Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Theology topic: Why did the Gospel authors wait so long to write them down?

If Jesus was crucified and resurrected around 33 AD, even the earliest dates proposed for authorship of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are two or three decades later (or more). Now, given the vital importance of these events and the immense centrality of these three accounts of the life of Jesus to Christians throughout history, it’s natural to ask why they waited so long to write their accounts. Waiting obviously invites the criticism that the events are less reliably recorded, and waiting seems to put things at the mercy of memories which dim over time. Even presuming the Christian belief that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers to be inerrant, doesn’t it still seem like a bizarre delay just from the perspective of how useful those texts could have been to the very early church during those decades? So why do you think God and the disciples waited so long to write the Gospels?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ethics: Should we start thinking about social media the way we think about addictive substances?

Everyone (I presume) has heard people refer to their digital device as a “crackberry.” This is meant to be a joke that disproves the reality, but when so many other smartphone users laugh a bit uncomfortably, the joke may be a little too apropos. According to a story in the New York Post today, several studies including a new one have revealed that people react to social media and Internet deprivation in ways very similar to how drug addicts respond to detox. I’ve been saying for years (following Marie Winn’s excellent book The Plug-In Drug) that technology like television is widely misunderstood for being primarily a matter of content rather than form. Social conservatives often lament the vulgarity of what’s on television, but almost no one ever laments the medium itself and its developmental impact on children and addiction-like use by adults. The question is whether we should start thinking of non-drug things in the same way we think about drugs. And in answering that question, it’s always useful to remember that at one time in history, cocaine and heroin were both legally available in some form to any customer. So, just because we don’t regulate something at the moment, that doesn’t mean later generations won’t think us fools for our blindness on such a matter.

~Do you ever use technology and then feel regret about it afterwards?
~Do you ever feel like you can’t stop using it or don’t really understand why you do use it so frequently?
~Is drunkenness a good paradigm for technology use? Is dependence?
~How careful should we be about new technology, especially when it seems to so suddenly become ubiquitous and seamlessly integrated into our lives?
~Is Twitter a drug? Is texting? Is facebook?
~Is the parallel with drugs strong enough to justify clear moral pronouncements?
~Are people being harmed in such a way that laws might even be passed for control…even beyond things like “don’t text and drive?”
~Is it only the action of texting that matters or is texting itself an intoxicant aside from its distraction effects?
~Does the fact that drugs cost a lot of money whereas much of modern technology is free affect your answers?
~Does the fact that drugs have direct and adverse biological effects compared to technology affect your answers?

Addicts caught in the net (NY Post)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wacky Topic: Christians are hateful.

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~Ask a homosexual what he thinks. For that matter, ask anyone who simply supports gays what they think.
~Ask someone who’s had an abortion what she thinks. For that matter, ask anyone who just supports the right to get one what they think.
~Ask someone who’s gotten a divorce what they think.
~Is it loving to tell someone they go to hell if they don’t think like you do?
~Wasn’t it Christians who waged war against the MLinkuslims…because they were Muslims?
~Wasn’t it Irish Christians who waged war against other Irish Christians…because they were other Christians?
~Wasn’t it Spanish Christians who tortured all sorts of people…for being something besides what they were?
~Isn’t the core idea of Christianity that God hates you because you are a sinner?
~If hell is an eternal unending and excruciating torture, what would you label a God who ordains that if not hateful?

Can Christians escape ‘hate’ label? (CP)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Programming Note

Since the show is currently off the air, the only way to have something like a discussion is via this blog (or facebook). So, as I'm continuing to post topics, thoughts, and send out the email...I'm hoping you guys will accept this format in temporary lieu of a call-in show and have an online discussion to which I'll of course contribute. Deal? =)

Theology Topic: Is it a sin to be dissatisfied?

The Bible tells us to be content in all things, right? But when you read the Bible, does it seem to you as if most of the great heroes of the faith wander around continually satisfied with everything as if Pollyanna really were the noblest of saints? Jesus is regularly furious with the religious leaders of His day. Paul isn’t shy at expressing his contempt for those who try to jeopardize what he’s done in preaching. And David, a man who is said to be after God’s own heart, expresses such depths of angst in the Psalms that it would be downright idiotic to call him satisfied, at least at those times. So are there times or circumstances in which it is acceptable to be dissatisfied? Are there objects of frustration that even obligate us to be dissatisfied with them? And if so, how are we as Christians to distinguish either the targets of our dissatisfaction or the expressive form of our reactions to those irritants from those of the people we all were before becoming Christian? In other words, if dissatisfaction per se isn’t the issue, how does Christian dissatisfaction differ from the non-Christian kind?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ethics: Should Christian Lopez have returned Jeter's 3000th hit?

Christian Lopez became instantly famous for being the guy who caught Derek Jeter’s milestone 3000th hit because it was also a home run. But rather than keeping the ball and selling it for an estimated $250,000, Lopez immediately gave it back to the Yankees’ shortstop. In return, he received tickets to the rest of the home games for this year, a gift he said he didn’t need. “I just really wanted to give it back for everything the guy has done for us,” he said. “The experience is just priceless. It’s Jeter’s day, but I’m right there with him. It can’t get any better than that.” So what do you think? Was this a morally virtuous thing to do or a foolish one? Is it simply a matter of property rights? Would you have done the same thing? Does his explanation that he wanted to give Jeter a gift to show his appreciation seem to capture the entirety of the case? If Lopez owned a mortgage-free home and sold it to give the proceeds to Jeter to honor him, would you feel the same way? How much of your answer hinges on the fact that he was essentially lucky to catch the ball rather than truly meritorious in having earned it? How much of your answer depends on the fact that significant hits are routinely taken out of play for players when they do not leave the park? And do you think that Jeter did enough for Lopez in return for this quarter of a million dollar act of generosity? Should Jeter give him $250,000? Would your answer be different if Lopez turned out to be a Christian or if that fact somehow became a note in the incident?

He gave it back (Peter’s Boat)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CC--Christianese 25f: Christian Liberty (part 6 of 6)

--As we learned previously, Christian liberty primarily proclaims God’s greatness in showing that it is our faith in His grace and not our performance that saves us. But it also has the practical benefit of allowing Christianity to take root in almost any cultural context and without all the conflict which comes from the ordinary cultural markers to which non-Christians attach themselves and their identity so strongly.
--But another big practical advantage of Christian liberty is that it preserves the unity of the faithful even amidst their tremendous potential for cultural diversity. If we are all God’s chosen people brought together by our common faith, what a testimony to God’s uniting power that we could all get along despite such differences when precisely those differences are such sources of division and discord apart from Him.
--See, normally, culture divides people. But in Christ, cultural differences can coexist without division. That’s why Christian churches properly embodying this are such a contradiction in expectations. Different socio-economic groups, different ages, and even different societies all come together and don’t merely endure each other. They cherish and serve and celebrate each other. That’s because they all equally realize that performing their cultural rules counts for nothing with God. Only faith in Christ does. Thus they are free to enjoy their own culture without haughtiness and to enjoy another’s culture without guilt. In other words, Christianity is the only true basis of real multiculturalism there is.
--And it was the violation of this unity in diversity of Christian liberty that made Paul chastise Peter publicly in the incident at Antioch.
--Temporarily forgetting (or denying) that Christ had united Jew and Gentile fully, Peter had chosen to eat only with fellow Jews rather than with the Gentiles and even as a Gentile as he had practiced elsewhere. This return to legalism and division made Paul immediately chastise him, for which he repented.
--Since we’ve been made at peace by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we must never divide what Christ has joined by adding additional requirements to what Christ has done for us.
--I know people don’t think too much of it in this context, but when people become Christians (the official ceremony of which is baptism), we fellow Christians really take something like the marital vow with those people. “What God has joined [to Himself through Christ], let no man [with his additional rules] put asunder (separate).”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrating 6 1/2 years of the ATS!

How has the Andrew Tallman Show impacted you? What have you learned from the show? Share your thoughts here or at facebook.com/andrewtallmanshow. =)

In closing....

Well, as most of you know by now, the Andrew Tallman Show has experienced a brief interruption in service. After 6½ years on air (to the day), KPXQ decided to eliminate the local programming position after the broadcast on Friday, July 8th. This was not in any way a result of management’s dissatisfaction with me or my show, and we are parting on very good terms. I know this came as a big surprise, and for many of you this has already caused sadness, frustration, disappointment, and maybe even anger. I understand. But I don’t want you to think of it this way.

Instead, I hope you’ll join me in being grateful that we had this amazing opportunity for so long together. Seriously, for those of you who have been around long enough, you remember the early days of the show when we actually counted the days of “The Great Experiment.” Part of the reason for that was that I was never really sure this thing would work, let alone work anywhere near as well as it did. It was abundantly obvious from the start that God brought me here to give me this opportunity, and it has been equally obvious since Friday that God has seen fit to take it away for the moment.

I am absolutely grateful to Him for letting me do something I loved so much with such fantastic people and such an amazing audience for so long. And I’m completely grateful to Salem Communications for cooperating with Him in making this possible, and John Timm for having been my mentor and benefactor for most of that time. Moreover, I got to do it with you, the most amazing and intelligent talk radio audience in the world!

I do not know what the future holds for me, or even where it will take place. But for years now God has been telling me that the next thing He has planned for me is even better than I can imagine. “I dunno, Lord. I can imagine quite a lot.” But I’m the kind of person who will never leave a good thing (or even a mediocre thing) unless I have to. And this job was a very good thing. So the only way God could get me into something else was to force me out of this situation.

That’s why I’m very much looking at this as if it’s Christmas morning, and I’m going downstairs to open the big present from my Daddy. I have no idea what it’ll be, but I can’t wait to find out and start playing with it. He’s really good at giving gifts, I’ve learned. So, in the meantime, I’m going to continue writing and posting materials on the websites. I may try to figure out how to do some Internet radio or podcasting also. And I will try to send out the email as frequently as I can, hopefully every day still. But aside from thanking you for your loyalty and asking for your prayers, I have an idea for how to end this portion of story in a neat way.

One of the show topics we never quite got around to doing was on the question, “How has the Andrew Tallman Show impacted you?” or “What have you learned from the Andrew Tallman Show?” So, as a way of celebrating (eulogizing?) this fun and fascinating thing we did together, I’d really love it if each of you would post something on the blog or facebook (or email it to me, and I will do so for you) in answer to that question. That would not only be very encouraging to me to read, but it would also (I hope) give all of you a chance to say your goodbyes (at least for now) to the show.

And trust me when I say that as sad as this is, I’ve actually never been happier in my life because of how amazing God has been prior to and during the last few days. On top of it all, I haven’t seen my family in 6 weeks (they come back tonight!). If you know anything about me, you can only imagine how tough that was all by itself, and then to have to deal with this development while deprived of them, too…. Nevertheless, God has been more than enough source of comfort and joy for me, which has already been a gift I can barely comprehend. He truly is far more amazing than any of us ever realizes!

So post your farewell thoughts. Keep in touch. And may God richly bless you all even more than He has me.

PS My new email address is tallmanuniversity (at) yahoo.com.

PPS I know some of you will feel like contacting KPXQ about all of this (Jim Ryan is the General Manager: jryan (at) salemphx.com or (602) 955-9600 x1202). But if you do, I hope you’ll express to him your sincere gratitude for having the show as long as we did. Please don’t be angry. God is in charge of this situation, and that would mean you’re angry at Him. Be as grateful as I am, okay? And keep in mind that Jim Ryan is God’s servant, too. Remember, we show by how we handle unpleasant events whether our trust is really in Christ or only in favorable circumstances. Always strive to bring Glory to Him in everything, including how you respond to this.

Friday, July 8, 2011

CC--Christianese 25e: Christian Liberty (part 5 of 6)

--The only thing that God requires is our faith in Christ, which faith will always lead us also to live according to love and within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. Thus, Christian liberty is the freedom for Christians to do whatever the Holy Spirit working inside of them permits or to avoid whatever He prohibits within these extremely broad limits.
--Aside from proclaiming the Gospel (see part 4), this vital doctrine has two major practical advantages, both of which fit the global scope of God’s Salvation project.
--First, it gives us all the latitude we need to work within and reach other cultures not like our own. Precisely because the culture-style of a Christian is almost infinitely flexible, we can adapt to and preach the Gospel in almost any context. This gives us the great advantage of not having to force people in that cultural context to leave everything they have ever known to follow Christ.
--In the past, one of the greatest barriers to evangelizing in foreign cultures has been the idea that not only must they become Christians but they must become Western Christians. This mean that converts not only had to accept Christ, but they had to become aliens to their own culture, which made them immediately adrift personally and ineffective evangelically with their own people.
--But the doctrine of Christian liberty, properly understood, would allow them plenty of latitude in being Christian with their native context and seeing how to fulfill all the incomplete strands of it through Christ rather than forcing them to abandon it as if the entire thing must be changed to conform to God’s will.
--This kind of cultural fascism has really hindered the spread of the Gospel, and it just plain fails to grasp this core doctrine. Such missionaries wind up being Judaizers all over again without even realizing it.
--I’ll explain the other advantage next time.

An ingenious plan to reform unemployment benefits.

In addition to this plan from Todd Buccholz, which I love for all sorts of reasons, what about this: while someone gets unemployment pay, they have to volunteer at a charity for some fairly minimal amount of time per week, say 15 hours? If all these people are without jobs, at least they could be creating value by helping charitable causes, right?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What is Sharia Law, really?

As what can only be described as the most-commonly-used-without-really-understanding-what-it-means word in current political discourse, Sharia is a fascinating cultural-linguistic phenomenon. But since it is in use and since the vast majority of people think they know what it means (perhaps just a euphemism for beheading unburqua’d women or Muslims who defect), I thought it might be worth our while to investigate and better understand precisely what Sharia is and what it is not. For instance, here are some questions I have:

--Are there varieties of Sharia?

--Are there degrees of implementation of Sharia?
--Do Sharia-based societies all look the same?
--To what degree is Sharia compatible with our Constitution?
--To what degree is Sharia compatible with Biblical concepts?
--Do we need to be worried about Sharia here in America?


Sharia (Wikipedia)
Sharia Law (CFR)
Ten reasons Sharia is bad for anyone (American Thinker)
Sharia Law (BBC)
The myth of Sharia Law in America (Amy Sullivan)

CC--Christianese 25d: Christian Liberty (part 4 of 5)

--So why is Christian liberty so important?
--Well, precisely because we live in a culture in which human freedom is worshipped and the liberty to do whatever we want is considered such an inviolable right (perhaps even unalienable), the most common misunderstanding about Christian liberty is that it is for the purpose of protecting people in their freedom.
--The reality couldn’t be farther from this.
--Remember that the purpose of all creation, all humanity, and each Christian life is to glorify God. So how does letting individual Christians decide whether to drink alcohol or whether to participate in Halloween or whether to listen to secular music fit with this objective?
--It’s simple. By declaring that none of these things in general defines or accomplishes our status with God, we are forced instead to remind people (both ourselves and outsiders) that the entire work of salvation is accomplished by faith in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
--The principle is that we are all saved by faith, and therefore we must not build barriers amongst ourselves on the basis of anything other than this.
--And so someone from the outside comes in and says, “How can it be that followers of the same God might be so different? One believes in democracy and one in monarchy. One listens to country music and the other to rock and roll. One abstains from all alcohol and the other consumes it in moderation. One is circumcised and the other is not. One dresses up for church and the other goes in shorts. How can all the followers of the same God be so wildly different?”
--This question (which Christian liberty is intended to provoke!) leads immediately to the real issue: our common faith in Christ and in Christ alone. The very diversity of Christians points directly to the Glory of God in that His work and His work alone saves and unites us. Anything else added on top of this creates a false Gospel mixing His accomplishment with our own.
--In this way, Christian liberty is absolutely not a matter of making individual Christians happy. It’s entirely a matter of reaffirming and proclaiming the Grace of God alone.
--But there’s one radically important additional reason for Christian liberty which I’ll explain about tomorrow.

Casey Anthony trial/verdict

Let me start by saying I know nothing, seriously nothing, about this case or this trial. What I do know is that people have been tremendously gripped by it, and they have tried their very best to get me interested. But I have declined. Much as I did with the Michael Jackson and the Natalie Holloway cases, I chose to ignore it all. And now, with the acquittal of Casey, I know why I do so. The people who were following this case so avidly are aghast, horrified, and (generally speaking) disgusted or even depressed. In other words, they are not enjoying much peace at the moment. I won’t go so far as to say they’ve done something wrong. Instead, I just want to note that I have none of these issues. I don’t find crime fascinating, and I generally trust that our legal system gets most things right. This woman will forever be believed to be a child-murderer, even though the jury found her not guilty, similar to the historical case of Lizzie Borden. The real questions I hope people will ask themselves now are:

--Does investing my time and effort and energy into cases like this usually pay off well?
--Has my effort to follow and maintain my opinions about this case brought me closer to God or other people?
--If I worry a lot about wrongfully incarcerating or even executing innocent people, does this example of how our system goes out of its way to not convict people reassure me?
--Am I aware of all the ways I have been manipulated by visual media to care about and be horrified by this case and this verdict?
--When I see Casey Anthony’s picture, do I react to it as a Christian should?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wacky Wednesday--Monarchy Is Right

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

--Isn’t ancient Israel in the Bible a monarchy? Wasn’t David sort of well known for being, you know, a King…picked by God…and a man after His own heart?

--Monarchy teaches us good theology about the relationship we have with God, quite the contrary of this heretical democracy stuff.

--Monarchy offers a clear and stable way to transfer political power

--Many people in the American colonies wanted to create an American monarchy, with George Washington as king.

--When you know from birth who is going to be king, it’s a lot easier to train him properly for the job.

--If you hate relativism so much, why are you such a fan of the political system which cultivates and reinforces it?
--Families, churches, sports teams, and jobs all have perfectly fine functioning systems based on authority rather than on democratic values.
--When you don’t get to choose your government, you don’t worry about it as much.
-Freedom brings with it psychological burdens. If you have no power at all to change something, you learn to live with it. When you have the chance to change it, suddenly you can become more disturbed than if you didn’t.
--Ancient philosophers dreaded democracy more than virtually any other system because they knew it would inevitably lead to tyranny.

CC--Christianese 25d: Christian Liberty (part 3 of 5)

--The essence of the idea behind Christian liberty is very simple. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and by the works which He did to merit the approval of God and thereby our salvation. And therefore, obedience to any other rules neither saves you nor does their violation jeopardize your salvation.
--But what then is to be done with all the rules in the Old Testament? And how do we avoid saying that Christians can do anything at all, no matter how evil?
--Well, Christian scholars have generally resolved this question by classifying the Old Testament commands into three main categories, civil, ceremonial, and moral.
--Civil laws would be related to the constitution of the political structure of ancient Israel.
--Ceremonial laws would be related to the priestly and sacrificial system of the religious structure of ancient Israel.
--The moral commands would be all the rules about human conduct, and these would divide into two major categories.
--First are the moral rules that predated the commands given to Moses and therefore were never limited merely to ancient Israel. Except for the Sabbath which is its own interesting topic, Christians generally consider the Ten Commandments to capture and summarize these.
--Second are the moral rules created uniquely for ancient Israel, such as regards mixing fabrics or the Kosher dietary rules. These were only ever meant for Jews.
--So the civil, ceremonial, and uniquely Jewish moral rules all went away at the Resurrection of Christ.
--What remains then is primarily the Ten Commandments, which always have and always will morally obligate all people, including Christians.
--But every other matter, such as the consumption of alcohol, celebrating particular days, listening to music, the use of medicine, the eating of various foods, what clothes to wear, etc. would be essentially matters of individual judgment.
--And not only are people adamantly free in these areas, but they are so free that it is a grave sin to try to restrict them or judge them for it. Nevertheless, in that freedom, they are supposed to be wise and loving in consideration of people who are still learning to live out this freedom in Christ.

Dominc Strauss-Kahn case

It’s a wonderful thing that we live in a culture which does not bow before the rich and powerful and is willing to investigate them, but it is also a dangerous bias to immediately believe any allegation against the rich and powerful. The wealthy deserve justice and the presumption of innocence, too.

Revelations undermining DSK case (NYT)
Judge releases DSK house arrest (MSNBC)
DSK case (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is “Judeo-Christian” a coherent term?

This term has been used widely in America since the 1940s, and is often used today by both conservative Christians and conservative Jews to represent the shared moral and cultural project of Jews and Christians in America and elsewhere. Dennis Prager, most notably, wrote a series of columns (around 20 of them in all) talking about the concept. But there are some fairly substantial differences, even incompatibilities, between Jews and Christians regarding God, Jesus, Salvation, and even ordinary morality. So is this term really a useful or coherent one?

Judeo-Christian (Wikipedia)

CC--Christianese 25b: Christian Liberty (part 2 of ?)

--As we noted yesterday, the concept of Christian liberty has been a part of our faith from the very beginning, when the Church leaders had to reconcile the holiness requirements of Judaism with the new influx of Gentiles into the faith.
--Some of the Jewish converts wanted Christians to live according to all these laws, arguing that God doesn’t change the rules in the middle of the game. And this is understandable because those practices had become the key identifying trademarks of Jewish identity. Giving such things up is not easy at all.
--But Gentile converts neither knew these practices nor saw the point of them, arguing not only that God was clearly declaring their irrelevance in accepting them with the Holy Spirit and arguing that faith in Christ rather than obedience to the law is the core of the Gospel.
--So the big question arose over how both Jewish and Gentile Christians ought to live their lives together and the pronouncement of the New Testament authors and the early Church Council at Jerusalem was simple.
--The only requirement of Christians was to obey those moral rules which come from the fundamental principles of God’s Nature and Character, such as financial generosity and sexual monogamy. These might generally be called the “rules of love.”
--In contrast Christians do not need to obey any of the ceremonial, sacrificial, or dietary restrictions or the holy days in the Old Testament because they were uniquely for the Jews to identify them as God’s people. These might generally be called the “rules of holiness.”
--Nevertheless, since Jews and Gentiles must get along, both sides must be generous to each other, Jews working to not be offended at what Gentiles do in freedom, and Gentiles not provoking Jews by flaunting their liberty in front of them.
--Thus love became the guiding principle, not particular regulations. And this freedom to live in love is what we call Christian liberty.

Background check app for iPhone and Android?

Are we seriously this paranoid about other people? I’ll learn what I need to know about them the old fashioned way…talking to them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holiday Topic: The Declaration of Independence

As perhaps the most famous political document in history (certainly in United States history), the Declaration of Independence has influenced or had an impact on the entire world ever since it was written, even in those places where its principles have been rejected. So, in addition to reading it on the air today (as I did for everything other than the itemized list of infractions this afternoon), I thought we could talk about what in it is so substantial and fascinating. Moreover, the particular question I have is what part(s) of it you find most compelling. Also, are there any parts or lines that bother you or with which you don’t fully agree?

CC--Christianese 25a: Christian Liberty (part 1 of ?)

--The idea of Christian liberty is as simple as it is revolutionary in the history of religious thought.
--You see, every religion gives guidelines for human behavior and the expectation that people would live up to them in order to be pleasing to God (or the gods).
--In this sense, there is a code of conduct by which every member of that religious community can look at others to see whether they are living as they should.
--In Judaism, this scorecard is given in the Old Testament and commonly referred to as “The Law” or the commandments of God given to Moses, normally counted as 613 of them regulating everything from food to clothing to sex to money and social justice.
--So when the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, came, died and was resurrected, creating the Christian Church, one of the major areas of conflict for His followers was the question of how many (if any) of these rules still applied to Christians.
--It was obvious to everyone in this discussion that the fundamental rules of love still applied to them all, thus the sexual and financial principles of the Old Testament still governed behavior because they flowed from the very Nature and Character of God. But what about the ceremonial, sacrificial, and dietary restrictions as well as the holy days?
--This was a real crisis for the early Church because Jews were so accustomed to defining their very identity by these markers and Gentiles had no idea of any of them. Moreover, God had clearly accepted the Gentiles in spite of their “unholiness” in these areas.
--So what was the decision?
--At the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), the leaders of the early Church came up with a simple principle. Jews must not judge Gentiles if they do not care about such things and must not isolate from them over such matters. And Gentiles must not judge Jews if they still hang onto some of them, but should not flaunt their freedom in front of “weak” Jews who find such things too disturbing to endure. In other words, both sides must behave out of love for the other in all things.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Friday, July 1, 2011

CC--Christianese 24e: Glory/Glorify (part 5 of 5)

--Yesterday, I posed a challenge regarding our duty to glorify God in every way. I said that maybe the way we should glorify God was by being good press agents, embellishing His good deeds and spinning His less appealing ones. Whether in the Bible or in the world, maybe we would do well to give God a better image than people might otherwise form of Him. And if that’s true “out there,” it’s also true “in here,” with regard to my own moral growth. Shouldn’t I hide my flaws and fake as much virtue as possible so as to make God look better by all this wonder He’s going to get credit for doing in my life?
--As immediately horrible as all this sounds, the truth is that Christians of all sorts buy into precisely this mistake, whether it’s in the way they deal with the Bible, the way they talk about God in this world, or the way they present themselves to others through evangelism or personal lifestyle.
So what are the three big problems with such “fake glorification?
--Well, first, it’s lying. And since we serve a God whose core character is Truth, that’s immediately a problem.
--Second, it’s very dangerous precisely because anyone lured into Christianity on the basis of such exaggerated claims (whether about God or about your own life) will be disillusioned by the reality once he discovers it for himself.
--But the most important problem is the third one. And this problem absolutely runs rampant among Christians. We secretly think God isn’t good enough. And so we feel we have to embellish either our accounts of Him or our lives in following Him. But if God finds His deeds and our imperfect lives suitably glorifying for His purposes, on what grounds would we disagree? Instead of secretly nurturing the idea that God isn’t good enough either “out there” or “in here,” we should start from the premise that He is perfect and then stop trying to do anything other than tell the truth as we know and experience it.
--Only then will we be glorifying the actual God as He actually is.

The Sun's strange quietness

Would solar lull snuff climate action? (NYT)

Sun’s strange lull explained (2009!) (Space.com)