Dear Bill: Baptism and Secondary Things

Dear Bill,

You’ve asked to me and asked me why I called “baptism” a “secondary matter.” I’d like to try and explain myself a little better than I did the first time we talked, so that’s why I’m taking time to write out my thoughts in the form of a letter.

First of all, “secondary matters” for Christians do not mean unimportant matters. Rather, they refer to things over which Christians may and do often disagree but which do not rise to the level of primary issues of orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy doesn’t mean beards and incense, by the way. It is what defines a Christian. Secondary matters are what distinguish Christians from one another.

I used to teach Biology; secondary matters are what makes a species. Primary matters are what make a genus. In Christianity, primary matters refer to the vital heart and center of the Gospel.

For example, did Jesus really rise from the Dead? Was He really fully man and fully God? Was he born of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Will we stand before God in judgment?

Secondary matters are not at the vital heart and center of the Gospel, but they are still convictions about what is “biblical” and “unbiblical.” The difference is that, at the end of the day, we can agree to disagree over these biblical convictions.

Some examples of such secondary matters include: Continue reading

Hiroshima vs. Detroit

In the conservative media, there are comparisons being made between Hiroshima and Detroit. The anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima (August 6) coinciding so closely with the declaration of bankruptcy by the city of Detroit.

Plus, I’m pretty sure Wolverine movie has something to do with it.

Anyhow, most of the critiques come in the form of attacks on the notion of a “welfare state” and other such favorite conservative issues.

For what its worth, my perspective: its not that simple.

After all, we mustn’t omit the fact that Hiroshima’s rebuilding was significantly subsidized by “government funding.” Continue reading