One of my favorite essays by C. S. Lewis is his piece collected in God in the Dock on “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment.” You can read it in the internet graveyard here (by “graveyard” I mean Angelfire; my older readers will understand). Lewis viewed himself as defending the traditional view of punishment–people were punished if and when and to the extent that they deserved to be punished. Lewis’ view leaves me with questions about the history of punishment in Christian lands, but I think his basic thesis holds up.
I was getting my hair cut the other day by someone other than my wife, for a change. As a result I got exposed to Christian culture outside my own personal sociological safe room. I am ashamed to say how seldom this happens. Of course, by not “getting out more” I help other Christians form their own little bubbles of idiosyncratic belief and theological naivete.
But not this time. The barber learned, as he cut my hair, that I was a seminary graduate and had pastored in a number of places around the country. So, as he finished up shaving the back of my neck, he let loose with his camaraderie question: “Before I let you go, I have to ask you: Do you think the Lord is coming back soon!”
The sound of his voice alerted me this was, in his mind, a rhetorical question. We were supposed to share in the joy of the soon return of Jesus to earth.
The American ambassador to London has been forced to retract his categorical denial that the US had sent any terrorism suspects to Syria, a country that routinely practises torture.
It was the second embarrassment for Robert Tuttle, a millionaire car dealer and art collector, who last month vehemently denied that US forces had used white phosphorus as a weapon – only to be contradicted by the Pentagon a day later.
Mr Tuttle’s latest mishap came during a radio interview in which he defended America’s controversial policy of “extraordinary rendition” – secret operations to capture and move terrorist suspects to US custody.
It is alleged that America has secret prisons in eastern Europe.
Asked about suspects being “dumped” in Syria, Mr Tuttle told Radio 4′s Today programme: “I don’t think there is any evidence that there have been any renditions carried out in the country of Syria. There is no evidence of that. I think we have to take what the Secretary [Condoleezza Rice] says at face value.
“It is something very important. It is done very carefully and she has said we do not authorise, condone torture in any way, shape or form.”
The interview was recorded last Thursday and broadcast yesterday. But on Friday the US embassy sent a clarification that was broadcast at the end of the interview.
The statement said: “The ambassador recognised that there had been a media report of a rendition to Syria but reiterated that the United States is not in a position to comment on specific allegations of intelligence activities that appear in the press.”
Another point: If only Assad were as civilized as us and used white phosphorous instead of (pick one: saran gas/chlorine ?).
When memos surfaced this year showing top Justice Department lawyers trying to justify torture, Attorney General John Ashcroft moved quickly to stake out the moral high ground.
“This administration rejects torture,” Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I condemn torture.”
Maher Arar, 34, however, doesn’t buy it. For 10 months and 10 days, Arar was in a Syrian prison, where he says he was beaten and confined to a cell not much bigger than a coffin.
Arar was picked up by U.S. authorities at Kennedy International Airport in New York, accused of being a terrorist and then shipped on Justice Department orders to Syria under a secret policy known as rendition.
“How religious are you? Would you describe yourself as ‘somewhat religious’ or ‘very religious’?”
I was speechless from the idea of being forced to talk about my the extent of religious beliefs to a complete stranger. “Somewhat religious”, I responded.
“How many times a day do you pray?” he asked. This time, my surprise must have registered on my face, because he quickly added, “I’m not trying to offend you; I just don’t know anything about Hinduism. For example, I know that people are fasting for Ramadan right now, but I don’t have any idea what Hindus actually do on a daily basis.”
READ THE WHOLE NIGHTMARE: /var/null.
And note the evil cooperation of the airline. We can’t rid the world of the FBI or TSA yet, but a boycott of the corporate collaborators would be a great thing.
As someone who has spent quite a number of years as a Christian portapottie servicer, Carl Trueman’s disdain for Kuyper and the “transformers” (though he oddly also holds Kuyper up as a standard for judging others) caught my interest.
I found this article by Dr. D.A. Carson really difficult to understand or profit from. I simply don’t think the Kingdom of God should be such a difficult problem. The fact that it spawns such verbiage is itself evidence that there is something wrong with Evangelicals.
Can I, off the top of my head, convince you, the reader, that you cannot possibly have a general grasp of the Bible if the Kingdom of God is a riddle that remains to be solved?
Like most things, it begins in Genesis One. God creates the world by his sovereign word, but he does so with the intention of ruling through delegated sovereignty.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
So Genesis 1 is a story about, yes, a God who has power. But it is the story of the beginning of the Kingdom of Humanity–a kingdom that is at the same time the Kingdom of God. The whole point of the story of the Bible is that God prefers for us to exercise authority on his behalf rather than doing it himself.
This is not a book review because I have not yet read Reza Aslan’s Zealot. Allan Nadler is no inerrentist, but he shows quite well many of Aslan’s intellectual shortcomings–though I might quibble with Nadler later on. What I want to do in this post is equip people, whether Christians or unbelievers, on how to talk and think about “the historical Jesus” so they aren’t taken in by pretenders by Aslan.
The basic historical question about Jesus is this:
WHY DO WE REMEMBER HIM?
That question can be asked in many different ways, but the bottom line is, even if he was only a genius at PR, or even if only he had some highly influential follower who promoted him, something has to explain the fact that, out of all the people who lived in Palestine at that time, his name is known to us.
When people do historical research, they don’t want to conclude that something “just happened.” They want to provide intellectually satisfying explanations. So any theory of how Jesus arose in history has to meet that challenge. Otherwise, it only amounts to the guess that Jesus somehow got lucky.
“In any successful attack on freedom the state can only be an accomplice. The chief culprit is the citizen who forgets his duty, wastes away his strength in the sleep of sin and sensual pleasure, and so loses the power of his own initiative.” –Abraham Kuyper
Let us imagine that there is a nation somewhere that is ruled by a wicked government. Let us further imagine that God doesn’t like the nation’s current regime and is looking for a way to change it.
You’re thinking, “But God is omnipotent so he doesn’t ‘look for a way.’”
Right, but I’m speaking of God’s actions within certain God-ordained constraints. God said he would not destroy Sodom for the sake of ten righteous persons (Genesis 19). So we can say, without denying God’s omnipotence that he was looked for an excuse to save Sodom and didn’t find it.
But what would be the God-ordained constraint that would make Him “look for a way” to replace a wicked government with another.
READ THE REST: Why Hating Government Keeps It In Power – Kuyperian Commentary.
I took most of the material from an earlier post on this blog:
Devi Shetty keeps photographs of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi on his desk, and he’s obsessed with making cardiac surgery affordable for millions of Indians. But these two facts are not connected. Shetty’s a heart surgeon-turned-businessman who founded a chain of 21 medical centers around India. Every bit the capitalist, he has trimmed costs by buying cheaper scrubs and spurning air-conditioning and other efficiencies. That’s helped cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,555)—half of what it was 20 years ago. He wants to get it down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“It shows that costs can be substantially contained,” says Srinath Reddy, president of the Geneva-based World Heart Federation. “It’s possible to deliver very high-quality cardiac care at a relatively low cost.”
So how do I know there is a problem with American hospitals, clinics, and doctors. Simple. No one in the US shows any sign of this pressure. No one feels the need to try to lower costs to get more customers.
That doesn’t tell us where the problem is, but it tells us there is a problem.