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Showing posts from November, 2016

The Problem With Us Evangelicals Is We’re Just Too Liberal

Written by David Fitch on November 30, 2016 If there’s anything the election of Donald Trump has taught me it is this: We evangelicals have gone liberal and it’s taking us down a wrong path. Let me explain. The Word “Liberal” Current American Politics “Liberal” is a word that can mean many things. In everyday use, the word refers to the opposite of “conservative.” If Republicans are conservative, then Democrats must be liberal. To be conservative socially is to support traditional values and personal responsibility. To be liberal socially is to advocate for personal freedom, self-expression and personal flourishing on all social moral issues. Evangelicals tend to be conservatives in these ways. Classical Liberalism The more classical use of the word however, in the political tradition of John Locke, J.S. Mill, John Rawls, describes a brand of individualist politics. The goal of this kind of “liberal” is to order a society around the freedom of each to pursue his or her “life, liberty and hap…

Trump and the 'War on Christmas'

Michael Sean Winters |  Nov. 29, 2016
You know the celebration of the birth of our Savior is nigh when Fox News starts yapping about the "War on Christmas." Their website has usefully collected a series of stories that expose the liberal plot to rob Americans of our most cherished holiday. Once again, liberals have stolen a cultural inheritance that most Americans have always enjoyed. This is all hooey best ignored, of course. Until it results in an Electoral College victory, at which point you can no longer ignore it. First, the hooey. Those referred to as "early Americans" had a positive aversion to Christmas. Heirs to the most radical variety of Reformation ideology, the Puritans banned any celebration of Christmas which they viewed as a pagan observance that had crept into Christianity thanks to the anti-Christ (that would be the pope to us). Christmas became popular in America more on account of the popularity of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"…

Slum priests needed for a new Oxford Movement

Hannah Matis November 29, 2016
Ed Watson’s recent post here at Covenant asked, What is preventing a new Oxford Movement in the Episcopal Church today? Watson was responding to a 2012 post by Fr. Robert Hendrickson. Zachary Guiliano then followed up, mentioning a potential missing element: an emphasis on Scripture and personal holiness. However, in the wake of the November election, it seems a question worth revisiting for a fourth time. I am very conscious that I speak as a committed layperson within the Episcopal Church, and therefore not in a position to practice directly what I preach. I believe, however, that what I discuss below should be a necessary part of the conversation.
As a historian, reading both Watson’s and Hendrickson’s posts, I was struck by the extent that their framing, and therefore their definition, of the Oxford Movement was purely theological and liturgical. A revival of the Oxford Movement, by this definition, would consist in asserting the claims of the Church ag…

Has the Bonhoeffer Moment Finally Arrived?

11/28/2016 01:19 pm ET
Stephen R. HaynesProfessor, Rhodes College Not too long ago, political events in our country led a sector of the American population to conclude that a cultural apocalypse was looming. The nation these men and women knew and loved was endangered by cultural shifts they neither approved of nor understood. As faithful Christians, they scrambled to discern the times. Naturally they summoned to memory Christian heroes who had courageously kept the faith when facing similar crises. I’m referring, of course, to the summer of 2015. As it became likely that the U. S. Supreme Court would overturn legal barriers to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, these Christians were convinced the time had come for bold resistance. If the apocalyptic character of this historical moment tended not to register with moderates and liberals, it’s because this was not our apocalypse. I took note, if only because a handful of Christian leaders, including the president of the Southern Ba…

Second Sunday of Advent (12.4.16)

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3In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; eve…

SHARING THE BAD NEWS OF DONALD TRUMP’S “THEOLOGY OF GLORY”

The Baptist theologian James William McClendon once reported a story about Clarence Jordan, the founder of an interracial community called Koinonia Farm. Jordan, who described his community as a “demonstration plot” for the Kingdom of God, asked his brother, Robert, to assist him in the struggle against the racial injustices of the Jim Crow South. Robert was keenly aware of the community’s hardships: Local citizens boycotted the farm, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the produce stands, and ominous letters flooded the mailbox. The cost weighed heavily on him. “Clarence, I can’t do that,” Robert said, declining his brother’s request. “I follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point.” “Could that point by any chance be—the cross?” Clarence replied. “That’s right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. I’m not getting myself crucified.” Today we find ourselves in the cleft between Clarence’s invitation and Robert’s refusal. White Christianity in America is mounting a breach that’s too wide to strad…

Ross Douthat’s “The Crisis for Liberalism”

Ross Douthat’s “The Crisis for Liberalism” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-crisis-for-liberalism.html?_r=2) ably makes the case that the “naked public square” (echoing Richard John Neuhaus from thirty-two years ago) lacks sufficient resources to resolve the crisis generated by the identity politics of the left and made evident by the results of the recent election.
Lacking a national vision of a common good, a compelling sense of our place in the world, a unifying civil religion, the US is wedged between a rock and hard place. With a new administration that seems hell bent on governing as though the tattered remains of the late, great Judeo-Christian ethic is still in place, makes for a combustible situation indeed. Whether its fumes can reunite us around its largely abandoned vision of life in America is doubtful indeed.
But, insists Douthat, that vision or something very like it is what has to be recovered if we are to find our to unity and purpose again. The h…

My Confession - the Election of 2016.

The book of Revelation is much misunderstood. Duh! It's the nature of that misunderstanding we must get hold of. We westerners think linearly. So we expect Revelation to be telling us history (present or future). Let's call it calendarizing.
The genre of Revelation's vision is apocalyptic. That's why it has all the weird imagery and bizarre characters. As strange as this is to us it was familiar to its first readers. Though apocalyptic literature does sketch the broad path of history at times, its most vital function is not calendarizing but characterizing. More like a x-ray apocalyptic unveils was is at the heart of what is going on.
The Roman Empire is clearly the "bad" guy in Revelation, the beast who is persecuting and oppressing the church. Yet an ordinary citizen of the empire would not have seen it that way. Yes, the empire was authoritarian and could be brutal to those who stepped out line. But think of all the benefits: the wonderful system of roads t…

Life in Christ (III)

I’ve been looking at our life in Christ under the three heads below.
-communication: hearing/obedience/Word/ear -communion: feeling/affections/Worship/heart -community: tasting/experiencing/World/body The ear and heart , communication and communion, occupied us in first two posts in this series. Today it is the body, both our physical body and the body of Christ that call for comment.
Life in Christ and the Body
We can almost say that life in Christ, the communication and communion we experience with God is kinesthetic. Our bodies are active in both listening to and being with God. This is why bodily postures in prayer are recommended in scripture and in the early church. And why in some traditions the congregation stands as the Bible is processed in for the reading of that day’s gospel passage. And why the practice of “Walking Prayer” is growing in popularity today.
If our bodies are the face of our souls, then our interactions with others in community constitute another kinesthetic aspect…

To all Christians interested in the Church’s witness at the onset of the Trump Administration:

It seems obvious that the Trump election resulted from many diverse factors. Some were less than noble impulses of the American psyche along with at least one legitimate concern that he made center stage. The only faithful role for the church toward any presidential administration is that of loyal opposition. Loyal, not to the opposing political party, but rather to Jesus Christ. We may find ways to encourage or support various things the new President does but it seems extremely unlikely that we will find ourselves supporting the attitudes and ideologies that ground the view of reality of these folks. They are not evil incarnate. But the “principalities and powers” seem to have a firm foothold among them. And it is the latter against whom we struggle according to the apostle Paul (Eph.6:10-12). Trump and his people are as much a victim of these powers as the people they diminish, dismiss, harm, or victimize in some way (as all administrations do). Social justice that
-does not attack…

The End of Identity Liberalism

By MARK LILLA NOV. 18, 2016
It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.
But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.
One of the many lessons of the recent presidential elec…

First Sunday of Advent 2016

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36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, nei…
Penal Substitution is Unavoidable
Nov 14, 2016 @ 12:37 by Scot McKnight37 Comments
There are plenty of attempts to find atonement theories that avoid the barbarisms of some penal substitution (PSA) proponents, but avoiding PSA altogether is unavoidable. Here’s what it claims:
1. Humans sin.
2. Sin has serious, ultimate consequences before God.
3. The consequence of sin, its punishment, is death.
4. Jesus died to bear (and bear away) the consequences of sin (and sin).
5. Christians proclaim the forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus.
There is only one way to avoid the necessity of penal substitution, and it involves these claims:
Read more at 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/11/14/penal-substitution-is-unavoidable/

Whither now, Church?

The right are giddy and the left in despair because the former now has the upper hand in running the US. Christians of all strips share either the giddiness or the despair. The church, however, while seeking and supporting what public goods it can, has no brief for running the US or any other country either directly or as partisans of a particular political vision. We are those who model a wholly different way, the way of the cross. That is the only "throne" from which we "ru...le." Just like our master Jesus Christ. We are not called to make a difference in this world (though we will if we follow our proper mandate) but rather demonstrate a different world that has broken in to our fallen reality, follow a new king announcing a new creation that is humanity's destiny. Kingdoms and empires come and go. So will America. It, as Tony Campolo cleverly observed, may be the best Babylon the world has ever seen, but it's still a Babylon. America's pretentions…