Skip to comments.Faces of Religion
Posted on 12/24/2013 8:00:24 AM PST by Kaslin
I wouldn't volunteer to be Phil Robertson's speechwriter. He chooses his words too carelessly. But with Christmas arriving, it's worth pausing a moment to consider two other faces of Christianity today.
Many who are hostile to religion are eager to portray the "Duck Dynasty" star's comments about homosexuality as the essence of Christianity. Because the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin akin to adultery, the argument goes, the Bible is clearly bigoted, and those who quote the relevant verses are morally objectionable as well.
Some of us who were sorry to see the idea of sin itself go out of fashion worry about the relaxation of standards all around. Still, you can quote the Bible to almost any effect, and it's certainly true that the sins we choose to highlight or overlook change with time. In the 18th century, for example, violating the Sabbath was considered a serious offense. In my judgment, a more consequential sin than homosexuality, from the point of view of our cultural health, is unwed childbearing.
At Christmastime, though, it's important to remember that religion is about encouraging virtue, not just avoiding sin.
As a Jew, I may have weak qualifications to nominate anyone for Christian of the Year, but I step forward because it's so easy in the present climate to lose sight of the fact that the Christian message -- and generally, the message of the great religions -- continues to inspire the very best in people. Young people, who see Christianity and other great faiths as merely institutionalized prejudice, need to grapple with the larger picture.
I'm continually inspired by the acts of generosity, communal support and loving kindness performed by the rabbi and congregants of our synagogue. Visiting the sick, providing jobs for the handicapped, comforting those who mourn, feeding the hungry -- these are tasks undertaken because religious people feel called or commanded to perform them. A benevolent attitude toward one's fellow man is all very well, but in practice, religious people are far more likely to extend themselves in this way than secular people. (For more on this topic, see "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" by Arthur Brooks.)
Pope Francis may need a primer on free market economics (while I'm recommending books, I suggest "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism" by the great Catholic philosopher Michael Novak), but there is no doubt he is imbued with a love of God that translates seamlessly into a love of his fellow men. Like Robertson, he accepts the Christian teaching that homosexuality is a sin, but he also lives the Christian teaching about loving the sinner and embracing all people -- the ill, destitute and in one moving moment from the past year, the disfigured -- as God's children who are owed dignity and inclusion.
When he announced his impending retirement from the House of Representatives, Frank Wolf issued a simple statement: "As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves ... "
Would he have described himself as a humble "follower of Jesus" if he were making an announcement for reelection instead of retirement? Would any politician in a purple state like Virginia dare to do so? Doubtful.
What is not in doubt is that Wolf did speak for the voiceless and did defend the persecuted throughout his 34 years in Congress. Wherever men were persecuted, they could be sure of an advocate in Wolf. He traveled to the Soviet Union, Romania and Bosnia to investigate and report on human rights abuses. In 1997, he traveled to Tibet on an ordinary passport and visa -- not as part of an official delegation -- to meet with persecuted Buddhists. When he returned, he held a press conference denouncing the "unspeakably brutal conditions" that prevailed in the mountain region "in the dim shadow of international awareness." He has continued to press the State Department and various administrations to raise human rights questions with the Chinese government.
Wolf was among the first members of Congress to travel to Darfur, Sudan, and those suffering in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the Republic of the Congo, Syria, Iraq and Egypt have also benefited from Wolf's tireless devotion to human rights. He fought human trafficking in the U.S. and worldwide, and attempted to persuade his fellow members to resist the seduction of legalized gambling.
Wolf and Francis, you might say, are attempting to impose their religious values on other people. God bless them.
>>I wouldn’t volunteer to be Phil Robertson’s speechwriter. He chooses his words too carelessly<<
Truth needs no veneer.
It is clear many people can’t face bare facts without blushing or being shocked.
Gosh, being blunt may offend.
I understand what Mona is trying to say but there is no difference between the two. Whenever ever you don't do one you are doing the other. The first words Jesus preached were to "repent".
Paul rightly describes "sin" not just as an act, but rather, as also a nature within each of us.
The core of all sin is not believing in Jesus. Ever other sin is a manifestation of this.
The left is always outraged with Christian values.
I had an argument with a lefty about the comments made by the Duck Dynasty guy. I told the lefty ...
“I am amzed you find his quotes from the Bible offensive, but you don´t take offence with the qoran, a book writen by a pedophile.A man ,mohamed, who hates female over 9 year old.”
Funny how the left hate Christianity but worship islam.
How did the lefty respond when you told him that.
That specific term implies, does it not, that a "Savior's" role must be to save from something?
In 1973, Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book called,"What Ever Became of Sin?
In 2008, an article appeared in "Culture Watch" by Bill Muehlenberg, which reviewed Menninger's query, and added commentary about the degree to which redefinition of words and terms had played a part in societal understanding. Here is a small excerpt from this thought-provoking piece (recommend a full read, however):
"A recent story in the Mail on Sunday reports on changes made to the Oxford Junior Dictionary. And it seems it is not just the word sin which has got the axe. According to the story, a number of Christian and biblical terms have been deleted, including abbey, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, monk, nun, pew, saint.(End of Excerpt)
"The article quotes one concerned parent: Lisa Saunders, from County Down, Northern Ireland, compared six editions since the 1970s and was horrified to discover that a whole range of words relating to Christianity, nature and British history had been axed over the years. ‘The Christian faith still has a strong following,’ she said. ‘To eradicate so many words associated with Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it. We know that language moves on and we can’t be fuddy-duddy about it, but you don’t cull hundreds of important words in order to get in a different set of ICT words.
The article also provides the rationale from the publisher: Oxford University Press said it analysed millions of words from children’s books and the school curriculum and looked at how frequently they occurred in considering how to update new editions. Advice from teachers is also taken before the final choice is made. Vineeta Gupta, head of children’s dictionaries, said: ‘We are limited by how big the dictionary can be little hands must be able to handle it but we produce 17 children’s dictionaries with different selections and numbers of words. When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don’t go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as “Pentecost” or “Whitsun” would have been in 20 years ago but not now.
So what is one to make of all this? Several thoughts come to mind. Sure, as Western societies become increasingly secular such terms will therefore continue to fall out of use. But the fact that a word may not be used a lot may not be a good reason for pulling it from our dictionaries.
Historical terms were also pulled from the dictionary; words such as coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade. But as the years roll on, perhaps many will not know or care about such things as the Holocaust. Does that mean we should feel free to delete that term as well?
Certain terms are simply a part of the Western heritage and are too vital to be left out. Christianity played an enormous role in the establishment and continuance of Western civilisation, so it should not so readily be dismissed from our collective memories.
Theological demolition jobs
But leaving aside for the moment what words we include or exclude from our dictionaries, the gradual disappearance of the notion of sin has far-wider implications and ramifications. For this notion is fundamental to the Judeo-Christian worldview. Take away our understanding of sin, and these two major religious traditions no longer make any sense.
Indeed, biblical Christianity is incoherent without the notion of sin. There can be no good news of the Gospel without first understanding the bad news of sin and the Fall. The mission of Jesus makes no sense if we remove such concepts from our thinking.
Jesus made it clear that the reason he came to earth was to save sinners. For example, as he said in all three Synoptic Gospels: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Take away the doctrine of sin and we take away the doctrine of the Incarnation. Indeed, we take away the entire message of the New Testament.
But of course very liberalised versions of Christianity are quite happy to dispense with the notion of sin altogether. They think it has no place in the believers vocabulary or theology. Plenty of examples come to mind here."
In America, we have seen semantic maneuvers and outright censorship of the very ideas of liberty upon which our Constitution's protections were built.
At the time of the report titled "A Nation at Risk" was published, there were warnings about the degree to which the public schools in America had failed in teaching students about their nation's historical foundations, one observing that there had been an effecting "erasing" of the national memory.
So-called "progressive" imposition of coercive control by political elites, as a substitute for self-government and an ignoring of what the Founders acknowledged to be the "Supreme Judge of the World" in their Declaration of Independence may have led us to where we are today.
Semantics and hidden meanings have played a large part in this Administration's promotion of its idea of "hope and change." Citizens, in their ignorance, supplied their own sometimes uninformed meanings, and now we see some consequences of an uninformed electorate.
A Memorial and Remonstrance. . . . - James Madison (Excerpt)
"Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the Manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.
"The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable; because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also; because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the general authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no mans right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.
"Although all men are born free, slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant--they have been cheated; asleep--they have been surprised; divided--the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson?...the people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it....It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently free." - James Madison
"Religion" perhaps but not Christianity. There isn't any 'avoiding sin'. It is in our very nature to sin, gay or straight it makes no difference. The reason there is a Christmas is there had to be an Easter. Otherwise There would be no hope fro any of us no matter how virtuous we may be.
How did the lefty respond when you told him that.
as they normally do...Rant at me for being islamophobe, that I should read the qoran (which he has not),that islam is peaceful and tolerant........blablabla.
I then listed all the conflicts around the world that involved islam.
reminded him of Iran hanging gays.
Reminded him that saudis allow 12 year old to be married for one night.
and of course...told him he was a coward...would not told a mohametan he was a bigot because the mohametan would slit his throat, unlike a Christian who would forgive him.
Also told him that the left are the worst at suppressing free speech...
May I say, we don´t get on.....lol.
So you think that you are smarter than the God of the Bible? I don’t think so!
Merry Christmas ...
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us.
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgins name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
30 Then the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.
34 Then Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I do not know a man?
35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,;
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
“Religion” perhaps but not Christianity. There isn’t any ‘avoiding sin’. It is in our very nature to sin, gay or straight it makes no difference. The reason there is a Christmas is there had to be an Easter. Otherwise There would be no hope fro any of us no matter how virtuous we may be.
Jesus died for our sins and Christians can always repent and be saved. The affronted homos can always repent and be saved. No one is denying them that right.
Under Islam, not so much. Sinners are stoned to death and beheaded and the like. Under Communism, Castro put all the HIV folks in camps and thus stopped Aids.
I wouldn’t volunteer to be Phil Robertson’s speechwriter. He chooses his words too carelessly
Mr Robertson chooses his words honestly. Not everyone will like that, But that does not make it wrong............