Fake News 

fake-1903774_640Both sides of our political divide are accusing the other of spreading “fake news.”

Rev. Tim Pauls, writing for LCMS News & Information, says that of course making up facts and believing whatever we want to is going to be a problem in a culture that rejects objective truth.

He gives some striking examples and some insightful analysis from a Christian perspective.  He then gives some Biblical texts that address this issue and suggests how Christians can handle it. [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…]

A Lutheran take on exorcism and the demonic

We’ve blogged about a Lutheran exorcist.  A new book from Concordia Publishing House offers a theological framework on the reality of demonic activity, actual case studies of people afflicted by demons who were helped by Lutheran pastors, and practical guidelines on how these malign spirits can be cast out by means of the Word, the Sacraments, and prayer.

The book is entitled Afraid:  Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America.  It’s by Dr. Robert H. Bennett, the Executive Director of the Luther Academy and an Adjunct Professor of Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Read my review after the jump. [Read more…]

The 9/11 attacks 15 years later

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I remember the shock and the horror of that day, watching it all unfold on television.  I also remember the unity that Americans felt in the aftermath–how we all pulled together, the emotions we all shared, from grief about those 3,000 who died to inspiration from those rescue workers who gave their own lives for others.  There was a palpable sense of patriotism in the days that followed the attacks, uniting conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, ordinary folks and the cultural elite.

I even thought that postmodernism might be over.  People were talking about good and evil, as if they were moral absolutes.  There wasn’t much moral relativism or cultural relativism when it came to the terrorists and what they did to our country.  And those planes flying into those buildings were not a “construction” of our own minds.  Truth must exist after all.

[Read more…]

Are Christians the powerful or the marginalized?

In the course of a post on why so many evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump, S. D. Kelly tosses off an observation that explains much about the current controversies between Christians and secularists.

Secularists tend to see Christians as “the powerful”; that is, in postmodern parlance, those who are in a position of power and privilege who oppress “the marginalized,” those who lack power and privilege.

But Christians tend to see themselves as “the marginalized,” oppressed by the cultural elite who exclude them and exercise their power against them.

Thus, when a Christian baker refuses to participate in a gay wedding, the secularists see the Christian heteronormative establishment discriminating against marginalized and oppressed gay people.

While Christians see secularists–who control the culture, the entertainment industry, the educational establishment, the government, and the law–imposing their sexual ideology on those with traditional Christian values and punishing them for their minority religious beliefs.

This explains much of the rhetoric, argumentation, and high feelings on both sides.  Are these just two irreconcilable perceptions?  Or can we make an objective case for one side or the other?  Does realizing these different perceptions suggest other ways of addressing these controversies? [Read more…]

Confessions of an ex-liberal theologian

Thomas C. Oden is a prominent theologian who formerly was a major practitioner of liberal, modernist theology.  But then, after reading the Church Fathers, he did an about face, turning to orthodox, historical Christianity.  He tells his story in A Change of Heart:  A Personal and Theological Memoir.

This is the most stimulating and illuminating book that I have read in a long time, giving an inside look at the construction of liberal theology, explaining what happened to mainstream Protestantism, and describing in novelistic detail how a prominent scholar came back to an authentic Christian faith.

Reading this book, published a couple of years ago, was an especially strange experience for me because Oden’s background and mine are so similar!  Though he is 20 years older than I am, our experiences have been so similar or at least parallel that reading about them is like reading about my own life.  [Read more…]