Is it a fundamental human right to live off God’s grace as borrowed capital with no intent of paying back? Often, we live as if God will be gracious to us, no matter how we live. Voltaire, the deistic critique of orthodox Christianity in the 18th century, was reported to have quipped, “God will forgive; it’s his business.” Is it? How do we know? Was Voltaire living in light of borrowed capital from the Christian tradition he rejected without paying tribute?Voltaire was likely far more cogniza … [Read more...]
Is It a Fundamental Human Right to Live off God’s Grace as Borrowed Capital with No Intent of Paying Back?
“Sola Scriptura”—Martin Luther’s teaching of Scripture alone—does not signify solitary confinement, but that the Bible is the fundamental written authority for the church’s life in service to Christ. While tradition has an important place to play, it must never eclipse Scripture, no matter how close they are related.The Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, took quite seriously Scripture’s call to live together in community. The written Word must take on flesh and blood exis … [Read more...]
How important would it be to you that a therapist you are seeing or a butler or bellhop who serves you were guilty of tax evasion or cheating on their spouse? As long as the therapist or butler/bellhop weren’t cheating you, would that be okay? What about God? As long as a God who cheats others weren't cheating you, would that be okay?How did God come into the picture? According to sociologist of religion Christian Smith, many young people, who espouse a form of “Moralistic Therapeutic Dei … [Read more...]
In our moralistic, therapeutic deistic age, one often hears "If it feels right, it must be right." If feeling determines rightness, the Bible must be wrong—at least much of the time. Fortunately, not everyone agrees at every turn with this assessment.Here I am reminded of John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie, where he and his poodle Charlie set off on a cross-country journey in his truck. Soon after beginning the trek in New York, they stop in Vermont on a Sunday morning. Steinbeck decides t … [Read more...]
What gives God the right to be God? That he makes us happy? And if he doesn’t?Did someone higher upstairs or those of us downstairs give God the green light to be God, or did God take it upon him or herself to be crowned the Almighty? Beyond these questions, does God’s official status grant total access to do with the world and us whatever he, she or it pleases? Does God have permission to smash babies’ heads against the rocks (Psalm 137:8-9), or tell his chosen ones to kill their first … [Read more...]
What are you willing to die for? That tells you what you really believe. John Henry Newman wrote in “Secular Knowledge Not a Principle of Action,” The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion. People die f … [Read more...]
“If you see a Buddha on the road, kill him.” What about Jesus? I got into a conversation on this topic the other morning over breakfast with a Buddhist friend. The exchange has lingered on to this day, and no doubt, will last a lifetime of discussions with my friend.Before proceeding, it is important to try and place the quotation in context. I found a reflection on this quotation online. According to one interpreter, Dyung Le, The context of this phrase is from a[n] old Zen koan attributed … [Read more...]