Archive for the ‘Liberal Protestantism’ Category
Pope Francis, in a letter to the founder (Dr. Eugenio Scalfari) of popular Italian newspaper La Repubblica (think USA Today of Italy) wrote the following:
As for the three questions you asked me in the article of August 7th. It would seem to me that in the first two, what you are most interested in is understanding the Church’s attitude towards those who do not share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that – and this is fundamental – God’s mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience. In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil. The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision. (Full text translated to English by La Repubblica can be found here)
This has to be one of the most bizarre statements every written by a Pope. In my reading in both the English and the Italian of this letter, Pope Francis seems to be asserting an argument something like this:
1. God’s mercy has no limits – contingent on the sincere contrition of the heart
2. Sincere contrition of the heart means obedience to own’s own conscience
3. Obedience to the conscience involves the perception of good and evil
4. A sincere contrite heart is the one does what is right in the eye of his own conscience
5. Pope Francis cannot judge the atheist (Dr. Scalfari) and by corollary any other person(s) who are obedient to their consciences
I am pretty sure I am not taking the Pope’s comments out of context, nor being uncharitable to the argument. If taken to the logical conclusion anyone on Earth who feels like they are a good person in their own eyes should (or at least could) be a part of God’s kingdom. This kind of argument does not square with the Gospel or even Catholic dogma. In my experiences talking with people about spiritual matters nearly all feel that they are a “good person” and would self-affirm that they are obedient to their own conscience.
The Love of God, Liberalism and the book of Judges
Pope Francis’ seems to be attempting to make a case that the central tenet of the Christian faith is the Incarnation of Jesus and that the most important element of the atonement is the love of God:
Christian faith believes in this: that Jesus is the Son of God who came to give his life to open the way to love for everyone. Therefore there is a reason, dear Dr. Scalfari, when you see the incarnation of the Son of God as the pivot of Christian faith. Tertullian wrote “caro cardo salutis”, the flesh (of Christ) is the pivot of salvation. Because the incarnation, that is the fact that the Son of God has come into our flesh and has shared joy and pain, victories and defeat of our existence, up to the cry of the cross, living each event with love and in the faith of Abbà, shows the incredible love that God has for every man, the priceless value that he acknowledges. For this reason, each of us is called to accept the view and the choice of love made by Jesus, become a part of his way of being, thinking and acting. This is faith, with all the expressions that have been dutifully described in the Encyclical.
* * *
In your editorial of July 7th, you also asked me how to understand the originality of Christian Faith as it is actually based on the incarnation of the Son of God, with respect to other religions that instead pivot on the absolute transcendency of God.
I would say that the originality lies in the fact that faith allows us to participate, in Jesus, in the relationship that He has with God who is Abbà and, because of this, in the relationship that He has with all other men, including enemies, in the sign of love. In other words, the children of Jesus, as Christian faith presents us, are not revealed to mark an inseparable separation between Jesus and all the others: but to tell us that, in Him, we are all called to be the children of the only Father and brothers with each other. The uniqueness of Jesus is for communication not for exclusion.
In this sense, coupled with the argument above, Pope Francis seems far closer to Unitarianism or liberal Protestantism than he does Catholicism or anything from the New Testament. This is some kind of vague pure love of God version of Jesus who is the nice Galilean homeless guy who challenged the status quo and broke social norms so we can all sit around the campfire holding hands singing kumbaya. This is the pure love of God version of Jesus that doesn’t really care about sin… as long as you feel good about obeying your own seared conscience.
There was a time when God’s people did what was right in their own eyes… :
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 17:6 ESV
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25 ESV
… and it was a total mess.
The Good News
To be crystal clear, Jesus’ death on the cross makes no sense for anything but the paying for the sin of His people and the transfer of His perfect life in return.
The Good News is that Jesus was perfect so that you the imperfect might have your law-breaking wiped clean and Jesus’ perfection deposited into your account. His death is what wipes away the penalty of law-breaking and His perfect life is what makes His people Holy in the eyes of God.
Scott Walker explains in WSJ Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin
There Aren’t Enough Millionaires… (to cover our fiscal/deficit woes)
Hedge Funds had large plays against Japanese economy before earthquake/tsunami
Alan Greenspan says Obama Administration is “Too Active” in Economy.
Possible use of Large Hadron Collider as a time machine?
Kevin DeYoung has a thorough review of Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”
Devastating article examining the essay grading industry
Journalist grills Rob Bell:
Apparently a higher up Google executive, turned spokesperson for Egyptian opposition group is now missing. Strange.
Excellent piece by Doug Wilson entitled, “Gravitron Fairies”
Christianity Today on the debate of Bible translation how far to go in contextualization into Arabic
U.S. gives secrets about British Trident class nuclear submarines in order to secure nuclear arms deal with Russia.
Kevin DeYoung makes a brief yet cogent case that the principle difference between Liberal Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, and Roman Catholics is their view of Scripture.
91 year old man and his 82 year old wife successfully stand against a robber in their home. These kinds of folks amaze me… the kind of folks that made this country great. We need more like them.
Online Universities are future of education says Bill Gates.
A Typical Day of Air Traffic:
Here is the AUDIO for the first lecture.
I was struck by a few things in doing my research on the life, thought, and influence of Nietzsche. First, I am struck at how dark, bleak, and sick was Nietzsche’s early world. Second, I was struck by the damning affects of the poison that flowed from the Tubingen School, particularly in the thought of Strauss, Feuerbach, and Schopenhauer (Tubingen was the school that started all of the criticism of the Bible that eventually led to the splitting of Protestantism into its conservative and liberal branches). Third, I am struck by how different Nietzsche’s thought changed over time and how he moves beyond all of his influences. Fourth, I am struck by both the radicalness and the consistency of Nietzsche’s atheism, he is the one atheist who says that morality is contingent on the existence of God. Fifth, I am struck that Nietzsche is really a kind of Greek thinker in the vein of Dionysus and that the goal of his whole philosophy is life affirmation. Sixth, I am struck by how much I agree with Nietzsche both in what bothers him and what he affirms. Finally, I couldn’t agree more with David Hart when he says, “The only really effective antidote to the dreariness of reading the New Atheists, it seems to me, is rereading Nietzsche.”
Below is the outline and audio from the first lecture:
I. Biography and Psychology
B. Boarding School at Pforta
C. Chronic Illness
E. University of Basel
F. Franco-Prussian War Medical Orderly
II. Intellectual Influences
A. David Frederick Strauss – Das Leben Jesu
C. Friedrich Lange – History of Materialism and Critique of its Present Importance (Geschichte des Materialismus)
III. Nietzsche’s Thought
A. “The Death of God”
C. Master and Slave Morality
E. Will to Power (der Wille zur Macht)
F. Eternal Recurrence (ewige Wiederkunft)
IV. Nietzsche’s Influence
C. Albert Camus
F. Martin Buber
G. Adolf Hitler (sort of)
…and why you should read them (or at least be familiar with them).
These are books that have had a deleterious affect on humanity (almost exclusively Western in their thinking). Some of them had “good intentions”* but fell flat on their face with horrible unintended consequences. The Christian has the responsibility to defend the truth of the Gospel. One part of defending the truth is refuting all untruth. We need to be reading primary sources of the things we are seeking to deconstruct – not summaries, the wikipedia article, or a blog post about it.
*1. The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin
I do not think Darwin would agree with half of Neo-Darwinianism or macroevolution. He makes massive concessions that geology and microbiology would need to corroborate his thesis. He was a good scientist who followed the evidence, I think he would be in the intelligent design camp (perhaps this is a controversial statement, but read Origin for yourself). I have listed this as #1 as this work was critical in pretty much all of the destructive thoughts of the past 150 years: Eugenics, Scientific Naturalism, Nietzschean atheism, New Atheism, Liberal Protestantism, and Communism.
2. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
This book is probably the most influential book in philosophy since the ancient Greeks. Kant seeks to synthesize the great debate of the history of philosophy: Being vs. Becoming aka Plato vs. Aristotle. In the process, Kant comes to the conclusion that our minds cannot have knowledge of things that are not physical – ie. God and many other absolute truths. In defense of Kant, his thinking did begin to change in his third work as he makes some wiggle room for faith as being a legitimate pathway for knowledge (but almost no one reads his third volume).
3. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
20,000,000 dead under Stalin, 6-8,000,000 dead under Lenin, 40,000,000 dead under Mao Zedong, 1,700,000 dead under Pol Pot… case and point.
4. On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers by Friedrich Schleiermacher
This guy birthed liberal Protestantism. His ideas split Protestantism and millions think they know Jesus when they don’t.
5. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche decries how humanity has killed God through our apathy. He then espouses why humanity needs to move beyond God, morality, truth, and the good, in favor of embracing exerting power and control over the weak.
*6. Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
Descartes had every intention of proving through pure axiomatic reasoning that God existed. In short, his arguments for God’s existence were awful and his arguments for doubting everything were excellent. His legacy is solid argumentation for skepticism. Epic Fail.
7. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
11-17,000,000 dead. Hitler sees Judaism, capitalism, and communism as the three major threats to Germany. The Final Solution means purging all associated with these things and the result is the Holocaust. Awful.
8. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity by Richard Rorty
In my view, this is the most important book to be read today for the Christian. For an explanation why, read my previous blog post on post-modern-pragmatism.
9. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
In order to be successful in life you must exercise control through power and manipulation. Morality hurts your ability to exert your will.
10. Origins of the History of Christianity by Ernest Renan
The New Testament is essentially myth. This revisionist history was seminal in classic liberalism and influential in the later Jesus Seminar.
11. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Among Men by Jean Jacques Rousseau
Society is corrupt, man is good.
12. The Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger
Sanger promoted sexual liberation and then birth control, abortion, and eugenics. 39,000,000+ babies dead worldwide… this year from abortion.
13. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
Humans are immoral, therefore only Leviathan is the solution… Leviathan is a strong and aggressive central government.
14. The Essence of Christianity by Ludwig von Feuerbach
Christianity is superstition that will soon be replaced by humanism.
15. The Future of an Illusion by Sigmund Freud
Humanity has invented God and this delusion is a kind of mental illness.
16. Various Writings by Pelagius
Denial of the doctrine of original sin, denial of efficacious grace, and the denial of the sovereignty of God. 1600 years later his teachings still plague the church.
17. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey
This was just painful to read (and I was unable to finish) and I am not endorsing actually getting a copy (hence no link). Kinsey basically says that no sexual behavior or orientation is immoral. All is permissible.
18. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
Some bit of gnosticism had to make this list. I wrestled with what to choose here. Pagels is your run of the mill critic who says that the gnostic “gospels” are the real story and history. These ideas are ridiculous due to their pseudepigraphic nature, date of writing, and mutually exclusive theologies.
19. Prolegomena to the History of Israel by Julius Wellhausen
Wellhausen espouses that the first five books of the Old Testament were not written by Moses but by editors from four schools of thought. A flood of Bible criticism followed Wellhausen.
20. Why I am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell
Russell is one of the few atheists other than Nietzsche that I respect. His thoughts are well ordered and argued. The New Atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens…) wish they could hold a candle to Russell.
21. Process and Reality by A.N. Whitehead
Whitehead argues for Process Theology. Read about Process Theology here.
Justification by faith alone is anathematized. Veneration of Mary and saints upheld. Transubstantiation upheld. I love my brothers and sisters who are Christians in the Catholic church despite the Catholic church. Trent had the opportunity to listen to the Reformation and return to God’s Word for truth. It did not and left in its wake countless eternal casualties.
23. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
Pullman sought to write the opposite of Milton’s Paradise Lost. He seeks to commend humanism and ultimately atheism as the commendable life path. His Dark Materials is aimed at young adults and has been recently popularized by the Golden Compass film.
24. Protagoras by Plato
For clarity sake, these are sayings ascribed to Protagoras and not Platonic thoughts. The famous quote is “Man is the measure of all things.” Protagoras is the first person to espouse a kind of moral relativism.
25. Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead
The logical consequences of naturalism and Darwinianism applied to anthropology and sociology. What is primitive is good, therefore the sexual inhibition she evidenced in primitive Samoa ought to be writ large.
Some thinkers who nearly made this list:
Leon Trotsky, Mao Zedong, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Victor Gollancz, Lillian Hellman, Cyril Connolly, Norman Mailer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertolt Brecht, Johann Fichte, Georg Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, John Dewey, Joseph Smith, Percy Shelley, Henrik Ibsen, Edmund Wilson, James Baldwin, Kenneth Tynan, Jean-François Lyotard, Claude Levi-Strauss and Noam Chomsky.
What did I miss?