December 15, 2017

Saturday Ramblings: January 23, 2016

snow covered cars

Hey, iMonks on the east coast, how you doin’ out there, under the wrath of Snowzilla? Hope you’re not thinking of doing any rambling today, at least on the roads. Looks like it might be awhile before you could dig that Rambler out. Why not sit back with a big mug of coffee and join us. The weather’s fine here — a little crazy, yes — but no snow plows required. So, let’s ramble!

We’ll punctuate our journey today by stopping to take a look at a few more of the greatest blizzards in U.S. history.

The Great Blizzard of March 1988. 40-50 inches of snow was dumped on NY, NJ, Mass, RI, Conn. Killed over 400 people and caused over $20 million in property damage.

Great Blizzard of 1888. 40-50 inches of snow was dumped on NY, NJ, Mass, RI, Conn, killing over 400 people and causing $20 million in property damage.

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Update on my weekend…

I’m thrilled to say that tonight we’ll be going downtown to hear one of our favorite singer-songwriters, John Gorka. John is so clever, insightful, and funny, his songs are memorable, and I can’t wait to hear him this evening here in Indy.

How could I not share the wealth? I wrote about dreaming of spring on Friday, and the following song was one of the factors in prompting me to write. Here’s John singing “Thirstier Wind” from his latest album, Bright Side of Down.

 

23_snow_blizzard-512Update on Crazy CP headlines. I enjoy perusing The Christian Post now and then just to be amazed at the way evangelicals process life (and even more amazed that I once thought this way on occasion).

Some recent headlines astound me and have me shaking my head. Who thinks like this? Who actually says things like this?

  • Is David Bowie in Heaven? Can we please just stop speculating on this “elevator up”/”elevator down” theology? Even if it were the main point of the New Testament (and it’s not), who would trust Greg Laurie to answer a question like this?
  • Blake Shelton Shocked Tim Tebow’s Christian Faith Might Be Keeping Him Out of NFL. My jaw set a new record in drop speed with this one. First of all, Blake Shelton? Second, Tim Tebow is a bad football player, my fellow believers. Get that through your heads. He is not being persecuted or given less than a fair chance because of his faith. If he could play and win and make money for an NFL owner somewhere, he would be on the field. Oy vey. Soon you’ll be telling me you’re pissed off that Kirk Cameron hasn’t gotten an Oscar nomination!
The Knickerbocker Storm, 1922. Named this because the Knickerbocker Theatre in Wash DC collapsed, killing 98 people. The storm left 28-33 inches on the ground.

Knickerbocker Storm, 1922. Named because the Knickerbocker Theatre in Wash DC collapsed, killing 98 people. The storm left 28-33 inches of snow on the ground.

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Update on the even crazier (in a good way) Pope Francis…

Here is news from LifeSite News that many of us might find rather exciting:

Easter_Vigil_Mass-255x273A group of Finnish Lutherans were offered Holy Communion by priests at a mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica following a meeting with Pope Francis on January 15, according to a report by the Finnish periodical Kotimaa 24.

Lutheran bishop Samuel Salmi was visiting the Vatican as the head of a delegation that included a youth choir that was to perform there. Salmi says he met privately with Pope Francis.

After the personal audience with the pope, the delegation was present at a celebration of the Catholic mass. According to Salmi, at the time of communion the non-Catholics placed their right hands on their left shoulders, a traditional way of indicating that they were ineligible to receive the Eucharist. However, the celebrating priests insisted on giving them communion.

Salmi told Kotimaa 24 that “I myself accepted it [Holy Communion].” He added that “this was not a coincidence,” and nor was it a coincidence when last year the pope seemed to accept the notion of a Lutheran woman receiving communion with her Catholic husband. The original article, written in Estonian, was translated for LifeSiteNews by Voice of the Family’s Maria Madise.

At that time the pope acknowledged that “explanations and interpretations” of communion may differ between Catholics and Lutherans, but “life is bigger than explanations and interpretations.” He advised the woman to “Talk to the Lord and then go forward.”

“At the root of this there is, without a doubt, the ecumenical attitude of a new Vatican,” Salmi told Kotimaa 24. “The pope was not here at the mass, but his strategic intention is to carry out a mission of love and unity. There are also theological adversaries in the Vatican, for which reason it is difficult to assess how much he can say, but he can permit practical gestures.”

The visit took place just three days before an annual ecumenical delegation to Rome on the part of Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran Finns to celebrate the feast day of St. Henry of Uppsala, who is credited with the evangelization of Finland in the 12th century.

snow2

Great Appalachian Storm 1950. This Thanksgiving storm dumped over 57 inches of snow on the U.S. and Canada, killing 350 people.

23_snow_blizzard-512Update from Wheaton College: RNS reporter Emily McFarlan Miller brings us up to speed on the very public dispute between Wheaton College and Prof. Larycia Hawkins.

Now the faculty has chimed in.

Wheaton College associate professor Larycia Hawkins Phd., responds to a question during a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Chicago. Hawkins, a Christian teaching political science at the private evangelical school west of Chicago, was put on leave Tuesday. In recent days, she began wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women, to counter what she called the "vitriolic" rhetoric against Muslims in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)Wheaton College’s faculty council unanimously recommended that the administration drop termination proceedings against Professor Larycia Hawkins, according to an email to the faculty obtained by RNS.

…The council statement said it has “grave concerns” about the process the college followed in pursuing those actions, according to the email dated Jan. 20 from New Testament Professor Lynn Cohick, who chairs the council.

…The council still has questions it hopes the administration will answer at a listening session for students and faculty scheduled for Thursday night (Jan. 21).

  • Those questions include:
  • Does the college have a position on what can be said regarding the question: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”
  • What is the process for determining acceptable interpretations of the college’s statement of faith?
  • Do faculty have a role in this process?
  • How will faculty know if their views and/or statements are in danger of being judged unacceptable?

This is getting curiouser and curiouser. When the faculty begins to question the administration (not just idealistic students or people with a political agenda), the pot really gets stirred.

It’s my own opinion that Prof. Hawkins’s statement was not meant to be as theologically precise as many of her detractors are suggesting. One faculty member, in fact, called what she said “innocuous.”

This is what I have seen in my own experience: when administrations rise up publicly to deal with matters like these that they find threatening, a lot of their bluster is likely covering fear about donors. Which is fine: institutions need to protect themselves. But, especially in religious controversies, everybody wants to imagine that such debates are high-minded theological conclaves about ideas and purity of doctrine. I don’t think so. It’s about an institution’s worries concerning public perceptions and the way their patrons might react to those perceptions by pulling support.

In today’s climate, when conservative evangelicals are looking to people like Ted “the carpet-bomber” Cruz and Donald “ban all Muslims” Trump to satisfy their view of the world, Wheaton had little choice but to take a stand on this one. Right or wrong, I just wish they’d admit it.

Blizzard93

Storm of the Century 1993. It came as both a cyclone and a blizzard, and wreaked havoc from Cuba to Canada. As strong as a hurricane, covering an entire continent, the storm was responsible for 310 deaths and $6.6 billion in damage. However, it also marked the first time the National Weather Service had made a successful 5-day forecast warning of a storm’s severity.

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Update on the most “Bible-minded” U.S. cities. Christianity Today reports the results of the annual “100 Most Bible-Minded Cities” of 2016. Each year, the American Bible Society and the Barna Group survey the Bible reading habits and beliefs about the Bible from over 65,000 adults in major American cities, and this is what they’ve found this year:

reading-the-bible_2938The Top Ten Most “Bible-minded” Cities:

    1. Chattanooga, Tennessee (52%)
    2. Birmingham, Alabama (51%)
    3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia (48%)
    4. Shreveport, Louisiana (47%)
    5. Tri-Cities, Tennessee (47%)
    6. Charlotte, North Carolina (46%)
    7. Little Rock/Pine Bluff, Arkansas (45%)
    8. Knoxville, Tennessee (45%)
    9. Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson, South Carolina/Asheville, North Carolina (44%)
    10. Lexington, Kentucky (44%)

 The Least “Bible-minded” Cities:

91. Salt Lake City, Utah (17%)
92. Phoenix/Prescott, Arizona (16%)
93. Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut (16%)
94. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, California (15%)
95. Las Vegas, Nevada (14%)
96. Buffalo, New York (13%)
97. Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, Iowa (13%)
98. Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts (12%)
99. Boston, Massachusetts/Manchester, New Hampshire (11%)
100. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, New York (10%)

Most of this seems fairly unsurprising to me. South = Bible Belt. Northeast & West = the elitists and the liberals who won’t submit to the Bible’s authority. Isn’t that what we’ve heard our whole lives?

What do you think?

The Chicago Blizzard of 1967. This storm stranded over 800 CTA buses and 50,000 cars on the streets. A similar storm in 1979 cost the mayor his job and led to the election of the city's first female mayor.

Chicago Blizzard of 1967. This storm stranded over 800 CTA buses and 50,000 cars. The storm left 76 dead across the Midwest. Strangely, it occurred just days after the region had experienced 60º weather and tornado warnings.

23_snow_blizzard-512Update on the Oscars and diversity. Well, this is bound to start a bit of conversation.

Charlotte Rampling is one of my favorite actresses and I can’t wait to see “45 Years.” But she made some rather incendiary comments this week about the controversy that’s been brewing over the lack of diversity in Hollywood and in the recent Oscar nominations.

MV5BMTU0MTgyMjIzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTc3NTA0Nw@@._V1_UX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling does not buy into the notion that the Oscars are racist. In fact, she thinks the conversation surrounding a lack of diversity in the nominations is actually anti-white.

“It is racist to whites,” she said on France’s Europe 1 radio station Friday.

“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” added Rampling, who was nominated in the best actress category for her role in “45 Years.”

She disagreed with the proposal that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences use quotas to encourage diversity.

“Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted,” she said. “People will always say ‘Him, he’s not as handsome’ or ‘Him, he’s too black’ or ‘He’s too white.’ But does that necessarily mean there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

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Buffalo Blizzard of 1977. With wind gusts ranging from 46 to 69 mph and snowfall as high as 100 in, with winds blowing this into drifts of 30 to 40 ft, this storm solidified Buffalo’s reputation as the blizzard capital of the U.S. The storm was worse because Lake Erie froze and the high winds blew the snow on it onto land in addition to the snow that fell. That winter, Buffalo had a total snowfall measurement of 199.4 inches.

23_snow_blizzard-512Today for your musical pleasure and amazement…

I have heard a lot of gifted guitarists in my lifetime, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone play like Tommy Emmanuel. Without relying on electronics or special effects, he brings things out of a guitar that I never knew were there before.

Here’s some hot licks for you on a cold, snowy day. This is Tommy playing Arthur Smith’s Guitar Boogie.

 

Be safe out there. Or better yet, stay in there.

Comments

  1. Dan from Georgia says:

    And I thought I was the only one who perused The Christian Post for the humor and face-palm factor. Worse yet are the comments.

    • Andrew Zook says:

      I peruse my FB feed for the same thing… and I copy/paste some of the stuff…don’t keep the names. It makes your hair stand on end sometimes… and compared to the light of Christ’s gospel it is very dark.
      Not sure exactly what I’m going to use it for someday (I’m not a preacher or teacher or writer…) Maybe my grandchildren will read it and understand why their world is so crazy… or why so many more people are “nones” compared to the good ol days.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Heh, I am also a quote collector.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        Facebook would be dangerous for me because I would probably do what you do, but I would probably repost them in a weekly format and title it something like “Most Insipid Comments on My Facebook Feed This Past Week”, and lose many friends in the process!

    • I’m not sure which is worse, Christian Post or Charisma.

  2. Lutherans, Orthodox and Catholics together. YIKES!!! The Antichrist must be about to appear. Who’s the lastest candidate for that position by the way? Trump? Sanders?

    • If somebody hasn’t already nominated Putin, they will. The AntiChrist tends to be the latest “boogeyman” to threaten evangelical/American perceptions of superiority.

      • Brianthedad says:

        Already saw it. Wish I had the link to post. But it involves Gog and Magog and Putin’s growing involvement in Syria.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Looks like the Hal Lindsay types have adapted to the Second Russian Revolution.

          All they had to do was white-out “Soviet” and write “Russian”.

          Otherwise, their End Times Checklist/choreography remains the same.

        • Yep. RaptureReady.com has Russians in Syra as 5 points (out of 5) and ecumenism as 4, for a total ‘rapture index’ score of 180 today (all-time high of 188 was Feb 13, 2013, which is odd because about the biggest news that day was the Burger King’s twitter account was hacked and full of McDonald’s posts). These guys are on the ball. http://www.raptureready.com/rap2.html

  3. Here is a great example of the kind of answer Christ gives that no one else in the world would even think to answer:

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26.

  4. Christiane says:

    on the Wheaton ‘questions’,
    I tried to get some feedback over at Denny Burk’s blog on this question:
    “Does the college have a position on what can be said regarding the question: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” . . .

    no takers there . . . (could be that no one knew there either)

    I try not to ASSUME that the generally accepted concept of the Abrahamic Faiths is alien to conservative evangelicals, but some of the responses to the blog itself on the trouble at Wheaton do suggest that these folks did not believe that the God of Abraham was recognized by the three faiths as the One, Creator God . . .

    I have sometimes heard fundamentalists say that they don’t believe that the Jews worship the same God as they do. But that’s another story in itself.
    (sigh)

    My sympathies go out to the faculty at Wheaton. They must now be extremely on edge after seeing this happen to one of their colleagues. Those addition questions are excellent for clarification of the ‘stand’ of Wheaton College on the Abrahamic Faiths . . . after all, if such a well-known Christian college could suddenly turn fundamentalist without informing its own faculty, and by doing so, place a valued faculty member in jeopardy, then either Wheaton is not openly comfortable advertising itself as ‘fundamentalist’ OR it is still evolving about where it DOES stand and a ordered process of clarification will help everyone involved. Switching to ‘fundamentalist’ overnight is not something that goes unnoticed for long, but it’s a shame about the rough treatment of the Professor . . . I think she was really trying to do some good.

    • I have sometimes heard fundamentalists say that they don’t believe that the Jews worship the same God as they do. But that’s another story in itself. (sigh)

      Well color me fundie, but last I checked, the Jews did not believe that Jesus is God, and Christians do. Technicalities, eh?

      • I think you are missing the God of Abraham part. Completely.

        I am baffled as to why so many xtians miss this, but there you go.

        *

        Re. Lutherans, Pope Francis, et. al. – yes!!!!! Vatican II is alive and well, thank God.

        • No, I’m not. The Trinity is a whole, and indivisible. If you do not acknowledge Christ as God, you worship a different God, period. Christians worship Christ, not just the “God of Abraham.” This is a non-negotiable difference between Christianity and all other religions: Jesus is EVERYTHING, not just a peripheral distinctive of a shared deity. Sure, there are strong parallels in textual origins between the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim conception of God. But they simply are not the same deity.

          At least Jews in the first century certainly didn’t seem to think so.

          • Have you ever spent time with observant Jews? Because i think it’s a goodthing for all of usxtians to do, and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunities i had, ehen growing up as well as more recently.

            If you do not or canmot see the commonalities between Judaism snd xtianity, i would like to suggest that you make theeffort to both spend time with observant folks as well as learning more about Judaism.

            Might just be eye-opening.

            That’s as far as i can/will go in blog comments. Arguing back and forth will not solve anything, I’m thinking.

            Best,
            numo

          • Well, i spoke too soon. Prove it to us, this “not the same deity” argument.

            If Judaism did not exist, we would not exist. The. End.

          • Well, Paul in Romans certainly believed that the God of the Jews was the same God that Christians worship. “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “Paul in Romans certainly believed that the God of the Jews was the same God that Christians worship”

            This. I am depress but unsurprised to hear the claim otherwise from a fundamentalist Christian, as I have little expectation of one knowing much about the fundamentals of Christianity. Coming from a Lutheran, I am both surprised and depressed.

          • David Cornwell says:

            “Christians worship Christ, not just the “God of Abraham.” This is a non-negotiable difference between Christianity and all other religions:”

            Regardless of how we perceive of God, the same God stands behind all our understandings. Or is this stuff about the Jews direct from Martin Luther? In which case, it truly is not negotiable. We need to get beyond his perceptions and actions.

            It isn’t our job to be in the negotiating business.

          • There is no grace in Allah. Even the Jewish conception of one God has the concept of grace. Also, Muslims worship a man, Muhammad, even if they don’t outright admit it. He may not be considered to be a “god”, but the penalty for blasphemy against his person is the same.

          • There is no grace in many conceptions that Christians, and Christian theologies, and Christian churches, have about God.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            There is no grace in Allah.

            Or in the God of Calvin’s Institutes.
            Only Omnipotent Will and Predestination.
            No Right, no Wrong, only POWER.

            Also, Muslims worship a man, Muhammad, even if they don’t outright admit it. He may not be considered to be a “god”, but the penalty for blasphemy against his person is the same.

            Again, Calvin. (Ever run into a Calvinjugend? Young, Restless, and Really Truly REFORMED?)

            Or for that matter, Furtick, Got Hard, any Head Apostle/Lead Pastor of dozens of Megas or Movements.

          • Miguel,

            1- See comment above re St Paul, who understood about the Fulfillment that was revealed in Christ, rather than saw a clean break because of the “dIfferentness”.

            2-The Liturgy of both East and West is essentially a Jewish prayer service in structure (“Liturgy of the Word”) but with prayer addressed to Christ, with the Eucharist (“Liturgy of the Sacrament”) – in the style of a Jewish prayer service – appended.

            3- Compare N.T. Wright’s “The New Testament and the People of God” with the work of Margaret Barker.

            4- Pick up a copy of A.J. Heschel’s “God in Search of Man” and read it carefully, with the understanding that Amy-Jill Levine believes that the only difference between the teaching of Jesus and standard Jewish teaching was the command to love our enemies – which is a meaningful difference, especially since Jesus made it clear that’s what God is like. But still.

            There are significant differences in how “god” is understood, of course, but Christians and Jews worship the same God.

            Dana

          • Well far be it from me to disagree with St. Paul. I’ll give that we share far more with Judaism than Islam.
            I’ve spent little time with observant Jews, but I have known well several former ones (Jews for Jesus) and worked closely with them on multiple religious activities. I suppose they would agree, with the obvious caveat that when their own God, whom they supposedly worship, took on flesh and stood before them, they killed him. Not saying it’s the Jews fault that Jesus was crucified (he died for my sins too), but it puts them in the awkward position of simultaneously worshiping the same God as us AND rejecting him.

            And yes, Christianity owes its entire existence to Judaism, but this might be a bit of an anachronism. If you see OT believers in the promised messiah as members of the same spiritual family, then Christianity has existed all along, or is the true fulfillment of OT religion.

            Cheer up, Richard. I was drinking heavily last night when I wrote that.

            Regardless of how we perceive of God, the same God stands behind all our understandings.

            David, surely you don’t mean there’s no such thing as a false god?

            Robert, please. Just because many Christians promote a grace-less religion doesn’t mean it is a fair representation of Christian discipleship. You know that. We’re all grace-less at times, we all get it wrong. But Jesus still came to feed the starving world a feast of grace. Allah and Muhammed don’t even want to claim that.

            HUG, the institutes are all about grace. Maybe they completely changed the definition of the word, but any true Presbyterian is all about the “doctrines of grace.” The rest of us may not see that teaching as very gracious, but Islam bluntly says it is a religion of law and not grace. The Reformed are at least trying to work with a Christian understanding of grace.

          • I agree with you, Dana, that Christians and Jews worship the same God; I would, however, root that identity in significantly overlapping sacred narratives, out of which both faiths arise, and from which they describe, experience and apprehend God.

          • Dana, I’m aware of some of the connections between first century Jewish spirituality and the emerging Christian cultus. I understand better how the Christian anaphora came out of the synagogue practices, where readings from the law and prophets were interspersed with the singing of psalms, but I’m hoping to learn a bit more how the eucharistic rituals pulled from Jewish practices (aside from the annual passover celebration).

            Those look like some really excellent books that I will never read. Until I get to a place in life where I have enough downtime to do more than the occasional conversation here, books and I are becoming quite the stranger to one another.

          • The Trinity is a whole, and indivisible.

            The Trinity did not exist in any meaningful form until Jesus, when the early Christians needed to deify Jesus to the level of but not equal to God (and even then, which God, El or Yahweh or whomever), thus making him God’s Son ala Hercules and other mythological demi-gods. Over time, the “holy spirit of jesus” became known as The Holy Spirit, a third part of the Trinity equal but separate to both the Father and Son, and of course subordinate to both. These ideas got worked and massaged into the gospels, the epistles, and into the early church creeds.

            Or so I’m starting to believe. Occam’s Razor, it literally makes the most sense. It fits all history, all teachings, all writings, everything we know. Huge round of applause to both the ancient Jews and the ancient Christians for uniquely adopting the best aspects of their surrounding religions and casting their religion in those images.

            But such is heretical talk and thought.

          • These ideas got worked and massaged into the gospels, the epistles, and into the early church creeds.

            Or, the early Church expressed in its gospels, epistles and creeds its experience of Jesus, before and after his resurrection, using the tools of both Jewish and Hellenic religion and culture. After all, Gentiles and Jews both were made into one people in the Church, or so it’s said; why wouldn’t the everlasting Gospel use material from both? Still, it is right to insist that salvation is from the Jews, because Jesus was a Jew, and for the Gentiles to become Christian was to become a spiritual Jew.

          • Sorry Miguel, but the NT authors disagreed with you, most notably Paul.

          • Dana Ames says:

            Miguel, you can find articles by Barker a couple of places on the ‘net. Most consist of chapters from her books, but a single one is not an onerous read – much like “Saturday Ramblings” plus comments. Having read Wright deeply, my jaw dropped once I got to Barker, and compared them both to the Orthodox Liturgy, especially Pascha, and what is in the Altar in an Orthodox Church – not only because of the furnishings and the cultic acts, but because of what they ***mean***.

            Dana

          • Christiane says:

            Hi MIGUEL,

            suppose it worked ‘backward’ from the way you see it:

            rather than say ” The Trinity is a whole, and indivisible. If you do not acknowledge Christ as God, you worship a different God, period. Christians worship Christ, not just the “God of Abraham.” ”

            why not see it this way:
            IF you worship the One, Creator God as revealed to Abraham,
            THEN you would worship what IS true about the One Creator God whether you understood it or not

            remember, we have the teachings of ‘nature’ in the natural world that tell us of a Creator,
            we all have as human persons a desire to find truth
            and we all seek this truth even though we cannot understand everything there is to know about God

            for the fundamentalist who smugly says he has truly defined ‘who God is’, then I would remind him of Augustine’s saying: ‘if you understand God, it isn’t God’ (si comprehendis, non es Deus)

            I’m sure there is much to know and understand about God beyond what we believe to be revealed each in his own ‘bubble’, but we all can be found within the greater circle of humankind which has an inborn need to search for meaning and to understand far beyond our own capabilities to fathom . . . we share as human persons so much more than what divides us from one another . . .

            if we forget that, we can return to the understanding that Christ was ‘in God’ from the beginning, and even if Christ had not been revealed to Abraham in his day, Abraham still embraced the God who spoke to him

            so it’s backward: ‘the Creator God’ . . . we who believe in Him tacitly accept what is true about Him even though we may not know yet all there is to know, nor can we unless some of it revealed to us, and even then, much of that revelation is to us as ‘mystery’ . . . even the concept of the Holy Trinity cannot be fathomed . . . we should remain humble and then, maybe, just maybe, we will be given the grace to be able to embrace our brothers and sisters who share the Abrahamic Faith in the One Creator God.

            some thoughts . . .

          • Stuart:

            Or so I’m starting to believe. Occam’s Razor, it literally makes the most sense.

            You mean to say that, as Christians were being constantly persecuted and tortured for this new religion, they were constantly evolving its doctrines so that what brother Bill got beheaded for on Tuesday, Brother Richard got burned alive for the exact opposite the following week?

            Actually, the simplest, most sensible solution is that the NT records what Christ taught to his Apostles, and they stood by this at great personal cost. You’re idea of a malleable ideology that somehow achieved uniformity and consensus is absolutely baseless and shows a lack of familiarity with any early Christian writings. It is quite possibly the most complicated, far fetched explanation of how Christian dogma came about.

            But such is heretical talk and thought.

            No, it’s second rate entertainment, ala Dan Brown. Those ideas have been around for a long time, but they are based on the will to disbelieve, not on documentable evidence or reasoning.

          • And FTR for those still trying to correct my err, when I said “Far be it from me to disagree with St. Paul,” I meant it literally: That was me conceding the point. But go on, tell me more about how the NT corrects my err. 😛

          • You mean to say that, as Christians were being constantly persecuted and tortured for this new religion, they were constantly evolving its doctrines so that what brother Bill got beheaded for on Tuesday, Brother Richard got burned alive for the exact opposite the following week?

            Actually, the persecutions were mostly episodic, and local, not prolonged and Empire-wide. After the initial persecution by Nero, Christians could live entire lifetimes in peace and without experience of official persecution in many places around the Empire, which is not to say that Christians were always well-treated by the pagan populace, who tended to be suspicious of this new sect. But systematic, sustained persecutions were far from constant; in fact, they were infrequent, though our Hollywood-forged memories would have us believe otherwise. If they had been sustained and constant, the Church would not have survived.

          • Robert and HUG, you are conflating the practitioners with the deity. I agree that there seems to be little grace in a number of Christian manifestations. But Jesus is all about grace…PERIOD! Allah is NOT.

          • Robert F and Miguel, I remember taking a ANE Early Christians Martyrs class while I was in school. Was fascinating reading so many early accounts of young believers, especially those who claimed linkage to Paul or wanted to emulate him. Turns out there was a lot of…copycat martyrs. People basically begging to be martyred, or lying that they and their friends had been, etc. Seeing how far they could poke those around them before they snapped. There seems ample evidence throughout history that a lot fewer martyr deaths occurred, and many were very trumped up. Legend, again.

            Was a very interesting class. Wish I had been a different person while taking it.

          • StuartB, Yes, the Age of the Martyrs was not all that hagiography and romanticizing have made it out to be. There was a good amount of masochism in it, and there was more than one Roman Magistrate who went the extra mile to find ways for Christians not to be martyred. Sometimes the Christians insisted on martyrdom, practically begging to be executed, actually throwing their lives away. Nietzsche was right when he saw hatred of life in some of this; it was definitely present. That’s why I don’t think that Christian life today should be uncritically modeled on the Age of the Martyrs; it wasn’t what we accustomed to thinking it was.

          • Well, I will certainly correct one err, Miguel – err is a verb, the noun form is error. Although I suspect you might be playing humor, since in most of the south the latter is pronounced precisely like the latter.

        • Patrick Kyle says:

          They may ‘worship’ the same God, but they do it wrongly, like Cain. End of story. As for the Jews, can you really say they worship the same God once they have spurned His Son? They worship an old and incomplete version of God the have created via their religious system. Probably qualifies as idolatry. And yes, I know and have spent time with a number of Jews.

          StuartB. Ahh.. the old myth/fairy tale of the Trinity.

          Here is my question. How much of the Scriptures and of Christian doctrine can you deny and ridicule before you are no longer Christian? If I disagreed Scripture and orthodox doctrine as much as you do, I would leave the church and all things Christian and not preoccupy myself with it’s rotting corpse and it’s sphere of deceiving influence. Just sayin…

          • You really don’t see how bad you opening graph is, do you?

            Of course, last year you demanded to know why i didn’t just convert to Judaism when i brought up some points regarding xtian anti-semitism and anti-Judaism. What is your reason for this? I believe in the ecumenical creeds, but i don’t believe any good comes of demonizing others. (Cf. Luther i “On the Jews and their lies.”)

          • “Old and incomplete” – hmm. All the people of Jesus’ time had was the Tanakh.

          • Idk. I’m just thinking. I’ve never had a period of doubt or whatever with regard to all this, because it was swept under the rug and hidden from me. Am I allowed to wrestle with my faith, or would you and others simply just ask me why I don’t give it all up and choose to be an atheist, as if my questioning is a challenge and nuisance to your own faith?

            It’s good and healthy to consider these things and talk through them. I think I’m in good hands no matter where I doubt.

          • Also… you have siad, in this comment and one downthread, that people here are jettisoning orthodox doctrine. The thing is, –

            1) orthodox by your standards and nobody else’s?

            2) a lot of people here (including StuartB, but others, too) are processing a lot, after having been in fundy and/or cult environments for a long time. That does things to your head. I know, because I was in a charismatic cult. Rethinking most everything is part of the process of getting one’s feet on the ground, out in the real world – if only because fundies and cults demand a slavish kind of “don’t think!” attitude from those inside. Who are very often highly educated, intelligent people. You are slamming people whose stories you don’t know, and I find that not only unfair but contrary to the spirit of the blog and comments sections. Nobody here *has* to hew to X or Y doctrine, so long as they’re kind and treat others with respect.

            3) I am dismayed by your attitude toward Judaism and Jewish people as a whole. It is grossly unfair and prejudiced, as is your continual flaunting of your kind of Christianity as the Only Way. All of us will have our day of reckoning, and who knows what that will look like? There’s this thing someone once said about prostitutes and tax collectors going into the kingdom of heaven ahead of a lot of folks who claimed that they pretty much owned it. I don’t think God is in the market for setting up a gated community, either here or in the world to come. There’s that pesky “grace”” of his, for one…

          • Stuart, I get you, and appreciate your honesty on this thread and elsewhere. I have my own doubts, but I have to say the one thing that makes me skeptical of the entire Christian religion is the hatred, nastiness, arrogance, and often criminal behavior that I have experienced among “true believers”. Born again my ass.

      • Do Christians worship Jesus? Or do they worship the God that Jesus worshipped? Or both? How much of the Son is sleight of hand to the Father? I thought worshipping just Jesus was an ancient heresy.

        • You’re trying to make sense of the Trinity, Stuart. Give up, it’s a mystery you won’t solve.

          • Is it a mystery or a sleight of hand to fit a preferred theology? I’m honestly asking this. The Trinity is not a first century Christian theology, it’s early second at best, and then didn’t get formalized until the 300s. It seems a reasonable question to ask about it.

            And yeah, it’s a mystery. It’s not an egg. It’s not three in one shampoo. It’s not any created thing. It’s this cognitive dissonance idea like eternity that is hard to think about but are told to accept just as.

            Anyways…

            Do Christians worship Jesus, or do we worship God the Father through Jesus? That seems a very pertinent question and answer to this discussion. Do we pray “Our Father…”, or do we pray to Jesus?

          • This Christian does both; and prays to the Holy Spirit, as well. The special quality of the Lord’s Prayer is that Jesus prays it with us, just as he was baptized by John in solidarity with us.

            Jesus embodies and discloses the God who shares his creatures suffering and hopes, who does not sit remotely in the seventh heaven as his creation goes to hell-in-a-hand-basket, and who does not spend his time “watching us, from a distance”, the Bette Midler song notwithstanding. To paraphrase Barth, God earns his right to be honored as God by a suffering world on the cross, which means also in the Incarnation. If Jesus is not God, then as far as I’m concerned Christianity is not worth a rat’s ass.

          • Why would someone prefer that kind of theology that necessities such slight of hand? Serious question. If I were gonna invent a religion, it wouldn’t be that complicated. Simplicity appeals to a lower common denominator and nets a broader spectrum of potential adherents.

            The Trinity absolutely is a first century theology. It is directly in the text of Scripture. Jesus himself commands baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            Just because the Nicene creed wasn’t written until the fourth century doesn’t mean that it wasn’t believed prior to then. It wasn’t written to define the Trinity. The scriptures already did this, and it is from there that the Nicene propositions are completely taken. Rather, it was written to protect what the Scriptures teach on the mysterious nature of God from those who would try to force it to make more rational sense.

            Seriously, the Trinity is anything but a convenient solution. Just about any of the early heresies would better survive Occam’s razor.

            The difficult concept of the Trinity isn’t accepted solely on the basis of blind faith, despite how it may have been presented to you in fundamentalism. Consider, rather, the implications of the Trinity. If it is true, then what? Then Jesus is really God, and God himself has truly suffered as we, the creator has borne death for his creation. By the incarnation, therefore, God has permanently joined himself to us in our humanity in order that it might be redeemed by him.

            You take away the Trinity, you really don’t have much of a Gospel anymore. You’re left with the distant tyrant sending his subordinate minion to do his dirty work. What a joyful proclamation of lovely grace that is. The Trinity is worth believing because it leaves us a beautiful picture of who God is and what He has done “for us men and for our salvation.”

            To worship the Son is to worship the Father, and the other way around. The best place to wrestle with this mystery (which is a good thing to do) is actually the Athanasian creed. It seems rather intense and abstract at first, but it’s one of those things you understand better with time. I have found that it really helps clarify my thinking about God. Not that it makes complete sense, but it gives me a stronger framework with which to think with more consistency.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “I have sometimes heard fundamentalists say that they don’t believe that the Jews worship the same God as they do. But that’s another story in itself.”

      I disagree. It is precisely the same story.

      • Christiane says:

        Come to think of it, you are right . . . it IS rooted deeply in the same story, which makes me very sad for the fundamentalist frame of mind.

        In my simple view of faith in the Creator God, none of us know everything that is true about God. We want to know, but we are not able to take it all in, no. It is beyond our capacity to fathom.
        I like to think that in one’s faith in the One Creator God, there is a tacit acceptance of all that IS true about God.

        For those who think they know everything about God, there was this wise advice given:
        “Si comprehendis , non est Deus.” (Augustine)

      • “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
        ??1 John? ?2:23? ?ESV??

    • Maybe it would be better to say that all three faiths claim to worship the God of Abraham while also believing that the other two group’s understanding of God is seriously wrong at some points.
      As for the professor, just going off of the information in the press I don’t have a lot of sympathy for her. Maybe the college overreacted, but she could have very easily settled this whole thing by putting out a statement clarifying the differences she sees between Islamic and Christian belief about God and whether or not she truly believes that Jesus Christ is the only name by which we can be saved. Instead she decided to make a public statement criticizing Wheaton while claiming she wouldn’t say anything bad about them, and then saying she was going to stand with the “others”, while clearly separating herself from the other Christians who don’t agree with her.

  5. Tim Tebow is NOT a bad football player! He was successful all the way up through the college game but just didn’t have what it takes at the professional level. You can call him a bad Professional player and be justified in your judgment.

    I remember both the 1977 Buffalo blizzard and the 1993 east coast storm. Not because I was living on the east coast, but because we SoCal residents saw a large increase of snow-weary immigrants arriving here the following spring and summer. It isn’t just non-citizens who flock here for a better life…

    • Bad professionally is what I meant. I could have stated it less baldly, but this was a rant, after all.

    • I was a senior in high school during the winter of 1976-77. I lived in central Virginia in those days, and that winter marked the first time I saw snow stay on the ground for longer than a month. I remember one Saturday when then-Gov. Mills Godwin activated the emergency broadcast system to announce various restrictions, including a limit on retail business hours, due to a weather-related energy shortage.

      I currently live in metropolitan Washington, DC and we’re buried under lots of snow. I wonder if anyone will relocate following the snowstorm, although I can’t see myself relocating to southern California unless the Lord directs me. I still remember the earthquake which struck this area in August 2011, and that one was as strong as I care to experience.

  6. Does the college have a position on what can be said regarding the question: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”

    For the love of Buddha, people, this one is not exactly brain surgery! These days even Richard Dawkins is acknowledging that Allah is more akin to Thor than he is to Yahweh. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

    • Fwiw, Buddhism is not a theistic religion…

    • David Cornwell says:

      Richard Dawkins is now an authority in theology?

      • The vast, vast majority of religious believers aren’t authorities on theology, David.

        • That’s exactly the point: Richard Dawkins is no better informed in theology than the average person, believer or not.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Gee, what’s next Miguel?

      Wait for it…

      Episcopalians don’t worship the same God as LCMS.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Followed by “The ELCA doesn’t worship….”, followed by “those liberal LCMS congregations….” – this is indeed how these things often go.

      • This is ridiculous. There is a world of difference between the lines demarcating different religions and sectarianism within a diverse religion. That kind of sectarianism belongs to historically unaware fundamentalism. Lutherans are probably the most generous in recognizing the validity of the whole spectrum of Christendom, we know how to disagree while still affirming vital commonalities. There are no serious voices in the LCMS claiming that any other Christian group worships a different God. If that’s how you view LCMS teaching you obviously know very little about it.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Your invoking of Richard Dawkins is ridiculous. I’ve heard “color me fundies” declare that unless my Jesus looks doctrinally like their Jesus then I am not really a Christian, ergo not worshiping the “one true God”. So excuse me if I’m more than a bit incredulous at your assertions.

          • Clay, well given that a lot of evangelicals do not think Lutherans are real xtians, it kind of stands to reason (or not; I’m not sure anyone puts actual *thought* into these sorts of pronouncements, because if they did, they wouldn’t be so quick to make them).

          • No, it is not. The point is that anyone, even the most supposedly “unbiased” outside observer, can see such a clear demarcation between the Judeo-Christian God and Islam. Dawkins is an outspoken critic of both, but has recently begun to clarify which is he would greatly prefer. The point is that it isn’t Christian bias to say “we worship a different God than Islam.”

            You have to deal with the argument people make, not the argument their argument reminds you of. “Unless your Jesus looks doctrinally like my Jesus” is precisely the point of the ecumenical creeds. And rather than being divisive and sectarian, they one of the greatest unifiers of all Christendom. Unless you draw lines somewhere, you have nothing from which to form an identity.

            The fundamentalism you are probably balking at is the one that draws rather arbitrary and historically uninformed lines around their version of Jesus. Um, yeah. This has pretty much never happened in the Lutheran church. Or Anglican. Or really, any other church that recites the Nicene creed. We tend to overwhelmingly recognize all differing Christian bodies who confess the same Creed that we do.

        • Miguel – Well, the Vatican issued Nostra Aetate back in the early 60s, where it says that Jews and Christians worship the same God; Pope Francis has recently taken that further re. Islam. I think that, given the legacy of Luther’s anti-semitism, we had better be quicker off the mark. (Can’t recall exactly when the ELCA finally disavowed and apologized for Luther’s “On the Jews and their lies,” but it wasn’t that many years ago.)

          Further, I think you are conflating later theological developments (per Christology and the theology of the trinity) with what the earliest church believed; given that the sect switched from being primarily Jewish to primarily gentile, I’m afraid that statements like Paul’s about us being grafted into the branches of an already long-existing tree, Jesus’ assertions re. his not coming to abolish the Torah but to fulfill it (and much more), we have ended up without any support. Like limbs cut off from the rest of the tree. Most xtian colleges and seminaries really don’t have Jewish studies requirements – would that they did, and by Jewish studies, I mean *Jewish* studies, not brief glosses on 1st c. sects and a few verses from the NT and moving right along. Judaica is an incredibly rich and varied field, and even dipping into it just a little bit ads so much depth and grounding to xtian understanding of our religion, our faith.

          As a child of the immediate post-Holocaust era, I cannot and will not assert anything other than what I’ve already said about both Jews and xtians worshipping the same god. *Understanding* and interpretations of texts vary, however, and that’s where the differences in belief and practice begin to come in. If God is not the same God, how do you explain the early believers going to the temple in Jersualem to pray, and/or going to synagogues to do the same? It is all over in the NT; that deep grounding in Judaism, and later gentiles can’t unmake that historical reality. (Even though they use blanket terms like “the jews” and “the law” to vilify or at least make sweeping generalizations about Jesus’ own people, and the monotheism of the earliest members of the church.)

          • The ELCA couldn’t have formally disavowed Luther’s anti-semitism until recently because they’re a denomination that has only come to exist recently.

            You guys got me on the Jews and Christians thing, I conceded that a while back (see above). Islam is a different animal entirely, though. I agree that the NT is rather clear on this.

            Judaica is an incredibly rich and varied field, and even dipping into it just a little bit ads so much depth and grounding to xtian understanding of our religion, our faith.

            This is very true. I think it may be a while before Christian colleges do anything with this, most of them have a hard enough time communicating their own faith with much consistency or accuracy. With seminaries, however, I think there is much good stuff already being done there. I haven’t looked to closely into it, but I’d wager that Union Theological does it well, and I’d not be surprised to see Roman Catholic and Lutheran seminaries looking into it as well.

          • Well, no, of course the ELCA is relatively new. I grew up in the LCA. But see, we didn’t stand up and disavow Luther’s anti-semitism, and neither did the ALC and other, smaller Lutheran bodies ghat are now part of the ELCA. I wish i knew ehy we kept our mouths shut.

            As for Union Theological, yes, and ditto for msny high-church seminaries, but clearly not all, or else the “law/grace” thing wouldn’t still *be* A Thing with many Lutherans.

            Btw, i saw your comment above; i think mine right upthread was meant to be way upthread, too, but it ended up here. There are, btw, some very good posts way doenthread, by Ted and a commenter named Paul, about common ground with Islam that are very much worth a look. What they mention is how a friend of mine (now a Wycliffe translator, based in Eurasia) 1st ran by me a long time ago. I think the Islamic Studies dept. @ Georgetown U. is one of the few places that has inter-religious dialogue as sn ongoing part of its program, but hey, it’s part of “the Catholic Ivy.”

          • Not Paul – John.

            (Sounds like a band.)

          • Numo, no studies of Judaism are going to lead the Lutheran church out of it’s law/gospel understanding of the Scriptures. Unless you can demonstrate to me how the two are mutually exclusive.

          • Everyone ignores the passages where Paul and Jesus both affirm that the Torah is good. If not a single vowel marking (per Jesus) is intended to be discarded or forgotten, then…

            I am objecting to lww = bad, impossible to keep, etc. If that wete so, Judaism and various ways of observing it would have bern left in the dust long ago. But that hasn’t happened. Which mesns thst law = bad isn’t the Great Revealed Truth that many people seem to think it is.

          • No, Numo. Everyone does NOT ignore the passages where Paul and Jesus both affirm that the Torah is good. Not my Pastor. Not any of the 30+ clergy I blog with. Not any of the unnumbered numbers of preachers I’ve heard across our synod. Not even the laity. And certainly not our Sem profs or my friend who just finished his PhD at St. Louis. The Scriptures are VERY clear, as you say, that the Law is good, even in the NT. There are few, if any, in the LCMS who disagree with this.

            You know not of which you speak. LCMS does not “ignore passages” anywhere. I know liberals think this is impossible because according to them everyone does it, but we seriously take the whole book for what it says, with faith seeking understanding. We may disagree on certain interpretations, but the passages you refer to are not something we’re going to stand on its head.

            Spend some more time reflecting on Walther’s theses on the proper distinction between law and gospel, and you will see that we value and treasure the law completely, because it is the Word. It is a means of grace. It feeds us.

          • Miguel, my remark was intended as a comment on Luthrrsns of all stripes/synods who *oversimplify” the Torah vs. the NT. I was not speaking of the LCMS; sorry that it came across as such.

            If anything, Steve (who used to comment here, and who id ELCA) was THE exemplat, though goodness knows, comboxes don’t allow for much in-depth discussion.

            Also feiw, i ueed to attend a really nifty LCMS church, back whrn i was in grad school. Small congregation, but a good one. I wish i had done more to keep in touch afterwards. But LCMS congregation on the East Coast are generally a bit more relaxed thsn many in the Midwest. For ex., the pastor knew i was ELCA, but there was never a hitch regarding my taking communion there.

          • Ah, I see what you’re talking about. Steve Martin, if that’s whom you refer to, is actually with LCMC last I checked. Some people call his perspective “soft antinomianism.”

            FWIW my pastor would have no problem communing you. In that regard we are rather typical of the east coast. I believe in closed communion much more strongly than he, which is a view I share with my Roman Catholic in-laws. We (including her daughter) do not commune at their Catholic congregations in Japan, even though the priest has become a good friend, and my mother in law doesn’t commune in our congregation, though she frequently stays with us for extended periods and my pastor is willing. Her priest has taught her to honor the teaching and doctrinal differences between our traditions, and it has not caused an ounce of friction in our families. Mostly because her priest is a very catechetical leader. It simply has not been necessary for us to share the Lord’s table in order to recognize the validity of each other’s faith and enjoy good Christian fellowship. We cross our arms at mass to receive a blessing and then share a table at the sushi bar for lunch after.

          • Miguel, i think what you describe is both sensible and s wise choice. I was once stuck in yhe podition of a kknd of crazy RC priest trying to order me and snother Protestant to *-take* -communion, and that was just miserable for evetyone preseng on many levels. (We had evrn been briefed ahead of time that the priest was likely to try it.)

            I have taken communion in quite a number of Catholic masses, and gently stood back at others, especially when in church with family members who hsve converted to the RCC. Much drpends on context, as well as the celebrant. I know what the rules are, and there are some priests who feel thst they sre not quite what they ought to be. It is a matter of conscience, and i think it can vary, depending on time, place and circumstances.

            As an adide, i lived in s small convent for 18 months whrn i wss in undergrad, and joined the sisters (or, as they called themselves, “the girls”) for a.m prayers and often for mass, either at the house or in a parish church. The overbearing priest i mentioned just above was a dinner guest (an ill-judged one for sure!). I’m grateful for them being so open in allowing me to live there for a time, and for the spiritusl formation they provided just by being themselves. It’s become clear to me as i age that their example has never been more relevant or needed, in my life and in the lives of others. They were and sre seriously cool ladies. :).

        • Miguel, I wouldn’t doubt that many people who are part of the LCMS (and other churches) see Episcopalians as worshiping a different god than they do.

          Clay’s remark is a comment on your bald statement about the God Jews worship, as I see it.

          • You should doubt it, Numo. We have a lot of nasty words for our Episcopalian brethren, but “heathen” is not one of them. I have these kind of conversations with clergy and lay persons in our synod from all around the country on a regular basis. If this kind of malarky was remotely common I would have stumbled across it long ago. Just because we’re theological conservatives doesn’t mean we’re uneducated anti-intellectuals.

            Now the Buddhist Episcopalians, or the Muslim Episcopalians, those are another matter entirely. But as far as they are true Anglicans, they’re generally considered our closest theological neighbor (minus the mainline progressivism). The 39 articles were modeled after the Augsburg Confession, after all.

          • Oh i bet some do, given the sanctions and all that. Your attitude is less common than it ought to be.

            And every denomination has its wacky wing, too.

          • Well yes, the wacky wing is what it is. I’ve yet to encounter a wing so wacky as to insist Episcopalians will burn in hell. And sanctions? Are you referring to closed communion? Also not a judgement on the state of their eternal soul. Just like the Catholic and Orthodox church.

          • No, the sanctions came down from the Anglican Communion conference in England, a couple of werks ago. The presiding bishops of Uganda, Nigeria, Krnya and a couple of other African countries pushed for TEC and ghe Anglican Church of Canada to be sanctioned re. LGBT isdues. They were able to get a 3-year sanction against TEC, but not the AC of C, though i suspect that will happen at the next big AC conference.

            I think they just forced THE split in the Anglican Communion. It was mentioned in last werk’s ramblings, or maybe before that? At any rate, this month.

          • When i used the tetm “wacky wing,” i wad thinking of ultra-liberal Episcopalisns, actually. You know, the folks who are gung-ho about prayer lsbyrinths and such. But i can’t pull off thst kind of comment like Garrison Keillor can – poking gentle fun without being judgy. I guess the medium – radio – has a lot to do with it. At any rate, Keillor once did a hilarious bit on a guy eho had become Unitarian that pinpointed some craziness while at the same time being kind. I eould love to hear it again.

        • Patrick Kyle says:

          Take heart Miguel, that’s why I don’t frequent this blog much anymore. I get enough of this crazy ass spirit of the age elsewhere. It’s disheartening to see what passes for Christianity and ‘Christian dialogue’ especially here. I don’t understand why people who deny large portions of Scripture and historical orthodox doctrine bother with it at all. After you determine enough of it isn’t true or is just so much cultural bigotry imported from another age, I personally, would abandon it and any pretense I had of practicing it. Bet hey, that’s just me, I guess.

      • No True God

      • You haven’t met many hard core (or just typical) SBC folks have you.

        Said he raised in an SBC church.

        • I’m a former Southern Baptist. That wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear it from Baptist fundamentalists. But I’ve yet to encounter a version of Lutheranism that is that fundamentalist. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but it is definitely an extreme minority if it does. I’m confident that even WELS Lutherans would expect to see faithful Episcopalians on the other shore.

          • But WELS still teaches that the pope is the Antichrist, so won’t they be surprised when they all get there!

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Ah, the converts are almost aways more devout than those born into it…
            🙂

          • Miguel, to be honest, I’ve seen a change in your comments over the past couple of years. More and more, you are – to me, probably not to many others – sounding like you’re into a fjndy wing of the LCMS. you used to come across in a more friendly, open-minded manner when you disagreed with people, but more recently, you have become increasingly harsh and dogmatic.

            I dunno, msybe it’s just me, but i don’t think so.

          • Christiane says:

            well, MIGUEL, the same Pope Francis who wants to share communion with visiting Lutherans also has prayed with Jews and with Muslims . . .

            I think it isn’t something a former Southern Baptist could grasp easily, but it has a lot to do with respecting people as valuable in the Eyes of God, even if those people are of ‘the others’ . . . when Our Lord came to Earth, we were all of ‘the others’ . . . He still came to us . . . not as a judge but as a physician seeking to heal and to save

            it is for Catholics, the year to celebrate God’s mercy . . . I can’t think of a better way than to reach out to those who are separated from us or who have come, like the wise men, from afar

            ‘reaching out’ . . . walking ‘towards’ . . . walking ‘with’ . . . embracing as a ‘brother’ or a ‘sister’ someone we have respect for . . .

            it is ONLY by God’s grace and mercy that any of us CAN ‘reach out’ in these ways . . . without fear, and without thinking we are alone . . . because we know Our Lord has gone before us into this world . . .

          • Numo, I believe the LCMS also teaches the Pope is the anti-Christ. A very nice, friendly anti-Christ whom we wouldn’t be surprised to see in heaven. How is that so? It isn’t the man we reject, it’s his office.

            Numo, I tend to respond in kind. I think there is a marked increase of progressive intolerance around here that takes an exceptionally uncharitable tone towards non-progressives. Like for example how you just juxtaposed being friendly with being fundy: That kind of implies that those of more conservative doctrine are necessarily less charitable, which is not a very charitable thing to say.

            I remain always open to persuasion. I tire of hearing the same repeated straw men. I personally don’t believe there is a “fundy wing” in the LCMS, only fundy personalities. There is nothing in our tradition that resembles Bible-belt revivalistic fundamentalism whatsoever. Particular individuals may import their ideas, but they are foreign to our constitution, unless you view the Confessions as fundamentalist.

          • Christiane:

            I think it isn’t something a former Southern Baptist could grasp easily, but it has a lot to do with respecting people as valuable in the Eyes of God,

            Those crazy former SBC’ers! They’ll never learn to respect people as valuable in the Eyes of God! They’re so prejudiced!

          • I did not mean that there is an actusl “fundy wing” in the LCMS. When i said “wacky wing,” i was talking about something else entirely – it has nothing to with any part of the LCMS. See just a bit upthread.

            I have to say that i do NOT have it in for the LCMS per se; there are a lot of good folks and churches. Same with the ELCA – there are good churches and people, but there is a definite wacky wing. I’m sure thst most of the people who are in that category (in my head) are kind people, but sm i down eith places like HerChurch? No, although i don’t want to be overly harsh sbout them, because i get why women would consviously create a place like that. By the same token, I’m totally bemused by their insistence on staying in the ELCA, as they seem to have started their own rrligion. Thst it partly evolved from a certain kind of xtianity, i get, but it is its own thing now, and i doubt that, say, the ecumenical creeds matter much to the folks who go there.

            I really wish that people (including myself here) would quit arbitrarily assigning others to categories without really understanding what said people believe. I guess i fit into the “progresdive” camp on *social* issues, but… i believe in the evumenical creeds. I believe and profess what they say. It is, maybe, a somewhat different outlook from where i sit (raised in a relstively conservative LCA/ELCA church, took a 30-year detour into the evangelical/chsrismatic world, have somehow, by God’s grace, come out with fsith intact but no longer anti-gay, etc.). You, being a convert, might ferl obligated to adhere to certain things that those raised Lutheran might be. .. willing to think over, question snd discuss, maybe? At leadt, in ways that you, being new to it all, might ferl uncomfortable with. I’m not criticizing you here, but i do think our convos used to be a little less fraught. I’m not anti-LCMS, not really. Am probably close to where Richard Hershberger is, in many respects, snd Christiane, too.

          • Also fwiw, I’m not crazy about the eccediastical setup,of yhe RCC, though pre-Vatican II was a whole other thing entirely. I think the RCC doesn’t need the ofgice of the papacy, nor a supreme head of anything.

            But hey, I’m waiting for Vatican III. 🙂

    • @MIguel,

      Perhaps you should not use the name of the Buddha so lightly; you are, after all, treading on the religion of others, theistic or not. Would you approve if, in a debate with other Buddhists, a Buddhist said, “For the love of Christ…”?

    • I still don’t get why this is an issue. It seems self-evident to me.

      Fair point someone made about Muslims worshipping their Prophet. Seems both the Jews and Christians do the same. And the Mormons.

      We all worship the same Judeo-Christian-Islamic-Latter Day God.

      • Saying Allah and Yahweh are the same is like saying Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, and Revivalistic Pentecostals all mean the same thing when they say the word “grace.” They each define it so differently, at some point it is not intellectually honest to say they all mean the same thing when they use that Word. If Allah and Yahweh are the same God, what exactly does it take to show you two demonstrably separate Gods?

        Islam and LDS do the exact same thing: Take Judeo-Christian scriptures and names, say they’ve been corrupted and their prophet has come to fix it, and then radically redefine it to mean something so entirely foreign that it would have been more honest to just invent their own religion from scratch. If the names of LDS and Muslim deity were changed to original creations, you couldn’t trace their theology back to Judeo-Christian origin any further than the common monotheistic framework. As Hans Fiene so cleverly illustrates here:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7bukaRhbI0

        • Ronald Avra says:

          Miguel, I agree with you completely

        • Ronald Avra says:

          I think my original comment disappeared. I just want to say that from my perspective, Miguel has a very clear understanding of the issues begin debated.

          • I’m sure he does and you do also, Ronald. But we seem to be getting tripped up with our understandings of Genesis, Romans, and the Gospels.

            I really don’t understand why this is an issue. Yes, Allah and Yahweh aren’t the same God. But also, Yes, the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims are all descended from Abraham and worshipping Abraham’s God.

            “God” in the Old Testament changed often. Depending on the time period, the influences, the political whims, etc, he was an ever changing deity surrounded by other deities. As Christians, we believe Jesus is the fullness and final form of God. Muslims believe Mohammed was the final form of God, if not God himself like we think.

            This is 101 stuff…

        • I never said Allah and Yahweh are the same. But I will say both religions attempt to describe and know the God of Abraham. To use your example, Allah and Yahweh are the equivalent of using the word grace between Roman Catholics, Reformed, and Revivalistic Pentecostals. Or like using the word grace between Calvinists and Arminians.

          But guess what? They are both under the same umbrella of Christianity. Kinda like how Kirk and Picard are both captains of the Enterprise. But both are still in Star Trek and both are leaders of a ship bearing a similar name.

          And Paul/Pauls absolutely did do the same thing as Islam and LDS: took the ancient Judeo scriptures and slapped Jesus all over them. Why else did orthodox, God fearing, faithful, righteous Jews reject Jesus. Because in a singular moment everything changed so that those who were in are now out, and it’s their fault for not submitting? What happened to the God who never changed and was always faithful? Or were there literally 12 men who were the truly righteous in those days, ala Noah’s days, because they alone accepted Jesus as Messiah God? Sorry, the rest of you missed the boat, better luck next time with all that faithfulness and righteousness.

          But I agree with you about Islam and LDS. They reworked and made stuff up.

          I wonder where we throw the Oneness Pentecostals in into all this. Are they worshipping the same God, albeit denying parts of him?

          • Did you seriously just use a Star Trek analogy? I’m pretty sure that means I win this argument already. 😛

            And no, the NT authors absolutely did not do the same thing. The NT authors accept the full text of the OT as true and authoritative. Islam and LDS say that those texts had become “corrupted” and are only true as far as they do not contradict their own new, original texts.

            Because in a singular moment everything changed so that those who were in are now out, and it’s their fault for not submitting?

            Actually, not all the Jews rejected Jesus. Most of his early followers were Jewish. But like seriously, where are you getting this stuff about the 12 disciples being the only Jews to accept Jesus as Messiah? Seriously, Stuart, some times you sound so militantly cynical you make no sense. It’s almost as if you have a compelling need to believe Christian orthodoxy was a big hoax.

            Oneness Pentecostals are simply a modern manifestation of an ancient heresy. Some of them have actually formally recanted of this and returned to Trinitarian orthodoxy.

        • Miguel, it seems to me that you and many others are responding to the broader debate that this incident spawned, rather than to the incident itself. That’s a main point I’m trying to make. Prof. Hawkins’s statement in and of itself may simply be shorthand for “Christians, Muslims and Jews are heirs of the Abrahamic faith” and therefore innocuous and completely within the bounds of the institution’s doctrinal standards. Her words can legitimately be interpreted that way. But Wheaton found them dangerous because they knew the words “Christians and Muslims worship the same God” are extremely liable to a number of interpretations — many of which would put them in deep doo doo with their donors. Now every Tom, Dick, and Harry is expanding this simple statement into a huge theological debate.

        • Hawkins is not a theologian and she wasn’t trying to make a precise theological statement, only trying to express why she thinks she can find common ground with her Muslim neighbors.
        • Wheaton’s response was predictably and understandably self-protective.
        • The rest of us have taken this to an entirely different universe, theologically trying to dot every “i” and cross every “t.”
        • I’m not saying the broader controversy is not important, only that it’s not really pertinent to the actual incident.

          • True, good point. However, it just struck me as being rather strange that Wheaton is now being asked if they have an official position on that issue. Rewind 15 years and nobody would have thought such a statement was necessary, because it was pretty obvious where any conservative Evangelical college would stand on that one. I suppose these days you have to have a statement to clarify, that’s not a issue that typically gets addressed in most institutional statements of faith.

    • Um, NO. I don’t know what Dawkins may or may not have said, but their is absolutely, positively ZERO similarities between Allah and Thor. None. Whatsoever. It is intellectual suicide to make that comparison. That’s like saying forceps and pruning shears are similar because they both have a joint in the middle.

      • …but forceps and pruning shears ARE similar because they both have a joint in the middle….?

        Relax, I was being a bit hyperbolic there. The point was about barbarian violence, not theological technicalities. Dawkins came out and said that as much as he hates organized religion of all kinds, he doesn’t see any Christians militantly resisting the education of women, strapping on suicide vests to murder innocents, giving the death sentence to apostates, or funding terrorism worldwide. And therefore as much as he hated to admit it, he felt that the prevalence of Christianity in the West could quite possibly have been shielding it from something much worse.

        • I think you cannot, in all good conscience, claim that because a fanatical fringe does such things, that they characterize Islam. They do not. They only speak for thrmselves and those who lead them.

          If it were true that Islam invariably leads to such things, there eould be constant suicide bombings and barbsric tertorist acts being committed by large numbers of people in virtually every country in the world. But that isn’t the case, as thd vast majority of Muslims do not believe in such actions or want to live in such a world. And the crazy fringe factions inevitably see other Muslims (who are not, in their eyes, “real” Muslims) as their primary targets in Muslim-majority countries?

          • Right. I wouldn’t claim that. But Dawkins probably would, he is notoriously intolerant of any religion.

            However, there is something about Islam that does tend to lead to this: Their religion IS their state as well. The blurring of these lines puts the sword of justice into the hands of clerics. That never works well for any religion, but with Islam it’s a bit core to the ideology.

          • Our religion was slso equal with and an integral part of the state for a very long time. Most countries eith sizsble Muslim populstions have seculsr legal systems, courts, etc. And i think that as time goes on, this will continue to develop in msny places (while in others a certain kind of brutal “Islamic” jurisprudence will become cemented into govetnment).

            I think a compelling case for the endorsement of extreme violence can be made by selectively quoting the Bible (NT, too) and we’ve had bad theocravies on these shores – like yhd Masd. Bay Colony.

            Funny thing… i come from one of the original 13 colonies that was established partly as a refuge for people fleeing religious persecution. I think the “-live snc let live” aspect of my state’s early history has influenced my thinking ftom childhood on, though God knows it was in a state of eclipse during my years in evangelical/charismatic territory.

    • I am a Christian and I worship Allah, because if I am praying in Arabic, that is His name, as it is for the Church of the Middle East. Am I worshiping a different god when I worship “Allah”? Should I stick to the German name?

      • Jenny – +1

        And yes, the word “Allah” (for The One God) predates Islam. It is just plain Arabic for God.

  7. It’s wonderful that Lutherans were offered and received Holy Communion at the Vatican, without regard to questions concerning their fitness or lack thereof, whether they were in a “state of grace” or not. For instance, no questions were asked about whether some of the Lutheran delegation were divorced, which is entirely possible; this seems not to have been a concern of the priests who celebrated the Eucharist.

    Why then is it a concern when divorced Roman Catholics want to receive Holy Communion? Why are they told that they are not welcome? Why the double-standard? How long can this go on? The “separated brethren” are welcomed at the Table, but the children of the household are not?

    • To the wiki, Robin!

      “The Roman Catholic Church treats all consummated sacramental marriages as permanent during the life of the spouses, and therefore does not allow remarriage after a divorce if the other spouse still lives and the marriage has not been annulled. However, divorced Catholics are still welcome to participate fully in the life of the church so long as they have not remarried against church law, and the Catholic Church generally requires civil divorce or annulment procedures to have been completed before it will consider annulment cases. Annulment is not the same as divorce – it is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_divorce#Christianity

      • This is such utter bs. Vestiges from the day when the CC had political and governmental control as well as spiritual.

        And how the pendulum swings in the Protestant world. Remember when divorce was such a hot topic? eh, guess we’ve all gone “lukewarm”…like we have with civil rights.

    • Robert — Not to justify, but just for clarity: Divorced Catholics are welcome to take communion. Divorced and remarried Catholics, on the other hand, are understood to be committing adultery and therefore are not. I know this doesn’t make a difference to your position, but it’s something that is commonly misunderstood.

      • I see Eeyore got there first — good work! 🙂

      • Yes, of course. You and Eeyore are completely correct. I misspoke, on a point I’m actually aware of. Blame the late hour at which I made my comment, or blame my frailty, or both.

        My point still stands: No one asked the Lutherans if they had ever been divorced and remarried. The whole concern about whether or not prospective communicants are in a state of grace was simply set aside; if it could be set aside for these Lutherans, there is no theological reason why it can’t be set aside for Roman Catholics.

        I’m aware that the prohibition against non-Catholics receiving Communion may at times be set aside when an extreme and pressing need exists, as in an emergency; this would be a pastoral decision made in the situation. But if this case could not have fallen under that exception.

        This case is proof that the Vatican may, if it wishes, open the Communion table to all Christians, without concern for the niceties of its own moral theologies, and its own stated understanding of the sacramental boundaries that exist. It also proves that it may, if it wishes, open the Table to divorced and remarried Catholics who have never received absolution of their first marriages.

        • Correction:…annulment of their first marriages.

        • And I’m guessing the Vatican eventually will open up the communion table. I think something like the Finnish Lutherans is a test run to see how things will go. When PF1 pulls the trigger, there’s going to be a kickback and instances like this one can determine what he’s going to have to brace for when it all drops.

          • Come to think of it, there probably was a kickback after the Lutherans were Communicated. Have we heard any of that in the media? Surely there were Bishops who voiced objections to the Pope. Perhaps it was all somehow kept quiet. The Vatican has a long history of keeping things quiet.

          • Grace, what a concept…

  8. Yes, the question of whether or not David Bowie is in heaven is an exercise in futility.

    We should instead turn to the question of whether or not Glenn Frey is in heaven.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cO6HgHSGWM

  9. R.I.P, Glenn Frey. May light perpetual shine upon you.

  10. Re:Tim Tebow. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about him. He has an interesting story and he’s not bad on the eyes, either, but enough. He’s a celebrity. When it hit the news in Christian circles that his beauty queen girlfriend broke up with him because he insisted on celibacy, I cringed & waited for the cries of persecution, which came on que as expected. Well, Tim, I thought, I am sure you could find any number of fine Christian young women who would be happy to be celibate until marriage with you, but they likely won’t be beauty queens with a level of celebrity that matches your own. Heck, I’ve got a daughter who’s looking for someone!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I am baffled by the notion he has an interesting story; that is a low bar. Half a dozen people in my own neighborhood have far more interesting life stories than Tebow. It is just the celebrity amplification effect., making droll boring people seem interesting.

      • Football makes everything involved in it seem bigger than it actually is, or should be. Usually, exaggerations about a person’s life are only told by others at their funeral services; but football, and other forms of celebrity, make this happen while they are still in the prime of life.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          At which point, the rules of CELEBRITY are in effect.

          And with Tebow, you have the additional dogmas of CHRISTIAN CELEBRITY, i.e. he becomes a Witnessing Tool and/or Bragging Rights/Counting Coup against The Heathen.

          And in the process, the man named Tebow is forgotten.

  11. Richard Hershberger says:

    Two Corinthians: “Except that I have heard British preachers say it like that all my life.”

    This misses the point. Yes, there are some parts of Christendom where that is the idiom. Were the discussion about whether or not Trump was from one of those parts, the observation that this idiom exists would be on point. No one, however, is suggesting that Trump–a New Yorker of vaguely Presbyterian background–is trying to establish this. It’s not as if he had a CofE curate who taught his confirmation class. He is trying to establish himself as ‘close enough’ for White American Evangelical Protestants, who do not use the “Two Corinthians” idiom. In the context of this end, he got it wrong, demonstrating that he isn’t really part of WAEP, nor smart enough to have someone on staff who is, and who can advise him on this sort of thing. Will it make any difference? i doubt it. Any WAEP who supports him clearly does not really care about any such niceties, or for that matter what Jesus would do.

  12. Thanks for the Tommy Emmanuel video! That is amazing! And enjoy your concert, CM.

  13. It also hit the news — you must have missed it — that both Tim Tenow and the beauty queen denied ever having been girlfriend and boyfriend or that they had ever even dated. The truth is supposedly that they both were merely members of the same young adult group at a church. As we used to say in Texas, “Quien Sabe?” (Who knows?)

    Slim pickings in this week”s Ramblings. I blame it on the snow.

  14. How about the Great Snow Winter of 1880-81? Immortalized in Laura Ingall Wilders’ book The Long Winter. It snowed for six months straight on the Plains, with not even one thaw. By February, most houses were completely buried. The railroads gave up even trying to clear the lines. Though no one storm was especially exceptional, it was the harshest winter that us white folk have ever experienced in North America.

  15. Anyone see the CNN article about the seven types of evangelicals and who they are most likely to support in the election? I think they did a pretty good job.

    • So what does this prove? That the term “evangelical” has lost all meaning and is just as fragmented as the general population. So, we have “the liberals”, “the conservatives”, “the Blacks”, “the Jews”, etc., etc., and now added “the evangelicals” ! This is bad news for those who are inclined to hammer on “the evangelicals” because now it has a very diminished meaning and just as meaningless as “the liberals”. In other words, just another hobby horse to ride…

      • I think you’re right ocsar. Technically I would be labeled an evangelical by most, but when people often criticize “evangelical beliefs or practices”, they aren’t describing me.

  16. I have only one question;

    Who the hell is gonna shovel the snow off the Rambler??

  17. Here is an excellent discussion among missiologists about the Wheaton question from Christianity Today:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/january/do-muslims-christians-worship-same-god-wheaton-hawkins-ems.html

  18. Brianthedad says:

    Tommy Emmanuel! Yes! My older sons are guitarists, one a classical guitarist. Great musicians, they. Sorry, dad pride alert. Anyhoo, once I surprised them with tickets to a Tommy Emmanuel concert here in town. It was a school night, so I got worried when they didn’t return as early as I thought they would. Turns out Emmanuel had been demanded back for three, three! encores. The boys were enthralled. Over three hours of finger-picking, magical guitar. Emmanuel is an outstanding guitarist and a joy to watch and listen to.

  19. Arguing over the appropriateness, or lack thereof, in the way Trump quoted scripture is beside the point; it’s like aesthetically appraising the sound of a tank that’s about to knock your house down.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Good one!

    • That’s probably a more apt analogy than you realize!

      • Well, Trump has certainly knocked many a house down in his career as builder; I’ve heard that he even fought a widow in court to acquire and demolish her home, for one of his building projects. He won. A biblical literalist should warn him about how God feels about widows.

        • Actually I was thinking more about our country, but it’s interesting that there have been real (not metaphorical) instances of this in his past.

  20. Richard Hershberger says:

    Oh, and “Snowzilla” is lame. The best proposal I have heard (that is suitable for the entire family) is “Blizzardamurung”

  21. “Can we please just stop speculating on this “elevator up”/”elevator down” theology?”

    Yes. This and the Wheaton controversy are related. If you believe your “god” sends David Bowie to hell but sends Donald Trump to heaven, I am happy for you; have a nice day. HOWEVER: please do not imply that what you worship is the same god I worship. If your heaven is full of Donald Trumps and Mark Driscolls, I don’t think I have any interest in either your heaven nor your god. But, yes, you are entitled under the First Amendment to believe in whatever makes you happy. Let there be no mistake nor expectation that we all magically believe in the same thing. If not, the Apostle John was mistaken when he wrote, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”.

    The story of the Pope offering communion to Lutherans is related, too. Ecumenism is a great goal, but estrangement is part of the experience here on earth. Again, maybe things will be different in the New Heaven and New Earth. I believe it is better to acknowledge and respect our differences rather than sweeping them under the rug for some cosmic kumbaya where we all worship the same thing. Do I need to be the paranoid freak and bring up the subject of one world religion? I recall a great sermon on the tower of Babel, where it is our tendency is toward uniformity and God’s tendency to disperse.

    Frankly, I would much rather identify with Pope Francis’ God, even though I am not Catholic.

    • Ecumenism is a great goal, but estrangement is part of the experience here on earth. Again, maybe things will be different in the New Heaven and New Earth. I believe it is better to acknowledge and respect our differences rather than sweeping them under the rug for some cosmic kumbaya where we all worship the same thing.

      But those differences are not supposed to sever our shared communion in Christ, as Paul noted in Romans 13 and I Corinthians 1 & 2.

      I recall a great sermon on the tower of Babel, where it is our tendency is toward uniformity and God’s tendency to disperse

      I am reminded more of Paul’s rant against factionalism in I Corinthians 1.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        In my ill-spent youth I favored hemi-demi-semi-quasi-closed communion. This would be something like a note in the bulletin inviting “all baptized Christians who believe in the real presence of Christ” or the like. In my ill-spent old age I have come around to the belief that this misses the point. An invitation to a visitor is just that: an invitation. It is hospitality proffered to one’s neighbor. Hospitality does not include the checking of credentials at the door to make sure that only the Right Sort of people are let in. Indeed, that is pretty much the opposite of how Jesus behaved. I now favor a simple ‘Everyone is welcome.” Yes, this means that someone might be kneeling next to me without sharing my theology of the eucharist. This person might even be a Samaritan or a centurion, or even a Presbyterian. Even they are my neighbors.

        • And they might even….not be baptized (Shrieks are now heard in the near distance.)!

          I agree completely. No qualifications should be necessary to partake of Communion; it’s a free gift, and all should be invited.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          “I was, as the prophet said, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. I found it at the eternal and material core of Christianity: body, blood, bread, wine, poured out freely, shared by all.”
          ? Sara Miles, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

          In her book she tells about her conversion which took place at a communion rail.

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Pastor Steven Furtick Says God Told Him to Preach Against Prejudice. Who needs a special message from God to do this? Hey Steven, God told me you should stop preaching.

    And while you’re at it, Steven, put your money where your mouth is and give up that HUGE mansion and estate you bought & built for yourself with OPM/Tithe Tithe Tithe money.

    Is David Bowie in Heaven? Can we please just stop speculating on this “elevator up”/”elevator down” theology? Even if it were the main point of the New Testament (and it’s not), who would trust Greg Laurie to answer a question like this?

    That’s PASTOR Greg Laurie to you, HEATHEN. (Who was right up there with Papa Chuck on local Christianese AM radio in the Seventies & Eighties.) What would God ever do on J-Day without these guys on His right hand telling him who’s REALLY Saved and who’s not?

    Blake Shelton Shocked Tim Tebow’s Christian Faith Might Be Keeping Him Out of NFL. My jaw set a new record in drop speed with this one. First of all, Blake Shelton? Second, Tim Tebow is a bad [pro-level] football player, my fellow believers.

    But he’s also a Christianese CELEBRITY. Let the cries of “PERSECUTION!!!!!” begin (and somebody get a comment about it from those 22 Copts with missing heads…)

  23. Regarding why the question of whether my wife should love God more than they love me is so insane: It asks us to see loving relationships, and love, as competitive, as if love for one competes with love for another. If that is so, then love is a limited resource, to be divvied out with great anxiety and trepidation; but love is not a limited resource, and to divvy it out in fearful and anxious deliberation is to contradict its very nature. There may be different kinds of love, appropriate to different situations and relationships, but they cannot be in competition with each other, if they are all truly love. They are mutually empowering and collaborative, and energize each other.

    • +1

    • “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.” Juliet. Shakespeare always says it best.

    • Brianthedad says:

      Mr F, my respect and honor. That is one of the finest treatises on love I have read. You win the Internet.

      • Thanks for the compliment, but, if you don’t mind, I’d just as soon that prize, the Internet, go to the runner-up. Maybe they would know what to do with it.

    • It’s a horrendously dumb question that doesn’t make sense. Be wary unless you make your wife an idol in your life, God will show you his love by striking her down and humbling you! He is a jealous God, after all. Rather like a child.

      “Your God is a monster.” – a fellow Christian said that to me when I was describing my fundygelical God. She’s right. There’s no love, only fear and hate.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “A God that is Omnipotent but not Benevolent.”
        — JMJ over at Christian Monist (though he was giving his impression of Islam at the time)

    • Yes. That question assumes love is a quantifiable (and as you point out, limited) substance, which raises another question: how do I know (or quantify) how much I love God compared to my spouse? Is it because I obey him rather than her? I obey the laws of my state, but I don’t do so because I love my state. The whole question (and the sentimentalism behind it) is a question, that as CM notes, only makes sense in some circle.

  24. Chattanoogan of 20 years here. If “Bible minded” means bigoted, contempt for the poor, and a form of “Christianity” that is quicker to shoot our wounded than to offer liberation to the oppressed, then I can understand how my fair city ranks number 1 in that survey.

  25. First drink hot coffee
    Then shovel out knee-deep snow
    Then rest, and repeat

  26. Re: The Professor Hawkins fiasco: I continue to think the college, in its hurry to appease patrons, was heavy-handed in its treatment of the Professor. The result, aside from the impact on Professor Hawkins, is that they’ve curtailed academic liberty at their school, made many of the faculty afraid for their own security as academics at the college, and produced uncertainty over what would constitute a breach of the school’s apparently unwritten policy against statements it construes as disloyal to Christian faith. None of this is good for the school, unless it’s only concerned for its financial security; in which case it should question its own loyalty to Christian faith rather than Professor Hawkins’.

    Regarding the issue of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, I’ve changed my understanding. Before, I would’ve said we don’t, since Jesus Christ is the center of Christian definitions and experiences of God. I still believe that this is true: the Incarnation is essential to the identity of he whom Christians worship as God.

    But, the way this whole thing has played out in the public forum, it increasingly looks like an attempt on the part of Christians who agree with me to control and protect their (our) right to have the last word in defining God, and defining the Christian God. We have no such right, and we have nothing to defend. To get caught up in these arguments is to exhibit a real deficiency in understanding of the crucified God; he is not interested in being defended, or protected, from adulteration of some supposedly pure theology that defines him and protects his reputation among non-believers. Christians may be interested in that, but I don’t believe he is, and I’m doing my best not to be interested in it too.

  27. Right now, in the midst of all this snow, I could almost wish I was staying at the Hotel California, though it is rumored to be hot as Hell.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC7LkM2po7M

  28. Marcus Johnson says:

    After listening to Hawkins’ claim, I think there are two points that I think both sides in this debate tend to miss:

    1. The claim “we all worship the same God,” regardless of whether or not it is true, attempts to validate non-Christian faith traditions by embellishing their similarities over their unique differences. It is both unnecessary and insulting, both to Christians and non-Christians. Practicing Muslims don’t need to be identified in relation to Christians for their faith, culture, or lives to have value.

    2. While the question of whether we all worship “the same God” is immaterial to me, I can argue that folks of all faith traditions are trying–some better than others, some in tragically dangerous ways–to connect with a divine presence. We call that presence different names, conceive of it through different lenses, use different rites, laws and stories to define and explore that presence, but we’re all still searching for it. This is not the same thing as “believing in the same God”; but if there is a common thread between all faiths, I think this would be it.

  29. On the Wheaton- Muslim-same God thing:
    Serious missionaries and scholars approach this quite differently and worry about it a lot less. I grew up as an MK in a muslim country. It’s not uncommon to start on common ground with the God of Abraham and the OT stories of the patriarchs, precisely because Muslims accept these and consider that God theirs. Also, I know Christian missionaries who have readily joined in the first part of the Muslim call to prayer (God is great) but then explain why they don’t fully accept the second part (and Mohammed is his prophet). And then there is the historical fact that the Arab Christians used the Arabic word for God, Allah, before and after Islam came into being.

    Now you can split those theological hairs a dozen different ways, but when it comes to practice and to reaching Muslims for Christ, you need that common ground, and by God’s grace it really is there. You don’t have to make it up.

    I think CM is right. The Wheaton stance on this is more about the culture and politics (and yes, money) that conservative evangelicalism in the US is part of today than about high level scholarship on Christian theology in light of Islam and missiology. For the latter, I recommend checking out the Zwemer Institute.

    • Serious missionaries and scholars approach this quite differently and worry about it a lot less. I grew up as an MK in a muslim country. It’s not uncommon to start on common ground with the God of Abraham and the OT stories of the patriarchs, precisely because Muslims accept these and consider that God theirs.

      Establishing common ground is always a good missionary strategy. In a missions course I took, the professor pointed out that Muslims believe quite a lot about Jesus, although not enough to call them Christians. Muslims believe that Jesus
      —was born of a virgin.
      —was a prophet.
      —performed miracles.
      —fed the multitudes.
      —ascended to heaven.
      —will come again in power and judgment.

      The professor pointed out that a lot of liberal Christians, even denominations, don’t believe this much about Jesus.

      Muslims do not believe that Jesus is God however, or even the son of God; and the crucifixion is a scandal to them. In fact when Jesus returns, so they say, he will destroy the cross as one destroys an idol.

      I agree that this is not something to worry about, and Wheaton should never have sacked a professor of political science over it (if she were a professor of bible or theology it would have been more significant). This is just plain bad for everybody.

      Whether Muslims worship a different god, or have a different interpretation of the same god, is moot. We Christians experience the same thing amongst ourselves.

    • Can someone explain to me how the practice of laying on of hands, or of raising one hand during a prayer, is not magic?

      • Raising a hand/both hands duting prayer is a vety ancient practice in xtianity. I have never seen anything “magic” sbout it, but then, i both saw it in esrly xtian art and didn’t live through IHOP, which i found scary even when i was still involved in s non-denominationl and very weird charismstic church. Harp and Bowl anf sll of that stuff struck me as extreme then, and i didn’t want anything to do eith it, or with similsr practices thst were being introduced into the church thst booted me out.

  30. jazziscoolithink says:

    I want to comment on Rampling’s statement. I’m a fairly progressive, white person. I’ve gone to Black Lives Matter protests, and I understand the concept of white privilege–I even think it’s true. But lately, I can’t listen to the news or login to social media or attend almost any gathering of people without hearing the accusation of racism thrown around willy-nilly. Just recently, I read that white people who listen to Macklemore are ignorant racists because they are appropriating another’s culture. At the last Black Lives Matter protest I went to, the chant leader yelled into the megaphone about “crackers” who don’t support the movement. I don’t even feel comfortable critiquing the graceless, incendiary rhetoric and tactics without fear that I’ll be deemed a racist for the rest of my life…

    • Clay Crouch says:

      The presiding bishop of the ECUSA, Michael Curry, recently addressed this very issue in a recent sermon at Trinity Church in New York. He pointed to Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited and Martin Luther King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail in reminding us that when we “prepare to march, meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.”

      Link to sermon: http://bit.ly/1VgShbI

    • I agree with what you’re saying here, but with regard to the Academy Awards, it doesn’t quite fit. The committee that decides the Awards is composed of life-long members, and most of them are old, white guys.

  31. I just came in from shoveling snow, for the second time. Prodigious snowfall here in central PA, Lancaster County. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a record breaker. And I think while I was outside I may have seen the First of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but the driving snow obscured my vision.

    • I have friends in the town of Lancaster! If you ever get dug out, say hi to Myron and Ruth for me. Old Order River Brethren.

    • Believe it or not, the Lancaster area (and entire Susquehanna Valley) used to get prodigious storms – dumping 2-3 feet – at least once a year, often several times, back in the 60s. In those cases, they weren’t so much coastal storms as warm air from the Gulf of Mexico hitting cold fronts that moved through the middle of VA, western MD and right on up into PA. (I grew up an hour NW of Harrisburg, fwiw, and well remember school being closed for many of these storms.)

      For whatever reasons, weather patterns have shifted somewhat. My mom, who is from my hometown, says that snow used to start early, in late November, and not really let up much until the end of Feb-mid-March. In my lifetime, it’s been more Jan.-Feb. storms than Dec. or Nov., but even so, once the ground turns white, it stays that way, rare January thaws aside.

    • I’ve been staying warm, dry, and cozy, without touching my shovel yet. But I somehow have to get to work in the morning, so this should be interesting…

  32. I love John Gorka’s voice. Maybe someday I will get to see him in person too.