What’s Wrong with the World

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The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

April 21, 2019

Easter 2019: Some Personal Reflections

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As we sat in the sanctuary on Passion Sunday, my daughter of seven asked me again what was the meaning of all the purple shrouds about the altar. Why would we cover everything that was most beautiful? "What am I supposed to look at?" It was one of those penetrating questions children ask, simple in its innocence but hard to answer, when you come to the point. I stumbled through a quick explanation that her face told me was not very helpful. It was something both too complicated and too pat, about remembering the time Jesus lay in the tomb, and the importance of faithful prayer.

Nothing else came to me until she started fidgeting, as she always does, with her little pearl-colored mantilla. Already that morning she had asked, why should she wear it? I had replied that we always veil the things that are truly sacred, and reminded her of the tabernacle. Again, this had not seemed to satisfy, but it did inspire me to consider more deeply the significance of the season at hand.

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April 19, 2019

The Mental Sufferings of Our Lord

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Strictly speaking, the text excerpted below finds its source in meditations upon certain events of commemorated yesterday, Holy or Maundy Thursday: the latter a title strange to many ears, said to be a loose derivation of the Latin for “command.” Among many other reasons, this Thursday is holy because on it Christ gave his disciples his own lapidary summary of the Christian call to service: “love one another, as I have loved you.”

Having delivered this new commandment, the Nazarene in due course set aside the righteous almighty command that was by nature His from all eternity, and took up instead obedience “to the point of death, even death on the cross.”

Jesus Christ’s obedience commands our sustained attention on Good Friday. A renowned sermon by John Henry Newman, portions of which follow, may supply aids for sustaining that attention, especially in this distracted age when even the eyes of the faithful, and even on this most sacred of days, drift off in pursuit of fleeting things. Instead, I invite readers to secure 30 minutes of quiet, in order to consider, by means of Cardinal Newman’s powerful words, such imperishable things as “The Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion”:


+ + + + +


Every passage in the history of our Lord and Saviour is of unfathomable depth, and affords inexhaustible matter of contemplation. All that concerns Him is infinite, and what we first discern is but the surface of that which begins and ends in eternity. It would be presumptuous for any one short of saints and doctors to attempt to comment on His words and deeds, except in the way of meditation; but meditation and mental prayer are so much a duty in all who wish to cherish true faith and love towards Him, that it may be allowed us, my brethren, under the guidance of holy men who have gone before us, to dwell and enlarge upon what otherwise would more fitly be adored than scrutinised. And certain times of the year, this especially, call upon us to consider, as closely and minutely as we can, even the more sacred portions of the Gospel history.

[. . .]

You know, my brethren, that our Lord and Saviour, though He was God, was also perfect man; and hence He had not only a body, but a soul likewise, such as ours, though pure from all stain of evil. He did not take a body without a soul, God forbid! for that would not have been to become man. How would He have sanctified our nature by taking a nature which was not ours? Man without a soul is on a level with the beasts of the field; but our Lord came to save a race capable of praising and obeying Him, possessed of immortality, though that immortality had lost its promised blessedness. Man was created in the image of God, and that image is in his soul; when then his Maker, by an unspeakable condescension, came in his nature, He took on Himself a soul in order to take on Him a body; He took on Him a soul as the means of His union with a body; He took on Him in the first place the soul, then the body of man, both at once, but in this order, the soul and the body; He Himself created the soul which He took on Himself, while He took His body from the flesh of the Blessed Virgin, His Mother. Thus He became perfect man with body and soul; and as He took on Him a body of flesh and nerves, which admitted of wounds and death, and was capable of suffering, so did He take a soul, too, which was susceptible of that suffering, and moreover was susceptible of the pain and sorrow which are proper to a human soul; and, as His atoning passion was undergone in the body, so it was undergone in the soul also.

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April 16, 2019

The saved and the lost

This morning there are reports listing relics and works of art known to have been saved or lost, and those whose fate is unknown, from the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday.

Astonishingly, the three great and ancient stained glass rose windows appear to have survived the fire, despite the collapse of the roof.

The name of Jean-Marc Fournier should be widely known and praised. The same report states that the priest helped the firemen to save relics and works of art and also the consecrated Host.

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April 4, 2019

The denial of reality must be totalitarian

I was recently asked in an interview, "What's Wrong With the World?" based upon the name of this blog. I answered that the denial of reality is what's wrong with the world. One could argue that the root of all sin is the denial of reality of some kind or other.

The serpent says to the woman, "Thou shalt not surely die." The woman decides that eating the fruit is good for her and desirable to make one wise, so she does.

In our own day, the very ones who talk of Christianity as "anti-science" deny the humanity of the unborn child in order to kill him. And they order us to say that a man is a woman and that a woman is a man. And they silence any dissent.

The denial of fundamental and obvious reality must be totalitarian, for if it is not, someone brave child will come along and say the obvious. Little whispers of truth will get out. And we can't have that.

Canada has not had free speech for a long time, but the latest outrage on this front is so striking that it gets the attention even of those jaded by such things. Bill Whatcott in Canada has been fined $55k for passing out flyers referring to a male political candidate as a male. It hurt "her" feelings, you see. And the tribunal said that truth is no defense. He refused to refer to the man as "she" during his kangaroo trial, which is part of what racked up the fines. He's been ordered to pay interest in the meanwhile until he gets together enough money to pay the fines. He says he's going to keep speaking out and that he isn't going to pay the fines. Whatcott has guts.

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March 29, 2019

Jesus' rejection at Nazareth and Miracles at Capernaum

Here is a lovely undesigned coincidence that was not included in Hidden in Plain View that answers multiple attempted objections to Luke's accuracy.

We begin first with the allegation that Luke has "moved" Jesus' rejection at Nazareth to the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The claim here is that there was only one time when the people in Jesus' hometown grumbled about him, considering the son of the carpenter to be getting uppity, and refused to give him the honor he deserved. As the claim goes, this rejection is recorded later in Jesus' ministry in Matthew 13 and Mark 6, but Luke 4 records it in a way that gives the impression (whether intentionally or unintentionally) that it occurred earlier in Jesus' ministry. Some more conservative scholars will mean this "moving" achronologically. The idea there is that it is just an accident that it appears to us that this occurs early in Jesus' ministry in Luke; Luke wasn't trying to place it chronologically. Other scholars, including Mike Licona, have argued that Luke moved the rejection dyschronologically. That is, Luke really deliberately locates the rejection at Nazareth early in Jesus' ministry though in the world of space and time it happened later. In both cases the scholars reject the claim that something similar occurred twice in Nazareth. (See Licona, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels, p. 194).

This insistence on only one rejection at Nazareth ignores the differences between the two accounts, which are quite consonant with the chronological implication that they are two different events. For example, in Luke 4 the crowd attempts to throw Jesus off a cliff, whereas Matthew and Mark mention no such incident. Nor do they mention any of the specifics of Jesus' preaching on this occasion; Luke gives a full account of what Jesus said, including the remarks that angered the crowd. Mark and Matthew also summarize his visit by saying that he did not do many mighty works because of unbelief, which (if we are speaking of impressions) would naturally give the impression that Jesus did not have to hurry out of town, whereas in Luke the natural impression is that Jesus left immediately after the attempt to kill him. If we had strong other reason to think that these were the same event, these differences could be reconciled into a single event. But as it is, the prima facie chronological case from the Gospels is that these are different events, and the differences in the reports fit very well with that implication. So both sets of evidence point in the same direction--to two different events. The insistence on one event arises from only general similarities, not uncanny similarities--e.g., the fact that the people complain on the grounds that they know Jesus' parents and Jesus' wry quotation of a proverb that a prophet does not receive honor in his own home. These then combine with the almost pathological allergy that New Testament scholars have to believing that something generally similar happened more than once. They may give lip service to the possibility but in practice treat it as a desperate, religiously motivated maneuver rather than the reasonable historical inference that it often is.

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March 24, 2019

Was Jesus Buried in Joseph of Arimathea's New Tomb?

A Guest Post by Timothy McGrew

In this post, I conclude my critical examination of three points in V. J. Torley’s lengthy review essay, wherein Torley summarizes Michael Alter’s even more lengthy book on the resurrection. The previous two posts are here and here.

Torley’s third selected claim, taken from Michael Alter, is that the story of Jesus’ burial is improbable at multiple points, which therefore provides evidence that the Gospels have been substantially factually changed and are not historically reliable.

Here, as in the two previous points, Torley’s method (and presumably Alter’s) is that of a priori history. The idea is to say, at our distance of time, what would not have been done, to infer that therefore it was not done, and to conclude that an account that says that it was done must be false.

This is a terrible way to do history.

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March 18, 2019

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

A guest post by Timothy McGrew

In this post, I continue my critical examination of three points in V. J. Torley’s lengthy review essay, wherein Torley summarizes Michael Alter’s even more lengthy book on the resurrection. The previous post is here.

When I asked Torley to select three test cases for examination, the second of his choices was the question of whether Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stood at the foot of the cross, a description (allowing for some latitude in expression) drawn from the narrative of John 19. Torley finds this detail highly doubtful. Here is his objection, in his own words:

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February 24, 2019

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

A guest post by Timothy McGrew

… ἡ δὲ κρίσις χαλεπή
Hippocrates, Aphorisms

Skeptical objections to the historicity of the Gospel narratives are numerous. They are also, for the most part, old news. When so many people have gone over the same ground so often, we should not expect much in the way of novelty. Still, every so often someone manages to state some objections so forcefully, or at least with so much bravado and so many footnotes, that they appear to be a new and devastating challenge to the basic factual accuracy of the Gospels.

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February 12, 2019

"Like nothing I've ever seen."

What are we to make of the evidence released by the Pentagon of UFOs?

It may seem a strange question, but the facts force themselves upon the skeptic. The US military supplied the public, about 18 months ago, with three extraordinary videos; and permitted some of the principals involved in the events therein recorded, to authenticate certain details in interviews.

What it comes to this: US military has hard evidence of aerial propulsion, aerodynamics, and avionics well beyond anything in our own arsenal. These videos were recorded by veteran Navy and Air Force combat pilots, flying front-line aircraft, deploying front-line sensor technology, and maneuvering into engagement patterns in order to investigate. One retired pilot describes the acceleration of the object he observed as “like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

(I thought about adding a bunch of links, but that seems tedious.) I’ll give you one video, and one link, and let you readers poke around from there:

Let’s take this logically.

(A) If countries adversarial to America have access to tech at that level, we need to know about it ‒ pronto. The Pentagon thinks the Russians can deploy that kind of thing in the Pacific, or the Chinese in the Atlantic? Fine, that needs to be public knowledge.

(B) If the Pentagon, alone on earth, can deploy that kind of tech, if in other words what these videos reveal, amounts to some kind of black ops or skunk works program discovered by unsuspecting pilots ‒ well, again, out with it. This is a republic and information like that needs to be public knowledge.

Given the unlikelihood of (A) and (B) ‒ and the release of these videos themselves is suggestive of that unlikelihood ‒ we’re compelled to consider another possibility; namely, that the videos present us with technology from elsewhere. Where is anybody’s guess. Cue the X-Files music.

So to answer my question: what are we to make of this business? We are to make of it that we don’t know what to make of it. But that alone is a big step. On occasion, to open a question, to merely declare our inability to draw firm conclusions, comes to something of great significance.

At last we can say this at least, the old and haunting question of UFOs is an open question.

February 5, 2019

On that (in)famous "saints rising" passage in Matthew 27

Why this post?

I am right now in the midst of writing an entire book on literary device theories and the historicity of the Gospels, using the work of Michael Licona as one of my main foils. (See here for all of my New Testament posts to date and here for a gateway to my 2017 Licona series. Scroll down in the latter for blurbs on each of the 2017 posts in the series.)

It suddenly struck me that I have no place in that book that really fits for a discussion of the passage that many people (unfortunately) think criticism of Licona's work is "really all about"--namely, the raising of the saints narrated in Matthew 27:51-53.

Since I like my work to fit together with a clear logical structure, and since I already have several appendices on other topics planned for the book, I was rather puzzled about what to do. It is a sociological fact that much controversy swirled around Licona's questioning of the historicity of this Matthew passage in his 2010 book, The Resurrection of Jesus, and that is how it has come about that so many people think that this is all "just about that." One of my major goals in the enormous amount of work I have done thus far is to dispel that mistaken view. Indeed, all of my work in disagreement with Licona could be written without mentioning that passage! (That's not to say there wouldn't be any connection. Just that it isn't necessary to discuss it to write what I've written. And the connection is somewhat indirect.) So the last thing I want to do is to create confusion once again on that point.

The decision that I've made in the end is to write up a thorough, careful post on the subject. (This one.) I will explain here why this discussion is somewhat tangential to the subject of the book. And I will discuss why I believe Licona's arguments for ahistoricity at that point in Matthew are weak. Then, in the book, I will include a footnote that refers to this post, summarizing very briefly what I say here and sending readers here for more details. It's perhaps not a perfect solution to the practical and organizational issues, but I think it's the best solution I can come up with.

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January 30, 2019

Roe v. Wade and the will to evil

The World Trade Center lit up recently in celebration of the passage of a new New York abortion law. As reported, it does indeed legalize abortion up until birth. The definition of "health," of course, is completely loose, and the abortionist gets to decide what counts. Other states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, and Vermont, are seeing a push from Democrat lawmakers to pass similar laws.

It's good to see my pro-life friends once more having the opportunity to point out the extremism of the pro-aborts. And if you had any doubt, bang on cue, here's an article that says the NY law still isn't radical enough, since the transparent excuse of "health" still has to be used in order to carry out a late-term abortion. Awww. The poor people who want to kill babies late in pregnancy have to check a phony box before doing so. Tsk tsk.

The publicity that this law is receiving may help to open some eyes.

What pro-lifers are not saying much, though, is this: This is the regime of Roe v. Wade. We may be nervous about saying it, lest we sound ho-hum about what New York just did. We don't want to sound like we are speaking like the pro-aborts: "This law doesn't change much. It encodes Roe in case the conservatives on SCOTUS overturn Roe."

Well, we should be so lucky as to have SCOTUS overturn Roe. I fear that isn't going to happen, at least not if "overturn" means what any pro-lifer means by that.

But the fact of the matter is that, with a few notable exceptions, the New York law replaced an obsolete dead letter, a pre-Roe law that remained on the books, with a law that enshrines the radical pro-abortion mandate of Roe.

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January 29, 2019

Death Penalty and Proportionality

Opposition to the death penalty (DP) takes many forms, but the ones I am focusing on here are objections based on a seeming difficulty with the thesis that the DP is the proportionate penalty for some crimes. Objections come in three flavors: (1) that no crime is bad enough to deserve death; (2) that even if death is proportional as a punishment for a crime, some lesser penalty might also be adequate and (therefore) should always be preferred over using the DP; and (3) that the insistence on proportionality by DP is undermined by the fact that if death is proportional for a certain level of serious crime (such as the murder of an innocent civilian), there are many much more serious crimes than that (such as the murder of many innocent civilians, or the murder of policemen, or the instigation of insurrection, or the treasonous assassination of a president…), and yet we cannot put the murderer to death many times to fit proportionality to the crime, hence the thesis that we ought to carry out death as the ‘proportional’ penalty for a single murder is disturbed by the lack of proportion found further down the line. The last objection could seem to lead to the conclusion that the DP should then be used only for the one single class of crime that is “the absolute worst”, but because of the difficulty of locating such a class, in reality the objectors’ intention is to fuzz the notion of proportionality sufficiently to undermine ANY certain or definitive claims about it, and especially claims that we can be confident that the DP is proportionate to any specific crime.

All three objections are wrong, and I hope to provide here if not definitive proof of this, at least good solid arguments that allow us to set the objections down as being inadequate counterarguments to the basic stance that death is a proportionate penalty for very serious crimes.

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January 20, 2019

Mako Three Zero Charlie

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All Americans should know the name John Chapman. Fathers, tell your sons about him. Tell your daughters too.

An Air Force special operator working with the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, Technical Sergeant Chapman perished in eastern Afghanistan in March of 2002 after fighting, alone and seriously wounded, against many al Qaeda irregulars for several hours. In his final moments, he exposed himself to lethal fire in order to provide cover for comrades in a helicopter.

To this display of surpassing valor, the story adds a note of tragic bitterness between the various service branches. Specifically, the note of bitterness arises from the delay in awarding Chapman the Medal of Honor, which his widow finally received last summer. That delay, it seems, was primarily the product of Navy opposition (though some dispute that), and military-bureaucracy machination.

Sean Naylor supplies all the details, from the inspirational to the ugly, in this riveting report in Newsweek last year, which I will not summarize. Instead, just read it, and I’ll conclude with Sgt. Chapman’s official Medal of Honor citation:

Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller, attached to a Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team conducting reconnaissance operations in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. During insertion, the team’s helicopter was ambushed causing a teammate to fall into an entrenched group of enemy combatants below. Sergeant Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted onto the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold to rescue one of their own. Without regard for his own safety, Sergeant Chapman immediately engaged, moving in the direction of the closest enemy position despite coming under heavy fire from multiple directions. He fearlessly charged an enemy bunker, up a steep incline in thigh-deep snow and into hostile fire, directly engaging the enemy. Upon reaching the bunker, Sergeant Chapman assaulted and cleared the position, killing all enemy occupants. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman deliberately moved from cover only 12 meters from the enemy, and exposed himself once again to attack a second bunker, from which an emplaced machine gun was firing on his team. During this assault from an exposed position directly in the line of intense fire, Sergeant Chapman was struck and injured by enemy fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. By his heroic actions and extraordinary valor, sacrificing his life for the lives of his teammates, Technical Sergeant Chapman upheld the highest traditions of military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.


January 11, 2019

Christians in Netherlands face possible prosecution for opposing homosexual acts

Okay, so which part of this is "no big deal"? (Answer: No part of it.) Read on.

Background: The Nashville statement on biblical sexuality was written in the summer of 2017 and is promoted by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The text can be found here. I had not read it until today, and I'm such a cynic that I was afraid it would be wimpy, even though written by the CBMW. But as far as I can see on a quick read, it's good, without even the all-too-common breast-beating about how badly (how?) Christians have treated "LGBTQ persons," or that sort of nonsense. I may have just missed something, but on a first read through the statement looks like a simple, non-insulting, but firm statement of basic Christian sexual morality.

Someone translated the Nashville statement into Dutch.

Some Dutch Christians, despite the extreme leftism even of most "Christians" in their country, bravely signed it.

Now the Dutch public prosecutor is considering whether or not to bring charges against them for signing it.

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January 1, 2019

Apple pulls app for Christian ministry

In case anyone remembers the recent attempt in California to ban so-called "conversion therapy," here is a related event: A Texas-based Christian ministry on issues of sexuality, Living Hope Ministries, has had its app pulled from the app store by tech giant Apple on the grounds of the alleged "bigotry" of their position. You know, teaching traditional sexuality, encouraging those with same-sex attraction who want to live according to God's plan for sexuality, and offering DVDs on how to help people in your church who have SSA--all very "bigoted" stuff. The claim is that all such programs to proclaim the traditional Christian view and encourage people to live by it are ipso facto "reparative therapy." That is precisely what those of us claimed when we opposed the CA bill. (That has been tabled for the moment, but I fear it will be back in another year.)

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December 28, 2018

Sharia enforcement at Mall of America

December 24, 2018

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

December 17, 2018

Tidings of comfort and...wellll...hmmmm

December 13, 2018

Evangelical college associations capitulate in return for exemptions

December 11, 2018

Phillip Zodhiates begins prison term

 
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