Archive | October, 2008

Friday's with Aquinas: Did Christ Rise Himself From the Grave?

Question 52, Article 4

Whether Christ was the cause of His own Resurrection?

Objection 1. It seems that Christ was not the cause of His own Resurrection. For whoever is raised up by another is not the cause of his own rising. But Christ was raised up by another, according to Acts 2:24: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell”: and Romans 8:11: “He that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies.” Therefore Christ is not the cause of His own Resurrection.

Objection 2. Further, no one is said to merit, or ask from another, that of which he is himself the cause. But Christ by His Passion merited the Resurrection, as Augustine says (Tract. civ in Joan.): “The lowliness of the Passion is the meritorious cause of the glory of the Resurrection.” Moreover He asked the Father that He might be raised up again, according to Psalm 40:11: “But thou, O Lord, have mercy on me, and raise me up again.” Therefore He was not the cause of His rising again.

Objection 3. Further, as Damascene proves (De Fide Orth. iv), it is not the soul that rises again, but the body, which is stricken by death. But the body could not unite the soul with itself, since the soul is nobler. Therefore what rose in Christ could not be the cause of His Resurrection. Continue Reading →

Laypeople: Don't Baptize – That is Our Job!

As a Evangelical Protestant, I come from a tradition that believes strongly in the priesthood of all believers. What does this mean? Among other things it means that I reject a formal sacerdotal system. What is this?

From the Theological Word of the Day:

“Sacerdotalism

(Lat. sacerdos, “priest”)

Sacerdotalism is the belief in an established hierarchy that separates man from God. In such a system the priesthood stands as an essential mediator between God and man. This priesthood, according to sacerdotalists, is a necessary component in worship, receiving communion, confessing sin, baptism, and other acts of administering grace. This “caste” system is generally rejected by most Protestants who traditionally hold to the doctrine of the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Pet. 2:5). Protestants believe that the only mediator between God and man is Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). Advocates of sacerdotalism reference the priesthood established in the Old Testament which was sacerdotal. Opponents will emphasize the difference between the New Testament church and the Old Testament theocracy, believing that the Old Testament sacerdotal system is completely fulfilled in Christ and, therefore, no longer necessary (Heb. 10:19-20).”

The priesthood of all believers is primarily illustrated as the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51), symbolizing the fulfillment and overshadowing of the old temporary sacerdotal system. Now, you and I as believers don’t need any representation to God other than the God-man, Jesus Christ.

What does this mean?

Continue Reading →

Bar Stool Economics

This is saying the same thing I said a few weeks ago about a demotivated work force. Punish the rich and you may not get your beer at all.

Source Unknown (if you wrote it, claim it).

Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.’ Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. Continue Reading →

Why are there so many nominal Christians?

Most of you would agree without any argument that one of the greatest crisis that American Christianity faces today is nominal Christianity. If not, you should!

Nominal Christianity is defined by those who proclaim the name Christian, yet remain uncommitted in any real sense. One of the distinctions that the term “evangelical” has sought to claim over the last fifty years is just the opposite of nominalism. Evangelicals have hoped to distinguish themselves as those that not only believe the essential truths of historic Christianity, but live according to those beliefs. Although the relevance of the term “evangelical” as a bearer of this distinction is the subject of great debate, the understanding of its opposite, nominalism, is still a problem. (Although I would credit the problems within Evangelicalism not only to commitment, but to a deteriorating distinction in our worldview).

The nominalist is very difficult to understand.

Some who are nominal Christians are such and don’t recognize that they are bearing a name without bearing the beliefs associated with that name. In other words, “Christian” is not a very distinct term anymore. One can believe themselves to be a Christian because they are American, have been baptized, go to church, have a conservative worldview, or vote Republican. This type of nominal Christian may live for years without ever really understanding what it means to be a Christian. They may have never made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ in any sense.

Some who are nominal Christians know themselves to be such and just don’t know how to make the “turn” to a passionate commitment to Christ. Frustration, confusion, doubt, skepticism, and just a general lack of passion can all be seen as symptoms of this type of nominalism. I know of someone who is very close to me who simply cannot understand why they don’t have as much commitment to Christ as they do to other things that fill their thoughts. Nominalism is best expressed by a lack of commitment, or better, commitments that are more important to them than their commitment to God.

In your experience among the people you know who are nominal in their commitment to God (and this could be you), what do you believe the reasons are?

Encouragment for those moving toward deism

Life often seems to be a series of dichotomistic events that don’t harmonize with each other. What do I mean? Sometimes it seems that it is raining in the front yard while sunny in the back. Sometimes our lives seem to be so full of joy and success in certain restricted areas while painful and full of sadness in others.

My life has been such for some time now. For the past five years the sun has not exposed its light in my front yard, but when I go to the back yard, there is not a cloud in sight. These are two areas of my life that are at odds. My family situation starting with my sister who took her life five years ago and my mother who’s mind has been lost due to the aneurysm three years ago is dark and sad. My dad is falling now. Each time I step out into the front yard, the storms continue ferociously. I keep looking for a break in the clouds, but it never comes. Depression, anxiety, fatigue, and hopelessness fill the atmosphere. The smell is a smell of death. The mourning delayed turned mourning denied provided by my mother’s condition keeps the clouds overhead in great anticipation, but alludes my hopes of the security her death would provide were it to come. In these conditions, I understand the Psalmist’s cry and contend with him in anxiety:

Psalm 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.

If I am able to separate myself from the perpetual hopelessness of the happenings in the front yard, I can go to the back and see a different perspective altogether. The clouds of pain are not to be found. God’s joyful presence and power are continually evident here. I walk out into the backyard each day. I find the fruit of labors changing people’s lives and encouraging souls through ministry. As well, my immediate family bring me such a joy and they are all healthy. In these conditions, I understand the Psalmist’s praise and contend with him with confidence: Continue Reading →

"Generation We" – The New America Poised for Leadership?

I am quite disturbed by this video. Not simply because of its obvious liberal appeal to emotions but because of its misguided glorification and present appeal to an unprepared coming leadership.

Let me explain through a few observation:

Could some one tell me how on earth that these people are already “poised to lead”? This is obviously about a young generation. In 2016 they will be of voting age. I actually had to look up “poised” in the dictionary because I thought that I had been using it wrong for years. Here is what it said, “marked by balance or equilibrium; absolutely ready.” Say what? Excuse me but can I ask what is in your pipe? :)

I would really like to know what is this generation’s definition of wisdom is. To whom can we credit for their “poising”? Are they born “poised”?

Why aren’t these kids asking for mentors rather than making an implied claim that they should be the mentors of everyone else? I would rather the video have these kids saying “Could someone please educate me. We need mentors, guides, and fathers and mothers. We don’t think that Hollywood academy is the best mentorship program.

This whole ad is, in my opinion, a good example of an argumentum ad populum. (Hey, I just wrote about that last night). We should listen to (heel) to the ideas of this generation under 18? I am glad that no one, much less a whole country, bowed to my ideals at 16. God help us if they did.

Will these people be looking back in thirty years with red faces because they thought they had everything figured out, but now that they have lived a few years they can see that there are bigger issues?

Besides all this, I seriously doubt that this is representative of the millennial generation. If they are truly concerned about these things to the neglect of others, I am sure that some other group is behind it (you define the group). It seems very manipulative.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that these are not important issues, or that any voice is irrelevant, but I promise you that you won’t find the little karate girl talking about this stuff without mass indoctrination. And . . . she does not really care right now even with the indoctrination.

Anyone of these children worried about the breakdown of the family, the divorce rate, declining morals, relativism, chemical dependency, or the 115,000 children that are being killed in their mother’s womb every day? If they were, I did not catch that. If they are not, please make this video go away.

Am I missing something or am I just in a right wing mood, suffering from my own adolescent indoctrination?

The Theology Program is now on ITunes and More . . .

Though I question the theology of using a Mac for anything and I question the salvation of those who use anything Apple, we at Reclaiming the Mind Ministries have caved to peer pressure and committed a sin that we hope God will use for his glory . . . (greater good theology)

The Theology Program is now on ITunes—in its MP3 entirety.

Truthfully, this is the best one stop way to get the entire MP3 library downloaded and on your . . . ahem . . . IPod.

Here is a link: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=288947192

Also, don’t forget to give TTP a review while on ITunes.

As well (more exciting news) . . .

You can access the entire Theology Program, videos, MP3s, Workbooks, and all from one page. Here it is: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/ttp/media.

Please spread the word.

The Day God Went Left and I Went Right

I often tell the story during my Introduction to Theology class of an experience that I had that deeply implicated me and has affected the way that I “listen” to God’s movements in my life. It concerns an event that happened in 2003 with my sister Angie. It has to do with how experience can seem to say one thing, but be very misleading.

When my sister was sick with depression, the entire family was perpetually in fear of what she might do to herself. Her depression overcame her literally overnight. She was fine on a Thursday, never having experienced depression and anxiety before, then Friday morning she was a different person. She said to me on Friday, “Michael, I don’t know what has happened. Something is the matter with my brain. I think that I have gone insane. I can’t think right and I don’t think it will ever change.” After a few hours, her conversation continued, ”This is just the way I am now and I am so scared that Drew [her two year old son] will live the rest of his life with his mother in an insane asylum. I don’t think I can live with that.” I did not take her too seriously. “Angie,” I said, ”it will be over tomorrow. Don’t be ridiculous.”

When it was not over the next day, we tried to continue to encourage her. On Monday of the next week, her “episode” had not ceased. My mother called me from Oklahoma and told me that she had been unable to get a hold of Angie all day and was scared that she might have “done something to herself.” Since Angie lived only fifteen minutes from me in Texas, I was the man to go look for her. I drove over to her house and, to make a long story short, found her overdosed on pills in her room. She survived, but the depression survived as well.

Over the next year and a half, I had many calls from my mother to try and find Angie. We often lost contact with her during the day and we would panic thinking she was going to take another attempt at her life. All and all, I had to go over to her house seventeen times to see if she was alive. In great dread, I would always imagine how I might find her dead. Continue Reading →