Can you be pro-life and pro-gun?

Evangelical pastor Rob Schenck criticizes his fellow conservative Christians for being knee-jerk 2nd Amendment supporters, arguing that it is impossible to be both pro-life and pro-gun.  A Lutheran police officer, Joseph Klotz, answers those arguments, concluding that the missing piece of the puzzle is vocation. [Read more…]

Total driving depravity

Drivers in China who have a traffic accident often back over injured pedestrians in order to intentionally kill them. This shockingly depraved disregard of life is encouraged by the compensation laws.  According to Geoffrey Sant, writing in Slate,

Most people agree that the hit-to-kill phenomenon stems at least in part from perverse laws on victim compensation. In China the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small—amounts typically range from $30,000 to $50,000—and once payment is made, the matter is over. By contrast, paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor can run into the millions.

More on this phenomenon after the jump. [Read more…]

Letting the culture do the work of the church

Political scientist James R. Rogers (a member of the LCMS) argues that a big part of the problem in American Christianity today is that, for a long time, churches have relied on the culture to instill morality, rather than instilling Christian morality themselves.  Ever since the Sixties, though, the culture has been taking a different turn. . . . [Read more…]

Sexual ethics are part of social justice

Many people, including the Pope, are saying that the church should devote more attention to social justice as opposed to to sexual ethics.  First Things editor Matthew Schmitz, a Catholic, reminds us that sexual ethics are part of social justice. [Read more…]

Hitler’s worldview

In the course of a column about whether a nuclear Iran can be trusted not to attack Israel, George Will reviews Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s  Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.  I woud just add that his account of Hitler’s worldview and why he hated the Jews is in accord with my book on the subject. [Read more…]

The 1st use of the Law and the new commenting system

We theology nerds talk quite a bit about the Second Use of the Law (the theological use, the “mirror,” which convicts us of sin and drives us to the Gospel), and we argue about the Third Use of the Law (the didactic use, the “guide,” which shows Christians how to live).  We don’t usually say much about the First Use of the Law (the civil use, the “curb,” which enables sinners to live in societies).

The First Use of the Law concerns only external righteousness.  There is no merit to it, no question of earning salvation by external compliance.  Jesus teaches us that we violate the commandment against murder when we hate our brother, and we violate the commandment against adultery when we lust after someone in our hearts.  That inner state is where our status as sinners is evidenet, and it is this inner condition that the Gospel addresses.  But it is also important not to murder anyone externally or to actually commit adultery.  This external righteousness is absolutely necessary if human beings are to live together in families, nations, and societies.  Even someone boiling over with sinfulness on the inside can, on the outside, be a good citizen.

Our sinful nature has to be “curbed.”  The Law achieves this by means of things like parental discipline, the state’s legal system, and social sanctions.  The Law’s first use can make us feel guilt and shame.  We would be ashamed to actually do some of the things we fantasize about.  Many harmful enterprises are held back when the question arises, What if someone finds out?  Being held back by such considerations does not make us a moral person–we shouldn’t have had those fantasies in the first place–but they make civil society possible. [Read more…]


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