22 November 2014

Stewardship and Parable Inversion- Concluding Thoughts

When the Church shifted and was transformed by Constantinianism, many old values and ways of thinking had to be abandoned in order to create the new Christendom, which ended up being anything but Christian. Power and money are always wedded and in order for the Church to embrace a political order it had to change the way it thought about itself in the world.

Stewardship and Parable Inversion

Speaking of terms and terminology it is worthy to note how the term 'stewardship' is used in such radically different ways.

Everyone more or less acknowledges that in a Christian framework our possessions and assets do not actually belong to us but to God Himself.

And at that point all agreement ends.

10 November 2014

Pietism, Higher Criticism and the Prussian Union of 1817

Over the years I have encountered numerous Missouri Synod Lutherans who continually rail against Pietism. I mean they really have very strong feelings about it. I was reminded of this recently when I listened to podcast dealing with the Prussian Union of 1817.

03 November 2014

Technology Tangles: Ethics, Politics, Euthanasia and the Avoidance of the Real Questions at Stake (Part 2 of 2)

The technology has brought us to a point where we have to ask these difficult and sometimes impossible questions about how far do we dare to go? What is basic to humanity?

Technology Tangles: Ethics, Politics, Euthanasia and the Avoidance of the Real Questions at Stake

Recently there's been a great deal of secular and Christian news coverage, regarding a woman in her late twenties that is planning to take her own life. She has a terminal brain tumor and though she has not yet manifested symptoms, she has been given a fairly short prognosis. Rather than wait until the suffering begins or resort to palliative care she has elected to end her life. She lives in a state that allows doctors to prescribe pharmaceuticals which will permit her to do this efficiently.

31 October 2014

Exiles in Babylon: Should Christians Vote? (II)

With bitterness any Constantinian will be forced to admit the New Testament says absolutely nothing about their vision of society. There's not a single verse to support it and many to oppose it. Recently I've seen some desperate attempts to suggest that Paul was engaged in culture war when he referred to the Cretans (by quote) as liars, gluttons and evil beasts etc... and demanded they be rebuked. It is debated as to whether he was referring to some of the Jewish Christians of Crete and their abusive quoting of Epimenides or to Epimenides himself as a 'prophet' bearing a truthful witness of the Cretian character. Regardless, his rebuke is internal, not directed at the larger Cretan society or its governors. Those to be rebuked by Titus are within the Church.

Exiles in Babylon: Should Christians Vote?

As strangers, pilgrims and exiles we view the state as something that is wholly other or outside the Kingdom realm to which we belong.
We understand why the state was instituted and to some degree we are thankful that it exists. And yet we also are painfully aware of both its limitations and dangers.

Prophetic Idiom, Prophetic Perspective and Redemptive-History

(This is a re-post from 2011. The title and context have been changed.)

The Pharisees employed a literalistic reading of the Old Testament prophecies, this fueling their concepts of the Kingdom and leading them to completely miss the Messiah and the Spiritual Kingdom He was ushering in.

26 October 2014

Christian Schools in Britain, Social Crisis and the Larger Issues at Stake

There are stories beginning to circulate in Christian circles of a private Christian school in the United Kingdom which is risking the loss of what we would call accreditation due to a lack of diversity with regard to religious instruction.

24 October 2014

My Friday Trip to Amishland

I spent some time with the Amish this afternoon. I had to make a trip out to purchase some rough-cut lumber. There are several groups in the larger area but the nearest ones live about 10 miles from me. A lot of them are no longer into farming and we see their construction crews all over our area. They're cheap, but you often have to pick them up and take them home. Some travel amazing distances in their buggies.

15 October 2014

Middle Class Aspirations, Globalization, Huntington's Clash and the Acculturated Church

These types of videos always remind me of Huntington's Clash of Civilizations thesis. Huntington wants to argue that religious and cultural identities will always take precedent. This is to counter the notion that either the world is becoming Westernized or that Globalization itself is creating a wholly new world culture.
While I will indeed argue that history defines the present and the future, the Huntington thesis cannot properly take into account the way Globalization has and is changing the world.
Unlike some I do not believe that Globalization will change the world to the extent that old issues will simply evaporate and we can all move on to or progress toward Free Market Democratic societies. 
Obviously this hasn't proven the case and I don't believe it ever will. This kind of Hegelian optimism was rampant in the early 1990's. Many falsely believed that the supposed American victory in the Cold War would bring about a wholly new paradigm that would render previous historical tensions and concerns more or less irrelevant.

09 October 2014

China, Christians, Second-Class Citizenship and Political Agitation

Woe and lamentation.
Numerous reports have come out that there are many Christians involved in and in some cases leading the protests in Hong Kong. While the government in China is indeed a detestable one, this is nothing to celebrate and yet that is exactly what Christian Media seems to be doing.
Charismatic and Dominionist theology are spreading around the world and the coming harvest will spell doom for Christians the world over.

04 October 2014

Middle Class Values and the American Church

I've worked for and mingled within upper class circles at many points in my life. The funny thing about the wealthier class is that they don't have anything to prove. You have some that are certainly conceited and smug, others are downright eccentric and thankfully well off because otherwise they're basically dysfunctional.
I've worked for the poor and that certainly is the class to which I belong. I say this as one who grew up fairly well off. I was sent to private schools at different times. One was rather exclusive and geared toward future Ivy Leaguers. There were a lot of very wealthy kids at that school...BMW's and a Ferrari... and I learned a lot of lessons about values and money. I remember being really disgusted with some of the other kids who judged others in terms of clothes or vehicles and yet these boastful adolescents had done nothing in life and their judgment was bred only by their blood ties and the class they believed themselves to be. Living in San Diego and knocking around the streets of Tijuana I saw very hard working but desperately poor people... people I had far more respect for than these spoiled brats of the upper class.

02 October 2014

Idelette de Bure and Legitimate Marriage

Idelette de Bure was an Anabaptist who married John Calvin. On more than one occasion I've heard Calvin praised for his graciousness and charity because Anabaptist women were looked on as being of dubious character.
There were rumours of wife-sharing as an outworking of Anabaptist tendencies which tended toward communalism and communism. Shared possessions meant shared wives. So in other words Idelette was probably a bit of whore, but since she became Reformed, Calvin was willing to marry her anyway.

29 September 2014

The Failure of the Academy: Politicization of Statistics and Definitions (Part 2 of 2)

We've reached a point where we have to start thinking a bit differently about money and how we live. I'm speaking to society as a whole. I'm hardly alone in this.

But more particularly I'm speaking to Christians.
For years we've been told by the Dave Ramsey's and Larry Burkett's that there's an ethical component to how we handle our money. And not a few will point out that economics was born from ethics.
It's true and yet I believe the modern Church and in particular the Church of the Western Democracies and especially the United States has got it wrong.
We've baptized avarice.

The Failure of the Academy: Politicization of Statistics and Definitions (Part 1 of 2)

Don't trust the metrics. Statistics can be and often are manipulated.

The Clinton era economic boom of the 1990s was a time of prosperity for some but few seem to realize that growth usually comes at someone else's expense.

I chuckle as I engage in conversation and read so many commentators who suggest the poor need to quit clamouring for higher wages and just work toward getting more education. That's a great idea for some but it won't work for all.

The whole system is predicated on the fact that there is a mass of cheap labour at the very bottom. There must be a pool or poor working class people that work for wages that they cannot live on. Without this, consumer prices would skyrocket and the consumer-based US economy would crash.

27 September 2014

Five Centuries of Calvin (Part 2 of 2)

Interestingly the Reformation largely failed to achieve the goal of liberating the church from the state. On the continent of Europe, the state churches continued to dominate until the 19th century. By then all of the state churches had slipped into Enlightenment apostasy and it took Pietism and the Free Church movement to finally get European Christians to start thinking differently about the idea of Christian Civilization. But as Pietism proved both a blessing and a curse, this too largely failed and many of those movements eventually departed from the faith and embraced theological liberalism.

Five Centuries of Calvin (Part 1 of 2)

Recently I've been listening to some seminary lectures from 2009. This was a big year for Reformed people because it was the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin.

All over the country and all over the world there were conferences celebrating Calvin and speaking of his influence in history and the shaping of civilization. The lectures range in topic from theology to politics to economics. Calvin truly is a titan in terms of civilizational influence.

13 September 2014

Inbox: Denomination Clarification

(Answering Questions #23)
Q. Regarding your post on Denominations- If the unity is found in the Spirit, how are denominations a hindrance? Don't they help bring groups of like minded people together? You said congregations will fellowship. Don't denominations create a way for that to happen?
A. No. They promote schism and try to find and establish unity in a man-made form.
Whether the denomination is rooted in a tradition... cultural, theological etc... or, in a lowest common denominator approach, it's still trying to find the unity through the creation of some kind of factional bureaucratic affiliation. The Scripture knows nothing of this.

31 August 2014

Our Response to the Federal Reserve and the World System in General (3/3)

If it's all just a game, a big scam, then shouldn't we work to beat the system and lessen our tax burden? We certainly don't want to pay taxes right?
For me there are other factors too. Any of these setups involve taking large sums of money and investing them in the market. Personally I'm opposed to this. I am aware of the many arguments that defend market investment and I'm also aware there are people who pervert some of Christ's parables in order to defend this. God willing I will write another piece in the near future that will address some of these terrible abuses of Christ's parables.

Our Response to the Federal Reserve and the World System in General (2/3)

When I work for financial advisors and investors I like to get them talking. It's not hard to do. I do the same when I'm with bankers or people in the insurance industry. It's really easy to get people talking about their own lives and business culture. They usually air the grievances of their particular perspective, one from within their industry.
Everyone else is the bad guy. They are (for the most part) the pure ones. There's corruption everywhere. No one for a moment disputes that. But it's always the other sector and if there's corruption in their own facet of the industry then it's the other division, the other office, the competitor with the different logo.

Our Response to the Federal Reserve and the World System in General (1/3)

Not long ago I was having a conversation someone and the topic of money and business came up. It was an aside to a larger discussion, but we found agreement in the seemingly self-evident notion that many people, including Church leaders (the immediate point of the discussion) often do not understand the way the business world works. He was in conflict with some elders over his financial situation and was frustrated in that they seemed to lack an ability to grasp how the realm of business operates. The accusations and demands they were making were not rooted in reality.

They were accusing him of impropriety. We agreed that the very idea of propriety in business is pretty laughable. Why is this the case and how do we respond?

22 August 2014

Sabbatarian Hermeneutics and Some Resulting Misapplications

I've mentioned it before but I wish to briefly revisit the question of the Sabbath and the mandate regarding six days of labour. There are some who insist that our culture's five day work cycle (which is certainly not applicable to everyone, as many work six or even seven days) is in fact sinful and that as Christians who would take Dominion, we need to be working a full six days.
Thus, is the five day work week sinful modernism and a paradigm Christians should reject?
To deal with this question I must first address some of the assumptions rooted in the question. First there is the question of the Sabbath itself and secondly even if I grant the Sabbatarian position does this necessitate a six day work week?

16 August 2014

Allegiance to Power

Allegiance to an idea or allegiance to a brand, take your pick.

These seem to be the options that are given to us in American society. The government embraces certain ideas. There are debates within the government as to what the ideas should be, whether they should be static or reminiscent of past 'glory' or for other factions the nation's policies should be dynamic and forward looking.

14 August 2014

The Denomination Dilemma and Solution

Many lament the state of divided Christendom. Not infrequently are we reminded of the thousands of denominations which exist today. It is an argument used by secularists, ecumenicists and those who wish to forge a Catholicity based on the claims of Rome's so-called bishop.

13 August 2014

The Battle over Quiet Time

For many Christians 'Quiet Time' is an important part of their spirituality. They take some time out of every day to read their Bible and spend some time in prayer and possibly reading some other Christian focused book whether it be devotional, commentary or theology.

12 August 2014

DeMint's Dream and Reality

Localism, Power and the Technological Society in an Age of Total War
Some time ago I listened to an interview with former senator Jim DeMint who had recently left the senate in order to take over as leader of the Heritage Foundation.
DeMint is a member of the PCA, the Reformed conservative remnant of the old Southern Presbyterian Church and a denomination which I'm sad to say I used to be a member of.