July 24, 2014

Why he signed the Manhattan Declaration

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R. Albert Mohler Jr, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes on his blog that he is not usually "inclined to sign manifestos or petitions." Because he is not reluctant to speak out on matters of faith and on public square issues, he is not usually "impressed" with public statements such as the Manhattan Declaration. Nor did he, as one with a deep antipathy to Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity, sign because the declaration was an attempt "to establish common ground on vast theological terrain." Yet Mohler made an exception for the Manhattan Declaration. Here's why: There are several reasons, but they all come down to this -- I believe we are facing an inevitable and culture-determining decision on the three issues centrally identified in this statement. I also believe that we will experience a significant loss of Christian churches, denominations, and institutions in this process. There is every good reason to believe that the freedom to … [Read more...]

Letters to Metropolitan Gerasimos and Rep. Dina Titus

From the Solomon Hezekiah blog: His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco 245 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94103 Your Eminence As an American member of the Greek Orthodox Church currently living abroad, I was appalled when I learned that a member of your diocese serving in the United State House of Representatives, Dina Titus, publicly declares that she supports ethics of which Orthodox Christians would be proud and uses her position in Congress to look out for Orthodox issues. Rep. Titus’ ethics are in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Rep. Titus openly supports the federally sponsored killing of the unborn. By her words and actions she is declaring that support for abortion is compatible with Orthodoxy. … [Read more...]

The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

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At noon today a group of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant leaders unveiled a document called "The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience" that affirms the traditional Christian teaching concerning abortion, homosexual marriage, and religious freedom. The Declaration asserts that these three issues (sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and freedom of worship) are under assault in western Democracies and call Christians into non-violent resistance against the injustices and, if necessary, non-violent non-compliance with the laws that would require a Christian to violate his conscience. (Read full text.) The Declaration opens: We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the … [Read more...]

The Greatest Scandal

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Occasional commentator David Holford writes on his blog Solomon Hezekiah about the voting record of Orthodox Christians on abortion-related legislation and is rightfully appalled. The only elected official at the federal level who has not sided with the culture of death is Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Republican from the 9th District of Florida. (See his video and statement here opposing the government takeover of health care.) In a post titled, "The Greatest Scandal in American Orthodoxy," Holford says he is not so "naïve to imagine that either the Congresspersons or the hierarchs will actually listen" to what he's saying. But the laity need to speak up on this issue, even if the bishops won't. After seeing an article about the clash over abortion between US Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his diocesan bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI, I decided to look into the voting records of the one senator and five representatives who are members of the Orthodox Church. The results are not … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion on social problems

From the Moscow Patriarchate, Nov. 12, 2009: During his meeting with foreign journalists on 11 November 2009, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk answered questions concerning urgent problems of society today. Asked about the Church’s view of some problems of bioethics, especially the use of artificial life-support systems to prolong the life of a patient, he said, ‘It is a very complicated issue. We in the Orthodox Church do not believe that one’s life should be certainly prolonged by artificial means. We believe a human being is born when it pleases God and dies when it pleases God. Complications arise when artificial life-support systems are used in a critical situation when there is a hope for one’s survival and return to normal life. But then one’s organism as if adjusts itself to these machines without one’s regaining consciousness. One continues to live in a vegetative state and here a complicated dilemma arises indeed: who can switch off these machines thus actually … [Read more...]

America’s Penance?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." Abraham Lincoln's Second Second Inaugural Address Saturday, March 4, 1865 The morning after, I awoke to hear that US House of Representatives had passed by a vote of 220 to 215 a bill authorizing a major reorganization by the Federal government of health care in America. My first thought was, "Oh well, I've always wanted to live in Europe." Along with others, I have grave reservations not about the need for health care reform in this country, but on the form that it seems likely to take under the twin auspices of the … [Read more...]

Knocking Human Beings Off the Pedestal of Exceptionalism

Occasional commentator to AOI blog and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith warns in a recent article that, "society’s belief in the unique moral value and importance of human life is under unprecedented assault...Most people still believe in human exceptionalism and are unaware that powerful social and cultural forces are working diligently to dismantle the sanctity of life ethic as the fundamental value of our social order." He is correct. Read it carefully, think through the logic, and heed the warnings. The crisis in the West is one of anthropology with ominous implications. +++++++++++++++++++++ By Wesley J. Smith. Published on The Church Report website. Society’s belief in the unique moral value and importance of human life is under unprecedented assault. Most people still believe in human exceptionalism and are unaware that powerful social and cultural forces are working diligently to dismantle the sanctity of life ethic as the fundamental value of our … [Read more...]

Boldness or Irrelevance?

Dr. John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds at the Scriptorium: There is a boldness that should come with the a commitment to Christ. When the Green Patriarch (Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew) goes to a university ridden with the problems of our age and only tells them the parts of the Christian faith with which they are likely to agree, we are troubled by it. We hope he did not wimp out to curry political favor for causes where he is desperate for Western support, but we long for the clarity or boldness of a John Paul the Great in Poland. We cannot judge for certain, but the Biblical prophetic witness sounds more like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s address to Harvard. There a brave man spoke truth to power . . . not in our modern trivialization of the phrase where it means taking on figures that are unpopular in our own social set. Solzhenitsyn did not take on oil companies to Green Peace or abortionists at Liberty University. He attacked those he admired in other ways or whose admiration he might have … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion speaks out against euthanasia

Bp. Hilarion interviewed on Russian TV

H/T: Byzantine, TX (mospat.ru) - On 7 November 2009, the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk took part in “The Church and the World” TV Programme and answered questions on health care. He commented on the news of the Swiss authorities’ intention to tighten the legislation allowing euthanasia in the country. "Euthanasia is a crime of man against himself and against society,” he said. ”From Christian point of view, neither birth, nor death depend on man: we shall die when the Lord summons us. A man who ends his life artificially or prematurely does not believe in the future life and responsibility for his actions. He ends his earthly life with bitter feelings and disappointment rather than with prayer and trust in God.” Archbishop Hilarion underscored that euthanasia allowed in the entire country shows a global spiritual illness. Propagation of euthanasia could turn into deadly state ideology when … [Read more...]

Response to the Patriarchal Address

While the Patriarchal address has much to commend it, the leveling of ideas it exhibits is troubling. The essay below was originally written as a comment, but I posting it here for comment and analysis. Frankly, the ideas in this speech are muddled. It sounds like it an American wrote it who has only a cursory understanding of the history of ideas. For instance, while the examples citing Ghandi and King are true, it is overlooked that the reason for Ghandi's success was that the English, despite their empire building in India, still responded to Ghandi's appeals that were shaped by and heard through the Christian moral tradition. The same holds true for King. He was successful because by drawing on the morality of the Christian tradition, particularly the inherent value of the individual, he awakened the conscience of nation shaped by that tradition. Ghandi's and King's success however does not translate into a universal appeal for non-violence, simply because non-violence … [Read more...]

A Patriarch who ‘Generally Speaking, Respects Human Life’

The Sweet Kiss icon

By John Couretas Reading Andrew Estocin's fine essay, "Constantinople's Moral Oversight," I was reminded once again of the long running institutional silence -- a scandal really -- from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese on sanctity of life issues. But that attitude of indifference comes down from the top -- the Phanar. Here is a direct quotation from a July 20, 1990, article, "SF Shows Off Its Ecumenical Spirit," in the San Francisco Chronicle. Metropolitan Bartholomais of Chalcedon is the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Asked the Orthodox church's position on abortion, Bartholomais described a stand more liberal than that of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns abortion in all cases and whose clergy have, in some cities, excommunicated leading pro-choice Catholics. Although the Orthodox church believes the soul enters the body at conception and, ''generally speaking, respects human life and the continuation of pregnancy,'' Bartholomais said, the church also … [Read more...]

Thinking about the bulletin insert on the Green Patriarch’s visit…

Pardon my skepticism but does anyone else find the effusive praise in the handout to Greek Orthodox parishioners last Sunday overbearing? The author tries so hard to convince us of Patriarch Bartholomew’s stratospheric virtues that the entire piece has an “Our Dear Leader” feel to it. It reads, I am sad to say, like propaganda. Strong words? Yes, but only because the endless strings of ebullient praise muddles other very important points. While Pat. Bartholomew’s stand on the protection of the environment should be applauded, and while he has done much to raise awareness that environmental care is an issue to which Christians can contribute, it does not follow that all of his actions surrounding “creation care” (as some of the participants in the Mississippi River Symposium refer to it) are sound. For example, as part of Pat. Bartholomew’s environmental program in the United States later this month, he plans a visit to Georgetown University to deliver a talk co-sponsored by … [Read more...]