them at all cost.  The gospel demands it.

HT:  Denny Burk 

Christianity Today - Interview: Condoleezza Rice's Faith Context for Foreign Policy  

For more:
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  Libertarianism vs. Conservatism -  What Rand Paul Has Taught Us 
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  The Danger of Libertarianism 
Shortblog - The Short-End of Libertarianism
Blogizomai -  Legislating Morality:  We All Do It, But Only a Few Get Blamed For It  
Blogizomai - Alcohol Today, Marijuana Tomorrow:  When Money Changes Our Values 
Blogizomai - Fox News and 9/11 Truthers

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shortblog Saturday - December 18, 2010

Once again, I want to highlight some of the posts at the Short-Blogizomai blog on things I commented on but not in great detail.  These are not all of the blog posts from the past week, but just some that I thought were worth highlighting.

Colson on the Persecution of Christians in Iraq

One of the saddest parts of the Iraq War has been without a doubt the great increase in persecution against Christians in that country.  Christians are being forced to flee or else they will be killed by radical Muslims.  Recently, Charles Colson wrote a major commentary at his Breakpoint site regarding how finally someone in the mainstream media has taken note and reported on the mass exodos of Christians in Iraq.  Colson then writes:

And, sad to say, the action or inaction of the U. S. government has played a major role in the situation. No doubt the U.S. government never intended to place Christians in the crosshairs of Islamist radicals, but the invasion of Iraq prepared the ground for what Nina Shea at Freedom House has called a “ruthless cleansing campaign by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants.”

What’s scandalous is that the U.S. has done precious little about it. I have no doubt that if the Administration were to pressure the Iraqi government—including threatening to cut off aid—the persecution would either stop, or at least the Iraqi government would start to make honest efforts to end the bloodshed. And you and I need to tell the Administration and Congress that the U. S. government must not tolerate such blatant persecution.

Maybe the Administration’s silence on the issue has something to do with its effort to improve relations with the Muslim world—an effort I applaud. But we can’t remain silent for fear of offending Muslims. Even if, as a reputable pollster told me, up to 18 percent of Muslims hold radical views and support religious violence, that means 80 percent or more do not. It is those peace-loving Muslims we should enlist in the fight against the radical Islamist worldview and the barbarians who embrace religious bloodshed.

After all, we believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence.  “All men,” that’s including Muslims, as well as Iraqi Christians, “are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Religious freedom is one of those rights.  So when our men and women go into combat around the world, they are fighting not just for the rights of Christians, but for Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, —that is, for the rights of all people.

There are some insightful words here.  The silence from our "Christian" nation is deafening.  If we have really fought for freedom in Iraq, then it is time that we start demanding it.

Breakpoint (Charles Colson) - Persecution in Iraq  

Finally Out of the Closet: The Church in China Becoming More Boldly Public

The church in China has been under heavy persecution for decades and the following news piece was of great encouragement to me.  Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in China as they risk their lives daily by submitting to the Lordship of Christ and not to the Lordship of the State.  China is a testament that even when there is great persecution, the Church can and has historically grow.

HT: The Right Scoop  

HIV Cured?

This is an interesting development in the medical and scientific world.  Many pro-lifers have pointed out that adult stem cell research not only is ethically and morally neutral since he doesn't take any life, it has also shown the most promise.  Embryonic stem cell research, on the other hand, seems to only kill life with little to no promise.  Take the recent headline for example.  Fox News reports: Doctors Claim HIV-Positive Man Cured by Stem Cell Transplant.  They report:

Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV-positive American living in Germany, had leukemia and was undergoing chemotherapy, when he received a transplant of stem cells from a donor carrying a rare, inherited gene mutation that seems to make carriers virtually immune to HIV infection.

The transplant appeared to wipe out both diseases, giving hope to doctors . . .

So has HIV been cured through adult stem cell research?  Not quit.  The story goes on:

but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been studying HIV/AIDS for almost 30 years, said while this is an interesting proof of concept, it’s absurdly impractical.

“It’s hard enough to get a good compatible match for a transplant like this,” Fauci told, “But you also have to find compatible donor that has this genetic defect, and this defect is only found in 1 percent of the Caucasian population and zero percent of the black population. This is very rare.”

Fauci said while this patient is “functionally cured” this is not something you can do with every HIV-infected individual.

So though it is way too premature to claim that one of the world's biggest killers (hello Africa and the West) has been defeated, this story does show that adult stem cells continue to show a lot of promise.  As a pro-lifer I wholeheartedly encourage our culture to put all of its funds and focus on the research that is showing the most (and almost exclusive) promise in actually healing things without the moral dilemma of killing life.

In our advanced age, its hard telling what the next headline will say, but without a doubt there is much to hope for in the future.  However, let us not forget that for every disease cured, many more takes its place.  Let us pray that God intervenes, protects us, we make wise decisions to prevent them in our own lives and of course, come Lord Jesus quickly!

Why I like Charlie Strong

I am a huge Louisville Cardinal fan and it has been difficult watching the football team in recent years, but this year has been much different.  Though they were held to a 6-6 record, the team will be heading to their first bowl game since winning the Orange bowl 4 years ago.  This is new head coach Charlie Strong's first year at Louisville and since the retirement of Florida Gator head coach Urban Meyer, many have speculated that Strong would consider leaving Louisville for the position (Strong was the defensive coordinator at Florida for years under Meyer).

Strong responded today with the following:

I will say this, an athletic director hired me and he gave me the keys to this program and I owe him a lot and I will never ever chase a job and I am totally committed to this job here. I can't see myself, when you talk about character, you talk about respect, you talk about sacrifice, I don't see myself walking out on a program in one year to go chase another job.

This is rare to hear from the world of sports today.  There is a lot to learn in this one quote beyond football.  Do I care more about myself, or fulfilling the responsibilities I have been given?  Do I serve my ego or others?  As a pastor, am I more interested in serving Christ or working my way up the religious ladder?  As a husband?  As a father?  As a man?  As a Christian?  As a human being?

HT:  Card Chronicle 

Federal Judge: Obamacare Unconstitutional

This is breaking news:  A Virginia Federal judge has ruled that the new health care law passed this passed year and signed by President Barack Obama is unconstitutional.  But before those who affirm the judge's decision gets too excited do not forget that this is really just a formality.  This is just like the Proposition 8 monkey trials.  Regardless of the outcome, this case is going to the Supreme Court.  That is where the real fight will be had.  But nonetheless, this is big because if the Supreme Court does not take up the case (which is doubtful), then the Federal judges ruling stands.  At the same time, this does set a legal precedent for the unconstitutionality of the new law.

I'm not interested in looking at the argument made here as they aren't really anything new.  Nonetheless, whatever side on this issue you are on, one can agree that the next year should be interesting.

Hot Air - Breaking: Federal judge rules ObamaCare mandate unconstitutional; Update: Bill argues Congressional power without “logical limitation”   

Video HT:  the blaze 

For more:
Blogizomai - The Art of Winning an Argument:  Name-Calling, the Left, and Health Care Reform
Blogizomai - What Would Jesus Vote?:  Jesus, Health Care, and the Gospel   
Blogizomai - The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes
Blogizomai - Some Life Not Worth the Investment:  The Dangers of the Health Care Bill
Shortblog - The Truth About Abortion and Obamacare 
Shortblog - Another Political Lie: Abortion and Health Care
Shortblog - Is Health Care a Right?:  Williams Weighs In
Shortblog - Health Care, Ideology, and the Gospel:  Colson Weighs In
Shortblog - The Truth About the Health Care Reform Law 
Shortblog - How Accurate Where Those CBO Numbers? 
Shortblog - Render Unto Obamacare?  Christianity and Paying Taxes in Obamacare World 
Shortblog - Absolute Power . . .   
Theology - Repent For Health Care is At Hand:  Did Obama Just Legislate the Gospel?

Is Overpopulation a Myth?

Consider the following video:

Although I agree with the overall argument of this video there are a few things to point out.  First, the statistic that says that everyone in the world could fit in the state of Texas and still have a house and a yard (and apparently a dog) is a little misleading.  The overpopulation alarmism usually has to deal with food and global warming and fitting everybody in one state doesn't remove the problem being raised.  The issue of food and manmade global warming remains regardless of whether or not the world population can in Texas.

Secondly, I don't understand the assertion that world population will peak in a few years and then begin to decline?  How does that work?  Where do they get this information?

With that said, beginning this myth with the radical alarmism of men like Thomas Malthus who was extremely radical and advocated, as the video rightly points out, murder.  It was Darwinism on steroids as he wanted to kill the "feeble minded" and those unworthy to live.  Furthermore, this sort of illogical alarmism continues today and many eschatological and apocalyptic fears have remained unfulfilled.  I believe this explains, in many ways, why abortion is a sacrament among Darwinian secularists.  Children are viewed as a curse under such nonsense.

More could be said and has been said on this issue, but this is an important video worth our consideration.  Christians ought to be especially leery into buying into such arguments without seriously thinking about what is being said and what is being advocated as a result.  Murder and sterilization are not things Christians can support under any circumstances.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Repost Friday - Above Our Paygrade: What the Candidacy of Barack Obama Says About Our Culture of Death

This is an article that was originally going to be in my book Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable World but was not able to for multiple reasons.  The candidacy and the Presidency of Barack Obama is a real struggle for a lot of Christianitys and among the reasons why includes social issues like abortion, sexuality, and religious liberty.  Though Obama tries to sound a centrist on the issue of abortion - promoting the Aborition Reduction argument - he has only proven himself to be the most pro-choice president in our history.  But the real struggle isn't what he believes, but that Americans, for the most part, ignored these issues in 2008 and continue to ignore them today.  We have foolishly bought into the notion that at times like these, we need to put the social issues aside and focus only on the economic issues.  As a result, President Obama has opened more doors that destroys lives.  We are only adding to the blood on our hands.  The original can be read here.

The recent debate at Rick Warren's megachurch in California revealed one thing: abortion remains to be a major issue in politics and this years Presidential election is no different. The two candidates could not be more drastically different than when it came to the question, when does life begin? The Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, was very clear, "at conception." The Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama, was less clear claiming that an answer with precision would be above his "pay grade." The answer is stunning.

This answer created several problems for the Senator. First, there is the abortion problem. In his answer, Senator Obama claimed that abortion rates in America have increased while a very pro-life President was running the country. The problem with that statement is that it's not true. According to statistics, abortion rates are at an all-time low. The Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that focuses on reproductive issues, show that abortion rates have dropped. They report:

The actual number of abortions dropped to a new low, with 1.2 million abortions in 2005, compared to a high of 1.6 million abortions in 1990.

And so, it would seem that the Senator is wrong. The answer to our abortion problem isn't more programs or a new approach to the subject, but to continue down the road we are traveling. Whatever the reasons for the decline, it is obvious that it is working. I want to believe that it is a change in our culture, from the fact that no one can deny that a fetus is a human being, and also through the teaching of abstinence in schools. To treat abortion as birth control only leads to increase in abortion rates.

Obama has repeatedly called for a new policy on abortion. Rather than argue over whether or not the infant is subject to human rights, many are beginning to fight for a reduction in abortions. One such proponent of this is a leader in the emerging church, Tony Campolo, and he makes this proposal in his book, "Red-Letter Christians: A Citizens Guide To Faith and Politics." Campolo has taken this message to the Democratic party and they are beginning to adopt this policy.

But does reducing abortion solve the problem? Certianly we should celebrate in the falling numbers, but should we be satisfied with massacre regardless of the numbers? One innocent child murdered because of a "choice," that it is life unworthy of life by the young one's parents is one too many. Persons who call themselves Christians, like Campolo and Obama, should know better.

Secondly, the ghosts of Senator Obama's past are beginning to haunt him. Needless to say, Obama's stance on the issue of abortion (and beyond as we will see) is extreme. First, Obama has repeatedly refused to vote against partial-birth abortion. This approach to abortion is so barbaric that even some pro-choice advocates do not support it's practice. The idea of sucking out the brain of an unborn infant making it go limp and then pulling it out of the mother is perhaps the most grotesque thing in modern medicine. And yet, Obama's record is equally apalling.

When a bill came before Congress to ban the practice of partial-birth abortion, Obama showed his support of the barbaric practice by voting against it. The bill, nonetheless, passed 281-142 in the House and 64-34 in the Senate. Obama went on to criticize the Supreme Court for upholding the legality of the bill.

But the madness doesn't stop there.

According to reports, while a State Senator in Illinois, Barack Obama refused to support a bill that would declare infants that survived abortions to have human rights. I have previously commented on this issue, and so I will not add to it here. A vote against this bill, and several bills were brought before the State Senate, however, equals a vote for infanticide. It would seem that the answer to Pastor Warren's question, when does life begin, for Obama isn't even at birth.

Recently, transcripts of Obama's reasoning behind his votes on the subject have surfaced. In it, Obama said:

As I understand it, this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child – however way you want to describe it – is now outside the mother's womb and the doctor continues to think that it's nonviable but there's, let's say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they're not just coming out limp and dead, that, in fact, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved.

The campaign's many attempts to downplay this event have utterly failed. At one point, they declared such accusations as lies, only to admit later that they were true. And yet, after all of this the candidate refuses to recant of his votes and remarks regarding the issue. This can only mean that he remains steadfast in support of infanticide, partial-birth abortion, and abortion in general and does not intend on changing his views whenever he gets to the Whitehouse. Rather, the campaign wishes to simply downplay the signficance of the votes in the past writing them off as irrelevant.

This is not an attack on Senator Obama, though he is the main subject of this article. Rather, it is an attack on America. Obama is not the only politician that supports abortion, partial-birth abortion, and even infanticide. What's worse, politicians don't arrive at power by accident but are elected by persons who are fully aware of the candidates stances and by casting their vote are declaring their agreement with them on that issue. That means millions of Americans find the murder of the innocent unborn to be acceptable and the right course of action.

This is a condemnation on our culture as a whole that we have come to this point. Who would have thought that America would stoop so low as to nominate a person for our nations highest office whose views on life are haunting. Prior to the general election, I thought men like Peter Singer were the only ones in support of infanticide but now we have nominated such policies to the highest office. What does this say about our culture? What does this say about America? And what does this say about where we're headed?

I am not concerned with who you will vote for. Rather, I am most concerned with were we stand as a nation on this subject. The debate at Saddleback revealed that abortion remains a hot-button issue that won't likely go away. But perhaps there is hope. The recent outrage over the Senator's position seem to be a positive sign that our nation is beginning to rethink this issue. Maybe I'm wrong. But I pray that I am not.

For more:
Blogizomai - A Court Upholds Life:  Federal Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Banned But the War Isn't Over 
Blogizomai - The Challenge of Frozen Embryos:  South Korea Undefines Life 
Blogizomai - "No We Won't":  Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Theology Thursday - The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 3

Perspicuity and the Priesthood of Believers

What Luther establishes in The Bondage of Will is not far from what he argues in some of his famous earlier works that directly apply to his emphasis of perspicuity.  In his diatribe against Erasmus, Luther repeatedly condemns the Catholic Church of exercising authority over Scripture and denying common Christians the right to read and interpret Scripture for themselves. Luther had made this argument before, but in a different context.  Luther’s doctrine of the priesthood of all believers applies directly to the clarity of Scripture.  This fundamental doctrine that separated Luther from the Catholic Church is developed more fully in his 1520 treatise To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.  What really separated Luther from the Catholics was not the role in which the Holy Spirit played in interpreting Scripture and determining right doctrine, but where the Holy Spirit plays the role.

The Catholic Church saw the Holy Spirit’s role of interpretation in the Pope, the Church, and her councils.  Luther, on the other hand, saw the role of the Holy Spirit primarily in the local church community, especially through the preaching of the Word from a qualified individual who did proper exegesis and through the individual believer.
The difference could not be greater.  As Luther continued to rebel against Catholic doctrine, the Catholic Church continued to suggest that Luther was fighting against the Holy Spirit who was guiding the Church throughout her history and dogma.  Luther responded by returning to the priesthood of all believers which taught that the Holy Spirit works through the local church community as each member serves the other and the Word of God is preached.
In 1520, Luther published his book To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation and in it he offers his defense of the priesthood of all believers.  The context is important.  The book, as the title suggest, is written to the secular authorities of Germany and Luther is pleading with them to continue the fight against the Pope and her devilish doctrines.
The problem with this is that the Church has set up a number of “walls” to prevent such an event from taking place.  The first wall is the separation between spiritual and temporal authority.  The Church considers herself the sole authority in spiritual matters thus preventing the secular state from ever interfering with spiritual matters.  The second wall regards the authority and interpretation of Scripture.  Since there is no evidence that the Pope has such authority to be the final interpreter of Scripture in Scripture, the Pope then has usurped such authority.  The third wall regards the Church reserving the right to call its own council.  Luther argues that by limiting the calling such a council the Church, the secular authorities had no power to force the Church to reexamine its doctrines of morals.
It is the first two walls that apply directly to perspicuity and the priesthood of believers.  In the first wall, the wall of separation between ecclesiastical and secular powers, Luther laid out his defense of the priesthood of all believers.  Luther argued that nothing separates priests, cardinals, archbishops, or the Pope himself from the common Christian.  After all, have they not all been baptized into the same faith and gospel?  Luther, then, sees no distinction between the spiritual estate and the temporal state because all true Christians belong to the spiritual estate. [1]
Luther sees each individual as part of a community of the believers – the local church – who contribute to God’s kingdom.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 that some members are hands and others are eyes.  Different, yes, but not separate.  Luther is not denying the office of priest or preacher (defined as one set apart by the congregation and Church to proclaim the gospel and administer the sacraments), but instead suggests that the priest or preacher is not above spiritually from others in the congregation.  This means that the Pope is spiritually equal to the peasant farmer. [2]  Luther quipped;
The pope or bishop anoints, shaves heads, ordains, consecrates, and prescribes garb different from that of the laity, but he can never make a man into a Christian or into a spiritual man by so doing.  He might well make a man into a hypocrite or a humbug and blockhead, but never a Christian or a spiritual man . . . The consecration by pope or bishop would never make a priest, and if we had no higher consecration than that which pope or bishop gives, no one could say mass or preach a sermon or give absolution.
Therefore, when a bishop consecrates it is nothing else than that in the place and stead of the whole community, all of whom have like power, he takes a person and charges him to exercise this power on behalf of others. [3]

Luther then goes on to defend his case by using the example of a number of Christian prisoners stranded on an island without a priest or bishop.  If one of them is set apart by the other Christians to exercise the role of priests – to preach, exegete God’s Word, pronounce absolution, etc. – are his actions nullified and in vain since he was not consecrated by the Catholic Church?  Of course not!  But since we are all priests baptized into the same faith and gospel, then we can all serve as priests within the community of believers. [4]
Therefore, Luther concludes, “this first paper wall is overthrown.” [5]  The temporal state is as much spiritual as the ecclesiastical state and thus the secular authorities have the right to exercise their power even to priest, bishops, or even the Pope.
This then leads to the second wall against the church: Papal authority as the only interpreter of Scripture.  Luther is vehement in his rejection of Papal infallibility and argued that there is no Scriptural proof of their position.  They boldly claim that “the Holy Spirit never leaves them,” Luther notes, “no matter how ignorant and wicked they are, they become bold and decree only what they want.”  So angry at this doctrine was Luther that he encouraged the Church to do away with Scripture all together and “be satisfied with the unlearned gentlemen at Rome who posses the Holy Spirit!” [6]
At this point Luther made the clear connection of perspicuity and the priesthood of believers.  Luther notes that the promises of the keys in Matthew 16 were not give to Peter alone (as the “Romanists” claimed) “but to the whole community.”  Furthermore, “if we are all priests . . . and all have one faith, one gospel, one sacrament, why should we not also have the power to test and judge what is right or wrong in matters of faith?” [7]
Therefore, Luther concludes, “it is the duty of every Christian to espouse the cause of the faith, to understand and defend it, and to denounce every error.” [8]  In just a few short pages, Luther undermined the foundation of his opponents.  Since Scripture is clear and every believer (whether Pope, priest, farmer, or blacksmith) is a priest and can exercise such authority within the community of the church.  The Pope has no more authority over the interpretation of Scripture than any other believer.
And thus on the basis of perspicuity of Scripture and the priesthood of believers, Luther has knocked down two of the three walls the Church has established to protect its heresies.  Already, at least in Luther’s mind, the Church was ready to tumble and once again the doctrine Luther was attacking was perspicuity this time in the guise of the priesthood of all believers.  The firm belief and promotion of the priesthood of all believers assumes an acceptance of perspicuity and to reject the priesthood of all believers is to reject perspicuity.

[1]  Luther wrote, “all Christians are truly of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them except that of office . . . This is because we all have one baptism, one gospel, one faith, and are all Christians alike; for baptism, gospel, and faith alone make us spiritual and a Christian people.”  Martin Luther, “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,” in Three Treatises trans. Charles M. Jacobs and rev. James Atkinson, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1970), 12.
[2]  Later Luther adds, “Therefore, just as those who are now called ‘spiritual,’ that is, priests, bishops, or popes, are neither different from other Christians nor superior to them, except that they are charged with the administration of the word of God and the sacraments, which is their work and office, so it is with the temporal authorities.  They bear the sword and rod in their hand to punish the wicked and protect the good.  A cobbler, a smith, a peasant – each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops.  Further, everyone must benefit and serve every other by means of his own work or office so that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, just as all the members of the body serve one another [1 Cor. 12:14-26].”  Ibid., 15.  Note the closing sentence.  Luther’s doctrine of the priesthood of all believers did not mean every individual was free to do whatever he wanted, but that as priest we must serve one another and contribute to the larger community.  This aspect of Luther’s theology is oftentimes missed.
[3]  Ibid., 12.
[4]  Luther goes on to write, “Through canon law the Romanists have almost destroyed and made unknown the wondrous grace and authority of baptism and justification.  In times gone by Christens used to choose their bishops and priests in this way from among their own number, and they were confirmed in their office by the other bishops without all the fuss that goes on nowadays.  St. Augustine, Ambrose, and Cyprian each became [a bishop in this way].”  Ibid., 13.
[5]  Ibid., 16.
[6]  Ibid., 19.  Luther then adds, “If I had not read [the Epitome of Prierias] with my own eyes, I would not have believed it possible for the devil to have made such stupid claims at Rome, and to have won supporters for them.”  Ibid.
[7]  Ibid., 20, 21.  In true Lutheran fashion, the Reformer remarked, “If God spoke then through an ass against a prophet, why should he not be able even now to speak through a righteous man against the pope?”  Ibid., 22.
[8]  Ibid.

The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 1
The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 2  

For more:
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 1
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 2
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 3
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 4
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 5
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 6  
Theology - Luther:  Right Doctrine and Righteous Living Go Hand-in-Hand - A Message the Church Needs to Recover 
Reviews - Reviews in Brief:  Martin Luther and the Reformation 
Reviews - The Theology of the Reformers  
Reviews - The Unquenchable Flame 
Reviews - Luther: Man Between God and the Devil 
Reviews - The Trial of Luther 
Reviews - Martin Luther:  The Christian Between God and Death  
Reviews - "On the Necessity of Reforming the Church" by John Calvin
Reviews - John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology 
Reviews - Christianity's Dangerous Idea

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Morality to Law: The Question and Challenge of Incest in a Post-Sodom Culture

Just when you thought our culture couldn't sink deeper into the moral and sexual cesspool it already is in comes the twin stories of incest in the news. The first regards an Ivy League professor, David Epstein, who has been arrested for having a three-year consensual, incestuous relationship with his 24 year old daughter.  The Daily Mail reports:

Epstein, who specialises in American politics and voting rights, is said to have also exchanged twisted text messages with the girl during the consensual relationship.

University spokesman Robert Hornsby said that Epstein 'is now on administrative leave and will not be teaching students'.

While this case is pending, Switzerland has began to reconsider the illegality of incest in their country.  In other words, the Swiss are considering legalizing consensual incest among adults on the grounds that they are "obsolete."  The Telegraph reports:

The upper house of the Swiss parliament has drafted a law decriminalising sex between consenting family members which must now be considered by the government. 
There have been only three cases of incest since 1984. 
Switzerland, which recently held a referendum passing a draconian law that will boot out foreigners convicted of committing the smallest of crimes, insists that children within families will continue to be protected by laws governing abuse and paedophilia.

Daniel Vischer, a Green party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex, even if they were related.
"Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law," he said.

For the most part, these issues are being debated in terms of legal standing and law.  Can the state regulate sexual activity among consensual adults regardless of their relation?  What is interesting about all of this is how recent debates over the past several decades has led us to this point.  In previous generations, such sexual acts were primarily of moral concern, not just legal, but in a homosexually driven age, sexuality is a matter of courts and law, not morality and ethics.  Both situations are matters of law without any real concern for the morality of the act of having sexual relations with one's relative.
This is best surveyed by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in response to the professor's case.  Mohler interacts with an article written by Slate Magazine's Willian Saletan entitled Incest is Cancer — The David Epstein Case: If Homosexuality is OK, Why is Incest Wrong?  Mohler writes:

After reviewing the various legal arguments used to justify criminalizing incest, Saletan comes to the conclusion that genetics cannot be the fundamental basis, since incestuous sex could be non-reproductive. Similarly, the basic issue cannot be consent, since no one is arguing in this case that the sex was non-consensual.

He gets the liberal response just about right: “At this point, liberals tend to throw up their hands. If both parties are consenting adults and the genetic rationale is bogus, why should the law get involved? Incest may seem icky, but that’s what people said about homosexuality, too. It’s all private conduct.”

Saletan comes to the conclusion that the basic reason for the wrongfulness of incest is damage to the family unit. As an Ohio court ruled, “A sexual relationship between a parent and child or a stepparent and stepchild is especially destructive to the family unit.”

Now, remember that Saletan raised the morality of incest as related to the question of homosexuality. He argues that the family-damage argument against incest does not apply to homosexuality. In his words. “When a young man falls in love with another man, no family is destroyed.”

Saletan’s argument is easy to follow, and if you accept his fundamental premise, it can even make sense. But his fundamental premise assumes that there is no damage to a particular family unit if a homosexual relationship exists. That argument can be made only by ignoring the impact upon a family of origin. Beyond this, it limits the family-damage argument to an individual family, when the argument must be more broadly applied to the family as an institution.

The liberal argument mentioned in this brief survey is telling.  From what we have learned from the debate over homosexuality, what happens in the privacy of one's bedroom, so long as it is consensual, is no business of the State.  The motivation behind this rhetoric was to normalize and legalize gay marriage and homosexuality in general, but what such advocates have failed to see is how this same argument is easily applied to other sexual lifestyles including incest.
Herein lies the problem with this debate already.  Thanks to decades of the homosexual debate being decided through judicial fiat, sexuality has become a legal issue and not a moral one and this is a debate that does not benefit the Christian.  Christians do not begin with the laws of man, but with the gospel of Christ.  Our priority and concern isn't legal codes, but God's holiness and man's repentance leading to life through the cross and resurrection.  In the progressive movement to legalize various forms of sexuality (namely homosexuality), the issue moves from repentance from one's sexual preference to an embracing of one's sexual preference and let anyone who differs be anathema.

Where this debate will end is hard to tell, but one must admit that those who continue to make the case for the slippery slope continue to be vindicated.  As has been argued here frequently, once Pandora's Box is opened, there is no end to the depravity that will follow.  Our morally confused culture has no answer to the now public cases of incest.  After all, if sex is a private matter, then can it ever be wrong?  Slate is right in pointing out that the ick factor, when it comes to sexuality, is only effective for so long.  Seeing two men hold hands or embrace each other use to make the average America sick, now however, such persons are our favorite sitcom characters on TV.  Incest will be no different especially when love is so ill-defined to mean virtually whatever the beholder thinks it means.

The future isn't looking any better and at this pace we will be handing to our children's generation a society more like Sodom than like the one our parents grew up in.  Let us not forget that depravity knows no limits and give the Devil an inch and he'll take a mile.  Then again, it doesn't take the Devil to continue to push the limits.  We're doing a good enough job at that ourselves.  Something tells me this issue won't be going away anytime soon.

The Daily Mail - Ivy League professor charged with incest after 'three-year sexual relationship with his daughter
Albert Mohler - So, Why is Incest Wrong?  
*  The above picture is a painting of the biblical story of Lot and his two daughters.  The story goes that after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (which Lot and his family escaped) his two daughters preceded to get him drunk and was impregnated by their father in an attempt to continue the family line.
For more:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Be Undragoned: Aslan, Christ, and the Gift of Regeneration

With the release of the new movie The voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third movie installment of CS Lewis' epic masterpiece book series The Chronciles of Narnia, I thought I would post my favorite scene from the book.  Though this scene does appear in the movie, it isn't as dramatic and central as Lewis makes it in the book.  The scene surrounds Eustace, the annoying British boy making his first trip to Narnia with his cousins.  As a result of his greed for gold, Eustace gets turned into a dragon and is miserable and embarrassed.  He so badly wants to be a boy again but can't.  It is at this point that he meets Aslan, the great untamed Lion who created the world of Narnia.

“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn't that kind of fear. I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it - if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it.” 

“You mean it spoke?” 

“I don't know. Now that you mention it, I don't think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I'd have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden - trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well. 

“I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells - like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not. 

“I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe. 

“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe. 

“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good. 

“Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. 

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.” 

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund. 

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them. 

“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me –"

“Dressed you. With his paws?” 

“Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes - the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.” 

“No. It wasn't a dream,” said Edmund. 

“Why not?” 

“Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been - well, un-dragoned, for another.” 

“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace. 

“I think you've seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

The reason I love this scene should be obvious.  Lewis masterfully illustrates the gospel message. No matter how hard Eustace tries, he can never save himself from his dragon skin.  Without Aslan, Eustace will be trapped as a dragon without any hope.*  In the same way, we too are like Eustace trapped inside bodies that we cannot get out of.  We are enslaved to sin and our only hope is for Christ to redeem us and He did that through the cross.  It isn't by accident that the Christ figure in Narnia, Aslan, is the one who does all the work in saving Eustace for it is Christ, and Christ alone, that continues that work today.
*  This is something that the movie misses.  In the movie, Eustace redeems himself by helping the Dawn Treader at which point Aslan saves Eustace from his dragon skin.  I understand why the movie made this change, but it does loose the power of Lewis point and meaning.

HT:  Quote taken from Eucharisteo Journey

For more:
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology  
Blogizomai - Lewis on the Why of Democracy
Blogizomai - From Uncle Screwtape:  Christianity and Politics     
Short-Blogizomai - Voyage of the dawn Treader Released  
Short-Blogizomai - Beyond Narnia:  A Great Documentary 
Short-Blogizomai - Disney Drops Voyage of the Dawn Treader   and fan
Reviews - "Finding God in the Land of Narnia
Reviews - "Surprised by Joy" by Lewis
Reviews - "Jack:  A Life of CS Lewis"  
Reviews - "The Great Divorce" by Lewis 
Short-Blogizomai - Prince Caspian in Theaters Now 
Short-Blogizomai - Prince Caspian in Theaters Next Summer