A Pastor's Notes

notes, comments, and sermons — sometimes even mine

Archive for the ‘Linked Item of Interest’ Category

A nice post on the contraction of religious freedom in America

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Here’s a nice post on First Things on recent developments in this direction.

Not all such constrictions of religious freedom are purposeful or even noticed. A well-under-the-radar (probably inadvertent) restriction on religious practice that affects Lutherans is found in institutional (usually correctional or mental health) settings where alcohol of all sorts is forbidden. As we believe and teach that the Lord’s Supper is to be received in both kinds, both the bread and wine, believers who are held in such settings can easily be denied access to the Sacrament. This is not a problem for nearly any other Christian group in America, as the Sacrament isn’t for many of them, and a goodly number on that side of the question deny that wine ought to be used anyway; this is also not of great concern for Roman Catholics (a local priest confirmed this for me as we discussed communing those in the local jail) due to their teaching (discussed here, for instance) that one receives both Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion when either the consecrated bread or wine are consumed. Unforeseen consequences of such restrictions become institutionalized, and lead to further restrictions (intended or not) down the road.


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4 October 2011 at 11:11 am

Depending on the ruling…

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There could be significant implications to this court case, which will be argued before the Supreme Court on October 5. The case as described seems to be a poor choice for any definitive ruling on the ministerial exception to rest upon.

10/4 update: a related case (HT). 10/5 update: on a related book; also, SomeRelatedMaterials.

1/16/12 update: The case was decided 9-0 in favor of the congregation. Here are the opinion(s) from The SCOTUS.

1/17/12 update: Another take on the case. Worth consideration.

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30 September 2011 at 9:02 pm

Statistics used well

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Dr. Peter Williams, “New Evidences the Gospels were Based on Eyewitness Accounts” (HT First Things).

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11 June 2011 at 9:10 am

A tactic to watch out for.

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Likely coming to our shores in a few years. Eyes & ears open at all times, folks.

The use of accreditation to spike the training of pastors.

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3 June 2009 at 1:43 pm

It’s a Problem When Your God Isn’t God

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This archive page for the radio program Unbelievable? has links to a well-moderated debate between Peter Williams and Bart Ehrman over Ehrman’s recent book Misquoting Jesus.

Williams gives one of the better responses to Ehrman I have heard: in the short time he is given, he works at exposing Ehrman’s central, overused rhetorical strategy. Rather than getting mired down in specific textual questions (especially those which Ehrman worries in book after book), he instead points out Ehrman’s habit of making the worst of the evidence before him (evidence which, even Ehrman admits, really can’t do too much to threaten Christian doctrines), and his tendency (in line with this habit) to cast doubt over our ability to know whether any part of Scripture is trustworthy because there are serious questions over some passages.

Ehrman is a prime example of someone whose god (in his case a Bible with perfect provenance, with no disputed readings), when knocked down,  left him with nothing. His popular work is little more than his hoping to bring down this false god for everyone else — again with nothing held out to take its place. It seems that Ehrman was given the Bible without Christ; of course he finds nothing trustworthy in Scripture. He does not have the Key of David, Christ himself. He studies the Scriptures without knowing who to look for in them! Here again is an example of someone destroyed by the false promises of fundamentalism (and its false understanding of inerrancy; see here, for a simple critique of it) — and a lesson as to the necessity of preaching Christ, Christ crucified and raised from the dead for your sake and mine.


Followup: A review by William Willimon, skewering Ehrman’s most recent book, God’s Problem. Thanks, BHT!

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6 January 2009 at 1:42 am

Culture Creep

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An excellent writeup concerning a recent and continuing attempt to replace human, morally-(or at least ethically)-guided doctors with amoral technicians following flow charts is found in this blog entry at First Things.

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2 January 2009 at 12:22 am

Argue from evidence when it is present and sanity will prevail…

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Far too many New Testament/Early Christian scholars have worked from the assumption that core Christian beliefs could not have emerged fully-formed, and must have grown in their retelling/fabrication over a number of decades. For example: the Resurrection must be far closer to myth than to fact. People must have come to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead in his body, when a spiritual, “he lives on” understanding was what was initially latched onto by Jesus’ disciples.

Arguing from the evidence at hand, however, rather than from such evidence-free assumptions about how things must have developed, leads to sensible conclusions such as reported here.

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24 November 2008 at 12:02 pm