The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, July 19, 2011


In “The Hate That Dares Not Speak Its Name,” Walter Russell Mead outlines “the five pillars of anti-Semitism”:

The truth is that anti-Semitism is alive and well and not even particularly rare; it’s just that many of today’s anti-Semites like to think of themselves as enlightened, modern people and get all huffy and hissy if anyone accuses them of prejudice in any form.  Many who in past times would have been open and honest about their anti-Semitism, now try to hide the truth even from themselves.

But anti-Semitism involves belief in any or all of the following ideas:

Jews are more clannish than other people and act in concert to support a specifically Jewish agenda.

Jews deploy extraordinary wealth with almost superhuman cunning in support of the Jewish agenda.

As a religious and national minority, Jews cannot flourish without attacking the traditional values of their host society.  In every country Jews seek to weaken national culture, religion, values and cohesion.

Jews are not a national group or a people in the way that others are; they do not have the same right to establish a nation state that other peoples do.

Where Jewish interests are concerned, the appearance of open debate in our society and many others is a carefully constructed illusion.  In reality, Jews work together to block open debate on issues they care about and those who resist the Jewish agenda are marginalized in public discussion.

These ideas are the five pillars of anti-Semitism; you don’t have to believe them all — any one will do.  Being an anti-Semite does not necessarily make you a Nazi.   You are an anti-Semite.  That doesn’t make you a Nazi; Hitler added a sixth pillar of anti-Semitism that the only way to successfully oppose the Jewish agenda was to kill all the Jews.

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“Picturing Paradise: A Review of ‘Heaven in the American Imagination’”:

Smith insists that American visions of heaven have always accentuated and reflected the dominant societal trends of the age, as well as the hopes and expectations people have about ultimate human fulfillment. Still, despite such variations, he concludes that Christians have remained remarkably consistent in maintaining that heaven will be more beautiful, enjoyable, and spectacular than anyone can imagine.

As for who can enter heaven, and how, passionate debates persist between different branches of Christendom. While Catholics and Protestants both affirm the need for grace, they continue to disagree about the existence of purgatory and the relationship between faith and good works. Within the Protestant fold, Calvinists and Arminians debate the nature of salvation, wrestling over the interplay between God’s sovereignty and human free will.

Smith contends, however, that last century’s dominant theological controversy pitted traditional, conservative views of heaven against liberal challenges. Is heaven an otherworldly paradise into whose comforts one gains admission through faith in Jesus Christ? Or is heaven a matter of achieving justice here and now, of “bringing heaven to earth” through political and social reforms?

Advocates of feminist, Latin American, and black liberation theologies have more or less adopted the latter perspective. But Smith, in closing, offers a partial defense of the older view. Even if concentrating on heaven sometimes leads to apathy, many of those who keep the afterlife firmly in sight not only strive after personal holiness, but also work diligently to better our world.

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“Amid Bachmann controversy, many Christians cool to conversion therapy for gays”:

Evangelical re-examination of conversion [or reparative] therapy is part of a larger conversation under way among conservative Christians on how to respond to homosexuality at a time when more gay people are coming out, when there’s a new awareness of the bullying that many young gay people face and when the gay rights movement is making some big strides, including, in some states, legalized gay marriage.

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Apropos of the previous item: “Reparative Therapy, Homosexuality, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ”:

Christians cannot avoid the debate over reparative therapy, nor can we enter the debate on secular terms. We must bring to this conversation everything we know from God’s Word about our sin and God’s provision for sinners in Christ. We will hold no hope for any sinner’s ability to change his or her own heart, and we will hold little hope for any secular therapy to offer more than marginal improvement in a sinner’s life.

At the same time, we gladly point all sinners to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. [Romans 10:13] We hold full confidence in the power of the Gospel and of the reign of Christ within the life of the believer. We know that something as deeply entrenched as a pattern of sexual attraction is not easily changed, but we know that with Christ all things are possible.

And, even as Christians know that believers among us struggle to bring their sexual desires into obedience to Christ, this is not something true only of those whose desires have been homosexual. It is true of all Christians. We will know that those believers who are struggling to overcome homosexual desires have a special struggle — one that requires the full conviction and support of the body of Christ. We will see the glory of God in the growing obedience of Christ’s redeemed people. And, along with the Apostle Paul and all the redeemed, we will await the glory that is yet to be revealed to us.

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“A family bible”:

My curiosity is piqued. In an age of mass printing and the easy availability of books, does anyone keep a family bible anymore? The people I know have scores of individually-owned bibles in their homes, but does any have the clear status of family bible?

Great question, but why isn’t Bible capitalized? Just an editorial comment…

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“Why Would God Use 4.6 Billion Years?”:

Why didn’t God simply create the new heavens and the new earth? After all decay and sin will have no place in the new creation. If God can do it then why not now? Why not simply start with the ultimate goal? These why questions are necessary as we ponder the majesty of God, his creation, and his interaction with his people. But ultimately we cannot reason ourselves to an answer. What we can do is look at what God did do, the way he creates, the way he interacts with his people and move forward.

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“Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?” If I only have two of the three items in this list, am I poor?

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“Did you buy your Bible from Rupert Murdoch?” Does it really matter if I did?

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“Federal judge orders Ten Commandments removed from Dixie courthouse”: I wonder which one he didn’t like? Don’t lie? Don’t steal? Don’t commit adultery?

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“Christian Colleges Struggle with Their Fine Arts Programs”: Obviously, it’s a slow news day if I’m posting this kind of story.

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