A new definition of religious discrimination

The University of California-Davis has a new religious discrimination policy, according to which ONLY Christians can be accused of discriminating against other religions, and discrimination AGAINST Christians does not count:

The UC-Davis policy defines “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination” as “the loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.”

“Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus,” says Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel David French. “It’s ridiculously absurd to single out Christians as oppressors and non-Christians as the only oppressed people on campus when the facts show that public universities are more hostile to Christians than anyone else.”

A from ADF-allied attorney Tim Swickard to UC-Davis explains, “It is patently clear that UC Davis’s definition of religious discrimination is blatantly unconstitutional under both the Federal and California State Constitutions. The policy singles out some faiths for official school protection while denying the same protection to others solely on the basis of their particular religious views…Moreover, the UC-Davis policy is simply nonsensical given the environment on most University campuses where Christian students, if anything, are among the most likely to be subjected to discrimination because of their faith.”

The letter cites a recent study of more than 1,200 faculty at public universities that showed that professors admitted to having a significant bias against Christian students, particularly evangelicals. Fifty-three percent admitted to having negative feelings about evangelical students solely because of their religious beliefs.

via UC-Davis Students Object to Religious Discrimination Policy.

This is a good example of what postmodernism–note the jargon: “privilege, power, dominant culture, institutionalized oppression”–can do to civil and legal rights.   Opposing religious discrimination as a way to discriminate against religion.

UPDATE: The university has now rescinded the definition and taken it off its website. HT: Steve Billingsley

HT:  Jackie

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.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sigh. It’s more than a little disappointing that “an allied attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund” could fire off a three-page letter over so little, and yet be so sloppy. Was he looking for work? Bored? Does no one else reporting on this story (and there are many) have time to do actual research or even fact-checking?

    Timothy J. Swickard, Esq. begins his letter to UC Davis complaining about “the school’s policy prohibiting discrimination against all other religious faiths, while explicitly authorizing it against Christians” — which, if true, certainly would be worth complaining about! Oh, if only!

    His letter then goes on to note:

    UC Davis prohibits discrimination on the basis of, inter alia, religion. See ucop.edu/ucophome/coordrev/ucpolicies/aos/ucappc.html and
    occr.ucdavis.edu/poc/index.html. However, it also defines “religious discrimination” as follows:

    Religious/Spiritual Discrimination – The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.

    (emphasis added). occr.ucdavis.edu/poc/glossary.html.

    Okay, see that first link, up there, the one starting “ucop.edu”? That’s a link to an actual policy of the University of California (which does indeed prohibit discrimination “on the basis of … religion”). You can tell by the URL, but if you want to learn more, just visit this page up a few directories: ucop.edu/ucophome/coordrev/ucpolicies/ See how it says “University of California Policies” on the page? You may think I’m belaboring the obvious, but hear me out.

    But Mr. Swickard then goes on in his letter to say that “UC Davis policy, while purporting to prohibit religious discrimination broadly, actually exempts Christians from its coverage”. And his basis for this statement is not to be found anywhere on a site listing “University of California Policies”, but instead a different site at the UCDavis.edu domain.

    Specifically, to a page that is down right now. Guess why. Because it got pulled. (This is your first hint that the page probably wasn’t actual university policy in the first place. Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist.)

    No, Swickard links to a page at the Office of Campus Community Relations, under their “Principles of Community” section. Do you notice how “Principles of Community” doesn’t exactly sound like “official university policy”? Yeah, well. The particular page he linked to (here is a PDF the ADF made of the page before it was pulled, here is Google’s cache of the page, and here is an Archive.org version of the page when it lived at a different URL) was, curiously, a glossary.

    Is a glossary likely to be the way the University of California formulates its policies? Unlikely. It’s all the more unlikely when you read the text at the top of the glossary page:

    This glossary is not an exhaustive list or definitive collection of definitions. Rather, it draws from academic sources used by other universities as a starting point to understand terms related to community, diversity and identity.

    And yet, somehow, this page is the very basis for the ADF-allied attorney’s claiming that it is “UC Davis policy … to discriminate only against Christians”.

    Is this “a new religious discrimination policy” … er, glossary definition … as Veith claims, anyhow? Not at all. Here’s a link to an Archive.org version of the same glossary with the same definition … from 2004. The document is almost certainly older than 2004, since, under the definition for “Significant Other”, the glossary states “gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry legally in the United States.” Yeah, whoops, that hasn’t been true since 2003.

    Oh and hey, look. All the most recent archives of the glossary page (above) still contained the same erroneous statement about same-sex marriage in them. Implying that this document, or at least those definitions, had not been touched in almost a decade.

    And yet, someone finally noticed this Web page in 2011, and some lawyer had some time on his hands, and presto! Culture War kerfuffle! It helps that the lawyer upped his accusation from “you have an offensive definition in this old glossary on this Web page that no one apparently reads” to the more compelling accusation that it is “UC Davis policy … to discriminate only against Christians”. I mean, there’s no factual basis for that claim, but it sure sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

    None of this comment should be construed as defending the many ridiculous definitions in that glossary. But man, can Culture Warriors get their knickers in a wad something quick!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sigh. It’s more than a little disappointing that “an allied attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund” could fire off a three-page letter over so little, and yet be so sloppy. Was he looking for work? Bored? Does no one else reporting on this story (and there are many) have time to do actual research or even fact-checking?

    Timothy J. Swickard, Esq. begins his letter to UC Davis complaining about “the school’s policy prohibiting discrimination against all other religious faiths, while explicitly authorizing it against Christians” — which, if true, certainly would be worth complaining about! Oh, if only!

    His letter then goes on to note:

    UC Davis prohibits discrimination on the basis of, inter alia, religion. See ucop.edu/ucophome/coordrev/ucpolicies/aos/ucappc.html and
    occr.ucdavis.edu/poc/index.html. However, it also defines “religious discrimination” as follows:

    Religious/Spiritual Discrimination – The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.

    (emphasis added). occr.ucdavis.edu/poc/glossary.html.

    Okay, see that first link, up there, the one starting “ucop.edu”? That’s a link to an actual policy of the University of California (which does indeed prohibit discrimination “on the basis of … religion”). You can tell by the URL, but if you want to learn more, just visit this page up a few directories: ucop.edu/ucophome/coordrev/ucpolicies/ See how it says “University of California Policies” on the page? You may think I’m belaboring the obvious, but hear me out.

    But Mr. Swickard then goes on in his letter to say that “UC Davis policy, while purporting to prohibit religious discrimination broadly, actually exempts Christians from its coverage”. And his basis for this statement is not to be found anywhere on a site listing “University of California Policies”, but instead a different site at the UCDavis.edu domain.

    Specifically, to a page that is down right now. Guess why. Because it got pulled. (This is your first hint that the page probably wasn’t actual university policy in the first place. Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist.)

    No, Swickard links to a page at the Office of Campus Community Relations, under their “Principles of Community” section. Do you notice how “Principles of Community” doesn’t exactly sound like “official university policy”? Yeah, well. The particular page he linked to (here is a PDF the ADF made of the page before it was pulled, here is Google’s cache of the page, and here is an Archive.org version of the page when it lived at a different URL) was, curiously, a glossary.

    Is a glossary likely to be the way the University of California formulates its policies? Unlikely. It’s all the more unlikely when you read the text at the top of the glossary page:

    This glossary is not an exhaustive list or definitive collection of definitions. Rather, it draws from academic sources used by other universities as a starting point to understand terms related to community, diversity and identity.

    And yet, somehow, this page is the very basis for the ADF-allied attorney’s claiming that it is “UC Davis policy … to discriminate only against Christians”.

    Is this “a new religious discrimination policy” … er, glossary definition … as Veith claims, anyhow? Not at all. Here’s a link to an Archive.org version of the same glossary with the same definition … from 2004. The document is almost certainly older than 2004, since, under the definition for “Significant Other”, the glossary states “gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry legally in the United States.” Yeah, whoops, that hasn’t been true since 2003.

    Oh and hey, look. All the most recent archives of the glossary page (above) still contained the same erroneous statement about same-sex marriage in them. Implying that this document, or at least those definitions, had not been touched in almost a decade.

    And yet, someone finally noticed this Web page in 2011, and some lawyer had some time on his hands, and presto! Culture War kerfuffle! It helps that the lawyer upped his accusation from “you have an offensive definition in this old glossary on this Web page that no one apparently reads” to the more compelling accusation that it is “UC Davis policy … to discriminate only against Christians”. I mean, there’s no factual basis for that claim, but it sure sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

    None of this comment should be construed as defending the many ridiculous definitions in that glossary. But man, can Culture Warriors get their knickers in a wad something quick!

  • SKPeterson

    Here’s another take:
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/uc-davis-revises-religious-discrimination-description-49038/.

    Apparently the glossary is used as a guideline when defining an eligible instance of discrimination per this quote from Rahim Reed at UC Davis:

    “This glossary term creates the potential for misinterpretation of the University’s view towards religious discrimination,” Reed wrote in response. “For this reason it is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community.”

    As sloppy as Swickard’s letter may have been, it appears UC Davis was just as sloppy and allowed someone to alter policies without adequate review. From the article: Reed also wrote that this definition did not represent the school’s view on religious discrimination, and was drawn “from academic sources used by other universities.” (emphasis mine) What other universities, and what is meant by “academic sources”? Some article by an assistant sociology prof at Brown in an obscure academic journal, or bona fide university policies?

  • SKPeterson

    Here’s another take:
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/uc-davis-revises-religious-discrimination-description-49038/.

    Apparently the glossary is used as a guideline when defining an eligible instance of discrimination per this quote from Rahim Reed at UC Davis:

    “This glossary term creates the potential for misinterpretation of the University’s view towards religious discrimination,” Reed wrote in response. “For this reason it is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community.”

    As sloppy as Swickard’s letter may have been, it appears UC Davis was just as sloppy and allowed someone to alter policies without adequate review. From the article: Reed also wrote that this definition did not represent the school’s view on religious discrimination, and was drawn “from academic sources used by other universities.” (emphasis mine) What other universities, and what is meant by “academic sources”? Some article by an assistant sociology prof at Brown in an obscure academic journal, or bona fide university policies?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    My takehome from this article is that someday soon, christians will be discriminated against by law here in the united states and other places.

    We christians will hasten that day in coming by fighting the culture wars by exercising political muscle as the “silent majority” becoming un-silent.

    Example:

    so we don´t like it that the govt is slowly putting homosexuals on the exact same legal footing as everyone else. Why? It sends the wrong message to our children. There is really no other reason. But then the fact that there are not criminal laws against adultery send a similar message.

    Ok. So we can selectively fight to have laws removed or installed to enforce our viewpoint.

    So we first appeal to the courts, but now they are in the pocket of the leftist-liberal-postmodernist-athiest cabal. so we turn to the legislatures… but those too are succumbing…. so we turn then finally to popular referendums where 51% get to dictate to that other 49%.

    How long do you suppose it will be that we are in that 49%? Would it not be better to quietly be working to reinforce constitutional sureties and the integrity of the legislative processes rather than dismiss those in favor of pure democracy?

    But it is in pure democracy of the 51% that conservatives increasingly seem to be placing their confidence. But wait! christians are not in the majority! so we ally now with Mormons. They share our values!

    This is surely a strategy that is a road to ruin.

    We need to return to faith in God in these things.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    My takehome from this article is that someday soon, christians will be discriminated against by law here in the united states and other places.

    We christians will hasten that day in coming by fighting the culture wars by exercising political muscle as the “silent majority” becoming un-silent.

    Example:

    so we don´t like it that the govt is slowly putting homosexuals on the exact same legal footing as everyone else. Why? It sends the wrong message to our children. There is really no other reason. But then the fact that there are not criminal laws against adultery send a similar message.

    Ok. So we can selectively fight to have laws removed or installed to enforce our viewpoint.

    So we first appeal to the courts, but now they are in the pocket of the leftist-liberal-postmodernist-athiest cabal. so we turn to the legislatures… but those too are succumbing…. so we turn then finally to popular referendums where 51% get to dictate to that other 49%.

    How long do you suppose it will be that we are in that 49%? Would it not be better to quietly be working to reinforce constitutional sureties and the integrity of the legislative processes rather than dismiss those in favor of pure democracy?

    But it is in pure democracy of the 51% that conservatives increasingly seem to be placing their confidence. But wait! christians are not in the majority! so we ally now with Mormons. They share our values!

    This is surely a strategy that is a road to ruin.

    We need to return to faith in God in these things.

  • Econ Jeff

    As a UC Davis alum and former lecturer there, let me assure you that the “Principles of Community” are formal UC Davis policy. Here is the link to it/them: http://occr.ucdavis.edu/poc/.

  • Econ Jeff

    As a UC Davis alum and former lecturer there, let me assure you that the “Principles of Community” are formal UC Davis policy. Here is the link to it/them: http://occr.ucdavis.edu/poc/.

  • SKPeterson

    @fws – part of the problem you bring up is the generally accepted notion that those things are rightly the province of the government. For centuries there were no marriage licenses, just marriages (between men and women, no less) that were attested to by the Church and by the communities in which people lived. Another part of the problem is that much of that underlying social structure has been eroded or eclipsed by increasing urbanization and an increasingly footloose population who is not tied closely to particular pieces of land and sharing a common history, culture, language, ideals. So, adultery becomes more rampant and acceptable whereas it would have been devastating not just to the individuals, but to entire extended families and communities.

    We now are wrestling with the implications of these developments for our society as a whole, and these sorts of anti-discrimination laws are attempts to control the dialog or “discourse” in pomo-speak and turn it toward their particular vision of what it means to be community or culture.

  • SKPeterson

    @fws – part of the problem you bring up is the generally accepted notion that those things are rightly the province of the government. For centuries there were no marriage licenses, just marriages (between men and women, no less) that were attested to by the Church and by the communities in which people lived. Another part of the problem is that much of that underlying social structure has been eroded or eclipsed by increasing urbanization and an increasingly footloose population who is not tied closely to particular pieces of land and sharing a common history, culture, language, ideals. So, adultery becomes more rampant and acceptable whereas it would have been devastating not just to the individuals, but to entire extended families and communities.

    We now are wrestling with the implications of these developments for our society as a whole, and these sorts of anti-discrimination laws are attempts to control the dialog or “discourse” in pomo-speak and turn it toward their particular vision of what it means to be community or culture.

  • trotk

    Thanks, Frank. If we took care of what we should (live our lives rightly in peace) perhaps then we wouldn’t have the issues publicly we have now.

    By the way, I am of the opinion that an environment hostile to Christianity is better suited for the spread of the gospel than a superficial “Christian” culture.

  • trotk

    Thanks, Frank. If we took care of what we should (live our lives rightly in peace) perhaps then we wouldn’t have the issues publicly we have now.

    By the way, I am of the opinion that an environment hostile to Christianity is better suited for the spread of the gospel than a superficial “Christian” culture.

  • Stephen

    I’m kind of with trotk on his last statement. If you consider the milieu of the 1st c. out of which the NT arose, we might actually get a fresh reading of our tradition if Christianity were finally to come unhinged from the dominant culture of getting, having and imposing what we think are our exclusive moral claims on everyone else. We would actually have to look at our faith and ask what it really is, what it really consists of, and what about it really matters. Instead, we are locked in a culture war as Frank points out, making alliances with others for the sake of political and cultural power. Not good. None of it has anything to do with the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ I’d say.

    Maybe when stuff like this comes along, it ought to be a cause for repentance. Maybe God is punishing Christians for not minding the store, preaching gospel, being merciful, etc. Maybe we are getting pushed to the margins for a very good reason after all.

  • Stephen

    I’m kind of with trotk on his last statement. If you consider the milieu of the 1st c. out of which the NT arose, we might actually get a fresh reading of our tradition if Christianity were finally to come unhinged from the dominant culture of getting, having and imposing what we think are our exclusive moral claims on everyone else. We would actually have to look at our faith and ask what it really is, what it really consists of, and what about it really matters. Instead, we are locked in a culture war as Frank points out, making alliances with others for the sake of political and cultural power. Not good. None of it has anything to do with the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ I’d say.

    Maybe when stuff like this comes along, it ought to be a cause for repentance. Maybe God is punishing Christians for not minding the store, preaching gospel, being merciful, etc. Maybe we are getting pushed to the margins for a very good reason after all.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    @SKPeterson -
    The point of public marriage is to protect the weak – mostly women and children – from being harmed. Where there is no community input, a man can leave his family at any time, leaving them destitute. There was a time when the church could curtail this and enforce justice, but that time is past, which is why I have no problem with the state granting licenses etc.

    Good words from fws, too.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    @SKPeterson -
    The point of public marriage is to protect the weak – mostly women and children – from being harmed. Where there is no community input, a man can leave his family at any time, leaving them destitute. There was a time when the church could curtail this and enforce justice, but that time is past, which is why I have no problem with the state granting licenses etc.

    Good words from fws, too.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@2), the statement you quoted from Rahim Reed doesn’t back up your assertion that “the glossary is used as a guideline when defining an eligible instance of discrimination”. All it shows is that it was possible for someone to infer (as has happened) from the existence of that glossary on that site that those definitions were binding. Again, the fact that it has so quickly been removed (to say nothing of the glossary’s own claim to not be “definitive”) belies your interpretation.

    In my opinion, what this really shows is that almost no one was reading that section of the Web site — especially those who were in control of university policy — except the people in the OCCR who wrote it.

    Econ Jeff (@4), I stand corrected with regard to the “Principles of Community” themselves being formal policy, but my point about the glossary itself remains.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK (@2), the statement you quoted from Rahim Reed doesn’t back up your assertion that “the glossary is used as a guideline when defining an eligible instance of discrimination”. All it shows is that it was possible for someone to infer (as has happened) from the existence of that glossary on that site that those definitions were binding. Again, the fact that it has so quickly been removed (to say nothing of the glossary’s own claim to not be “definitive”) belies your interpretation.

    In my opinion, what this really shows is that almost no one was reading that section of the Web site — especially those who were in control of university policy — except the people in the OCCR who wrote it.

    Econ Jeff (@4), I stand corrected with regard to the “Principles of Community” themselves being formal policy, but my point about the glossary itself remains.

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

    I think there is a little bit of a logic flaw here. The supposition is that the Christian majority actually has power and prestige just by being the majority. Now, if majorities in fact always enjoyed power and prestige, which history clearly shows they don’t, then the policy would make more sense. Also, if the majority truly had power, such a policy would not be applied in such a way as to disadvantage themselves. The policy makers at the university have the power and prestige and are not members of the majority which is why they feel threatened and enact policies and statements such as these.

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

    I think there is a little bit of a logic flaw here. The supposition is that the Christian majority actually has power and prestige just by being the majority. Now, if majorities in fact always enjoyed power and prestige, which history clearly shows they don’t, then the policy would make more sense. Also, if the majority truly had power, such a policy would not be applied in such a way as to disadvantage themselves. The policy makers at the university have the power and prestige and are not members of the majority which is why they feel threatened and enact policies and statements such as these.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    John @ 8

    “@SKPeterson -
    The point of public marriage is to protect the weak – mostly women and children – from being harmed. Where there is no community input, a man can leave his family at any time, leaving them destitute. ”

    I agree that these have always been the goods that govt regulation of marriage has sought to enforce. But there are lots of others… orderly transfer of property. hospital visitation rights. parental duties and rights. welfare of the children….

    then there are those other things that are about the pursuit of happiness that fatherly goodness and mercy seeks to provide us. those things that we call in strictly earthly (ie non christian terms) “spiritual” meaning intangibles…. things like a good reputation (bastards dont have that), and a sense of belonging, and a defined place as a part of society. there are also things like companionship, and having someone moraly and legally bound to care for you and you for them in old age and infirmity so the govt doesnt need to get involved so much.

    marriage can be defined as some or all of these things by society either informally or by force of law.

    These things are neither good nor bad in themselves, and we should be careful not to burden consciences with more than the responsibility of all to promote and provide for the highest wellbeing of everyone

    We also want to discourage the interference of others in the wellbeing or affairs of others except in the case of demonstrated necesity because of a real and present danger to others.

    This necesity must be based on hard evidence of real harm and not the desire or preference of a majority, or a slippery slope argument or tradition or the will of the majority imposed just because.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    John @ 8

    “@SKPeterson -
    The point of public marriage is to protect the weak – mostly women and children – from being harmed. Where there is no community input, a man can leave his family at any time, leaving them destitute. ”

    I agree that these have always been the goods that govt regulation of marriage has sought to enforce. But there are lots of others… orderly transfer of property. hospital visitation rights. parental duties and rights. welfare of the children….

    then there are those other things that are about the pursuit of happiness that fatherly goodness and mercy seeks to provide us. those things that we call in strictly earthly (ie non christian terms) “spiritual” meaning intangibles…. things like a good reputation (bastards dont have that), and a sense of belonging, and a defined place as a part of society. there are also things like companionship, and having someone moraly and legally bound to care for you and you for them in old age and infirmity so the govt doesnt need to get involved so much.

    marriage can be defined as some or all of these things by society either informally or by force of law.

    These things are neither good nor bad in themselves, and we should be careful not to burden consciences with more than the responsibility of all to promote and provide for the highest wellbeing of everyone

    We also want to discourage the interference of others in the wellbeing or affairs of others except in the case of demonstrated necesity because of a real and present danger to others.

    This necesity must be based on hard evidence of real harm and not the desire or preference of a majority, or a slippery slope argument or tradition or the will of the majority imposed just because.

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

    Question about the glossary. Who would be reading that? Is it in the student handbook? Administrators handbook? Some corner of a website?

    Anyway, the glossary wording, if not technically the policy, still communicates the policy to those who need to exercise judgement based on university policy. So, the glossary wording is relevant to actual day to day practice, maybe even more so than the policy itself buried in an even less-read document.

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

    Question about the glossary. Who would be reading that? Is it in the student handbook? Administrators handbook? Some corner of a website?

    Anyway, the glossary wording, if not technically the policy, still communicates the policy to those who need to exercise judgement based on university policy. So, the glossary wording is relevant to actual day to day practice, maybe even more so than the policy itself buried in an even less-read document.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    sk peterson @ 5

    we need to be careful to not minglé political theory with what is or is not “rightly” the provence of govt.
    Marriage is a great case in point.

    AS the church, the church exists for only one thing, and that is to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. But that does not mean it was wrong for the apostles to “wait on tables”, that is , to care for the earthly creaturely necessities of others and do goodness and mercy that way. It also was true that the Apostles saw that it was good for the church, as church, to be freed from that to do their called work of preaching the holy gospel.

    so a church can become an organ of the the state, as happened in germany. they can become the administrators of marriage even though the early lutherans often had the marriage happen outside the doors of the church to make the point that marriage is not the proper job of the church. Now we have churches perform marriages. No necesity in that, and nothing wrong with having the pastors assume the temporary role of govt functionary when they do that.

    so there are no real hard and fast rules here. The visible church is a form of govt just as the civil govt is. the churches primary role, or god-designated role, is to do the goodness and mercy in the form of the good work of rightly administering word and sacrament. If there are other things the church gets tasked with, hey. this is not wrong . I would say it is unwise. it is waiting on tables. which is not useful since only the church will administer word and sacraments. there are lots of other orgs, including govt, that can do this social welfare work.

    I would rather have the govt do social welfare than the church! and for the reasons stated above. But this is not about being right our wrong. it is about the wisdom of keeping our eyes on things above.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    sk peterson @ 5

    we need to be careful to not minglé political theory with what is or is not “rightly” the provence of govt.
    Marriage is a great case in point.

    AS the church, the church exists for only one thing, and that is to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. But that does not mean it was wrong for the apostles to “wait on tables”, that is , to care for the earthly creaturely necessities of others and do goodness and mercy that way. It also was true that the Apostles saw that it was good for the church, as church, to be freed from that to do their called work of preaching the holy gospel.

    so a church can become an organ of the the state, as happened in germany. they can become the administrators of marriage even though the early lutherans often had the marriage happen outside the doors of the church to make the point that marriage is not the proper job of the church. Now we have churches perform marriages. No necesity in that, and nothing wrong with having the pastors assume the temporary role of govt functionary when they do that.

    so there are no real hard and fast rules here. The visible church is a form of govt just as the civil govt is. the churches primary role, or god-designated role, is to do the goodness and mercy in the form of the good work of rightly administering word and sacrament. If there are other things the church gets tasked with, hey. this is not wrong . I would say it is unwise. it is waiting on tables. which is not useful since only the church will administer word and sacraments. there are lots of other orgs, including govt, that can do this social welfare work.

    I would rather have the govt do social welfare than the church! and for the reasons stated above. But this is not about being right our wrong. it is about the wisdom of keeping our eyes on things above.

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

    “Maybe we are getting pushed to the margins for a very good reason after all.”

    Or maybe we are opposed by the evil one like the Bible says.

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

    “Maybe we are getting pushed to the margins for a very good reason after all.”

    Or maybe we are opposed by the evil one like the Bible says.

  • Jerry

    As a fellow UC Davis alum I am disappointed. However, I’m not surprised as this appears to be a working rule across most of the US. Someone at UC Davis is bold enough to place it in their set of definitions. Christians are still the salt of the earth no matter how you write the rules.

  • Jerry

    As a fellow UC Davis alum I am disappointed. However, I’m not surprised as this appears to be a working rule across most of the US. Someone at UC Davis is bold enough to place it in their set of definitions. Christians are still the salt of the earth no matter how you write the rules.

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  • DonS

    So are we a Christian nation, or aren’t we? It seems as if we are one when it comes to accusing us of “oppression” because of our dominant status in the culture (hmmm, these people need to spend some time in the Middle East to see what a “dominant” religion really looks like). However, if we want to put up a cross to memorialize our war dead, we can’t do that because we are not a Christian nation.

    Here’s a novel idea. How about treating everyone the same, without regard to race or creed? Maybe then we would actually be a union.

  • DonS

    So are we a Christian nation, or aren’t we? It seems as if we are one when it comes to accusing us of “oppression” because of our dominant status in the culture (hmmm, these people need to spend some time in the Middle East to see what a “dominant” religion really looks like). However, if we want to put up a cross to memorialize our war dead, we can’t do that because we are not a Christian nation.

    Here’s a novel idea. How about treating everyone the same, without regard to race or creed? Maybe then we would actually be a union.

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

    “Here’s a novel idea. How about treating everyone the same, without regard to race or creed? Maybe then we would actually be a union.”

    Here’s an ancient idea: plenty of folks don’t believe in that. They believe in promoting their own group. That is why folks with different identities lived in separate countries. I am not sure it is possible to unite when there is nothing that binds people, not ideology, not religion, not background, nothing that makes them look at their neighbor as one of “us” instead of one of “them”.

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

    “Here’s a novel idea. How about treating everyone the same, without regard to race or creed? Maybe then we would actually be a union.”

    Here’s an ancient idea: plenty of folks don’t believe in that. They believe in promoting their own group. That is why folks with different identities lived in separate countries. I am not sure it is possible to unite when there is nothing that binds people, not ideology, not religion, not background, nothing that makes them look at their neighbor as one of “us” instead of one of “them”.

  • Steve Billingsley

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/16/university-says-change-definition-christians-oppressors/

    One important piece of info…

    That sloppy letter worked…UC-Davis backed down.

  • Steve Billingsley

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/16/university-says-change-definition-christians-oppressors/

    One important piece of info…

    That sloppy letter worked…UC-Davis backed down.

  • Stephen

    sg @14

    All I meant to suggest was that in 1st c. Christians were not the dominant culture by any stretch and neither did they seek to be. I think they actually were content to “leave well enough alone.” I hope you understand what I mean by that phrase. It’s not to say that they did not act when there was a need to do so, or that we should not do the same. But I don’t think, as seems often to be the claim today, that Christians are more moral in any essential way than anyone else. Such an assertion denies the effect of original sin and our need for salvation. Perhaps if we were less obsessed with loosing cultural ground we might be more focused on what our faith is actually about – sin and salvation.

    I think DonS has it just about right, but I do not see both Christians of the conservative evangelical sort nor a lot of liberals willing to live this way – accepting each other as equals and agreeing we are equal before the law of the land. It is the same dilemma. Instead, in the eyes of conservatives there are two classes of people – us and the libertines who support things like homosexual marriage (a legal matter) and they need to be “moral” like us. Again, the assumption being that Christians are the moral ones. On the other end are secular liberals, also assuming they too are more moral and know what’s best for others, who cry for equality except for religious people who voice their objection to laws (like abortion) based on deeply held beliefs about what it means to be human.

    There’s plenty of inequality to go around, and far be it for me to claim to have some “solution” to it. My point was that I don’t see what the culture war has to do with faith in Christ? For my money, not much. I believe God is busy actually saving the world and getting good gifts to us without our asking while we are mired in our sin. That is good news, and the churhc is called to porclaim it. Instead, we spend our energy wagging our finger at others and telling them how to be moral. THAT is why no one wants to hear what we have to say and why things like this come up. I think it’s why we live in a post-Christian age, and why I think it may actually turn out to be for our benefit if we see it as an opportunity for repentance instead of becoming defensive. Maybe we will see thing sthe way the early church did and understand the stakes much better. Then we won’t be cranking out kids who are clueless about faith, thinking it is all about being better than other people (like having more stuff), and drifting in a sea of personal choice with no sense of identity anchored in their baptismal promise. That is the very definition of a merciless Pharisee.

    It isn’t about us, it’s about Jesus.

  • Stephen

    sg @14

    All I meant to suggest was that in 1st c. Christians were not the dominant culture by any stretch and neither did they seek to be. I think they actually were content to “leave well enough alone.” I hope you understand what I mean by that phrase. It’s not to say that they did not act when there was a need to do so, or that we should not do the same. But I don’t think, as seems often to be the claim today, that Christians are more moral in any essential way than anyone else. Such an assertion denies the effect of original sin and our need for salvation. Perhaps if we were less obsessed with loosing cultural ground we might be more focused on what our faith is actually about – sin and salvation.

    I think DonS has it just about right, but I do not see both Christians of the conservative evangelical sort nor a lot of liberals willing to live this way – accepting each other as equals and agreeing we are equal before the law of the land. It is the same dilemma. Instead, in the eyes of conservatives there are two classes of people – us and the libertines who support things like homosexual marriage (a legal matter) and they need to be “moral” like us. Again, the assumption being that Christians are the moral ones. On the other end are secular liberals, also assuming they too are more moral and know what’s best for others, who cry for equality except for religious people who voice their objection to laws (like abortion) based on deeply held beliefs about what it means to be human.

    There’s plenty of inequality to go around, and far be it for me to claim to have some “solution” to it. My point was that I don’t see what the culture war has to do with faith in Christ? For my money, not much. I believe God is busy actually saving the world and getting good gifts to us without our asking while we are mired in our sin. That is good news, and the churhc is called to porclaim it. Instead, we spend our energy wagging our finger at others and telling them how to be moral. THAT is why no one wants to hear what we have to say and why things like this come up. I think it’s why we live in a post-Christian age, and why I think it may actually turn out to be for our benefit if we see it as an opportunity for repentance instead of becoming defensive. Maybe we will see thing sthe way the early church did and understand the stakes much better. Then we won’t be cranking out kids who are clueless about faith, thinking it is all about being better than other people (like having more stuff), and drifting in a sea of personal choice with no sense of identity anchored in their baptismal promise. That is the very definition of a merciless Pharisee.

    It isn’t about us, it’s about Jesus.

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

    “But I don’t think, as seems often to be the claim today, that Christians are more moral in any essential way than anyone else.”

    As a squishy-headed public-schooled chick, I could probably be persuaded that this is the case. However, since my 7th grade son has daily complained in disgust at the immorality of the pagans as reported by the ancient historian, Herodotus, in his Histories, I am no longer so sure I can be persuaded to concur.
    :-)

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

    “But I don’t think, as seems often to be the claim today, that Christians are more moral in any essential way than anyone else.”

    As a squishy-headed public-schooled chick, I could probably be persuaded that this is the case. However, since my 7th grade son has daily complained in disgust at the immorality of the pagans as reported by the ancient historian, Herodotus, in his Histories, I am no longer so sure I can be persuaded to concur.
    :-)

  • Stephen

    sg

    As a fellow squishy head (I like that!), if we say Christians are more moral in some essential way (essential is the operative word), then we deny that sin is actually the problem and that we do in fact need a savior. That is not to say that there are not benefits to learning virtue, and that Christians do not spend a lot of energy on it. But so do a lot of “do good” liberals. In my opinion, that’s one of the reasons (one!) that public schools are such a mess. And you can bet my kids (did I say kids – oh yeah, my wife is pregnant!) are learning morality as best I know how to teach it. Eventually I’ll be using the 10 commandments and the Catechism. But that’s a different problem. They will still screw up and sin and need forgiveness. The law always accuses our old Adam.

    I guess the distinction is that saying “Christian morals” can mean a whole lot or a whole little. In other words, it means just about nothing. We all generally know what it means to be moral and when others are not being so. Even criminals know they are transgressing. We disagree on some issues that get fuzzy around the edges when we have a clash of competing values (like abortion), but like the example of kids in school, we know who the trouble makers are. We all have consciences. We just disagree on solutions.

    And my wife taught 7th grade for many years in the public school in the city. I could be persuaded that if kids had faithful parents things would go more smoothly, but the answer is not to be found in what we do “morally” insofar as we can control the outcomes. We teach our kids to be good kids, we expect others to do the same. But I don’t think that equates in every case to being “more like us” because my kids happen to be turning out well, even to the point of thinking that if they would just believe the way I believe they would be better behaving people. There is no Christ in that. That is all law. To me, it is works righteousness, putting the emphasis on what people do or do not do to make things well, instead of on what God has done and is doing and seeing our lives as blessing and promise.

  • Stephen

    sg

    As a fellow squishy head (I like that!), if we say Christians are more moral in some essential way (essential is the operative word), then we deny that sin is actually the problem and that we do in fact need a savior. That is not to say that there are not benefits to learning virtue, and that Christians do not spend a lot of energy on it. But so do a lot of “do good” liberals. In my opinion, that’s one of the reasons (one!) that public schools are such a mess. And you can bet my kids (did I say kids – oh yeah, my wife is pregnant!) are learning morality as best I know how to teach it. Eventually I’ll be using the 10 commandments and the Catechism. But that’s a different problem. They will still screw up and sin and need forgiveness. The law always accuses our old Adam.

    I guess the distinction is that saying “Christian morals” can mean a whole lot or a whole little. In other words, it means just about nothing. We all generally know what it means to be moral and when others are not being so. Even criminals know they are transgressing. We disagree on some issues that get fuzzy around the edges when we have a clash of competing values (like abortion), but like the example of kids in school, we know who the trouble makers are. We all have consciences. We just disagree on solutions.

    And my wife taught 7th grade for many years in the public school in the city. I could be persuaded that if kids had faithful parents things would go more smoothly, but the answer is not to be found in what we do “morally” insofar as we can control the outcomes. We teach our kids to be good kids, we expect others to do the same. But I don’t think that equates in every case to being “more like us” because my kids happen to be turning out well, even to the point of thinking that if they would just believe the way I believe they would be better behaving people. There is no Christ in that. That is all law. To me, it is works righteousness, putting the emphasis on what people do or do not do to make things well, instead of on what God has done and is doing and seeing our lives as blessing and promise.

  • G

    Lord have mercy, it’s annoying to see several screenfuls of bloviating retracted with except for where I was wrong, my point stands

  • G

    Lord have mercy, it’s annoying to see several screenfuls of bloviating retracted with except for where I was wrong, my point stands

  • Stephen

    @22

    Well, I was not trying to insult anyone, or win an argument. I was trying to generate a conversation about what is truly Christian and/or what it means to be moral. My “screenfuls of bloviating” that I do are a way of thinking things through. I guess it did not serve you well.

    Yet it seems, however, my point is made by your insult – that Christians are no more kind or merciful or moral than anyone else. They are soaked in sin and self-righteousness. They need to look to their savior and not to their own pretensions to being morally superior.

  • Stephen

    @22

    Well, I was not trying to insult anyone, or win an argument. I was trying to generate a conversation about what is truly Christian and/or what it means to be moral. My “screenfuls of bloviating” that I do are a way of thinking things through. I guess it did not serve you well.

    Yet it seems, however, my point is made by your insult – that Christians are no more kind or merciful or moral than anyone else. They are soaked in sin and self-righteousness. They need to look to their savior and not to their own pretensions to being morally superior.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@23), G wasn’t referring to your discussion here, but rather to my comment (@1).

    Except that the only thing I “retracted” was my statement “Do you notice how ‘Principles of Community’ doesn’t exactly sound like ‘official university policy’”, since Econ Jeff (@4) had said “let me assure you that the ‘Principles of Community’ are formal UC Davis policy”, and I believed him.

    Of course, if you read the article that Steve linked to (@18), you’ll find that the person involved in this fracas at UC Davis disagrees with Jeff:

    Reed said “The Principles of Community” is not a policy. “They are, in fact, aspirational principles we have – to try to make sure we are promoting diversity and trying to build a more inclusive campus community,” he said.

    So I don’t know whom to believe at this point. Not that I think it matters, as such. What has actually happened is that UC Davis had a stupid definition of religious discrimination in a glossary on a Web page, and that page has been removed. What some people want, however, is to be outraged over a supposed “policy” at a godless, secular university that has only been reversed due to the heroic actions of swashbuckling Culture Warriors.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@23), G wasn’t referring to your discussion here, but rather to my comment (@1).

    Except that the only thing I “retracted” was my statement “Do you notice how ‘Principles of Community’ doesn’t exactly sound like ‘official university policy’”, since Econ Jeff (@4) had said “let me assure you that the ‘Principles of Community’ are formal UC Davis policy”, and I believed him.

    Of course, if you read the article that Steve linked to (@18), you’ll find that the person involved in this fracas at UC Davis disagrees with Jeff:

    Reed said “The Principles of Community” is not a policy. “They are, in fact, aspirational principles we have – to try to make sure we are promoting diversity and trying to build a more inclusive campus community,” he said.

    So I don’t know whom to believe at this point. Not that I think it matters, as such. What has actually happened is that UC Davis had a stupid definition of religious discrimination in a glossary on a Web page, and that page has been removed. What some people want, however, is to be outraged over a supposed “policy” at a godless, secular university that has only been reversed due to the heroic actions of swashbuckling Culture Warriors.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Those who persist in believing that this definition was UC Davis policy (de facto — hello, SG @12 — or otherwise) have several hurdles to overcome:

    1) The words of UC Davis officials saying that the glossary did not define university policy.

    2) The statement in the glossary itself that it was not “definitive”.

    3) The fact that the Web page was so quickly taken down; are we to infer that the would-be policy was therefore equally overhauled in a matter of hours as well?

    4) The obvious factual errors contained in the glossary (was it also official UC Davis policy that “gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry legally”?).

    5) The fact that this glossary had been online at UC Davis’ Web site since 2004, but there are no reports of this “policy” being enforced in all that time against Christians; all there was is the Web page, and it’s now gone.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Those who persist in believing that this definition was UC Davis policy (de facto — hello, SG @12 — or otherwise) have several hurdles to overcome:

    1) The words of UC Davis officials saying that the glossary did not define university policy.

    2) The statement in the glossary itself that it was not “definitive”.

    3) The fact that the Web page was so quickly taken down; are we to infer that the would-be policy was therefore equally overhauled in a matter of hours as well?

    4) The obvious factual errors contained in the glossary (was it also official UC Davis policy that “gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry legally”?).

    5) The fact that this glossary had been online at UC Davis’ Web site since 2004, but there are no reports of this “policy” being enforced in all that time against Christians; all there was is the Web page, and it’s now gone.

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

    “Those who persist in believing that this definition was UC Davis policy (de facto — hello, SG @12 ”

    No persistence here. Mostly just wondering how such a glossary was used and noting that if it served as some sort of quick reference for folks in administration, that it could be perceived as an accurate reflection of policy by those who didn’t know (or care?) otherwise.

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

    “Those who persist in believing that this definition was UC Davis policy (de facto — hello, SG @12 ”

    No persistence here. Mostly just wondering how such a glossary was used and noting that if it served as some sort of quick reference for folks in administration, that it could be perceived as an accurate reflection of policy by those who didn’t know (or care?) otherwise.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@26), I refer you to this PDF of a response letter from Rahim Reed, Associate Executive Vice Chancellor at the Office of Campus Community Relations, UC-Davis, to the ADF, which says in part:

    This glossary term creates the potential for misinterpretation of the University’s view towards religious discrimination. For this reason it is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community. … If the glossary returns, this definition will be appropriately revised. To be clear, no University of California policy, or UC Davis policy or procedure, addressing religious discrimination contains or references this definition of religious discrimination. To my knowledge, the information you have cited has never been relied upon by the University in addressing any allegation of religious discrimination. The information you have cited appeared in a “Glossary” of 77 terms related to community, diversity and identity, intended to educate our campus community on these issues. The preface to the Glossary indicates that it does not represent University policy”. This glossary is not an exhaustive or definitive collection of definitions. Rather, it draws from academic sources used by other universities as a starting point to understand terms related to community, diversity and identity.” The Principles of Community are not University policy, but they are an aspiration to each member of our campus to strive to build a true community of spirit and purpose based upon mutual respect and caring.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@26), I refer you to this PDF of a response letter from Rahim Reed, Associate Executive Vice Chancellor at the Office of Campus Community Relations, UC-Davis, to the ADF, which says in part:

    This glossary term creates the potential for misinterpretation of the University’s view towards religious discrimination. For this reason it is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community. … If the glossary returns, this definition will be appropriately revised. To be clear, no University of California policy, or UC Davis policy or procedure, addressing religious discrimination contains or references this definition of religious discrimination. To my knowledge, the information you have cited has never been relied upon by the University in addressing any allegation of religious discrimination. The information you have cited appeared in a “Glossary” of 77 terms related to community, diversity and identity, intended to educate our campus community on these issues. The preface to the Glossary indicates that it does not represent University policy”. This glossary is not an exhaustive or definitive collection of definitions. Rather, it draws from academic sources used by other universities as a starting point to understand terms related to community, diversity and identity.” The Principles of Community are not University policy, but they are an aspiration to each member of our campus to strive to build a true community of spirit and purpose based upon mutual respect and caring.

  • Stephen

    What a mess. Well, apologies all around. It was kind of a weird sentence (?!). Positively loopy. Maybe another reason to withdraw from the culture wars altogether, if only for some kind of appearance of propriety.

    As for the university, looks like it turned out to be bad policy to have even the impression of having a bad policy, even if it wasn’t policy, officially.

    My turn for a smiley. :)

  • Stephen

    What a mess. Well, apologies all around. It was kind of a weird sentence (?!). Positively loopy. Maybe another reason to withdraw from the culture wars altogether, if only for some kind of appearance of propriety.

    As for the university, looks like it turned out to be bad policy to have even the impression of having a bad policy, even if it wasn’t policy, officially.

    My turn for a smiley. :)

  • steve

    Religious discrimination against Christians was likely never the official policy of the school. No matter. The school should have been called out for having this _anywhere_ on their website. It’s ridiculous. But it probably accurately describes the overwhelming attitude about religious discrimination, and discrimination in general. Just ask my school’s “Caucasian Student Movement Association”. Oh, wait…

  • steve

    Religious discrimination against Christians was likely never the official policy of the school. No matter. The school should have been called out for having this _anywhere_ on their website. It’s ridiculous. But it probably accurately describes the overwhelming attitude about religious discrimination, and discrimination in general. Just ask my school’s “Caucasian Student Movement Association”. Oh, wait…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@29), is someone at your school preventing you from forming a “Caucasian Student Movement Association”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@29), is someone at your school preventing you from forming a “Caucasian Student Movement Association”?

  • steve

    tODD, I’m not in school and haven’t been for some time. That was a somewhat snide attempt at humor. Perhaps not the best. However, I can tell you that attempts to open school clubs such as the White Student Union” or the “European American Club” have met with criticism and claims of racism–even though the latter claims to be open to all races.

    Are you aware of any school that has a club dedicated to promoting Caucasian unity and empowerment through political action?

  • steve

    tODD, I’m not in school and haven’t been for some time. That was a somewhat snide attempt at humor. Perhaps not the best. However, I can tell you that attempts to open school clubs such as the White Student Union” or the “European American Club” have met with criticism and claims of racism–even though the latter claims to be open to all races.

    Are you aware of any school that has a club dedicated to promoting Caucasian unity and empowerment through political action?

  • steve

    By the way, I guess I must offer the obligatory disclaimer. I have no interest in opening a club to promote “White” people or culture–whatever that is. Nor do I think schools should be in the business of promoting or hosting any race-based club.

  • steve

    By the way, I guess I must offer the obligatory disclaimer. I have no interest in opening a club to promote “White” people or culture–whatever that is. Nor do I think schools should be in the business of promoting or hosting any race-based club.

  • utahrainbow

    Off topic, but: Congratulations, Stephen @ 21, on your growing family!

  • utahrainbow

    Off topic, but: Congratulations, Stephen @ 21, on your growing family!

  • DonS

    sg @ 17: I understand that plenty of people believe in promoting their own group. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I promote Christianity all the time, for example. But, that doesn’t mean you have to discriminate against those not in your own group. Regardless of what the actual official policy of UC Davis was (or is), the fact that such bile as was presented on that glossary page existed proves that at least someone with keys to the UC Davis website, i.e. someone with some kind of authority, believed that discriminating against Christians was appropriate public policy.

    You are correct that the mere absence of official discrimination by our governmental entities will not necessarily lead to unity. But, on the other hand, we can be certain that an official policy of discrimination will detract from unity.

  • DonS

    sg @ 17: I understand that plenty of people believe in promoting their own group. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I promote Christianity all the time, for example. But, that doesn’t mean you have to discriminate against those not in your own group. Regardless of what the actual official policy of UC Davis was (or is), the fact that such bile as was presented on that glossary page existed proves that at least someone with keys to the UC Davis website, i.e. someone with some kind of authority, believed that discriminating against Christians was appropriate public policy.

    You are correct that the mere absence of official discrimination by our governmental entities will not necessarily lead to unity. But, on the other hand, we can be certain that an official policy of discrimination will detract from unity.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 19: You make a valid point. There ARE a lot of Christians, as well as a lot of non-Christians, on both sides of the political spectrum, who do not, in practice, believe all people to be created equal. And that’s too bad. However, that is not a dilemma, per se. It is just sin. We should still advocate for right, not seek to construct a substitute system (i.e. some kind of perverse reverse discrimination) in some insidious and wrongheaded effort to “level the playing field”.

    Scripture is morally clear on a great many issues of our day. There is nothing wrong for advocating for what is scripturally right, as long as we are not doing so by proclaiming our moral superiority or that we have a corner on truth. We must always humbly proclaim the Truth as being an unmerited gift from God.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 19: You make a valid point. There ARE a lot of Christians, as well as a lot of non-Christians, on both sides of the political spectrum, who do not, in practice, believe all people to be created equal. And that’s too bad. However, that is not a dilemma, per se. It is just sin. We should still advocate for right, not seek to construct a substitute system (i.e. some kind of perverse reverse discrimination) in some insidious and wrongheaded effort to “level the playing field”.

    Scripture is morally clear on a great many issues of our day. There is nothing wrong for advocating for what is scripturally right, as long as we are not doing so by proclaiming our moral superiority or that we have a corner on truth. We must always humbly proclaim the Truth as being an unmerited gift from God.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 21: Congratulations to you and your wife!!! What outstanding news. You are a blessed man! I will be praying that your wife has a healthy and uneventful pregnancy and for the new life that she is about to bring into the world! God bless you all.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 21: Congratulations to you and your wife!!! What outstanding news. You are a blessed man! I will be praying that your wife has a healthy and uneventful pregnancy and for the new life that she is about to bring into the world! God bless you all.

  • Stephen

    Don & Utah,

    Thanks! Yeah, I typed “kids” and then stopped myself. All is going very well. I appreciate very much your kind words and prayers. God is good, even to sinners like me. Go figure. Looks like I am going to have a son.

  • Stephen

    Don & Utah,

    Thanks! Yeah, I typed “kids” and then stopped myself. All is going very well. I appreciate very much your kind words and prayers. God is good, even to sinners like me. Go figure. Looks like I am going to have a son.

  • Stephen

    On the other topic, I guess it seems like what I was doing might have been hair-splitting, but I think it was law and gospel. As for the policy (or whatever it was) it was dumb. Seems they kind of realized that. Certainly it’s unjust to single out any group, and it is worth raising one’s hand and saying “Um, excuse me.” I do that, but that kind of argument has to be based upon what we all agree is just. Like you say Don, if someone is slipping in some kind of substitute, we do need to call BS on it. So do we do that in every case, or just when our own interests are at stake? Answer that and you have a real question about biblical acts of mercy for the neighbor.

    But it’s a fantasy to think that if everyone were more Christian they’d be more moral and, like you often hear, a lot of our problems would simply disappear. History simply does not bear that one out. How many Christians killed each other in WW I? Hmmm? All of them. Making such a silly claim (not saying you are making it Don) as some sort of premise for an argument is a further turnoff to getting anyone to take a Christian perspective on any one issue seriously. But it’s not about that anyway, it’s about getting them to take Christ seriously. All we can do in that case is offer who he is for them.

    We’ve been down this road of discrimination many times. Hey! we seem to still be going down it as a matter of fact. And Christians are seen, rightly or wrongly, as oppressors who want to limit the rights of certain others. Do I need to point out which ones those are? So is it any wonder there is some push back?

    Like I said, maybe instead of immediately fretting over losing ground in a culture war and getting all defensive, the first response ought to be to ask “what is my/our role in this?” (repent, that is) instead of immediately claiming one is a victim. That to me seems to be a truly Christian response to this particular sort of thing. It would be different if Christians in this country really had no rights and were having their homes burned by a truly dominant culture of another sort, but clearly we’re not that oppressed. I think the claim to cultural oppression is kind of trivializing of others who really do suffer for their convictions in other places.

    The problem is that the secularization of our public institutions is bothersome because there IS an underlying moral compass there, but Christianity is no longer a dominant voice of authority in it. That compass is often politically liberal in its embrace of a vast culture of diverse and competing individuality, just like our economy, generally excluding that which is more prudent, conservative and reverent because it must adapt to change with the populace it serves. It also often asserts that it is making no moral claims at all and is value neutral because it is so egalitarian in its diversity and because it has excluded the religious. This, however, is infuriating to the religious who are, in the 1st Amendment itself, by definition, the only ones whose values are being excluded.

    So maybe it is our inheritance for terrorizing people for so long in Europe, so much so that they escaped here primarily for what? Religious freedom. Maybe here we can actually be free of the need for cultural dominance and be like the church of the 1st c. with our priorities straight – ya know, word and sacrament, being people who live their live quietly and do acts of mercy for the neighbor without grandstanding and imposing ourselves – boring stuff. Oh yeah, that is why those Lutherans came here, to get away from becoming enmeshed in a state church in Germany. But it seems like the Calvinists are always trying to claw their way back to the top, and whining because they don’t get their way.

  • Stephen

    On the other topic, I guess it seems like what I was doing might have been hair-splitting, but I think it was law and gospel. As for the policy (or whatever it was) it was dumb. Seems they kind of realized that. Certainly it’s unjust to single out any group, and it is worth raising one’s hand and saying “Um, excuse me.” I do that, but that kind of argument has to be based upon what we all agree is just. Like you say Don, if someone is slipping in some kind of substitute, we do need to call BS on it. So do we do that in every case, or just when our own interests are at stake? Answer that and you have a real question about biblical acts of mercy for the neighbor.

    But it’s a fantasy to think that if everyone were more Christian they’d be more moral and, like you often hear, a lot of our problems would simply disappear. History simply does not bear that one out. How many Christians killed each other in WW I? Hmmm? All of them. Making such a silly claim (not saying you are making it Don) as some sort of premise for an argument is a further turnoff to getting anyone to take a Christian perspective on any one issue seriously. But it’s not about that anyway, it’s about getting them to take Christ seriously. All we can do in that case is offer who he is for them.

    We’ve been down this road of discrimination many times. Hey! we seem to still be going down it as a matter of fact. And Christians are seen, rightly or wrongly, as oppressors who want to limit the rights of certain others. Do I need to point out which ones those are? So is it any wonder there is some push back?

    Like I said, maybe instead of immediately fretting over losing ground in a culture war and getting all defensive, the first response ought to be to ask “what is my/our role in this?” (repent, that is) instead of immediately claiming one is a victim. That to me seems to be a truly Christian response to this particular sort of thing. It would be different if Christians in this country really had no rights and were having their homes burned by a truly dominant culture of another sort, but clearly we’re not that oppressed. I think the claim to cultural oppression is kind of trivializing of others who really do suffer for their convictions in other places.

    The problem is that the secularization of our public institutions is bothersome because there IS an underlying moral compass there, but Christianity is no longer a dominant voice of authority in it. That compass is often politically liberal in its embrace of a vast culture of diverse and competing individuality, just like our economy, generally excluding that which is more prudent, conservative and reverent because it must adapt to change with the populace it serves. It also often asserts that it is making no moral claims at all and is value neutral because it is so egalitarian in its diversity and because it has excluded the religious. This, however, is infuriating to the religious who are, in the 1st Amendment itself, by definition, the only ones whose values are being excluded.

    So maybe it is our inheritance for terrorizing people for so long in Europe, so much so that they escaped here primarily for what? Religious freedom. Maybe here we can actually be free of the need for cultural dominance and be like the church of the 1st c. with our priorities straight – ya know, word and sacrament, being people who live their live quietly and do acts of mercy for the neighbor without grandstanding and imposing ourselves – boring stuff. Oh yeah, that is why those Lutherans came here, to get away from becoming enmeshed in a state church in Germany. But it seems like the Calvinists are always trying to claw their way back to the top, and whining because they don’t get their way.

  • utahrainbow

    Now that deserves a smiley. :)

  • utahrainbow

    Now that deserves a smiley. :)

  • utahrainbow

    Oops, meant that for comment 37!

  • utahrainbow

    Oops, meant that for comment 37!

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

    if the students receive a ‘backlash’ via grades -et.al. they should sue-Thomas Moore Law would be a good place to look for help==

    I posted on this Wed. with this final take:
    turning the other cheek is OK-one cheek / than the other >then we start turning over the money changers tables…
    Christ was no wimp-and we should not be either–
    Carol-CS

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

    if the students receive a ‘backlash’ via grades -et.al. they should sue-Thomas Moore Law would be a good place to look for help==

    I posted on this Wed. with this final take:
    turning the other cheek is OK-one cheek / than the other >then we start turning over the money changers tables…
    Christ was no wimp-and we should not be either–
    Carol-CS

  • Porcell

    But it seems like the Calvinists are always trying to claw their way back to the top, and whining because they don’t get their way.

    Not really, leading Calvinist thinkers including Timothy Keller and Michael Horton are advocating for a return ad Fontes to Reformation thinkers, especially Calvin and Luther.

    Horton’s book, Beyond the Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or a Battlefield includes the following:

    We ought not to be surprised that everything is being questioned in the realm of morality, since there is no longer any theological infrastructure undergirding it. Liberals attacked orthodox theology, while conservatives largely ignored it, so what more could we expect? This generation is simply riding on fumes. We cannot expect people to accept Christian morality if they are not at least intellectually persuaded by Christian truth.

    –We are offensive for all the wrong reasons while we remove the offense of the cross. Those who are committed to immoral lifestyles will not give us a hearing for the Gospel-not because of the Gospel itself, but because we have made it clear that we do not stand in the tradition founded by our Lord, the “friend of sinners.”

    –The glory has left the church because the Gospel has left the church-or has been dismissed. It is not because God has been “ejected” from the public schools, but because His name, His kingdom, His power, and His glory have been replaced with our own agendas, priorities, goals, and self-glorifying interests in the church.

  • Porcell

    But it seems like the Calvinists are always trying to claw their way back to the top, and whining because they don’t get their way.

    Not really, leading Calvinist thinkers including Timothy Keller and Michael Horton are advocating for a return ad Fontes to Reformation thinkers, especially Calvin and Luther.

    Horton’s book, Beyond the Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or a Battlefield includes the following:

    We ought not to be surprised that everything is being questioned in the realm of morality, since there is no longer any theological infrastructure undergirding it. Liberals attacked orthodox theology, while conservatives largely ignored it, so what more could we expect? This generation is simply riding on fumes. We cannot expect people to accept Christian morality if they are not at least intellectually persuaded by Christian truth.

    –We are offensive for all the wrong reasons while we remove the offense of the cross. Those who are committed to immoral lifestyles will not give us a hearing for the Gospel-not because of the Gospel itself, but because we have made it clear that we do not stand in the tradition founded by our Lord, the “friend of sinners.”

    –The glory has left the church because the Gospel has left the church-or has been dismissed. It is not because God has been “ejected” from the public schools, but because His name, His kingdom, His power, and His glory have been replaced with our own agendas, priorities, goals, and self-glorifying interests in the church.

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    I haven’t read those books, and in general those are agreeable statements, but I still don’t know what a “Christian morality” is opposed to just morality as such.

    “We cannot expect people to accept Christian morality if they are not at least intellectually persuaded by Christian truth.”

    A statement like this leads me to think that the end of the Calvinist project is always the law, not the gospel. Being persuaded intellectually has nothing to do with actually being a Christian. It leaves room for the assent of reason to the “gospel as proposition” and hence, not the gospel at all. No Christ. It is is about a willing assent, and so “Christian truth” is simply to be measured against all other truth proposals out there. Nothing is revealed.

    Christian faith is not about being the “best” truth among a set of other possible options. The claim of the gospel is that it is THE truth and all other claims are false.

    In the realm of public discourse in our country, my argument would be that one ought to be able to say that they have religious convictions and that they inform their decisions. That’s basically it. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and likewise, the pretensions of others that they live in some kind of value-neutral world is a false assumption and needs to also be exposed.

    Otherwise, there are some statements here I agree with that you’ve quoted, but I do think Calvinism and its off-shoots tends to view the state/culture as something to be “captured” in one sense or another for the sake of Christian morality and that this is a false reading of what Christianity actually is.

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    I haven’t read those books, and in general those are agreeable statements, but I still don’t know what a “Christian morality” is opposed to just morality as such.

    “We cannot expect people to accept Christian morality if they are not at least intellectually persuaded by Christian truth.”

    A statement like this leads me to think that the end of the Calvinist project is always the law, not the gospel. Being persuaded intellectually has nothing to do with actually being a Christian. It leaves room for the assent of reason to the “gospel as proposition” and hence, not the gospel at all. No Christ. It is is about a willing assent, and so “Christian truth” is simply to be measured against all other truth proposals out there. Nothing is revealed.

    Christian faith is not about being the “best” truth among a set of other possible options. The claim of the gospel is that it is THE truth and all other claims are false.

    In the realm of public discourse in our country, my argument would be that one ought to be able to say that they have religious convictions and that they inform their decisions. That’s basically it. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and likewise, the pretensions of others that they live in some kind of value-neutral world is a false assumption and needs to also be exposed.

    Otherwise, there are some statements here I agree with that you’ve quoted, but I do think Calvinism and its off-shoots tends to view the state/culture as something to be “captured” in one sense or another for the sake of Christian morality and that this is a false reading of what Christianity actually is.

  • Stephen

    Not to belabor the point, but as an example, why is it the case that in Israel, where people are sending their children to blow themselves up to kill their neighbors has almost no rape statistics? It’s certainly not because they are Christian.

    In fact, what you fin din countries that become more westernized and consequently, more Christian, that certain kinds of immorality go up. I had a brief experience in the mission field in India about 20 years ago. Hindus know a great deal about morality and are very kind and moral people as a rule. They can be also very chaste. Certainly there are cultural things westerners look down on and say “that is immoral” but they also see things we do as being highly immoral, such as the way we choose our mates. “Love” does not even enter into it. It causes all kinds of immorality and trouble. Having arranged marriages early takes care of a lot of this, and even Christians in India still practice this because it works.

    Jesus did not come to instill more law. His Sermon on the Mount intensifies the law so that we may all se we are sinners in need of grace which ONLY he can give through his cross. We do not get it by being moral, doing moral things to please God, or even because we repent. He grants it willingly out of who he is – a God who is love. This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves sinners. And it does not save them so that they can do the law better. It is so that souls may find rest in him as it is available nowhere else but in Christ and Christ alone.

  • Stephen

    Not to belabor the point, but as an example, why is it the case that in Israel, where people are sending their children to blow themselves up to kill their neighbors has almost no rape statistics? It’s certainly not because they are Christian.

    In fact, what you fin din countries that become more westernized and consequently, more Christian, that certain kinds of immorality go up. I had a brief experience in the mission field in India about 20 years ago. Hindus know a great deal about morality and are very kind and moral people as a rule. They can be also very chaste. Certainly there are cultural things westerners look down on and say “that is immoral” but they also see things we do as being highly immoral, such as the way we choose our mates. “Love” does not even enter into it. It causes all kinds of immorality and trouble. Having arranged marriages early takes care of a lot of this, and even Christians in India still practice this because it works.

    Jesus did not come to instill more law. His Sermon on the Mount intensifies the law so that we may all se we are sinners in need of grace which ONLY he can give through his cross. We do not get it by being moral, doing moral things to please God, or even because we repent. He grants it willingly out of who he is – a God who is love. This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves sinners. And it does not save them so that they can do the law better. It is so that souls may find rest in him as it is available nowhere else but in Christ and Christ alone.

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

    “But, that doesn’t mean you have to discriminate against those not in your own group.”

    Sounds great.

    What do you do when you are the only group that actually believes that and all the others keep enacting things like hate speech laws and policies such that pro-life groups can’t even form or meet on college campuses?

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

    “But, that doesn’t mean you have to discriminate against those not in your own group.”

    Sounds great.

    What do you do when you are the only group that actually believes that and all the others keep enacting things like hate speech laws and policies such that pro-life groups can’t even form or meet on college campuses?

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    Here’s a true Lutheran understanding of any pretensions to a life lived by one’s morals, intellect, powers, or anything one can do of their volition or choice (that is, works):

    http://mercyjourney.blogspot.com/2011/02/luthers-legacy-to-christianity-by.html

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    Here’s a true Lutheran understanding of any pretensions to a life lived by one’s morals, intellect, powers, or anything one can do of their volition or choice (that is, works):

    http://mercyjourney.blogspot.com/2011/02/luthers-legacy-to-christianity-by.html

  • Porcell

    Stephen, thanks for that fine Sasse essay, which as a Calvinist I can appreciate. Calvin, with Luther was well aware of the depth of our sin and the wondrous gift of grace. The notion that Calvin put stock in the ultimate merit of works is fallacious, though with Luther and Melanchthon he understood that we must at least try to to adhere to God’s moral law and achieve some semblance of human virtue.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, thanks for that fine Sasse essay, which as a Calvinist I can appreciate. Calvin, with Luther was well aware of the depth of our sin and the wondrous gift of grace. The notion that Calvin put stock in the ultimate merit of works is fallacious, though with Luther and Melanchthon he understood that we must at least try to to adhere to God’s moral law and achieve some semblance of human virtue.

  • Stephen

    ” . . . we must at least try to to adhere to God’s moral law and achieve some semblance of human virtue.”

    How do I put it Porcell? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Are there no other civilizations that have “achieved a semblance of human virtue?” Isn’t that exactly why our nation is modeled in some fashion after Greco-Roman ideas? Muslims can be very moral with all their laws. So can tribal people all over the planet. What does that have to do with being Christian?

    Good works do not save. They do not justify. They can and do civilize. That’s different, and it is why they are to be encouraged on old Adam sinners (10 commandments) – for the sake of peace, our neighbor’s sake. It’s not about adhering to law, it’s about doing good for the neighbor. Sin is failing to love God and neighbor perfectly. Our own earthly peace will be taken care of in the same way, driven out of the consciences of other old Adams, believers and unbelievers alike. We believe and trust that this is so, that God is always at work in us and through us all to make goodness and mercy happen.

    In other words, goodness does not happen because people are Christian. If we agree that the things contained in the 2nd table of the law (commandments 4-7) are all things that anyone, believer or unbeliever, might agree are good things for the sake of good relations and community, etc., then basically there is no such thing as specifically a Christian morality. The first table of the law (1-3) has to do with being right with God, and those things are accomplished in Christ for us. We have his righteousness through faith in our baptisms. It is unmerited grace. That is what makes us Christian. “Trying to adhere to God’s moral law” sounds to me like attempting to earn favor with God or to appeal to God in some way so that he will approve of us, none of which is necessary because of Christ. Grace does not just take up the slack when we fail to “adhere” (something we “must” try to do in your words, words that sound like God-pleasing language). Grace make us new creations.

    Until Christians are disabused of the idea that faith is about being moral they will not cease to drive people away from the church. People do not need church to be moral in any essential way. They need it because it is the only place to get sins forgiven.

  • Stephen

    ” . . . we must at least try to to adhere to God’s moral law and achieve some semblance of human virtue.”

    How do I put it Porcell? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Are there no other civilizations that have “achieved a semblance of human virtue?” Isn’t that exactly why our nation is modeled in some fashion after Greco-Roman ideas? Muslims can be very moral with all their laws. So can tribal people all over the planet. What does that have to do with being Christian?

    Good works do not save. They do not justify. They can and do civilize. That’s different, and it is why they are to be encouraged on old Adam sinners (10 commandments) – for the sake of peace, our neighbor’s sake. It’s not about adhering to law, it’s about doing good for the neighbor. Sin is failing to love God and neighbor perfectly. Our own earthly peace will be taken care of in the same way, driven out of the consciences of other old Adams, believers and unbelievers alike. We believe and trust that this is so, that God is always at work in us and through us all to make goodness and mercy happen.

    In other words, goodness does not happen because people are Christian. If we agree that the things contained in the 2nd table of the law (commandments 4-7) are all things that anyone, believer or unbeliever, might agree are good things for the sake of good relations and community, etc., then basically there is no such thing as specifically a Christian morality. The first table of the law (1-3) has to do with being right with God, and those things are accomplished in Christ for us. We have his righteousness through faith in our baptisms. It is unmerited grace. That is what makes us Christian. “Trying to adhere to God’s moral law” sounds to me like attempting to earn favor with God or to appeal to God in some way so that he will approve of us, none of which is necessary because of Christ. Grace does not just take up the slack when we fail to “adhere” (something we “must” try to do in your words, words that sound like God-pleasing language). Grace make us new creations.

    Until Christians are disabused of the idea that faith is about being moral they will not cease to drive people away from the church. People do not need church to be moral in any essential way. They need it because it is the only place to get sins forgiven.

  • Porcell

    Well, Stephen, what is the purpose of the Small and Large Lutheran Catechisms? Glbert Meilaender, a Lutheran theologian, in a February 201 First Things1 article wrote as follows:

    … a theology that has learned to speak in such a monotone about grace-always as pardon but not also as power-gives no guidance or direction to the serious Christian. The Christian life engaged only in constant return to the pardoning word, goes nowhere.

  • Porcell

    Well, Stephen, what is the purpose of the Small and Large Lutheran Catechisms? Glbert Meilaender, a Lutheran theologian, in a February 201 First Things1 article wrote as follows:

    … a theology that has learned to speak in such a monotone about grace-always as pardon but not also as power-gives no guidance or direction to the serious Christian. The Christian life engaged only in constant return to the pardoning word, goes nowhere.

  • Stephen

    The reason the 10 commandments are the first thing in the
    Catechism is to show us our sin. Same thing with the Sermon on the Mount. I think I already explained that. That law is good. It shows us our need for redemption. This is why missionaries can convert people. They know they are sinners. They already have a conscience.

    You will have to pardon me though. I’m off to return once again to that word of unmerited and get my sins pardoned.

  • Stephen

    The reason the 10 commandments are the first thing in the
    Catechism is to show us our sin. Same thing with the Sermon on the Mount. I think I already explained that. That law is good. It shows us our need for redemption. This is why missionaries can convert people. They know they are sinners. They already have a conscience.

    You will have to pardon me though. I’m off to return once again to that word of unmerited and get my sins pardoned.

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

    “In other words, goodness does not happen because people are Christian.”

    Really? I thought baptism was regenerative and faith without works is dead. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean.

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

    “In other words, goodness does not happen because people are Christian.”

    Really? I thought baptism was regenerative and faith without works is dead. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean.

  • Stephen

    sg -

    Who is at work in baptism? A Baptist will tell you it is the believer. It is nothing more than something a believer does as a witness. It is a work not a sacrament. A Lutheran will tell you it is the Holy Spirit saving. It is the name of God present saving someone – truly, actually, by water and word of promise (1 Peter 3, et. al.). If we make the distinction that it is God who ultimately makes goodness and mercy happen in the world (that is, I believe, a faithful premise to every good thing in life), then what I said in light of everything else I wrote makes sense.

    Again, is everything good in the world good because it is Christian? Clearly not. But, like I said, we can still say that what is good comes from God because he makes goodness happen. God is love. And he is not passive. He makes his goodness happen through the law, driving that goodness out of old Adam sinners, believers and unbelievers alike. But good works are always for the neighbor, right? And yes, that goodness is available through the Gospel too, that which makes us Christian. But what then is that goodness? Forgiveness eternally in Christ alone – Justification, sanctification, righteousness, holiness, eternal life, salvation – all of which we have through faith.

    So whether a good work is the fruit of the faith in a new creation, or driven out of the old Adam sinners conscience (one which we are by baptism, the other which we were through original sin and still struggle with until our earthly lives are done), these works perform the same function in the world – providing good gifts for others. In either case, do we need them to justify faith? No. We are justified by grace through faith apart from works lest anyone should boast.

    Perhaps I should rephrase that sentence to say something in a positive sense like “goodness happens because of who God is (love), not because of how (outwardly) moral we are.” The Heidelberg Disputations in the Book of Concord are very helpful in understanding how we get our own morality/good works confused with the redemptive work of Christ and how it leads to false religion. Romans 5 is also about this. Outward “adherence” to moral codes (Pharisee-ism) actually leads to an inward (heart) aversion to the law. We put what we do in place of faith and trust in God. Many hold up personal morality as the end result and goal of Christian faith rather than faith and trust in Christ. And this, I think, drives people away and leads them to want to ostracize moralizing Christians who want to impose their self-rightoeusness on others. People naturally resist this kind of Pharisee religion and long to be freed from it. Ironically, this is exactly what Jesu offers.

  • Stephen

    sg -

    Who is at work in baptism? A Baptist will tell you it is the believer. It is nothing more than something a believer does as a witness. It is a work not a sacrament. A Lutheran will tell you it is the Holy Spirit saving. It is the name of God present saving someone – truly, actually, by water and word of promise (1 Peter 3, et. al.). If we make the distinction that it is God who ultimately makes goodness and mercy happen in the world (that is, I believe, a faithful premise to every good thing in life), then what I said in light of everything else I wrote makes sense.

    Again, is everything good in the world good because it is Christian? Clearly not. But, like I said, we can still say that what is good comes from God because he makes goodness happen. God is love. And he is not passive. He makes his goodness happen through the law, driving that goodness out of old Adam sinners, believers and unbelievers alike. But good works are always for the neighbor, right? And yes, that goodness is available through the Gospel too, that which makes us Christian. But what then is that goodness? Forgiveness eternally in Christ alone – Justification, sanctification, righteousness, holiness, eternal life, salvation – all of which we have through faith.

    So whether a good work is the fruit of the faith in a new creation, or driven out of the old Adam sinners conscience (one which we are by baptism, the other which we were through original sin and still struggle with until our earthly lives are done), these works perform the same function in the world – providing good gifts for others. In either case, do we need them to justify faith? No. We are justified by grace through faith apart from works lest anyone should boast.

    Perhaps I should rephrase that sentence to say something in a positive sense like “goodness happens because of who God is (love), not because of how (outwardly) moral we are.” The Heidelberg Disputations in the Book of Concord are very helpful in understanding how we get our own morality/good works confused with the redemptive work of Christ and how it leads to false religion. Romans 5 is also about this. Outward “adherence” to moral codes (Pharisee-ism) actually leads to an inward (heart) aversion to the law. We put what we do in place of faith and trust in God. Many hold up personal morality as the end result and goal of Christian faith rather than faith and trust in Christ. And this, I think, drives people away and leads them to want to ostracize moralizing Christians who want to impose their self-rightoeusness on others. People naturally resist this kind of Pharisee religion and long to be freed from it. Ironically, this is exactly what Jesu offers.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, first, Calvinists, as well as Lutherans, know that grace comes strictly from God through the Cross. Nevertheless, the Ten Commandments and other forms of revealed Law not only condemn us for our manifold transgressions, they command us to obey them, though not necessarily in a righteous Pharisaical way.

    The Lutheran and Westminster Catechisms, also, command us to follow their rules, though they make clear that ultimately we do so through a state of Grace and are forgiven when properly repentant.

    Your essentially antinomian view runs the risk of some sort of pagan fateful determinism. Human beings, according to the Bible, incur the wrath of God when they sin, though when properly repentant they through the mercy of the Cross may be forgiven.

    You’re idea that the Commandments merely show us our sin is actually an antinomian heresy. While, when broken, they show our sin, they are are, also, most definitely commandments not to sin. A commandment in simple English is a commandment. Just as our fathers on earth command us to good behavior, so does our father in heaven.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, first, Calvinists, as well as Lutherans, know that grace comes strictly from God through the Cross. Nevertheless, the Ten Commandments and other forms of revealed Law not only condemn us for our manifold transgressions, they command us to obey them, though not necessarily in a righteous Pharisaical way.

    The Lutheran and Westminster Catechisms, also, command us to follow their rules, though they make clear that ultimately we do so through a state of Grace and are forgiven when properly repentant.

    Your essentially antinomian view runs the risk of some sort of pagan fateful determinism. Human beings, according to the Bible, incur the wrath of God when they sin, though when properly repentant they through the mercy of the Cross may be forgiven.

    You’re idea that the Commandments merely show us our sin is actually an antinomian heresy. While, when broken, they show our sin, they are are, also, most definitely commandments not to sin. A commandment in simple English is a commandment. Just as our fathers on earth command us to good behavior, so does our father in heaven.

  • helen

    Some years ago, when the idea of organizational web pages was new, our group in Intro to Internet decided to make a web page for two organizations: the Catholic Students’ Association and the Lutheran Students’ Center, both recognized student organizations on campus.
    The first words from our teacher: “What about separation of church and state?”

    Do you think anybody asked that about the Muslim Students page, which was already up?

    The only difference between UC Davis and the rest of the public universities is that they had something in print.
    [And now they don't, but do you suppose anything has changed?]

    The truth is Christianity is not in the majority on the public university faculties.
    Those who are Christian are quiet about it or they are marginalized.

  • helen

    Some years ago, when the idea of organizational web pages was new, our group in Intro to Internet decided to make a web page for two organizations: the Catholic Students’ Association and the Lutheran Students’ Center, both recognized student organizations on campus.
    The first words from our teacher: “What about separation of church and state?”

    Do you think anybody asked that about the Muslim Students page, which was already up?

    The only difference between UC Davis and the rest of the public universities is that they had something in print.
    [And now they don't, but do you suppose anything has changed?]

    The truth is Christianity is not in the majority on the public university faculties.
    Those who are Christian are quiet about it or they are marginalized.

  • Porcell

    Another point, Stephen, is that the classical virtues that came down to Western Civilization from the ancient Greeks were not annulled by Christianity. Western Christianity was strengthened by these virtues, as the devout ChristianJohn Locke made clear in his treatise on education.

    One of the problems of moralistic Christian fundamentalists is a lack of appreciation of the classic virtues.

  • Porcell

    Another point, Stephen, is that the classical virtues that came down to Western Civilization from the ancient Greeks were not annulled by Christianity. Western Christianity was strengthened by these virtues, as the devout ChristianJohn Locke made clear in his treatise on education.

    One of the problems of moralistic Christian fundamentalists is a lack of appreciation of the classic virtues.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@53), “the Ten Commandments and other forms of revealed Law not only condemn us for our manifold transgressions, they command us to obey them”.

    Well, of course they command us — that is how they condemn us! They say “be perfect”, and we are not! We are condemned because we fail to follow the command!

    Believing such cannot logically be labeled “antinomian”, since it necessarily believes that the Law not only exists, but still applies. You are applying a pejorative meaninglessly.

    Your statement that “human beings, according to the Bible, incur the wrath of God when they sin, though when properly repentant they through the mercy of the Cross may be forgiven” is potentially weak on both Law and Gospel, as it appears to turn sin and forgiveness both into a tit-for-tat matter of accounting — in keeping with your Catholic tendencies, but not terribly Lutheran (or Calvinist, inasmuch as I understand it).

    We do not merely incur the wrath of God “when we sin”. Paul says that humans are “by nature objects of wrath”. Sin is something that humans do. Repeatedly. By their nature.

    But then, nor does our forgiveness come when we are only “properly repentant” — for what else could it mean to slap on that qualifyingn “properly” but that we earn forgiveness only if we satisfy some condition? But what does Paul say, again?

    But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    You claim that your wording is “according to the Bible”, Peter, but being “properly repentant” certainly isn’t in that passage I just quoted. There is no “may be forgiven” in there. What passage did you have in mind? Meanwhile, I will note that that passage not only says that our forgiveness comes from God’s grace — not our sufficient repentance — but that it has already been given to the believer, not something that we hope “may” happpen.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@53), “the Ten Commandments and other forms of revealed Law not only condemn us for our manifold transgressions, they command us to obey them”.

    Well, of course they command us — that is how they condemn us! They say “be perfect”, and we are not! We are condemned because we fail to follow the command!

    Believing such cannot logically be labeled “antinomian”, since it necessarily believes that the Law not only exists, but still applies. You are applying a pejorative meaninglessly.

    Your statement that “human beings, according to the Bible, incur the wrath of God when they sin, though when properly repentant they through the mercy of the Cross may be forgiven” is potentially weak on both Law and Gospel, as it appears to turn sin and forgiveness both into a tit-for-tat matter of accounting — in keeping with your Catholic tendencies, but not terribly Lutheran (or Calvinist, inasmuch as I understand it).

    We do not merely incur the wrath of God “when we sin”. Paul says that humans are “by nature objects of wrath”. Sin is something that humans do. Repeatedly. By their nature.

    But then, nor does our forgiveness come when we are only “properly repentant” — for what else could it mean to slap on that qualifyingn “properly” but that we earn forgiveness only if we satisfy some condition? But what does Paul say, again?

    But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    You claim that your wording is “according to the Bible”, Peter, but being “properly repentant” certainly isn’t in that passage I just quoted. There is no “may be forgiven” in there. What passage did you have in mind? Meanwhile, I will note that that passage not only says that our forgiveness comes from God’s grace — not our sufficient repentance — but that it has already been given to the believer, not something that we hope “may” happpen.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell also said (@55), “One of the problems of moralistic Christian fundamentalists is a lack of appreciation of the classic virtues.”

    It is difficult to believe you could say this, given the number of times that FWS has quoted on this blog this passage from the Apology to (or Defense of) the Augsburg Confession, which is part of the Lutheran Confessions: “Aristotle wrote concerning civil morals so learnedly that nothing further concerning this need be demanded.”

    But please note the qualifier there: “concerning civil morals”. That is the extent to which Aristotle is useful and to be heeded. As to theology, Aristotle is worthless.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell also said (@55), “One of the problems of moralistic Christian fundamentalists is a lack of appreciation of the classic virtues.”

    It is difficult to believe you could say this, given the number of times that FWS has quoted on this blog this passage from the Apology to (or Defense of) the Augsburg Confession, which is part of the Lutheran Confessions: “Aristotle wrote concerning civil morals so learnedly that nothing further concerning this need be demanded.”

    But please note the qualifier there: “concerning civil morals”. That is the extent to which Aristotle is useful and to be heeded. As to theology, Aristotle is worthless.

  • Grace

    Porcell – 53

    “Your essentially antinomian view runs the risk of some sort of pagan fateful determinism. Human beings, according to the Bible, incur the wrath of God when they sin, though when properly repentant they through the mercy of the Cross may be forgiven. “

    You are right Porcell – it is when individuals are really sorry for their sins.

    The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
    Psalms 34:18

    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalms 51:17

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

  • Grace

    Porcell – 53

    “Your essentially antinomian view runs the risk of some sort of pagan fateful determinism. Human beings, according to the Bible, incur the wrath of God when they sin, though when properly repentant they through the mercy of the Cross may be forgiven. “

    You are right Porcell – it is when individuals are really sorry for their sins.

    The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
    Psalms 34:18

    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalms 51:17

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    Show me your rule-following moralist, and I will show you a sinner worse off than when he started his project because he thinks he’s actually made progress.

    Heidelberg Disputation #1

    The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.

    Read the rest if you like:

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    Show me your rule-following moralist, and I will show you a sinner worse off than when he started his project because he thinks he’s actually made progress.

    Heidelberg Disputation #1

    The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.

    Read the rest if you like:

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php

  • Pingback: “Se pare că numai creştinii pot fi învinovăţiţi de dicscriminare religioasă” | Marius Cruceru

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

    “I will show you a sinner worse off than when he started his project because he thinks he’s actually made progress.”

    That’s what I tell my son. As soon as you think you have got it made, you know you are lost. You have to see yourself as sinful and repent.

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

    “I will show you a sinner worse off than when he started his project because he thinks he’s actually made progress.”

    That’s what I tell my son. As soon as you think you have got it made, you know you are lost. You have to see yourself as sinful and repent.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, at 59, One can follow rules that improve the human virtues of character and mind without necessarily being Pharisaical about it.

    I’ll grant that the salvation of our souls through Gospel is primary, though Christ made clear, also, that He came to fulfill the Law, not to annul any jot or tittle of it. As the Missouri Synod Lutheran theologian, Meilaender, remarked above: The Christian life engaged only in constant return to the pardoning word, goes nowhere.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, at 59, One can follow rules that improve the human virtues of character and mind without necessarily being Pharisaical about it.

    I’ll grant that the salvation of our souls through Gospel is primary, though Christ made clear, also, that He came to fulfill the Law, not to annul any jot or tittle of it. As the Missouri Synod Lutheran theologian, Meilaender, remarked above: The Christian life engaged only in constant return to the pardoning word, goes nowhere.

  • Grace

    Yes we are all sinners, and need to repent – but don’t overlook enduring temptation and overcoming.

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 11:12

    He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelation 3:5

    overcometh Strong’s Greek – nikao – - nik-ah’-o

    to subdue (literally or figuratively):-conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 11:12

    endureth Strong’s Greek – hupomeno – hoop-om-en’-o

    figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:-abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

    crown Strong’s Greek – stephanos – stef’-an-os

    primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, 1238), literally or figuratively:-crown.

  • Grace

    Yes we are all sinners, and need to repent – but don’t overlook enduring temptation and overcoming.

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 11:12

    He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelation 3:5

    overcometh Strong’s Greek – nikao – - nik-ah’-o

    to subdue (literally or figuratively):-conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 11:12

    endureth Strong’s Greek – hupomeno – hoop-om-en’-o

    figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:-abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

    crown Strong’s Greek – stephanos – stef’-an-os

    primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, 1238), literally or figuratively:-crown.

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    I’m not sure where Meilaender pretends that the Christian life is meant to go other than to Christ and Christ alone. I’m not sure what he means actually. Do you?

    Joel 2:13

    “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

    I think there are plenty of reasons to return to the Lord over and over and over and over and over. Well, just one really – sin, sin that is with me until I die. Everyone is working on the morality thing one way or the other and it is boring. It makes tyrants and pharisees and false gods, and drives people to drink and commit crime. It creates aversion to love and mercy and service. Why do you think all those hard ass military men act out when they aren’t on the base and often get in all kinds of weird trouble, wrecking motorcycles, having all kinds of sex, and needing MPs to come and crack heads? YES, they NEED chaplains! Not to make them moral, but to ease their consciences – so they can confess their sin.

    Nothing I have said denies that one cannot grow in character and virtue, mature and all that. But none of it is exclusive to being Christian. The Marines can do that for you, right? Aristotle knew a lot of about virtue. Christians want to somehow baptize their take on virtue as some how better than others, but it simply is not. It is law and nothing else. We cannot keep it perfectly and that is why our conscience is troubled. We even come up with false or heterodox religion to appease God (or gods) with our righteousness to ease our worried souls and think that somehow does the trick. But it is all filthy rags as the Isaiah says. Our hearts are impure. We need new ones. God in his mercy gives us new ones by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the promise baptism apart from morality (works).

    Our doing of the commandments is so that our neighbor gets what he needs, not for any other purpose but that. It is not so that we build ourselves into moral people that God will a somehow approve of. He already approves of us because of Jesus. We can relax about that. We are free stop fussing over ourselves and truly serve. We can repent when we that law accuses our old Adam sinner and hear that word freeing us again to love our neighbor as ourselves, not so that we get loved, but because he first loved us.

    I never said the 10 commandments were completely useless. They are of great use in getting our neighbor loved AND showing us how we fail to do that. In the first table (1-3) they also show us what true holiness is, something we cannot do but which is instead given to us as a gift.

    Here’s some examples off the top of my head:

    # 1 – Have faith in the one, true God only, exclusively, not another thing at all (can’t do it, help my unbelief)
    #2 – Call on God purely (God is not usually my first thought when I need help, and sometimes I actually curse God sort of in my mind because I wonder why bad stuff is happening. It’s really all about me. Forgive me Lord through Jesus Christ as you have promised)
    #3 – Keep the Sabbath (I don’t really want to hear another lesson that conflicts with what I’ve got figured out. I don’t want to confess my sins or confront the fact that I really am riven with sinfulness. I really can’t stand that choir, that band, that lady who sings off key, those annoying children who are unruly, I don’t want to take responsibility for things or other people’s needs in my church so that the gospel can be preached, etc.)

    So I’m not saying the law is useless. It is useful for the neighbor and to show us our sin. I have been saying this all along.

  • Stephen

    Porcell -

    I’m not sure where Meilaender pretends that the Christian life is meant to go other than to Christ and Christ alone. I’m not sure what he means actually. Do you?

    Joel 2:13

    “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

    I think there are plenty of reasons to return to the Lord over and over and over and over and over. Well, just one really – sin, sin that is with me until I die. Everyone is working on the morality thing one way or the other and it is boring. It makes tyrants and pharisees and false gods, and drives people to drink and commit crime. It creates aversion to love and mercy and service. Why do you think all those hard ass military men act out when they aren’t on the base and often get in all kinds of weird trouble, wrecking motorcycles, having all kinds of sex, and needing MPs to come and crack heads? YES, they NEED chaplains! Not to make them moral, but to ease their consciences – so they can confess their sin.

    Nothing I have said denies that one cannot grow in character and virtue, mature and all that. But none of it is exclusive to being Christian. The Marines can do that for you, right? Aristotle knew a lot of about virtue. Christians want to somehow baptize their take on virtue as some how better than others, but it simply is not. It is law and nothing else. We cannot keep it perfectly and that is why our conscience is troubled. We even come up with false or heterodox religion to appease God (or gods) with our righteousness to ease our worried souls and think that somehow does the trick. But it is all filthy rags as the Isaiah says. Our hearts are impure. We need new ones. God in his mercy gives us new ones by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the promise baptism apart from morality (works).

    Our doing of the commandments is so that our neighbor gets what he needs, not for any other purpose but that. It is not so that we build ourselves into moral people that God will a somehow approve of. He already approves of us because of Jesus. We can relax about that. We are free stop fussing over ourselves and truly serve. We can repent when we that law accuses our old Adam sinner and hear that word freeing us again to love our neighbor as ourselves, not so that we get loved, but because he first loved us.

    I never said the 10 commandments were completely useless. They are of great use in getting our neighbor loved AND showing us how we fail to do that. In the first table (1-3) they also show us what true holiness is, something we cannot do but which is instead given to us as a gift.

    Here’s some examples off the top of my head:

    # 1 – Have faith in the one, true God only, exclusively, not another thing at all (can’t do it, help my unbelief)
    #2 – Call on God purely (God is not usually my first thought when I need help, and sometimes I actually curse God sort of in my mind because I wonder why bad stuff is happening. It’s really all about me. Forgive me Lord through Jesus Christ as you have promised)
    #3 – Keep the Sabbath (I don’t really want to hear another lesson that conflicts with what I’ve got figured out. I don’t want to confess my sins or confront the fact that I really am riven with sinfulness. I really can’t stand that choir, that band, that lady who sings off key, those annoying children who are unruly, I don’t want to take responsibility for things or other people’s needs in my church so that the gospel can be preached, etc.)

    So I’m not saying the law is useless. It is useful for the neighbor and to show us our sin. I have been saying this all along.

  • Tom Hering

    “The Christian life engaged only in constant return to the pardoning word, goes nowhere.” – Meilaender.

    That’s the same as saying constant return to Jesus Christ goes nowhere. And it denies the supernatural power of the Gospel.

  • Tom Hering

    “The Christian life engaged only in constant return to the pardoning word, goes nowhere.” – Meilaender.

    That’s the same as saying constant return to Jesus Christ goes nowhere. And it denies the supernatural power of the Gospel.

  • Stephen

    Tom –

    That’s what I was thinking, but I have read other things by him, so I am disinclined to critique this out of context too heavily because he usually has some good stuff. But he could be truly all wet here and making some dumb moralistic point. Sure as heck sounds like it.

    Seems like it’s not uncommon these days to hear a lot of hand-wringing over the state of morals. Has it ever not been so? I really do not think so. If we could just fix that, then we’d erase all our problems goes the old saw. Isn’t that exactly what the Pharisees came after Jesus with – you don’t wash your hands, you are working on the sabbath, you eat with sinners, you let sinners touch you, you, you, you – same old story. Is that what’s really at stake? And they got him executed why? Not for religious concerns. Because they were afraid it would disturb the Roman peace. Same reason religious people get bent out of shape about morals and make that what religion is about – not because of Christ, but because they want a nice, less scary life.

  • Stephen

    Tom –

    That’s what I was thinking, but I have read other things by him, so I am disinclined to critique this out of context too heavily because he usually has some good stuff. But he could be truly all wet here and making some dumb moralistic point. Sure as heck sounds like it.

    Seems like it’s not uncommon these days to hear a lot of hand-wringing over the state of morals. Has it ever not been so? I really do not think so. If we could just fix that, then we’d erase all our problems goes the old saw. Isn’t that exactly what the Pharisees came after Jesus with – you don’t wash your hands, you are working on the sabbath, you eat with sinners, you let sinners touch you, you, you, you – same old story. Is that what’s really at stake? And they got him executed why? Not for religious concerns. Because they were afraid it would disturb the Roman peace. Same reason religious people get bent out of shape about morals and make that what religion is about – not because of Christ, but because they want a nice, less scary life.

  • Stephen

    sg –

    What do they say? “Pride goeth before a fall”

    It got me thinking. After my many rants here I have had to reflect on my own parenting. Why do I want my children to know right from wrong? (Maybe this will help it make sense Porcell).

    The short answer is: because I love them and want them to have a good life. They will have to get along in the world and make friends, work beside others, someday marry, and basically have successful relationships in many and various ways to have the kind of life that is worth hanging around for and thanking God for. It’s my vocation to teach them these things. In the process, they owe me respect and obedience and they will probably give those back to me largely because they love me too. Why? Because I give them good gifts of warmth and security and help and encouragement, as well as correction and discipline. The last two they resent sometimes, but also inwardly need even though they cannot consciously express it. I realize that sounds ideal, and it isn’t always at work in just this way, but so far, it has worked like this for me. Sin is always marring things. They get some of my junk too. But otherwise, what I described is the dynamic at work.

    Now you could say that my love is fairly unconditional whereas theirs is likely not. They may or may not be bound to me in the way I would like, yet I still love them no matter what and do not fail them for the most part (unless I’m a really shabby parent. Who knows? I may turn out to be!). Since their love is not unconditional, it will falter, and fail, and maybe even rebel outright. I will still love, maybe even to the point of sacrificing everything to regain them. And none of what I do depends on what they do, it all depends on who I am. I am their parent. I love them. I always will. I can’t do anything else but that.

    Would it stroke my parental ego every time another adult tells me how well-behaved my child is? Sure. Does it change the level of my love for my child? No. That is about my ego getting stroked and not my love for my child.

    So shifting that image over, God does not need his ego stroked with our good behavior. He loves us because that is who he is. He comes to find us because he wants us as his own children. He pretty much expects to find a sinner in need of salvation, a snotty-nosed kid in trouble, not some nearly-cleansed specimen of morality just waiting for daddy’s approval. He’s okay with us being damaged. He has said so in his Son Jesus. When he does find us we will not receive wrath, we are given mercy.

    So that is the model for me, the one I think God gives to us. The earthly way I teach my child (children!) is all law. Even my willingness to go after her, find her, show mercy and forgive her when she strays that may one day reflect what I have taught her about what Jesus does for us eternally is still the law of love, still my doing of my vocation as parent. But in, with and under all of it is the goodness and mercy of Almighty God who will bring her to everlasting life in the promise of her baptism. God is faithful even when I fail, she fails, etc.

    I love being a parent. Hey, did I tell you I’m having a son! :)

  • Stephen

    sg –

    What do they say? “Pride goeth before a fall”

    It got me thinking. After my many rants here I have had to reflect on my own parenting. Why do I want my children to know right from wrong? (Maybe this will help it make sense Porcell).

    The short answer is: because I love them and want them to have a good life. They will have to get along in the world and make friends, work beside others, someday marry, and basically have successful relationships in many and various ways to have the kind of life that is worth hanging around for and thanking God for. It’s my vocation to teach them these things. In the process, they owe me respect and obedience and they will probably give those back to me largely because they love me too. Why? Because I give them good gifts of warmth and security and help and encouragement, as well as correction and discipline. The last two they resent sometimes, but also inwardly need even though they cannot consciously express it. I realize that sounds ideal, and it isn’t always at work in just this way, but so far, it has worked like this for me. Sin is always marring things. They get some of my junk too. But otherwise, what I described is the dynamic at work.

    Now you could say that my love is fairly unconditional whereas theirs is likely not. They may or may not be bound to me in the way I would like, yet I still love them no matter what and do not fail them for the most part (unless I’m a really shabby parent. Who knows? I may turn out to be!). Since their love is not unconditional, it will falter, and fail, and maybe even rebel outright. I will still love, maybe even to the point of sacrificing everything to regain them. And none of what I do depends on what they do, it all depends on who I am. I am their parent. I love them. I always will. I can’t do anything else but that.

    Would it stroke my parental ego every time another adult tells me how well-behaved my child is? Sure. Does it change the level of my love for my child? No. That is about my ego getting stroked and not my love for my child.

    So shifting that image over, God does not need his ego stroked with our good behavior. He loves us because that is who he is. He comes to find us because he wants us as his own children. He pretty much expects to find a sinner in need of salvation, a snotty-nosed kid in trouble, not some nearly-cleansed specimen of morality just waiting for daddy’s approval. He’s okay with us being damaged. He has said so in his Son Jesus. When he does find us we will not receive wrath, we are given mercy.

    So that is the model for me, the one I think God gives to us. The earthly way I teach my child (children!) is all law. Even my willingness to go after her, find her, show mercy and forgive her when she strays that may one day reflect what I have taught her about what Jesus does for us eternally is still the law of love, still my doing of my vocation as parent. But in, with and under all of it is the goodness and mercy of Almighty God who will bring her to everlasting life in the promise of her baptism. God is faithful even when I fail, she fails, etc.

    I love being a parent. Hey, did I tell you I’m having a son! :)

  • Econ Jeff

    tODD-

    I was under the impression that the Principles was formal policy. I was very surprised by Mr. Reed’s comment that it is not official policy. Reading the description of them, UC Davis does say: “The Principles are not law or policy but a basis to form a shared vision of our campus community.”

    However, UC Davis administrators definitely treat in as such on campus–it is included in the materials they give to students and faculty and if you face pressure from the administration to live up to the Principles. As the website states: “Although the Principles of Community are not enforced by punishment unless the act is a crime or breach of conduct standards, the Principles provide guidance for addressing the full range of behavior and interactions.”

    I stand corrected about their standing as formal policy. However, as an informal policy, they are very real. I’m reminded of the movie A Few Good Men where Code Red is not in the manual but everybody knows what they are and what they mean. The Principles serve a similar function. If you don’t play by the rules, you won’t get university support, which makes it hard for some campus groups.

  • Econ Jeff

    tODD-

    I was under the impression that the Principles was formal policy. I was very surprised by Mr. Reed’s comment that it is not official policy. Reading the description of them, UC Davis does say: “The Principles are not law or policy but a basis to form a shared vision of our campus community.”

    However, UC Davis administrators definitely treat in as such on campus–it is included in the materials they give to students and faculty and if you face pressure from the administration to live up to the Principles. As the website states: “Although the Principles of Community are not enforced by punishment unless the act is a crime or breach of conduct standards, the Principles provide guidance for addressing the full range of behavior and interactions.”

    I stand corrected about their standing as formal policy. However, as an informal policy, they are very real. I’m reminded of the movie A Few Good Men where Code Red is not in the manual but everybody knows what they are and what they mean. The Principles serve a similar function. If you don’t play by the rules, you won’t get university support, which makes it hard for some campus groups.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Jeff (@67), thanks for following up. However, I think it’s safe to say that this story has been vastly overinflated as to its significance. After all, even if the POC were a sort of unwritten law, with a de facto threat attached to its rules, there is still the fact that this story was about a Web site glossary entry that was even more tangentially related to the POC.

    I understand that Christians face pressure and ridicule on many university campuses, including public ones. But that’s not news, nor is it terribly interesting. This was supposed to be a story about a “new religious discrimination policy”. It was, instead, a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Jeff (@67), thanks for following up. However, I think it’s safe to say that this story has been vastly overinflated as to its significance. After all, even if the POC were a sort of unwritten law, with a de facto threat attached to its rules, there is still the fact that this story was about a Web site glossary entry that was even more tangentially related to the POC.

    I understand that Christians face pressure and ridicule on many university campuses, including public ones. But that’s not news, nor is it terribly interesting. This was supposed to be a story about a “new religious discrimination policy”. It was, instead, a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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

    “Same reason religious people get bent out of shape about morals and make that what religion is about – not because of Christ, but because they want a nice, less scary life.”

    Religion is about morals. When you don’t live a moral life, you hurt others. Also, immoral people and irreligious people also want nice, less scary lives.

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

    “Same reason religious people get bent out of shape about morals and make that what religion is about – not because of Christ, but because they want a nice, less scary life.”

    Religion is about morals. When you don’t live a moral life, you hurt others. Also, immoral people and irreligious people also want nice, less scary lives.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    sg “religion is about morals”

    Ok sg. Depending on how one defines religion this is really true.

    Is what makes one a christian morals? how so or how not so?
    is christianity essentially about morality?

    what does the scriptures say is the opposite of sin? Morality? Goodness?

    How does God put an end to sinning and sin? Does he use morality to do this?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    sg “religion is about morals”

    Ok sg. Depending on how one defines religion this is really true.

    Is what makes one a christian morals? how so or how not so?
    is christianity essentially about morality?

    what does the scriptures say is the opposite of sin? Morality? Goodness?

    How does God put an end to sinning and sin? Does he use morality to do this?

  • Stephen

    “Also, immoral people and irreligious people also want nice, less scary lives.”

    Frank has some good quesions, and what you say here sort of makes my point. We do what we do to get along. Morality does not define what it means to be Christian, nor does being Christian exhaust the possibilities for living a moral life. That doe snot mean that Christians are not concerned with morality. We do, in fact, have some very deep concerns about what it means to be human, and out of that grow moral concerns. But these do not make us Christian as we may share these very same values with others who are not Christian. If we didn’t we certainly could not live with them and would have to separate completely like the Amish perhaps. But we don’t. why? Becasue morality does not define us, faith does, and that has to do with where we put our ultimate trust. It has to do with identity, with be ing claimed by a promise, and not first and foremost with our behavior. Americna forms of religion, however, placea great deal of emphasis on behavior becasue we are essentially pragmatists and we think this makes sense. It is very utilitarian. We can make religion useful to our purposes this way. We can get things done and go about fixing stuff. Don’t tell me I’m a busted up sinner. Instead, tell me how I can make moral progress so I can make other kinds of progress in my life, maybe, hmmmm . . . economic/social/personal perhaps?

    That is what I see. Where is the concern for the neighbor in that? I’m not accusing you or anything. Your instruction to your son gets to the heart of the matter. We think we can be moral and really do something. God could care less how good we like to imagine we are making ourselves – like some project in personal purification. He wants us to DO good for our neighbor. He already sees us as good because of Christ. That is what it means to be a new creation.

  • Stephen

    “Also, immoral people and irreligious people also want nice, less scary lives.”

    Frank has some good quesions, and what you say here sort of makes my point. We do what we do to get along. Morality does not define what it means to be Christian, nor does being Christian exhaust the possibilities for living a moral life. That doe snot mean that Christians are not concerned with morality. We do, in fact, have some very deep concerns about what it means to be human, and out of that grow moral concerns. But these do not make us Christian as we may share these very same values with others who are not Christian. If we didn’t we certainly could not live with them and would have to separate completely like the Amish perhaps. But we don’t. why? Becasue morality does not define us, faith does, and that has to do with where we put our ultimate trust. It has to do with identity, with be ing claimed by a promise, and not first and foremost with our behavior. Americna forms of religion, however, placea great deal of emphasis on behavior becasue we are essentially pragmatists and we think this makes sense. It is very utilitarian. We can make religion useful to our purposes this way. We can get things done and go about fixing stuff. Don’t tell me I’m a busted up sinner. Instead, tell me how I can make moral progress so I can make other kinds of progress in my life, maybe, hmmmm . . . economic/social/personal perhaps?

    That is what I see. Where is the concern for the neighbor in that? I’m not accusing you or anything. Your instruction to your son gets to the heart of the matter. We think we can be moral and really do something. God could care less how good we like to imagine we are making ourselves – like some project in personal purification. He wants us to DO good for our neighbor. He already sees us as good because of Christ. That is what it means to be a new creation.

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

    “How does God put an end to sinning and sin? Does he use morality to do this?”

    Well, of course this is the point. Religion is not salvation if you consider religion what a person does. Only Christ saves. His work not ours.

    Hey, fws, what has gotten into you? That was a very concise challenge. I am impressed.
    :-)

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

    “How does God put an end to sinning and sin? Does he use morality to do this?”

    Well, of course this is the point. Religion is not salvation if you consider religion what a person does. Only Christ saves. His work not ours.

    Hey, fws, what has gotten into you? That was a very concise challenge. I am impressed.
    :-)


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