The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Sadly, a small group of anti-Islam bigots were able to hoodwink a major American retailer into thinking this innocuous show is some sort of stealth jihad on America. An insignificant fringe group called the Florida Family Association sent a letter to Lowe’s stating, “Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.” Their letter on the website goes on to say, “The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

HE’S MAKING A LIST… “The real Santa Claus is worth remembering.”

So when you think of Santa Claus, here’s something to think about:

Think of a godly Christian bishop who was persecuted and imprisoned for faithfully proclaiming the faith under the most dangerous of circumstances. Think of someone who had a sensitive caring pastoral heart and took care of the flock of which God had made him shepherd. Think of someone who provided support and defense for children, the weak and poor, the helpless and victims of injustice. Think of someone with an unparalleled passion for doctrinal purity. And to top it off, think of someone whose whole purpose in life was to point people to Jesus.

“A PROVIDENTIAL LEGISLATING GOD”: “God and Moral Absolutes.”

A moral absolute is an exceptionless norm against choosing a certain type of action that is intrinsically bad. Recognizing a moral absolute therefore involves two stages of evaluation: first, seeing that some act, such as killing an innocent person, is intrinsically evil, and second, seeing that one ought never to do evil. My contention is that a demonstration of this second stage of evaluation will need to appeal to God’s legislation against doing evil that good may come. This appeal of course assumes that God exists and that He legislates the moral law. Without this appeal, it remains logically possible for someone to think that there are intrinsically evil acts, and to think that virtuous people will habitually refuse to consider committing such acts, while yet refusing to infer that such acts must be avoided in every situation whatsoever.

A STRANGELY MAXIMALIST PROPOSAL: “Science, Religion, and Religious Minimalism.” If you argue that all people should adopt your proposal for “religious minimalism,” aren’t you acting in a religiously maximalist way?

…All of us, no matter what we believe, stand outside traditions to which the vast majority of other human beings belong. The lesson to draw from this inescapable fact of the human condition is the need for a profound humility about one’s own beliefs, especially when they are the kinds of beliefs that one cannot fully test in the company of others. In “The Predicament of Belief,” these facts compel us to call for a “religious minimalism” across the world’s traditions. For example, those whose religious experiences and values give rise to inescapably Christian convictions become Christian minimalists when they learn to hold their beliefs with humility and a certain lightness of touch.

We suggest that the humility of religious minimalism is the right stance for everyone, believers and non-believers alike, to adopt — especially in an age in which the rich plurality of human beliefs has never been more evident, more exciting… or more dangerous.

HYPOCRISY: “Question authority…unless it’s mine.”

LOVE & JUSTICE: “Why the Supreme Court Ruling Is an Opportunity for Christians.” Reflecting on a court decision that upholds the right of the New York City Department of Education to refuse to rent facilities to churches, Pastor Caleb Clardy writes:

The Christian church in New York City has a great opportunity right now. For years, schools all over the city have graciously hosted us. This has given us a wonderful opportunity. We need to be grateful for that hospitality. In these final months as tenants, we need to show our gratitude, and the love of Jesus. The truth is that the schools in our neighborhoods did not make this choice. We have built strong friendships serving them, and them serving us, for years. We must find ways to keep showing them love in this new season as well. This is the way of Jesus.

One other thing about Jesus—he is not just a gentle savior. He is also a provocateur against injustice. I think it is possible to keep a loving posture and still offer a sincere challenge to our culture. Our country was founded on the right of its citizenry to make free and informed decisions. Yet it seems that more and more decisions of conscience are being made for us by high-level policymakers and by judicial fiat. Is this what we actually want for our city, and our nation? If MS 51 can choose to host the basketball league and the farmers’ market and the theatre troupe and the voting stations, why can’t they choose to host the church as well? I haven’t yet heard a compelling answer to that question.

BAD IDEA: “Pastors Double-Dare the IRS.”

About 85 percent of Protestant pastors believe the IRS should stay out of policing sermon content, according to an August survey by LifeWay Research. Yet a 2010 survey found that the same majority believe that pastors should not endorse candidates from the pulpit, said president Ed Stetzer.

NEW ATHEIST RUDENESS EXPLAINED: “Moving the Overton Window.”

CHRISTOPHOBIA EXPLAINED: “The Terrifying Tim Tebow.”

Tim Tebow, in all of his corn-fed, God-glorifying, prison-preaching, hospital-building, tolerance-defining authenticity models a different way, a different mindset, one that conforms not to times or trends but to testaments and traditions.

I’M DOING IT RIGHT NOW, ACTUALLY: “How Much ‘Tebowing’ Is Too Much?”

TEBOW AND CALVIN? SERIOUSLY? “Tebow, Calvin, and the Hand of God in Sports.”

…the most important story here is not that Tebow and the Broncos are winning in dramatic fashion, but that the Lord seems to have worked in this man such that, though faced with unbelievable fame, major wealth, constant attention, and the classically all-American success story, Tebow seems only to want to talk about the gospel.

COMO SAY WHAT? “Southern Baptists Go Swimming in Lake Geneva.” Peter Berger has a confused and confusing article about Southern Baptists embracing Calvinism, confused because he doesn’t get TULIP right and confusing because he describes Arminianism as “soft Calvinism” rather than as an independent movement. Hence, this very confusing conclusion, which I nonetheless hope to be true: “If Calvinism is to make further inroads among Southern Baptists or among any other segments of American Evangelicals, it will be in its Arminian form.”

YET ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE YOUTUBE: “Who Was George Frideric Handel?”

“UNUSUAL”? I’D SAY! “Vatican university hosts unusual tattoo conference.”

PRESIDENTIAL VIRTUE, OR “WHAT WOULD LINCOLN DO?” “Prudence, the Charioteer of the Virutes.”

EDUCATION & THE REPUBLIC: “Patrick Henry, Homeschooler.”

PERVY: “Admiral Theater Offers Lap Dances For Holiday Toy Donations.”


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