Archive for the ‘Current vents’ Category

The big headline in 1996 was that Barack Obama wrote that he supported same-sex marriage.  Apparently he’s voiced this support again more recently, which I didn’t know because I’ve been comatose in an isolated concrete bunker at the earth’s core for a month.  One particular reaction to his (re)announcement has caught my eye, and I’m submitting it as my entry for this year’s “Most Post-Modern Thing You’ve Ever Heard” contest (or MPMTYEH, pronounced “em-pum-TEE-ah”). For what it’s worth, my entry last year, “All religions are basically the same” narrowly lost to “That’s true for you, but not for me.”  It was a shame, really; I should have won.  MPMTYEH is so subjective now, almost as if there’s no absolute standard by which to judge the entries…

Anyway, the statement?  One supporter encourages Obama after his announcement with the phrase, “Stand in your truth!”  I can probably explain this statement away as simply meaning, “Stand up for the things you believe in” or something like that, against which I take no issue.  However, the word “truth” really bugs me, not unlike last years MPMTYEH winner, “That’s true for you, but not for me.”  The encouragement implies that Obama’s “truth” is distinct from somebody else’s “truth.”  Thus the concept of truth is made subjective, as if we make our own truth.  This is, of course, false.  If you disagree with me, consider that my truth is that we don’t make our own truth. Q.E.D.

My second contest entry this year also (purely coincidentally) involves the issue of homosexuality.  I’m submitting this into the 2012 “Four Words I Never Thought I’d See Together” contest (FWINTIST – “fuh-WIN-tist”).  My entry is “St. Augustine Gay Pride.”  The context is the gay pride day taking place in the Florida city named after Augustine.  Granted, this doesn’t sound alarming.  On its own, however, it is quite shocking.  I was never terribly close to Augustine of Hippo, as he tended to hang out with an older crowd than me (i.e., people long dead), but I’m pretty sure he never thought he’d see his name followed by “gay pride.”

Regarding actual non-snarky commentary about gay marriage, these days I’m most impressed by the prescience of Francis Schaeffer, who back in the 70’s (or perhaps earlier) noted that in a society without absolutes, society becomes the absolute.  For my money, this is precisely what is happening with same-sex marriage.  American societies are gradually reaching the point of saying that they define what marriage is, and many of those societies are concluding that marriage includes same-sex couples.  An ancillary observation by Schaeffer was that erasing absolutes would still leave two: Personal peace and affluence.  In other words, the two things people will continue to cling to in the absence of other absolutes are their own personal peace and affluence.  I have found the personal peace aspect of this relevant to the debates about same-sex marriage as well, since I’ve often heard the (weak) argument, “It’s not hurting anybody; let them marry.”  What’s ultimately being said here, in my opinion, is that it’s not bothering me (personal peace), so let them marry.  Again, the absolute is still rooted in the individual.

We tend to stray from topics like homosexuality here at BBG, but not for lack of conviction about the issue, or for lack of confidence in our position.  Rather, I’ve yet to see any fruitful exchange about such emotionally charged issues take place on a public blog.  If you want to see flame wars, hate speech, deep irony, and a bunch of people writing things they’d never actually say with no real exchange of ideas, look at the comments after a CNN article on homosexuality.  This is what we do not want BBG to become.

It will come as no surprise to our reader(s?) that this author does not support same-sex marriage (cue sound of can of worms opening).  After all, this is Boston Bible Geeks, not Boston Secular-Humanism Geeks, or something like that.  As such, my feelings on the matter stem from the fact that the Bible is authoritative in my life: It defines marriage for me, and I can find no compelling evidence that marriage was purposed for same-sex couples (or polygamy, by the way).  As for whether or not we should legislate Biblical principles, frankly, the best arguments I’ve read about same-sex marriage have nothing to do with the Bible, religion, “the sanctity of marriage” or anything like that, such as the exchanges regarding natural law here, here and here (lots of reading, but also thorough, intelligent writing on the subject showcasing opposing views).   While I’m linking articles, from a Christian standpoint, Collin Hansen at TGC has written a reaction to Obama’s announcement here, which is also worth reading.

I’d be happy to discuss privately over e-mail anyone who wishes for an actual “conversation.”  It would be an interesting social experiment to see if two adults could disagree about something so controversial and remain friendly.  Perhaps we might even learn something from each other, and even grow to understand differing views without the noise of the media, blog trolls, or quick, superficial, straw-man dismissals.  For the subject matter at hand, this would be a good thing.

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…until Harold Camping is either vindicated or proven wrong (again).   As Danny pointed out a few weeks ago, there is a great series of articles written about Camping, and his most recent prediction of Christ’s return at 6p.m. on May 21.  I will not be so rash as to say that Christ is definitely not returning this Saturday, since, biblically speaking, nobody knows but the Father (Mt. 24:36).  If Jesus does return on Saturday, however, Camping’s prediction is the hermeneutic equivalent of hitting the lottery:  it’s not because he interpreted the Bible properly, but because he got lucky.

For an excellent article on why the publicity of Camping’s most recent prediction is cause for grief among believers, and a potential stumbling block for unbelievers, Robert Jeffress has written an excellent article on the subject.  I’d encourage our readers to be at least informally acquainted with this (it’ll take all of 30 minutes to read through all the articles I recommend here).  If it’s making the news, it could be on people’s minds, and might make for a great opportunity to share the truth of the Gospel.

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This Wednesday, author Anne Rice, of Interview with the Vampire fame, announced on her Facebook page that she “quit being a Christian,” but “remain[s] committed to Christ as always.”   Says Rice, “It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.”  She elaborated a few minutes later in another post: “I refuse to be anti-gay.  I refuse to be anti-feminist.  I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.  I refuse to be anti-Democrat.  I refuse to be anti-secular humanism.  I refuse to be anti-science.  I refuse to be anti-life.  In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian.”

Before I comment, I should note that for Rice, “Christian” means “Roman Catholic,” the faith in which she was brought up.  Although she renounced Catholicism at age 18, she returned about 10 years ago.

I’m not particularly concerned with the personal lives of celebrities, and yes, it seems like Rice is rejecting institutional religion (viz., Catholicism) rather than Jesus Himself (hence being able to espouse commitment to Christ while simultaneously declaring herself a non-Christian).  And yes, it’d be interesting to see how one can reconcile something like secular humanism with following Jesus.  And yes, I doubt that there was ever a papal bull declaring that Catholics must be Republican.  We could pick apart and critique Rice’s comments ad nauseum, and perhaps engage in a point by point expose of what Christianity is really about, and what it really says about the issues she raises.

If I had the stomach (or the Facebook account) I could read all the comments on her post, and probably find such a defense.  But I don’t have the stomach, because I can hardly escape feeling nauseous when I think that Rice is probably not alone in believing the following equation:

Christianity (thus, Christians) = quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-science, etc.

Why does this hurt?  Because it’s our fault.  People reject Jesus because of the Church that’s supposed to bear witness to Him.  They reject the Church because of the Church.  If only the equation were:

Christianity (thus, Christians) = peace-loving, unified, humble, loving, thoughtful, etc.

How would the world be different?  Before we rush to speculate about Rice throwing up a smoke screen so she can live a lifestyle better in-line with what’s culturally popular, or decry her own sinfulness, or mention anything else that gets us off the hook, why not look in the mirror instead?  When people think of me, what are the words that come to mind and why?  Are they words like those in Gal.5:22-23?  Do they think of the many things I am for, or do they only think of what I am against?  How well do I live the life Jesus won for me?

The degree to which you are feeling defensive or offended right now is probably proportional to the degree you need to examine your own heart.  Some of the harshest words in Scripture are reserved for those who should know better, or worse, think they are above criticism.  Praise be, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” but woe unto us if we do not live like it.

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A series of ads funded by eight atheist groups are being posted in the New York subway system.  The ads will show a blue sky with the words, “A million New Yorkers are good without God.  Are you?”  It seems that this sort of thing makes news (or at least, this blog) every year.  This time, the ad appears to be less an attack on theism so much as an attempt to reach out to other non-theists.  Michael De Dora, one of the directors for an atheist group sponsoring the ad, expresses the intent to create awareness of the city’s secular community, and foster “talking and thinking about religion and morality.”

I personally don’t find the ad to be particularly offensive.  That is, it is no more offensive than other advertisements that litter our view.  Other advertisements promise that a new car will bring satisfaction, that a better paying job will bring about personal fulfillment, or that we deserve a luxury cruise.  A harsher critic might call these claims lies, and he’d be right.   So, is this ad also a lie?  Yes and no.

I could argue from my worldview, and claim that this ad is a lie because the million New Yorkers are not good.  They are actually sinners who bear real moral guilt for their thoughts and deeds, just like everybody else in the world.  This lie is amplified by two more lies:  (1) the presupposition that goodness can be achieved without God, and (2) the claim that real “goodness” actually exists without God.

I could also take a cue from De Dora, and do some thinking about morality.  Such thinking could lead me to argue that this ad is true, but desperately in need of an asterisk next to the word “good.”   The asterisk could be explained in fine print on the bottom of the ad: *that is, good as they define it.  However, that would make the ad a boring non-statement, since one can easily be good without God, because “good” is a meaningless concept that can be defined by the individual.  Therefore the ad is true.

In the interest of honesty, the ad might want to incorporate an additional footnote that being good without God may require the consistent thinker to live the rest of their days in despair over the absurdity of life without God.  Without God, our meaningless, purposeless life in the cold, uncaring, and dying universe makes the chemical accident of our existence cruel (that is, if such a thing as cruelty existed), and all of our striving for good (whatever that is), quite pointless, save perhaps that it can distract us enough to live in delusional happiness on our fleet journey to non-existence.  This sounds harsh, but life without God is harsh.  I’ve yet to hear a cogent argument for how life without God (or even a god) has any meaning, value, or purpose.

In my worldview, I can say that much of what the ad is striving for is good:  I commend the notion of people getting together, even more so when thoughtful dialogue is the goal, and even more when morality is the topic du jour.  I, too, do not want individuals to feel isolated, lonely, or persecuted because of their beliefs.  However, I cannot argue that the ad is good from the atheist worldview, because my thoughts are all predicated on the notion that there is such a thing as objective “good.”  The ad is therefore self-defeating, since by its own worldview, it cannot make any claims to objective good.  It could try, perhaps by an appeal to a collective, but the claims would ultimately fail because (1) living out such claims would require inconsistencies, as noted on this blog, and (2) the collective would change over time, making “good” today something different from “good” tomorrow.  If “today” were ancient Greece, for instance, the collective might condone the exposure of female infants.

Thankfully, we do not have to live in despair, because there is a God, and He is good.  The existence of a good God is also grounds for despair, since we are guilty of moral wrong before Him.  Thankfully, there is more good news, because Jesus Christ died and rose again to free us from our bondage to decay, and forgive us for our sins, such that those in Christ no longer stand condemned before God.  While this ad has the best of intentions (like many atheists in my experience), it cannot deliver on its promises, for there is no good without God, no hope without Jesus, and no turning to the good without the Holy Spirit.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us (read: both of us) here at BBG!  We hope and pray that this season marks a time of joy and awe as you consider the gracious miracle of God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ.

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Chuck Colson has written a commentary about the recent corruption charges against Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.  Check it out here.

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