ONE UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH? BUT UNDER WHOM?

Mark 9:38-41 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

What was Jesus warning His disciples against? Was it sectarianism? Not exactly. Why were Jesus’ disciples trying to stop this fellow? He was working in Jesus’ name, but he was not part of the group. What Jesus made clear to His disciples was that following Him was what mattered, not the group.

When I first realized that the Bible actually is the Word of God, I was guilty of what Jesus’ disciples had done. Because my parents raised me as a Catholic, I angrily blamed Catholic Church for not making a greater effort to encourage Bible study. I blamed the Catholic Church for all those years I had not known my Savior. Later, after I had calmed down, I admitted I really had no one to blame except myself. I could point the finger of blame at multiple actors, but the choice not to study the Bible more carefully had been mine, just as it was when I finally took that step.

What is the function of a church? The church markets the Gospel. The church exists to baptize new converts and teach its membership about the Gospel so that we can live it and tell others about Jesus. The church exists to fulfill the great commission.

Matthew 28:16-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Great Commission

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Do all Christians have to be members of the same Christian organization? If we are Christians and we recognize the authority of Jesus, then we belong to His church. We may be members of a different human-run organizations, but we all belong to Him.

Would it be better if all Christians belonged to the same human-run organization? History suggests not. Consider what happened during the Protestant Reformation. Because the Roman Catholic Church had succeeded in gathering political power to itself, the Catholic Church had become monopolistic. It would not tolerate competition. Instead, the Catholic Church persecuted those who preached in Jesus’ name without the church’s authority. That was contrary to what Jesus taught in Mark 9:38-41.

What about today? Today each of the different Christian sects, including the Roman Catholic Church, peacefully compete to demonstrate that their church preaches the authentic word of Christ. In addition, each Christian sect competes to find the most effective way to market the Gospel and encourage its membership to live as the Bible teaches. Therefore, so long as we don’t persecute each other, this competition can be quite healthy.

As Christians, we need both to give out the Gospel and to receive it. Jesus does not want us to passively attend a church. He tasked each of us to do our best to tell the lost about the Gospel. He told us to fellowship and worship Him with other Christians. Therefore, we each need to look for a church home that helps us to do what He told us to do.

No church, however, will be perfect. Therefore, we must each strive to make Jesus’ Church better through fellowship with other Christians. We can do that by working with other Christians in our church home, with the people we have chosen to celebrate our share in Jesus Christ.

What about the fact that non-Christians condemn us for our divisions into different organizations, each with differing interpretations of what Jesus taught? How do we respond? We point to our Lord said, of course.

Philippians 1:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Here in this life we do His work as best we can. Because of Him, we live more joyfully than we might otherwise, but we are not perfect. Fortunately, He is not done with us.

46 thoughts on “ONE UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH? BUT UNDER WHOM?

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  1. Amen, Tom. Competition,diversity, conflict even, can all be healthy and good things. Non believers will sometimes accuse, “there’s 150 denominations, you guys all believe in something different.” It isn’t true at all, the core essence of our beliefs remains the same. Our worship styles and our focus can be varied, but the Cornerstone, the foundation is the same.

    Chuckling, because I can get myself into all kinds of schism trouble here, but even Catholics and protestants share the same Lord and Savior.

    Your post kind of reminded me of Barnabas and Paul, they had a disagreement of some sort and went their separate ways,but in that process, the early church spread twice as fast. Sometimes I ponder what would have happened if they had gone out together, only covering half the territory, no Timothy, several books not written in the bible. How different would the story be? Even our divisions within the church can serve a vital purpose.

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  2. I’m not really disagreeing here with what you wrote. I just think that the reasons for the breakup of the Christianity are very complex just as the reasons for anything so profound to history has multifarious reasons. And it is well beyond my expertise to claim a legitimate opinion anyway. That said, have you considered that the Church was actually in a constant state of rejuvenation and reform even before the Reformation? Just look at the lives of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Abalard, and St. Anselm. The founding of the many different orders from the Franciscans to the Jesuits was also a manner of reform and a pressure on the church hierarchy to remain more loyal to its early Christian roots. Also look at the First Council of Nicaea. I’m not saying that the Reformation did not have a reformative effect on Christianity and ultimately on the Catholic Church (the Council of Trent and ultimately the Second Vatican Council are examples that come to mind), but I wonder if the constant fragmenting of the Body of Christ into competing factions (not to mention terrible violence of the Inquisition and the Reformation Wars) may have done more damage to the spread of Christianity than it did good. I don’t claim to know, but if the competition started by the Reformation really was such a good thing for Christianity, why is it dying in so much of the West, including the US (although a perhaps little less so here), especially with you city people?

    I wonder if the most corrupting effect on the Catholic Church was because it mixed too much with government. This was solved basically by the Peace of Westphalia which ultimately lead to Western separation of Church and State, not really directly by the institutional theological reforms of Martin Luther and other Protestant leaders, although it’s hard to argue that it was not all related.

    But what do I know? Im no expert on any of this.

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    1. @tsalmon

      Was Catholic Church in a constant state of rejuvenation and reform even before the Reformation? There are always people trying to reform the Church. There are also always people trying block reform. The Protestant Reformation is significant because it broke the domination of the papacy and allowed reform. Because the Roman Catholic Church had had a string of corrupt popes, there was a dire need for reform.

      Throughout its history, the Christian Church has experienced schisms and periods of reform. The Protestant Reformation stands out as a period where the organized church splintered for the sake of reform.

      Earlier schisms probably took place primarily for political reasons and because of doctrinal differences that were never resolved. We don’t hear much about these because the Eastern Orthodox Church has relatively little representation in this country, and because where it gained control Islam smothered the Christian Churches. As it happens those Christian churches tended to be the first formed.

      Why is the Christian Church dying in the West? To pass on our heritage to our children, we must teach it to them. We are not doing that. Government and Christianity are competitors. I think that’s why the Bible has so much to say about government. We have to have government, but we have to restrain its power. That’s why you hear this passage so often.

      Matthew 22:15-22 New King James Version (NKJV)
      The Pharisees: Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar?

      15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

      18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”

      So they brought Him a denarius.

      20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

      21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

      And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

      To satisfy their egos, some government leaders will always want from us things we should only give to God.

      We should avoid giving our children to government to educate. Education is primarily a religious matter, not preparation for a job.

      Without proper instruction in virtue, educating people is dangerous. Consider the problem of gun control. Would you give a small child a weapon? Of course not. The child would lack both a technical understanding of the weapon and the moral responsibilities that come with it.

      What about young person that has never been instructed in virtue? Is it sufficient to make certain that person has a technical understanding of a gun before giving them a gun? No. Yet government-run schools never provide rigorous instruction in virtue.

      Who is responsible for teaching children to be virtuous? Parents have that obligation. The Bible says Christians parents must instruct their children on about the Bible so that their children can form a personal relationship with the Savior.

      Why won’t government officials do a decent job of teaching children to be virtuous? Too many of our leaders want us to look to them for solutions instead of God. Hence these teach the virtues of government, not about the importance of being personally virtuous.That’s is why public education secularizes society. Instead of teaching children that the Bible made what we call Western Civilization possible, the public school system teaches children that religion (including Christianity) starts wars.

      Did the Peace of Westphalia solve the problem, separate church and state? No. What happened instead? Before the Catholic Church had tried to control European governments, Afterwards European states gained control over religious institutions in their countries. Hence the Christian churches in Europe have suffered as one might expect, similar to what we see in this country only worse.

      Anyway, that’s my two cents.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Like I said it would be hard to argue that corruption in the Catholic Church and the Reformation were not related. The question I wonder about, however, is how much of the Reformation was motivated by various monarchical regimes wanting to use the issue to rid themselves of the power of the clergy and consolidate their own power? Martin Luther could not have gotten away with his break from the Church had he not enjoyed the protection of Prussian princes. Henry the Eighth broke with the Church and started his own less on doctrinal grounds than because the Church would not give him a divorce. It seems to me that the corrupting influence to Christianity was when it took control of state power, and Christianity became less voluntary and more state coerced. This was hardly solved by the Reformation, at least at first, because Protestantism did not actually separate Church from state, but just gave the coercive authority of an enforced Protestant religion to the local monarch instead of it being centralized in Rome. Examples of Protestant movements being corrupted by the tyranny of becoming the State religion are legion don’t you think? This corruption in the Body of Christ on Earth that is Christianity, IMHO, was not really resolved by the Reformation’s theological concepts but only when Christiandome and State were separated from each other.

        As for public schools, While I sympathize with your view that rational secularism does not provide any real foundation for morality, don’t you think that blaming all the ills of the world on public education is a bit reductionist? Have you considered that when every Tom, Dick and Harriet decided that he, instead of Christ and his Church on Earth could be his own stand alone moral authority that our common and universal morality might have begun to shatter? This moral shattering into endless pieces began long before public schools and the moral groundlessness of public schools may be the result, but don’t you think you inflate their importance if you make public schools the sole cause?

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        1. @tsalmon

          When the pope exercised political power over the state to further the aims of Catholicism, that created a problem for religious freedom. When various monarchical regimes abused their power to exercise control over religious institutions and practices that also created a problem for religious freedom. Fortunately, much of history consists of the stories of the rivalries between various powerful people. When Martin Luther started defying Catholic authorities, he survived only because those Catholic authorities had rivals, and those rivals assisted him at least in part to serve their own ends. Well intended or not, the help those various monarchical regimes gave to Protestants enabled the Reformation.

          What problem did the Protestant Reformation solve? I think this post addresses that. What this post does not address is difference between what government can rightfully demand from us versus what we have the right to withhold for religious reasons. That is a separate issue raised by your question.

          I don’t claim to know, but if the competition started by the Reformation really was such a good thing for Christianity, why is it dying in so much of the West, including the US (although a perhaps little less so here), especially with you city people?

          Because the primary task of education is teaching our children how to be virtuous, government does not properly have the authority to tell us how to educate our children. Of course, if a parent refuses to educate a child, that is child abuse, but when the government demands nearly complete control over the curriculum that is a usurpation of parental authority, and that is the situation we have in this country.

          Have you considered that when every Tom, Dick and Harriet decided that he, instead of Christ and his Church on Earth could be his own stand alone moral authority that our common and universal morality might have begun to shatter?

          That is not a new question. When Protestant Reformers started having the Bible printed German, English, and so forth, their Catholic opponents warned that that would effectively allow everyone to be their own stand alone moral authority based upon how they had interpreted scripture. Yet that did not turn out to be an especially huge problem. Why? It has to do with how we each form our conscience. See => https://citizentom.com/2010/02/28/an-occasion-for-a-humbling-comparison/.

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  3. I prefer this definition of church.

    https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=32533

    My personal opinion would be for everyone all Christians to just band together under the Pope.
    However, I now believe there might be some divine purpose for all the different cultural belief in different deities.

    Perhaps it is because of the human failings of historical church leaders that it may be better to have religious competition to provide followers an option to change sources in a similar manner as a purchasing agent might do when a present source fails him as Jesus seems to warn us in your verses on this post.

    Again, King Solomon proverb, Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. (Proverb 14:24), can be considered for your question.

    In other words, which Church serves best the assemblies of their followers to righteousness.

    Problem is we have Islam writings that condone killings in the name of a God to promote their religion.Until those writings are deleted from the Koran, In my opinion, Islam is a political entity rather than a religion.

    I’m no religious theologian specialist about other deities to comment. I can only comment on the Roman Catholic, or Christian beliefs that prohibit killing humans.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. perhaps what we see is almost the body of a living, breathing, changing entity…
    in a constant state of flux or change…. yet one that is precise and rooted…a conundrum of an oxymoron that is truly impossible to define and label….
    but what is the Church?
    The Bride of Christ.

    Francis was dismayed by the church yet God told him to repair it—bless his heart, he thought God meant literally, then he figured it out…and lived to witness it morphing and changing even from his own hands of change…

    I’ve got tomorrow’s post ready and there is some wisdom from our friend the Wee Flea—
    So many of us, the faithful today, are throwing our hands up as we don’t know what to make of all the “change” and the growing pains and the transitions—we’re wanting to run and hide, or run and find something else, something new to start over with, or we’re simply hanging our heads lamenting “Oh Lord, how much longer…?”
    We don’t like what we see…so we ask, do we not like the Church…and most will probably answer, no, I don’t like what I see or what I “know”—
    Yet Jesus loves the Church, he died for that Church….

    So maybe that is the battle cry…the Church is calling us back—those of us who rile against the Church of Culture, the Church that is conforming to a world gone mad…we need to steer her course back to her roots….

    Just thinking out loud Tom…..

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  5. “When sheep can choose their shepherd, shepherds tend to behave better. Jesus, of course, is always the Good Shepherd.”

    I know that you and PA meant this lightheartedly, however, it may be worth by historical standards, the choosing of the Pope is remarkably democratic, not that different from the democratic patronage system where leaders where chosen and leadership positions were swapped around only among elites. Just a thought.

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  6. Outstanding post, Tom! And while the church you grew up in was imperfect, it certainly cultivated your heart and love for God… just as Jesus points out in the passage you quote. And that is something to be thankful for! God bless you big time, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Well intended or not, the help those various monarchical regimes gave to Protestants enabled the Reformation.”

    Agreed, but as I said, it did not really resolve the real issue of the corruption of institutional Christianity which derived from the use of state force to coerce belief. And one could argue that it actually exacerbated the problem.

    We went from one church having too much state coercion to multiple states warring with each other to coerce a growing number of Christian denominations upon their citizenry and upon the citizenry of neighboring states. Yes, the Reformation was “enabled” (I would say “promoted”) by governments to consolidate the power of princes, but at what price?

    Reportedly, between 1/4 and 1/3 of the population of Europe was killed in these endless wars. And this murdering of each other was done in the name of Christ? Was it worth it? Would separation of church and state have happened anyway as Rulers figured out other ways to limit the political power of the Catholic Church? When that separation happened, could the Catholic Church have done anything to stop Bibles from being printed? Access to the Bible by only educated clergy who spread the Word to often illiterate congregations goes back to the 1st Century? Wouldn’t greater literacy and the printing press have naturally changed the Church even if the Reformation never happened?

    I don’t claim to know the answer to these questions, and perhaps it doesn’t matter at this point as those wars are over and those dead are buried, but given the cost, I find it hard to view the Reformation as strictly a good thing.

    I’m not arguing that we all do not have a right and even a responsibility to read Scripture, but don’t you think that it makes sense to trust authority and traditions that go back thousands of years to the time of Christ when we look for doctrine and theology. At this point, the actual doctrinal differences that sparked the Reformation seem rather insignificant (if they exist at all) for all the continuing splintering of the Christian communion that has gone on, but still Christianity keeps fracturing into more and more denominations.

    It’s no wonder young people don’t trust our message when we can’t even get together under the same banner and leadership to say what that universal message is. How much of our rejection of a single Christian communion really has to do with a glorification of our own opinions and a childish rejection of all authority, other than each our own almighty selves? Are all interpretations of Scripture really equally valid? Did Jesus envision a central leadership when he built his Church upon the rock that was Peter? Metaphorically, was Christianity really meant to be an individual sport or a team sport that requires leadership and fellowship just as much as personal revelation and a personal commitment?

    Finally, what are root causes of the modern rise of this selfish and prideful glorification of the individual? I may be wrong, but I wonder if this emotivism is what really has resulted in the neglect of universal virtues and the West’s turning away from Christianity. And I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that it’s the public school system? If only it were that simple. Like the fracturing of Christianity, whatever is taught or not taught in public school is a result of larger, deeper and older social dynamics and not a cause. If the schools are not teaching children to honor the universal virtues that come from unselfish an love of service to the community, its because we as a society don’t honor these virtues any more, and blaming the schools or government in general is like cutting off your hands because they keep pulling the hands of slot machines.

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    1. @tsalmon

      Nothing we do ever completely solves anything. We spend too much effort pulling each other in different directions, and some of us always want to go the wrong way.

      Therefore, at the same time some people started trying to tame the papal autocracy others were building up the power of the state to control religious belief. So it goes. Does that mean it was wrong to limit the political powers of the pope? Or does it mean we also need to limit the powers of the state?

      At this point, the actual doctrinal differences that sparked the Reformation seem rather insignificant (if they exist at all) for all the continuing splintering of the Christian communion that has gone on, but still Christianity keeps fracturing into more and more denominations.

      How significant are the doctrinal differences that sparked the Reformation? This is an issue that people need to decide for themselves. I think the doctrinal difference are significant, but I still regard Catholics as Christians.

      It’s no wonder young people don’t trust our message when we can’t even get together under the same banner and leadership to say what that universal message is.

      People always squabble. Is there anything people don’t squabble about?

      The more we make it about us instead of Him the more we squabble.

      Because it is not about Him, I don’t think Christian communion should be our objective. What I think Christianity is about is becoming One with God. This is a personal problem, not a problem we can fix by fixing someone else.

      When we are all One with Him, then we will have communion with each other. Since it seems some people will end up in Hell, I doubt we will ever have communion with everyone. However, when all Christians achieve communion with Him, we will have communion with each other. Until then, there will be divisions between Christians.

      Is the selfish and prideful glorification of the individual in modern times all due to the public school system? No. That would be an overstatement. We also have no way of measuring such things. So even if were, so I have no way of being absolutely certain about it.

      What is true? Because God has His image on each of us, we belong to Him, not the state. As citizens, we do not have the right to use government power to demand that other people educate their children our way, but that is exactly what is happening.

      The fact that our glorious leaders educate us all the same way may (or may not) lead to uniformity of thought, but why should that be the goal of education? As it is, what I think happens is that some people buy into the doctrines peddled by the public schools and others (like myself) just see it as an undesirable and hateful abuse of power. When private schools work just fine, what is the point of pressuring parents to use public schools? How is such divisiveness helpful? What is the point of infringing upon the rights of parents when it is not even needful?

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      1. “ I think the doctrinal difference are significant, but I still regard Catholics as Christians.”

        This is interesting. Please provide examples, why do you really think they are significant and whether or not the denominations have gotten together to resolve differences in doctrinal theology.

        “The more we make it about us instead of Him the more we squabble.”

        This is exactly why I think we agree more than we disagree on the core problem, if not on simplistic solutions.

        I know that you may try to shoot the messenger here rather than deal with the message’s truth, but this editorial seems pertinent to this discussion so I hope that you will at least give it a look:

        https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/opinion/the-retreat-to-tribalism.html?referer=https://www.google.com/

        Brooks has been on quite the journey lately to find the core of the problems that are pulling Americans who have always shared certain universal values into warring enemy camps where us-against-them battle lines are drawn. His comments apply to so-called liberals as well as so-called conservatives. (I don’t think that these labels really have much meaning any more as radical and conservative are antonyms, and liberal and institutionally traditionalist seem counterintuitive). I hope you’ll give it a read without a presupposition to be dismissive. I’m not smart enough and possibly say this as well as Brooks does.

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        1. @tsalmon

          I am not interested in debating the differences between Protestant and Catholic theology. If you want to look up the beliefs of people like Martin Luther and John Calvin, it is easy enough.

          So you linked to pseudo Conservative David Brooks again? Picture a morose expression, some sighing, and some head shaking.

          Individualism is one those words that has been so abused it means anything someone wants to mean.

          An individual is simply a unique person. What is individualism? An ideology? Not really. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individualism. Brooks’ use of the word confuses more than it informs. What Brooks means by it is selfishness, but he is so “sophisticated” he uses “individualism” instead.

          What is a republic about? Why do we need one? It is because we don’t all think the same way about everything. Is there some reason why we must?

          Because we are a society of composed individuals, not tribes, we have a republic to protect individual rights, not tribal rights.

          Why do we think individual rights are important? We protect individual rights so that each of us can serve God as we each see fit.

          Is tribalism a problem? In our country? No. Again, Brooks is using the wrong word. The only tribes left in this country are Indian tribes on reservations. The right word is “faction”, and identity politics is just the latest iteration of factional politics.

          I think have referred you to this post before => https://citizentom.com/2008/04/22/the-advantage-of-a-republic-over-a-democracy/. Am I doing so out of individualism? Sort of. I am asking you to break with the factions you support. I am asking you to leave other people in peace. Stop using government power trying to force others to believe what you believe. Stop using government power trying to force others to spend their earnings in conformance with your beliefs. It is not right.

          You believe in the great government collective in the sky? Okay, but not everyone else does. Lots of us think government-run charities create more problems than they solve. That’s not selfishness speaking. It is simply pointing out what people have known for centuries. Power corrupts. When we give our leaders the power to redistribute the wealth, we have given them the power to enslave us. Sooner or latter, every nanny state becomes a tyranny. Look a Venezuela. Sometimes it happens relatively quickly. Sometimes slowly. That depends upon the success of the people fighting it.

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  8. Tsalmon

    You stated,” If the schools are not teaching children to honor the universal virtues that come from unselfish an love of service to the community, its because we as a society don’t honor these virtues any more, and blaming the schools or government in general is like cutting off your hands because they keep pulling the hands of slot machines.”

    What community? The political community in the USA? The Stalin, Nazi, etc past despot communities in history?

    What you fail to grasp in my opinion, is the community of God has prevailed since Jesus Christ.

    The reason, it has not failed is because Christian believers have taught their children the Christian beliefs while they were young.

    The killings that resulted from the Protestant Reformation were not the result of Christ teachings, it was the result of human failures to follow Christ’s teachings.

    The Christian community is the community of Christ, not man.

    Teaching virtues in secular schools is not teaching Christian virtues.

    It is the USA government taking over schools and placing such a high tax burden on citizens to support secular schools that citizens cannot afford to support or send their children to their choice of religious schools that is the root cause of “the West’s turning, or is it teachings, of Christian unselfish love to community.

    In the USA, school vouchers will help restore Christian values, which are superior to “universal” secular government taught values, which we see and read about the results everyday in the news.

    If interested in a more detailed explanation on excessive taxation for public schools, read this link.

    https://rudymartinka.com/2017/08/14/king-solomon-political-rape-of-millennials-post-six/

    Regards and goodwill blogging..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @scatterwisdom

      I agreed with everything you wrote up until this:

      “Teaching virtues in secular schools is not teaching Christian virtues.”

      Virtues are virtues. Virtues predate the time of Jesus just as God (and Jesus for that matter) predates any given time of man. The Pagan Aristotle explained virtue and St. Thomas Aquinas expanded and applied Aristotle to Christianity but neither invented virtue – God invented virtue. Because God invented the virtues don’t you think they are universal to all men and women? Even non-Christians understand and revere courage, prudence, hope, charity, etc.

      Virtues come from God, and like God, they exist whether one believes in God or not. As such, one can try to practice virtue and disdain vice even if he does not believe in God (although I would argue that that person lacks any foundation for his practice).

      As God incarnate, Christians believe that Jesus is the highest manifestation and expression of the virtues of all men that ever lived or ever will live. Jesus is a beacon of a light that has always been and always will be in the hearts of men and women.

      All the virtues are ultimately an expression of unselfish love, just as all the vices are ultimately an expression of selfishness. Think about that. Are not pride, greed, etc. all at their core, just different expressions of acting selfishly? When a person acts with any virtue, at its core, isn’t that person acting with with an unselfishness that comes from love? Indeed, if a virtuous act is not done out of the unselfishness of love, is it really even very virtuous? I can’t see how, can you?

      We are in the era where selfish individualism is revered with a higher regard than unselfish virtue. Even purported Christians worship materialism – the vice of greed is now considered good. Winning is more important than how one won. Service is considered for suckers. In our inflated pride, we don’t respect knowledge and authority. All opinions are considered as valid as all others. Our businesses, our government, our schools, even many of our churches are all just our own modern worship of selfish individualism and emotivism. Do you seriously think school vouchers will solve this problem? Do you really think that community secular public schools are at the core of this problem of selfish individualism?

      Perhaps you are an expert on the history and systemics of education. Perhaps you’ve worked in the field of community based schools your whole life. I am not an expert but I owe most of the value that I have been able to contribute to society to the contributions of taxpayers. I feel grateful for that opportunity and am concerned that other poor kids will not have these opportunities to contribute to society. That’s about all the opinion I have on that issue, and because I don’t know much more than that about community education, you should probably regard that opinion with that ignorance in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tsalmon, you stated

        “I agreed with everything you wrote up until this:
        “Teaching virtues in secular schools is not teaching Christian virtues.”

        Why would you disagree when our secular inspired Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment from ……

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;……

        to mean that it is illegal to teach Christian, or any other religious virtues and morals in a public school.

        In other words, the Supreme Court has in my opinion, by secular interpretation, “prohibited religion instead of respecting” the original intention of the First Amendment.

        No way or form, is separation of state and religion written in the First Amendment. It is a flawed interpretation in my opinion.

        An example of the present results of government teaching virtue and morals in Chicago Public Schools, it has been an abysmal failure based on the news I read every day of the violence in Chicago.

        There is a veil of secular interpretations covering up the First Amendment in regards to religion, in my opinion. Perhaps someday, starting with school vouchers, our politicians will remove the veil in time.

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Excellent comments you replied to Tsalmon in my opinion. I especially admire how you linked “give to” Caesar what is Caesars” in your logic.

          Now if only we could convince another 100 million more secularists ……..?

          Regards and goodwill blogging.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. @anon wrote:

          “Why would you disagree when our secular inspired Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment from ……
          “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;……
          to mean that it is illegal to teach Christian, or any other religious virtues and morals in a public school.“

          As I said, the virtues come from God and existed before there were Christians. As such, people taught their children virtues even before there were Christians.

          I understand and empathize with the problem, however. You are concerned that, if schools teach virtues without mentioning God or Jesus, then the teaching lacks its true foundation. Why should children believe what they are taught about virtue when teachers cannot reveal the logical and natural core for that belief, namely God?

          I don’t have an easy answer to this question? I don’t think that there is one, but instead, like the 1st Amendment, it calls for balance and compromise between competing goals.

          Like I said, I have no expertise on education, but I, as an attorney, I have some small knowledge of the Constitution. Have you ever thought about the fact that the two religious clauses of the 1st Amendment exist in conflict with one another? A government or government actor cannot promote religion, but, on the other hand, government cannot stop that individual government actor from freely practicing his religion either. How is that even possible to do both? If the teacher, as a government actor, tells her students to be good as Christ is good, then she may be unconditionally establishing a government religion in school. And if the government tries to too agressively stop the teacher, then government is infringing on her right to free practice. I think that if you actually read the Supreme Court cases and study the history of this issue, you will find that the Court has constantly and imperfectly tried to find the best balance and compromise between the 1st Amendment’s competing goals. One also has to have some understanding of how the court balances substantial public concerns against fundamental individual rights, how the 14th Amendment radically changed the Constitution, and how rights (like education) once conferred by the State must be upheld and applied constitutionally.

          Like I said, opinions are easy, knowledge is difficult. When someone tells you they have easy answers to the complex and seemingly intractable dilemmas of living in a finite, flawed and fallen world, then you can be assured that they either don’t know what they are talking about or they are conning you.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Tsalmon

          Having attended both a religious elementary school and a public high school, my comments are based on my personal experiences.

          My belief is that any religious teaching in a public school would not be taught by a public school teacher. Instead it would be taught by qualified church priests, nun, ministers, etc., when a tax paying, instead of a tuition paying requests their children attend a religious course. Similar to a parent approving their child taking a music lesson.

          However, the biggest obstacle, and failing by the Supreme Court, is that they have made rulings to separate state from religion. The problem is the Supreme Court has no legal definition of what is a a religion.

          You being a lawyer, how can that be? How can a judge make a decision about religion without a legal definition of what religion entails, good or bad?

          Regards and goodwill blogging.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. What is a religion? Is Nazism? How about Communism? Atheism? Satanism? When the courts eliminated any preferential treatment for Christianity, they created more problems than they solved.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. @tsalmon

        Glad you at least considered what scatterwisdom had to say, but we don’t agree. Different people define what is virtuous differently.

        Consider.

        Amendment I

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        This amendment both prohibits the establishment of a state religion and the interference of the government in the free exercise of religion. Why the necessity to prohibit government interference in the free exercise of religion?

        When someone is virtuous, they are virtuous according to the behavioral practices that they think demonstrate courage, chastity, temperance, and so forth.

        Pick almost any virtue and you will find wide variations between people. Does a soldier, for example, define courage exactly the same way as a pacifist?

        In the United States we define religious tolerance as virtuous. Do all other nations share that attitude? I could go on, but I think what you are exhibiting is one of those “isms” you were taught by our state-run schools, multiculturalism. All religions are not equally true and equally valid. In fact, some we would be foolish to tolerate.

        Why do we differ about what is virtuous? Why did some people sacrifice other people to their gods? Because all people don’t believe in the same Truths, all people don’t believe in the same virtues. Different people uphold what are in fact different virtues.

        Like

  9. “Pick almost any virtue and you will find wide variations between people. Does a soldier, for example, define courage exactly the same way as a pacifist?
    In the United States we define religious tolerance as virtuous. Do all other nations share that attitude? I could go on, but I think what you are exhibiting is one of those “isms” you were taught by our state-run schools, multiculturalism. All religions are not equally true and equally valid. In fact, some we would be foolish to tolerate.”

    I dealt with most of this in my answer to IB. However, I think you are confusing the universality of virtues with the difficulties of practice. For example, courage exists on an imperfect balance between being cowardly and being foolhardy. The virtue of courage is a universal virtue to all people of all cultures of all times, but in practice, it is highly situational.

    I don’t know about multiculturalism, but I do believe in pluralism. Don’t you? I believe that Christ came to save people from all races, cultures and ethnicities. Don’t you? I believe Christianity is not exclusive to culture or tribe. It is not an identity; it is a practice of love. Don’t you believe this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @tsalmon

      Have you ever read PROTAGORAS By Plato? It is a dialogue that involves a debate between Protagoras and Socrates. The subject? Can virtue be taught?

      What virtues? They referred to them as political virtues: courage, justice, holiness, temperance, and honesty. These men reached the conclusion that virtue can be taught because knowledge of a virtue can be taught.

      Think about that. If what we think virtuous is what we have been taught and learned is virtuous, then mankind does not universally define what is virtuous the same way.

      Where then does the confusion lie?
      1. Part the issue is Socialism. Our government preaches multiculturalism for a reason. If people do not define virtue the same way, then then most parents want to teach their children what is virtuous based upon their religious beliefs. That obviously suggests that pressuring parents to have their children taught in public schools is a violation of religious freedom.
      2. Christianity has been quite successful in this nation. Therefore, most Americans tend to think of Christian virtues as virtues everyone shares, but they don’t. Chasity, for example, is a Christian virtue, but lots of Americans no longer see anything wrong with recreational sex.
      3. We all tend to form our conscience in a similar fashion. See this again => See => https://citizentom.com/2010/02/28/an-occasion-for-a-humbling-comparison/. What is not obvious to some is the importance of the company we keep. Different people will approve of different behaviors. If you are trying to teach a child to be a thief, what will you teach that child about honesty?
      4. We are each born with some kind of inherent understanding of the moral law, but what exactly is that? Whatever it is, it provides the basis for the formation of our conscience, but it is not the same as our conscience. What I think it involves is the desire to love and be loved. If we are not humble, never taught the virtue of humility, then we are very likely to love our self far more than we love anyone else. In culture, with caste systems, for example, the pride of the upper crust makes it possible for castes at the top to treat the lower castes quite abysmally. Because the North and the South differed slavery (this sort of problem), we experienced the Civil War. Effectively, the North and the South had an argument over whether or not it is virtuous to enslave blacks.

      Like

      1. I have not read Plato in a very long time. However, you seem to be agreeing that people everywhere and at all times have a universal innate sense of what is right and what is wrong. Perhaps, it is just semantic misunderstanding that you do not want to define this innate universal knowledge as virtues and vices.

        Is this innate individual and cultural knowledge of virtues and vices “learned” knowledge? Yes and no. It really comes down to questions of what is moral knowledge (in other words, knowledge of virtues and vices) and where does that knowledge come from.

        My studies in this regard and my own experience has made me realize that most moral knowledge is metaphorical. Our individual moral knowledge is the sum total of all the stories we have been told and the stories of our lives as we live and comprehend our own story. Cultural moral knowledge is the sum total of all the stories that a given cultural holds in common. .

        All stories have heroes and villains. When we each come to a moral decision point and want to do the right thing, our subconscious mind automatically searches all the stories that are stored there and our mind asks itself “What would the hero of all these stories do in a similar situation?” And “What have I and other people I admire done when trying to do the right thing in similar situations?” I’m not saying here that we do not also bring these moral decisions to the conscious cognitive level as well; I’m just saying that this metaphorical subconscious decision making is our default decision making mentality and that it is hard for us to overcome this moral default mechanism even when reason demands otherwise.

        So yes, we learn our moral knowledge culturally and from our parents through our own culture’s stories, but what is amazing is how similar are the stories and the heroes of all humans and all heroes throughout human history and between very diverse, even isolated cultures.

        The best source for data on these similarities that I have found comes Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces”. In this book, Campbell provided a compendium of cultural heroes and demonstrated that in culture after culture, throughout a history, even where these cultures were entirely separated from one another, these cultural heroes shared certain characteristics in common.

        Without going into a more long and drawn out discussion of these commonalities among cultural heroes, suffice it to say that all the heroes shared to high extent what we are calling common virtues: courage, prudence, etc., and although they might be defined differently in pagan cultures,, even a form of faith, hope and charity. The minor cultural definitional differences are easily overcome by the amazing similarities in the virtues exhibited between diverse cultures. However, in the end, no matter how we define virtues culturally, they all come from the same source. The hero acts virtuously when he acts, even sacrifices, with unselfish love. The villain demonstrates vice when he acts selfishly without love. From this, I would submit the following:

        1. God is the one true universal, and God is Love. The Love of God engenders, sustains and redeems all.

        2. Virtues derive from unselfish love that comes from a loving God just as vices derive from a selfishness that lacks that eternal and universal love. In other words, virtuous actions are a manifestation by men of God’s will for us to love.

        3. Therefore, as God is one and the same everywhere and at all times, like God’s Love, virtues are universal to all men at all time. The differences between cultures in how virtues manifest are a matter of semantics and misunderstandings. The truth of what is virtuous is always true, it has always been true, and it will always be true. It is we that are flawed in our ability to comphend this and not the truth itself that is flawed. This should give us some sense of humility in our sense of individual and cultural superiority, but it should also give us hope because the universality of virtue proves it’s truth.

        You will point out cultures that have despicable moral norms, and I will argue that you are focusing on the imperfections that come to all cultures. This does not prove that knowledge of virtue is not universal, it just proves that all cultures, just as all men, stray from what we innately (because it is the Will of God planted in our hearts) know to be true. The test is easy: just as with individual people, if a given cultural norm derives from selfishness (greed, pride, lust, etc.) it is a human aberration from the universal truth. In contrast, if a given cultural norm comes from unselfish love (service, sacrifice, courage in helping others, etc.) it is a universal virtue that serves God’s will.

        Your other argument is that different cultures and even people within our culture who are not Christians don’t practice virtue in the same way. Once again, I think you are confusing the universality of certain truths with the difficulty of applying those universal truths in practice to life in a flawed world.

        Let us take Madison’s scenario of all men being angels and always knowing the right thing to do morally, or in other words, imagine a world where all people acted with perfect virtue. However, in this analogy, also imagine that these humans were finite and imperfect in every other sense, and that they also lived in the same finite and fallen world we live in today.

        If this were the situation, there would still be difficult decisions about how to share scarce resources fairly and people would still make mistakes on how that was to be done. There would still be unintended consequences that might lead to disease and famine. There would still be natural and man made disasters? Even though their cause was innocent. The point of this analogy is that we would still have unfixable problems and make human errors even if we were morally perfect, and we are in this world all far from being morally perfect.

        Therefore, just because there are disputes and intractable dilemmas in doing the most virtuous thing does not mean that virtue is not perfect, universal and true. It just means that we are flawed and live in a fallen world that does not always allow a black and white answer all time in the practice of virtue. We will always have disputes. The main thing to remember is to act with love and we we will be doing our best to act virtuously no matter how difficult the dilemma is. I think that that is what Hod asks of us.

        Finally, I have a feeling that it will go against your grain to think that you are not making all these moral decisions cognitively and rationally, but instead on a sort of metaphorical autopilot. But you yourself have said that we are creatures of our culture, and what is a culture but a series of stories with heroes and villains. To Christians the greatest hero who ever lived is Jesus, and the greatest story ever told is His life. The whole Bible is mostly stories. Jesus often taught His greatest moral truths in His Parables, complete with heroes and villains He expects us to emulate or not emulate. Because these stories are so ingrained in our culture, are you really surprised to we might automatically and subconscious make moral decisions in reference to them?

        A good bit of wisdom, it seems to me, is knowing ourselves. I’m not saying we can ever know ourselves perfectly, but it would only be pride that would keep us from realizing that much of our actual decision making is not cognitively at the rational level and that we don’t always completely understand our own motivations. Another part of wisdom after we of come to some self knowledge is figuring out what that motivation is and perhaps sometimes overcoming it in that knowledge. We have to know our mind to change our mind, and to grow from that change.

        Like

        1. @tsalmon

          Joseph Campbell again? Well, I did not think you had given up on that yet.
          😦

          Perhaps, it is just semantic misunderstanding that you do not want to define this innate universal knowledge as virtues and vices.

          Philosophy is about logic, not semantics.

          What are you doing? You are taking a conclusion and selecting only those facts that support your conclusion. That is not logical.

          What do you want to do with Nazism, Communism, the numerous religions that practiced human sacrifice, and so forth. Just ignore all that? Such tyranny is so normal you cannot logically do that. Even in this nation we sacrifice the unborn in a million abortions a year, and lots of people think that no big deal. In fact, they harvest the organs.

          Because of Christianity, our world looks very different than it might otherwise. See what Jesus did => https://citizentom.com/2017/03/30/who-is-this-man-by-john-ortberg-part-7/. Consider what our lives might be like if Jesus had not lived, died, and been resurrected from the dead 2,000 years ago.

          Like

  10. @scatterwisdom

    “Now if only we could convince another 100 million more secularists ……..?”

    I am not your enemy and I am diffinitey not Tom’s. You don’t need to “convince” me of anything. I understand your concerns and share many of them. We agree on far more than we may disagree. I am just attempting to get to the core of the problem, find that common understanding that comes from our shared universal values rather arguing past one another across walls of our own making.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Tsalmon

    You stated

    “I am not your enemy and I am diffinitey not Tom’s. You don’t need to “convince” me of anything. I understand your concerns and share many of them. We agree on far more than we may disagree. I am just attempting to get to the core of the problem, find that common understanding that comes from our shared universal values rather arguing past one another across walls of our own making.”

    I apologize If my remarks implied I was trying to imply I am an enemy or want to argue.

    Frankly, I appreciate your insightful and well written comments which give me a clue your mindset on issues.

    I also agree that finding shared opening values with bloggers may lead to better understanding of both sides of issues.

    CT has a great blog to stimulate commentary and debate.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @scatterwisdom

      The news media has Liberal Democrats all worked up about Trump. Given their reaction you would think Trump must be the anti-Christ.

      With luck, Trump’s policies will work well enough so that they calm down. Pray!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Tom wrote:

    “I am not interested in debating the differences between Protestant and Catholic theology. If you want to look up the beliefs of people like Martin Luther and John Calvin, it is easy enough.”

    I think it is very interesting, and very apropos to your post that began this discussion. This subject is the natural and logical topic that comes from conclusions you have already drawn when you asked why we should have many Christian churches instead of just one. My question essentially is: Do we already really have just one? And if not, what differences are keeping us apart?

    I’ve read from Catholic theologians that the differences are either insignificant or they have been resolved. I’m interested in why you think otherwise, not to be belligerent, but just the opposite, to see why we don’t agree.

    The rest of your reply I don’t know how to deal with earnestly. You seem perturbed. You have once again assigned to me (and it would seem to Brooks) extreme positions I do not hold, and have not argued, nor want to defend. Forgive and correct me if I’m wrong, but if I don’t agree with you completely on every point, then your response is to draw battle lines and push me over some wall into the enemy camp, and in so doing, assign me every extreme attribute that you wish to assume your extreme enemies share. I’m not looking to convince you that we are at war. I, like Brooks, am trying to find common understanding and peace.

    Let me just say:

    1. I am not for extreme collectivism any more than I am for extreme individualism.
    2. I am not a radical anything and my beliefs in the institutions of government are fairly traditional to what Democrats and Republicans have agreed on for over a century.
    3. As a Catholic, the older I get the more orthodox I get.

    If that makes your enemy, then who really is the one pretending to be a traditional conformist conservative here and who really is the radical nonconformist liberal?

    Like

    1. @tsalmon

      If you look at this post, https://quotesthoughtsrandom.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/give-to-the-one-who-begs-from-you-and-do-not-refuse-the-one-who-would-borrow-from-you-jesus/ and read the commment, you will see the author and I have a small difference in the interpretation of scripture. Mike and I generally agree, but no two people always agree.

      Do Catholic theologians think that the differences between Protestants and Catholics are either insignificant or that they have been resolved? Maybe, but do Protestant theologicians share that opinion? If not, then perhaps Catholic theologians don’t understand and share the concerns of Protestant theologicians. Of course, that would in and of itself be one of their differences.

      Am I perturbed? It is useless and childish to be that way, but I suppose I am. I want to change what I cannot. That is hard to accept.

      Are we enemies? Are there battlelines drawn between us? Well, consider the difference in our political philosophies. As a Conservative, I am not interested in trying to make other people do things they don’t want to do. I think government exists primarily to make other people leave each other alone. Are there unavoidable exceptions? Yes. Sometimes, for example, to build infrastructure for public utilities we have to use the right of eminent domain. Sometimes we must weigh the rights of the many against the rights of a few and come up with a workable compromise. Makes things fuzzier than I would like, but the ability to rationally work out such compromises is what we call wisdom.

      Am I wise? Well, I hope I am wiser than when I was 20, but…. Well, consider.

      Proverbs 12:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

      15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
      But he who heeds counsel is wise.

      And.

      Proverbs 26:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

      12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
      There is more hope for a fool than for him.

      I am not the source of wisdom. God is. What each of us should try to do is what we think would be wise in God’s eyes, and most of the time we are just guessing.

      What about your political philosophy?

      1. You say you are not for extreme collectivism, but everything is relative. I suppose communists might agree with you, but from my perspective you are for extreme collectivism. You and I both know the Framers of the Constitution would also think you are for extreme collectivism. Don’t kid yourself.
      2. If you are for extreme collectivism, then you are a radical. By the standards of their day the Framers of the Constitution were radicals too. So the term “radical” does not tell us much. The issue is what you are radically in favor of. It ain’t traditional. When you voted enthusiastically for a presidential candidate who promised to fundamentally transform our country, you proved that.
      3. Are you becoming an orthodox Catholic? That is something for you to decide. Can you compare what you believe with the Apostle’s Creed and honestly affirm the words of that creed? Why or why not?

      What Obama did was radical. Was Obama my enemy? No, but much of what he did was lawless and unconstitutional. He did not keep his oath of office. Obama was not a good president. He was an awful president, but our country chose him, and we got what we deserved, a thoroughly dishonest president. Since our people refused to remove Obama, we were stuck with him for eight long years. In fact, Trump’s primary virtue is that he is not Obama.

      See Romans 13:1-7, and keep in mind that the man who wrote that had his head chopped off by the Roman Empire. When Christians choose to make someone their enemy, they have no other choice. It has become the lesser of evils.

      So are you my enemy? No. Not an enemy? Then what? You are a sinner like me. You are one of my misguided brothers.

      Like

      1. This is a lot to contemplate so I’ll think on most of it. Just a few observations:

        1. My ideas on government are traditional, if our nation’s 200 year history are taken as a whole. You yourself admit that yours are based on an extinct notion of what you channel that a very diverse and argumentative group of men over 200 years ago thought. We don’t live in that world. It started changing as soon as the ink was dry, just as it was designed. You want a revolution against our nation’s traditions and institutions based on a day dream. And yet you think me the radical and you the conservative.😝

        2. I think that most of the major Christian denominations’ theologians are in some agreement that the differences are insignificant or they are resolved. I’ll try to cite particulars if you are interested, but you don’t seem to be.

        3. I am no doubt a sinner, and you are one of my misguided brothers as well, but I have hope. 😏 Maybe you will someday see that you may be elevating our differences. Anyway, I enjoy the discussions with you even though I fear that it sometimes frustrates you.

        4. I have come to believe the Apostles’ Creed based on faith more than claiming complete understanding. Like I said, I’m becoming more orthodox by the day. If someone as stubborn as me can learn to be open and accepting maybe there is hope for anyone, even my stubborn big brother.

        Like

        1. @tsalmon

          1. What are you gloating about? The fact that foolish people immediately ignored the plain language of the Constitution? How can you not realize how stupid that is? The men who wrote the document had no illusions that what they wrote would last. They knew something about the character of mankind. War reveals the character of men, and they had been through a long and bloody one. At the Constitutional Convention, they were trying to create a charter that would avoid war between the colonies. So you are joyful because it is now traditional to twist the meaning of that charter? Don’t you understand you are reveling in the “success” of our sinfulness? When the primary purpose of the Constitution is to keep peace between us, it is an abomination to twist it into a pretzel.

          Read Matthew 15:1-20. That is what Jesus thought of twisted traditions.

          2. I am not.

          3. Thank you.

          4. I can always use more cause for hope.

          Like

  13. “What do you want to do with Nazism, Communism, the numerous religions that practiced human sacrifice, and so forth. Just ignore all that? Such tyranny is so normal you cannot logically do that. Even in this nation we sacrifice the unborn in a million abortions a year, and lots of people think that no big deal. In fact, they harvest the organs.”

    I felt like I did deal with this preemptively. To repeat what I wrote:

    “You will point out cultures that have despicable moral norms, and I will argue that you are focusing on the imperfections that come to all cultures. This does not prove that knowledge of virtue is not universal, it just proves that all cultures, just as all men, stray from what we innately (because it is the Will of God planted in our hearts) know to be true. The test is easy: just as with individual people, if a given cultural norm derives from selfishness (greed, pride, lust, etc.) it is a human aberration from the universal truth. In contrast, if a given cultural norm comes from unselfish love (service, sacrifice, courage in helping others, etc.) it is a universal virtue that serves God’s will.”

    I’m not sure how we disagree on this. You have already stated that you think that people innately know when they are doing wrong. If our culture is innately superior because of our Christian heritage, then how, as you say, can we even have all the evil that you say is becoming ingrained in our cultural norms? I agree with you that it is because we are straying from Christian values. I’m just clarifying those values as virtues that proceed from God and are therefore universal truths. This is not radical. It is very old and traditional Christian philosophy. I’m not being obtuse here. I really don’t understand what your argument here is.

    “Consider what our lives might be like if Jesus had not lived, died, and been resurrected from the dead 2,000 years ago.”

    You’ll get no argument from me on that one. I think that you misunderstand my point. Did you expect Jesus to come to Earth and speak in Martian? Simply because God talks to us in the language that we already equipped by God to understood does not make His message is any less the most profound message ever given. It just makes it coherent.

    Furthermore, it does not diminish the perfect truth of Jesus’ story that there are lesser stories of virtue. It enhances it. The pure virtue of Jesus does not become less because other heroes in other cultures in other times were also virtuous. Truth and virtue simply do not work that way. Our universal reverence for virtue makes it universal. The human embodiment of God in a Person of perfect virtue literally manifests that universality, that truth. As you say, it changed everything.

    Like

    1. @tsalmon

      Don’t be silly. You know that an unsupported assertion is nonsense. How can a virtue be innately known? If we don’t understand and therefore uphold the same virtues, how can we universally revere the same virtues?

      If we can learn to be virtuous, then virtues consist of knowledge of what is virtuous. If we have to be taught knowledge, then knowledge is not innate. When C. S. Lewis argues for an innate moral law, that is not necessarily the same thing as virtue.

      When we wrong someone, both the person we wrong and we our selves generally know what we have done and why it is wrong. Because all men are men, and all men have similar needs and wants, all men have a similar understanding of what is hurtful to another person. Therefore, all men share a similar understanding of right and wrong. Is that the moral law? No.

      What then is the moral law? I think it is simply about love. Our hearts call upon us to have empathy for one another, to love one another. As we grow, we can heed what our hearts say when we form our consciences. We can learn the Golden Rule and strive to obey it, or not.

      If we are properly taught, chances are we we will learn the Golden Rule. If not, and most are not well taught, we will at best learn the Golden Rule applies only to certain people, people like “us”. Therefore, two peasants will most likely respect each others persons, and two noblemen of the same rank will also respect each others persons. However, whether a nobleman will respect the person of a peasant will depend upon what he has been taught and, upon the amount of love and empathy in his heart, and upon that strange thing we call wisdom.

      What then is virtue? What is virtuous depends upon cultural beliefs. The culture of a people is what that people know and believe. Because some cultures more wisely uphold better virtues, some cultures are superior to others. Multiculturalists absurdly deny this. In fact, denying this obvious truth is what makes modern day multiculturalism an “ism”.

      Where does Jesus figure in? He is God. It stands to reason we should do as He taught. His Bible, which gives us knowledge of His teachings, commands parents to see to the instruction of their children in the teaching of His Word. That is because we each have to hear and read His Word to have knowledge of it. Because the Bible is knowledge of God, we have to study it to know what it says to what we can of God.

      Even after we are reborn in Christ, and we come to know Jesus as our Lord, we need to study the Bible. Fortunately, if we heed the Holy Spirit, our hearts will call us to do so.

      You want an example? Even honesty is not a universally shared virtue. https://citizentom.com/2016/05/02/when-shame-becomes-a-weapon/ is a post I wrote during the last presidential primaries. The beginning is the relevant part, but you may or may not find the rest interesting and amusing.

      Like

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The Bull Elephant

Conservative and libertarian news, analysis, and entertainment

Always On Watch: Semper Vigilans

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Family Foundation Blog - The Family Foundation

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Cry and Howl

Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off. I Kings 20:11

Dr. Luis C. Almeida

Professor Of Communication

praythroughhistory

Heal the past. Free the present. Bless the future.

Dr. Lloyd Stebbins

Deliberate Joy

Lillie-Put

The place where you can find out what Lillie thinks

He Hath Said

is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort; let it dwell in you richly, as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life

partneringwitheagles

WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT...

PUMABydesign001's Blog

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” Ronald Reagan.

nebraskaenergyobserver

The view from the Anglosphere

Freedom Through Empowerment

Taking ownership of your life brings power to make needed changes. True freedom begins with reliance on God to guide this process and provide what you need.

bluebird of bitterness

The opinions expressed are those of the author. You go get your own opinions.

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Life: the time God gives you to determine how you spend eternity

altruistico

People Healing People

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Silence of Mind

Where God Speaks and Creation Listens

My Daily Musing

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample our enemies. Psalms 109:13

atimetoshare.me

My Walk, His Way - daily inspiration

Nickel Boy Graphics

Comic Strips (Some Funny, Some Serious)

Rudy u Martinka

What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom

Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Kingdom Pastor

Living Freely In God's Kingdom

The Life Project

Finding Clear and Simple Faith

In My Father's House

"...that where I am you may be also." Jn.14:3

cookiecrumbstoliveby

Life through the eyes of "cookie"

The Lions Den

"Blending the colorful issues of life with the unapologetic truth of scripture." ColorStorm

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