A nation of heretics

Ross Douthat begins with reflections on three recent cases in American religion:  the popularity of prosperity-gospeller Joel Osteen; President Obama’s statement that the reason he now favors gay marriage is because he follows Jesus; and new statistics that find that non-denominational Christianity is now the third largest category, behind Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists.  He then draws this conclusion and applications:

For decades, the cultural tug-of-war between the Christian right and the secular left has encouraged people to envision the American religious future in binary terms –as either godless or orthodox, either straightforwardly secular or traditionally Christian. But these examples and trends suggest a more complicated reality, in which religious institutions have declined but religion itself has not, and Americans increasingly redefine Christianity as they see fit rather than than abandoning it entirely.

We aren’t a nation of rigorous Richard Dawkins-style atheists and equally rigorous Pope Benedict XVI-style Catholics, in other words. Instead, we’re a nation of Osteens and Obamas, Dan Browns and Deepak Chopras –neither a Christian nation nor a secular society, but a nation of heretics.

To many Americans, this description no doubt sounds like a compliment. Because we’ve always been a nation from of religious freethinkers and entrepreneurs –from Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy –the word “heretic” often carries positive connotations in our religious culture. It’s associated with theological daring, spiritual experimentation, and a willingness to blaze new trails and push on toward new horizons.

But the heretical imperative in America’s religious life has usually existed in a kind of fruitful and creative tension with more conservative, institutional, and historically-rooted forms of faith –first denominational Protestantism and then later the Roman Catholic Church as well. And the post-1960s decline of these churches has taken a significant toll on our common life, in ways that both religious and secular observers should be able to recognize.

For one thing, individualistic and do-it-yourself forms of religion are less likely to bind communities together, encourage stable families, assimilate immigrants, and otherwise Americans to live in healthy fellowship with one another. It is not a coincidence that as the institutional churches have lost their purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans, that population’s social ills have multiplied and its economic prospects have dimmed.

At the same time, self-created forms of faith are also less likely to provide a check against the self’s worst impulses –whether it’s the kind of materialism that Joel Osteen’s sunny promises encourage, or the solipsism that percolates under the surface of popular spiritual memoirs like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love.” Many of America’s contemporary crises, from the housing bubble and the financial crash to the collapse of the two-parent family, can be traced to just this tendency — encouraged by too much contemporary religion — to make the self’s ambitions the measure of all things.

Finally, when strong religious impulses coexist with weak religious institutions, people become more likely to channel religious energy into partisan politics instead, and to freight partisan causes with more metaphysical significance than they can bear. The result, visible both in the “hope and change” fantasies of Obama’s 2008 campaign and the right-wing backlash it summoned up, is a politics that gives free rein to both utopian and apocalyptic delusions, and that encourages polarization without end.

via ‘A nation of Osteens and Obamas’ – Guest Voices – The Washington Post.

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.

  • Michael B.

    One man’s heresy is another man’s orthodoxy. Christianity is extremely diverse: Catholic nuns, Appalachian snake handlers, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Black liberation theologians, televangelists. As it’s been said, there’s no such thing as Christianity, only Christianities. Also, most of us have chosen the brand of Christianity in which we brought up. What are the odds that this is the correct one, given the multitude of choices?

  • Michael B.

    One man’s heresy is another man’s orthodoxy. Christianity is extremely diverse: Catholic nuns, Appalachian snake handlers, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Black liberation theologians, televangelists. As it’s been said, there’s no such thing as Christianity, only Christianities. Also, most of us have chosen the brand of Christianity in which we brought up. What are the odds that this is the correct one, given the multitude of choices?

  • James Sarver

    “One man’s heresy is another man’s orthodoxy.”

    That works if all of this is just man-made. Very postmodern.

  • James Sarver

    “One man’s heresy is another man’s orthodoxy.”

    That works if all of this is just man-made. Very postmodern.

  • Dan Kempin

    “religious institutions have declined but religion itself has not, and Americans increasingly redefine Christianity as they see fit rather than than abandoning it entirely.”

    Yes. Yes. I think this is an astute observation. Much of the anxiety within churches has to do with the decline of the (social) institution.

    “It is not a coincidence that as the institutional churches have lost their purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans, that population’s social ills have multiplied and its economic prospects have dimmed.”

    This seems more like an assertion than a conclusion.

    “Many of America’s contemporary crises, from the housing bubble and the financial crash to the collapse of the two-parent family, can be traced to just this tendency — encouraged by too much contemporary religion — to make the self’s ambitions the measure of all things.”

    Whaaaat? I don’t even know where this is going anymore. So bad theology led to the housing bubble and partisan politics, even though we just acknowledged that the church’s influence in the social realm has been steadily decreasing? That sounds a bit like the logic that sees people being chewed up, spit out, and lost to the culture and concludes that the problem is that some churches are doing contemporary worship.

  • Dan Kempin

    “religious institutions have declined but religion itself has not, and Americans increasingly redefine Christianity as they see fit rather than than abandoning it entirely.”

    Yes. Yes. I think this is an astute observation. Much of the anxiety within churches has to do with the decline of the (social) institution.

    “It is not a coincidence that as the institutional churches have lost their purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans, that population’s social ills have multiplied and its economic prospects have dimmed.”

    This seems more like an assertion than a conclusion.

    “Many of America’s contemporary crises, from the housing bubble and the financial crash to the collapse of the two-parent family, can be traced to just this tendency — encouraged by too much contemporary religion — to make the self’s ambitions the measure of all things.”

    Whaaaat? I don’t even know where this is going anymore. So bad theology led to the housing bubble and partisan politics, even though we just acknowledged that the church’s influence in the social realm has been steadily decreasing? That sounds a bit like the logic that sees people being chewed up, spit out, and lost to the culture and concludes that the problem is that some churches are doing contemporary worship.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @ 3 – I believe that he is arguing that the contemporaneous manifestations of bubble and collapse alongside the spread of casual heterodoxy are not sui generis but are part and parcel of the same cultural milieu, the zeitgeist as it were. I find this argument compelling, but it should also be noted teasing out the structure of causal interrelationships between post-modern theological collapse witnessed in many of the mainline institutional churches and the predisposition towards crisis and collapse that now characterizes our social institutions such as family and marriage to the marketplace, is not something easily done in a simple opinion piece in the WaPo. At best, we can only get a 30,000 ft. view of a complex theological, philosophical, cultural and social landscape.

  • SKPeterson

    Dan @ 3 – I believe that he is arguing that the contemporaneous manifestations of bubble and collapse alongside the spread of casual heterodoxy are not sui generis but are part and parcel of the same cultural milieu, the zeitgeist as it were. I find this argument compelling, but it should also be noted teasing out the structure of causal interrelationships between post-modern theological collapse witnessed in many of the mainline institutional churches and the predisposition towards crisis and collapse that now characterizes our social institutions such as family and marriage to the marketplace, is not something easily done in a simple opinion piece in the WaPo. At best, we can only get a 30,000 ft. view of a complex theological, philosophical, cultural and social landscape.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Mr. Douthat is very correct: the heart of the matter is that we have people redefining Christianity-the very thing we are NOT to do.

    In reality, I would say that this stems from a lack of faith in the authority, sufficiency, and inerrancy of the Scriptures. When that is disregarded, it’s only a matter of time until Christianity becomes a “free-for-all.”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Mr. Douthat is very correct: the heart of the matter is that we have people redefining Christianity-the very thing we are NOT to do.

    In reality, I would say that this stems from a lack of faith in the authority, sufficiency, and inerrancy of the Scriptures. When that is disregarded, it’s only a matter of time until Christianity becomes a “free-for-all.”

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

    Are we really so surprised? This country was founded by religious non-conformists. It is in their nature to go their own way. I would be curious to know what percent of non-denominational church members can trace their roots in America back to religious non-conformists. I wonder if it is higher than the national average.

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

    Are we really so surprised? This country was founded by religious non-conformists. It is in their nature to go their own way. I would be curious to know what percent of non-denominational church members can trace their roots in America back to religious non-conformists. I wonder if it is higher than the national average.

  • Bob

    Good, thoughtful article.

    The phrase “cheap grace” kept buzzing through my brain as I read this.
    Too much American religion is too individualistic and me-centered.
    Look at all the churches in the big cities that have headed to suburbia, where the money aren power are, over the years. Thankfully, not all have, and God still has His people among the poor and dispossessed in our inner cities.

  • Bob

    Good, thoughtful article.

    The phrase “cheap grace” kept buzzing through my brain as I read this.
    Too much American religion is too individualistic and me-centered.
    Look at all the churches in the big cities that have headed to suburbia, where the money aren power are, over the years. Thankfully, not all have, and God still has His people among the poor and dispossessed in our inner cities.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    I’m reading the book right now. Douthat is always thoughtful. Unlike most writes on social issues, he never uses a tar brush. He respects his reader, and invites reflection.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    I’m reading the book right now. Douthat is always thoughtful. Unlike most writes on social issues, he never uses a tar brush. He respects his reader, and invites reflection.

  • Steve Drake

    “Americans increasingly defining Christianity as they see fit” is the summa theologica of our post-modern age. We are paupers in the knowledge of God and Scriptural illiterates. The modern day Christian is not even on a par with the Bereans of Acts 17. This to our shame.

  • Steve Drake

    “Americans increasingly defining Christianity as they see fit” is the summa theologica of our post-modern age. We are paupers in the knowledge of God and Scriptural illiterates. The modern day Christian is not even on a par with the Bereans of Acts 17. This to our shame.

  • Chris

    Very insightful article, though I like – like someone else who commented – think the link to the financial crisis is a bit of reach. This comment really stuck a chord with me: “Finally, when strong religious impulses coexist with weak religious institutions, people become more likely to channel religious energy into partisan politics instead…” There is probably no way to quantify that assertion, but it strikes me a very plausible.

  • Chris

    Very insightful article, though I like – like someone else who commented – think the link to the financial crisis is a bit of reach. This comment really stuck a chord with me: “Finally, when strong religious impulses coexist with weak religious institutions, people become more likely to channel religious energy into partisan politics instead…” There is probably no way to quantify that assertion, but it strikes me a very plausible.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Douthat said:

    self-created forms of faith are also less likely to provide a check against the self’s worst impulses

    No doubt. Indeed, it seems that religions created by man seem mainly designed to provide a check on Other people (while telling you how awesome you are, of course).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Douthat said:

    self-created forms of faith are also less likely to provide a check against the self’s worst impulses

    No doubt. Indeed, it seems that religions created by man seem mainly designed to provide a check on Other people (while telling you how awesome you are, of course).

  • Grace

    Ross Douthat’s remark from above.

    “For one thing, individualistic and do-it-yourself forms of religion are less likely to bind communities together, encourage stable families, assimilate immigrants, and otherwise Americans to live in healthy fellowship with one another. It is not a coincidence that as the institutional churches have lost their purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans, that population’s social ills have multiplied and its economic prospects have dimmed.”

    The above sounds, oh so lofty, but in essence, does not align itself to the Word of God.

    Religion is not the point of which we begin. It is Christ and HIS Gospel. The reason for our existence as Christian Believers is our Savior, without HIM, the rest makes no sense.

    One can make the statements above, as Douthat has done, however, throwing them all in a bowl, without understanding the foundation upon which a Christian Believer stands, is to leave out the most important part.

    Without believing in Christ as Savior, there is “no stable families” without Christ there is little “fellowship with one another” without Christ “communities” are not bound together by anything other than living in close proximity to one another.

    “Immigrants” are another matter, some are legal, and millions are not. It’s nearly impossible to “assimilate” those who have lied and cheated into the community. Obviously if they lie to come here, they will cheat and lie to stay, therefore forfeiting their respect from those who are born here, or who have come honestly through legal means. Why should we as American tax payers respect such devious behavior, and then honor that behavior as to “assimilate” illegals into our midst, only to take what isn’t theirs.

    Most churches have NOT LOST their so called “purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans” ? – it’s pompous and arrogant, but worse, it’s false.

    The “poor and non-college educated” are the most likely to seek God and HIS Word. The fact is, it is these very individuals who know they need a Savior. The rich man, the pseudo intellectual, see’s very little need of God, no matter which university he/she attended. Read the story of Lazarus in the Bible, with new eyes. The LORD didn’t give that account to gloss over.

    Millions and millions of people turn their backs on Christ. Some fall away, as in apostasy, this isn’t the churches fault, it’s sinful man, who does it all by himself.

    Naming a few mega churches as the problem, is not the real problem, it’s man, turning from the only Savior – - – Jesus Christ.

  • Grace

    Ross Douthat’s remark from above.

    “For one thing, individualistic and do-it-yourself forms of religion are less likely to bind communities together, encourage stable families, assimilate immigrants, and otherwise Americans to live in healthy fellowship with one another. It is not a coincidence that as the institutional churches have lost their purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans, that population’s social ills have multiplied and its economic prospects have dimmed.”

    The above sounds, oh so lofty, but in essence, does not align itself to the Word of God.

    Religion is not the point of which we begin. It is Christ and HIS Gospel. The reason for our existence as Christian Believers is our Savior, without HIM, the rest makes no sense.

    One can make the statements above, as Douthat has done, however, throwing them all in a bowl, without understanding the foundation upon which a Christian Believer stands, is to leave out the most important part.

    Without believing in Christ as Savior, there is “no stable families” without Christ there is little “fellowship with one another” without Christ “communities” are not bound together by anything other than living in close proximity to one another.

    “Immigrants” are another matter, some are legal, and millions are not. It’s nearly impossible to “assimilate” those who have lied and cheated into the community. Obviously if they lie to come here, they will cheat and lie to stay, therefore forfeiting their respect from those who are born here, or who have come honestly through legal means. Why should we as American tax payers respect such devious behavior, and then honor that behavior as to “assimilate” illegals into our midst, only to take what isn’t theirs.

    Most churches have NOT LOST their so called “purchase among poor and non-college educated Americans” ? – it’s pompous and arrogant, but worse, it’s false.

    The “poor and non-college educated” are the most likely to seek God and HIS Word. The fact is, it is these very individuals who know they need a Savior. The rich man, the pseudo intellectual, see’s very little need of God, no matter which university he/she attended. Read the story of Lazarus in the Bible, with new eyes. The LORD didn’t give that account to gloss over.

    Millions and millions of people turn their backs on Christ. Some fall away, as in apostasy, this isn’t the churches fault, it’s sinful man, who does it all by himself.

    Naming a few mega churches as the problem, is not the real problem, it’s man, turning from the only Savior – - – Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@12):

    Without believing in Christ as Savior, there is “no stable families” … without Christ “communities” are not bound together by anything other than living in close proximity to one another.

    You haven’t traveled much, have you? News flash: there are stable families in parts of the world where Christianity is unpopular or close-to-nonexistant. They also have communities.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@12):

    Without believing in Christ as Savior, there is “no stable families” … without Christ “communities” are not bound together by anything other than living in close proximity to one another.

    You haven’t traveled much, have you? News flash: there are stable families in parts of the world where Christianity is unpopular or close-to-nonexistant. They also have communities.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    I have traveled extensively. Disagreeing on this blog does not equate to lack of travel, even you should understand such reasoning.

    As for “stable families” – there is no stability without Christ. Those who believe in idols, false gods, of all stripes have no stability. Look around at the world today, all countries, our country – STABLE? – NO! Without Christ they fail!

  • Grace

    tODD,

    I have traveled extensively. Disagreeing on this blog does not equate to lack of travel, even you should understand such reasoning.

    As for “stable families” – there is no stability without Christ. Those who believe in idols, false gods, of all stripes have no stability. Look around at the world today, all countries, our country – STABLE? – NO! Without Christ they fail!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@14), your claim makes no sense from the point of view of either demographics or theology. Jesus didn’t come here to create family stability. He may even have said something to that effect. He came to die on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins (including our selfish, unloving attitudes towards those in our families).

    Regardless, you don’t even have to travel to recognize that people who aren’t Christians can and do have stable families (and communities) — sometimes even more so than Christians do.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@14), your claim makes no sense from the point of view of either demographics or theology. Jesus didn’t come here to create family stability. He may even have said something to that effect. He came to die on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins (including our selfish, unloving attitudes towards those in our families).

    Regardless, you don’t even have to travel to recognize that people who aren’t Christians can and do have stable families (and communities) — sometimes even more so than Christians do.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    Without Christ we are nothing – what is “stable” without Christ, without Salvation – - – NOTHING!

    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
    John 15:5

    Living a life without Christ, one is dead in their sins, nothing stable there. Of course if you want to look on the outside, at those who are without Christ, it’s nothing but a façade – no matter how you drape it.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    Without Christ we are nothing – what is “stable” without Christ, without Salvation – - – NOTHING!

    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
    John 15:5

    Living a life without Christ, one is dead in their sins, nothing stable there. Of course if you want to look on the outside, at those who are without Christ, it’s nothing but a façade – no matter how you drape it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As just one counterexample to your claim, Grace, do you know what country has the fewest marriages ending in divorce? Go ahead, guess. I’ll give you a hint: it’s in a country where Christians comprise less than 3% of the population.

    That’s right, it’s India, where just slightly over 1% of marriages end in divorce. Following close on the ridiculously-low-divorce-rate curve are Sri Lanka and Japan (1.5% and 1.9%, respectively), both of which have populations that are less than 10% Christian.

    Now compare that to the USA, where 45.8% of marriages end in divorce, and some 75% of the population identifies as Christian, and your claim starts to look just a wee bit shaky.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As just one counterexample to your claim, Grace, do you know what country has the fewest marriages ending in divorce? Go ahead, guess. I’ll give you a hint: it’s in a country where Christians comprise less than 3% of the population.

    That’s right, it’s India, where just slightly over 1% of marriages end in divorce. Following close on the ridiculously-low-divorce-rate curve are Sri Lanka and Japan (1.5% and 1.9%, respectively), both of which have populations that are less than 10% Christian.

    Now compare that to the USA, where 45.8% of marriages end in divorce, and some 75% of the population identifies as Christian, and your claim starts to look just a wee bit shaky.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    Divorce is not the issue here. Those who aren’t saved, no matter how married they stay, aren’t going to inherit Eternal Life with Christ.

    Christ and Salvation are paramount to anything being stable in ones life.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    Divorce is not the issue here. Those who aren’t saved, no matter how married they stay, aren’t going to inherit Eternal Life with Christ.

    Christ and Salvation are paramount to anything being stable in ones life.

  • Grace

    And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
    Isaiah 33:6

  • Grace

    And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
    Isaiah 33:6

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@18), do try to keep up with your own arguments:

    Divorce is not the issue here. Those who aren’t saved, no matter how married they stay, aren’t going to inherit Eternal Life with Christ. Christ and Salvation are paramount to anything being stable in ones life.

    Do you even remember your initial point here (@12)?

    Without believing in Christ as Savior, there is “no stable families” … without Christ “communities” are not bound together by anything other than living in close proximity to one another.

    If you’re still defending your claim about “stable families”, then yes, divorce very much is part of the issue here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@18), do try to keep up with your own arguments:

    Divorce is not the issue here. Those who aren’t saved, no matter how married they stay, aren’t going to inherit Eternal Life with Christ. Christ and Salvation are paramount to anything being stable in ones life.

    Do you even remember your initial point here (@12)?

    Without believing in Christ as Savior, there is “no stable families” … without Christ “communities” are not bound together by anything other than living in close proximity to one another.

    If you’re still defending your claim about “stable families”, then yes, divorce very much is part of the issue here.

  • Grace

    Read my previous post, which you may have missed.

    As for further discussion, it appears useless, as you want to argue, for the sake of argument.

  • Grace

    Read my previous post, which you may have missed.

    As for further discussion, it appears useless, as you want to argue, for the sake of argument.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@21), you appear unable to defend your own baseless claims.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@21), you appear unable to defend your own baseless claims.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    We’ve been down this road, all too many times.

    I’ve stated my beliefs, they stand just as I posted. No more to add at this time.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    We’ve been down this road, all too many times.

    I’ve stated my beliefs, they stand just as I posted. No more to add at this time.

  • helen

    tODD
    That’s right, it’s India, where just slightly over 1% of marriages end in divorce

    Unfortunately (?) in America more questions would be asked if a new bride ended up dead, when the husband’s family wasn’t satisfied with the “dowry”.
    And I don’t think they keep very accurate records of that in India. :(

  • helen

    tODD
    That’s right, it’s India, where just slightly over 1% of marriages end in divorce

    Unfortunately (?) in America more questions would be asked if a new bride ended up dead, when the husband’s family wasn’t satisfied with the “dowry”.
    And I don’t think they keep very accurate records of that in India. :(

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Puts popcorn in microwave cracks open a can of Coke Zero and thinks following the comments on this thread could be fun.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Puts popcorn in microwave cracks open a can of Coke Zero and thinks following the comments on this thread could be fun.

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

    @ 25 :D

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

    @ 25 :D

  • Booklover

    Sorry for the interruption:

    I still cannot get the Cranach blog up on my computer. Every time I click the address, I get “Site Temporarily Unavailable.” Even when I google it, I get “Site Temporarily Unavailable.”

    The only way I could reach this was to google Veith’s name, and clear down on the page came a reference to the vampire blog entry of May 12, I believe. Then I had to scroll down and click “next post” about 27 times until I finally hit today’s date.

    Even now that I’m here, it does not work to click the masthead. All I get is “Site Temporarily Unavailable.”

    Please help. When someone takes my valium away, I get a little upset. . .

  • Booklover

    Sorry for the interruption:

    I still cannot get the Cranach blog up on my computer. Every time I click the address, I get “Site Temporarily Unavailable.” Even when I google it, I get “Site Temporarily Unavailable.”

    The only way I could reach this was to google Veith’s name, and clear down on the page came a reference to the vampire blog entry of May 12, I believe. Then I had to scroll down and click “next post” about 27 times until I finally hit today’s date.

    Even now that I’m here, it does not work to click the masthead. All I get is “Site Temporarily Unavailable.”

    Please help. When someone takes my valium away, I get a little upset. . .

  • Michael B.

    @Grace and @Todd

    “Jesus didn’t come here to create family stability. He may even have said something to that effect”

    Actually, Jesus did say something about this: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)

    The idea that Jesus came to bring you a stable family life is about as credible as he came to make you rich. Look at the disciples — I’m sure their families were just thrilled to go see them follow Jesus and his strange ideas — Certainly no family strains were caused there.

  • Michael B.

    @Grace and @Todd

    “Jesus didn’t come here to create family stability. He may even have said something to that effect”

    Actually, Jesus did say something about this: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)

    The idea that Jesus came to bring you a stable family life is about as credible as he came to make you rich. Look at the disciples — I’m sure their families were just thrilled to go see them follow Jesus and his strange ideas — Certainly no family strains were caused there.

  • Grace

    Michael,

    The passage in Matthew 10 represents, as you know those who have left, to follow HIM, who love Christ more than anything, or anyone else. That cannot be true of those who don’t Believe in Christ as their Savior.

    I love the passage in Isaiah:

    And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
    Isaiah 33:6

    A family who Believes in Christ as a unit, do have “stability” they are very different from a family who are divided – I have witnessed this. They have a goal to serve HIM, to bring their children up to know HIM, and Worship HIM.

    A family who does Believe in Christ, who is devoted to HIM is very different from those who are divided, or simply all have gone their own way, and have no Belief in Christ as Savior.

    33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

    34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
    Matthew 10

  • Grace

    Michael,

    The passage in Matthew 10 represents, as you know those who have left, to follow HIM, who love Christ more than anything, or anyone else. That cannot be true of those who don’t Believe in Christ as their Savior.

    I love the passage in Isaiah:

    And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
    Isaiah 33:6

    A family who Believes in Christ as a unit, do have “stability” they are very different from a family who are divided – I have witnessed this. They have a goal to serve HIM, to bring their children up to know HIM, and Worship HIM.

    A family who does Believe in Christ, who is devoted to HIM is very different from those who are divided, or simply all have gone their own way, and have no Belief in Christ as Savior.

    33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

    34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
    Matthew 10

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B (@28), yes, that was one of the Bible verses I had in mind when I said that. There’s also Luke 14:26

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B (@28), yes, that was one of the Bible verses I had in mind when I said that. There’s also Luke 14:26

  • Fws

    Douthats thesis is centered around the evils that happen when religious old adam is unbridled by religious structure.

    By saying “heretic” he seems to mean , WITHIN “christianity.” And… That is what he means… “they are not willing to abandon christianity but instead remain in and define it” And it is the “church as an instititution” that was the guarantee against this is what he says.

    Lutherans would say that stepping outside the institution IS to step outside the church! He seems to not agree. our Confessions identify this earthly institution as the Holy Catholic Church. They define it, precisely so, as an earthly government whos purpose is to reign in religious Old Adams. (apology vII). This earthly government does this with very non spiritual laws called doctrines and by following the commands to baptize and teach. This is all about works and obedience and law. There is nothing at all in any of this that is “spiritual” or even “christian” per se.

    Yet, christianity, that is the communion of saints, only can exist, in , with ands under this institution , this government ,this institution of the Law ,that the Apology identifies in the apostle’s creed as being the Holy Catholic Church.

    Douthat says that both “christianity” and christianity can exist outside of the institution that is entered by baptism and ordered by it’s laws and ordinances. He is wrong on both counts. Neither can be redefined. That is like… Hmmmm….. Asserting that marriage can be defined….

  • Fws

    Douthats thesis is centered around the evils that happen when religious old adam is unbridled by religious structure.

    By saying “heretic” he seems to mean , WITHIN “christianity.” And… That is what he means… “they are not willing to abandon christianity but instead remain in and define it” And it is the “church as an instititution” that was the guarantee against this is what he says.

    Lutherans would say that stepping outside the institution IS to step outside the church! He seems to not agree. our Confessions identify this earthly institution as the Holy Catholic Church. They define it, precisely so, as an earthly government whos purpose is to reign in religious Old Adams. (apology vII). This earthly government does this with very non spiritual laws called doctrines and by following the commands to baptize and teach. This is all about works and obedience and law. There is nothing at all in any of this that is “spiritual” or even “christian” per se.

    Yet, christianity, that is the communion of saints, only can exist, in , with ands under this institution , this government ,this institution of the Law ,that the Apology identifies in the apostle’s creed as being the Holy Catholic Church.

    Douthat says that both “christianity” and christianity can exist outside of the institution that is entered by baptism and ordered by it’s laws and ordinances. He is wrong on both counts. Neither can be redefined. That is like… Hmmmm….. Asserting that marriage can be defined….

  • Grace

    “Neither can be redefined. That is like… Hmmmm….. Asserting that marriage can be defined….”

    That’s a problem for those who can’t imagine a life without same sex marriage. Even though it’s about as confused as taking the wheels off your car, and expecting it to run on skates. The bumpers hit the ground, the engine doesn’t fit, the car’s equipment doesn’t fit – but the owner can’t figure it out.

  • Grace

    “Neither can be redefined. That is like… Hmmmm….. Asserting that marriage can be defined….”

    That’s a problem for those who can’t imagine a life without same sex marriage. Even though it’s about as confused as taking the wheels off your car, and expecting it to run on skates. The bumpers hit the ground, the engine doesn’t fit, the car’s equipment doesn’t fit – but the owner can’t figure it out.

  • Fws

    grace @ 32

    you somehow managed to get the exact opposite meaning of what i said. Grace you would not know nuance if it came and slapped you in the face.

  • Fws

    grace @ 32

    you somehow managed to get the exact opposite meaning of what i said. Grace you would not know nuance if it came and slapped you in the face.

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

    “you would not know nuance if it came and slapped you in the face”

    Okay, I am so stealing this line for use in future discussions.

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

    “you would not know nuance if it came and slapped you in the face”

    Okay, I am so stealing this line for use in future discussions.

  • Grace

    fws,

    You wouldn’t know what Romans 1 stated, if you were made to read it for a year straight, everyday! WHY? – because you don’t agree with it. It doesn’t line up to your ………..

  • Grace

    fws,

    You wouldn’t know what Romans 1 stated, if you were made to read it for a year straight, everyday! WHY? – because you don’t agree with it. It doesn’t line up to your ………..

  • Grace

    “Nuance” is an overused word, tossed about as a substitute for truth, with subtle shades of such, thrown in for good measure.

  • Grace

    “Nuance” is an overused word, tossed about as a substitute for truth, with subtle shades of such, thrown in for good measure.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@36):

    “Nuance” is an overused word…

    That’s odd. I can’t say that I’ve heard it used a whole lot, myself.

    Do people talk to you a lot about nuance, Grace? Maybe about how you don’t seem to get it?

    Just a guess.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@36):

    “Nuance” is an overused word…

    That’s odd. I can’t say that I’ve heard it used a whole lot, myself.

    Do people talk to you a lot about nuance, Grace? Maybe about how you don’t seem to get it?

    Just a guess.

  • Grace

    No tODD, I read the word “nuance” on this blog, in reference to anything another poster doesn’t agree with. :lol:

  • Grace

    No tODD, I read the word “nuance” on this blog, in reference to anything another poster doesn’t agree with. :lol:

  • larry

    I think he’s on the mark. The very essence of various heterodoxies is to return to the self and the inward glance. Whether it Chopra, Osteen, Finney, second great awakening, first great awakening, Wesley, Calvin, or the various monk schools during Luther’s time. The fall said another way is enthusiasm, god-withness, and the baseline fallen religious expression is variously expressed by this. All formal doctrines that point man this way merely reinforce man’s fallen natural religious desire. Over time this “gets” increasingly individualistic (and as the writer states expresses itself in the ‘self driven’ things we see today like the financial pickle we find ourselves in).

    This “increasingly individualistic” nature of it follows like an arrow only shot a fraction of a degree off at the beginning but further down its trajectory (analogous to time and generations ‘down the road’) it reveals itself very far off the mark. For example the doctrines and theologies we call ‘sacramentarian’ gathered up into one group were really not “new” under Zwingli, Arminius or Calvin but in reality pre-existed under the umbrella of the “controlling” institution of Rome the church as the various schools of theological thought (e.g. German Mystics and Scholastics – they too followed various ‘famed’ preacher/teacher, what we might today call plupiteers, by name like Biel, et. ali.). The umbrella institution, Rome, being lifted off of these merely allowed them to pursue their various lines of rationalizing more or less delimited from a “top down” church governing institution and rubric. This launched the later more radical reformers (e.g. Anabaptist), the Calvinist, the Arminians and the whole post-Luther/Lutheran mélange of inward glancing sects. When this eventually came to America it was under the idea of throwing off again a governing institution (mostly from England) and once here the various other “reformers” could engage increasingly in this baseline fallen religion of enthusiasm. At first it was more contained in the Puritans but gained momentum under the first Great Awakening, later more momentum under the second GA and more and more to various grosser forms of enthusiasm. The root is the same, the inward turning to the self by either formal expressions found in various heterodoxies or simply the individuals “pick and choose” confessionalism. From this is increasingly found the expression of one’s own desires and religion.

    Put another way if in one’s religious mind set one is ultimately looking inward under some formal heretical heterodox doctrine that pushes one or one’s own created personal heresy it creates and feeds the fallen religious self seeker and atmosphere one ‘lives and breathes’. This manifests itself at length in secular life too such as the rugged individual and the self seeking interests proffered by both right and left politics and their various venues that we see in our day and age. This is powerful religious fuel, enthusiasm, its the same fuel that fuels the more gross health and wealth ministries, charisma of all flavors, the more subdued intellectual “I’ve found out I’m reborn because (fill in the blank with something other than a sacrament)”, I’m elect because I believe and all the secular “do good” projects that aid in determining “God is on my side”. “God is on my side” enthusiasm, fallen religion, theologies of glory whether formal confessions or personal, has fueled everything from guillotines to prohibition to a nearly unlimited number of religious and/or related secular projects – all read from that “glance within” to find God within that energizes the religious/secular project whereby it is affirmed “this is how I know I’m saved/god on my side/reborn/elect of God etc…”. Secular right or left, heterodox or entirely other religious expression, all these WILL shove their” good works” down your throat whether you want them or not.

    This is a very different religion, in all its forms, formal or personal (personal over formal group confession being its end logic and point, “be my own god”) than the religion that looks “extra nos” to where the Word of God directs and gives and then says on the phone as the neighbor calls, “Hello Bob, you need me to mow your lawn and feed your dog this weekend…no problem.”

  • larry

    I think he’s on the mark. The very essence of various heterodoxies is to return to the self and the inward glance. Whether it Chopra, Osteen, Finney, second great awakening, first great awakening, Wesley, Calvin, or the various monk schools during Luther’s time. The fall said another way is enthusiasm, god-withness, and the baseline fallen religious expression is variously expressed by this. All formal doctrines that point man this way merely reinforce man’s fallen natural religious desire. Over time this “gets” increasingly individualistic (and as the writer states expresses itself in the ‘self driven’ things we see today like the financial pickle we find ourselves in).

    This “increasingly individualistic” nature of it follows like an arrow only shot a fraction of a degree off at the beginning but further down its trajectory (analogous to time and generations ‘down the road’) it reveals itself very far off the mark. For example the doctrines and theologies we call ‘sacramentarian’ gathered up into one group were really not “new” under Zwingli, Arminius or Calvin but in reality pre-existed under the umbrella of the “controlling” institution of Rome the church as the various schools of theological thought (e.g. German Mystics and Scholastics – they too followed various ‘famed’ preacher/teacher, what we might today call plupiteers, by name like Biel, et. ali.). The umbrella institution, Rome, being lifted off of these merely allowed them to pursue their various lines of rationalizing more or less delimited from a “top down” church governing institution and rubric. This launched the later more radical reformers (e.g. Anabaptist), the Calvinist, the Arminians and the whole post-Luther/Lutheran mélange of inward glancing sects. When this eventually came to America it was under the idea of throwing off again a governing institution (mostly from England) and once here the various other “reformers” could engage increasingly in this baseline fallen religion of enthusiasm. At first it was more contained in the Puritans but gained momentum under the first Great Awakening, later more momentum under the second GA and more and more to various grosser forms of enthusiasm. The root is the same, the inward turning to the self by either formal expressions found in various heterodoxies or simply the individuals “pick and choose” confessionalism. From this is increasingly found the expression of one’s own desires and religion.

    Put another way if in one’s religious mind set one is ultimately looking inward under some formal heretical heterodox doctrine that pushes one or one’s own created personal heresy it creates and feeds the fallen religious self seeker and atmosphere one ‘lives and breathes’. This manifests itself at length in secular life too such as the rugged individual and the self seeking interests proffered by both right and left politics and their various venues that we see in our day and age. This is powerful religious fuel, enthusiasm, its the same fuel that fuels the more gross health and wealth ministries, charisma of all flavors, the more subdued intellectual “I’ve found out I’m reborn because (fill in the blank with something other than a sacrament)”, I’m elect because I believe and all the secular “do good” projects that aid in determining “God is on my side”. “God is on my side” enthusiasm, fallen religion, theologies of glory whether formal confessions or personal, has fueled everything from guillotines to prohibition to a nearly unlimited number of religious and/or related secular projects – all read from that “glance within” to find God within that energizes the religious/secular project whereby it is affirmed “this is how I know I’m saved/god on my side/reborn/elect of God etc…”. Secular right or left, heterodox or entirely other religious expression, all these WILL shove their” good works” down your throat whether you want them or not.

    This is a very different religion, in all its forms, formal or personal (personal over formal group confession being its end logic and point, “be my own god”) than the religion that looks “extra nos” to where the Word of God directs and gives and then says on the phone as the neighbor calls, “Hello Bob, you need me to mow your lawn and feed your dog this weekend…no problem.”

  • Fws

    Larry@ 39

    Larry,
    let me suggest a better frame that is one that the Confessions present in our Apology.

    the Apology says that Lutherans don’t consider morality and ethics as being something that is christian in any way whatsoever.

    think about how radical that is.

    Indeed , to underscore this the Confessions (apology iii) punts all moral questions to pagan Aristotle on the topic. I quote: ” concerning ethics/morality nothing can be demanded beyond the ethics of Aristotle.”

    The Apology is saying that one can completely both know and do what God demands of us morally without any Christ, bible, or Holy Spirit. Scriptural proof for this proposition? Romans 2:15. The Divine Law of God is written in the minds (reason) of ALL men. Notice that they are careful to say that this Law is NOT written in the hearts of all men! Therefore pagan Aristotle is complete as to morality!

    Question: is this true? Is there really no such thing as christian morality or ethics? Is it true that the Bible is truly redundant here? Finally: Is it true, as Frank asserts, that the Confessions really take this position?

    And….Why does this matter? here is why:

    To say this, is to say that …
    Christian=faith in the Works of Another=Faith…alone!

    moral questions all are about Old Adam. Alone. Christians and pagans have one thing totally in common. They both have an Old Adam. and old adam has the Divine Law written in his reason. This is why Reason agrees with the Decalog: it is the SAME Law.

    So we can safely embrace Osteen , echardt tolle, ghandi, tolstoi, aristotle, epicurus, sarte, wayne dwyer, freud, jung, moses, biblical Laws, to the exact extent that our Reason (again no bible necessary!) sees that they enable us to….

    A) do no harm “thou shalt not” and so respect the fence between our neighbor that says thine is not mine. And….

    B) do the goodness and mercy that is the Eternal Will of God (fc vi) . This is in the small catechism “help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need”

    The moralist officially endorsed as the moralistic gold standard by the Lutheran Confessions is pagan Aristotle. pick ur poison! The goal here is mortification and the death of old adam in addition to… (sound of crickets).

    The point of the Apology is precisely to say that none of this requires any Christ or Holy Spirit. So don’t call any of this christian! Not even heretically so!

    The error of Douthat is a confusion the of Law and Gospel: he is saying that the teachings of whom he calls “heretics” is somehow “christian”.

    No.

    Their teachings are all about morality.
    therefore by definition, they are not christian. And we need no Word of God apart from the Word of God that God has seared into the brains of ALL Old Adams to evaluate whether what they say helps us do the A and B The Small Catechism outlines for us that is THE Godly, earthly, carnal righeousness that will perish with the earth and that God demands and will exact out of ALL Old Adams.

    As a completely separate question: Are the men themselves teaching this stuff christian? Lutherans would start to answer that question by asking this one: “were they baptized?”

  • Fws

    Larry@ 39

    Larry,
    let me suggest a better frame that is one that the Confessions present in our Apology.

    the Apology says that Lutherans don’t consider morality and ethics as being something that is christian in any way whatsoever.

    think about how radical that is.

    Indeed , to underscore this the Confessions (apology iii) punts all moral questions to pagan Aristotle on the topic. I quote: ” concerning ethics/morality nothing can be demanded beyond the ethics of Aristotle.”

    The Apology is saying that one can completely both know and do what God demands of us morally without any Christ, bible, or Holy Spirit. Scriptural proof for this proposition? Romans 2:15. The Divine Law of God is written in the minds (reason) of ALL men. Notice that they are careful to say that this Law is NOT written in the hearts of all men! Therefore pagan Aristotle is complete as to morality!

    Question: is this true? Is there really no such thing as christian morality or ethics? Is it true that the Bible is truly redundant here? Finally: Is it true, as Frank asserts, that the Confessions really take this position?

    And….Why does this matter? here is why:

    To say this, is to say that …
    Christian=faith in the Works of Another=Faith…alone!

    moral questions all are about Old Adam. Alone. Christians and pagans have one thing totally in common. They both have an Old Adam. and old adam has the Divine Law written in his reason. This is why Reason agrees with the Decalog: it is the SAME Law.

    So we can safely embrace Osteen , echardt tolle, ghandi, tolstoi, aristotle, epicurus, sarte, wayne dwyer, freud, jung, moses, biblical Laws, to the exact extent that our Reason (again no bible necessary!) sees that they enable us to….

    A) do no harm “thou shalt not” and so respect the fence between our neighbor that says thine is not mine. And….

    B) do the goodness and mercy that is the Eternal Will of God (fc vi) . This is in the small catechism “help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need”

    The moralist officially endorsed as the moralistic gold standard by the Lutheran Confessions is pagan Aristotle. pick ur poison! The goal here is mortification and the death of old adam in addition to… (sound of crickets).

    The point of the Apology is precisely to say that none of this requires any Christ or Holy Spirit. So don’t call any of this christian! Not even heretically so!

    The error of Douthat is a confusion the of Law and Gospel: he is saying that the teachings of whom he calls “heretics” is somehow “christian”.

    No.

    Their teachings are all about morality.
    therefore by definition, they are not christian. And we need no Word of God apart from the Word of God that God has seared into the brains of ALL Old Adams to evaluate whether what they say helps us do the A and B The Small Catechism outlines for us that is THE Godly, earthly, carnal righeousness that will perish with the earth and that God demands and will exact out of ALL Old Adams.

    As a completely separate question: Are the men themselves teaching this stuff christian? Lutherans would start to answer that question by asking this one: “were they baptized?”

  • larry

    Frank,

    I can go with that, it’s “not Christian”, and that is utimately the point I make a lot of times on heterodoxy. I don’t think I disagree, but processing what you said (he is saying that the teachings of whom he calls “heretics” is somehow “christian”.)

    But does this not get a bit dicey if X confessions says it IS “Christian” and basically falls out ultimately Aristotle. Keep in mind heterodoxies “buttered eel squirming” when it gets pinned down on a point of doctrine and wishes to remain Christian (i.e. Gospel). Do they not out of one side say “Gospel and Christian, you must be born again” yet deny these very things, Gospel and the Lord in their heterodoxy out of the other side of their mouths but the implied or explicit meaning behing their words. I.e. we all say, “Grace alone, grace alone, yes GRACE alone, and again grace ALONE, sola gratia, yes indeed we agree”. But do we not ultimately mean a different grace alone say between our confessions and theirs, be it Calvin or Arminious or all the flavors in between. Could not even Rome say, “Now Lutheran’s we finally agree, sola fide, and the fide is formed by love”. That’s laughable at first glance, but this is precisely what protestant orthodoxy does and gets away with it as if we even remotely speak the same language. Could it not be said that for example we and the Baptist say Jesus alone, Gospel alone, yes, yes we agree. Then when we say, “this baptism saves you” and they reply as they must, “well we didn’t mean THAT was Gospel”. Have they not denied the very Gospel! What was gnosticism denying the incanration in various ways but the very effort to keep God Who is spiritual from coming ALL the way down to man and is this not crystal clear in denying the Gospel. And is it not equally clear that denying that Christ comes all the way down in the sacraments the same denying principle of denying the very Gospel itself. If one man crassly hides food from a starving man and another merely wafts in front of his nose but denies him a bite, is he any different?

    So I guess in this circuitious exercise of mine we come around and can say this: a heretic is unchristian as opposed to a “christian” heretic. But doesn’t his article make the point in spite of itself? I mean looking at his forest from the outside it seems that the very fact that he can speak of a “christian” heretic proves how this is a nation of heretics meaning by in large a nation of non-christian unbelievers even those who say, “hey over here, we are christians under this (heterodoxy) confession”. Or another way to put it that fallen man is so increasingly blind that he can call his heresy “christian” and think its true. Or another way to state it is the reverse of what Lutheran’s often hear from the reformed, anabaptist/baptist, et. ali., they like to say basically, “Luther did a good starting the reformation but he didn’t quiet finish the job” and thus by implication what they did improved this situation. When in reality it’s just the opposite, the job was finished per se and they returned toward destroying the reformation – back to “Rome Sweet Home” under a new guise.

  • larry

    Frank,

    I can go with that, it’s “not Christian”, and that is utimately the point I make a lot of times on heterodoxy. I don’t think I disagree, but processing what you said (he is saying that the teachings of whom he calls “heretics” is somehow “christian”.)

    But does this not get a bit dicey if X confessions says it IS “Christian” and basically falls out ultimately Aristotle. Keep in mind heterodoxies “buttered eel squirming” when it gets pinned down on a point of doctrine and wishes to remain Christian (i.e. Gospel). Do they not out of one side say “Gospel and Christian, you must be born again” yet deny these very things, Gospel and the Lord in their heterodoxy out of the other side of their mouths but the implied or explicit meaning behing their words. I.e. we all say, “Grace alone, grace alone, yes GRACE alone, and again grace ALONE, sola gratia, yes indeed we agree”. But do we not ultimately mean a different grace alone say between our confessions and theirs, be it Calvin or Arminious or all the flavors in between. Could not even Rome say, “Now Lutheran’s we finally agree, sola fide, and the fide is formed by love”. That’s laughable at first glance, but this is precisely what protestant orthodoxy does and gets away with it as if we even remotely speak the same language. Could it not be said that for example we and the Baptist say Jesus alone, Gospel alone, yes, yes we agree. Then when we say, “this baptism saves you” and they reply as they must, “well we didn’t mean THAT was Gospel”. Have they not denied the very Gospel! What was gnosticism denying the incanration in various ways but the very effort to keep God Who is spiritual from coming ALL the way down to man and is this not crystal clear in denying the Gospel. And is it not equally clear that denying that Christ comes all the way down in the sacraments the same denying principle of denying the very Gospel itself. If one man crassly hides food from a starving man and another merely wafts in front of his nose but denies him a bite, is he any different?

    So I guess in this circuitious exercise of mine we come around and can say this: a heretic is unchristian as opposed to a “christian” heretic. But doesn’t his article make the point in spite of itself? I mean looking at his forest from the outside it seems that the very fact that he can speak of a “christian” heretic proves how this is a nation of heretics meaning by in large a nation of non-christian unbelievers even those who say, “hey over here, we are christians under this (heterodoxy) confession”. Or another way to put it that fallen man is so increasingly blind that he can call his heresy “christian” and think its true. Or another way to state it is the reverse of what Lutheran’s often hear from the reformed, anabaptist/baptist, et. ali., they like to say basically, “Luther did a good starting the reformation but he didn’t quiet finish the job” and thus by implication what they did improved this situation. When in reality it’s just the opposite, the job was finished per se and they returned toward destroying the reformation – back to “Rome Sweet Home” under a new guise.

  • brin

    It’s amusing to me how Grace talks over herself and seems to forget the point she tried to make in the first place. As soon as someone posits a rebuttal, she shifts directions and ends up making no sense. I read this blog for the intelligent discussion. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian, the thoughtful way you all sort through a topic is impressive and persuasive. But…then there’s “Grace”. All I seem to get from her is the typical rhetoric posed by “believers” who think they’ve got it all figured out. Good for you, Grace, that you are so certain. But bad on you for being such a poor witness for your faith.

  • brin

    It’s amusing to me how Grace talks over herself and seems to forget the point she tried to make in the first place. As soon as someone posits a rebuttal, she shifts directions and ends up making no sense. I read this blog for the intelligent discussion. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a Christian, the thoughtful way you all sort through a topic is impressive and persuasive. But…then there’s “Grace”. All I seem to get from her is the typical rhetoric posed by “believers” who think they’ve got it all figured out. Good for you, Grace, that you are so certain. But bad on you for being such a poor witness for your faith.

  • Grace

    brin @ 42

    All I seem to get from her is the typical rhetoric posed by “believers” who think they’ve got it all figured out. Good for you, Grace, that you are so certain.”

    I am certain – my life depends upon Christ, my belief in HIM as Savior.

    Interesting that you should pick me to post to, perhaps it’s because I am CERTAIN of what I believe that irritates you. Jesus loves you brin, it’s up to you believe in HIM as the only Savior, in this world.

  • Grace

    brin @ 42

    All I seem to get from her is the typical rhetoric posed by “believers” who think they’ve got it all figured out. Good for you, Grace, that you are so certain.”

    I am certain – my life depends upon Christ, my belief in HIM as Savior.

    Interesting that you should pick me to post to, perhaps it’s because I am CERTAIN of what I believe that irritates you. Jesus loves you brin, it’s up to you believe in HIM as the only Savior, in this world.

  • Steve Drake

    We’re well down the list of recent posts now from Gene, but I for one am simply abhorred at the rhetoric against Grace and her posts.

  • Steve Drake

    We’re well down the list of recent posts now from Gene, but I for one am simply abhorred at the rhetoric against Grace and her posts.

  • fws

    steve drake @ 44

    on what basis and in what respect steve?

  • fws

    steve drake @ 44

    on what basis and in what respect steve?

  • brin

    Grace, it’s not your certainty that irritates me. In fact, I said “Good for you for being so certain.” It’s the unGraceful way that your message comes across.

  • brin

    Grace, it’s not your certainty that irritates me. In fact, I said “Good for you for being so certain.” It’s the unGraceful way that your message comes across.

  • fws

    I often wonder if Grace addresses others in person in the same way and tone that she addresses persons that she disagrees with here.

    Imagine talking to all others one disagrees with in that tone.

    …. and imagine too, someone like a steve drake observing that and reacting as ” I am simply abhorred at the reaction of others to the way Grace talks to them!”

    Un. Real.

  • fws

    I often wonder if Grace addresses others in person in the same way and tone that she addresses persons that she disagrees with here.

    Imagine talking to all others one disagrees with in that tone.

    …. and imagine too, someone like a steve drake observing that and reacting as ” I am simply abhorred at the reaction of others to the way Grace talks to them!”

    Un. Real.

  • brin

    fws –

    Agreed.

  • brin

    fws –

    Agreed.

  • Ed

    Ross Douthat is roman catholic. His use of the word heretic relates directly to the counter reformation.

  • Ed

    Ross Douthat is roman catholic. His use of the word heretic relates directly to the counter reformation.


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