In trouble for belonging to an “anti-gay” church

Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_The_Christian_Martyrs'_Last_Prayer_-_Walters_37113Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of “Fixer-Upper,” a popular home remodeling show on HGTV.  They are openly devout Christians. And they are now under fire.  A BuzzFeed article is accusing them of being anti-gay.  This is because they belong to an evangelical congregation that does not conduct gay weddings and that holds to traditional teachings about sexual morality.  That means, according to the Buzzfeed author, that the church is anti-gay.  And because the Gaineses belong to this church, that means they must be anti-gay also.

As far as anyone knows, the Gaineses have never discriminated against a gay person (the charge against some Christian bakers and photographers who have turned down gay customers).  Nor has anyone found them saying anything negative about homosexuality (as in some charges of pastors “preaching hate.”)  No, their transgression is simply belonging to a church with traditional teachings.  For this, their jobs are threatened.

Now comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert is a Catholic.  He appears to hold conventionally liberal ideas and supports LGBT issues. But he belongs to a church that, by these standards, is anti-gay!  There are, in fact, lots of Catholics in the TV and entertainment industries.  Are they all to be disqualified like the Gaineses?  Or, to take another example, does BuzzFeed believe that Muslims, who surely have harsher views about homosexuality than even conservative Christians, should be thrown out of Hollywood?

So here we are.  Simply being a member of a conservative church may be enough to get you into serious trouble.

After the jump, an excellent article by a gay writer castigating his fellow LGBT supporters for their tactic of dealing with their opponents by shaming and silencing them, specifically criticizing how they are treating the Gainses. [Read more…]

The word of the year

OED2_volumesThe Oxford English Dictionary–that mammoth reference book that chronicles the history of every word in our language–has announced the word of the year for 2016:  post-truth.

Most commenters are relating the term to the lack of truth in today’s politics, particularly with candidates that the commenter opposes.  The implication is that they think being “post-truth” is a bad thing, that they would like objective truth to come back as a category for our time.

But “post-truth” is nothing more than what postmodernism has done to all objective truth, the notion that we can create what we want to be true by our subjective decisions, that we can create what is true for us.  Thus, strictly speaking,  transgenderism–the view that we can select our own gender identity apart from our objective bodies– is post-truth.  Gay marriage, with its assumption that we can re-create sexual morality and social institutions at will, is post-truth.  The notions that all religions are the same, that attempts at persuasion are nothing more than impositions of power, that my truth is just as valid as your truth, are post-truth.  No wonder that politicians act in the same way.  But those who don’t really believe in object truth might as well embrace the term. [Read more…]

Trump and the culture war issues

An Associated Press story, excerpted and linked after the jump, says that Trump’s election victory “resets” the culture wars.  It quotes LGBT and pro-abortion activists lamenting that their causes have experienced a setback.

First of all, Trump supports gay rights.  He “is fine” with gay marriage, something he reiterated after his election.  And the sexual revolution certainly has nothing to fear from someone with his record.

But he is committed to appointing pro-life judges, something else he reiterated after his election.  And, based on earlier statements, he is likely to be more friendly to religious liberty issues, such as allowing conscience exemptions.

So cultural conservatives are likely to get something, though not everything, from a Trump presidency.  But the same can be said of cultural liberals.

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Vocation as the foundation of culture

I learned some things at the Two Kingdoms conference I spoke at, sponsored by Jordan Cooper at Just and Sinner.  Jordan commented that our vocations–in the family, the economy, the church, and the state–are no less than the foundations of culture.

He studied the first chapters of Genesis and concluded that the so-called “cultural mandate” (by which human beings are given the authority and the ability to rule the earth), should more properly be called the “vocational mandate.”

UPDATE:  You can hear Jordan’s complete presentation here.

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Liberalism of the left & liberalism of the right

The well-regarded ethicist Stanley Hauerwas reviews a new book by John Milibank, of “radical orthodoxy” fame.  Entitled The Politics of Virtue, Milibank argues that both today’s liberals and conservatives are essentially liberals.  Both sides are fixated on “freedom,” whether sexual freedom or economic freedom, to the exclusion of other things needed for a good society (such as virtue).  Milibanks goes on to argue for a “post-liberalism.”

Read Hauerwas’s discussion and interaction with the ideas after the jump. [Read more…]

Reaching today’s idolaters of the self

How do you proclaim the forgiveness of sins to someone who doesn’t think he has done anything wrong?  How can you apply the Law to someone who feels no guilt and the Gospel to someone who feels no need for Christ?  Trying to evangelize today’s relativists seems like a futile project.  How can we get through to them?

The Australian pastor and theologian Michael Lockwood has just published a stimulating, paradigm-shifting book entitled The Unholy Trinity:  Martin Luther against the Idol of Me, Myself, and I.

On one level, it is a study of Luther’s view of idolatry.  For Luther, idolatry is not just worshipping graven images, as with Christians who think tangible objects used in worship, such as crucifixes, are idols.  Rather, idolatry is worshipping false gods created by the self.  In his explanation of the First Commandment in the the Large Catechism, Luther asks, “what is it to have a God?”  His answer:  What do you put put your faith in?  That’s your God.  Ultimately, idolatry is the opposite of saving faith in Christ.  It means putting your faith in yourself.

Dr. Lockwood then applies the insights from Luther to today’s spiritual landscape, from “Moralistic-therapeutic-Deism,” through the whole array of false spiritualities, to the pure secularism that sees no need for God at all.  All of these, at their root, are idolaters of the self.  But the self will let you down every time.

Drawing on his experience as a missionary, Dr. Lockwood says that non-believers first need to be “disenchanted” with their idols. He shows how the Law brings a message not only of guilt but of disenchantment.  In times of suffering, failure, and the prospect of death, even the idolaters of the self can find redemption in Christ.

This is a ground-breaking book that brings a distinctly Lutheran perspective on the task of apologetics, evangelism, and pastoral care.  But all Christians will benefit from its fresh approach to cultural criticism and from learning from Dr. Lockwood the art of “spiritual diagnosis.”

Read my review after the jump.  Then buy this book.

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