Moralism of the right & moralism of the left

United Methodists are considering whether or not to have an amicable split, so as to accommodate both sides of the moral debates that the denomination is struggling with.  As I know from personal and family experience, Methodists have always had a strong emphasis on morality.  It certainly has an evangelistic strain, with its roots in the Wesleyan revivals, but its moral focus can tend to moralism, an emphasis on moral rectitude that overshadows the forgiveness of Christ.

The prospect of a Methodist split shows what is happening across many denominations.  There is a moralism of the right, fixating on traditional sexual morality, personal vices, and family values.  And there is a moralism of the left, fixating on “social justice,” care for the poor, and political liberalism.  (Note that it is possible to uphold what is “moral” without succumbing to “moralism.”)

But what–or, rather, Who–is often missing in moralistic churches of both the right and the left is Christ.  The right often relegates Him to the moment of conversion, whereupon Christians can then get to the real business of regulating their behavior.  The left reduces Him to a political liberal like themselves.  Both treat Him mainly as an example, rather than as Savior, Redeemer, and Sacrifice. [Read more...]

He ascended into Heaven

Happy Ascension Day!  Today we celebrate that Jesus, in the words of the Apostle’s Creed,  “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”  It’s interesting how some Christians use this teaching to deny that the Body of Christ can be really present in Holy Communion–after all, His body is in heaven at the right hand of the Father–while Lutherans use this teaching to explain how the Body of Christ can be present in Holy Communion (He now shares the attributes of Godhead, such as omnipresence).

Here, though, is an ancient Christian holiday that has not become secularized.  What do you say is the true meaning of Ascension Day? [Read more...]

The pulpit as the Empty Tomb

Thanks to Darren Jones for pointing me to this post on how the Early Church linked the pulpit to Christ’s empty tomb. [Read more...]

God as merely an explanation

The “low voltage atheist” George Will defends public prayer, and in doing so offers an interesting definition of Deism, one that might apply to many people who consider themselves Christians.  He says that for the Deist, God is just an explanation, on the order of believing in the Big Bang, which is not the same as being truly religious. [Read more...]

Is Jesus just a legend?

Jesus must be either who He said He was–the Son of God–or He must have been a liar or a lunatic.  So goes the “trilemma” as developed in the apologetics of  C. S. Lewis.  But now lots of people are claiming another option, that He was simply a legend.  But was he?  And how can we persuade someone who thinks he was?

Tom Gilson, in Touchstone, offers a quite brilliant line of thought refuting that notion, in what is, in effect, a literary apologetic.  Read it all, but I give a sample after the break. [Read more...]

The world’s eucatastrophe

Thanks to Rev. Sam Schuldheisz who posted passages from J. R. R. Tolkien on “eucatastrophe,” a word he coined for “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears.”  Tolkien then developed the idea that the eucatastrophe of history is the Birth of Christ, and the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation is His resurrection. [Read more...]


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