Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Reflections on a Buddhist Bishop-elect

The thing that has struck me ever since the matter of the Buddhist Bishop-elect became news is that the blame (if I may use that word) for where he is does not ultimately lie with him. The ultimate responsibility for a Buddhist Bishop-elect and a Muslim Episcopal priest (and countless other permutations of syncretism and unbelief among clergy that simply haven’t come to light) belongs to an Episcopal Church where probably NO ONE along the path of their journies ever said to them, “This is wrong. Here are the claims of authentic Christianity, and you can’t reconcile them with Buddhism or Islam.” In fact, Kevin Thew Forrester’s late Bishop even commended him publicly for walking the path of Zen Buddhism and Christianity together.

The most tragic dimension is that Kevin Thew Forrester and Ann Holmes Redding learned Buddhism and Islam from people who were true believers and enthusiastic practioners of those religions, while they learned a deconstructed, demythologized, desupernaturalized version of Christianity from teachers who had long since surrendered their belief in authentic Christianity (if indeed they ever believed it) in the face of challenges from Christianity’s “cultured despisers” (to use Schleiermacher’s term). (The lesson here is that liberal Christianity is no match for the challenge of other religions.)

So, presented with an eviscerated version of Christianity on the one hand, and a sincere expression of Buddhism and Islam on the other hand--in the midst of a pluralistically, multiculturally-oriented church where merely being a “spiritual person” is enough to become a priest, and you have what we are seeing in Kevin Thew Forrester and Ann Holmes Redding.

But the ultimate responsibility for these two examples (and, to repeat myself, countless others like them that aren’t in the spotlight) lies with the parishes that raised them up, the clergy who mentored them, the discernment process that sent them toward ordination, the seminaries that trained them, and the Bishops who ordained them. You cannot raise up true leaders in a faith that you yourselves do not possess. And that is the real tragedy of this whole affair.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dialogue or Syncretism? -- "Tri-Faith Initiative" has big plans for Omaha

Here's some potentially major news from Omaha. Is it syncretism or merely interfaith dialogue?   You be the judge.

A remarkable project is taking place in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, Temple Israel and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture have come together, planning to build a joint campus which will house a mosque, a temple and a church plus a shared facility on a large campus.  [Emphasis and links added.]

This is the only undertaking of its kind we know of in the world. On this site we will keep you in touch with the progress on the plans for the Tri-Faith campus and other news of successful interfaith projects around the nation and around the world.

The first major public program will be the March 27 event featuring Rabbi Peter Knobel of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church.  The evening at The Qwest Center will feature a worship service starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dinner and a conversation among the faith leaders on the theme of “Shalom, Salaam, Peace.”  [Emphasis and links added.]

The theme of peace is central to all three of the Abrahamic faiths and is included in daily and weekly worship.  In all three faith groups, in the midst of our prayer time, we turn to our neighbors and offer them words and signs of peace.  Whether we say “Shalom”, “Salaam” or “Peace be with you,” the message is the same — the need to be reconciled with our neighbors as we seek to be reconciled with our God.

UPDATE: According to this item, the "conversation" part of the March 27 event will be webcast:
Breaking News: We have been able to make arrangements to webcast the “Conversation on Peace” live from the Qwest that night. Just before 8 p.m. Central Time Friday night, log onto this website and you will be able to click through to the webcast at mms://   (If you try to go there now it will just come up as a Windows Media screen.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

[Off-topic] Presidential Double-Talk

Barack Obama has been in office fewer than 100 days. Wall Street is running scared from his tax-and-spend economic policies, and consumer confidence is at an all-time low.

Now from Newsweek comes this stinging indictment of the "Yes-we-can!" president who, it seems, is out to insure that the US becomes "the-Nation-that-can-no-longer-afford-to."

The amazing thing is that this article wasn't written by Rush Limbaugh, it comes from Newsweek--one of the mainstream media cheerleaders that helped get Obama elected.

Here's a two paragraph sample:
A prudent president would have made a "tough choice"— concentrated on the economy, deferred his more contentious agenda. Similarly, Obama claims to seek bipartisanship but, in reality, doesn't. His bipartisanship consists of sprinkling his cabinet with token Republicans and inviting some Republican members of Congress to the White House to watch the Super Bowl. It does not consist of fashioning proposals that would attract bipartisan support on their merits. Instead, he clings to dubious, partisan policies (mortgage cramdown, union checkoff) that arouse fierce opposition.

It is Obama's conceit—perhaps his cockiness—that he can ignore these blatant inconsistencies. Like many smart people, he believes he can talk his way around any problem. Perhaps he can. In this, he has an ally in much of the mainstream media, which seem so enthralled with him that they can't recognize glaring contradictions. During the campaign, Obama claimed he would change Washington's petty partisanship; he also advocated a highly partisan agenda. Both claims could not be true. The media barely noticed; the same obliviousness persists. But Obama still runs a risk: that his overworked rhetoric loses its power and boomerangs on him.

Kudos to columnist Robert J. Samuelson for telling it like it is.

Read it all here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

More from Athanasius

Before I digressed with my last post, I was citing Athanasius' On the Incarnation. As C. S. Lewis noted in the Introduction, it is a marvelous book, profound in its simplicity, and powerful in its testimony to the Truth.

Consider the following:
In regard to the making of the universe and the creation of all things there have been various opinions, and each person has propounded the theory that suited his own taste. For instance, some say that all things are self-originated and, so to speak, haphazard. The Epicureans are among these; they deny that there is any Mind behind the universe at all. This view is contrary to all the facts of experience, their own existence included. For if all things had come into being in this automatic fashion, instead of being the outcome of Mind, though they existed, they would all be uniform and without distinction. In the universe everything would be sun or moon or whatever it was, and in the human body the whole would be hand or eye or foot. But in point of fact the sun and the moon and the earth are all different things, and even within the human body there are different members, such as foot and hand and head. This distinctness of things argues not a spontaneous generation but a prevenient Cause; and from that Cause we can apprehend God, the Designer and Maker of all.

Evolutionists should take note of the preceding paragraph, just as Mormons and others should take note of the following:
Others take the view expressed by Plato, that giant among the Greeks. He said that God had made all things out of pre-existent and uncreated matter, just as the carpenter makes things only out of wood that already exists. But those who hold this view do not realize that to deny that God is Himself the Cause of matter is to impute limitation to Him, just as it is undoubtedly a limitation on the part of the carpenter that he can make nothing unless he has the wood. How could God be called Maker and Artificer if His ability to make depended on some other cause, namely on matter itself? If He only worked up existing matter and did not Himself bring matter into being, He would be not the Creator but only a craftsman.

New Agers, Wiccans, and neo-Pagans of all sorts might note this:
Then, again, there is the theory of the Gnostics, who have invented for themselves an Artificer of all things other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. These simply shut their eyes to the obvious meaning of Scripture. For instance, the Lord, having reminded the Jews of the statement in Genesis, "He Who created them in the beginning made them male and female. . . ," and having shown that for that reason a man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife, goes on to say with reference to the Creator, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."[Matt. 19:4-6.] How can they get a creation independent of the Father out of that? And, again, St. John, speaking all inclusively, says, "All things became by Him and without Him came nothing into being.[John 1:3] How then could the Artificer be someone different, other than the Father of Christ?

Such are the notions which men put forward. But the impiety of their foolish talk is plainly declared by the divine teaching of the Christian faith. From it we know that, because there is Mind behind the universe, it did not originate itself; because God is infinite, not finite, it was not made from pre-existent matter, but out of nothing and out of non-existence absolute and utter God brought it into being through the Word.

Read it all here.