A bad argument for purgatory

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I’ve started listing to Pints with Aquinas very recently. So recently that I only just listened to episode four today. But you’ve had a few too many pints with Aquinas if you think the host’s argument for purgatory is a good one.

The podcast is well made and easy to listen to, and Matt Fradd presents it well. His dedication not only to his audience but to Christ is evident, and his passion is contagious. But I don’t know how long I’ll be listening. Time will tell. In today’s episode (ie the one I listened to today), I rolled my eyes as Matt repeated as fact the chestnut that all of the books used in the Catholic Bible were accepted by Christians until the Reformation, when Protestants started throwing out books that contradicted their theology. Nobody faithfully representing history in an informed manner would say this, as I’ve shown in the past. Is the podcast going to turn out to just be another bad Catholic apologetics ministry? I hope not. As I said, time will tell. The podcast might turn out to be my all-time favourite!

The surprisingly bad argument

But what really caught my attention was something Matt thought was a great argument for the doctrine of purgatory.  A pretty bad argument, as it turned out! Continue reading “A bad argument for purgatory”

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Let’s digitally decentralise

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Let’s shift our conversations about things we care about away from social media giants, and back into the blogosphere.

It’s nearly always a bad idea to have all the power in the hands of a few, and this reality has boiled over in the world of social media recently. Twitter and Facebook accounts, not just of President Donald Trump but of a number of political conservative, right-leaning, or libertarian people have recently found their social media accounts suspended. The phenomenon has been described as a purge, and is quite evidently not being done on the basis of worrying posts that might incite violence. Perhaps the most peace-loving politician in America, Ron Paul, wrote about his concerns over social media censoring viewpoints, and promptly found himself locked out of managing his Facebook account. The phenomenon has affected hundreds here in New Zealand as well. The stories I have seen are similar: Users are told that their accounts have been suspended on the grounds that they have “repeatedly” violated an unspecified term or condition, in spite of there actually being no previous warnings of any such thing. It has been said for some time that social media giants were strongly left-leaning and applied their policies in a discriminatory way towards those who lean the other way. The claim that this is mere paranoia has increasingly become a ludicrous one, and now nobody with any powers of observation denies it.

There are several issues going on in this sinister conduct, and one of them obviously concerns whether or not social media corporate giants should act in such a censorious way. They should not. But another issue is here: We should not be arranging our lives and social interactions in such a way that makes us so reliant on so few providers. This much power should never have ended up in the hands of Twitter, Facebook, or Google, and it must be taken back. Continue reading “Let’s digitally decentralise”

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Alincolnism

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My friend Cameron Bertuzzi runs the Capturing Christianity Youtube channel, and it’s definitely worth your time.

Not long ago, he hosted some questionable character, Doctor Penn Gleoples. How sure are you that the “historical” figure Abraham Lincoln really existed? I have to admit, he’s got me wondering.

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Being Gender Critical

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Transgender women (people born biologically male who now consider themselves women) are men, and should not be called women. That’s because they are of the male sex, and adult male humans are men. Similarly, transgender men (people born female who now consider themselves men) are actually women because they are adult human females.

It is unreasonable that such innocuous observations are branded variously as intolerant, hateful, bigoted, or ignorant when they are none of these things. These are fact-based, non-judgemental observations with good reasons to believe them. Things get even worse when people respond by alleging that I am denying the very “right to exist” to transgender men and women, or that I am trying to deny them human rights. On the contrary, all I am doing is telling you what I think men and women are. If I denied them the right to exist, I would be calling for their extermination, which is a horrible thing to attribute to me. It is a rhetorical trick to make it sound like I want to harm people. I don’t believe there is a human right for a male to be regarded by everyone else as a woman, any more than I believe a white woman has the right to be regarded by everyone else as a black woman.

Continue reading “Being Gender Critical”

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Support your local

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I understand the appeal of looking for that perfect church that is the “right fit” for you. I’ve engaged in that search, too. But as much as I understand that drive, I’ve been getting pushback against that from my own thoughts and growing convictions. In engaging in this sort of quest for the church that’s “just right for me,” we’re short-changing ourselves, we’re short-changing the local church we aren’t participating in, and we’re potentially distorting the wider Church. Continue reading “Support your local”

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My Father’s Eulogy

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Yesterday, on Wednesday the 12th of February 2020, I gave the eulogy at the funeral of my Father, Michael Anthony Peoples, usually known as Mick (1941-2020). He was 78.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, whether people could tell or not, but it was an honour to do so. I didn’t record it at the time. I had thought that I might, but at the time I was just focused on keeping it together and trying to help the service run smoothly, so it escaped my attention. It would have felt strange to record it now and share that recording. For those who would like to read what I said, I have reproduced it below. I hope it goes without saying that this was not a talk given to a room full of scholars, or even a sermon preached to my fellow parishioners (although I certainly took the opportunity to share some small insights in the short time I had). It was a talk given to Dad’s grieving family who had come to say goodbye, for now at least, by one of them. I share it here for those who wanted a copy of what I said, and for those who might have liked to attend but were not able (and for anyone who is curious).

I have not shared a photo of my father here, as I do not usually share photos of family in public places. My Facebook account is limited to my Facebook friends.

The eulogy was as follows.

Continue reading “My Father’s Eulogy”

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Playing fast and loose with aggression and sex

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Men are much more aggressive than women, right? Studies say so. We just know this. Well, there may be truth to it (there is), but be discerning when you hear or read people say it. What exactly are they saying? Does all the evidence support it? Does the evidence support quite what they are saying, or does it support something similar but not the same?

When reading for an introductory psychology paper last year, I was struck by an example of how authors subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) encourage the reader to accept narratives that have become part of our social orthodoxy. In this case it’s a narrative about men being more aggressive than women. It’s subtle, but here’s what I observed. The textbook is by Lorelle Burton, Drew Westen, and Robin Kowalski. Only when writing this blog article did I look up information about these authors and realise that the first and last of them are women, and the second is a sometime contributor to the Huffington post and progressive advocate who served as an advisor to a Democratic election campaign in which he advised them to “for the most part, forget about issues, policies, even facts, and instead focus on feelings.” I add this lest anyone suspect that these factors contributed to my impression of what I read. For some reason, I had assumed that “Burton” was a man (possibly because the name sounds like “Bert!”). The book is Psychology, published by Wiley, and this is the fifth Australian and New Zealand edition. It is the assigned text for Social and Individual Psychology. Continue reading “Playing fast and loose with aggression and sex”

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Anglican Renewal

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“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~ C S Lewis

Interesting – and wonderful – things are happening in the Anglican Communion. I’ve been slow to acknowledge – actually, slow to see – that these are not isolated events, but part of a wider movement.

There are a couple of things I want to say about some of these recent developments. Some of it is on the more sorrowful side, as we see ugly outpourings of bitterness, misrepresentation, and ill-will from some quarters (sadly, from the leaders of the Church to which I belong) as they see the reach of their power shrinking and God’s Church growing beyond it. But that can wait. First, I want to hesitantly and cautiously invite you to rejoice and give thanks. I’m hesitant and cautious only because I’m only just beginning to see and to realise how good these developments are – I am sure that my confidence will grow. Continue reading “Anglican Renewal”

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How to escape the Bible with your theology intact

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There is a way of using the Bible to support your theology that really just amounts to doing everything in your power to avoid what the Bible has to say so that you can escape from the ravages of Scripture with your precious doctrine still intact.

Without naming names, over the last year I have had several conversations about the doctrine of hell with people who advocate the doctrine of eternal torment, where they argued in a manner very much like John in the following conversations (right down to the same phraseology, eg “equally likely as an interpretation” and “use Scripture to interpret Scripture”):

Karen: Hi John. Have you read passage A? It seems to pretty clearly deny the doctrine of eternal torment. It says that one day the lost will be destroyed. They will die and be gone. Don’t you agree?

John: No, I don’t think so. I think eternal torment is equally likely as an interpretation. Continue reading “How to escape the Bible with your theology intact”

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