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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 2, 2014

Around March 21

To Dylan Pahman's blogpost on Christian Orthodoxy and partisan politics. This was posted on the Acton blog.

I fully agree with the following statement:

He only highlights that in applying the teachings of the Church to our present, political context, we ought not to expect any concrete embodiment of our ideals, and we should be wary of any person or group that makes such a claim.

However, that statement does not imply that we should be shy in noting the discrepancies between the teachings of the Scriptures and the concrete policies and actions of the parties and ideologies that are out there. And there is a difference there. As a religiously conservative Christian, it wouldn't be right of me to declare any party and ideology as being the party the truly represents the Gospel. However, I should be able to use the Gospel to find the flaws of every political party and ideology. And the rejection of any party or ideology can be seen as an endorsement of another party or ideology when I am placed in the position of having to choose one of only two options where which party or ideology I end up supporting depends on which policies or positions I am focusing on. For example, too many Conservative Christians have aligned themselves with the Republican party because they have focussed so much on the abortion issue that they have neglected other issues.

What helps us avoid aligning the Church and Gospel with any particular political party or ideology is to use the Scriptures to criticize all political parties and ideologies and to know enough to realize that there are more than 2 options to choose from.


March 22

To Joe Carter's blogpost on if companies can be African American, why can't they be religious. This appeared on the Acton blog.

First, there are Christian companies. Many of them publish materials and sell books and other things while there might be a few hospitals.

But there seems to be a potential comparison of apples and oranges here. For in the example above, what is being questioned is whether a business was denied the opportunity to provide services. What is being asked for with Christian businesses is what rights can they deny others either in employee benefits or in refusing services. I have great understanding in not wanting to pay for healthcare that includes abortion. I have some understanding in Christian businesses not wanting offer services to same-sex weddings. But we have to understand that these are not the issues Black businesses are dealing with.

So if we want to compare apples to apples, we would be discussing discrimination against Christian companies that are being denied the opportunity to provide services, not the right to deny them. 


March 23

To R. Scott Clark's blogpost on Science and the audio broadcast linked to in the blogpost. The audio calls the current climate scientists who warn about environmental problems because of our greenhouse emissions a cult. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

Remember Luther's and Calvin's geocentricity. Machen's view of how the Scriptures talked about what appeared to be the case meant nothing to the Christians in the days of Calvin and Luther. That scientists back then had it right while our most esteemed theologians had it wrong should cause us to approach all other discrepancies between scientists and our spiritual leaders with an open mind. And calling the large body of climate scientists who can easily point to indisputable physical changes in our environment a cult because of both their agreement and that their methodology was different from other scientific studies is irresponsible.

Climate scientist are considering multiple models for the future so what this says is that that they don't know the ramifications of our path. But, again, they can easily point to current changes and denying those current changes would indicate that one is submitting to a cult more than whatever faults you can find in the climate scientists.

So with regard to the climate scientists, perhaps the lack of tolerance of has to do with the available evidence as well as what is being risked. To do nothing, in light of the observable evidence  and not the conclusions or interpretations, is to at least flirt with disaster. And why studies contains a blind or double blind models depends on the studies themselves. One cannot enforce a single model on all studies.

Finally, if you want to say that the hiding or blocking of data indicates shenanigans, then we must question this blog because of the comments challenging what has been claimed about socialism and climate science which have been blocked from appearing here. And that has occurred multiple times. 


March 24

To Elise Hilton and her blogpost on the Koch brothers and the good they have done. This appeared on the Acton blog.

Such posts as the one above one is meant to silence criticism. For its says that if you don't like how they make their wealth, then forfeit what they do that is good. The problem is that they are in the position to contribute possibly because of wrongs they have committed and if we accept that tradeoff, we have given up basic morality for utilitarianism. In addition, to not hold them accountable is to sacrifice democracy for paternalism. And remember that paternalism thrives on power and praise.


March 25

What people find to be disgusting varies so that just because someone is ok with what I find to be disgusting doesn't imply that they believe in a world where everything goes. The burning of the bodies of aborted babies is probably disgusting to more people than abortion is itself. And that brings up an interesting inconsistency that we should explore. And generalizing from that specific application, it is easy to find how the above post can equip us in challenging culture but that wasn't the only point of this post. 

Another point was to challenge Christians who sabotage the emotion of disgust by criticizing fellow Christians for "implying any sinful behavior can be disgusting." 

Whether what someone does is disgusting to us is related to several factors. And one of those factors is practicality while another is identification. What are the effects of being disgusted by every sin practiced by others? Can one really function in society while being that sensitive? Will such an emotion cause us to be intolerantly intolerant of others? 

Or perhaps our disgust is because we indulge in or want to practice the same sins that disgusts us and our expressed emotion distracts attention from us? And are we afraid that we will slide down the slippery slope of sin if we fail to react? And there are many other questions we can ask. 

Now if the effects of rampant individualism is another significant concern here, then we should look for accepted cultural practices and sacred cows that might be promoting such individualism. And, based on what Karl Marx and Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, one such culturally embraced practice that affects our moral values is the free market. For in the free market, our strength and our conscience is self-interest. We are told that in the free market, self-interest is what both drives and guides us. That concern for others is not necessary and may even frowned on frowned on at times when working in or determining the rules for the free market.

We certainly cannot reduce all of the current radical individualism that is causing our society to self-destruct to the free market. But we have to admit that with the rewards to be found there, the free market possibly encourages more individualism than is healthy for a society.


March 26

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on a new dark age where a video of some interviews showed that many people are very ignorant of what is going on. This appeared on the Heidelblog

Looks like another version of Jay-Walking where Jay Leno would ask people on the street very basic questions that most of the people asked could not answer. And I think Geoff Willour's note summed up much of what is wrong. But many points being made here have also been made by those on the Left and in particular by Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges. And this is an important point because though they often have different solutions, those on the Right and Left sometimes share concerns and even if we hold to our positions, talking about those concerns can be beneficial.   I encountered this my self as I spoke to fellow Christians who were protesting the last May Day event in NYC in which I participated.


To Chris Castaldo's blogpost on the importance of Church unity. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition blog. 

Individualism is not the only cause for a fractured Church unity, compromising to cultural values and syncretism is also another cause. The latter is a hammering in of a square peg into a round hole with the square peg being acceptable cultural values like nationalism or materialism while the round hole is Christianity. Certainly the square peg can be hammered in if it is hit hard and often enough, but such does violence to the round hole.

It isn't just individualism that separates us. During and before the Civil War, the slavery issue divided the Church. After the Civil War, Jim Crow segregation vs Civil Rights divided the Church. There are cultural compromises that divide us today. So how should we react today's compromises? That might be best determined on an individual  cultural value basis.


Just as some apologists for American Capitalism have declared that socialist movements are always hijacked by would be and actual tyrants, we can make the same statement about crony capitalism. At what point in American history has Capitalism not sunk its claws into the government for favorable treatment? After all, businesses are structured to be tyrannical and thus what keeps that cultural mindset from trying to control the government for the sake of profit? Certainly there have been times of gov't pushback but isn't battling cronyism an ever constant battle. 

There is no doubt that today's neoliberal capitalism is rife with cronyism but what about the whole 20th century and business's used of the American military? Former Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler wrote about how he and other troops were really fighting battles for corporations and banks and that was prior to WWII (see here, and there ). Or we could go to our state capitalism and our 50+ wars and interventions that occurred after WWII. Many of these wars and interventions revolved around business interests and benefits such as Iran in '53, Guatemala in '54, Chile in '73 Haiti in the late 80s and early 90s (see here). Even the latest wars in Iraq and Afganistan had business overtones. We could also look to the red missile scare in the 50s and/or 60s where we were told that we had to build up our nuclear arsenal to match a Russian threat that wasn't there. Who was the beneficiary and about whom did Eisenhower warn the country?

Many of today's examples of crony capitalism can be found in comparisons. Compare the criminal prosecution practices against lower class minorities vs those against those who commit white-colar crime such as bank executives when their institution has been fined for illegal activities. And besides war, consider the purchase and use of military type equipment for local police forces and compare that with the crime in the community (see here). Or compare the interest rates that our gov't gives our financial institutions when they are in a fix with the interest rates they charge customers.

When has Capitalism not corrupted by cronyism ever existed in this country and how long did it last? Perhaps Capitalism doesn't exist without it either in terms of determining the rules and laws or in terms of providing life sustaining business for many of our corporations. 


March 28

To Bruce Edward Walker's blogpost on Trillium's wrongful alliance with Bill McKibbon. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Actually, Mckibbon isn't the first person who said that Americans put too much priority on their possessions. In fact, a person who said decades before him may not have been the first either. That person was Martin Luther King. Consider the following two quotes:

When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered 

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. 

Even Karl Marx foresaw how an economy based on self-interest would change our values sot that in all of our relationships, we are first asking, what am I getting out of this?

Thus, the self-flattering claims that the National Review makes about the source of meaning for Americans being from faith can be challenged by observation, according to what King preached.

Finally, we should note that much of this article pushes only reality, the costs of switching from fossil fuel to renewable energies. Other realities ignored here are the environmental destruction and devastation to residents that is occurring by some of our resource extracting methods as well as what could become irreversible and severe damage to our environment if we continue with our current use of fossil fuels. 


March 30

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on Rauschenbush and the Social Gospel and social sins. This was posted in Heidelblog

Let's look at social sins from another perspective. When allied troops liberated the people in one of the Nazi camps, they were ordered by General Eisenhower to make the citizens of a nearby town tour the camp to see what they were responsible for. Yes, they were responsible. This is something Tim Keller talked about when he was talking about corporate sin (forward ahead to around the 26:13 mark of this link). He eventually talks about the different degrees of guilt German citizens were accountable for, even those Germans who did not participate but did not make any effort to find out what was happening. See, it isn't just liberal protestants who are recognizing social sins.

There are two errors we can make when interacting with the Social Gospel. The liberal error is to reduce the Gospel to social justice and helping those in need. The conservative error is to filter out our responsibility to work for social justice. 

All too often, the conservative Christian response to social injustice is to equip the victims to persevere through their trials by teaching them how to become spiritual spartans. Too often we feel that we only need to teach people to hold on to their faith so they can persevere through their trials. And as important as that is, we are missing another important responsibility.

That responsibility is preaching repentance and the gospel to the perpetrators and complicit supporters of social sins. Social sins are sins started by those with wealth and/or power by how they mold society and use social peer pressure to gain the obedience of others so that society is practicing the sins as a whole. Especially since Western societies have a Christian tradition, it is the Gospel that becomes associated with social sins. So now we have at least two reasons to preach against Social sins in Western civilization. It is to call those with wealth and power to repent and to protect the reputation of the Gospel.

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