How Christianity conquered pagan culture

Michael Craven recounts how Christianity won a culture war:

The Roman world was brutal and generally indifferent to suffering. Sympathy and mercy were weaknesses, virtues anathema to those of Rome. The ancient world was both decadent and cruel. The practice of infanticide, for example, was widespread and legal throughout the Greek and Roman world during the early days of Christianity. In fact, abortion, infanticide, and child sacrifice were extremely common throughout the ancient world.

Cicero (106-43 BC), writing in the period before Christ, cited the Twelve Tables of Roman Law when he wrote, “deformed infants should be killed” (De Ligibus 3.8). Similarly, Seneca (4 BC-AD 39) wrote, “We drown children who are at birth weakly and abnormal” (De Ira 1.15). The ancient writer Plutarch (c. AD 46-120), discussing the casual acceptance of child sacrifice, mentions the Carthaginians, who, he says, “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds while the mother stood by without tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D). Polybius (ca. 200-118 BC) blamed infanticide for the population decline in Greece (Histories 6).

Historical research reveals that infanticide was common throughout India, China, Japan, and the Brazilian jungles as well as among the Eskimos. Dr. James Dennis, writing in the 1890s, showed how infanticide was common in many parts of Africa and was “well known among the Indians of North and South America” (Social Evils of the Non-Christian World, 1898). Suffice it to say, for much of the world and throughout most of its history the culture of death and brutality has been the rule, and a culture of life, love, and mercy has been the exception. It is to the cause of this exception that we now turn. . . .
These early Christ-followers did not organize special interest groups or political parties. They never directly opposed Caesar; they didn’t picket or protest or attempt to overthrow the ruling powers. They didn’t publicly denounce or condemn the pagan world. Instead, they challenged the ruling powers by simply being a faithful, alternative presence—obedient to God. Their most distinguishing characteristic was not their ideology or their politics but their love for others. They lived as those who were, once again, living under the rule and reign of God, a sign and foretaste of what it will be fully, when Christ returns.

They expressed their opposition to infanticide by rescuing the abandoned children of Rome and raising them as their own—an enormously self-sacrificial act at a time when resources were limited and survival was in doubt.

Following the end of the Punic Wars in 146 BC, the breakdown of marriage and the family had begun in earnest. By the time of Christ, Rome was a pornographic culture. Marriage was a “loose and voluntary compact” (Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [reprint, London: Penguin Books, 1994] 2:813). Sexual licentiousness, adultery, marital dissolution, and pornography were widespread. It was into this depraved cultural context that Christians would introduce a radically new and different view of life, sexuality, marriage, and parenting. In contrast to the Roman concept of Patria Potestas, according to which fathers had the right to kill their wives and children, Christians taught husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Eros gave way to agape.

The early Christians, acting in obedience to Christ, began to care for the poor, the sick, and the marginalized. So alien were their charitable acts and self-sacrificial lives that the Romans referred to them as “the third race.” In the centuries to follow, even though Christians were still a demographic minority, their care of the poor and sick, would serve as the first steps in achieving cultural authority. By being seen as those who reached out to and cared for the weak and suffering, the early church would establish its “right to stand for the community as a whole” (John Howard Yoder, For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public [Eugene, OR: Wifp and Stock, 1997] p. 8). Sociologist James Davidson Hunter points out, “because Christian charity was beneficial to all, including pagans, imperial authority [political authority] would be weakened” (To Change the World, 2009, p. 55).

Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome, clearly understood the power of these Christians when he wrote the following:

“These impious Galileans (Christians) not only feed their own, but ours also; welcoming them with their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted with cakes… Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. Such practice is common among them, and causes contempt for our gods (Epistle to Pagan High Priests).”

Emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not succumb to political upheaval or force but to love, the love of Christ. Julian’s dying words in AD 363 were “vicisti Galilaee” (You Galileans [Christians] have conquered!).

Once imperial power was discredited by the superior life and ethic of the Christian community, the church would build upon its newfound cultural credibility and eventually ascend to the heights of cultural power and influence. And, Western civilization would become the most successful civilization in history.via The Christian Conquest of Pagan Rome, Michael Craven.

I believe the Gospel had something to do with Christianity’s triumph over Western Paganism, not just how supremely moral the Christians were.  Still. . . .What would be the equivalent actions today to get through to our own increasingly barbaric culture?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    “What would be the equivalent actions today to get through to our own increasingly barbaric culture?”

    The answer for American society is the same as it was for Roman society. To love, care for, and even adopt into our families the most despised among us.

    Liberals. And Smokers.

    But seriously, I’d suggest a joint effort by the orthodox Christian churches to build and fund a multitude of orphanages all across America. But orphanages of a specific kind, with a limited mission. Offering those who would otherwise abort their children a place where they could come and give birth, and leave their infants in the care of the Church until adoption or adulthood.

  • Tom Hering

    “What would be the equivalent actions today to get through to our own increasingly barbaric culture?”

    The answer for American society is the same as it was for Roman society. To love, care for, and even adopt into our families the most despised among us.

    Liberals. And Smokers.

    But seriously, I’d suggest a joint effort by the orthodox Christian churches to build and fund a multitude of orphanages all across America. But orphanages of a specific kind, with a limited mission. Offering those who would otherwise abort their children a place where they could come and give birth, and leave their infants in the care of the Church until adoption or adulthood.

  • bunnycatch3r

    The decadence of modern pagan culture is most keenly manifested by the relentless getting and spending of materialism. A simple way to get through to such a culture is a literal reading of Luke 18:22.

  • bunnycatch3r

    The decadence of modern pagan culture is most keenly manifested by the relentless getting and spending of materialism. A simple way to get through to such a culture is a literal reading of Luke 18:22.

  • Pingback: Christ’s infants vs. Rome/Babylon/the world « theology like a child

  • Pingback: Christ’s infants vs. Rome/Babylon/the world « theology like a child

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    As in the ancient church, adoption comes to mind, and Tom’s idea might not be that bad, either–at the very least, those who adopt kids who have been through tough circumstances often need more assistance than individual nuclear families can provide.

    Put differently, wouldn’t it be great if Christians emptied out foster care and orphanages? Wouldn’t it be awesome if, when pro-abortion advocates charge pastors with protecting the fetus but ignoring the child, those pastors could say “the fifty families in the church I pastor have adopted 75 children out of foster care”?

    A secondary thing we could do, also from the ancient church, is to reject wanton violence against adults–in other words, taking a stand against the graphic portrayal of injury and mutilation in movies, “professional wrestling,” and so on.

    (if it takes heads and gallbladders bouncing around the screen for someone to be inspired by the Spartans’ sacrifice at Thermopylae, the person simply doesn’t understand the story!)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    As in the ancient church, adoption comes to mind, and Tom’s idea might not be that bad, either–at the very least, those who adopt kids who have been through tough circumstances often need more assistance than individual nuclear families can provide.

    Put differently, wouldn’t it be great if Christians emptied out foster care and orphanages? Wouldn’t it be awesome if, when pro-abortion advocates charge pastors with protecting the fetus but ignoring the child, those pastors could say “the fifty families in the church I pastor have adopted 75 children out of foster care”?

    A secondary thing we could do, also from the ancient church, is to reject wanton violence against adults–in other words, taking a stand against the graphic portrayal of injury and mutilation in movies, “professional wrestling,” and so on.

    (if it takes heads and gallbladders bouncing around the screen for someone to be inspired by the Spartans’ sacrifice at Thermopylae, the person simply doesn’t understand the story!)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The answer for American society is the same as it was for Roman society. To love, care for, and even adopt into our families the most despised among us.”

    Good luck with that. It is hard to convince most folks to even welcome their own children that God sends as part of a healthy marriage.

    http://concordiansisters.blogspot.com/2010/11/pain.html

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The answer for American society is the same as it was for Roman society. To love, care for, and even adopt into our families the most despised among us.”

    Good luck with that. It is hard to convince most folks to even welcome their own children that God sends as part of a healthy marriage.

    http://concordiansisters.blogspot.com/2010/11/pain.html

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How does pagan culture conquer Christianity?

    http://bioethike.com/2010/05/09/medicating-against-motherhood/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How does pagan culture conquer Christianity?

    http://bioethike.com/2010/05/09/medicating-against-motherhood/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    And before folks start channeling Margaret Sanger telling us the birth control helps the poor who can’t afford too many kids, the poor have more kids on average than the well to do. So, materialism, not poverty is driving it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    And before folks start channeling Margaret Sanger telling us the birth control helps the poor who can’t afford too many kids, the poor have more kids on average than the well to do. So, materialism, not poverty is driving it.

  • Abby

    It is really beyond me, how one can use the title of “Christian” and be blatantly, publicly and extremely pro-abortion and infanticide–in personal belief as well as the promoting of such in regulatory public laws.

    From President Obama’s recent trip to Indonesia:
    “The president obviously has warm memories of his boyhood in Indonesia, and only a churl would deny his indulging a little nostalgia in recalling a golden boyhood. He took pains to remind his hosts that he is a believing Christian. . .” Article: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/pruden111210.php3

  • Abby

    It is really beyond me, how one can use the title of “Christian” and be blatantly, publicly and extremely pro-abortion and infanticide–in personal belief as well as the promoting of such in regulatory public laws.

    From President Obama’s recent trip to Indonesia:
    “The president obviously has warm memories of his boyhood in Indonesia, and only a churl would deny his indulging a little nostalgia in recalling a golden boyhood. He took pains to remind his hosts that he is a believing Christian. . .” Article: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/pruden111210.php3

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    So yes, being fruitful and multiplying is one way prescribed by God’s Word to impact the culture…..

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    So yes, being fruitful and multiplying is one way prescribed by God’s Word to impact the culture…..

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Wouldn’t it be awesome if, when pro-abortion advocates charge pastors with protecting the fetus but ignoring the child, those pastors could say “the fifty families in the church I pastor have adopted 75 children out of foster care”?”

    That is already essentially true. Christians adopt disproportionally more kids.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Wouldn’t it be awesome if, when pro-abortion advocates charge pastors with protecting the fetus but ignoring the child, those pastors could say “the fifty families in the church I pastor have adopted 75 children out of foster care”?”

    That is already essentially true. Christians adopt disproportionally more kids.

  • Abby

    I would have loved to adopt the foster kids that were in my home. Instead we saw them returned to their paternal homes. Two of the kids I know even now, went, and are going down paths of misery.

  • Abby

    I would have loved to adopt the foster kids that were in my home. Instead we saw them returned to their paternal homes. Two of the kids I know even now, went, and are going down paths of misery.

  • Booklover

    sg, thank you so much for your links which declare to us that abortion is not a sin that stands alone—it comes from a mindset that does not accept the blessing of children.

    Married women are not valued as mothers any longer. Their value comes from the assets they can bring to the family in material form. A woman, like a man, is now valued for her job and the money it can bring into the family.

    It is amazing the remarks a pregnant woman gets from people in the church: “Oh dear! Don’t you know what causes that??!” “Oh my, how old is your last baby??!” “Was it plaaaaaanned??!”

    Children are no longer looked upon as blessings, but a big house and a big screen TV and a three-car garage sure are.

    Abortion and birth control are not just “Catholic issues.” Every “Protestant church father” that I have ever read wrote against birth control. He understood that souls, not material things, are eternal; that Christ welcomed small children; and that the spiritual tops the material.

    This, to me, is society’s greatest issue–the devaluation of women as mothers. This extends to the devaluation of children.

    I am sick to death of hearing Christians blamed for the continuance of abortion. There were and always have been hundreds of Christian orphanages across our country. Abortion mills, not the Christians, closed some of them down.

    Please. Instead of criticizing other Christians, help along yourself. Here is a directory so that you can volunteer at or donate to the orphanage nearest you:

    http://www.missionfinder.org/orphanages.htm

  • Booklover

    sg, thank you so much for your links which declare to us that abortion is not a sin that stands alone—it comes from a mindset that does not accept the blessing of children.

    Married women are not valued as mothers any longer. Their value comes from the assets they can bring to the family in material form. A woman, like a man, is now valued for her job and the money it can bring into the family.

    It is amazing the remarks a pregnant woman gets from people in the church: “Oh dear! Don’t you know what causes that??!” “Oh my, how old is your last baby??!” “Was it plaaaaaanned??!”

    Children are no longer looked upon as blessings, but a big house and a big screen TV and a three-car garage sure are.

    Abortion and birth control are not just “Catholic issues.” Every “Protestant church father” that I have ever read wrote against birth control. He understood that souls, not material things, are eternal; that Christ welcomed small children; and that the spiritual tops the material.

    This, to me, is society’s greatest issue–the devaluation of women as mothers. This extends to the devaluation of children.

    I am sick to death of hearing Christians blamed for the continuance of abortion. There were and always have been hundreds of Christian orphanages across our country. Abortion mills, not the Christians, closed some of them down.

    Please. Instead of criticizing other Christians, help along yourself. Here is a directory so that you can volunteer at or donate to the orphanage nearest you:

    http://www.missionfinder.org/orphanages.htm

  • http://www.utah-Lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The Constantinian era made us soft. We Christians could do much by not thinking the state needs be responsible to do our work for us. We could spend more time and money supporting places like Pregnancy Resource Centers, and less time picketing to change laws etc.
    I keep reading and rereading Leo Donald Davises book The First Seven Ecumenical Councils. I think there is a blue print in there for the work of the church today.

  • http://www.utah-Lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The Constantinian era made us soft. We Christians could do much by not thinking the state needs be responsible to do our work for us. We could spend more time and money supporting places like Pregnancy Resource Centers, and less time picketing to change laws etc.
    I keep reading and rereading Leo Donald Davises book The First Seven Ecumenical Councils. I think there is a blue print in there for the work of the church today.

  • Jerry

    @15 “keep reading and rereading…”; sounds great; another book to buy.

  • Jerry

    @15 “keep reading and rereading…”; sounds great; another book to buy.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “less time picketing to change laws etc.”

    The laws need to change because they degrade women, children, marriage, chastity and human rights. When abortion was legalized, conceptions rose 30% and births fell 6%. Turns out folks did know what caused that. Many women are very harshly coerced and threatened to abort. This culture degrades women with the pressure to be sexual but not reproduce. Even murder is preferable to birth to the depraved mind. Culture of death.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “less time picketing to change laws etc.”

    The laws need to change because they degrade women, children, marriage, chastity and human rights. When abortion was legalized, conceptions rose 30% and births fell 6%. Turns out folks did know what caused that. Many women are very harshly coerced and threatened to abort. This culture degrades women with the pressure to be sexual but not reproduce. Even murder is preferable to birth to the depraved mind. Culture of death.

  • Tom Hering

    I’m not sure how my comment @ 1 was understood to be primarily about adoption, or as a criticism of other Christians. It was about a new sort of witness to our society: building orphanages that will rescue the unborn specifically, and after their birth, will care for them until adulthood (or adoption). That’s all.

  • Tom Hering

    I’m not sure how my comment @ 1 was understood to be primarily about adoption, or as a criticism of other Christians. It was about a new sort of witness to our society: building orphanages that will rescue the unborn specifically, and after their birth, will care for them until adulthood (or adoption). That’s all.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “We could spend more time and money supporting places like Pregnancy Resource Centers,”

    And especially take your kids with you and explain to them what is going on. It is important for them to see how devastating it is for women, children and the community when fathers abandon their children.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “We could spend more time and money supporting places like Pregnancy Resource Centers,”

    And especially take your kids with you and explain to them what is going on. It is important for them to see how devastating it is for women, children and the community when fathers abandon their children.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’m not sure how my comment @ 1 was understood to be primarily about adoption, or as a criticism of other Christians.”

    It wasn’t. Your comment was great. The point is that it is rather naïve to think that folks are going to welcome the children of strangers when they don’t even welcome their own.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I’m not sure how my comment @ 1 was understood to be primarily about adoption, or as a criticism of other Christians.”

    It wasn’t. Your comment was great. The point is that it is rather naïve to think that folks are going to welcome the children of strangers when they don’t even welcome their own.

  • Tom Hering

    What?! Me naive?

  • Tom Hering

    What?! Me naive?

  • http://www.utah-Lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    @17
    sg. Christians were much more effective in transforming society when they had no political power. It isn’t that I don’t think women should be treated better, or that I don’t think the unborn should be protected. I just think that the law is quite helpless to bring about actual change. And though it may repress behavior, and there is a little to be said for that it is very little. It doesn’t change hearts. And we should be I think a bit more concerned about the life to come than this life.
    I talked about a book in that post. I highly recommend it. It isn’t about the topic at hand as such, but it touches on it, and what it has to say is quite eye opening.

  • http://www.utah-Lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    @17
    sg. Christians were much more effective in transforming society when they had no political power. It isn’t that I don’t think women should be treated better, or that I don’t think the unborn should be protected. I just think that the law is quite helpless to bring about actual change. And though it may repress behavior, and there is a little to be said for that it is very little. It doesn’t change hearts. And we should be I think a bit more concerned about the life to come than this life.
    I talked about a book in that post. I highly recommend it. It isn’t about the topic at hand as such, but it touches on it, and what it has to say is quite eye opening.

  • bunnycatch3r

    The practice of infanticide, for example, was widespread and legal throughout the Greek and Roman world during the early days of Christianity.

    I wonder if they learned this behavior from the Old Testament:

    We destroyed all the people in every town we conquered – men, women, and children alike.“(Deuteronomy 3:1-7 )

    “Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.” (Psalms 137:9)

    He killed them all and completely destroyed their towns.(Joshua 11:21-23)

    Jephthah ( a judge of Israel!) sacrifices his daughter (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)

    Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.‘” (1 Samuel 15:2-3)

  • bunnycatch3r

    The practice of infanticide, for example, was widespread and legal throughout the Greek and Roman world during the early days of Christianity.

    I wonder if they learned this behavior from the Old Testament:

    We destroyed all the people in every town we conquered – men, women, and children alike.“(Deuteronomy 3:1-7 )

    “Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.” (Psalms 137:9)

    He killed them all and completely destroyed their towns.(Joshua 11:21-23)

    Jephthah ( a judge of Israel!) sacrifices his daughter (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)

    Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.‘” (1 Samuel 15:2-3)

  • Grace

    Bror – 22

    “I just think that the law is quite helpless to bring about actual change. And though it may repress behavior, and there is a little to be said for that it is very little. It doesn’t change hearts.”

    You are right, it’s a heart issue, without a heart for the unborn or those without homes, all the laws in the world won’t change a thing.

    The heart of man is cold without Christ. He is the answer, not the law.

  • Grace

    Bror – 22

    “I just think that the law is quite helpless to bring about actual change. And though it may repress behavior, and there is a little to be said for that it is very little. It doesn’t change hearts.”

    You are right, it’s a heart issue, without a heart for the unborn or those without homes, all the laws in the world won’t change a thing.

    The heart of man is cold without Christ. He is the answer, not the law.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Maybe I’m just showing my ignorance here, but I was not previously familiar with “Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome”, so I assumed that description indicated he was succeeded by Constantine. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that, no, Constantine had preceded Julian, as had Constantine’s son, also a Christian.

    So I think the article is missing something where it states that “Emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not succumb to political upheaval or force but to love, the love of Christ.” The empire had already succumbed to both political upheaval and force by Christians! I’m betting Julian was only recognizing that these forces — not the Gospel itself, by a long shot — would eventually triumph in a political sense.

    That is, assuming that his whole “Vicisti, Galilaee” quote is accurate. As should surprise no one who has studied history, it’s likely an apocryphal quote that reflects the way history ultimately went. After all, Julian’s “last words” were apparently first recorded by Theodoret in his Historia Ecclesiastica in the 5th century (Julian’s reign was in the 4th C.).

    Still, it’s interesting to see how even Dr. Veith described this transition: “I believe the Gospel had something to do with Christianity’s triumph over Western Paganism”. Ask yourself: how did Christianity “triumph” over paganism? Is paganism dead? Is it even diminished? Is the “triumph” Veith refers to merely a question of the change in the (nominal) religion of the head of the Roman Empire, making it therefore a purely worldly, political “triumph”?

    To be sure, the Gospel does triumph over paganism and all other worldly ideologies. But not in a way that we can assess by considering the popularity of Christianity or its power as a political force. Christianity does not “win” when it gains control of a government or a nation. It wins when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a sinful heart that is hostile to God is redeemed and called holy for Jesus’ sake.

    To be sure, those Christians in the Roman Empire are a wonderful example for us today in how to truly love your neighbor. And no doubt, that was then and is now a beautiful witness for unbelievers to God’s love and power as he works through us, and a challenge to us individually to drown the Old Adam in us that would not act out of love.

    But they didn’t do what they did to win a culture war. In fact, as far as Christianity’s dalliance with temporal power went, Christianity lost the culture war, as any reading of the history of the Western church will show. And yet, the Gospel keeps triumphing, all the same.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Maybe I’m just showing my ignorance here, but I was not previously familiar with “Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome”, so I assumed that description indicated he was succeeded by Constantine. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that, no, Constantine had preceded Julian, as had Constantine’s son, also a Christian.

    So I think the article is missing something where it states that “Emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not succumb to political upheaval or force but to love, the love of Christ.” The empire had already succumbed to both political upheaval and force by Christians! I’m betting Julian was only recognizing that these forces — not the Gospel itself, by a long shot — would eventually triumph in a political sense.

    That is, assuming that his whole “Vicisti, Galilaee” quote is accurate. As should surprise no one who has studied history, it’s likely an apocryphal quote that reflects the way history ultimately went. After all, Julian’s “last words” were apparently first recorded by Theodoret in his Historia Ecclesiastica in the 5th century (Julian’s reign was in the 4th C.).

    Still, it’s interesting to see how even Dr. Veith described this transition: “I believe the Gospel had something to do with Christianity’s triumph over Western Paganism”. Ask yourself: how did Christianity “triumph” over paganism? Is paganism dead? Is it even diminished? Is the “triumph” Veith refers to merely a question of the change in the (nominal) religion of the head of the Roman Empire, making it therefore a purely worldly, political “triumph”?

    To be sure, the Gospel does triumph over paganism and all other worldly ideologies. But not in a way that we can assess by considering the popularity of Christianity or its power as a political force. Christianity does not “win” when it gains control of a government or a nation. It wins when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a sinful heart that is hostile to God is redeemed and called holy for Jesus’ sake.

    To be sure, those Christians in the Roman Empire are a wonderful example for us today in how to truly love your neighbor. And no doubt, that was then and is now a beautiful witness for unbelievers to God’s love and power as he works through us, and a challenge to us individually to drown the Old Adam in us that would not act out of love.

    But they didn’t do what they did to win a culture war. In fact, as far as Christianity’s dalliance with temporal power went, Christianity lost the culture war, as any reading of the history of the Western church will show. And yet, the Gospel keeps triumphing, all the same.

  • Booklover

    Abortion is the only crime for which some ask a change of heart before we change the law. We don’t do that with (other) murder, theft, or (other) abuse. Meanwhile, thousands of babies are being diced.

  • Booklover

    Abortion is the only crime for which some ask a change of heart before we change the law. We don’t do that with (other) murder, theft, or (other) abuse. Meanwhile, thousands of babies are being diced.

  • Grace

    Booklover, I agree with you (26) – but the time has come to place our attention upon helping women, the law most likely won’t be changed. This is one area I have worked in, ….. sin abounds, just look about us, ….. people are used to the visual they see everyday. Young girls dress like tramps with their mothers approval, even as young as 9.

    It’s a heart issue. Sex has no moral value anymore. Women have to understand it is WE who must set the standards, we must demand respect, WE must value the most fragile of the womb. The law doesn’t value God’s children!

  • Grace

    Booklover, I agree with you (26) – but the time has come to place our attention upon helping women, the law most likely won’t be changed. This is one area I have worked in, ….. sin abounds, just look about us, ….. people are used to the visual they see everyday. Young girls dress like tramps with their mothers approval, even as young as 9.

    It’s a heart issue. Sex has no moral value anymore. Women have to understand it is WE who must set the standards, we must demand respect, WE must value the most fragile of the womb. The law doesn’t value God’s children!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It is also interesting to note that an article which notes as one of its main premise that

    These early Christ-followers did not organize special interest groups or political parties. They never directly opposed Caesar; they didn’t picket or protest or attempt to overthrow the ruling powers. They didn’t publicly denounce or condemn the pagan world.

    is then followed by a discussion (by some) of our political leaders and the need to change laws. Huh.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It is also interesting to note that an article which notes as one of its main premise that

    These early Christ-followers did not organize special interest groups or political parties. They never directly opposed Caesar; they didn’t picket or protest or attempt to overthrow the ruling powers. They didn’t publicly denounce or condemn the pagan world.

    is then followed by a discussion (by some) of our political leaders and the need to change laws. Huh.

  • Grace

    tODD, perhaps they knew something we have overlooked?

  • Grace

    tODD, perhaps they knew something we have overlooked?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@29), I need antecedents. “They” … who? The early Christians in the Roman Empire? The people suggesting that the solution involves changing laws? Help me understand your comment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@29), I need antecedents. “They” … who? The early Christians in the Roman Empire? The people suggesting that the solution involves changing laws? Help me understand your comment.

  • Grace

    tODD – 30

    I was referring to your comment:

    “These early Christ-followers did not organize special interest groups or political parties. They never directly opposed Caesar; they didn’t picket or protest or attempt to overthrow the ruling powers. They didn’t publicly denounce or condemn the pagan world.”

  • Grace

    tODD – 30

    I was referring to your comment:

    “These early Christ-followers did not organize special interest groups or political parties. They never directly opposed Caesar; they didn’t picket or protest or attempt to overthrow the ruling powers. They didn’t publicly denounce or condemn the pagan world.”

  • George A. Marquart

    Christians were not simply “supremely moral.” Christians were and are new creatures, different from the “children of this world” through Baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Many passages in Scripture and our Confessions testify to this; among them, The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, IV. Good Works, “10. For, as Dr. Luther writes in the Preface to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Thus faith is a divine work in us, that changes us and regenerates us of God, and puts to death the old Adam, makes us entirely different men in heart, spirit, mind, and all powers, and brings with it [confers] the Holy Ghost.”

    We are no longer considered to be “supremely moral” by the “children of this world” for two reasons: Over time, by the grace of God, and the influence of Christians, what we call “Western Society” has become significantly less cruel and more considerate of the well being of people than was true in the early days of the Church. Therefore, our society’s morality is not as radically different from the values of society as it was then. On the other hand, over centuries of relative ease and affluence, our morality itself has deteriorated.

    Two factors have overwhelmingly affected the Church’s works of charity: buildings dedicated for worship, and a paid clergy. I am not suggesting that we abolish these, but we must recognize how, as a result, believers’ charitable contributions to the poor have diminished. Somehow, the very fact that we are not directly involved in the plight of the poor has reduced our empathy for them, and our compassion. The fact that we ourselves are incomparably more affluent than “He Who had no place to lay His head,” and that we consider this affluence a minimum standard that we are entitled to maintain, has also contributed to our moral desensitization.

    The only real constant that has persisted throughout the ages is the Holy Spirit, Who ruled the hearts of people then, and rules our hearts today. We need to pray to Him to help us to “deny ourselves and to take up our cross.” Our Lord did that voluntarily, and we are not greater than our Lord.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Christians were not simply “supremely moral.” Christians were and are new creatures, different from the “children of this world” through Baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Many passages in Scripture and our Confessions testify to this; among them, The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, IV. Good Works, “10. For, as Dr. Luther writes in the Preface to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Thus faith is a divine work in us, that changes us and regenerates us of God, and puts to death the old Adam, makes us entirely different men in heart, spirit, mind, and all powers, and brings with it [confers] the Holy Ghost.”

    We are no longer considered to be “supremely moral” by the “children of this world” for two reasons: Over time, by the grace of God, and the influence of Christians, what we call “Western Society” has become significantly less cruel and more considerate of the well being of people than was true in the early days of the Church. Therefore, our society’s morality is not as radically different from the values of society as it was then. On the other hand, over centuries of relative ease and affluence, our morality itself has deteriorated.

    Two factors have overwhelmingly affected the Church’s works of charity: buildings dedicated for worship, and a paid clergy. I am not suggesting that we abolish these, but we must recognize how, as a result, believers’ charitable contributions to the poor have diminished. Somehow, the very fact that we are not directly involved in the plight of the poor has reduced our empathy for them, and our compassion. The fact that we ourselves are incomparably more affluent than “He Who had no place to lay His head,” and that we consider this affluence a minimum standard that we are entitled to maintain, has also contributed to our moral desensitization.

    The only real constant that has persisted throughout the ages is the Holy Spirit, Who ruled the hearts of people then, and rules our hearts today. We need to pray to Him to help us to “deny ourselves and to take up our cross.” Our Lord did that voluntarily, and we are not greater than our Lord.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Grace

    George – 43

    “Two factors have overwhelmingly affected the Church’s works of charity: buildings dedicated for worship, and a paid clergy. I am not suggesting that we abolish these, but we must recognize how, as a result, believers’ charitable contributions to the poor have diminished.”

    George, you are saying one thing, and then say another which doesn’t discount what you stated first. Every pastor, deserves to be paid, certainly a fair amount to sustain he and his family, …. and so does the church body need a place to Worship. This is one area that comes up from time to time, and it simply doesn’t work.

  • Grace

    George – 43

    “Two factors have overwhelmingly affected the Church’s works of charity: buildings dedicated for worship, and a paid clergy. I am not suggesting that we abolish these, but we must recognize how, as a result, believers’ charitable contributions to the poor have diminished.”

    George, you are saying one thing, and then say another which doesn’t discount what you stated first. Every pastor, deserves to be paid, certainly a fair amount to sustain he and his family, …. and so does the church body need a place to Worship. This is one area that comes up from time to time, and it simply doesn’t work.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding “bunnycatch3r”‘s comment about the Romans learning the extermination of their own children from a few instances of Israel exterminating even the children of the Canaanites; well, that about says it. Bunnycatch3r, I suggest you look up “non sequitur” in a description of informal logic.

    And well said, Bror, about Christians often having more effectiveness when they didn’t have political power. For example, it’s noted that the downfall of the regime of East Germany had a lot to do with….

    ….you guessed it, East German churches.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Regarding “bunnycatch3r”‘s comment about the Romans learning the extermination of their own children from a few instances of Israel exterminating even the children of the Canaanites; well, that about says it. Bunnycatch3r, I suggest you look up “non sequitur” in a description of informal logic.

    And well said, Bror, about Christians often having more effectiveness when they didn’t have political power. For example, it’s noted that the downfall of the regime of East Germany had a lot to do with….

    ….you guessed it, East German churches.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@31), you’re actually quoting the article itself, not my own comments, but sure, I am arguing that, by their loving actions, those early Christians did not seem at all preoccupied with political influence, changing the legal system, or winning a culture war. They were just loving their neighbors. Certainly, their witness should serve to chastise all of us, as we do not love our neighbors as ourselves and all too often are willingly distracted by worldliness. And yet, God will continue to work through us — as he did through those early Christians — to bless others and show them his love.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@31), you’re actually quoting the article itself, not my own comments, but sure, I am arguing that, by their loving actions, those early Christians did not seem at all preoccupied with political influence, changing the legal system, or winning a culture war. They were just loving their neighbors. Certainly, their witness should serve to chastise all of us, as we do not love our neighbors as ourselves and all too often are willingly distracted by worldliness. And yet, God will continue to work through us — as he did through those early Christians — to bless others and show them his love.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Bike Bubba
    So, it’s a horrid thing for pagans to commit infanticide but when God commands his chosen people to do the same then it’s somehow excusable. Oh, I see, is it because I presented only a “few” instances of divinely ordained infanticide that it can all be swept under the rug? So, tell me, how many examples do you need before you begin to seriously suspect the oxymoron “biblical morality”? What if I told you that this same God wiped out the entire planet in a world wide flood -yes infants too as well as the unborn. Would that change your opinion? No? What if I could show you where in the Bible he allowed a ruler to kill male children up to the age of two? Or where he killed an entire nation’s first born? Non Sequitur? Srsly?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Bike Bubba
    So, it’s a horrid thing for pagans to commit infanticide but when God commands his chosen people to do the same then it’s somehow excusable. Oh, I see, is it because I presented only a “few” instances of divinely ordained infanticide that it can all be swept under the rug? So, tell me, how many examples do you need before you begin to seriously suspect the oxymoron “biblical morality”? What if I told you that this same God wiped out the entire planet in a world wide flood -yes infants too as well as the unborn. Would that change your opinion? No? What if I could show you where in the Bible he allowed a ruler to kill male children up to the age of two? Or where he killed an entire nation’s first born? Non Sequitur? Srsly?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@36), I’ve just deleted a remarkably snarky reply (and I say that in full awareness of what an average level of snark is for me) because, while I thought it wasn’t unwarranted, it was extremely unloving. And I realized that trying to score (small-scale) political points in favor of the Truth but at the expense of Love would be more than a bit ironic, given this discussion (to say nothing of always being the Wrong Choice).

    That said, even if you want to quibble with Bubba’s claim (@34) that it was only “a few instances” (and by all means, have at it), I don’t think you have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about his labeling your argument a “non sequitur”. You’re pretty much having the conversation you’d rather have than the one we were having. And that’s okay. But let’s be honest about that.

    Anyhow, I question if you have the correct framework for analyzing these Biblical accounts you seem to think are news to us Christians here. If I may say so, your argument appears to be “(1) Killing is bad, and (2) God tells people to kill, so (3) God is bad.”

    I’d be curious on what basis you’d establish point #1, in the first place.

    As for where I’m coming from, please answer this question: why do people die? (Note that I am not asking for a list of medical causes of death.) We’ll go from there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@36), I’ve just deleted a remarkably snarky reply (and I say that in full awareness of what an average level of snark is for me) because, while I thought it wasn’t unwarranted, it was extremely unloving. And I realized that trying to score (small-scale) political points in favor of the Truth but at the expense of Love would be more than a bit ironic, given this discussion (to say nothing of always being the Wrong Choice).

    That said, even if you want to quibble with Bubba’s claim (@34) that it was only “a few instances” (and by all means, have at it), I don’t think you have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about his labeling your argument a “non sequitur”. You’re pretty much having the conversation you’d rather have than the one we were having. And that’s okay. But let’s be honest about that.

    Anyhow, I question if you have the correct framework for analyzing these Biblical accounts you seem to think are news to us Christians here. If I may say so, your argument appears to be “(1) Killing is bad, and (2) God tells people to kill, so (3) God is bad.”

    I’d be curious on what basis you’d establish point #1, in the first place.

    As for where I’m coming from, please answer this question: why do people die? (Note that I am not asking for a list of medical causes of death.) We’ll go from there.

  • George A. Marquart

    Grace Re. 33.

    I honestly do not know the answer to the problem, but the fact remains that these two factors distinguish the church of today from the early church. If we think we have a problem today, we cannot possibly solve it without knowing how we got there. Also important is to keep going back to Scripture in order to see what our Lord’s priorities are.

    For example, from 1979 to 1997 I was a member of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, a congregation supported by 5 US based denominations including the ELCA. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, services were held in the US, Canadian, and British Embassies. Afterward we rented an auditorium for Sunday services and Sunday school. For any number of reasons, the rental arrangements did not last for very long periods of time. We moved from location to location without the assurance of any kind of secure, long-term arrangement. Meanwhile, Pastor John Melin (ELCA), among other charity efforts, organized soup kitchens in the early nineties, in which up to 1,000 Russian old folks were fed six days a week. Financing was provided by the parishioners, both through personal and corporate contributions.

    When it became possible for us to purchase a place of worship, I mentioned this to Pastor Melin. His response was, “God forbid! A building would become a millstone around our necks. All of the people we now feed would starve, because all of our resources would go into the building.” The people are being fed to this day, and the congregation still does not own a building. (http://www.mpcrussia.org/)

    St. Paul writes both to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians that he did not want to be a financial burden to them; therefore he supported himself. Nevertheless, he accomplished more than any other Apostle or any pastor today. Should we therefore abolish the salaries of all pastors? By no means! But we must find a way to focus on what is important to our Lord. Before we approve routine expenditures for say, refinishing our pews, installing better lighting, or a raft of any other projects, if we remember that every minute somewhere in the world 10 children die of hunger, maybe we could do without at least some of these things, and spend the money on food for them. Ultimately when our Lord will separate the sheep from the goats, the matter of pastors’ salaries or church buildings will not come up. But serving “the least of my bretheren” figures rather prominently.

    I am not asking that we abandon both buildings and salaries for pastors. All I suggest is that we consider compassion for God’s suffering people to be at least equally important.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Grace Re. 33.

    I honestly do not know the answer to the problem, but the fact remains that these two factors distinguish the church of today from the early church. If we think we have a problem today, we cannot possibly solve it without knowing how we got there. Also important is to keep going back to Scripture in order to see what our Lord’s priorities are.

    For example, from 1979 to 1997 I was a member of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, a congregation supported by 5 US based denominations including the ELCA. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, services were held in the US, Canadian, and British Embassies. Afterward we rented an auditorium for Sunday services and Sunday school. For any number of reasons, the rental arrangements did not last for very long periods of time. We moved from location to location without the assurance of any kind of secure, long-term arrangement. Meanwhile, Pastor John Melin (ELCA), among other charity efforts, organized soup kitchens in the early nineties, in which up to 1,000 Russian old folks were fed six days a week. Financing was provided by the parishioners, both through personal and corporate contributions.

    When it became possible for us to purchase a place of worship, I mentioned this to Pastor Melin. His response was, “God forbid! A building would become a millstone around our necks. All of the people we now feed would starve, because all of our resources would go into the building.” The people are being fed to this day, and the congregation still does not own a building. (http://www.mpcrussia.org/)

    St. Paul writes both to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians that he did not want to be a financial burden to them; therefore he supported himself. Nevertheless, he accomplished more than any other Apostle or any pastor today. Should we therefore abolish the salaries of all pastors? By no means! But we must find a way to focus on what is important to our Lord. Before we approve routine expenditures for say, refinishing our pews, installing better lighting, or a raft of any other projects, if we remember that every minute somewhere in the world 10 children die of hunger, maybe we could do without at least some of these things, and spend the money on food for them. Ultimately when our Lord will separate the sheep from the goats, the matter of pastors’ salaries or church buildings will not come up. But serving “the least of my bretheren” figures rather prominently.

    I am not asking that we abandon both buildings and salaries for pastors. All I suggest is that we consider compassion for God’s suffering people to be at least equally important.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The fact remains that these two factors [buildings dedicated for worship, and a paid clergy] distinguish the church of today from the early church” (@38).

    Then how do you explain 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 9:3-12. Paul tells the Corinthians that he and Barnabas themselves “did not use this right” to being paid, but he does so as an exception to the rule that the spiritual leaders were being paid, and deservedly so, Paul argues!

    Do you read it differently? And do you see in Paul’s personal statement a description of the early church in which no elder was paid, or a command that everyone should follow his example?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The fact remains that these two factors [buildings dedicated for worship, and a paid clergy] distinguish the church of today from the early church” (@38).

    Then how do you explain 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 9:3-12. Paul tells the Corinthians that he and Barnabas themselves “did not use this right” to being paid, but he does so as an exception to the rule that the spiritual leaders were being paid, and deservedly so, Paul argues!

    Do you read it differently? And do you see in Paul’s personal statement a description of the early church in which no elder was paid, or a command that everyone should follow his example?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It should also be noted that the early church used buildings (synagogues are mentioned) that were “dedicated for worship” (or spiritual teaching, at least) as the place of its teaching, including the rather magnificent Temple that God had instructed be built in Jerusalem.

    I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where it describes the early church building specific buildings for themselves, but nor do I see such activity being proscribed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    It should also be noted that the early church used buildings (synagogues are mentioned) that were “dedicated for worship” (or spiritual teaching, at least) as the place of its teaching, including the rather magnificent Temple that God had instructed be built in Jerusalem.

    I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where it describes the early church building specific buildings for themselves, but nor do I see such activity being proscribed.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD

    I don’t think you have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about his labeling your argument a “non sequitur”.

    But I do. Michael Craven argues that infanticide was common in the ancient world. I showed that it was also common for those “living under the rule and reign of God.”

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD

    I don’t think you have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about his labeling your argument a “non sequitur”.

    But I do. Michael Craven argues that infanticide was common in the ancient world. I showed that it was also common for those “living under the rule and reign of God.”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I just think that the law is quite helpless to bring about actual change.”

    Evidence shows otherwise. I gave you the percentage rise in conceptions after abortion was legalized. You could also consider the rise in divorce with no-fault divorce. Changing laws changes behavior. It would be great to change hearts but until we can change the hearts of murderers, it seems wise to have laws against murder and just settle for changing behaviors. You know, victims are people, too. Innocent children deserve to have the adults in the community defend them from murder.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I just think that the law is quite helpless to bring about actual change.”

    Evidence shows otherwise. I gave you the percentage rise in conceptions after abortion was legalized. You could also consider the rise in divorce with no-fault divorce. Changing laws changes behavior. It would be great to change hearts but until we can change the hearts of murderers, it seems wise to have laws against murder and just settle for changing behaviors. You know, victims are people, too. Innocent children deserve to have the adults in the community defend them from murder.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So I think the article is missing something where it states that “Emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not succumb to political upheaval or force but to love, the love of Christ.” The empire had already succumbed to both political upheaval and force by Christians! I’m betting Julian was only recognizing that these forces — not the Gospel itself, by a long shot — would eventually triumph in a political sense.”

    I thought Rome was attacked by barbarians from the north and infiltrated by Christianity. I mean, weren’t the Christians in Rome mostly Romans who converted, or were they mostly Jewish Christians?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So I think the article is missing something where it states that “Emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not succumb to political upheaval or force but to love, the love of Christ.” The empire had already succumbed to both political upheaval and force by Christians! I’m betting Julian was only recognizing that these forces — not the Gospel itself, by a long shot — would eventually triumph in a political sense.”

    I thought Rome was attacked by barbarians from the north and infiltrated by Christianity. I mean, weren’t the Christians in Rome mostly Romans who converted, or were they mostly Jewish Christians?

  • Grace

    38 George A. Marquart

    “St. Paul writes both to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians that he did not want to be a financial burden to them; therefore he supported himself. Nevertheless, he accomplished more than any other Apostle or any pastor today. Should we therefore abolish the salaries of all pastors? By no means! But we must find a way to focus on what is important to our Lord.”

    Paul made a CHOICE not to be paid, but he makes it clear verse 14 that those who wish to can make their living from the gospel – You can ‘wave’ your right as Paul did, but you have NO RIGHT to ‘wave’ others receiving a living from being a pastor, its not your right, nor is it Scriptural.

    As a pastor’s daughter, I find it hard to believe that anyone would think a pastor should not be paid a fair amount of money to live on.

    3 This is my defense to those who would examine me:

    4 We have the right to earn our food, don’t we?

    5 We have the right to take a believing wife with us like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas, don’t we?

    6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to keep on working for a living?

    7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its grapes? Or who takes care of a flock and does not drink any of its milk?

    8 I am not saying this on human authority, am I? The law says the same thing, doesn’t it?

    9 For in the law of Moses it is written, “You must not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” God is not only concerned about oxen, is he?

    10 Isn’t he really speaking for our benefit? Yes, this was written for our benefit, because the one who plows should plow in hope, and the one who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

    11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you?

    12 If others enjoy this right over you, don’t we have a stronger claim? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we tolerate everything in order not to put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of the Messiah.

    13 You know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple and that those who serve at the altar get their share of its offerings, don’t you?

    14 In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who proclaim the gospel should make their living from the gospel

    15 But I have not used any of these rights, and I’m not writing this so that they may be applied in my case. I would rather die than let anyone deprive me of my reason for boasting. 1 Corinthians 9

    Do you think the LORD would agree with you regarding a place of Worship? Did the Jews have Temples? – but of course! Did God tell them to stop building houses of Worship?

  • Grace

    38 George A. Marquart

    “St. Paul writes both to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians that he did not want to be a financial burden to them; therefore he supported himself. Nevertheless, he accomplished more than any other Apostle or any pastor today. Should we therefore abolish the salaries of all pastors? By no means! But we must find a way to focus on what is important to our Lord.”

    Paul made a CHOICE not to be paid, but he makes it clear verse 14 that those who wish to can make their living from the gospel – You can ‘wave’ your right as Paul did, but you have NO RIGHT to ‘wave’ others receiving a living from being a pastor, its not your right, nor is it Scriptural.

    As a pastor’s daughter, I find it hard to believe that anyone would think a pastor should not be paid a fair amount of money to live on.

    3 This is my defense to those who would examine me:

    4 We have the right to earn our food, don’t we?

    5 We have the right to take a believing wife with us like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas, don’t we?

    6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to keep on working for a living?

    7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its grapes? Or who takes care of a flock and does not drink any of its milk?

    8 I am not saying this on human authority, am I? The law says the same thing, doesn’t it?

    9 For in the law of Moses it is written, “You must not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” God is not only concerned about oxen, is he?

    10 Isn’t he really speaking for our benefit? Yes, this was written for our benefit, because the one who plows should plow in hope, and the one who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

    11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you?

    12 If others enjoy this right over you, don’t we have a stronger claim? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we tolerate everything in order not to put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of the Messiah.

    13 You know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple and that those who serve at the altar get their share of its offerings, don’t you?

    14 In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who proclaim the gospel should make their living from the gospel

    15 But I have not used any of these rights, and I’m not writing this so that they may be applied in my case. I would rather die than let anyone deprive me of my reason for boasting. 1 Corinthians 9

    Do you think the LORD would agree with you regarding a place of Worship? Did the Jews have Temples? – but of course! Did God tell them to stop building houses of Worship?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But I do. Michael Craven argues that infanticide was common in the ancient world. I showed that it was also common for those “living under the rule and reign of God.”

    Bunny, the incidents you cite are where Israelites were to wipe out enemies. The punishment the enemies received would be considered earned. Much like folks being wiped out in the flood or when God destroyed cities directly rather than send someone to destroy the inhabitants. Infanticide is prohibited in Jewish law. So in as much as any Jews practiced it, the practice was condemned.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But I do. Michael Craven argues that infanticide was common in the ancient world. I showed that it was also common for those “living under the rule and reign of God.”

    Bunny, the incidents you cite are where Israelites were to wipe out enemies. The punishment the enemies received would be considered earned. Much like folks being wiped out in the flood or when God destroyed cities directly rather than send someone to destroy the inhabitants. Infanticide is prohibited in Jewish law. So in as much as any Jews practiced it, the practice was condemned.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@41), you didn’t show that it was “common”, you cited some examples from the Bible and then suggested — in a way that did not follow logically — that the ancient Greeks and Romans “learned this behavior from the Old Testament”.

    This in spite of the fact that the examples cited in the article of Greek and Roman infanticide had to do with disposing of “deformed” and “weakly and abnormal” infants, as well as offering up sacrifices, while the Biblical examples you cited (@23) have to do with warfare. (And the example of Jephthah that was not warfare-related didn’t even involve anyone close to infancy!) Your other examples (@36) have even less to do with infanticide.

    So you want me to believe that your suggestion that the sacrificial or eugenic practices of the ancient Greek and Roman world were learned from passages about warfare in the Old Testament, through some as-yet-unexplained, heretofore-unknown method by which the Hebrew Bible was somehow influential throughout that part of the world, its paganism notwithstanding … and that this is all quite logical?

    I’m sorry, but no. If you want to bash on the Bible for what you perceive is a lack of morality, go ahead. Let’s have that discussion. I already started it for you (@37), but you haven’t responded.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@41), you didn’t show that it was “common”, you cited some examples from the Bible and then suggested — in a way that did not follow logically — that the ancient Greeks and Romans “learned this behavior from the Old Testament”.

    This in spite of the fact that the examples cited in the article of Greek and Roman infanticide had to do with disposing of “deformed” and “weakly and abnormal” infants, as well as offering up sacrifices, while the Biblical examples you cited (@23) have to do with warfare. (And the example of Jephthah that was not warfare-related didn’t even involve anyone close to infancy!) Your other examples (@36) have even less to do with infanticide.

    So you want me to believe that your suggestion that the sacrificial or eugenic practices of the ancient Greek and Roman world were learned from passages about warfare in the Old Testament, through some as-yet-unexplained, heretofore-unknown method by which the Hebrew Bible was somehow influential throughout that part of the world, its paganism notwithstanding … and that this is all quite logical?

    I’m sorry, but no. If you want to bash on the Bible for what you perceive is a lack of morality, go ahead. Let’s have that discussion. I already started it for you (@37), but you haven’t responded.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I am arguing that, by their loving actions, those early Christians did not seem at all preoccupied with political influence, changing the legal system, or winning a culture war.”

    Right, but not being able to vote and having no possible avenue for political influence, it would be stupid. They would just get themselves killed. We on the other hand do have political influence as voters and with that comes the responsibility to establish and uphold justice rather than abandon the innocent to those who would murder them and we are obligated to adjudicate murders.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I am arguing that, by their loving actions, those early Christians did not seem at all preoccupied with political influence, changing the legal system, or winning a culture war.”

    Right, but not being able to vote and having no possible avenue for political influence, it would be stupid. They would just get themselves killed. We on the other hand do have political influence as voters and with that comes the responsibility to establish and uphold justice rather than abandon the innocent to those who would murder them and we are obligated to adjudicate murders.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @sg and tODD et al.
    Does anyone here agree that my point is valid?
    If not then I ask Dr Veith to delete posts 23 and 36.
    And I apologize for marring a very good blog topic.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @sg and tODD et al.
    Does anyone here agree that my point is valid?
    If not then I ask Dr Veith to delete posts 23 and 36.
    And I apologize for marring a very good blog topic.

  • Grace

    48 bunnycatch3r

    Just because some people disagree with you, is no reason for your posts to be removed. :)

  • Grace

    48 bunnycatch3r

    Just because some people disagree with you, is no reason for your posts to be removed. :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@47), I’m sorry, but you’re missing the point entirely. You’re not going to change anyone’s heart by lording it over the populace with political influence and passing laws prohibiting sinful behavior.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@47), I’m sorry, but you’re missing the point entirely. You’re not going to change anyone’s heart by lording it over the populace with political influence and passing laws prohibiting sinful behavior.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@48), regardless of whether I think your point is valid, is there a reason you’re not answering my questions regarding your point in the last half of my previous comment (@37)? Do you want to have a discussion about your point or not?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@48), regardless of whether I think your point is valid, is there a reason you’re not answering my questions regarding your point in the last half of my previous comment (@37)? Do you want to have a discussion about your point or not?

  • bunnycatch3r

    So you want me to believe that your suggestion that the sacrificial or eugenic practices of the ancient Greek and Roman world were learned from passages about warfare in the Old Testament,

    No, I was making a facetious seque into the main point i.e., infanticide did not occur exclusively in the pagan world.

    while the Biblical examples you cited (@23) have to do with warfare.

    So, it is permissable to kill infants in time of war?

  • bunnycatch3r

    So you want me to believe that your suggestion that the sacrificial or eugenic practices of the ancient Greek and Roman world were learned from passages about warfare in the Old Testament,

    No, I was making a facetious seque into the main point i.e., infanticide did not occur exclusively in the pagan world.

    while the Biblical examples you cited (@23) have to do with warfare.

    So, it is permissable to kill infants in time of war?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But they didn’t do what they did to win a culture war.”

    Sure they did. When you don’t give up, you win.
    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

    “In fact, as far as Christianity’s dalliance with temporal power went, “Christianity lost the culture war, as any reading of the history of the Western church will show.”

    Nah, just a few battles. Christianity won all the big ones.

    “And yet, the Gospel keeps triumphing, all the same.”

    You got that right.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But they didn’t do what they did to win a culture war.”

    Sure they did. When you don’t give up, you win.
    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

    “In fact, as far as Christianity’s dalliance with temporal power went, “Christianity lost the culture war, as any reading of the history of the Western church will show.”

    Nah, just a few battles. Christianity won all the big ones.

    “And yet, the Gospel keeps triumphing, all the same.”

    You got that right.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD

    Do you want to have a discussion about your point or not?

    I do! But I’ve already hi-jacked this topic. If you agree to continue do you think it a good idea that we take the discussion to a topic one year in the past?
    Also, I’m leaving the for a dinner engagement and may not get back until later this evening.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD

    Do you want to have a discussion about your point or not?

    I do! But I’ve already hi-jacked this topic. If you agree to continue do you think it a good idea that we take the discussion to a topic one year in the past?
    Also, I’m leaving the for a dinner engagement and may not get back until later this evening.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r, if you want to have this discussion, than can you please answer my questions from earlier (@37)? I mean, I did ask those first, yes?

    And then we can discuss if you are correct to label as “infanticide” that which seems to be more properly called “total war”. As well as discussing the morality of the Biblical incidents you cite.

    It’s a little too late, anyhow, to be worrying now about having hijacked this thread. If people were driven off by the new direction of the conversation, you’re not going to bring them back by moving the conversation to some long-dead thread. You can, though, if you want, continue it off-blog via email: todd * toddstadler . com. But if anyone’s still reading this thread, they might be interested in the discussion, I say.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r, if you want to have this discussion, than can you please answer my questions from earlier (@37)? I mean, I did ask those first, yes?

    And then we can discuss if you are correct to label as “infanticide” that which seems to be more properly called “total war”. As well as discussing the morality of the Biblical incidents you cite.

    It’s a little too late, anyhow, to be worrying now about having hijacked this thread. If people were driven off by the new direction of the conversation, you’re not going to bring them back by moving the conversation to some long-dead thread. You can, though, if you want, continue it off-blog via email: todd * toddstadler . com. But if anyone’s still reading this thread, they might be interested in the discussion, I say.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@53), you insult the early Christians by reducing their acts of love for their fellow humans to nothing but a culture war. I hope for your sake — and for the sake of those God has placed in your life — that the good works you do for them are not merely your means to some politico-cultural end.

    I don’t know why you think Paul’s quote about his own life backs you up when it comes to culture wars, anyhow.

    “Christianity won all the big [culture wars].” Have you been to the areas of the former Greek and Roman Empires? And you’re going to tell me that Christianity, not paganism, won the culture war? Honestly?

    Christianity is not going to win the culture war. I’m sorry. Ask yourself why Jesus said, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” And those that did find that road to life did not find it because Christians exercised political and cultural influence over them, or because of laws that Christians got passed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@53), you insult the early Christians by reducing their acts of love for their fellow humans to nothing but a culture war. I hope for your sake — and for the sake of those God has placed in your life — that the good works you do for them are not merely your means to some politico-cultural end.

    I don’t know why you think Paul’s quote about his own life backs you up when it comes to culture wars, anyhow.

    “Christianity won all the big [culture wars].” Have you been to the areas of the former Greek and Roman Empires? And you’re going to tell me that Christianity, not paganism, won the culture war? Honestly?

    Christianity is not going to win the culture war. I’m sorry. Ask yourself why Jesus said, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” And those that did find that road to life did not find it because Christians exercised political and cultural influence over them, or because of laws that Christians got passed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “SG (@53), you insult the early Christians by reducing their acts of love for their fellow humans to nothing but a culture war. I hope for your sake — and for the sake of those God has placed in your life — that the good works you do for them are not merely your means to some politico-cultural end.”

    Wow. I think you misconstrued my point. Winning the culture war is about winning in the marketplace of ideas, so to speak. So, yeah, I think their persistence in fervent love for one another was a winning idea. And yeah, I think that verse talks about hanging on to the faith which is the real life. I don’t think they thought they were striving only for this world. I think that the gift of faith produced the good works in them and that love conquers. That doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer. We know they did, but Christianity expanded because its power is real. Politico-cultural end, uh, if you want to call it that, or hegemony, whatever. Yeah, I think they won the culture war, because they passed on the Gospel and it continued all the way to you and me and my children etc. I am saved because I heard. Did they think they were battling the forces of evil? I am pretty sure they did. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV
    I am not sure how you are defining culture war, perhaps. If it means eradicating sin, then, okay, no.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “SG (@53), you insult the early Christians by reducing their acts of love for their fellow humans to nothing but a culture war. I hope for your sake — and for the sake of those God has placed in your life — that the good works you do for them are not merely your means to some politico-cultural end.”

    Wow. I think you misconstrued my point. Winning the culture war is about winning in the marketplace of ideas, so to speak. So, yeah, I think their persistence in fervent love for one another was a winning idea. And yeah, I think that verse talks about hanging on to the faith which is the real life. I don’t think they thought they were striving only for this world. I think that the gift of faith produced the good works in them and that love conquers. That doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer. We know they did, but Christianity expanded because its power is real. Politico-cultural end, uh, if you want to call it that, or hegemony, whatever. Yeah, I think they won the culture war, because they passed on the Gospel and it continued all the way to you and me and my children etc. I am saved because I heard. Did they think they were battling the forces of evil? I am pretty sure they did. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV
    I am not sure how you are defining culture war, perhaps. If it means eradicating sin, then, okay, no.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “And those that did find that road to life did not find it because Christians exercised political and cultural influence over them, or because of laws that Christians got passed.”

    Can’t agree there. When a law is passed that ensures people get to hear the Gospel, then yes people can find the road to life because they heard. Even if the school teacher has no interest, but has to read a chapter from the Bible to the students each morning at the start of class, yes, that exposure does give people access to the saving Word of God.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “And those that did find that road to life did not find it because Christians exercised political and cultural influence over them, or because of laws that Christians got passed.”

    Can’t agree there. When a law is passed that ensures people get to hear the Gospel, then yes people can find the road to life because they heard. Even if the school teacher has no interest, but has to read a chapter from the Bible to the students each morning at the start of class, yes, that exposure does give people access to the saving Word of God.

  • Grace

    sg – 58

    “Even if the school teacher has no interest, but has to read a chapter from the Bible to the students each morning at the start of class, yes, that exposure does give people access to the saving Word of God.”

    I disagree,….. making anyone read the Bible to another individual, be it a child or adult? – is this what Christ wanted from us, BY FORCE through laws to give out His HOLY Word. I doubt it.

    Christ didn’t force anyone to listen to Him, why should we force anyone to hear the Gospel – and make laws that would enforce such a reading?

    sg, the ideas you purpose sound like those of other countries, such as M__________ you can finish the rest. If we can force children to listen to the Scriptures, then there is no reason why other religions can’t be read as well. THINK ABOUT IT!

  • Grace

    sg – 58

    “Even if the school teacher has no interest, but has to read a chapter from the Bible to the students each morning at the start of class, yes, that exposure does give people access to the saving Word of God.”

    I disagree,….. making anyone read the Bible to another individual, be it a child or adult? – is this what Christ wanted from us, BY FORCE through laws to give out His HOLY Word. I doubt it.

    Christ didn’t force anyone to listen to Him, why should we force anyone to hear the Gospel – and make laws that would enforce such a reading?

    sg, the ideas you purpose sound like those of other countries, such as M__________ you can finish the rest. If we can force children to listen to the Scriptures, then there is no reason why other religions can’t be read as well. THINK ABOUT IT!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “SG (@47), I’m sorry, but you’re missing the point entirely. You’re not going to change anyone’s heart by lording it over the populace with political influence and passing laws prohibiting sinful behavior.”

    It is not lording it over people. It is controlling the discussion and influencing the youth who don’t have any opinions or values yet. I am not looking at 50 year olds, I am looking at 5 year olds.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “SG (@47), I’m sorry, but you’re missing the point entirely. You’re not going to change anyone’s heart by lording it over the populace with political influence and passing laws prohibiting sinful behavior.”

    It is not lording it over people. It is controlling the discussion and influencing the youth who don’t have any opinions or values yet. I am not looking at 50 year olds, I am looking at 5 year olds.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace, plenty of countries teach religion in public schools. I was just looking at a short video from CPH where a man was explaining that they donate materials for use in public schools in Honduras. Kids are forced to read all kinds of crap in schools. Reading the Bible is no different from reading anything else from a secular perspective. If it has no power, what is there to fear? I agree that no other religions should be taught to anyone, anywhere, ever. However, even if they are, as long as people can at least hear the true Word of God, then they can believe.

    “I am afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
    Martin Luther

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace, plenty of countries teach religion in public schools. I was just looking at a short video from CPH where a man was explaining that they donate materials for use in public schools in Honduras. Kids are forced to read all kinds of crap in schools. Reading the Bible is no different from reading anything else from a secular perspective. If it has no power, what is there to fear? I agree that no other religions should be taught to anyone, anywhere, ever. However, even if they are, as long as people can at least hear the true Word of God, then they can believe.

    “I am afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
    Martin Luther

  • Stephen

    Wow Grace, good on you! I think “Bible by force” is a very bad idea. And I also agree that much change has a great deal to do with the character of the heart. However, our hearts are corrupted and being coerced all the time. Thank God for Jesus who rescues us. There’s that Romans 7 stuff again (sorry!).

    sg, I can suggest a good book for you called “Politics for the Greatest Good” written by Clarke Forsythe, one of the lawyers for United for Life. It comes out of his work in the Pro-Life movement. Convinced me that a political answer is possible when I had given up, but it may look different than what we think.

    Little story: I was riding in a jeep many years ago with a pastor in India. I asked him about the politics of India (he was Indian). I had just gotten an earful from a student at a seminary about socialism and how it was the best thing for India. The pastor listened to my concern and said “any system is only as good as the people who are in it.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but it stuck, and I still think about it. For purposes of full disclosure, I work in government. Hey, somebody has to!

    I think there is value in seeking political solutions and not accepting that faith must be driven back and become completely a “private matter.” This seems highly prejudicial to me in this one area – that is, to ask that people of faith set aside the very thing that informs their values before they can participate in the democratic process. And I think this is often exactly what is expected. It makes conservatives boil and become defensive, while liberals equivocate or amend their speech about faith to make it go down easy. Doesn’t this seem like a lot of our politics lately? What Forsythe suggests in the book is a political approach of prudence toward the best ends that are possible politically – what he calls prudence.

    I must admit I am disturbed by the issue being discussed here, as well as the nonchalance with which the scientific community approaches stem cell research and the creeping problem of euthanasia. Anyone paying attention when they proceed through the health care industry while having a child might notice how geared it is toward a certain “technological” worldview, even in small ways. Having said that, I don’t think we get very far at all by calling abortion clinics “Auschwitz” even if that is what we believe about them. We have to start somewhere else. I feel like there has to be some way to draw people with opposing values on one issue, such as abortion, back into a conversation about our mutual interests. When sg says to “bring your kids along” she is on to something. They need to be seen.

    I have thought about it some, and without going too far into the “homeless ” thread we all left, instead of having such antagonism toward the entities that are providing services to “do mercy” (I know, some don’t generally approve of them as a matter of principal – hang on) – what if Christians looked at them as an opportunity to “partner” (only word I can think of) in various creative ways as a means of moving towards the ends we seek?

    I’ll try to give a very imaginary example – all very speculative.

    I live in the south, and I see a lot of obese children, especially immigrants and poor, more larger kids all the time I’d say. I mean, it is really bad, just epidemic. What are we doing? This is awful. We can have discussions about the food industry, immigration, blah, blah, but that is not my intention at the moment. The point is, these are children and they are suffering, and there are plenty of folks – celebrities, the First Lady, etc. – who are jumping on the band wagon and saying they want to attack this issue. Whatever their motivations are, instead of standing back and questioning them, see it instead as an opportunity to do some things first that are merciful, and also that might accomplish another agenda down the road. Join in if it somehow meets your personal ethical goals or at least moves along those same lines. I guess it would be a bit of stealth, and I’m sure it is being done already. It is the same way missionaries work in countries like Nepal where Christians are forbidden to evangelize. They get real jobs and work side by side with people in things like health care, forestry, and business. They help them improve these things as well as achieving a further goal leading people to Christ. Sounds like St. Paul. An issue like childhood obesity would be an area where one could talk about the well-being of children more freely, really go down deep, eventually shifting perhaps the perception of what child is. That might be a further goal.

    So this idea would be something like that, as a way to influence the dialogue from within. Essentially, we can already be doing this as I’m sure we are. You would not believe (maybe you would) the crew of atheists I work with. But then they are all low-paid, earnest people who actually give a crap. And they are all of one, extremely left-wing mindset, in itself neither here nor there. As far as that goes, they don’t know where to place me, but because I have gained their trust, I occasionally can offer perspectives on issues that run contrary, when at other times I may agree with some aspect of another issue. I also, very carefully, am able to defend faith against careless mischaracterizations, and advocate for it value. I’m not saying I do it all that well, or even that courageously, and some days I outright fail. I have days when I feel like an outcast. But there are others when I can be a friend. And I think they all basically trust me, mostly because they can depend on me to do what needs doing. That last thing in itself, I think, is losing ground, and will be the bedrock upon which people judge everything else you say.

    I guess I am advocating for some way to influence things that avoids standing off to one side as Christians with an agenda that we are pushing that everyone is aware of and thus also “wary” of so we are always held at arms length. There is a lot of knee-jerk repulsion out there that, without watering down who we are, needs to be approached with . . . “wise as serpents, innocent as doves” approach. It would look like “befriending” others for their sake and ours. What would it look like if the general populace more or less trusted the church again, and fairly whole-heartedly so? Maybe it is still there and we need to cultivate it – wisely, cleverly, calmly, unsuspectingly, innocently. Sneak up on ‘em.

    Let’s face it, there is plenty of Constitutional support for remaining separate and staking out our ground. Once we do that though, we have the hard work of stepping across the boundary back into the conversation. That sacred ground can become a ghetto. The Establishment Clause, regardless of how it is interpreted, does single out faith and “pre-judge” it as something to be regarded as somehow separate. I guess the struggle is how we overcome that separation.

    Did someone say vocation?

  • Stephen

    Wow Grace, good on you! I think “Bible by force” is a very bad idea. And I also agree that much change has a great deal to do with the character of the heart. However, our hearts are corrupted and being coerced all the time. Thank God for Jesus who rescues us. There’s that Romans 7 stuff again (sorry!).

    sg, I can suggest a good book for you called “Politics for the Greatest Good” written by Clarke Forsythe, one of the lawyers for United for Life. It comes out of his work in the Pro-Life movement. Convinced me that a political answer is possible when I had given up, but it may look different than what we think.

    Little story: I was riding in a jeep many years ago with a pastor in India. I asked him about the politics of India (he was Indian). I had just gotten an earful from a student at a seminary about socialism and how it was the best thing for India. The pastor listened to my concern and said “any system is only as good as the people who are in it.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but it stuck, and I still think about it. For purposes of full disclosure, I work in government. Hey, somebody has to!

    I think there is value in seeking political solutions and not accepting that faith must be driven back and become completely a “private matter.” This seems highly prejudicial to me in this one area – that is, to ask that people of faith set aside the very thing that informs their values before they can participate in the democratic process. And I think this is often exactly what is expected. It makes conservatives boil and become defensive, while liberals equivocate or amend their speech about faith to make it go down easy. Doesn’t this seem like a lot of our politics lately? What Forsythe suggests in the book is a political approach of prudence toward the best ends that are possible politically – what he calls prudence.

    I must admit I am disturbed by the issue being discussed here, as well as the nonchalance with which the scientific community approaches stem cell research and the creeping problem of euthanasia. Anyone paying attention when they proceed through the health care industry while having a child might notice how geared it is toward a certain “technological” worldview, even in small ways. Having said that, I don’t think we get very far at all by calling abortion clinics “Auschwitz” even if that is what we believe about them. We have to start somewhere else. I feel like there has to be some way to draw people with opposing values on one issue, such as abortion, back into a conversation about our mutual interests. When sg says to “bring your kids along” she is on to something. They need to be seen.

    I have thought about it some, and without going too far into the “homeless ” thread we all left, instead of having such antagonism toward the entities that are providing services to “do mercy” (I know, some don’t generally approve of them as a matter of principal – hang on) – what if Christians looked at them as an opportunity to “partner” (only word I can think of) in various creative ways as a means of moving towards the ends we seek?

    I’ll try to give a very imaginary example – all very speculative.

    I live in the south, and I see a lot of obese children, especially immigrants and poor, more larger kids all the time I’d say. I mean, it is really bad, just epidemic. What are we doing? This is awful. We can have discussions about the food industry, immigration, blah, blah, but that is not my intention at the moment. The point is, these are children and they are suffering, and there are plenty of folks – celebrities, the First Lady, etc. – who are jumping on the band wagon and saying they want to attack this issue. Whatever their motivations are, instead of standing back and questioning them, see it instead as an opportunity to do some things first that are merciful, and also that might accomplish another agenda down the road. Join in if it somehow meets your personal ethical goals or at least moves along those same lines. I guess it would be a bit of stealth, and I’m sure it is being done already. It is the same way missionaries work in countries like Nepal where Christians are forbidden to evangelize. They get real jobs and work side by side with people in things like health care, forestry, and business. They help them improve these things as well as achieving a further goal leading people to Christ. Sounds like St. Paul. An issue like childhood obesity would be an area where one could talk about the well-being of children more freely, really go down deep, eventually shifting perhaps the perception of what child is. That might be a further goal.

    So this idea would be something like that, as a way to influence the dialogue from within. Essentially, we can already be doing this as I’m sure we are. You would not believe (maybe you would) the crew of atheists I work with. But then they are all low-paid, earnest people who actually give a crap. And they are all of one, extremely left-wing mindset, in itself neither here nor there. As far as that goes, they don’t know where to place me, but because I have gained their trust, I occasionally can offer perspectives on issues that run contrary, when at other times I may agree with some aspect of another issue. I also, very carefully, am able to defend faith against careless mischaracterizations, and advocate for it value. I’m not saying I do it all that well, or even that courageously, and some days I outright fail. I have days when I feel like an outcast. But there are others when I can be a friend. And I think they all basically trust me, mostly because they can depend on me to do what needs doing. That last thing in itself, I think, is losing ground, and will be the bedrock upon which people judge everything else you say.

    I guess I am advocating for some way to influence things that avoids standing off to one side as Christians with an agenda that we are pushing that everyone is aware of and thus also “wary” of so we are always held at arms length. There is a lot of knee-jerk repulsion out there that, without watering down who we are, needs to be approached with . . . “wise as serpents, innocent as doves” approach. It would look like “befriending” others for their sake and ours. What would it look like if the general populace more or less trusted the church again, and fairly whole-heartedly so? Maybe it is still there and we need to cultivate it – wisely, cleverly, calmly, unsuspectingly, innocently. Sneak up on ‘em.

    Let’s face it, there is plenty of Constitutional support for remaining separate and staking out our ground. Once we do that though, we have the hard work of stepping across the boundary back into the conversation. That sacred ground can become a ghetto. The Establishment Clause, regardless of how it is interpreted, does single out faith and “pre-judge” it as something to be regarded as somehow separate. I guess the struggle is how we overcome that separation.

    Did someone say vocation?

  • Stephen

    Well, I wrote a long-winded post that was summarily swallowed down a black hole. Two things:

    sg – good book “Politics for the Greatest Good” by Clarke Forsythe, one of the lawyers for United for Life. Talks about achieving the best possible ends.

    Grace – I agree with you that it is a matter of the heart, and our hearts are always being coerced and corrupted. Even unbelievers and agnostics sense this and that is why they do not want Bibles or prayer in schools. Not saying they are right about the effects it would have, just saying their concerns are justified in the same way that I don’t want Mormons coming around attempting to tell my kid that they are Christians ‘CAUSE THEY’RE NOT!

    sg – my problem with handing someone a bible and then sort of thinking it is going to be effective “as is” is that, while we cannot ever say it won’t be, I do not think this honors the scriptures and the context within which it has its life – the body of believers. Am I happy to see them in hotels, sure. Should they be in libraries, absolutely. But having them as required reading and then expecting that they will not be discussed (and argued over) is really denying what the Bible means, even purely as a cultural artifact, not to mention as holy writ. As the latter, we have a responsibility to cherish it, to teach it properly in light of the witness passed down to us, and to do everything we can to see that it is not distorted or misused. Any chucklehead with a 5th grade education can crack open a Bible and proceed to think he knows what it means, start a church, and then the next thing you know there’s a news story about a mass suicide.

    I don’t think Luther could fully anticipate the degree of plurality and secularization we have today. That being the case, I think an almost opposite tack needs to be adopted, that of right doctrine and a better understanding for ourselves as a church of the scriptures. And I am not talking about being able to quote them chapter and verse or proof text others into the ground. I’m talking about something like Torah school for kids, where Christian children learn Greek and 1st century history and catechism and Christian doctrine.

    Hope that wasn’t too long-winded. Completely different set of thoughts. Batter up!

  • Stephen

    Well, I wrote a long-winded post that was summarily swallowed down a black hole. Two things:

    sg – good book “Politics for the Greatest Good” by Clarke Forsythe, one of the lawyers for United for Life. Talks about achieving the best possible ends.

    Grace – I agree with you that it is a matter of the heart, and our hearts are always being coerced and corrupted. Even unbelievers and agnostics sense this and that is why they do not want Bibles or prayer in schools. Not saying they are right about the effects it would have, just saying their concerns are justified in the same way that I don’t want Mormons coming around attempting to tell my kid that they are Christians ‘CAUSE THEY’RE NOT!

    sg – my problem with handing someone a bible and then sort of thinking it is going to be effective “as is” is that, while we cannot ever say it won’t be, I do not think this honors the scriptures and the context within which it has its life – the body of believers. Am I happy to see them in hotels, sure. Should they be in libraries, absolutely. But having them as required reading and then expecting that they will not be discussed (and argued over) is really denying what the Bible means, even purely as a cultural artifact, not to mention as holy writ. As the latter, we have a responsibility to cherish it, to teach it properly in light of the witness passed down to us, and to do everything we can to see that it is not distorted or misused. Any chucklehead with a 5th grade education can crack open a Bible and proceed to think he knows what it means, start a church, and then the next thing you know there’s a news story about a mass suicide.

    I don’t think Luther could fully anticipate the degree of plurality and secularization we have today. That being the case, I think an almost opposite tack needs to be adopted, that of right doctrine and a better understanding for ourselves as a church of the scriptures. And I am not talking about being able to quote them chapter and verse or proof text others into the ground. I’m talking about something like Torah school for kids, where Christian children learn Greek and 1st century history and catechism and Christian doctrine.

    Hope that wasn’t too long-winded. Completely different set of thoughts. Batter up!

  • Grace

    sg – 61

    “Kids are forced to read all kinds of crap in schools. Reading the Bible is no different from reading anything else from a secular perspective. If it has no power, what is there to fear? I agree that no other religions should be taught to anyone, anywhere, ever. However, even if they are, as long as people can at least hear the true Word of God, then they can believe. “

    The Gospel being preached by law? – by those who do or don’t believe, because it is the law of the land? – that is not Biblical.

    The HOLY Word of God is a gift, those who choose to read or hear it are far different then those who are made by law to hear/listen read it in a classroom or anywhere else.

    Forced hearing of God’s Word was never taught or preached by Christ or His Apostles.

  • Grace

    sg – 61

    “Kids are forced to read all kinds of crap in schools. Reading the Bible is no different from reading anything else from a secular perspective. If it has no power, what is there to fear? I agree that no other religions should be taught to anyone, anywhere, ever. However, even if they are, as long as people can at least hear the true Word of God, then they can believe. “

    The Gospel being preached by law? – by those who do or don’t believe, because it is the law of the land? – that is not Biblical.

    The HOLY Word of God is a gift, those who choose to read or hear it are far different then those who are made by law to hear/listen read it in a classroom or anywhere else.

    Forced hearing of God’s Word was never taught or preached by Christ or His Apostles.

  • Grace

    61 – sg

    You quote Martin Luther:

    ““I am afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
    Martin Luther “

    The world at large is corrupt – Martin Luther did not exhibit an uncorrupt mind at the end of his life. Would that mean, he didn’t attend a school which taught the Holy Scriptures from the Word of God, or does that mean he ignored the teachings of love towards his neighbors, or that of the Jews? – so that is why he became “corrupt” ? -

    sg, I dislike posting as I have above, however you make it very difficult or impossible not to. How on earth could an ungodly teacher explain the Bible Scriptures to anyone, unless they understood and believed them? – ANSWER, it is not possible, unless they believed!

  • Grace

    61 – sg

    You quote Martin Luther:

    ““I am afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”
    Martin Luther “

    The world at large is corrupt – Martin Luther did not exhibit an uncorrupt mind at the end of his life. Would that mean, he didn’t attend a school which taught the Holy Scriptures from the Word of God, or does that mean he ignored the teachings of love towards his neighbors, or that of the Jews? – so that is why he became “corrupt” ? -

    sg, I dislike posting as I have above, however you make it very difficult or impossible not to. How on earth could an ungodly teacher explain the Bible Scriptures to anyone, unless they understood and believed them? – ANSWER, it is not possible, unless they believed!

  • Grace

    Stephen – 62

    “And I am not talking about being able to quote them chapter and verse or proof text others into the ground. I’m talking about something like Torah school for kids, where Christian children learn Greek and 1st century history and catechism and Christian doctrine.

    Hope that wasn’t too long-winded. Completely different set of thoughts. Batter up!”

    HEAR, HEAR!!

    Not to “long-winded” – maybe you could expound on it further. Good post Stephen.

  • Grace

    Stephen – 62

    “And I am not talking about being able to quote them chapter and verse or proof text others into the ground. I’m talking about something like Torah school for kids, where Christian children learn Greek and 1st century history and catechism and Christian doctrine.

    Hope that wasn’t too long-winded. Completely different set of thoughts. Batter up!”

    HEAR, HEAR!!

    Not to “long-winded” – maybe you could expound on it further. Good post Stephen.

  • Grace

    62 Stephen

    RE: the posts being swallowed by the internet: a good tip is, write it on an email, addressed to yourself, on draft – that way you will never lose it, even if your computer goes down. This has saved many hours, as I do so much research daily. :)

  • Grace

    62 Stephen

    RE: the posts being swallowed by the internet: a good tip is, write it on an email, addressed to yourself, on draft – that way you will never lose it, even if your computer goes down. This has saved many hours, as I do so much research daily. :)

  • Porcell

    Stephen: I’m talking about something like Torah school for kids, where Christian children learn Greek and 1st century history and catechism and Christian doctrine.

    This is a terrific idea. In fact, some of the ablest home schoolers have found a way back to a classic Christian education. Until about seventy-five years ago, most college students knew much Latin and some Greek, while not neglecting more modern subjects.

    I don’t think Luther could fully anticipate the degree of plurality and secularization we have today.

    Yes, he would be appalled at the present state of affairs. While we must have a forgiving Christian attitude toward this state of affairs, we, especially the leading ecumenical theologians, need to find ways to make Christendom more unified and irenic rather than cacophonous and divisive.

  • Porcell

    Stephen: I’m talking about something like Torah school for kids, where Christian children learn Greek and 1st century history and catechism and Christian doctrine.

    This is a terrific idea. In fact, some of the ablest home schoolers have found a way back to a classic Christian education. Until about seventy-five years ago, most college students knew much Latin and some Greek, while not neglecting more modern subjects.

    I don’t think Luther could fully anticipate the degree of plurality and secularization we have today.

    Yes, he would be appalled at the present state of affairs. While we must have a forgiving Christian attitude toward this state of affairs, we, especially the leading ecumenical theologians, need to find ways to make Christendom more unified and irenic rather than cacophonous and divisive.

  • Stephen

    I know some Christian home schoolers and some Catholic schools advocate a return to the “Trivium” – grammar (language), logic, and rhetoric – at the heart of education. I like the sound of that. Believe it or not, theology was once at the core of a “university” education, but we have compartmentalized education since the 18th c. in such a way that we see all the various subjects as distinct and not integral to each other. My own interest in theology (I have an advanced degree, there, the cat is out of the bag) continues to be how it is crosses so many disciplines. I think there is a way we can do this for kids, perhaps starting with how we rethink how we do Sunday School, catechism and event he place of our religious education in every part of our daily life. But it means parents need to really dig in and brush up, not just in learning the contents of the scriptures chapter and verse (not that this isn’t very good), but also in history, language, theology, etc. I’m not saying everyone needs a Master’s degree, but when I look at the depth of doctrinal understanding average Lutherans (for instance) seem to have had 100 years ago, I sort of wonder where it went sometimes.

    Speaking from my own experience, I was taught to memorize the Small Catechism, BUT I was not encouraged to maintain that knowledge as a guide and a way to teach myself and my children on a daily basis for the rest of my life and see it as essential – not in an overt way.

    Anyway, that is maybe taking it off topic a bit, but I do think there is a lot of drift, even for myself, which is why coming to this blog interests me. We are essentially doing what is done in Torah and Yeshiva schools – arguing about the meaning of the Torah. This is a great tradition in Judaism which is respected and revered. Kids learn to do this – to really us the skills of argument like logic and rhetoric to pull out of the scripture what God has for his people. Israel means “wrestles with God” from the story of when Jacob wrestled the angel. learning to wrestle like this means to bring everything in there, the entire set of issues that abound in life, and to do it fearlessly.

    So that is my brief exposition of what it would look like Grace. We take our cues from our adopted family – the Hebrews. They know a thing or two. For one thing, they know how to survive in a world where they are not welcome.

  • Stephen

    I know some Christian home schoolers and some Catholic schools advocate a return to the “Trivium” – grammar (language), logic, and rhetoric – at the heart of education. I like the sound of that. Believe it or not, theology was once at the core of a “university” education, but we have compartmentalized education since the 18th c. in such a way that we see all the various subjects as distinct and not integral to each other. My own interest in theology (I have an advanced degree, there, the cat is out of the bag) continues to be how it is crosses so many disciplines. I think there is a way we can do this for kids, perhaps starting with how we rethink how we do Sunday School, catechism and event he place of our religious education in every part of our daily life. But it means parents need to really dig in and brush up, not just in learning the contents of the scriptures chapter and verse (not that this isn’t very good), but also in history, language, theology, etc. I’m not saying everyone needs a Master’s degree, but when I look at the depth of doctrinal understanding average Lutherans (for instance) seem to have had 100 years ago, I sort of wonder where it went sometimes.

    Speaking from my own experience, I was taught to memorize the Small Catechism, BUT I was not encouraged to maintain that knowledge as a guide and a way to teach myself and my children on a daily basis for the rest of my life and see it as essential – not in an overt way.

    Anyway, that is maybe taking it off topic a bit, but I do think there is a lot of drift, even for myself, which is why coming to this blog interests me. We are essentially doing what is done in Torah and Yeshiva schools – arguing about the meaning of the Torah. This is a great tradition in Judaism which is respected and revered. Kids learn to do this – to really us the skills of argument like logic and rhetoric to pull out of the scripture what God has for his people. Israel means “wrestles with God” from the story of when Jacob wrestled the angel. learning to wrestle like this means to bring everything in there, the entire set of issues that abound in life, and to do it fearlessly.

    So that is my brief exposition of what it would look like Grace. We take our cues from our adopted family – the Hebrews. They know a thing or two. For one thing, they know how to survive in a world where they are not welcome.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    I really did not like thís post.

    For one it seems to follow Gibbons in saying that Rome declined because of it´s decadence. I think this is wrong.

    secondly this really troubles me: “In contrast to the Roman concept of Patria Potestas, according to which fathers had the right to kill their wives and children, Christians taught husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. …. then this is telling… “Eros gave way to agape.”

    We english speakers just can´t get past that “erotic” in english can never mean anything good or noble or pure. It always , in english, means debasement , crass, carnal, excess, vice, etc. There is no morally positive use of the word “erotic” in english.

    So the author is saying this then: Decadent “love” gave way to true and noble and virtuous love.

    No. That is not quite it. I suggest, based on the Lutheran Confessions and Scriptures that what happened instead was this:

    Rome and Greece favored the Aristotelian virtues. We recognize even today as real and really morally desireable virtues such as self-denial, self-control, self discipline. self-sufficiency, self-sacrifice. Any reading of Cicero, seneca,etc confirm this to be so. And it is true that this resulted in a very harsh and cruel culture. Virtue, as even pagans realize, is about self-sacrifice. And they deny that this is really about death.

    Old Adam is deeply religious. He hopes to find life in religiously making sacrifice.

    So what is different about the Christian ethos?

    Christians fully confirmed that those virtues are true virtues and that God wants them to happen. But Christians also taught that none of that is the righteousness that God demand unless those virtues are exclusively aimed at producing love for others. That list of virtues note is all about self really. Christians say that those virtues are necessary to practice, but righteousness requires a neighbor!

    So the ancients felt that what is needed morally is a movement from vice to the virtues.

    Christians understood that what was needed, and what God requires is a movement from those fully necessary self-virtues to ….love for others.

    Paul in I Corithians 13 says that if I can Speak in tongues, possess faith that move mountains, know the bible inside and out, understanding all the mysteries of God, and make a sacrifice of my own body, I am still nothing and gain nothing if there is no love.

    This is precisely the argument of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession against the sacrificial self-denial in the good works commanded by Rome.

    These are what virtues look like. They are all about us! They matter and are important. Paul does not dismiss them. Quite to the contrary! But…..he tells us that they are pointless without love. These things will all pass away.

    These things are called Sacrifice.

    And what is love? It is patience, kindness, generosity of spirit, and self-criticism. It is not arrogant or rude, It does not insist on it´s own way but is yeilding, mild and tender to the weakness and failings of others. It is not irritable. It does not keep score of wrongs. It sincerely prefers to find the good in people rather than take pleasure in finding their faults. It welcomes correction and criticism. Love tolerates everything, it is naïve, it is fully of hope, and it freely accepts suffering. Love never quits or gives up on anyone. And it is about being a servant/slave to our neighbor and his needs.

    This differs from the virtues. THIS list is not about us. It is about how we deal with others! And this love alone is the righeousness that God is his will and he wants us to do.

    This is called Mercy.

    So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Faith and Hope are what we have in Christ. Love is about what we do for our neighbor, that springs from faith and hope.

    Faith is dead if we do sacrifice without love. Sacrifice without love is what the pharisees did. And christ told them “Go and find out what it means when God says ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice’.”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    I really did not like thís post.

    For one it seems to follow Gibbons in saying that Rome declined because of it´s decadence. I think this is wrong.

    secondly this really troubles me: “In contrast to the Roman concept of Patria Potestas, according to which fathers had the right to kill their wives and children, Christians taught husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. …. then this is telling… “Eros gave way to agape.”

    We english speakers just can´t get past that “erotic” in english can never mean anything good or noble or pure. It always , in english, means debasement , crass, carnal, excess, vice, etc. There is no morally positive use of the word “erotic” in english.

    So the author is saying this then: Decadent “love” gave way to true and noble and virtuous love.

    No. That is not quite it. I suggest, based on the Lutheran Confessions and Scriptures that what happened instead was this:

    Rome and Greece favored the Aristotelian virtues. We recognize even today as real and really morally desireable virtues such as self-denial, self-control, self discipline. self-sufficiency, self-sacrifice. Any reading of Cicero, seneca,etc confirm this to be so. And it is true that this resulted in a very harsh and cruel culture. Virtue, as even pagans realize, is about self-sacrifice. And they deny that this is really about death.

    Old Adam is deeply religious. He hopes to find life in religiously making sacrifice.

    So what is different about the Christian ethos?

    Christians fully confirmed that those virtues are true virtues and that God wants them to happen. But Christians also taught that none of that is the righteousness that God demand unless those virtues are exclusively aimed at producing love for others. That list of virtues note is all about self really. Christians say that those virtues are necessary to practice, but righteousness requires a neighbor!

    So the ancients felt that what is needed morally is a movement from vice to the virtues.

    Christians understood that what was needed, and what God requires is a movement from those fully necessary self-virtues to ….love for others.

    Paul in I Corithians 13 says that if I can Speak in tongues, possess faith that move mountains, know the bible inside and out, understanding all the mysteries of God, and make a sacrifice of my own body, I am still nothing and gain nothing if there is no love.

    This is precisely the argument of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession against the sacrificial self-denial in the good works commanded by Rome.

    These are what virtues look like. They are all about us! They matter and are important. Paul does not dismiss them. Quite to the contrary! But…..he tells us that they are pointless without love. These things will all pass away.

    These things are called Sacrifice.

    And what is love? It is patience, kindness, generosity of spirit, and self-criticism. It is not arrogant or rude, It does not insist on it´s own way but is yeilding, mild and tender to the weakness and failings of others. It is not irritable. It does not keep score of wrongs. It sincerely prefers to find the good in people rather than take pleasure in finding their faults. It welcomes correction and criticism. Love tolerates everything, it is naïve, it is fully of hope, and it freely accepts suffering. Love never quits or gives up on anyone. And it is about being a servant/slave to our neighbor and his needs.

    This differs from the virtues. THIS list is not about us. It is about how we deal with others! And this love alone is the righeousness that God is his will and he wants us to do.

    This is called Mercy.

    So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Faith and Hope are what we have in Christ. Love is about what we do for our neighbor, that springs from faith and hope.

    Faith is dead if we do sacrifice without love. Sacrifice without love is what the pharisees did. And christ told them “Go and find out what it means when God says ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice’.”

  • Stephen

    Frank, now I really wish my other post had not been swallowed into a black hole. Everyone listen to fws (he’s back to his old self – is that old Adam?).

  • Stephen

    Frank, now I really wish my other post had not been swallowed into a black hole. Everyone listen to fws (he’s back to his old self – is that old Adam?).

  • Porcell

    FWS, you’re right that Christianity breathed faith, hope, and love into the classical virtues and made them more vital. The West in fact is a rich amalgam of Christian and classical virtues.

    On the subject of decadence, Rome did fall due largely to moral and spiritual decadence, just as the West will if it holds to its present decadent course. The truth is that the cultural heights of the presently decadent West, including academia, the media, and Hollywood, are dominated by a neo-pagan gnosticism and radical secularism.

  • Porcell

    FWS, you’re right that Christianity breathed faith, hope, and love into the classical virtues and made them more vital. The West in fact is a rich amalgam of Christian and classical virtues.

    On the subject of decadence, Rome did fall due largely to moral and spiritual decadence, just as the West will if it holds to its present decadent course. The truth is that the cultural heights of the presently decadent West, including academia, the media, and Hollywood, are dominated by a neo-pagan gnosticism and radical secularism.

  • Tom Hering

    “… Martin Luther did not exhibit an uncorrupt mind at the end of his life.” – Grace @ 64.

    Neither did he exhibit purity (something that can never be less than 100% in God’s eyes) at any other time in his life. Just like you and me, Grace. Yet he loved Christ, because Christ first loved him, and died for all his sins. They are forgiven. So let us indeed recognize his sins for what they were, but also be as charitable as we can be to the memory of a brother in Christ. (And he truly was our brother, because he trusted his salvation was by grace through faith in Christ, alone.)

    “[Luther] would be appalled at the present state of affairs.” – Porcell @ 67.

    Yes, but he wouldn’t be surprised that the world had grown worse. He was a post-millennialist who was fully convinced that he, and we, live in the final age of tribulation before the return of Christ.

  • Tom Hering

    “… Martin Luther did not exhibit an uncorrupt mind at the end of his life.” – Grace @ 64.

    Neither did he exhibit purity (something that can never be less than 100% in God’s eyes) at any other time in his life. Just like you and me, Grace. Yet he loved Christ, because Christ first loved him, and died for all his sins. They are forgiven. So let us indeed recognize his sins for what they were, but also be as charitable as we can be to the memory of a brother in Christ. (And he truly was our brother, because he trusted his salvation was by grace through faith in Christ, alone.)

    “[Luther] would be appalled at the present state of affairs.” – Porcell @ 67.

    Yes, but he wouldn’t be surprised that the world had grown worse. He was a post-millennialist who was fully convinced that he, and we, live in the final age of tribulation before the return of Christ.

  • Stephen

    Porcell @ 67

    “Yes, he would be appalled at the present state of affairs. While we must have a forgiving Christian attitude toward this state of affairs, we, especially the leading ecumenical theologians, need to find ways to make Christendom more unified and irenic rather than cacophonous and divisive.”

    For one thing, it is also important to note that in the quote that sg cites from Luther he is talking about “teaching” the scripture, not just reading from it and letting it wash over students. I don’t know of any educational setting where a text is opened and read without being discussed.

    And for another, as I sort of already said, I think Luther had no idea that the Reformation would play the role it did in creating the free society of the current West as we know it. “Appalled” might be more like “embarrassed” or “ashamed” perhaps, but I’m not sure. There’s no way to tell. Certainly there are benefits, like this very forum on the smaller scale, and the expansion of opportunity and benefits to more citizens (all of which can be debated in the particulars).

    But is ecumenism, per se, really all it’s cracked up to be? I’m not sure about that either. What I think is lacking across the board is Christian education among the many “sects” of their own foundational doctrines, their own presuppositions, their own philosophical prejudices, and especially Christian history and heritage. “The Bible tells me so” is fine among other believers perhaps, and as a directive for Christian action, but as a means for informed argument, it is only half-helpful. And the other half cannot consist merely (there’s that word, ha!) of name-calling the rest of the world neo-pagan or secular or whatever, as if they will even care. If we want to say something, we have to know what we are actually saying.

    Oh crap, I don’t know what I’m talking about! Help me out.

  • Stephen

    Porcell @ 67

    “Yes, he would be appalled at the present state of affairs. While we must have a forgiving Christian attitude toward this state of affairs, we, especially the leading ecumenical theologians, need to find ways to make Christendom more unified and irenic rather than cacophonous and divisive.”

    For one thing, it is also important to note that in the quote that sg cites from Luther he is talking about “teaching” the scripture, not just reading from it and letting it wash over students. I don’t know of any educational setting where a text is opened and read without being discussed.

    And for another, as I sort of already said, I think Luther had no idea that the Reformation would play the role it did in creating the free society of the current West as we know it. “Appalled” might be more like “embarrassed” or “ashamed” perhaps, but I’m not sure. There’s no way to tell. Certainly there are benefits, like this very forum on the smaller scale, and the expansion of opportunity and benefits to more citizens (all of which can be debated in the particulars).

    But is ecumenism, per se, really all it’s cracked up to be? I’m not sure about that either. What I think is lacking across the board is Christian education among the many “sects” of their own foundational doctrines, their own presuppositions, their own philosophical prejudices, and especially Christian history and heritage. “The Bible tells me so” is fine among other believers perhaps, and as a directive for Christian action, but as a means for informed argument, it is only half-helpful. And the other half cannot consist merely (there’s that word, ha!) of name-calling the rest of the world neo-pagan or secular or whatever, as if they will even care. If we want to say something, we have to know what we are actually saying.

    Oh crap, I don’t know what I’m talking about! Help me out.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, I agree that ecumenism doesn’t come close to being the whole answer, though it would help.

    Personally, many of my friends and colleagues in the business world and community go with the neo-pagan flow as mainline Protestants, liberal Catholics, or Jews. One wouldn’t think to call them pagans or hurl moralistic “the Bible tells me so” arguments at them.

    Serious, orthodox Christians need to speak quietly and forcefully with their actions and not wear pieties on their sleeve. From what I understand this is the way sophisticated Christian Greeks and Romans acted during the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. The emperor, Julian, was well aware of these exemplary people.

    Orthodox Christians and Jews make it clear through their character and actions the depth of their faith. During the Bush administration, Bush himself and John Ashcroft were serious Christians with Yale educations who in their quiet way had some influence on the broader culture, though they were vilified by the mavens of the liberal culture.

    Following your model, young people who learn Greek and seriously explore and debate the meaning of the Bible eventually have some influence in the secular world. This is what probably happens with many graduates of Patrick Henry, Kings, Wheaton, and Calvin Colleges as they effectively take their places in the secular world.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, I agree that ecumenism doesn’t come close to being the whole answer, though it would help.

    Personally, many of my friends and colleagues in the business world and community go with the neo-pagan flow as mainline Protestants, liberal Catholics, or Jews. One wouldn’t think to call them pagans or hurl moralistic “the Bible tells me so” arguments at them.

    Serious, orthodox Christians need to speak quietly and forcefully with their actions and not wear pieties on their sleeve. From what I understand this is the way sophisticated Christian Greeks and Romans acted during the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. The emperor, Julian, was well aware of these exemplary people.

    Orthodox Christians and Jews make it clear through their character and actions the depth of their faith. During the Bush administration, Bush himself and John Ashcroft were serious Christians with Yale educations who in their quiet way had some influence on the broader culture, though they were vilified by the mavens of the liberal culture.

    Following your model, young people who learn Greek and seriously explore and debate the meaning of the Bible eventually have some influence in the secular world. This is what probably happens with many graduates of Patrick Henry, Kings, Wheaton, and Calvin Colleges as they effectively take their places in the secular world.

  • Tom Hering

    “Luther had no idea that the Reformation would play the role it did in creating the free society of the current West as we know it. ‘Appalled’ might be more like ‘embarrassed’ or ‘ashamed’ perhaps …” – Stephen @ 73.

    “Embarrassed” or “ashamed” indicates guilt. I don’t think Luther would feel this. After all, the secularized form of freedom in the West has been the work of secularizers.

    The idea that secularized freedom had its roots in the Reformation is, I think, a generalization and a falsehood. Luther’s specific views on God, society and government ought to be enough to show this. (For example, he was opposed to democracy.) Though I imagine the falsehood is popular with Roman Catholic and liberal Protestant thinkers. Because Roman Catholics can lay the blame for secularization at the feet of the Reformers. And liberal Protestants can pat each other on the back for it.

  • Tom Hering

    “Luther had no idea that the Reformation would play the role it did in creating the free society of the current West as we know it. ‘Appalled’ might be more like ‘embarrassed’ or ‘ashamed’ perhaps …” – Stephen @ 73.

    “Embarrassed” or “ashamed” indicates guilt. I don’t think Luther would feel this. After all, the secularized form of freedom in the West has been the work of secularizers.

    The idea that secularized freedom had its roots in the Reformation is, I think, a generalization and a falsehood. Luther’s specific views on God, society and government ought to be enough to show this. (For example, he was opposed to democracy.) Though I imagine the falsehood is popular with Roman Catholic and liberal Protestant thinkers. Because Roman Catholics can lay the blame for secularization at the feet of the Reformers. And liberal Protestants can pat each other on the back for it.

  • Stephen

    Tom @ 75

    You are probably right to some degree – “blaming” things on certain historical periods, etc. But the backlash from the “liberty” unleashed by Luther was almost immediate, the Anabaptists being one example. These sorts of things certainly had political implications that reverberated down through to our American situation. I didn’t mean to place all of the demise of Western culture squarely at Luther’s feet, thus my slight disclaimer. Who could say what Luther would have really wanted? He sure would have liked modern medicine and some strong but gentle laxatives!

    However, I consider the rise of individual freedoms that grew out of the 16th c. to be something noteworthy about Luther’s contribution to human history. It isn’t all bad. I mean, what happened during the Reformation was nothing less than an usurpation of the most powerful “universal” system on earth at the time, one that was very oppressive, and I for one would never want to return. If Catholics and liberal want to blame Luther, well, let them. We’ll take credit for the good stuff and blame them for all the totalitarian junk (ha!).

  • Stephen

    Tom @ 75

    You are probably right to some degree – “blaming” things on certain historical periods, etc. But the backlash from the “liberty” unleashed by Luther was almost immediate, the Anabaptists being one example. These sorts of things certainly had political implications that reverberated down through to our American situation. I didn’t mean to place all of the demise of Western culture squarely at Luther’s feet, thus my slight disclaimer. Who could say what Luther would have really wanted? He sure would have liked modern medicine and some strong but gentle laxatives!

    However, I consider the rise of individual freedoms that grew out of the 16th c. to be something noteworthy about Luther’s contribution to human history. It isn’t all bad. I mean, what happened during the Reformation was nothing less than an usurpation of the most powerful “universal” system on earth at the time, one that was very oppressive, and I for one would never want to return. If Catholics and liberal want to blame Luther, well, let them. We’ll take credit for the good stuff and blame them for all the totalitarian junk (ha!).

  • Porcell

    Stephen, while Luther would be appalled by the present state of affairs, the totalitarian junk came mainly from the growing religious skepticism of the Enlightenment, culminating in Nietzschean nihilism.

    There is no good reason that the best of the enlightenment, including science, technoligy, and industry, cannot be incorporated with orthodox Christianity. Those who blame the Reformation for causing totalitarianism are mistaken.

    The Roman Catholic Church benefitted from the freedom of the Reformation, as indicated by their acceptance of the principle of religious freedom during the Council of Vatican II.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, while Luther would be appalled by the present state of affairs, the totalitarian junk came mainly from the growing religious skepticism of the Enlightenment, culminating in Nietzschean nihilism.

    There is no good reason that the best of the enlightenment, including science, technoligy, and industry, cannot be incorporated with orthodox Christianity. Those who blame the Reformation for causing totalitarianism are mistaken.

    The Roman Catholic Church benefitted from the freedom of the Reformation, as indicated by their acceptance of the principle of religious freedom during the Council of Vatican II.

  • Tom Hering

    “… I consider the rise of individual freedoms that grew out of the 16th c. to be something noteworthy about Luther’s contribution to human history.” – Stephen @ 76.

    I don’t think Luther would want to take the credit any more than the blame. He was perfectly fine with the form of society and government that existed in his time and place (cf. Romans 13). What mattered was that the Prince governed with God’s Word in mind, and that he did nothing to hinder the Gospel. Indeed, that he did everything possible to make sure the people could hear it. Individual freedom in society and under the government wasn’t part of the equation. Such things mattered little when the end of this world was in view (and I think it always was in view for Luther).

  • Tom Hering

    “… I consider the rise of individual freedoms that grew out of the 16th c. to be something noteworthy about Luther’s contribution to human history.” – Stephen @ 76.

    I don’t think Luther would want to take the credit any more than the blame. He was perfectly fine with the form of society and government that existed in his time and place (cf. Romans 13). What mattered was that the Prince governed with God’s Word in mind, and that he did nothing to hinder the Gospel. Indeed, that he did everything possible to make sure the people could hear it. Individual freedom in society and under the government wasn’t part of the equation. Such things mattered little when the end of this world was in view (and I think it always was in view for Luther).

  • Stephen

    Porcell @ 77

    Yeah, that’s right. So maybe the RCs should be crossing the Tiber, eh?

    Okay, so Luther would be appalled, but perhaps also bewildered at least in an “Well, I didn’t mean that!” sort of way, which was his reaction to the many off shoots of his Reformation efforts. What would he do if he was sitting the folding chairs of an Assembly of God Church? Surely that is far from what he imagined himself to be doing, yet it is in many ways his progeny (and I am not trying to pick on anyone, just for contrast).

    I was being a little tongue in cheek in my last post, writing these on the fly at the moment. I think there is a “catholic” impulse that is still alive in whatever is left of Christendom. It survived the Reformation in philosophy in things like German Romanticism, Hegel, et. al. and all the way into the more shadowy socialist/fascist/communist regimes of the 2oth c. to the theocratic impulses alive today. It would be interesting to look at Luther toward the end and examine how catholic he really wanted to be after all was said and done. We say that he never wanted to sever ties with the mother ship, but do we really know that (help me out someone)? Seems to me he cared primarily about the Gospel above everything else, and that it be rightly understood. Doctrine was the main thing. But as far as the Church on earth as an institution for accomplishing all these cultural goals we are talking about – maybe so, maybe not. Leave it to God.

    Any takers?

  • Stephen

    Porcell @ 77

    Yeah, that’s right. So maybe the RCs should be crossing the Tiber, eh?

    Okay, so Luther would be appalled, but perhaps also bewildered at least in an “Well, I didn’t mean that!” sort of way, which was his reaction to the many off shoots of his Reformation efforts. What would he do if he was sitting the folding chairs of an Assembly of God Church? Surely that is far from what he imagined himself to be doing, yet it is in many ways his progeny (and I am not trying to pick on anyone, just for contrast).

    I was being a little tongue in cheek in my last post, writing these on the fly at the moment. I think there is a “catholic” impulse that is still alive in whatever is left of Christendom. It survived the Reformation in philosophy in things like German Romanticism, Hegel, et. al. and all the way into the more shadowy socialist/fascist/communist regimes of the 2oth c. to the theocratic impulses alive today. It would be interesting to look at Luther toward the end and examine how catholic he really wanted to be after all was said and done. We say that he never wanted to sever ties with the mother ship, but do we really know that (help me out someone)? Seems to me he cared primarily about the Gospel above everything else, and that it be rightly understood. Doctrine was the main thing. But as far as the Church on earth as an institution for accomplishing all these cultural goals we are talking about – maybe so, maybe not. Leave it to God.

    Any takers?

  • Stephen

    Tom and Porcell,

    Dang it you guys, something keeps happening and I’m losing my posts!!! Thanks for the responses. I’m frustrated and will return later when I have time. I guess I will have to type them in another format and cut and paste. That’s two now that I’ve lost. And let me tell you they were absolutely brilliant!

  • Stephen

    Tom and Porcell,

    Dang it you guys, something keeps happening and I’m losing my posts!!! Thanks for the responses. I’m frustrated and will return later when I have time. I guess I will have to type them in another format and cut and paste. That’s two now that I’ve lost. And let me tell you they were absolutely brilliant!

  • Tom Hering

    Stephen, just select the whole post and use the copy function in your browser’s toolbar before you click “submit.” If it’s lost, you can just paste it in the comments box and click “submit” again – as many times as you need to (so long as you don’t shut down your browser).

  • Tom Hering

    Stephen, just select the whole post and use the copy function in your browser’s toolbar before you click “submit.” If it’s lost, you can just paste it in the comments box and click “submit” again – as many times as you need to (so long as you don’t shut down your browser).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The HOLY Word of God is a gift, those who choose to read or hear it are far different then those who are made by law to hear/listen read it in a classroom or anywhere else.”

    “Forced hearing of God’s Word was never taught or preached by Christ or His Apostles.”

    I am having trouble reconciling these ideas to teaching the 0-12 year old set. I mean, young kids have no discernment and they don’t choose what or how they are taught. I also think that using the word “force” seems to indicate abuse. I mean if I take my 5 year old to the zoo, am I forcing him to go? Or if I teach him to count and recite his alphabet? I mean really “force”? Like it is some sort of brutality to simply read the Bible to kids?

    Consider this record of schooling where some of my relatives attended public school in rural Nebraska in the late 1800′s.

    “The first order of business for the day was to sing a “Good Morning Song.”

    Then the teacher would read a chapter from the Bible, then say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.

    “A few more songs, selected by the pupils which included “Old Black Joe,” “Down on the Swanee River,” etc. Then books were taken out of their desks for study. There was arithmetic, grammar, history, reading, penmanship, spelling. No wonder there were so many good penmen. Looking at old records, writing was beautiful enough to photograph. Drawing was an art only few excelled in—but all could draw, even to physiology, drew pictures of the body, heart, muscles, etc.,— very legible.”

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nepierce/pioneertrails/pioneertrails.htm

    From that description, can you honestly with a straight face say the kids were somehow “forced” to do something in such a way that a Christian would object? To me it is just education. Just normal training.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “The HOLY Word of God is a gift, those who choose to read or hear it are far different then those who are made by law to hear/listen read it in a classroom or anywhere else.”

    “Forced hearing of God’s Word was never taught or preached by Christ or His Apostles.”

    I am having trouble reconciling these ideas to teaching the 0-12 year old set. I mean, young kids have no discernment and they don’t choose what or how they are taught. I also think that using the word “force” seems to indicate abuse. I mean if I take my 5 year old to the zoo, am I forcing him to go? Or if I teach him to count and recite his alphabet? I mean really “force”? Like it is some sort of brutality to simply read the Bible to kids?

    Consider this record of schooling where some of my relatives attended public school in rural Nebraska in the late 1800′s.

    “The first order of business for the day was to sing a “Good Morning Song.”

    Then the teacher would read a chapter from the Bible, then say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.

    “A few more songs, selected by the pupils which included “Old Black Joe,” “Down on the Swanee River,” etc. Then books were taken out of their desks for study. There was arithmetic, grammar, history, reading, penmanship, spelling. No wonder there were so many good penmen. Looking at old records, writing was beautiful enough to photograph. Drawing was an art only few excelled in—but all could draw, even to physiology, drew pictures of the body, heart, muscles, etc.,— very legible.”

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nepierce/pioneertrails/pioneertrails.htm

    From that description, can you honestly with a straight face say the kids were somehow “forced” to do something in such a way that a Christian would object? To me it is just education. Just normal training.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    sorry for all the bold

    just an error

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    sorry for all the bold

    just an error

  • Grace

    sg – 83

    “I am having trouble reconciling these ideas to teaching the 0-12 year old set. I mean, young kids have no discernment and they don’t choose what or how they are taught. I also think that using the word “force” seems to indicate abuse. I mean if I take my 5 year old to the zoo, am I forcing him to go? Or if I teach him to count and recite his alphabet? I mean really “force”? Like it is some sort of brutality to simply read the Bible to kids?”

    sg, when you take your five year old, you as the mother have every right to choose what your child will learn, as you walk along the paths at the zoo. Public school isn’t you, it is made for everyone, and that includes children from every background from Believing Christians to cults, every religion within our county to atheists.

    If children can be taught the Bible, (be it from an unlearned atheist, by force) then the other religions represented in that room have every right to hear their book of religion read as well. Where I live, that could take more than an hour, since we have so many different countries, such as middle east, Asia, cults, etc. That would be religion by “force” – I would not want my child to learn every religion, without the guidance of my husband, myself, or a trained teacher – pointing out the fallacy of cults, false religion and WHY they are not of God.

    Consider this record of schooling where some of my relatives attended public school in rural Nebraska in the late 1800′s. “The first order of business for the day was to sing a “Good Morning Song.” “Then the teacher would read a chapter from the Bible, then say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.”

    sg, you are comparing the 1800′s with the year 2010. Many ethnic groups, religions. Back in the 1800′s, from the state you are referring to, were mostly Protestant, some RCC, and Jews. So of course, they could read from the Bible or say the “Lord’s Prayer” – however our country, is mixed with dozens of religions.

    “From that description, can you honestly with a straight face say the kids were somehow “forced” to do something in such a way that a Christian would object? To me it is just education. Just normal training.”

    No, if it is non religious – Yes – - if it has anything to do with a secular teacher, teaching the Word of God. Teachers in public school, for the most part, are pro-abortion, pro many things which are evil. Can you imagine how they would twist the Scriptures?

  • Grace

    sg – 83

    “I am having trouble reconciling these ideas to teaching the 0-12 year old set. I mean, young kids have no discernment and they don’t choose what or how they are taught. I also think that using the word “force” seems to indicate abuse. I mean if I take my 5 year old to the zoo, am I forcing him to go? Or if I teach him to count and recite his alphabet? I mean really “force”? Like it is some sort of brutality to simply read the Bible to kids?”

    sg, when you take your five year old, you as the mother have every right to choose what your child will learn, as you walk along the paths at the zoo. Public school isn’t you, it is made for everyone, and that includes children from every background from Believing Christians to cults, every religion within our county to atheists.

    If children can be taught the Bible, (be it from an unlearned atheist, by force) then the other religions represented in that room have every right to hear their book of religion read as well. Where I live, that could take more than an hour, since we have so many different countries, such as middle east, Asia, cults, etc. That would be religion by “force” – I would not want my child to learn every religion, without the guidance of my husband, myself, or a trained teacher – pointing out the fallacy of cults, false religion and WHY they are not of God.

    Consider this record of schooling where some of my relatives attended public school in rural Nebraska in the late 1800′s. “The first order of business for the day was to sing a “Good Morning Song.” “Then the teacher would read a chapter from the Bible, then say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.”

    sg, you are comparing the 1800′s with the year 2010. Many ethnic groups, religions. Back in the 1800′s, from the state you are referring to, were mostly Protestant, some RCC, and Jews. So of course, they could read from the Bible or say the “Lord’s Prayer” – however our country, is mixed with dozens of religions.

    “From that description, can you honestly with a straight face say the kids were somehow “forced” to do something in such a way that a Christian would object? To me it is just education. Just normal training.”

    No, if it is non religious – Yes – - if it has anything to do with a secular teacher, teaching the Word of God. Teachers in public school, for the most part, are pro-abortion, pro many things which are evil. Can you imagine how they would twist the Scriptures?

  • Grace

    My post 85 – below should have been quoted, as it was written by sg.

    “Consider this record of schooling where some of my relatives attended public school in rural Nebraska in the late 1800′s. “The first order of business for the day was to sing a “Good Morning Song.” “Then the teacher would read a chapter from the Bible, then say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.”

  • Grace

    My post 85 – below should have been quoted, as it was written by sg.

    “Consider this record of schooling where some of my relatives attended public school in rural Nebraska in the late 1800′s. “The first order of business for the day was to sing a “Good Morning Song.” “Then the teacher would read a chapter from the Bible, then say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.”

  • Stephen

    I’m agreeing with Grace here. She describes the current pluralistic society pretty well. I ‘m actually more concerned about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness, believe it or not, than everyone else (maybe we can get into that some time).

    sg – I think that any text in a classroom is going to be opened and examined. That is what one does in the classroom. We don’t open books and let them sort of wash over us unless we are perhaps reading poetry with the lights dimmed or something like that (I’m being a little silly). Luther’s quote talks about teaching, and teaching implies a lot of things beyond merely reading or reciting things verbatum and then setting them aside without any discussion or commentary. Wouldn’t you agree? I just don’t think it is a good idea and needs to be scrapped I’m sorry to say. And on another level, because the Bible IS the living word of God, I don’t like the idea of it being assessed as “just another book” among many. Leave that to the colleges perhaps, but not among kids who do not have the skills to do much thinking and analysis.

  • Stephen

    I’m agreeing with Grace here. She describes the current pluralistic society pretty well. I ‘m actually more concerned about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness, believe it or not, than everyone else (maybe we can get into that some time).

    sg – I think that any text in a classroom is going to be opened and examined. That is what one does in the classroom. We don’t open books and let them sort of wash over us unless we are perhaps reading poetry with the lights dimmed or something like that (I’m being a little silly). Luther’s quote talks about teaching, and teaching implies a lot of things beyond merely reading or reciting things verbatum and then setting them aside without any discussion or commentary. Wouldn’t you agree? I just don’t think it is a good idea and needs to be scrapped I’m sorry to say. And on another level, because the Bible IS the living word of God, I don’t like the idea of it being assessed as “just another book” among many. Leave that to the colleges perhaps, but not among kids who do not have the skills to do much thinking and analysis.

  • Grace

    Stephen – 87

    ” I ‘m actually more concerned about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness, believe it or not, than everyone else (maybe we can get into that some time).”

    I too am concerned regarding LDS and JW’s – those are two cults I have studied for the past seven plus years (endless hours) -

    I am always surprised at those who are very educated, believing in Mormonism. However the same cannot be said for the JW’s, they are embraced by many who are easily led, with minimum educations.

  • Grace

    Stephen – 87

    ” I ‘m actually more concerned about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness, believe it or not, than everyone else (maybe we can get into that some time).”

    I too am concerned regarding LDS and JW’s – those are two cults I have studied for the past seven plus years (endless hours) -

    I am always surprised at those who are very educated, believing in Mormonism. However the same cannot be said for the JW’s, they are embraced by many who are easily led, with minimum educations.

  • Stephen

    sg

    Having said what I said, I lament the loss of many of those things listed in the piece you quoted. I’m not sure what to do about it, especially without sufficient funds to send my child to a private school where (maybe) she could get some of that kind of attention.

    I think this goes to the role of vocation. Parenting, as I am discovering, means diving into the soup. It means insisting upon attention to things if they aren’t up to snuff. But some of those things are not just “Christian” values (like good handwriting as one tiny example), so we have to find ways to stand beside others that may not even be Christians but who have other motives for doing what they do to achieve similar goals.

    Notice I said “similar” because it might mean that they differ greatly on some things that we outright oppose, but it might behoove us in some instances to work with them to achieve other thing along the way. That is kind of what that book is about that I mentioned in my earlier post.

    So, perhaps, rather than having a completely separate agenda that is off to one side and specifically Christian, and thus risking alienating ourselves, we find ways to align ourselves in lesser ways so that eventually we can have greater impact. I think of this in terms of the many issues that face the well-being of kids, and there are plenty of good people out there that are trying to do something. They may not be Christians, and they may actually have political stands that are outright abhorrent (say liberals who are pro-aborion but work on child poverty as an example off the top of my head). But by deciding to jump in on some things for these shared concerns we can influence other greater concerns. We can influence the meaning of what it means to be human by gaining trust.

    I think it can stretch from the smallest things like public school issues to the really divisive ones if we set aside overt religious agendas and focus on solving actual problems with whomever is willing to work on them. That is, whoever God has put there to “do mercy” as it were.

  • Stephen

    sg

    Having said what I said, I lament the loss of many of those things listed in the piece you quoted. I’m not sure what to do about it, especially without sufficient funds to send my child to a private school where (maybe) she could get some of that kind of attention.

    I think this goes to the role of vocation. Parenting, as I am discovering, means diving into the soup. It means insisting upon attention to things if they aren’t up to snuff. But some of those things are not just “Christian” values (like good handwriting as one tiny example), so we have to find ways to stand beside others that may not even be Christians but who have other motives for doing what they do to achieve similar goals.

    Notice I said “similar” because it might mean that they differ greatly on some things that we outright oppose, but it might behoove us in some instances to work with them to achieve other thing along the way. That is kind of what that book is about that I mentioned in my earlier post.

    So, perhaps, rather than having a completely separate agenda that is off to one side and specifically Christian, and thus risking alienating ourselves, we find ways to align ourselves in lesser ways so that eventually we can have greater impact. I think of this in terms of the many issues that face the well-being of kids, and there are plenty of good people out there that are trying to do something. They may not be Christians, and they may actually have political stands that are outright abhorrent (say liberals who are pro-aborion but work on child poverty as an example off the top of my head). But by deciding to jump in on some things for these shared concerns we can influence other greater concerns. We can influence the meaning of what it means to be human by gaining trust.

    I think it can stretch from the smallest things like public school issues to the really divisive ones if we set aside overt religious agendas and focus on solving actual problems with whomever is willing to work on them. That is, whoever God has put there to “do mercy” as it were.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    answers to your last question:
    stop being PC ‘nice’
    speak out strongly about un-just judges and the shedding of innocent blood-Is 59 KJV-so The Creator will not have to put on the Full Armor again as in Is 59—-
    stop worrying about the loss of the 501 c3 status…SPEAK OUT-no more baking down…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    answers to your last question:
    stop being PC ‘nice’
    speak out strongly about un-just judges and the shedding of innocent blood-Is 59 KJV-so The Creator will not have to put on the Full Armor again as in Is 59—-
    stop worrying about the loss of the 501 c3 status…SPEAK OUT-no more baking down…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    answers to your last question:
    stop being PC ‘nice’
    speak out strongly about un-just judges and the shedding of innocent blood-Is 59 KJV-so The Creator will not have to put on the Full Armor again as in Is 59—-
    stop worrying about the loss of the 501 c3 status…SPEAK OUT-no more backing down…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    answers to your last question:
    stop being PC ‘nice’
    speak out strongly about un-just judges and the shedding of innocent blood-Is 59 KJV-so The Creator will not have to put on the Full Armor again as in Is 59—-
    stop worrying about the loss of the 501 c3 status…SPEAK OUT-no more backing down…
    C-CS

  • Stephen

    It the kindness of God that leads to repentance.

    Christian Soldier, if that last comment was at all aimed at me, I am suggesting stealth not capitulation or even outright compromise. We do live in the world with side by side others with whom we share mutual interests, even though we may not always have exactly the same goals. I think we need to see them for the allies they may be, like the Russians in WWII perhaps as a possible analogy, in order to accomplish the larger conquest.

  • Stephen

    It the kindness of God that leads to repentance.

    Christian Soldier, if that last comment was at all aimed at me, I am suggesting stealth not capitulation or even outright compromise. We do live in the world with side by side others with whom we share mutual interests, even though we may not always have exactly the same goals. I think we need to see them for the allies they may be, like the Russians in WWII perhaps as a possible analogy, in order to accomplish the larger conquest.

  • Tom Hering

    “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4.)

    I love that verse, Stephen. Thanks for bringing it up. Like Ephesians 2:8, it’s fundamental to Biblical/Lutheran theology. Only the Gospel has the supernatural power to change our hearts.

  • Tom Hering

    “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4.)

    I love that verse, Stephen. Thanks for bringing it up. Like Ephesians 2:8, it’s fundamental to Biblical/Lutheran theology. Only the Gospel has the supernatural power to change our hearts.

  • Stephen

    Tom @ 93

    Like anyone with an old Adam to contend with until the completion of my baptism in the resurrection, I wish to dominate. It is that #1 sin of idolatry that only Christ could and did remove for me. The call then is to serve. I absolutely fail all the time, perhaps because it is counter-intuitive. That’s what I get from Romans 7. And I think kindness requires patience, which is perhaps why St. Paul lists them side by side. Sometimes it is of the grueling, thankless, misunderstood long suffering type, putting up with other people’s sin for the sake of that greater “now, but not yet” of the Kingdom.

    I always liked that phrase “loving them into the Kingdom” but thinking about it in terms that stretch far, far beyond sentimentality. It is hard work to be truly forgiving and merciful in any way that reflects even one angstrom of what has been given to us freely in Jesus Christ. Plank/speck. It is the “you shall not, but you should” of our catechism. Love, love, and love more of the Good Samaritan and do not expect return because you already have it all. Empty yourself out. Phil 2:5-11 – the mind of Christ. The most unlikely true power. That IS the Lutheran baptismal, sacramental thing we live in, with and under.

    By the way, thanks for the “copy” tip!

  • Stephen

    Tom @ 93

    Like anyone with an old Adam to contend with until the completion of my baptism in the resurrection, I wish to dominate. It is that #1 sin of idolatry that only Christ could and did remove for me. The call then is to serve. I absolutely fail all the time, perhaps because it is counter-intuitive. That’s what I get from Romans 7. And I think kindness requires patience, which is perhaps why St. Paul lists them side by side. Sometimes it is of the grueling, thankless, misunderstood long suffering type, putting up with other people’s sin for the sake of that greater “now, but not yet” of the Kingdom.

    I always liked that phrase “loving them into the Kingdom” but thinking about it in terms that stretch far, far beyond sentimentality. It is hard work to be truly forgiving and merciful in any way that reflects even one angstrom of what has been given to us freely in Jesus Christ. Plank/speck. It is the “you shall not, but you should” of our catechism. Love, love, and love more of the Good Samaritan and do not expect return because you already have it all. Empty yourself out. Phil 2:5-11 – the mind of Christ. The most unlikely true power. That IS the Lutheran baptismal, sacramental thing we live in, with and under.

    By the way, thanks for the “copy” tip!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Having said what I said, I lament the loss of many of those things listed in the piece you quoted. I’m not sure what to do about it, especially without sufficient funds to send my child to a private school where (maybe) she could get some of that kind of attention.”

    How about homeschool? Although, the folks who provided the education I quoted did it while living in sod huts. Priorities.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Having said what I said, I lament the loss of many of those things listed in the piece you quoted. I’m not sure what to do about it, especially without sufficient funds to send my child to a private school where (maybe) she could get some of that kind of attention.”

    How about homeschool? Although, the folks who provided the education I quoted did it while living in sod huts. Priorities.

  • Grace

    sg – 95

    “How about homeschool? Although, the folks who provided the education I quoted did it while living in sod huts. Priorities.”

    That isn’t always an option, nor is every parent gifted to be a teacher, I certainly am not. I also believe children need to attend school, be it public or private. Interacting with other children – academics, sports is important – team play, and also competition is part of education.

  • Grace

    sg – 95

    “How about homeschool? Although, the folks who provided the education I quoted did it while living in sod huts. Priorities.”

    That isn’t always an option, nor is every parent gifted to be a teacher, I certainly am not. I also believe children need to attend school, be it public or private. Interacting with other children – academics, sports is important – team play, and also competition is part of education.

  • Grace

    sg – back in the 1800′s it wasn’t a matter of “priorities” there was no choice – a school close by didn’t exist.

  • Grace

    sg – back in the 1800′s it wasn’t a matter of “priorities” there was no choice – a school close by didn’t exist.

  • Stephen

    sg @95

    We have considered it. There are options to find other home schoolers with whom to interact – people with whom we share values, etc. though I also think there is something to be said for interacting with others who do not completely agree with us in every way. Like I said, we live in a society with people of mutual interests even if we do not all share the same exact goals. So I guess at this point the best I can say is “it depends.”

    I wish I had a solution. Consider me a “concerned parent.” And there are others out there. They may not be Christians, but they may share similar concerns – safety, health, discipline, academic excellence, etc. How can we live “in” the world with them without being “of” them is always going to be the challenge I suppose.

    As far as taking on home schooling, what I have found with projects where there are no paid professionals, it is often that case that a small percentage of the more dedicated people take up most of the slack. In the case of home schooling, something I don’t have any experience with, I wonder if it could turn into that sort of thing – six families get together to share duties home schooling and two of the parents do most of the work. I have done ministry and church work and I am sorry to say it, but it often works out like this with anything that is voluntary.

    That means doing it all on your own, so unless you are a gifted teacher like Grace says, I’m not sure what the options are. In our case, my wife IS a gifted teacher, so we may do just that.

    Man, I wish there were more Lutheran schools! I just heard from an old friend about the one her dad’s LCMS church ran forever closing up last year in Dallas. Very sad.

    I guess I am not much help except to say that we are all in this together, and perhaps our Christian Education needs to look at how it can somehow supplement the deficits our kids suffer in public schools, maybe in the arts (?). At one time art was the province of faith. Just a thought.

  • Stephen

    sg @95

    We have considered it. There are options to find other home schoolers with whom to interact – people with whom we share values, etc. though I also think there is something to be said for interacting with others who do not completely agree with us in every way. Like I said, we live in a society with people of mutual interests even if we do not all share the same exact goals. So I guess at this point the best I can say is “it depends.”

    I wish I had a solution. Consider me a “concerned parent.” And there are others out there. They may not be Christians, but they may share similar concerns – safety, health, discipline, academic excellence, etc. How can we live “in” the world with them without being “of” them is always going to be the challenge I suppose.

    As far as taking on home schooling, what I have found with projects where there are no paid professionals, it is often that case that a small percentage of the more dedicated people take up most of the slack. In the case of home schooling, something I don’t have any experience with, I wonder if it could turn into that sort of thing – six families get together to share duties home schooling and two of the parents do most of the work. I have done ministry and church work and I am sorry to say it, but it often works out like this with anything that is voluntary.

    That means doing it all on your own, so unless you are a gifted teacher like Grace says, I’m not sure what the options are. In our case, my wife IS a gifted teacher, so we may do just that.

    Man, I wish there were more Lutheran schools! I just heard from an old friend about the one her dad’s LCMS church ran forever closing up last year in Dallas. Very sad.

    I guess I am not much help except to say that we are all in this together, and perhaps our Christian Education needs to look at how it can somehow supplement the deficits our kids suffer in public schools, maybe in the arts (?). At one time art was the province of faith. Just a thought.

  • Grace

    Stephen

    It used to be that Churches had their own schools, …. my father who was born in Europe, was one who went to school that was part of the church. Study was important, there was no nonsense, everyone was expected to learn. When the day ended, it was a walk back of five miles, and then all the chores. My father was more educated then his peers, even with Bible school and seminary he was different. He understood the gift of education and learning.

    Sorry Stephen for going on and on…… it just brought back memories of my father. One of my father’s brothers name was Stephen.

  • Grace

    Stephen

    It used to be that Churches had their own schools, …. my father who was born in Europe, was one who went to school that was part of the church. Study was important, there was no nonsense, everyone was expected to learn. When the day ended, it was a walk back of five miles, and then all the chores. My father was more educated then his peers, even with Bible school and seminary he was different. He understood the gift of education and learning.

    Sorry Stephen for going on and on…… it just brought back memories of my father. One of my father’s brothers name was Stephen.

  • Stephen

    Grace @ 99

    Thanks for your thoughts. My daughter is almost 3 and starting to read, mostly due simply to having her mom home and no TV. She loves books. I worry about sending her off to public schools that “teach to the test” with other kids that have no attention span. I tutor kids like that in reading and it breaks my heart. I believe in public education, public libraries, and that they are in the best interests of a democratic society. I don’t like the idea of giving up on them, but I also don’t think we need to sacrifice our child to a broken system. We live in a state and city that does not have a very good reputation. It’s not that way everywhere in the country, so I’m not sure we need to give up on it wholesale. In my child’s case however, we may need to consider other options for her good.

  • Stephen

    Grace @ 99

    Thanks for your thoughts. My daughter is almost 3 and starting to read, mostly due simply to having her mom home and no TV. She loves books. I worry about sending her off to public schools that “teach to the test” with other kids that have no attention span. I tutor kids like that in reading and it breaks my heart. I believe in public education, public libraries, and that they are in the best interests of a democratic society. I don’t like the idea of giving up on them, but I also don’t think we need to sacrifice our child to a broken system. We live in a state and city that does not have a very good reputation. It’s not that way everywhere in the country, so I’m not sure we need to give up on it wholesale. In my child’s case however, we may need to consider other options for her good.

  • Grace

    Stephen – does your church have a school, or perhaps connected with another one who offers a good education? – I am sure you are checking all your options.

    I do find your idea very interesting – “six families get together to share duties home schooling and two of the parents do most of the work. I have done ministry and church work and I am sorry to say it, but it often works out like this with anything that is voluntary.” — if you go ahead with that plan, you most likely will do most of the work, perhaps a few taking part. If it were me Stephen, I would have to know the parents involved very well, before entrusting them with my child.

    You and your wife are quite right to read to your daughter. A small amount of TV isn’t harmful, but I must admit the majority has nothing of merit.

  • Grace

    Stephen – does your church have a school, or perhaps connected with another one who offers a good education? – I am sure you are checking all your options.

    I do find your idea very interesting – “six families get together to share duties home schooling and two of the parents do most of the work. I have done ministry and church work and I am sorry to say it, but it often works out like this with anything that is voluntary.” — if you go ahead with that plan, you most likely will do most of the work, perhaps a few taking part. If it were me Stephen, I would have to know the parents involved very well, before entrusting them with my child.

    You and your wife are quite right to read to your daughter. A small amount of TV isn’t harmful, but I must admit the majority has nothing of merit.

  • Stephen

    Well Grace, with all my ranting about education, I think we are going to have to do a whole lot of this when it comes to figuring it out:

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and He will make straight your paths.”

    Or as St. Paul says “Pray without ceasing.”

  • Stephen

    Well Grace, with all my ranting about education, I think we are going to have to do a whole lot of this when it comes to figuring it out:

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and He will make straight your paths.”

    Or as St. Paul says “Pray without ceasing.”

  • Grace

    Stephen -

    That is one of my favorite passages – many times when the path has been foggy, both figurative and real, I have repeated that Scripture.

    A few years ago my husband and I were driving from the north to southern CA. We hit snow, ice, rain, and the fog. We couldn’t see a thing. I prayed, and prayed, saying that passage over and over again in my mind. A huge truck was in front of our car, the driver knew we were following his lights. It went on for miles, as only a few feet were visible. His lights then began to flash, as he turned right, he paused and waved. We went on our way in the dark and fog. God took care of us as we drove, we had no idea if we were heading into a ditch etc., ….. all of a sudden it became light, the fog began to lift, the sun shown through – how grateful we were, -

    “In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make straight your paths.”

    The LORD did just that. :)

    God bless you as you wait upon Him. Your daughter is very blessed to have parents like you and your wife.

  • Grace

    Stephen -

    That is one of my favorite passages – many times when the path has been foggy, both figurative and real, I have repeated that Scripture.

    A few years ago my husband and I were driving from the north to southern CA. We hit snow, ice, rain, and the fog. We couldn’t see a thing. I prayed, and prayed, saying that passage over and over again in my mind. A huge truck was in front of our car, the driver knew we were following his lights. It went on for miles, as only a few feet were visible. His lights then began to flash, as he turned right, he paused and waved. We went on our way in the dark and fog. God took care of us as we drove, we had no idea if we were heading into a ditch etc., ….. all of a sudden it became light, the fog began to lift, the sun shown through – how grateful we were, -

    “In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make straight your paths.”

    The LORD did just that. :)

    God bless you as you wait upon Him. Your daughter is very blessed to have parents like you and your wife.

  • Stephen

    Grace -

    Thanks. And may the Lord bless and keep you and yours too, now and forever.

  • Stephen

    Grace -

    Thanks. And may the Lord bless and keep you and yours too, now and forever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565670830 Steve levitt

    Harder in socailist leaning country like mine – Cananda.
    Those in need easily remain anomous- not that blushing comes easy up here. Our Pagan gods are goverment programs and institutions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565670830 Steve levitt

    Harder in socailist leaning country like mine – Cananda.
    Those in need easily remain anomous- not that blushing comes easy up here. Our Pagan gods are goverment programs and institutions.

  • Pingback: How Christianity Conquered Pagan Culture | Missional Lutherans

  • Pingback: How Christianity Conquered Pagan Culture | Missional Lutherans

  • Erik

    I was rereading The Didache the other day and it says “2:2 Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not corrupt youth; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use soothsaying; thou shalt not practise sorcery; thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, neither shalt thou slay it when born; thou shalt not covet the goods of thy neighbour;”

    The Didache predates even the reign of Constantine. The church valued babies from the start.

  • Erik

    I was rereading The Didache the other day and it says “2:2 Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not corrupt youth; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use soothsaying; thou shalt not practise sorcery; thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, neither shalt thou slay it when born; thou shalt not covet the goods of thy neighbour;”

    The Didache predates even the reign of Constantine. The church valued babies from the start.

  • Ariana

    I’m revolted to think these are my filthy ancestors. “If you’re not a mindless brute, you’re not worthy of our acknowledgment.” Motherless SOBS.

  • Ariana

    I’m revolted to think these are my filthy ancestors. “If you’re not a mindless brute, you’re not worthy of our acknowledgment.” Motherless SOBS.


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