Notes on Religion
- "Column: Church's 195th year is a legacy worth recognizing" Bloomington Herald Times (2021), with my comment:
I don't think founder Barton W. Stone would be very happy with the church he founded. Here is what he said Robert Owen's New Harmony: "We formerly gave an abstract of his system as detailed by the pretended reformer himself, and expressed approbation of its leading features, as they were then exhibited. It now appears that Mr. Owen was then feeding the American public with milk, deeming them unable to bear the strong meat of his doctrine. ... It is indeed a system of undisguised Atheism, and social corruption; which does not recognize even the existence, much less the providence and moral government of God, and admits none of the sanctions of religion. It proclaims religion, marriage and property the greatest evils, and thus removes every restraint upon the most unbounded and brutal licentiousness and debauchery. It will be perceived too, by the article to which we refer, that it has not even the merit of originality, but is merely a revival in language and with circumstances, somewhat more refined, of the infidel principles of the last century." https://webfiles.acu.edu/.../texts/bstone/cm/CM0102.HTM...
Unchristian Behavior and Profit
"Sometimes, you see an irate and unreasonable customer loudly berating an employee of some business over the business’ perceived failure. The employee generally listens patiently and tries to fix the problem."
t's interesting that big corporations act much more like how we imagine meek, Jesus-imitating, Christians to behave than actual Christians do. The corporation is doing it for profit, of course, but it's interesting how much better Profit works than Love of God as far as behaving in a Christian manner. Christianity's answer is that the Christian is the Christian life is one of repentance and we are all sinners, so sin in Christians is to be expected. But liberals have a problem here. The profit motive works much better than intrinsic motivation in generating good behavior, so their attempt to get people to be good by indoctrination (or "education", if you like) or just because people are supposed to be good, seems doomed to failure.
Vestments and Surplices
R asmusen: 1. The idea that a man's first duty is to God, even if the civil authority makes it illegal, isn't just Protestant, surely-- wouldn't Roman Catholics also say that there is a first duty to God versus Caesar?
Garnett: "I would assume so, although I would expect Catholics to be, perhaps, more skeptical about the authority of private judgment regarding what one's duties to God actually *are*. That is, the fact that one *believes* (sincerely) that one's duty to God requires X would not *necessarily*, on the Catholic view, be enough to entitle one to do X, if the common good, as embodied in law, requires not-X. But, I could be wrong!"
Rasmusen: This is a very interesting difference in what we might call temperament, or prudence, or diffidence-- I can't quite pin it down-- which is a continuous variable. At the extreme, all Christians would agree that if the law requires you to sacrifice your baby to Moloch, your duty to God comes first and you should not, because everything is utterly clear. At the other extreme, if the law says that a church must have ugly EXIT lights above three doors, and you follow the calvinist "regulative" (?) principle that worship should involve nothing not indicated in the Bible and believe that your duty to God means you should bash them in with hammer and not attend services any more, pretty much everyone would say it is clear you're in the wrong. In the Moloch case, we would see many church leaders, lay and ordained, tell us to disobey the state (and I think it would become clear that the obedient ones are the least trustworthy). In the EXIT sign case, we'd see ALL church leaders telling us that we're wrong and if we cool off for a month we'll probably realize that and thank them. In between we have things like whether a pastor should wear a surplice. I don't know why that was so offensive in 16th century England, but it was, for some people. The split came in the middle, with Catholics, high-church Anglicans, broad-church Anglicans, Erastians, and moderate Puritan Anglicans hinking it was okay (though the broad church would think it indifferent and the moderates would think it was wrong and should be prohibited but was no big deal) and the more extreme Puritans thinking it was a deal-breaker. (This prompted me to look it up in Wikipedia, where there is a good article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestments_controversy#Emergence_of_separatism_and_Presbyterianism. I see that London's Bishop Ridley refused to consecrate Nicholas Hooper unless Hooper wore a surplice, and that later he did convince Hooper, who became Bishop of Gloucester. Queen Mary burned both of them in 1555, though not at the same time.) Part of the dispute is over how important something has to be before breaking the peace of the church, but part was about how sure to be of yourself relative to other people and church authorities. This last is closely related to personality type, pridefulness, and bravery.
This makes me think of a story from my church in Bloomington. An earnest young man, a deacon aged about 25 with a wife and four or so kids, vandalized the local abortion clinic. He didn't tell his wife or anyone else in advance, no doubt because he knew they'd tell him not to. In particular, he didn't tell any church elders. They called him in, roasted him, and deposed him as deacon. He was arrested, charged, and convicted, but given a light sentence--- probation, I think, and made to pay for the damage. If I may boast, the judge was impressed because so many church people showed up to plead for him while admitting he was wrong. The judge said that in his experience churches either refused to admit a member had done anything wrong, or totally abandoned and repudiated him when someone was charged with a crime. In conversation, and perhaps on the pulpit (I forget), Pastor Bayly said Ben Currell was wrong, but "he failed in the right direction". That is, in our age, cowardly reluctance to disobey the state is a bigger problem than prideful eagerness to disobey, so we should "nudge" ourselves to the disobedience side. It was also noted that on something this big, Ben should at least have consulted with the church, and he should have known that, and no doubt did know it but knew what the church would say and didn't even want that mild form of discipline.