This post is based on two essays that I originally wrote six years ago, edited to fit your screen.
This summer I read everything that Ayn Rand wrote, fictional and nonfictional. I had read all of her nonfiction before, so that was mostly review, but I had never touched her fiction. Her four prominent fictional works are We The Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged, which are the ones I’ll be addressing here.
Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in the early 20th century and lived through the Soviet revolution as a young adult. By the late 1920s she had escaped to the United States and started writing a decade later. Her work was clearly directed against Karl Marx, Soviet Stalinists, and their guiding philosophical principles.
Historical context is important because Rand was not writing in a vacuum, but addressing a particular philosophical movement. Like many thinkers, what Rand opposed shaped the things she supported. Her works make sense when read with people like Marx, Harold Laski (the basis for the character Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead), or Plato in mind. Rand intended her philosophy, Objectivism, to be a grand unifying theory, but it only addresses her immediate world…
One of the great concerns of missional theology is the translation of theological language and practice across cultures. While the truth of the gospel does not change, the mode of communicating it can and must depending upon location. This was one of the arguments for the adaptation of rock and pop music in worship. Every musical style and genre will eventually run into the same problem: diminishing returns crossing cultures. A seminary professor of mine once told a story of visiting an evangelical church in Japan that was a slavish copy of American churches. The church had a praise team that dressed like a caricature of American worship leaders and played translated CCM. And it didn’t work, because it failed to account for the differences in American and Japanese culture.
As American and western culture changes, the use of rock music in worship stops meeting the needs that lead to its employment in the first place…
An elder of the church who commits adultery should be permanently disqualified him from ever again serving as an elder of the church.
This statement may seem to contradict the Christian spirit of repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, grace, and restoration, yet it remains the biblical truth.
1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul lays out the requirements for an overseer/bishop of the church, repeated by him in Titus 1:5-9 for elders of the church. In both passages (1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:6), Paul says that the officer of the church must be a μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, literally a “man of one woman”. This is commonly translated as “husband of one wife” (e.g. the CSB, ESV, KJV, NASB), but some translations have rendered it as “faithful to his wife” (e.g. NIV, NLT). Both of these translations get to an aspect of its meaning, but by themselves are inadequate in capturing the full sense of the phrase.
The idea in Paul’s requirement is not that an elder of the church is merely monogamous, but is faithful in his commitment to his wife. To be an elder you must be a man of one woman, and someone already an elder must remain a man of one woman.
Because few Catholics are bold enough to say they actually know all the Church’s teachings, the traditional recourse is some version of “the Church cannot err in its teaching, so whatever she teaches—even if I’m still struggling with, or even unaware of, that teaching—must be true.” But of course the Church teaches via her bishops, and preeminently the bishop of Rome. So the claim is, in effect, “I trust that the bishops and the pope speak the truth.” (Yes, I’m aware that the underlying theological claim is a little more sophisticated than that; still.)
But that trust is precisely what is being forfeited with the cover-up scandals. And note the already evident domino effect. In light of the scandals, many faithful Catholics, for example, are now comfortable saying that it was likely a mistake to canonize John Paul II. But it has long been the majority opinion of the Church’s theologians that canonizations are exercises of papal infallibility. If, in light of the scandals, otherwise faithful Catholics are now willing to doubt what was long believed an infallible exercise of magisterial authority, there’s little reason for them not to doubt other of the Church’s teachings. That’s not to say they necessarily will doubt other teachings; but the door’s been cracked and there’s no longer a principle to prevent it being thrown wide open.
h/t D.G. Hart.