What do Evolutionism and Creationism have in Common?

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I hardly consider myself a theistic evolutionist, but I won’t call myself a creationist either. I think making the topic of creation the article on which the Church stands or falls is a bit dramatic. I think Fundamentalists have done a great discredit to 6-day creation because they have held to it and defended it as if that is what makes one a Christian. I wouldn’t doubt St. Augustine’s confession of faith at all yet in his commentary on the Book of Genesis, he writes:

“Above all, let us remember, as I have tried in many ways to show, that God does not work under the limits of time by motions of body and soul, as do men and angels, but by the eternal, unchangeable, and fixed exemplars of His coeternal Word and by a kind of brooding action of His equally coeternal Holy Spirit. . . Hence, we must not think of the matter in a human way, as if the utterances of God were subject to time throughout the various days of God’s works. . .

“In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different Interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.”

Furthermore, the Venerable Bede writes:

Neither was heaven created in any six-day period and the stars illuminated and the dry land separated from the water and the trees and vegetation planted. Rather, Scripture customarily uses “day” to denote an unspecified period of time, as the apostle did when he said, “Behold, this is the day of salvation.” He was not referring to a particular day but to the entirety of the time of the present life in which we labor for eternal salvation. The prophet also spoke not of one specific day but of numerous moments of divine grace, saying, “In that day, the deaf will hear the words of this book.” Moreover, it is difficult to understand how in one day God made heaven and earth and all the brush of the field and every plant of every region, unless we say that all creatures were created simultaneously in formless matter, according to which it is written, “He who lives forever created all things together.”

I wouldn’t doubt the salvation of either of these men despite the fact that they wouldn’t meet Fundamentalist criteria for what it means to be a Christian.

Here also, I have a excerpt from a very interesting article I read that had been posted even before the Nye-Ham debate:

“As a matter of fact, we may even have lost our sanity. A peculiar kind of madness lies in this narrowing of reason to what we can measure and manipulate; William Blake called it “Newton’s sleep”, and for C.S. Lewis it was exemplified in the figure of Professor Weston in the Space Trilogy. This is the madness that comes from trying to understand the universe without attributing to it any meaning–other than what we can give it by subordinating it by force to our own ends and purposes. That is what happens when we take seriously Sir Francis Bacon’s aphorism that “Knowledge is power”, or Marx’s that “up to now philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it.”[3]”

The important thing to take away from this excerpt is namely that the attempt to define truth in a series of measured and manipulated categories is essentially materialistic. Fundamentalism has completely boughten into the materialistic mind set and uses creationism (as an ism) as a method to refute evolutionism. The issue I have is that they are both operating from materialistic principles where truth is measured within the confines of those principles, and if it can’t be then it’s not true. Like the evolutionist, the creationist is just as convinced that his or her position is true, ergo there must be hard evidence for them to find to prove it (though, don’t mention anything about taking the Words of Institution or Holy Baptism literally, that’ll get your Fundamentalist membership revoked).

Keep in mind, the Western Church knew that the earth was round and there was plenty of scientific thought to indicate that the earth was not the center of the universe; however, the teaching that the earth is the center of the universe was maintained because it is consistent with truth, not facts. Here I invoke the medieval concept of the spheres and leave it at that.

To conclude my rather long (and possibly incoherent) comment on the matter I would like to caution everyone who thinks that they have to “beat the secularists” by out-“facting” them in a scientific debate. Please consider what the implications are of this approach to scientific and philosophical dialogue. We live in a day and time that is dominated by philosophies of which we are often completely unaware. Until we are able to address these first principles of philosophy and techne, we are unable to have a profitable discussion of craft and science.

My thoughts on the “Organic” Church

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It is a good desire to want to get our theology “right.” That is, it is good to know why we worship Christ and to worship Him the way He wants to be worshiped. This involves some degree of knowledge and faith about Jesus Christ and answering some basic questions: who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s said to us. The way orthodox Christianity goes about this is by studying God’s Word and through that, we arrive at the “rule and norm” of Christian doctrine. This seems like basic stuff, right?

Right, well then you’ll be as equally surprised to discover that the “Organic Church” is out there to get doctrine “right,” and get this, without doctrine. I recently came upon a website for this 100% natural church. I found an “introductory tool” that made an attempt to describe the phenomenon. I’ll save you some time, here’s an excerpt that best summarizes what they’re all about:

By “organic church,” I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), nonhierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put another way, organic church life is the experience of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it’s the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings.

I think what stood out to me the most about this position was the blatant irony of doing church through “face-to-face community…the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings,” by removing “human institutions…held together by religious programs.” There seems to be a faulty premise held by this notion of an organic church and that is namely: human institutions and religious programs are “organic.” Humans are organic. The Church exists because God became a human being and instituted it for human beings. Consequently, how we “do” church is going to reflect the rhythm of the human life…the way God created us. The position articulated by this summary seems to be raising a question better answered through metaphysics than theology: what is the nature of man and the “rhythm” of the human life? I guess then, we can best determine what a truly “organic” church looks like.

Something else that struck me was that, as much as this non-institution tried, it couldn’t help but participate in what it was out to escape: definitions, doctrine, theology. Both in what it states and leaves unstated, the Organic Church takes what is effectually a doctrinal position. We must remember though, lest we commit the same mistake, what is true for the Organic Church is true for ourselves and our own denominations.

In an age in which many churches’ doctrinal positions are limited to a small “about us” webpage, I fear that the doctrinal ambiguity of American Christianity is setting the American church up for failure. Besides a differing church sign, what makes a church ignorant and ambiguous in doctrine any different from the Organic Church? What are the implications of getting our doctrine wrong (through stated doctrine, ambiguity of doctrine, ignorance of doctrine)? In order to cast aside all ambiguity, let me offer an answer: “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (St. Matthew 10:32, 33)

“rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living; To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived; To beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit”

Hear us O Lord.

Glorifying God

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything but I’ve been a little busy (and lazy). I recently got confirmed into a Lutheran congregation that is part of the LCMS. I am very blessed by the congregation and I want to return the blessing as much as I can.

In college I found it kind of difficult to get involved in church. I switched between churches rather frequently and I never had reservation going to someone else’s church. Going to someone else’s church isn’t bad, but I treated it much the same as one would treat trying a new flavor of ice cream. At the beginning of my senior year I started to seriously consider the importance of church and the duty I had to commit to a local congregation. I am thankful for the conviction God gave me to look into this and pursue a solution, but I am even more thankful for the outcome.

As a political science major and an evangelical I placed a lot of stock in duty (I still do). I recognized that as a father I would need to be in a church for the sake of my family. I also believed that church was an effective makeweight that helps good democracy happen. Whereas all this may be true to some extent, it is an incorrect reason to attend the Divine Service on Sunday morning.

It is our privilege to receive from God. I am reminded of David’s intent to build the house of the LORD in 2 Samuel 7. God’s response is to redirect David’s attention. He then gives an overwhelming list of all that He has done for David and, even more, what He is going to do. I believe this passage speaks to our desire to bring glory to God and how much we miss the mark when we try.

I am struck by how much we think we can do to glorify God. How can inglorious creatures glorify a God who is glorious? It seems impossible! But it’s not. The way God is glorified through us is grace. God is glorified when He gives to us. Take 2 Samuel 7 for example. Better yet, consider the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. The worst amount of suffering that could possibly have happened to someone was taken on by Jesus Christ, for our sakes, in one of the most glorious acts we know. There is nothing more to offer but my praise and thanksgiving and, even then, that is only the response to the glorious work God has done.

As I conclude, I turn to the Divine Service itself to emphasize my point. The service starts off with confession and absolution, recognizing we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. We then move on to the reading and preaching of God’s word where the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to us through His word. After that, we proceed to the Lord’s Table where we receive Christ’s Body and Blood, “shed for many for the remission of sins.” We then conclude with the Nunc Dimittis and a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. The entire service is about us receiving God’s forgiveness and being washed by His word. I go to the Divine Service because I know I need Him. And He is glorified.

Comediatrix and the Evangelical Monasticism

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In a large portion of the Protestant world, and non-Roman Catholic world, there seems to be a low level of respect for the Mother of God. This is mostly a reaction against the Roman Catholic understanding of her as “comediatrix” with Jesus Christ.

The RCC catechism teaches “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” Consequently, Roman Catholics are taught to pray to the Holy Virgin as an important element in the “hierarchy” of salvation. She is prayed to for salvation, times of peril, and even at times of death, for her assistance in the preservation of souls.

There is an obvious milieu of reasons as to why such beliefs regarding Mary, Mother of God, are perilous for the Church and God’s plan for our salvation. Therefore, I will leave it at this: “And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:27,28). We should honor and revere Mary, Mother of God, but only because she was given the blessed task of bearing the Word Incarnate and answered that call in humble submission. Definitely, no more and definitely, no less.

Now, the reason I bring this up is because despite the fact that much of American Christianity rejects the doctrines of comediatrix, and I would argue goes so far as to despise the Blessed Virgin, they don’t reject comediatrix as it applies to their own young women. Consider the way young women in the Evangelical culture are treated. They are constantly held to a standard of perfection which is altogether unhealthy for them.

Many young women find the pressure to be a shining example of purity and holiness for their “weaker brothers” oppressive. They are involuntarily forced into an Evangelcial convent of expectations. They are expected to be the comediatrix for our young men, giving them cause to “settle down” and inspiring them to holiness. Washing the grime and filth of their sin so that they will come to their senses and “get right with God.” While none of those things are necessarily bad, it is wrong to expect our young wives and mothers, and those who hope to enter those vocations, to bring about such reformations in the Old Adam of our young men. They themselves experience the burden of their own sin and need help in surrendering that to Jesus Christ, just as much as every other Christian. When we sideline them as both saints and sinners we sideline their desperate need for the forgiveness of sins as well. We also do a great disservice to our young men who submit their conscience to intense flagellation before they feel like they deserve one of these idols.

Although none would say that our young women are “preserved free from all stain of original sin” (as the RCC catechism says of Mary, Mother of God) the paradigm of Saint and Sinner is completely sidelined in their case. These young women are good women, daughters of God and held in the grace of their baptism as much as anyone else in the Church. However, they are also sinners in the sense that they struggle and sometimes fail in their war with the Old Adam, just as much as everyone else in Christ’s flock. We mustn’t forget that as members of Christ flock they are just as much in need of God’s Word and Sacrament as the next person. It is important for their spiritual health and the health of the Church that we treat them accordingly.

Now don’t get me wrong. We don’t simply treat our young women with any less respect. Rather, we must reevaluate the reasons we should respect them. How we understand this can be answered in how we should properly revere the Blessed Mother. Mary was a young woman, just like the young women of our time. She was called to the holy vocation of bearing the Son of God. In this, she humbly submitted herself to that vocation. How she submitted herself as a mother is what is emblematic for the women of our day. What a noble and holy task is the vocation of mother. All women who humbly submit themselves to this vocation have submitted themselves to a holy calling that all Christendom should revere and protect.

If we want to protect our young women from an “evangelical monasticism” part of that must involve teaching the Church, and especially our young men, how to properly revere the Blessed Mother. Mary, the Mother of God was both a saint and sinner, but what makes her blessed is that she bore the Word Incarnate. So too for our mothers, they are saints and sinners, but what make them blessed is that they have humbly answered the call of mother and have given themselves for us. Thus the virtue of the Blessed Mother is that she is an example of submission to God’s Word. The virtue of mothers is that they have also submitted to God’s command in raising children “in the way they should go.”

*Disclaimer* I’m not talking about all women, I’m talking about young women in the context of romantic relationships. Not all women are called to marriage but are equally worthy of our respect.

Things That Make Me Happy: Confession & Absolution

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For some reason, today I have been thinking about Confession and Absolution, the forgiveness of sins. It is a blessed Sacrament of the Church and warrants that we should engage in it and be thankful for it! Here are some passages from Holy Writ and the Book of Concord that are good to read, and think on. Know that Christ offers the forgiveness of sins freely, for you, in Word and Sacrament!

Luke 5:17-25.

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

John 20:21-23.

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Acts 3:1-8.

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

LC II 54-55.

We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and, in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin.

Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered to the end that we shall daily obtain there nothing but the forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. Thus, although we have sins, the [grace of the] Holy Ghost does not allow them to injure us, because we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but [continuous, uninterrupted] forgiveness of sin, both in that God forgives us, and in that we forgive, bear with, and help each other.

“Acting in Love” is Unloving…and Stupid

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It’s one thing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. It’s altogether another thing to neglect loving your neighbor for “persecution’s sake.” You usually catch people doing this when they’re too lazy or don’t feel equipped to battle unrighteousness. Today I’m mainly talking about the particular aggression of the LGBT agenda and the tail-between-the-legs response that a lot of people are taking when they’re “acting in love.”

The weak of heart or simple of mind think that the Christian response to this nonsense is to “act in love” or “suffer persecution for righteousness sake.” The use of cliches without a proper understanding of what they imply simply displays their incompetence to do either. Letting the liberal LGBTs bully society isn’t suffering for righteousness sake and it’s not loving to allow those abuses to happen to your community or to the individual persons who are in self-destruct mode. Actually, it’s allowing unrighteousness for self-righteousness sake. Such people are acting as if they can justify themselves before men by their “love.” They’re worried about what the world will think of them and how they justify themselves in the world by what they do, or not do.

They are as a sounding gong, though, because they do not have any real love despite the fact they are always talking about it. If their actions and opinions were truly motivated by a love for their neighbor they would not tolerate such blatant abuses of natural law, manipulation of the human virtue, and the slow destruction of order within society (in regards to the institution of marriage).

To love is to pursue the good of the object of your love. Such pursuit is not possible without knowledge of what is “good” for the object. When we discover the highest good for man we must pursue that in all diligence because we love ourselves and we understand that the completion of man is attained through the fulfillment of his highest good. We want to be complete. We want our highest good. Therefore, in order to love other human beings we must desire and make every effort that they attain their highest good.

Supposedly we Christians are supposed to have a leg up on this (insofar as the highest good for man is complete communion with God). That being said we should be even more conscious of the gravity of the situation. We should be more conscious of how homosexuality is harmful to those who engage in it, it’s harmful to the family, and it’s harmful to society. The entirety of society is effected negatively when homosexuality is allowed to go unchecked. That’s a lot of harm and anti-human good going on just so a small minority of sick people can continue to self-destruct.

The righteous thing to do is to call homosexuality what it is. And it’s much more complex than saying “THAT’S A SIN!” We must point out that it is antithetical to human nature, an enemy of human flourishing, and a destroyer of order (which is sin, but it’s just an actual understanding of what it is and does). It’s detrimental to individual persons and it’s detrimental to community. If I love those individual persons and I love my community then I will not fear opposition, even their opposition, when I seek their highest good. Why is that? Because love is entirely concerned with the object’s good and not its approval.

Rights of the Commonplace

The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them where it will. Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses, Chapter 1.

What is meant by this? There doesn’t seem to be any thing wrong with this statement. Commonplace is good, right? We all want to be a good old boy or girl, right? Well, sure some might be called to that station in life. However, what is being communicated here is that the good old boys and girls aren’t content with being just that. The commonplace man of society is no longer willing to take directives from anyone (unless they’re from the common man, of course). Instead these people believe that being commonplace privileges them to act as if there are no restraints on their prerogative. It is a rare sighting, indeed, to encounter someone who is willing to submit themselves to something other than commonplace authority in religion, politics, philosophy, manners, etc….

The same thing is happening in other orders, particularly in the intellectual. I may be mistaken, but the present day writer, when he takes his pen in hand to treat a subject which he has studied deeply, has to bear in mind that the average reader, who has never concerned himself with this subject, if he reads does so with the view, not of learning something from the writer, but rather, of pronouncing judgment on him when he is not in agreement with the commonplaces that the said readers carries in his head. Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses, Chapter 1.

I think what Ortega y Gasset is getting at here could be cross applied to the interaction between the commonplace man and the subjects I mentioned earlier (religion, politics, philosophy, manners, etc…). It seems that no one in America is at all concerned with traditions–unless of course one is talking about the tradition of “tradition hate.” Any authoritative traditions in religion or ethics are looked approached skeptically, if approached at all. In the process, society as a whole is bereft of any substantial direction and guidance. The masses continue in their hatred of tradition and flounder in their attempts to govern themselves without it. The irony of it all is that rather than correct their ignorance towards authoritative tradition, the masses blame tradition itself. I could go a lot of places with this, but I would like to end with a few questions.

When you approach an authoritative tradition, whether it be a text or a teaching, what is your method of approach? Is your concentration immediately lost to the act of thinking up objections and caveats? Or do you approach such traditions with humility and gratitude, hoping to learn something? I think that answering these questions is the first step one takes towards rising above the “commonplace.”

P.S. being in the commonplace isn’t a bad thing unless one decides that their opinions on matters outside of the commonplace are authoritative on their face
without external authority (tradition, reason, mores, etc…).

Bertrand de Jouvenel: On Obligations

From the Hipster Conservative blog (I wonder if there is a difference between conservative hipsters?).

This is an excerpt from de Jouvenel’s book, Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good. It stresses the importance of tradition and more importantly, gratitude. I have not read Sovereignty but I have read On Power. He’s a compelling writer and I am eager to read this other title.

Bertrand de Jouvenel: On Obligations.

Does God Love Everyone? A comparison between Reformed and Lutheran approaches to predestination

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I found this video the other day on Twitter. The gentleman in the video is Dr. Robert Morey, a Reformed (obviously) scholar of theology and apologetics. I don’t want to descend to the level of ad hominems against the man and I included another video that involves a proper theological response (coincidental) so, I need not say anymore.

After watching that video maybe you would be interested in hearing the Lutheran perspective. This is Reverend Jonathan Fisk from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. His youtube channel is amazing! Every Tuesday and Friday he releases his videos. This particular video includes the LCMS understanding of “The Call” before he addresses our subject at hand.

Also,

I hope that you appreciate these videos (well, at least the second and third ones ;)). The issue of predestination, and how it is handled, is what first caused me to investigate Lutheranism and move away from Reformed thought. I particularly like the way Lutherans articulate election here: SD+XI+8-12.

“For, as the apostle testifies, Rom. 15:4: Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. But when this consolation and hope are weakened or entirely removed by Scripture, it is certain that it is understood and explained contrary to the will and meaning of the Holy Ghost.” SD+XI+92