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While Bergoglio is the first pope elected from the Americas (the so-called New World), there was talk of there being a first American pope or pope from the United States of America. I want to address why that would have been a bad idea at this time.
Although I'm using the past-tense, "was" here, it is possible that a case could be made that heretics should still be killed but I'm not the one making that case. I guess we first must ask; What makes a person a heretic? Typically you will hear that heresy is simply going against the predominant view, in this case against whatever expression of Christianity is dominant. This is where a person may claim that everyone is a heretic to someone else over some issue or another; thus making relativistic the entire idea. This is especially true of how the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants have interacted. To this day, there are many Roman Catholics and many Protestants that do not consider the other group to even be Christians. But, I'm not trying to be ecumenical here.
So, let us try to define heresy a little tighter. Romans 16:17-18 is perhaps the clearest biblical expression of what it means to be a heretic.
The debate between whether most Christians are YEC or OEC is clouded under poor data collection abilities, such as shown by this attempt. The key is to not merely look at the last 25-200 years or to focus on America vs everyone else; especially since Europe has become almost atheistic over the last 200 years. We have to dig much deeper than looking at denominational statements, which as we've seen with the issue of homosexuality is greatly influenced by socio-political drives.
First, let's exclude America altogether. Let's start in the 1400s and go backwards. This way we will not fall into the trap of "Western Christianity vs Eastern Christianity...". I want to know about historic Christianity before there was such a thing as "American Christianity".
The YouTube video, "Reformation Polka" has generated a lot of comments, especially about the contention that Martin Luther and the other Reformers more opposed Papalism rather than the Church in general.
A few questions came that I'd like to address in a full article.
United States of America president Barack Obama announced on May 1, 2011 that America had successfully located and killed Islamic terrorist Osama Bin Laden, dumping his corpse in to the ocean so that his burial place would not become a memorial for other would-be terrorists.
During the announcement, Obama like a typical politician made it sound like the world stood in unity with America and he made sure to emphasize that America is not at war with Islam and never will be. While I understand the diplomatic strategy of saying such a thing, it seems to miss the historic FACT that Islam has been at war with the West, and even specifically America since America's founding. (See Barbary Pirates and: http://thekingdomcome.com/christianity_vs_islam )
In America, on Easter or Resurrection Sunday as it is often called, families dress up in their finest clothes and invite members of the family or friends they rarely speak to any other time of the year to attend church. They may get up early or go to the second service, to hear sermons on the resurrection. Afterwards, they often go to a restaurant or there is a pitch-in meal at someone's home. The meal is typically ham/pork perhaps in reference to Christianity's symbolism of being freed from the Jewish dietary law, which was really about God's calling non-Jews "clean", in giving them the ability to be part of the New Covenant (see Acts 10:9-15). Sometimes, depending how religious the family is there are Easter-egg hunts, plastic-grass filled baskets with chocolate bunnies and jelly-beans.
Does anyone know the origin or history of this holiday in America? Because America was originally very "Puritan" and Calvinisti, neither Easter nor Christmas was observed before the Civil War. From all appearance, Easter with its bunnies seems to have been brought to America by Germans.
Athanasius was the 4th-century Christian theologian known for his epic and unwavering stance against anti-Trinitarians called Arians (source). But even more, Athanasius was often alone in his defense of the historic Christian Faith. I don't mean that Athanasius was a rebel who had a doctrine different than the rest of Christianity, rather that while Athanasius was consistently in line with the teachings of historic Christianity, there were times in his life that the "leaders" of the segment of the Church of which he was part abandoned the historic Christian doctrine.
On the other side of this is the TRUE rebel who reads the Bible and claims they alone have come to a conclusion different than every other Christian in history. Such a person often comes up with a doctrine never taught in historic Christianity and when people reject this doctrine and the person advocating it, the person may go into "Martyr Complex" mode -- woe is me, I'm being persecuted for Christ's sake -- when in reality they are being opposed for their OWN sake.
In the 15th and 16th centuries Europe experienced a series of world changing revolutions. Christians may think of it as the time when the Protestants opposed the Roman Catholic Church but there was more to it than religious revolution. The populations were over throwing centuries of aristocracy (rule by kings, queens and other "royalty").
More than anything else, this is what appears to be happening in the Middle East, so-called "Arab countries". But it is more than just Arab countries since not all of the nations where these revolts are boiling are actually "Arab". For instance, Iran is mainly Persian with only a 3% Arab population. Bahrain is considered non-Arab.
The fall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak supposedly marks a significant change in the Arab/Muslim world. Some media is touting it as freedom and democracy coming to Egypt. But I wonder if that illusion will actually materialize. For instance, back in 2006 Gaza and the East Bank (in "Palestine") held what at the time were considered historic elections. In the lead up to the elections, the United States touted the elections as marking freedom coming to Gaza. Even when Israel tried to postpone the elections for fear of more radicals taking over, U.S. president George W. Bush pushed for the elections to go forward. After the elections, many outside of Palestine considered it a failure since the winning party was Hamas, a group classified as a terrorist organization -- even by the U.S. (ref). Immediately after the elections the U.S. and other countries stopped financial assistance to Palestine.
Ironically enough and to bring it back to Egypt, Hamas was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The turmoil in Egypt may be a precursor to a revolution that will finally bring the Muslim world into the 21st century. On the heels of revolution in the Muslim country of
Young, college educated adults no longer want to live in the 7th-century. However, this doesn't mean they want to toss Islam, only that they want to be able to be human before being identified by a religion.
As Sam Frost's unofficial nemesis I thought it fitting to address the major change going on in his theological world. As many readers may know, Frost is a dynamic "theologian" that had been a major leader within the Full or Hyper Preterist movement. I say "had been" because in 2011 Frost has recanted hyperpreterismi.
First, we should define what we mean by "hyperpreterism".
History in general is an often manipulated tool since most of us find it boring we easily believe the popular portrayal. For example, the so-called "Dark-Ages" was a period we think of as...well..."dark" or not too enLIGHTened. We think of superstitious religious beliefs holding back advancement in the arts and sciences. Much of this is blamed on Christianity.
To hear the popular portrayal, Christianity held back advancements by suppressing intellectual pursuit. But is this the real story?
Does humanity have a "sense" or an innate awareness of God? Does humanity have within it a "seed of religiosity" and if so why? This has been the historic starting point of Christianity. Christianity has advocated that humanity does indeed have an innate awareness of God based on Romans 1:20
This is an extremely important point before we even get to the discussion of the Bible. So many people treat the Bible as if it is a book of logical axioms that can be used like some sort of sectional, sub-paragraphed legal document. There are things God says and does in the Bible that SEEM contradictory but in reality are not. (Examples: Commanding humans to keep the commandments, knowing full well no human had the ability to do so, or the entire Job account)
Serbia, a landlocked country in what is considered Eastern Europe is perhaps one of the most pivotal countries as it relates to Christianity's past AND its future. First, Serbia is where Constantine I was born. As you know, Constantine, whether loved or hated by modern Christians, was in fact the Roman emperor that in 312 A.D. converted to Christianity and then set about Christianizing the Roman Empire. (source) This is significant because this was the beginning of what we might call Western culture.
Serbia itself, throughout the centuries began the gateway to the Eastern Christian empire, the Byzantine Empire and its capital Constantinople.
As we know, the media often portrays Muslim or Islamic extremists as a different and minority group within the larger religion of Islam. We are told that most Muslims aren't terrorists and don't want to harm other people. We are told that "Islam is a religion of peace". And there is some truth to at least one part of these claims; most Muslims aren't terrorists, otherwise the situation would be worse. So, then why does a group of Muslims turn to terrorism? Are they merely taking an extreme, literal interpretation of the Koran?
Then, when we think of Christian extremism, is it groups like the Branch Davidians, the Jim Jones sect or other such groups? Or is it more accurate to consider groups like the Amish, Quakers, and Mennonites as the comparison to the so-called Islamic extremists. After all, the ones that are labeled extremists are those who take the actual text the most literal -- and with Islam that is the terrorists and with Christianity that is the Amish/Quakers/Mennonites and such.
Barack Obama made the following statement:
Perhaps at face value and after decades of liberals trying to tell us the United States of America wasn't built on Christian values, Obama's stand sounds simply like a man defending the rights of his fellow Americans. But upon further consideration, we should look at the contrast of Obama telling Israel that they shouldn't build more settlements in their own territory because it would be insensitive to the surrounding Muslims.
The Obama White House has tasked NASA to "find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering." -- source
The elites often like to claim that while pre-Medieval and Medieval Europe was groping around in the so-called "Dark Ages", Islam and Muslim culture was imparting to the world, great scientific strides. But let's back up a little. Where were the great centers of learning and knowledge resource BEFORE the advent of Islam?
Among the many topics the Reformer, Martin Luther addressed was the topic of marriage. Luther, as you know came out of a culture where Papalism said that priests should remain celibate. Eventually, Luther himself did get married. I want to take some time to review a treatise by Luther titled, The Estate of Marriage.
Luther discusses who should marry and whom to marry, per the Bible and further Luther discusses whom should be celibate and why. I will review his three-part treatment in even smaller segments. Please refer to this link to see Luther's actual treatise as translated into English by Walther I. Brandt.
As a Reformed Christian, the subject of Sola Scriptura or Bible alone is a very important part of my approach to Christianity. But it is not so much "my" approach I want to understand, as I'm not very keen on developing a radical individualized theology. I am pursuing a course that will bring my faith more in line with the "faith once and for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Unfortunately, I have had Roman Catholics (RC) and Anabaptistic Christians alike tell me that if I want that kind of faith, I'll have to become a Roman Catholic. I disagree.
The topic of Sola Scriptura is prescient because so many times, we non-Roman Catholics seem to use that phrase but instead behave like it is "Sola private interpretation" and to heck with the faith passed down via the apostles (2 Thes 2:15) -- as if the Church was so corrupted within a few centuries, that it was not revived again until the Reformation. This is wrong thinking in that it ultimately undermines the continuity of Christianity and saws off the very branch we claim to sit on.
In this regard, I have had some interactions with Joe Heschmeyer, a Roman Catholic Christian and law student at Georgetown University Law Center.
We have all heard the supposed example of the bitter rivals, George Whitefield and John Wesley from whom we are supposed to consider how Christians should disagree yet remain friendly. But have you heard of Augustus Toplady? Toplady was a contemporary of George Whitefield, John Gill, and William Romaine. At age 15, Toplady converted via the preaching of an Arminian preacher but by the time Toplady was 18 and had read several Calvinistic works, he came to see Arminianism as an incorrect view.
While Whitefield constantly publicly refused to engage Wesely, even though Wesley had turned Whitefield's Calvinst ministry into an Arminian ministry, Toplady took Wesley head on. Toplady first published a work titled, The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted which upset Wesley. This 1769 work was actually a translation of the 1562 work which in great part helped Toplady become a Calvinist. (Confession of the Christian Religion).
No matter what you call it, many Christians, bi-annual "Christians" and non-Christians will attend some sort of service Sunday. Many will do so out of mere tradition, some because they were invited by some family member and others because they are commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
After services, some families will spend time together eating lamb (in a symbol of the passover, sacrificial lamb that Jesus represented), or some will have ham. Pork is traditionally an "unclean" food for Jews but Jesus came to fulfill the Law and bring mercy, grace, and salvation, thus eating what was once forbidden symbolizes freedom (see Acts 10:9-16).
Sometimes when in discussion with atheists or people resisting Christianity, or religion in general you will hear the claim that religion has been the cause of the most human suffering and death in the world. Typically, events like the Crusades, the so-called "witch hunts" and the Inquisition will be trotted out as proof. And many Christians will shrink back or will say something like, "Even so, Christianity as it was espoused by Christ is non-violent." Although it is true that Christianity as espoused by Christ was to be spread not by the sword (as Islam is designed), but by the Word, by mere preaching. But why should we allow the atheist to even use the Crusades and such as evidence in their claim that most human suffering and death has been caused by religion. It plainly is not true.
What I want to do is offer a detailed listing of human death from the 18th century through the 20th century and see if the claim is true. Yes, we'll also look at the Crusades, the witch hunts and the Inquisition.
Athanasius of Alexandria Egypt gained the title of contra mundum or "against the world" because at times, when it came to the issue of the Trinityi and the deity of Christ it seemed like it was just Athanasius against the entire world. When emperors and fellow churchmen seemed to waffle on this position, Athanasius stubbornly stuck to it no matter how much he was berated and harassed, even exiled and threatened with execution.
Athanasius' story -- the real story, not some fiction -- began between 293AD and 298AD when he was born presumably in the city of Alexandria Egypt.
It is interesting that every new generation of evangelical elites, whether it be conservative Calvinists or liberal Postmodernists seem to always go through a time of rediscovery. Christianity is supposed to be an historical religion, with continuity of foundation and purpose but so much time is expended simply rehashing the same issues that had been argued and settled often centuries before. I know some people enjoy this "journey" but to me it seems a waste of time to always be resetting to zero. Why can't we, especially as Christians simply stand firm in the foundations of our Faith? Why do people think it necessary to go through years and years of doubt, as if that is some great achievement? It is like the once obese person celebrating after achieving some milestone weight reduction while it would be better that we celebrate the person who always maintained their diet and never became obese. But such is our culture, always celebrating the overcomers of failure instead of the faithful maintainers of success.
There was a time in Christianity when regional pastors, called "Bishops" would spend most of their time articulating the precepts of the Faith, defending against heretical encroachment, and all around general exposition of historic Christianity. But now, those days are all but gone. Instead pastors are too busy tending "local churches". It would be too disruptive, too messy for a pastor to take on the heresies that batter the Church. Instead, individual "laymen" who come across these heresies are either left to fall prey to them or to battle them on their own without much support from the local congregation.
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