Friday, January 3, 2014

All Around the Web - January 3, 2013

Karl Rove - My Fearless Political Predictions for 2014 (insider)
It's time to see how well I did with my predictions for 2013 and to offer a set of 2014 forecasts.

I got 10 predictions for this year right. President Obama's job approval rating did drop—from 53% at year's start to 40% this week. There was a new administration scandal, the most significant being the IRS targeting of conservative groups. And ObamaCare's implementation was indeed "ragged and ugly" and "a continuing political advantage to Republicans" as forecast.

Albert Mohler - “The Only Intelligible Explanation of the Incarnation”—A. T. Robertson on the Virgin Birth of Christ
The Christmas season comes each year with the expected flurry of media attention to the biblical accounts of Christ’s conception and birth. The general thrust of the secular media is often incredulity toward the fact that so many people still believe the Bible’s accounts to be true. This year, the Pew Research Center released a report on Christmas Day indicating that almost 75% of the American people affirm belief in the virgin birth of Christ. Meanwhile, the Public Religion Research Institute found markedly lower levels of belief, with just under half affirming the historical accuracy of the biblical accounts. The PRRI research indicated that four in ten Americans believe the virgin birth to be part of a “theological story to affirm faith in Christ.”
In truth, the virgin conception of Jesus, which most respondents know as the “virgin birth,” is no latecomer to controversy and rejection. On April 11, 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams in which he discussed his views concerning Jesus Christ. Jefferson was already known for his denial of miracles and other claims of supernatural intervention in history and nature. In this letter to John Adams, he predicts the collapse of all belief in the virgin birth of Christ:
And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.
Theological liberals deny the virgin birth as revealed truth; Thomas Jefferson saw the gospel accounts as “artificial scaffolding”; and modern Americans increasingly see the virgin birth as part of a “theological story” about Jesus.

Wall Street Journal - Israel's Christian Awakening
As Christmas neared, an 85-foot-high tree presided over the little square in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Kindergarten children with Santa Claus hats entered the church and listened to their teacher explain in Arabic the Greek inscriptions on the walls, while a group of Russian pilgrims knelt on their knees and whispered in prayer. In Nazareth's old city, merchants sold the usual array of Christmas wares.

This year, however, the familiar rhythms of Christmas season in the Holy Land have been disturbed by a new development: the rise of an independent voice for Israel's Christian community, which is increasingly trying to assert its separate identity. For decades, Arab Christians were considered part of Israel's sizable Palestinian minority, which comprises both Muslims and Christians and makes up about a fifth of the country's citizens, according to the Israeli government. 

But now, an informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the region since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society—which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state. "Israel is my country, and I want to defend it," says Henry Zaher, an 18-year-old Christian from the village of Reineh who was visiting Nazareth. "The Jewish state is good for us."

Tom Gilson - Seven Reasons To Give Old Testament Ethics the Benefit of the Doubt
1. Cultural distance
2. Literary expectations
3. Progress of cultures over time
4. Advanced ethics in the Old Testament
5. Advanced ethics in the New Testament
6. God’s goodness proved in Jesus Christ
7. The goodness of God expressed in his people over time

Trevin Wax - Bigger Than Our Whole World
“Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.”

“Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
- C. S. Lewis, from The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia)

And yet again, here is another installment of "Why Pundits Should Stick with Punditry."

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