Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Socialism's Destruction of Property Rights

Pope Leo XIII states:
"It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own. If one man hires out to another his strength of skill, he does so for the purpose of receiving in return what is necessary for the satisfaction of his needs; he therefore expressly intends to acquire a right full and real, not only to the remuneration, but also to the disposal of such remuneration, just as he pleases. Thus, if he lives sparingly, saves money, and, for greater security, invests his savings in the land, the land, in such case, is only his ages under another form; and, consequently, a working man's little estate thus purchased should be as completely at his full disposal as are the wages he receives for his labor. But it is precisely in such power of disposal that ownership obtains, whether the property consists of land or chattels. Socialists, therefore by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interest of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.
What is of far greater moment, however, is the fact that the remedy [socialists] propose is manifestly against justice. For, every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own."
- Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum: An Encyclical on Capital and Labor (May 15, 1891), 5-6.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

On Foreign Policy, Reagan and Humor

Before a radio broadcast President Reagan was asked to give a sound check. He agreed with a comical remark.
"My fellow Americans, I'm here to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever -we begin bombing in five minutes..."
- Ronald Reagan, August 11, 1984

Monday, June 15, 2009

On Being "Gennethenai Anothen"

Can one really know if someone is born again (John 3:3; 3:7)?
"No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious (phanera): anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."
- 1John 3:9f

Saturday, June 13, 2009

On Marriage

While thumbing through a text that describes marriage as a union that benefits people in happiness, health and economics, I came across a humorous snippet of an interviewee's rendition of marriage stating:
"[Marriage] means that I never have to worry about it or think about it or have any concern about who she is or how she will feel about me. If she came home and told me she killed somebody, I would say, 'What did he do?' I don't have doubts about [her]."
 - Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially (New York: Broadway Books, 2000).

On Calvinism

J. I. Packer provides insightful commentary:
     "Now, here are two coherent interpretations of the biblical gospel (Arminianism and Calvinism), which stand in evident opposition to each other. The difference between them is not primarily one of emphasis, but of content. One proclaims a God who saves; the other speaks of a God Who enables man to save himself. One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind -election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit- as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly. The other view gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and election, those who hearers who respond), and denies that any man's salvation is secured by any of them. The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms. One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on a work of man; one regards faith as part of God's gift of salvation, the other as man's own contribution to salvation; one gives all the glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, Who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it. Plainly, these differences are important, and the permanent value of the 'five points,' as a summary of Calvinism, s that they make clear the points at which, and the extent to which, these two conceptions are at variance. 
     However, it would not be correct simply to equate Calvinism with the "five points." Five points of our own will make this clear.
     In the first place, Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world's Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavour to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of His will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God's own Word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible -the God-centered outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God's world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of His great preordained plan for His creatures and His church. The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such is concerned with the much broader assertion that He is sovereign everywhere."
 - J. I. Packer, "Introductory Essay," in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ: A Treatise of the Redemption and Reconciliation that Is in the Blood of Christ, With the Merit Thereof, and Satisfaction Wrought Thereby, 1-25, (Banner of Truth, 2002).

Monday, June 8, 2009

On Wisdom's Relation to the Torah: Creation and Redemption

In a recent article, C. Hassell Bullock argues that wisdom literature (along with the prophets) is "an affirmation of the fundamental moral principles of the torah . . . [Wisdom] is, indeed, the 'amen' of the Torah." What follows is a fragment that is worthy of reflection:
"the theological spokespersons of the OT were keenly aware that creation was the platform of the religions to the ancient Near East, and they could not permit those religions to abscond with the doctrine of creation and leave Israel with a truncated theology. Redemption, as central as it was in their thinking, was a privilege of none other than the Creator, a theme that Isaiah sounds, and one with which John prefaces his Gospel: only the creator God could redeem. Redemption presupposed ownership, so the doctrine of creation was the necessary complement to the doctrine of redemption. One wonders how the two doctrines could have stood apart. The Ten Commandments give witness to their complementarity by associating the LORD's Sabbath rest with both creation (Exod 20:11) and redemption (Deut 5:15). To restrict Israel's faith to redemption would have been to neglect God's claim on the world and would have been a restriction on redemption itself, for, in the final analysis, God's redeeming acts flow out of his creating acts."
- C. Hassell Bullock, "Wisdom, the 'Amen' of Torah," in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52, no. 1 (2009).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Libraries and Corresponding Owners

I am visiting my family back home in Missouri. I was looking through boxes of my old books. It is fascinating to see what books defined my childhood. This only reaffirms my theory that one's library says a lot about the corresponding owner.

In Middle School/High School:
1. Yearbooks
2. Calvin and Hobbes
3. The Far Side
4. Video Game Strategy Guides for Final Fantasy VII and VIII (along with a notebook that was for school that is currently filled with game genie codes...)
5. Books for making better grades in school (my dad bought them for me because I was a really bad student, he even wrote an encouraging note in one of them).
6. Ivanhoe; White Fang; Hatchet; The Three Musketeers
7. A box set of the Chronicles of Narnia (I never read them -go figure)
8. John Grisham's "The Client" (I remember the ending was really lame)
9. Hockey Magazines
10. The Hobbit
In Elementary school:
1. Books about dinosaurs (I really liked Jurassic Park)
2. A book on first aid
3. Books about Animals (I wanted to be a veterinarian)