Religion Archives

Vocabulary Bleg

So, in Sunday’s service (St. Basil Liturgy now that we are in Lent) the phrase “God is [..] adorable” appeared. The word “adorable” in its original meaning actually came from Christian contexts meaning “worthy of adoration” but now mostly is applied to small mammals meaning “very cute”. “Oh, he’s so adorable” is not usually applied to God but to kittens, small seals, and babies.

Which brings to mind the question, is there a word in English that means “worthy of adoration”? If so what is that word?

I think “venerable” has gone through a similar degradation, and similarly I don’t know a word meaning “worthy of veneration” in the English language.

Do you?

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    Wedding Cakes and Conscience

    Is it un-Christian-like to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding? If so, isn’t it then hypocritical if the baker doesn’t look into every other wedding ceremony to see if any sin is being committed?

    No, says Russel D. Moore. The two questions are completely different issues. The former defies the Biblical definition of marriage. He discusses the difference, complete with citations from the apostle Paul, in "On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?"

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      This issue has been in the news before, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen an opinion from this high up in the Catholic church.

      To deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians who are Catholic, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “makes perfect sense” because it is a discipline that goes back to St. Paul, “the very first years of the Church,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis and now the chief justice at the Vatican’s highest court.

      In an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on Dec. 13, Cardinal Burke explained that it is necessary to protect the Sacrament, the Communion wafer offered at Masses, from “being profaned, being violated by someone receiving unworthily,” someone “who knows that he or she is unworthy and yet presumes to come forward and to take the Holy Eucharist.”

      For our Catholic readers, what’s your take on this?

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        Good news on the religious liberty front. Gabriel Malor writing at Ace of Spades give a great rundown of the main points of the district court judge’s ruling with regards to forcing the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to cover, or exempt themselves, from the ObamaCare™ requirement that they cover contraception or abortion. In a snark-less post, it’s just a matter-of-fact examination of the ruling, and why this may have a very tough road to the Supreme Court, assuming it’s appealed that far.

        Some highlights (but, as they say, read the whole thing):

        This is the first litigation to result in a final injunction against the contraception mandate for religious non-profit organizations that come within the Obama Administration’s purported exemption to the mandate.The 7th, 10th, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals have all found the mandate to be an unacceptable burden on the free exercise of religion for for-profit businesses that don’t come under the exemption. This case is important, though, because it recognizes that even the act of having to claim the exemption is an unacceptable burden on religion.

        Very late in this case, the government realized that, although the Archdiocese and its constituent organizations are covered by the mandate, the regulations might not actually force a third party they designate to provide the objectionable contraception coverage. The judge was not amused:

        The Obama administration has handed out so many exceptions to the law, it can no longer claim the law serves a compelling purpose.

        The administration, as it has frequently done with respect to disobeying laws it does not like, argued that it had to enforce the contraception mandate in such an infringing manner because it could not do it any other way. The district court pointed out the obvious flaw in this line of thinking:

        A very interesting and damaging ruling.

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          Does Religion Cause the Most Wars?

          Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.” The three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history, begs to differ.

          For those wars, the authors note the causes of each. Consider this; they categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, more than half of them, 66, were fought in the name of Islam. Take those out, and the percentage of non-Islamic religious wars is a mere 3.23%.

          So the next time someone tries to use the Crusades as a way to paint religion as the primary source of all war, just ask them, “Is that the best you can do?” Takes quite a bit faith to believe that.

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            Street Preaching = "Homophobic" Speech

            At least in London it apparently is.

            An American evangelist was arrested and jailed this week in London during the Wimbledon Championships while preaching about sexual immorality on the streets.

            Sports Fan Outreach International, led by Bill Adams, has been hosting an evangelistic effort in England over the past week to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with attendees of the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament. Approximately a dozen or more men and women are on the streets preaching, distributing tracts and engaging in one-on-one conversation with spectators.

            Tony Miano, a retired police officer who traveled to the UK with the team, states that he was preaching about sexual immorality from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 on Monday when a woman became agitated by his message and began to curse.

            “[I preached about] the fact that people are in sin and are violating God’s word and His law by engaging in immorality — both heterosexual immorality and homosexual immorality,” he explained.

            Since he had included homosexuality in his sermon, the woman, who had gone into a nearby store and came out to find Miano still speaking, called the police to complain.

            Moments later, officers arrived and notified Miano that he had allegedly violated Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which prohibits public language that is threatening or insulting.

            They’ve also redefined "homophobic" as "what Christianity has believed about homosexuality for millennia." Speech code are coming to a church near you.

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              Live and Let Live?

              (This is one of the segments of the most recent episode of my podcast, "Consider This!")

              From the state of Colorado comes this news story, showing just how intolerant this country has become.

              A neo-Nazi couple is pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a Swastika wedding cake to honor their ceremony, and alleging that the owners have a history of turning away white-supremacist couples.

              Would you support the bakery in their refusal? Certainly, neo-Nazis don’t agree with our civil rights laws, so based on a civil rights objection, should a bakery be allowed to refuse to make a cake glorifying the Third Reich?

              As you may have guessed, I’ve modified this news story slightly to make a point. This is really a story about a same sex couple, from Massachusetts, suing a baker in Colorado. Religious freedom is the first of the freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment, even before speech. And yet folks exercising that freedom are not given the same deference as someone who might discriminate based on something that the Constitution doesn’t specifically protect.

              Could a baker refuse to decorate a cake with text featuring the N-word, or any other word that we usually identify by its first letter? If they could, what about the customer’s freedom of speech? Does it override the baker’s freedom? I don’t believe this would even be an issue, or if it was, the ACLU might even be on the side of a baker not wanting to display a Swastika or an obscene word on their product. As it is, the ACLU is supporting the out-of-state same-sex couple, because a religious objection doesn’t make the cut.

              Nor does it for a florist from Washington, nor a photographer from New Mexico. Same-sex marriage is not a case of “live and let live”. It requires others to validate it, regardless of any objection buttressed by the Constitution.

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                That’s right, the guy whom the Left said hated black people. The evangelical community, along with Bono, lobbied for it, and Dubya did it. It’s not something that’s mentioned often, but…

                "This should be shouted from the rooftops. This is a heroic American story," Bono said in a remarkable radio interview with Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, to be broadcast by the group Tuesday.

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                  Sermon Notes: Forgiveness

                  From this week’s sermon.

                  Forgiveness is not:

                  • Minimizing or excusing an offense.
                  • Subjecting yourself to continued abuse.
                  • Only an emotional response.
                  • Assigning blame.
                  • An act of weakness.

                  Forgiveness is:

                  • Giving up rights to retaliate.
                  • Healing internal abuse.
                  • A choice involving thoughts, emotions and actions.
                  • Taking responsibility to remove sin, regardless of who did it.
                  • An act of inner health.
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                    Overcoming Such Unanimity

                    Ben DeBono is one of the co-hosts of a podcast I listen to, "The Sci-Fi Christian".  I have the distinction of having named their alien mascot, "Theo".

                    Ben is a recent convert to Catholicism, while I am a  long-time Protestant. And yet there are commonalties that people tend to ignore too often. He highlighted one of those commonalities in a recent Facebook post.

                    Here’s a thought experiment for Christians arguing for biblical support of homosexuality and/or homosexuall [sic] marriage:

                    On the subject of homosexuality theologians as diverse as the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther and every other major pre-20th century Christian thinker stand in complete agreement. Such unanimity is all but unprecedented in the tradition. Even a doctrine as fundamental as the Trinity has greater diversity of thought than homosexuality.

                    Regardless of how you view the authority of tradition, doesn’t such complete agreement deserve to be acknowledged and taken seriously? If you say yes, how can you justify the near complete lack of engagement with the tradition by those arguing for an understanding of Christianity that is pro-homosexuality? Wouldn’t such a drastic change on this issue demand a lengthy and complete engagement with the tradition?

                    If you say no, how do you justify the implicit claim that your interpretive abilities are superior to 2,000 years of unanimous teaching on this issue – Protestant, Catholic and otherwise?

                    Ben shows that, over the millennia, smart Christian guys from all over the spectrum, have been unified on this topic. I made a similar point 2 years ago when I noted that the Bible speak of homosexuality 100% negatively, and of marriage 100% heterosexually. I said essentially the same thing, "Ignore all of that collected wisdom at your peril."

                    The religious Left has been accepting homosexuality as a "non-sin" over the past 40 years, and same-sex marriage as blessed just for the past 10 years or so. Relatively speaking, however, this is nothing compared to the unanimity of the faith for the last 2,000 years. If one is going to throw out 2 millennia of doctrine, you had better have a good argument that a) this is really what the Bible says and b) the other guys were wrong. Yelling "Equality!" is not such an argument.

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                      Jim Wallis "Evolves". Again.

                      Just as our President supposedly "evolved" on the issue of same-sex marriage, Rev. Jim Wallis, head of the liberal Sojourners group, has done the same thing. After saying that marriage shouldn’t be redefined, now that the culture apparently want to change it, now he’s fine with it.

                      Michael Brown, author and radio talk-show host, wrote an article for Charisma News that calls Wallis on the carpet for this change. (Emphasis his.)

                      Rev. Wallis, you told us in 2008 that “the sacrament of marriage” should not be changed and that “marriage is all through the Bible, and it’s not gender-neutral.” Now, in 2013, you want to redefine marriage and make it gender-neutral. In doing so, you have betrayed the Word of God and the people of God.

                      To be candid, sir, I’m not surprised by your theological flip-flop—just pained and distressed by it, since your name is still associated with evangelical Christianity in America and you are a prominent church leader.

                      This is not just an issue of going against what Brown (and I) believes the Bible says, but it’s yet another case of Wallis saying one thing and doing another. Brown offers up many examples.

                      In the past, you raised some valid criticisms about the “religious right” and its deep solidarity with the Republican Party, but then you joined yourself to the religious left and the Democratic Party, even campaigning for Democratic candidates. So much for taking a kingdom-of-God position that transcends partisan politics and challenges the political establishment.

                      To be sure, you have rightly challenged us to consider the poor and the oppressed, pointing to the hundreds of Scriptures that call us to “social justice.” But then you have turned around and applauded Communist dictatorships that championed oppression and tyranny.

                      When it comes to Christian integrity, you disappointed us when you received funding from pro-abortion, pro-atheism billionaire George Soros and when you allowed the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the world’s largest gay activist organization, to take out paid advertising in your Sojourners magazine, even though the HRC would love to silence all religious opposition to homosexual practice.

                      It is true that in 2008, you expressed having “mixed feelings” about the HRC ads, stating that you “probably wouldn’t do it again.” But today, the HRC celebrates your defection from biblical values, announcing in headline news, “Leading Evangelical Christian Voice Announces Support For Marriage Equality.”

                      Rev. Wallis, you have brought reproach to the name of Jesus, to the Word of God and to evangelical Christianity.

                      But the height of the hypocrisy is that Wallis seems to be making his moral decisions based on the culture, not based on Christ.

                      Worst of all, you have reversed your earlier position on what the Bible clearly says about marriage based largely on where “the country is going.”

                      What? Jim Wallis, the critic of the religious establishment; Jim Wallis, the counter-cultural revolutionary; Jim Wallis, the advocate of a Jesus who changes the world rather than conforms to it. You, sir, are now willing to redefine one of the most foundational and sacred human institutions, the institution of marriage, based on where the country is going? Isn’t that the path to spiritual and moral suicide?

                      Read the whole thing. (Hey, you’ve read most of it already.)

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                        The Bible Doubter

                        My brother, an ordained minister in The Salvation Army, is using YouTube to present a series he calls "The Bible Doubter". He gives answers to common charges made against the Bible that are short (4 – 7 minutes), concise and accessible. He’s starting in Genesis. Really worth a look.

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                          The Draw of Pacifism

                          I’ve known Christians who claim to adhere to pacifism, as well as seen protest signs with "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" painted on them. But Bart Gingerich, critiquing Methodist professor and theologian William Abraham’s new book, notes that this supposed "cure" for war may just be as bad, or worse, than the disease. Of the book "Shaking Hands with the Devil: The Intersection of Terrorism and Theology", Gingerich writes.

                          Abraham admits that pacifism superficially offers moral arguments against terrorism, but its medicine is worse than the disease by disallowing defense of the innocent. He opines: “It requires a very special kind of intellectual malfunction and self-deception to sustain pacifism over time.” And he specifically challenges the particularly fashionable form of “pragmatic pacifism” espoused now by Glen Stassen of Fuller Seminary as “just peacemaking,” which he decries for failing to address terrorism seriously. Its pseudo-scientific claims he calls “bogus and misleading.” Although maybe offering occasionally useful “partisan” policy proposals, just peacemaking ultimately aims to shut down the case for force, can offer “false hope,” and ultimately may only fuel further terrorism.

                          Hat tip to Don Sensing.

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                            Dealing Fairly With Pat Robertson

                            I’ve had my issues with what Pat Robertson has said in the past, and expressed them here. But the news media seems to love to just toss out items from him, even items that may be 6 years old, to keep piling on.

                            The wonderful Get Religion blog, which I recommend to any Christian, or religious person in general, covers how the press covers religion, both the good and the bad. Yesterday they had a blog post on the Pat Robertson issue, highlighting an article in The Huffington Post that has Robertson saying something he’s always been saying, and calling it news.

                            After noting that he’s not examining Robertson’s claims, only the reporting thereof, George Conger takes apart the article, noting that when Robertson said that Islam wasn’t a real religion but an economic system in 2007 (and in stronger terms back then), few cared. The Huffington Post calls the 2013 remarks "inflammatory", but if that’s so, why was nothing inflamed 6 years ago?

                            How many times can you make “inflammatory” comments before they no longer become “inflammatory” — do they become combustible, explosive, or after the passage of time — and when no fire ensues — do they simply become rude?

                            That’s a fair question.

                            And what of the actual opinion expressed? If it is incorrect, surely it could be explained why. But the Post doesn’t go into this at all.

                            The tone of offended outrage adopted by the article, that Pat Robertson has said a terrible thing, is not explored. The Huffington Post believes these sentiments are outrageous, but it does not say why. A long time ago I studied Arabic and Farsi as an undergraduate and took a number of courses in Islam. I have not kept up my studies and have lost my facilities in these languages, but I do recall the academic debates over Islam — whether it was a religion in the sense that Christianity or Judaism understood itself to be a religion, or whether it was a religio-political movement that did not bear a one to one comparison with the other Abrahamic faiths. I offer no answer to these questions. But given the unlimited space available to a Huffington Post author for an article, to denounce him without substantiation is sloppy reporting.

                            Oh and by the way…

                            And please note, Pat Robertson is not an “elder statesman of the evangelical movement. ” He is a Pentecostal Christian. There is a difference.

                            Pat Robertson has much more weekly air time than most on his own show, and thus has loads of time to speak. During those many hours of speaking, he’s bound to say something worth disagreeing with. I’ve done some disagreeing with him myself. But if a journalistic endeavor like the Huffington Post is going to do so, they need to do a far better job than this.

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                              "Children, Obey Your Parents." But What If…

                              I believe that, generally speaking, parents have both the right and responsibility to determine the health care of their minor children. The case of abortion, however, adds a additional life to the equation and makes it more difficult.

                              A pregnant teenager in Houston, Texas, is suing her parents, claiming that they are trying to coerce her to have an abortion. The 16-year-old, who is reportedly two months pregnant, is being represented by the Texas Center for Defense of Life (TCDL), a pro-life legal organization. For now, the girl and her unborn child are protected by a temporary restraining order, but the battle is far from over.

                              Here’s a poser: The Bible exhorts children to obey their parents. The parents are telling the child to have a legal medical procedure. As the child, you want to obey your parents, and yet don’t want to abort your baby, both Biblically-based beliefs. There are times when we disobey the civil law to follow the moral law, but these are two moral laws.

                              Tough decision, but I think I support the 16-year-old. What do you think?

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