Socrates Meets Descartes

Peter Kreeft, Socrates Meets Descartes: The Father of Philosophy Analyzes the Father of Modern Philosophy’s Discourse on Method (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2007). $12.95, 238 pages. René Descartes dies and goes to Purgatory. Socrates meets him there and interrogates him about his rationalist philosophy. For good measure, Blaise Pascal makes a cameo appearance at the end of the dialogue. That is the hilarious setup for Peter Kreeft’s excellent introduction to Descartes’ Discourse on Method, which introductory philosophy students and interested laypeople can read for both fun and profit. Kreeft uses a similar setup for his introduction to other philosophers including Plato, … Continue reading Socrates Meets Descartes

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Thursday, June 30, 2011

“Why Are Evangelicals Losing Influence?” That evangelical influence is waning is probably an accurate self-observation. Yet the blame for this can hardly be placed at the feet of secularism. If evangelical influence is nose-diving we have no one to blame but ourselves. Evangelicals have lost influence not because the culture has become secularized, but because evangelicals have failed to embody the life and teachings of Jesus. Ronald Sider all but predicted this new reality in his 2005 book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.” His argument, based largely on polling data, was that in nearly every appreciable category evangelical Christian … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Thursday, June 30, 2011

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 29, 2011

“A religious test for president?” No. How about an economics test instead? I mean, seriously, should we be more concerned that a candidate is a Mormon (Romney) than a Keynesian (Obama)? Jesus didn’t appear to the American Indians, but claiming he did so doesn’t rack up more than $3 trillion in debt in just under three years. From a political point of view, which data point is more important? _____ “3 Main Bodies in Christianity Reach ‘Historic’ Agreement in Evangelism Ethics.” You can read the agreement here. Apropos of this topic, I’m reading Elmer John Thiessen’s excellent book, The Ethics … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, June 27, 2011

“Did I Just Tweak Jesus’ Nipple?”: For some, this story might seem to reflect a person with no respect for Jesus.  Yet for those of us who know Jimmy, we see it as a divine encounter where a loving God reached past the cloudy confusion of mental illness to demonstrate His love for one of His children. When we began our ministry in our neighborhood nearly a decade ago, we could not have anticipated that we would have found ourselves in relationship with so many people struggling with various degrees of mental health.  Neither could we have anticipated how deeply … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, June 27, 2011

Am I Really a Christian?

Mike McKinley, Am I Really a Christian? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011). $12.99, 160 pages. Matthew 7:21–23 may be one of the most difficult passages of Scripture for Christians to contemplate. There, people asked Jesus, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” (Evidently, they were Pentecostals, like me.) Instead of commending them, however, Jesus said, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.” These people were self-deceived about the authenticity of their Christianity. In Am I Really a Christian? Mike McKinley outlines five things … Continue reading Am I Really a Christian?

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Friday, June 24, 2011

Robert P. George discusses “the authoritarian impulse” of some modern liberals. But as liberals around the country—not all, but many, and indeed increasingly many, it seems—abandon support for conscience protection and seek to force pro-life and pro-marriage citizens and institutions to comply with liberal ideological beliefs by, for example, referring for or even participating in abortions and providing facilities or services for celebrations of same-sex sexual partnerships, it seems clear that the Rawlsian ambition has been thrown over in favor of a crusade to establish what might be called (following Rawls himself) “comprehensive liberalism” as the official pseudo-religion of the … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Friday, June 24, 2011

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Thursday, June 23, 2011

“Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders”: Evangelical Protestant leaders who live in the Global South (sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and most of Asia) generally are optimistic about the prospects for evangelicalism in their countries. But those who live in the Global North (Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) tend to be more pessimistic. The so-called “optimism gap” is the top-line finding of this survey, but the whole report is worth a look. _____ “New York’s Dangerous Churches—in Schools.” However, this ongoing conflict is evidence that many New Yorkers are spooked by the … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Thursday, June 23, 2011

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In “The Dangerous Mind of Peter Singer,” Joe Carter wonders whether there’s an ethical minimum that scholars need to meet before being treated seriously by others: While it is necessary to consider and debate unpopular views, there should be a minimum standard for ethical discourse whether on the elementary playground or in the lecture halls of Princeton. There are certain moral issues that are all but universally recognized as self-evidently wrong by those in possession of rational faculties. Rape is wrong, torturing babies for fun is objectively morally bad, and the Holocaust was not just a violation of utilitarian ethic, … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, June 21, 2011

“Why Liberal Religious Arguments Fail.” Over at Religion Dispatches, Peter Laarman reflects on what kinds of rhetoric are helping the pro-same-sex-marriage crowd, and concludes that religious argument is not one of them. Instead, personal testimonies are. Every poll and every wise observer points out that gay-affirming folks have not been winning on account of superior arguments, whether arguments from the Bible or theology or science. They aren’t winning on account of their superior debating skills. They’re winning by being present and visible in faith communities: by coming out in ways that clergy and congregations can’t ignore. Gay people are winning … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, June 21, 2011