Monthly Archives: December 2012

The knowledge of good and evil

From the slacktivist:

I appreciate the Reformed contention that we finite, fallible humans are not capable of grasping perfect justice. But that insight becomes a blindness when it gets twisted into the idea that we are utterly incapable of distinguishing justice from injustice, or that we are wholly mistaken when we perceive something as more or less just.

We are imperfect and limited, and our best approximation of and understanding of justice will never be perfect or complete. But those who want to argue that our fallen nature makes us incapable of the knowledge of good and evil really need to re-read that story in Genesis.

God’s idea of justice surely transcends our own. And just as surely it cannot violate our own.

Eternal torment for temporal sin is monstrous. The claim that God is so transcendently good that God’s goodness appears monstrous to us is, frankly, perverse.

via Soul freedom, Baptist baptism, and the knowledge of good and evil.

On God, Shooting Children, and Having No Answers

Peter Enns — an Old Testament scholar well known in evangelical Christian circles for engaging in the “historical Adam” debates about Bible and evolution — comments on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Well, like I said, who cares what I think. But these moments test one’s faith more than most. And it makes other “challenges to our faith,” like whether there was a historical Adam or whether the Bible was written after the return from Babylonian exile, look like a splash in a shallow puddle compared to the deep, black, ocean storm of 5 year olds getting shot because they went to school one day.

I can easily get my arms around a God whose book begins with a mythic story of a naked first couple holding a conversation with a serpent, or a Bible that wasn’t written until the 5th century BC. But yesterday? There is nothing “easy” about it.

And from later in his post:

If you believe in God, there will always come a point — and sooner than we tend to think — where our understanding hits a wall at 80 mph.

via On God, Shooting Children, and Having No Answers.

Proud and Public Christian Piety.

So here’s what I would have posted on Facebook, if I didn’t care about souring my relationship with many church friends. I know this is what I would have posted because it’s what I typed in the FB post box before highlighting, cutting, and pasting here instead.

The Bible, book of John, chapter 15, has Jesus saying, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  I’ve read the stories about teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary prepared to — and sometimes actually — laying down their lives for their students. I think my prayer-and-Christianity in public schools FB friends are missing the big picture. Whether or not they said a prayer over the intercom that morning, you have to deal with the fact that God was standing by as this tragedy happened. An whether or not they were Christians, you have to admit that those teachers showed exactly the love that Jesus wanted us to aspire to. What happened represents a theological minefield, but proud and public Christian piety wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy.

God and Tragedy in Secular Public Schools

Once again I find myself wishing I was brave enough to post something to Facebook, but posting it here instead because I’m not. Friends of mine online have been making and liking posts about how the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Connecticut are somehow not surprising given that America has taken Christianity and prayer out of public schools. James McGrath steers us back from the imaginary:

The shooting in this elementary school was not carried out by some elementary-age child who had rebelled against God and, as a result, decided to kill lots of people. It was carried out by someone who came into a school where children, despite there being no formal religious activity or education imposed on them, were behaving in a civilized manner towards one another (as much as can be expected from children no matter their religious affiliation). And many lives were saved because teachers in that school, teachers who never imposed their religious views on the children, acted heroically to save their lives.

The claim that this has something to do with prayer being taken out of schools is absolute vile garbage.

via God and Tragedy in Secular Public Schools.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush: Should We Give a Homeless Man Shoes?

Discussing the case of the the police officer who was caught on video providing new boots to a homeless man with bare feet, and then how the man turned out not to be homeless after all and was seen begging in bare feet again just days later.

[Princeton religion professor Eric] Gregory said that while those who are receiving such direct aid might be complicated, selfish and difficult — so are we. He reminded me of something the theologian and author C.S. Lewis wrote: “Another things that annoys me is when people say, “Why did you give that man money? He’ll probably go and drink it.” My reply is, “But if I kept it, I should have probably drunk it.”

via Paul Brandeis Raushenbush: Should We Give a Homeless Man Shoes?.

A prayer for higher taxes –

Since we have a graduated income tax, “rich people” pay the same tax on their first $50,000 that the middle class does. And the same tax on the first $100,000 that the upper middle class does. And the same tax on the first $200,000 that the top 5% of earners do. So there’s this…

Republicans keep saying they’re trying to save small-business people like me from paying these higher income taxes. Don’t listen to them, Lord. I really, really want to be a small-business man who qualifies to pay a higher tax rate by actually netting more than $200,000 a year. That would please me greatly, and your help there would be much appreciated.


via A prayer for higher taxes –