Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Spring Holiday: Enter the War on Easter and Why We Christians Are to Blame

This week marks the most important week in the Christian faith commonly referred to as the Holy Week.  Beginning last Sunday (Palm Sunday), Christians celebrate the final week in the life and ministry of Jesus culminating in His death and resurrection.  Beginning with His Triumphal Entry, the Holy Week ends with His Triumphal Resurrection (Easter).  Friday is known as Good Friday and marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ who propitiated the sins of the world on the cross.

But in one Iowa town, the day centered on the death of Christ will now be known as "Spring Holiday."  The city made the change after following the advice of the Civil Rights Commission who suggested the change in an effort to honor the separation of State and Church.

Obviously, people were outraged.  Not only was the name of the "holiday" changed from Good Friday to the more general Spring Holiday, but the announcement came just one week prior to Palm Sunday.  Furthermore, no official complaint was made or filed about the name of the holiday to force the city to even consider the manner.  Instead, the Civil Rights Commission made the recommendation (without pressure from the citizens) and the city adopted it. Immediately upset citizens called their city council to complain.  So much so that many of the phones of the city council were ringing off the hook.

Fortunately, after serious protest, the name on the calendar was changed back to Good Friday.  The city never expected such a backlash and quickly retracted their decision.  But the motivation behind the city's reversal was not due to what you think.  Certainly Christians and those annoyed by political correctness run amok were influential, but they were not what motivated the city.  What were?  Unions. 

Upon the announcement that the calendar would replace Good Friday with Spring Holiday, many Union leaders through a fit because by changing the title, Union workers would no longer have the day off.  Good Friday was a guaranteed day off, but with the change, such a guarantee was no longer certain.  ABC News explains:

City employees, beginning with local police, feared the name change would violate their union contracts with the city, which specifies Good Friday as an official municipal holiday. Employees that work city holidays are paid time and a half.

So at the end of the day what motivated the city to retrace its steps had nothing to do with the real meaning behind the day of recognition, but the Union benefits of the holiday.  Is this really what Good Friday has become?  Ignore all of the talk about political correctness and the separation of State and Church, focus on what forced the city to keep the tradition.

It is a sad commentary on the state of our culture if the cross of Christ becomes just another opportunity for rest and relaxation.  While Jesus suffers, we take the opportunity to sleep in and watch the NCAA Final Four.  Do we not care about the cross anymore?  This does not mean that Chrsitians in Davenport, Iowa and around the nation were not justifiably upset at the local government and were not actively protesting for the right reasons, but it does mean that the outrage over what the name-change meant to their faith meant less to the city than the Union outrage over losing their day off.

But then again, should we be this surprised?  Most Christians don't even understand the full significance of what Good Friday celebrates.  The death of Christ was more than just another injustice int he world or Jesus' highest example of love.  It was the climatic moment that God had promised when sin would be propitiated, final atonement would be made, God in human flesh would take upon Himself the sins of man, and redeemed sinners would be reconciled with their Creator.  Christ accomplished on that cross what no man could:  salvation. 

Unfortunately, most Christians have no idea what I just said.

The Church has become anemic and the true gospel of Christ means nothing.  We are starving and our pews are empty, not because our music isn't up to date or because our pastors are preaching "relevant" sermons, because our gospel does not save.  For years now we have been chasing the coat tails of the culture and haven't once preserved the gospel once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  We take opinion polls regarding what the culture wants in a church all the while refusing to ask God what He expects of us.  We donate money and expect others to serve, to evangelize, and to minister.  We spend more time and energy (even in a down economy) on entertainment than we do on personal evangelism.  The Church is starving because it itself has not feasted on the gospel.

Christians were rightly outrage at the actions taken by the city and should rejoice that those actions have been reverse.  However, this is a time for Christians to reconsider how serious they take the message by which they were saved.  Good Friday is not a holiday.  In fact, the atonement was not complete until the glorious resurrection.  On account of the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinners can be forgiven.  Do Christians care about that message anymore?  Such a message should not be limited to a municipal calendar or simply marked as another day off.  Rather, we should focus on the moment when God gave man what He could not earn on His own:  forgiveness and reconciliation.

Sadly it took a foolish decision by a city government to awaken Christians to the meaning behind the holiday.

Until Christians make the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their churches, their lives, and all that they do terms like Good Friday will mean nothing but a day on a calendar where a select few will have off.  This is a call for Christians to take their faith more seriously.  Until we pick up our crosses and follow our Savior, our outrage over calendar issues will mean nothing.  Christ paid a price He did not owe, because we owe a price we cannot pay.

ABC News -Iowa Town Renames Good Friday to 'Spring Holiday'
CBN News - Iowa Town Puts 'Good Friday' Back on Calendar

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Art of Winning an Argument: Name-Calling, the Left, and Health Care Reform

Here's some advice:  if your ever in a debating and your losing, call your opponent a name and you'll get the upper hand.  Call him a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, a sexists, or just plain stupid.  Its a good strategy that is employed everyday.  After all, who wants an audience to believe that you are a racist? Its a great strategy that gives you the upper hand.  Instead of debating the issue at hand, the two of you will begin to question your opponents record and racist past.

Unfortunately, that is what the post-health care reform debate has become particularly on the left.  All too often in the real of politics when one side is being beaten on the issues, they begin to throw unproven accusations in an effort to silence and disqualify their opponent.  Since the passage of health care, health care reform opponents have been accused of spitting on black Congressmen, yelling racial slurs in protest, and encouraging violence against members of our federal government.  Now they are accusing tea partiers and other health care reform opponents as being racist, bigotted, homphobes, sexists.

Take New York Times columnists Frank Rich for example.  In an article full of empty accusations, Rich argues that many white male Americans (all from the South of course) oppose the bill, not because of its substance, but because of their bigotry.  He writes:

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

Likewise, also at the New York Times, Charles Blow makes the same argument writing:

Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy.

See the argument?  President Barack Obama is black and so these white Southerners will and have opposed any and all legislative moves he makes including health care, immigration reform climate change, and financial reform.  Likewise, Obama appointed a "wise" Latino woman to the Supreme Court.  What that means about the health care reform bill I don't know, but its significant to Rich nonetheless.  Furthermore, many of the political proponents of the bill were gay, black, and/or female.  And to top it all off, the opponents of the bill frequently shouted, "Take our country back!" which to him (and to Al Sharpton) is a coded phrase meaning, "take our country back from the blacks, gays, and women."

What world is Rich living in?  One must be blind (or glued only to MSNBC) to actually believe that the health care bill was opposed only because of race, gender, or sexuality.  When I listened to the tea partiers, the Republicans and the opposing Democrats, I heard substance, not race or sex.  I never heard anyone say, "because President Obama is black, I am against this bill."  Has Rich not forgotten that Obama received over 50% of the American vote in November 2008?  Does that mean that the other half of America are racist?  Furthermore, it is important to note that a higher percentage Americans were against the health care bill than voted for Obama.  That means that some of those who voted for Obama did not support his reform of health care.  Does that mean that these persons went from racially enlightened to racists all in a matter of less than a year?

And what about the opponents of the health care bill?  It wasn't only white men from the South who opposed it. 

A (nationally recognized) woman (Sarah Palin) opposed the health care bill that passed the House.  The bill’s most visible and vocal opponents included a practicing Catholic (John Boehner) and a Jew (Eric Cantor).  And prominent black men (former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and former Godfathers Pizza chairman Herman Cain) didn’t want the black man in the White House to sign the bill into law.  It’s enough to make a New York secular liberal go crazy.

Frank Rich -The Rage Is Not About Health Care
Charles M. Blow - Whose Country Is it?
Pat Sajak - Opposed to Obamacare? Then You Must Be a Racist
Diversity Inc - Obama Vs. Bush: Scorecard on Cabinet Diversity
Conservatism, Extremism and the Bigoted Left
Commentary - What Would Jesus Vote?:  Jesus, Health Care, and the Gospel   
Commentary - The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes
Commentary - Some Life Not Worth the Investment:  The Dangers of the Health Care Bill
Shortblog - Another Political Lie: Abortion and Health Care
Shortblog - Is Health Care a Right?:  Williams Weighs In
Onenewsnow - Healthcare is NOT a 'Right'
Shortblog - Health Care, Ideology, and the Gospel:  Colson Weighs In

Monday, March 29, 2010

Doomed to Repeat: Lessons We Must Learn Again

As the old addage goes, those who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat it.  In the following short documentary, the similarities between the progressives of the Great Depression with the progessives during the current Great Recession is made.  The documentary picks primarily on Presidents Herbet Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  The point of the documentary is to show that when government tries to fix an economic crisis it only makes the crisis worst.  Are we seeing the same things happen now?  Perhaps.

It is time for Christians and Americans to think seriously about the role of government.  Is if the role of government to solve every problem we have?  If so then we have forfeited our freedom.  Or is government limited in its responsibility?  If so, then perhaps government has gone too far.  History has shown repeatedly that when government gets its hands on the free market, the economy tanks.  Government seems to prolong recessions and economic slumps, not end them.  Just as in the Great Depression all the government has to show for its hard work at solving the current economic crisis is more dept.

HT: The Right Scoop 

Where the Gospel and Politics Collide: The Necessity of Government in a Fallen World

Ever wonder why we have government in the first place?  As Christians, we live and obey to a higher authority; God.  Who needs government?  Ideally, Christians ought to be able to live in harmony without secular laws, judges, juries, lawyers, politicians, presidents, kings, elections, taxes, regulations, or political policies.  Christians, by living under the rubric of the cross, ought to serve one another, put others needs ahead of their own, surrender their rights in order to meet the needs of others, and live in a selfless, self-sacrificial way that brings glory to God through the righteous lives of men.

But we do not live in such a world.  According to Scripture, government is a necessary instrument of God by which the depravity of unredeemed men are held in check.  We must also not forget that even Christians aren't perfect.  Many Christians have received traffic violations and not paid all of their taxes.  Certainly Christians are in need of government almost as much as nonbelievers.

The Bible teaches that government is a result of the Fall (Genesis 3).  Prior to the original sin, man lived in harmony with God's creation.  There was no fighting, arguing, greed, selfishness, or corruption.  Government was not needed because man was not sinful.  God was their Creator and King who walked with His Creation in the Garden He designed just for them.

But all of that changed when we ate the forbidden fruit.  Once man put his selfish wants before others, sin entered the world.  Within one generation, man had sunk so deep into selfishness and greed and history recorded its first murder.  And as the days went by, man sunk deeper and deeper into depravity and crime.  Thus God established government and laws to hold man accountable to each other for their actions.  Justice primarily came in the form of punishment through government and civil institutions.

This understanding implies one major thing:  government is fallible because government is run by fallible men.  Christians believe that God is just and all that He does is righteous, true, and flow from His holiness.  Government, on the other hand, is corrupt, greedy, and made up of depraved individuals.  This means that much of what government does is tainted with the results of sin.  This does not mean that laws and other government institutions and actions are worthless, but that a correct understanding of Original Sin implies that government is imperfect full of many flaws.

Since government is fallible, Christians throughout recent centuries (especially among the Baptist) have preferred small government.  A government that has much power will become more corrupt.  Power and corruption go hand in hand.  Therefore, Christians prefer government to be focused (and primarily focused) on one major responsibility:  protection.

Protection involves two things.  First, government must protect its citizens from international threats.  As a result, government is given the responsibility of raising up a military, sending out diplomats, and building up walls.  This means that from the Christian perspective, having a military is both necessary and good.  This does not mean that all that the military does is good, but that having one is not inherently wrong.  Sometimes, in the protection of a nation's citizens, a government can, in good conscience, use military force to do so.

However, part of protecting citizens from international threats involves seeking peace through diplomacy and peace treaties.  Christians must pursue peace at all cost.  Government must seek to make peace without compromising its citizens safety in every way possible before considering any military action.  Oftentimes this is a blurred line and it is difficult to determine when diplomacy ends and military action should begin.  It is at this point that we must remember that this world is fallen and those who control the fate of nations are just as depraved and fallen as the rest of mankind.

Secondly, government must protect its citizens from national threats.  This means that government must be responsible for assigning judges, juries, police officers, firemen, search and rescue, first responders, laws, lawyers, and regulations that protect innocent citizens from criminals and injustice.  However, this does not mean that all laws are good and that every judicial decree is free from injustice.

Just as it is difficult to know when military action should be used, it is oftentimes difficult to know when regulation becomes too much and when laws encroach on God-given liberties. It is one thing to prosecute murderers, it is quite another thing to fine dog owners for allowing their dogs to bark.  As government gains power, it will continue to regulate  all aspects of human activity.

This is the danger we currently find ourselves in.  Should government demand its citizens to buy anything?  If so, how does such a policy protect citizens from each other?  If government's primary objective is to protect its citizens, then why does government all too often place more emphasis on economic and social issues (not that they shouldn't)?  Government is to protect personal liberties from government intrusion and its citizens from criminals, not provide jobs, enforce unneeded regulations, or command what one must buy.  The line between protection and intrusion is a fine line and one government too often crosses.  But then again, government is as depraved as those who run it.

Furthermore, since the judicial system is run by fallen humans and the laws they enforce and protect are passed by depraved souls, there will be times when justice is denied.  Many will be punished for crimes they did not commit while many guilty criminals will go free.  When this happens, citizens have a right to protest.  To know that injustice will happen does not mean to remain passive about it.  Rather, it means to understand that in an imperfect world we will have imperfection.  This is why Christians must cry, "Come Lord Jesus quickly!"

This is the primary role of government.  Certainly government might be needed in other areas of life (such as the economy), but it must not focus more on other areas and take its eyes off the area of protection.  When government gets distracted by areas such as education (not that it shouldn't), the economy (not that it shouldn't), health care (not that it shouldn't), and other areas it becomes more power hungry (thus tyrannical) and takes its eyes off of primary issues like peace, immigration, crime, and diplomacy.

Christians must understand the limits of government.  No matter how we vote or who we elect, the gospel will not spread through an act of Congress or through and executive order. Therefore, in our engagement with government we must not compromise the gospel and convince ourselves that if only "our guy" gets the reigns of power, people will come humbly to the cross of Christ in repentance.  This means that the Church must remain focused on the gospel in its interaction with the world and culture.  Let the government be focused on its responsibility of protection and let the Church be focused on its responsibility of preaching the gospel.  When we focus on the gospel, then we can overturn things like abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and homosexual marriage.  This does not mean that government doesn't play a role in these issues, but that it is our responsibility to proclaim the gospel which affects how we view issues like life and marriage.

We must not be focused on moralizing the unconverted but on converting the immoral.

The challenge that government faces in a fallen world is not easy.  Anyone who offers easy answers to the many problems we face are fools.  Christians must be focused on the gospel and yet willing to keep government in check.  The gospel is the only thing that saves us from depravity, the government cannot.  Government can only regulate outward behavior, but not the inward man.  That means that our first priority as Christians must be the gospel.

Christians likewise should avoid any Utopian worldviews.  Apart from the gospel and the Second Coming of Christ, we will never live in a Utopia.  Whether government allows anarchy or communists, no government will bring Utopia. Because man is sinful and depraved, there will always be injustice, poverty, wars, illiteracy, and crime. The world is not perfect because it is controlled by imperfect men.  That is why we must stay focused on the gospel which offers real answers to our messed up world.  No matter who is in power or what policies they push forward, our only hope is in the cross of Jesus Christ and His glorious resurrection.

Above picture is of the Continental Congress with George Washington in the middle.

Part 1 - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide: The Separation of State and Church 
Part 2 - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  Under God or Under Government?

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Good News of the Annunciation: Why Pro-Life Christians Should Celebrate the Annunciation

March 25 marks an important date for pro-life Christians as it marks the Annunciation of Mary regarding her pregnancy of the Christ Child.  March 25 marks the beginning of Mary's nine month pregnancy.*  Recently Christianity Today has asked the question if the Annunciation is more important that Christmas regarding its pro-life implications.  In the article, a number of Biblical scholars weighed in.  Pro-life leader Randy Alcorn remarked, for example:

It connects directly to the incarnation, while Christmas (whatever the true date) falls around nine months after the incarnation . . . It is basic Christian doctrine that Christ became flesh at the moment the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, at the moment of fertilization. He became human at the exact point all others become human, the point of conception.

The purpose of the article is to highlight the difference of emphasis between the three main traditions within Christianity:  Roman Catholic, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox.  The article is interesting and gets us to rethink the issue of the Annunciation.  Certainly the motivation behind the Annunciation is worth our time especially in a post-Roe vs. Wade era. 

At the heart of the celebration is not about abortion, but about the pre-incarnate Jesus leaving His throne in glory and taking upon Himself the form of a slave (Philippians 2).  Just as Christians get distracted with presents and Santa Claus during the celebration of Jesus' birth, there is a temptation to be distracted by wrong doctrine regarding Mary (especially on the more Roman Catholic side) and the implications of the sanctity of life.  Any celebration of the Annunciation should be about the gospel.  Unless we make a "bee-line to the cross" (as Charles H. Spurgeon once said), we have missed the point of the event.  Christ did not take upon human flesh to teach us love or to heal the sick; He took upon the form of a man in order to propitiation the righteous wrath of God.

When I was younger, I once wondered which was more important; Christmas or Easter?  My confusion was centered on the importance of the cross and resurrection in our theology and yet our heavier emphasis on the birth during Christmas.  It became clear to me at a young age that Christmas is a month long celebration while Easter is maybe only 3.  Fortunately I later discovered that without the cross and resurrection, the Incarnation would have been less festive.  As Christians if we fail to bring glory to the cross of death and the empty tomb of life, we are wasting our time.

However, we must admit that the Annunciation does have incredible implications in our current debate regarding abortion.  If there ever was a woman who had reason to second guess her pregnancy it was Mary.  Who would actually believe her?  Here she is pregnant and yet still a virgin engaged to be married.  The scandal could cost her life.  Let us not forget that in 1st Century Rome abortion and infanticide was common (though less among the Jews who believed all life to be sacred similar to Christians today).

Instead of seeking relief from her present struggles, she remained firm in her convictions (and innocence) and went ahead with the pregnancy.  Was Mary ready to be a mother?  She likely had her doubts since she remained unmarried at the time of her conception.  Let us also not forget that how young she likely was.  Could she afford the Child?  Not on Joseph's salary.  What would Joseph think?, she must have wondered.  And yet Mary knew immediately that the Child in her womb was not an accident to be discarded but a gift to be celebrated.  She did not see in her unborn Child a mass of tissue, but an answer to her people's many prayers for salvation.

Furthermore, the Annunciation says a lot about how God views life.  Jesus came to Earth by first being conceived.  Admittedly He could have come a number of other ways free from Original Sin, and yet He didn't.  The significance of conception, birth, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood seem incredibly important to God.  If it wasn't, then He would have never had Jesus go through the many stages of man.  Also, what I find interesting in all of this is the fact that the Gospels treat the Child immediately upon its conception just as Divine or sanctified as they do when He is born.  If Jesus was not the God-man at conception then why all of the fuss?  If Jesus was not worthy of life and part of God's divine plan until His birth then the Gospel writers (especially Matthew and Luke) wasted a lot of ink.  It is interesting how the many psalms found in the Birth Narratives took places prior to Jesus' birth.

So is the Annunciation worth celebrating even for Protestants?  I certainly see why not under correct doctrine.  And as Christians living in a world obsessed with murder and death, how can we ignore this important moment.  The birth we celebrate in just nine short months is just as Divine as He is now.  And the Child that was destined for the cross on that first Christmas morning was equally destined at His annunciation.

There is no such thing as accidents when God is involved.  Jesus was conceived in a home and in a relationship that by today's standards made Him more acceptable for abortion.  His parents were poor, His town was insignificant, His government was ruthless, and the rumors surrounding His birth would have made Him unwanted.  And yet God still had His purposes and let us celebrate and praise our Father for giving us His Son on that wonderful day when Gabriel shared the good news.

Happy Annunciation Day!

*Admittedly, Mary likely did not give birth to Christ on December 25.  I am not implying that Jesus was conceived exactly on March 25 or that He was born on December 25.  But since December 25 is the day we universally celebrate the Incarnation, it makes sense to back track nine full months and celebrate Christ's annunciation.


For more:
Christianity Today - More Improtant Than Christmas?
Christian History Blog - From Jesus to Mary and Back Again: The History of the Annunciation

Rights? What Rights?: The Assualt on Parental Rights in a Secular Society

Remember the old days when parents had the sole responsibility to raise their children?  Remember when parents where involved in their child's education, morality, ethics, discipline, their heath and medical care, and  sexual well-being and morality?  In the old days, parents made the decisions they thought best for their child, but now all of that has changed.  Everyday parents are losing their parental authority and rights over their own flesh and blood.

As government grows and society becomes more woosified, the authority of parents becomes a commodity that it cannot afford.  As child abuse rises, sexual molestation becomes more common, and public school remains the standard for education, the culture is increasingly becoming convinced that not only are parents not needed, but are a danger to society.  Instead of seeing some parents as bad apples, many in society are seeing parenting as a cancer.  After all, what if the parents of a child are fundamentalists Christians who teach a young earth and believe sex before marriage is wrong?  We can't risk having children grow up in such a bigoted, homophobic, right-wing, intolerant home can we?

So in a country that describes itself as the beacon of liberty, it is quickly suffocating the parent that refuses to raise their children in the eyes of the culture.  So much for liberty.  So much for rights.

Take two recent examples.  Currently, the state of Connecticut is debating a bill requiring all students to participate in sexual education in order to graduate.  The real motivation behind the bill can be seen in the bill's primary sponsor:  Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading abortion provider and sexual promoter.  Planned Parenthood is an organization obsessed with sex and wants to increase the rate and promiscuity of sex (especially among young people) in our society.  In order to promote a promiscuous society free from traditional sexual values, abortion must be legal and easily attainable.  After all, in a society obsessed with sexual pleasure, pregnancy is an unwanted burden and children are an unwelcomed curse.

That, however, is not the only problem with the legislation.  If sex education is required, then how can students whose parents object to the class graduate?  Many are suggesting that the bill itself takes responsibility and rights away from the parent because if they want their child to graduate, then their child must attend and pass a class promoted and sponsored by Planned Parenthood.  What is the pro-life parent suppose to do?

Sex education, as it now stands, in this country is nothing short of appalling.  In Connecticut, one school used slang terms and role play in their sex education class.  Two parents aware of the situation were rightly outraged and protested the class.  More frightening is the fact that prior to this incident, no parent was notified about the class.  If the parents had not said anything, then every student would have attended a class that utilized explicit language and images during class funded by taxpayers.

In another incident violating the authority and rights of parents, a Seattle school provided a pregnancy test and the means necessary to receive an abortion during school hours without parent consent or knowledge.  Needless to say, even in ultra-secular Seattle, the parent was horrified when she found out.  The mother had signed a consent form giving the school the authority to administer any medical care necessary for her child without her consent.  Little did she know or expect, this consent form apparently gave the school the excuse to go ahead with the abortion without having to first notify the mother.  To add insult to injury, the school informed the student that if she kept the abortion a secret, the school would pay for the abortion and the transportation used to get her to the abortion clinic.

The paradox of health care in public schools is obvious.  One must sign a paper or get permission to take an aspirin, but one is not required to get parental consent to have an abortion.  Furthermore, by having the abortion during school hours and paid for out of school funds, this is clearly a case of tax-payer funded abortion.  This means that the money that this mother pays in taxes contributed to her own child's receiving an abortion in which the mother objected.

Have you noticed a pattern here?  More examples could be cited and most of them imply the same thing:  the sexual revolution goes beyond personal freedom, but became a right.  In the religion of secularism, sex becomes the ultimate form of worship making contraceptives and abortion two of its central sacraments.  With the advocacy and evangelism of a religion, the church of secularism is doing all that it can to enforce its ideology, morality, and faith onto others.  The best place to start?:  students.  Since sexual promiscuity is a right, no parent should be able to deny their child that right and increasingly, the public school is become a magnet for such nonsense.

The reason parents are losing their rights in areas of discipline, education, and morality is because these stand as a sort of trinity for the secularization of society.  When parents are robbed of their right to discipline their child as they see fit, children become the authority figures of the homes.  When parents are constrained (thus robbed of their rights and authority) children then are given the authority and rights to prosecute and report their parents.  The cult of self-esteem and the crime of spanking has contributed to the lack of freedom and rights a parent has over the disciplining of their child.

Secondly, by taking the rights of parents over their child's education, our secular society has free reign over what students believe, confess, vote, act, and learn even if it runs contrary to what the parents affirm and promote.  Public schools are increasingly becoming places for indoctrination rather than places of learning.  When the right of discipline is taken from parents, it is then up to school administrators and teachers to raise children up as they see fit. So instead of diversity and liberty in society, the culture is given free reign to raise students to act, think, vote, and believe in all of the tenants of secularism.  What can a parent do in a society that has control over their child 6-8 hours a day?

Finally, when the morality of parents is undermined as old-fashioned and out-of-touch, the respect of parents is undermined.  Secularism encourages citizens to freely explore and experiment with their sexuality and in order to do that, the family must be viewed as unnecessary and an impediment to the progression of society.  After all, what's the point in having a traditional family when students are under the control of the school system for 6-8 hours a day (not counting sports or other extra curricular activities) and spends more time each day with Mrs. Jones than they do with Mom and Dad?

At the end of the day, the undermining of parental rights and authority is our societies attempt to move beyond the shackles of religion and morality.  In their firm belief in a Utopian world free of religion, society is pushing towards a sexually liberated world free from any ethical or religious restraints. 

Christian parents need to be aware of the world our children step into every morning at school.  This doesn't mean that every public school is evil or should be avoided.  However, parents must realize that there is a major assault against our rights to raise, education, and discipline our children as we see fit.  Society wants our children for themselves so that they can be brainwashed to think like them.  What is at stake is more than just sexual morality, traditional values, and parental rights.  What is at stake here is freedom. 

But we have had this coming for some time.  Many parents expect public school to educate their children and so ignore their own responsibility to make sure that their child is getting a proper education.  Without care, we delegate such an important responsibility to persons we barely (if at all) know.  Furthermore, parents have bought into secular arguments regarding discipline and the raising of children.  Many parents have tied their own hands by not standing up for proper discipline and then wonder what went wrong.  Many fear society more than God and so have coddled their children and raised wimps.

It is time for parents to wake up from their slumber before their rights are robbed from them.  We are the one's responsible for our children's education and morality, not the government or public schools.  When parents willingly give up their responsibility to raise their children out of sheer laziness, we are giving up our freedom and our authority to raise our children.  In many ways, we have asked for this.  When the family is undermined and rejected, society becomes subject to moral decay and we are seeing that right before our eyes.  Will we stand against the tide or will we allow ourselves to be drowned by a society that sees us as a threat to their worldview?  Or will we stand up for what is right and defend or personal liberty granted to us by God and take responsibility over our children?

For more:
World Magazine Blog - Required sex ed
The Middletown Press - Sex education has Middletown High School parents concerned
Komo News - Mother furious after in-school clinic sets up teen's abortion

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Would Jesus Vote?: Jesus, Health Care, and the Gospel

We all remember the bracelets that everyone wore several years ago reminder us to ask ourselves "What Would Jesus Do?"  This inevitably led to a similar question being asked every November during an election:  "How Would Jesus Vote?"  Many have come to their own conclusions and answers to those questions.  But here is another one:  "What Would Jesus Vote For?"

The House of Representatives recently passed a health care overhaul billed that was signed by President Barack Obama and by 2014, the entire bill will be fully enacted forcing every American to have some form of health insurance or pay a penalty.  And, as expected, many Christians find themselves asking if Jesus were a Congressman from Bethlehem, KY (a real place) would He have voted for the health care bill?

Some argue yes.  Gordon MacDonald at the Out of Ur blog argues that Americans and Christians should rejoice over recent political events because it is exactly what Jesus would have wanted.  He writes:

I am glad not because I am a Democrat or a Republican but because I think that Jesus, who seemed to take great interest in health issues, is glad. Looking back on his life among people like us, he often acted as a healer. He seemed to delight in curing diseases, restoring disabled people to wholeness, and rewiring damaged minds. You cannot divorce these encounters from the rest of his public ministry. Health-care was in his frame of reference.

He then goes on to describe one of his favorite Jesus-for-health-care stories.  The story is of a paralyzed man who is lowered down from the roof by his friends in hopes that Jesus would have pity on the man and heal him.  We all remember the story right?  Eventually Jesus does heal the man and for the first time, the man leaps to his feet, picks up his mat, and walked home.  Now that's health care!

The real moral of the story isn't just in the man's healing, but to what lengths he had to go to in order to gain access to such wonderful health care.  MacDonald writes:

Then, too, I wonder about all the people (apparently including religious leaders) who had crowded into that house and who’d made it impossible for the man in his original condition of paralysis to get to Jesus in a more conventional way—through the front door. How does it happen that people rationalized, that since they got there first, the suffering guy outside should be left to his own devices?

MacDonald is stunned:  did the people not care about this paralytic man?  And that question brings us to our modern times; too many Christians are like those preventing the sick and the helpless from gaining access to much needed health care.  This of course reminds him of another story in the New Testament, this one taken from Acts 3:

I love the moment in Acts 3, when Peter and John approach the Temple and spot a disabled man (from birth) begging. Earlier they wouldn’t have given him the time of day as they hurried on their way. But Jesus had rubbed off on them. Now they noticed the victim. And in this case they tried what they would have resisted trying in the past. They healed the man in the name of Jesus. 

I imagine the dilemma of Peter and John as they stand there. I hear them asking how you call Jesus Lord and not ultimately inherit some of his compassion for those who are sick and diseased?

Peter and James, just like Jesus, notice the unhealthy victim, take notice and offer the man real (and free) health care.  The two apostles offer the man what everyone had been denying him:  health care.  The message of the New Testament is clear:  the Savior and early church believed in universal health care that punished insurance companies and over-paid doctors regardless of its affect on their national debt.

Really?  Can we honestly say that Jesus or the apostles would have gone that far?  Can we really draw such conclusions from the healing of the paralytics of Jesus and the apostles?  Is that really why Luke included both accounts?

It says a lot about modern Christianity that sees in these texts answers to modern political questions and issues like health care and not the gospel.  The purpose of these healings is not to tell us how to vote or to show us what we should support, but to remind us that Jesus Christ is the Savior of men and our only hope for salvation.

When Jesus healed the paralytic He did so almost reluctantly.  At first He seems to ignore the man's current paralysis and simply declares "You are forgiven."  That is the gospel!  When sinners are forgiven and granted new life by their Savior, Christians have historically called that conversion.  To be converted means to embrace the exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ.  But those surrounding Jesus listening to him teach (and refused to get out of the paralytics way remember?) were outraged.  Who can forgive sins but God?

Exactly!  No one can forgive sins except God; ergo:  Jesus is God in flesh and thus has the authority and power to forgive this man of his sins.  Still unbelieving, Jesus demonstrates His power and authority by healing the man.  Jesus looks at His dissenters and asked, "which is easier:  to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or to say 'get up and walk?'"  The answer is obvious.  Anyone can say, "your sins are forgiven," but it takes a supernatural gift and a supernatural person to heal a man born paralyzed.  And so in order to demonstrate His deity granting Him the power to forgive, Jesus healed the man.

This text has nothing to do with health care, but with the gospel.  Shame on us for ever speaking of this text and saying nothing about the gospel.  Jesus was more concerned with the mains spiritual state than his physical well being.  That doesn't mean that his paralysis wasn't to Jesus' concern, but that unless the man be forgiven, he is no better being able to walk than he is being paralyzed.  The text is about the gospel, not health care.

The same is true regarding the text from Acts 3.  The man in need is begging because he physically is unable to walk.  He wants money, not health care.  Instead of offering the man money (because they had none), the apostle heal the man in the name of Christ.  The purpose of the story is two-fold:  based on the man's faith in Christ's ability to heal, he was healed.  Secondly, the subsequent arrest and testimony before the religious leaders illustrate the power and hostility of the gospel.  To those who are weak, poor, and sick, the gospel is an ready friend.  But to the rich and religious establishment, the gospel is a threat.

Again, the purpose of Luke's inclusion of these stories is not to tell us something about Obamacare, but about the gospel.

Why is it so shocking to say that Jesus couldn't care less about this whole debate?  If Jesus was alive today he would not have been a Congressman.  How do I know?  Because in the 1st century he was neither an adviser to Pontus Pilate's or a Roman Senator.  In other words, Jesus was not a politician and said little about politics.  Jesus' main concern was the gospel of God, not the politics of man.

During this whole debate many Christians have forgotten the gospel.  I am against this law primarily on grounds of what it will do to the economy (in that it will raise taxes), increase our national debt, add another entitlement which encourages poverty rather than alleviate it, it is an assault on the Constitution, and it will lead to tax-payer funded abortions.  But at the end of the day, the gospel is more important.  Christians should spend more money on missions than they should lobbying to or against any bill brought before Congress.

The gospel affects the world through sacrifice and loving service, not through taxes and mandates.  Have we forgotten this message?  The Early Church made a habit of voluntarily selling everything they had and giving it to the poor not because the government made them, but because Christ did the same for them on the cross.  It is time for Christians to return to the cross.  Real health care goes beyond healing physical ailments (though that is important) but to the forgiveness of man's souls.

When former President Bill Clinton was running for the presidency in 1992, one of his advisors gave him advice that essentially won him our nation's highest office.  The advice was that regardless of what he may be asked or any speech he may give, "It's the economy stupid!"  The point was to the remind the then governor to stay on message. If he would do that (and he did) he would win the presidency.  The rest, as they say, was history.

It is time for Christians to heed the same advice.  Regardless of what Capital Hill is debating or what the President is proposing, "It's the gospel stupid!"  Remember the gospel and the rest will be history.  The campaign we join should not be about political answers to spiritual problems, but to the message of surrender  and forgiveness.  Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!

Out of Ur - Jesus and the Health Care Bill:  It may cost us a bit more, but our nation has taken a compassionate step in the right direction.


For more:
Commentary - The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes
Commentary - Some Life Not Worth the Investment:  The Dangers of the Health Care Bill
Senate Health Care Bill
Shortblog - Another Political Lie: Abortion and Health Care
Shortblog - Is Health Care a Right?:  Williams Weighs In
Onenewsnow - Healthcare is NOT a 'Right'
Shortblog - Health Care, Ideology, and the Gospel:  Colson Weighs In

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Woody Woodpecker and GI Joe: Why Naturalism Contradicts Reality

I love Charles Colson and have been enjoying his weekly "Two Minute Warning." This series are video commentaries on the day that take between two to three minutes to deliver that present the Christian worldview in light of cultural issues. This weeks is particularly interesting.

Colson is commenting on how one military base is working to protect an endangered woodpecker on its base. The reason is because it doesn't want to have to deal with the headache of other federal agencies. Obviously, this is rather foolish and a waste of resources for our military to be dealing with woodpeckers especially while we are at war.

But that is not the problem. Colson rightly points out that this goes against everything that evolution teaches. Evolution teaches survival of the fittest which means that when one animal goes extinct, the surviving species should rejoice. An extinct species means more room at the watering hole. But secularist, with its many liberal ideologies, animal rights activists, etc., contradict that doctrine. Why do naturalists not want our more dominate species to thrive beyond small and insignificant creatures like woodpeckers?

The point is, naturalism is a walking contradiction. A true naturalists would be a hedonistic eugenicists who cared more about reproducing than contraceptives or saving beached whales. Naturalism cannot explain why we are naturally drawn to protect what we control and dominate. But the Christian worldview does. Christians understand that our heavenly Father gave us this responsibility and that we are accountable for what we do with His Creation. We do not protect because its to our advantage but because all of God's creation says something about Him.

This is a fascinating look at the udder nonsense of naturalism, secularism, and liberalism. So those who believe that we got here by one big gaseous belch in space and then crawled out of a cest pool of organic vomit, why do you even care about those creatures inferior to you? If naturalism contradicts itself in the real world, then we should do ourselves a favor and leave it behind.

Colson: Two Minute Warning - G.I.s and Woodpeckers
New York Times -A Base for War Training, and Species Preservation

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Turn: Books that Have Influenced Me

Over at the Evangel blog, they have had their bloggers lay out ten books that influenced each of them and so I would like to return the favor. Here are 10 influential books that have shaped my thinking and why. These are among the many books I have read and reviewed. Certainly more could be added to this list. What follows are books that show how a Christian worldview faces our secular society.

1. What's So Great About Christian? by Dinesh D'Souza - The book is a refutation of the New Atheism and a defense of Christianity. D'Souza shows why Christianity is logical and right. But D'Souza does more than just refute the New Atheists, he leads his reader into the sort of logic that is lacking among many Christians. D'Souza lays out a case for the Christian faith unlike any I have read. It is logical, deep, thorough, clear, and precise. D'Souza reveals the danger of the secular worldview and the promise of the Christian worldview. This is a must.

2. The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters by Charles Colson - Charles Colson is one of the most important thinkers in Evangelicalism today. He is always on the front lines of the cultural wars and consistently shows how the Christian faith applies to the issues of our day. In this wonderful book, Colson lays out the basic doctrines of the Christian faith and applies them to today's world. This is no dry theological treatise, but a real breathing faith that meets us in the real world.

3. How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey - This is one of the best written and complete books on the Christian worldview. The authors discuss creation, the fall, salvation, etc. and shows how we answer these questions determine our politics, economics, beliefs, convictions, voting habits, morals, and everything else. The authors look at all of the movers and shakers and have a Christian argument throughout.

4. Common Sense: The Case Against An Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine by Glenn Beck - Glenn Beck writes as a modern day Paul Revere warning his readers, and America, that we cannot keep going down the road we're going. We are spending ourselves to death. Government is out of control. What we need is to return to the principles of freedom and the Constitution. Beck's words here need to be heard.

5. Letters to a Young Conservative by Dinesh D'Souza - This is one of the easiest to understand and clearest defense and explanation of political conservatism I have read. Not being a political junkie, I have not read every book by every conservative. What D'Souza offers here is a logical defense of conservative principles covering a host of issues.

6. A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell - This is an important work though it is at times very deep and hard to follow. The basic premise is that what we believe about the nature of man (is he good or evil) will determine one's politics and economic theory. Liberals believe that man is good while conservatives believe that man is evil. Sowell is an academic and brings that qualification to the table and makes an incredibly important argument. We're not debating health care or tax policies, we're debating anthropology.

7. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller - Like What's So Great About Christianity?, Keller offers a logical argument for the Christian faith. However, Keller is not primarily concerned with the New Atheism, but with unbelief in general. This is a great resource that guides the Christian worldview with a sound theological ground.

8. Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg - Certainly this is a controversial book, but an insightful one nonetheless. The book traces the history of progressivism in America and shows the dangers of it. If what the author says is true, and he has the credentials proving his argument, then we should be concerned about many of the things we are doing in this country.

9. Christ and Culture by Richard Neihbur - This is a classic that presents the reader with a number of options utilized over the many centuries of how to respond to the culture as a Christian. This is certainly an important work that will remain with us for many more decades.

10. Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues With Timeless Truths by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. - Dr. Mohler is one of the most influential voices in Evangelicalism today. He has written extensively at his website regarding cultural issues and facing them with a Christian worldview. This book is a collection of such works and offers a thorough critique of the culture and how Christians ought to respond.


This post was inspired by similar blogs at Evangel. Here are those links:

  1. Ten Books that Have Influenced Me
  2. What Books Have Most Influenced You?
  3. Calling Their Bluff
  4. Top Books That Have Shaped My View of the World
  5. Top Ten Books, Fred’s Theology Edition
  6. The Books That Influenced Me Most

The Politics of Cowardice: Health Care Passes

History has changed. America has changed. Today, the House of Representatives in our nation's capital passed the health care bill moving it one step forward to becoming law. A lot has been said over the past year. Everything has been said over the past year. A few days ago, the changes of the bill passes looked impossible or at best daunting for its supporters. But now it is a thing of the past.

What was the deciding vote? Certainly the "pro-life" Democrats decision to support the bill after an executive order from the President was a leading factor. Led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), several "pro-life" Democrats stalled the passage of the bill delaying this moment for months. Moments prior to the final vote, Stupak announced that he would in fact vote for the bill following the Presidents executive order. Since the announcement, many have noticed that the President's Executive Order does nothing but say that the Hyde Amendment Law will be applied.

To be blunt: Stupak is a fool and has no right to call himself pro-life. For many on the Democrat side, Stupak represented the last hope of pro-lifers being welcomed in the Democratic party. Now, it seems apparent that one cannot be both pro-life and a Democrat.

The Executive Order is a paper tiger. Any such order can be rescinded by President Barack Obama or his predecessor or any future President. Stupak seems naive enough to think that our nation's most pro-abortion President will keep his word even though his first act as President was to repeal the Mexico City Policy which allowed international funding of abortion. If President Obama will supports funding abortions outside the United States, is Stupak foolish enough to believe that he does not support funding abortions within our own borders? And let us not forget President Obama's record as a state senator when he refused to vote in favor of a bill that would have banned infanticide.

Furthermore, according to some analysis, Obama's Executive Order means absolutely nothing. Andy McCarthy writes:

“That [Executive Orders] can be rescinded at the president’s whim is of course true. This particular [Executive Order] is also a nullity — presidents cannot enact laws, the Supreme Court has said they cannot impound funds that Congress allocates, and (as a friend points out) the line-item veto has been held unconstitutional, so they can’t use executive orders to strike provisions in a bill. So this anti-abortion [Executive Order] is blatant chicanery: if the pro-lifers purport to be satisfied by it, they are participating in a transparent fraud and selling out the pro-life cause.”

One must wonder what Stupak was thinking? For months he has led the charge against his own parties take over of health care and yet at the last minute caves in to the pressure of his party's leaders. Following the announcement, a youtube video was releasing revealing in Stupak's own words that he never intended on seeing his pro-life boycott through. In the video, Stupak explicitly says that even if anti-federal funding for abortion is not in the bill, he would still vote for the bill.

I am stuck as to why Stupak made this decision. If I had to guess, I would surmise that it had more to do with party loyalty than personal convictions about abortion. Apparently his party came before innocent life. Stupak seems to care more about the historic nature of the health care bill and the new entitlement it will create than he does about protecting more lives from being taken.

Many have argued that the bill does not fund abortions. Let us not forget the fact that Planned Parenthood has not only supported the bill, but has also come out in support of the Executive Order. That should tell us all that we need. Any consistent pro-lifer should reject whatever Planned Parenthood supports.

But lets say the bill doesn't fund abortions. Can anyone honestly argue from the history of this country that this bill will not open the door to a public option? And will they then argue that that public option will not become universal health care? President Franklin Roosevelt ensured the American people that Social Security would be free from bankruptcy and would not run up the federal deficit, but clearly he was wrong. He was wrong, not because his intentions weren't good, but because a powerful government wants more. Several Democratic leaders have commented that they intend on adding to this bill. This is not the end of the debate and certainly we will get universal health care. It is the way that government works. Government never grants freedom, it takes it. That is why freedom originates with God.

If government has enough authority to grant health care, then it will decide who will receive care and who will not. Regardless of the punditry and the talk, this will open the door to abortions, more contraceptives, and death panels all of which will be funded by our hard working dollars.

This is a sad day for America. As Christians, we must pray that somehow this will be repealed. However, history has shown that once an entitlement is granted, it is virtually impossible to get rid of it. Though many Republicans will run on repealing the bill this November, Democrats will be able to counter their argument by saying, "the Republicans want to take away your health care."

Our problem, at its root, isn't about health care or taxes our problem is that we looked for government for a hand out rather than each other. A free society can only remain free as long we serve one another. But once we begin to believe that it is governments job to do something for us, we have given the devil what he wanted. We must stop looking for government for answers. Yes health care is high and only getting more expensive, but only fools believe that government will make it better and Stupak has bought into such nonsense.

Freedom has died today and the lives of the unborn have been rejected. And we have so-called pro-lifers to thank. Being pro-life is more than just a bumper sticker.

Dr. Denny Burk -Stupak Never Intended to See It through
Yahoo! News -Schlafly: Health Care Vote Set to Expose the Myth of the 'Pro-Life Democrat'
The Hill -Pro-abortion rights group unhappy with Stupak compromise (include Planned Parenthood statement regarding the Executive Order)
The Hill - Text of Executive Order on Abortion Restrictions
Andy McCarthy - Executie-Order Hijinks

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Natural Morality: The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality

God is dead. Morality has no foundation. Long live morality. Thank goodness!

With those words atheist Michael Ruse offers his foundation for morality in a world without God. Clearly, he has none and apparently he has no problem with that. Ruse is a well known atheist naturalists whose firm belief in Darwinism has convinced him that God is dead. The primary problem with evolutionary atheism regards morality. If God is dead, then how do we define right and wrong? Even more pointed: if God is dead, where do right and wrong come from?

In short, atheism has no logical, comprehensive answer. Though many attempts have been made, evolution has yet to answer our universal conscience. We are all born with an inherent law without any materialistic explanation. Ruse's attempt to explain how one can reject God and yet still be moral continues the legacy of atheists fishing for answers and coming up short for answers.

In his article, Ruse makes two points that never answer the question he was suppose to answer: What can Darwin teach us about morality? First, Ruse must find morality within the theory of natural selection. He writes:

Start with the fact that humans are naturally moral beings. We want to get along with our fellows. We care about our families. And we feel that we should put our hands in our pockets for the widows and orphans. This is not a matter of chance or even of culture primarily. Humans as animals have gone the route of sociality. We succeed, each of us individually, because we are part of a greater whole and that whole is a lot better at surviving and reproducing that most other animals . . .

Morality then is not something handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is something forged in the struggle for existence and reproduction, something fashioned by natural selection. It is as much a natural human adaptation as our ears or noses or teeth . . . It works and it has no meaning over and above this. If all future food were Pablum, we would probably be better off without teeth. If all future relationships could be done purely on a cost-benefit analysis, then we would probably be better off without morality. Why fall on a grenade to save your fellows when it hardly pays off for you?

Clearly, Ruse makes the connection between morality and natural selection but his argument is on shaky grounds. The premise is not new. The argument goes that as humans (a highly evolved animal, but an animal nonetheless) survival of the fittest has showed us that living in harmony as a society is to our advantage. But is it? Survival of the fittest implies that the point of life is to survive (hence the name) and reproduce. The key to surviving and reproducing is to eliminate all rivals. This means that if I want to reproduce, any rival to my mate(s) should be eliminated. Furthermore, in order to survive I must reserve all of the Earth's resources for myself. This means that the more assess I have to food, shelter, wealth, and power I have, the better. The best (and easiest) way to attain such dominance is not through morality or through following laws, but to break them. Certainly it is convenient to live in a society where I can go to McDonald's and buy a burger. But it would be much easier and convenient (and cheaper) if I owned slaves who could grow and serve me dinner.

A natural selection morality is inherently self-centered. Survival of the fittest demands each man for himself. The only sort of "morality" one could possess (logically) in such a society is towards one's own family. The only reason for that would be due to the connection with reproduction and genes. However, to feel threatened by a family member threatens my autonomy, my power, and my assurance of thriving and reproducing my own genes. All rivals must be eliminated.

Ruse assures us that morality is present in a Darwinian world, but his answers are based only on assumptions. He says that humans are naturally moral beings, but to point to natural selection falls short. Morality puts others before the self whereas survival of the fittest demands the self before others.

The second argument Ruse presents is that morality is a matter of super-emotions. The reason I use "super-emotions" is because Ruse argues that though morality is emotional it must be more than emotion. Here Ruse is so incomprehensible it is hard to understand what he is saying. He begins by suggesting that morality is a lot like enjoying eating ice cream, having sex, and hating toothaches. However, it must be more than just a matter of emotions. Ruse rightly points out that If we thought that morality was no more than liking or not liking spinach, then pretty quickly it would break down. Ruse shows that when I am sick, I want others to take care of me. That is what I would like. But when others are sick, I can and should avoid putting myself out. There is nothing there for me.

See the problem? Ruse does. He notes that the trouble with this sort of approach to morality is that everyone would start saying this, and so very quickly there would be no morality and society would collapse and each and every one of us would suffer. Therefore, morality must appear to be objective, even though really it is subjective. Huh? In other words, humans must convince themselves that morality is something that it is not.

But that is not the real shaky ground on which Ruse's argument stands. To argue that morality is subjective is to argue that morality does not exist. Evolution demands, at best, a belief in subjective morality. Without God or any ultimate, transcending source of authority, then morality is subjective. All moral affirmations are relative. A society built on relativism can rationalize virtually anything on moral grounds. Even Ruse points out that lions are murders. What keeps us, from a relative, subjective perspective, from adopting such an animalistic approach to morality. In addition, in this one article Ruse makes moral arguments but is unable to defend them on any ground. For example:

we can give up all of that nonsense about women and gay people being inferior, about fertilised ova being human beings, and about the earth being ours to exploit and destroy.

These are moral issues. The belief in the different roles of men and women is a moral issue. The rejection or affirmation of homosexuality (or any other sexual lifestyle) is a moral issue. The conviction about the personhood and rights (or lack there-of) of a fertilized egg is a moral issue. And the call to protect the earth is a moral issue. Ruse writes as if these are objective morals. In other words, he simply assumes that we should all hold to homosexual rights, abortion rights, and environmental morality.

Ruse, without knowing it, offers his morality in an objective manner. If his morality was subjective then he would not be so compelled to lecture us at the beginning of his article about the morality of environmentalism, homosexuality, or abortion. Ruse admits that being a super-emotional matter, morality must only appear objective, but the way that Ruse writes (and in the interviews he has given) clearly his morality is more than subjective. Ruse wants us to affirm his morality which stands against everything he writes here.

Once again we are reminded of the foolishness of the atheistic worldview. The primary purpose of atheism, especially the New Atheism, is to remove God in order to indulge ourselves. As the saying goes, if God is dead, then everything is permissible. And the morality of "everything is permissible" is the real goal of atheism.

Dinesh D'Souza in his critique of the New Atheism titled, What So Great About Christianity?, makes this point. He writes:

As the statements of the two Huxleys suggest, the reason many atheists are drawn to deny God and especially the Christian God, is to avoid having to answer in the next life for their lack of moral restraint in this one. (266)

He then adds:

If God does not exist, the seven deadly sins are not terrors to be overcome but temptations to be enjoyed. Death, previously the justification for morality, now becomes a justification for immorality. (267)

D'Souza is right; atheism is a means to throw away morality, not embrace it. And when morality is relative or subjective, the root objective is to indulge our sexuality. D'Souza goes on to argue that in a secular worldview, the "orgasm" becomes the first sacrament followed by abortion. Certainly we need not look far for the truth of that statement.

Ruse is a reminder of the foolishness that atheism argues and why Christians should not be ashamed of their objective approach to morality. The existence of morality is proof of God, not of evolution. Life after death, punishment and reward are the byproducts of the fundamental truth that there is a God who is the author of right and wrong. To reject God is just a convenient way to undermine morality. But to embrace morality is to embrace an immutable God that demands our allegiance and obedience. And that is a message that naturalism cannot and will not embrace.

Ruse - God is dead. Long live morality: Morality is something fashioned by natural selection. That doesn't diminish its usefulness, or its comfort

For more:
Philip Johnson -Nihilism and the End of Law
Andrew Smiley at Uncommon Descent Blog - Is Michael Ruse Flogging a Dead Moral Horse?
Commentary -John Lennox: The New Atheism and the Gospel
Commentary -Must Conservatives Believe in God? The Role of God In Shaping Our Politics
Commentary -The Missing Gene and Ray Boltz: The Theistic Argument, Did God Make Him This Way?
Commentary -D'Souza: Are Atheists Cultural Christians
Commentary - What's the Difference? Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives: Morality
Commentary - Re: Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Commentary -Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Commentary -Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism
Commentary -The Atheist Debates
Commentary -Atheism Is Not Great - The D'Souza and Hitchens Debate
Review -"Atheism Remix" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Review -"The Delusion of Disbelief" by David Aikman
Review -"The End of Reason" by Ravi Zacharias
Review -"Friedrich Nietzsche" by George Burma
Review -What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza
Shortblog -The Conversion of Francis Collins
Shortblog -Darwin and Hitler. Are The Two Connected?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Where the Gospel and Politics Collide: Under God or Under Government?

It is safe to say that the religious community in America does not get along with the secular community. They can't. One sees God as the ultimate authority in life, politics, economics, morality, and truth. The other sees government and society as the ultimate authority in all areas of life. There is no reconciling these two competing worldviews. As Christians engage the public square, we must realize the fundamental difference between our view of politics grounded in the gospel and the secularist view of politics grounded in humanism, secularism, and relativism.

Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that phrases like "Under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on our currency does not constitute a government established religion. The case was brought form by Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow who has sued the government a number of times in the firm belief that such labels are a violation of the First Amendment.

For now, Christians should celebrate. The very fact that one of the most liberal court of appeals defended the constitutionality of such phrases is a sigh of relief, but the onslaught of such legal appeals will not end any time soon. Though one could argue that the argument made by the court is shaky and raises some concerns for Christians, we have much to celebrate.

At this point, however, we should be willing to sit back and ask ourselves why this is such a big deal to atheists and secularists like Michael Newdow. What's the big deal? One does not have to "trust" in God in order to use the money. Certainly Newdow have no problems spending their "In God We Trust" dollars on lawyers willing to sue the government. Why go through all of the trouble and make such a big deal?

The answer is not what it will accomplished but in what it implies. The phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was added in 1954 in the middle of the Cold War where Americans were contrasting their beliefs with that of the Communists. Communism is inherintly secular and atheistic. Belief in God is outlawed under communist rule and the Soviets were no different. By adding the phrase, America was making it clear that liberty and universal rights originated from God, not from government.

The historical background of the phrase should not be missed. Taking out such language in our Pledge or currency won't change our personal values, but its says volumes about the role of government and faith in our society. The Pledge is a constant reminder that our fundamental belief in human dignity, individual rights, and freedom are rooted in a firm belief in (to use the Founder's language) "Nature's God."

When a society sees God as the ultimate authority over the lives of each individual, then a freed society can be a reality. The Founder's placed emphasis on a Providential God because freedom would not be self-sustaining without it. Once God is removed as the ultimate authority in society, then society will go in one of two ways.

First, a society free from God will turn to anarchy. A good example of this would be ancient Israel during the time of the Judges. The writer of the Biblical book notes that during those days, the people were lawless because "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6).* Clearly, America is far from anarchy.

Secondly, a society free from God will turn to tyranny. When God is ignored and rejected, many societies will turn to government making man's law (build around relativism) the ultimate source of authority. When government is given the reigns of God, freedom becomes a dangerous commodity that must be taken away. As the founders once said, "a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have." And in a society that sees government as lord will gladly undermine their own personal liberty for the "common good."

Big government hates "inequality." By inequality, big government means unequal outcome. This is the current debate between conservatives and liberals in America. Conservatives believe in equal opportunity, but realize that this implies that there will be different outcomes. Liberals fight for equal outcomes meaning a distribution of freedoms and success.

Personal freedom is seen as a danger to society (and the government that runs it) when God is undermined. To speak out against the government in such a society is blasphemous. Therefore, the freedom of speech becomes illegal. To be guided by the morals of one's religion becomes a from of hate speech and hate crimes because it stands against the values of the government controlled society. Therefore, hate crimes become the law of the land.

Furthermore, when government determines morality, parents are not free to raise their children as they see fit. Instead, they must hand their children to government institutions (like school) to be raised on the values of society so that when they become adult citizens, they will be shaped by the values of society free from the bigotry of their parents.

To the Christian worldview, it is tempting to see the lawsuits brought forth by persons like Newdow as laughable and a waste of our time, but we should not write them off so carelessly. Secularist aren't just trying to take God out of the Pledge or our currency, but out of our society. To them, their longed for Utopia is impossible so long as religious zealots are free to spread their hateful doctrine. But to those of us who answer to God before government, freedom is not a commodity that can be taken, but a right given to us by God.

Christians must realize that when it comes to politics, there are two very different worldviews that show up in two very different ways. If God is ultimate, government is not. And in order to keep government out of God's domain, it must remain small. But if government is our highest authority, then it must be big. And as history has revealed, big government easily gives way to tyrannical government in the name of equality and compassion.

Following the farewell address of America's first President, George Washington, James Madison responded echoing Washington's firm belief that religion and morality were essential to a free society saying, "If individuals be not influenced by moral principles, it is in vain to look for public virtue." Madison and Washington were right. No God, no freedom.

* It should be pointed out here that Judges 17:6 mentions that since there was no king in Israel, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." However, it should be noted that the whole point of the book is to illustrate what happens when liberty is abused. When man turns to himself neglecting God, they become lawless and give in to their own depravity. God is the one that is abandoned in the book of Judges, not the king or the law. See Judges 2:12; 3:7.

For More:
Part 1 - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide: The Separation of State and Church
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - NewsNote: “In God We Trust” and “Under God” = “No Theological Impact?”
LA Times -Pledge of Allegiance's God reference now upheld by court