Tag: reason

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Is Salvation Our Doing, or God’s?

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam (1512) [from the Sistine Chapel ceiling]
What percentage of our salvation is our doing, and what percentage of it is God’s doing? This is a common way of approaching the question of salvation, and it’s a driving force for a lot of bad theology. For example, Steven J. Cole claims that Roman Catholicism "teaches that in order to gain enough merit for salvation, we must add our good works to what Christ did on the cross." That's a common misunderstanding: since Catholics believe human cooperation is necessary, that must mean we're reducing God's credit from 100% to something lower, right? And it's ultimately for this reason that Martin Luther and later Protestants (most famously Calvinists) will argue that man’s free will in the realm of salvation is basically an illusion: we provide 0% to salvation. Why? To ensure that God gets 100%.

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Want to Pray Well? Study Well

This afternoon, I gave a talk to the returning teachers at Christ the King on the virtue of study. I made four basic points:  1) Reason is good, and ordered towards God, since all truth is of the Holy Spirit. 2) Therefore, studiousness is a virtue that we ought to practice. 3) This is particularly true of Catholic school teachers, given their unique calling. 4) Studiousness must be rooted in prayer, and should help us to pray better. Here's the text of the full talk:

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Are We Living in the Matrix?

If the soul doesn't exist, then the mind is just matter, a sort of sophisticated computer. If that's the case, we'd be lead to the absurd possibility (even likelihood) that the universe doesn't really exist, but is just a computer simulation. Here's why that argument is surprisingly popular right now (even being debated at the American Museum of Natural History), and three reasons where is - and all materialism - goes wrong.

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3 Surprising Lessons from Jesus’ Weirdest Parable

Hieronymus Bosch, Death and the Miser (detail) (1490)
The weirdest and most troubling of Jesus' parables is almost certainly the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16, in which Jesus presents a parable of a manager who, upon being fired, exploits his position to cut deals with his master's clients so that he can try to leverage this into a job with them. Rather than being justly furious, the master *praises him* for his ingenuity. What on earth is going on? Three things to keep in mind with this parable.

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How George Carlin Misunderstood Prayer

William Blake, Ancient of Days (1794)
The famous comedian George Carlin was a fervent atheist, and had a particular disdain for Christian prayer. He argued that it was arrogant of us to ask the God of the Universe for anything. He’s got a Divine plan, and then we come along to ask Him for special favors. But Carlin also viewed prayer as either destructive or worthless. After all, God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God of the Universe, and He has a Divine Plan. If our prayers cause Him to change that plan, Carlin reasoned, we’re making things worse. If our prayers don’t cause Him to change His plans, what’s the point?

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