Tag Archives: Religious Left

Can a person be postmodern and a Christian at the same time?

Can a person be postmodern and a Christian? Not for long
Can a person be postmodern and a Christian? Let’s look at their leader

Wow. Postmodern “Christian” Brian McLaren has completely abandoned traditional Christianity. McLaren, you may already know, spear-headed the “emergent church” movement – an attempt to fuse postmodern relativism with liberal Christianity.

Greg Koukl and Kevin DeYoung analyze his latest book “A New Kind of Christianity”.

The MP3 file is here.

Details:

Kevin DeYoung – Brian McLaren’s New Kind of Christianity
Host: Greg Koukl

Guest: Kevin DeYoung – Brian McLaren’s “New Kind of Christianity” (00:00:00)
Commentary: Reality vs. Religion? The Modern Upper Story Leap (00:56:39)
Guest: Dennis Prager – Reality vs. Religion (01:52:25)

We’re interested in the first hour of the three-hour show.

Topics of hour one:

  • What is Brian’s view of Creation?
  • What is Brian’s view of the Fall?
  • What is Brian’s view of Scripture?
  • What is Brian’s view of Truth?
  • What is Brian’s view of sin and Hell?
  • What is Brian’s view of the Fall?
  • What is Brian’s view of atonement?
  • How did Brian’s leftist political views infect his theology?
  • How did postmodernism affect Brian’s epistemology?
  • How faithful is Brian in interpreting the text?

There’s also a nice blog post about Brian McLaren by Melinda from Stand to Reason, too.

Excerpt:

McLaren doesn’t think the Bible is to be taken literally. For instance, the Garden of Eden story isn’t about sin and the Fall, rather it’s a “compassionate coming of age story.”  Consequently, the whole idea of sin and Hell is a horrible overreaction and has caused the church to offer a violent message and image all these years.  It follows from this interpretation then, that there is no need for the cross and Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Those are violent ideas resulting from a bad reading of the Bible.

And a couple of longer reviews are linked.

Tim Challies and Kevin DeYoung have written excellent and more in-depth reviews of McLaren’s new book and I highly recommend them.

I highly recommend you listen to this podcast and if you know anyone who is being influenced by the (non) religious left, take a look at the articles, especially the DeYoung article, which is quite good.

A generous “orthodoxy”?

And finally, here is a review of another much earlier Brian McLaren book by Biola University professor of philosophy Doug Geivett – one of my absolute favorite people. This is back when McLaren was just starting to leave orthodox Christianity behind.

Excerpt:

Brian McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy (Zondervan, 2004) has been called a manifesto of the “emerging church” — a movement that is rethinking Christianity against the backdrop of postmodernism. McLaren is the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Md.

[…]In using the term “orthodoxy” for his position, McLaren is making a political move to subvert traditional evangelical theology. “Orthodoxy,” as he uses it, is whatever happens to be in vogue and culturally dominant. Also, an important theme among postmodernists has to do with the nature of belief — they doubt that people have, or need, good reasons to believe as they do, so they emphasize behavior over belief. (This probably explains why McLaren’s book relies less on evidence and argumentation and more on rhetoric.) However, in de-emphasizing the importance of belief, McLaren and other postmodernists overlook three things.

First, belief is the engine that drives behavior. The best way to cure wrong action is to identify false beliefs. Second, all people — even postmodernists — have definite beliefs about the things that matter most. They can’t help it. While McLaren resists the invitation to state clearly what he believes — for example, about the eternal destiny of nonbelievers — surely he has some view of the matter and that view influences his approach to the proclamation of the gospel. (As a pastor, he should have good ideas about this and a host of other issues of theological significance.) Third — though postmodernists sneer at the idea of evidence — evidence matters because it’s how we determine what’s true and is crucial to ordering our lives according to truth. In this respect, the postmodernist is out of step with the culture because human beings are by nature evidence-gatherers.

Very important to understand where these postmodern “Christians” are coming from, and where they end up when they’ve worked their mystical anti-realism through to its conclusions.

Another Life Training Institute podcast is here

Here’s the link.

Details:

Jay, Scott, and Rich are back to take on the most recent news in the bioethics community. This week we address the Obama administration’s mandate for religious organizations to include contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in their health insurance. Is this just a “Catholic Issue”, or is there significant ramifications for those of all faiths.

The MP3 file is here.

I really liked this one. It was just full of substance and boldness.

A Jewish rabbi explains what the Bible teaches about capitalism

A Jewish rabbi explains what the Bible says about economics, in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Tom)

Excerpt:

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor.

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm that undermines that noble goal.

The Bible’s proclamation that “Six days shall ye work” is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings about man’s inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes injurious to himself and those around him.

[…]At the opening bell, Genesis announces: “Man is created in the image of God”—in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction and activation.

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as “the spirit of life.”

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: “For why else should a man so labor but to receive reward?” Thus do laborers get paid wages for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their investment and risk.

[…]Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal—or, as Churchill quipped, “all equally miserable.” But the Bible’s prescription of equality means equality under the law, as in Deuteronomy’s saying that “Judges and officers . . . shall judge the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other.” Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.

The motive of capitalism’s detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be.

God begins the Ten Commandments with “I am the Lord your God” and concludes with “Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings.” Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

I think that Christians are sometimes attracted to socialism because they think that the only way to help the poor is by state-controlled redistribution of wealth. Socialists might have the right goal of helping the poor (I actually believe that socialism is just the happy-face on fascism, but let us be charitable), but capitalism is the right way to achieve that goal of helping the poor.

Here is an article by Jay Richards for the American Enterprise Institute.

First, his introduction:

If you’re like me, when you think of wealth and poverty, you picture its material manifestations. To have wealth, we imagine, is to have money, stocks, real estate, or valuable commodities, which, in turn, gives us the means to achieve various material ends, such as food, clothing, cars, housing, and healthcare. Poverty, in contrast, is the lack of such goods, which, in turn, leads to a lack of food, shelter, basic medical care, and other such items. These mental associations can make it hard to discover the preconditions of wealth creation, many of which are immaterial, even spiritual, rather than material.

For most of human history, discovering the sources of wealth creation would have been devilishly hard, since most economies, such as there were, tended to be static. If a Mesopotamian farmer or Greek shepherd in the second century BC ever asked, “Where does wealth come from?” he would have assumed that wealth came from rain, common labor, good luck, or some combination of these. He probably also would have assumed that to get really wealthy, you need to plunder other people.

But we now have concrete examples of cultures that have created vast new wealth, moving the majority of their citizens from poverty to relative prosperity. And when we look at these cultures retroactively, we discover answers that, for most of us, are counterintuitive. I’ve argued elsewhere that we’re able to discern ten crucial features allowing such cultures to alleviate poverty and create wealth. The more of these a culture has or does, the more likely it is to be prosperous.

The Top Ten Ways to Alleviate Poverty

  1. Establish and maintain the rule of law.
  2. Focus the jurisdiction of government primarily on maintaining the rule of law, and limit its jurisdiction over the economy and the institutions of civil society.
  3. Implement a formal property system with consistent and accessible means for securing a clear title to property one owns.
  4. Encourage economic freedom.
  5. Encourage stable families and other important private institutions which mediate between the individual and the state.
  6. Encourage belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense.
  7. Encourage the right cultural mores.
  8. Instill a proper understanding of the nature of wealth creation and poverty.
  9. Focus on cultivating your comparative advantage rather than protecting what used to be your comparative advantage.
  10. Work hard.

There is a striking correlation between societies that exhibit these traits, or some subset of them, and the large-scale wealth creation. But notice that only one of them describes a material good. All the others are intangible, immaterial, spiritual. You can’t find economic freedom or cultural mores on a map or put them in a safe. You can’t bottle diligence or weigh the ingredients for stable families and voluntary institutions on a scale. These goods involve beliefs, social conventions, institutions, commitments, virtues, and creativity. Having listed them in brief, now I want to hold each of the ten immaterial ingredients up to the light and consider how each helps a society move from poverty to prosperity.

If someone has a spiritual or moral sickness that is preventing them from working, then the solution is not to hand them someone else’s money. That’s not going to make them happy. They need to earn their own pay and be responsible for their own independence.

Jay Richards on Christianity and Capitalism

Jay Richards actually wrote the book on Christianity and capitalism: “Money, Greed and God“.

To understand what capitalism is, you can watch this lecture entitled “Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem” by Jay W. Richards, delivered at the Heritage Foundation think tank, and televised by C-SPAN2.

If you can’t see the Richards video, here is an audio lecture by Jay Richards on the “Myths Christians Believe about Wealth and Poverty“. Also, why not check out this series of 4 sermons by Wayne Grudem on the relationship between Christianity and economics? (a PDF outline is here)

And you can listen to Ron Nash’s course on Christianity and economics.

Useful idiot Jim Wallis accepts $150,000 more from leftist atheist George Soros

From World Magazine. (H/T Jay Richards)

Excerpt:

Last year Jim Wallis encountered a barrage of criticism when WORLD reported that his religious left organization, Sojourners, took $325,000 from the world’s most notorious billionaire, pro-abortion atheist George Soros (July 17 and Sept. 11, 2010). Now he’s at it again: In an email note to me, Wallis confirmed that Soros’ Open Society Foundation has just given Sojourners $150,000 more.

The donation is more evidence that Wallis and Sojourners are on the left, even though the organization appeals to young evangelicals by claiming to be apolitical—in Wallis’ summation, not left but “deep.” Sojourners has paid its bills through contributions from co-religionists but also with $250,000 from The Tides Foundation, $200,000 from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and additional sums from Barbra Streisand and others.

For some contributors, Sojourners is a useful tool in reducing evangelical support for conservatives. Others have grander motives: Soros himself has stated, “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.”

I think all Christians should have a view of economics, because we need to understand how to be effective at helping the poor. It may sound like a good idea to raise the minimum wage, but economists understand that raising the minimum wage actually hurts the poor, especially the young. It never hurts to study and to understand the way the world works – in any area of knowledge. I think that Christians should know how Christianity relates to every area, from science to history to philosophy to ethics to marriage and family.

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Philosopher Ron Nash lectures on capitalism, morality and freedom

Watch the lecture. (H/T Luis)

Nash speaks from 0:06 to0:45. Then he takes questions.

His two favorite economists are… WALTER WILLIAMS and THOMAS SOWELL! Just like me!

Christianity isn’t something you do in church to have happy feelings, or to get along with your parents and friends. It’s a worldview. And the whole point of it is that is is true, and helps us to make sense of the world because it is true.

By the way, he even talks about how Jesus uses hyperbole to get people’s attention in the question and answer time. I blogged about that a while back because one of our Christian commenters told me that Jesus never uses hyperbole. (She is a Calvinist, so… you know… ). F.A. Hayek also comes up in the Q&A time. Hayek is my third favorite economist. I think all Christians should have favorite economists. I think we should think about how Christianity relates to every area, from science to history to philosophy to ethics to marriage and family. And to politics and economics, as with this lecture!

We should all have favorite scholars, just like non-Christians have favorite musicians and movie stars. Ron Nash is one of my favorite philosophers.

Who is Ron Nash?

I learned about economics by listening to all the lectures in this course taught by Dr. Nash. He presents a view of economics that is consistent with the laws of logic and the Bible. And this course is comprehensive. I’ve moved on from Dr. Nash’s course to read F. A. Hayek and Thomas Sowell, and then Walter Williams. And I found that Dr. Nash’s course was excellent preparation for these more advanced books.

Take a look at some of the topics:

  • the role of the government in regulating commerce
  • the meaning of justice
  • capitalism and socialism
  • interventionism vs free market capitalism
  • introduction to economics
  • marxism
  • wealth and poverty
  • liberation theology and the religious left
  • judicial activism vs legal positivism
  • pollution
  • public education

You can grab the lectures here.

A little blurb about Dr. Nash

Nash taught theology and philosophy for four decades at three schools. He was chairman of the department of philosophy and religion and director of graduate studies in humanities at Western Kentucky University, where he was on faculty from 1964-91. He was a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary from 1991-2002 and at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1998-2005.

Nash wrote more than 35 books on philosophy, theology and apologetics, including “Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith,” “Life’s Ultimate Questions” and “Is Jesus the Only Savior?” Nash received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University; his master’s degree from Brown University; and his undergraduate degree from Barrington College.

From this Baptist Press article.

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