The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, August 29, 2011


DOMINIONISM AND ANTI-DOMINISM: Michelle Goldberg thinks Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are devotees of Rousas John Rushdoony and other theocrats. (Ryan Lizza has similar thoughts.) Hunter Baker disagrees here, here, and here. I’ve actually read Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, Gary North and others who are various labeled “Dominionists,” “Theonomists,” and “Christian Reconstructionists.” Indeed, Greg Bahnsen was a teach of mine. On the basis of that reading, I am confident that neither Perry nor Bachmann are Dominionists. Oh, and you might also want to read Ross Douthat and Douglas Groothuis on the same topic.

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DON’T WORRY BILL, I’M AN ATHEIST, JUST LIKE… Anthony Sacramone takes down Bill Keller in an hilarious post that points out how overblown are the Left’s concerns about GOP presidential candidates’ religion. Plus, he poses a few tough questions of his own for secularists.

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NOT SOLD ON EITHER: The Center for American Progress (a left-wing think tank) has released a new report, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” about the ideas and funding of five conservative “Islamophobes”: Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer. I have my doubts about the extent of what Spencer calls “stealth jihad,” which makes me wary of the conclusions of Gaffney et al. But by the same token, I’m not sold on the CAP report either. But since the CAP has raised the issue of the funding sources of religious hatred, I wouldn’t mind someone doing a report on the funding sources of progressives who write hysterical screeds about “Dominionists.” Scratch an anti-Dominionist, and I bet George Soros begins to itch.

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IT’S JESUS, STUPID! “Mark Noll on the Foundation of the Evangelical Mind.” Mark Noll on any topic is always informative, but his new book, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, is especially good. (And “stupid” is an homage to “It’s the economy, stupid,” not a slur on Noll, who’s one of the smartest professors I ever had the privilege to learn from.)

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9/11 AND ATHEISM: “9/11 gave birth to aggressive, unapologetic ‘New Atheists.’”

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NO PRAYERS ON 9/11: “Excluding prayer from 9/11 memorial compounds the tragedy of that day.”

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ORTHODOXY OR FERTILITY? “Why Conservative Churches Are Growing.”

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THE THIRD ADAM (SMITH, THAT IS): “Classical Economics And Its Religious Underpinnings.”

After several decades of research, Viner concluded that Smith was an example of a strand of thought which he called “optimistic providentialism.”  This view goes back to the early Christian church fathers, as far back as the time of St. Augustine. It grew to eventually become popular in intellectual circles at the time of Smith.  Viner pointed to the extremely important idea he dubbed “providential abundance,” which held that the universe was designed by God to be abundant. The necessities of life were widely distributed by Him, and even the luxuries of life could be had when free people are allowed to pursue self-interest. Man, being in possession of free will, could waste and squander opportunity through plunder, war and empire, but those were not the original design. Frederick Bastiat develops this idea more fully in Economic Harmonies, arguing that peaceful labor and abundance was the Edenic intention, but that there had arisen a “misunderstanding between God and mankind,” in which the latter chose the path of coercion.

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NOT THE EFFECTS YOU MIGHT THINK: “The Lasting Effects of Your School” surveys what public school, private school, and homeschool graduates are “most likely to” and “least likely to” do. I thought the effects of homeschool were interesting:

Most likely to: Want a job that pays well; get divorced; feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life; lack any clear goals or sense of direction; accept authority of church leadership; feel prepared for a  vibrant religious and spiritual life; marry young.

Least likely to: Want a job that is directly helpful to others or is worthwhile to society; spend much time volunteering or going on mission trips; be involved in political campaigns.

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SIDE BENEFIT: HE CAN COUNT ALL TWELVE APOSTLES ON TWO HANDS. “Nicknamed ’24,’ Cuban man considers his 4 perfectly formed extra digits a blessing.”

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