Sunday Subversions

    1. R.C. Sproul, Nestorian?
    2. Who’s Redefining Religious Liberty?
    3. Class action scandle, scandlier than usual
    4. Drinking from an unfiltered fire hose


We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ.

I respected R. C. Sproul when I was a Calvinist. But I believe he has, in the passage quoted (H/T Robin Phillips), heretically (and disappointingly) divided the person of Christ into separable human and divine natures, whereas those natures were united inseparably.

As Robin Phillips put it on Facebook:

If, as R.C. Sproul says in the article below, “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross” because “The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ” then should we also shrink with horror from the idea that Mary was actually the God-bearer, and say instead that she simply gave birth to a human nature that was used by the divine person?

Before you say “yes, we should,” be aware that your affirmation clearly would make you a Nestorian heretic (which may be the proper name for Sproul’s horror as well).

I don’t keep up with the Protestant world intentionally any more – what I pick up is coincidental – but all of my life, I have been very aware, whether I considered myself Evangelical, Calvinist or Orthodox, that Christology is not adiaphora, an indifferent thing. It is absolutely fundamental Christianity. And the Christology of the Ecumenical Councils was our tacit touchstone.

Bad Christology is what prompted the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, and it’s where most pseudo-Christian sects went off the rails still.


A highly-active, well-funded network of conservative Roman Catholic intellectuals and evangelicals are waging a vigorous challenge to LGBTQ and reproductive rights by charging that both threaten their right-wing definition of “religious liberty.” The Christian Right campaign to redefine “religious liberty” has been limiting women’s reproductive rights for more than a decade and has recently resulted in significant religious exemptions from antidiscrimination laws, same-sex marriage laws, policies regarding contraception and abortion, and educational policies. Religious conservatives have succeeded in reframing the debate, inverting the victim-oppressor dynamic, and broadening support for their agenda.

While the religious liberty debate is a growing front in the ongoing culture wars, it is actually an old argument repurposed for a new context. In the postwar era, the Christian Right defended racial segregation, school prayer, public religious displays, and other religious practices that infringed on the liberties of others by claiming that restrictions on such public acts infringed upon their religious liberty. Then as now, the Christian Right turned antidiscrimination arguments on  their heads: instead of African Americans being discriminated against by segregated Christian universities, the universities were being discriminated against by not being allowed to exclude them; instead of public prayers oppressing religious minorities, Christians are being oppressed by not being able to offer them.

(Executive Summary excerpt, Redefining Religious Liberty– The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights. H/T Religion Clause blog) The executive summary is full of factual mistakes, anachronisms, tendentious juxtapositions and ad hominem arguments.

Matthew Franck takes on some of this at NRO, in the first installment of several to come. I would further note regarding the quote from the Executive Summary:

  • Religious liberty organizations are not trying to redefine religious liberty. They’re trying to prevent it from being demoted to “freedom of worship” (the locution adopted by BHO and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) and to keep this explicit constitutional guaranty from being eroded by fanciful rights inferred from such ephemera as emanations and penumbrae. And even that is a rearguard action, the main battle – promiscuous extension of protected class status – having already been lost.
  • Women have, as Supreme Court precedent now stands, the right to procure abortions from willing providers free of the threat of criminal prosecution. That is, saith at least 5/9 of our black-robed gods, a constitutional right. They have no “reproductive right” to impose involuntary servitude on health care professionals who don’t wish to perform abortions.
  • When traditional Christians are dismissed with terms like “homophobe,” it’s anything but clear that they are “inverting the victim-oppressor dynamic.”
  • There was no “Christian Right” in the post-war years. I was, fer cryin’ out loud, an adult already when the “Christian Right” emerged as culture warriors. I don’t have to look it up.
  • “Defending racial segregation” was not a “religious practice” of “Conservative Roman Catholic intellectuals.” You must read both paragraphs critically to see that misattribution, but it’s there.

But every cloud has a silver lining. So riddled is this “study” with errors that maybe we can change the subject away from the alleged inadequacies of the Regnerus family structures study.


Class action lawsuits have a legitimate role: aggregating legitimate claims, each one of which is too small to pursue on its own. Without class action lawsuits, businesses could continue predatory behavior, provided the defect, stock manipulation or whatever was calibrated not to harm any single plaintiff too much.

But class action lawsuits are also a lucrative racket, the practitioners of which gather regularly in glitzy venues, hiring big name politicians and others to come enjoy the largess, with glossy mailers inviting me to come join the fun. Some of the suits are meritless games of chicken; how much can you extract from a corporation as a “cost of defense” settlement?

Big business hates class action lawsuits for the first reason, so they positively gloat at proof of the racket aspect, as in the Kentucky disbarment of one Stanley Chesley, who coached his acolytes in how to keep, for themselves and their expenses, fully 77% of a $200 million fen-phen settlement.

If you read the Wall Street Journal, you can expect to read about him as often as you’ll be reading about Thomas Nagel in Creationist and Intelligent Design literature. One could even say, in SAT terms:

Stanley Chesley/Big Business = Thomas Nagel/Creationism

(I capitalize “Creationist” because there may be someone out there who doesn’t know, as I didn’t know 35 years ago, that the term is commonly used (1) to denote those who believe in creation in 144 hours 10,000 or fewer years ago and (2) to scorn people whose discerning of scientific evidence of creation is closer to mainstream science.)


Sometimes I have very mixed feelings about whoever it was who convinced me that good citizenship required keeping up with current events.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.