Clarity about What Divides Us: Biblical Authority

sola-scriptura

The Authority of Scripture

Every once in a while I come across a book or article that provides substantial clarification regarding those things that divide us.  One of these is an article published in Theology Matters by Robert P. Mills titled “The Priority of Authority: Holy Scripture and Human Sexuality.”  Rev. Mills openes his article by paraphrasing a common claim made by Progressive Christians that:

“We all agree on the authority of Scripture. We just disagree about interpretation.”

Rev. Mills’ contention is that this claim is false.  My own paraphrase of his position is that “Because we fundamentally disagree on the authority of Scripture we therefore also fundamentally disagree on its interpretation.”

Rev. Mills develops his argument in three areas, those being:

Part 1, Authority and Humanity, will discuss the nature of authority, contexts in which authority is exercised, the human need for authority both individually and collectively, and the decline of authority in Western culture.

Part 2, Authority and Scripture, will start with the doctrine of revelation then look at what the Bible says about authority. It will then consider the nature of Scripture’s authority, giving special attention to the loss of authority that has come with liberalism’s denial of God as the Author of Scripture, and to the loss of Christian community that has resulted from this denial.

Part 3, Authority and Interpretation, will explain why and how evangelical Christians can and must uphold the historic Christian understanding of the nature and function of authority in general and the authority of Scripture in particular. It will conclude with a constructive proposal for reuniting the authority of Scripture with the interpretation of Scripture, with specific reference to current conversations in mainline Protestant denominations concerning human sexuality.

It should go without saying that “you should read the whole thing.”  However, if this isn’t possible here are the key clarifying passages.

With regard to “Part 1: Authority and Humanity,” this quote well summarizes our contemporary situation.

The prevailing understanding of many in the mainline seems to be that the individual is the ultimate authority in any and all matters of faith and practice, whether the issue is the interpretation of Scripture or the ordination of church leaders. This is the flight Jeffrey Stout describes as being from authority to autonomy.

Yes, this is precisely the claim of ultimate personal autonomy that underlies Progressive Christian arguments.

With regard to “Part 2: Authority and Scripture,”  the following excerpt is of critical importance.

Anyone who has been even tangentially involved in discussions of Scripture with liberals recognizes that there are those in our congregations and denominations who refuse to recognize the authority of Scripture precisely because they refuse to recognize God as its author. There are those in positions of leadership in our congregations, governing bodies, denominations, and seminaries who quite casually declare that the Bible is entirely of human origin; that the Bible is a record of human efforts to reach out and touch “the divine” and that the Bible may not, indeed must not, be considered God’s revelation of himself to his human creation.

Calvin reminds us that Scripture is our authority for Christian faith and life because God is the ultimate author of Scripture. Scripture derives its authority from its author—God.

This is to where the Confession of 1967 pointed.  And we have arrived at the intended destination where each individual human is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture:

Deconstructionists dogmatically declare that any written work—whether a student essay, the U.S. Constitution, or the Bible—means only what the reader, never what the writer, thinks it means. As a result, any written work may have as many meanings as it has readers, even if the meanings are contradictory. Similarly, a single reader may assign a different meaning to a text every time he reads it.

With regard to “Part 3: Authority and Interpretation,” the Rev. Mills connects the crisis of Scriptural interpretation to the Progressive demand for ultimate personal autonomy.

By rigidly separating interpretation from revelation, liberalism attempts to relocate authority from God as the author of Scripture to each individual who reads Scripture. Uncritically accepting the deconstructionist dogma that there is no such thing as “authorial intent,” that it is impossible to convey an intended meaning to a reader, liberalism insists that there is no authority higher than the individual, which is, of course, the definition of autonomy.

Near the article’s end the Rev. Mills states the ultimate point of conflict that divides the Progressive (liberal) and orthodox camps.

Liberals cannot accept the authority of Scripture because it would supersede their authority to impose their views … To put it bluntly, if God is the ultimate authority, liberals are not. And for liberals openly to acknowledge that reality would be to acknowledge that the beliefs and practices they propose constitute a counterfeit Christianity.

The authority of Scripture and the interpretation of those passages of Scripture that deal with human sexuality cannot be separated. That is because the rejection of the authority of Scripture and the embrace of sexual behaviors that Scripture calls sin share the same root causes: the desire of individuals for ultimate autonomy; the consequent rejection of God’s authority as a constructive good; the willful yielding to the serpent’s temptation, “You will be like God.”

Can there be any greater proof of interpretation of Scripture from the position of ultimate human autonomy than the recent PCUSA debate on the definition of Christian Marriage?  In the 24,000+ words written in Rationales supporting same-gender marriage I find only three direct references to Scripture (i.e., text with chapter and verse) and Jesus Christ is not quoted even once. If actual Scripture is so utterly ignored then what is the nature of Rationale text in which Scripture is discussed? It is the authors telling us what they believe Scripture teaches, often in the most general and/or selective terms, without the slightest attempt at demonstration.  So completely have they internalized the idea of interpretation from human autonomy that they don’t even pretend that Scripture has authority over their opinions or beliefs.

The issue that now confronts us is fundamental to our identity as Christians saved and beloved by a sovereign Triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To reject this God as Scripture’s Author and thus to remove Scripture’s authority from this God will lead only to despair and destruction.  If we fail to stand on this ground there will be no end to the apostasy we will be demanded to embrace, and to which we will eventually succumb.

The U.S. Christian Church in Crisis

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religious-USThe United States will remain a Christian majority nation for the foreseeable future.  However the Pew Research Center predicts that over the forty years between 2010 and 2050 the proportion of Christians will fall from over three-fourths (78.3%) to barely two-thirds (66.4%).  Of this predicted 12 percentage point drop over 9 points will be due to the growth of “Unaffiliated” to more than a quarter of the nation’s population (from 16.4% to 26.6%).

However, it’s possible that the change in Christianity’s nature will dwarf its change in numbers.  Anyone who has been reading this blog can’t miss my documentation of the PCUSA’s transformation from a denomination that was recognizably Christian to one that is at best led by post-Christian if not pagans.  Of course many solid Christians and churches remain in the PCUSA, but they represent a shrinking minority.

Other Protestant denominations are also being challenged by the dominant secular culture. For example, the United Methodist Church is currently being riven by the same issues associated with gay ordination and marriage that split the PCUSA.

Another visible instance is the  Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran church in San Francisco CA. This church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a Mainline denomination that is in “full communion” with the PCUSA. This means that these denominations can share clergy and officially claim a “common calling.”   The following excerpt (misspelling not corrected) is one of many radical statements that have been pulled from the herchurch website. The photograph that accompanied this text is included, though the caption is by this author.

Goddess-Girl

This photograph from the herchurch web site shows a young lady (face hidden for privacy) holding a version of the neopagan Spiral Goddess among other non-Christian statues.

Embodying the Goddess

The liturgy, community and ministry of the congregation reflects diverse thealogical works and voices hoping to be a part of the prophetic voice of the divine feminine that will deconstruct Christianity and other patriarchal religions so that both a new paradigm and worldview may emerge that truly creates an egalitarian, just, society and eco-sensitivies that tend to mending the web of life.

Many Christians, even those who are a part of the progressive movement, often question the congregation’s Goddess focus. But more important are the voices of persons who had felt alienated and isolated by the church prior to learning about the work of herchurch. Pastor Stacy and the congregation who are embodying the Goddess are convinced that the nature of the sacred and divine presented in feminist-inclusive understandings can and will help facilitate a caring culture.

Perhaps the most radical denomination at this point is the Episcopal Church.  For example, “The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church”  preached a stunning sermon on Acts 16:16-2.  In it the Most Reverend Jefferts Schori commented thusly on the Apostle Paul’s exorcism of a demon possessed girl:

But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!

There you have it!  The concept of Christian inclusion means that a demon possessed girl’s spirituality is likely of a higher quality than that of the Apostle Paul’s!

Even the supposedly conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has recently accepted “critical race theory and intersectionality” as “analytical tools” to be used in fostering racial reconciliation in the church. As discussed in this article excerpt, the resolution in question had been completely changed from one opposing these ideological tools to one in support and then rushed to a vote without due debate. This event should be a big Red Flag to orthodox Christians in the SBC.

In the original resolution, the language condemns critical race theory and intersectionality in no uncertain terms:

“critical race theory and intersectionality are founded upon unbiblical presuppositions descended from Marxist theories and categories, and therefore are inherently opposed to the Scriptures as the true center of Christian union…both critical race theory and intersectionality as ideologies have infiltrated some Southern Baptist churches and institutions—institutions funded by the Cooperative Program…critical race theory upholds postmodern relativistic understandings of truth and…divides humanity into groups of oppressors and oppressed, and is used to encourage biblical, transcendental truth claims to be considered suspect when communicated from groups labeled as oppressors.”

Clearly, all such condemnatory language was struck, and the “analytical tools” were held up and codified as “useful” by the committee so long as they were subordinate to the Bible. Put simply, Feinstein’s original resolution—condemning these philosophies—was transformed by the committee to endorse them.

Thus no Protestant Christian denomination is immune from this assault of deception, subversion and seduction.

The Catholic Church is experiencing an existential crisis in the area of sexual morality.  As state Attorney Generals have become more aggressive in pursuing sexually deviant Catholic clergy it has become undeniable that there has been a longstanding, wide and deep coverup of pederasty.  This scandal directly involves Catholic leaders at the top of the hierarchy.  Potentially even Pope Francis has been credibly implicated in the protection of criminal clergy to advance the coverup.  Unless the Catholic Church fundamentally reforms we could be heading for a crisis on the order of the Protestant Reformation.

Although most local churches operate outside direct influence of these issues, they are not immune from the same powerful cultural forces that have caused them.  Nor are these scandalous situations isolated from the rank and file.

These (and many other) examples indicate that the Western Christian Church is in a crisis.  In too many cases our leadership has become corrupt and heretical.  Too few pastors and parishioners are paying the attention necessary to understand what’s happening, let alone to create effective counter-strategies.

So, even if in 2050 two-thirds of Americans call themselves Christian, the content of that characterization may have so radically changed that it is unrecognizable to a Christian of 2019.

The Arc of (Neo) Marxist Morality

arc-of-universe-except-marxism

Why does Marxism, neo or otherwise, necessarily bend towards evil?  After all, due to the Fall we are all bound to sin and thus do evil.  What differentiates Marxism from any other ideological system for the worse?

I’ll freely admit that other equally terrible or even worse human ideologies are possible.  It’s just that to this point in time nothing except Fascism has demonstrated such an overwhelming compulsion towards conscienceless evil than has Marxism.

skulls-USSRThe best place that I’ve found to illuminate this terror is through the perspective of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago.  This issue was recently explored by Gary Saul Morson in a New Criterion article titled “How the Great Truth Dawned.”

Well into this article, after a fascinating meditation on the nature of moral truth, Mr. Morson gets to the core issue.

Compared to Soviet interrogators, Solzhenitsyn observes, the villains of Shakespeare, Schiller, and Dickens seem “somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary perception.” The problem is, these villains recognize themselves as evil, and say to themselves, I cannot live unless I do evil. But that is not at all the way things are, Solzhenitsyn explains: “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. . . . it is in the nature of a human being to seek a justification for his actions.”

Why is it, Solzhenitsyn asks, that Macbeth, Iago, and other Shakespearean evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses, while Lenin and Stalin did in millions? The answer is that Macbeth and Iago “had no ideology.” Ideology makes the killer and torturer an agent of good, “so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.” Ideology never achieved such power and scale before the twentieth century.

Anyone can succumb to ideology. All it takes is a sense of one’s own moral superiority for being on the right side; a theory that purports to explain everything; and—this is crucial—a principled refusal to see things from the point of view of one’s opponents or victims, lest one be tainted by their evil viewpoint.

If we remember that totalitarians and terrorists think of themselves as warriors for justice, we can appreciate how good people can join them.

The last quoted sentence should make your blood run cold.  For while only an infinitesimal percentage of Americans are “warriors for justice” in the sense experienced by Solzhenitsyn, a significant percentage of Progressives consider themselves to be “social justice warriors.”  In fact there are enough of these people with sufficient influence to warp the Democrat Party towards neo-Marxist ideas and policy prescriptions.

If you think I’m being overdramatic here, consider this passage from later in the article.

The contrary view, held by ideologues and justice warriors generally, is that our group is good, and theirs is evil. “Evil people committing evil deeds”: this is the sort of thinking behind notions like class conflict or the international Zionist conspiracy. It is the opposite of the idea that makes tolerance and democracy possible: the idea that there is legitimate difference of opinion and we must not act as if God or History had blessed our side as always right. If you think that way, there is no reason not to have a one-party state.

Can anyone seriously contend given the statements and behavior of the Progressive Left, up to and including their Presidential candidates, that they are perceptibly moving in this direction?  It is they who have been weaponizing government agencies against their political opponents, they who are encouraging lawlessness rather than working to change our laws, they who are demanding fundamental change to our republic without reference to the legitimate Constitutional means for obtaining that change.  No, this is not totalitarianism, but it is movement in that direction.  And in that direction is such great evil that no-one should dare to move so much as an inch towards it.  Continuing the article’s excerpts.

Bolshevik ethics explicitly began and ended with atheism. Only someone who rejected all religious or quasi-religious morals could be a Bolshevik because, as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and other Bolshevik leaders insisted, the only standard of right and wrong was success for the Party. The bourgeoisie falsely claim we have no ethics, Lenin explained in a 1920 speech. But what we reject is any ethics based on God’s commandments or anything resembling them, such as abstract principles, timeless values, universal human rights, or any tenet of philosophical idealism. For a true materialist, Lenin maintained, there can be no Kantian categorical imperative to regard others only as ends, not as means. By the same token, the materialist does not acknowledge the supposed sanctity of human life. All such notions, Lenin insisted, are “based on extra human and extra class concepts” and so are simply religion in disguise. “That is why we say that to us there is no such thing as a morality that stands outside human society; that is a fraud. To us morality is subordinated to the interests of the proletariat’s class struggle,” which means to the Party. Aron Solts, known as “the conscience of the Party,” explained: “We . . . can say openly and frankly: yes, we hold in prison those who interfere with the establishment of our order, and we do not stop before other such actions because we do not believe in the existence of abstractly unethical actions.”

Only someone lobotomized by ideology can fail to see in this description of Marxist “morality” shades of “by any means necessary” Progressivism.  As was explained in a previous post:

LiberalFascism4Neo-marxists divide all demographics (white, black, asian, male, female, gay, straight, etc) and place them in a hierarchy of oppression as determined by how successful that demographic is.

Thus, if we simply replace “class” with “race/identity” we move from classical Marxism to the neo-Marxism that drives contemporary Progressivism.  It should (but doesn’t) shake Progressives to the core that this is the almost exact substitution that differentiates the internationalist socialism of Marxist Communism from national socialism of Nazi Fascism.

Occasional Confirmations (4)

greenClimate Computer Models

Earlier this year I discussed the overwhelming complexity and uncertainties associated with climate computer models.  This is an important issue because it is only by these computer models that the practitioners of “climate science” can make their terrorizing predictions about “climate change.”  

Recently the Economist Magazine published a “climate change” edition.  One of the articles provided valuable detail about these models, which is excerpted below.  Perhaps those people who lord it over their peers on their “knowledge” about “climate science” should pay special attention.

[Modeling] is a complicated process. A model’s code has to represent everything from the laws of thermodynamics to the intricacies of how air molecules interact with one another. Running it means performing quadrillions of mathematical operations a second—hence the need for supercomputers. And using it to make predictions means doing this thousands of times, with slightly different inputs on each run, to get a sense of which outcomes are likely, which unlikely but possible, and which implausible in the extreme.

Even so, such models are crude. Millions of grid cells might sound a lot, but it means that an individual cell’s area, seen from above, is about 10,000 square kilometres, while an air or ocean cell may have a volume of as much as 100,000km3. Treating these enormous areas and volumes as points misses much detail. Clouds, for instance, present a particular challenge to modellers. Depending on how they form and where, they can either warm or cool the climate. But a cloud is far smaller than even the smallest grid-cells, so its individual effect cannot be captured. The same is true of regional effects caused by things like topographic features or islands.

Building models is also made hard by lack of knowledge about the ways that carbon—the central atom in molecules of carbon dioxide and methane, the main heat-capturing greenhouse gases other than water vapour—moves through the environment. Understanding Earth’s carbon cycles is crucial to understanding climate change. But much of that element’s movement is facilitated by living organisms, and these are even more difficult to understand than physical processes.

Of course, if the associated climate computer models are found to be accurate then the above issues can be said to have been mastered.  The problem is that when compared to actual measured temperature they are rather found absurdly overestimate temperature. The testimony of John R. Christy, University of Alabama in Huntsville, to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology provided damning evidence of these models’ utter inaccuracy.  A key comparative figure is shown below.

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Note the significant deviation of the computer model predicted temperature to the actual measured temperature.

And yet, based only on these defective computer models we are told to give over all power to the credulous and/or dishonest people pushing the “climate change” death cult’s message.

Questions for Socialists (4)

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It’s gotten so bad in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela that even the Socialist-friendly New York Times has to take notice in order to protect its last shred of journalistic credibility.

Q: Why do you constantly condemn the monetary greed of Capitalism but never condemn the brutal, murderous political greed of Socialism?

A: Because brutalizing and murdering a population under their control is the only way to lift them up to their Socialist moral perfection!

Corbyn-Sanders-Chavez

Two of my favorite sanctimonious Progressive scolds

I’ve had more than enough of these sanctimonious Progressive scolds who condemn the monetary greed associated with Capitalism but remain silent about the far worse political (and monetary) greed associated with Socialism.  Make no mistake, both are sinful, but the human consequences of the former pale in comparison with those of the latter.  If you doubt this statement I suggest that you review the previous posts from this series (see the first, second and third).

And yet those of us who know better have generally allowed this scandalous hypocrisy to go on unopposed.  The reasons why vary from lack of confidence in knowledge to conflict avoidance to fear of the social and personal consequences.  The fear exists because within this self-proclaimed morally superior movement is a cohort that will resort to almost any vile tactic to destroy visible opposition including: cowardly whispering campaigns that impugn our morals and motives, open vicious verbal abuse and in extreme but highly visible cases public destruction of our character and livelihood through social media mob action.

The existence of this power to demean and destroy human beings holding opposing opinions has led to a situation in which not only do most people remain silent, but many choose to parrot whatever Progressive talking points are currently in vogue in order to protect themselves.  This dynamic was brilliantly summed up by the French author Charles Péguy* (see the note at the end of this post):

“It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.”

The idea that these people — who purposefully ignore the impoverishment, murder and enslavement of whole populations in order to advance their own narcissistic, misanthropic desire for political power over their fellow citizens — should be above criticism has become untenable.

Yes, the sins of Capitalism must be identified and dealt with.  In fact many of them have been though a myriad of laws and regulations.  Do we pay anywhere near the attention to the sins of governmental bureaucrats who use their powers to silence and destroy citizens and businesses with whom they disagree (see the IRS, Justice Department, FBI, Intelligence Agencies, EPA, etc.)?  Do we call it “greed” when Progressive politicians grow incredibly wealthy while “serving” in public office while constantly preaching against greed in the private sector?

At least people and businesses in a liberal capitalist democracy who grow wealthy generally do so by providing goods and services that other free people choose to buy.  And, when these companies cease to provide useful products (or can no longer do so as efficiently as their competition) they generally go out of business.  Thus there is a powerful incentive to identify and provide what their customers want.  Yes, they want things with which others disagree.  But at least they tend to not want to be impoverished and brutalized.

But the “product” of Socialism is impoverishment and brutalization of a country’s population in pursuit of an elite’s self-serving vision of utopia.  In the process the Socialist leaders and bureaucrats prosper while the general population descends into a hellish state of hunger, fear, poverty and hopelessness.

Make no mistake, with release and support of the “Green New Deal” the Progressive movement has shown that they are contemplating a totalitarian path.  The fact that it is idiotic (e.g., a tiny sampling: ban air travel and cow farts) will not deter them any more than did the idiocy of the “Great Leap Forward” in Communist China, the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union or the the creation of a “New Man” in Cambodia.  The point isn’t the wisdom (or lack thereof) of their policy proposals.  The real point is the pretext for narcissistic, ideology-blinded, highly-credentialed know-nothings to seize ever more power over our lives.

Yes, I understand that the chances of something like this happening in the United States is currently near zero.  However, it is also true that the younger generations have been so propagandized and miseducated that they are flirting with the desirability of a Socialist future.  There are armies of educators, journalists, governmental bureaucrats, professional organizations, church leaders, non-profits and NGOs who are selling this vile product.

Here’s how the  New York Times (!) article cited above concluded (emphasis added).

Baby portraits of the children, one of their few cherished belongings, hang prominently on the wall. The only food in the entire house is half a bag of salt, and one lime.

“This is a nightmare,” said Ms. Merchán’s sister, Andreína del Valle Merchán, 25, describing how the children start to vomit, sweat and become sluggish after days of not eating. Her own 5-year-old daughter had lost 11 pounds this year and now weighed only 17 pounds, she said.

The suffering of Venezuelan families is expected to worsen next year. Beyond the I.M.F.’s warning that inflation could surpass 2,300 percent, observers worry that the leftist government will continue to refuse international aid for political reasons.

“If they accept the help, they accept that there is a humanitarian crisis here, and officially recognize that their population is vulnerable, and just how much their policies failed them,” said Susana Raffalli, a specialist on food emergencies who consults for Caritas in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government has used food to keep the Socialists in power, critics say. Before recent elections, people living in government housing projects said they were visited by representatives of their local Socialist community councils — the government-aligned groups that organize the delivery of boxes of cheap food — and threatened with being cut off if they did not vote for the government.

Kenyerber’s relatives do not expect the economic crisis to improve anytime soon. They fear that another child in the family may die as well.

“I worry about it day and night,” said his aunt, Andreína.

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Rep. Omar (D.) supports the Socialist Venezuelan government.

So, things are so obviously terrible in Socialist Venezuela that the New York Times feels compelled to publish this story.   And yet the New York Times remains generally supportive of the Socialist political project!

How dare you Progressive Socialists proclaim that your’s is a superior morality!  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  But you have demonstrated that “the children” only matter as props for your virtue signaling protests.  Actual children dying from the ravages of actual Socialism are apparently just the price to be paid in pursuit of your ideological holy war.

The least that we can do is to speak up against this evil, bloody ideology whenever and wherever it dares to claim its morality and utility as a means of social organization.

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Another heart-rending photograph from the Socialist-friendly New York Times article.  The  caption is: “Kenyerber’s mother, María Carolina Merchán, right, weighs just 66 pounds. Her daughter follows her for hours, begging for food.”



*Note:

Ironically, Charles Péguy was a Christian, Socialist and French patriot (1873-1914).  Thus he died well before the genocidal consequences of the first practical application of Socialism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the U.S.S.R., formed after the 1917 Russian Revolution) occurred.  Had he lived to see this tragedy, other of his famous quotes would have been put to the test.

Tyranny is always better organised than freedom

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.

 

Psalm 8

Psalm 8

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

The Psalmist begins by giving God all the glory in words that resound throughout eternity.

Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted
by the mouth of babes and infants,
thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

It is the human purpose to give God the glory from the moment of our birth.

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

This question has become far more relevant as our place in the cosmos has successively shrunk.  While we once imagined that the earth was the center of creation we now know that it is on the periphery of one galaxy among billions.  The universe is immense beyond all human conception.

For some this knowledge leads to atheism, as we appear to be utterly irrelevant to the universe’s operation.  For believing Christians this knowledge expands our conception of God’s power and grace as we contemplate with deeper humility the Psalmists question.

Yet thou hast made him little less than God,
and dost crown him with glory and honor.

Yes, God has placed us on this tiny speck of a planet.  Yet He has given us souls whose value utterly transcends our time and place.  God has given us consciousness and consciences.  We somehow by His decree live within the laws of nature yet can stand apart from them to wonder and dimly understand.  Though we are tiny in place we are by God’s providential purposes of enormous value.

Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the sea.

Our dominion now extends outward towards other planets in our solar system and perhaps someday to neighboring stars.  The tragedy is that as we exercise our God given powers we successively grow in arrogance and unbelief.  We deny God the glory and rather give it to ourselves.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

But ultimately the glory will be given to God as we through the tragedy that follows hubris again face the truth about ourselves and our one true God.

Next Stage Progressive Christianity

Union-Christless

You simply can’t make up “Christian” theological satire that stays ahead of reality.

Statements by Union Theological Seminary (New York, NY)

Union-Plants“Today in chapel, we confessed to plants,” the nation’s oldest independent seminary declared Tuesday on Twitter. “Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?”  …

“We’ve had many questions about yesterday’s chapel” … “In worship, our community confessed the harm we’ve done to plants, speaking directly in repentance. This is a beautiful ritual.”  …

“We are in the throes of a climate emergency, a crisis created by humanity’s arrogance, our disregard for Creation” … “Far too often, we see the natural world only as resources to be extracted for our use, not divinely created in their own right—worthy of honor, thanks and care. We need to unlearn habits of sin and death. And part of that work must be building new bridges to the natural world. And that means creating new spiritual and intellectual frameworks by which we understand and relate to the plants and animals with whom we share the planet.”  …

“No one would have blinked if our chapel featured students apologizing to each other” … “What’s different (and the source of so much derision) is that we’re treating plants as fully created beings, divine Creation in its own right—not just something to be consumed. Because plants aren’t capable of verbal response, does that mean we shouldn’t engage with them? So, if you’re poking fun, we’d ask only that you also spend a couple moments asking: Do I treat plants and animals as divinely created beings?” …

“Union Theological Seminary is grounded in the Christian tradition, and at the same time deeply committed to inter-religious engagement. Union’s daily chapel is, by design, a place where people from all the wondrous faith traditions at Union can express their beliefs. And, given the incredible diversity of our community, that means worship looks different every day!”

The Good:

Affiliated with neighboring Columbia University in Upper Manhattan, Union became the nation’s first independent seminary in 1893 when it sundered from the Presbyterian Church …

Whew! Not Presbyterian!

The Bad:

Union Theological Seminary is very influential in Progressive Christianity, the theology that dominates the PCUSA’s leadership.

The Ugly:

Progressive theology ends up with a “Christless” Christianity regardless of if it is at an independent seminary of at the top leadership level of the PCUSA.

Why I’m a Conservative (2)

vietnam-out

The 1970s “morally superior” Progressive Left demands that the Indochinese people be left to the tender mercies of the Communists.  A genocidal bloodbath ensues once they get their way.  How do you think this “morally superior” vanguard responded?

Changing Course

Background

I’m going to try your patience for this additional post about me.  In the first post on this topic I stated:

It’s not that I was ignorant about the genocidal crimes of Communism in the Soviet Union.  Nor was I unaware of the moral hypocrisy of the Progressive Left in the United States. … These things were known and already troubling to me.

No, this event was influential because I saw this combination of dishonesty, evil and cowardice in a living human being.

Unless I explain why this event was so influential my transition from Progressive to Conservative will be unacceptably incomplete.

Sufficient Explanation

A central tenant of Progressivism is that the world would be a far better place if the right people were in power and that they have the power to implement their policies on a recalcitrant population.  Of course, the “right people” were Progressives and their allies.  While the Progressive circles in which I was raised weren’t explicitly Marxist, it was clear that Marxists fell into the category of the”right people” even if they were sometimes too extreme or in too big of a hurry.

So, when I came face to face with the committed Marxist professor of the previous post the chasm between my expectation of a “good person” and what I actually saw was unbridgeable.  Therefore, latent questions and concerns about Progressivism rose up under a new light.

In particular, the issue of what the Progressive Left had said and done about the Vietnam  War before and after the American abandonment became painfully active.  This all originally played out while I was a teenager.  If you want insight into my focus in those years (besides the obvious social and school activities) look into this post.  So, while I was vaguely aware of the situation in Indochina I wasn’t really paying much attention.

But, as an adult in the early 1980s, having met in person a Marxist radical who certainly would have toed the party line on Vietnam, the issue of the Left’s behavior reemerged.  Perhaps the following excerpt from The Black Book of the American Left: The Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz provides a good summary.

As soon as the Communists did win, in April 1975, there were reports of a bloodbath in Indochina. The Khmer Rouge had swept across Cambodia leaving killing-fields in their wake. In Vietnam there were reports of a hundred thousand summary executions, a million and a half refugees and more than a million people imprisoned in “reeducation camps” and gulags in the South. These events produced a shock of recognition in some quarters of the left. Joan Baez took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to make an “Appeal to the Conscience of North Vietnam.” She enlisted a number of former antiwar activists to sign the appeal. As soon as the statement appeared Baez was attacked by Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda as a tool of the CIA.  A counter-ad was organized by Cora Weiss, who had traveled with Fonda to Hanoi and collaborated with the regime in its torture of American POW’s. The Weiss ad praised the Communists for their moderation in administering the peace.

It was the bloodbath that our opponents, the anti-Communist defenders of America’s role in Southeast Asia, had predicted. But for the left there would be no looking back. Baez’s appeal proved to be the farthest it was possible for them to go, which was not very far. The appeal did not begin to suggest that antiwar activists needed to reassess the role they had played in making these tragedies inevitable.

Opposition to the Vietnam War united all cohorts of the Progressive movement, from moderates to the most radical (note that in the 1960s and 70s “Democrat” and “Progressive” were not synonymous).  Central assumptions to their opposition were:

  1. U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was an immoral extension of Western imperialism;
  2. The North Vietnamese were primarily nationalists who were only seeking to reunite their country;
  3. The primary obstacle to Indochina’s emergence as a free and prosperous region was the United States’ presence.
Cambodian-genocide

The Cambodian genocide, in which two-million were murdered by the Communists out of a population of 8 million.  This was the largest Communist democide ever by percentage of the population.

So, when the Indochina blood bath followed immediately after the United States abandoned Vietnam due to Progressive political victory an ideological crisis occurred.  However, rather than reassessing the wisdom and morality of their position the Progressive Left’s leadership doubled down on hatred of the U.S.  The most idiotic explanation I recall was that in Cambodia Pol Pot was so angered by U.S. bombing that he ordered the genocide of his own people in retaliation!

boat-people

The Vietnamese “Boat People,” hundreds of thousands who chose the possibility of death at sea over remaining in the Communist “workers paradise” of a reunited Vietnam.

Previous to my encounter with the Marxist professor I had tended to thoughtlessly give the benefit of the doubt to Progressives on this issue.  However, having experienced this person’s shocking combination of deception and evil I began to question the morality of the Left.

What eventually became clear is that the Left’s leadership had never actually cared about the actual flesh and blood human beings in Indochina.  Once they had served their purpose as props for the real goal — U.S. defeat and Communist victory — the fate of these millions of people became irrelevant.  There was no soul searching, no shock and horror.  There was only the moving on to the next “social justice” cause.

Given that the Progressive Left’s program rested on their assumption of moral superiority the loss of confidence in that assumption led eventually to my rejection of their ideology.  The Conservative philosophy with its pessimistic assessment of human nature and the associated protections of human freedom from popular tyrannies thus began to fill the ideological space vacated by Progressivism.

Given the totalitarian temptation that now appears to dominate Progressive thought I thank God that I exited this ideology decades ago and never looked back.  Returning to David Horowitzs book.

… conservatism begins with the recognition that this [Progressive] agenda and the progressive paradigm that underpins it are bankrupt. They have been definitively refuted by the catastrophes of Marxism, which demonstrate that the quest for social justice, pressed to its logical conclusion, leads inexorably to the totalitarian result. The reason is this: to propose a solution that is utopian, in other words impossible, is to propose a solution that requires coercion and requires absolute coercion. Who wills the end wills the means.

South Bend Indiana Abortion Horror

abortion-pro-life-baby-word-cloud

The “pro-choice” community will ignore any horror rather than reassess their death-ideology.  But it’s getting to the point of pathetic absurdity.

Thousands of preserved fetal remains found on property of deceased Will County doctor

SOUTH BEND, Ind.– Thousands of fetal remains were found at the home of a former South Bend abortion doctor, WSBT reports.

The remains were discovered while family members were searching through the home of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who passed away on Sept. 3. His home is in Will County, Illinois.

By the way, did you notice the city in which this vile abortionist worked, why yes, Mayor Pete’s South Bend Indiana!  And this abortionist and Mayor Pete were not strangers.

… Klopfer’s clinic was located in South Bend, Indiana. And while he was there, good ol’ Godly Mayor Pete (or Alcalde Pete, if you were watching the Spanish portion of the Democrat debate) intervened to help him out.

This is the kind of man Buttigieg is. He defended Klopfer when his license was under attack. He provided the administrative firepower necessary to overturn a zoning decision that would have put a pro-life pregnancy center next door to Klopfer. And he thinks a child still attached to the umbilical cord can be legally killed because it isn’t yet breathing.

The above article calls Mayor Buttigieg “Godly Mayor Pete” because he is currently the most prominent “Christian” advocate for abortion in the United States.

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Godly Mayor Pete shares his deep thoughts on the Bible and abortion.

As with so many Progressive Christian theological innovations, Godly Mayor Pete doesn’t know or care what the Bible actually has to say about human life, but rather has Gnostic knowledge about what the Bible should say.  Here’s Godly Mayor Pete’s exegesis of the Bible.

[Pro-life people] hold everybody in line with this one piece of doctrine about abortion, which is obviously a tough issue for a lot of people to think through morally. Then again, there’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath.

To anyone who considers this post to be an extreme reaction, I point out that so unavoidable has this horror become that it has even penetrated the New York Times’ progressive force field (excerpt from “The Abortion Mysticism of Pete Buttigieg,”
by Ross Douthat).

The version of pro-choice politics that has been generally successful in this country allows Americans to support abortion rights within limits, while still regarding figures like Dr. Klopfer as murderous or monstrous.

But the more maximalist and mystical your claims about when personhood begins (or doesn’t), the more strained that distinction gets. The unapologetic grisliness of a Klopfer, or a Kermit Gosnell before him, haunts a Buttigiegian abortion politics more than it does a “safe, legal, rare” triangulation, because it establishes the most visceral of contrasts — between the mysticism required to believe that the right to life begins at birth and the cold and obvious reality that what our laws call a nonperson can still become a corpse.

In a previous post I asked of the pro-choice community “Have You No Shame, No Conscience?”  Unless I start to hear something soon my conclusion will have to be “No, no you don’t.

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Sir, you don’t understand.  To Godly Mayor Pete, Jesus Christ isn’t the eternal Second Person of the Trinitarian Christian God, but rather an avatar who confirms his every Progressive belief.