About Gene Veith

I am a retired English professor and college administrator. I have written over 20 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

The cup for the laity

The communion practice of the Roman Catholic Church, up until Vatican II, was for the priests to drink the wine.  Laypeople were only given the bread.

Brian Stiller, writing on the Christianity Today site, reflects on Luther and the Reformation as he sits in the City Church of Wittenberg.

He sees a detail in Lucas Cranach’s altarpiece–one that I hadn’t noticed before– that gives him a flash of insight into the Reformation.

Now Luther would not be happy with all of what the author says about Holy Communion, since Stiller believes that the Lord’s Supper consists of symbols rather than the true Body and Blood of Christ.  Stiller even extrapolates his conclusions into meals in general.

But he does pick up the detail that Luther is sitting around the Table at the Last Supper with Christ and His disciples.  And Luther gives the cup to a servant–a layman, not an apostle.  Stiller explains why this is so significant and why offering the cup to laypeople–imaged here on the altar–is so expressive of the Gospel as proclaimed in the Reformation.

UPDATE, FURTHER THOUGHTS:  We shouldn’t take this privilege for granted.  John Hus was burned at the stake largely because he insisted on giving laypeople the Blood of Christ. For us laypeople to receive the Cup means that we are all priests (the doctrine of vocation) and that there is no spiritual superiority of one caste or another in Christ’s Kingdom. And that He poured out His blood for all.

[Read more…]

Trump’s “taxpayer first” budget

2018-Blueprint-p1-normal

President Trump has released his detailed budget proposal for 2018, an ambitious document that will encourage his supporters and enrage many of his critics.

His team was reportedly told to examine each line item and ask the question, “Would taxpayers want their money spent on this?”  The budget cuts many social welfare benefits and what was described as “feel good programs that don’t work.”

But it will save $3.6 trillion over ten years, at which time (2027) the federal budget will be balanced.  This, while still increasing defense spending and protecting Social Security.

Does a budget like this, described as a “taxpayer first” budget,  have a chance? [Read more…]

Terrorism hits a concert

Ariana_Grande_-_The_Honeymoon_Tour_Live_Jakarta_(5)

An explosion killed at least 19 and injured 50 at a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England.

Police are treating it as an act of terrorism.  They suspect a suicide bomber.

There are so many places where large numbers of people gather–concerts, sporting events, shopping centers, churches–and are thus good targets for terrorists.  May God preserve us and thwart the evil counsels!

UPDATE:  Isis claims responsibility.  Police say the perpetrator died in the blast, but they have arrested another individual in connection with the attack.  The death toll has risen to 22, mostly teenagers and children.  (Ariana Grande got her start on Nickelodeon.)

UPDATE:  The suicide bomber has been identified as 23-year-old Salman Abedi.  The concert had security, but the terrorist evaded it by setting himself off just outside the entrance to the concert.

[Read more…]

Americans’ moral beliefs

512px-Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_079

 

Gallup has released its latest study of Americans’ moral beliefs.

Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll has been taken each year since 2001, so that it is possible to track changes.

Some two-thirds of Americans see nothing wrong with sex between unmarried couples (69%), homosexual relations (63%), and having a baby outside of wedlock (62%).

Despite this sexual revolution, the vast majority of Americans still strongly disapprove of adultery, with only 9% considering it “OK,” a number that has changed little over the years.

Only 43% consider abortion to be moral, a number that has also been stable since 2001.

For the numbers on these and many other issues, as well as data about the values that have changed, go here.

The summary report, excerpted after the jump, observes that no issues have shown change in a conservative direction.

While it is true that most Americans consider themselves conservative politically, conservatives too are mostly liberal when it comes to morality.

 

Painting:  Moses with the 10 Commandments by Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[Read more…]

Trump’s world-religion tour

photo-1466442929976-97f336a657be_opt

Donald Trump is on his first international trip as president, and he has an ambitious agenda.  He is visiting the homelands of three world religions that have often been in contention with each other:  Islam, Israel, and Rome.

This weekend he was in Saudi Arabia, where he gave a rather impressive speech about Islam (see our post about it) and signed deals for weapons and other investments worth as much as $350 billion.  (Prompting questions about whether we should be so tight with such an authoritarian regime.)

Today he is in Israel.  On Wednesday he will meet with the Pope.

Then the theme will shift to global military and economic issues. Thursday he’ll be in Brussels to meet with NATO.  Friday he’ll be in Sicily for the G7 summit of leaders of the world’s biggest economies.

His purpose in the religion tour, according to the White House, is to “broadcast a message of unity” to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Here is a useful day-by-day breakdown of the trip, giving the context, goals, and what could go wrong.

Do you think President Trump can pull off all of this diplomacy?

[Read more…]