Freedom of Religion Restored at Oxford

Oxford College Bans ‘Harmful’ Christian Union From Freshers’ Fair

Camilla Turner/Tony Diver
The Telegraph
[H/T: Kiwiblog]

An Oxford College has banned the Christian Union from its freshers’ fair on the grounds that it would be “alienating” for students of other religions, and constitute a “micro-aggression”.  The organiser of Balliol’s fair argued Christianity’s historic use as “an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism” meant that students might feel “unwelcome” in their new college if the Christian Union had a stall.

Freddy Potts, vice-president of Balliol’s Junior Common Room (JCR) committee, said that if a representative from the Christian Union (CU) attended the fair, it could cause “potential harm” to freshers.   Mr Potts, writing on behalf of the JCR’s welfare committee, told the CU representative at Balliol, that their “sole concern is that the presence of the CU alone may alienate incoming students”.

In email correspondence, seen by The Daily Telegraph, he went on: “This sort of alienation or micro-aggression is regularly dismissed as not important enough to report, especially when there is little to no indication that other students or committee members may empathise, and inevitably leads to further harm of the already most vulnerable and marginalised groups.

“Historically, Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”  He said that barring the Christian Union from the fair “may be a way of helping to avoid making any students feel initially unwelcome within Balliol”.

Initially he said the JCR committee wanted the fair to be a “secular space”, explaining that since he “couldn’t guarantee every major belief system” would have stalls at the the fair, students from other religions may “suffer” if their faith is not represented.

“Many students, especially students of colour and of other faiths, may already feel alienated and vulnerable in Oxford, a university with a reputation for racism and lack of diversity, and a city with barely any appropriate places of worship for non-Christians,” he said.   “Hopefully, as people of faith, you may be able to empathise with this, and we ask you to consider from a place of compassion the potential harm to those freshers who are already severely and harmfully disadvantaged.”

However, Mr Potts – who was part of Balliol’s winning University Challenge team –  later conceded that he would allow a “multi-faith” stall at the fair, with information about various university religious societies. Student representatives of the CU were barred from attending in person and distributing leaflets.

The move sparked a backlash among students, with others within the College criticising it as a “violation of free speech”.  The JCR passed a motion on Sunday evening condemning the JCR committees for “barring the participation of specific faith-based organizations”.  The motion said the ban was a “violation of free speech, a violation of religious freedom, and sets dangerous precedents regarding the relationship between specific faiths and religious freedom”.

Dr Joanna Williams, a university lecturer and author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, said the decision to ban the Christian Union was “completely bizarre”.

“It is intolerance being exercised in the name of inclusion,” she said. “They are saying: ‘Your religious society is not welcome here’. Essentially they are saying that the Christian Union is not allowed to recruit new members.”

Dr Williams added: “I would argue that a university would be an ideal place for students to explore their religious beliefs. The idea that some religions are not allowed to be represented really prevents students being able to do that. It seems completely bizarre, I am lost for words.”

Paul Diamond, a barrister who specialises in religious liberty laws, said: “Student Christian Unions have the right not to be discriminated against.  Student Unions and Universities are required by the Education Act 1994 to observe fairness and democracy; and students have a right to hear different worldviews.  The ‘snowflake’ generation of students needs safe places and freedom of speech zones.”

The Revd Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, said that freedom of religion and belief is a “fundamental principle that underpins our country and its great institutions and universities”.

He added: “Christian Unions represent some of the largest student led organisations in many universities across the country and to exclude them in this way is to misunderstand the nature of debate and dialogue and at odds with the kind of society we are all seeking to promote.”

 A Balliol College spokesperson said: “We are pleased to see that the students themselves have now resolved this matter. Following last night’s JCR motion, the Christian Union will be offered a stall at future freshers’ fairs.  “Balliol is a tolerant, friendly college where students of all faiths and none are free to worship and express their beliefs openly.”

Balliol College was founded in 1263, and its alumni include three former Prime Ministers: Herbert Asquith, Harold Macmillan and Sir Edward Heath.

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Contemporary Philosophy of Religion and NCEA Religious Studies: Part three

This is a talk I gave to the New Zealand Association of Philosophy Teachers annual conference at St Cutherberts College in September this year. Several people have asked me to make this talk available.

I have broken my talk up into four parts. Part One introduces what philosophy of religion. In part two I will outline two movements within analytic philosophy during the early to mid-century which I think resulted in religious beliefs not being taken very seriously within philosophy and philosophy of religion taking a fairly minor role. Part three will look at some responses to these movements offered in the late 20th century and how they changed the philosophical landscape. Part four will look at the question of “how to do philosophy of religion” comparing the methods used by two different atheist’s J L Mackie and Graham Oppy, and how this relates the National Certificate of Educational Achievement Standards. This post will contain part three.

The late 20th century

The late twentieth century however late 20th century saw fairly substantial intellectual shifts in analytic philosophy of religion. Here I will focus on two important developments:

The Demise of Verificationism

The first was the demise of verificationism. Around the 1960’s various problems began to emerge with the verificationist principle. Take the claim “a statement is only meaningful if it can in principle be either empiricallyphilosophy-of-religion verified or falsified or is analytic” This claim doesn’t seem to be one capable of empirical verification, so is it meaningful? The standard response was that it’s analytic, but the problem here is it seems to become close to a stipulative definition, of course, a person can choose to define the word “meaning” in a particular way. But it’s a lot harder to see verificationism as an account of the way people actually do use various terms or discussions. Some reason is needed as to why a believer should take this account of his own theological discourse seriously.

Second, various counterexamples and problems began to emerge with verificationism. One area it obviously had application to was ethics. Claims like it’s wrong to rape or kill arent in principle verifiable. So the implication was that ethical statements like this are meaningless. This seems prima facie implausible and attempts by people like Ayer and Hare to develop accounts of moral discourse where moral language didn’t assert anything had trouble explaining how moral argument and disagreement could exist.

But even in the sciences certain claims which verificationists wanted to consider meaningful became difficult not to rule out. If you defined the definition narrowly then, scientific claims were not meaningful. However, if you broaden what counts as verificationism, it ceases to rule out metaphysical claims or religious ones.

Take the claim: “there are electrons”. This claim, by itself, is neither verifiable or falsifiable. It’s only when it’s held in conjunction with other claims about what electrons are like, how they operate, and how they are expected to influence the world and our equipment and senses, that we can test them empirically.  But then scientific claims aren’t falsifiable in isolation; rather they are testable only when embedded in broader scientific theories. The same however is true of religious claims, the claim God exists is by itself unfalsifiable. But when part of a broader theory they often are. Consider, claims about God creating the world in six 24 days or a global flood, or that God created a world which contains no suffering and evil are all testable claims.

The point is the verificationism soon became seen to be problematic at worst, or highly controversial at best. It couldn’t be taken for granted as a kind of intellectual Desiderata for religious claims.

 2. The rejection of Evidentialism.

Following on from the demise of verificationism, a second important development was some serious works challenging evidentialism as the correct methodology for approaching religious claims. This most notable being those of Alvin Plantinga, though other philosophers such as William Alston, and Nicholas Wolterstorff also contributed.

Plantinga’s earlier work can be seen as raising a question; why accept evidentialism with regards to belief in God?

 It is important to note that not everything one believes needs to be proven to be rational for at least two reasons. First, the claim that everything must be proven to be rationally believed leads to a regress problem. Roy Clouser notes;

If everything needs to be proven, then the premises of every proof would need to be proven. But if you need a proof for every proof, you need a proof for your proof, and proof for your proof of a proof and so on-forever. Thus it makes no sense to demand that everything be proven because an infinite regress of proofs is impossible.[1]

Second, there are many things that we believe quite rationally which cannot be proved. Such things as there is a chair in front of me or that other people have thoughts and feelings. The history of philosophy has shown that when we try to prove the existence of other people or the existence of an external world, it’s notoriously difficult to do so.  Nevertheless, my belief in the existence of other people and the existence of various objects are obviously rational.

So if not everything needs to be proven, why does Theism need to be proven to be rational?

This question was put to a conference Alvin Plantinga; the answer he received from a leading sceptic Kai Neilsen is interesting;

All of us can agree, at least for a large range of cases, whether somebody is in pain, whether he’s thinking, feeling anxious or the like. We do in general agree about these things. Only a madman would claim that no one is ever in pain or that no one ever knows that another person is in pain. The same is true for thinking, feeling anxious or sad and the like… Now the situation is very different in religion[2].

The basic idea, then, is that religious belief are private beliefs that not all people (at least all sane people educated people) believe; whereas the belief that other people have thoughts and feelings are public beliefs that all people accept and no sane person would doubt. Once we see this, then, I think we can make sense of some of the assumptions at play in evidentialism. Evidentialism affirmed that:

[1] A belief is  philosophically acceptable if it is either:
(a) acknowledged to be true by all sane people; or,
(b) can be proven from premises that are acknowledged to be true by all sane people;

[2] Religious beliefs are not acknowledged by all sane people nor can they be proven to be true from beliefs acknowledged by all sane people.

Problems with Evidentialism

In Plantinga’s earlier work one can find two basic objections against evidentialism.

The first is to note that if it is true, then almost every philosophical position of any significance is irrational.  As Marilyn Adams points out”[D]efense of any well-formulated philosophical position will eventually involve premises that are fundamentally controversial and so unable to command the assent of all reasonable people.[3]Philip Quinn makes a similar point, “it would seem that the appeal to any comprehensive ethical theory, including all known secular ethical theories, should be disallowed on the grounds that every such theory can be reasonably rejected by some.”[4]. The point is no philosophical position starts from assumptions which are uncontroversial accepted by all controverted by no one. So there is something arbitrary about demanding religious beliefs do.

The second, more pertinent, response to this objection is to note that [1] is self-refuting. Take the claim explicitly articulated in [1] that if something is not acknowledged to be true by all sane people, then it needs to be proven to be true. Now the truth of this claim itself is not acknowledged by all sane, educated people. Many theologians, philosophers and lay people don’t accept [1] so by [1] we are irrational in believing it unless someone offers a proof for its truth. However, to the best of my knowledge no one has done this; therefore, if [1] is true then the rational response is to reject [1].

(Note also that any proof the proponent of this argument attempts to offer can only appeal to premises that are accepted by all sane people. If the proponent does not, we will be required to disbelieve the premises and hence the proof.)

This, then, is the problem with this kind of evidentialist dismissal of theism; the sceptic rejects God’s existence out of allegiance to certain assumptions about what constitutes a rational belief. The problem is that these assumptions are in the same boat as theism is alleged to be; a person who rejects theism because he or she believes these assumptions is acting inconsistently.

What Plantinga went on to suggest that there was no reason why people with religious beliefs couldn’t start with the assumptions and presuppositions of their own traditions when doing serious philosophical work. They weren’t under some burden of proof to prove them to all dissenters first. Any more than anyone else who advocated a controversial secular position was. They could start philosophical theorising from those presuppositions, work out implications and answers to philosophical problems that assumed those assumptions, construct models and theories which incorporated them. Of course, they would have to defend those views against objections and critics. And they would have to criticise rival alternative theories and models. But that’s not the same as proving their position from premises every party to the conversation accepts.[5]

[1] Roy Clouser Knowing With the Heart 69.

[2] Kai Nielsen “The Skeptics Reply” in Faith and the Philosophers, ed. John Hick (London: Macmillan, 1964) 274.

[3] Marilyn McCord Adams Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999) 180.

[4] Phillip Quinn, “Political Liberalism and their Exclusion of the Religious,” in Religion and Contemporary Liberalism, ed. Paul Weithman (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997), 144.

[5] See for example Alvin Plantinga “Advice to Christian Philosophers” Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers vol. 1:3, 253-271 available online


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Daily Meditation

“The Time for Being Never Departs”

TO Mrs. JESSUP, who seems to have written Lewis about the difficulties of being in a marriage in which one of the spouses is a Christian and one is not: On the slow process of being remade and how difficult we must be to live with after conversion as before; and on not concealing but not flaunting our conversion.

C. S. Lewis

15 October 1951

I agree with everything you say (except that I should publish anything on the subject: a bachelor is not the man to do it—there is such an obvious answer to anything he says!).

Our regeneration is a slow process. As Charles Williams says there are three stages: (1.) The Old Self on the Old Way. (2.) The Old Self on the New Way. (3.) The New Self on the New Way.

After conversion, the Old Self can of course be just as arrogant, importunate, and imperialistic about the Faith as it previously was about any other interest. I had almost said ‘Any other Fad’—for just as the loveliest complexion turns green in a green light, so the Faith itself may have at first all the characteristics of a Fad and we may be as ill to live with as if we had taken up Nudism or Psychoanalysis or Pure Wool Clothing. You and I, clearly, both know all about that: one makes blunders.

About obedience, the principle is clear. Obedience to man is limited by obedience to God and, when they really conflict, must go. But of course that gives one very little guidance about particulars. The converted party must pray: I suppose it is not often necessary to pray in the presence of the other! Especially if the converted party is the woman, who usually has the house to herself all day. Of course there must be no concealment, in the sense that if the question comes up one must say frankly that one does pray. But there is a difference between not concealing and flaunting. For the rest (did I quote this before?) MacDonald says ‘the time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.’ Let you and me pray for each other.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, JackThe Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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The Grand Volte-Face

Suddenly It’s Not the Gummint’s Fault

The “new” New Zealand government is just a day or so old and already we are finding ourselves laughing at the coalition of losers.  (Actually, that’s an apt phrase to represent the ersatz mob of cobblers now purporting to govern the country.)

Winston Peters has spoken in apocalyptic terms of the devastation under which our country allegedly labours.  He has presented himself as the Saviour.  He has tossed out a thousand policies (elsewhere known as whisky befuddled brainwaves) to prevent the alleged looming apocalypse.  He stood forth as the proud man with the mantle of “National Saviour”.  He won seven percent of the vote in our recent general election.  Yes, you read that right. Just seven percent.

Now he will be the de facto Prime Minister, our Machiavelli behind the throne as it were.
  But he is already making excuses for his self-anticipated failure and non-performance.   This, from the NZ Herald:

If last night was day one of the government – then we are all in trouble.  Winston Peters opens with a dissertation on how the world is coming to an end, and it won’t be the new government’s fault. [NZ Herald]

The great problem facing statists–and Peters is one–is whom to blame when the state fails.  He anticipates failure–his own–and is already explaining why it will not be his fault.  A humbug of political chicanery.

Incidentally, whilst making this announcement to the nation, his breathing appeared heavy and strained.   Maybe this just reflects the strain of the last two weeks in putting together the Coalition of Losers, or maybe it is indicative of something more serious. 
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resume, line one

Oct 2017 (20)

devotional post # 2175

2 Corinthians 6:3-5

2Co 6:3 Giving nobody any reason to fall, so that no fault may be found with our service,
2Co 6:4 but as servants of God we reccommend ourselves in every way: we serve with great perseverance, with afflictions, with hardships, with calamities,
2Co 6:5 with beatings, with imprisonments, with riots, with times of intensive work, with sleepless nights, with hunger;

resume, line one

Some in Corinth appear to be doubting that Paul’s missionary team had the qualifications to serve God. So, Paul pulls out their collective resume and ticks off the recommendations. He starts with all the obstacles and difficulties they have faced while serving. Anyone of lesser character would have stopped and gone home. But Paul’s team stayed at the task.

Difficulties and tough times are not evidence that you have missed your calling. Enduring those tough times while staying on the job are evidence of your calling.

LORD, give us the courage to endure hardship as we serve you.


Another Step Forward

Life Begins at Conception

Department of Health and Human Services

By Harvest Prude
The Federalist

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just released their 2018-2022 plan, which unequivocally states that life begins at conception and deserves protection. In the introduction it says,

“HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.”

The draft mentions conception five times total. The overwhelmingly pro-life stance in the draft is welcome news to many.

The debate over the personhood of unborn children has been a central issue of the abortion debate. Ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973, pro-life advocates have been trying to establish constitutionally protected rights for the unborn. In the ruling’s majority opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that Roe v. Wade would collapse if “the fetus is a person.”

In support of the HHS’s draft, author and bioethics expert Wesley J. Smith wrote, “life ‘beginning at conception’ … is a fact of basic biological science.”

Compared to previous drafts, this new plan is overwhelming friendly to religious organizations as well. It includes 40 references to “faith-based” organizations and upholding their rights, compared to only three references in the Obama administration’s HHS plan.

This draft is consistent with earlier released interim rules the HHS released to protect Americans’ right to conscience, specifically those who have “a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive/abortifacient services.”

The draft also includes a phrase that seems to be against assisted suicide. The phrase “conception to natural death” is in in the draft three times; “a core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death.”

Smith wrote, “Despite the scientific accuracy, expect the usual suspects to be furious about the proposal.”  He is right, of course. The news was met with backlash from pro-choice advocates and news organizations.

Susan Berke Fogel, director of reproductive health with the National Health Law Program, a pro-choice, liberal leaning health rights organization, told Politico, “this is license to discriminate.” The Humans Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTQ advocacy group also responded with concern that the “plan erases references of minority communities, including the LGBTQ population.”

This draft was finalized before Tom Price’s abrupt departure earlier this month amid reports that he used taxpayer funds to fly privately on government business. The department still boasts pro-life friendly faces, including Teresa Manning, former lobbyist for the National Right to Life pro-life organisation.

While this draft is good news for pro-lifers, it is not set in stone yet. The document is still a draft and is open to public comment until October 27, 2017. If approved, the draft will replace the Obama administration’s previous five-year plan.

Harvest Prude is the intern for The Federalist. She is a senior at Patrick Henry College majoring in Journalism.
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Daily Meditation

Plan for Prayer

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  (John 15:7)

John Piper

Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share his life with others.

And prayer pursues God’s glory by treating him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer, we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and his bounty, our misery and his mercy.

Therefore, prayer highly exalts and glorifies God precisely by pursuing everything we long for in him, and not in ourselves. “Ask, and you will receive . . . that the Father may be glorified in the Son and . . . that your joy may be full.” Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.

If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.

But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready.

We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut.

If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you.

Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need mid-course corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer — for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.
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"Bless You, Prison, For Having Been My Life"

Authentic Voices Which Heal

Life in the Soviet Gulags was so divorced from ordinary human existence that those outside could not comprehend or even imagine the evils within.  Those within could not hope that any outsider would possibly understand, despite the many hundreds of Gulag memoirs which were written by prisoners.

When he was eventually released, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn taught for a time in a school–and, more importantly, he began to write about the camps.  What was most unusual, however, is that his early novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published and printed in the Soviet Union in 1962 whilst Khrushchev was in dictator (for reasons which are not clear).  Its plot was simple: it recorded an ordinary day in the life of an ordinary prisoner in the Gulag.

Applebaum explains what was so different about Ivan Denisovich:

“It” directly described life in the camps, a subject which had not, until then, been discussed in public.  At the same time, Solzhenitsyn’s style–particularly his use of camp slang–and his descriptions of the dullness and unpleasantness of prison life, made a stunning contrast to the usual empty, phoney fiction then being published.  [Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps (New York: Penguin Books, 2003), p. 467.]

She records the impact of the novel within the camps themselves (it was published in November issue of the magazine, Novyi Mir). It was read by former prisoners.  Eventually, it found its way into some of the camps themselves.  Appelbaum first makes mention of the reaction of the former prisoners who read it:

. . . they were overjoyed to read something which actually reflected their own feelings and experience.  People afraid to breathe a word of their experiences to the closest friends suddenly felt a sense of release.  One woman wrote to describe her reaction: “My face was smothered in tears.  I didn’t wipe them away because all this, packed into a small number of pages of the magazine, was mine, intimately mine, for every day of the fifteen years I spent in the camps.”

Another letter addressed Solzhenitsyn, “Dear friend, comrade and brother . . . . Reading your story I remembered Sivaya Maska and Vorkuta . . . the frosts and blizzards, the insults and humiliations . . . I wept as I read–they were all familiar characters, as if from my own brigade. . . . Thank you once more!  Please carry on in the same spirit–write, write . . . ” [Ibid., p.469.]

Months and months later Denisovich came into the hands of prisoners in the camps.

Finally the zeks got hold of a copy and held a group reading.  Sitko remembered that prisoners listened without breathing:

After they read the last word, there was a deathly silence.  Then, after two, three minutes, the room detonated.  Everyone had lived the story in his own, painful way . . . in the cloud of tobacco smoke, they discussed endlessly . . . And frequently, more and more frequently, they asked: “Why did they publish it?” [Ibid. Emphasis, ours.]

Reading these reactions helps explain why “Truth and Reconciliation” processes and Commissions have proved to be effective in enabling peoples and nations to “move on”, as the saying goes.  The key, of course, is whether the voices are able to be authentic, capturing realistically the horrors and injustices.  Fobbing off never heals; it only adds to the hurt, brokenness and bitterness.

Solzhenitsyn had become a Christian in the camps.  Doubtless the removal of bitterness from his own soul and the healing of Christ Himself had facilitated his ability to write honestly and dispassionately,  without rancor.  This, in turn, would have helped the zeks to respond in a similar way.

[Solzhenitsyn’s account of his conversion in the camps is itself a remarkable story.  It is told here.  Particularly striking is the following profession:

All the writers who wrote about prison but who did not themselves serve time there considered it their duty to express sympathy for prisoners and to curse prison.  I . . . have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation:

“Bless you, prison, for having been my life!”]

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grace without result

Oct 2017 (19)

devotional post # 2174

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

2Co 5:20 For this reason, we are envoys in behalf of Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you in behalf of Christ, make friends with God.
2Co 5:21 In behalf of us, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2Co 6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God without result.
2Co 6:2 Because he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of deliverance I have helped you.” Notice, now is the favorable time; notice, now is the day of deliverance.

grace without result

Paul warned the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God without result. Christ had been sent from the Father to die for all “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (5:15). To receive God’s grace and then to keep on living for ourselves would be grace without result. Paul and his team had followed the call to missionary service, and reached out to the Corinthians with the message of God’s grace. Now it was the Corinthians’ turn to answer that call. If they continue to receive God’s grace in word only, without a corresponding change in their lives, soon the day of deliverance will be over, and the day of judgment would visit them.

LORD, show us how to live for you, while there is still time.


Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow (About Catechisms)

The Rats of Moria

Douglas Wilson

You cannot successfully deny in real time what you robustly affirm in the catechism.

For the Christian, because his basic catechetical truths are noble and upright (about how we are supposed to live), the gap between his profession and experience is uphill. Hypocrisy is naturally an embarrassment because it represents a failure to attain.

But because the catechetical truths affirmed by the sexual revolution are suspended over a great abyss, like Wil E Coyote holding an anvil, their hypocrisy problem is entirely different. Their catechism affirms that obedience to every random sexual impulse will be totally great, self-actualizing, fulfilling, natural, life-affirming, and helpful in the process of self-discovery. You know—as the eager ego goes spelunking down in the caverns of chthonic desire, in order to search out the wonders and complexities of orgasmic genderlusts. But it turns out the Rats of Moria live down there.

And so this explains the reaction to the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. Anybody who knows anything about the septic system of Hollywood knows that he was living in fulfillment of the catechism. They have these great massive pumps so that they can have the septic tanks installed at the very highest levels, up where the top talents and power producers live.

So the problem was not that he failed to live up to a high and lofty standard. The problem was that obedience to the catechism is a lot creepier in real life than was promised by the catechism.
As it plays out, their paradise looks less like a seraglio of celestial houris fashioned out of musk, and more like a seedy boarding house run by a dirty old man, and with all the exits nailed shut. And it smells like urine, not ambrosia.

Hollywood, California is a great flat rock that cannot really afford to be turned over. These Weinstein revelations may be the beginning of it, or it may have to wait for another tipping point scandal. But whenever it happens, and the grotesque revelations all come tumbling out, it will make the horrendous Catholic-Church-scandals look like white bread toast, with a small pat of butter. And the revelations will not be about the fact of immorality—they print that part in the catechism—but rather about the seediness and misery of it. That’s not in the catechism.

But God is not mocked, the apostle says, and a man reaps what he sows. Moreover, he reaps what he sows in accordance with the laws of agriculture that are operative in the world God made, the actual world, what used to be called the real world, and not the made-up world his catechism promised to him.

In that day, there is one other thing that will make us all reject this left coast Sodom-by-the-Sea with loathing. It will not just be the licentiousness. It will not just be the fact that the licentiousness was self-consciously demented. No, this will all be coupled with the fact that these are the very same people who would relentlessly lecture us about our moral deficiencies. These are the people who were most concerned about the sexism and misogyny of fly-over country. Actresses and starlets would appear with Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton at gala events so that some mechanic in Oklahoma, faithfully married to one woman for thirty years, could be lectured about his inadequate support for women’s rights. This is because the unenlightened mechanic didn’t have any of his offspring killed, didn’t have any of their pieces shopped around for sale, and his wife didn’t fly off to Washington to march in the big Gynecology Pink Hat March. What a cornpone.

Look at the ruling elites of our generation, with all of their supposed virtues, painted on like an attenuated whitewash. This includes the media and entertainment elites. It is all a sham, all of it. They are riddled with leprous lusts, all the way down. It cannot last. This cannot stand. To use one of the words from their catechism, it is not sustainable.

Because it is so transparently obvious that Epic Failure is a cosmic necessity, this is why I would invite more Christians to cheerfully detach themselves from this failed project. This may seem cryptic to some, but there is at the present time one thing needful. Many more Christians need to hoist the Jolly Roger.
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