Saturday, November 19, 2016
You may find this a bit surprising (!), but “Pope Francis” is causing some trouble. Of course the New York Times has positioned this as “a race against time”, with the suggestion that, if “Pope Francis” lives long enough, he can replace all of the “conservative” cardinals named by his predecessors with “liberal” cardinals. Of course, the man is 79 years old, and he seems destined to lose that race (by their reckoning). Literally. Can he “appoint enough like-minded cardinals to assure that his vision of the church will endure after he dies?” The ostensible news event to prompt this kind of ghoulish speculation is a “consistory of cardinals” that will be held today, in which another 17 cardinals will be named, from all over the world.
But the deeper intrigue meshes with some of the back story, the not-so-easy-to-follow rumblings that are going on in public, but somewhat behind the scenes. The NY Times subhead is, “Pope Francis Has Appointed About a Third of the Cardinals Eligible to Choose the Next Pope”. That may be true enough – after today he will have appointed 44 of the 121 who are eligible to vote (they become ineligible to vote after age 80).
Back in September,
By 1732 he was noticing a serious deficient in short-term memory: "I often forget what I did yesterday, or what passed half an hour ago."
Around 1734 there is a marked change in Swift's correspondence. Depressed, lonely, and sick he was all too aware that his faculties were fading. The number of personal letters diminishes rapidly, partly because many friends were now dead, and partly because the strain of composing them was too great…Swift was finding it difficult even to write accurately, and when he read over his letters, he was appalled at the number of blunders.
By the fall of 1742, Swift's disability was so advanced that his food had to be cut up for him…At one stage an acute infection, orbital cellulitis, caused an eye to swell alarmingly, and the pain was so great that he had to be forcibly restrained from tearing at it. The episode did provoke a moment of lucidity, as Mrs. Whiteway reported: "What is more to be wondered at, the last day of his illness he knew me perfectly well, took me by the hand, called me by my name, and showed the same pleasure as usual in seeing me. I asked him if he would give me a dinner; he said 'to be sure, my old friend'…But alas! this pleasure to me was but for short duration, for the next day or two it was all over, and proved to be only pain that had roused him."
By now, according to Faulkner, Swift "forgot all his friends and domestics, could not call any of them by their names, nor for clothes food, or any necessities he wanted." Leo Damrosch, Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World (Yale, 2013), 460, 466
Friday, November 18, 2016
Firstly, the theist may agree that Rowe’s argument provides some evidence against theism, but she may go on to argue that there is independent evidence in support of theism which outweighs the evidence against theism. In fact, if the theist thinks that the evidence in support of theism is quite strong, she may employ what Rowe (1979: 339) calls "the G.E. Moore shift" (compare Moore 1953: ch.6). This involves turning the opponent’s argument on its head, so that one begins by denying the very conclusion of the opponent’s argument. The theist’s counter-argument would then proceed as follows:
Although this strategy has been welcomed by many theists as an appropriate way of responding to evidential arguments from evil (for example, Mavrodes 1970: 95-97, Evans 1982: 138-39, Davis 1987: 86-87, Basinger 1996: 100-103) – indeed, it is considered by Rowe to be “the theist’s best response” (1979: 339) – it is deeply problematic in a way that is often overlooked. The G.E. Moore shift, when employed by the theist, will be effective only if the grounds for accepting not-(3) [the existence of the theistic God] are more compelling than the grounds for accepting not-(1) [the existence of gratuitous evil]. The problem here is that the kind of evidence that is typically invoked by theists in order to substantiate the existence of God – for example, the cosmological and design arguments, appeals to religious experience – does not even aim to establish the existence of a perfectly good being, or else, if it does have such an aim, it faces formidable difficulties in fulfilling it. But if this is so, then the theist may well be unable to offer any evidence at all in support of not-(3), or at least any evidence of a sufficiently strong or cogent nature in support of not-(3). The G.E. Moore shift, therefore, is not as straightforward a strategy as it initially seems.
…it becomes clear that the vast majority of considerations that have been offered as reasons for believing in God can be of little assistance to the person who is trying to resist the argument from evil. For most of them provide, at best, very tenuous grounds for any conclusion concerning the moral character of any omnipotent and omniscient being who may happen to exist, and almost none of them provides any support for the hypothesis that there is an omnipotent and omniscient being who is also morally perfect.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
The most familiar forms of deontology, and also the forms presenting the greatest contrast to consequentialism, hold that some choices cannot be justified by their effects—that no matter how morally good their consequences, some choices are morally forbidden. On such familiar deontological accounts of morality, agents cannot make certain wrongful choices even if by doing so the number of those exact kinds of wrongful choices will be minimized (because other agents will be prevented from engaging in similar wrongful choices). For such deontologists, what makes a choice right is its conformity with a moral norm. Such norms are to be simply obeyed by each moral agent; such norm-keepings are not to be maximized by each agent. In this sense, for such deontologists, the Right is said to have priority over the Good. If an act is not in accord with the Right, it may not be undertaken, no matter the Good that it might produce (including even a Good consisting of acts in accordance with the Right).
On the other hand, deontological theories have their own weak spots. The most glaring one is the seeming irrationality of our having duties or permissions to make the world morally worse…there are situations—unfortunately not all of them thought experiments—where compliance with deontological norms will bring about disastrous consequences. To take a stock example of much current discussion, suppose that unless A violates the deontological duty not to torture an innocent person (B), ten, or a thousand, or a million other innocent people will die because of a hidden nuclear device. If A is forbidden by deontological morality from torturing B, many would regard that as a reductio ad absurdum of deontology.
Deontologists have six possible ways of dealing with such “moral catastrophes” (although only two of these are very plausible). First, they can just bite the bullet and declare that sometimes doing what is morally right will have tragic results but that allowing such tragic results to occur is still the right thing to do. Complying with moral norms will surely be difficult on those occasions, but the moral norms apply nonetheless with full force, overriding all other considerations. We might call this the Kantian response, after Kant's famous hyperbole: “Better the whole people should perish,” than that injustice be done (Kant 1780, p. 100). One might also call this the absolutist conception of deontology, because such a view maintains that conformity to norms has absolute force and not merely great weight.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty (WCF 2:1).
Thus he is moved by pure and freely given love of us to receive us into grace…Therefore, by his love God the Father goes before and anticipates our reconciliation in Christ. Indeed, 'because he first loved us' (1 Jn 4:19), he afterward reconciles us to himself.
For this reason, Paul says that the love with which God embraced us "before the creation of the world" was established and grounded in Christ [Eph 1:4-5]…God declared his love toward us in giving his only begotten-Son to die [Jn 3:16]…I shall quote a passage of Augustine where the very thing is taught: ''God's love," says he, "is incomprehensible and unchangeable. For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us. Rather, he has loved us before the world was created"…"God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" [Rom 5:8]" Institutes 16.2.3-4 [Ford Lewis Battles trans.].
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
In fact, if you take literally the statement that Jesus was tempted in all things just as we are, (Heb: 4:15), then we have to conclude that the Bible teaches that Jesus was bisexual. He experienced temptation both to hetersexual sin and to homosexual sin, so he had to have been bisexual. QED.
Monday, November 14, 2016
...he was the bastard son of a priest, by a washerwoman. This was the common fate of a vast number of people at the time. It testified to the unwillingness of the Church to sanction clerical marriage and its inability to stamp out concubinage. Probably as many as half the men in orders had ‘wives’ and families. Behind all the New Learning and the theological debates, clerical celibacy was, in its own way, the biggest single issue at the time of the Reformation. It was a great social problem and, other factors being equal, it tended to tip the balance in favour of reform. As a rule, the only hope for a child of a priest was to go into the Church himself, thus unwillingly or with no great enthusiasm, taking vows which he might subsequently regret: the evil tended to perpetuate itself. Paul Johnson, “A History of Christianity” (©1976, pgs 269-270).
Sunday, November 13, 2016
The following is a transcribed testimony from a female Iranian Christian named Nastaran Farahani. It's taken from a TGC panel discussion on the persecuted church titled "On the Persecuted Church: Panel with Nancy Guthrie, Mindy Belz, Don Carson, K. A. Ellis, Nastaran Farahani". Her testimony starts at about the 7 min 20 sec mark.
One day, while I was taking a shower, I heard someone was talking to me, telling me "repent!"
The voice told me "I'm going to wash you of your sin".
At that time I didn't know what that voice was, and what was the meaning of those words.
But after a while, my sister, she came to Iran from Holland, for visiting. I realized that she has a Bible for me.
One lady she came to her [Nastaran's sister] and she told her that God gave her a vision that she saw three women sitting on a bed and all trust in Christ. So she told her, "you have to go to Iran and visit them".
Another woman came to her and gave her a ticket.
So she came to Iran for a visit. And when she got home to our family, she opened her bag and brought out a Bible, and said "I believe in Jesus".
And all my family started to cry.
And I told her "I believe in Jesus! I know Jesus! I do not know how, but I know him. I do not have any question".
[Nancy Guthrie:] "...How did they [the rest of Nastaran's family] respond to this word of Jesus?"
They just cried.
Within one month, my mom converted.
And within two months, my father had a dream or vision, and he converted to Christ.
We started to go to the church. At that time the building church was open in Iran. But after persecution coming to the church, we decided to gather at home and start the house churches.
There's more to her testimony. Indeed, the entire panel discussion is worth listening to.
I’m aware, of course, that some people believe that everything happens by the will of God, which means that whoever wins the presidency wins by God’s express will.
I believe Trump has been elected president by divine intervention.
Yet there are times when there are so many odds against something happening, when it so greatly defies logic, that it is easier to recognize God’s involvement.
Just think of the obstacles Trump overcame, including: 1) The massive baggage of his past, including the release of a vulgar video with his tremendously offensive sexual comments along with numerous women accusing him of sexual assault (as reported by no less than the New York Times); 2) his myriad campaign errors, with enough misstatements and inappropriate remarks to sink several candidates; 3) a very strong Republican field, including governors like Bush, Christie, Kasich, Huckabee and Walker, senators like Cruz, Rubio and Santorum, and outsiders like Carson and Fiorina; 4) the massive power of the Clinton political machine; and 5) the overwhelming collusion of the mainstream media.
If God has raised Trump up for certain divine purposes, it behooves us to ask what those purposes are — and to pray for divine restraint on his life.