The Humanist UK website describes a “humanist” as someone who (1) trusts the scientific method when it comes to understanding how the universe works and rejects the idea of the supernatural (and is therefore an atheist or agnostic), (2) makes ethical decisions based on reason, empathy and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals, and (3) believes that, in the absence of an afterlife and any discernible purpose to the universe, human beings can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same.
Presumably, this description would be accepted as a representative view by contemporary humanism movements. This view of humanism rejects supernaturalism and reduces human beings to materialistic objects without souls which would be antithetical to Christian beliefs. On the other hand, Christianity affirms virtues like empathy and concern for human beings and the importance of realizing meaning and happiness in this life. Continue reading “Christian Humanism”
NT Wright almost took away my simple Christmas joy in his article: The Revolutionary Politics of the First Christmas. He writes, The Christmas story in Luke’s gospel climaxes with Jesus in a feeding-trough because everywhere else was full. Matthew’s version ends with Joseph and Mary whisking the baby off to a foreign country because the authorities wanted to kill him. Putting these together, the heart of the story is precisely Jesus the homeless asylum seeker.
The original, historic Christmas stories are about power. They are about the kingdom of God breaking in, dangerously and unexpectedly, into the kingdoms of the world. [I read it that NTW here has in mind political systems in contrast to the kingdom preached by Jesus in his ministry]
Believers who insist on observing the dietary laws given by Moses in the Book of Leviticus recoil at the idea of eating pork since they regard the pig to be ritually unclean. Abstinence from pork becomes a paramount symbol of religious commitment as their strong and instinctive sense of revulsion is accepted as the “feeling of rightness” that confirms a trustworthy “doctrine felt as fact.” Their friends may be bewildered as they wonder whether such an ancient scruple could serve as a benchmark of spirituality in modern society. However, it is advisable for these friends to approach this matter gingerly as their casual remarks could become a cause of offence.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb begins his book, Skin in the Game with a broadside directed at political and academic elites who implement public policies without considering carefully their ramifications. He highlights the disasters which follow the recent military interventions in Libya and Syria. The unintended consequences of ‘regime change’ resulted in thousands of innocent victims being kidnapped, enslaved, incarcerated or blown to smithereens. Nevertheless, the policy makers are not held responsible for the misery of the victims; they continue to enjoy security and comfort in their air-conditioned offices thousands of miles away.
Taleb is an anomaly that a system creates, an asset that has gone rogue. He is a perfect intellectual who has risen to say that the modern intellectual is vastly inferior to your grandmother. “…people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instincts and to listen to their grandmothers who have a better track record than these policymaking goons.” He holds that the transformation of local cultures in the name of modernity, democracy, environment and other virtues is a crime that the “intellectual-yet-idiot” is perpetrating. These are the undercurrents in his latest book, Skin In The Game, which is a brief history of risk, and argues, among other things, that problems occur in a society when influential people do not have to face the consequences of their bad ideas.
A Question posed by a reader: “I think the most challenging lowest denominator for me is when a Bible believing Christian says “when I read the Bible sincerely I find a God who accepts same sex marriage but of course it must be monogamous and there should be no infidelity in that marriage (such infidelity would be a sin). I also accept accountability for all other sins including pre-marital sex”. My challenge is even though I disagree with this brother or sister on his/her view of same sex marriage, should I accept him/her into the fellowship of the church and the Lord’s table? Tough one for me.”
Answer: The short answer is that persons who feel same sex attraction, but choose sexual celibacy and abstinence from homosexual practices out of obedience to the teaching of Scripture should be accepted into the fellowship of the church, including the Holy Communion. Indeed, the church should learn to love and give support to encourage such believers to grow in the Lord (The question of the reparative therapy is a matter to be discussed separately).
First, rather than reinvent the wheel, I shall quote Stanley Grenz from an earlier posts:
It is fun to read satire, but I usually avoid sharing links to satirical websites as many internet readers are too lazy to follow through with a few additional ‘clicks’ on the menu to double check the background info needed to ferret out genuine from mischievous satirical websites.
Remember, the Devil once tempted the Lord with the opening remark, “It is written.” Nowadays, he has a temptation-software-upgrade – “It is written in the Internet.”
But the ironic observation of Babylon Bee (a satirical website) is right on target about the biblical view of marriage and family of the Nashville Statement:
[If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. The Apocryphal Martin Luther]
The Nashville Statement on Biblical sexuality does not answer all the questions that have arisen from the homosexual controversy. It is certainly not a complete, much less a perfect Statement. The purpose of any public statement is defined and delimited by its time and context. Like the historic creeds, it does not aim at full exposition of doctrine as to define the core beliefs and the boundaries of reflection.
Some evangelicals would like to suggest ways to sharpen what is basically an excellent statement. Others express concerns that it is not sufficiently pastoral. Still others, are worried that young people may misunderstand and therefore are put off by the Statement since the media has been effective in convincing many young people that being ‘gay’ does not necessarily suggest a promiscuous lifestyle. These are legitimate concerns. However, public statements have to navigate the fine balance between being concise and being comprehensive. We also need to keep in mind the central goals of the statement and its intended audience. Continue reading “Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality: Different Takes by Robert Gagnon and Michael Bird”
Statement on Biblical Sexuality by CBMW.Org (The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) and The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
As many young people are adopting homosexual freedom as the defining cause of their generation, it is good that Evangelical leaders begin the NASHVILLE STATEMENT (2017) with the following affirmations:
We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials.
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
To read, download or sign to affirm the original statement NASHVILLE STATEMENT (2017) by CBMW.Org (A coalition for Biblical Sexuality) and The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
You may note that many of the original signatories of the Statement are outstanding Evangelical leaders.
A new study in the United States says that homosexuals are not ‘Born that Way’ as sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings—the idea that people are “born that way”—is not supported by scientific evidence.
The 144-page study is written by Dr. Lawrence Mayer from the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Dr. Paul R. McHugh who is a renowned psychiatrist and former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings—the idea that people are “born that way”—is not supported by scientific evidence.
While there is evidence that biological factors such as genes and hormones are associated with sexual behaviors and attractions, there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation. While minor differences in the brain structures and brain activity between homosexual and heterosexual individuals have been identified by researchers, such neurobiological findings do not demonstrate whether these differences are innate or are the result of environmental and psychological factors.