Friday, August 31, 2012

law - what is it good for?

Nathan W. Bingham posts on The Threefold Use of the Law:

Scripture shows that God intends His law to function in three ways, which Calvin crystalized in classic form for the church’s benefit as the law’s threefold use.

Its first function is to be a mirror reflecting to us both the perfect righteousness of God and our own sinfulness and shortcomings. As Augustine wrote, “the law bids us, as we try to fulfill its requirements, and become wearied in our weakness under it, to know how to ask the help of grace.” The law is meant to give knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 5:13; 7:7-11), and by showing us our need of pardon and our danger of damnation to lead us in repentance and faith to Christ (Gal. 3:19-24).

A second function, the “civil use,” is to restrain evil. Though the law cannot change the heart, it can to some extent inhibit lawlessness by its threats of judgement, especially when backed by a civil code that administers punishment for proven offenses (Deut. 13:6-11; 19:16-21; Rom. 13:3, 4). Thus it secures civil order, and serves to protect the righteous from the unjust.

Its third function is to guide the regenerate into the good works that God has planned for them (Eph. 2:10). The law tells God’s children what will please their heavenly Father. It could be called their family code. Christ was speaking of this third use of the law when He said that those who become His disciples must be taught to do all that He had commanded (Matt. 28:20), and that obedience to His commands will prove the reality of one’s love for Him (John 14:15). The Christian is free from the law as a system of salvation (Rom. 6:14; 7:4, 6; 1 Cor. 9:20; Gal. 2:15-19, 3:25), but is “under the law of Christ” as a rule of life (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2).

death of yolo

The death of YOLO ...


wright on homosexuality

NT Wright briefly comments on the homosexual debate. In short, in less fustian language, "there's nothing new under the sun."


Thursday, August 30, 2012


NT Wright in Simply Christian:

The death of Jeaus of Nazareth as king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel’s destiny, the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people of old, is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns.

whom you love is ill

Tim Brister pens yet another wonderful, heartfelt post ... this one on the love of God and the glory of God ...

In my reading of John 11 this morning, this phrase just landed on me. Mary and Martha appealed to Jesus for help on account of his love for Lazarus. Indeed, Jesus loved him deeply. Twice we read in this account that Jesus was “deeply moved,” and sandwiched between these two references is the simple verse that says, “Jesus wept.” Jesus was not indifferent about the sickness of Lazarus and the sorry of Mary and Martha.

But what strikes me even more, is that though we cannot plumb the depths of Jesus’ love, His commitment to His glory is even deeper.

Both Mary and Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would have not died” (Martha v. 21; Mary v. 32). The implication is, “Jesus you say you love us, and we know that you love Lazarus, but if you really loved him, you would not have let him die.” Jesus’ love was challenged and concluded to be ineffective in meeting their urgent needs. Not only did Jesus’ dear friends question him, but so did several others who said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also kept this man from dying?” (v. 37) Clearly, the charge is that Jesus didn’t love Lazarus like he loved the blind man who he healed. Jesus’ love/compassion and power/authority were not esteemed to say the least.

Jesus was not so concerned about vindicated the depths of His love as much as revealing His glory. This might sound selfish, but actually is the most loving thing Jesus could have done for them. The revelation of His glory in the resurrection of Lazarus was for the purpose that they may believe and be saved. Jesus told his disciples, “for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” Yes, the death of Lazarus was “for the glory of God” (v. 4), but such glory is manifested so that faith might be born in the hearts of unbelieving sinners. For your sake. For your need to believe where there is unbelief. Jesus reminded Martha that “if you believed you would see the glory of God” (v. 40). This is not to say that Lazarus was simply a tool for Jesus’ glorious self-revelation as the resurrection and the life. Jesus deeply love Lazarus and wept over him. Yet, in the depths of his sorrow, Jesus was working a deeper work of glory so that spiritual life might be born in the hearts of those spiritually dead in sin.

Jesus’ mission to reveal His glory and save sinners is undeterred, even in the most emotionally disturbing situations of his life. Jesus is not callous or cold. As John wrote, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (v. 5), but Jesus’ passion for His glory was a deeper motivation. This was confirmed when, upon hearing the news of Lazarus serious illness, Jesus chose to delay his arrival rather than hurry along (“he stayed two days longer in the place where he was”). Jesus comes across as an insensitive jerk if you take it out of context. He makes it unmistakably clear that the driving principle of his life was the glory of God revealed through the life and work of the Son of God to the end that sinners might believe and be saved.

Oh that we might know the love of Jesus Christ! But all the more, oh that we might see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!

In love, God predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. Through the life, death, and resurrection God makes this happen. The report from heaven is, “Lord, those whom you love are lost and undone, hopeless and helpless, dead in sin.” And the response is the same. “It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” The love of God is profoundly significant and central, but it is not ultimate. The glory of God is.

That day when Jesus wept and cried aloud over the death of Lazarus, the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But on that dark day when Jesus was led up to Golgotha to do battle with death and hell, Jesus wept and cried aloud with depths no man has ever known. And every believing sinner who has found resurrected life in the death of Jesus can confidently say, “See how he loved me!” Jesus took my sin sickness and curse of death and carried away that I might know life abundant and everlasting. And it was for our sake Jesus was glad to be there, enduring the cross and despising its shame, that we see the glory of God and believe in Jesus, whose death is our death, and whose life is our life, and whose love is ours to embrace.

For he whom the Lord loved was once dead, but now he is alive by the power of his resurrection.

complementarian nail on the head

Oh my - I think Denny Burk hit the nail on the head ... belmishes and all ... here's his fantastic post:

Last week, Carl Trueman asked why groups like The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel include complementarianism in their confessional commitments. In short, Trueman thinks it is inconsistent to elevate the importance of a secondary issue like complementarianism while routinely downplaying the importance of other secondary issues like baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He writes:
I am simply not sure why it is such a big issue in organisations whose stated purpose is basic co-operation for the propagation of the gospel and where other matters of more historic, theological and ecclesiastical moment are routinely set aside. If you want simply to unite around the gospel, then why not simply unite around the gospel? Because as soon as you decide that issues such as baptism are not part of your centre-bounded set but complementarianism is, you will find yourself vulnerable to criticism — from both right and left — that you are allowing a little bit of the culture war or your own pet concerns and tastes to intrude into what you deem to be the most basic biblical priorities.
I think Trueman asks a fair question. In fact, the question is not a new one. It has been asked and answered numerous times by members of both TGC and T4G. Justin Taylor has highlighted some of the recent discussion of the matter. I would also point out Kevin DeYoung’s helpful little essay from a couple of years ago as well as Lig Duncan’s piece published in JBMW in 2008. I too editorialized on the topic for JBMW in 2010 (though I’m not a formal representative of either one of these groups). This is not a new question, and so the answers are not really new either.

Having said that, Trueman presses the comparison between the gender issue and ecclesiological distinctives such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is this analogy, I think, that makes his particular critique worth responding to. Is it true (as he suggests) that the gender issue is so analogous to baptism and the Lord’s Supper that it should be removed from the confessional commitments of groups like T4G and TGC? I think the answer to that question has to be “no.” Maybe the best way to explain that answer would be through an illustration.

Every year I visit my dermatologist for a check-up. In those examinations, he looks at everything growing on or under my skin to see if there is anything that needs to be removed. Every year, he observes a number of moles, skin tags, and other unseemly blemishes. For aesthetic reasons, he’ll sometimes suggest that I have one or more of these blemishes removed—a suggestion that I typically refuse. On two occasions, however, my doctor has identified “blemishes” that he insisted must be removed because they were precancerous. I rely on the doctor to distinguish the benign blemishes from those that will develop into something that is malignant. Neither type of blemish will kill me. But what grows out of the latter type of blemish can indeed end my life.

Differences over secondary theological issues are like those blemishes. By themselves, they are merely theological blemishes that do not necessarily threaten the central issues of the gospel. Like those blemishes, however, some of them have the potential to turn into a theological cancer. Some secondary issues have more deadly potential than others, and we all have an obligation to be able to distinguish the former from the latter.

This is not to say that every egalitarian will eventually become a heretic. Roger Nicole remained a convinced egalitarian and an evangelical stalwart all the way to the end. We can think of other individuals for whom egalitarianism has not and likely will never lead to an erosion of their fundamental evangelical commitments. Nevertheless, the issue at hand is not whether or not we can find orthodox evangelicals who are also egalitarian. The question at hand is whether or not egalitarian doctrine itself tends toward the erosion of fundamental evangelical commitments such as inerrancy, the doctrine of God, and penal substitutionary atonement. Is the egalitarian blemish benign or potentially malignant?

While I believe that paedobaptists are wrong in their interpretation of Scripture, I do not believe that their hermeneutic carries with it the seeds of malignancy. I cannot say the same for egalitarian hermeneutics. I believe along with many others that egalitarianism is a potential malignancy. I think Lig Duncan has said it best:
The denial of complementarianism undermines the church’s practical embrace of the authority of Scripture (thus eventually and inevitably harming the church’s witness to the Gospel). The gymnastics required to get from “I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man,” in the Bible, to “I do allow a woman to teach and to exercise authority over a man” in the actual practice of the local church, are devastating to the functional authority of the Scripture in the life of the people of God.

By the way, this is one reason why I think we just don’t see many strongly inerrantist-egalitarians (meaning: those who hold unwaveringly to inerrancy and also to egalitarianism) in the younger generation of evangelicalism. Many if not most evangelical egalitarians today have significant qualms about inerrancy, and are embracing things like trajectory hermeneutics, etc. to justify their positions. Inerrancy or egalitarianism, one or the other, eventually wins out.
I know that this latter charge is difficult for egalitarians to hear—especially those that remain committed to evangelical faith. Nevertheless, the existence of egalitarian evangelicals does not mitigate the dangers of egalitarian approaches to Scripture in subsequent generations. Again, it is the potentialities of egalitarianism that make it so deadly, not its expression in any particular evangelical. And we have seen those potentialities played out so many times in history.

Several years ago, Mark Dever published an article in JBMW in which he compared the relative weight of the complementarian issue to that of baptism and church polity. In doing so, he invoked his continuing love and admiration for his mentor Roger Nicole, who was an egalitarian. Dever’s remarks are worth quoting at length:
“Well then” you might say “why don’t you leave this issue of complementarianism at the level of baptism or church polity? Surely you cooperate with those who disagree with you on such matters.” Because, though I could be wrong, it is my best and most sober judgment that this position is effectively an undermining of–a breach in–the authority of Scripture…

Dear reader, you may not agree with me on this. And I don’t desire to be right in my fears. But it seems to me and others (many who are younger than myself) that this issue of egalitarianism and complementarianism is increasingly acting as the watershed distinguishing those who will accomodate Scripture to culture, and those who will attempt to shape culture by Scripture. You may disagree, but this is our honest concern before God. It is no lack of charity, nor honesty. It is no desire for power or tradition for tradition’s sake. It is our sober conclusion from observing the last 50 years.

Paedobaptism is not novel… But, on the good side, evangelicals who have taught such a doctrine have continued to be otherwise faithful to Scripture for 5 centuries now. And many times their faithfulnesses have put those of us who may have a better doctrine of baptism to shame! Egalitarianism is novel. Its theological tendencies have not had such a long track record. And the track record they have had so far is not encouraging.

Of course there are issues more central to the gospel than gender issues. However, there may be no way the authority of Scripture is being undermined more quickly or more thoroughly in our day than through the hermenuetics of egalitarian readings of the Bible. And when the authority of Scripture is undermined, the gospel will not long be acknowledged. Therefore, love for God, the gospel, and future generations, demands the careful presentation and pressing of the complementarian position.
I think Dever is right. Wisdom is vindicated by her children. A quick glance at the historical record shows that the children of egalitarianism have not fared well over the long haul. The same cannot be said of those with differing views of baptism and the Lord’s supper.

I love Carl Trueman. Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that to be the case for of all the times I’m pointing to his material. He is an unabashed complementarian and a brother in the Lord. But on this point we disagree. The rejection of biblical gender roles has dire implications for evangelical theololgy. The hermeneutics of egalitarianism are a blemish leading to theological cancer. The hermeneutics of variant protestant baptismal views are not.

Monday, August 27, 2012

spear throwing

Gene Edwards in A Tale of Three Kings:

Gradually he [David] learned a very well kept secret. He discovered three things that prevented him from ever being hit.

One, never learn anything about the fashionable, easily mastered art of spear throwing. Two, stay out of the company of all spear throwers. And three, keep your mouth tightly closed.

In this way, spears will never touch you ... even when they pierce your heart.

predestined to be predestined

The older I get the more convinced I am ... and the more joyous I am about it ... I am predestined. Here are 5 Encouragements from the Doctrine of Predestination by BJ Stackman:

Often predestination and election get treated as something meant for controversy and debate or as a mystery to be pretty much left alone and avoided. This is a sad, and, in my opinion, weakens the church because of the tendency to either dodge or debate this glorious aspect of its identity.

I’m convinced that if you ignore or just argue about the doctrine of predestination you will miss out on one of God’s ways of blessing you (Eph. 1:3). The first several verses of Ephesians 1 unpack predestination in order to show that it is a part of the multifaceted ways that God has blessed you in Jesus Christ. Therefore predestination should enhance your joy not disturb it. What follows are a few of the many encouragements for Christians to draw from the reality that God predestines:

1. God chose you because he loved you. Ephesians 1:4-5, in the ESV translation, says, “in love God predestined”. Therefore predestination is motivated by love. This means that God’s choice of you derives from his love for you. Sovereign choice doesn’t detract from God’s love it is the fountainhead of God’s love. We don’t go deeper into love by sidestepping predestination. We go deeper into love by diving into its deeps. We are familiar with the fact that God so loved the world that he gave his Beloved Son, but need to become more familiar with the fact that God so loved the world that he predestined adopted sons in the Beloved from all eternity (Eph. 1:5).

2. You are a gift of love from the Father to the Son. John 17 reveals that your salvation was planned in the heart and mind of the Triune God before there ever was a you (17:2, 24). This means that God’s love for you is bigger than you. It is tied to the love for which the Father has for his Son. And the reason this is encouraging is because the size of God’s love for you is not to be gauged by his love for you but by his love for Jesus. From his very own mouth, Jesus said, “[Father] you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (17:23). The astonishment that we should feel at being loved by God becomes even more mind-blowing because God’s love for us flows in the same stream as God’s love for God.

3. Your present sins may be many but your future sinlessness is certain. Romans 8:29 tells us that we have been “predestined to be conformed to the image of [Jesus].” As a son of God, you are guaranteed one day to look like the Son of God. Therefore you fight sin in hope not in defeated depression. Your Christlikeness is not dependent upon your performance but upon God’s predestination.

4. Your very identity is “elect” because God has named you that. The apostle Peter begins his letter to those in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia by calling them “God’s elect” (1 Pe. 1:1). Contemporary Christians don’t normally go around calling each other “predestined” or “elect” or “chosen” or “called”, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t. In fact, if we were named this by God, what stops us from calling each other that? What kind of massive encouragement would it bring to believers to have spoken over their lives the fact that God has picked them? Psychologically we see in various social situations that many times a person lives up to what they are called to. If you are called “loser”, “failure”, even “sinner”, and the like over and over again you will probably live up to it. If you trust Jesus, you can be confident that God has given you a new name. You have been chosen. God has called you something that you are not in and of yourself to make you something that you are in him. So act like it. Be who you are. Be what you have been called to be. Live up to your name.

5. God’s predestination of you enables you to live life to the highest purpose of your existence, namely, ”to praise of the glory of [God's] grace” (1:6). All of us have heard the phrase “do everything to the glory of God” and too often it becomes a cliché that means nothing in practice. The little phrase “to the praise of the glory of God’s grace” helps us see that one of the best ways to do everything to the glory of God is to do everything celebrating and enjoying God’s grace. Predestination has a unique way of drawing this out of us because it drowns out our propensity toward boasting and relying upon works and establishes the fact that it flows from the sovereign heart of God uninfluenced by human decision and work. Election strips us from taking one ounce of salvation and putting it in our portfolio and propels us into praising God exclusively for everything. Predestination is exceptional at displaying that every piece of salvation is gift, and one’s who have been given such a great gift will joyfully praise and glorify the Giver. We live “to the praise of the glory of the grace of God” when we recognize that predestination is all of grace and for God’s glory.

Be encouraged! Predestination is meant to bedazzle your heart not just boggle your mind.

praise god

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in The Great Doctrines of the Bible:

We have taken a kind of synoptic view of the biblical doctrine of redemption. We have looked at it in general. We have surveyed the whole landscape, as it were. We have looked at it from beginning to end, and have seen that God in His kindness and love and mercy and compassion, and in His infinite grace, looked upon men and women when they deserved nothing but hell and destruction, and gave them the promise of their wonderful redemption that would finally be consummated in His own eternal Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Therefore to Him, and to Him alone, must of necessity be all the praise and all the honour and all the glory!

acceptance of homosexuality

Ravi Zacharias speaks as a righteous man with boldness to the question of acceptance of homosexuality.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

loving like jesus

He [Christ] thus loved us without any expectation of ever being requited by us for his love. He did not stand in need of anything we could do for him, and knew that we should never be able to requite him for his kindness to us, or do anything towards it; for he knew that we were poor, maimed, halt and blind, empty needy vagabonds, who could only receive from him, and could render nothing to him. He knew that we had no money or price; that instead of receiving anything from us, he must give us all things that we needed, or we should be eternally without them. Now how far shall we be from a selfish spirit, and how contrary to it, if we love one another after such a manner, or if there be the like spirit of love in us towards others which was in Christ towards us. Our love to others will not depend on their love to us; but we shall do as Christ did to us, love them, though enemies. We shall not only seek our own things, but we shall be in our hearts so united to others that we shall look on their things as our own. We shall look on ourselves interested in their good, as it was in Christ towards us. We shall be ready to forego and part with our own things in many cases for the things of others, as Christ expended and was spent for us. And these things we shall do without any expectation of being requited by them, as Christ did such great things for us without expectation of any requital from us.

destroying sodom

I'm not sure I align with the whole of R.C. Spoul Jr's post on Why Did God Destroy the City of Sodom? but there are some nuggets:

  • ... we live in a world where those committing sexual perversion have become a protected class [and] certain circles of the church have rushed to accommodate them. 
  • ... the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness.
  • ... sexual perversity is both a result of God’s wrath and a provocation of God’s wrath.
  • ... Sodom was destroyed ... because of a lack of a remnant. God destroyed Sodom because of the failure of the church, of the believers.
  • Remember Abraham’s careful conversation with God, his virtual negotiation for the city of Sodom. Would God spare the city if there were fifty righteous there? Forty-five? Forty? Finally God agrees that He will spare the city for ten. But Abraham could not find even ten. Don’t miss though what might have been. This dark and evil city would have been spared had there been but ten righteous people. Despite the perversion, despite the scope of the evil, the city would have been spared for just ten righteous.
  • ... we, by His grace, have a righteousness that is not rightly our own. We have a perfect righteousness. And by that, we can be the very reason God might spare our nation, our culture. We plot and we worry about how to take back this institution and that. We strategize and we compromise, that we might earn a place at the world’s table, for the sake of the world. When what we are called to do is to seek first His righteousness and His kingdom. What we are called to do is the right thing.
  • Remnants save cities.
So - are we being salt and light? Are we seeking first His Kingdom and His Righteousness?

Friday, August 24, 2012

holiness and sanctification

Tony Reinke writes:

Puritan Thomas Watson says it well. “After the fall, the affections were misplaced on wrong objects; in sanctification, they are turned into a sweet order and harmony, the grief placed on sin, the love on God, the joy on heaven.”*

Regeneration is the awakening and enlivening of the spiritual heart, and sanctification is the ongoing work of recalibrating the affections to cherish what God cherishes. And because we are becoming like what we worship, this is a critical work of grace in our hearts.

Sanctification is more than saying “no” to sin. Sanctification says “yes” to holiness and glad obedience to Jesus. Sanctification says yes to loving God and what he loves. Sanctification is all about retraining our delights.

God’s holiness is reflected in his beauty and attractiveness. It is his “utterly unique divine essence” (Piper). God’s holiness is his drawing, pulling, tugging splendor (Psalms 29:2, 96:9). For the wicked, God’s holiness is revolting. For the awakened, the great works of regeneration and sanctification bring true spiritual delight to the holy. Piper writes, “The battle to be holy — the battle for sanctification — is a battle fought at the level of what we love, what we cherish and treasure and delight in.”**

The work of sanctification is rooted in the miracle of God who moves our affections from the sin that looks appealing to a delight in God’s will and sincere obedience (Psalms 1:2; 40:8, 112:1, 119:47). Sanctification is a miracle because it’s a matter of affections, and this is where the battle is fought.

Puritan John Flavel understood this point, and returned to the Garden of Eden, when he wrote, “What is sin but the corrupt and vitiated appetite of the creature, to things that are earthly and sensual, relishing more sweetness and delight in them, than in the blessed God? And what is sanctification, but the rectifying of these inordinate affections, and placing them on their proper object?”***

Progressive sanctification is the undoing in our lives of the tragic appetite for the forbidden that we inherited from Adam and Eve. At its root, sanctification is a miracle of God, an ongoing process of emptying sin of its pleasure and allurement, and of deepening our delight in holiness and obedience. And it’s an ongoing process and fight.

A sure mark of the Spirit’s work in our lives is evidenced when we rejoice in what God rejoices in. ... We want hearts alive and awake to delight in what brings God delight. There is no higher purpose for our pursuit of holiness.

* Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 241.
** John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy (Crossway, 2006), 146.
*** John Flavel, Works of John Flavel, 6:53.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

on abortion and rape

By now everyone in the world has heard of Todd Akin and of everyone else's opinion of him. I really liked how Trevin Wax approached what Todd Akin should have said about abortion and rape:

Abortion is front-and-center in the presidential campaign due to a congressman’s flub on national TV.

In case you’ve missed the news, Todd Akin, a Republican congressman from Missouri running for the Senate, was asked about abortion in the case of rape. His response:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare… If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Needless to say, such remarks proved offensive. Akin appeared to be making distinctions between violent rape and other forms (statutory perhaps?) as he sought to answer the question about abortion. Other Republicans are calling for him to pull out of the race while the Romney-Ryan campaign quickly tried to distance itself from the remarks.

Rape is a horrific crime with countless emotional and psychological repercussions. No one should ever speak of such an atrocity without having their heart gripped with sympathy for the victim. Any time we speak about such an unspeakable act of violation, we ought to consider the weight of our words.

Even so, as disturbing as Akin’s remarks are, I am concerned about the conflation of issues that suddenly appeared in the aftermath. Once the comment went viral, Republicans all over the country began distancing themselves from the remarks (rightly so) while also claiming to be pro-life except in the case of rape. (Romney is an example.)

The media circus moved quickly from discussion of Akin’s remarks to a wider discussion about the legitimacy of abortion in a tough case. And some “pro-life” politicians took the bait, not only condemning Akin’s unfortunate remarks but also declaring their support for abortion in this particular case.

Let me be clear: Allowing abortion in the case of rape is not the way to express sympathy toward a victim of this crime. Abortion only destroys the life of another victim.

That’s why I wish the conversation with Akin had gone more like this…

Host: So you also believe abortion ought to be outlawed in the case of rape?

Akin: Rape is a horrible crime, and a rapist ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I stand for human rights over against anyone who would violate the life of another – from the rapist to the abortionist.

Host: So you’d outlaw abortion in the case of rape?

Akin: Absolutely. As I said, I stand for human rights for all, including the unborn.

Host: But why should a woman who gets pregnant out of no fault of her own be forced to carry a pregnancy to term?

Akin: It is a tragic situation indeed. And my heart goes out to any woman in such circumstances. That’s why I could never recommend that she abort her child. Inflicting violence upon another innocent victim, in this case the baby, is not the way to move past the tragedy of her own innocence being taken.

Host: So you’d pass laws that would force her to carry on the pregnancy?

Akin: Like I said, I stand for the rights of all human beings. Even in a difficult situation like rape, the unborn child should have human rights. We must not let circumstances dictate to us when humans have rights. Otherwise, we could justify all sorts of atrocities in the name of “difficult circumstances.”

Host: But having a child as a result of rape would be a terrible reminder of the crime, wouldn’t it?

Akin: That’s possible. But let me ask you another question. If a woman chose to carry her child to term and then found that every time she looked at her infant she remembered the horror of the rape, would we allow her to smother the baby?

Host: Of course not!

Akin: You’re right. Because no matter how difficult her circumstances, we recognize the humanity of the infant. Unfortunately, many in our society refuse to recognize the humanity of the unborn.

Host: But your opinion on the humanity of the unborn shouldn’t be forced upon a woman who doesn’t hold that view.

Akin: Biology textbooks and scientists tell us the same thing we see when we look at a 4-D ultrasound: the fetus is human. Now, you can make the case that the unborn human should not have rights. And many do. That’s why unborn girls are aborted at a much higher rate than unborn boys, not only in places like China but in the United States as well. That’s why the number of children with Down Syndrome has plummeted. That’s why so many abortion clinics target inner-city areas with high minority populations. You see, once we begin to discriminate against some human beings, we are on the fast track to denying human rights for others.

Host: So you stand by your conviction that abortion should be outlawed even in the case of rape?

Akin: I believe that all innocent human life should be protected. So, yes. This difficult situation is about three people: the rapist, the mother, and the baby. Currently, there is no death penalty required for the rapist. I refuse to believe we ought to give an innocent victim a sentence more severe than the perpetrator of the crime.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

satan's power

Again, John Piper in Bloodlines (this on the power to break Satan's power):

Satan is called the god of this world. He is a real supernatural being who hates humans and is in diametric opposition to God. He comes to steal and to destroy. There is little doubt that where maddeningly hopeless, sinful, self-destructive behaviors and structures hold sway over large groups of people—white or black, left or right—the Devil is deeply at work. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4:4). “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

What hope does a message of personal responsibility or structural intervention have against this supernatural power? None. None. They are like feathers in a hurricane. How shall any human stand against the deceitful, murderous power of Satan? There is only one answer: in the name of Jesus. Why is that? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). How did he do that? By bearing our sin in his body so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). When Jesus died, “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15).

There is no other power in the world that can do this. The Devil is stronger than all humans, all armies, all politics, and all human morality put together. We have no chance against him except by one means, the power of Jesus Christ operating through us because he dwells within us. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The gospel of Christ conquers our hearts and brings us to repentance and faith in Christ. Christ enters our lives and dwells within us. All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him. He commands the unclean spirits, and they obey him (Mark 1:27).

Sunday, August 19, 2012

helping the gospel

More from John Piper in Bloodlines:
... to our shame, there have been many contradictions between what the gospel is and what professing Christians have done. I will say more about that at the conclusion of this book. But the answer to those inconsistencies is not to domesticate the gospel into another ideological mule to help pull the wagon of social progress. If that’s what it is, then we may safely set it aside, and eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
I see this at least in the US in both parties. I hate when false-humility (or worse false-understandings of the nature of forgiveness and or knowledge of the church) steps in to help the gospel. It does not, it simply replaces it with a lie.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

killing my old man

Just kill that old man! Well, I guess really it's more about realizing that he's dead and needs to be cast off but the point is the same ...

I think it's gone far enough
I can't take it anymore
I've got to even up the score
Before he sweeps me off the floor

I've really got to find a way
Of taking care of him for good
I know he'd kill me if he could
So I'll nail him to the wood

Killing my old man
You may not understand
He's a terrible man
Got to make a stand
And kill the old man

Every time that I think he's gone and I've finally won
He just keeps coming back, puts me on the run

I think I'd better do it now
Get my hammer and a nail
Pray to God, I that I won't fail
Lest he'll keep me in the jail
And I don't wanna stay in jail

such were some of you

Josh Harris delivers this excellent message on marriage, homosexuality, and the current drive to redefine marriage. Some top-lines:

  • Marriage belongs to God and it is a picture of the mystery of Christ to the Church.
  • We are not singling out homosexuality and we are certainly not singling it out as the most grievous of sins.
  • This topic is not central to the Christian faith. It is not in and of itself the Gospel. It is not central to our faith but it is central to our culture. We would be remiss not to speak to our culture. We can do that with love and compassion. And we can know that if we do that well, we will be hated.
  • The issue is that we are not against homosexual people, the issue is that we are for marriage.
  • All of us need the refining, purifying work of the cross of Jesus Christ.
  • We are salt and light ... it's a false notion when believers think we share only Christ on the Cross. That is the central message but it is not the only message ... it's central because that is what all other messages point to ... which interestingly is very tightly woven into the marriage concept.
  • It goes back to Genesis; this is rooted in God's creation and points to the Gospel.
  • Paul reinforces this in Romans 1; homosexuality is an example of what happens when we fail to worship the true God. If we are willing to replace the true God with a false god, then are even willing to replace our true sexual nature.
  • 1 Cor 6 - it's about the Kingdom of God. Stop clinging to your sin. This is how we were. Now we are to cling to Jesus.
  • If you are in Christ, you are not defined by your sexual (or other) desires. You are owned and defined by Jesus.
  • Salvation is not found in heterosexual sex.
  • Sin doesn't have the last word, the Gospel does. "Such were some of you!" We who are in Him are righteous in Christ.
  • We are not haters when stating the truth of God's Word. We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.
  • We should not treat homosexuality as different that other sin. This is challenging because of cultural revulsion but we must rise above that and represent the Gospel.
  • Do not be deceived; we cannot live for sin and enter into God's Kingdom. If we are born again, sin is not 'normal'. It is of our old nature, not our new.
  • God made you for righteousness. If you are in Christ, we must die to our old self and live for Christ. And this is not for ourselves only, it is for the world around us that desperately needs a Savior.
  • Preserving marriage is more than a political issue. We are not trying to force morality. We are guarding against a redefining of an basic truth.


Justin Holcomb posts this long but insightful piece.

How should Christians think about and interact with the political realm? Should Christians see any value in politics?

These are questions that drive much debate in our day. Some Christians lean toward a pessimistic view like that of the fifth-century pastor and theologian Augustine, seeing the existence of government and political rule as no more than “a necessary evil.” Others are much more optimistic about political and cultural engagement, taking a view like that of Chuck Colson that “transformed people transform cultures.”

Faithfully discerning how and whether Christians ought to engage politics is a difficult task. As theologian N.T. Wright points out, great difficulty arises from the vast differences between our worldview and that of the New Testament:
The problem should be clear to anyone who knows the world of the first century—or for that matter any century until the eighteenth, and any country outside so-called Western civilization. It is simply this: the implicit split between “religion” and “politics” is a rank anachronism, and we read it into the New Testament only if we wish not to hear anything the New Testament is saying, not only about what we call “the state” but about a great many other things as well. . . . We must be prepared to put our categories back into the melting-pot and have them stirred around a little. We cannot read a few “timeless truths” about the “state” off the surface of the New Testament and hope to escape with our world view unscathed. . . . What would a first-century Jew or Christian have made of the modern notion of “state”? Not a lot, I suspect.
Because of the cultural disconnect between our ideas about church and state and those of Scripture, approaches that try to strip-mine the Bible for principles for contemporary government and politics will go nowhere. Instead, Christians need a well-rounded vision for how to interact with the cultures and political contexts where we live. A good start would be to see what major theologians of church history as well as contemporary Christian thinkers have written about the role of the church and the state.


Two of the most significant voices on church and state in the history of Christianity are Augustine and John Calvin.

Augustine is famous for dividing humanity into two “cities”: the city of God (civitas dei) and the city of man (civitas terrena). Scholar Linda Raeder writes, “The civitas dei consists of all those who orient their love . . . and reason toward the Highest Good—communion with God. The civitas terrena, on the other hand, is peopled by . . . all those whose love is exclusively directed toward the mundane order, those who pursue temporal goods as ends in themselves.” For Augustine, these two cities are always at odds in terms of their values, which means that there can never be a unified political society. This is not to say that there is no commonality between the two groups. Both groups, for instance, seek peace and justice, which are produced, at least partly, by government and law.

In Augustine’s view, government has a very limited role: “to intimidate and restrain those who would do evil so that the good may live in at least some semblance of peace and order . . . government serves an essentially negative function—to restrain and punish the wicked. Political rule is neither glorious nor enviable.”

Political movements are inherently unable to accomplish the type of change that people hope for.

John Calvin deals with issues pertaining to government in the last section of his Institutes. His view of the role of the state is much more positive than Augustine’s. In Calvin’s view, the purpose of government is “to cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church, to adjust our life to the society of men, to form our social behavior to civil righteousness, to reconcile us with one another, and to promote general peace and tranquility.”

Calvin believes that government is necessary because of human sin and depravity, and Scripture teaches that all rulers are ultimately ordained by God. As a result, “no one ought to doubt that civil authority is a calling, not only holy and lawful before God, but also the most sacred and by far the most honorable of all callings in the whole life of mortal men.” (ibid. 4.20.4)

In our day, there are many Christians who lean in each direction: some are very pessimistic about the possibilities of politics, and some are quite optimistic. How can we decide between these two extremes?


Christian sociologist James Davison Hunter’s recent work To Change the World offers a vision for faithful Christian cultural presence that is very helpful for thinking about our engagement with contemporary culture and politics. As he demonstrates, history, and social science disprove the belief that “transformed people transform cultures.”

Instead he offers a different approach for cultural engagement based on what he calls “faithful presence.” As Christopher Bensen summarizes,
Faithful presence is not about changing culture, let alone the world, but instead emphasizes cooperation between individuals and institutions in order to make disciples and serve the common good. “If there are benevolent consequences of our engagement with the world,” Hunter writes, “it is precisely because it is not rooted in a desire to change the world for the better but rather because it is an expression of a desire to honor the creator of all goodness, beauty, and truth, a manifestation of our loving obedience to God, and a fulfillment of God’s command to love our neighbor.”
Hunter’s approach is helpful because it shows that political movements are inherently unable to accomplish the type of change that people hope for, and instead puts the emphasis on faithful Christian living.


Neither an overly pessimistic nor an overly optimistic view of politics serves Christians well. Those who act as though politics are the primary way God has determined to bring about the kingdom of God will inevitably downplay the significance of the church as God’s agent through which the Spirit works in the world. On the other hand, those who avoid all political or cultural involvement as inherently evil will miss or downplay the social and cultural ramifications of the gospel of Jesus.

Friday, August 10, 2012

where i dragged you

That's where I dragged you - ha! Get it?


Love these shots ...

our order

We should make clear that we are Christians first and Americans second. We are aliens and exiles in the world and our deepest and truest citizenship is in heaven. Our decisive Lord and Leader is Jesus Christ, not the president of the United States. This first and deepest allegiance unites us with Christians of all nationalities more firmly than our secular citizenship unites us with other Americans. In regard to many American values and behaviors we are dissenting citizens. American culture is not Christianity. We believe it is not unpatriotic to criticize unjust and ungodly aspects of our own culture. (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11; Matthew 22:21; Acts 5:29; 1 Timothy 6:14-15; Revelation 17:14; Ephesians 5:11)

when will christ return

Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting this excerpt for George Eldon Ladd's The Gospel of the Kingdom (see Mat 24.14):

The subject of this chapter is, When will the Kingdom come? I am not setting any dates. I do not know when the end will come.

And yet I do know this: When the Church has finished its task of evangelizing the world, Christ will come again. The Word of God says it.

Why did He not come in A.D. 1oo? Because the Church had not evangelized the world.

Why did He not return in a.d. 1000? Because the Church had not finished its task of world-wide evangelization.

Is He coming soon? He is—if we, God’s people, are obedient to the command of the Lord to take the Gospel into all the world.

. . . “How are we to know when the mission is completed? How close are we to the accomplishment of the task? Which countries have been evangelized and which have not? How close are we to the end? Does this not lead to date-setting?”

I answer, I do not know. God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who “all the nations” are. Only God knows exactly the meaning of “evangelize.” He alone, who has told us that this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations, will know when that objective has been accomplished.

But I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task; our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.

. . . Here is the motive of our mission: the final victory awaits the completion of our task. “And then the end will come.” There is no other verse in the Word of God which says, “And then the end will come.”

When is Christ coming again? When the Church has finished its task.

When will This Age end? When the world has been evangelized.

“What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24: 3). “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations; and then, and then, the end will come.” When? Then; when the Church has fulfilled its divinely appointed mission.

Do you love the Lord’s appearing? Then you will bend every effort to take the Gospel into all the world. It troubles me in the light of the clear teaching of God’s Word, in the light of our Lord’s explicit definition of our task in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 18-20) that we take it so lightly. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This is the Good News of the Kingdom. . . . All authority is His. “Go ye therefore.” Wherefore? Because all authority, all power is His, and because He is waiting until we have finished our task. His is the Kingdom; He reigns in heaven, and He manifests His reign on earth in and through His Church. When we have accomplished our mission, He will return and establish His Kingdom in glory. To us it is given not only to wait for but also to hasten the coming of the day of God (II Pet. 3:12). This is the mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and this is our mission.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

taking sides

I love this by John Piper in Bloodlines:

The gospel of Jesus does not come to the controversy between personal accountability and structural intervention and take sides. It calls both sides to repent and believe in Jesus and be born again and make the glory of Jesus the supreme issue in life. The gospel is not a political adviser standing to the side waiting to be asked for guidance. It is the arrival of God saving people from their sin and from the everlasting wrath of God, giving them the Holy Spirit, and bringing their lives progressively into conformity to Jesus.

same sex marriage chart

It's expected by me that many buy into the false notions propagated by charts such as this. However I'm still amazed at their influence among those supposedly redeemed. I wonder how many times self-professed scholars need to be debunked?

Here's a succinct and correct rebuttal by SWNID. After the post there's also this excellent comment; "Putting people in boxes that say "straight" or "gay" is hardly a fair way to describe people, but it's a powerful way to confuse their interpretation of their experience."

Here's the bulk of the post (read the whole thing here):

... point by point:
  • "Jesus never uttered a word about same-sex relationships." This is false. The word is porneia, used by Jesus in Matthew 5:32; 15:19 (parallel at Mark 7:21); 19:9. In conventional usage of Hellenistic Greek among Jews of Jesus' day, porneia referred to all sexual activity outside of marriage, and marriage was between members of the opposite sex, of course. If Jesus meant to exclude same-sex relationships from his condemnation of porneia, he did not say as much.
  • "The OT also says that it's sinful to eat shellfish, to wear clothing woven with different fabrics, and to eat pork." True but hardly relevant. The Mosaic books imply a difference between those things that have always been unlawful for all people and those things that become unlawful for Israel when Israel receives the Mosaic law at Sinai. Later Jewish scholars distinguished these as the Noachic commands (those given to all humanity) and the Mosaic commands (those given to all Israel). The notion of sexual sin is based on the creation of man and woman in Eden. It is therefore fundamentally different from the various symbols of separation (diet, clothing, calendar) that constitute what was distinctive to Israel. This notion is part of the Christian interpretation of the Mosaic law as well, as enshrined in Jesus' teaching and the New Testament letters. In the New Testament, the Mosaic law's distinctives for Israel do not bind the follower of Christ, especially the Gentile follower of Christ. But those laws that express what has always been right and wrong do very much apply. So Jesus can at once make a statement understood later by his followers to pronounce all foods clean (Mark 7:18-19) and follow it immediately with a statement affirming that sexual immorality, which for Jesus included same-sex relations, is evil (Mark 7:21).
  • "The original language of the NT actually refers to male prostitution, molestation, or promiscuity, not committed same-sex relationships." Questionable and ultimately irrelevant. Many instances of same-sex relations in the Graeco-Roman world were acts of prostitution or pederasty (an older, more powerful male taking sexual advantage of a younger, less powerful male). And doubtless promiscuity was present as well. So to say that the language of the NT refers to such is simply to say that such acts were common and so were what the language of the NT would commonly refer to. However, here we must proceed thoughtfully. First, were there no "committed same-sex relationships" in the Graeco-Roman world? Would Paul and others not have known of men who lived together for many years and were sexually active together? In the cosmopolitan world of the first-century Mediterranean, we doubt as much. Second, there is a significant difference between the referent of a word and its sense. The "sense" is the meaning of the word, its definition, as it were. The "referent" is the thing in the world to which it refers. So "table" has a sense: piece of furniture with legs and a flat surface on top, on which objects can be placed, but in any usage "table" will refer to a particular table. Now, it is true that most tables one sees in the United States presently are either wooden or made to look like they are wooden. Would it be fair, therefore, to say that in our time someone who speaks of a table thereby refers to something that at least appears wooden? Obviously not. So if someone wanted to communicate, "Tables are evil because of their woodenness," that person would have to say more than "Tables are evil." So it is with the language of same-sex relations in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. These statements in their historical context would refer mostly to exploitative or promiscuous acts. But it is not the exploitation or promiscuity which is the focus of the terms used. Rather, it is the acts themselves. And those statements are made without qualification to make the reader understand that exploitation or such is the real problem. In sum, the nontraditional reading quoted at the head of this point is a case of special pleading that confuses the referent and sense of words.
  • "Paul may have spoken against homosexuality, but he also said that women should be silent and never assume authority over a man." True and irrelevant. The point here is to suggest that no one really follows what the Bible says anyway, especially Paul's bits, so why do so in this instance. One can make a strong case that Paul's teaching about women in context is not nearly as severe as this out-of-context citation makes it seem to be, and that thoughtful Christians have at least sometimes followed and applied Paul's teaching with variations for culture without either oppressing women or obliterating genuine differences between the sexes. Such is not so easily done with texts like Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9, where Paul's language assumes the prior understanding that same-sex activity is wrong.
  • "[The creation of man and woman in the garden with the command to multiply] was when the earth wasn't populated. There are now 6.79 billion people. Breeding clearly isn't an issue anymore." The implication is that the command to heterosexual marriage is solely for procreation. But Jesus sees more than that. Jesus cited Genesis 2:24 to express the idea that divorce is not a fulfillment of God's will. Given the very real truth that divorced and remarried people generally remain as fertile after remarriage as they were before divorce, Jesus' implication would be irrelevant were heterosexual marriage just for filling up the earth.
  • "The Bible also defines marriage as one-man-many-women, one-man-many-wives-and-many-concubines, a rapist and his victim, and conquering soldier and prisoner of war." False, at least if by "define" we mean "approve." Does the Bible portray all these things? Yes. Does the Mosaic law regulate these things? Yes. Does that imply that the Bible approves of them? No, of course not. All polygamy in the Bible falls after the foundational narrative of Eden with its statement about monogamy in Genesis 2:24. Every story of polygamy shows the bad end to which such arrangements come. The Mosaic law deals with polygamy as it does with other deeply embedded elements of Ancient Near Eastern culture that run counter to morality based on creation: by regulating the practice so as to ameliorate its worst effects and discourage its practice. So Moses tells the polygamist that he must treat each wife exactly the same, while telling stories of the bad ends of polygamy. What does the thoughtful reader do? Take only one wife. Those who don't repeat the stories with bad ends. By the way, Israel's soldiers were specifically forbidden to take spoils during the conquest, including foreign brides taken as spoils.
If you've made it this far or just skipped this far, the problem with all such discussions as these is the failure to consider or acknowledge that there is a consistent, biblical notion of sexual morality, tied to creation. That man and women are both different and correspond is celebrated by the Bible as the expression of God's purpose and the foundation of human society. Reading the Bible to this outcome is not a tendentious misreading: it is the consensus of Jewish and Christian interpreters throughout the Bible's history.

It is the pervasive assumption that heterosexual monogamy is God's creation design that underlies biblical teaching about sex and marriage. This assumption is what makes it possible for the NT writers simply to make brief statements of condemnation without explanation. They address people who quite simply have come to assume that creation of two different, corresponding sexes means something about the act of sex.

Advocates of same-sex marriage would be more honest if they simply admitted that they have chosen to reject what the Bible teaches. The approach we've noted, while doubtless sincerely believed by some, constitutes ad hoc special pleading that ultimately works by confusing the less-informed faithful about the real boundaries of their faith system.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

wwjd about lgbtq ...

I love this by Mac Brunson:
What would Jesus do?” 
So many times when a societal issue arises that may have Biblical connotations, some look to resolve it by asking this common question. 
These examiners then lecture others as to exactly what Jesus would do. 
And if anyone disagrees with their position, which, of course, is Jesus’ position, then these dissenters are simply intolerant, modern-day Pharisees. 
Yet it is entirely possible to disagree with someone and not be Pharisaical but love them in spite of their sin. 
Jesus did and so should we. 
While Jesus “hung out” with “sinners,” He did not embrace their lifestyle. 
When the woman was caught in adultery, Jesus lovingly protected her and refused to condemn her. 
But He told her, “Go and sin no more” — never covering up or condoning her lifestyle. 
Jesus summarized God’s law in two primary commandments: Love the Lord your God with all heart, with all your soul and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. 
To say that this means we must approve a lifestyle that Scripture clearly teaches is outside God’s will is not an interpretational skip, but a hermeneutical leap off a biblical Grand Canyon. 
The question remains: What would Jesus do with the issue of homosexuality? Scripture reveals He would hold to the word of God while loving the person. Jesus never twisted, distorted or muddied the Word. 
He lifted up the high standard of God, which reveals that we are all sinners. At the same time, He focused the light of Scripture on sin and He called for all to repent. This is our model and example. 
No vote by any legislative body, no law or ordinance will change hearts, minds, attitudes, dispositions or sin. That is exclusively and uniquely a work of God on the human heart.
Scripture is clear and so was Jesus.
As opposed to the ever un-Biblical and too often heretical Rob Bell in his appearance at the Viper Room in West Hollywood:

QUESTION: You’re here in West Hollywood, and at the center of the gay community in Southern California. A lot of the words that Christians have for us have been very negative. What do you think about that?

ROB BELL: Thank you for asking that. We’re here in West Hollywood, the epicenter of a lot of gay culture. Some people are gay, and you’re our brothers, and you’re our sisters, and we love you. We love you. And it’s really, really, really important that we’re clear. I had a good friend when I was in my teens that was gay, and hadn’t told anybody. I was the first person he told… and, probably the most loving, generous, wholly… one of the most… he was extraordinary… is extraordinary. But like at an early age, I was like, some people are gay, and God loves them just like he loves me. And they’re passionate disciples of Jesus just like I’m trying to be… so let’s all get together and try to do something about the truly big problems in our world that I believe Jesus would have us band together and tackle together.


who shall overcome

John Calvin, quoted by Eric J. Alexander in The Supremacy of Jesus Christ:

No matter how many strong enemies plot to overthrow the church, they do not have sufficient strength to prevail over God’s immutable decree by which he appointed his Son eternal King.


I think I could win gold at something ... great snaps of the 2012 Olympics at The Big Picture.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

supernatural in-breaking

John Piper in Bloodlines:

Because the gospel of Jesus is not an ideology or a philosophy or a methodology or a therapy but a supernatural in-breaking of God into our lives, I am concerned at how many Christians do not bring it to bear personally, critically, and explosively on the political right and left. It seems to me that too many Christians gravitate to right-wing Republican politics or left-wing Democratic politics because they see some parallel between a political plank and a part of the gospel. It’s like saying that the party that uses candles must be the true one because they’re shaped so much like sticks of gospel dynamite. The gospel was meant to explode with saving power in the lives of politicians and social activists, not help them decorate their social agenda.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

witness of god

Herman Bavinck in Reformed Dogmatics:

In religion no human being and no creature can stand between God and my soul. To live and die in the comfort and blessing of salvation is not possible so long as I must rest on fallible human testimony. In religion we need not less but much stronger and firmer certainty than in science. Peace can be found only in the witness of God.

what's it all about

I think there should not have been a boycott/buycott of Chick-Fil-A. But there was. Amidst all of the insanity there were a few reasoned voices. Barnabas Piper wrote why we as Christians wouldn't promote a boycott or buycott. I think he only touch on part of the reason. Remember, we are living in exile and ought not use our spiritual liberty to press civic liberties. On the other hand, as US citizens concerned about free speech or whatever, knock yourself out. Just be clear what you are supporting/opposing and why. In this matter, don't think this is the stuff of the Church.

Also note that while many on both sides have made this into an issue on homosexuality, that's not what Dave Cathy said. Matt Dabbs sums it up well here. Folks just took this as an opportunity to get stupid. If one had a pre-existing issue with how Chick-Fil-A (or some other company) used its profits, fine, then deal with that but don't misrepresent and throw fuel (based on falsehood) onto an already volatile issue. Either side employing these tactics only hurt their cause.

And now, some words from the ever wise Trevin Wax:

If you’re like me, you’re weary of the excessive politicization of nearly everything in American culture.

Can’t we just enjoy Oreo cookies without making a statement about gay rights? Or savor a chicken sandwich without fear of being labeled a hater or homophobe?

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite.

Christophobia? Isn’t that a strong word? Yes, it is. So let’s define our terms.

First, let’s define homophobia. According to the Anti-Defamation League, homophobia is “the hatred or fear of homosexuals – that is, lesbians and gay men – sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility.”

Consider the comments made by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy that triggered this escapade:

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

That’s it. Cathy said, basically, “We believe in the traditional family.” In context, it appears he was speaking primarily about divorce. (What’s next? A sit-in protest led by divorcees?) But this was enough to bring down the wrath of gay-rights advocates upon Cathy and the company.

Though Chick-fil-A hires homosexuals and serves homosexuals (“with pleasure,” no doubt), the company and its president were suddenly labeled “homophobic” and “anti-gay” for articulating the traditional vision for marriage that has been the norm for thousands of years. If the word homophobic has any meaning, then we should reserve it for egregious offenses against homosexuals – not throw the label on anyone who has a conviction about what marriage is.

Now let’s define Christophobia. It is “anti-Christian sentiment expressed as opposition to Christians, the Christian religion, or the practice of Christianity.” When the mayors of prominent U.S. cities in the north and west told Chick-fil-A they would not be welcome there, they were making a statement that goes beyond one’s position on gay rights. These remarks were an example of social ostracism – not just toward those who hold to traditional views on marriage but especially Christians who hold these views and seek to practice their religion accordingly.

Why do I think they were singling out Christians? Why would this be an example of Christophobia?

Consider a different scenario. What if Dan Cathy were a Muslim? What if he had been a Muslim speaking to an Islamic news organization when he said something about marriage and family? Would there have been an outcry against his organization? It’s doubtful. I can’t imagine Rahm Emanuel taking on a prominent, well-respected Muslim businessman, no matter what he would say about marriage and sexuality. (Perhaps that’s why Emanuel has no problem partnering with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan – an outspoken critic of gay marriage – in a crime-reducing initiative.)

And therein lies the discrimination. Do you see the double standard? Those who are problematic, those who must be shut down and made to feel unwelcome, are not really the people who believe in traditional marriage but conservative Christians who seek to practice the tenets of their faith in the public sphere.

What we are seeing today is a massive cultural shift that permits leaders to label Christians as intolerant and bigoted simply for expressing their views about how society should function. But strangely enough, the same social ostracism and cultural condescension are not extended to Muslims and faithful adherents to other religions. No, the prejudice appears to be directed toward Christians who dare to speak publicly about their deeply held religious convictions.

That’s why, at the end of the day, this conversation isn’t really about marriage, gay rights, or restaurant permits. It’s not about the cultural divide between north and south, liberal and conservative.

It’s about Jesus. It’s about the radical sexual ethic He put forth in His teaching – a moral zealousness that hits our current culture’s sexual permissiveness head-on. And it’s about His forgiveness offered to all sexual sinners, so long as we agree with Jesus about our sin and embrace Him instead.

As weary as we may be of the culture wars, the Chick-fil-A controversy is a harbinger of further ostracism to come. In the United States, the words of Jesus are coming to pass for those who hold tightly to His vision of sexuality: You will be hated because of Me.

So how should we respond? We’ve got to go beyond boycotts and political statements and feigned offense at perceived persecution. We’re called to love those who ostracize us, not boycott back. So let’s trumpet the message that Jesus is for all kinds of sinners, from the self-righteous deacon to the promiscuous transsexual, no matter what kind of vitriol comes our way.

The world tells homosexuals, “It gets better.” The church tells homosexuals, “Jesus is better.”

And that is why this boycott is really about Him.