Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bible Study about Mary

As I'm thinking more about the role of Mary in our Christmas celebrations, I've put together a Bible study on the topic of Mary for the Colson Center.

The study consists of a week's worth of Bible readings on the topic of Mary's faith, some quotations from the church fathers, and some suggestions about what this means for us today as we celebrate Christmas (because, remember, Christmas officially lasts all the way until Epiphany). To read my Bible study, click on the following link:

The Faith of Mary

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mary and Eve

Justin Martyr spoke about Mary as a type of Eve. Similarly, the church father Tertullian noted that “what had been laid waste in ruin by this sex [in Eve] was by the same sex reestablished in salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight.” Through her obedience Mary functions as a second Eve, even as Christ functioned as a second Adam.

Marcelo P. Souza recently reflected on the similarities between Eve and Mary, noting “As Eve received the word of the fallen angel, and through the fruit and the tree brought death to the world, so the Second Eve, Mother of the Second Adam, also received the word of the angel – this time the words of life from the angel of God – and through the fruit of her womb, brought life to the world. As Eve stood by the tree of life and brought death, the Second Eve stood by the tree of death which brought life.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'Mary' Christmas

We’re doing something different in our house this Christmas.

We still put up our Christmas tree two weeks before Christmas day, our children will still be hanging up their stockings at the end of their beds on Christmas Eve, and my wife will still be baking all the special recipes she brought over from England when we immigrated. And we’ll still be watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’

But this year we will be adding another tradition. We will be making a concerted effort not only to remember and honor the Christ-child born in Bethlehem, but to remember and honor His holy mother. We will be finding as many ways as possible to make this not simply a merry Christmas, but a Mary Christmas.
If you are one of my evangelical readers, please don’t panic. I’m not about to turn Roman Catholic. Nor am I about to start worshiping Mary. But what Esther and I will be doing is repenting for failing to show proper adoration to Mary for most of our adult life.

But why? Why has this suddenly become important to me?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Anniversary of Joseph Smith’s Birth

On this day 167 years ago, Joseph Smith was born. One of the greatest con-artists of all time, his influence is still felt by the many Brits, and even more Americans, who continue to be duped by his prophetic claims.

On the Messiah's Kingdom

“…throughout the Old Testament, first-century Jews looked forward to a climactic event that would establish the God of Israel as the sovereign God of the entire world. While many have supposed Christ’s coming to be something which changes people’s hearts but makes no difference to the public order, this was not the hope of the Jews. Had they expected that kind of a kingdom, Herod may not have lifted an eyebrow when the news reached him that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. As it was, however, Herod knew what Zacharias knew and had prayed about— that when the Messiah came, the game would be up for tyrants like himself, and a new order of justice and peace would be introduced. (Lk. 1:67–79).” Saints and Scoundrels, page 35


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Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to REALLY eliminate the carbon footprint!

On December 10, 2009, seventy-three members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to the White House urging President Obama to add one billion dollars in funding for international family planning to his 2011 budget. 
Advocates of family planning are hardly a new phenomenon. What was noteworthy about this letter, however, was that it cited “climate change” as a reason to advocate lower birth rates. “Family planning,” it said, “should be part of larger strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Slower population growth will make reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions easier to achieve.” 
The 73 Congressmen who signed that letter were not alone in linking birthrates with global temperatures.

Keep reading...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Signs in the Stars

by Terrell Clemmons, guest blogger

"Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Thus was the question posed by the Magi upon arrival in Jerusalem, presumably to Herod, the king in situ at the time.

What had they seen? Why did they come to Jerusalem? It makes sense that, if they were looking for the King of the Jews, they would go to Jerusalem. But how did they know that a king had been born? A King who would be "King of the Jews?" What did they see?

Fred Larson got interested in that question after setting up Christmas decorations on the lawn with his daughter, Marian. She'd wanted three wise men in the yard and then said, "Daddy, make a star!" What's a Dad to do? He made a star.  

But that got him thinking. Well …what was the star? When he came across a science article by a Ph.D. astronomer who took the position that the Bethlehem star had been a real astronomical event, he set out to investigate this puzzle.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nominalism and Food

Those who have been following my ongoing series of articles on nominalism have been able to read how the debates between realists and nominalists have consequences for how we view God's goodness, how we understand God's relationship to the world and even what we think about sex. The latest article in the series looks at some of the consequences that the nominalist worldview has on how we approach food. To read my reflections, click on the following link:

Food and Teology (Nominalism 4)

Nudist Colonies Seek to Demystify the Body

“Many churches tell the congregation, ‘Come as you are’” we read in a News Report from last year. “For a chapel in Ivor, VA, that’s especially true. People come without even bothering to get dressed. It’s a church at a nudist colony. Members say it’s nice to worship in a place where there is total freedom and where everyone is equal.” (See also the ABC news report ‘Church welcomes nude parishioners’)

Reading about that got me thinking about nudist colonies in general. Salvo Magazine should someday do a fake add for a nudist camp that is “guaranteed to desexualize the human body” after only two weeks. Because that is exactly what public nudity does, and when we look into it we find a very good pragmatic argument for being modest.

In 2003 the New York Times ran an article about one of the many youth nudist camps that are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. A 15-year old camper was quoted as saying, “It makes me a bit freaked out that people would think of nudity as a sexual thing.”

These words are significant since frequent exposure to nudity does tend to trivialize the human body, emptying it of its implicit eroticism and making public nakedness seem merely common and non-sexual.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Phillips vs Agaybi

My debate with atheist David
Agaybi is now online
In Spring 2011 I had a friendly debate with atheist David Agaybi. We debated many issues from the existence of God to the identity of the historical Jesus. It was a rewarding dialogue and stayed friendly to the last.

Our debate is available online at the Alfred the Great Society and can be accessed at the following link:

Debate: Phillips vs Agaybi

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Executive Order 13603

On 16 march, 2012, President Obama signed into law Executive Order 13603, which makes provisions for establishing martial law in America during times of peace. Brandon Turbeville explains how this will allow “the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military” and possible forced labor. (Click here to listen to a revealing radio show about the order, and visit William Anderson’s article Executive Orders and the Decline of Law‘ for a good background about executive orders in general.)

To read more about Obama's totalitarian measures, click on the following link:

A Stronger President:
What Obama’s Re-Election Tells us About America (Part 5)

Johansson Family Deprived of Justice

Two years ago I posted an article about the sad case of Domenic Johansson, a home-schooled Christian boy in Sweden who was snatched from his parents by social workers in route to India. I have now written an update on this case for Christian Voice, which can be read by clicking on the following link:

Johansson Family Deprived of Justice on Human Rights Day

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Totalitarian Presidency

Thankfully, the 2012 election did not have the Messianic mood of the 2008 election. Obama’s dreams of utopia never materialized and no one made the same mistake of confusing Obama with God. The American people seem to have realized that, whatever his pretensions, Obama is only a man.

But while the nation of America seems to have got over wanting Obama to be God, they have not given up the wish for the President to have God-like powers. Indeed, Obama’s re-election suggests that America wanted a stronger and more powerful president, one that is almost omnipotent.

Historically, the Executive Branch has only played a limited role, and the United States Constitution even prohibits the President from introducing legislation. This was intentional, since the legal structure of the United States was set up so that most power resided in the states and in their elected legislatures.

Throughout the twentieth-century, however, American Presidents have progressively assumed unprecedented powers. Yet nothing compares with the way Obama has reinvented the Executive office.

Even before taking power in 2008, it was clear that Obama believed the president would possess almost super-human powers. He made some extraordinary promises about what he would accomplish, even claiming that he would cut the federal deficit in half. Such promises could only have been made by someone with an insufficient grasp of how bad America’s economic recession really was, or someone with an over-inflated sense of how much power the President actually wields. Indeed, a foreigner listening to Obama’s extraordinary promises could be forgiven for thinking that the executive branch was the sole organ of government and capable of automatically implementing all the Presidents wishes.

While the United States President may not wield as much power as Obama might wish, he has done everything he can to increase that power. I have already given some examples in my earlier article ‘Totalitarian Creep’, but some more recent examples include
  • By expanding George Bush’s “war on terror” to mainland United States (not to mention expanding it abroad), President Obama has introduced war-time conditions into America. But the “war on terror” is ubiquitous and can never be won since it is against an abstract foe, which by definition can never satisfy the conditions for surrender. The intrusion of this abstract fight into America herself means that all citizens become potential enemies, and no longer can they depend on their historic rights for protection. This is to invest the Executive Branch with a power undreamed of by the architects of the American nation.
  • Obama’s proposed Cybersecurity executive order would re-route all Internet traffic through federal agencies, ostensibly to be on the look-out for terrorist groups. But let’s not forget that under Obama the Department of Homeland Security issued a report associating states’ rights activists and “those “dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion” with domestic terrorists. Is this really the type of administration we want spying on our internet activity?
  • The Obama administration put mechanisms in place earlier this year which have been designed to create an infrastructure inimical to any criticism of Islam.
  • Obama has attempted to bypass the supreme court, showing that he does not understand the division of powers that lies at the heart of the American system.
  • On 16 march, 2012, President Obama signed into law Executive Order 13603, which makes provisions for establishing martial law in America during times of peace. Brandon Turbeville explains how this will allow “the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military” and possible forced labor. (Click here to listen to a revealing radio show about the order, and visit William Anderson’s article Executive Orders and the Decline of Law‘ for a good background about executive orders in general.)

Keep reading...

Michael Coren on Gender Neutral Children

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Search for Purpose of Flawed

In his book Universe on a T Shirt, Dan Falk writes that “…certain aspects of [Aristotle’] approach to physics were – from a modern perspective – deeply flawed. Instead of looking for the causes of natural phenomena, Aristotle focused on the search for purpose – and, by doing so, took physics towards an intellectual dead end.” (p. 21.)

Now think about that for a moment. Essentially Falk is saying that there is absolutely no point looking for purpose and meaning in science.
I'm not sure even Darwin would agree with that.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Nominalism and Sex

Nominalism was a school of thought that came to receive widespread acceptance in Europe on the eve of the Protestant reformation. In opposition to the Aristotelian/Thomistic synthesis, which asserted that God’s will for the world corresponds to the nature of how reality actually is, William of Ockham and other medieval nominalists asserted that there is no independent rational order guiding God’s decisions.

Ockham was not even comfortable acknowledging that God’s own character formed the basis of His will-acts. Indeed, for God to be totally ultimate, Ockham taught, His decisions must be unconstrained by any criteria whatsoever. Ockham’s God was thus capricious, arbitrary and unpredictable.

This nominalist revolution had a profound effect on how late-medieval Europeans perceived the world. The universe ceased to be conceived in the way we find in Dante—a harmony of patterns, fitting together in a glorious dance-like ecosystem—since nominalism implied that there are no inherent patterns to the world apart from those which emerge accidentally through the aggregate of God’s pedestrian will-acts. God’s commands are not based on what is best for a thing according to its nature, because things no longer possessed natures after “Ockham’s razor” shaved off universals. Nominalists thus evacuated all teleology from the universe, leaving only the names and concepts imposed on it from outside. (Teleology refers to an account of reality in which final causes exist in nature, so that just as human actions are performed with a purpose or final end in view, so things within nature have a final cause which defines the good of each particular thing.)

There is a sense in which the influence of nominalism in contemporary culture is ubiquitous, since the nominalist revolution greatly contributed to the advent of secular modernity. At least that is what many scholars, including those associated with the “radical orthodoxy” movement, have convincingly argued. But my purpose in this series of articles is less ambitious than trying to offer an account of the origins of modern secularism. I simply wish to zero-in on a few practical areas where the thinking of contemporary Christians has been tinctured by the poison of nominalism.
Now what, you may be wondering, does any of this have to do with sex? To find out, click on the following link to read my Colson Center article on the subject:

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Salvo 23

Salvo 23 (Winter 2012) is about to be shipped out to our subscribers. You can read the Table of Contents (and even access some of the articles online) here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


"God calls us to be faithful in the jobs He has given us, but He does not guarantee the consequences of doing right. Faithfulness, not success, is what truly matters in the Lord’s economy.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 194

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Review of The Shallows

Marshall McLuhan once observed that in assessing the effect of new technologies, we invariably get caught up in an analysis of the content coming through the medium. In doing so, we tend to neglect a more fundamental question: how is the form of this medium altering our reception of the content being conveyed through it?

Building on McLuhan’s oft-quoted dictum that “the medium is the message”, Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains asks how the internet is changing the way our brains receive, process and store information.

Carr begins by taking the reader on a fascinating journey through some of the different ‘intellectual technologies’ (that is, technologies which effect how we communicate information) that have dominated human civilization, showing that “in the long run a medium’s content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act.” 

Of course, this is nothing new. We have probably all read about the way the clock changed the way people thought of time, or how the map altered our perception of space, and so forth. Where The Shallows breaks new ground, however, is in bringing the history of communication up to date with the latest discoveries in neuroscience.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Unintended Reformation

Brad Gregory
Here is a fascinating video about a book I'm reading right now on the reformation. The book is called The Unintended Reformation and it is written by Brad Gregory.

Advent Articles

Last year I had the opportunity to publish some articles on the meaning of Advent and the importance of the church year. Now that the church has once again entered into the season of Advent, it seems fitting to direct my readers to these articles. Click on any of the following links:

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Political Right and the Common Good

In my recent Christian Voice article 'The Christian Retreat', I pointed out that the concept of needing to serve the common good plays far too small a role within the political discourse of the conservative Christian community of America.

The Christian right in America is becoming increasingly individualistic, myopic and self-serving. In reaction to the incipient socialism of the political left, America’s conservative community is fast becoming characterized by individualistic opportunists who associate any appeal to the common good with utilitarianism or collectivism.

I first started realizing this was a problem when a conservative businessman said to me (in another election), “I’m not concerned with which candidate is going to best serve our nation, I’m going to vote for the candidate whose policies will benefit me.”


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