Friday, September 19, 2014

Deportations down 20 percent, fewest since 2007

This morning I read an article that ended with the following sentence:
As of early September, only 319 of more than 59,000 immigrants who were caught traveling with their families have been returned to Central America.
Are we surprised?  No, because the government is doing what the government always does: Nothing, and then they wait until the storm blows over.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

28,000 Pro-ISIS Twitter Accounts Created Since James Foley Murder

This could fall under the heading, "Why I Despair for the World, Reason #32":

From here:

At least 28,000 Twitter accounts supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have been set up since the beheading of American journalist James Foley, according to a Web intelligence firm. Twitter vowed to suspend accounts posting graphic imagery or "calls to violent actions" after Foley's murder was filmed by the Sunni group and then spread online last month. But an analysis by Recorded Future carried out for Britain's Sky News showed 60,000 pro-jihadi profiles had been set up since May, including 28,000 since the video of Foley’s murder emerged on August 20. 

And in the 24 hours after video was released showing U.S. reporter Steven Sotloff’s murder by ISIS, 10 percent of all references to the footage were positive, the analysis showed. ISIS has employed Twitter, sophisticated videos and professional-sounding music recordings to spread its message around the world in a way not seen before in militant organizations.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Tale of Two Patients

I am posting this because it strongly resembles the ordeal I am having trying to get decent healthcare in Montrose, Colorado.  And I believe there are some members of my parish who have had similar experiences:

2 patients limp into two different doctors' offices with the same complaint: 

Both have trouble walking and may require hip surgery.


Patient #1 is examined within the hour, is x-ray'd the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.

Patient #2 sees his family doctor after waiting 3 weeks for an appointment, then waits 8 weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn't reviewed for another week, and finally has his surgery scheduled for 6 months from then, pending the review board's decision on his age and remaining value to society.

Why the different treatment for the 2 patients?

The FIRST is a Golden Retriever taken to a vet.

The SECOND is a Senior Citizen on Obamacare.

In we don't change the party in control of the Senate in November 2014 and the White House in November 2016, we will all have to find a good vet.

The one difference is that I am not a senior citizen on Obamacare.  I am a working individual with regular health insurance trying to get healthcare in a system that has been affected (for the worse) by Obamacare.  Doctors in this town aren't taking new patients (some of them for fear of getting saddled with Obamacare patients).  Obamacare has also caused a number of doctors to stop taking Medicare patients--in a town full of retirees, most of whom are on Medicare!  Some of the doctors--three this month alone--are leaving town or quitting private practice.  Those quitting private practice are doing so to avoid the bureaucracy and headaches caused by Obamacare.  Those who are moving elsewhere are going into larger practices where there are additional staff to deal with the bureaucracy and red tape.  The shortage of physicians in Montrose is creating a mentality of scarcity with regard to healthcare, which has the effect of causing healthcare providers to treat patients as a commodity rather than as valued customers.  

Now I know what healthcare in the Soviet Union must have been like--rationed, impersonal, uncaring.  Thank you Mr. Obama.  Thank you Mr. Reid, Mrs. Pelosi.  And thank you healthcare professionals who have allowed yourselves to be turned into healthcare bureaucrats.
 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The "Heart-Shield Bible" and the Destiny of a Nation

Seventy five years ago, today, on September 3, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation with one of his famous "Fireside Chats" stating his resolve to remain a neutral nation in the war in Europe, which culminated in an American Proclamation of Neutrality declared on September 5th.

However, all of that changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. In his famous "date which will live in infamy" message to Congress requesting that the United States officially declare war on Japan, President Roosevelt stated, "With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God."


What changed on December 7 was the realization that this war was one that the United States could not avoid.  It was a war against a totalitarian ideology that was bent on world domination if left unstopped, and the outcome would affect the course of human history.  Like another war in which we find ourselves today, it was a war for the soul of the world.

A reflection of President Roosevelt's confidence in God and our military (along with his concern for individual American soldiers) was later evident in what is now known as The Heart-Shield Bible.  These Bibles (used during World War II) were designed to fit securely into the chest pocket of a soldier’s uniform.  The Bibles contained metal plates, securely attached to the front cover of the Bible and could stop a bullet from reaching the soldier's heart.  There were several reported incidents of the Bibles indeed saving a soldier's life.  In the back is a section of psalms and hymns, including “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,”  “America the Beautiful,” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”  In the front, there is a note to the soldiers directly from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
"As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States.  Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration.  It is a foundation of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul."

Well before America joined World War II, on the 400th anniversary of the English Bible in 1935, President Roosevelt reminded the nation of the Bible's importance in America's formation and continuance:  

"We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a Nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. . . . Where we have been truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity; where it has been to us as the words of a book that is sealed, we have faltered in our way, lost our range finders, and found our progress checked. It is well that we observe this anniversary of the first publishing of our English Bible. The time is propitious to place a fresh emphasis upon its place and worth in the economy of our life as a people."
Can you imagine a president saying that today?   Remember the recent attempt by the Freedom from Religion Foundation to have Gideon Bibles removed from lodgings on US military facilities?  U.S. Navy staff members had already begun the removal of the Bibles when an outcry from the American public caused the military to reverse this ill-advised decision.  But the fight continues between those who would keep our nation true to its Judeo-Christian heritage and those who would destroy that heritage and turn our country into a godless, atheistic state.  It is another war for the soul of our country and the world, and the outcome will affect the course of human history.

Consider the following statements by Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous 19th century French statesman, historian and social philosopher.  He traveled to America in the 1830s to discover the reasons for the incredible success of this new nation.   He published his observations in his classic two-volume work, Democracy in America.  He was especially impressed by America's religious character.  Here are some amazingly insightful excerpts from Tocqueville's great work:
Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

Religion in America...must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it.  Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion—for who can search the human heart?  But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.  This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.


In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious...there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people...

Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent...

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors...; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts—the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.
Did you notice Tocqueville's warning?  "... if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."   Goodness requires a morality—and morality begins with God.

Some people today view the "culture wars" as not being their fight.  They think they can "sit this one out" and that the United States will somehow be okay, and that things will go on more or less as they always have.  I am here to tell you that this is not true.  The "culture wars," as we have come to call them, are a world war—a war for the hearts, minds, and souls of humankind.

There are wars in history that have been pivotal in the course of human civilization:
  • The victory of the democratic Greeks over the tyrannical Persians in the Graeco-Persians Wars (499-449 BC) 
  • The defeat of Maximian by Constantine at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD 312.
  • The defeat of the Muslim invaders (the Umayyad Caliphate) by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732.
  • The defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War, that marked the beginning of the United States as a "a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" (and, though Lincoln stopped his quotation from the Declaration of Independence short, that "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights")—a unique and distinctly theistic beginning, unlike any nation ever brought into being. 
  • The defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allied Forces in World War II (1940-1945).
  • The defeat of Communism in the Cold War (generally agreed by historians as 1945-1991).
There have been other important victories that have determined the course of history—I have listed only a few of the most important ones.  We do ourselves a dangerous disservice if we underestimate the importance of any of them.

But, whether we are aware of it or not, we are currently engaged in a war is every bit as important as any war that has ever been fought.  Whether those on the side of good win this war will determine the future of human civilization.

We cannot simply "sit this one out."  We must throw off apathy and press on undeterred by the forces of political correctness and worldly compromise.  We must oppose those of any religious establishment, any political party, the "cultural elites," and their allies in the media who would conspire to rob us of our heritage, our faith, and our destiny as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  So help us God! 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

Our "do nothing" President strikes again.  

From here:
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea's bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.
North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.
{...}
Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

"The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come," he said. "But so far, the latest I've heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that."
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is languishing in prison due to another failure of this administration to act to support American citizens detained overseas.  

Please pray for these individuals, and please pray that we once again get a government that knows how to act.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

THEOLOGY: FAIL - What happens when you don't understand the Atonement

EPISCOPAL PRIESTESS: 'GOD BECAME MICHAEL BROWN'

From here... and here... and here... and even YouTube:

It is not often that a sermon attracts national attention.  And it is especially rare these days for an unorthodox, not to say heretical, sermon to attract national attention--they happen so frequently!

But the blogosphere and even major media outlets are buzzing over the sermon delivered last Sunday by the Rev. Sarah Kinney Gaventa, Associate Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ivy, Virginia.  The appointed text for that Sunday dealt with St. Peter's confession in response to Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?"  And Peter responded, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Somehow, Ms. Gaventa managed to jump from one of the richest texts in the four Gospels to the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, earlier this month.  After listing other cases in which unarmed black men have been shot by law enforcement officers, Ms. Gaventa denounced “systematic” racist white behavior in education, social media, and law enforcement—chalking it up to an “infection” of “white privilege.”

But she was just getting warmed up.

Gaventa’s final remarks reportedly outraged the congregation, when she equated Michael Brown to Jesus, implying that Brown, like Christ, was a sacrifice for our sin:
The God we love came to disrupt the power structures of the world that tell us what we are worth. He is a living God, who loved us so much and was so grieved by our inability to love him and one another, that he was willing to become human.
He became Michael Brown. He became the victim of our sin, so we wouldn’t have to sacrifice each other any more. His sacrifice should have been the last. His sacrifice was enough for us. And yet, here we are.
 You can listen to the complete sermon (8 minutes, 48 seconds) from last Sunday, August 24, 2014.

Personally I blame the state of theological education in Episcopal seminaries, and the Episcopal Church in general, which has been confused (at best) about the Atonement of Jesus Christ for decades!

Just for the record, contra Ms. Gaventa, Jesus was (and is) the unique incarnation of the eternal second Person of the Trinity, the Son.  He became incarnate not merely to be a teacher and the prophesied Messiah of the Jewish people, but to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. 

Jesus did not die as the victim of our sins; he died as the unique, once for all, sacrifice for our sins (I Peter 2:24a, 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8).  His atoning death, agreed upon by in advance by God the Father and God the Son (Acts 4:27), paid  the penalty for our sins and removed the barrier that separated sinful humans from a holy God.

Will the Episcopal Church ever recover sound theology?  Apart from a miracle and a revival sent by God, no.  Ms. Gaventa is only living out the kind of confusion regarding the Incarnation and Atonement of Jesus Christ that is routinely taught in the seminaries of the old-line denominations today--seminaries which have a disdain (and even contempt) for biblical and traditional Christian understandings of these doctrines.
  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Obama: No Iraq rescue; further airdrops unlikely




It really defies belief--the gutlessness, the indecision, the incompetence—in the face of a new global terror!

From the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama on Thursday promised to expand U.S. humanitarian relief to Iraqis threatened by the advancing army of the Islamic State militants.  He took credit for alleviating the genocide threat [Oh, really?  You mean the threat has been eliminated?] to thousands trapped on a mountaintop but said the situation "remains dire" throughout the country.

Translation:  "Things are really awful in Iraq right now, but we are committed to doing nothing until we are absolutely certain that whatever we do will be too little, too late." 

"Obama said no emergency evacuation on Mount Sinjar is now needed, and he said it is unlikely the U.S. military will continue to airdrop food and water there."   

Translation: "Yeah, one airdrop was enough to solve the whole problem.  Those several hundred thousand Iraqis and Kurds who have been displaced from their homes are just going to have to wait; I have a golf date to keep."

Obama gave no indication he intends to shift from the limited, defensive military campaign he announced last week to one designed to use American might to push back and eventually defeat an emboldened Islamic State army, which has made rapid and broad advances across western and northern Iraq since June.

Translation: "Because I am more afraid of what my liberal base will think of me for getting the US into a land war again than I am concerned about the plight of millions who are being threatened by this new terror."

"We're going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground," Obama said in a statement. 

Translation, "Because we are not the leaders of the free world anymore.  We don't do nuthin' without the French and the Dutch goin' along with it."

His remarks highlighted the gap between the administration's increasingly dire assessment of the threat posed by the Islamic State group and the limited air campaign it has so far undertaken, which military officials acknowledge has had only a temporary, local effect and is not likely to blunt the group's momentum or ambitions.

Translation: "The gap between our dire assessment of the situation and how little we have done is because I really don't know what the heck I am doing.  I just wish these folks would hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" until January 2017 when I am out of office." 

On Wednesday, some of the most senior U.S. intelligence experts on terrorism briefed reporters in detail on the Islamic State group. They described a battle-hardened, well-funded terrorist organization that is bent on governing the territory it has seized in Syria and Iraq while also encouraging attacks in Europe and the United States.

"We assess that the group probably sees conflict with the United States as inevitable," one of the officials said, speaking, as the others did, under ground rules that he not be identified.

Translation:  "This is Nazi Germany in 1933.  We can see the threat.  We know what is coming, but we are going to wait until the enemy is so strong that it takes a World War to actually stop this hideous evil rather than confront it now.  Because, by then, this president will be on permanent vacation in Hawaii enjoying those wonderful presidential retirement benefits at taxpayers' expense."

Obama has said little about the potential external terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State militants, but he has been emphatic in his position that there is no American military solution to the insurgent threat facing Iraq.

["Mr. Obama, Neville Chamberlain is on the phone for you."]

The Islamic State group has its roots in another group known as al-Qaida in Iraq, which survived years of U.S. operations that diminished but didn't defeat it.  Nearly all of the Islamic State's leaders were at one point in American custody during the Iraq war, the officials said.

Translation:  "Yeah, we actually had these guys in custody.  But we let 'em go because, you know, Gitmo is just so uncool."

U.S. intelligence has concluded that even a new government in Iraq would need "external help" to make gains against the group and that neutralizing the Islamic State group would be unlikely without addressing its safe haven in Syria, where it has a headquarters. The Islamic State has access to oil revenues and other income sources worth several hundred million dollars a year, the officials said.

The officials said they still were unfamiliar with the structure of the organization and its total numbers, though U.S. officials have estimated the group is about 15,000 strong.

Translation: "That 15,000 is just a guess.  Frankly our intel on this whole situation hasn't been worth $%^*!"  We don't know how big they are.  We don't know where they are getting their money or their fighters.  We just know they are riding around in new Toyota and Kia trucks with their Islamic State decals on them like they were the Chicago police or something."


[Question: "Where were our forces while this 'parade' was going on?  One strafing run by an A-10 'Warthog' could have set the new 'caliphate' back a long way."]

Critics say the administration is only putting off the day when the U.S. will have to directly confront the Islamic State group, whose forces surprised and impressed U.S. officials with the speed and proficiency with which they overran Iraqi government forces at such strategic points as Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq.

A U.S. intelligence official said a few hundred fighters from the group chased away a force of 50,000 to seize Mosul.   

Translation: "Sure we can pull out of Iraq and leave them to defend themselves.  They'll be okay, really.  Trust me."

Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said last month he would present Obama with a long-term strategy to defeat the Islamic State, but officials have not described it. Even the nature and scope of further U.S. humanitarian relief missions in Iraq is unclear, but limited airstrikes continue.

Translation: "Ain't nobody gonna say nuthin' more about any 'long-term strategy to defeat the Islamic State,' cause if'n anybody knows I coulda stopped this thing and didn't, I am screwed."

The U.S. military said a mix of fighters and drone aircraft attacked two of the Islamic group's armed vehicles and a U.S.-made troop carrier, near the city of Irbil.  U.S. Central Command said the two armed vehicles were attacked after they fired on Kurdish forces, and moments later the troop carrier was hit near the site of the two previous strikes. The Islamic fighters have been operating U.S.-made equipment they captured from Iraqi army forces.

Translation: "I be likin' dem drones!  I am down with havin' our guys sit in a trailer outside Las Vegas and off those brothers halfway around the world.  Just so I don't have to do anything that causes my media buddies turnin' against me or nuthin'"


Saturday, August 02, 2014

Why I despair for America: "LA Residents Call 911 Over Facebook Outage"


Does missing your friend's latest baby picture constitute an emergency?  For some Los Angeles residents who reportedly called 911 to report that Facebook was down briefly on Friday, the answer is apparently yes.

Facebook was not accessible for a short time during "a widespread outage that affected users in multiple countries," according to Reuters.  Service was restored fully and the outage was being blamed on "a technical' failure rather than any suspicious activity," the news agency cited an unnamed source as saying.

But before all Facebook users were able to access the site again, some LA-area Facebookers seems to have thought the interruption of their social networking fix was worthy of a call to emergency dispatch, the Los Angeles Times reported:

At 9:37 a.m. Pacific, Sgt. Burton Brink, public information officer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Crescenta Valley Station, tweeted a stern reprimand to Facebook junkies who were apparently tying up the 911 lines with cries for help.

Sgt. Brink later indicated that the calls to 911 about Facebook being down weren't just from one individual but appeared to have come from multiple social media junkies, though he didn't name the number of calls received.
....
....
....   (Still shaking head) ....

How does one even begin to comment on a news item like that or what it says about our society?


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dr. Mark Achtemeier: "The Hidden Error in 'Biblical' Arguments Against Gay Marriage"

In a Church History class I am teaching for the St. Benedict School for Ministry, we just finished studying about the second-century St. Irenaeus and his defense of the Gospel.   I always try to demonstrate why the figures we study in Church History matter; and a shining example came up today when Christopher Johnson, of the Midwest Conservative Journal, pointed his readers to an article in the Huffington Post by Presbyterian theologian, Dr. Mark Achtemeier, entitled "The Hidden Error in 'Biblical' Arguments Against Gay Marriage."  The article is Dr. Achtemeier's attempt to air his views and to score some points with a favorable audience (Huffington Post readers) as well as to promote his latest book, The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of Heart.

In his article, Dr. Achtemeier cites Irenaeus as one who helped him find a methodology for getting past the way traditional Christians have used the Bible to condemn homosexual behavior.  Here is what Dr. Achtemeier has to say:
In the early 2000s, I was working hard to keep lesbian and gay persons out of the ministry of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). I did this in part because I thought the biblical case against gay relationships was straightforward.  The standard arguments cited eight fragmentary quotes scattered throughout the Bible.  I thought that was enough to settle the matter.
I was wrong.  As I recount in my recent book, my settled convictions were shaken when I started to see how the results of those traditional condemnations produced blatant contradictions with the Bible's teaching about the fruits of righteousness and the nature of God.  These contradictions convinced me that something about the exclusionary teaching didn't add up.  What I couldn't understand was how this traditional teaching could be mistaken when it was grounded in quotes from the Bible.

I found help with this puzzle in the teaching of a second-century church leader, named Irenaeus of Lyons.  Irenaeus in his day was struggling to keep his flock from being led astray by false teachers who were proclaiming their own fabricated versions of "Christianity."  These counterfeit faiths bore little resemblance to anything that Jesus and his disciples had taught, but in spite of that the false teachers were still able to back up most of what they said with Scripture quotes.  This was very confusing to Irenaeus' flock, and I discovered that these second-century Christians were asking the same question I was: How could a teaching be mistaken or unfaithful when its proponents could back it up with quotes from the Bible?

Irenaeus explains how this can happen.  Imagine, he says, that a skilled artist has created a mosaic picture made out of colored stones.  All these multicolored fragments together form a beautiful portrait of a king.  But now suppose that another artist comes along and disassembles the original mosaic, sorting all the stones into little colored piles.  This second artist re-assembles the stones into a new mosaic, and he travels around showing off the picture, saying "Behold the King."  Only this time, in place of the original portrait, the new arrangement of stones forms a crudely-drawn picture of a dog.  Every single stone in that new mosaic comes from the original portrait. But that does not make it a true picture of the King!

This, says Irenaeus, is what the false teachers have done with Scripture.  Like the individual stones making up a mosaic, they have taken individual quotes from all over the Bible.  But the quotes have been pulled out of their original contexts and rearranged in such a way that they no longer form a true picture of the Bible's message.  Individual scripture quotes can lose their connection to the "true portrait" of God's love in Christ that is the Bible's overarching focus.

I myself had learned to support the categorical condemnation of same-sex relationships by appealing to scattered fragments of Scripture.  But Irenaeus helped me understand that being able to cite Bible passages in support of a particular teaching is no guarantee that the teaching is either true or faithful. Where does that leave us?  (Read the rest here.)
The problem with Dr. Achtemeier quoting Irenaeus to say that the Bible’s “big picture” is something other than the sum of its parts when it comes to homosexuality is that Ireneaeus, in his work, “Against the Heresies,” condemns the libertine practices of the Gnostics, including homosexual practice, by quoting the very same passages from the Apostle Paul that are still cited by orthodox Christians today.  Now read Irenaeus, in his own words, and notice the way in which he quotes Scripture:
[The apostle], foreseeing the wicked speeches of unbelievers, has particularized the works which he terms carnal; and he explains himself, lest any room for doubt be left to those who do dishonestly pervert his meaning, thus saying in the Epistle to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, luxuriousness, idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, contentions, jealousies, wraths, emulations, animosities, irritable speeches, dissensions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and such like; of which I warn you, as also I have warned you, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Thus does he point out to his hearers in a more explicit manner what it is [he means when he declares], “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”  For they who do these things, since they do indeed walk after the flesh, have not the power of living unto God.

[...]

As, again, the same apostle testifies, saying to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not err,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,* nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor rapacious persons, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And these ye indeed have been; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”  He shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved.  Now he says that the things which save are the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.

* For those who are unfamiliar, "abusers of themselves with mankind" is one of the ways the ancient Greeks referred to those who committed homosexual acts.
So, actually, if we look at Irenaeus’ own application of these “time-tested principles of biblical interpretation” it shows: (1) that Irenaeus quoted Scripture to condemn immorality in precisely the same way that traditional Christians do today; (2) that he used the same Scriptures from Paul to say that homosexual behavior is among a whole list of acts that are wrong, and (3) that Dr. Achtemeier is twisting both the Scriptures and Church History with regard to Irenaeus in order to support same-sex marriage.

Irenaeus wrote his best-known surviving work, Againtst the Heresies, primarily to combat the challenge of the Gnostics to orthodox Christianity.  In that work (to which Achtemeier alludes in the quotation from his article) Irenaeus accuses the Gnostics of taking isolated passages of Scripture out of their original context in order to fabricate false doctrines that are not supported by Scripture as a whole.  There is a great deal of difference between this Gnostic misuse of Scripture and the simple practice of ordinary Christians in assembling a list of Bible verses that address a particular subject or question.  

But the central premise of Dr. Achtemeier's argument comes when, he says:  "Fortunately, the church across the centuries has developed guidelines for interpreting Scripture that help keep our use of particular passages in touch with the true portrait of God's love in Christ."  Where does one find "the true portrait of God's love in Christ" if not in Scripture?

When we look at Scripture—for instance, when Jesus deals with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)—we see that Jesus stands against the hypocritical Pharisees' attempt to stone the woman.  He demonstrates the love of God; but he does not overthrow the Mosaic law against adultery or condone the woman's sin.  In fact, he tells her, "go, and from now on sin no more.”  Calling sin what it really is and admonishing those who are engaged in it to sin no more is often the most loving thing we can do.

Whenever we start painting a portrait of Christ that is the product of our own sense of "fairness, love, kindness, compassion, etc." rather than the actual biblical portrait of Jesus, who is loving as well as completely holy and righteous, then we run into the danger of idolatry—forming an image of God according to our own needs, ideas, and purposes. 

Sadly, Dr. Achtemeier's "portrait of God's love in Christ" is merely the subjective creation of contemporary culture and liberal Christianity—an unbiblical image of Christ (derived from an extra-biblical gnosis) precisely like the one created by the ancient Gnostics to serve their libertine purposes so long ago.  In selling this portrait, Dr. Achtemeier is not being faithful to the biblical principles articulated by Irenaeus, but rather using the method of the very enemies of Christianity against whom Irenaeus wrote.