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-A Truly Tolerant Culture Should Accommodate the Church’s View on Same-Sex Marriage?

by Dr. D ~ February 5th, 2016

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A truly tolerant culture should accommodate the Church’s view on same-sex marriage and sexuality. However we are now seeing a time when it seems like every other kind of view is accepted 0r tolerated in the popular culture except a conservative Christian world view.

Recently the main stream media in the UK had a small meltdown over the Anglican Communion maintaining their traditional view of marriage and suspending the American Episcopal Church for accepting same-sex marriage. Some in the British media were even questioning whether the church actually had a right to reject the new cultural marital norm. Here’s a quote from a great article in the Spectator entitled- “A truly liberal society would tolerate the Anglican church’s views on sexuality”:

On Saturday the Times published a full-blown invective. The Church has no right, the editorial claimed, to maintain its traditional doctrine of marriage.

The outcry is indicative of a profound shift. Institutions founded on certain precepts to which its members are expected to subscribe shouldn’t be allowed to act on them if those precepts don’t square with a prevailing agenda.

Back in 2013 advocates for same-sex marriage argued that the church’s beliefs about sexuality shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of society. That makes sense. But now the church is being told it shouldn’t hold those beliefs at all.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Incredible! One European Country (Denmark) has already forced its state church to accept same-sex marriage. The UK may be next with these kind of sentiments being publically aired. With the First Amendment still in place this could not happen in America.

However we are seeing some of the same attitudes toward the church in America. For years Christians have been told that they should not impose their beliefs on society. I have always found it interesting that some of the most vocal in this regard nevertheless demand their own rights to change society and laws to reflect their own activist views without seeing the irony or admitting to any hypocrisy. But now it has gone one step further with activist judges forcing Christian business owners to go against their own religious convictions when it comes to contraception, abortifacients, and same-sex marriages and ceremonies.

The first Amendment was originally written to protect diverse religious views and conscience but lately that has been stood on its ear in an attempt to take all religion out of the public square. Meanwhile, freedom of religion is under assault and any attempts to pass laws to protect the rights of believers are being cast in the media as bigoted and discriminatory. Plus the new understanding coming out of many major law schools in America is that the traditional Constitutional understanding needs to be replaced with ‘freedom of worship’ only within the four walls and confines of an officially zoned religious building.

Lately I have even read a number of articles questioning whether conservative Christians should be allowed to hold higher public offices in the future, particularly in the judiciary. So toleration seems to be increasingly limited in our changing secular culture when it comes to conservative Christians and their convictions.               *Top

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-Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

by Dr. D ~ February 3rd, 2016

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Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? In America it is now ‘politically correct’ to say they do and those who claim otherwise are viewed as bigoted Islamophobes in the main stream secular media. A controversy over this issue recently boiled over in the press when Wheaton College administrators suspended  a professor, Larycia Hawkins who taught Political Science, for asserting that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Well do they really? My answer is:

Yes, No, and Maybe So, depending on the context, but mostly No. 

To put this in perspective, sometimes I wonder if the person sitting next to me in church on Sunday is worshipping the same God and some of those folks might actually prove otherwise on Monday! The fact is, every believing person has their own definition of God or Allah, or Adonai whether they are Christians, Muslims,  Jewish or whatever.

As one who studied Christian theology extensively in seminary and holds an advanced degree my usual conclusion on this subject is in the negative (no) since there is such a wide difference between the Christian and Muslim understanding of God: who he is, what he does, and what he requires of humanity.

Read the rest of the article where I list some beliefs about God that Christians and Muslims do have in common along with some major differences.

<Continued on my Apologetica page>                *Top

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-Ayatollah Khamenei: Not Clear The Holocaust Was a Reality?

by Dr. D ~ January 29th, 2016

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(Ayatollah Khamenei: Wikipedia)

The Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei reaffirmed his doubts about the Holocaust while the rest of the world paused to remember the slaughter of millions and the stories of the survivors. Here’s the story from the Jerusalem Post:

Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday once again repeated provocative assertions about the Holocaust, …

Of the Holocaust, Khamenei remarked:

“It is not clear whether the core of this matter is a reality or not. Even if it is a reality, it is not clear how it happened…This is the ignorance that exists in today’s world. We should be awake. [Muslims] should know that we can stand up against the ignorance.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: Many Muslim leaders over the years have expressed doubts over the historicity of the Holocaust. One of the major reasons for this line of thinking is their rejection of the origins of the Jewish state of Israel.

The Holocaust was one of the major contributing factors to the immigration of thousands of Jews to Palestine following WWII. Most Muslim leaders would like to deny that there was any reason for them coming or any legitimist Jewish historical claim on the land in the first place. In the minds of many Muslim leaders, there are no reasons that the Israeli Jews should not be forced to go back to Europe or even killed if they refuse.

The Biblical accounts of the Jews in the land are discounted and considered to be superseded by the coming of Muhammad and the Quran and the Muslim conquest. The Holocaust is seen as an unfortunate excuse that was only supported by the Europeans in order to get the Jews out of their own lands.             *Top

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-Iranian President Defends Charlie Hebdo Attacks?

by Dr. D ~ January 28th, 2016

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is making the rounds in Europe this week trying to drum up business for his country. Before going to Paris he made the following reference which seemed to justify the Charlie Hebdo attacks and killings last year in France. Here’s the story from Townhall:

Before heading to Paris after a visit in Rome, Rouhani declared free speech does not include the right to insult religion. 

But in an apparent reference to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Rouhani said freedom of expression

"doesn’t mean offending that which is sacred to other people’s faith."
"All religions are to be respected, their books and the millions of people who follow the faith,"
Rouhani said. Insulting them, he said, "creates division and doesn’t help anyone."

Rouhani’s statement is a clear reference to, and justification of, the 2014 murders of Charlie Hebdo editors and cartoonists after they depicted Mohamed on the cover of the satirical newspaper.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Just a reminder that many Muslim leaders were not all that sympathetic to the victims who were killed by terrorists in Paris last year. In fact in some places in the Middle East they were even celebrating over the terrorist ‘victory.’

Muslim leaders are divided most of the time but when it comes to freedom of speech, as understood in the West, and what they consider to be defamation against Islam they are in total agreement. They have sought in the UN to put in place international laws which would limit free speech when it comes to anything critical of Islam. Even the majority of American Muslims are in favor of criminalizing any kind of defamation against the Muslim faith. Fortunately they have been unsuccessful so far.            *Top

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-Pope Francis Defends Traditional Marriage

by Dr. D ~ January 25th, 2016

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Pope Francis is considered to be one of the most ‘liberal’ leaders of the Catholic church ever to be elected as Pope. He is quoted often in Facebook memes that would seem to be out of character with traditional Catholic Christian beliefs and when one researches those controversial statements almost always they are taken out of context in some way or another or even complete fabrications.

Fact is, I have found that the Argentinian pontiff shows his love towards all people and sometimes that concern and respect for all is misinterpreted as respect and maybe even support for what those people stand for or may participate in. When the Pope visited the USA last year, President Obama invited all sort of activists to meet the Pope at the White House including LGBT and abortion supporters. The Pope was gracious to all regardless.

Currently the Italian Senate is debating a bill that would legalize same-sex unions. In the midst of that national conversation the Pope has reiterated the Catholic Church’s support for traditional marriage. From Reuters:

The Argentine pontiff, who generally has taken a more socially progressive line on gender issues than his predecessors, told Vatican judges

     "…there can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union".

     "The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God’s dream and that of his Church for the salvation of humanity,"

he said in an address to members of the Vatican court that rules on marriage annulments.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Traditional Christian teaching from the New Testament supports marriage between one man and one woman. There is a lot of conversation in our culture about how churches will need to change in the future. But can a church like the Catholic Church make that change even if it has a liberal Pope in the future that supports it? Francis is the probably the most liberal leader ever but even he is not considering any change on this issue. 

Some of the more liberal churches, who no longer support the teaching of the Bible as the defining basis for their faith, have already changed and come out in support of same-sex marriage and acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

The Episcopal Church in the USA began ordaining gay folks long time ago and that denomination was recently suspended from the Anglican Convention for supporting same-sex marriage. There are real questions about whether the Anglican Convention will even survive if the Canadian Church and British Church of England end up supporting same-sex marriage like many expect them to.

Right now the United Methodist Church is in the middle of a battle over the issue and some are expecting a major split over it in the near future. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is already in the throes of major division with prominent conservative congregations trying to leave the denomination after their most recent convention voted to support gay marriage.

There is no real controversy over the issue in the largest American denomination –the Roman Catholic Church which Pope Francis represents or the largest protestant American denomination- the Southern Baptist Convention. Except that any independent SBC congregation (like the one in California last year) that does come out in favor of same-sex marriage is subject to expulsion from the denomination. Nor do any of the Orthodox Churches seem to be considering a change in their teaching.

At some point every church in America must make a decision on this issue. Independent Churches may go one way or the other. However, do not expect most Biblically-based conservative churches to cave in to the building cultural pressure to accept same-sex marriage and the gay lifestyle. Remember this is not the first time the Christian church has been faced with the gay issue. At the very beginning the church was born in a Jewish culture which rejected gay behavior but grew up in a Greek and Roman culture that accepted it. It was because of Christian teaching, which eventually dominated European culture, that gay behavior was put in the ‘closet’ in the first place.

Expect this issue to lead to ever increasing problems for conservative churches, Christian organizations, and members in the future when it comes to religious liberty and freedom of religion.  LGBT civil rights have been trumping religious liberty in the courts somewhat consistently in the last several years.              *Top

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-Latest: The Church and Same-Sex Marriage

by Dr. D ~ January 22nd, 2016

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In the last two weeks there has been several major news stories about Christian denominations and same-sex marriage.

First story is about the Episcopal Church in America, The Anglican Convention voted to suspend the American denomination because of their support and acceptance of same-sex marriage. Here’s the story from the Christian Post:

Leaders representing 88 million Anglicans have decided to suspend the U.S.-based, theologically liberal Episcopal Church for its pro-gay marriage position.

At a meeting of Anglican Primates hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leaders representing the worldwide body announced Thursday that they were suspending The Episcopal Church.

"The traditional doctrine of the Church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching," stated the Primates.

<Read the whole article>

The second story is the response of the leaders of the Episcopal Church, also from the Christian Post:

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has declared that the denomination will not cease its support for gay marriage despite its three-year suspension by the Anglican Communion last week.

"They heard from me directly that that’s not something that we’re considering," Bishop Michael Curry told The Associated Press on Friday, talking about the sanctions imposed on the denomination after its leaders refused support the biblical definition of marriage. "They basically understand we made our decision, and this is who we are, and we’re committed to being a house of prayer for all."

At the same time, however, Curry said he wants to continue working toward Anglican unity despite the different points of view on the divisive issue.

<Read the whole article>

The third story is about the second largest denomination in Germany. From Christianity Today:

A leading evangelical Church in West Germany which has 2.6 million members has voted to allow same-sex marriage.

The Rheinische Evangelische Kirche voted overwhelmingly to allow future gay marriage and to legitimise as marriages the blessing ceremonies that have already taken place. Priests who oppose the move will be allowed to refuse, and couples will be offered an alternative pastor.

<Read the whole article>

Response: The interesting thing about the vote of the Anglican bishops suspending the American church is that it was the African leaders, who are far more conservative, that led the way and demanded the vote. The sheer number of Anglican members in Africa has shifted the power center of the Anglican Convention away from the western nations including the original Anglican Church of England. We noted the shifting center of Christianity in general in an earlier post. This vote demonstrates the on-going change.

In the future, the Canadian Church could be suspended for the same reason. However the real elephant that in the midst of the Convention that nobody wants to speculate on is what would happen if (and probably when) the Church of England itself was forced by the British Parliament to accept same-sex marriage. That would be a real test of Anglican unity.

Meanwhile, the third story about the evangelical denomination in Germany accepting same-sex marriage is already causing problems and a back lash within that denomination among the more conservative members and leaders who want to continue to follow traditional Biblical teaching on marriage. The one saving grace of that decision was to allow dissenting ministers the option of refusing to participate in same-sex ceremonies.                 *Top

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-Trump and ‘Two Corinthians’

by Dr. D ~ January 20th, 2016

…Donald Trump met ‘two Corinthians’ the other day at Liberty University and had them deported…. Yah, I know, not so funny. But the Donald did get a few laughs the other day at Liberty when he called the NT letter of Paul: “Two Corinthians.”

I must admit that I got a few laughs out of it myself. But most of my laughter was at the main stream media who were gleefully pointing out the mistake. I found it funny, ironic, and hugely hypocritical that the NY Times, ABC, Time magazine, and CNN among many other media ‘giants’ were suddenly criticizing Trump over a book that they have repeatedly demonstrated their ignorance of in the past along with a basic lack of respect.

At least Trump quoted from one of my favorite Bible verses:

"Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" –2nd Corinthians 3:17

Trump is far from being my favorite candidate but at least he is trying to address some of the major concerns that evangelicals currently have, particularly when he said:

"Christianity, it’s under siege…We’re going to protect Christianity."

In spite of all of the laughter at Trump’s expense, it should be noted that if you are in the UK or listening to lectures by British Bible scholars, like N.T. Wright, you will hear those very educated folks referring to that NT letter as ‘Two Corinthians’ quite often. I have heard it called that at least a couple of times by visiting European scholars when I was in seminary years ago.               *Top

 

Here’s another great take on the “Two Corinthians” controversy by Bobby Ross Jr. at Get Religion:

Why Donald Trump didn’t REALLY mess up when he said ‘Two Corinthians’ instead of ‘Second Corinthians’

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