A Response to an Open Letter on Homosexuality

Fr. John Whiteford
Fr. John Whiteford
by Fr. John Whiteford
In response to the debate about homosexuality that is currently going on in the OCA, there is now an “Open letter to OCA Holy Synod from college students and young adults” that has been sent to the bishops of the OCA, and is making the rounds on the internet.

This letter is a classic example of the use of politically correct arguments to shut down those whom liberals disagree with, rather then deal with the actual substance of the question. This tactic is not by accident. When you can’t deal with the substance of an issue, complaining about the tone of those you can’t answer will do, in a pinch.

In short, the letter complains about the tone of those who say homosexuality is a sin, without unequivocally stating what the correct teaching of the Church actually is on the subject. There is no acknowledgment that statements that are morally ambiguous might be of any legitimate concern, only condemnation of those who seek to make clear what the teaching of the Church is. [Read more…]

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Charlie Rangel’s Misunderstanding of Christ and Charity

Vineyard Parable Christianity Christby William Sullivan –
The left is desperate to coerce Americans into embracing the president’s platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy to redistribute to the downtrodden, slothful, and all those between who stand to collect. So Charlie Rangel appealed to a largely Christian nation, “What would Jesus do?”

The hypocrisy here is so obvious that it need not be discussed in detail. Suffice it to say, when and where progressives draw the line on Christian influence in legislation tends to compromise any faith they claim to have. Asking this question about the current budget debate but not about, say, the morality of tax dollars serving to mutilate and siphon unborn babies from their mothers’ wombs is suspicious to say the least. If conservatives cite Christ’s teaching to protect unborn lives from a progressive agenda that indiscriminately allows for their destruction, it is panned as the archaic ravings of crackpots. Yet when Christ is referenced as a template of charity to advance the progressives’ redistributive agenda, nothing could be more pertinent to American values. [Read more…]

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Benedictine Monk: Remaining in Jesus the True Vine

Jesus the True Vine
I am the vine, you are the branches

by Fr. Gregory Gresko –
In listening attentively to the Word of God, we come to realize authentic communion with our Lord and are perfected slowly but surely in love of His Will through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who is able to safeguard us from despairing or presuming. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you” (Jn 15.7).

As we continue celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ during this joyous Easter season, the Gospel passage from Wednesday’s liturgy called us to pause reflectively upon the image of Jesus as the true Vine and His people as the branches. Jesus teaches us: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit . Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me” (Jn 15.1-5). [Read more…]

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Celebrating the Resurrection

Christ Resurrection - Pascha Orthodox by Mark Tooley
Hundreds of millions of Christians will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. And after a century and a half of liberal Protestant attempts to redefine the resurrection into merely a metaphor, the vast majority of Christians still believe that Christ’s body physically arose. Revisionist theologians still find airtime on the History Channel or PBS, but their project never gained a mass following. Even most secular media coverage about religion today focuses largely on orthodox expressions of Roman Catholicism or evangelical Protestantism. Whatever their own beliefs, most reporters and pundits intuit that rationalist liberal theology does not command a lot of adherents.

The Jesus Seminar, founded in 1985 to adjudicate over which Scriptures were historically accurate, and which always excluded any talk about miracles, once gained widespread attention for its routine objections to traditional Christian belief [Read more…]

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We Should Not Despair, Even If We Sin Many Times

St Peter of Damascus by St. Peter of Damascus –
Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance, as He accepted that of the prodigal son (cf. Luke 15:20) and the prostitute (cf. Luke 7:37-50).

But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican (cf. Luke 18:13): this is enough to ensure your salvation. For he who sins without repenting, yet does not despair, must of necessity regard himself as the lowest of creatures, and will not dare to judge or censure anyone. Rather, he will marvel at God’s compassion, and will be full of gratitude towards his Benefactor, and so receive many other blessings as well. [Read more…]

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The Sheep and the Goats: Work and Service to Others

by Jordan Ballor –
In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31–46), Jesus differentiates between those who have done good to others and those who have not. The king, taking the place of Christ in the parable, says that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Whatever good was done was counted as being done to the king, and whatever bad was done was counted the same way. And on this basis the king separates the righteous sheep and the unrighteous goats. The goats “go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” It is natural to think that the good the sheep do to others (“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…”) refers to special acts of kindness, things that are only done occasionally and usually within a charitable context.

Lester DeKoster, in his book Work: The Meaning of Your Life—A Christian Perspective, provides a refreshing understanding of this parable. He writes that the good Jesus refers to includes these special acts of charity, but also refers to the service we do every day within the context of work. [Read more…]

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Dying One Day at a Time, Living for God, Not for Me

Chuck Colson
Chuck Colson

by Chuck Colson – One of the most powerful lines of Christian writing I’ve ever read was in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s magnificent classic The Cost of Discipleship. “When Christ calls a man,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “He bids him to come and die.”

Sobering words. Its’ just the opposite of the therapeutic gospel we hear all too often in some churches these days.

Yet the Apostle Paul said the same thing. “I die daily,” he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. What did he mean?

Paul was a proud, strong man; well-educated, a Pharisee, a Jew, a Roman citizen. He had it all together; Until, that is, Christ knocked him down on the road to Damascus and appeared to him personally.

Once Paul regained his sight, his view of the world and reality was dramatically changed. But I doubt Paul’s personality changed all that much. Throughout his letters, we see the mark of a strong, assured, powerful, bright, and intelligent individual. He remained all of those things—but I imagine he wrestled with the pride that those traits can bring. I imagine he struggled to use those traits to God’s glory instead of his own. [Read more…]

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Can a Catholic Accept Evolutionary Theory Uncritically?

God Creation Christian Belief against Evolution 10/24/2010 – Msgr. Charles Pope –
Sobriety about Evolutionary Theory – It is common to experience a rather simplistic notion among Catholics that the Theory of Evolution can be reconciled easily with the Biblical accounts and with our faith. Many will say something like this: “I have no problem with God setting things up so that we started as one-celled organisms and slowly evolved into being human beings. God could do this and perhaps the Genesis account is just simplifying evolution and telling us the same thing as what Evolution does.”

There are elements of the truth in this sort of a statement. Surely God could have set things up to evolve and directed the process so that human beings evolved and then, at some time he gave us souls. God could have done that.

The problem with the statement above is less theological than scientific because there is a word in that sentence that is “obnoxious” to evolutionary theory: “God.” The fact is that most Catholics who speak like this over-simplify evolutionary theory and hold a version of it that most Evolutionary Theorists do not hold. They accept the Theory of Evolution uncritically. [Read more…]

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Making the Creator in Our Image

Chuck Colson
Chuck Colson
9/22/2010 – Chuck Colson –

The debate about the origins of the universe just got a lot weirder. I can safely say, “Now I’ve heard it all.”

Yesterday on BreakPoint, I told you that Stephen Hawking, the great scientist, believes that the universe and life itself can be explained without referring to God; that God is, in Hawking’s words, “unnecessary.”

But there are some scientists who do believe there was a creator. The problem is that some of their ideas about the “creator” and his “creation” are straight out of a comic-book convention.

According to a recent article written by a university astronomer in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper, it’s possible that the “universe around us was created by people very much like ourselves, using devices not too dissimilar to those available to scientists today.”[Read more…]

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Become Like a Little Child

BreakPoint | by Paul Miller | Sep. 16, 2009

On more than one occasion, Jesus tells his disciples to become like little children.

The most famous is when the young mothers try to get near Jesus so he can bless their infants. When the disciples block them, Jesus rebukes his disciples sharply. “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). Jesus’ rebuke would have surprised the disciples. It would have seemed odd. Children in the first century weren’t considered cute or innocent. Only since the nineteenth-century Romantic era have we idolized children. [Read more…]

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Radical, Moderate God

BreakPoint | Stephen Reed | Aug. 25, 2009

So often in Christian teaching, we learn that God, oftentimes a radical in His dealings with human beings, is also essentially a “moderate” when it comes to figuring out His will. By that, I mean that His procedure is moderate, even while His approach may be radical. Few can doubt Jesus’ radical love, proven in His dealings with His disciples or perfect strangers in the gospel accounts.

But many times you will hear learned Christian teachers stress in their lessons on theology that the path of a Christian lies not in being a total libertine, nor as a complete ascetic. Instead, as Jesus said so eloquently, we are to be both “in the world, yet not of the world.” Or when it comes to our mindset here on earth, Jesus tells us to be “as innocent as doves but as wise as serpents.” [Read more…]

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God and Science Do Mix

BreakPoint | Tom Gilson | Aug. 21, 2009

If God kept arbitrarily interfering in nature as Haldane and Krauss imagine, we could never distinguish His message, the signal, from the noise of nature’s irregularities. To reveal Himself to humans—to communicate—He must break into nature sometimes, but He must do so rarely. There must be an ordinary course of events, so that we can discern what is out of the ordinary. If miracles happened everywhere every day, they would not be miracles at all. They would communicate nothing, and thus they would not serve God’s relational purposes. [Read more…]

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So Help Me, God

BreakPoint | T.M. Moore | July 21, 2009

The old saw makes an all-too-true point: How can you tell when a politician is lying? Are his lips moving? Americans have become increasingly cynical about their leaders.

We want to trust them, and we hope they’ll tell us the truth and keep their word. But it seems that, when push comes to shove, politicians are only interested in their own agendas. [Read more…]

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Helping Students ‘Get It’

BreakPoint | John Stonestreet | May 15, 2009

A major project for those of us who work with students is to help them “get” Christianity. While a significant number of Christian students reject Christianity during their university years, far more struggle to embrace a faith that is not really authentic or orthodox. Theirs is a “moralistic therapeutic deism,” as Christian Smith put it—a tame faith that is privatized and perhaps personally meaningful but which is not publicly true, culturally significant, or fundamentally informative to the rest of their lives.

Rather than trying to make Christianity as attractive and entertaining as possible, we ought instead to be sure that what we are communicating to them is actually Christianity. As I noted, this is very challenging in a culture of information overload, where students are bombarded daily with a multitude of messages, most of which, encourage them toward a mentality of adolescence.

Still, there is good news. Adolescently minded cultures like ours inevitably have a leadership vacuum. So, there remains a terrific opportunity for influence for those who produce the leaders, especially if they produce networks of leaders who can think deeply and contribute broadly to a wide variety of cultural institutions.

How can we do this? [Read more…]

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One Word of Truth Outweighs the Whole World

Alexander Solzhenitsyn Word of TruthOrthodoxyToday.org | Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse | Mar. 28, 2009

When Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave his Nobel Lecture in 1970, he quoted this Russian proverb: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.”

We know Solzhenitsyn’s story. In WWII Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet Army officer who was arrested and sentenced to eight years in the Gulags under Stalin. In prison Christ captures him. The encounter changes him, so much so that he clandestinely wrote the three volume “Gulag Archipelago” that laid bare the moral bankruptcy of Marxism. His work caused the collapse of the Marxist establishment in Western Europe and tilled the intellectual ground that led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. [Read more…]

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