A couple of weeks ago I finished listening to Owen Bennett-Jones' BBC series on the Benazir Bhutto assassination. I enjoyed it and learned a few things. In typical fashion, it ignored certain aspects of the context and larger story but that is to be expected.
12 May 2018
15 April 2018
Magisterial Protestantism Comes Full Circle and the Oracular Mark of the Church
What is a Christian? Is it an easy and straightforward question? While I don't want to pretend there aren't some nuances to consider, nevertheless on one level it is a pretty simple question we should be able to answer.
The Socio-Cultural or Pronoun Error and Christian Antithesis
Despite the stumbles and setbacks, Protestants continued in their attempts to create a new version of Christendom. In the centuries following the Reformation and Age of Reason, the nation state came to the fore and reached full flower during the Enlightenment. The concepts and categories of the period became deeply ingrained and citizen-nationalities were ultimately wed to the older concept of Christendom.
Nominal Christianity and the Lordship Controversy
What is a Christian? How is that term to be defined? It may seem like an easy and straightforward question but apparently it isn't because there seems to be a lot of confusion.
08 April 2018
The title refers to Amos 8.11. If you look it up, make sure you read the whole chapter. It's quite poignant and it's a reminder.... times change, but for the most part people do not.
But remember while it's proper to use Israel as an analogy to the contemporary situation, don't think in terms of contemporary Western society or American culture. That's not the analog to Israel. Think in terms of the Church. That's the New Testament sense it which it is applicable. Viewing it this way as opposed to society at large gives the message (and indictment) a quite different and actually much more severe meaning and application.
Embracing Dystopia: Reflections on the Ascendancy of Amazon and the Signs of the Times (Part 2 of 2)
Every state contains what might be described as the Bestial Impulse, the temptation of ultimacy. We can also refer to this as the Babel Impulse, the temptation to conflate the state project with divine presence or deity itself. Essentially what this means is that the state sees itself in the role of a god and a manifestation of heavenly presence or prerogative.
Embracing Dystopia: Reflections on the Ascendancy of Amazon and the Signs of the Times (Part 1 of 2)
I was reading a story from a few months ago about Amazon handing over large amounts of data to law enforcement and it prompted me to wrestle with the question of Amazon, Bezos and what it all represents. Immediately I thought of my past wranglings with Wal-Mart.
01 April 2018
What were once subtle signals of fissures in the Atlantic alliance are becoming more pronounced. I refer here to Atlanticism, the belief that Europe and America have a mutual need, values and destiny. This is a deeper and more pervasive concept that transcends military alliances like NATO. This relationship involves not just military but cultural and economic alliances.
25 March 2018
The linked article mentions the Vatican and Hanoi still don't have formal relations and that this is a legacy of communism. The statement is interesting because someone might read it and think something along these lines: The communists were atheistic and thus they would have no interest in establishing diplomatic ties with a theocratic state like the Vatican.
18 March 2018
The Leaven of Evangelical Sacralism: A Warning Regarding Judaized Politics and the Hypocrisy it Breeds (Part 2 of 2)
Recently I was visiting a Reformed Baptist Church and the pastor, a graduate of Liberty University continually invoked the name of Jerry Falwell Sr. in the pulpit. He obviously admires the man and it was clear listening to him pray and preach that he has fallen into the same idolatrous trap as Dobson, Jeffress, the Grahams, Mohler, Perkins and a host of other conservative and Evangelical leaders have fallen into. They think America is an 'exceptional' nation by which they (as Christians) mean it has been granted a holy or semi-holy status apart from other nations.
The Leaven of Evangelical Sacralism: A Warning Regarding Judaized Politics and the Hypocrisy it Breeds (Part 1 of 2)
Hypocrisy is hardly unusual, especially in the realm of politics. And sadly we must admit it is also fairly common within the larger Church.
And yet there are times when it reaches levels that can only be described as over the top, even obscene. Maybe people have short memories, maybe some can't see it. In other cases one is left wondering if it isn't hypocrisy as much as just plain deceit.
12 March 2018
In a recent article referencing history as an interpreter of current events, I said: The lessons and realities of history are on his side and there's a real comfort in that, especially in the face of storm and assault. Those who study history with open eyes will know great sorrow and frustration. They will often stand alone but having walked the paths of the past... they need not fear. They've seen it all before.
A further elaboration was requested and is in order.
02 March 2018
The US is bent on overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria. Obama supported this action from its very beginning. From the standpoint of US imperialism the removal of Assad dovetails beautifully with the designs of Israel and would represent a significant victory for US policy in defiance of Russia and to the detriment of Iran.
This recent Greenwald article calls attention to the inherent danger found in the Neo-McCarthyite campaign against Russia. Patrick Buchanan and others have also picked up on this and are sounding the alarm.
18 February 2018
Unlike the Theonomists who have chosen to ignore a significant portion of Post-Reformation history, most Protestants and Europeans in general emerged from the 17th century with a profound realisation that Confessionalism was not going to work as a basis for Ecclesiastical Establishment. England (in part) fought a war over this and in the end decided for Establishment and Social Pluralism. The Nonconformists were not granted full status and rights until the 19th century and after but they were at least tolerated. Just because that term has been abused does not mean it should be dispensed with. It is a noble and even Biblical concept (1 Cor 5.9-12).
The retired PCA cleric who authored this piece has once again motivated me to write a response. Clearly he misunderstands the nature of Two Kingdom Theology. I say this also pointing out that he never clarifies which variety or strain of Two Kingdom Theology he wishes to oppose.
10 February 2018
In the wake of the California scandal of a 'homeschool' family that was starving and torturing its children there has been a wave of 'hit' pieces circulating throughout the media landscape. This is but one of them.
Personally in the case of these rather sick people from California I think a great deal of blame belongs with the extended family. They knew something was odd and yet did not pursue it. When people fail to act within their own spheres they will inevitably abdicate their authority to the state. And now, everyone is viewed with suspicion.
14 January 2018
In the wake of RC Sproul's death there have been a host of tributes written on his behalf. Recently I encountered an article praising Sproul and his role in framing the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which first appeared in 1978. This statement is met with almost universal praise from within Evangelical and Confessional circles and there is much to praise indeed. While the over two hundred signers were certainly upholding the Bible in an age of unbelief, few realise or understand that modern inerrancy represents a shift in thinking and indeed a break from older Protestant understandings of Scripture.
It is noteworthy and admirable to find men of Christian faith upholding the Word of God. This is especially true in an era of materialism and scientism. They are to be commended for this adherence to supernaturalism and the notion of Divine Inspiration.
31 December 2017
Viktor Orban is at this point all but a pariah to the powers that be in Brussels and Washington. He continues to resist the EU and has voiced considerable opposition not only to the policies of Europe but even the ideology of the post-war project.
29 December 2017
Facial recognition software, biometric data, high-speed processing and lower-order or Narrow Artificial Intelligence are being wed to authoritarian political structures. It is the Panopticon for a new age.*
I must admit, I found this video to be deeply troubling. I found myself wondering about the future of the Chinese Underground Church. The tools of totalitarianism are becoming so pervasive that nonconformists (of any stripe) are literally going to be forced back into the mountains and forests... as in the old days.
And yet in the old days, the state apparatus did not possess drones with thermal imaging and the easy means to access remote places.
24 December 2017
Moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem provides a convenient distraction for the embattled Trump administration. Embroiled in layers of investigation and cover-ups to hide cover-ups, the shift in media coverage provides them with some welcome respite.
09 December 2017
Recently I encountered (yet again) another example of what I have termed The Presbyterian Fallacy.
Briefly by way of context, Episcopal forms of Church government do not claim their authority is based on Scriptural exegesis. While they believe their polity is 'Biblical' in the sense that it 'flows' from Scripture, they will freely admit that it's not something that can be appealed to chapter and verse. They would argue the New Testament does not prescribe a specific form of polity. Or they might argue that the Apostles established a type of regional hierarchy which over time legitimately developed into the episcopacy.
23 November 2017
The question of Final Salvation is further clouded by what could be described as Today's Calvinism and the metanarratives it has attached to Historical Theology. I'm not merely referring to the so-called New Calvinism or movements like Young, Restless and Reformed.
By Today's Calvinism I'm speaking of Reformed Theology and Calvinism in general terms. Specifically I'm speaking of North American Calvinism in the wake of the 19th century. While international Calvinism went into decline and largely succumbed to Liberalism, the remaining sectors of conservative Calvinism underwent changes.
19 November 2017
In a previous post I expressed some scepticism and ambivalence with regard to the recent spate of harassment claims. The men are indeed bestial and ungodly in their behaviour and yet many of these women, especially in the arts or corporate settings are not wholly innocent.
In other cases the behaviour can only be described as predatory. While an aspiring entertainer or businesswoman can always walk away and maintain virtue (even at great cost) there are those in other situations that are under real authority in the form of the state and thus under actual threat. These situations are often different in their nature and the women subjected to abuse are truly victims. I'm speaking of officials who hold badges and offices, who wear uniforms and carry guns. These men who use their authority to abuse the weak are of a different and very pernicious stripe.
12 November 2017
Feminism could be described as being 'kicked into high gear' due to the rash of recent scandals.
On the one hand misogynist predatory behaviour is vile and always wrong. These people don't need defending.
On the other hand, society's war on men and boys and the feminisation of men is equally problematic. I say it again, it is equally problematic. That will offend some people.
05 November 2017
But again, isn't certainty eliminated? By no means. Does it become all but impossible to form creedal statements and confessions? Not in the least, but of course I question the motives behind this impulse. The statements will out of necessity become broader and thus more inclusive. Once again at this point I will be accused of being an ecumenicist, a liberal, one whose doctrinal sea is a mile wide but an inch deep.
I write this as something of a sequel to the essay on Salvation and the Question of Works.
It's one thing to discuss the nature of saving faith and to refute the spurious charges of rapprochement with Roman Catholic soteriology. But there's another issue or aspect of this debate that also deserves mention. This is the question of what is sometimes referred to as Final Salvation. I have written about it before and alluded to it in the recent aforementioned post but a few more comments are in order.
I mentioned that Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints are not the same thing. I would argue that the older Reformed doctrine of perseverance has all but degenerated into a Once-Saved-Always-Saved baptistic version of Eternal Security. I also talked about how salvation is presented in larger terms in which Justification is an essential component or aspect but it is not given the place of prominence, at least not in the way Solafideist theology has prioritised it. Additionally I mentioned how even these soteriological questions are cast in terms of the Already and the Not Yet.