Category: Christian Social Thought

Fox TV is prepping for a Jan. 25 release of a new show titled “Lucifer,” where “bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, the original fallen angel, Lucifer Morningstar has abandoned his throne and retired to L.A., where he owns Lux, an upscale nightclub.” Fox adds helpfully, “He’s no angel.”

A report by Barbara Hollingsworth on CNSNews.com notes that “a number of faith-based and conservative watchdog groups are panning Lucifer.” Among others, she interviewed Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute:

“The very fact that it could be on a major network without serious questions being raised with regard to advertisers and the like tells you where the culture has gone, to a certain extent,” Fr. Robert Sirico … told CNSNews.com. “I urge believers to be calm, because part of the marketing strategy of these companies is to incorporate the kind of opposition they can get from believers who would find this offensive and thus call more attention to the project.

“The second caution is that this show seems rather superficial with its constant use of one gag about the devil. It doesn’t seem like it’s a serious reflection on evil, on the capacity of human beings to betray their highest values.

“I’m reminded of what C.S. Lewis puts in the words of his devil in the Screwtape Letters, that the real danger in confrontation with evil and the world is when people don’t believe that there is evil. So I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom quite yet, because at least they’re talking about things spiritual,” Sirico said.

Read “Nothing Redeeming’ About New Fox TV SeriesThat Glamorizes Satan” by Barbara Hollingsworth on CNSNews.com.

In his book Living the Truth, the German Thomist Josef Pieper presents the following thesis:

All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality. He who wishes to know and to do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own “ideas”, not upon his “conscience”, not upon “values”, not upon arbitrarily established “ideals” and “models”. He must turn away from his own act and fix his eyes upon reality.

I can think of no other passage so contrary to the spirit of our age. This spirit has been made evident in the reaction of our political and religious leaders to the November 13 ISIS terrorist attacks and the November 30-December 11 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

That these events took place in the city most representative of Western thought from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas through that of René Descartes and then of Jean-Paul Sartre shows how the West has gone from being a Christian to a modern and finally to a post-modern society. These are characterized by three distinct types of rationalism: one based on the complementarity of the Christian faith and reason, another on the scientific method and empirical observation, and the last of which is a virtual denial of reason and reality as such. It has left society without the resources necessary to defend itself from enemies domestic and foreign. (more…)

Sacks of American wheat destined for Afghanistan being unloaded in Peshawar, Pakistan.There are ten vital foundational lessons that should be taught in any introductory course on economics, says Don Boudreaux, a professor of economics at George Mason University. The first three lessons on his list are,

(1) [T]he world is full of both desirable and undesirable unintended consequences – consequences that are largely invisible but that even a course in ‘mere’ principles of economics gives us great vision that enables us to “see,” (2) intentions are not results; (3) our world is unavoidably one of trade-offs and not “solutions,” …

While these lessons can be easily understood in theory, applying them to the real world can often be surprisingly difficult. Consider, for instance, the issue of providing humanitarian relief, such as emergency food assistance, in active conflict zones. As Cullen Hendrix notes, “there is virtually unanimous consensus and a body of international law that commits the international community to address humanitarian disasters with emergency food aid.” Yet there are, he notes, unintended consequences to such relief efforts:
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debt1Over the past few months there has been a lot of discussion about refugees and resettlement. But not much is said about the logistical problems the refugees have to overcome. For example, how exactly do they get to the United States?

The answer is that they have to travel—and that costs money. For those who can’t afford to cover the cost themselves, the U.S. government issues interest-free loans through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. The loan repayments are due every month, starting six months after they enter the country, and can be spread out over 5-6 years.

As with any debt, though, sometimes people don’t pay what they owe. The government then turns the debt over to a collection agency—which is often a nonprofit group that helps to resettle refugees.

There are currently nine faith-based resettlement agencies that have debt-collection operations. All of them charge the same rate as private-sector debt collectors: 25 percent of all they recoup for the government.

Is it unethical for faith-based groups to collect debts on a group they are dedicated to serve? Some people think so and consider the collections a conflict of interest. As G. Jeffrey Macdonald of Religion News Service writes,
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sharing“There are solid grounds for believing that the first Christian believers practiced a form of communism and usufruct [i.e., the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance],” wrote Peter Marshall in Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. As evidence Marshall cites the second chapter of the book of Acts:

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. (Acts 2:44-47, ESV)

Marshall is (mostly) correct. The early Christians did engage in a form of voluntary usufruct and wealth redistribution. Since then, many Christians have asked why we don’t follow that sort of proto-communist model today. If the economic system was good enough for the apostles, why isn’t it good enough for modern society?

A hint at why the system is not longer used is found in the verse that immediately follows the passage cited above:

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himmel_actonBiographers suffer from a myriad of temptations. Gertrude Himmelfarb, in her bibliography to the newly republished Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics, recalls how Acton’s first biographer, Ulrich Noack struggled mightily to reconcile contradictions and tensions in Acton’s thought and in doing so lost much of the man himself. Later, Monsignor David Mathew succumbed to the opposite temptation of frequently digressing into trivialities and going off on tangents and as a result losing Acton in the great sea of nineteenth century Catholicism. Himmelfarb’s Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics is one of those rare biographies which manage to thread the needle. It is an intellectual biography which limits itself to the main threads of Acton’s thought as a historian, a Catholic, and a Classical Liberal.

As a historian Acton is brilliant but his work is often inaccessible to the general public. It is buried in collections of lectures, obscure periodicals, personal correspondence, and unpublished notes. By the time he was 40 years old …

He had mastered a variety of disciplines related to the history of politics, culture, ideas and religion. His style combined the sharp, colourful writing, the sense of immediacy and timeliness, of the informal essay, with the precision (degenerating occasionally into pedantry) and the susceptibility for the ancient and the universal of academic history. In addition to some 400 reviews and short articles, he had already published or delivered in the form of lectures the equivalent of almost 1,000 pages of serious essays ranging in subject from the early Christian Church to the American Civil War and the Italian Revolution.

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Blog author: jsunde
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
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colson-way-owen-strachan“I’ve done my best to popularize Kuyper, because that’s what’s so desperately needed in Western civilization today: a looking at all of life through God’s eyes.” –Chuck Colson

Given the recent release of Abraham Kuyper’s 12-volume collection of works in public theology, it’s worth noting his influence on modern-day shapers of Christian thought and action.

From Francis Schaeffer to Cornelius Van Til to Alvin Plantinga, Kuyper’s works have expanded the cultural imaginations of many. Another devotee was the late Chuck Colson, author, founder of Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint, and past recipient of Acton’s Faith and Freedom Award.

In The Colson Way, Owen Strachan’s new book on Colson’s model and enduring influence, we learn how Kuyper’s works had a profound impact on Colson’s perspective (joined by the likes of Wilberforce, Carl F.H. Henry, and Schaeffer).

In the late 1970s, Michael Cromartie (at that time, on Colson’s staff) introduced him to the “reformed  world-and-live view,” reconciling the City of God with the City of Man.

“In this tradition,” Strachan writes, “Colson found the theological orientation he craved”:
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