Saturday, January 25, 2014

All Around the Web - January 25, 2014

Kyle McDanell - "Christianity Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology | I recently finished blogging through the doctrine of Salvation in Millard Erickson's systematic theology. All the links are available below.
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 4 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 10

Denny Burk - How Obamacare provides taxpayer funded abortions
Remember the “pro-life” legislators who promised that Obamacare wouldn’t fund abortions? Where are they now? Sarah Torre of the Heritage Foundation has a lengthy article explaining how Obamacare entangles taxpayers in the funding of abortion-on-demand. This is not an article about the contraception mandate that has been so much in the news lately. It’s about how the state exchanges subsidize insurance plans that cover elective abortions. She writes:

For the first time, the federal government will provide an “affordability tax credit” to millions of low-income and middle-income individuals and families to help subsidize the purchase of health plans on the exchanges. By allowing health insurers that sell plans on many state exchanges to cover abortion while remaining eligible for federal subsidies, Obamacare opens new avenues for federal funding of abortion coverage. These federal tax credits could facilitate the purchase of health plans that cover elective abortion for millions of Americans who did not have such coverage previously…

This raises a question: Can’t citizens simply buy a health plan that doesn’t fund abortions? In some cases, maybe so.

Thom Rainer - Eleven Reasons Pastors Are Trusted Less Today
  1. The moral failures of a minority of pastors receive widespread coverage. The media loves the sensational stories behind clergy failure. For sure, some stories such as sex abuse should be brought to the public eye. But many people now believe the bad behavior of a few is normative for all pastors.
  2. Our nation has marginalized the Christian faith. So it should not be unexpected that leaders in the Christian world are viewed more negatively.
  3. Pastoral tenure has dropped significantly over the past few decades. Tenure is up slightly the past few years, but the longer trend is down. Trust is built over several years, not two or three years. Fewer pastors have made it to the point of several years.
  4. Some church members have a strong entitlement mentality. They see the local congregation as a place largely to meet their needs and desires, rather than to serve and give. If those needs and desires are not met, the pastor is often the locus of blame.
  5. Social media encourages criticism from a distance. There is much commendable about social media. Indeed, I am heavy user of it. But it also is a means for critics to sound off about pastors (and others) without forethought or consequences.
  6. A few pastors have poor work ethics. More pastors are just the opposite; they fight workaholism. But the few pastors who are lazy and have little accountability hurt the perceptions people have of other pastors.
  7. Pastors are often the scapegoats for fear and change. It is cliché to say the world is changing rapidly. Many church members would like their churches to remain the same every year. Such a reality is not possible, and the pastor is often the scapegoat for the discomfort that comes with change.
  8. There is a pervasive cynicism in our society. The reasons behind that reality are many. But congregations and their leaders are not immune from this widespread and pervasive cynicism on society that seems to be growing.
  9. There is a failure of some pastors in two key areas: leadership and emotional intelligence. Some pastors are well prepared biblically and theologically. But some have not been taught leadership and healthy interpersonal skills.
  10. There are higher expectations today for pastors to be competent, even dynamic, leaders. But, as I noted in the previous point, some pastors have no preparation to be leaders of churches.
  11. More churches are dying in America today. I estimate as many as 100,000 churches in America are dying. Many will close their doors in the next few years. Many of the pastors of these churches are blamed for this malady.

Religion Dispatches - Frank Schaefer, Phil Robertson and the Myth of Christian Unity | I believe J. Gresham Mechan made this point in the 20th century.
Sure, “socially liberal” and “socially conservative” Christians share, to a certain extent and differences aside, a common book, a common language, and common practices. But if we dig further, if we do a little “thick description” as the anthropologist Clifford Geertz urged us, the extent of the commonalities is not at all clear. For instance, all Christians in one way or another take the Bible as a locus of authority, but how the Bible is read and how it functions as authoritative varies significantly for individuals and in denominations.

We only need to look at the difference between Frank Schaefer and Phil Robertson to see that this is the case. We often frame such differences as differences of interpretation, but perhaps it would be better to ask the question: Are they (Schaefer and Robertson, “liberal Christians” and “conservative Christians”) really reading the same book? I’m not so sure that they are.

Or take a practice such as baptism, which is, again, ubiquitous among those who identify as Christian. Is baptism in a Southern Baptist church the same things as in an Episcopal Church? At one level it is, since the practice in both contexts ultimately derives from a common source, Jesus’ baptism for the forgiveness of sins. But there is considerable difference between the two in when baptism is usually performed (believer/infant), how it functions (ordinance/sacrament), and its relationship to different understandings of community, sin, and salvation. Material similarities, in other words, don't necessarily mean that the practice is the same across contexts.

We could provide many more examples, and all of these would lead to one question: are “liberal Christians” and “conservative Christians” worshipping the same God? Again, I’m not so sure.
Such questions are sure to make many—on all sides—uncomfortable. But if we really want to understand the vast differences among those who identify as Christian, we should, perhaps, start thinking about these differences not in terms of degree, but in kind. That may not be theologically satisfying, at least initially, but it may be more descriptively accurate.

The Blaze - Here Are the Worst Passwords of the Year — and There’s a New #1
Here’s SplashData’s list of worst passwords of 2013 (showing rank and its change from 2012):
1. 123456 (Up 1)
2. password (Down 1)
3. 12345678 (Unchanged)
4. qwerty (Up 1)
5. abc123 (Down 1)
6. 123456789 (New)
7. 111111 (Up 2)
8. 1234567 (Up 5)
9. iloveyou (Up 2)
10. adobe123 (New)
11. 123123 (Up 5)
12. admin (New)
13. 1234567890  (New)
14. letmein (Down 7)
15. photoshop (New)
16. 1234 (New)
17. monkey (Down 11)
18. shadow (Unchanged)
19. sunshine (Down 5)
20. 12345 (New)
21. password1 (Up 4)
22. princess (New)
23. azerty (New)
24. trustno1 (Down 12)
25. 000000 (New)

This is brilliant.

HT: 22 Words
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