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.

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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…]

University students on identity

An interviewer asked University of Washington students about whether they agree that one’s identity is anything one chooses it to be.  At first he asked about the issues in the news, gender and bathroom questions, getting the standard approved answers.  But then he kept pushing it to see how far the students’ relativism would go.  He found that it had no limits!  See the video after the jump. [Read more…]

The varieties of irrationalism

In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at the University of Regensburg, which earned him much criticism for dissing Islam.  But what the speech was about was the importance of a proper use of reason to Christianity and the West, something missing in Islam.

Samuel Gregg writes about the address and the issue in a provocative post for the Catholic World Report.   He and the former pope observe that the Logos, from which the word “logic” comes, is essential to Christianity as the ordering principle of the universe, as well as the Son of God (John 1).  Without this order principle, we get irrational violence AND the irrationalities of the postmodern universities, with their “safe spaces,” political correctness, and rejection of truth.  We are also getting the kind of irrationalism that reduces reason to empiricism alone, without considering larger truths, meaning that reason is no longer of much help in addressing moral issues.

Benedict recognizes the problems of scholasticism that subjected Scriptural revelation to Aristotelian philosophy, an imbalance that Luther and the other Reformers castigated in their critiques of reason alone.  What is needed is a proper use of reason.  The address also gives ammunition for classical education, as Benedict argues for the necessity of preserving the “hellenic” heritage of the West. [Read more…]

How Americans protect themselves from Christianity

Another brilliant analysis of the challenges facing American Christianity by James R. Rogers, Texas A&M Political Science professor and an LCMS layman.  This time he focuses on how and why Americans “armor” themselves from Christianity.  He analyzes how relativism works and quotes Allan Bloom on Americans’ “easy-going nihilism” and “nihilism without the abyss.”  He surveys how churches are already responding to these factors without much success and opens a discussion about what might be more effective. [Read more…]