Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Christians Wake Up!

Washington's Farewell

I have not read this book.[1] I just saw the author, John Avlon,  on Late Night, with Stephen Colbert. If the guy writes like he talks he should be engaging. The point is Washington saw a coming evil that threatens us today and he warned against it in his fair well speech. That evil is partisanship or tribalism, a greater loyalty to the party than to the nation. Washington never joined a political party he feared that as people gave  their allegiance to parties a demagogue would rise up and claim power, through the allegiance to a party name. Truth, honor, and ideals would all be superseded by party loyalty. Now I have not read the book so I will depart from the book but that is my premise, I see this happening in the modern age,

Roy Moore has been exposed as a child molester, yet the Evangelical Christians of Alabama support him all the more
[2] It wasn't that long ago that just the accusation would take him out of the race. Since they've already accept the principle of men with no principles being men of God, with Trump, why make an exception now? The supporters reject the allegations partly because they are not party aligned news sources.[3]

Now we find that education has no power to communicate truth, That;right we find now education just mean sophisticated excuses,

A new study shows that the more education conservatives gain the more omitted they are to denying climate change. Directly contradicting Trump administration propaganda on climate "13 federal agencies an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says human are the dominate cause of global temperature rise that have created the warmest period in the history of civilization. [4] This is the Climate Science Special Report [5]

Rather than changing republican' minds,however, this knowledge only serves to make them more committed  to denial. [6]

But there is little reason to think that yet another scientific report will fundamentally shift attitudes on global warming — either among policymakers or the public at large. Researchers have found again and again that attitudes about climate change are shaped far more profoundly by political ideology or by comfort with proposed solutions to global warming than they are by the science itself. The latest climate report, written by scientists in 13 federal agencies as part of a congressional National Climate Assessment, says little that hasn’t been said in countless reports over the past decade. Its major conclusions are virtually identical to those of a federal assessment published in 2014: Global warming is real, caused by humans and its impacts are being felt across the United States, from increased heat waves to greater flooding risks along the coasts.[7]

Washington 's theory needs tweaking. Party allegiance is declining.[8] People are replacing party with ideology. Core Trump supporters were willing to destroy the party for the spread of the ideology. But the party faithful have associated the party with God for so long they just support it at all cost even going down with the ship. 

Ultimately, since the 1960s, American conservatism has increasingly exhibited the traits of religious fundamentalism. When politics is treated as a type of religion, and then combined with the rituals of worship and scripture in the form of evangelical Christianity, a type of hallucinatory ideology is created. This has become a form of political cultism; its power and hold over those caught in its ecstasy and passion cannot be easily broken.[8]

Remember the lost? the guys we were supposed to seek and save? They became the enemy then they became those we hate and seek to kill. To the world the evangelical movement just makes the cross and the Gospel look like a hypocritical fantasy that was doomed to failure. We live in an age in which people dig into ideological positions and truth be damned.


[1] John Avlon, Washington's Farewell The Founding Father's Warning to Future Generations.New York: Simon Schuster, 2017, no page mdicated.
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[2] News Desk, "Roy Moore's Supporters Stand by Their Candidate." The New Yorker, (Nov 9, 2017)

(accesssed 11/10/17)
[3] Johna Goldberg,"Roy  Moore's Supporter Don't Want the Allegations to Be True So They Don't Beleive Them," The Los Angels Times, (Nov 13,2017).
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[4] Lisa Friedman and  Glen Thrush, "U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change,Contradictin Top Trump Contradicting Top Trump Officials" (Nov 3,2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[5] Climate Science Special: Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA 4) vol. I
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[6] Kevin Quealy, The More Education Republicans Have The Less then tend To Believe in Climate Change, (Nov 14, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[7] Brad Plumer, "A Climate Science Report That Change Minds? Do 't Bet on It" The New York Times, (No 4,2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)
[8] Chauncy Devega, "The Toxic Ideology at the heart of Evangelical's Alliance With Republican Party" Alternete (August 10, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Christ's Atonement, Resurrection, and Progress in History

Arnold J. Toynbee

Arnold J. Toynbee,* the history of ideas man, wrote an essay on Jesus Christ and history in which he argued that Christianity was responsible for the idea of progress in history.("Christainty and the problem of history" in God, History and Historians, modern Christian views of History edt C.T. McIntire) Pagan mythology had the eternal return. The eternal return mirrored the cycles of the four seasons and featured the gods always doing the same things over and over in cycles. We see Baldar killed by Loki stays dead half the year and this marks the coming of winter. The old style of pagan myth explication which understood myth as explainations for nature (pre Joseph Campbell) understood this explanation of the cycles of winter and spring. There is a Greek cycle too with Prosepheny (daughter of Demeiter) eating the seeds and having to stay in the under world half the years. Both of these clearly mirror the seasons. In fact Procephanies mother was Demeiter, her Roman name was Series). She was the goddess of wheat and the harvest. So this is all tied in with the spring/winter cycles.

The Joseph Campbell way of looking at myth (circa 1940s) brought in with it the understanding that myth is the circular telling of stories that relate to one's journey in life (see The Hero With a Thousand Faces). It's the journey of the hero. The hero goes out into he world and searches for something and does heroic deeds, then comes back home and settles down and goes about the business of re creating the warrior so the the cycle can be repeated again. In the older school of interpretation (I think of it as connected to Bullfinch) the point is to explain the cycles. In Campbell's method it's not an explanation but a road map or a guide for the individual to understand his/her own growth in life as an individual.
In either case the point is the recurrence of the cycle. In the method where the individual is being guided in life it's the recurrence of the same things for each new generation. In the case of the older method its the repetition of seasons, but in either case the world does the same things over and over again and history is going nowhere.

The concept of re creating the worrier implies a commitment to a fix set of life experiences, although the experiences themselves may be very different, the pattern is fixed. Not only so but they are committed to a fixed pattern as an ideal they believed in, since the warrior understood that his job as a warrior was to reproduce himself. Toynbee points out that with Jesus we have a breaking of the cycle. Jesus atonement is once and for all, it is not a repetitive thing. In Pauline theology the atonement puts an end to the repetition. It ends the cycle of yearly sacrifice in the temple where the scape goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people. Though foretold by the prophet of old, the hope of the resurrection guaranteeing the end to cycle, since no new sacrifices will be needed becuase the resurrection changes the rules. The sacrifice gets up and lives again, and those who recon themselves dead in the death of the sacrifice also share in the hope of a future provided by the new life of the risen savior (Romans 6).

This is true eschatology disruption. Eschatology doesn't just mean end times scenarios it means it means "the last things." Death and resurrection, death and after life, going to heaven these are actually as much a part of formal eschatology as are the anti-Christ and the rapture. So this new eschatology gives the individual believer a share in the future and the hope the resurrection life of Christ, where as the old goat sacrifice only gave the tribe collectively a pardon for one year until the cycle repeated again. The Hebrews had their own mythological eternal return, and the sacrificial system and the temple system reiterated it. The tribe moved toward the promised land, and their journeying was doubled due to their own sins. They could have continued to journey forever, repeating the pattern always. But the disruption of eschatology was built into the system with the concept of arriving the promised land. Then the journey become temporal not spatial. But it is still goal oriented. The temporal aspect is the land days, the end times, the teolos of history, and the goal is the coming of the Messiah. Now they journey is done through time not through he desert. Each believer has his own end goal of the journey. These observations are the work of Jurgen Moltmann in his Theology of Hope.

The pattern makes the individual more important than the tribe. As Jeremiah said in chapter 31 of his book "No longer will a man say to his neighbor 'knew the Lord' for you shall all know me, from the least to the greatest." The New covenant would be written on the heart of the individual, so that changes things from a collective relationship with the tribe as a whole to each and every believer on a one on one basis with God. This means a disrupting of the pattern. Something new can happen. The salvation of the individual is based upon the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new once and for all order, so history can proceed into the future and find new patterns. The old mythological way was about building the tribe. Individuals were not important in themselves, they were members of the tribe, and functioned as building blocks that made the tribe. That's why the same pattern had to be repeated year after year, the tribe must continue at the expense of the individual. The new child must become his father, or the girl her mother, because the tribe had to go on as it was. But the way of Christ was the individual with God and the chruch rather than the tribe, which is a collection of the individuals not a tribe to sacrifice the individual for its own good.

Alfred North Whitehead said that Christianity contributed to the development of modern science because it gave us the notion that God created the world as a reasonable system that worked by rules, and gave us minds which mirror divine reason and thus we can study the rules of nature and understand them as an ordered system. Since Whitehead said this historians have found many ways in which Christianity developed modern science,or at least contributed in a positive way to it's development. This was especially so in the English enlightenment. See Margaret Jacob The Newtonian's for a sense of how the latitudinarians (English churchmen and minsters) spread Newtonian physics as a political balm at a time when Newton was unknown and ignored. The notion of progress in history was a major aspect of enlightenment thinking and it started in the English influence upon French thought which came largely from the latitudinarians and their group. The idea of this disruption of the cycles of eternal return made the concept of progress in history possible.

In the Post Modern era the notion of progression history has been eschewed.  It is certainly the case that progress was taken for granted by moderns as any change especially scientifically backed change. So global warming is the fruit of what was once thought of as "progress in history." Progress in history was identified by moderns as a secular goal. Certainly fundamentalist see it as the antithesis to the end times which is the teleology of their historical goal. But I see a dialectic. We have ruined the planet with false pretense of "progress" which really meant wealth and power for the elites of secular society, but there is also a green movement, if it's not too little too late, and greater attention to human rights, racism has been identified as total evil, for the firs time in human history women are at least on the radar as candidates for a level playing field (we have a female speaker of the house, a female made a made a major attempt at winning the nomination of the democratic party and lost to the guy who became the first black President). I think we can see notions of progress in all areas our society would think of as humanistic in a positive sense and progressive. I can show that Christian values stand behind each one of these ideas. Christians stocked the civil rights movement and ran it, and they were very major force in the woman's suffrage movement that led to the feminist movement a century latter.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Social Justice is a value mandated by the Gospel

 photo TheologyLiberation_zps7e7e7172.jpg

Summary part 1
I.The Atonement: God's Solidarity With Humanity.

........A. The inadequacy of Financial Transactions

Many ministers, and therefore, many Christians speak of and think of Jesus' death on the cross as analogous to a financial transaction. Usually this idea goes something like this: we are in hock to the devil because we sinned. God pays the debt we owe by sending Jesus to die for us, and that pays off the devil. The problem with this view is the Bible never says we owe the devil anything. We owe God. The financial transaction model is inadequate. Matters of the soul are much more important than any monetary arrangement and business transactions and banking do not do justice to the import of the issue. Moreover, there is a more sophisticated model; that of the sacrament for sin. In this model Jesus is like a sacrificial lamb who is murdered in our place. This model is also inadequate because it is based on a primitive notion of sacrifice. The one making the sacrifice pays over something valuable to him to appease an angry God. In this case God is paying himself. This view is also called the "propitiation view" becuase it is based upon propitiation, which means to turn away wrath. The more meaningful notion is that of Solidarity. The Solidarity or "participatory" view says that Jesus entered human history to participate in our lot as finiate humans, and he dide as a means of identifying with us. We are under the law of sin and death, we are under curse of the law (we sin, we die, we are not capable in our own human strength of being good enough to merit salvation). IN taking on the penalty of sin (while remaining sinless) Jesus died in our stead; not in the manner of a premature animal sacrafice (that is just a metaphor) but as one of us, so that through identification with us, we might identify with him and therefore, partake of his newness of life.

.......B. Christ the Perfect Revelation of God to Humanity

In the book of Hebrews it says "in former times God spoke in many and various ways through the prophets, but in these latter times he has spoken more perfectly through his son." Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to humanity. The prophets were speaking for God, but their words were limited in how much they could tell us about God. Jesus was God in the flesh and as such, we can see clearly by his character, his actions, and his teachings what God wants of us and how much God cares about us. God is for humanity, God is on our side! The greatest sign of God's support of our cause as needy humans is Jesus death on the cross, a death in solidarity with us as victims of our own sinful hearts and societies. Thus we can see the lengths God is will to go to to point us toward himself. There are many verses in the Bible that seem to contradict this view. These are the verses which seem to say that Atonement is propitiatory.

.......C. Death in Solidarity with Victims.............. 
..............1) Support from Modern Theologians

Three Major Modern Theologians support the solidarity notion of atonement: Jurgen Moltmann (The Crucified God), Matthew L. Lamb (Solidarity With Victims), and D.E.H. Whiteley (The Theology of St. Paul).In the 1980s Moltmann (German Calvinist) was called the greatest living protestant theologian, and made his name in laying the groundwork for what became liberation theology. Lamb (Catholic Priest) was big name in political theology, and Whiteley (scholar at Oxford) was a major Pauline scholar in the 1960s.In his work The Crucified God Moltmann interprits the cry of Jesus on the cross, "my God my God why have you forsaken me" as a statement of solidarity, placing him in identification with all who feel abandoned by God.Whiteley: "If St. Paul can be said to hold a theory of the modus operandi [of the atonement] it is best described as one of salvation through participation [the 'solidarity' view]: Christ shared all of our experience, sin alone excepted, including death in order that we, by virtue of our solidarity with him, might share his life...Paul does not hold a theory of substitution..." (The Theology of St. Paul, 130)An example of one of the great classical theologians of the early chruch who held to a similar view is St. Irenaeus (according to Whiteley, 133).

..............2) Scrtiptural

...all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were Baptized into his death.? We were therefore burried with him in baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death we will certanly be united with him in his resurrection.For we know that the old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.Now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him, for we know that since Christ was raised from the dead he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him; the death he died to sin he died once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Chrsit Jesus.(Romans 6:1-5)

.......In Short, if we have united ourselves to Christ, entered his death and been raised to life, we participate in his death and resurrection through our act of solidarity, united with Christ in his death, than it stands tto reason that his death is an act of solidarity with us, that he expresses his solidarity with humanity in his death.

.......This is why Jesus cries out on the cross "why have you forsaken me?" According to Moltmann this is an expression of Solidarity with all who feel abandoned by God.Jesus death in solidarity creates the grounds for forgiveness, since it is through his death that we express our solidarity, and through that, share in his life in union with Christ. Many verses seem to suggest a propitiatory view. But these are actually speaking of the affects of the solidarity. "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if when we were considered God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! What appears to be saying that the shedding of blood is what creates forgiveness is actually saying that the death in solidarity creates the grounds for reconciliation. IT says we were enemies then we were reconciled to him through the death, his expression of solidarity changes the ground, when we express our solidarity and enter into the death we are giving up to God, we move from enemy to friend, and in that sense the shedding of blood, the death in solidarity, creates the conditions through which we can be and are forgiven. He goes on to talk about sharing in his life, which is participation, solidarity, unity.

.......D. Meaning of Solidarity and Salvation.

.......Jurgen Moltmann's notion of Solidarity (see The Crucified God) is based upon the notion of Political solidarity. Christ died in Solidarity with victims. He took upon himself a political death by purposely angering the powers of the day. Thus in his death he identifies with victims of oppression. But we are all victims of oppression. Sin has a social dimension, the injustice we experience as the hands of society and social and governmental institutions is primarily and at a very basic level the result of the social aspects of sin. Power, and political machinations begin in the sinful heart, the ego, the desire for power, and they manifest themselves through institutions built by the will to power over the other. But in a more fundamental sense we are all victims of our own sinful natures. We scheme against others on some level to build ourselves up and secure our conditions in life. IN this sense we cannot help but do injustice to others. In return injustice is done to us.Jesus died in solidarity with us, he underwent the ultimate consequences of living in a sinful world, in order to demonstrate the depths of God's love and God's desire to save us. Take an analogy from political organizing. IN Central America governments often send "death squads" to murder labor unionists and political dissenter. IN Guatemala there were some American organizations which organized for college students to go to Guatemala and escort the leaders of dissenting groups so that they would not be murdered.

.......The logic was that the death squads wouldn't hurt an American Student because it would bring bad press and shut off U.S. government funds to their military. As disturbing as these political implications are, let's stay focused on the Gospel. Jesus is like those students, and like some of them, he was actually killed. But unlike them he went out of his way to be killed, to be victimized by the the rage of the sinful and power seeking so that he could illustrate to us the desire of God; that God is on our side, God is on the side of the poor, the victimized, the marginalized, and the lost. Jesus said "a physician is not sent to the well but to the sick."The key to salvation is to accept God's statement of solidarity, to express our solidarity with God by placing ourselves into the death of Christ (by identification with it, by trust in it's efficacy for our salvation).

part 2

Social Justice is a value mandated by the Gospel.

In my essay "Atonement: Solidarity and The Basis of Social Justice,"[1] I demonstrated that the most efficacious model for understanding atonement of Christ on the cross for our sins is that of a statement of solidarity between God and humanity,When we accept that statement of God's solidarity with us we are expressing our solidarity with God thus putting ourselves in a relationship of solidarity, aka "covenant,"  that creates the grounds upon  which sin is forgiven. The title implies that there is a further implication of social justice, but I did not spell it out, I will do so here: there is a social dimension of the gospel mandates social justice as priority value and legitimizes the Christian mission for work for social justice.

This is related to the solidarity aspect, which is another way of speaking about covenant. Paul clearly implies that there is a social dimension of the Gospel. In the book of Galatians Paul lays out the way of Grace and it;s implications in relation to law. He proclaims the Gospel of grace as the true Gospel and pronounces a curse on anyone who teaches another gospel, (Gal 1:8), In chapter 2:14-15 Paul confronts Peter for what he sees as hypocrisy. His withdrawing from the gentiles when the representatives of James came, out of fear of their anti-gentile prejudice.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

After a long section in chapter two where he justifies the concept of salvation by grace through faith, and sets that forth as the essence of the Gospel, this is what it's all about, he goes on in chapter 3 to lay out the implications and he puts on it a class a analysis: (3;26) "so in Christ you are all children of God Through Faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Neither sla e nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.."

I have seen conservative Christians relegate this concept to the back burner several times, none more infuriating than a time when I lived in New Mexico (long time ago) .  At a house discussion group connected with my church we had been discussing "male/female roles in the church," They agreed all comers welcome in discussion, They were going to listen to my presentation of my my view blah lblah all fair sure right on. I laid it all out it meant nothing to them. I kept harping on Galatians 3:26-29 the main leader of the "conservatives" says "that;s just before the Lord." What he meant was this sounds good Chrisianitistically but in "real life:" where people live it is means nothing.  This guy was a great man of faith. But he could not deal with they fact that in the concrete world where Paul lived Peter was acting hypocritically to perpetuate the social distinction grounded in the law between Jews and gentiles. It is a real world concrete implication of the Gospel. Paul lays it bare; it's a matter of "the truth of the Gospel: and of "belonging to Christ." Gal 2:14 and 3:29.This does mean if you are trying to justify racism by the gospel you are preaching another gospel you do not belong to Christ and you are under a curse. It probably also mean we can't make distinctions about rank in the church based upon gender, There are no second class christians and if you believe in Jesus there is a social application to the gospel.

Since this is grounded in the basic principles of the Gospel dealing with grace and freedom (Gal. 5:1 states it as a positive primary value "It is for freedom you have been set free") then it must be grounded in the concept of solidarity, It only makes sense, how could one be in solidarity with God, who is in solidarity with humanity  and not be in solidarity with humanity as well? Jesus shows a preference for the poor in identifying with the bottom rung of society in the way he lived and the way he died, crucified between two thieves, Not only was his death reserved for criminals but also for rebels against Rome, He was traded for the revolutionary Barabbas who was freed in his place, That has obvious literary meaning. Jesus was the more dangerous to the powers of the day, The Elder John put's it in his own way, how can you love God who you have not seen  (1 john 4:20)

Solidarity is about identifying with the other. Jesus identified with humanity and with the bottom of the social ladder. In the most basic statements of the Gospel in the early days of it's proclamation reflect this aspect; Luke is best about reflecting that aspect, In Luke 4:16-21 Jesus stands to read from Isaiah in the synagogue he is essentially introducing himself (even though it;s his home town) and unavailing his true mission,He quotes from Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1,2 (see Septuagint); Isaiah 58:6):
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim
the year of the Lord's favor

James Tabor Links these two aspects the resurrection of the dead and preaching of good news to the poor thus marking both as central features of identification for the messiah: Jesus might as well have said:hey I'm the messiah,"

when we turn to the Q Source, which Luke and Matthew quote, regarding the "signs of the Messiah," we find the two phrases linked: "the dead are raised up, the poor have the glad tidings preached to them," precisely as we have in our Qumran text. Luke makes more than passing use of this notion of the "resurrection of the dead" as a sign of the age of the Messiah. In the two places he quotes Isaiah 61:1 he also mentions specific cases of resurrection of the dead: as Elijah once raised the son of the widow, Jesus now raises the son of the widow from Nain (Luke 4:26; 7:11-17). This is hardly accidental, as the close juxtaposition of the texts makes clear."[2]

He is basing this upon the use of the Isaiah phrases in the Qumran literature, for details more of the context and analysis see my article on Doxa [3] Walter Pilgrim Understood a social implication to these passages.[4] An SIM* task force om Social justice makes a finding on this passage:

No doubt, this text is one of the clearest statements of Jesus’ mission and the goals of his ministry. It is also one of the most misunderstood. In popular explanations, Luke 4 underscores that Jesus’ mission focused on the materially destitute and the downtrodden. In this interpretation, Jesus is Messiah and social liberator. He came to bring the year of jubilee to the oppressed. He came to transform social structures and bring God’s creation back to shalom. Therefore, our mission, in keeping with Christ’s mission, is, to quote one well-respected book “to extend the kingdom by infiltrating all segments of society, with preference given to the poor, and allowing no dichotomy between evangelism and social transformation (Luke 4:18-19).” Above all else, Luke 4, it is argued, shows that Jesus’ mission was to serve the poor. Shouldn’t that be our mission too?[5]*

That is the popular misunderstanding, What is misunderstood? The idea that"poor" is limited to financial poor. The finding of the Task force is that the Greek word ptochos carries a broader connotation. We could attach the term "marginalized" but that's still too limited, They are more like down-heated, depressed, defeated, vanquished, the victims of Roman conquest. I don't think its reading too much into it to applying it to our own context and understand it as all those who are dejected by the way life has treated the, The political connotation still part of it.

Social injustice is a social dynamic stemming from sin, Social injustice is a from of sin a is any other transgression such as adultery or stealing. The social dynamic makes it easier to rationalize. Reinhold Niebuhr apples class analysis and finds that the class dimension  to the social dynamic creates personal identification with class interest and thus an easy rationalization as the interest of the larger group becomes confused with one's personal interest, This is the meaning of his title, Moral Man and Immoral Society. [6] The individual is capable of being fairly moral although one  always struggles with temptation, Yet with the social and class dimensions the rationalization factor sucks one into teh mob mentality It then becomes the Christian's duty to soul search and part for conviction to realize the out of the morass. Actually that part is my interpretation. Niebuhr just sort of assumed that being aware was enough.

We need to go one step further, however, and not content ourselves with merely being aware of our identification and rationalization of social sin. That's the leftist complaint about the liberal; it's all about our personal feeling good. We need to work for social justice. After all what good does it do to just be aware if we are aren't really working to change things we are not really sorry about our contribution to the problem. The major brunt of social sin comes down on the poor who are the primary victims. That is exacerbated times whatever other marginalization factors obtain, In other words "the poor" are having it bad. But a poor person who is being oppressed for being gay is having it even worse. Poverty is connected both as cause and implication  to all forms of social ill Poverty is decisive in many way for life chances. [7] [8]

Poverty is the symbol for all social sin and deserves our highest effort to fight it, Politicians who flagrantly disregard on a par with murderers. Those who rationalize the system are not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel. Fighting for social justice is as much our Christian duty as spreading the gospel,

NoteL the value  is mandated not the politics, politics's an inadequate human constrict expressing ideas and attitudes not a perfect expression of anything, Any political formation can be wrong even if it;s values are right.


[1] Joseph Hnman, "Atonement, Solidaroty, and Social Justice, part 1" Metacrock's blog

 MARCH 05, 2017, URL:
(accessed 3/12/17)

[2] James D. Tabor, Archaeology and The Dead Sea Scrolls"The Signs of the Messiah: 4Q521"
The Jewish Roman World of Jesus (website) (accessed 3/12/17)

[3] Joseph Hinman, "refutting the 'No body' Theroy," Resurrection pages,Doxa:Christian Thouht in the 21st Centiry website URL: (accessed 3/12/17)

[4]Walter Pilgrim, Good News to the Poor: Wealth and Poverty in Luke-Acts, Eugene Oregan:Wipf and Stock publishers, 1981, 15,  65-66.

prof of theology pacific Lutheran University

[5] Kevin De Young, "Seven Passages on Social Justice," The Gospel Coalition, (July 20,2010)
on line resource, URL:

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, 
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. 

from the parent document:
NOTE: This is an abbreviated version of a much larger work originally undertaken by a task force appointed by the Board of Governors of SIM* to investigate issues of social injustice in the context of Christian mission. The paper produced is not a final statement on justice or an SIM position paper, and does not reflect the beliefs and opinions held by all SIM members. The convictions presented represent the interplay between the various authors’ biblical understanding, cultural worldview, and personal perspectives. This has been a very helpful process for SIM to work through. Malcolm McGregor, SIM International Director  following URL link to PDF of Task force report:

*SIM = Soudan Interior Mission, a mission society began in 1893. It's still going. It produces sophisticated scholarly literature, it has 4000 workers in 70 country, it's members represent as many nationalities.

[6] Reinhold Neibuhr,  Moral Man and Immoral SocietyWestminster John Knox Press; 2nd ed. edition (January 18, 2013)
[7] Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Greg J. Duncan, "The Effects of Poverty on Children,"  The Future of Children (Summer Fall 1997), 55-71. on line version URL: (accessed3/12/17)
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Ph.D., is Virginia and Leonard Marx professor of child development and education, and is director of the Center for Young Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University. Greg J. Duncan, Ph.D., is a professor of education and social policy, and is a faculty associate at the Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
[8] ,"Poverty Compounded," The Atlanic (APR 16, 2016)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Trump Screws Our Last Chance


 photo global-warming-4_zps9617ed6a.gif

A new study by the UN finds that global warming is about to heat up.  In just 12 short years:

The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people....The half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being completely eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries in Incheon in South Korea that saw delegates hugging one another, with some in tears.[1]
According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the targets that must be reached are obtainable but at the extreme end of the Paris agreement,They are based upon keeping the temperature  between 1.5C and 2C. [2]

The world is currently 1C warmer than preindustrial levels. Following devastating hurricanes in the US, record droughts in Cape Town and forest fires in the Arctic, the IPCC makes clear that climate change is already happening, upgraded its risk warning from previous reports, and warned that every fraction of additional warming would worsen the impact.Scientists who reviewed the 6,000 works referenced in the report, said the change caused by just half a degree came as a revelation. “We can see there is a difference and it’s substantial,” Roberts said.At 1.5C the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2C, it notes. Food scarcity would be less of a problem and hundreds of millions fewer people, particularly in poor countries, would be at risk of climate-related poverty.[3] 
Of course we are stuck with a foux President who is married to big coal and wont abandon it because he's enriching himself that way, A memo written by major coal executive Robert E. Murray, (a longtime Trump supporter and major contributor)  reads like a Trump legislative play book with  half the items acted upon in the opening months of the administration,[4] So while we are in the last few years when we must   work to save the planet we  wont do a damn thing because the government of the most powerful nation is hamstrung by the stupidity of it's mos illiterate people. The Republicans have amassed a huge propaganda machine devoted to the notion that, as Trump says, "it's just a hoax." But the science could not be more agaisnt them. The science is overwhelmingly in favor of the thesis that man made carbon sources are the major contributing factor to warming,

One important sign of the validity of a hypothesis is it;s use in scientific  work in other areas. For example medical science works by assuming evolutionary theory. If the work based upon those assumptions did not pan  out it would be apparent that the evolutionary assumptions upon which they  are based were not valid.

Despite these details, it's important to remember that, in the end, hypothesesand theories live and die by whether or not they work — in other words, whether they are useful in explaining data, generating expectations, providing satisfying explanations, inspiring research questions, answering questions, and solving problems. Science filters through many ideas and builds on those that work![5]

The Nobel prize in economics has been awarded to William D. Nordhaus "for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis" and Paul M. Romer "for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis." [6]

"The contributions of Paul Romer and William Nordhaus are methodological, providing us with fundamental insights into the causes and consequences of technological innovation and climate change. This year's Laureates do not deliver conclusive answers, but their findings have brought us considerably closer to answering the question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable global economic growth." [7]
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.[8]
The academies of science from 80 contrives plus many scientific  organizations that study climate agree that man is the crucial factor in climate change and global warming. Naomi OreskesPeter DoranWilliam AndereggBart VerheggenEd MaibachJ. Stuart Carlton, and John Cook have authored their own climate comsen sus studies a nd came o the sameconslusiomn which they discuss in a paper they co aiuthoried,Their findkgs:
1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. 
2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.[9]

John Cook Backs this up in an article in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

Now, we have a new resource to dispel the myth that there is a lack of scientific consensus on climate change. While a number of past studies have measured the level of scientific consensus on climate change, no one has published a summary of the many consensus estimates—until now. In a paper published in Environmental Research Letters on April 13, I collaborated with the authors of seven of the leading consensus studies to perform a meta-study of meta-studies synthesising the research into scientific consensus on climate change. (A meta-study combines the findings from multiple studies.) Among climate scientists, the estimates of consensus varied from 90 to 100 percent, with a number of studies converging on 97 percent, the very figure derided by Cruz, Santorum, and others opposed to action on global warming. 
A key finding from our meta-study was that scientific agreement was highest among scientists with the most expertise in climate science. This meant that groups with lower climate expertise showed lower agreement on climate change. The group with the lowest level of agreement—at only 47 percent—were economic geologists, who study metals and minerals that can be used for industrial and economic purposes. Conversely, the group with the highest level of agreement—at 97 percent—were climate scientists who were actively publishing climate research.[10]
Notice that all of these opinions are tied to research, They are based upon studies they are the opinions of the researchers, Notice that the higher the level of expertise the stronger the  agreement with the thesis. What is being agreed with is clear, that humans are the catylist in accelerating global warming,

As long as Trump occupies the white house earth is doomed,. We must act! Our only chance is to  take control from the  Republicans in this coming  mid term election. We cannot fail. We must do this,send this to all your friends and be sure and vote Democrat at least in congressional and senate races but really no reason not to vote straight ticket,

A lot of people are now making the argument that the Democrats are just sold out to big money as the Republicans, The problem is we really did have the regulations and programs under the Dems that the Reps now want to kill. It is,Therefore, not true that there is no party difference,


[1] Jonathan Wattts, "We Have 12 Years to Limit Climate Change Catastrophe Warns UN" The Guardian (Oct 8,2018) (accessed 10/10/18 )

Watts is Global Environmental editor of the Guardian

[2] Ibid

[4]Lisa Friedman. "How a Coal Baron's Wish List Became Trump's To Do Lost."  The New York Times (Jan 9,2018) AD  (accessed 10/10/18 )

[5]  "The Logic of Scientific Arumemts,"  Understanding Scinece:How Science Really works, no date goiven  (accessed 10/10/18 )

[6]Staff, "Nobel Prize in Economics, 2018" "Science News,"Science News Daily, (Oct 8, 2018) (accessed 10/10/18 )

[7] Ibid.

[8] NASSA, "Scientific Consensus: Earth's  Climate is Warming," Global Climate Change:Vital Signs of The planet. website published by NASSA Holly Shaftler site ediotor, last updated (Jan 31,2017)  (accessed 2/7/17)

[9] John Cook, "The 97% Consensus on Global Warming, " Skeptical Sciece Website (2017)
(accessed 2/7/17)

[10] John Cook, "Yes there Really  is Scientific Consensus On Climate Change." The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists (April 13,2016) on line version URL:
(accessed 2/7/17)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Liberal Theology part 2 Albrecht Ritschl

Image result for Albrecht Ritschl

Albrecht Ritschl

Schleiermacher is called the "father" of liberal theology, but the other foundational figure which spured the development of liberal theology in the 19th century was Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889).German Protestant, taught theology at Bonn (1851-64) and Gottengin (1864-89). His major work translates into English as The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation (Vol. I and III, 1872 and 1900).(Columbria Encyclopedia,

Further works by Ritschl:Instruction in the Christian Religion, (1875); Theology and Metaphysics,(1881).

Ritschl was in line with Schleiermacher's thinking, he believed religion was primarily a matter of revelation and personal experience. He worked agaisnt Hegel and his ilk in ridding theology of speculative metaphysics and philosophical frameworks. This puts him in line with Schleiermacher since Hegel hated Schleiermacher (the two had been class mates in college) and Schleiermacher's feeling of utter dependence worked directly against Hegel's notions of philosophical speculation. Ritschl sees theology as practical and not speculative. He grounds his inquiry in historical criticism and history, and in the revelation of God through Jesus Christ.

With Ritschl we see three lines of theological development shaping up. The first being Schleiermacher and Ritschl with religious experience and historical criticism. The second is an indirect line running through several seeming contradictory figures: Hegel,theologian A.E. Beidermann (1819-85), New Testament scholar F.C. Bauer (1792-1860)--Bauer taught Ritschl but was rejected by him, Philosophers Ludwig Fuererbach (1804-72) Karl Marx (1818-83) Soren Keirkegaard (1813-55).

The third line demonstrates the way the first two began to come together toward the end of the century to produce a distinctive liberal climate for theology. This line is dominated by Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), but just began his carrer at the even end of the century. Johannes Weiss (1863-1814). William Werde (1859-1906), Martin Kahler (1835-1913) Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923) (Troelstch would turn out to be the teacher of Paul Tillich). By the end of the century a vast aray of skeptical style theology had been produced, with theolgoians and Bible scholars more skeptical of the validity of the Bible than any atheists every thought about being.Most of what we see on the net, with skeptical boards like the Secular Web are rehashes of arguments raised by ministers and Bible scholars from this era. The emphasis was upon de-mythologizeing the Bible. Christianity was seen primarily as an ethical forum, or a social organization devoted to helping society make a better world.

Liberal Theology in the 20th Century

Until the end of World War I liberal theology proceeded as it had done in the previous century. The first world war changed everything. Liberal theology had become an ivory tower pursuit with nothing to say to the common man. Suddenly Europe found itself in a crushing war, thousands dying everyday, a whole generation slaughtered on the battle field. Massive disillusionment set in as no one found liberal theology comforting. Karl Barth arose with a new take on theology which came to be called "Neo-Orthodox." Barth was a liberal Calvinist, he understood the Bible not as the word of God but containing the word of God. He understood revelation through a dialectic between the reader and the text. Thus theology was infused with divine comfort in the face of over whelming tragedy. Liberal theology responded after the war by seeking out the existential roots in Christian thought. Theology in that century, before the second world war, was dominated by two major camps, Bartian neo-Orthodoxy, and Bualtmannian existentialism (led by Rudolph Bultmann). Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr (as well as his verbose brother H. Richard) would be major champions in the existential camp. This basic division held throughout the rest of the century, but in the 1960s it began to change tremendously.

Theology in the sixties was very exciting. This was the era when liberal theology came into its own. The major event that put liberal theology front and center was the conference called "Vatican II" held in the early 60s. The Church reformed many aspects of its liturgy modernizing itself both in cosmetic appeal and theology. It adopted a position of ecumenism allowing for the salvation of those outside the catholic or even Christian camps. It took most of the Latin out of its Mass, allowed the use of native instruments such as guitar, nuns began wearing civilian clothes and so on. In the field (Latin America) even more radical steps were taken. Priests began joining revolutions and fighting for social change. Some Priests even took up arms and joined liberation forces in the mountains. The first priest to do so was Father Camillio Tores in Columbia. Out of this period a whole movement evolved known as "liberation theology." It swept through Latin America, it was a major force in the U.S. anti-war movement (the Barigan brothers, both priests went to jail for pouring blood on draft records). Martin Luther King Jr. was a liberal theologian. His doctoral dissertation was on Paul Tillich's concept of God as Being itself. The whole civil rights movement was infused with Christian participation and leadership (such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and this fed into the anti-war movement and contributed to the popularity of liberation theology.

Soon Feminist theology followed, just as Feminism grew out of the civil rights and anti-war movements. New calls for all kinds of theologies were going out all the time. It was a very exciting period of ferment. Theology was a battle ground. The popular musical Godspell was written by a theology student at that time and was basically a musical "Gospel according to the hippies" (Godspel = Gospel). The most radical movement of all was the God is dead movement. The major leader was Frederick J.J. Altizer. He argued that God poured himself out in Hegelian dialectic, just as Christ gave up his life on the cross, the God himself poured is very life into his creation giving it (man) the ability to make his own way. The phrase "God is dead" began with Nietzsche who meant by that that modern Western culture had killed the spirit of true reverence for the good by codifying it in a hypocritical institution like the church. Altizer just turned that around into a positive act by God on man's behalf. The movement fragmented, it's core idea was never really understood, the mainstream church reacted very harshly. The net outcome was the liberal church turned its focus to the world. An army of liberal Christian social workers and sociologists went forth to serve the good of humanity, to fight in revolutions, to lead political activism, to feed the hungry and protest war and so forth. Marxism was its chief tool for social analysis.

Rather than death of God theology, the new army of socially minded Christian liberals took up process theology. This allowed them to regard God as a depersonalized ideal of Goodness and yet still be motivated by a sense of divine truth. Process theology became the spiritual force of liberal theology in the last quarter of the twentieth century, thus united it with its late nineteenth century forbearer. Process theology and Marxist analysis drove liberal theology pretty much form the 60s to the 90s. After the fall of communism, in the early 90's liberal theology turned to identity politics and postmodernism. After the Jesus seminar and 911 and the war in Irak liberal theology has moved off center stage. The decline in popularity of postmodernism and lumping in identity politics with the "pc crowd" has pushed liberal theology into the background. It has no real social focus now. Some sort of ferment is taking place, a synthesis of the emergent church idea, identity politics, posternmodernism. Some segements may have gone more into a neo conservative phase.

Sources for StudyThe best source for study would be to obtain The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology. This is the authority on modern theology. It is expensive, it comes in to major volumes. One volume is about doctrines, the other is about people. You can look up ideas by the name of the theologian that made them famous, or get a run down on the basic thoughts of the major theologians of the last few centuries, in the theologian volume. Or look up ideas such as "God" or "Bible" in the doctrine volume. This would be crucial for anyone seeking to really understand theology. Another very important book would the History of Christian Thought by Paul Tillich. These are lectures Tillich delivered somewhere and they give an excellent run down on all of Chrsitian theology form the first century to Tillich's own views.

on line resources:

Religion has a very through list of topics linked on their site. Here's a source I love:
Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology, a fine collection of short essay each dedicated to a different major modern theologain:they have them all!Wisdoms Children an intelligent blog, very literate, featuring major theolgoical and liberal arts thinkers. God Web, with an excellent article on Tillich and other liberal theological issues.

Last, and very probably lest, but in the interest of getting people to stop attributing to me ideas I do not espouse, my own theological credo on Doxa.