Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Blue Nose Theology

Luther vor Cajetan
I had an intensely interesting conversation-turned-debate with a delightful Roman Catholic friend at a local brewery recently regarding religion, particularly the differences between Roman Catholic and Lutheran teachings. I suspect that my friend had not met, or at least had an extended theological conversation with, a Confessional Lutheran, because she appeared to hold me as a curiosity. We had a great time discussing the deep thoughts of drunken philosophers and theologians (though I held the advantage as I was working, and therefore, sober). By the end, though, it sort of turned into a Rome vs. Wittenberg debate, with each of us vigorously defending our positions. It was almost like a modern day Luther meets Cardinal Cajetan[1] (Except, Cajetan was a Roman Catholic laywoman, Luther was a cop, and it took place at a hipster brewery. Also, I didn’t answer her questions on my knees so, not like Luther and Cajetan at all, I guess).

I wanted to pursue the conversation because, having many friends who still allow themselves to be subject to the antichrist pope[2], I have suspected for quite some time that there is a disconnect between what many laymen believe about Christianity and what their church actually teaches. This disconnect is not peculiar to the Roman church. It exists in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, and in most other flavors of Christianity as well. It is most stark to me, however, when observed in Roman Catholicism.

The reason is because they have one guy who is the head of their church. Not only that, this guy claims for himself the title Vicar of Christ. He says that he is Christ's only representative on earth. Moreover, when he makes doctrinal pronouncements regarding faith and morals, his pronouncements are viewed by the church as infallible so, what he says goes. That, one would think, should be the end of it. It seems to me that Roman Catholic laypeople should not be as confused about the doctrines taught by their church as, perhaps, the laypeople of other denominations. I certainly wouldn’t expect there to be any instances of Roman Catholic laypeople flat-out denying their own church’s doctrines (I mean, if you knew what your church taught and disagreed with it, why would you remain a member?). Of course, the Roman church has had to contend with the same challenges as every other church body in America. This includes the church growth movement and the rise of post-modern thought. These two innovations will certainly always obscure biblical truth whichever denomination they infect.

I don’t chronicle our interaction to demean my friend in any way, or to flaunt my skills as a debater or theologian. I am in the lowest grade in both of those categories, and I think we genuinely had a fun time with our discussion. I write this to examine the danger post-modern thinking poses to God’s people. I will try to demonstrate the curious circumstance it causes for those who think in a post-modern way but still maintain an allegiance to a church body that professes absolute truths.

We didn’t begin with post-modernism, though. We started with…

The main difference between Catholics and Lutherans.

Right out of the box she asked my opinion regarding the main difference between the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran Church. My “Cajetan” preemptively offered that the difference could be boiled down to… Consubstantiation[3].

My friend said that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, and her church believes that the bread and wine at communion are actually the real body and blood of Jesus. I explained to her that, Lutherans do not in fact believe in consubstantiation. I pointed out to her that this is an area where Roman Catholic and Lutheran theologians are closer to agreement with each other than Lutherans are with evangelicals, who believe the Supper is merely symbolic.

Rome teaches that Jesus’ body and blood is present in the supper, so do the Lutherans. We do, of course, disagree regarding the particulars of what actually takes place when the elements are consecrated. My explanation of the doctrine of the Real Presence, however, was completely misunderstood. When I said that in, with, and under the bread and the wine are Christ's real body and blood as he has promised to give us, for we Christians to eat and to drink, I was met with an incredulous stare. "Yes, like I said" came the reply, "you believe in consubstantiation!" Then she showed me a Google definition of the word Consubstantiation on her phone that mentioned Lutherans.

Such are the perils facing the Lutheran theologian. We have to navigate down the narrow road of God's word and avoid falling off into the ditch of popery and philosophy on one side or the ditch of Calvinism and rationalism on the other. The result is a nuance in our teaching that is difficult to grasp when one has imbibed beyond one’s limit. It's a good thing that I keep a copy of the Augsburg confession with me in the car. I fetched it and explained what Confessional Lutherans believe, Google notwithstanding.

We then moved to the matter in question. For a Confessional Lutheran the main difference separating Rome and Wittenberg is obviously the doctrine of Justification. Justification is the teaching upon which the church stands or falls. The explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism asks the question: How is it possible for a just and holy God to declare sinners righteous? God declares sinners righteous for Christ’s sake:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him…even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:22-24; 4:25).

The Whore of Babylon - Woodcut by Cranach from
the Lutherbibel, 1534
Going along with this would be Rome’s insistence upon papal authority over the Church by divine right. Luther asserted, rightly, that the Bishop of Rome was a pastor of God’s people in Rome and of all those who voluntarily attach themselves to him and nothing more (McCain, et al. 2005). He also asserted that the pope was the Antichrist[4]. The pope claims, however, his authority over the whole Christian Church by divine right and the Roman Church explicitly teaches that all those who are outside of Rome are outside of the one true faith. At this point our discussion took an interesting turn when my friend began making the point…

Your religion is true for you, mine is true for me.

This is where things got interesting. At one point I said that, in order to be saved, one must repent and believe in Jesus. My companion replied, "That's fine for us, but what about all the other people who have different religions?" I asked her to explain what she meant. She said, "What about Muslims?" Who are we, she continued, to say that they are wrong, necessarily? Their religion is true for them and our religion is true for us.

This type of postmodern thinking it's quite pervasive in American Christianity in particular and American society in general. I explained that, as Jesus teaches, no one comes to the Father except through him; anyone who does not have penitent faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins is lost. This would include Muslims, or Jewish people, or anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus. Just because you have many religions, doesn't mean you have many right choices. Other religions may have a shadow of the truth in them, and some more than others, but in the end there is right and wrong, good and evil, yes and no. Jesus explains this to us and gives us no other choice:

[Jesus said] Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it… I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me… Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6; Acts 4:8-12).

My friend was shocked that I would assert such an insensitive, unenlightened idea. Imagine her surprise when I explained to her the dogma of her own church – that the only true Church of Christ is the Roman Church:

The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it…This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him (Interdicasterial Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994).

And also, that salvation comes through this one Catholic Church alone:

The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God” (Interdicasterial Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994).

I can understand why she was surprised. The supreme pontiff of the Roman church has made statements which have led many people to believe that the pope is OK with salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis made several, now infamous, statements that seemed to say atheists may be able to make their way into heaven by obeying their conscience[5]. Messy statements like those made by Pope Francis promote the idea of a kinder, gentler, Roman Catholic Church when reported by secular media who have little understanding of these things. They give the impression that the Roman Catholic Church has a “you go your way, I’ll go mine, we’ll all get there in the end” attitude. Liberal Catholic laypeople and post-modern American secularists believe the Roman Catholic Church is embracing the ideas of post-modernism in its doctrine because of this type of reporting: There is no “truth;” everyone has a shot at redemption with their own personal Jesus.

Except for Lutherans. We just can’t catch a break, and this I explained. Rome has been, and continues to be, clear on that point. Canon nine of the Council of Trent, which has never been rescinded by the Roman church[6], explicitly states that anyone who teaches the doctrine that man is justified by the grace of God alone, through faith in Christ alone without works[7] is anathema.

If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema (The Council of Trent 1547).

Anathema: That means cursed. So, while their laypeople are given the false impression that their church has changed its teaching so that atheists and other noble pagans have a shot at working their way into heaven, the fact remains that all is as it was in the 16th Century. Rome still anathematizes the Gospel.

Needless to say, we never did come to a mutual understanding. There may not be absolute truth, but I was wrong, nevertheless. I was, however, able to get some sympathetic brewers to smuggle me out of the brewery inside a disused beer barrel and safely back to my patrol car[8].

The bottom line 

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:10-17).

Christ Among the Lampstands -
Woodcut by Cranach from
the Lutherbibel, 1534.
I believe the reason that Lutherans are strange to other Christians (not to mention pagans), and misunderstood, comes down to this: We confess the truth of God's Word, even where we don't necessarily understand it, or like it. The only rule and guiding principle according to which all teachings and teachers are to be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments alone[9]. This flies in the face of both the secular world, and Rome. Moreover, we interpret Holy Scripture using the Historical-Grammatical method[10], which respects and recognizes Holy Scripture for what it is – the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God. The secular world has embraced post-modernism and asserts the truth that there is no such thing as absolute truth; The Roman Catholic Church claims that the church and its tradition is the divine authority, superior to that of even Holy Scripture, since the church existed before, and “created,” the Bible. To put it in a nutshell – church traditions preceded the Bible. Take into account the decades-long infiltration of post-modernism into the colleges and seminaries of the Roman Catholic Church and the result is a church body with doctrine that asserts it is the only true church and the only access God while its laity proclaims that all paths lead to the top of the mountain – I’m ok, you’re ok.

The Scriptures tested everything. This is the viewpoint of the authors of the New Testament, and the early church fathers. However, at the council of Trent, it was proclaimed that tradition was equal in importance and authority with the Bible. When the apostles preached the Gospel, the people who heard them tested what they said against the Scriptures they knew to be from God (the Old Testament)[11]. This happened before the New Testament was collected or the organized church existed. The Bereans tested the Gospel message and the apostles praised them for it.

Using the Historical-Grammatical method of biblical interpretation, an interpreter seeks the literal or intended sense of the text. He derives the meaning of the text from the text and allows Scripture to interpret Scripture. In order to discern God’s intended meaning, the Scriptures must be read as historical, literary documents. The meaning of Scripture is to be found in the text itself, not from some special revelation or extra-biblical source. The interpreter must also recognize that the Holy Scripture is the written word of God. It is not a primarily human witness to revelation, and thus not subject to human failings. In the historical-grammatical approach, the interpreter must always remember that Scripture, like our Lord, has two natures – the human and the divine – and has them equally and fully.

The Higher criticism method[12], on the contrary, favored by enlightened post-modern liberals, examines scriptural writings like witnesses in a court of law. Scripture must be “interrogated” and evaluated rationally. Following this method, Scripture is treated as any other human writings, subject to human failings. Higher criticism gives the individual interpreter, not Holy Scripture, ultimate authority and is incompatible with the “Sola Scriptura” principle of Lutheranism. Rome has begun to interpret Scripture according to this method in recent years. Main Line Protestantism and much of American Evangelicalism have been lost to Higher Criticism long ago.

What is disconcerting is that post-modernism is seeping more and more into those denominations which hold Scripture to be the divinely inspired, inerrant, efficacious Word of God. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has dealt with this in the 1960’s and 1970’s in what culminated in the seminary walk-out and Seminex[13]; we are still affected by it today.

We few who hold Holy Scripture in such esteem appear to be getting to be fewer.

Time to have a beer.

Works Cited

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church." Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html#top (accessed December 4, 2016).

Day, Michael. "Pope Francis assures atheists: You don't have to believe in God to go to heaven." Independent. September 11, 2013. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-assures-atheists-you-don-t-have-to-believe-in-god-to-go-to-heaven-8810062.html (accessed December 4, 2016).

Fields, Ligonberry. "7 Times Pope Francis Was Misquoted." BuzzVine. January 16, 2015. http://www.christianpost.com/buzzvine/7-times-pope-francis-was-misquoted-132679/ (accessed December 4, 2016).

Interdicasterial Commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Cathechism of the Catholic Church. New Hope, KY: Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994.

Lueker, Erwin L., ed. Lutheran Cyclopedia: A Concise In-Home Reference for the Christian Family. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1984.

McCain, Paul Timothy, Robert Cleveland Baker, Gene Edward Veith, and Edward Andrew Engelbrecht, . Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. Translated by William Hermann Theodore Dau and Gerhard Friedrich Bente. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

Reformation 500. "Luther meets with Cajetan at Augsburg." Reformation 500. http://reformation500.csl.edu/timeline/luther-meets-with-cajetan-at-augsburg/ (accessed December 4, 2016).

"The Council of Trent." EWTN: Document Libraries. 1547. http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/trent6.htm (accessed December 3, 2016).

Wikipedia. "Martin Luther." Wikipedia. December 4, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther#cite_note-59 (accessed December 5, 2016).

[1] In the summer of 1518, legal proceedings in church courts began against Luther for his criticism of indulgences…As a result, an order was issued for Luther to stand trial in Rome. However, Rome lifted that requirement, paving the way for his interrogation on German soil. The counselor appointed for that case was the Dominican cardinal and papal legate Tomas de Vio, named Cajetan…Cajetan was a theologian and ecclesiastic of high standing…Frederick the Wise… had arranged for the accused’s safe conduct to Augsburg and a fair hearing from Cajetan…Cajetan was directed by Rome neither to debate Luther, nor make a final judgment on his theology, but rather to insist that he recant by saying the simple word revoco—“I recant.” Upon arrival, Luther followed the advice of his colleagues and prostrated himself before Cajetan, then rose to his knees to answer the cardinal’s interrogation. Luther, however, refused to recant his positions and instead pressed Cajetan for clarity on where he was in error. Over the course of the three meetings on consecutive days from October 12-14, the theologically erudite cardinal was unable to resist debate with Luther (Reformation 500 n.d.).

[2] SA II, iv, 14.

[3] Consubstantiation is the view, falsely charged to Lutheranism, that bread and body form one substance (a “third substance”) in Communion (similarly wine and blood) or that body and blood are present like bread and wine, in a natural manner (Lueker 1984).

[4] SA II iv 14: Finally, the papacy is nothing else than the devil himself, because above and against God the pope pushes his falsehoods about Masses, purgatory, the monastic life, one’s own works, and false worship. (This, in fact, is the papacy.) He also condemns, murders, and tortures all Christians who do not exalt and honor his abominations above all things. Therefore, just as we cannot worship the devil himself as Lord and God, so we cannot endure his apostle – the pope or Antichrist – in his rule as head or lord. For what his papal government really consists of (as I have very clearly shown in many books) is to lie and kill and destroy body and soul eternally (McCain, et al. 2005).

[5] The Pope wrote, “God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience” (Day 2013). He also said, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone!” These statements are vague and confusing regarding the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on Justification and RC apologists and theologians were forced to run some heavy duty damage control to clarify that Pope Francis was not, in fact, subverting centuries of church dogma (Fields 2015).

[6] The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it. This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council. Paul VI affirmed it and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: “There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation”. The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith n.d.).

[7] Ephesians 2:1-10

[8] The hearings degenerated into a shouting match. Cajetan's original instructions had been to arrest Luther if he failed to recant, but the legate desisted from doing so. Luther’s supporters got wind of this, and helped Luther escape the night on October 20th Luther slipped out of the city at night, unbeknownst to Cajetan (Wikipedia 2016).

[9] Galatians 1:8; FC, Ep. 1.

[10] The historical-grammatical method is a Christian hermeneutical method that strives to discover the Biblical author's original intended meaning in the text.

[11] Acts 17:11-12

[12] Historical criticism, also known as the historical-critical method or higher criticism, is a branch of literary criticism that investigates the origins of ancient texts in order to understand "the world behind the text".

[13] Seminex is the widely used abbreviation for Concordia Seminary in Exile (later Christ Seminary-Seminex), an institution for the training of Lutheran ministers that existed from 1974 to 1987. It was formed after a walk-out by dissident faculty and students of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (LCMS).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Purple and Marian Blue

Our Lady of the Sign Icon
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”(Matthew 21:1-9).

Growing up at Immanuel – Hodgkins, the color for the season of Advent was purple. That was just the way things were, and I never gave it a second thought. Alternatives listed in the calendar printed in Lutheran Worship notwithstanding, it wasn’t until I left Immanuel that I even realized there was another color designated for Advent. Blue paraments at my next two parishes seemed to me jarringly out of place as we looked forward to Christmas. When I asked why blue was preferred instead of purple, answers varied as they often do among Lutheran clergymen.

Purple is somber and penitential; it is appropriate only during Lent. Blue is the color of hope; Advent is the season during which we look hopefully toward the coming/return of Our Lord and Savior. Blue is the color of the pre-dawn sky. Just as the color of the sky heralds the return of the light of the sun, it was explained, so the color of the church heralds the coming/return of the true light of the world (That is way to artsy and emotional for my taste…gag!). And, possibly, the most frustrating explanation of all: Rome uses purple for Advent; It’s too Catholic.

Advent is indeed a time of expectant waiting for Christ. The Church teaches that Christ comes in three ways: 1) His incarnation, 2) His spiritual coming in the hearts of believers and his constant presence in the gathered assembly of the Church, 3) His return to judgment on the Last Day (Lueker 1984). With those things in mind, I certainly understand the expectant, hopeful character of Advent. Why the color blue is associated with the concept of hope eludes me though. Advent is also penitential, and we shouldn’t forget that. We are preparing for the coming of the Savior, both in the sense of celebrating his birth at Christmas, and looking forward to his second coming on the Last Day. I can think of no better way to prepare for Christ’s coming/return than to follow the direction of John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for him, and to repent.

For those who think purple for Advent is “too Catholic,” consider this: blue is the color traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary, though white is the prescribed Marian color in Roman liturgical practice (Penkala 2000). That’s pretty Catholic, if you ask me. Though she has no “official” color, in Byzantine iconography Mary is often portrayed in blue, along with red. This practice was adopted in the west and seems to be where we get imagery of the darkness of night giving way to the dawn:

Yet the mandorla[1] of the Mother of God differs from that of the Saviour both in colour and in the absence of gold work. Bluish-green, with pink round the edge passing into red, it seems to be a visual expression of the words of the akathiston to the Mother of God, in which She is sung as “the fiery chariot of the Word”… “The brightest morning…bearing the sun-Christ,” and so forth. The symbolism of the combination of those colours evidently corresponds to the darkness of the night of sin and ignorance and the dawn of the coming day of the restitution of the world. This emphasizes the cosmic significance of the Mother of God and her role in the restitution, for She has “renewed the whole world in her womb” (Ouspensky and Lossky 1982).

The blue pigment used in painting in centuries past was derived from the rock lapis lazuli, a stone imported from Afghanistan of greater value than gold. In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, an artist’s patron was expected to purchase any gold or lapis lazuli to be used in the painting (Marian Colours and Religious Art 2014). Hence, it was an expression of devotion and glorification to swathe the Virgin in gowns of blue. Transformations in visual depictions of the Virgin from the 13th to 15th centuries mirror her "social" standing within the Church as well as in society (Marian Blue 2016).

I like to argue about things such as the appropriate color for Advent with tongue planted firmly in cheek. In reality, it matters little what color the paraments are, so long as we remember the purpose of Advent: to focus our attention on Christ and to prepare us for his coming. Advent begins the church year because the church year begins where Jesus' earthly life began — in the Old Testament prophecies of his incarnation (Frequently Asked Questions: Worship and Congregational Life n.d.).

Whatever color adorns the altar this First Sunday in Advent, blue or purple, our prayer is the same[2]: Stir up, we beseech Thee, Thy power, O Lord, and come, that by Thy protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Thy mighty deliverance; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Works Cited

"Frequently Asked Questions: Worship and Congregational Life." The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. http://www.lcms.org/faqs/worship (accessed November 27, 2016).

Lueker, Erwin L., ed. Lutheran Cyclopedia: A Concise In-Home Reference for the Christian Family. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1984.

"Marian Blue." Wikipedia. August 23, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_blue (accessed November 27, 2016).

"Marian Colours and Religious Art." Churchmouse Campanologist. January 3, 2014. https://churchmousec.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/marian-colours-and-religious-art/ (accessed November 27, 2016).

Ouspensky, Leonid, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1982.

Penkala, Gary D. "The Advent Blues." CanticaNOVA Publications: Traditional Music...for the Contemporary Church. December 2000. http://www.canticanova.com/articles/xmas/art1c1.htm (accessed November 27, 2016).

[1] Mandorla: A pointed oval figure used as an architectural feature and as an aureole enclosing figures such as Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary in medieval art.

[2] Some have exchanged “Thee” and “Thy” for “You” and “Yours,” a heresy which we will address at some other time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:1-14).

The disciples, like the Pharisees, and indeed, all the Jews of Jesus’ day, took great pride in the temple. It was to the nation of Israel, as we might say today, a national symbol. In those terms, it might be compared to America’s Capitol Building, the White House, or the Statue of Liberty. More importantly, it was the center of Jewish religious life. It was where the sacrifice for sin was made. It was where the presence of God Almighty abode with his people. It was, in the Most Holy Place, where the High Priest, on behalf of all the people, would enter into God’s presence bringing the blood of the sacrifice for the atonement of their sin. The temple was supremely important to the 1st Century Jew.

The idea and function of the temple was important, both in political and religious terms, and this was reflected in its construction. Solomon had constructed a large and ornate temple which housed the Ark of the Covenant. Herod’s was smaller and less magnificent than Solomon’s, but it was still an edifice built to reflect its importance. Herod, the self-proclaimed king of the Jews, wanted to get on his people’s good side. The bulk of the work on the temple took a decade (between 20-30 BC) to finish; the whole thing wasn’t complete until about 60 AD (Packer and Tenney 1980). He built his subjects a structure in which they could be proud, in which their religious business could be conducted properly, and which would gain for him the admiration of his subjects. So it is a natural and understandable thing for the disciples, chests puffed up with pride, to point out the temple complex to Jesus while looking down on it from the mountainside.

Jesus doesn’t react in the same way as the disciples, though. He tells them that, one day, this magnificent temple will be utterly destroyed and, “…not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” The disciples shock and confusion is demonstrated by their response to Jesus. “Tell us,” they ask, “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” Their pride is in the temple. Its destruction, to them, can only mean the end of the world. They want to know what to look for so they can be ready.

But, Jesus is vague. It would’ve been more satisfying for the disciples in that moment, I imagine, if Jesus had given them a date and time. “Yes,” he might have said, “the temple gets it in 70 AD, but the world keeps chugging along well into the 21st Century…” Instead of giving them a detailed schematic of precisely how things were going to play out during the End Times, he warns them not to be deceived by false Christs. He tells them to watch for wars and rumors of wars. And, the things he describes – nation rising against nation, famines, pestilences, earthquakes – were all going on around the disciples at that time, just as they are going on around us today. The end of the age has already begun. The disciples were, and we are, living in the last days. Geopolitical conflicts and natural disasters can help confirm this fact, but they cannot show us when the end will come. Evidently, Jesus wants the disciples and those who come after, to feel a sense of urgency about the end of the age and the Last Day so that we do not procrastinate (Albrecht and Albrecht 1996).

So many Christians today attempt to read the Bible through the headlines of the newspaper. The alleged modern day prophets and self-proclaimed apostles try to figure out which woe or trumpet judgment of the book of Revelation we are passing through based on the world’s political situation or what color the moon is. They look for the coming of a glorious millennial kingdom and a rapture where Jesus returns secretly to spirit his followers from the earth, things which are foreign to Holy Scripture, at least in the way much of American Evangelicalism interprets those things. They have become distracted from what Christ has told us to focus on: Himself. Kretzmann, in his New Testament commentary, explains it like this:

There is no trace of an idea of a millennium in this [the disciple’s] question. The belief which the Jews held, and which Christ here supports, is that the present age of the world, the age of sin and death, will end with the Last Judgment, without any intervening time of millennial glory. This is indicated also in the answer of Christ, when He tells them to see to it, to take heed, to guard against deception and terror. For the signs that would precede both the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world would be of a nature to demand calm minds and brave hearts (Kretzmann 1921).

Jesus redirects our attention away from earthly glory, and the man-made and natural terrors of this age which will all pass away, to that which is really important – remaining faithful to Christ. We do well to remember Our Lord’s words here. Through all the terrors, trials, tribulations, and persecutions, “…he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

If we hear these words, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved,” as Law, there is no comfort in them. Indeed, they then serve the first function of the Law and show us our sin. How can I, a poor, sinful being, endure even one hour, let alone until the end? If it were a work left to us to perform, we could not. Christ, however, has become the ultimate sacrifice for sin. And he, our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, entered the presence of the Father, not with the blood of beasts, but with his own blood, and obtained for us eternal redemption from sin and death[1]. He has come to us through Word and Sacrament and created faith in us; By Word and Sacrament He sustains that faith. The temple and its sacrifices were the shadow of the reality to come through Christ. There is no longer any need of the “type” once the real thing has arrived.

So, rather than being frightened by the wars and rumors of wars, we should remember that we are living in the last days and that the hour is late. We need to repent of our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus. We need to gather around Word and Sacrament to receive his gifts. We need to remember that, though the world is indeed increasingly evil and hostile to God, Christians are ever nearer the great day of Christ’s return (Engelbrecht 2009).

Works Cited

Albrecht, G. Jerome, and Michael J. Albrecht. People's Bible Commentary: Matthew. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1996.

Engelbrecht, Rev. Edward A., ed. The Lutheran Study Bible. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009.

Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: New Testament. Vol. 1. 2 vols. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1921.

Packer, J. I., and M. C. Tenney, . Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980. 

[1] But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:11-15).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Vote Lizard, 2016 or...May You Live In Interesting Times

This AP photo comes from Politico.
I read a fortune cookie once which related what is said to be, depending on who is quoting it, either an ancient Chinese curse, or an ancient Chinese blessing: May you live in interesting times. Well, blessing or curse, we certainly have the distinction, dubious or otherwise, of living in interesting times. Just look at the American presidential election.

If someone would’ve predicted, even just a decade ago, that we would be in our current political situation, no one would’ve believed it. The Republican Party has been called in the past a big tent. Under the canopy of this big political tent were united such groups as social conservatives, evangelicals, fiscally conservative social liberals, small-government advocates, anti-abortion advocates, gun rights advocates, and those who advocate for strong national defense, among many, many others holding what has come to be called “conservative” views. This Grand Old Party, however, has nominated a reality television star. This man, who calls himself the “king of debt[1],” supports and has used imminent domain to deprive fellow private citizens of their property[2]. He has stated multiple times that (though he claims to be a Christian) he has never once felt the need to repent for his sins[3]. He has embodied in his media career the opposite of anything resembling “traditional family values” (a term I do not care for, but one which has taken up a big section of the GOP’s tent canvas for a long time). He has advocated for unconstitutional gun control policies[4] and, for most of his life, was a registered Democrat who even donated large sums of money to his current opponent and said that she would be a good president[5].

On the Democrat side: Let’s forget for a moment her role in the scandals of her husband such as Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, et. al.[6], and focus just on her own, more recent political career. We are presented with a person who, through her managing of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, has set the world on fire. She has worked to topple foreign governments throughout the Middle East, even after decrying the Bush administration for the same type of nation building. She encouraged the so-called Arab Spring which resulted in civil wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. She supported the fall of the Egyptian dictatorship and its replacement with a Muslim Brotherhood led government[7]. She supported the toppling the Libyan dictatorship, which ultimately led to the Benghazi incident, where three American soldiers and the American ambassador were killed. For weeks she lied about what caused the incident where the US facility was breeched, maintaining that a spontaneous group protest incited by an anti-Islamic YouTube movie got out of hand[8]; the maker of the video in question was subsequently jailed[9]. In reality, it was a coordinated attack by terrorists on the US facility. She led efforts to arm Syrian “rebels” who turned out to be anti-American terrorists with connections to Al-Qaeda and ISIS[10]. Because of her handling of diplomatic relations and her desire to remake the map of the Middle East, we stand at the brink of war with Russia in Syria. She used her private email server for official communications, rather than official State Department email accounts maintained on federal servers. Those official communications included thousands of classified State Department e-mails. The FBI director admitted that what she did regarding the handling of classified material was illegal, but that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case[11].” She is an economic socialist who wants the rich to pay their fair share to feed the ever-expanding welfare state. She supports “common sense” gun laws like the ones in Australia (gun bans, registrations, and confiscation)[12]. She is a feminist who supposedly believes all victims of sexual abuse have a right to be believed[13], but who supported her philandering husband through countless “bimbo eruptions” and sex scandals of his own, even going so far as to work against the women accusing her husband[14]. She believed that marriage was a sacred bond between a man and a woman until it was politically advantageous for her to believe otherwise[15]. It is more accurate to say that she celebrates and promotes abortion, rather than that she “supports” it, right up to the time of the baby’s birth[16]. She is completely disingenuous and morally bankrupt, saying what she needs to say to whomever she needs to say it, to advance herself, and granting access to the power she has amassed to those willing to pay[17].

Now, so close to the November election, I sit back and watch as the same Democrats who defended President Clinton’s sexcapades with Monica Lewinski attack the lewd and deplorable Donald Trump for the same type of lewdness as they defended Secretary Clinton’s husband against.

Remember in the 1990's when President Clinton "…did not have sexual relations with that woman…" and lied about it to a grand jury? Remember all the sex scandals and the parade of women accusing President Clinton of what amounted to rape? Remember how the Democrats circled the wagons and said that President Clinton's private life didn't matter regarding how he did his job as president? Remember when the Republican Party, lead by conservative talk radio and the Moral Majority, said that character matters and someone who was a letch and a liar was unfit to be president? Today all that has been turned on its head.

Today we have Democrats wringing their hands lamenting the character of Donald Trump because he is a vulgar misogynist who would be a terrible role model for America's children. Republicans and evangelicals, meanwhile, dismiss the terrible things Donald Trump has said and claimed to have done because Hillary Clinton is worse than him. The two parties have completely switched places regarding the importance of morality. What this says about the two parties is that contrary to what you may hear from their spin-masters, apparatchiks, and talking heads, the leadership and membership does not believe the things they said they believed. They simply seek to win elections by any means necessary. I know this isn't a huge revelation about politics and political types. It is, however, quite revealing of American Christianity and its leaders.

Fundagelical hatred of Hillary Clinton apparently trumps their professed moral values. Character, evidently, does not count in 2016 as much as it did in the 1990’s.

Fundagelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, and Dr. James Dobson are defending Donald Trump, mostly on the grounds of “…but Hillary is worse!” I agree that Hillary Clinton is worse than Donald Trump. That does not mean, however, that we should abandon our moral principles and support him. To be clear, these American Christian leaders should have been nowhere within 10 miles of the Trump Train from the beginning. With the most recent revelations, one would have expected all Christian leaders to denounce his sins, call him to repentance, and pull their support until he did so. Instead, the opposite happened. Falwell and Dobson, while calling Trump’s statements and behavior toward women in the past deplorable, doubled down in their support, citing that Hillary is worse! Falwell said:

“The comments Mr. Trump made 11 years ago were deplorable and I condemn them entirely…I also find Hillary Clinton’s support of partial birth abortion criminal and her opinion of evangelicals to be bigoted. There really is only one difference between the two. Mr. Trump promises to support religious liberty and the dignity of the unborn. Mrs. Clinton promises she will not. It [the video] was completely out of order, it’s not something I’m going to defend…it was reprehensible. We’re all sinners, every one of us. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t…It was just a horrible thing. He apologized. He was contrite about it” (Bailey 2016).

Dobson defended Trump along the same lines as Falwell, and he even compared him to President Clinton, though Dobson maintains his condemnation of President Clinton for his misdeeds is comparing apples to oranges:

“First, I do not condone nor defend Donald Trump's terrible comments made 11 years ago. They are indefensible and awful. I'm sure there are other misdeeds in his past, although as Jesus said, 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.' I am, however, more concerned about America's future than Donald Trump's past…To my knowledge, Donald Trump has never abused women physically or had oral sex in the Oval Office with a vulnerable intern. Nor has he committed perjury by lying to Congress for many hours…Clinton, on the other hand, lost his license to practice law for that criminal act” (Malado 2016).

I can’t agree more with most of what Falwell says. The things Donald Trump said were indefensible and reprehensible. We certainly are all sinners and I, for one, regret many things I have said and done in the past. I certainly would be embarrassed and ruined in the eyes of many who count me as friends if video footage of my “mistakes” was broadcast all over the world. The difference is that the church is to call Christians to repentance for their sins. Donald Trump has made no bones about telling us all just what he thinks of the state of his nature, and what he thinks his standing is before God. 

“I try not [sic] make mistakes where I have to ask for forgiveness…Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes? I work hard, I’m an honorable person” (Nothstine 2015).

The answer to Donald Trump’s question is simple: Law. You are making mistakes. Except, they’re not called mistakes, they’re called sins. You are sinning every day. In fact, you were conceived and born in sin, and you are, by your very nature, sinful and unclean. You have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed, by what you do, and by what you fail to do. You have not loved God with your whole heart, and you have not loved your neighbor as yourself. You deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment for your sin.

And, when/if he acknowledges his sin and repents, Donald Trump could hear the Gospel and learn about God’s grace; he could hear that, for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Jesus, God will be merciful to him and forgive him all his sins.

That, however, isn’t being done. Fundagelical leaders (I refrain from calling them pastors) should be calling Donald Trump to repentance, but they can’t, and I think it is because of how American Fundagelicalism looks at sin, human nature, and worship.

In much of American Fundagelicalism sins are viewed as “mistakes” or “bad breaks.” Human nature is sick, but not dead, and therefore able to cooperate with or respond to God. Worship is not where God’s people gather around Word and Sacrament to receive the gifts God would give us through Christ. It is a place where Christians come to serve God, to learn what they need to do to please him (and the five keys to a more fulfilling sex life with your spouse), and evangelize “seekers” who may have unsuspectingly wandered in off the street for a cup of coffee, thinking the strange modern-looking building was some kind of new Starbucks. To the average American Fundagelical, I suspect it is perfectly reasonable, even expected, that their leaders should tell them which political candidate to vote for, just as they tell them which store to boycott, and how much money to give. Pastors, however, are to stand in the stead of Christ, handing out his gifts as they have been called to do. Pastors preach Law and Gospel, calling people to repentance and forgiving sins. Pastors wear vestments which hide the man and serve to focus attention, not on the man underneath them, but on Christ. Secular politics have no place in Christian worship, and church leaders should not endorse candidates. They should make disciples, baptize and teach, and administer the sacraments.

By boarding the Trump Train, I believe Dobson, Falwell, and Graham have done severe damage to their reputation, and that of all faithful Christians, in the eyes of those young “unchurched” people they have been courting. Those outside of Christianity don’t make a distinction between American Fundagelical and Confessional Lutheran. We are all one flavor to the secular press. And, to them, we look like hypocrites because the heavy hitters of American Christianity are supporting a lewd, irreligious man, and they are justifying their support with grade school arguments.

So, what are we to do? If we don’t vote for Trump, Clinton – whom we *know* to be evil – will get in. At least Trump, the argument goes, says he’ll do some of the things we want. He says he’s pro-life new, even though I have no real evidence of his change of opinion, and he has a long pro-choice record[18]. I suppose it comes down to whether or not you take him at his word. He says that past performance is not indicative of future results, but you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t believe that to be the case. “But…a vote for a third-party is a wasted vote!!!” That argument reminds me of a passage from one of my favorite books of all time, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

By Douglas Adams, 1984
In book four of the five book trilogy (yes, you read that correctly), “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish,” A flying saucer lands in London, and a 100 foot tall silver robot exits and says, “I come in peace. Take me to your Lizard.” Ford Prefect explains to Arthur Dent that the robot comes from a very ancient democracy where, “On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards, and the lizards rule the people.” Arthur can’t grasp this and wonders, if it is a democracy, why the people don’t just get rid of the lizards, rather than voting for them. “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” replies Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

Gin would be helpful indeed.

Stop voting for lizards. Stop voting for the lesser evil. Stop voting against people. When you do those things you’re voting for lizards, and evil, and people who don’t hold your values (political or moral) and will ultimately bring us to ruin. If you have to hold your nose to vote, you’re doing it wrong. As for wasting your vote: maybe, but I remain unconvinced. I can hear my “binary choice” friends now, saying, “Sure, your Constitution Party candidate might be better on paper, but he can never win!” To that, I say that’s what the GOP establishment thought about Donald Trump during the Republican primaries. He was a joke, and he couldn’t win. Every political expert was waiting for him to fizzle out. It only took people not listening to the conventional wisdom of the talking heads to cast their votes to change that, much to the chagrin of the GOP. The voters chose to defy the Republican Establishment progressives, only they did it with Donald Trump rather than Cruz or Paul, more’s the pity.

It is my hope that all those conservative, Constitution-loving (if indeed they are) Fundagelicals will realize this, abandon the progressive Republican party, and put their considerable money and support behind a party and candidate that deserves it. If they do, Dobson and Falwell and Graham won’t have to defend the indefensible. And, neither will you.

Works Cited

Bailey, Sarah Pulliam. "We're all sinners: Jerry Falwell Jr defends Donald Trump after video of lewd remarks." The Washington Post. October 10, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/10/10/jerry-falwell-jr-the-gop-establishment-could-be-behind-donald-trump-video-leak/ (accessed October 22, 2016).

Malado, Jardine. "James Dobson defends his continuing support for Trump." The Christian Times. October 14, 2016. http://christiantimes.com/article/james-dobson-defends-his-continuing-support-for-trump/64504.htm (accessed October 22, 2016).

Nothstine, Ray. "CP Politics." Trump: 'Why Do I Have to Repent or Ask for Forgiveness If I Am Not Making Mistakes?' (Video). July 23, 2015. http://www.christianpost.com/news/trump-why-do-i-have-to-repent-or-ask-for-forgiveness-if-i-am-not-making-mistakes-video-141856/ (accessed October 22, 2016).

Wikipedia. Gun laws in Australia. October 22, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Australia#2014_Sydney_hostage_crisis (accessed October 22, 2016).

End Notes

[1] "‘I Love Debt’: Trump Says He Is the ‘King of Debt’ | Video ..." Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/05/04/i-love-debt-trump-says-he-is-the-king-of-debt/.

[2] Lott, John R., Jr. "Trump & Eminent Domain - National Review Online." February 2, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431005/trump-eminent-domain.

[3] Ray Nothstine. "Trump: 'Why Do I Have to Repent or Ask for Forgiveness If ..." July 23, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.christianpost.com/news/trump-why-do-i-have-to-repent-or-ask-for-forgiveness-if-i-am-not-making-mistakes-video-141856/.

[4] Ward, Jon. "The Surprising Agreement between Trump and Clinton on Gun ..." September 27, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. https://www.yahoo.com/news/the-surprising-agreement-between-trump-and-clinton-on-gun-control-020212914.html. Donald Trump said that he agreed with Hillary Clinton when she supported infringing the Second Amendment rights of Americans who were placed on the no-fly list. This would amount to an infringement of a constitutional right protected in the bill of rights without due process of any kind.

[5] Rothfeld, Michael, and Mark Maremont. "Donald Trump Said Hillary Clinton Would ‘Make a Good ..." July 11, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-said-hillary-clinton-would-make-a-good-president-in-2008-1468281714. Donald Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton these days, but eight years ago, in the midst of the 2008 Democratic primary race, he said she would “make a good president” and a lot of people thought pairing her with Barack Obama would be a “dream ticket.” 

[6] Graham, David A. "From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Primer on Bill and Hillary ..." September 23, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/tracking-the-clinton-controversies-from-whitewater-to-benghazi/396182/. This list of Clinton "controversies" is surprisingly comprehensive and accurate in it's summary, though I do not necessarily agree with the author's assessment of the seriousness of each one.

[7] Case, Spencer. "How Obama Sided with the Muslim Brotherhood - National Review." July 3, 2014. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381947/how-obama-sided-muslim-brotherhood-spencer-case.

[8] Pavlich, Katie. "Clinton Claims She Didn't Blame Benghazi Attack on a ..." October 22, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/10/22/clinton-survives-benghazi-committee-hearing-n2069674. Not only did Clinton blame the attack on a video "offensive" to Islam, the Obama administration and the State Department purchased $80,000 worth of commercial airtime in Pakistan apologizing for the video.

[9] McKay, Hollie. "Blamed For Benghazi: Filmmaker Jailed After Attack Now ..." September 12, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/12/blamed-for-benghazi-filmmaker-jailed-after-attack-now-lives-in-poverty-fear.html.

[10] McElroy, Damien. "CIA 'running Arms Smuggling Team in Benghazi When ..." August 2, 2013. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/10218288/CIA-running-arms-smuggling-team-in-Benghazi-when-consulate-was-attacked.html.

[11] Zapotosky, Matt, and Rosalind S. Helderman. "FBI Recommends No Criminal Charges in Clinton Email Probe ..." July 5, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-chief-plans-remarks-to-media-amid-heightened-focus-on-clinton-email-probe/2016/07/05/a53513c4-42b9-11e6-bc99-7d269f8719b1_story.html.

[12] A “mandatory buy-back program” is, in its effect, a confiscation and ban. Quite contrary to the intent of the Second Amendment, Australian-style gun control would mean implementing laws along the following lines: A person who possesses or uses a firearm must have a firearm license. License holders must be at least 18 years of age, have a "genuine reason" for holding a firearm license and must not be a "prohibited person". All firearms in Australia must be registered by serial number to the owner, who also holds a firearms license. Firearms manufactured before 1 January 1901 may not need to be registered in some states. The firearm owner must have secure storage for the firearm. Firearms dealers must be over 21 years of age and hold a dealer's license, and dealers' employees must be vetted by the police. "Prohibited persons" cannot be employed by dealers. Besides other requirements, dealers must ensure that the purchaser of a firearm holds a firearm license, must maintain a register and must notify police of each transaction (Wikipedia 2016).

[13] Wilkinson, James. "Hillary Clinton's Website Removed Promise to 'believe' All ..." August 15, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3741760/Hillary-Clinton-s-website-removed-promise-believe-sexual-assault-survivors-emergence-Bill-Clinton-Juanita-Broaddrick-historic-rape-allegations.html.

[14] Scher, Brent. "Hillary Clinton’s Long History of Targeting Women ..." March 9, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://freebeacon.com/politics/hillary-clintons-long-history-of-targeting-women/.

[15] Weiner, Rachel. "How Hillary Clinton Evolved on Gay Marriage - The ..." March 18, 2013. Accessed October 22, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2013/03/18/how-hillary-clinton-evolved-on-gay-marriage/.

[16] Payne, Daniel. "No Fact-Checkers Can Cover For Hillary Clinton’s Ghastly ..." October 21, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://thefederalist.com/2016/10/21/no-fact-checkers-can-cover-hillary-clintons-ghastly-abortion-views/.

[17] "New Abedin Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton State Department ..." August 22, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/new-abedin-emails-reveal-hillary-clinton-state-department-gave-special-access-top-clinton-foundation-donors/.

[18] "Donald Trump on Abortion - OnTheIssues.org." September 15, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://ontheissues.org/Celeb/Donald_Trump_Abortion.htm.