Reflections on the New Pope
This week, the College of Cardinals elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the office of Pope, replacing the outgoing Benedict XVI. This, of course, greatly disappointed the liberal Protestants as well as the atheist community. It seems our liberal and atheist friends would like to see a progressive Pope; one who will do away with the restrictive Catholic doctrines that make the religion a dinosaur.
They would like a Pope that supports abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, will eliminate priestly celibacy, allow women in positions of power, and reverse Catholic doctrine on birth control. Someone who will sell the Vatican and feed the world.
But that isn’t going to happen, and the liberals and atheists need to make peace with that quickly.
This is the second papal election that I have seen in my lifetime. Unless Pope Francis becomes another John Paul II, it likely isn’t going to be the last one. The previous election that saw Cardinal Ratzinger promoted to Pope had the exact same groans issuing from the liberals and the atheists. I expect to hear the same groans next time as well.
Ed Stetzer had a lot of the same thoughts that I did, but as a research specialist for LifeWay he focused on demographics. What I’d like to focus on here is the theological implications of a papal conclave, and why (if the Catholics are right about what it entails) it will never produce a Pope that aligns with the world on those hot button issues. Read the rest of this entry
Does WWGHA Even Understand Christianity?
If one is going to criticize the viewpoint of another, then one had best understand the opposing view thoroughly. As an example, you will note that I do not enter into Creationism/Evolution/ID debates. I don’t know enough about the three camps to participate intelligently, save for being able to articulate the difference between pure Creationism and ID.
Over at the Blog for WWGHA, in response to this article from a Christian pastor, Thomas opines:
It’s the “infinite wisdom” rationalization. God is too huge and awesome for pipsqueak humans to understand. Never mind that Christians claim to understand God all the time, for example by demanding that homosexuals be discriminated against or even stoned to death, or that foreskins need to be cut off baby’s penises, etc. Christians claim knowledge of all sorts of God’s thoughts, but strangely, the explanation for the atrocities and horrors that we see every day are just too complicated. (source)
It’s simply absurd to suggest that anyone is being inconsistent to say that we know some things about God, but not other things. It is absolutely possible to say you know a person, but not understand everything that they do.
With God, some of his commands are clear, while others aren’t. But to suggest I’m inconsistent when I say that we humans aren’t going to understand some things about God while being able to understand other things is asinine.
Second, let’s set two things straight with the Christian (mis)treatment of homosexuals. We are not “denying” anyone the right to marry. The very makeup of marriage excludes homosexuals. It is a divinely ordered institution of a man joining to a woman, and they become one flesh. Polygamy isn’t specifically prohibited in this fashion, but men can’t marry men and women can’t marry women under this paradigm.
It would be like me saying “My goal is to be the next Pope.” I’m not a practicing Catholic; therefore I’m excluded from consideration for that office.
Or, if I tried to win a Hispanic scholarship. I’m white. I can’t win a scholarship oriented to Hispanic students. It defies the intent of the scholarship and the rules of those who created it and put up the money.
Marriage is a joining of a man to a woman. Period. We can’t deny someone a right that does not exist.
On a personal note to the blog author: Thomas, please find me a Christian who, in the last 20 years, actually called for a gay man to be stoned to death. If you can’t, then please withdraw that ridiculous claim.
On the foreskin question, Christians actually were not circumcised. Christians are exempt from all practices under the Jewish law. Paul makes it explicit:
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Rom 2:25-29)
Though there is a clear advantage to circumcision in knowing the oracles of God (Rom 3:2), one shouldn’t seek it:
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. (1 Cor 7:17-20)
What if someone does get circumcised despite the warning? Then:
. . . Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Gal 5:2-6)
Circumcision is not a Christian phenomenon.
Okay, now that we’re done with rabbit trails, is there actually an argument or an indictment here worth answering?
Sort of. We’ll talk tomorrow.
Misguided Questions About Marriage
The Facebook page Liberal Logic 101 posted the meme at the right as a satirical point about how loose definitions sometimes become in the liberal camp.
For the record, I don’t know either person and I have no idea why they matter to this picture (beyond an educated guess). Neither looks the race claimed, but I’m guessing each claims that race.
The idea, of course, is that the liberal has a loose sense of boundaries within a category. Marriage and race both mean something, and the liberal (says the meme’s creator) is distorting these meanings. One commenter summed it up nicely for the liberals who missed the point in the comments:
I think the point is that they are taking a set definition and turning it on its head. A dog is not a cat no matter how much you may want it to be. Words have definitions. You can create new words to describe things, but you cant change current definitions or they become meaningless. Imagine cops trying to find a criminal described as black when he is clearly caucasion [sic].
But, there’s a further problem with the mindset of the liberal as it pertains to marriage belied by the following questions, asked by a particular commenter:
Does the definition of marriage define the relationship between you and your spouse? How will it change your marriage if gays marry? Will you divorce your spouse if gays marry? Are you guided by hatred or by love?
A question of my own: What word appears in every single question?
Answer: Some form of “you.”
Yes, the focus for the commenter is how this affects you.
But marriage isn’t defined by how its redefinition would affect any specific individual. Marriage is marriage, nothing more or less. There is an ontology to “marriage;” it is the joining of a man and a woman so the two become one. Each gender needs the complimentary characteristics of the other to be whole.
The commenter’s rhetorical questions were meant to show the conservative that he has nothing to fear by letting gays marry each other, for it won’t affect him an iota. But this is the wrong way to think.
Marriage is a divine institution, ordained by God. It isn’t our social construction to be played with as times change. It is to be conformed to God’s expectations — not society’s.
Just like race has a clear and unarguable meaning (not something we can define as we please), so does marriage. We cannot take anything that is ordered in a sense by its ontology and turn it into something that pleases us. No matter how you try to define the words, a marriage will join the genders into one. It cannot join members of the same sex.