Priorities: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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47 Responses

  1. Linn says:


    This is the first thing I saw this morning when I opened up my personal email at school. Thank you! It is an excellent explanation of how the Early Church negotiated their world. I’ve thought a lot over the years about the way the Church negotiated the Roman government and suffered greatly, but for some reason I hadn’t thought through their relationship with the synagogue much past Acts 28. Thanks for a thought-provoking, and hopefully behavior-changing, read. People don’t seem to define me by my politics, but I want to make sure that continues!

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks!

  3. filbertz says:

    Duane, while I don’t consider myself much of a theologian, I have been trained in a formal institution. I am astounded by what passes as sound teaching today. Pastors with little taste for the hard work of study and thorough preparation serve up a cheese sandwich of opinion and oversimplification by lowest common denominator. We see examples of this nearly daily on this site as well-intended folks offer band-aid slogans chopped out of biblical context. In your opinion, how can we turn the ship?

  4. LInn says:

    I think a lot of if starts with our educational system. Most schools don’t really teach people how to think about and analyze information. I talk to young people often, Christian and non, who are constantly expressing opinions that really have no basis in fact (all the current “genders” for example). We’ve devolved into a culture of media posts, TikTok videos, and news broadcasts that are used mostly to broadcast political opinion. As a teacher, I find it very discouraging. However, I am in an institution that requires vigorous reasoning and debate, which I appreciate.

  5. Duane Arnold says:


    I think it starts with the people chosen for ministry. What are their motivations? It is not that everyone has to be a potential scholar, but there has to be curiosity and interest that goes beyond so called, “public performance”. Then, they need an education before being let loose on an unsuspecting congregation. A background in the liberal arts is helpful… then the norm – Scripture, Church History, Philosophy, Moral Theology and Pastoral Theology. Finally, a set time with a seasoned pastor to “learn the ropes”. Now, even this is not a guarantee of competence, but I don’t think there is a shortcut.

  6. Alan says:

    Another excellent contribution to discussion.

  7. Duane Arnold says:


    I should add that unlike my time, today there are so many online and online/residential options for education, that there is really no excuse for not getting on an educational path…

  8. Em says:

    Good post – good comments …. Promising good ponder fodder… 😇

  9. Dan from Georgia says:

    Ponder fodder!!! I like that Em!

    Duane/filbertz…I am encouraged by that point about online education. I would hope to take some more online classes in my life as I work full time and cannot “go to college” again. I just hope someday more and more rigorous classes in the fields of math and science are offered, and not just the usual “Survey of Mathematics” or “Philosophy of Science”…I am talking about classes like “Partial Differential Equations” or “Fluid Dynamics”, but that’s just me.

  10. Thatoneguy777 says:

    What I still can’t understand is how the modern church has become so wrapped up in supporting the state. It’s one of the things about JBP’s epistemology that I agree with more and more each day. Ideological possession seems to be more more common than demonic possession. Pastors are often some of the worst offenders. They come in liberal and conservative flavors and rarely in the flavor of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was so clearly apolitical and pro truth/love. We’ve forgotten that our Lord was so completely outside concept of the overton window that he was telling people to pay taxes to someone they saw as a despot and usurper. Incidentally we as followers of Jesus should be like those who were martyred; people little caught up in the daily affairs that so many stake their identity and life in. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote or participate in civic life but it shouldn’t be an idol. Which it is for many of my fellow Christians from what I can see.

  11. Duane Arnold says:


    I’m not sure about the sciences, but when it comes to the liberal arts and theology, the availability is truly astounding! Additionally, in theology you can find all “the flavors” – Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, etc. The combination of online with short residential stays makes this very accessible…

  12. Duane Arnold says:


    Politics and the culture wars have become idols on both the Right and the Left. It’s far easier to shout slogans than it is to talk about prayer, or comfort a grieving family…

  13. bob1 says:

    It’s far easier to shout slogans than it is to talk about prayer, or comfort a grieving family…

    I agree with this.

    It doesn’t cost anything personally to rant and rave or to opine on social media. But to help your neighbor in need, and I don’t mean remotely but personally, is IMHO much more valuable than any of the current drivel.

    I think we need a lot more focus on localism and forget all the bloviating WRT
    our country, nationally.

  14. Everstudy says:


    ” I just hope someday more and more rigorous classes in the fields of math and science are offered, and not just the usual “Survey of Mathematics” or “Philosophy of Science”…I am talking about classes like “Partial Differential Equations” or “Fluid Dynamics”, but that’s just me.”

    Here is California there was a move to remove advanced math from high schoolers until the 12th grade (all in the name of equity). It was shelved when the college professors and professional engineers spoke up and said what a terrible idea that would have been. I work at a civil engineering company, and I’d say most of the employees here were taking advanced math and science in 7th, 8th, and then through all of high school.

    I remember taking Diff. Eq. and Fluid Dynamics.

    I actually have kind of a funny story about fluids… I was taking a quiz on day, and for some reason could not visualize what I was trying to solve for, and even drew up a diagram. I figured that the problem was asking 1 of 2 things, but I didn’t know which one, so I just did one of the possibilities. Then after class, I asked the professor about the quiz question and he told me that I basically solved the wrong possibility. Then he broke out his calculator and my quiz and told me that I solved ‘my question’ correctly and got full credit.

  15. Em says:

    Since i go waaay back. 😁
    There was a time when identifying the US as a Christian nation was a given – yes, there was a time when we, like Europe looked down our noses at the Jew (barred from neighborhoods, clubs and even hotels)… Thank God, we’ve moved past that, but i think, don’t know, but think that there is a holdover of that “Christian nation” attitude.
    Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than entering a garage makes you an automobile to quote an old saying….

  16. Michael says:

    “There was a time when identifying the US as a Christian nation was a given…”

    As a student of history and theology…I don’t know how that case was ever made…

  17. Michael says:

    Back in the day…I used to devote a lot of time to posting online theological resources.
    I’ve audited countless classes from Regent College, Reformed Theological Seminary, Covenant Seminary and many more.
    I don’t perceive an interest in it here anymore…I hope I’m wrong…

  18. Duane Arnold says:


    Worth a try… but perhaps start with Nashotah House… 😁

  19. Michael says:


    I see they’ve added Hans Boersma…used to be at Regent…

  20. Alan says:

    The case for identifying America as a Christian nation has always been tentative. It’s foundation lay mainly within the reality that the nation bears a Judeo-Christian heritage and its citizenry were mainly Christian. The tension was always present between liberal democratic republicanism and the many churches.

    This recent brand of Christian nationalism is quite unconscious with many in terms of being critically examined. It is more assumed. It is both errant and unhelpful to our commission.

  21. Duane Arnold says:


    Agreed on all points…

  22. Dan from Georgia says:


    I did some searching online for advanced mathematics courses and came up with almost nothing that could be considered on par with a classroom course. This could change of course. I am fortunate to have found an instructor for teaching the Russian language (through a Russian art museum), and will be taking the a more advanced level of Russian this fall on Zoom. Outside of numbers and the Cyrillic language, I love the visual arts, which I am not sure yet how to pursue online. My take is that, with your comments in hand, online learning will indeed blossom even further!


    That’s great you still got full credit for solving your own exercise, even though it wasn’t the one posted! I am glad California nixed that proposal. It’s indeed necessary to feed young brains with knowledge and the ability to problem-solve at a young age. I was a “late-bloomer” in the area of math. In elementary school I tested rather high in mathematics and was even moved up a grade for my math hour. Somewhere along the line I floundered, but along came a math teacher in 8th grade who told my mom “someday it will suddenly make sense to Dan” – or something like that. Eventually it did and was able to complete my math requirement for my degree. And today I toy around with Matlab and Topology from time to time.

  23. Duane Arnold says:


    The untold artistic treasures of Russia!

  24. Dan from Georgia says:


    Amen! My interest in Russia was initially forged towards the end of the Cold War, when I spent countless hours reading up on and drawing military aircraft of both the NATO and Warsaw Pact conglomerates, and grew into an appreciation for the culture, primarily the language and the visual arts.

  25. Dan from Georgia says:

    …and forgot this…Minneapolis, MN is home to The Museum of Russian Art, through which I am taking my language course. Website: if you are interested.

  26. Captain Kevin says:

    Dan, I’ll have to check out that link. My interest in Russia stems from my love for its music. Rachmaninov has long been my favorite composer. I’ve been learning to sing a song by Tchaikovsky. My maternal grandfather, who died long before I was born, was Russian.

  27. Duane Arnold says:


    My wife and I were often in Russia in the 90s… I’ll check out the link.

  28. Eric says:


    I assume you’ve already looked at video stuff like this

    Many universities offer some sort of remote learning, but might be harder to do it all remotely. And might be expensive.


  29. Xenia says:

    Dan, I visited that museum a few years ago. It was fascinating!

  30. CM says:

    Speaking of Russians, I am reminded of this quote by Kipling (though it is quite hyperbolic to say in the least):

    “Let it be clearly understood that the Russian is a delightful person till he tucks in his shirt. As an Oriental he is charming. It is only when he insists on being treated as the most easterly of western peoples instead of the most westerly of easterns that he becomes a racial anomaly extremely difficult to handle.”

    People tend to forget that a lot of Russian fatalism and culture stems from the fact that much of it comes from Central Asia and points east.

  31. Muff Potter says:

    Dan from Georgia,
    You’ve chosen well (Math).
    She’s the Queen of the Sciences.
    Beholden to none, and she toes no line but her own.

  32. CM says:

    Muff Potter,

    As an engineer, I like to say that Mathematics is a tool of science, if only to annoy the mathematicians. I did that in college for some good ribbing of some friends who were math majors.


  33. Dan from Georgia says:


    Wow! Didn’t know there were so many here who had various interests in Russian culture. I knew we had some math and science fans here! Thanks all for your input! And if you get to Minneapolis and want a little Russian culture, visit that museum…south Minneapolis off of I-35W…Diamond Lake Road exit…I actually lived under a mile from there for a few years!

  34. Dan from Georgia says:

    Muff and CM,

    In the movie “Contact”, I love what Dr. Arrowway (now there’s an appropriate name!) says about mathematics…”it’s the only true universal language”

    (or something like that)!

  35. Nathan Priddis says:

    I take a harsher view on the Christian Nation narrative.

    America was split North and South. Our divisions where structural from the moment Colonist set foot in Virginia and Plymouth. Puritinism was the definition of heretical, the Virginian Charter espoused white supremacy in it’s text.
    England was exporting it’s class struggles and later, it’s undesirables.

    Beyond history though, why is the instruction of Daniel forgotten, that the nations are administered by Princes? The Dominion crowd are joining themselves to the powers of the air.

  36. Michael says:

    As a long time former Puritan…tell me what is heretical in their beliefs?

  37. EricL says:

    Talking about Puritans, here is an article from the Atlantic about the New Puritans and how some seek to purify and purge our society through Twitter and other social mobs. We always have fundamentalists among us, even when they aren’t religious.

  38. Nathan Priddis says:

    Heretical has come to mean bad doctrine. Barring that, it’s a loosely used slur.
    Here’s the actual use the heretic:

    ..”A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;..

    hairetikos – separation, division, etc derived from:
    hairetizō – choice
    haireō – choose, select, take
    It’s what they where doing not so much what they believed. They where making verbal, or nonverbal statements of clean and unclean. But Peter said, ..”But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” … Whether they be Catholic, Anglican or the Dutch.

  39. Em says:

    Does the Holiness movement of the last century tie in to the Puritans? ? ? My grandfather was a preacher of the Holiness movement and eventually became a Nazarene….
    We Christians seem to have trouble marrying grace and the requirements of living in obedience to God….. ? We seem to misuse confession – IMV

  40. Xenia says:

    We attend a Russian parish, and we really enjoy many aspects of Russian culture, although Russian food has its ups and downs. I am too old to learn Russian, although I can generally pick out what they are talking about, and they are quick to include non-Russian speakers into their conversations with prompt translations. They are great people!

  41. Xenia says:

    We Christians seem to have trouble marrying grace and the requirements of living in obedience to God…<<<

    This is a problem of the doctrine of monergism. Those with a synergistic view of our lives in Christ don't have a problem with this.

  42. Em says:

    Monergism? Pesbyterians? Dutch Reformed? Hmmmm

  43. Duane Arnold says:


    I understand your use of the term ‘heretic’ which is closely related to its theological use. I think, however, with regard to colonial America, I would use ‘tribalism’, a malady that has run through much of American history and which is still with us today. That tribalism can be based upon class, economics, race, politics and, yes, religion. It is a besetting civic sin. Our tribalism belies the description of a ‘Christian nation’ although some in civic life might claim otherwise…

  44. Jean says:

    “We Christians seem to have trouble marrying grace and the requirements of living in obedience to God…”

    “This is a problem of the doctrine of monergism. Those with a synergistic view of our lives in Christ don’t have a problem with this.“

    I disagree. I think it is a problem with the doctrine of OSAS or any other doctrine which dismisses the voluminous warnings in Scripture that Christians can fall away from salvation.

  45. Nancy Holmes says:

    My thanks to EricL (10:06 am) for the link to The Atlantic article by Anne Applebaum. Fortunately I still had 1 free article left before I hit the magazine’s paywall and I’m so glad I spent it on this remarkably thoughtful and thought provoking (tho lengthy) essay. She correctly calls out the hasty knee jerk reactions that get posted online and then metastasize exponentially to demonize individuals without weighing the consequences of frequently unfair and unverified accusations.

    In considering the many examples she gives, I was led to an acknowledgment of my own tendencies to satisfy the flesh and leap to lightning judgments that simplistically add to the injustices of this fallen world instead of seeking grace and wisdom in situations beyond my own complete understanding.

    May I instead pause, mid-leap, and reconsider 1 Corinthians 13:4-6. NIV

    4. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    5. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    6. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

  46. Muff Potter says:

    Dan from Georgia,
    Contact is one of my favorite movies.
    Jodie Foster is awesome!

  47. Dan from Georgia says:

    Love that movie Muff!

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