The Iowa Court of Appeals has reversed the Patrick Edouard convictions. Continue reading
Is there an American form of Christianity? Many believers who live in the United States would be content simply to identify themselves as Christians, others as American Christians, and still others would be inclined to say they are Christians in America. But are believers in any of these groups able to identify distinctive traits of American Christianity? Do you know enough of the history of Christianity in this country to recognize how your own expression of Christian faith and practice has been shaped by America in the modern age, for good or ill?
None of us are simply “biblical Christians” but have a history that has shaped us in one way or another. Reformed Christians have a rich heritage going back to the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe, but they also have a peculiar history in the United States. Join us for this free two day conference which will explore some of the major outlines of the history of Reformed & Presbyterian Christianity in the United States.
Friday, November 1
Session 1 at 7:00pm
Alan Strange: “The Tumultuous Beginnings of American Presbyterianism.” The beginnings of American Presbyterianism, with a focus on the First Great Awakening and the Old Side/New Side controversy. We’ll also briefly reflect on the Reformed in America and the phenomenon of “becoming American.”
Session 2 at 8:15pm
Darryl Hart: “The Challenge of Americanism.” The talk will cover the problems posed by new ways of recruiting and sustaining Christians (through the Second Great Awakening). It will cover Reformed responses to the predicament from German Reformed, Dutch Reformed, and Presbyterians.
Session 3 at 9:30am
Alan Strange: “Politics and the Pulpit.” Charles Hodge developed his doctrine of the spirituality of the church in a subtle and nuanced fashion that permitted him to distinguish the church from the state and its political concerns while allowing the church to retain a prophetic voice to society. We’ll examine Old School Presbyterianism with respect to the spirituality of the church and the place of the doctrine among the Reformed.
Session 4 at 10:45
Darryl Hart: “Kuyper & Machen–Models of Reformed Witness.” This talk will examine the differences between Machen and Kuyper’s attempts to recover a consistent Reformed witness, especially those that stem from the differences between church life in the United States and Netherlands.
Lunch 12:00pm ($5.00 Fee for all participating)
Session 5 at 1:00pm
Alan Strange: “Unity without Union — Beyond Acronyms.” The CRC recognized and congratulated the OPC on its formation and the OPC did the same with the URC on its formation. We’ll look at OPC/CRC union talks, the formation of the URC and OPC/URC relations.
Session 6 at 2:15pm
Darryl Hart: “Anti-Modernism.” This presentation will examine the efforts of conservative Presbyterians in the United States and Reformed Protestants in the Netherlands to combat theological liberalism and indifference in the dominant churches. It will also discuss the need for secession or separation when those efforts were no longer viable.
Session 7 at 3:30
Q&A with speakers
Reformed in America” will take place at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church (3615 University Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa). This conference is hosted by Providence Reformed Church and Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, which are both congregations in Des Moines.
Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church (OPC): http://www.GraceReformed.org
Providence Reformed Church (URCNA): http://www.ProvidenceRC.org
Please RSVP to: ReformedInAmericaDM2013@gmail.com
In its attempt to avoid having to choose between their religious scruples and either (1) paying about $475 million more taxes annually, or (2) paying about $26 million more in taxes and dropping employee health insurance benefits, Hobby Lobby got some help from an unlikely source.
The help came from a Jehovah’s Witness whose employer ran both a foundry and a factory. He was untroubled working for the foundry that produced sheet metal, but had religious scruples about working in the factory that produced turrets for military tanks. Accordingly he quit his factory job. The SCOTUS then had to weigh whether the denial of his unemployment benefits flowed from an improper burden on his religious rights. The JW wasn’t articulate about why there was such a difference between producing steel that might be used for military purposes and working on what was obviously a turret. It might have been tempting for the SCOTUS to decide on its own reasoning that there wasn’t a substantial difference between the two kinds of jobs. But that’s not what it did because “it is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether the petitioner . . . correctly perceived the commands of [his] faith. Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.” Such was the Court’s reasoning in Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division .
But now let’s come back to the most recent Hobby Lobby case. The government questioned the soundness of Hobby Lobby’s religious objection to providing health benefits for abortifacients, arguing “[a]n employee’s decision to use her health coverage to pay for a particular item or service cannot properly be attributed to her employer,” and “the insurance coverage at issue is just another form of non-wage compensation—supposedly the equivalent of money—and therefore should not present problems. . .” A dissent agreed with this line of reasoning, opining that “neither an employer, nor its officers and directors, by choosing to comply with the contraceptive-coverage regulation, become a party to, or otherwise encourage, an individual employee’s decision to use a particular drug or device.”
But The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit took a deferential approach:
Such reasoning cannot be squared with the Supreme Court’s holding in [the JW case]. The Supreme Court emphasized that when the plaintiff drew a moral line between foundry and factory work, it was not the Court’s prerogative to determine whether the line he drew “was an unreasonable one.” [citing the JW case] Just so here: Hobby Lobby and Mardel have drawn a line at providing coverage for drugs or devices they consider to induce abortions, and it is not for us to question whether the line is reasonable.
This case reminds us that protection for one kind of religious belief is often protection for another. If other circuits follow this analysis, this is very good news for employers with religious objections to the HHS Mandate. Moreover, the Tenth Circuit held that Hobby Lobby can be protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act notwithstanding that it is a for-profit corporation.
But there will be more litigation for Hobby Lobby, as this court concluded:
We hold that Hobby Lobby and Mardel are entitled to bring claims under RFRA, have established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm. But we remand the case to the district court for further proceedings on two of the remaining factors governing the grant or denial of a preliminary injunction.
Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher reveals one motive for the Evangelical Right’s reaction to the recent SCOTUS ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act. Here we’ll just borrow his quote from Mike Huckabee:
My immediate thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: “Jesus wept.” Five people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of California and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all. Elections matter and our fight to protect Traditional Marriage continues. If you want to help elect men and women who support Life and Marriage, I urge you to make an immediate donation of $3 or more today to Huck PAC. As the Left wing media and activists cheer today’s rulings, help me show them the fight to preserve Traditional Marriage is far from over. Please donate today!
Sincerely, Mike Huckabee
Whether it’s politics or religion or a hybrid of the two, never, ever forget to test one of our most reliable analytical tools: “follow the money.”
Boring. That’s what I have to say, legally speaking, about the much-anticipated SCOTUS cases related to same-sex marriage. In U.S. v. Windsor the SCOTUS took on the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a statutory refusal to recognize same-sex marriage for purposes of a myriad of federal laws. In Hollingsworth v. Perry they might have decided the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, under which gay unions would not be granted the title of “marriage.”
Here’s why the DOMA case was boring: Continue reading
Their chart on agreement over all cases for the October term, 2012, tells us that the justices agree more often than not. For example, Scalia agreed with Ginsburg (in full, part, or in the judgment only) a full 74% of the time while Roberts’s lowest agreement rate with any judge was 71%. The lowest agreement rate between any two justices was that of Alito and Sotomayor at 64% while the highest agreement rate overall was 97% between Sotomayor and Kagan.
For those who would like to paint the OPC as litigious, there was great disappointment at the 2013 General Assembly. The presbyters spoke of missions, crisis relief efforts, the collaborative effort (with the URCNA) on a psalter/hymnal, and proper financial care for ministers. There was just one judicial appeal, and that appeal could be best described as a rogue appeal expressed in intemperate language.
That appeal was pretty much dead on arrival but it did foster a discussion that was so OPC. It was, on the surface, a mundane discussion of what should be included in the minutes of the General Assembly. But, as it turned out, there was a lively, principled, and well-argued exchange on what might be characterized as a Presbyterian drive for decorum and order over against transparency. Continue reading
While others are trying to slay 2k with what appears to be a minority view of which version of the Belgic Confession has been adopted by the URCNA, this might be a good time to visit the Westminster Confession on the topic. It would, of course, be anachronistic to describe the WCF as neo-Cal or Van Tillian, but there are plenty of Reformed teeth being worn down in gnashing over, for example, David Van Drunen dusting off the natural law for fresh consideration.
But if you can hear yourself think over all the screaming, one can find the natural law perspective of the Westminster divines has, indeed, found its way into the confession. Continue reading
We have previously chronicled the Midwestern phenomenon in which there is nearly always one piece of food left on potluck serving trays. Well, there’s more to the story, and it has international implications.
The international implication inspiration for this post came from my son-in-law who informed me of the German word andstandreste, defined by him as “the piece which out of propriety one does not take.” A blog elaborates:
This always remains decency: None takes the last of the coffee from the pot, no one picks up the last sandwiches on the plate. In the gummy bears that Peter has brought his holiday before us, it is again the same way: From each variety is exactly one left. [translated from German to English by Google] Continue reading
Maybe you don’t think much on the role of agencies in today’s America. But with the recently discovered news that the IRS has used its considerable powers to target political enemies and the upcoming role of agencies in the enforcement of Obamacare, maybe you should. Harry Truman said “I thought I was the president, but when it comes to these bureaucrats, I can’t do a damn thing,” and that was when agencies had a considerably more limited role in our lives. That quote can be found in the dissenting opinion (C.J. Roberts joined by Kennedy and Alito) of Arlington v. FCC . That dissent continues:
One of the principal authors of the Constitution famously wrote that the “accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Continue reading