The Church Archives



More Specifically: Apologetics (1) Deism (1) Eastern Orthodox Church (8) Ecumenical Dialogue (2) Liturgical Calendar (5) Protestantism (20) Roman Catholic Church (11)

December 25, 2013

A Thought for Christmas

The King of the Universe born in a stable can mean nothing less than the total subversion of the established social order. As I was contemplating this point this morning, I was reminded of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: as King Arthur rides by, one peasant says to another, "look! It must be a king." When the second peasant asks, "how do you know?" the first responds, "he's the only one who hasn't got [dung] all over him." The image of the king is of the clean, the privileged, the wealthy, the insider. But the story...
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March 13, 2013

Quote of the Day: Enns on Religious Fear of Evolution

At present there is a lot of fear about the implications of bringing evolution and Christianity together, and this fear needs to be addressed head-on. Many fear that we are on a slippery slope, to use the hackneyed expression. Perhaps the way forward is not to resist the slide so much as to stop struggling, look around, and realize that we may have been on the wrong hill altogether.

- Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, p. 145


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June 13, 2012

Quote of the Day: Augustine on Bad Science and Bad Biblical Interpretation

In fact, it often happens that even a non-Christian has views based on very conclusive reasons or observations about the earth, heaven, the other elements of this world, the motion and revolutions or the size and distance of the stars, the eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of years and epochs, the nature of animals, of plants, of rocks, and similar things. Now, it is very scandalous, as well as harmful and to be avoided at all costs, that any infidel should hear a Christian speak about these things as if he were doing so in accordance with...
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June 4, 2012

On the Controversy Surrounding Berkeley's Ordination

In George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man, David Berman amasses considerable circumstantial evidence to the effect that Berkeley's movement away from Locke's theory of language may have been touched off by an in-person encounter with Archbishop William King and Provost Peter Browne (later Bishop of Cork and Ross) at a meeting of the Dublin Philosophical Society, November 19, 1707, where Berkeley read a brief paper entitle 'Of Infinities' (included in Luce and Jessop, volume 4; see Berman 11-20). I think Berman's overall picture is quite likely correct. In fact, in a paper called "Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology" which I am...
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May 17, 2012

A Brief History of Christian Conceptions of the 'Soul'

It is sometimes said that Christianity presupposes the existence of a soul, that, due to the progress of science, this view is no longer credible, and that, therefore, Christianity can no longer be taken seriously. It is very probable that there are some combinations of views, widely held among self-identified 'Christians', which can be effectively criticized along these lines. However, there are several puzzling features about this line of thought. The first is that it is not clear what the relevant 'progress of science' is supposed to be. Neuroscience is indeed advancing, but it can hardly be considered so advanced...
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April 12, 2012

Philosophy of Religion and Apologetics

Philosophy of religion, as practiced by religious believers, is often confused with apologetics. (Perhaps it is even so confused, on occasion, by some of its practitioners.) Indeed, if we use the term 'apologetics' more broadly, to include not just the giving of an apologia (defense) of religion, but of just any belief system, then we could say that philosophy in general is often confused with apologetics. This is, I think, a serious mistake. The philosopher, qua philosopher, is up to something quite different than the apologist, qua apologist. The 'qua' clauses are necessary, because of course the same person may...
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April 6, 2012

Quote of the Day For Good Friday

The body of the Word, then, being a real human body, in spite of its having been uniquely formed from a virgin, was of itself mortal and, like other bodies, liable to death. But the indwelling of the Word loosed it from this natural liability, so that corruption could not touch it. Thus it happened that two opposite marvels took place at once: the death of all was consummated in the Lord's body; yet, because the Word was in it, death and corruption were in the same act utterly abolished. Death there had to be, and death for all, so...
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February 15, 2012

Dropping My Tagline

For several years, this blog has been labeled with the tagline "The Evangelical libertarian philosopher." For some time now, I've been dissatisfied with this label, both as a description of my views and as a description of what this blog is about. I've hesitated to drop it primarily because I think that blogs of non-famous people, such as myself, should have some kind of descriptive name or tagline rather than just the author's name, and I couldn't think of another short, catchy, descriptive phrase that would nicely fill that bit of screen space. (I toyed with: "Berkeley's metaphysics, Nozick's politics,...
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December 19, 2011

Christmas in Platonic Context

The important cultural background to the rise of Christianity includes both the Hebrew context of the Old Testament and the context of the Greek culture which was dominant in the Eastern Roman Empire at the time. From the Christian perspective, Athens has quite a lot to do with Jerusalem. I believe there is adequate evidence for this (admittedly controversial) claim in the New Testament; if one is sufficiently traditional to allow the testimony of the Greek Fathers of the early church, then the matter should be beyond any doubt. Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation, of God becoming man...
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October 14, 2011

Berkeley on Miracles and Transubstantiation

It was the custom among 17th and 18th century English philosophers to take as many potshots at the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation as possible. Sometimes it almost seems that a desideratum for a theory of metaphysics is that it should be inconsistent with that doctrine. This desideratum is, of course, easily satisfied: most theories of metaphysics are inconsistent with transubstantiation. All versions of the doctrine require that it be metaphysically possible for flesh to exist under the 'species' of bread, and a conservative interpretation of the doctrine popular in the early modern period further required that numerically the same...
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March 10, 2011

Two Bad Footnotes

I found two rather bad footnotes in student editions of early modern texts this week. Both texts are from the Oxford Philosophical Texts (OPT) series. The first makes a rather contentious historical/interpretive claim, and doesn't seem to recognize that it is doing so; the second is an outright error. The first footnote is in the OPT edition of Hume's first Enquiry. In the course of a critique of occasionalism, Hume writes, It argues more wisdom to contrive at first the fabric of the world with such perfect foresight that, of itself, and by its proper operation, it may serve all...
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December 19, 2010

Quote of the Day: Leibniz on True Religion

One cannot love God without knowing his perfections, and this knowledge contains the principles of true piety. The purpose of religion should be to imprint these principles upon our souls: but in some strange way it has happened all too often that men, that teachers of religion[,] have strayed far from this purpose. Contrary to the intention of our divine Master, devotion has been reduced to ceremonies and doctrine has been cumbered with formulae. All too often the ceremonies have not been well fitted to maintain the exercise of virtue, and the formulae sometimes have not been lucid. Can one...
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December 7, 2010

Quote of the Day: Offensive? Perhaps, but Also Thought-Provoking

There is, evidently, a controversy (no, I don't normally read Fox; this was linked from fark) brewing in New Hampshire about a public high school personal finance class where Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is required reading. The article says that the book is highly offensive and has lots of foul language and a strong political and (anti-)religious agenda. It doesn't get into much detail, except for a single extended quotation, which is supposed, I guess, to be the most offensive part of the book. Perhaps this quotation is somewhat offensive, but we could...
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August 10, 2010

Two Concepts of Justification

In my comment on Uncommon Priors the other day, I distinguished between two different problems I might need to be saved from: (1) I deserve to be punished for my actions, and (2) if there is a God, he will probably punish me for my actions. These, in my view, are two different problems. That is, the fact that I deserve punishment is a terrible thing in itself, independent of whether I will ever actually be punished. Because of this, we can see our need for salvation, even before we believe in God. This might be important...
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July 13, 2010

The Frustrations of Ecumenical Dialogue

I believe that ecumenical dialogue is important. For one thing, the current divisions of the Church are not just a shame but a sin. For another thing, I think that Timothy Ware is correct in claiming that God intended for differing perspectives between different linguistic and cultural groups, and also between differing tastes and focuses to balance each other out. Instead (and let me, as a Protestant, admit that the Reformation only made this worse), we tend to congregate with people who think like us and look like us and talk like us and want the same styles of preaching...
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July 9, 2010

Authority, Authoritativeness, and Objectivity

I've just finished reading John Foster's new book, A World For Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism. Foster had previously defended idealism in his 1982 The Case for Idealism, and many of the basic arguments are the same, though I think the structure is cleaner and easier to grasp. (I've also just finished reading the restored version of Stranger in a Strange Land, so every time I write 'Foster' I'm thinking of the archangel - but that's beside the point.) The main motivation behind Foster's idealism, all the way back to 1982, is the thought that if anything is to...
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April 2, 2010

Quote of the Day for Good Friday

In honor of Good Friday, I offer the following original translation of some excerpts from the Gospel of John: In the beginning Reason was - Reason was directed toward God, and Reason was God. He was directed toward God in the beginning. All things came about through Him, and none of the things that came about came about apart from Him. In Him was life, and the life was the light of human beings. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not grasp it. ... [Reason] was the true light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every...
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February 24, 2010

Biblical Literalism as Hyper-Perspicuity

Last night I was at a lecture on science and religion at USC's Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. (Evidently, we have an Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. Who knew?) In the course of a lecture with which I otherwise mostly agreed, Fr. Paul Heft connected radical Biblical literalism with the Reformers. This is, of course, strictly false: the Reformers were not literalists in anything like the sense in which twentieth century fundamentalists were. However, it got me thinking about what connection the doctrine of perspicuity, which I was recently discussing on Called to Communion, might have to radical literalism...
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August 31, 2009

Quote of the Day: Nadler on Arnauld on the Church's Authoritativeness

I have recently been involved in an interesting discussion on the authority/authoritativeness of the Church over at Called to Communion. In light of this, I thought I would post a selection I came across today on the position of Antoine Arnauld, the French Jansenist theologian and Cartesian philosopher, on this question: Like all Jansenists, [Arnauld] was accused of Calvinism and political subversion. In 1656 he was excluded from the faculty of the Sorbonne for his refusal to submit to the Church on the issue of five propositions condemned as heretical in the encyclical Cum occasione (1653), and which the Pope...
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April 12, 2009

Quote of the Day: Athanasius on the Destruction of Death

A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Savior, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those...
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April 8, 2009

Christian Carnival CCLXXI

My post Apologetics: The Good and the Bad has been included in the latest Christian Carnival at Fathom Deep. I haven't been participating in the Christian Carnival recently, but when I wrote this post it occurred to me that it might be of interest to that carnival's readers.
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February 17, 2009

On Christian Higher Education

There is an argument raging on Leiter Reports about the APA's non-discrimination statement and the policies of certain Christian colleges and universities. Wheaton College, Azusa Pacific University, Belmont University, Calvin College, Malone College, and Pepperdine University are listed as institutions that allegedly violate the APA's non-discrimination statements with their policies about homosexuality. A pair of posts on The Prosblogion offer some helpful reflections. What I want to try to do here is analyze in light of this issue the question of what Christian higher education ought to look like. To start with, let me distinguish three types of goals...
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November 25, 2008

What the ESV is Good For

It's been a long time since I wrote much about Bible translation, but I thought I'd step up on this one. There has recently been a long series of posts on Better Bibles Blog containing a paper Mark Strauss presented to the Evangelical Theological Society entitled "Why The English Standard Version Should Not Become the Standard English Version." There is now a brief response from Bill Mounce, the New Testament Chair of the ESV translation committee. I, on the one hand, agree with Strauss that some of the ESVs decisions make for misleading or awkward English text. On the other hand...
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November 10, 2008

Quote of the Day: Politics in Perspective

"The blessed Polycarp bore witness [i.e. was martyred] ... He was arrested by Herod while Philip of Tralles was high priest and Statius Quadratus was proconsul, but Jesus Christ - to whom be glory, honor, majesty and an eternal throne from generation to generation - was reigning as king forever. Amen."
    - The Martyrdom of Polycarp, ch. 21, my translation, based on Ehrman's)
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October 8, 2008

Baber on the Real Presence

Some of the papers to be presented at the Society of Christian Philosophers, Pacific Division Conference have now been posted. Mine isn't up yet, but I will provide a link when it is. For now, I want to point readers to a paper by the University of San Diego's Harriet Baber which she has entitled simply "The Real Presence". We have previously discussed here the difference between transubstantiation and real presence. Baber describes this quite nicely in her introduction...
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March 20, 2008

Quote of the Day: A Hymn for Maundy Thursday

At the Lamb's high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side;
Praise we him whose love divine
Gives his sacred blood for wine,
Gives his body for the feast,
Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.
...

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January 14, 2008

Christian Carnival CCVI

This link is a little late in coming (my apologies), but Jeremy has included my post on hyper-Reformation theology in Christian Carnival CCVI (that's 206 to you barbarians) at Parableman.
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January 7, 2008

Hyper-Reformation Theology

I am increasingly of the belief that one of the biggest problems - and the root of many other problems - with contemporary Evangelicalism is what I call "hyper-Reformation theology." I don't mean hyper-Calvinism. I use the term "Reformation theology" to refer to five points which are far more fundamental to the Reformation that the points of Calvinism: namely, the five solas. By the term "hyper-Reformation theology," I mean a collection of exaggerated caricatures of these essential doctrines which are currently popular among Evangelicals. The most visible of these is "hyper-sola scriptura", which I have discussed before...
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December 26, 2007

Aristotle and Transubstantiation (Some More)

Tim Troutman (formerly known as "The God Fearin' Fiddler") of The God Fearin' Forum has responded to my latest discussion of Eucharistic theology and Aristotle. Perhaps I have not been very clear. Whatever the case, Tim persistently misunderstands both my claim and my argument for it. I am going to try to make what I am claiming very clear here:
The doctrine of transubstantiation, as expounded by Trent, is rendered incoherent by any system of metaphysics sufficiently different from Aristotle's.
This should not be confused with any of the following claims, which I do not make...
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November 5, 2007

What's Wrong With Evangelicalism?

A lot actually. I don't want to start making a list (I might not stop). Regular readers may wonder why I still use the title so prominently, given my concern for history and tradition, and frequent attempts to distance myself from many elements of popular Evangelicalism. The answer is that I agree with the statements of faith of all the major Evangelical para-church groups, including their view of Scripture (my increasingly great respect for tradition has not altered that), and I continue to believe (perhaps more strongly than before) in "generous orthodoxy" - the view that the collection of doctrines...
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November 4, 2007

Patristic Carnival V

Patristic Carnival V is up at The God Fearin' Forum, with a link to my post on "Dionysius". It is a truly ecumenical venture, and I recommend that you all check it out. Notable posts include: A collection of quotes on the Eucharist at The Byzantine Anglo-Catholic...
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November 2, 2007

Transubstantiation vs. Real Presence

The God Fearin' Fiddler has a post up on the historical significance of transubstantiation which has led to some interesting discussions. The principle problem with this post and the discussion that follows it, however, is that no one seems to understand the difference between transubstantiation and the Real Presence. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert on this either, but I do think I know enough to clear up some historical and metaphysical confusion. I am going to use two principal sources - session 13 of the Council of Trent, and the relevant article from the Catholic Encyclopedia - to explain the historical development and specific content of the doctrine of transubstantiation, and then attempt to show two things...
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September 21, 2007

On Theological Method

Last night, I had a brief friendly debate with some Calvinists, which has me thinking about theological method. Briefly, I approach the issue of Calvinism and Arminianism from the perspective primarily of philosophy rather than revealed theology. That is, I argue that libertarian free will, which is incompatible with most (but, surprisingly, not all) versions of Calvinism, but is central to Arminianism, is a philosophically attractive thesis on grounds of, for instance, human moral responsibility, the problem of evil, and the phenomenology of choice. (I don't claim that Calvinists can't provide accounts of these things, I simply claim that Arminians...
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August 17, 2007

Why Believe the Bible?
Part 4: The Church's Witness to the Scriptures

Here it is, finally! Almost exactly 13 months after the last post, I am finally continuing my series. For those of you who have forgotten (probably most of you), in May of 2006 I outlined a proposed series providing an argument for belief in the Bible. I'm going to give a fairly detailed recap here because it has been so long since my last post. In Part 1: Plan of Attack I outlined the argument I intended to give. The basic claim of the argument is that historical investigation renders the idea that the canon of Scripture as we have it is divinely inspired a live option...
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Part 4: The Church's Witness to the Scriptures"

August 13, 2007

Original Sin-Original Guilt, Christ's Righteousness-Imputation of Righteousness

Peter Kirk has posted a discussion of the Latin text Augustine was familiar with and its effect on his doctrine of original sin. The claim is, effectively, this: Augustine believed in the doctrine of original guilt because of an ambiguity introduced by an excessively literal Latin Bible which persists in the Vulgate and later theologians have a propensity to read original guilt into the text of Scripture because Augustine did. The passage in question is the end of Romans 5:12. The English translations are pretty much all the same: "in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned." But Augustine's translation says...
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July 7, 2007

On Worship and Veneration

Some time ago, I posted on icons and discussed my attempt to understand the difference between what Catholic and Orthodox believers call "relative worship" or "veneration" and the "true worship" which belongs to God alone. I mostly failed to understand any real difference here. Today, I did something I should have done a long time ago: I read the decree of the Second Council of Nicea (the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which reinstated the veneration of icons). I found something interesting. In the Greek, the council makes a distinction between veneration and worship, as is to be expected. However, the words used are the Greek...
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May 24, 2007

Quote(s) of the Day: Selections From Berkeley's Letter to Sir John James

In the course of a bit of research on Berkeley's views on the epistemology of religion, I have just come across a little letter Berkeley wrote to one Sir John James, dated June 7, 1741. James was, apparently, an Anglican living in Boston who was considering converting to Roman Catholicism. While for some reason (perhaps because he was Irish) Berkeley is often mistakenly believed to have been a member of the Roman Catholic Church, he was, in fact, a member of the clergy of the Church of England, and wrote against Roman Catholicism on a number of occasions, this being...
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May 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

I am no feminist (my wife will confirm my impeccable Neanderthal credentials); I have strong views on women's ordination; but I am saddened by the way Reformed church culture so often tramples its women underfoot with its mindless identification of biblical manhood with something akin to John Wayne and its assumption that all Christian women should make Mary Poppins look domestically incompetent. - Carl Trueman, Reformation21.
I'm not sure where these attitudes come from...
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April 24, 2007

Quote of the Day

"We now have almost as many definitions of heresy and orthodoxy as there are denominations ... Now I can be fundamentalist, orthodox, heretical, and an atheist all at the same time. Just ask my critics!" - Henry Neufeld
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March 31, 2007

Protestant Mariology

The God Fearin' Fiddler has a post up on why Protestants are offended by Mariology. This was one of the issues that came up in our previous debate, so I would like to address it briefly here. Before I do so, I want to make a few preliminary remarks. The first is that the assertion that Mariology is offensive to Protestants contains a terminological mistake, but it is a mistake that is also made by many Protestants. "Mariology" is the branch of theology that deals with Mary. Protestants are not offended by this subject of study. In fact, there is...
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March 23, 2007

1 Timothy 2:12

Over at Better Bibles Blog, Suzanne has been doing a series on Bible passages relevant to women in leadership. 1 Timothy 2:12 is of course an important verse to deal with on this subject. She hasn't actually got to it yet, but it came up in the comments to the post on 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, and I felt that I needed to say more about it than could reasonably be said in a comment, so here it is: 1 Timothy 2:12 is a very difficult verse. When taken with the following few verses it appears at first glance to make some argument like...
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March 21, 2007

Sola Scriptura in Augustine

As previously promised, this post will treat the presence of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura in Augustine. First, let me state that by Sola Scriptura I do not necessarily mean a particular formulation by Luther or Calvin or any particular church, but rather I mean to show that the cluster of doctrinal positions into which all of these fall exists in the early church. So I really mean the doctrines (plural) of Sola Scriptura, and not some particular doctrine. I define these as follows: A teaching is a Sola Scriptura doctrine if and only if it asserts that the contents of the canonical books of Scripture possess divine authority and/or sufficiency...
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Catholicism and Church History

I have recently been participating in a little debate over at The God Fearin' Forum on some of the issues of Church history (primarily history of doctrine) that are significant to Protestant-Catholic (and Orthodox!) disagreements. I encourage you all to head over and read the debate so far, and perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I will jump in! Later today (if I have a chance) I'm hoping to get a case put together for the historical foundations of Sola Scriptura...
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February 15, 2007

January 27, 2007

Scripture and Tradition in Protestantism

At the new blog Metaphysical Frameworks, Johnny-Dee (also of Fides Quaerens Intellectum fame) discusses the meaning of sola scriptura in its application to the practical methodology of Protestant theology. His suggestion is that "protestants consider the Bible to be like the Constitution, and the theological tradition to be like legal precedents from the Supreme Court." In other words, the determinations made by previous generations of Christians as to the teaching of Scripture are to be given great weight and not overturned lightly, but, ultimately, they are interpretations of Scripture and it is Scripture that is ultimately authoritative. Therefore, as much...
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January 24, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Conservatives have a pretty strong hold on the Southern Baptist Convention right now ... They are not the sort of people who react well to people dancing with joy at the suffering of others, but mostly because it involves dancing." - Jeff the Baptist
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August 23, 2006

July 19, 2006

July 15, 2006

Presbytery of Mississippi Rejects PCUSA General Assembly Resolution

Reformation 21 has posted a resolution of the Presbytery of Mississippi declaring that "in the passage of Recommendation 5 of the Peace, Unity, and Purity Task Force Report" the PCUSA General Assembly committed "a grievous error seriously lacking Biblical, Confessional and Constitutional integrity" and thus has effectively "broken fellowship with the Presbytery of Mississippi." The resolution in question permitted individual presbyteries to selectively ignore a provision of the PCUSA constitution requiring that clergy "live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness," thus effectively allowing the ordination of active homosexuals...
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June 27, 2006

Tradition Essay Posted at the Sergius Bulgakov LiveJournal

My essay "Tradition as the Platonic Form of Christian Faith and Practice", which I posted on my writings page a few months ago, was published online today at the Sergius Bulgakov LiveJournal, a blog devoted to the 20th century Russian Orthodox theologian Sergius Bulgakov, whom I cited in the essay. It looks like there are some other interesting materials up at the site as well. I reccomend checking it out. Also, this seems like a good time to remind everyone that all of my writings on this site are released under Creative Commons licenses. There are different licenses for this...
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June 21, 2006

PCUSA on the Trinity

Update (6/22/06, 9:17 PM): A fascinating post at Siris discusses the use of 'Mother' and 'Womb' langauge in the tradition of orthodox trinitarian theology. The considerations Brandon brings up are such that the PCUSA statement makes less rather than more sense because of them. GetReligion reported yesteday on the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly's vote to 'receive' (but not 'approve') a paper suggesting liturgical use of new trinitarian language. Alternate formulations mentioned in the paper include "Rock, Redeemer, Friend;" "Lover, Beloved, Love;" "Creator, Savior, Sanctifier;" and "King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love," but the formulation everyone is...
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June 14, 2006

Equating Christianity With Politics

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman is responding to an obviously utterly false misinformed, rhetorical, and manipulative rant about Campus Crusade for Christ International at The Huffington Post. As Jeremy points out, the author seems utterly unable to distinguish Christian missionary activity from neo-conservative 'democratization' campaigns. Unfortunately, some 'Christians' (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell,* and friends) seem to have the same problem. However, let me assure you that Campus Crusade is emphatically not such a group. Campus Crusade generally does a superb job of separating theology from politics. While serving as a leader in CCC at Penn, I have had to respond to...
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May 26, 2006

Christian Carnival For May 24 (Finally) Up!

After prolonged technical difficulties, Christian Carnival 24 is up at Musings on Music with a link to my post on icons. Because the technical difficulties are continuing, there is a second version of the carnival at Wittenberg Gate. Enjoy!...
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May 18, 2006

On Icons

The other day I was walking through Plaka (a region of Athens) and I saw a really fantastic icon. It was a large picture of Christ clothed in a purple robe, prominently displaying his wounds. This is good already, but I did a double-take on the text: around the image it said, in Greek, "o nymphios tes ekklesias" - "the bride-groom of the Church." I was actually very moved by this depiction, and its connection of Christ's wounds with the marriage of the Church. I can give a few other accounts like this, from having been in Greece, surrounded by...
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May 2, 2006

"Three Persons, One Substance" - Paradox or Solution?

I seem to have opened quite the can of worms in my post on Church dogma the other day when I said: There seem to be some clear (to me) cases of Christian dogma that are not obviously uniquely deriveable from Scripture. For example, consider the formulation of the trinity as three persons (Greek hupostaseis and/or prosopa, Latin personae) in one substance/essence (Greek ousia, Latin essentia and/or substantia). This type of formulation is extremely common in the Christian tradition, and is derived primarily from the Chalcedonian Creed. However, I don't think we can say that it is obviously uniquely deriveable...
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April 26, 2006

Church Dogma

I've been thinking for some time now about dogma, and so I wanted to write a post to outline just what dogma is, and give some questions (but no answers!) about what it's content ought to be and where it ought to come from. First, dogma is not dogmatism. I positively despise dogmatism. Dogmatism is the practice of holding to one's beliefs in such a way as to utterly ignore alll evidence and arguments to the contrary. Dogmatism is the death of intellectual growth, and of Christian faith. A faith that does not allow itself to be challenged, or that...
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April 18, 2006

A Quick Note on Church Government

Suzanne has posted some brief comments on my post on The Language of Athenian Democracy in the New Testament, wherein I have learned that the Exclusive Brethren denomination has used similar arguments for their decision not to name elders. I don't have time to deal with Church government in great detail right at the moment, but I do want to point out that I did not intend to deal with that question in my previous post on the 'democratic' nature of the Church. What I did mean to point out was that the early Church accepted everyone regardless of their...
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April 12, 2006

The Language of Athenian Democracy in the New Testament

So I've just given a presentation on the workings of the ancient Athenian ekklesia at the Pnyx, and I thought I'd use up a little precious time which I ought to use reading about Plato and Aristotle on the role of tragic theater in society discussing the appropriation of the language of the Athenian democracy by the early Church, including the authors of the New Testament. There are two particular words I am thinking of here: ekklesia and kerux. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that these words are consistently translated one way in 'Bible Greek' and another way in...
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April 6, 2006

Christian Carnival

The latest Christian Carnival is now up at In The Outer with a link to my post on Biblical inerrancy. As always, there is a lot of interesting content. Highly reccomended....
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March 15, 2006

"Tradition as the 'Platonic Form' of Christian Faith and Practice in Orthodoxy"

I have just posted on my writings page a new essay, "Tradition as the 'Platonic Form' of Christian Faith and Practice in Orthodoxy." This served as my mid-term essay in my class on the Greek Orthodox Church here at DIKEMES in Athens where I am studying this semester. I have attached a short preface explaining the relationship of the views presented in my essay (realizing that the essay is supposed to explain the teaching of the Orthodox Church) to my actual beliefs and my reasons for deciding to publish the essay. Please post here with any comments or objections. If...
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February 9, 2006

Cardinal Frances George Was Right

The New York Times is reporting that Cardinal Francis George of the Catholic Arch-Diocese of Chicago, is being heavily criticized after a local priest, Daniel McCormack, was arrested on charges of sexually abusing young boys. The allegations were brought to Cardinal George's attention last August, but no action was taken by the diocese at that time. In 2002, the Catholic Church instituted a policy that a priest should be removed immediately if "there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred." Cardinal George, it is alleged, failed to follow this guideline. While I don't know the specifics...
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January 19, 2006

Christian Carnival CV

Christian Carnival CV is up at Dunmoose the Ageless with a link to my post on musterion....
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January 11, 2006

Christian Carnival 104

Christian Carnival 104 is up at Random Responses with a link to my post on the Holman Christian Standard Bible....
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October 20, 2005

Christian Carnival XCII at Theology and Biblical Studies

So I just discovered this "Blog Carnival" thing and think its a fantastic idea. For those of you who don't know, it works like this: each period (the Christian Carnival is weekly, the Philosopher's Carnival is fortnightly) one blog hosts, and people from all different blogs submit entries on some theme or topic, which are then compiled into summaries with links. Christian Carnival XCII is now up at World of Sven's Theology and Biblical Studies, and has graciously accepted my late entry, this post on Leibniz's discussion of efficient and final causes, and its application to Christian thought on science...
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September 21, 2005

The Establishment Clause, The Vatican, and Diplomatic Immunity

I apologize for not having posted recently. I have been very busy reading Plato's Politicus in Greek at an absurd rate, and various other less time consuming classwork. Here I make time for a brief note regarding this article from today's New York Times discussing a lawsuit which names Pope Benedict XVI as a defendant in a conspiracy to cover up a sex abuse case. ... This, however, is old news. What is interesting about this case is the controversy regarding the "Holy See" (i.e. the Vatican) as a sovereign state, while at the same time a church. This makes for very complicated questions as to what constitutes exercises in foreign policy versus what violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ...
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August 31, 2005

Ecclesiology in Swinburne's Revelation

I've just finished reading Richard Swinburne's Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy, in which he strives to create a rational foundation for belief in (a particular understanding of) "the Christian revelation" (which, on Swinburne's account is not exactly equivalent with the Bible, but we'll get there). The beginning of this book is very good. Swinburne argues forcefully that if the God of traditional Western monotheism exists, then there is good reason to expect that He would reveal Himself to mankind, and, of course, if we have an a priori expectation that there is probably a revelation out there somewhere, then much less evidence is required to identify some specific item as that revelation than if we had a view of the world which makes such a revelation unlikely (note that Swinburne establishes the authority of the Bible on the basis of the existence of God, not vice versa). However, as one moves on further in Swinburne's book, into the specifics of his theory of revelation, his statements become increasingly problematic (read: false). Swinburne's departure from sound doctrine is not due to flawed philosophical reasoning, but rather to correct reasoning from a false premise. The departure occurs at a very definite point and comes from a very definite cause: the horrible ecclesiology assumed, not argued for, in chapter 8...
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August 22, 2005

On the Independence of Calvary Chapel Congregations

GetReligion is running a story on two recent clergy termination scandals in California Calvary Chapels. While these stories are clearly tragic, I think that tmatt's discussion misrepresents the organization of Calvary Chapel. First, as one of the cited articles points out, there is a disciplinary measure available to, and used by, Costa Mesa: disaffiliation. Churches who do not subscribe to the beliefs and practices of Calvary Chapel are disaffiliated and prohibited from using the Calvary Chapel trademark. Calvary Chapel pastors, generally, are accountable to the pastor of some "parent church." For instance, my pastor at Calvary Chapel on the King's...
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May 31, 2005

Blind Mind's Eye on Christian Libertarianism

Christian blog Blind Mind's Eye has a great post on the compatibility of Christianity and libertarianism. Worth a read....
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May 7, 2005

The Future of This Blog

In case you hadn't noticed, this blog has been awefully sparse for the past few months. I had an extremely busy semester and not much time for blogging. It is now summer (that is, the spring semester of school is over), and working 40 hours a week and having Saturdays and Sundays off and not taking work home in the evenings is sounding restful. So, in this post I'd like to give some idea on what sorts of things will be influencing my topics over the course of the summer, and then comment briefly on a few issues I missed.
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December 16, 2004

More on Christianity and Homosexuality

For those of you who don't know, there was a major controversy recently over a United Church of Christ ad which the major networks rejected, advertising the church as "open and affirming" (i.e. pro-homosexual - one of my goals in life is to discuss highly sensitive political issues without resorting to the fallacy of emotional language). A post at Wesley Blog quotes the following statement from a UCC pastor, which was published in the Charlotte Observer (reg. required): "What concerns me about the commercial is the implication that gays and lesbians attending UCC congregations can expect that their sexual desires...
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Topic(s): The Church
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December 7, 2004

An Internal Critique of the Beth Stroud Case

You may have seen in the media a recent tumult in the United Methodist Church over the disordination (the New York Times article refers to it as a "defrocking" - is that even a word? Do Methodists really call it that?) of a Lesbian pastor at a church in Germantown, here in Philadelphia. Rumor has it a Daily Pennsylvanian editorial on the subject, authored by an uber-liberal friend of mine will be published on Wednesday (shh! I didn't tell you). So here I am responding with an internal critique of the matter. Internal, that is, to Christianity. Before I start, allow me to point you to a critique internal to the United Methodist Church over at a site I just found called Wesley Blog. Ok, so here goes: The United Methodist Church did the right thing ... Sort of.
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Topic(s): The Church
Posted by Kenny at 12:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (2)

March 6, 2003

Youth Bible Study!

The youth Bible study I have been asked to teach is on for Thursdays at 7:00 PM beginning March 20, 2003 at Palouse Community Chapel (on Church street in Palouse) in the "Berean Room" (upstairs, just behind the sanctuary). I have not yet determined what we will be studying. I would prefer to go with either James or the Sermon on the Mount, but if no one likes these I also have notes ready on Ephesians and I will be finished studying 1 Timothy by the time the bible study starts....
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Topic(s): The Church
Posted by Kenny at 12:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 2, 2003

Teen Center News

I'm going to miss the next three weeks of teen center. This Friday I will be up at Ross Point having student leader training for the upcoming Spring Retreat. The following weekend I will be on a Chrysalis, and the weekend after that is the Spring Retreat at Ross Point. This Friday Bobbi and Tim and Courtney will be there (Shelly is going to be gone too). Mark Sawyer will probably be around one of the other weeks, and Shelly should be around for the other two. I'm hoping to find one more person who can fill in. In related...
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Topic(s): The Church
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