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This Month's Scripture Verse:

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For January 20, 2016

This is just a periodic reminder that the comments published here will tend to have more errors than the blogposts due to the difference in time spending editing the two.

Jan 12

To Josh Wester and his review of the book One Nation Under God by Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

I can only comment on the subject of the book being reviewed and the review itself. The interjections of religion into politics has not always been rejected even by those on the Left. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, easily mixed the two in an acceptable way. But it seems that many of the attempts made by conservative Christians to act in the public square do not approach the public square in the same way King did. For when King approached the public square, he was not seeking a privileged position for his faith in society. Rather, he was seeking equality for those who were being marginalized either because of race or economic class. Thus his use of faith-based morals was widely accepted except by some conservative Christians who emphasized the rights of the individual.

So one way to critique the book One Nation Under God might be examined is whether or not the attempt to apply religious faith in the public square includes Christians, especially conservative ones, attempting to gain a priviieged position in society.

There are hints in this review that some degree of privilege for Christians is being sought despite the rejection of establishing a theocracy. First, when the review states the following:

In the first chapter, Ashford and Pappalardo skillfully locate the role of politics within the Bible’s master narrative. Following the tradition of Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), they draw motivation for political action from the promise of restoration

we need to ask whose definition of restoration is being used. If it is a Christian definition of restoration, then those promoting this motivation are, in the end, seeking some kind of privileged position for Christianity in society.

Also, when the review states:

Recognizing the disastrous consequences of this trajectory, they argue that the church should retain its influence, albeit organically, over the state.

the word 'over' implies a hierarchical relationship between the Church and the state. Here we should note that the absence of theocracy does not imply the absence of privilege for Christianity in society. Theocracy is simply an extreme level of privielge for Christianity in society. So the absence of theocracy does not imply that Christians are not seeking any privileged position in society.

All of the above points to the current debate concerning the Church and state of how will the Church share society with others? Will it selectively seek a paternalistic relationship with the state where once society crossses certain lines in the sand, the Church attempts to regain control? This is part of what the debate around the legalization of Same-Sex Marriage was about. Or will conservative Christians seek to share society with others as equals while the Church, both as individuals and the organization, reserves the right to preach repentance in social justice issues--that was what Martin Luther King Jr. did. All of this points to just one of several ways by which the book referenced above could be critiqued.


Though the comment below was blocked on the Gospel Coalition website, it was not blocked on the website of the author of the article being responded to.  The author's blog is the following: 


Jan 16

To Lydia McGrew and her blogpost contradicting Wheaton professor’ Hawkins’ statement claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

If one reads the theological statement made by Hawkins regarding this question, one is forced to ask why Wheaton College finds her statement to be beyond what should be allowable for a Christian faculty member who teaches political science. With regard to whether we, that is Christians and Muslims, worship the same God, Hawkins response is that it depends on the context. If the context involves the trinity, the answer is obviously a 'no.' But if the context involves the nature of God being one and the historical God of Abraham, the answer is 'yes' (see http://drlaryciahawkins.org/2016/01/06/theological-statement-by-dr-hawkins/  )

Now McGrew challenges, whether knowingly or not, this division by asking why are some parts of God are necessary for His proper identification and others are not. But what if we take her approach and ask if Calvinists and Arminians worship the same God. If the answer is yes, then we must ask why the Calvinist conception of God's sovereignty is not a necessary part of believing in God while other parts are. And this is the dilemma we face in terms of being classified as a Christian. For we could ask how could Calvinists who see God  as knowing the future because it is based on His decree be the  same God as the one worshipped by Arminians who see God as knowing all things because he is like a weather forecaster who never errs. Doesn't this example both touch on a critical part of God and thus meet the Superman/Clark Kent analogy used by McGrew here?

The answer to the question of whether all people are our brothers and sisters poses the same kind of problem. If the context focuses on Adam as being the father of all people, then the answer is 'yes.' But if we are talking about being born again, then the answer is 'no.'

So the question is this: does the context of Hawkins' theological statement make her beliefs acceptable? Here acceptable does not have to mean that her beliefs are inerrant. All acceptable has to mean is that we, despite disagreements or errors we could find in her statement, consider her to be a sister in Christ. After all, the overall context of her actions and statements was that of showing solidarity with Muslims here as a way of supporting those who are being persecuted because of bigotry. And so all she was doing was trying to show ties that we Christians have with Muslism in order to give reasons for fellow Christians not to  attack Muslims. And she is giving reasons why Christians should defend Muslims. McGrew's article here attempts to minimize the significance of the context of Hawkins' statement. McGrew's article is an attempt to decontextualize Hawkins' statements.


Jan 18

To Tim Keller and his article on how legalism and antinomianism affect our understanding of sanctification. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Besides the Marrow controversy, there is another point of conflict we need to weigh through when settling the legalism vs antinomian issue. That point of conflict is between Matthew 5:17-20 and Acts 15:10.  For inthe former we see the necessity of the law; in the latter you see the Apostles declaring that the law was impossible to follow. And another interesting comparison is to compare some of Jesus' teaching with some of the instructions written by the Apostles. For example, Paul contrasts being in the Spirit with trying to follow the law. All of this tells me that there is something we're missing in the discussion about legalism and antinomianism.


Jan 19

To Bruce Edward Walker and his blogpost using a CBS news video to criticize the demand for labeling GMOs. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

The video relies on an all-or-nothing approach to GMOs. Show one case where GMOs have been helpful does tell us that to ban all GMOs would be wrong. But that one case does not imply that all GMOs are safe.

In addition, while the video asks if any person has lost their life due to the consumption of GMOs, no research is listed. So we don't know if how long or how that question has been studied if it has been studeied at all. However, I do believe that consumption of GMOs by rats has been somewhat researched and it is controversial. The study did show that the growth of tumors followed the consumption of GMOs (see http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html). However, the journal that pubished the study retracted it because of problems with the data sample used ( see  http://www.nature.com/news/study-linking-gm-maize-to-rat-tumours-is-retracted-1.14268).

Likewise, the list of the percentages of scientists and organizations that approve the use of GMOs suggests that GMOs are safe. However, no listing of research articles was provided.

Finally, one of the key complaints about the use of GMOs has been the increased use of pesticides which translates into the increased use of pesticides in our food supply. These pesticides can be divided into herbicides and insecticides. And though the results are not always consistent across all kinds of crops, the use of GMOs has shown to increase the use of pesticides (see http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24  and http://ecowatch.com/2014/09/29/gmo-crops-accelerate-herbicide-insecticide/). Apparently this issue was passed over by the video.

So what we are being told here is that the labeling of GMO products is not only unnecessary, it is harmful to business because we consumer scannot be trusted to make responsible decisions for ourselves with that information. And we are being told that despite the fact that specific research work and articles on the subject were never cited by the video and despite the fact that research on the health benefits of GMOs is relatively young.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on 5 facts about Martin Luther King Jr. This appeared in the Acton blog.

5 additional facts about Martin Luther King are worthy mentioning.

1. He stated that materialism seen in the West's Capitalism was as dangerous as the materialism seen in the USSR's Communism. (see bage 95 of this link: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/ows/seminars/aahistory/Pilgrimage.pdf )

2. He saw changing the structure of the American society and economy as a necessary part of compassion to those in need (in his speech against the Vietnam War, see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm ).

3. He opposed American Capitalism because of how it distributed wealth (see page 213 of Tavis Smiley's biography of Martin Luther King Jr., Death Of A King).

4. King opposed racism, economic exploitation and poverty, and war and militarism. In his speech against the Vietnam War, he described them as being inseperably linked in a 'thing-oriented' society where gadgets, profits, and property rights were more important than people (see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm ).

5. he believed in a guaranteed income for all Americans (see http://www.wealthandwant.com/docs/King_Where.htm ).


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on how growth rates explain the wealth disparity between nations. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Overall growth that is based on what Chris Hedges calls 'sacrifice zones' so that not only does the economy grow, but so does wealth disparity, is not flourishing. And if we go to many of our cities, identifying those parts of the city, if not the whole city itself, that have been abandoned to pursue growth elsewhere is all too obvious, but not trivial. This wealth disparity isn't between nations; it is in the same nation. And the US has one of the greatest wealth disparities among developed nations in the world. Such disparity does not help even the richest citizen to flourish because growing at someone else's expense shows a poverty of spirit.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on the effects of the Great Awakening on The Constitution. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

What drove the need for The Constitution was both similar and different from what drove the need for the Revolution. For whereas both involved a reaction against the rule of elites. the Revolution was a rebellion against foreign elites while The Constitution was an elite reaction to a rebellion against themselves.The 2nd Amendment and Constitutional references to the militia, as well as Knox's letter to George Washington, Federalist 10, and Yates' notes on the Constitutional debates provide evidence to this contention.

If we take the 2nd Amendment and other Constitutional references to the militia, we see that our 2nd Amendment rights were written in the context of the need for a militia. And, according to The Constitution, Congress was to provide for arming and training the militia while the President was its commander and chief. And the purpose of the militia was to both repel enemy invasions and put down insurrections. At least that is what a strict Constitutionalist should say.

Federalist #10 as well as the Constitutional debates speak against innovation, that is that they speak against changing the status quo, and seek to promote a government that protects 'the minority of the opulent against the majority' (see Madison's June 26th comments in the debates at  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/yates.asp ).

And of course the historical event that triggered the writing of The Constitution was Shays Rebellion along with the widespread dissent that existed at that time.

If the Great Awakening played a role in the writing of The Constitution, then it was to protect the current status of American elites. BTW, as for the First Amendment, that came after the writing of the first edition of The Constitution And we should note that the reason for joining the "Civic Evangelicals" with the "Free Church Evangelicals" came during the Revolutionary War where the number of people needed to serve as soldiers was critical.

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