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Showing posts from January 18, 2015

Why Does Jesus Say Crazy Things?

We'll just take one example, shall we? "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away..." No way! Better yet, "Whoever does not hate his father and mother is not worthy of me." What? Huh? And like any good Bible readers (and good former Protestants, I might say) we might remind ourselves that context is king, idioms, yada, yada, etc. Even then, a ton of what Jesus says sounds like a press conference on an airplane back from Manila. [You just could not stop yourself, could you?--ed.] No. In any case, there is a mixture of missing context and hidden mysticism that helps to make sense of Jesus in the Gospels. Let's explore a few of those things. 1. Missing Jew-Gentile background/the economy of salvation: This might be the biggest one. We can read the Old Testament many times even, but it's much different to live within it, to breathe in the air of the covenant, to see the judgment and mercy fall upon the people, your  people. In

I Love The Pope

First off, I'm Catholic. Which should make this title obvious, but it isn't. We should love the Pope as Catholics because he is the shepherd that Christ has given us for this earthly journey for a season. It's a huge mercy to us. Frankly, very little I've found has tested my faith like the interregnum. I relate to the pope naturally as a son to a father. That's exactly what he is, and how we should think of him. I have my own personal reasons for feeling more deeply about that than others might. But you need to understand me: I cannot even fathom praying reluctantly, or through gritted teeth, for the Holy Father. The very idea of it sounds absurd. We've all become too political, and dare I say, American, about the Church. Some "traditionalists" seem to dissect the Holy Father's words as if it were a State of the Union, and he's Barack Obama. Well, it isn't, and he isn't. We owe the Holy Father a great deal more deference, in fact.

It's Never "Pastoral" To Disregard The Church In Order To "Love" Someone

Blog post over. But seriously. The big question is this: "What are you shepherding them toward?" I agree with Rebecca Hamilton, essentially , that the Catholic Church is the true home for one-footed lesbians with face tattoos. Furthermore, if Jesus bothers to show up at all, we've largely won at life that day. I say "largely," though, because experiencing friendship with God means, at some point, recognizing that God is calling someone to drop the "lesbian", and if you are the person who is the instrument of that message, Love compels you to deliver it. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was built. It is true that I should not waste my time judging people over liturgical abuses, errors, perceived substandard dress, etc. It's also true that none of us should accept where we are in that moment, simply because God has chosen to be mercifully present. The "mercifully" of itself indicates that our journey is not complete. Which means p

Permission To Speak Freely

I don't know Peter Green that well; he was a TA in my Covenant Theology class when I was a student at The Old School. He's smart, and he was always friendly to me. So let me say that before anything else. Let me also add that we enthusiastically resisted together any attempts to burn Peter Leithart at the stake in those days, though sooner or later, Peter is going to have to give a good answer to the Catholic challenge. Say this for the Anglicans: their conceit of believing they are still (physically) part of the church catholic has a surface plausibility more convincing than anything he's offered. I digress. Peter Green, meanwhile, hasn't been pleased since I became Catholic. I've been pretty vocal about it, to be sure. As actually one should expect any real Catholic to be.* But I'm not polemically the gentlest sort, and I know that. If there is fault, I'll take it. I've got to wonder out loud, though: Doesn't Peter Green have a vested, personal

Ask And You Shall Receive, Mr. Dillon

Richard Marx is on in the background, so if I make sappy emotional appeals, don't say I didn't warn you. Textual criticism, as with hermeneutics itself, has to be limited by something. The great difficulty with anything in this Protestant realm is in fact distinguishing human opinion from divine revelation. It had been the basic "liberal" contention that all manner of traditional interpretations, whether dogmatic or moral, were actually human inventions. Thus, the first step in rejecting any view had been to show that it had human contact points. On the other hand, one could embrace those contact points, and under the guise of fully respecting the context into which God spoke, reject whatever one wanted. But what was traditional came from somewhere.  To accept the Catholic Church's authority is not to presuppose its divine origin; it is merely to realize that the word of the Lord belongs to the People of God. And they have been as real, as tangible as the Inca

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If secular liberals had saints, he'd be one. And well-deserved, at that. I think that much of the dissatisfaction with King in some quarters is because activists have strayed from what was his baseline: The fundamental dignity of all human persons. It explains literally everything he said or did as a public figure. Commentators are right to say that we cannot divorce him from his Christian conviction, but it's more than that. We should say that the dignity of all persons only emerges from the Christian doctrine of creation, and reaches its fullest flower in the redemptive intent of the Incarnation. It's not enough to say he was shaped by the Christian worldview; we must stop and reflect on how it has shaped us through him. He's always been a hero of mine, along with William Jennings Bryan and others, because he understood that the spiritual and the temporal really have one end: God. That scares some people; they need to be scared.