The option of death means that a person’s existence, his very being, he himself, must for the first time be justified. As long as there are any costs to living (and there always are, in terms of personal sufferings and impositions on others), the option to die leads him and those near him to ask whether his remaining alive is worth those costs. We may, in fact, conclude that he should choose (or should have chosen) death. But even if he and we conclude that his existence easily passes the test, that he is a valuable fellow to have around, he has been degraded from a subject to an object, from someone totally accepted to something that can in principle be rejected.
Once the availability of death makes a justification for staying alive necessary, moreover, that justification may be inherently hard to come by. Once told to choose, many dependent persons may (perhaps spurred on by rising resentment in their caregivers) find it hard to deny that the good they are doing for themselves and others is no longer worth the cost and imposition.
Indeed, once the gates have been opened, once the option of death has been introduced, once the necessary taboo against killing is removed, not just a few but most or all of us may sometime be unable to justify our existence in human terms. Do we really think that no one could find a better use to which the costs of our upkeep could be put? Are we so important as to be provably indispensable? The world will probably get along pretty well without us. That is what happens, after all, when almost anyone dies.
-Richard Stith, via Ramesh Ponnuru.
Jon Payne’s recent article on confessional preaching at the Gospel Reformation Network makes the case that expository preaching is taught by WLC 159. Flowing from this conviction, the vision of the GRN includes a resolve to practice “an unbending dedication to expository preaching.” The GRN does not define expository preaching, either in its vision or in Payne’s article, and perhaps that is intentional. In general, expository preaching is understood as a form of preaching that explains a particular passage of scripture, often working through a passage verse-by-verse. Payne provided an explanation of expository preaching on behalf of the GRN that fits this definition during a podcast interview this summer (timestamp 20:30-40)…
It is with some Presbyterian interest that I observed a small dust-up down the Canterbury trail last week. ACNA priest Hannah King (disclosure: we attended seminary together and remain friends) suggested that allegiances to Christ trump allegiances to ACNA or TEC, and therefore churches and clergy should work together across denominational lines for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. She does not provide a roadmap for what that looks like, only affirming that Christ as the head of the church should be trusted in guiding his people down that path. She also is clear that this cross-denominational partnership should be between faithful (i.e. orthodox) ministers; she has the gall to believe that there remains orthodox ministers in TEC.
Fellow ACNA priest Alexander Filgus responded over at The North American Anglican (disclosure: I am good friends with one of their editors) that the basis for schism between ACNA and TEC rests on the claim that TEC is an illegitimate church…
Compare this “review” of Pete Enns’ most recent book How the Bible Actually Works by Robert Yarbrough of Covenant Seminary with this review (part 1, part 2) by Geoff Holsclaw of Northern Seminary. Both reviews come to similar conclusions about the effect of Enns’ understanding of the Bible, and both reviewers argue that Enns’ attempt to take the Bible on its own terms fails to do just that. But Yarbrough’s criticisms do not take into account how Enns arrives where he does, while Holsclaw’s review orients around charitably and fairly engaging with Enns’ work. In other words, Yarbrough’s review is not about Enns’ book, but about attacking Enns’ conclusions while masquerading as a book review, whereas Holsclaw actually reviews it. I am sure Enns knows which reviewer dealt fairly with his work and accurately represented his book, and I know which person I would want reviewing anything I were to write in the future. Relatedly, Enns has a guide on how to not to review books.
Michael Brendan Doughtery of National Review makes a strong case that liberalism, in its classical, Lockian sense, is antithetical to a Christian and conservative vision of society. A government and society dedicated to protecting an individual’s right to do whatever, as long as that practice does not infringe on anyone else’s rights to do what they want, inevitably tends towards elevating a set of “neutral” values as good and treating any divergence from those values as social deviancy. Liberalism does not create a world where a multi-value society flourishes, but inevitably demands that all members of that society become liberal. I have written about this in the past as it relates to abortion and Satanism.
Doughtery argues for a vision of classical conservatism in the tradition of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk as an alternative to liberalism. While Doughtery does not mention National Conservatism, he is responding on the movement’s behalf to George F. Will’s conservative defense of classical liberalism…