The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Calvinism/Reformed Theology”

Should Muslims Try To Legislate Their Morality?

St-George-Cross-England-Flag_4

by Mark Horne

Should Muslims Try to Legislate Their Morality? | Old Life Theological Society.

Daryl Hart’s agenda is to turn Christians into secularists in the public square. He thinks asking the above question makes his case.

I don’t see how.

The answer has different levels.

On the one hand, we can look at it from a Constitutionalist point of view. I have seen Muslim girls in my local public school wearing traditional dress. Hopefully, their classmates are respectful and kind. But there are indecency laws all over this country and there is no reason in the world why they shouldn’t lobby to have their definitions of decency used as the standard for what counts as public indecency.

Why shouldn’t they try to do this? Why should they have the values of other people, which they find plainly indecent, imposed on them? If they are citizens of the United States it is plainly their right to influence legislation according to their values. Some may want to legalize polygamy for up to four wives, for example. While the First Amendment would limit what they can do to some extent, it still gives them space to make many changes if they ever succeed in becoming the “moral majority” of a future time.

So from an American, Constitutionalist, perspective, of course they should try to legislate their morality. Read more…

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10 Bread Symbols In the Bible You Should Know

By Steve Macias

A post about bread? You butter believe it. No bun intended. It’s a Manna-festo. 😉

Bread

Both the Old and New Testaments include lots of references to bread: Jesus was born in the “house of bread” – Bethlehem, bread is central to the ritual Jesus himself prescribes to the church, and even takes a clause in the Lord’s prayer. We “knead” to be familiar with the Bible’s use of bread. (Last pun, I promise.) Symbolism is important because it shapes how we understand God.

“The universe and everything in it symbolizes God. That is, the universe and everything in it points to God. This means that the Christian view of the world is and can only be fundamentally symbolic. The world does not exist for its own sake, but as a revelation of God.” [2]

Read more…

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Depravity and Social Cooperation for Christians in Pluralistic Civilization

Abraham_KuyperPost by Mark Horne

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

We all know this Scripture (Matthew 7.9-11). It is part of a famous passage exhorting hearers to trust God and pray to him. What I find interesting about it is that it doesn’t come up more often in questions about human depravity and human virtue. I wish I knew what Abraham Kuyper said about these verses, since he wrote a great deal about “common grace.” As it stands now, what I mainly have is an extensive reading in virtually everything Cornelius Van Til ever wrote. Van Til was a famous Kuyperian, but my reading took place many years ago.

This passage strikes me as interesting because it seamlessly weds a dire verdict on human nature with  incredible optimism. Jesus says:

  1. you are evil
  2. you do good

What do we make of that? Read more…

What Saint Peter Really Said

"That's just the funny thing about it, Sir," said Peter. "Up till now, I'd have said Lucy every time."

“That’s just the funny thing about it, sir,” said Peter. “Up till now, I’d have said Lucy every time.” (Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

In the last decade, a tragic conversation has taken place between people in the evangelical world over the meaning of the word “justification.” Part of the reason that the conversation has been tragic is because of the quick assumption by so many that grown pastors lie through their teeth when carefully and consistently reiterating their own theology.  But it has also been tragic because the accusation has never been about the meaning of the word “justification” in the BIBLE. Rather, it has basically assumed that the biblical definition is the same as the definition in the Westminster Standards, and that if you talk about distinctions in the Bible, you must be denying the content of the Standards.

Now before I say too much more, I want to state on the record that I believe we enter into salvation by faith alone (not works) in Christ alone. It is all of grace.

I also want to point out that what has happened in the great debates on justification is in large part due to confusing the definition of two real things, a trap that means an attempt at fixing either definition sounds like the denial of the other.  How does this work?

Imagine that there are people living in India. They are called Indians. And imagine you are traveling westward from Europe, instead of south and around Africa to get to the land of the Indians. You believe that the earth is round and small, and that you will get there quickly. When you do get to these Indies, lands of the Indians, lo and behold: you find Indians!

Read more…

What Does Jesus Look Like?

The History Channel’s hit miniseries “The Bible” offers us yet another on-screen depiction of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The honor this time goes to Diogo Morgado, whom the New York Post calls “a kind of surfer Jesus.” The Portuguese actor’s Jesus is not exactly Anglo (although his on-screen accent is); but basically, this Jesus is white. And therein lies a problem.

My thoughts on what Jesus looks like were spurred by a fascinating lecture at Baylor by the University of Colorado’s Paul Harvey, author with Edward Blum of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. In spite of the Ten Commandment’s ban on “graven images” (and the worship of them), many Christians have become so used to visual representations of Christ that we often don’t give them a second thought, nor consider what they say about our mental picture of the Son of God.

The medieval church also produced artistic representations of Christ, but many Protestants assailed these icons, tapestries, and paintings as violations of the second commandment, smashing and burning many of them as they had opportunity. The Puritans and some other early settlers of America tried not to employ visual representations of God, although they surely must have had some mental image of God or Jesus as they spoke to him in prayer.

During the nineteenth century, visual images of Jesus became more common among American Protestants, and they were almost always ‘white’ – or at least not distinctly Semitic/Middle Eastern/North African, which one would think would be the preferred choice if ethnic accuracy were a priority. These images became more common – and insistent – in the years following the Civil War. Perhaps the most disturbing use of the white Jesus was in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), in which Jesus blessed the founding of the Ku Klux Klan.

Most depictions of a white Jesus were more innocuous in intent than Birth of a Nation, and the most common one in American homes was Warner Sallman’s 1941 The Head of Christ. The commonplace depiction of Jesus as white led to indignant reactions, with some African Americans and other Christians claiming a “black Jesus” or some other Christ of their own ethnicity.

I don’t mean to go all ‘Puritan’ here, but should churches promote any visual depictions of Christ? Do the images of a white Jesus risk making God in our own image? Would a more Semitic Christ solve the problem? Or should we return to the full Reformed skepticism about using any images of God at all?

Whatever our answers, the fact remains that Christians do normally imagine Christ’s appearance as we read the Bible and pray (reported visions of Jesus have often seemed Anglo, too). Scripture, however, gives us precious little guidance about his appearance. If not the Jesus of Warner Sallman or The History Channel, then what should he look like?

Thomas Kidd is contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

This article was originally published at Patheos.

Could a New Pope Mean the End of a Celibate Priesthood?

new pope, Pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio, pontiff, sede vacante

Early in the week, Uri Brito briefly outlined the array of challenges that would face the next pope. Since that time, the white smoke has risen to signal the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the office of Pontiff.

Among the major challenges facing him are the still frequent occurrence or discovery of sexual scandal within the priesthood, and the rising tide of cultural consensus regarding homosexual marriages. For the Roman church as an organization, the sexual misconduct is arguably the more pressing. One solution proffered by a minority within the Roman church has been that priests be allowed to marry.
Read more…

Calvinist Controversy at Louisiana College

The latest front in the Baptist battle over Calvinism and Arminianism has opened at Louisiana College, where the administration has decided not to renew the contracts of three faculty members – Jason Hiles, Kevin McFadden and Ryan Lister. The latter two have doctorates from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, while Hiles’s doctoral degree is from Southeastern Seminary. While President Joe Aguillard has not addressed the non-renewals directly, a recent blog post by him acknowledged that his “love for all Baptists including Calvinists, does not constitute our approval of its being advocated at Louisiana College.”

Critics also allege that the college has blocked websites critical of the administration, including The Daily Bleat and lcstudents.org. Two current students, Joshua Breland and Drew Wales, have said they are under investigation by the college for violations of the student code of conduct, specifically for “making disparaging comments” about the college and administration.

The college’s board of trustees held an emergency meeting regarding the controversy Monday afternoon, but apparently no press coverage was allowed. Reports Monday evening indicated that Aguillard will remain as president.

Former faculty members have spoken out against the administration and its policies, their complaints and charges often predating the latest non-renewals. Scott Culpepper, a Louisiana College alumnus and former faculty member, calls for Aguillard’s immediate dismissal for “public and private dishonesty, spiritual manipulation and intimidation, irresponsible anti-intellectualism, and presumptuous attempts to implement poorly conceived pipe dreams rather than responsible planning.”

Given my WORLD Magazine coverage of the David Barton controversy, I found fascinating Culpepper’s account of a dispute over Barton’s address at a college commencement:

My first direct encounter with Aguillard’s style of managing subordinates came in the spring of 2009 when I voiced concern…about comments made by David Barton at the spring commencement.  Mr. Barton made several comments at the ceremony that were erroneous…I had already communicated to the administration before the event Barton’s well known reputation for distorting facts and his nearly universal repudiation by Christian academics.  I requested that Aguillard allow us to present the other side of the argument…The response was bizarre.  Dr. Chuck Quarles had also written a letter in which he echoed some of my concerns about Barton’s presentation.  Aguillard requested that his personal assistant, Joseph Cole, vet my letter and Dr. Quarles’ for factual accuracy because we probably “misunderstood Bro. Barton.”  Cole was a music major with no background in history who had not even completed his undergraduate degree.  Aguillard finally called me in for a rather strange conversation in which I tried to convince him with historical evidence that Barton was incorrect, and he responded by continually asserting that I would believe otherwise if I felt the spiritual vibe at Barton’s headquarters in Aledo, TX.  The meeting ended with Aguillard saying that he forgave me for my letter.  When I tried to diplomatically say that I stood by the letter and was not apologizing for its content, Aguillard said it would be best for my long term future at Louisiana College to forget about Barton. [read Culpepper’s whole letter here]

As I have written previously, the debate over Calvinism’s place in the Southern Baptist Convention is one of the most fractious since conservatives took control of the denomination and its seminaries by the 1990s. If (as is widely alleged) the dismissals of Hiles, McFadden, and Lister are motivated partly by hostility to Calvinism, then we have a test case of whether a theological dispute will translate into faculty purges of those not supporting Arminianism. But as Culpepper’s letter makes clear, the accusations against Aguillard’s administration go far beyond just the Calvinist and Arminian divide.

For more, see The Town Talk (La.), “Louisiana College president’s comments, loss of theologians, prompt spirited debate” 

The Town Talk, “Former Louisiana College Board Member: ‘Restore Integrity to Office of President’”

Thomas Kidd is a contributing scholar at Kuyperian Commentary. He teaches history at Baylor University and is Senior Fellow at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. Article Originally Published at Patheos.

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