- 21 questions the candidates should have been asked.
- Billy and Mitt.
- Time travel and Gnostic heresy.
- In defense of dogma.
I already mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter, but Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns posted some very probing questions I wish were asked at Presidential debates.
Personal favorites include:
2. You both advocate infrastructure spending as a way to create growth and jobs. What is the causation between infrastructure spending and growth? Is there ever a point of diminishing returns and how would you know when that point has been reached?
3. You have both quoted studies from the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE calls for a 650% increase in highway spending, $2.2 trillion over the next five years, to catch our highways up to what they call “minimum tolerable conditions“. There is no support for anywhere near this level of spending in Congress, among the American people or, I suspect, from either of you. What is your alternative plan?
7. Are banks that are considered too-big-to-fail an essential part of the American economy? If yes, do you see any downside to this consolidation and how would you address that? If no, what is your plan to end the current too-big-to-fail situation?
10. You both claim we are headed to energy independence, largely because of new innovations in natural gas recovery. Assuming this is true, how long will it take to switch our automobile fleet, service stations, refineries and distribution systems from oil-derived gasoline to natural gas or natural-gas created electricity? How much will that cost and what is your plan to make that happen?
17. Do you believe America’s urban areas contribute more to government revenues than they require in government services? How about suburban areas? How about rural areas? Does it matter and why?
18. If City A steals a business from City B through tax breaks and subsidies, in general, is the American economy better off?
20. Point to an instance in your public service career where you passed up jobs and growth today for a greater and more stable prosperity in the future.
Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham’s mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
In a section of the website called Billy Graham’s My Answer there had been the question “What is a cult?”
Answer: “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith.”
“Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesess, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists, Scientologists, and others,” the site continued.
No longer. On Tuesday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association confirmed that page has recently been removed from the site.
“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ken Barun, chief of staff for the association, told CNN in a statement. “We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”
With that as a launching pad, Fr. Andrew S. Damick explores the usefulness of the term “cult,” ending with this apt observation:
[T]here is no mechanism whatsoever in low-church Protestantism to deal with heresy (except perhaps on the purely local level). Acceptability in the ever-diversifying denominationalist neighborhood is largely a function of social feeling, not dogmatic examination by an authoritative body or process. Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Reformation confessionalists can all know with certainty that Mormonism is not their kind of Christianity. But will your local mega-church know it? What happens when its pastor decides that the squeaky-clean Mormon image might well be the proper result of a doctrine or two worth giving another look?
Billy Graham: Mormonism No Cult. I really don’t like that headline. I think what Billy really said was more like “It’s just so unhelpful to talk about Mormonism as a cult right now! Check back later.”
It has been years and years since I could enthusiastically endorse anything coming from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, so let’s give some credit to this:
The connection between liturgical worship and the historical roots of the Christian faith are deep, with practices and creeds that reach back millennia, according to Dr. Bryan Litfin, professor of theology. “
Once you get out of the first century, when you had a loosely-organized house church movement,the ancient church quickly became liturgical,” he said. “If you plopped an ancient Christian down in modern times and eliminated the language barrier, he would most easily recognize the Eastern Orthodox service. If he entered a contemporary Evangelical church he’d probably think he had visited a service of Gnostic heretics.”
According to Buell, rather than deadening worship, the antiquity of most liturgical services connects believers in a unique way. She said, “When you bring in high church and the liturgy you open it up to the whole world,” she said. “You feel connected with the saints of the past, with your brothers and sisters. It’s really opened up my eyes to how much bigger everything is than just us.”
“I think it’s given me a more holistic understanding of the gospel, if you will, or of salvation, and helped me realize the communal aspects of it,” said Andie Moody, senior communications major, about the liturgical services she attends at Redeemer Anglican Church.
Liturgical services, Litfin argues, carry with them a sense of reverence that other service types lack. He said, “I also think liturgical worship, when it’s done properly, is solemn and otherworldly and mystical and even scary. Why do so many churches try to make their services ‘comfortable’? Why should we be comfortable if the living God is breaking into our world as the gathered body worships him? We should be trembling.”
Ultimately, Litfin argues, the liturgical church remains the root and foundation of the Christian faith, despite the popularity of contemporary worship with modern evangelicals. “At some point you’re going to get sick of the crappy architecture, and the rock bands, and the infiltration of pop culture into the entire philosophy of ministry,” he said. “And then, if God is gracious to you, you’ll find a Bible-centered liturgical church still doing what has always been done.”
Okay. It wasn’t perfect. I struck part I think dubious. But do you like the sound of that? Then don’t bother with the Anglicans. Come to the service an ancient Christian with a time machine would most readily recognize.
I especially liked “If he entered a contemporary Evangelical church he’d probably think he had visited a service of Gnostic heretics.”
Well, yeah, if the shoe fits. But how would they ever know if they’d lapsed into heresy? (See Item 2)
Fr. Damick, on a bit of a roll here, defends dogma.
Not any dogma in particular, mind you. Not this time. Rather, to make the case that dogma is unavoidable, its refusal incoherent.
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