July 16, 2019

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: June 15, 2019

Protesters shelter under umbrellas during a downpour as they occupy roads near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019. Tens of thousands of protesters paralyzed parts of Hong Kong, blocking major roads in a defiant show of strength against government plans to allow extraditions to China. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: June 15, 2019

Sports can be life-giving…

My eyes teared up the other evening as I was driving home and listening to All Things Considered on NPR. They told the story of 11-year-old Laila Anderson, a little girl from St. Louis with a life-threatening auto-immune disease. Little Laila also happens to be one of the most devoted St. Louis Blues hockey fans around.

Here’s a bit from the transcript of the show:

KELLY: Her beloved Blues were vying for the Stanley Cup versus the Boston Bruins in Beantown last night. The day before the game, her mother, Heather, posed a question to Laila captured on video.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) —

HEATHER ANDERSON: If you could watch the game anywhere in the world tomorrow – anywhere in the world – where would you watch your boys play Game 7?

H ANDERSON: Boston.

KELLY: Which seemed highly improbable because Laila Anderson has not been able to travel.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) —

H ANDERSON: What if I told you the Blues called and they want you at the game?

LAILA ANDERSON: What? How?

H ANDERSON: Doctor said it’s OK.

L ANDERSON: No, he didn’t. Mommy, no he didn’t. Oh, my God.

CORNISH: So Laila found herself at the Garden, watching as…

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) —

MIKE EMRICK: For the first time in their history, the St. Louis Blues are the Stanley Cup champions.

So Laila was there to see the Blues win it all. A few minutes later, she came down on the ice with her favorite player, Colton Parayko and held the Stanley Cup with him.

“This is just the ending of the best story that will ever be written in history,” Laila said.

As Dean Reynolds at CBS News commented, “Actually, we all hope it’s the beginning.”

• • •

The SBC practices lamentation and seeks solutions…

J. D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, becomes emotional while talking about sexual abuse within the SBC on the second day of the SBC’s annual meeting on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Birmingham.

Back in February, The Houston Chronicle published a devastating exposé called Abuse of Faith — about the sexual abuse scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention. They found that 380 pastors, employees and volunteers at Southern Baptist churches in 20 states had been accused of sexual misconduct during the past two decades, leaving behind 700 victims.

This past week, the SBC held their annual meeting in Birmingham, AL, and this scandal was the main topic of the gathering.

In this article, that same newspaper reports on some of the sweeping changes recommended this week, including more vigorous screening process for pastors, the consideration of establishing a database of offenders, and a resolution condemning child sexual abuse and calling for civil authorities to review applicable laws, including those imposing statutes of limitation.

The proposals came one day after delegates to the SBC’s annual meeting in Birmingham empowered a committee to make “inquiries” into churches’ handling of sexual abuse. The SBC also advanced an amendment to its governing documents that explicitly states that any churches that mishandle abuses can be ousted from the convention, though the reform will need to pass a second time next year before going into effect.

SBC President J.D. Greear said that protecting little ones is part of the core biblical mission of all its churches.

“Why would survivors trust us to care for their souls if they’re not sure they can trust us to care for their wounds?” Greear asked.

NOTE: For another look at the subject of abuse, including spiritual abuse, our friend Paul Wilkinson has recommended Wade Mullen’s blog. The purpose of the blog, per Mullen, is as follows. “My writing and research seeks to bring understanding to the tactics abusive individuals and organizations use to control people and information.”

• • •

8 Questions of the Week…

Media Urged Not To Release Names Of Any More Presidential Candidates In Effort To Prevent Copycats (The Onion)

• • •

Theological observations from the Church Curmudgeon…

• • •

Finally, to all the dads out there — Happy Father’s Day

Comments

  1. john barry says

    I saw the wonderful story about Laila on TV and it was so touching. I care little now about professional sports and certainly know little of hockey but if the Blues can bring that much joy to Laila God Bless Them. I (we) need a feel good story like this every so often just to keep values in perspective. On TV the sheer joy of Laila was so real and transparent that it was a gift to just see and hear. God Bless her and thanks for making this the lead off story.

  2. “If gay marriage, then why not polygamy?”

    I’d almost like to see this become a controversy, if only to see how the “family values” biblical literalists contort themselves to show that the OT verses advocating polygamy do NOT apply today, but somehow the ones that appear to condemn homosexuality *do*.

    …or will they instead go for consistency and embrace polygamy themselves?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I have thought the same thing; watching their heads explode would be fun.

      Or, as long as it is many wives one man, I wouldn’t be surprised if they go all in on polygamy.

    • senecagriggs says

      I Tim 3:2
      This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality.

      N.T. teaches monogamy

      Adam, no heads exploding – Evangelicals will not be supporting polygamy.

      • You do realize that that is just one way to translate the Greek in that passage, right?

      • anonymous says

        but many support serial marriage

      • That teaches monogamy for Bishops. Where are you getting the idea you can expand it to all men?

      • David Cornwell says

        I’d bet that Trump would back a polygamy bill if he were honest. I mean with all the wives he’s had and the women on the side, why wouldn’t he? Would that be a deal breaker for evangelical support? He might lose 2%. But when it comes to Trump they’d find some excuses and reasons for their continuing support.

    • Don’t need the OT to condemn homosexuality. The New Testament does. But I will say, there are certainly some verses in the OT that would seem to see a man having many wives as favor from God. Particularly dealing with king David. At the same time there are stories which show having more than one wife can certainly lead to strife and problems (Jacob, Solomon). But it would be easier to make a case from the Bible for polygamy than for gay marriage.

      • Actually, the term “homosexual” didn’t show up in an English translation until the RSV.

        https://www.forgeonline.org/blog/2019/3/8/what-about-romans-124-27?fbclid=IwAR1APcGNtyCFz4BgBzQVw3A_w5QofIFcZDyadxYaYJdHfqqP9iIslNL5tWU

        • The concept is there. The term Trinity is nowhere found in the New Testament either. It takes some real linguistic gymnastics and imaginative hermeneutics to claim that the New Testament doesn’t condemn homosexuality. That doesn’t make homosexuality worse than the other sins also condemned in the New Testament, many of which I am guilty of. But a truly honest reading of the New Testament will not come away with the idea that the New Testament authors would approve of gay marriage.

          • The concept of the Trinity is nowhere to be found in the NT either. That came much later. Paul clearly doesn’t believe in it judging from the famous passage in Philippians chapter 2. Ideas develop. Cultures adapt. Has there been no social progress since the First Century?

            • Dana Ames says

              The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. However, the “concept” of it is present wherever all three Persons of the Trinity are named in near proximity. The first place the Trinity is revealed is already in the Gospels, at the baptism of Jesus. The voice of the Father spoke; the Spirit came upon Jesus in the “form” of a dove; and there Jesus was. There are places in Paul’s writing where all three Persons are named. Of course the concept of the Trinity is present in the NT.

              My understanding is that the Hebrew language is not good for describing things in conceptual terms; it’s concrete and and practical. Yes, the NT was written in Greek, but by Hebrew/Aramaic speakers, so things did not always “translate” well. It took the flexibility of the Greek language, and doing most of one’s thinking *in* it, for Christians to have the tools to be able to fully explain these ideas, along with the time needed to “digest” what Jesus taught them about the meaning of his actions.

              Anyone who has ever learned another language to fluency, or even near-fluency – when you don’t have to *think* about how to say something, you just say it and it comes out right – understands how language is a way of thinking, and how Greek is a better “fit” for thought about doctrinal concepts.

              Dana

          • Do you make a distinction between “pederast” and “homosexual”?

            • What passage are you referring to?

              • The so-called Philippians “Hymn” 2:6-11 although scholars think it was more of a pre-Pauline liturgical poem than an actual song. (For one thing it doesn’t scan.)

                The problem is that verse 6 is almost always translated through a Trinitarian lens and consequently mistranslated. It helps to have a critical NT scholar guide you through the Greek. In the Greek verse 6 means that Jesus was a pre-existent divine being who did not grasp after equality with God. How can you grasp after something you already have?

                In verse 9 how can Jesus be exalted if he is already coequal with God the Father?

                Some scholars think from this passage and other references in his letters that Paul thought Jesus was God’s chief angel. This view is called “Angelomorphic Christology”. There is a well regarded book by Charles Gieschen with that title. But be warned it’s heavy going if you’re not a Greek scholar.

                • That question was actually meant for Tom, but thanks for the response.

                • Dana Ames says

                  “How can you grasp after something you already have?”

                  You are humble, and you exist in self-giving love.

                  I think the greatest revelation that Jesus has brought to us about the kind of god God is is his humility – his descent to “death – even death on a cross.”

                  Dana

                • Christiane says

                  “In verse 9 how can Jesus be exalted if he is already coequal with God the Father”

                  ‘He laid aside His Crown’ is the hymn phrase, but for the actual ‘process’ described, here is some info on how St. Paul taught about this:

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qUW7IxapdU

              • Not referring to a passage.

                A pederast may be a homosexual, however, are all homosexuals pederast?

                • I’m not familiar with that word.

                  • Then back to the point…

                    **Don’t need the OT to condemn homosexuality. The New Testament does.**

                    There is good evidence in both the NT and the OT that it isn’t homosexuality that is being condemned, but rather pederasty, especially that associated with temple prostitution.

                    • Robert F says

                      I think that may be true, and prefer that it would be, but I wonder why a similar objection is not raised in Scripture to sex between mature males and adolescent females, which was a very common practice, likely far more common than pederasty. Indeed, it was common practice to marry off a very young bride to a much older male. If no one in Scripture raises any objections to this practice, but they do to pederasty, it may be because they have a view of male to male sexuality as intrinsically wrong, regardless of the age of the participants, but do not have the same view of heterosexuality.

                    • Robert – for one thing, procreation isn’t possible when men have sex with men.

                      No offense intended, but i think a whole lot of men let that fly right past them, or over their heads…whatever.

                      The whole point of having a young, fertile wife was = for her to produce heirs. Sex between men and or women with other women doesn’t figure into that equation.

                    • Which is why I asked about a passage, because I’ve heard people argue that is what Paul is talking about in I Corinthians 6. I don’t think the evidence is really all that good, and quite frankly I think it is more people wishing it would be the case than actually being so.

                    • Robert F says

                      numo, I get what you’re saying, and it is true that we men like can be clueless about how the procreation factor plays into it. That would be another facet of how Jewish culture at the time, and the New Testament texts that formed in and were influenced by it, would have a negative view of all male-to-male sexuality, including but not limited to pederasty. On the other hand, it seems like there was not even a concept that an adolescent girl might be too young for a sexual marital relationship with a mature man — did they even have a word or term for that in any way equivalent in connotation or denotation to the word pederasty?

                • thatotherjean says

                  Polygamy is, after all, a good deal more Biblical than same-sex marriage. Recognizing polygamous marriages would, however, be a lot more complex when it came to laws.

                  • thatotherjean says

                    How did this reply get here. It’s in response to Eeyore, at the beginning of the thread.

                • thatotherjean says

                  Pederasty is sex between a man and an under-age boy. Most homosexual men are certainly not pederasts.

    • Hey I haven’t got to polygamy yet. I still trying to get rid of all my mixed weave clothes.

  3. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > Why are Calvinists so mean?

    “””Because Reformed theology is an articulate theology long presented in a rich system of doctrine, the people who resonate with it and who are drawn to it tend to be more systematic-type thinkers, those who appreciate order, categories, and so on. This is, no doubt, a good thing.”””

    It may also be appealing to the tedious, argumentative, and ideologies for the same reason of being “articulate” [and inherently exclusive].

    Of course, not all Calvinists are mean. But may I propose that if a Calvinist isn’t mean then they probably aren’t really Called to Calvinism? 🙂

    I try to spread my Podcast listing far and wide [as it is ~5 hours a day]. With very few exceptions I just can’t do the Reformed crowd, they’re too much.

    • Back when I used to argue Reformed theology online, I would tell people that I was a Calvinist because Calvinism was true – and not because of the behavior of many of my fellow online Calvinists.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Which is a fair point. Twitter is not Real Life, as they say. No group can accurately be measured by the trolls that orbit in it’s “defense”.

        Something like a podcast is in a middle space as it takes effort to create and produce, etc… And, one assumes,will only persist if it finds an audience.

    • Calvinists are generally mean as their God is mean. I know a few exceptions. but not many.

      • beaker j – yes.

        Exhibit A: “limited” atonement.

        Frankly, as someone raised Lutheran, i view this as heterodox, if not outright “We call it Xtianity, but it’s really a different religion.”

        I know some of you will object to my post, but consider this – when i told my elderly, lifelong Lutheran mom about this very thing,mshe gasped. Tbh, i think i did, too, when i 1st came across it.

        To paraphrase Paul, either Christ died for all, or those who believe in him are the most pitiable of all human beings. Either God’s love and mercy are available to all, or it’s not worth bothering. [Ok, that 2nd sentence is me, not a Pauline thing, but given what he wrote, i wouldn’t be a bit surprised that it’s what he believed- if not true, then all gentile adherents have been mercilessly scammed.]

    • Interesting article, written by someone from The Gospel Coalition, presumably a calvinist. He identifies some of the problems, including a paragraph on “Calvinism as Gnosis,” and the temptation to pride that comes from “special knowledge.” A lot of today’s calvinists aren’t as introspective as this.

      • My take (somewhat over simplified) on the writer of the article was:

        “We have a better and thus correct understanding of the Bible and faith. Therefore we ARE better in this aspect. We just shouldn’t brag about it.

  4. Adam Tauno Williams says

    One test of the health of a place is “When it starts to rain do all the people disappear?”.

    Umbrellas are a manifestation of a healthy place.

    By that measure Hong Kong is an olympic level place.

    • Robert F says

      I don’t personally know any Calvinists, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they tend to humorlessness, given their theology and inordinate seriousness about it. But let’s be sure to make a distinction between the subgroup of Calvinists and the more inclusive category of the Reformed — the fact is that theologian Karl Barth, as thoroughly Reformed and long-winded (though not systematic!) as he might have been, was a joyful theologian, and had a keen sense of humor. It is not odd then that he repudiated Calvin on several key theological matters, and landed in a place where he emphatically asserted that God’s will for humanity is that human beings should be free.

      • Robert F says

        Sorry. This was meant to be a stand-alone comment, not a reply to your comment, Adam.

      • But Calvin was also his favorite theologian.

        • Robert F says

          On what do you base that assertion? He certainly used Calvin, and confessed his debt to him regarding the doctrine of God and other matters, but he also found his doctrine of election (which is a big thing in Calvinism) woefully deficient and wrong-headed (and Augustine’s, for that matter), which led him to part ways with Calvin and a host of others regarding a central identifying characteristic of Calvinism.

          • I went to find the quote that I was thinking of and saying he was his favorite may be more than can be claimed from the quote. But in a letter to a friend he was complaining about the inability to get really deep in teaching about different theologians and he made the statement that he could gladly and profitably sit down and spend the rest of his life with Calvin (meaning studying his writings). So he at least, certainly loved to study his writings and so benefit in them.

        • Robert F says

          From what I know of them, Barth and Capon are playing the same theological music, though they use different instruments. They both hold Augustine and the Reformation (Luther, Calvin, etc.) in high regard; yet their Biblical interpretation and theological synthesis has led them to a sunny place where humor and freedom are pervasive in their writing and theological dispositions.

  5. Steve Newell says

    On the question “Can Christians carry a cross in one hand and a gun in the other?”, it’s a great question. There are two reasons why a civilian will how a gun: hunting or protection. Let’s only focus on the second reason.

    Many American Christians will base their argument on owning a gun for protection based on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. I cannot recall one using biblical arguments to justify owning a gun for protection. There is a rejection of the Sermon on the Mount:

    Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

    But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      It is also just dumb. The probability of being the victim of a violent crime is ridiculously low. And gun ownership is inverse of the most dangerous places [most of which aren’t all that dangerous]

      And even in the very unlikely case how effective is it for protection? Not. Guns are awkward devices.

      There isn’t much point in arguing with Protection-Owners, most of them aren’t doing it for reasonable reasons.

    • Paul Vikestad says

      You missed the third reason – intimidation.

      • That.

      • Christiane says

        too many keep guns where children can get them and my brother has seen the result in the ER

        we have to hold such parents legally responsible as this is a crime against innocents when guns are so casually treated that children are hurt in this way

        then there is the problem of parents enabling psychologically messed-up teens to have access to guns and we have Columbine and Sandy Hook and all the horrors that have happened as a result of parental NEGLECT and ABUSE . . . . poor Adam who killed the children of Sandy Hook was a deeply disfunctional and disturbed person and his mother greatly enabled him to get his hands on guns, with terrible consequences (she was the first to be killed)

        Gun-owners are ‘keepers’ of deadly weapons. Most take this responsibility to heart. A lot don’t. Should we change laws to punish parents so as to stop the nonsense?
        ? Maybe at least for the sake of their own children???

      • thatotherjean says

        And yet another reason: ego boosting.

        • anonymous says

          the smaller the ‘cowboy’, the bigger the hat (belt buckle) (holster for gun) (gun) . . . .

    • Robert F says

      Some will trot out texts like “Sell your cloak and buy a sword” in Luke, and the one where John the Baptist does not tell the soldiers who come to him for baptism to put down their swords and stop being soldiers. They’ll also point to texts where Roman military leaders who are commended for their faith in Jesus are never told by him, directly or indirectly, that they should resign from their violent careers.

      • The problem with the “sell your cloak and buy a sword” verse is that Jesus obviously didn’t mean it literally – when the disciples showed him their swords He told them to knock it off, and when Peter used it He rebuked him and healed the man Peter wounded – and said man had come to help arrest Him.

        • Robert F says

          I agree with that, but you know it won’t seem so obvious to those who don’t agree. They will say that Jesus came to give up his life on the cross for the sake of the salvation of humanity, so resisting the soldiers who had come to arrest him would’ve been resisting God’s will; but that none of the rest of us are called to the same task, and so our actions in what are necessarily different circumstances will be different, and it’s okay for them to be different. They’ll point out that Jesus must’ve known that the disciples were carrying swords, and yet did not make them surrender them beforehand; and they’ll point to other texts, like the ones I mentioned in my comment, that they will interpreted to imply that it’s okay to carry a cross in one hand and a weapon in the other.

          • Then I would take the direct approach. “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matt 5:39; “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12.

            • Robert F says

              I can only take the direct approach if I practice what I’m preaching. That would mean that I would also need to give to all who ask, including giving the equivalent of the shirt off my back, which, as I point out in a comment below, in first century Palestine could easily have meant the only shirt one owned. But I don’t practice those teachings, nor even come close; I have no right to be direct.

              • If that’s the case – if we’re only allowed to defend what we can fully live up to – then the gun-toters have won. I’d rather say, “No, I don’t claim to live up to it – but neither will I water it down to make it fit my preferences.”

                • Robert F says

                  I’ll concede that it’s not an all-or-nothing matter, and that I overstated it. But it is very difficult to avoid hypocrisy and self-righteous judgment of others when our criticism of them in regard to this or any other of Jesus’ teaching is undercut by our own non-practice and failure to live up to them.

                • Robert F says

                  Btw — the gun-toters have won. Surely you’ve noticed? Resistance to them can not be predicated, at this point, on any reasonable hope that “our” side can prevail.

        • “They said, “Look, Master, two swords!”
          But he said, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!””

          The Message (And several other versions back that up.)

    • There is certainly a good New Testament case to be made for pacifism, and many have made it. Of course turning the cheek is not the same thing as letting someone kill you or rape you. It is more of an insult really to be slapped. And while there is a great deal in the New Testament about not seeking vengeance, I’m not sure there is any prohibition against stopping someone from hurting others. So if someone is trying to hurt (and of course by hurt I mean literal physical damage, not hurt feelings) my family, or my neighbors, or some person who I don’t even know, is it wrong for me to use a gun to stop that person? Am I being a peacemaker by allowing crime to go on, or by stopping a criminal from victimizing other people than myself?

      • “turning the cheek is not the same thing as letting someone kill you or rape you.”

        … Isn’t it? After all, they came to Jesus to torture and kill Him…

        • No it isn’t. If some one kills me I no longer have the option of turning my cheek. One of the main purposes of Jesus’ life was his torture and execution. He knew that is why he came and what he was heading towards. Whatever theory of the atonement you hold to, the New Testament presents the cross as necessary for our salvation. Also, he was not executed and tortured by random people, by home intruders, or psycho’s who are just going around killing people. He was executed by the state, and left us an example of how to suffer for our faith. If a man walked up to me and said, “I hate Christians.” And then proceeded to beat me, Jesus left an example of not striking back in return. That in and of itself would be hard to do. But that is not the same thing as a random act of violence that has no connection to my faith. Also, you neglected the harder questions about whether or not it is wrong to use violence to stop violence being committed against others, not against ourselves.

          • “One of the main purposes of Jesus’ life was his torture and execution.”

            And one of the main teachings of the New Testament is that we are to follow His example in all things. Including accepting violence done to ourselves rather than taking private violent vengeance.

            • Robert F says

              I notice you used the word private. Could you explain how that qualifies what your statement means? Does it mean that you think it’s okay for a Christian to serve in her country’s military, or be a police officer carrying a gun?

              • The state has the right and authority to punish crime. The ultimate question is to what extent we are allowed to violently resist the state even if we think it is evil. Full disclosure – if I had lived during the Revolution, I would have been a Tory. If Paul did not permit rebellion against Nero, the rebellion against George III was right out.

                • Robert F says

                  Do you believe it was okay for all those Christians to serve in George’s military? Could they carry Jesus’ cross and George’s musket simultaneously? Would you have, if called to by the Crown?

                  • Robert F says

                    Because it seems to me that once you allow that a Christian may rightly serve the state by wielding violence/weapons on its behalf, you have basically evacuated the idea of personal pacifism as a requirement of Christian faith by A) first relegating it to a private sphere which strictly speaking no one lives in, given the fact that we are all occupying non-private social roles in every waking moment, and B) then, given A, necessarily further relegating it to the privacy of the conscience, where, as Luther said, we are to strive against a vengeful attitude in our inner attitude even as we may be called to defend family, neighbors, society, and even ourselves ,insofar as we have social value to the aforementioned, by the use of violence/force.

                  • There are all sorts of special cases and circumstances that would allow Christians to serve in the military. But for overall consistency, the pacifist argument is stronger.

                • I don’t know if I would’ve been a Tory, but there was scant theological justification for the American Revolution, that’s for sure. You can hardly call it a suitably Christian revolution for what some insist was the beginning of a Christian nation. Bad start.

                • My ancestors were Loyalist who moved out of NY to Ontario during the Revolution.

            • Robert F says

              If someone attacks my family, may I as a Christian use violence to repel them? Or would that be taking private violent vengeance and not accepting violence done to myself? In addition, as Luther pointed out, because each of us is almost always fulfilling some sanctioned social role, whether as government officials, employees, or guardians of our families, we are never operating in a completely private way. As such, an attack on me may also be an attack on my family, or my coworkers, or my society. It is not so easy to separate the public from the private.

              • That is a question I would not pretend to be able to answer for anyone but me. Personally, I would probably, push come to shove, fight back – but if I actually killed the assailant I would feel guilty about it.

                • Robert F says

                  I haven’t been personally involved in any violence since a few childhood fights, nor am I called on to employ violence as part of my vocation (official of the state). But in regard to something that is part of my regular social roles in life, I fail miserably: Jesus commands that I give to all who ask, and that I give down to the shirt off my back, everything I own — and I don’t do that, nor do I have any intention of doing it. If I fail in this, why should I think I would succeed in the other?

            • Preventing violence is not the same as taking vengeance. If a gunman walks into a building and begins shooting people, it is not vengeance if I shoot him to stop him. It is vengeance if I track him down after the incident and kill him.

      • Robert F says

        Although certain parts of the Sermon on the Mount and some other things Jesus said can be used to make a strong case for total Christian pacifism, I’m not really sure that the New Testament as a whole is consistent in the way it deals with this matter, or that it presents a totally consistent teaching. As C.S. Lewis remarked, it’s also noteworthy that rarely are the other dominincal teachings, such as give to all those that ask, including the shirt off your back (which in first century Palestine might’ve been the only shirt you owned!), taught with as much insistence that they are absolutely required to live the Christian life in the way that pacifism sometimes is.

        • He’s probably right. But that is also probably our fault more than the teachings’ fault.

      • Imagine the situation when the gun totin’ good ole boys pass on to glory and get to the Pearly Gates and find, not Peter, but Gandhi!

        Uh oh.

        • “How did YOU get in here?!? You weren’t even a Christian!!!’

          “Because apparently, I liked your Christ more than you do.”

        • john barry says

          So what about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazi? Should they followed the other 6 million into the death camps peaceably? Who would have stopped the Nazi and imperial Japanese in WW2 if all Christians said no to military service. At least Alvin York finally got it right. . Think the Chinese in Nanking would have liked to have individual weapons as the government could not protect them. Does the Pope still have the Swiss Guard? I think they care guns now as well as their great pikes.. Every dictatorship does not allow private citizens to own weapons, why? Do you think it is for the ;public good? Why did John Brown raid Harper’s Ferry and who was he going to give them to? I tell my neighbors if they are so strong anti gun , think that is best put a sign on your door, I do not have a gun, that will help.

          As usual we in USA have lost common sense that we use to have. When I was a kid many westerns the first act of the new sheriff was to post a sign , No Guns in Town but you could get them when you leave. Of course that was when the Sheriff actually protected the small town from the drunk cowboys. Now like many issues we have gone into extreme camps.

          Jesus could do a lot of things I cannot do and acted in a manner I can try but cannot match. I am not Emmanuel . A gun is a tool and is amoral, it can used for good or bad. Lets hope the good guys outgun the bad guys in the real world. .

          • Of course that was when the Sheriff actually protected the small town from the drunk cowboys.

            At least, when he wasn’t being a drunk cowboy….

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Or worse. The first Sheriff of Los Angeles (after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) got shot by one of his deputies in a fight over division of extorted loot.

          • But let’s be honest: turn the other cheek is not American common sense, and there’s no way you can parse it to make it that.

            • anonymous says

              the original was meant to ‘shame’ Roman soldiers

              the Roman soldier was able to strike a victim with the palm of his hand, but it was considered poorly-done to hit anyone with the back of their hand . . . a no-no that dishonored them as warriors

              so ‘turning the other cheek’ made it so that the Roman soldier would have to hit the person in a way that dishonored the soldier (using the back of his hand to strike his victim)

              this is something not widely known, but a little research into the customs of the times might enlighten a LOT of them what says ‘the Bible clearly says’

              or not 🙂

              • Robert F says

                Is that an interpretation that is the consensus of responsible historians, or is that just a possible interpretation? I’m familiar with it, but I’ve always thought it was the latter rather than the former, and a minority opinion at that.

          • “So what about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising …”

            Gandhi’s advice was that the Jews should have passively accepted extermination because of its spiritual efficacy in his world view.

            John If you’re saying that the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount are unworkable in practice, I agree with you. But then I’m not a fundamentalist and I don’t pretend to believe it all when I really don’t.

            • Yeah, Gandhi had some bad advice for the German Jews. The question is: would Jesus have had bad advice too?

  6. Why are Calvinists so mean? I’m not sure how much modern Calvinism is like classic Calvinism, so this may not apply, but…

    Protestant theology, with its doctrine of salvation through grace, with works not entering into the discussion, presents a problem. Few people actually like the idea. If we take it at face value, the ax murderer has the same shot at heaven as the person who devotes her life to caring for the poor. This just doesn’t seem right.

    There are several strategies to deal with this. One is to flip the direction of causation: declare that the ax murderer murders because he is damned, and the woman cares for the poor because she is saved. This allows us a theology that in practice is indistinguishable from salvation through good works, while maintaining that it is something entirely different.

    Another strategy is to declare some actions not to be works at all. Accepting Jesus as your savior and taking the walk up the aisle is redefined as not a work we do or do not perform.

    Prevenient grace is another approach, making an end run around our actions so that it comes first in line.

    Some versions of these strategies are the most widespread among Protestants. But there is another approach: take seriously the doctrine of salvation through grace alone. At this point it splits into two branches. One branch says that our salvation is entirely out of our hands. It is up to God whether you are saved or not. And you probably aren’t. This is classic Puritan doctrine.

    The other branch? Our salvation is entirely out of our hands. It is up to God whether you are saved or not. Oh, and God loves you unreservedly. You figure it out.

    “What must I do to be saved?” is the wrong question. It has been asked and answered. This happened two thousand years ago. A more relevant question is “How should I, who am saved, respond to God’s grace?”

    So why are Calvinists so mean? They have the intellectual rigor to take seriously salvation through grace alone, but who recoil from the idea of the wrong sort of people getting in. They would rather have Hell filled with the unlucky sods whom God sent there.

    • ” One is to flip the direction of causation: declare that the ax murderer murders because he is damned, and the woman cares for the poor because she is saved. This allows us a theology that in practice is indistinguishable from salvation through good works, while maintaining that it is something entirely different.”

      That’s definitely a no-go for hard-core Calvinists, because some people who are famous for good works hold Bad Theology. Ultimately, Good Theology is the keystone to salvation in that system – which then runs smack into the “salvation by faith alone vs salvation by belief in salvation by faith alone” rabbit hole.

      • “We are not saved by what Jesus taught, and we are certainly not saved by what we understand Jesus to have taught. We are saved by Jesus himself, dead and risen. “Follow me” he says. It is the only word that finally matters.”

        Robert Capon, end of chapt. 6, The Parables of Grace

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Good Theology” or “Purity of Ideology”?

    • What mystifies me is why TULIP Calvinists bother to evangelize? If you believe in limited atonement and predestination seems to me it would be presumptuous to feel the need to help the Almighty along any. If I’m saved my salvation is assured. If I’m condemned then I have no chance. Why worry? Have another glass of wine.

      I was raised in the SBC by what we called “Free Will” Baptists, meaning anyone could be saved and you were condemned only if you refused the chance to be saved. I didn’t hear the word “Arminian” until I went away to school.

      • Hyper-Calvinists would agree with your assessment. They were never a majority though. Mainstream Calvinists would say that God has ordained both the ends (salvation) and the means (evangelism and preaching).

        • Ok Eeyore thanks. Can I ask some questions? (I don’t know any Calvinists).

          1 Under TULIP can you be saved and not know it? Conversely, can you think you are saved and not be?

          2.Under TULIP knowing that the unbeliever has but a short life to enjoy before an eternity of torture, how do they recommend that the unbeliever spend his life?

          3. Has there ever been a TULIP Calvinist who accepted all the doctrines but were convinced they were damned?

          Thanks for whatever time you have to respond.

          • john barry says

            Stephen, I like your questions. My take on the matter is ———-What does it matter? If two people are sitting in a church , one thinks that he has invited, accepted , taken the gift of salvation that God has offered though a personal decision to accept Christ and the other is one of the elect and is just dong what is predestined, what does it matter to either one. They are both believer , is the non elect is “wrong” so what? If the elect was wrong and he was not elected , so what. It is the life of this earth that was affected. Personally, It seems Calvinist quote Cavin more than the Bible and like to argue.

            I really like question number 3. I might get in if God uses the electoral college not the popular vote. I could not get elected 3 grade homeroom monitor so think I am unelectable

            • John if I was a Calvinist that’s exactly what my attitude would be. What does this life matter?

          • Ugh. Gotta put my Calvinist hat back on. Let’s see if it still fits…

            “Under TULIP can you be saved and not know it? Conversely, can you think you are saved and not be?”

            The latter is easy – just about any Calvinist would say an emphatic”YES” to that question. The only question is how widely do they cast the “think they’re saved but they’re not” net. Calvinism is much like many other forms of American protestantism that way. As far as being saved and not knowing it… I think they would either tyry probing you to see if you have an oversensitive conscience, or look at you funny for getting the categories confused.

            “Under TULIP knowing that the unbeliever has but a short life to enjoy before an eternity of torture, how do they recommend that the unbeliever spend his life?”

            A moderate Calvinist would say “They should spend their life repenting, because they don’t KNOW if they are already condemned.” A hyper-Calvinist would probably shrug and say “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

            “Has there ever been a TULIP Calvinist who accepted all the doctrines but were convinced they were damned?”

            William Cowper. Exhibit A of all the bad ways Calvinism can go wrong when overly applied to a seld-critical introvert.

            • Wow, William Cowper. I will investigate further. The only thing worse than truly believing that the vast majority of the human race was damned without recourse (the clear logic of TULIP) would be to think you were damned yourself. But now that I think of it, there would some courage involved in accepting your fate and not flinching. Who was the Greek philosopher who was convinced that the earth would open and swallow him so everywhere he went he had a slave boy precede him. Now that was cowardice.

              • Robert F says

                Who was the Greek philosopher who was convinced that the earth would open and swallow him so everywhere he went he had a slave boy precede him. Now that was cowardice.

                I think that was Trumpopoulos.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Both Calvin and Mohammed were into Predestination and God’s Omnipotent Will “writing your Fate on your forehead before the creation of the world”. I would expect parallels between the two, especially with today’s More-Calvinist-than-Calvin and More-Islamic-than-Mohammed (and both More-Calvinist/Islamic-than-Thou).

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      Once you interpret “saved” as “saved from God” (i.e. saved from punishment by God) then following the logic through leaves you with either God sparing people because of something they did (even if you redefine the “works” concerned as responding to an altar call or similar) or rewarding and punishing arbitrarily regardless of “works” – hence Calvinism. It’s inevitably going to affect how you love (or not) your neighbour if your religion posits as the source of all love, mercy and justice a God who deliberately and arbitrarily consigns great swathes of those neighbours eternally to the flames, and indeed created great swathes of those neighbours specifically for the purpose of doing so.

      • Dana Ames says

        Yup. The problem is with the interpretation of the term “saved”. As N.T. Wright has expressed it, Paul’s questions were not the questions of the Reformation.

        Dana

  7. Robert F says

    To all you non-dads out there — we’re okay too.

    • john barry says

      Robert F. Of course u are right. My “Dad” was a non Dad as are many. There are many DINO ,Dads in Name Only.

  8. Not only have I moved on from the “songleader” in worship, I was never there! Did I miss something?

  9. America’s megachurches are too big to get me inside them….I don’t like crowds.

    • Some megachurches can and have failed. Word of Faith World Outreach Center in the Dallas area, once led by disgraced televangelist Robert Tilton, is a prime example. And some megachurches have shrunk considerably following leadership transitions and/or scandals.

      I attend a church that is large, though it falls shy of megachurch status. The congregation has shrunk quite a bit in recent years but that hasn’t stopped me from feeling lost in the shuffle. A recent pastoral transition, in this case triggered by retirement rather than scandal, has also left me wondering about the church’s future. I’m presently considering what to do next.

  10. On Calvinist being mean, it depends. If you mean in the neo-Calvinist evangelical, yes. If you refer to the cultural philosophy that permeates U.S. rich, it is more subtle.

    For example, it is common among Silicon Valley tech elites that some have been pre-ordained to succeed in a technological information based society and some are pre-ordained to fail. For some tech rich in San Francisco and surrounding areas, this means emotionally detaching from the issue of homelessness. For others, it manifests itself in the concept that the middle class (and partly the rich) should be taxed to provide a base income to those in poverty, regardless of their failure to succeed in a tech society. Either way, the philosophy of Calvinist pre-destination permeates rich culture.

  11. My views on sex abuse crisis has changed dramatically over the years. At this point, I cannot separate complementarianism from the sex abuse and sexual harassment scandals. This comes from my experience in corporations. Every male dominated hierarchical company I have been part of has problems with sexual harassment. Male dominated organizations have a tendency to cover up problems to avoid conflict. An environment were women are empowered to lead almost never has a problem with cover up and conflict avoidance.

    • senecagriggs says

      Would you like to take a random guess and which type of relationships have the most intimate partner violence Allen? Same sex or traditional?

      • That is a fantastic example of ‘whataboutism’ Seneca, distracting from the actual topic by highlighting something else.

        Irrespective of any point about same sex relationships, which are NOT in view here, if we look at the actual point, & stay there, complementarianism & other male dominated relationships have the greatest problems with sexual abuse & therefore that calls into question their legitmacy within Christianity. The question here is between the ideas of complementarianism & egalitarianism, within heterosexual relationships within the Church. What say you on this?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I say that Fred Phelps’ REAL sin to Evangelicals was being too direct and blunt instead of using the Proper Code Words.

  12. senecagriggs says

    Have the “gun toters” won. Practically speaking; yes. There’s more than 300 million guns out there, mostly unregistered.

    • anonymous says

      that explains all the dead children

      • senecagriggs says

        Sin explains all the dead children. Sadly there are many more to come. Once gunpowder was discovered, the world would forever on, be in the deep weeds. Gunpowder and sin; a lethal combination

        • Robert F says

          America is in deeper weeds than most. The omnipresence of guns in our country makes its streets, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods, a low-grade war zone at all times. It also facilitates quick, efficient suicide for those struggling with depression and other mental illness. This is a choice America makes of weapons over lives.

          • senecagriggs says

            I wonder if the USA doesn’t have more individually held fire arms then all the rest of the countries combined?

            “The omnipresence of guns in our country makes its streets, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods, a low-grade war zone at all times. ”

            I would concur F.

  13. senecagriggs says

    Will Ghandi meet you at the Pearly Gates instead of Peter?
    _______

    Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour. He moderated his views towards the end of his life. But the damage was done, and the legacy lingers in every present-day Indian press report of a rape victim who commits suicide out of “shame”. Gandhi also waged a war against contraceptives, labelng Indian women who used them as whores.

    Like all men who wage a doomed war with their own sexual desires, Gandhi’s behaviour around females would eventually become very, very odd. He took to sleeping with naked young women, including his own great-niece, in order to “test” his commitment to celibacy. The habit caused shock and outrage among his supporters. God knows how his wife felt.
    __________

    If you’re a woman, you better hope not.

  14. Christiane says

    maybe someone knows:

    for a hyper-Calvinist who points the finger at ‘those other sinners’ and is SURE he is among the ‘CHOSEN’, can someone please tell me HOW the hyper-Calvinist KNOWS he is ‘CHOSEN’

    seems to me this is something that is amiss in their theology, and leads to a smugness, which might lead to outright contempt and derision for ‘those other sinners’ whom they feel are NOT chosen

    how do they ‘know’???? God does not tweet.

    there must be a ‘sign’ only they recognize because a lot of these hypers come off as very smug, very ‘pharisee’, very angry, and very judgmental . . . to the point of abuse even when you see how some openly speak of how they treat their wives who must be ‘submissive’ or else (see Wade Burleson’s recent posts)

    • Christiane says

      no need to respond, really

      I’m venting. But if someone REALLY knows, please share. 🙂

    • Beats me. William Lane Craig, not a Calvinist, thinks he is saved because of the “inner testimony of the Holy Spirit”. How he distinguishes the “inner testimony” from his own thoughts and desires I have no idea.

      • Christiane says

        thanks Stephen . . . . there must be some explanation for what is called ‘assurance’, but I can’t fathom it

        OTOH, I am looking at this from a Catholic point of view and we are into ‘trust’ and ‘the mercy of God’, which I don’t think IS a part of the ‘pharisee scene’ of the Hyper-Calvinists, so I’m not comprehending their whole point of view, which, to understand is a goal I have yet to accomplish, I admit

        but if some dear person NEEDS what they call ‘assurance’ for their peace of mind, I am not one to belittle that, no;
        life is hard, and painful, and what comforts people that is not destructive seems to me a kind of blessing

    • Hyper-Calvinists are walking proof of Chesterton’s dictum that madmen aren’t those who have abandoned logic; madmen are those who have ONLY logic

      • Christiane says

        yes, so much of the whole deterministic predestination-thing seems like a logic construct

        or

        a great celebration of ‘authoritarianism’ over responsible conscientious conduct on the part of everyone

        the term ‘sovereignty’ seems to have been co-opted to mean God does evil so that good may come, which I know is NOT a part of the apostolic legacy to the Church

        their ‘logic’ system makes God a monster

        more needed ranting on my part, sorry

    • can someone please tell me HOW the hyper-Calvinist KNOWS he is ‘CHOSEN’

      Christiane, I like what Eeyore said. I think if he were a good, honest hyper-calvinist he’d say even about himself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

      That would be a hyper-logical view of God’s sovereignty. Probably rare.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      how do they ‘know’???? God does not tweet.

      At least not before November 2016…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      maybe someone knows:

      for a hyper-Calvinist who points the finger at ‘those other sinners’ and is SURE he is among the ‘CHOSEN’, can someone please tell me HOW the hyper-Calvinist KNOWS he is ‘CHOSEN’

      Romish-style Private Revelation?

      Actually, I’m convinced the reason a LOT of these More Calvinist than Calvin types are so shrill is they’re not 100% sure THEY’re of the Predestined Elect and are trying one-upmanship games to PROVE to themselves that they are. Remember that the Word of Calvin included God sending a “false assurance of Election” to “the Reprobate” indistinguishable from True Election until J-Day. (And That Way Lies Madness, like all those Puritan journals stuffed with navel-gazing sin-sniffing.)

      Once this PROOF of Election was “material blessings”, i.e. getting filthy stinking rich (by any means necessary; remember, if you’re Elect you don’t have to worry about Hell. Now it’s Perfectly-Parsed, Utterly Truly REFORMED Theology.

  15. senecagriggs says

    As Eeyore has noted: hyper-Calvinist foresee no need for an altar-call. The neo-Calvinist believe God may use an altar-call to bring people to salvation so they give the plan of Salvation leaving the rest of to God.
    _______

    Remember just like Roman Catholics come in a variety of humans; so do Neo-Calvinists.

    As a Calvinist; my position is God never says, “Oops, that one got away from me.”

    Are there proud, authoritarian Neo-Calvinists? SURE

    Are there proud, authoritarian Roman Catholics? SURE

    Are there proud, authoritarian Episcopalians? SURE

    I can’t imagine a denomination, church or religion that doesn’t have their share of proud, authoritarian individuals.

    Many of you seem to be creating a non-exist straw-man of Calvinists; we’re all proud, haughty, smug and authoritarian. But actually we’re all kinds of people just holding to the ultimate sovereignty of God who ALWAYS accomplishes His purposes.

    • Seneca, the article was written by a present day Calvinist. It’s a self-critique.

      • senecagriggs says

        To repeat Mike

        Are there proud, authoritarian Neo-Calvinists? SURE

        Are there proud, authoritarian Roman Catholics? SURE

        Are there proud, authoritarian Episcopalians? SURE

        I can’t imagine a denomination, church or religion that doesn’t have their share of proud, authoritarian individuals. [ Including the Lutherans of all stripes. ]

        • Seneca, I agree with you, of course. But the point I was making is that the author, himself of the Calvinist persuasion, sees a problem in his own movement with meanness. Perhaps it is more of a problem for people of that persuasion than for others. Many of their public voices have certainly been accused of such. One of my friends, once a respected publisher in the movement, changed some of his views, and oh, the stories he tells of meanness! But I’m not making any conclusions here. I just thought it notable that one of their own saw a problem that may be endemic to his own.

  16. Robert F says

    hundreds of ants
    climb the front stoop
    getting up in the world

  17. As to mega churches, every time I drive by Prestonwood Baptist I wonder just what the point is? Create a closed colony that you only have to leave to earn a living?

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Prestonwood+Baptist+Church/@33.0285886,-96.8516781,1286m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x864c248651158695:0x7b9bf07570179428!8m2!3d33.028964!4d-96.8477591
    (If that link doesn’t come up in satellite view then switch to it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prestonwood_Baptist_Church

    • senecagriggs says

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_SUifuqRLc

      If you want to see the people’s heart – this is their worship team sing Total Praise. Their hearts are so in to this.

      It’s not the edifice, it’s the people.

      • I would challenge your conclusion but with you there is no point.

        Unless you’ve been involved in “church” and/or upper middle class and up society in the DFW area you have no idea how big business it is. And some of the people involved are truly devout but most are have a thin layer of such over a social county club foundation.