Mary for Protestants? A New Look at an Old Question

Should Mary be venerated by Protestants? That question frames the March 21, 2005 cover story for TIME magazine. David Van Biema has written an expansive and insightful report on contemporary developments among Protestants–developments that may influence some evangelicals.

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An Activist Jurist Strikes Again–Gay Marriage in California

Well, it’s happened again. On Monday, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled that withholding marriage licenses from same-sex couples violates California’s constitution. His decision, which is on stay pending appeal, threatens to put the nation’s most populous state next in line for court-mandated same-sex marriage.

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Modernity’s Assault on Truth

Throughout its history, Western culture has grappled with truth in a variety of ways. In its modern phase, Western culture sought to dominate truth, to wrest authority from the church and bring truth under its mechanistic and rationalized control, just as the engines of technology had gained control over the forces of nature. In its present phase, Western culture has moved to reject the very notion of truth and to embrace relativism, nihilism, and radical subjectivism.

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The Supreme Court Strikes Again–‘Evolving Standards’

The dust continues to settle after the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 1 ruling that the execution of persons who committed capital crimes while under the age of 18 is unconstitutional. In one sense, the decision came as no great surprise, given the activist nature of a majority of Justices currently sitting on the Court. Nevertheless, the actual text of the majority opinion in this case is more problematic than the decision itself, and sets a series of dangerous precedents for future activism by the nation’s High Court.

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Euthanasia for Newborns–Killing in the Netherlands

Advocates for euthanasia routinely chide opponents that “slippery slope” arguments are fallacious and irrelevant. A decision to allow euthanasia in some cases, they say, does not in fact open the door for the killing of yet others. Tragically, however, the “slippery slope” argument is neither fallacious nor irrelevant, as recent developments in the Netherlands have made graphically clear. Once doctors are allowed to choose death over life, the resulting Culture of Death will inevitably discount human life in other contexts as well.

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Truth’s Assault on Modernity

It is impossible to deny that in the last few decades, modernity has unleashed an attack on the notion of truth. This assault modernity has unleashed on truth has certainly taken its toll–not that modernity has weakened truth, for the truth stands inviolate. Rather, the toll taken by modernity’s assault is measured in the increased secularity of the culture and the churches, in the compromised witness of many Christians, in the accommodated messages preached in many pulpits, and in the deadly confusion of the age.

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Compromise and Confusion in the Churches

The church today finds itself assaulted without–and even within–by a culture and worldview of untruth, anti-truth, and postmodern irrationality. In fact, researchers increasingly report that a majority of evangelicals themselves reject the notion of absolute or objective truth. The seductive lure of postmodern relativism has pervaded many evangelical pulpits and countless evangelical pews, often couched as humility, sensitivity, or sophistication. The culture has us in its grip, and many feel no discomfort.

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Are All Humans Persons? A New Assault on Human Dignity

America has been involved in an intense and culture-shaking debate over abortion that has now lasted into its fourth decade. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court did not settle the issue at all. Far from it. That landmark exercise in judicial activism has led to the death of millions of unborn babies and left a scar across the nation’s soul that will not heal until America regains its moral sense and defends the unborn.

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The Anglican Debate Sharpens–Lessons for the Whole Church

“Any lasting solution will require people somewhere along the line to say, ‘Yes, we were wrong’.” Those words were spoken by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams just after the Primates of the Anglican Communion (leaders of the national churches connected to the Anglican tradition) had asked the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council for at least three years.

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No-Fault Divorce–The End of Marriage?

By now, any observer with a modicum of moral insight is aware that marriage is an institution in crisis. Nevertheless, one of the most significant factors contributing to this crisis is often overlooked, and that one factor has led to the breakup of more marriages than any other–no-fault divorce.

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Does Liberalism Have a Future?

Martin Peretz is worried that liberalism has no future in America. Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic, Peretz writes of his concern in a major article published in the 90th anniversary issue of his magazine. “Not Much Left,” is a cry from the heart, offered by Peretz to what remains of a liberal movement in America. Peretz begins by arguing that, in the 1960s, it was conservatism that was devoid of ideas and facing a dismal political future. In the words of economist John Kenneth Galbraith, conservatism was “bookless” and intellectually bankrupt. Now, Peretz argues it is liberalism “that is now bookless and dying.” Peretz has good reason for alarm. He–and the magazine for which he writes–represent a form of liberalism that is now largely without constituency in the Democratic Party and the political left. Peretz longs for the day when the progressivism of Theodore Roosevelt and the liberalism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt ruled the left and served as a fertile greenhouse for the incubation of potent political ideas.

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Truth-Telling is Stranger Than It Used to Be, Part Three

Postmodernism represents the unique challenge facing Christianity in this generation. Walter Truett Anderson cleverly described the postmodern reality in his clever book, Reality Isn’t What it Used to Be. This is the central claim of postmodernism–reality is not what it used to be, and never will be again. Humanity now come of age, we will make our own truth, define our own reality, and seek our own self-esteem.

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Truth-Telling is Stranger Than It Used to Be, Part Two

The rise of postmodernism presents Christians with the undeniable reality that many people simply do not accept the idea that truth is absolute, or even that written texts have a fixed meaning. All claims to truth–especially claims to universally valid truth–are met with suspicion, or worse. This presents the Christian with a changed climate for truth-telling–and a genuine intellectual challenge.

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A New Great Plague? A Timely Warning

The fear of infectious diseases is, for the most part, a relic of times past. In the great age of antibiotics, we fear few diseases, and Americans are more likely to suffer death by accident than death by infectious disease. We can all too easily forget that such diseases have been some of history’s great killers–and can be again.

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Life and Death in the Fast Lane–A New AIDS Crisis

The word out of New York City is truly ominous–a new and potentially more aggressive form of the H.I.V. virus has been reported by medical authorities. In the report issued just this month, New York City health officials revealed that they had identified what appears to be a new strain of H.I.V. in a single individual whose case, according to The New York Times, was “particularly worrisome because it merged two unusual features: resistance to nearly all anti-retroviral drugs used to treat the infection, and stunningly swift progression from infection to full-fledged AIDS.” As the officials warned, this new combination could represent a new front in the war against AIDS and a new challenge to medical authorities.

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“Million Dollar Baby”–Assisted Suicide at the Oscars

Clint Eastwood has emerged as one of the biggest names in Hollywood, with a score of awards for both acting and directing. This year, he’s up again for the Best Director award at the Oscars, and many Hollywood insiders believe Eastwood is the likely winner over his closest competition, Martin Scorsese. Scorsese, who has never won an Oscar for Best Director, was nominated for his film “The Aviator,” and is seen as a sentimental favorite for the award. Eastwood’s film, “Million Dollar Baby,” surprised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with its commercial success and artistry. Viewers of the movie are likely to be surprised by another feature of the film–its presentation of assisted suicide. The film tells the story of a female fighter, Maggie Fitzgerald, played by Hilary Swank, who achieves a meteoric rise in the world of women’s boxing. As many observers have noted, the first part of the film suggests little more than a female version of the famed “Rocky” films starring Sylvester Stallone.

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The Revolt Against Human Nature

Are you ready for the posthuman future? That is the frightening question posed by Wesley J. Smith in his new book, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World. Smith, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, has written another book that demands the attention of every thoughtful Christian.

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Perfect Madness? Motherhood in a Postmodern Age

Judith Warner calls the problem, “this mess.” Author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, Werner has issued a manifesto for postmodern motherhood. As she sees it, motherhood has been transformed into a trap for young women, who find themselves torn between impossible expectations and a lack of self-fulfillment. Her new book, along with a major cover story in the February 21, 2005 edition of Newsweek, represents a battle cry for a new feminist generation.

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A Call for Courage on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

The fault lines of controversy in contemporary Christianity range across a vast terrain of issues, but none seems quite so volatile as the question of gender. As Christians have been thinking and rethinking these issues in recent years, a clear pattern of divergence has appeared. At stake in this debate is something more important than the question of gender, for this controversy reaches the deepest questions of Christian identity and biblical authority.

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