Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Bridge Too Far

Remember who the real enemy is.

-          Said several times by several characters in The Hunger Games movies

I think I have bitten off more than I am qualified to chew – maybe more than should be chewed, I don’t know.  I am speaking of my working through the book Transubstantiation: Theology, History, and Christian Unity, by Brett Salkeld.

For those of you involved with this blog, you understand my reasons for exploring the connection between Christianity and liberty.  More than a connection, it is a requirement.  In this light, I offer a comment I made in a recent discussion:

This is why I refer to the necessity of Christian men of good will in leadership - and we are so lacking in this; it is why I appreciate ecumenical dialogue; it is why I see the necessity of a foundation of natural law; it is why I find so costly the fracturing of the church by leveraging disagreement on dozens of minor points in doctrine.

Forgive what may appear to be a digression; it is not.  I read the following, via a link at the LRC blog; it is an essay entitled “How Political Ideology Is Pushing Religion Out of Religious Studies.”  The author is discussing the leading trade association of Religious Studies intersectionalists (I would never call them academicians or scholars), the American Academy of Religion.  The author is offering the titles of some of the lectures at their recent annual conventions:

The 2016 meeting featured more than 40 LGBTQ events. The presentations included these topics: “Ruth as Undocuqueer: Re-Reading the Book of Ruth at the Intersection of Queer and Postcolonial;” “Sarah, Sodom, and the Queering of Time in Genesis 18-19;” “Daniel 11:37 and the Invention of the Homosexual Antichrist;” “The Gospel and Acts of the Holy Ghost: Queer Spectrality, Affective Homohistory, and Luke-Acts;” and “Crucifixion’s Idolatrous Resonance: Animality, Slavery, and Sexuality in Pauline Rhetoric.”

The 2017 meeting, held in Boston, was similar, including a presentation on “Queering Martin Luther.”

These woke topics are so new that even my Microsoft Word spell check has yet to include many of the terms in its dictionary (no, I am not adding these).

In addition to the LGBTQ agenda, religious studies scholars promote a litany of issues that coincide with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party: Marxism/socialism, immigration reform, climate change, criminal justice reform, and identity politics.

So, back to Salkeld’s book.  With almost each comment to the three (so far) posts I have made regarding this book, I have felt that maybe this is a subject I need not take on publicly.  These three posts have covered all of thirty pages of a 240-page book, and I am already feeling the weight of it.

I am going to pause from posting anything more from this book.  As mentioned, I really am unqualified, and therefore it is really unfair to the topic for me to continue.  I may post some more eventually; I am not sure – maybe just a final post after I finish reading the entire book…maybe not even this. 

My only purpose for writing this post is to be fair to those who encouraged me to move forward with this topic, so you understand the void.  I will suggest: for those of you interested in this topic and dialogue, just buy the book – I haven’t even come to the detailed discussion on the views of the Catholic Church, Martin Luther, and John Calvin (each with its own chapter), and it is already eye-opening.

I will continue to engage on the topic of Christianity and liberty.  I continue to believe that unless Christianity takes on its proper institutional role in the life of society, incorporating Aristotelian-Thomistic Natural Law (no, I am not suggesting that all must be Catholic), we stand no chance of moving toward liberty – instead, continuing a slide into ever-increasing decadence.

In the meantime, we have too many corrupt Christian leaders in too many positions of the highest authority.  Is it any wonder that Religious Studies conferences have evolved into the alphabet soup of wokesterism?


I value every reader and contributor here.  I know that you know that I am learning along with you and that I learn much from your feedback.  I hope nothing that I have written in this post causes anyone to feel otherwise.  But I really do feel that this time I have attempted a bridge too far – certainly for me.


  1. "We have too many corrupt Christian leaders in too many positions of the highest authority." Thanks, now I'm not sure what if "Libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice" is your most important line! Keep up the great work.

    1. Eric, the decentralization one I have borrowed from Ryan McMaken at the Mises Institute. I did give him credit the first few times I used it, but after that - fair game!

  2. I hope that my comments did not play a role in your decision to stop posting on transubstantiation as it relates to the unity in The Body Of Christ, the Church, since it is a worthy pursuit.
    You are reading the book and it is our call.

    1. Jaime, I take your comments, along with comments from all of the regular and long-time feedbackers here, in good faith. I do not recall anyone's individual comments, nor are these important to me because I know where those who comment are coming from.

      A big part of my concern is my own lack of having a depth of understanding on the topic, the terms, the language, etc. I don't want to lead anyone astray do to my ignorance.

      The topic is very subtle and nuanced - in the opening pages of the book, I quickly learned that it is nowhere near as black and white as superficially believed. But transferring this subtlety from the book to my writing seems to be too much for me.

  3. I completely understand your trepidation at taking on this subject but let me ask that you do continue as you've opened the topic that has breathtaking consequences if we avoid meeting them head on.
    The void is the lack of faith, belief in reward/punishment for our behavior and actions in this world.
    So too must we understand that without faith, we die daily even as we seek artificial means to eternal life, a life that even if it existed would have little purpose beyond existing and in no meaningful way could even be considered to be life.

    1. See my comment to Jaime, above. This describes my concern.

  4. Mr. M, if it's not too late, I'd like to throw my two cents in on the transubstantiation question.

    I'm sure we've all had a class in drivers education or went to traffic school, where there was a chalkboard set up with lines on it representing streets. Additionally, traffic signals, stop signs, a motorcycle cop hiding behind a bush, etc., were marked on the board. And the instructor (or you) used erasers representing cars and described the scenario of a car accident, an unjust ticket, whatever.

    When you explained what happened in your case, you held an eraser in each hand and said, "OK, this is my car and the other guy was going east on Main Street...", and no one in the class thought the erasers were really cars. This is beyond obvious.

    Now put yourself in the sandals of Jesus' disciples two thousand years ago. He holds up a loaf of bread and says, "This is my body." And the dumbest three disciples say,



    "I don't get it."

    No, they would all understand that the bread was not His body, but only represented it in what He was about to explain to them. And what was He about to explain?

    Rather than taking up any more of your time, I will refer you to this link where you can listen to the late Bob George explain what the Lord's Supper/Communion is all about. It's not about transubstantiation, and it's not about dimming the lights and playing organ music while you try to think of all your unconfessed sins so you don't eat or drink judgment on yourself. (iow, the Catholics and most of the Protestants have it wrong) Have a listen.

  5. “I continue to believe that unless Christianity takes on its proper institutional role in the life of society, incorporating Aristotelian-Thomistic Natural Law . . . , we stand no chance of moving toward liberty”

    Don’t forget Divine Revelation.

    “Good for him, if in the framework of philosophy he is nothing but a human thinker, a philosophus among others, reflecting fundamentally on the conception of human existence [about natural law/theology “without certainty”], and yet is still a witness to thinking based on divine revelation.” - Karl Barth

    “The leading trade association of Religious Studies intersectionalists (I would never call them academicians or scholars), the American Academy of Religion” seems like the experience Paul had in Athens: Acts 17:16-34.

    Paul also addresses “Divine Revelation" in this section.

    Don’t think the American Academy of Religion would be accused of atheism as the early Christians were.

    “Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned [multiple Greek idols/gods], but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son . . . and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.” - Justin Martyr, First Apology

  6. Despite how my comments seemed, I learned several important things from your articles. I was trying to set the guidelines for my thinking, hoping those thoughts would help others too. I think my comments made it worse.

    More than anything your articles about Communion, highlighted to me the need for Catholic and Protestant to focus on where we do agree, and work together in those areas. We don't have to all agree on Communion or even Justification, if the goal is to work together on pushing back against the State. There is still much we agree on. We also agree on much with Judaism. We can and should separate over our theological ideas into our groups on Saturday and Sunday. But we should find where we agree on war, individual worth, private property, morality, family support, drug abuse recovery, charity to the poor, community building (in neighborhoods outside the churches), home safety, economics, politics, etc.

    1. RMB, your last sentence is perfect. It is also the area in this conversation that I best understand, and it should be (but, unfortunately, isn't) a place where Christians of all stripes agree.

      If these were the focus for all Christians, the possibility of liberty moving forward could be in sight.

      Thank you for stating it clearly.