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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 27, 2016

April 19

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on society’s changing values especially those stemming from the new position that the LGBT community has achieved in society. This appeared in Heidelblog.

What religiously conservative American Christians have had the greatest difficulty with is knowing what to let go in society and what to battle for. Because many of us have grown up in a different time when Christian values held a stronger place in developing cultural and societal values, we look at each new change in our culture and society with shock and dismay. Though the dismay is often appropriate, the shock isn't. 

And because we have not made wise choices in knowing which cultural and societal values to battle, we have failed to share society with those who are different as equals. And more than anything else, our crusade to marginalize those from the LGBT community has stirred much greater anger than any differences that exist in our beliefs and values.

So as we critique, as is done above, society's newest values and trends, we need to know the natural boundaries of that critique as we share society with others as equals. It is unclear whether the above article articulates the location of those boundaries.

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April 20

To Collin Hansen and his blogpost interview of Nabeel Qureshi from Ravi Zacharias’ Ministries on Christianity and Islam. This appeared in The Gospel Coalition website.

I find this post to be one of the most inadequate blogposts on a Christian's view of Islam ever. Which matters more about the person interviewed: is it that he was a former Muslim or that he currently works for a Western Christian apologist? And, btw, by describing Nabeel Qureshi's boss, Ravi Zecharias as a Western Christian apologist, we might include that he is as much a Wester apologist as he is a Christian one (see http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/top-christian-voice-west-being-taken-down-in-small-portions/   ). But we might want to note something else about Zacharias. There are serious questions regarding his past claims about some of his past positions and degrees (see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2015/08/24/press-release-has-evangelist-ravi-zacharias-misrepresented-his-academic-credentials/  

The gist of the interview accessible above is this: if, according to Qureishi, Muslims faithfully follow their sacred writings, then not only will they be at war with Christians, they will join groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram. Though Qureishi acknowledges that the vast number of Muslims are peaceful, their being peaceful is because of many years of traditions that told them to despite what the Quran says. 

There is a problem here though. The Quran does have verses that tell Muslims to live at peace with others. One such verse tells Muslims to live at peace with one's neighbor if that neighbor desires to live at peace with them. In addition, we might also want to ask other Muslims about Qureishi's claims made in the above interview especially since Qureishi himself acknowledges that Muslims are a diverse group.

One of the key problems in listening to the Qureishi interview is his selective use of facts. Already mentioned was the failure to report the verses in the Quran that  preach peace. Another failure is in Qureishi's failure to give the full picture of Muhammad's use of violence. According to several sources, including material from investigative journalist Jason Burke, Mohammed's use of violence was in response to the injustices he witnessed at Mecca. Also visible at Mecca was the belief in many gods--polytheism held by many. From those observations, Mohammed associated the presence of injustices with polytheism. After those battles, Mohammed sought to install a utopia that would come about by people following the revelation he claimed he received from God.

Further, we should note Qureshi's comparisons between the bloodshed in the Old Testament and that of Islam, especially its earlier years. He makes the claim that the Quran orders Muslims to kill Christians for their beliefs while the people whom the Hebrews killed when claiming the Promised Land were receiving God's judgment for their sins. This is where Qureshi's exclusion of Mohammed's crusades against inequality and injustices at Mecca and other places when he was involved in prosecuting wars almost shows a dishonesty in Qureshi's comparison. On the one hand, he has no problems with what the Hebrews did because the then residents of the Promised Land were being killed for their actions. But unjust actions that Mohammed witnessed was precisely why he waged war first in Mecca, and then in the surround area and beyond and yet they are not mentioned in the comparison.

Qureshi's account of the Crusades also merits attention. For while Qureshi is quick to point out that the Quran promises eternal life for those whose jihad results in being killed in war, the Pope at the time of the First Crusade offered indulgences for sins in order to help raise an army to retake Jerusalem. In addition, the cruelty visited by the First Crusaders   on the residents of places like Jerusalem was horrendous.

And while Qureshi states that it took a thousand years for Christians to engage in religious wars whereas Muslims had been fighting almost immediately after Islam was found, there is a context for that. That context was the timing of the divisions in the Christian Church vs the divisions that occurred in Islam. When they did occur though, we had a long period of religious wars in Europe. But not mentioned by Qureshi is the fact that the Church relied on the violence of the state to help expand Christianity to other areas of the world. 

During the current time, we see many injustices forced on the people of the Orient. We see Israel's brutal occupation against the Palestinians, we see Middle East tyrants being supported by the West so long as these tyrants support the business interests of the West, we've seen coups and the supporting of terrorists. We should only note that Ronald Reagan supported both Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. And yet, none of this is mentioned when comparing Islam to Christianity and the West.

The above is a very brief sampling of the inadequate and unreliable statements Qureshi makes about Islam. Should note here that I am speaking as a Christian Fundamentalist who adamantly disagrees with Islam's denial that Christ is the Son of God. But the gross inaccuracies made and selective use of historical facts  by Qureshi moves me to say that his description of Islam in the interview above contains too many inaccuracies for comfort.

But there is a problem greater than the content of Qureshi's comments. That greater problem is the fact that Christians are going only to fellow Christians not just for perspective and worldview, but for the facts on the ground. We can call this problem Christian insularity. We seek to learn about the world only from our own. And for as long as we do that, we will not only be unable to adequately evangelize others, we will lay stumbling block after stumbling block before the people we want to convert the most because we have misrepresented them when discussing history and current events. And all of these inaccuracies also serve to persuade Conservative Christians to support a war not just against terrorism practiced by extremists, but a war against another religion based on false statements.

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April 22

To Russell Moore and his review of a book that explains why liberals always win culture wars. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

There are a couple of problems here. The first problem is the us vs them mentality in society. Conservatives vs Liberals. Those who know best vs the foolish. Good vs evil. How could conservatives who think this way possibly share society with nonconservative without seeking to control them? And how could conservatives who seek to control nonconservatives in society possibly understand democracy? Finally, what is the salvation status of Christians who have some political liberal or even leftist leanings?

Second, conservatives are not anti-utopian, they are post-utopian. In other words, all of the wisdom that is needed to live or experience the best life possible has been taught in past and followed in the good old days. It isn't that Conservatives who reject change and progressive ideas do so because they don't believe the utopian hype that often comes with these ideas. Rather, Conservatives believe that change has destroyed some mythical utopia that supposedly existed in the past.

As Moore has been warning people about the upcoming acceptance of same-sex marriage, I would like to suggest that the more we fight culture wars, the more we seek to unnecessarily control the lives of unbelievers in society. And the more we seek to control their lives, the less likely they will want to listen to the Gospel. So here is a suggestion, pursue culture coexistence rather than victory in the culture wars.

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April 23

To Eric’s April 22 comment that responded to my claim that we had invaded Vietnam. He challenged that idea and this was part of the discussion on the Death by Government blogpost posted in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Eric,
You have the history backwards. Vietnam was actually divided to facilitate the expulsion of the Japanese after WW II. The French wanted take the opportunity to recolonize at least part of Vietnam. We had promised during WW II to help them do just that. When the French failed, we decided to prevent the reunification of Vietnam by first sending advisors to help sustain the dictatorship. in the South. The Geneva Accords attempted to address the division and the agreement made there was that the South would vote decide on reunification by voting on in. We ignored the Accords and maintained the dictatorship and that eventually became the Vietnam War, the war that included our invasion to prop up the dictators we favored and, in some cases, installed.

Now if you think I am revising history, we can discuss the subject by listing our supporting documentation.

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To Eric and his April 22 comment that claim that the Left is responsible for all the murders committed by people like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. This was part of the discussion on the blogpost about death by government on the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Eric,
Whenever I read your accusations against the Left, I get the feeling that you are auditioning for something like, perhaps an Ann Coulter variety show, than trying to present a logical argument. .For it seems that you are more interested in being vehemently harsh than being precise. And your references to the Left indicate someone who is pretty much insular in their readings.

Certainly people like Mao, Lenin, Stalin, and others are guilty of murder, no argument there. But how are those Leftists who were murdered by Lenin, Stalin, and Mao responsible for their own deaths let alone the deaths of others? What about those Leftists who reject Lenin, Stalin, and Mao and who came after those three? They are responsible too?

Let me ask the same question in another way. Were all of America's founding fathers guilty of supporting slavery in our nation? And, a trickier question, were they all responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land?

Not too long ago, Bruce Frohnen wrote an article whose title far outpaced its content. The title was: 'Can Civility Be Restored To Our Campuses?' Frohnen went downhill from there by scapegoating the Left for the lack of civility on campuses. I say scapegoat because he never looked at what those particular Leftists were protesting as contributing to the problem. Now, do I feel some leftists contribute to the lack of civility on college campuses? Most certainly I do! But it has nothing to do with their Leftist ideology, it has everything to do the current trend, which Frohnen took part in, of externalizing evil and scapegoating the other side. After all, if the other side is evil, you must do all you can to silence them. And that is what Frohnen attempted to do in his article. And many from the Left, the Right, and Liberals have joined this trend.

We can't have civility anywhere for as long as groups externalize evil and scapegoat their opponents for the problems they see. For as long this is the trend, then each side will adopt the ends justifies the means ethic in trying to silence the other side. For Christians, it also means that we will start living out the prayer of the pharisee from the parable of the two men praying. In terms of how Martin Luther King Jr. described the West during the Vietnam War Vietnam, each side will be unjust to the other because each side will assume that it has everything to teach the other side and nothing to learn from them.

We can't be civil to each other when we can so easily demonize the other while putting ourselves on a pedestal.

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April 25

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of John Calvin on the Regulative Principle for worship. The Regulative Principle states that the only ways by which we can worship are those that are commanded by God’s Word. Those ways of worship that have not been commanded are verboten and considered to be false worship.  This appeared in Heidelblog.

Personally, I think what has most hindered Reformed Theology is the regulative principle. All we have to do is to look at how it is stated here to see why. Note what is strongly associated, it is false worship and that which was not explicitly commanded from the beginning. 

Such not only causes us to start forcing Gentiles to live like Jews, as Peter was once accused of doing by Paul, and such not only forces us to approach worship as the Pharisees approached the law by paying attention to selected details and forgetting the spirit of what is involved, but it also denies both the implied change that Jesus spoke of when He said that a time will come when we will worship God in spirit and in truth and the changes necessitated by the death and Resurrection of Christ along with the Great Commission telling us to preach the Gospel throughout the world.

It is bad enough that this principle was applied to worship, but it often leaks out in other areas of life. When talking about fellow Reformed Christians about whether they should be involved in activism, the regulative principle is resorted to as people restrict their involvement to imitating specific NT examples or following explicit commands while ignoring biblical issues of justice or loving one's neighbor. It is as if the only practical theology we can learn is what we can imitate or what we are directly commanded to do.

This reliance on the regulative principle can, to some, make the New Testament as inflexible or irrelevant to life today as a literalist approach to The Constitution makes that document the same in answering today's new legal issues. In addition, we should note that no one consistently takes a literalist approach to The Constitution. Conservatives who claim to fail when they decontextualize the 2nd Amendment by removing the mention of the militia from the right to bear arms. Are those who follow the regulative principle far behind when they, as mentioned before, overlook the NT theology mentioned above?

There is a legitimate concern in using the regulative principle. That concern is that innovation can take us away from God's Word into self-worship. For innovation can separate us from the Apostolic faith that we lose essential connections with it. However, is forbidding all innovation, as the regulative principle does, the answer? Are there Biblical principles that can be used to guide our attempts to innovate?

On the one hand, because new issues and circumstances arise, theology must, at times, be new and fresh.  But that newness must never be allowed to separate us from or cause us to compromise the essentials of what has been revealed. For when it does, we've left the faith. But not allowing theology to be new condemns the essentials of our faith to irrelevance due to our inflexibility in applying the Gospel to today's new issues. And those who insist on prohibiting the new find themselves in homogeneous church groups that are unable to reach out to those who are different. The Regulative principle forces us into such groups as our rigidity in recognizing the issues people face in the world today blinds us to the new problems and concerns people experience today.

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April 26

To Michael Severance and his blogpost that covers how Rev. Robert Sirico claimed that Christianity best protects the balance between the individual and the social. This appeared in the Acton blog.


The first question that comes to mind when reading about the interview with Rev. Robert Sirico is this: Which Christian view of anthropology provides the best blend of the individual and the social? Theologically conservative Christians lean toward one set of views on that balance while theologically liberal Christians lean toward another. To show the difference, we should note that theologically liberal Christianity leans more toward Socialism than than its conservative counterpart. In addition, without mentioning the details, Sirico's view of what Socialism says about people seems to be more the result of having used deduction than induction. We should also note that European Socialism is really a mix of a little socialism with some liberalism in the context of a global economy that is predominantly neoliberal.

Now if I was to take an inductive approach to Sirico's claims, I would have to say that theologically conservative Christianity does not best protect the balance between the individual and the social. Why? Because of its favoring of entrepreneurialism and business, it grants more individual rights and less social responsibility especially to those who are able to help the vulnerable to such an extent that it seems that there is an inverse correlation between having wealth and how much social responsibility one has. And if we examine the history of the Civil Rights Movement, we see that there seemed to be a greater reluctance on the part of theologically conservative Christian leaders and institutions to oppose racism than was seen in their theologically liberal counterparts.

From the article printed above, we see the great fault of theologically conservative Christians. That fault is the tendency to rely too heavily on deduction and/or to selectively use induction in answering questions like the one posed to Sirico For how does he answer the question, he speaks in general of the world views of Christianity and the Enlightenment while noting that Socialism is a product of the Enlightenment. In addition, he does not adequately use an inductive method to arrive at his conclusion and perhaps for good reason, historically speaking that is. For while he is content to compare the French and American Revolutions, he neglects to mention both the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land and America's horrendous treatment of Blacks both during slavery and afterwards. And many who participated in either ethnically cleansing Native Americans from the land or subjugating Blacks used Christian theology to defend their practices. He also neglects to refer to European colonialism that was practiced in the name of Christianity.





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