Atheism as Religion, not its Antithesis

The scientific justification for atheism has begun to crumble. Scientific reasoning, scrupulously applied, leads to questions that can be answered most probably (but not certainly) by positing the existence of a transcendent creator. This much I suggested in last week’s blog. But if atheism is not the logical result of scientific thinking, then what is it? I would suggest that atheism has become: “(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long – lasting moods and motivations… Read more

Atheism and the New Conditions of Disbelief

In his book A Secular Age Charles Taylor shows how secularity in his definition: “consists of new conditions of belief; it consists in a new shape to the experience which prompts to and is defined by belief; in a new context in which all search and questioning about the moral and spiritual must proceed. . . . .The main feature of this new context is that it puts an end to the naive acknowledgment of the transcendent, or of goals or claims… Read more

The End of a Privileged Place

A recent article in “Countercurrent News” regarding the ongoing scandal of pedophilia within the Roman Catholic church in Australian reveals both the insidious nature of anti-Catholic propaganda and the very real issue of what privilege religious institutions should have in a modern nation state that guarantees freedom of religion. http://countercurrentnews.info/2017/08/catholic-archbishop-id-rather-go-to-prison-than-report-child-abuse-to-police/ First the anti-Catholic propaganda. The article intentionally misquotes Archbishop Denis Hart to make it sound as if he doesn’t support reporting child abuse. In fact, as the article later makes clear, what… Read more

Uncertainty is Our Only Hope

Living with uncertainty is our only hope that God will laugh with joy when we do our work as the orderers of our social world. Recently in a little Facebook exchange a professed evangelical told me bluntly that he put his confidence in the clear teaching of scripture and the church down through the ages. And he questioned reliance on science, which as he pointed out has shifted its views on human sexuality and many other things in the last… Read more

Jews, Muslims, and Christians Restoring American Ideals

Unity and political solidarity and action are the only way to overturn the ascending forces of bigotry and hate in US society. I just came back from a month in Southeast Asia; visiting Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Some of you will know that I lived in that region for more than 12 years. Each of these countries has a distinctive social makeup, government, and understanding of religious diversity. What they common is an understanding that one cannot simply let the… Read more

Fire and Fury, Will Korean Christians Survive?

a war on the Korean Peninsula? I wonder. Dallas’ own Robert Jeffress has once again weighed in on foreign affairs. His exact words, as reported in the Washington Post. were: “God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary – including war – to stop evil.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/08/god-has-given-trump-authority-to-take-out-kim-jong-un-evangelist-advisor-says.) This was his positive endorsement of the “fire and fury” comments of Trump a day earlier. Now when Jeffress says “take out Kim Jong Un” by any measures (including war) I wonder if… Read more

Romans 1 and Same-Sex Relations

The key to understanding any passage in the Bible is surely grasping the author’s intent. And that is why we need to look closely at Romans 1 if we’re going to grasp what the Bible says about same-sex marriage and homosexuality more generally. Because nowhere in the New Testament is there stronger or more direct language related to homosexuality and same-sex sexual relations. Romans 1:26,27: For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse… Read more

Marriage Isn’t a Matter of Doctrine

In a recent article in First Things Paul Stallsworth makes observations about the current structure of United Methodism, and its inability to manage the crisis over same-sex marriage. https://www.firstthings.com/…/…/a-disunited-methodist-church. He doesn’t believe that UM structures, conceived in the early part of US history, can cope with what he sees as a growing divide between popular culture and doctrine. He may be right. Yet . . . . In that article he makes (without remarking on it) two distinctions. One is… Read more

“Can the West Be Converted?”

I hope not. The great missionary theologian Lesslie Newbigen asked this question in 1987. For him, and many others the secular West had become, whatever its Christian inheritance, a realm that had lost touch with a full experience of God’s grace. It needed conversion. This theme has been repeated by any number of non-Western theologians. One, Gilliam Mary Bediako has written an excellent essay entitled “Christianity in Interaction with the Primal Religions of the World” (in Christianity and Religious Plurality,… Read more

Culture Eats Ideology for Lunch

The economist Peter Drucker nailed an important truth in this pithy saying. It is a truth that remains largely unrecognized in contemporary American Christianity. Perhaps the best way to visual the American Christian illusion is a Venn diagram. We know that there are many different cultures. But we assume that they all overlap with regard to their most important “core” values. And we assume that these core values are the same as our core values: personal freedom, economic advancement, security,… Read more




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