December 2006


Dennis Prager argues against this silly notion that “we should not judge” by pointing out that if we cannot make judgments, then not only are we prohibited from declaring certain people to be evil/immoral, we are also prohibited from declaring certain people to be good. Both require that we judge the merits of a person. People often miss this because they think of “judgment” only in terms of bad.


 

Furthermore, it would be meaningless to say someone is good unless they are being compared against someone else we have judged not good. In other words, you can’t say someone is good unless you can say someone is bad.

Georgetown University philosopher, Alexander Pruss, made an insightful comment over at Right Reason about abortion. He argues that not only is the act of abortion immoral, but even the contemplation of the act is immoral:

 

In weighing whether or not to abort, one is weighing the life of a particular child against other considerations. In engaging in such weighing, one is acting as if this particular child’s life had the kind of value that can be weighed and compared against other considerations (Kant calls this “market value”). Suppose that through the weighing of pros and cons, one chooses not to abort. In that case, one’s later relationship with the child causally depends on one’s having judged that the child’s life outweighs the values implicit in the considerations one had in favor of abortion. This suggests a certain kind of conditionality in the relationship: one’s having engaged in weighing implies that one accepted the possibility that something else at least might be more valuable to one than the life of the child.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>

 

Very interesting argument!

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<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>Alexander Pruss, “A Miscellany of Pro-Life Arguments; II: Unconditionality in Parent-Child Relationships”; available from http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/2006/09/a_miscellany_of.html; Internet; accessed 28 September 2006.

Recently I was listening to a scientist discuss the Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design debate. He passed on some advice that one of his professors passed on to him: try to disprove your point of view, both privately and publicly. Speaking of the scientific realm, he said a good scientist should always be looking for those things that do not support his theory, rigorously explore them, and even report on them. Why? For several reasons. First, it keeps one intellectually honest about the data. Second, it helps one see the issue from other perspectives. Third, it shows your opponents your openness to alternate interpretations. Fourth, your view may be wrong.

I found this advice to be helpful for all areas of study, not just science. As theologians (whether lay or professional) we should be open to the possibility that we could be mistaken. We should seek to discover the best arguments against our view, and interact with them. We should be public about the debate. When making our case, we should not only report on the evidence for our position, but also on the evidence against our position. I think we would all be better thinkers for doing so, and have a much better chance at obtaining more truth.

In the beginning of John’s Gospel John says no one has seen God, but the unique Son has unveiled him and shown the world who he is (1:18). The literary fulfillment of this powerful passage in John’s prologue is not unveiled until the end of John’s Gospel–John 20:28. While the great confession of the synoptics is Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah, in John’s Gospel the great confession is that of Thomas: “My lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).


 

While we focus on Thomas’ doubt upon hearing reports of Jesus’ resurrection, he is the hero of John’s gospel. Thomas recognized Jesus as the Word in the beginning. He properly saw Jesus for who He was: God manifest in human existence. It was Thomas who recognizes the unveiled God, and yet all we seem to recognize is Thomas’ initial doubt. Poor Thomas. He got a bad rap.

In Matthew 2 we find the story of the wise men from the East coming to worship the newborn king of the Jews. The text says “the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Mt 2:9b)

 

Was this star a natural or supernatural phenomenon? Both interpretations seem to be problematic. If it was a natural phenomenon, how could it be that the star stood specifically over Bethlehem? A natural celestial star would have naturally stood over every location in Israel, not just a tiny little town five miles from Jerusalem! That lends to the idea that the star was a supernatural phenomenon. But if it were supernatural, how is it that only the wise men picked up on it? Why weren’t the locals fascinated with this star? Why wasn’t anyone else drawn to the birthplace of Jesus through this star? Surely someone besides the wise men would have been drawn to a star that stood over a very specific location.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions for resolving this dilemma?

It’s said that a lie told over and over eventually becomes the truth. That couldn’t be more true than it is in the abortion debate. Since at least the days of Roe v. Wade it has been popular to inject the “nobody knows when life begins” slogan into the abortion debate. Of course, anyone who knows a thing about embryology knows this common knowledge is really just common ignorance. When human life begins is a biological certainty.

In 2005 the South Dakota legislature passed a law requiring abortion doctors to inform mothers seeking an abortion that abortions “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” That was too much for federal district court judge, Karen Scheier, to handle. She slapped a preliminary injunction on the law in June 2005 because “unlike the truthful, non-misleading medical and legal information doctors were required to disclose, the South Dakota statute requires abortion doctors to enunciate the state’s viewpoint on an unsettled medical, philosophical, theological and scientific issue — that is, whether a fetus is a human being.” Nice try. Common ignorance strikes again, resulting in the death of more innocent human beings. Very sad.

Awhile back a blog dedicated to Biblical theology was discussing what it meant for Jesus’ baptism to “fulfill all righteousness.” One of the commentators brought up Broughton Knox’s take on the passage. Know writes:
In other words, Jesus said that it was right for him to identify with John’s messianic movement, for John’s baptism was “from God” (Matt 21:25) and Jesus would not stand aloof from it but ‘while all the people were being baptized’ (Lk 3:21) it was suitable that Jesus too should be baptized. It was the ‘right thing to do’. It was right for John, who was sent from God to baptize with water (John 1:33) to baptize Jesus and so include him in the movement along with all other God-fearing Jews who were awaiting the kingdom, and it was right for Jesus to accept John as the God-sent leader at that time and so accept baptism at his hands. In this way it was appropriate for both of them that John should baptize Jesus and that Jesus should identify with John’s message in the way that God had ordained, i.e., by being baptized by him in water, for God had sent him to baptize with water (John 1:33). That is, the baptism of Jesus was a baptism of discipleship, for at that time John was the leader. When the providence of God removed John from the leadership through Herod shutting him up in prison, then Jesus took over the leadership, preaching the same gospel. However, it would seem that he dropped the rite of baptizing with water, though his disciples revived it on the day of Pentecost.
What do you think of this interpretation? What is your interpretation of this intriguing and perplexing passage?

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