Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, May 30, 2013
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Does the Book of Acts Command Socialism?
Art Lindsley, The Gospel Coalition

Does Acts 2-5 really command socialism? A quick reading of these chapters might make it seem so.

Pope Francis’ affinity for liberation theology — wait, what?
Mollie Hemingway, Get Religion

Pope Francis’ “affinity” for liberation theology”? He sure has a curious way of showing that affinity, no?

Christian schools seen for cultural impact
Erin Roach, Baptist Press

When you think about it, a kid is in school 2,100 minutes a week and he’s in church maybe 120 minutes a week. If he’s getting any discipling at home, it isn’t much and it certainly doesn’t compare to the discipling he’s getting in a secular school. And 90 percent of our children attend a secular school,” he said.

Political common goods are of a fixed size
James Chastek, Just Thomism

One factor that continually gets overlooked in these debates is that the size and degree of complexity of the thing you call “government” has an essential role to play in the question, since governments – at least those that are political common goods – are of a fixed size.

At Aletetia, John Zmirak gives an interesting treatment of “solidarity”, a word we don’t talk about too much, either in government, philosophy or theology. However, as Zmirak points out, without solidarity, “tyranny creeps in.”

The central principle of solidarity in practice is simple and timeless – the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This ethical maxim, which Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, exists in some form in every culture on earth – as C. S. Lewis documented in The Abolition of Man, where he called it the Tao. It is so ubiquitous that it’s easy for us to assume that it’s universally accepted – at least in theory – while far too rarely practiced.

But in fact, things are darker than that. We have another maxim, which crept into Western souls via “worldly philosophers” such as Machiavelli and Hobbes – the principle of the “consenting adult.” Any time someone uses this phrase, he is saying (under his breath) that none of us is the least bit responsible for each other. If folks make stupid choices, that’s not our problem. Even if we are the ones who tempted them to make such a choice – if we have exploited them personally, economically, or sexually – we are still scot-free: “She was a consenting adult;” “That schmuck should have known better,” we tell ourselves, and smirk.

Instead of an ethic that rests on reciprocity, on admitting the unique value of every person because he’s a fellow human, we treasure a heartless, pragmatic ethos that shrugs at suffering and confusion, a Darwinian willingness to pounce on our neighbor’s mistakes. So “consenting adults” work in sweatshops overseas making our iPads, or sweat before cameras enacting our porn, or wake up alone in the bed where we’ve left them when we were finished with our desires. No individual rights were violated, no crime was committed or contract broken – so the modern secular conscience has nothing meaningful to say.

Solidarity is not a power relationship, but one based on justice and love, Zmirak says. It is certainly not socialism, either; it is, rather, a term borrowed from Catholic Social Teaching that allows a community of people to bond, to live together with concern for each other’s needs, regardless of what the government is up to.

Read “The Deadly Myth of the ‘Consenting Adult’ ” at Aleteia.org.

Catholic Bishop Mario Toso, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says “intolerance and discrimination against Christians have not diminished” but increased, despite more crucifix-europeattention to the problem.

There are many areas where intolerance against Christians can clearly be seen, but two stand out as being particularly relevant at present.

The first is intolerance against Christian speech. In recent years there has been a significant increase in incidents involving Christians who have been arrested and even prosecuted, for speaking on Christian issues. Religious leaders are threatened with police action after preaching about sinful behavior and some are even sentenced to prison for preaching on the biblical teaching against sexual immorality. Even private conversations between citizens, including expression of opinions on social network, can become the grounds of a criminal complaint, or at least intolerance, in many European countries.

The second area where intolerance against Christians can clearly be seen is in regard to Christian conscience, particularly in the workplace. Throughout Europe there have been numerous instances of Christians being removed from the workplace simply for seeking to act according to their conscience. Some of them are well known since they have come even before the European Court of Human Rights.

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Isn’t it time that young evangelicals reject economics lessons from “the well-intentioned 38-year-old alum who is super liberal and carries clout with the student body because he listens to the same music as the kids he works with”? R.J. Moeller thinks so, and laments “the staggering lack of serious thought, inquiry, and comprehension regarding basic economic concepts – many that plainly cry out from the pages of Scripture – among not only the average church-going Christian, but the influential voices in pulpits across the nation.” says Moeller in this week’s Acton Commentary. The full text of his essay follows. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

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PentecostOver at First Things, Peter Leithart uses the occasion of Pentecost as a launching pad for highlighting the primary theme of his latest book: “The West has been busy building neo-Babel” and the time is ripe for repentance and revival:

We’ve dispensed with the effort to connect heaven and earth, since up above it’s only galaxies. But we share the other aspirations of Babel, as well as Babel’s humanist orientation. Classes and ethnicities can be synchronized, we think, without divine assistance. No need for a Holy Spirit to baptize into one body. We can create a universal language without the gift of tongues. The family resemblance between liberal virtues and the fruits of the Spirit is not an accident. It’s a heresy worthy of Flannery O’Connor: Hazel Motes invented the “Holy Church of Christ without Christ”; the Enlightenment created Pentecostalism without the Spirit.

The experiment has gone relatively well for some time, but the project is fraying. To many among our elites, Enlightenment universalism has been unmasked as nothing more than an effete form of tribalism. Secular defenses of liberal tolerance collapse into incoherence. And alongside these theoretical challenges is the immense practical problem of harmonizing the spirits of the myriad subcultures that occupy the West. I don’t need to repeat the litany of multicultural challenges yet again. Everyone knows that it’s an open question whether we have the intellectual and moral resources to sustain the experiment in secular Pentecostalism much longer. Like other Babels, this one will eventually crumble and its denizens will scatter.

Without the Spirit, such an “experiment in secular Pentecostalism,” will never flourish in that peculiar harmony so characteristic of the upper room and the transformation thereafter — diverse and unified, spontaneous yet ordered. “The Church has only one antidote to Babel,” Leithart writes: “the anti-Babel and fulfilled Babel of Pentecost.” The solution, according to Leithart, is to nurture a rightly aligned, wholly devoted, and thoroughly spiritual “Pentecostal Enlightenment.” (more…)

The Calvinist International recently interviewed Allan Carlson, author of Third Ways: How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen Created Family-Centered Economies – And Why They Disappeared

Could you tell us a bit about your view of how the Dutch polymath Abraham Kuyper influences your project?

I came across Abraham Kuyper fairly late, but was delighted to discover such a strong communitarianism within the modern Reformed/Calvinist tradition. Calvinism has too often been associated, of late, with individualism, modernism, and capitalism. Such “isms” certainly do not fit Calvin’s Geneva nor 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts. Kuyper’s warnings about “the power of capital” and the ways in which Commercialism undermines family bonds translate the authentic Calvinist socio-political heritage into modern circumstances. I also love the name of his political association: The Anti-Revolutionary Party. It drives home the point that all Christians—not just Roman Catholics—were threatened by the Jacobins of 1789.
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We are looking forward to Acton University, and if you’re registered and accepted, we hope you are, too. Here are five(ish) things to know about attending ActonU:Acton PG

  1. Download the app. It has maps, schedules, and loads of helpful information.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes. Devos Place is beautiful and large, so you’ll be doing your fair share of walking. With that in mind….
  3. Enjoy Grand Rapids! If you have a day (or two) at either end of your ActonU schedule, take some time to enjoy our beautiful city.
  4. Brush up on geography: we are expecting attendees from over 75 countries this year. Your dinner companion could be from Dubuque, Denmark or the Dominican Republic.
  5. Win a Kindle Fire! On Exhibit Day (Thursday, May 20), you’ll have a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Look for details in your welcome bag.

Oh, and one more thing: get ready to add #ActonU to your tweets, your Facebook, and all your social media! We love the chatter!