Daily Archives: 18 Feb 2018

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Stoneman Douglas High School
5901 Pine Island Road
Parkland, Florida 33076

A Curious Fact about the Civil War

We have a tendency to think that America has always been relatively Christian since its very founding and that only in recent decades has the church been troubled by widespread unfaithfulness and lessened participation, but that simply isn’t true.  And it’s not just our day that has seen a drop in Church attendance.  Writing of the Civil War, Dan Reid observes

The war cost billions of dollars and more casualties than any other in U.S. history, ruined and impoverished many Southern states and left a lasting legacy of sectional and racial hatred. Despite a significant revival in the Confederate army during the war, Christianity in general did not fare well in the conflict. Besides killing and wounding tens of thousands of faithful church members, four years of carnage blunted the American moral and religious conscience. Both during and immediately after the war, church membership and attendance declined.*

America has seen Christianity ebb and flow.  Rise and fall.  Grow and waver.  Throughout its history, and it will continue to do so.  The present wavering and faltering of faithful Christians faithfully taking part in the life of the Church and thus the core of their faith will one day be halted and faithfulness will again return.  The only question is, will we be part of it, or will we depart before it happens?  The choice is ours because the choice to be faithful (or not) is always ours.

However, no matter what we decide, the Church will carry on, even if only a tiny fraction of its present numbers, because the Church belongs to Christ and he has no intention of letting it disappear.  Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, so modern indifference and Christian apathy can’t destroy it either.

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*Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).

When Having Your Child Baptized Lands You In Jail…

And it’s not in some backward third world country, it’s here.

A North Carolina mother is behind bars after she baptized her daughter without the permission of the girl’s father.

Kendra Stocks has been ordered to spend seven days in jail after a judge found her in contempt of court for baptizing her daughter.

“It’s just very sad,” Stocks told WSOC. “It’s all a very sad situation.”

Stocks and the girl’s father, Paul Schaff, have been involved in a custody battle for the past couple years. Both are Catholic.The court granted Schaff the final decision-making authority involving all legal custody decisions, including those involving religion.

The day after the judge granted Schaff that authority, Stocks had the child baptized without telling him. He found about the baptism on Facebook and reported it. Judge Sean Smith ruled that Stocks was in contempt of court and ordered her to serve seven days in jail.

“Her father and I both agreed on baptizing her,” Stocks said. “I regret that he wasn’t part of it, but I don’t regret that we’re raising her in the Catholic faith, which is what we both wanted.”

Schaff’s attorney told WSOC that Stocks’ sentence is just the price she has to pay for making bad decisions.

“I’ll get through it and hopefully come out a better person,” Stocks said.

Is Mary Beard a Racist?

Evidently she said some very racist things about Haiti yesterday and it has created a good deal of backlash.  Most notably, here.

I’m afraid that your good intentions notwithstanding, it is precisely this genteel patrician racist manner and this context of entrenched denial in which your tweet on Haiti, ‘civilised’ values (scare quotes noted but not enough, I’m afraid) and disaster zones was received. It was, as you now know, received with enormous shock. (Not by me though — I’m used to this kind of casual magisterial apologetic coming out of the mouths of my Cambridge colleagues; it’s the stuff of everyday college lunch table conversations and hence I’ve taken the simple step of not dining in colleges as far as is feasible ). Your subsequent blog post, to not put too fine a point on it, did little to help your cause and is regarded by many as a ‘no-pology’, a stubborn refusal to see what was wrong with your original post and taking refuge instead in the familiar posture of wounded white innocence.

Read the whole… it’s really stunning.

Von Harnack’s Concluding Remarks About Luther

Any one who lets Luther be Luther, and regards his main positions as the valuable possession of the evangelical church—who does not merely tolerate them, that is to say, under stress of circumstances (per angustias temporum)—has the lofty title and the strict obligation to conclude the history of dogma with him.  — Adolf von Harnack

That’s wrong on so many levels.  The history of Dogma doesn’t end with Luther because the history of the Church doesn’t.  But it’s the sentiments, typically, of adherents of Lutheranism (and of course von Harnack was that sort).

Luther: On Death

“It’s remarkable that men should be so arrogant and secure when there are so many, indeed countless, evidences around us to suggest that we ought to be humble. The hour of our death is uncertain. The grain on which we live is not in our hands. Neither the sun nor the air, on which our life depends, lies in our power, and we have no control over our sleeping and waking. I shall say nothing of spiritual things, such as the private and public sins which press upon us. Yet our hearts are hard as steel and pay no attention to such evidence.”  — Martin Luther

A Luther Gallery on the Anniversary of His Death

Adolf von Harnack on Luther’s Roman Catholicism

Luther believed he was contending only against the abuses and errors of the Mediæval Church. He declared, no doubt, not infrequently that he was not satisfied with the “dear Fathers,” and that they had all gone astray; yet he was not clear-sighted enough to say to himself that if the Church Fathers were in error, their decrees at the Councils could not possibly contain the whole truth. In no way, it is true, did he feel himself any longer externally bound by these decrees, nay, we can see brilliant flashes of incisive criticism, e.g. in his treatise on Councils and Churches; yet these continued on the whole without effect.

He always fell back again upon the view that the wretched Pope was alone to blame for all the evil, and that all the mischief, therefore, was connected with the Middle Ages only. Thus from this side his prepossession in favour of the faith-formulæ of the Ancient Church—on the ground that they did not take to do with works and law—was only further strengthened; indeed there was exercising its influence here, unconsciously to himself, a remnant of the idea that the empirical Church is authority.  — Adolf von Harnack

It is precisely here that Luther is less Reformer than Zwingli or Calvin.  Luther wanted to fix the Papacy, nothing more.  Zwingli and Calvin wanted to return to the Christianity of the New Testament.  Luther never would have gone that far had he lived to the present day.

Luther’s Death

February 18, 1546: Martin Luther dies in Eisleben of an apparent heart attack in the early hours of the morning.

Martin’s health had been a concern of his for years. Long periods of depravation in the monastery had contributed to digestive and kidney problems. Katie had nursed her husband through many bouts of illness but now, not even his doctors could help him. His work in Eisleben had finally been completed even as he lay in his sick bed. His sons Martin and Paul had returned from Mansfeld, where they had been visiting relatives, and were able to be at his side when he died. His final words were “Father into your hands I commend my spirit. You have redeemed me, faithful God.” One of his companions then asked him if he would die steadfast in Christ and in the Gospel which he had preached. He answered with a clear, audible, “Yes.”

Shown are the house in Eisleben where Luther died and an artist’s depiction of the room at the time of his death.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux