Thursday, July 29, 2010

The "Just" War Theory From The Context Of The Civil War

No Peace for the Wicked: Northern Protestants and the American Civil War examines Northern Protestants' religious worldview, their motivations for fighting, and why the most religious generation in U.S. history fought America's bloodiest war. In the spring of 1861, young men throughout the Northern states rallied around the Union flag, eager to punish the Confederate renegades who had brazenly inaugurated civil war by firing on Fort Sumter. Often driven by their Protestant religious beliefs, many northern soldiers believed they were enlisting in a just war to save their Christian government from a "wicked" Southern rebellion.

These Protestant soldiers' faith was severely tested by the hardships and tragedies they experienced in the Civil War. The vast majority easily justified their wartime service by reminding themselves and their loved ones that they were engaged in a holy cause to preserve the world's only Christian republic. Others were genuinely haunted by the horrific violence of a seemingly endless civil war, and began to entertain serious doubts about their faith.

The first comprehensive work of its kind, David Rolfs' No Peace for the Wicked sheds new light on the Northern Protestant soldiers' religious worldview and the various ways they used it to justify and interpret their wartime experiences. Drawing extensively from the letters, diaries and published collections of hundreds of religious soldiers, Rolfs effectively resurrects both these soldiers' religious ideals and their most profound spiritual doubts and conflicts. No Peace for the Wicked also explores the importance of "just war" theory in the formulation of Union military strategy and tactics, and examines why the most religious generation in U.S. history fought America's bloodiest war.

Source: A Just War, Just A War, Crusade or Jihad?: Yankee Soldiers and Their Motivations for Sacrifice.

Mainline Baptists Are Not Without Their Problems

Moderate/Liberal Baptists are not without their problems of using the Pulpit to wield political influence over congregations and individual believers as this recent Associated Baptist Press article demonstrates. Quote:
Carter credited Allen's help in an address to about 260 guests at a Georgia event introducing a new biography by McAfee School of Theology professor Larry McSwain titled Loving beyond Your Theology: The Life and Ministry of Jimmy Raymond Allen. The former president said he came to the realization years later as he listened to his long-time minister friend respond in a meeting with African-American Baptist leaders to the question, "When did you first meet Jimmy Carter?"

"I began to realize that when I first came to Texas -- I had won in Iowa and New Hampshire and Florida -- that I was a forlorn, woeful, forgotten, hopeless candidate for president," Carter said. "Until I met Jimmy Allen -- he was pastor of the First Baptist Church in San Antonio -- and he took me under his arm."

"He was reluctant to get involved in politics," Carter said, "but he remembered that I said I was a born-again Christian."

"He pointed out that he wasn't really supporting me," Carter said. "He was supporting the right of somebody to say they are a born-again Christian. So he endorsed me."

Although Allen wasn't an official spokesman for Texas Baptists, Carter said, "because of the introduction and endorsement I got in San Antonio, Texas turned around."

For all the grief we've given about the political influence within the SBC---we are capable of being guilty of the same.

Models Of Atonement

Here's an interesting article critique of some of the major Atonement Theories. Excerpt:
When systematic theologians get their hands on such questions, they utter
big words. The big word here is Atonement. How should we understand the
atoning work of Jesus Christ? In the theological brief that follows we will examine
six conceptual models or theories of atonement:
1. Jesus as the Teacher of True Knowledge
2. Jesus as Moral Example and Influence
3. Jesus as Victorious Champion
4. Jesus as Satisfaction
5. Jesus as the Happy Exchange
6. Jesus as the Final Scapegoat

Read full article here: Models of Atonement By Ted Peters.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Progressive Islam And Reform

Progressive Muslims have produced a considerable body of liberal thoughts within Islam[1][2] (الإسلام التقدمي or "progressive Islam"; but some consider progressive Islam and liberal Islam as two distinct movements [3]). These movements can be classified best according to their methodology of reform to two groups, a group which depends largely on Re-interpreting the traditional texts which constitutes Islamic law (ijtihad)[4], and a more liberal approach of a group that even questions the authoritative status applied to texts by the Traditional Islamic Scholars, resulting in the case of Quran Alone Muslims in rejecting the islamic nerratives of the sayings of Muhammad (Hadith) completely.

The most liberal muslim intellectuals who focussed on religious reform include Sayyid al-Qimni, Nasr Abu Zayd, Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohammed Arkoun, Mohammed Shahrour, Ahmed Subhy Mansour, Edip Yuksel, Gamal al-Banna, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, and Faraj Foda, the last two were killed after Apostasy claims.

Liberal Muslims generally claim that they are returning to the principles of the early Ummah and to the ethical and pluralistic intent of their scripture, the Qur'an.[5] They distance themselves from some traditional and less liberal interpretations of Islamic law, as they consider these to be culturally based and without universal applicability. The reform movement uses monotheism (tawhid) "as an organizing principle for human society and the basis of religious knowledge, history, metaphysics, aesthetics, and ethics, as well as social, economic and world order."[6]

H/T: Liberal movements within Islam See also: Anarchism and Islam

Some Interesting Thoughts From Turkish Anarco-Islamists

In a free society without the state, neither the secular nor the religious ideology can govern. Because the people have destroyed the armed state and began to govern themselves. In this society believers live according to their beliefs and non-believers live as they want to


Discussion about religion and secularism is indeed complex; it is a subject which has deep philosophical roots. It is impossible to consider all the arguments in such a short article (I hope I will be able to do this in a later date). However, in this article I will explain why I am against both fronts.

The defenders of secular state say that the defenders of theocratic state would build a totalitarian state and would repress all thoughts and beliefs which do not comply to the rules of religion.

The defenders of theocratic state say that the aim of the defenders of secular state is not only to repress religion and religious people but also to repress all thoughts and beliefs which do not comply to the "supreme" ideology of secular minority.

The defenders of secular state say that secular state does not mean repression but freedom.

The defenders of theocratic state say that "their" state does not mean repression but freedom.

In short, to arrive at truth, we only need to see that what they say against each other is true and what they say of themselves is not true.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Men Shouldn't Be Ordained As Pastors

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.

7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.

5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.

4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.

1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.

H/T: Jesus Radicals. Originally posted at:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do we really get Romans?

Do we really get Romans? A little Badiou and Žižek can help.

It's been said that reformations and revolutions in Christianity begin with a re-reading of Romans.

That is certainly true of the Protestant Reformation with Luther's epoch-shaking insight into the meaning of the phrase "the righteousness of God."

It is true as well of Barth's commentary The Epistle to the Romans, which in the words of a Catholic commentator "burst like a bombshell on the playground of the European theologians." Barth's leveraging of Paul's argument in Romans served, in the shocking aftermath and disillusionment of the First World War, to turn the scholarly, cozy, and complex arguments of 19th century Protestant thinkers on their head and usher in the relatively long era that we today know as Neo-Orthodoxy.

The long-tenured regime of Neo-Orthodoxy collapsed - quite quickly really - in the mid-to-late 1960s with the cultural revolution of that period, which coincided with the rise of both religious studies as an "alternative", at least in America, to the intellectual cartel of Barthianism and the Barth-based mainline Protestant establishment and the emergence of so-called "secular theology," which gradually morphed into a new establishment with its own signature and features. Much of today's Christian postmodernism has this latter development as both its source and heritage, although it is also fair to say that its initial impulse in the form of applied Derrideanism was derived from the sense of a thoroughgoing "gappiness" in conventional liberal constructions of God along with the realization that there was room for postulating a "holiness" that could be glimpsed in all the holes of the not-so-monolithic text. That is the genealogy of all "religion without religion."

Secular theologies, whether they be grounded in the grand narratives of 19th century bourgeois progressivism or the "apocalypse now" and "destruction of metaphysics" themes of the post-Sixties decades, are always the products of good economic times and social stability. The varieties of "crisis" theology" - the original terminology for Neo-Orthodoxy - find fertile soil in political or economic anxiety and social upheaval. All the current discussion of what may be coming "after postmodernism" may be setting the stage for the emergence of a 21st century crisis theology, though one completely and obviously unlike what reigned from the 1930 up to the 1960s.

Besides Romans, crisis theologies - if that's really the word we want to use - always turn out to carry the genetics of a previous and hitherto marginalized philosophical movement. Luther relied indirectly on nominalism for his critique of Thomism, indulgences, and Catholic sacramental theology. Barth "discovered" Kierkegaard. If a new crisis theology is in the making - most likely with its own re-appropriation of Romans - what might that be?


Balthasar Hubmaier On Romans 13

From The Radical Reformation By Michael G. Baylor pg. 206:

But if an authority is childish or foolish, indeed even unfit to rule, it is always good to get rid of him and accept another ruler. This is good because God has often punished a whole land on account of an evil authority. But if that removal cannot be undertaken legally and peacefully, without great harm and rebellion, then unfit rulers should be tolerated because God has given them to us in his wrath and wants to plague us thus, as being worthy of no better rulers, because of our sins.

---Balthasar Hubamaier,On The Sword- The last passage: to sanction government among Christians.