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TheGospelCoalition.org : 9 Things You Should Know About C. S. Lewis


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Today (22 November) is the fifty-third anniversary of the death of Clive Staples Lewis, one of the most well known, widely read, and frequently quoted Christian authors of modern times. Here are nine things you should know about the author and apologist who has been called “The Apostle to the Skeptics.”

1. Lewis is best known for his seven children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia. But he wrote more than 60 books in various genres, including poetry, allegorical novel, popular theology, educational philosophy, science-fiction, children’s fairy tale, retold myth, literary criticism, correspondence, and autobiography.

2. Lewis’s close friend Owen Barfield, to whom he dedicated his book The Allegory of Love, was also his lawyer. Lewis asked Barfield to establish a charitable trust (“The Agape Fund”) with his book earnings. It’s estimated that 90 percent of Lewis’s income went to charity.

3. Lewis had a fondness for nicknames. He and his brother, Warnie, called each other “Smallpigiebotham” (SPB) and “Archpigiebotham” (APB), inspired by their childhood nurse’s threat to smack their “piggybottoms.” Even after Lewis’s death, Warnie still referred to him as “my beloved SPB.”

4. In 1917, Lewis left his studies to volunteer for the British Army. During the First World War, he was commissioned into the Third Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Lewis arrived at the front line in the Somme Valley in France on his 19th birthday and experienced trench warfare. On April 15, 1918, he was wounded, and two of his colleagues were killed by a British shell falling short of its target. Lewis suffered from depression and homesickness during his convalescence.

5. Lewis was raised in a church-going family in the Church of Ireland. He became an atheist at 15, though he later described his young self as being paradoxically “very angry with God for not existing.”

6. Lewis’s return to the Christian faith was influenced by the works of George MacDonald, arguments with his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.

7. Although Lewis considered himself to an entirely orthodox Anglican, his work has been extremely popular among evangelicals and Catholics. Billy Graham, who Lewis met in 1955, said he “found him to be not only intelligent and witty but also gentle and gracious.” And the late Pope John Paul II said Lewis’s The Four Loves was one of his favorite books.

8. After reading Lewis’s 1940 book, The Problem of Pain, the Rev. James Welch, the BBC Director of Religious Broadcasting, asked Lewis to give talks on the radio. While Lewis was at Oxford during World War II he gave a series of BBC radio talks made between 1942 and 1944. The transcripts of the broadcasts originally appeared in print as three separate pamphlets—The Case for Christianity (1942), Christian Behaviour (1943), and Beyond Personality (1944) — but were later combined into the book Mere Christianity. In 2000, Mere Christianity was voted best book of the 20th century by Christianity Today.

9. On November 22, 1963, exactly one week before his 65th birthday, Lewis collapsed in his bedroom at 5:30 p.m. and died a few minutes later. Media coverage of his death was almost completely overshadowed by news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who was killed less than an hour earlier. In 2003, Lewis was added to the list of saints commemorated on the church calendar of the Episcopal Church.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-c.s.-lewis?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tgcblog#When:2016-11-22T06:02:00+00:00

The Gospel Coalition Blog: What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?


Ray Ortlund Jr, What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?

Source: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org

Text: John 3:1–7

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’

Footnotes:

  1. John 3:3 The Greek for again also means from above; also in verse 7.
  2. John 3:6 Or but spirit
  3. John 3:7 The Greek is plural.

https://www.biblegateway.com

The Gospel Coalition : 3 Ways Our Culture Is Different than Every Other Culture in History


We live in a turbulent cultural moment. The world around us is rapidly changing, and we face many challenges unprecedented in the history of the church. Augustine fought the Pelagians; Aquinas synthesized Aristotle; Luther strove with his conscience; Zwingli wielded an axe; but probably none of them ever dreamed of a world in which people could choose their gender. Secularizing late-modernity is a strange, new animal.

Identifying the historical and global isolation of our culture does not discredit it. “Weird” does not always equal “wrong.” Nonetheless, seeing ourselves in a broader perspective can go a long way toward humbling and opening us up to where Scripture wants to transform our thinking. I say “our” thinking because our first impulse in cultural critique shouldn’t be bashing others, but searching our own hearts. Since culture isn’t what we see but what we see through—the glasses, not the landscape—we’re often more “conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2) than we realize.

Three Modern Eccentricities 

Here are three ways our culture is eccentric in its basic instincts about God, morality, and life—ways we tend to see things differently not only than Solomon, Jesus, and Paul, but also Aristotle, the Aztecs, and Attila the Hun.

1. God is in the dock.

I’m currently writing my doctoral dissertation on Anselm (1033–1109). I’m always amazed by how exercised he was by the problem of divine mercy. Throughout his writings he labored over the question: how can a just and righteous God pass over sins and spare the undeserving?

Today we have the opposite problem. Divine mercy is assumed, and divine justice must be explained. How could a good and loving God ever judge people? (This is one of the top seven objections to Christianity Tim Keller tackles in The Reason for God.)

What’s so striking to me isn’t that Anselm and American culture have different answers, but that they’re asking different questions. For an 11th-century monk, it simply never occurred to him that God, rather than man, would be the one needing to be justified. C. S. Lewis captured this distinction well: “The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock.”

Perhaps the greatest example of this role reversal is the rise of atheism, a relatively rare phenomenon before the modern West. There are some scattered examples in pre-modern times of various kinds of materialism or agnosticism, but they’re strikingly sparse. For every one Lucretius or Democritus, you can find entire centuries and nations that know nothing but priests, monks, imams, lamas, shamans, sages, and sorcerers.

2. Morality is about self-expression.

In most cultures throughout history it was assumed that external reality is fixed—and that the basic point of life is to conform ourselves to it in some way. Buddha and Plato agree on this point; they only differ on what the conforming process looks like.

Our culture, by contrast, tends to exalt human desire and aspiration such that the point of life is for external reality to be conformed to it. To paraphrase Lewis: For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality; today it’s how to subdue reality to the wishes of men.

In the late-modern West we’ve reduced truth to a personal construct and lost confidence in reason’s ability to access external reality. Thus the only foul in ethics is “harm,” and the only requirement for sexual behavior is “consent.” Basically, for many in our culture, you should be able to do anything you want so long as you don’t inhibit someone else’s self-expression.

Plato could have at least understood Buddha’s four noble truths. Buddha would have comprehended Plato’s advocacy for reason and justice. Both would be only perplexed and exasperated with the modern mantra “be true to yourself.”

3. Life is starved of transcendence.

In most ancient cultures, life and meaning were relatively stable. You didn’t have people like Albert Camus contemplating whether the absurdity of human existence necessitated suicide among the ancient Mongols, Mayans, or Vikings. As Brother Lippo Lippi put it in Robert Browning’s poem, “This world’s no blot for us, nor blank; it means intensely, and means good: to find its meaning is my meat and drink.”

Many today lack this sense of objective meaning; we are starved of transcendence, community, stability; we’re aching to find something big to live for; we feel listless, adrift, barren. Think of Nietzsche’s anguish in proclaiming the death of God in the late 19th century—in a milder, semiconscious way, this is how many feel today.

Our standard of living has risen, but so have our suicide rates; we are smarter, but more uncertain; surrounded with pleasure, but less fulfilled; able to do almost anything but uncertain whether to do anything.

I believe much of the sexual confusion and brokenness in our culture is the result of this deeper, existential void. We use things like sex and money to address basic questions of identity and fulfillment. As Kellerrecently observed, “In ancient cultures people had sex and made money to build a community; today, they do so to build an identity.” Or as Trevin Wax puts it, “One reason our culture is so sex-saturated is that we are so transcendence-starved.”

How Should We Respond?

Gospel faithfulness demands we engage our culture with both truth and love, yielding neither to compromise on the one side nor escapism on the other. This means we cannot simply bemoan the encroaching cultural darkness, swatting at the errors around us with our theological club. As TGC’sTheological Vision for Ministry puts it, “It is not enough that the church should counter the values of the dominant culture. We must be a counterculture for the common good.”

In responding to these metaphysical, ethical, and existential Copernican revolutions in our culture, I believe we must work hard to establish the corresponding subversive biblical doctrine in each of three areas: (1) a high view of God, (2) a thoroughgoing notion of repentance, and (3) a transcendent vision of worship.

1. God is transcendent.

2. Life comes through death.

3. Beholding God is our goal

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org

 

9 things you should know about Auschwitz and Nazi extermination camps


Today marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi „Final Solution to the Jewish question.” Here are nine things you should know about the Nazi extermination camps:

1. Hitler’s official plan for genocide was developed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Fifteen Nazi leaders, which included a number of state secretaries, senior officials, party leaders, SS officers, and other leaders of government departments, held the meeting to discuss plans for a „final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.” (The Nazis used the euphemistic phrases „Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and „Final Solution” to refer to the genocide of the Jews.) In the course of the meeting, Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps.

2. The Nazis distinguished between extermination camps and concentration camps. The interchangeable terms extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) and death camp (Todeslager) refer to camps whose primary function was genocide. Unlike concentration camps, the Nazis did not expect the majority of prisoners taken to the extermination camps to survive more than a few hours after arrival. In the early years of the Holocaust, the Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps (where they would often die of torture and starvation), but from 1942 onwards they were mostly deported to the extermination camps.

3. Genocide at extermination camps was initially carried out in the form of mass shootings. However, the shootings proved to be too psychologically damaging to those being asked to pull the triggers. The Nazis next tried mass killing by blowing victims up with explosives, but that also was found unsuitable. The Nazis settled on gassing their victims (usually with carbon monoxide or a cyanide-based pesticide). Stationary gas chambers could kill 2,000 people at once. Once in the chambers, about one-third of the victims died immediately, though death could take up to 20 minutes.

4. The use of camps equipped with gas chambers for the purpose of systematic mass extermination of peoples was a unique feature of the Holocaust and unprecedented in history. Never before had there existed places with the express purpose of killing people en masse. These were extermination camps established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Chełmno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibor, and Treblinka. For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous extermination camps were in Occupied Poland,  since Poland had the greatest number of Jews living in Europe.

5. At various concentration and extermination camps, the Nazis conducted medical experiments on their prisoners, which included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and various amputations and other surgeries that were often conducted without anesthesia. The most notorious of these Nazi physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. According to one witness, Mengele sewed together a set of twins named Guido and Ina, who were about 4 years old, from the back in an attempt to create Siamese twins. Their parents were able to get some morphine and kill them to end their suffering.

6.  All the Nazis’ enemies imprisoned at Auschwitz were given special badges to mark them out: yellow stars for the Jews, a brown triangle for Roma (Gypsies), a pink triangle for gay prisoners, a purple triangle for Jehovah’s witnesses, a black triangle for people who were deemed „asocial elements” (mentally ill, pacifists, prostitutes), and many more marking out each minority.

7.  About 200,000 inmates of the camp between 1940-45 survived. Out of a total of about 7,000 guards at Auschwitz, including 170 female staff, 750 were prosecuted and punished once Nazi Germany was defeated.

8. The most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed is six million — around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time. Additionally, the Nazis murdered approximately two to three million Soviet POWs, two million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals, and 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, bringing the total genocide toll to around 11 million.

9. The silent footage shown in this video is from film that was taken by a Soviet military film crew over a period of months beginning on January 27, 1945, the day that Auschwitz was liberated.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-auschwitz-and-nazi-extermination-camps

Excerpts from „Oswiecim” („Auschwitz”)

The silent footage shown in this video is from film that was taken by a Soviet military film crew over a period of months beginning on January 27, 1945, the day that Auschwitz was liberated.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on YouTube

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INDEPENDENCE DAY AND THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE


July 4, 2014 will be America’s 238th Independence Day, the day Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Here are nine things you should know about America’s founding document and the day set aside for its commemoration.

1. July 4, 1776 is the day that we celebrate Independence Day even though it wasn’t the day the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776), the day we started the American Revolution (that had happened back in April 1775), the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain (that didn’t happen until November 1776), or the date it was signed (that was August 2, 1776).

2. The first Independence Day was celebrated on July 8, 1776 (although the Declaration was approved on July 4, 1776, it was not made public until July 8), but for the first two decades after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.

3. After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1938 and 1941.

4. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston comprised the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration. Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer, wrote most of the document. After Jefferson wrote his first draft, the other members of the Declaration committee and the Continental Congress made 86 changes, including shortening the overall length by more than a fourth and removing language condemning the British promotion of the slave trade (which Jefferson had included even though he himself was a slave owner).

5. The signed copy of the Declaration is the official, but not the original, document. The approved Declaration was printed on July 5th and a copy was attached to the „rough journal of the Continental Congress for July 4th.” These printed copies, bearing only the names of John Hancock, President, and Charles Thomson, secretary, were distributed to state assemblies, conventions, committees of safety, and commanding officers of the Continental troops. On July 19th, Congress ordered that the Declaration be engrossed on parchment with a new title, „the unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America,” and „that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress.” Engrossing is the process of copying an official document in a large hand.

6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only two presidents to sign the document, both died on the Fourth of July in 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration. Adam’s last words have been reported as „Thomas Jefferson survives.” He did not know that Jefferson had died only a few hours before. James Monroe, the last president who was a Founding Father, also died on July 4 in 1831. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.

7. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress at the time, was the first and only person to sign the Declaration on July 4, 1776 (he signed it in the presence of just one man, Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress). According to legend, the founding father signed his name bigger than everyone else’s because he wanted to make sure „fat old King George” could read it without his spectacles. But the truth is that Hancock had a large blank space and didn’t realize the other men would write their names smaller. Today, the term „John Hancock” has become synonymous with a person’s signature.

8. The 56 signers of the Declaration did not sign on July 4, 1776, nor were they in the same room at the same time on the original Independence Day. The official signing event took place on August 2, 1776 when 50 men signed the document. Several months passed before all 56 signatures were in place. The last man to sign, Thomas McKean, did so in January of 1777, seven months after the document was approved by Congress. Robert R. Livingston, one of the five original drafters, never signed it at all since he believed it was too soon to declare independence.

9. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which makes no reference to God, the Declaration has three references to a deity. The document also makes two references that tie natural law to God. (Although Thomas Jefferson was a Deist, as a young apprentice lawyer he had studied the work of Henry de Bracton, an English jurist and natural law proponent. Bracton has been referred to as the „father of common law” and is said to have „succeeded in formulating a truly Christian philosophy of law”).

http://thegospelcoalition.org

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah


By JOE CARTER for The Gospel Coalition Blog

Darren’s Aronofksy’s new film Noah, which opens in theaters tomorrow, has been criticized for notNoah - Noe- (The Gospel Coalition Blog 1.04.14) being faithful o the biblical narrative. But how much of the story do most people remember? Here are nine things you should know about the story of Noah:

1. The story of Noah is told is chiastic parallelism (or chiasmus), a figure of speech in which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. If you assign the letters A and B to the first appearance of the key words or phrases and A’ and B’ to their subsequent appearance, they follow what is commonly referred to as an A-B-B-A pattern.

A chiasm in the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6.10-9.19):

A   Noah (10a)
B      Shem, Ham, and Japheth (10b)
C         Ark to be built (14-16)
D            Flood announced (17)
E               Covenant with Noah (18-20)
F                  Food in the Ark (21)
G                   Command to enter the Ark (7.1-3)
H                      7 days waiting for flood (4-5)
I                         7 days waiting for flood (7-10)
J                            Entry to ark (11-15)
K                             Yahweh shuts Noah in (16)
L                                40 days flood (17a)
M                                 Waters increase (17b-18)
N                                     Mountains covered (18-20)
O                                        150 days waters prevail (21-24)
P                                       GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8.1)
O’                                       150 days waters abate (3)
N’                                    Mountain tops become visible (4-5)
M’                                Waters abate (6)
L’                             40 days (end of) (6a)
K’                            Noah opens window of ark (6b)
J’                           Raven and dove leave ark (7-9)
I’                        7 days waiting for waters to subside (10-11)
H’                    7 days waiting for waters to subside (12-13)
G’                 Command to leave the ark (15-17)
F’                Food outside the ark (9.1-4)
E’             Covenant with all flesh (8-10)
D’          No flood in future (11-17)
C’        Ark (18a)
B’      Shem, Ham, Japheth (18b)
A’  Noah (19)

2. Based on 18 inches to a cubit, the total cubic volume of Noah’s ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or to 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 – 5 sq ft per animal), it’s estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals.

3. From Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. A raven will fly directly toward land, so it’s line of flight can be used as a guide. Doves have a limited ability for sustained flight, so they can be used to determine the location of a landing site. As long as the dove returns, no landing site is in close range.

4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. Noah’s first recorded act on leaving the ark is building an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20).

5. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.

6. Noah became the first drunk recorded in Scripture, resulting in immoral behavior and family troubles (Genesis 9:20-26).

7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses his grandson Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japeth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening.

8. At 950 years of age, Noah had the third longest life recorded in the Bible (after Methuselah (969) and Jared (962)).

9. Besides the book of Genesis, Noah is also mentioned in eight other books of the Bible (1st Chronicles 1:4Isaiah 54:9Ezekiel 14:1420Matthew 24:37-38Luke 3:3617:26-27Hebrews 11:71 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5) as well as in the Book of Enoch (10:1-3) and the Qur’an (Sura 71).

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent


Yesterday (4 December) marked the 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), one of the most significant series of meetings in Christian history. Here are nine things evangelicals should know about the Council and the decrees that it issued:

Concilio_Trento_Museo_Buonconsiglio1. The Council of Trent was the most important movement of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church’s first significant reply to the growing Protestants Reformation. The primary purpose of the council was tocondemn and refute the beliefs of the Protestants, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, and also to make the set of beliefs in Catholicism even clearer.Approximately forty clergymen, mainly Catholic bishops, were in attendance during the twenty-five times over the next eighteen years that the Council convened.

2. Protestants endorse justification by faith alone (sola fide) apart from anything (including good works), a position the Catholic Church condemned as heresy. During the the sixth session, the Council issued a decree saying that, „If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”

3. The Protestant Reformers rejected the Apocrypha as part of the biblical canon. (The term Apocrypha (Gr., hidden) is a collection of ancient Jewish writings and is the title given to these books, which were written between 300 and 30 B.C., in the era between the Old and New Testaments.) During the the fourth session, the Council issued a decreedamning anyone who rejected these books:

. . . if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.

Many doctrines unique to Catholicism, such as the teachings of purgatory, prayers for the dead, and salvation by works, are found in these books.

4. During the Protestant Reformation, the doctrine of transubstantiation was heavily criticized as an Aristotelian „pseudophilosophy.” The 13th session reaffirmed and defined transubstantiation as „that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation.”

5. Protestants claimed that the only source and norm for the Christian faith was Holy Scripture (the canonical Bible without the Apocrypha). The doctrine of Sola Scripturawas rejected at Trent. The Council affirmed two sources of special revelation: Holy Scripture (e.g., all the books included in the Latin Vulgate version) and traditions of the church (including the „unwritten traditions”).

6. In Catholic theology, an indulgence is a remission of temporal punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven. Under Catholic teaching, every sin must be purifiedeither here on earth or after death in a state called purgatory. The selling of indulgences was not part of official Catholic teaching, though in Martin Luther’s era, the practice had become common. (Luther was appalled by the sermon of an indulgence vendor named John Tetzel who said, „As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”) The Council called for the reform of the practice, yet damned those who „say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them.”

7. In Catholic theology, purgatory is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who denied yet were not free from „venial” sins (a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in hell). The council affirmed the doctrine of purgatory and damned anyone who claimed „that after the grace of justification has been received the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out for any repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid.”

8. In the 24 session, the council issued decrees on marriage which affirmed the excellence of celibacy, condemned concubinage, and made the validity of marriage dependent upon the wedding taking place before a priest and two witnesses. In the case of a divorce, the right of the innocent party to marry again was denied so long as the other party was alive, even if the other party had committed adultery.

9. At the request of Pope Gregory XIII, the Council approved a plan to correct the errors to the Julian calendar that would allow for a more consistent and accurate scheduling of the feast of Easter. The reform included reducing the number of leap years in four centuries from 100 to 97. Although Protestant countries in Europe initially refused to adopt the „Gregorian calendar” (also known as the Western or Christian calendar), it eventually became the most widely accepted and used civil calendar in the world.

(Note: The declarations and anathemas of the Council of Trent have never been revoked. The decrees of the Council of Trent are confirmed by both the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the official „Catechism of the Catholic Church” (1992).)

 http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/12/05/9-things-you-should-know-about-the-council-of-trent/

9 Things You Should Know About Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. Here are 9 things you should know about MLK:

1. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968, but Martin Luther

Martin Luther King (thegospelcoalition.org - 4.07.2013) King, Jr. Day did not become a U.S federal holiday until Ronald Reagan begrudgingly signed the holiday into law in 1983. (Reagan was concerned that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive.) Only two other persons have U.S. national holidays honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

2. King’s literary and rhetorical masterpiece was his 1963 open letter „The Negro Is Your Brother,” better known as the „Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The letter, written while King was being held for a protest in the city, was a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen titled „A Call for Unity.” An editor at the New York Times Magazine, Harvey Shapiro, asked King to write his letter for publication in the Magazine, though the Times chose not to publish it.

3. While much of King’s philosophy of nonviolence was derived from Christian—especially Anabaptist—sources, a significant influence was the work of Indian leader Mohandas „Mahatma” Gandhi. While in seminary King’s gave a presentation he prepared for a class entitled „Christian Theology for Today,” in which he included Gandhi as one of a number of figures he identified as „individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God.”

4. In 1964, King became the second African American—and the third black man—to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

5. In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he voted for John F. Kennedy and that if the president had lived he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term. But it was JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who issued a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital affairs and reported on them to government officials, and mailed King a threatening anonymous letter that he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide. While King was in jailed in Birmingham, JFK’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, even called Coretta Scott King to express her concern—neither of them realizing the phone was being tapped.

6. King held unorthodox views on theology, which he expressed during his time at Crozer Theological Seminary. In a paper he wrote for a systematic theology class he cast skeptical aspersions on the doctrines of divine Sonship, the Virgin Birth („. . . the evidence for the tenability of this doctrine is too shallow to convince any objective thinker”), and the Resurrection („. . . the external evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine is found wanting”). In the conclusion of another paper he writes,

Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominent in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is opposed to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he is willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.

7. A decade before he was assassinated, King was nearly stabbed to death in Harlem when a mentally ill African-American woman who believed he was conspiring against her with communists, stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. He underwent emergency surgery, and remained hospitalized for several weeks but made a full recovery. The doctor who performed the operation said, „Had Dr. King sneezed or coughed the weapon would have penetrated the aorta. . . . He was just a sneeze away from death”

8. On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by the #277 man on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list. In 1967, James Earl Ray escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary by hiding in a truck transporting bread from the prison bakery. After being convicted for the murder of King Ray was sentenced to 99 years in Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. In 1977, Ray became the #351 on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives list after he and six other convicts escaped from the prison. He was recaptured three days later and given another year in prison, bringing his sentence to 100 years.

9. King delivered his „I Have a Dream Speech” at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

Articole cu subiect asemănător

9 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INDEPENDENCE DAY AND THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence


Fiindcă astăzi este Ziua independenței (SUA) m-am gândit că ar fi util să știm mai multe despre contextul semnării acestui document și modul în care ziua de 4 iulie a a ajuns să fie asociată Declarațieie de Independență și declarată ca zi de sărbătoare.

Articol scris de JOE CARTER pentru http://thegospelcoalition.org

July 4, 2013 will be America’s 237th Independence Day, the day Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Here are nine things you should know about America’s founding document and the day set aside for its commemoration.

1. July 4, 1776 is the day that wecelebrate Independence Day even though it wasn’t the day the Continental Congress Declaration of independence (thegospelcolaition.org - 4.07.2013)decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776), the day we started the American Revolution (that had happened back in April 1775), the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain (that didn’t happen until November 1776), or the date it was signed (that was August 2, 1776).

2. The first Independence Day was celebrated on July 8, 1776 (although the Declaration was approved on July 4, 1776, it was not made public until July 8), but for the first two decades after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.

3. After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1938 and 1941

Semnarea Declaratiei de insependenta a SUA - 1776 (thegospelcolaition.org - 4.07.2013)

4. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston comprised the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration. Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer, wrote most of the document. After Jefferson wrote his first draft, the other members of the Declaration committee and the Continental Congress made 86 changes, including shortening the overall length by more than a fourth and removing language condemning the British promotion of the slave trade (which Jefferson had included even though he himself was a slave owner).

5. The signed copy of the Declaration is the official, but not the original, document. The approved Declaration was printed on July 5th and a copy was attached to the „rough journal of the Continental Congress for July 4th.” These printed copies, bearing only the names of John Hancock, President, and Charles Thomson, secretary, were distributed to state assemblies, conventions, committees of safety, and commanding officers of the Continental troops. On July 19th, Congress ordered that the Declaration be engrossed on parchment with a new title, „the unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America,” and „that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress.” Engrossing is the process of copying an official document in a large hand.

6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only two presidents to sign the document, both died on the Fourth of July in 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration. Adam’s last words have been reported as „Thomas Jefferson survives.” He did not know that Jefferson had died only a few hours before. James Monroe, the last president who was a Founding Father, also died on July 4 in 1831. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.

7. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress at the time, was the first and only person to sign the Declaration on July 4, 1776 (he signed it in the presence of just one man, Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress). According to legend, the founding father signed his name bigger than everyone else’s because he wanted to make sure „fat old King George” could read it without his spectacles. But the truth is that Hancock had a large blank space and didn’t realize the other men would write their names smaller. Today, the term „John Hancock” has become synonymous with a person’s signature.

8. The 56 signers of the Declaration did not sign on July 4, 1776, nor were they in the same room at the same time on the original Independence Day. The official signing event took place on August 2, 1776 when 50 men signed the document. Several months passed before all 56 signatures were in place. The last man to sign, Thomas McKean, did so in January of 1777, seven months after the document was approved by Congress. Robert R. Livingston, one of the five original drafters, never signed it at all since he believed it was too soon to declare independence.

9. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which makes no reference to God, the Declaration has three references to a deity. The document also makes two references that tie natural law to God. (Although Thomas Jefferson was a Deist, as a young apprentice lawyer he had studied the work of Henry de Bracton, an English jurist and natural law proponent. Bracton has been referred to as the „father of common law” and is said to have „succeeded in formulating a truly Christian philosophy of law”).

Joe Carter, Will the Pentagon Prohibit the Great Commission?


The Situation: According to theAssociated Press, a group called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is urging the Pentagon to court martial officers whose subordinates feel they’re being proselytized. MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein says even a Christian bumper sticker on an officer’s car or a Bible on an officer’s desk can amount to „pushing this fundamentalist version of Christianity on helpless subordinates.” Weinstein and other leaders of his foundation met with top officials at the Pentagon last week.

The Backstory: Weinstein and his group met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23. He told Fox News that U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished to stave off what he called a „tidal wave of fundamentalists.” „Someone needs to be punished for this,” Weinstein told Fox News. „Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”

„If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted,” he said. „We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.”

„[Proselytizing] is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” Weinstein told Fox News.

The Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that Christian evangelism is against regulations. „Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense, LCDR Nate Christensen said in a written statement. He declined to say if any chaplains or service members had been prosecuted for such an offense.

Threat Level: Unclear. Michael L. „Mikey” Weinstein, who served as White House Counsel in the Reagan administration and general counsel to H.Ross Perot, is an anti-religion extremist who is not taken seriously by anyone that is not on the secular political left. But if Pentagon officials become convinced that his peculiar anti-evangelism perspective is indeed within the bounds of military regulations, it could mean that members of the military could be prosecuted from sharing their faith—or even having a faith-based bumper sticker on their car.

Why It Matters: In a recent article for The Huffington Post, Weinstein provides an example of his bizarre hatred of Christianity,

I founded the civil rights fighting organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to do one thing: fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.

And as with most threats to religious freedom, at the core is the incompatibility between Christianity and normalization of homosexuality:

We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt. Col. Rich for his absolutely correct characterization of anti-gay religious extremist organizations as „hate groups” with no place in today’s U.S. military. But we are compelled to venture even further. We MUST vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all. To do any less would be to roll out a red carpet to those who would usher in a blood-drenched, draconian era of persecutions, nationalistic militarism, and superstitious theocracy. Human history is all too festooned and replete with countless examples of such bleak and forlorn tragedies.

If these fundamentalist Christian monsters of human degradation, marginalization, humiliation and tyranny cannot broker or barter your acceptance of their putrid theology, then they crave for your universal silence in the face of their rapacious reign of theocratic terror. Indeed, they ceaselessly lust, ache, and pine for you to do absolutely nothing to thwart their oppression. Comply, my friends, and you, too, become as monstrously savage as are they. I beg you, do not feed these hideous monsters with your stoic lethargy, callousness and neutrality. Do not lubricate the path of their racism, bigotry, and prejudice. Doing so directly threatens the national security of our beautiful nation.

There was a time—just a few years ago, in fact—when we could laugh off such views by extremists like Weinstein. But the political climate has become increasingly hostile to religious liberties and all threats must be watched more carefully.

The issue, of course, is not that Weinstein’s views will be adopted wholesale by the military. The concern is that when the outer boundary of what is considered legitimate opinion expand, what is considered the „center” shifts away from commonsense and rationality. When folks like Weinsten are taken seriously when they call evangelicals „pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators” it makes it easier for the public to say, „That’s going a bit far. Why not just call them bigots?”

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/05/01/will-the-pentagon-prohibit-the-great-commission/

Știrea a fost preluată și de cei de la semneletimpului.ro cu titlul bombastic Decizie incredibilă a Pentagonului: interzicerea prozelitismului religios

„Pentagonul a confirmat pentru sursa citată că, în cazul adoptării noilor reglementări, prozelisimul ar fi scos în afara legii, ceea ce i-ar cataloga drept trădători ai Statelor Unite ale Americii pe credincioşii care vorbesc despre credinţa lor la locul de muncă.”

Deci, chiar în cadrul articolului, care este unul în care nu se precizează clar faptul că este vorba de un grup care se intitulează the Military Religious Freedom Foundation și nu de unul care apără libertatea religioasă, scrie că Pentagonul nu a adoptat încă noile reglementări.

Mi-a atras atenția numele acelui grup precum și pretextul lor de a lupta pentru libertate religioasă, când în fapt aceasta este îngrădită.

9 Things You Should Know About Pope Benedict XVI


As head of the Catholic Church Pope Benedict is the spiritual leader to more than one billion people around the globe. But today the 85 year old announced he will resign on February 28 because of his advanced age. Here are nine things you should know about the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

1. Benedict is the 265th pope and the first to resign in over 600 years.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

2. Benedict XVI was elected pope at the age of 78. He is the fifth oldest person to have been elected pope (the other four were 79 at the time of their election).

3. Born Joseph Ratzinger, he was six years old when the Nazis came to power in his native land of Germany. Although his family was staunchly anti-Nazi, he briefly was forced—like all German teens—to join the Hitler Youth. In 1943, while still in seminary, he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps as Luftwaffenhelfer (air force child soldier) though he deserted two years later without having fired a shot. In 1945, after his desertion, he was recognized as a German soldier by the Americans and sent to a prisoner of war camp near his hometown. He was released a few months later and returned to seminary.

4. After being ordained as a Catholic priest in 1951, Ratzinger became an academic theologian. He had a long career as an academic, serving as a professor of theology at several German universities, before being appointed a cardinal in 1977. Prior to the promotion Ratzinger had relatively little pastoral experience.

5. In 1976, he suggested that the Augsburg Confession, the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation, might possibly be recognized as a Catholic statement of faith. He later backed off this position because of differences between Catholics and Lutherans on the understanding of justification.

6. In 2001, Ratzinger convinced John Paul II to put Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—the Vatican office that Ratzinger oversaw—in charge of all investigations and policies surrounding sexual abuse in order to combat such abuse more efficiently. According to John L. Allen, Jr.,

By all accounts, Ratzinger was punctilious about studying the files, making him one of the few churchmen anywhere in the world to have read the documentation on virtually every Catholic priest ever credibly accused of sexual abuse. As a result, he acquired a familiarity with the contours of the problem that virtually no other figure in the Catholic church can claim.

Driven by that encounter with what he would later refer to as „filth” in the church, Ratzinger seems to have undergone something of a „conversion experience” throughout 2003-04. From that point forward, he and his staff seemed driven by a convert’s zeal to clean up the mess.

Of the 500-plus cases that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dealt with prior to Benedict’s election to the papacy, the substantial majority were returned to the local bishop authorizing immediate action against the accused priest – no canonical trial, no lengthy process, just swift removal from ministry and, often, expulsion from the priesthood. In a more limited number of cases, the congregation asked for a canonical trial, and in a few cases the congregation ordered the priest reinstated.

7. During his time as a cardinal, Ratzinger’s liberal Catholic critics dubbed him „God’s Rottweiler” because of conservatives positions and actions such as his denunciation of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, his disciplining of Latin American liberation theologians, and his censure of Asian priests who viewed non-Christian religions as part of God’s plan for humanity.

8. Ratzinger is the author of 66 books. His first book was published in 1966 and his most recent in 2012.

9. Ratzinger didn’t really want to be pope. In 1997, at the age of 70, he asked Pope John Paul II for permission to become an archivist in the Vatican Secret Archives and a librarian in the Vatican Library, but the pope refused. At the time of his election to pope, Ratzinger had hoped to retire peacefully and said that „At a certain point, I prayed to God ‘please don’t do this to me’ . . . Evidently, this time He didn’t listen to me.”

Sorce: http://thegospelcoalition.org

America’s Most and Least ‘Biblically-Minded’ Cities


The source for this article is http://thegospelcoalition.org

new report from Barna Group ranks how 96 of the largest cities in the nation on how they view the Bible.

The Background: The study, based on 42,855 interviews conducted nationwide, attempts to determine the overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country’s largest markets. The report ranks the most and least „Bible-minded” cities based both on weekly Bible reading and who strongly asserts the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.

The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:

• The top ranking cities, where at least half of the population qualifies as Bible-minded, are all Southern cities.

• The least Bible-oriented markets include a mix of regions, but tend to be from the New England area.

• Among the nation’s largest 30 cities, 10 of them are in the top half of the Bible-minded market rankings, while 20 of them are in the bottom half.

• Generally speaking, the more densely populated areas tend to be less Bible oriented.

• Markets having a higher percentage of Hispanic Catholics are less likely to engage the Bible.

• The cities with the highest percentage of the population being defined as ‘Bible-minded’ are:

1. Knoxville, TN (52%)
2. Shreveport, LA (52%)
3. Chattanooga, TN (52%)
4. Birmingham, AL (50%)
5. Jackson, MS (50%).
6. Springfield, MO (49%)
7. Charlotte, NC (48%)
8. Lynchburg, VA (48%)
9. Huntsville-Decatur, AL (48%)
10. Charleston, WV (47%)

• The cities with the lowest percentage of the population being defined as ‘Bible-minded’ are:

85. New York, NY (18%)
86. Las Vegas, NV (18%)
87. Buffalo, NY (18%)
88. Cedar Rapids, IA (18%)
89. Phoenix, AZ (17%)
90. San Francisco, CA (16%)
91. Boston, MA (16%)
92. Hartford, CT (16%)
93. Portland, ME (16%)
94. Burlington, VT (16%)
95. Albany, NY (10%)
96. Providence, RI (9%)

Infographic listing all 96 cities

America s most and least bible-minded cities (cities.barna.org)

The Year in Numbers: 2012 – Joe Carter for The Gospel Coalition


World population (est.): 7,061,314,509

Resident population of the United States (est.): 315,067,051

In America there is:
– One birth every: 8 seconds
– One death every: 12 seconds
– One abortion every: 26 seconds
– One international migrant (net) every: 40 seconds
– Net gain of one person every: 17 seconds

America’s outstanding public debt (est.):$16,348,868,007,556.33

America’s outstanding consumer debt (est.):$11,380,000,000,000

Average credit card debt per U.S. household: $15,418

Average mortgage debt per U.S. household: $149,782

Average student loan debt per U.S. household: $34,703

Median household income: $50,054

Number of Americans with income below the official poverty rate: 46,200,000

Number of abortions in America (est.): 1,200,000

Number of adoptions in America (est.): 136,000

Number of states that allow physician-assisted suicide: 3

Number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage: 9

Number of Christians that were persecuted for their faith around the world (est.):200,000,000

Percentage of Americans who identify as Christian: 78.4

Percentage of Americans who identify as Evangelical: 26.3

Percent of American adults that self-identify as very or moderately religious: 69

Median salary of a megachurch pastor: $120,000

Percent of churchgoers that have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months: 61

Percent of churchgoers that say they rarely or never pray for the spiritual status of others: 21

Number of evangelical organizations that are challenging the Obama administration’s contraceptive-abortifacient mandate: 8

Percentage of American adults who purchased one or more books: 71

Number of pornographic titles on Amazon’s top-ten best selling book list: 4

Number of spiritual/religious titles on Amazon’s top-ten best selling book list: 0

Number of languages spoken in the world (est.): 6,800

Number of languages without any of the Bible translated: under 2,000

Number of people living in an indigenous community without adequate numbers of Christians and resources to evangelize the group: 2,886,148,000

http://thegospelcoalition.org

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