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The two latest episodes of the Apologetics Canada Podcast have been dealing with the lack of logical thinking in modern culture. It wasn’t too long ago I realized that all liberal theology per definition is completely illogical since it claims to be Christian while denying things that Christ taught and practiced. And liberal theology is just the Christian version of the trend that postmodern secularization has brought with it: a departure from logic.
As an example the ACP guys name the viral video where a man asks college students what they think about various identical attributes he applies to himself that contradicts his physical appearance. He starts with claiming to be a woman, which all of the students think is great. Then he goes on claiming to be Chinese, two meters tall and seven years old, asking permission to enroll for first grade. The logic that most students had self-implodes due to this reductio ad absurdium.
In fact, most people don’t study much logic in school. And many arguments used in popular debate are emotional rather than logical. While people often refer to science as an argument of authority and certainly think that they’re logical, I have noted myself in recent debates with both Christian nationalists on receiving refugees and with atheists on the existence of God, that their arguments don’t follow the rules of logic. (more…)
I’m a master of blog titles, am I not?
This week my first book in Swedish was released. It’s called Jesus was Also a Refugee and is co-authored with evangelical pastor Stefan Swärd. It develops a Christian perspective on the refugee crisis and the European xenophobic movement. Our conclusion is obviously that Christians should bless and welcome immigrants and refugees and not oppose migration from poor, dangerous countries to rich and safe countries.
One surprising finding is that many xenophobic and racist Christians have a liberal, or progressive, view on theology. This is very evident if you look at Nazi Germany in the 1930’s: liberal theologians like Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch celebrated Hitler and hated Jews. They combined their Nazi rants with biblical criticism and despising any effort to follow the commands of Jesus as they are expressed in the New Testament.
Liberal Christians are also very prominent in the main xenophobic party of my nation, the Sweden Democrats. This party has neo-Nazi roots and try to appeal to Christian values in contrast to Muslim or socialist values. They have been working hard to gain influence in the Church of Sweden, by electing people who hold on to nationalism while also being very liberal theologically. (more…)
Extremely few Protestants live in a community of goods similar to that of the apostolic church in Acts 2 and 4. In fact, most Protestant denominations don’t have any single community connected to them. Just like charismatic, supernatural gifts used to be a rarity within Protestantism due to cessationism, something that has drastically changed over the last century, so is having everything in common. Both miraculous power and community life are biblical practices that many Christians simply don’t want, and both charismatic cessationism and economic cessationism have been defended and strengthened by forms of academic theology which quite frankly use very bad arguments.
Mennonite scholar Reta Halteman Finger wrote an excellent paper back in 2004 called ”Cultural attitudes in western Christianity toward the community of goods in Acts 2 and 4” (Mennonite quarterly review, vol. 78, no. 2). It’s a baffling read. An obvious mistake from Catholic and Orthodox theologians during pre-Reformation times was to equate the apostolic community of goods in Acts with the community of goods in the monastic movement, even though the latter is only available for celibates.
When Luther and Calvin protested in the 16th century, they rejected the monastic movement and thereby community of goods. Both argued that the only lesson we should learn from Acts 2 and 4 is that we should give a little gift sometimes to a poor person, not that we should have everything in common with them. They criticized Anabaptists for wanting to live apostolically; Luther argued that it is impossible to do what the apostles did for modern believers. The Hutterites proved him wrong, having lived in total community for over 400 years.
As liberal theology and the historical-critical method in biblical scholarship sprung up during the 19th and 20th century, Protestant academics such as Eduard Zeller, Ernst Hanchen, Hans Conzelman and Luke T. Johnson questioned the historicity of Luke’s account in Acts 2 and 4. Their main argument for this was that community of goods in their eyes is extreme and difficult, therefore the author of Acts must be making it up. Haenschen for example argued that only celibates can manage to live in community, suggesting that Hutterites don’t exist. (more…)
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” – 1 Jn 5:21
Reading the prophetic books of the Old Testament for the first time, I was almost a bit annoyed by the constant warnings against idolatry. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and others constantly bring up how bad idolatry is and how silly idol-worshippers are, bowing down for statues they themselves have made.
I was like, yeah yeah, I get it. Idols are bad, move on please. I thought that not worshipping other gods than God was lesson one of Christianity, the most fundamental ethic of them all, and so constantly repeating it throughout Scripture felt unnecessary. In my view it was as if the driving instructor would constantly remind you to sit behind the wheel when driving an electric car.
Others must have felt the same way, because when the topic of idolatry came up in my church, people started to forcingly convince themselves that they were idolaters somehow. We’ve all stolen, been jealous or murdered sometime, at least if you define the latter as being angry which Jesus seems to do in Mt 5, and so to make sure that idolatry wasn’t something we could just say that we happily avoid, our youth pastor told us that an idol is “everything that you put higher than God”. It could be money, sex, power or Pokèmon. And you didn’t have to worship it, just immerse yourself into it. (more…)
You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged for a week; that’s because I’m spending much time nowadays finishing my first book! It’s about how signs and wonders are combined with peace and justice in the Bible, throughout church history and today. During the last week I’ve focused on the history part, researching and writing about saints like Francis and Agnes of Assisi and radical church movements like the Moravian church and the Jesus Family in China.
I am so encouraged to see these myriads of people who combine miracles and activism. Did you know that Maria Woodworth-Etter, who is often considered the grandmother of the Pentecostal movement, was baptized in the Spirit in a Quaker church and at one time ministered in a denomination founded by Mennonites? Or that the Salvation Army, famous for its evangelism and social ministry to the poor, experienced tons of signs and wonders in its early days?
I have now arrived to the part where I discuss movements that only have one half of the Biblical Holy Spirit Activism combination. Like patriotic, prosperity-preaching Pentecostalism, or miracle-doubting progressive liberalism. Interestingly, both of these streams originated roughly at the same time, the 20th century. They are not just unbiblical, but historically unique. (more…)