Thieves Hijacking the Language of the Christian Moral Tradition

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

10/4/2010 – Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
What happens then when people leave Christianity and want to promote ideas about morality that violate the moral tradition? They have only one option: Hijack the language. They use the terms of traditional Christianity but mean very different things by them. Words don’t mean what they used to mean. Language gets inverted, turned upside down. Do this long and loud enough, and in less than a generation the new meanings take hold. When hijackers use the language of the moral tradition, they implicitly claim to stand inside that tradition. It’s only a pose of course, but their pose fools many people.

NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) – In a recent Catholic Online article (Social Justice: Take Back the Term from the Thieves and Build a New Catholic Action) Deacon Keith Fournier writes about a question he was asked at a recent conference:

…the host of the conference made a suggestion that we get rid of the term “Social Justice” because it is now used by ‘the left”. He asked for my thoughts. I strongly disagreed. I insisted that we take back the phrase from those who have stolen it, either on the “the right” or “the left”. He then suggested the Church does not use the phrase “Social Justice”. An attendee did a “google” search of the Vatican documents on his handheld device and reported it was used thousands of times in the magisterial teaching of the Church.

Fournier is right on two counts: The Christian moral vocabulary properly belongs to Christians, and we should not cede the vocabulary to the thieves. [Read more...]

The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity

8/13/2010 – Brett McCracken -
‘How can we stop the oil gusher?” may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.

As a 27-year-old evangelical myself, I understand the concern. My peers, many of whom grew up in the church, are losing interest in the Christian establishment. [Read more...]

The Evolutionary Scientists: Apostles of a New Morality

7/25/2010 – Miguel A. Guanipa -

Most evolutionary scientists are unacquainted with the nearly extinct brand of academic deference which comes from a humbling realization that a science degree does not automatically confer a plenary understanding of the vast complexity of the universe. The least diffident ones in the field are not shy about airing their personal grievances against what they view as Religion’s insolent encroachment on the scientific enterprise.

In response, Christians often feel compelled by necessity to point out that these men of science step outside of their boundaries, when they advise the former not to engage in polemics about scientific matters too lofty for their intellects to comprehend. Christians are hence tasked with reminding overzealous scientists that their discipline is more suited to probe the sundry observable schemes that animate our meticulously woven universe, and not to pronounce moral judgments. [Read more...]

An Independent Witness to Marriage

7/16/2010 – Stuart Koehl -

In the pending court case for overturning California’s Proposition 8, which banned “gay marriage,” two leading conservative legal scholars face off: Charles J. Cooper, taking the classical conservative line that organic social institutions such as marriage have an inherent value and cannot be redefined by legal fiat, and Theodore Olson, taking the more libertarian line that government should simply regulate contractual relationships between individuals and not become involved in private matters. [Read more...]

Shocking Setback for Religious Freedom in Supreme Court

6/30/2010 – Ken Klukowski -

On June 28, the Supreme Court handed down a deeply-disturbing decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that sets back religious freedom in this country. This case was nothing more than the Court expressing outright hostility to a group because of its orthodox Christian beliefs.

Christian Legal Society (CLS) is an association of Christian lawyers and law students. In 2004 it was denied recognition as a student group at Hastings College of the Law (part of the University of California), making CLS the only group ever denied recognition by the school. [Read more...]

Maybe I’m Just Too American For This Orthodox Church

6/14/2010 – Protodeacon Eric Wheeler -
I firmly believe that America offers the potential for the Orthodox Faith to flourish and grow like in no other land or culture.

Unfortunately, at times, we cannot free ourselves from the “old world” mentality which mires us in our “ancient” faith. Consequently, it makes it difficult for Americans to even attempt to understand the fundamentals of our Faith.

As the first historic Episcopal Assembly ends, and I read the message delivered at its conclusion, I cannot help but feel that we are attempting to fix our American jurisdictional problem with an “old world” mentality solution. Consequently, it makes it difficult for this American to understand why we are being so Byzantine in seeking a plan for Orthodox unity in America. [Read more...]

The Consequences of Religious Apathy

Ken Connor

Ken Connor

4/30/2010 – Ken Connor -
“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Alexis de Tocqueville

In his treatise, The Christian Manifesto, published in 1981, Francis Schaeffer suggests that the gradual shift away from a Judeo-Christian (or at least a Creationist) worldview towards a materialistic view of reality has broad sociological and governmental implications for western society. His is an interesting thesis to ponder in light of a recent article in USA Today discussing religion and the Millennial Generation.

The article cites a recent survey conducted by Lifeway Christian Resources, which reveals that Millennials (defined as Americans born approximately between 1980 and 1995) are distancing themselves from traditional religious forms in favor of a personally-defined, nebulous kind of “spirituality.” These individuals are less likely to pray, they don’t read the Bible, and they don’t go to church. Among the 65% who identify themselves as Christian, “many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only. . . . Most are just indifferent.” Theological indifference may seem like no big deal in an age where moral relativism and the cult of the individual reign, but it’s worth considering Schaeffer’s argument that – whether we realize it or not – our understanding of religion and its role in society has a direct impact on our politics. [Read more...]

God in Our Classrooms

Bradley Johnson 1

Bradley Johnson and one of the two banners he was ordered to take down | by Joseph C. Phillips | Apr. 15, 2010

Such was our founder’s belief in the preeminence of God that when the First Continental Congress convened in 1774, Massachusetts delegate Thomas Cushing suggested to the assembly that together they pray for divine guidance and protection. The historical events that would forever change the world were preparing to unfold: war loomed on the horizon; the Declaration of Independence would be signed, and a nation “conceived in liberty” would be born. In this moment, men of varied religious beliefs — Presbyterians, Episcopalians, some Quakers, others Baptists or Congregationalists – were led in prayer by an Episcopal priest in an appeal to the almighty that was described as “extraordinary…filling the bosom of every man present.”

It would not be the last time the founders appealed to the Almighty God.

James Madison acknowledged God’s favor in our founding in Federalist 37 referring to “a finger of that almighty hand, which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.” I dare say that men like Madison and Cushing would not recognize the America of today, filled with politicians afraid to confess their faith or educators fearful of offending the sensibilities of their students with any mention of God. Math teacher Brad Johnson of Westview High School of the Poway School District in San Diego, California, is a case in point. [Read more...]

Catholic Bishops’ Plea to Congress: Do Not Pass Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill

Catholic Bishops Anti-Abortion Plea Against HealthCare Bill
CNA | 3/20/2010

In a final, urgent plea to prevent the passage of the current form of the Senate health care bill, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Saturday evening sent a letter to Congressmen asking them to vote “no.”

“For decades,” the letter says, “the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care. The Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity.”

“Our community of faith,” the bishops continue, “provides health care to millions, purchases health care for tens of thousands and addresses the failings of our health care system in our parishes, emergency rooms and shelters. This is why we as bishops continue to insist that health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all is a moral imperative and an urgent national priority.” [Read more...]

The Lukewarm Generation

First Things | by W. Bradford Wilcox | 3/8/2010

Sociologist Christian Smith began his ambitious, multivolume effort to plumb the religious lives of Americans across the life course in his 2005 with Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. In that book—aimed at an audience that the author hoped would include general readers as well as clergy and scholars—Smith painted an incisive portrait of religion among America’s adolescents. Especially insightful was the way Smith explained why the more sectarian religious traditions in the United States, such as evangelical Protestantism and Mormonism, were achieving greater success than more churchly traditions such as mainline Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in transmitting their faiths to the next generation. Also notable was the way Smith explained how the guiding religious ethos of American teenagers—what he aptly termed “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”—seemed so suited for our culture. [Read more...]

Teacher wins major victory for God in school

Judge scolds district for trying to scrub America’s Christian heritage

Bradley Johnson 1

Bradley Johnson and one of the two banners he was ordered to take down

WorldNetDaily | by Drew Zahn | Mar. 1, 2010

A federal judge in California has handed down a scathing ruling against a school that required one of its teachers to remove signs celebrating the role of God in American history from his classroom walls.

As WND reported, math teacher Bradley Johnson had banners hanging in his classroom at Westview High School in San Diego, Calif., for more than 17 years with phrases like “In God We Trust” and “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed by Their Creator,” only to have the principal order them torn down during the 2007 school year.

But Johnson filed a lawsuit alleging the order a violation of his constitutional rights, and the teacher has now been rewarded with a court victory and a powerfully-worded ruling. [Read more...]

The Faith of the Founders, How Christian Were They

BreakPoint | by Gary Scott Smith | Feb. 23, 2010

One of today’s most contentious culture wars is over the religious commitments of our nation’s founders.

Were most of them orthodox Christians, deists, or agnostics? Scholarly books, college classes, radio talk shows, and blogs all debate this issue, and the Texas Board of Education recently joined the fray. Because of Texas’ large number of students, its huge educational fund, and its statewide curriculum guidelines, this board strongly influences what textbooks are published in the United States. Last month the board reviewed the state’s social studies curriculum, and its conservative Christian members injected more analysis of religion into the guidelines, including assessment of whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation and how Christian were the founders. [Read more...]

A Demand for Freedom

First Things | by Joseph Bottum | December 2009

It’s a nudge here and a shove there. A push from one side and a kick from another. Little things, for the most part, and surprisingly often the perpetrators retreat when directly challenged, but only to watch someone else step in to take their place. And the Christian churches have responded to all the recent thumps and torments with the bumbling confusion of a schoolboy giant. [Read more...]

Adaptive Liberal Hypocrisy

American Thinker | by Deborah C. Tyler | Dec. 6, 2009

In recent weeks, we have witnessed liberals in the highest level of government sanctimoniously defend terrorists who kill us while persecuting those who defend us from murderous attacks. In an effort to understand this reversal of good and evil, it has become a cliché to call liberals crazy. But while supremely hypocritical, liberalism is not insane. It is a highly adaptive ego device that enables people to violate commitments, vilify those who are true to their faith, and avoid personal sacrifice while feeling great about themselves. The only defense against hypocrisy is self-knowledge, but the politics, spirituality, and morality of liberalism are well-constructed firmaments of self-delusion. [Read more...]

A Demand for Freedom

First Things | by Joseph Bottum | December 2009

It’s a nudge here and a shove there. A push from one side and a kick from another. Little things, for the most part, and surprisingly often the perpetrators retreat when directly challenged, but only to watch someone else step in to take their place. And the Christian churches have responded to all the recent thumps and torments with the bumbling confusion of a schoolboy giant. [Read more...]