Totalitarianism vs. Religion

Mussolini_cropSome atheists accuse religion of being inherently “totalitarian.”  But, as sociologist Chandler Rosenberger, points out, this isn’t true.

The word “totalitarian,” coined by Italian fascists, was defined by Mussolini as “everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”  (Limited government conservatives:  Memorize this definition.)

Prof. Rosenberger explains how religion is usually a check against totalitarianism, which is why totalitarians try so hard to stamp it out. [Read more…]

A blow-by-blow account of the Trinity Lutheran arguments

512px-USSupremeCourtWestFacadeThe London Economist, of all sources, has published a description of the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Pauley (and the State of Missouri).

The report said that the argument seemed to go in the church’s favor, with even liberal justices expressing skepticism about the state of Missouri’s reasoning in refusing to allow the church to participate in a grant for shredded tires to use for  playground padding for its preschool.

The justices asked the state’s attorney if providing a church police and fire protection would also violate its church-state separation law.  The attorney reportedly couldn’t come up with a good answer.

The new guy on the court, Justice Gorsuch, also seemed sympathetic to the LCMS institution.

Read the description of the arguments after the jump.

Photo of Supreme Court building by UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

[Read more…]

Sexual harassment brings down Bill O’Reilly

512px-Bill_O'Reilly_at_the_World_Affairs_Council_of_Philadelphia_(cropped)Fox News sacrificed its top-rated program by firing Bill O’Reilly for multiple charges of sexual harassment.  The same charge earlier brought down the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes.

Other conservatives have recently been brought down by sex scandals, including the governor of Alabama.  Here in Oklahoma, a state legislator was ousted for sexual harassment after doing things like making his executive assistant go with him to strip clubs.

What can explain such behavior?  I know, original sin.  But surely simple decency, good manners, and common sense–the first use of the law–can restrain at least the most grotesque external expression of our inner lusts.  What these men were accused of doing is certainly not “conservative” behavior.  And it hurts the credibility of conservatives everywhere.

Photo, Bill O’Reilly at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.jpg: World Affairs Council of Philadelphia derivative work: Karppinen [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons [Read more…]

Dispatch from Finland

640px-Luther_Church,_Helsinki,_insideWe are in Finland, safe and sound.  We are having a good and fascinating time.  The church situation here is complicated, but don’t believe what you hear about the utter secularism of Scandinavia.  We are meeting some very vibrant and very solid Lutheran Christians who are true inspirations.  And, yes, they are reaping lots of Muslim converts to Christianity.  But I’ll tell you more when I get back.

Thanks for sticking with the blog while I’m gone.  I may be able to post more than I thought I could.

 

Photo of Luther Church, a confessional congregation attended by over 200 people each Sunday by Abc10 – Oma teos, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49178504

Hank Hanegraff, the Bible Answer Man, joins the Orthodox Church

640px-Hank_HanegraaffHank Hanegraff, who hosts the Bible Answer Man radio show and who operates the Christian Research Institute, has converted to Eastern Orthodoxy.

An apologists for evangelicalism, Hanegraff and his ministry has spoken against Baptismal regeneration and the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  This has put him against Lutheranism.

But now he is embracing the sacraments and other beliefs of Eastern Orthodoxy, including the doctrine of theosis.

He is foreswearing Protestantism, but he is continuing his work with the CRI and the Bible Answer Man.

[Read more…]

The search for Christ’s DNA

492px-DNA_Structure+Key+Labelled.pn_NoBBForensic archaeologists have been extracting the DNA that can still be found in old bones and on ancient artifacts.  Some are aiming at the big prize:  the DNA of Jesus!

We may have found the bones of John the Baptist.  He was a cousin of Jesus, so they would share some DNA patterns.  We may have found the ossuary that contained the bones of James, Jesus’ brother.  And there is genetic material on the Shroud of Turin.  And there are other relics that purport to be connected to Jesus.  Scientists are studying all of this stuff.  Read Oxford geneticist George Busby on this quest, excerpted and linked after the jump.

What would that mean if Jesus’s DNA could be extracted?  Would it have only His mother’s genetic information?  Presumably God created a Y chromosome, since Jesus male.  But could DNA data shoot down the doctrine of the Virgin Birth?  Or give evidence of Christ’s divinity?

And if we could reconstruct His DNA would there someday be an attempt to clone Him?  And what would that give us?  We might have information about His human nature, but without His divine nature, He would seem like any other ancient Jew, though of the House and Lineage of David.

First of all, this isn’t going to happen!  You can’t identify anyone from the past based on their DNA.  And attaching a name to bones and relics is itself highly speculative.  The quest to find Christ’s DNA is surely a wild goose chase.  But still, it sends the mind reeling. [Read more…]