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Showing posts from 2013

The Perfect Storm

I'm not your typical political conservative. You probably know that. I still think George W. Bush is one of the most well-intentioned people we've ever elected president. I also think he's guilty of terrible offenses, and profoundly bad moral lapses in judgment. Maybe Dr. Peter G. Klein of the University of Missouri-Columbia is right; voting may be nothing more than an expression of identity. I do know that when one has not only tired of war, but realized perhaps that the entire rationale for a nation's entry into them has been nothing more than political expediency, national pride, and angst for about 100 years, if not longer, the peacenik starts to sound like a live option. If you've been Republican your whole adult life, and policy starts to reflect nothing more than an intra-generational culture war, rather than the real moral battles that need fighting, when abortion is just a card they play to stir up the rubes while nothing changes, when they nominate essenti

10 Points!

10. When someone says, "According to Scripture..." my favorite retort is, "According to whom?" 9. I like Protestant liberals for this very reason, because they are frank to make this challenge, even if they don't leave anything orthodox in its place. 8. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that "Losing My Religion" is playing in the background. Heh. 7. On the other hand, it eventually leads to agnosticism or atheism if you deconstruct every human structure in human history. It's an act of faith to see this as unreasonable, for the Word made flesh to allow man's corruption to taint His gospel, that is. 6. A person needs to know the content and meaning of divine revelation in the places where he lives. If he cannot know the gospel, he cannot do it. 5. An invisible Church cannot define itself, or what it believes. 4. There is an irreconcilable conflict between the fundamental principle of the Reformation (Sola Scriptura) and the in

5 Sports Fan Dictums

5. Keep your sports "hate" confined to the field. That guy you hate inevitably gives half his salary to a children's hospital or something. 4. Win or lose, the guy who hasn't done anything all year will be involved in the crucial play. Please just trust me on this. 3. The championship teams always face adversity. Always. If your team hasn't, they're going to lose when nobody expects them to. 2. The only thing that beats a Feel Good Story is a team of ruthless dream-killers, who hate stories like that.  The St. Louis Cardinals are quintessentially this team. Don't let the fan base, smiles, and ignorance of the Eastern media fool you. Ruthless, most years. I have come to terms with this. After all, I admire the Patriots in football. Mike Matheny and the staff have started wearing hoodies. Coincidence? I think not. 1. Momentum is real, no matter what the experts say.

Mark Shea, 1, Reductionism, 0.

I actually hate agreeing with Mark Shea.  But what do you want me to do? I recognize that the cultivation of expertise in any one field must be ever and always against the backdrop and with the overriding consideration of the dignity of the human person. Just imagine you are the highest cleric in Argentina; you have spent the balance of your career among the poorest of the poor, in a society so stratified, Adam Smith himself would cry, "Outrage!" Now how do you feel about recent discussions concerning economics? The talking heads in this nation are playing a game, a word game, a game of "gotcha!" But the Vicar of Christ has bigger fish to fry, if you will pardon the pun. Yes, expertise tends to increase the tension between specialized knowledge and wise counsel. But that's the point: Great ideas are built on creative tension.

Heaven Help Me, I Agree With Tim Dukeman

I love Christ and Pop Culture . Me and Alan Noble are buddies on the interwebs. I told him I read the magazine religiously, and I mean that in the creepy Catholic sense. Even when they annoy me, I can't stop reading it. In many important ways, I'm still an evangelical. (You could legitimately argue that I'm still Reformed in some non-doctrinal, non-ecclesial ways, too, and I think that's good. That tradition holds a non-negligible influence over that expression of evangelical piety, and it will probably stay that way.) Every time Alan writes a post looking for new writers, I punch myself, because justification by faith alone is a deal-breaker over there, and I'm a bloody Catholic; I can't affirm it. But I want to write for them almost as much as I want to be on The Journey Home, which is a lot. I need you to understand that. I love what they do. Let me just get that out of the way. But they are annoyingly temperate, at a time when we really don't need that

You're Right, Johnny

I've always loved this song.  I'll take the risk of sounding inclusivist or Balthasarian or whatever horrible thing you want to call me. Because if you don't take the risk of sounding a little hippie-ish about the mercy of God, you don't understand it. We're on the eve of the Nativity of the Lord, but the Paschal Mystery is never far away. Jesus was born to die. For us. Because He loves us. His love swallows up everything it touches. You just have to let it, let Him. Merry Christmas, "'Cause tonight's the night the world begins again."

Not For Me

A resonance shaking the soul like I have not known, nor could have seen, has taken place. What sort of music is this? What kind of reply must I make? I only know that I heard it, and it was beautiful. There is a song I desire to sing, the words come ready to mind, but I do not sing in haste; I do not sing of my own accord. I long to hear it again, to listen closely, that I might sing well, that I might find my place in the chorus. It is not for me to write the song. The melody, the time are not mine, and they will never be.

I Don't Care What The First Lady Thinks About Stuff

No, not just the current one. I mean, in general. If she is a recognized expert on something, OK. But are we forgetting that the First Lady is the president's wife? That's a big job, but it's not a public one, or at least it shouldn't be. It's a horrible liberal innovation anyway, that the First Lady should do stuff. If she does, it should be things no one on Earth with a soul would be offended by, like a librarian encouraging kids to read, for example. I was never offended by Michelle Obama's "For the first time in my life..." comment, because I know what she meant when she said it. Sue me. But then again, call me old-fashioned, but I think the First Lady should smile, decorate the White House, and make the guests feel comfortable. And actually, no, I've never had cause to remark on Mrs. Obama's physical appearance, except to say that she is beautiful. Because she is. If she were not a progressive, and her name were still Robinson, (I thin

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Well, yeah, supporting and facilitating the murder of children makes you unworthy of the Body and Blood of Christ. That should be rather obvious. 4. How sad are we here in the US, that the faithful shepherd who is willing to deny Communion to such sinners--as canon law and true mercy require--is "controversial"? 3. The only reason this is "political" at all is because people don't believe that the spiritual realm with its eternal consequences actually exists. 2. If you believe this, please leave. There are thousands of social clubs who'd be happy to have you. I prefer my atheists honest. 1. With all due respect, I don't care what John Allen thinks about anything.

That Mourns In Lonely Exile Here

It's the third line of, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel". We've probably sung this 18 million times. We might even know that we should be preparing our hearts to receive Him there in just a few days on the great feast of Christmas. But do you realize that this one line in the title of this post perfectly summarizes the context into which Christ came? A faithful Jew of the first century would know exactly what this line means. If Exodus 12 and the events surrounding the first Passover were the great salvation event for the people of the first covenant, and the giving of the Law was the setting of the terms, then the Exile was the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:15-68. The siege of Jerusalem in 586 BC was awful. They starved to death. Parents ate their children in desperate attempts to stay alive. And for the next several hundred years, God's People were trampled by foreigners, by vicious men, who cared nothing for God and His Law. Jeremiah the prophet tells us more detai

Stellman: JK's Take

I watched the whole interview , and I have a few general comments. First, we're talking about Jesus Christ, and what he does. Being sons of the Catholic Church is not a matter of waving a flag, or wearing a pin on your lapel. If you accept her authority, the only defensible reason to do so is because what she guards and protects has been revealed by God. Catholicism isn't so awesome in the practical living out that "smells and bells" would be enough without this. Please pause and reflect on the inanity of what you are saying before you accuse any convert of doing this for an aesthetic reason primarily. [climbs off soapbox] Are our liturgies rightly executed beautiful? Of course. But they are precisely that because they are true. God, who is Goodness, Truth, and Beauty has revealed Himself. If you make the effort to claim that the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not limited to the Catholic Church, but is invisible, including all true believers from whatever

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

I'm not saying there's no good in reading fiction; I just don't have an infinite amount of time in which to read the things I must read, the things I'm inclined to read anyway, and anything else. And I just flat-out don't agree that fiction is superior, anyway. They're all stories; at bottom, human stories, so I don't see the difference, myself. You need imagination and creativity to make a difference for God and people in this world, in any case. And I'm telling you, if you don't think you can get it from reading non-fiction, you need to read better non-fiction. And there's no merit badge at the end for having read Middlemarch. It's true I don't trust people who willfully don't read anything at all; it's quite another to tell people what they must read, and why. You can't possibly know that. I'm only insistent about this point because I am but a mortal man, and because "for pleasure" has no meaning in my uni

My Ten Books

The Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me: 10. Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella 9. War, by Sebastian Junger 8. Dead Man Walking, by Sister Helen Prejean 7. Anthem, by Ayn Rand 6. Radical Son, by David Horowitz 5. Congress: The Electoral Connection, by David Mayhew 4. The Days Of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Jim Bishop 3. Upon This Rock, by Steven Ray 2. Dune, by Frank Herbert 1. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee I could easily do another 10, and perhaps I will. But these were the 10 I first thought of, and my basic criteria are: 1) I say, "This book changed the way I think and feel about the world," or 2) Someone else said I needed to read it, and I finally did. I didn't put any books up that I haven't finished, and I won't. So, there are dozens and dozens more books I have yet to finish, so I can't mention them. Also, if I read a book, and I feel I can't articulate the main theme or purpose, (that is, understand it) you won't see it on a list like this

No Principled Difference, Again

Today, a Reformed person said this: " The 2nd commandment means something. But the idea that it prohibits absolutely all images doesn't add up. As Brian pointed out with the carved cherubim. But recall that those cherubim were not at the focus of Israel's worship. When a church sets up an  image of Christ or the saints in a central spot to where you can't help but look at it during worship, and then you have people kneeling, engaging in prayer, bowing etc, that's a problem. "You shall not bow down to them or worship them" means the 2nd commandment has a liturgical context to it. God is warning us away from vain liturgy that forsakes the Word and tries to capture God in a picture." This is why we have ecumenical councils, my friend. No one really cares what you or I think about what the 2nd Commandment means. Any dude with a Bible can pick it up and attempt to tell someone what it means, in any place. And an ecumenical council isn't one unless i

They Went Out From Us...

A little note on this new propensity for people to call themselves, "Reformed Catholics". It's dishonest. If you believe that the Catholic Church has distorted the gospel (and in all fairness and sympathy, this is what the children of the Reformation believe) then separation from a false 'Church' is an honest and principled course. In fact, if I may make a brief digression into Catholic moral theology, it is a sin to act against certain conscience, even if that conscience turns out to be badly misinformed. This is why a person who grows up in what was a schism is not a schismatic, properly speaking. If a person knowingly persists in schism, knowing that it is one, that's a different story. That's why Lumen Gentium, 14 is so carefully worded, with respect to knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ: If you know that, and refuse to enter or stay, you're rejecting Christ, not some guys calling themselves the 'Catholic Church'.

Kenny Loggins, Redux

Granted, I like Kenny a lot. I've been hanging out with his music a lot, as a result. One song I really love by him is called, "Forever" . I was thinking about this song recently, and it came to me: Change the gender in the second verse, and this whole song verse corresponds to Song of Songs 3:1-3. Stew on that for a while. And in general, the song captures that theme throughout the book: "Love is as strong as death." Have I said this before? I don't know. But alas, here are the words to that verse: Once, I dreamed that you were gone I cried out, trying to find you I begged the dream to fade Away, and please awaken me But night took a hold of my heart And left me with no one to follow The love that I lost to the dark I'll always remember... [Me again] I'll bet you don't read the text or hear the song the same way again. You're welcome.

Unity And Life In Christ

One of the things that I appreciate about holy mother Church and our deepening understanding of the implications and the depth of the riches of Christ is that we don't have to choose between unity and truth, for Christ is the fullness of those things; that unity and truth is defined in Him, and by Him. Some people think that Vatican II fundamentally changed the way Catholics understood the manner in which the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded. They see the conciliatory words toward especially Protestant communities as a concession to a modern ecumenical reality. We have to reject this, even as we are aware that many groups within the Catholic Church had explicitly or implicitly adopted a(n) hermeneutic of discontinuity in their thinking about the Council. But let's define "ecumenism" first. Ecumenism is dialogue for the purpose of establishing agreement in the truth concerning God. Ecumenism is not a passive acceptance of mutually exclusive dogmas or p

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Some call it "whitewashing"; I call it perspective. 4. I only care marginally about the teachings of the Puritans, anyway. That is, to understand them well enough to refute them, quite frankly. 3. You have a curiously defensive reaction for a person who is supposed to believe that we're all wicked worms who do nothing of value before God, anyway. 2. I don't always agree with Dr. Anthony Bradley of King's College, NYC, but when I do, it's enthusiastically. Stay questioning, my friends. 1. Have mercy on us all, O Lord. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. No, that's not what I'm saying. 4. In fact, it's not even close. 3. Yes, I agree with you that I am a terrible communicator. 2. But you have an obligation to ascertain what I am saying (accurately) before you destroy me. Granted, I have not always had the discipline to do this, but I am trying. 1. RIP, Nelson Mandela.

5 Thoughts For Tonight

5. I find it odd, and yet classically me, that I can overlook tons of things if I like a person. O Lord, give me the grace to love everyone as You do, so that I may not turn them away from You. 4. It really isn't our place to "call down fire from Heaven." Sometimes, a clinical "that's not correct" with a citation better serves than passion. 3. [Take your own advice, Sparky.--ed.] I know. 2. In ecumenical dialogue, we should expect that we have different conclusions, but also different sources and methods. If we cannot critically examine those sources and methods, even simply to see them (our own) in contrast to others, we simply aren't ready for that dialogue. 1. Actually, Mr. Dukeman, I don't question anything in Matthew 24. I question your authority to give the definitive interpretation of that text, in light of CCC, 100, and the prudence of being the arbiter of the soul of Benny Hinn, even in light of his error. Anything else is outside th

Thinking Out Loud

This merits some reflection. On the other hand, before the anti-"capitalism" forces get too pleased with themselves, how much is too much? Who gets to decide? What gives the social teaching its reality, its practicality? What keeps the social teaching from being a bunch of platitudes, spouted by amateurs, determined to appear "above the fray?" If you think that sounds harsh, just keep in mind that 1) I'm a Catholic, determined to keep the teaching so far as I'm able; and 2) the questions will be just as direct from the economists, and the non-Catholics. Paging David Anders! The science of economics was created to try to deal with the problem of scarcity. We have to assume several things because of the social teaching as I understand it at this point: 1. the right of private property is real, but not absolute; 2. there is such a thing as "distributive justice," such that massive inequities of wealth are an injustice to him who has little; 3. soci

The Realness And The Tension

This is rather interesting. Jon Stogsdill, thy wife posted this on Facebook, so I assume you'll read it, one way or the other. You made the blog again! WOO! I bet you're wondering why I said, "thy." Because it sounds awesome, that's why. I digress. There's no accounting for taste, really, but my favorite Jesus music by a landslide if we're talking pop is Rich Mullins. And this essay tells us why. He was unflinchingly real. I hope he made it to the Big Show, because he seems like my kind of guy. I promise you, if you didn't know he was a Jesus freak, the music will not give it away by itself, like this guy says. And when you sing to me, I have to believe you. If I don't, who cares what it's about? This is your official Digression Warning. I have been on a Kenny Loggins kick for a week now. Leap Of Faith. Remember when I said I'd listen to it multiple times? Yeah, about that...I'm obsessed. I am on a quest to figure out why. This is

The Opposites

I had this coming together in my mind before the wise priest confirmed it all for us, but the two most opposite things in the entire universe--besides God and the devil, which is fittingly obvious--are prayer and sin. That itself is fitting, I suppose, because I have great difficulty in praying at times. Some people are aided by formal prayers, and that is good. But I very well could be one of those people who can pray without really praying, to paraphrase Pope Francis. I will always need the freedom to simply talk to God. Maybe the greatest challenge is honesty with God and ourselves. If you're anything like me, (yikes!) you find within yourself that you don't really want the things you ought to want. But if you do in the smallest measure, start with that. Ask God to increase that desire. One thing that never stops is our smallness. One truth that will never fade is our need for Him. I keep stupidly waiting for this to change, and I am reminded--usually after I make a huge m

A Good Way To Irritate Me

Start pronouncing heresy on everyone who does not agree with you. Better still, remain blissfully unaware, not only that this is the most blatantly obvious violation of the "arbiter/receiver" rule that could be conceived, but that, frankly, you don't have anything close to the credibility to actually pull this off. Leithart may be in Catholic denial; he may be, with respect to the arbiter/receiver rule, "Rob Bell with a bigger bookshelf," but say this for him: he actually has things on that bookshelf. With what do you come? A Coke and a smile? You're young and passionate; I get that. I like that about you. But wisdom is counter-intuitive; it actually consists in knowing when you're in too deep, rather than in knowing what you know. Every single day, I meet people who know more about what I claim to know than I do. That's humbling. The question is, do you have the courage to recognize it, and become a learner and a listener, rather than a talker? We

I'm Not "Winsome." And You Know What? I Don't Care.

I'm a pretty easy-going guy. I get along with most people. I've even been hilariously described as "patient." Ha! The truth is, though, I get annoyed. Even angry. I couldn't deny it. I'm issuing a blanket statement here: I've probably said a mean thing or 5 to some of you. If we know it, you know what I intend to do to make it right. The internet is a cruel partner. It amplifies personality. I've been told variously that my online personality comes off kind of strong. Fair enough. Some of that is intentional. Would you believe, if you are not like other people, they ignore you? If they don't like what you say, they put you on the outside of the circle, even if they are nice outwardly? I hate that I notice this now. I both love and hate my Christian formation from the time before I was Catholic. I loved learning about Jesus, and learning to love Him. I loved all the wonderful people who poured themselves into me. I loved that so many of them wer

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Peyton, throw it to Wes! Honestly. 4. Baseball. Old pizza. Clint Eastwood. America's best gifts to the world? 3. The Aflac commercial is still sexist. I used to think it was no big deal to shame men by calling them "ladies," but woman is not the negation of man; she completes him. True, it's a little thing, but a lot of little things makes a big thing. Rape culture is made of things like this. Let me once again remind you that I'm as anti-feminist as one can get. That said, let's tell the truth. 2. More than once this week, someone apologized for the "drama." Don't. "Drama" is something on The Real Housewives. People who need help are not being dramatic; they are being human. If you need help, you have nothing for which to apologize. 1. Happy Advent!

JK And The False Choices

I just didn't expect the evidence to be that strong. I fully admit it. I'm not that weak-willed; Catholic apologetics does not simply consist in saying, "We're the true Church!" over and over. It's not crazy to conclude that the Catholic Church is the church Christ founded. But the floating husk of what is left of Reformation ecclesiology wants to spend its energy trying to nuance what was a series of very stark choices at the time, for both its ardent defenders and detractors. Sooner or later, you gotta pick a side. I think most of the false middle positions arise from historical ignorance. You have to do an inadvertent injustice to the Reformers, or to the Catholic Church, in order to engage in this warm, winsome, Leithartian nonsense that passes for ecumenism today. Either the Catholic Church is the Church, or it is not. Either there is theological-sacramental significance to Holy Orders via apostolic succession, or there is not. Either the Bishop of Rome

5 Thoughts For Tonight

5. Nerd Alert: Menger's Principles Of Economics is in my Amazon cart. 4. Kansas loses; JASON WINS!!! 3. It's good to be Coach K. Two losses to top 5 teams is forgivable for almost any other team. At Duke, it's a crisis. 2. "If it isn't love/Why do I feel this way?/Why does she stay on my mind?" 1. I'm not nearly smart enough to be innovative. If people find me "tiresome," my purpose is fulfilled. The truth is often dull, and hucksters are exciting.

It's A Slippery Slope

It's not a fallacy to make a "slippery slope" argument. If you said it more articulately, you'd say, "In my view, you have removed the basis upon which we make a principled distinction." That's a perfectly reasonable argument to make, no? You could, I suppose, question the premises which led to this claim in particular; it might even be a non sequitur. But in itself, it's not a fallacy. I saw this on a chart of fallacies yesterday, and it got on my nerves. I speculate that those who take a dim view of the relation of morality and law would be tempted to classify "slippery slope" arguments as fallacies. In other news, I received this argument in basic form the other day: No intelligent person believes in the supernatural. You are an intelligent person. Therefore, you must have some other evil reason to believe what you do concerning the supernatural. [Me again] Um, your first premise is absurdly false. How you could say this wi

5 Thoughts For Tonight

5. I certainly believe that it's possible to be thoughtful, engaging, and intellectually curious...and an atheist. Paging Penn Gillette! So why do I get stuck with the, "I will emotionally bludgeon you into submission, because I am wounded and scared" atheists? Thy will be done, O God... 4. We were both young when I first saw you...nah, that's not true. 3. True: "So now I'm back to what I knew before you/Somehow, the city doesn't look the same..." 2. "But it's cheap!" is not germane to the question, "Do I need a TV?" 1. Lonesome Dove, on Netflix.

Access Points And Ends

Even if we grant that the pope may have been speaking inexpertly and hastily in paragraph 54 of his recent letter, as some have suggested, (and elsewhere) charity suggests a more favorable view. I, for one, do not believe in unfettered capitalism; I don't know anyone who does. We don't live in a country that has it, and I can't think of anywhere in the First World that does. Elsewhere, there may be nations with inadequate safeties for the poor, or insufficient rules for the conduct of business. But this is a key point: if we take the pope at his word(s), he is attacking a position that is not under serious consideration (even theoretically) by the leaders of wealthy nations. Also, we are in agreement that extremes of income distribution are not only undesirable, but unjust, especially so long as profound poverty remains a reality. So the free market advocate can in fact convincingly argue that the continued persistence of such extremes points to a market that is not free.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Christ died for everyone. I am not a universalist, and correctly so. Therefore, something is wrong with your theology of the Atonement. 4. Far from being the far-off boogeyman, universalism is the optimistic version of Calvinistic notions of the Atonement. 3. Pope Francis took a shot at "trickle-down" economics, AKA, supply-side economics. [Because manipulating demand via government spending works so well.--ed.] In fairness, no economic theory functions at all in the presence of injustice. 2. No, I haven't finished reading it yet. Darnit, Jim, I'm a theologian, not a cruise ship captain! 1. I love Papa Francis.

We Don't Have A Choice

We either build something called "Christendom," (again) or we destroy ourselves. Why? Because Natural Law is real. Theocracy is not in view, and it never truly was. Yet I cannot think of a reasonable basis for a free society besides Christianity. Has there been a greater force to elevate the dignity of mankind than the gospel of Jesus? He is apparently so powerful that His appointed shepherds and followers convict themselves when they fail Him. Isn't it slightly amusing to hear the New Atheists put the Christian communities in the dock with indignation and moral standards given to the world by the very God whose existence they deny? And even while we fully acknowledge that a 'Christian' society without true conversion of heart will fail, by whom or what will Sam Harris or Dawkins set the world on fire with self-sacrificial love? While it may be prudent to acknowledge the post-Christian context in which we find ourselves, acknowledging a reality is different th

This Just In: Christ Actually Died For Everyone

...Yes, even those in Hell. That's the point of Hell, no? To punish those who definitively and finally reject God's love. They say that this makes too little of Christ's atoning death. I say they make too little of human freedom, and of the dignity of man in general. They say we make too little of grace; I say, no, it is they who make too little of it, by overlooking the little tragedies of grace unheeded each day. Didn't John Murray write Redemption Accomplished and Applied? It's a pity that no Calvinist anywhere actually makes a real distinction between the two. If you exhort people to make the gospel real in their lives, you must concede the real possibility that they will not. If faith is required, faith cannot be compelled. But would not a salvation willed by God irrevocably from the foundation of the world therefore fall out necessarily from it? If that is so, no matter how much emotionalism and affirmation you give to people in the exercise of that faith, it

You Shall Know The Truth...

"The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth, historical truth, or personal truth. It is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based!" Thus said fictional captain of the USS Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard, in rebuking young Ensign Wesley Crusher for his role in an Academy training accident cover-up. We'll have to forgive the captain for not saying "moral truth," but obviously, the German idealists had not been purged by the 24th century. But the statement holds; there exists one Truth, ethically, scientifically, and theologically. Another way to say this is, there is one reality, not many. The right and most human thing to do is to take one's proper place in reality. There is so much we see that is contrary to reality. Injustice is a denial of reality. Bound up with reality itself is the concept of justice; that is, to give every person what s/he is due. True liturgy is the worship of God in accord with

Easy For Me To Say, But...

I realized something profound in a new way today. I spend a lot of time talking to people when I'm not reading theology or writing. And the most important thing I have ever done is encourage others, and pray for them. And frankly, the thing I pray about most often is suffering. Doesn't matter if it's theirs, or someone else's. It's just there, all the time. Large or small, it's probably the most obvious thing you see from day to day. We're not going to escape it, and here's the key: we shouldn't try. Because even though Heaven will be the absence of suffering, amongst all the glories, He came down here to suffer not only for us, but with us. God with us. How do you feel now about your suffering? If we're supposed to find God, find Christ, then the truth is, He's right here, in our suffering, and we will find ourselves in His. What are we doing, trying to escape it? That's our key. Recall it was written, "My power is made perfect in

5 Thoughts For Tonight

5. Coke actually goes good with anything. 4. OK, I know that she is actually extremely attractive, but seriously, the music of Susanna Hoffs is really good. 3. I am thankful for new friends in Christ, no matter how distant, or how divergent the paths of our lives. 2. God, pour out your loving mercy on our former president, George W. Bush, and we thank You for his service to us. 1. God shows his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What's The Question? And Have I Understood You Correctly?

I had to look up "begging the question" for seemingly the millionth time, because A) I'm not Bryan Cross, and 2) I've used it wrongly in that informal sense of "raising a question" at least 72 trillion times. It means assuming the point in question in dialogue, and using that assertion to prove a further thing. It's a type of circular reasoning. Fascinating stuff. I wonder how many times I've gotten angry in a discussion because I begged the question, or failed to ask my partner if I had recapitulated his statement or point accurately? (And listened for the reply) I don't have time to argue much anymore, so it probably seems as if I'm calming down. At least on my social network of choice. But it isn't so. You can see why the informal usage of the term would come about. The prudent way of phrasing a question in this type of setting would be "Whether..." and in such a way to produce a yes or no answer, if you get that far. And t

A Book Doesn't Answer Follow-Up Questions

That's the other thing. Even if you completely ignore the "arbiter/receiver" problem, (at your peril) the Catholic interpretive paradigm is superior on its face. That is, it claims and does more stuff. Whether it's true is something you have to seek out yourself. But if the Christian quest is to distinguish in a principled way between divine revelation and human opinion, we'd have to admit, the Catholic IP actually does it. This wouldn't mean anything in itself, but for the fact that the Reformers claimed that the new way of finding and receiving doctrine would be clearer. The failure of the Protestant IP (Sola Scriptura) to deliver on its own terms is the reason why Newman says the burden of proof is there, not on the Catholic Church. Every Christian desires to know the will of God, and do it. The Protestant communities have no way to tell anyone what it is. Their authority is contingent upon the consent of the individual, and their concurrence with him

Liturgy, Community, And Ecumenism: Why An Invisible Church Destroys The Gospel

I'm just gonna say it: There is no principled distinction between Sola Scriptura and "Solo Scriptura". Protestants, like Dr. Anthony Bradley of King's College, NYC or Keith Mathison, or Peter Leithart, or whomever can attempt to make one, but it doesn't exist. If Scripture is the final authority, then man must be the final arbiter of what it says. The principle arose in the context of a Church whose received dogmas, practices, and jurisdiction were believed to be fraudulent. If you reject ecclesiastical authority, you reject it. Even if you try to be cool about it, and start a rival community, you can't get that back. You've made the individual the arbiter of divine revelation, and set up a scenario of unremitting, irreconcilable hostility between the man and the ecclesial community to which he belongs. This is the real reason why there are so many denominations. Sola Scriptura should really be called, "The Principle of Ecclesial Fallibility," be

5 Thoughts For Today

5. "Scandal" is a great show. [You're only saying that because Kerry Washington is hot.--ed.] Not so. It never hurts, though. 4. Note to Shonda Rimes: I will watch whatever you create, at this point. 3. Kettinger Brothers Approved Chili, for the win! 2. Can we officially say that the ideologue academic, who spent too much time reading books about problems instead of solving them, is in over his head? If you think that's too harsh, just think: I actually like Obama. 1. Happy Birthday, Mom.

Listen To Dr. Liccione, Children!

This guy has mental refuse better than books I will publish. I'm not kidding. He and Captain Jack talking theology would create a quantum singularity of some sort. I don't know, Pete. I'm not seeing a difference. It's sounds nice, kind of like "student-athlete," but it doesn't exist. You're either with the Reformers and their dogmatic-ecclesial assumptions, or not. You decide. But you ain't Catholic.

Missing The Boat

Unless we deplore what's actually deplorable, we're missing the point . Or the boat, if you like. We must distinguish between revelation and human opinion. We must be able to say, "No matter who fails and how, this is the doctrine of God." The very heart of the Protestant revolt makes this impossible, because Sola Scriptura makes the individual the arbiter of divine revelation. It not only rent the Western Church, but it dooms all those rival communities to eventual irrelevance, first, by dilution of cultural influence by pluralism, but more insidiously, because the individual submits to himself. Ecclesial fallibility is the only true gift of the Protestant revolt, and it eventually destroys all orthodoxy. I see little point in celebrating historical developments in Protestant theology, as though 500 years stacks up against 2000. Unless "we were wrong the whole time" is a live option, you're not going to bridge the gap. To borrow Devin Rose, if Protes

Reading The Church Fathers Doesn't Matter

Yeah, you heard me. It doesn't matter. There is a veritable army of patristics scholars who aren't Catholic. You've probably read more Augustine than I have. Or whomever you'd prefer. Completely irrelevant. Did you know that St. Augustine was wrong about stuff? True story. Reading the Church Fathers won't necessarily make you Catholic, or anything else. It depends on what you're looking for, and why. The fathers are not a norm in themselves, unless they agree on something, which (almost) never happens. BTW, don't we need a Church to have Church Fathers? That's what you should be looking for. You've just expanded your bookshelf if you read patristics without asking the question about the nature of the Church. You might even begin to think you're better than Brother Johnny-Bob at The Sticks Bible Church, because you've read "City of God." That's kinda dumb, don't you think? Anybody can comb through whatever sources you lik

Common Grace Is Not A Thing

Yes, it's true. Usually, you hear this phrase "common grace" when a Reformed seminarian is attempting to articulate the mind-blowing experience when a non-Christian does something incredibly nice or heroic, often to a greater degree than he would do himself. This must be explained. Of course, he can't explain it in such a way to lead one to think that good deeds could lead to salvation. He also can't attribute it to the goodness that flows from human nature as such; he's committed to the idea that human nature is corrupted in every part, such that a person cannot do anything accompanying salvation. But what he fails to realize is, this is true anyway, even if we reject total depravity. Human nature as such, even if we had not fallen, is not capable of reaching God. If we say anything different than this, we are Pelagians. Reformed theology is so focused on human life post-Fall that it conflates nature and grace. Catholicism isn't semi-Pelagian, either, b

I Love This Guy

The honesty is refreshing . And he's right, you know. Leithart is the biggest Reformed "heretic" there is, but for the fact that the word is meaningless in the hands of a visible body with no binding authority by its own admission and confession. The only reason he didn't get convicted--and I mean the only one--is that the relationship between that visible body and the church catholic (conceived of as fundamentally invisible) has never been established. He's the perfect Neo to The Matrix that is this whole Protestant paradigm. As long as he can say, "Prove it from the Bible that I'm wrong!" no court could chain him. Let me translate: "Prove it from the Bible (according to me) that I'm wrong!" Good luck with that. Speaking of the Reformers, Dr. Clark said: " They accused Rome of becoming a sect because she, for the first time in the history of the church, in council, anathematized the holy gospel. In so doing, she cut herself off

The Tyranny Of Intellectualism (Or, Too Many Books Makes You Stupid)

Here's this . But then, the same argument is here . Believe me, I sense the attractiveness of these arguments. But ad hoc is ad hoc. What is the principle by which these distinctions are made? If you find it, let me know. The Reformed world is opting for a "Magisterium" of expertise to hide the fact that this is the same Protestant paradigm offered by the Reformers, the same individualism at the heart of it, with respect to this question: "Who is the final arbiter of divine revelation?" If it's me, I can set up any number of appreciations and bookshelves to cover up the fact that I decide what counts as orthodoxy, in this paradigm. This is what Mathison couldn't see, and didn't want to acknowledge. Who decides what Scripture says? There are only two choices, ultimately: Either I do, or someone else does. If that someone else is a church of some kind, yet I still retain the right to decide when that body has gone wrong, it's still me.  Dress it up

I'm Not Happy For You (Sorry)

One of the great blessings of living on this rock is that sometimes, people fall in love. Yes, I get it, it's not like the movies, and blah, blah, all the usual things evangelicals always say to prevent themselves from actually enjoying anything. Anyway, love is awesome. I think I know this, even though I haven't tricked some poor woman into marrying me yet. Did you know that, barring death, we only get one crack at this? Let me take a deep breath...I beg your patience...THERE IS NO DIVORCE! There, I said it. Better said, there is no re-marriage. Look, I get it, that little snippet about "except for marital unfaithfulness" can trip you up. But if you read all the passages on this together, it becomes very obvious that the papists are on to something. And it's not that I want all people who happened to screw it up some way to be lonely forever on a technicality. It's just that, well, sex is a huge deal. HUGE. If you marry someone and share your whole self

It's That One Guy

Haven't I said this  47,000 times? Sooner or later, everyone sees the problem. There is an irreconcilable dilemma between the individualism inherent in Sola Scriptura, and ecclesiastical authority. Or, in the delightfully direct way I posed it to my own soul, "derivative authority is a sham." It's still a sham after we throw Keith Mathison under the bus, because it's another way to say it, my favorite sentence: "One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time." Dr. Greg Perry and Dr. Michael Williams both did their best to nuance it re: the canon, but the radicals carry the implications of Sola Scriptura to its (principled) logical conclusion. I realized very quickly: If I want the orthodox Christology of the first two ecumenical councils, I must submit in a principled way--that is, without qualification--to the authority which promulgated it.  Guess who that is? I hate it when that happens. Anything else