Friday, October 29, 2010

Is This the Dirtiest Campaign Season Ever?: Consider Circa 1800

The next time you think that this years campaigns have been the dirtiest in our history, consider the following video.  It seems in my experience that we think that every election cycle is worse than the one before it.  The following video shows us that the Presidential election of 1800 between then President John Adams and his challenger Thomas Jefferson was much dirtier than what we have today.  I would also point you to some of what was said during Andrew Jackson's second campaign for the Presidency. 

The folks over at provide the citations for each accusation quoted in the following video here

HT: First Thoughts 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Obama on the Daily Show

The talk of the town, at least in the news media and the blogging world, is President Barack Obama's appearance on the Daily Show with John Stewart last night.  Stewart is in Washington in preparation of his well-publicized rally with fellow Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert on Saturday.  Being that the President is no longer on the campaign trail for fellow Democrats and is essentially staying home, he swung by the temporary Daily Show studio in DC and did an interview for the entire show.

To offer my brief opinion on the issue, I find it interesting how much things have changed in two years.  Prior to his election to the Presidency, Obama was on Stewart's show and was treated like the Messiah. Now, however, he is being hammered with questions from his base.  Where's the love?  Perhaps the worst moment for the President is when he suggested that if he were running today knowing what he knows now, his slogan would be "Yes We Can, but . . ."  At that point the audience laughed, not at a joke, but at the President himself.  Ouch!

Anyways, here is the interview in its entirety.  When it comes to the end of one segment it will automatically begin the next segment for you.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 3
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

HT: The Right Scoop

For more:
Commentary - Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama the Messiah? 
Commentary - It Ain't Easy Being the Messiah:  Is Reality Finally Hitting America About the Messianism of Politicians? 
Commentary - Politics is Thicker Than Promises:  Lessons Learned From Obama and the Gay Community  
Commentary - What is to Be Our Response?:  Living As a Christian in an Obama Administration 
Commentary - The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes  
Commentary - Endowed By Who?:  President Obama and the Source of Liberty - A Gaff or a Statement? 
Shortblog - Fool Me Once, Shame on You.  Fool Me Twice . . .:  Obama Omits "Creator" Again
Commentary - Endowed By Who?:  Three Strikes and the President Is Out 

What's in a Name?: The Rise of Islam in Europe

Shocking news coming from Britian this week as the nation reveals its most popular names for new born babies.  Typically this is a story that raises no eyebrows and avoids partisan bickering and cultural dialogue.  But the past several years has forced the British to think seriously about issues of immigration, secularization, religious liberty, and the future of their nation.  Why?  Because according to reports, Mohammed (and the various spellings of the name) is now the most popular name given to newborns in Britain.

Surprising no doubt, but not so shocking considering last year the name was number 3 behind Harry and Jack and has been rising on the list for several years now.  But after a continual surge, Mohammed has finally taken the top spot with 7,549 newborn infants given the name in the past year.

Why this is significant should be obvious.  To begin, Britain has historically been a Christian nation, literally.  Britain is the home of the Church of England born in the 16th Century and prior to that she was purely Catholic.  The royal family to this day remains the Defender of the Faith; the title that the First Head of the Church of England gave Himself.

But times have changed however.  Though Queen Elizabeth accepts the title of the Defender of the Faith the current Prince Charles, the heir of the throne, has repeatedly suggested that when he becomes king he does not want to be known as the Defender of the Faith, but the Defender of Faith.  The difference is significant.  Instead of serving as the defender of the Christian faith, as a good secularists, Prince Charles wants to be known as a man who defends all faiths.

This development is significant.  Prince Charles' defense of generic faith resembles what has been going on in British culture.  Britain, like most in Europe, has endorsed secularism and the demise of secularism is predictable.  By definition, secularism undermines faith and religion thus leading to a devaluing of morals (especially when it comes to life, marriage, and religious liberty) and a self-centeredness that rob humans of the joy of marriage and family.  This is all predicable.  In a culture that kills its babies it is hard to defend the purpose and advantages of large families and reproduction.  In secular cultures, large families are considered a curse as they increase our carbon footprint (and thus are destroying the earth) and stand in contrast to the small and oftentimes non-existent families of secularists.

In England, the average "family" (perhaps we should say couple) may have 1 and sometimes 2 children.  In a secular society, children are annoyances and are considered "choices," instead of gifts.  Obviously this affects a culture's birth rate.  As a result, tax revenue decreases (because there are less tax payers) all the while government increases.  Secularism always leads to bigger government.

So what must a society do to balance the scales?  When children aren't being born, a society is forced to rely on immigration.  Enter Islam.  Muslims have been migrating to Europe for decades now.  However, instead of becoming secular Muslims, they have retained their deep religious convictions including their high birth rates.  The reason Mohammed is now the most popular male baby name in Britain is because Muslims are having on average 5 children while their secular counterparts next door may have 1 or two.  Clearly it doesn't take 50 years before a cultural and religious shift takes place.  The issue isn't faith, but simple math.

This all explains much of the news coming from Europe.  Many nations are now debating and passing laws that ban women from wearing a veil in public.  What is most fascinating about such laws in secular societies is that secularists claim to be tolerant and open and yet are quick to begin banning persons of faith from exercising their religious liberty.  Now I am not endorsing or condemning the actions being debate and/or taken by nations banning the burqa, but to highlight the problem with secularism.  It does not work and when people finally realize it, it is too late.  In addition to debates about clothing, there is a rising fear of radical Islam throughout Europe.  The fear isn't of outside terrorists, but homegrown terrorists born and raised in Europe who have turned against their own country.  Remember the riots in France a few years ago?r

It is tempting at this point to allow the great ocean separating Washington, DC and London to think this issue is their problem but not ours.  Let us not be so naive.  Like Europe, birth rates in America are dropping fast.  Our culture is just a few steps behind Europe.  We are adopting secularism and rejecting a fundamental belief in a Providential God as the author of our rights and laws.  We are killing our own children in the name of choice and are increasingly relying on immigration to fill in the gaps left behind from the murder of entire generations.  Finally, let us not forget that Islam is on the rise in America as well.  So though there is geographical distance between America and England, there is not much ideological and cultural difference between the two nations.

It is at this point we must embrace the necessity of a nation adopting a fundamental belief in God. Without a belief in God, the demise of secularism is only predictable.  At the same time Christians must understand the opportunity we have.  If Christians do what they have always done rooted in their understanding of the gospel, then Christianity could quickly turn around and be on the rise in spite of the rise of secularism in the broader culture.  There are two necessary things at this point:  reproduction and evangelism.

Prior to the ascension of Jesus, our Savior clearly called on Christians to take personal evangelism seriously.  Unfortunately, Christians have turned inwardly instead of outwardly.  As a result, Christians have done little to no evangelism.  We care more about how to be happy and how to balance our checkbooks than about how to reach the nations and our community for Christ.

The second  imperative is remaining faithful to a biblical and gospel-centered understanding of marriage and family.  It is time for Christians to take families more seriously and rejoice in the birth of children - many children - instead of being inwardly focus on ourselves.  Let also us take more seriously our pro-life stance by reproduce, welcoming life, and adopting.

So in America, let our most popular baby names not become Mohammed, but names like Elijah, David, John, Paul, Peter, Malachi, Luke, Timothy, and Moses.  Or at the very least maybe we can just stick with Ralph, Joe, Albert, and Jack. 

Daily Mail - Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry 
Albert Mohler - Europeans Awakening to the Islamic Threat? (originally published October 11, 2006)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Euthanasia on Demand?: The Swiss Begin the Conversation

Once a culture gets a taste of blood, it seems its thirst never runs dry.  A culture of death never seems to have enough.  It begins with birth control and moves on to abortion, Plan B pills, to eventually euthanasia for the terminally ill.  From there, once the slide from the right to die becomes the duty to die, a given culture, already entrenched in blood, begins to debate and slowly endorse infanticide and euthanasia on demand.

If you don't believe me then consider the debate beginning in Switzerland.  Euthanasia is not only legal, but is a growing business in the secular country.  Ludwig Minellie is the founder and owner of Dignitas which serves as a "clinic" where terminally ill patients can come, be given a lethal pill, and die "in peace."  Though labeled a clinic, it is really nothing more than a house of death where patients arrive, not to get well, but to die.  Shocking though it may sound that such a clinic exists, one should note that a similar place is "in business" already in the state of Oregon.

After years of being in business, like any other businessman, Minellie is looking to increase the bottom line.  Now, Minellie is proposing the Swiss pass a law that allows the partner of a terminally ill patient to pass away with their loved one as well.  Almost like a modern Romeo & Juliet, Minellie's proposal makes sense in a culture that continues to take steps encouraging its citizens to kill both their unborn abortions and their sick through assisted suicide.

This is not the first time we have seen this.  Last year an English couple committed suicide together by drinking a similar lethal poison.  The wife was terminally ill with cancer, but the husband was not.  By all accounts, the husband was perfectly healthy.  Due to the laws in England at the time, the couple could not commit suicide in their home country and so traveled to a nearby nation to die.  That nation was Switzerland.  Perhaps most haunting was the response of the children left behind of this elderly couple.  They supported and helped their parents die concluding, "even if they arrest us and send us to prison, it would have made no difference because it is what our parents wanted."

Can you guess where this couple died?  A "clinic" in Switzerland called Dignitas.

Admittedly, many argue that Minelli's proposal doesn't stand a chance becoming law.  But as the story of Sir Edward Downes and his wife Joan from England show, what Minelli is proposing isn't unprecedented.  Many have rightly pointed out that in every culture where assisted suicide is legalized and becomes the norm, the right to die always becomes the duty to die.  But it really goes beyond that.  The right to die isn't just applied to the terminally ill or those in serious pain and suffering.  Instead, this right becomes an open door for the depressed and the lonely.  As the story of the Downes' illustrated, the fear of losing a spouse after years of marriage is very strong.  The pain that accompanies burying one's spouse and living without them is great and it is not hard to understand why one would want to die "peaceably" with their mate.  Therefore, the right to choose to end one's life, can easily be applied beyond terminally ill patients.This is the problem with opening the door of assisted suicide.  Death becomes a positive adventure - a choice given to those who no longer wish to live.

So though Minelli may not get his wish for now, it wouldn't surprise me if countries like Switzerland do go down this path as well.  Why not?  They've already rationalized the "right" to die, so why deny euthanasia-on-demand as proposed by the likes of Minelli?

Again, the lust for blood is very strong in a culture that has forgotten God and denied humans of any dignity.  If we are mere animals, then death is meaningless and can easily become a commodity by which we could profit from.

It is imperative for Americans to wake up and become aware of the threat of assisted suicide.  America is currently debating various right to life issues and among them is euthanasia.  Already euthanasia is legal in several states - passed through the ballot box mind you - and it will not be long before this is more seriously debated and demanded by may in the broader culture.

At the same time, it is imperative for Christians to wake up.  Like all things, this is a gospel issue.  God is the Author and Creator of life.  He alone determines when we take our first and last breath.  Only God has the right to take life.  If life was worth the death of His own Son, then surely we ought to treat each other with the dignity we have been given by our Creator.  This means that we must defend the lives of the defenseless on both ends of life - conception and death.  At the same time, if we really do believe that all of life has dignity, let us take more seriously how the gospel applies to everyday issues including injustice, poverty, and evangelism.  There will never be a change in the direction of our country until we embrace and proclaim an undiluted gospel that glorified our Creator and the Author and Finisher of both our faith and our lives.  The gospel is more powerful and less fickle than the voting booth.

Isn't it ironic that a culture that denies human dignity and lobbies for death on demand would name its famous clinic of death Dignitas?

Daily Mail - Let the distraught partners of terminally ill who commit suicide die too, says Dignitas boss 
New York Post: With Help, Conductor and Wife Ended Lives (2009 article)
World Magazine Blog - Suicide in Switzerland (2009 article)

For more:
Commentary - On the Outside Looking In:  The Reality of the Right to Die in the West  
Commentary - Euthanasia: A Good Death?
Shortblog - Oregon House of the (Soon to Be) Dead  
Shortblog - Death is Cheaper:  Lessons Being Learned From Washington and Oregon 
Shortblog - Get Religion: The patriotic duty to die 
Commentary -  Colson: The March of Death
Commentary - Hitler Is Alive And Well: Repeating the Mistakes of the Past
Commentary - Colson: Deadly Trend
Commentary - The Lust For Blood: The Culture of Death and Infanticide
Commentary - "Freedom is Dead, And We are It's Murderers" - Nietzsche Was Almost Right
Commentary - Colson: What Would Darwin Advise?
Commentary - A Return to Rome: When Death Becomes Entertainment
Shortblog - Another Terry Schiavo Condemned to Death
Commentary - Mohler: The Death Culture Strikes Again
Commentary - Albert Mohler - The Death Culture Strikes Again
Commentary - Mohler: A Threat to the Disabled . . . and to Us All
Commentary - Mohler: The Rise of Infanticide?
Commentary -Colson: Thirty Pints of BloodWhere the Logic of The Culture of Death Will Take Us

Commentary - Albert Mohler: That Was Then . . . This is Now? A Nazi Nightmare

The above picture is of the dead bodies of Romeo & Juliet after their suicides.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Endowed By Who?: Three Strikes and the President is Out

Almost exactly a month ago, I wrote an article regarding the apparent "mistake" of President Barack Obama who omitted the phrase by their Creator from a major speech he gave before a congregation of Hispanic voters and supporters.  I say mistake because the White House assured us that the President failed to read his teleprompter verbatim and accidentally failed to quote the Declaration of Independence correctly which states:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  The President, however, stated to his audience:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal [pause], endowed with certain unalienable rights:  life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The akwardness of the speech at this point was noted by many.  As the official transcript notes as quoted above, when the President mentioned created equal he began to blink rapidly and paused for an odd period of time.  He then picked up where he left off and continued the quote omitting the phrase Creator.

The significance of this cannot be missed as I have already laid out.  To omit God as the source and originator of our rights is a serious issue.  If God does not, by nature, give us our rights (and thus only He can take them away) then that means that government grants us rights.  This is no small issue.  If government, the old saying goes, is big enough to give (in this case natural and civil rights) then it is big enough to take away.  And unfortunately we are seeing that today in many sectors.  While we push for the right for homosexuals to marry we at the same time seem to have no problem placing limits on speech, religion, or gun control.  This can only make sense if such rights originate from government and not God.  The Declaration identifies life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as our God-given, natural rights, not health care, marriage, and a job.

As significant as this is, one would think that the President would make sure not to make the same mistake again.  Well, as I noted shortly after my original post, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  Believe it or not, but the President, shortly after the first omission, did the same exact thing again.  At this point one must begin to wonder about the President's reading of the founding documents and his own political philosophy. 

But even then I am willing to cut the President some slack, but he has my full attention nonetheless.  Perhaps he is simply playing politics trying to reach a more secular crowd in the middle of a heated political season.  Though I still find it appalling, especially if he makes the omission purposefully, I still give him the benefit of the doubt. 

However, now the President has repeated himself now for a third time.  On October 18, in yet another speech, the President omitted Creator when quoting the Declaration of Independence.  He said:

As wonderful as the land is here in the United States, as much as we have been blessed by the bounty of this magnificent continent that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, what makes this place special is not something physical. It has to do with this idea that was started by 13 colonies that decided to throw off the yoke of an empire, and said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Now, it seems, is strike three.  When the issue was raised to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the secretary simply said, "I can assure you the president believes in the Declaration of Independence."  Gibbs seemed surprised and ignorant of the fact that now three times within a month the President of the United States as misquoted the Declaration of Independence.  And let us not forget that this same President considers himself a Constitutional expert who has read and studied the founding documents throughout his career and has written on them.  This is no rank amateur we are talking about here.

I am not one given to conspiracies, but I am struck by the pattern that I see here.  My concern isn't just that the President and his administration are either unable to copy and paste the Declaration when writing the President's speeches or simply reject the notion that rights come from God and not government, but perhaps what concerns me the most is that nobody, outside of the Christian community and some conservative websites is talking about this.  Have become so secular and narcissistic that we now believe that rights are gifts from governments and can be granted through legislation and voting?

Certainly as this pattern continues conservative and Christian groups will be monitoring the President more clearly.  Perhaps a robust discussion should be had in this contrary about Who is the author of our natural and civil rights?  If it is God then freedom is a possibility.  But if it is government, tyranny is just around the corner.

This language and concept makes sense to the Christian and should be espoused by the Christian.  For the gospel itself is a message of freedom and the gospel is solely the work of God.  As Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  And He has made us free indeed.  If American turns from God as the author of our rights and freedoms then She is turning down a dangerous and dark road taken by unfortunate men before us.  So long as God stands above our nation, freedom remains a possibility.  Remove God, and freedom remains a distant dream.

The Blaze - Obama Continues to Omit ‘Creator’ From Declaration of Independence 
White House - October 18, 2010 - Remarks by the President at a DSCC Dinner in Rockville, Maryland  
American Thinker - Obama omits 'Creator' from Declaration rights language again 

For more:
Commentary - Endowed By Who?:  President Obama and the Source of Liberty - A Gaff or a Statement? 
Shortblog - Fool Me Once, Shame on You.  Fool Me Twice . . .:  Obama Omits "Creator" Again 
Commentary - The Ongoing Conversation on Religious Liberty  
Commentary - Why I (Hesitantly) Signed the Manhattan Declaration 
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide: The Separation of State and Church  (Part 1)
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  Under God or Under Government? (Part 2)
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Necessity of Government in a Fallen World (Part 3)
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Birth of the American Concept of Separation of State and Church 
Commentary - Where Does the Madness End?:  Where the Homosexual Agenda Ends - Part 2
Commentary - What is to Be Our Response?:  Living As a Christian in an Obama Administration 
Commentary - The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mark Driscoll on Abortion

For fun, I thought I would post some videos from Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll on the subject of abortion.  Driscoll is very pro-life and the fact that he has had so much success in Seattle - one of the most unreached, secular cities in our nation - is simply phenomenal.  What I have fond interesting in Driscoll's approach is how he deals with issues exegetically and not just topically. 

One of the arguments Driscoll has made is the contradiction between being pro-woman and pro-choice.  How can one declare themselves to be in defense of women in this nation when statistically half of abortion are against female infants?  And let us not forget the one child policy in China which has led oto almost the extinction of women in China.

Though Driscoll does not get into it here, perhaps a brief word should be mentioned regarding his feelings regarding birth control and contraceptives.  Here I disagree with Dricoll.  In his book, Religion Saves, Driscoll makes the argument that birth control has the potential of being abortive and so counsels against using the pill (though not being a legalist does not say that Christians cannot exercise their freedom of conscience and use the pill).  Driscoll is not alone in this view.  Perhaps the most prominent voice in this area is author and pro-lifer Randy Alcorn.  I have to respectably disagree with Driscoll and Alcorn here.  As one who has studied the issue some, I simply do not find credible evidence that birth control is abortive.  Nonetheless, we both agree that life begins at conception and should be given the rights of all living citizens.

Although Driscoll makes the connection between abortion and election (in light of the text he is exegeting from Luke's Gospel and the conception and birth of John the Baptist) in this first video, I'm not as concerned about that theological issue (though I have my own conclusions on that issue).  My concern is what he says about abortion itself.

HT:  The Right Scoop

In the following two clips, Driscoll goes into more detail here.

For more:
Reviews - Doctrine by Mark Driscoll
Reviews - Death by Love  by Mark Driscoll
Reviews - Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll
Reviews - The Radical Reformation by Mark Driscoll
Reviews - Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll

Monday, October 18, 2010

Frozen Embryos and the Gospel: Is It Time to Consider Embryo Adoption?

The question of bioethics continues to be a challenge in our culture.  Everyday, new issues arise that force us to think seriously about the implications of our worldview and what ethical conclusions are best guidelines for our culture.  Ongoing medical and technological advances force us to go beyond abortion and euthanasia but also to consider issues like cloning, infertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization, embryonic and adult stem-cell research, genetic testing, chimeras, and many other countless ethical and moral issues.

A few months ago, the world of biotechnology forced the world to heighten its ongoing debate regarding frozen embryos.  An unnamed 42-year old woman recently gave birth to an embryo that had been frozen for 20 years setting a new record for the oldest baby born.  The mother adopted the embryo that had been created by another couple that created multiple embryo's as they went through in-vitro fertilization treatments.  When that couple had successful with other embryos and unwilling to birth their other frozen embryonic-children, they simply allowed the clinic to put the remaining embryos up for adoption for similar couples struggling with infertility (or we might add feminists and lesbians unwilling to conceive the more traditional way).

This all means that the boy born in May of this year has a full-blooded sibling conceived at about the same time as he was, but technically, 20 years older than him.

The issue of frozen embryos is a serious issues that needs to be taken more seriously.  In a culture that considers the embryo a commodity or as "potential" life, such barracks of unplanted embryos is not that big of a deal.  But to those who consider an embryo to be human life ought to be shocked to think that humans are literally being frozen in time.  How Western nations have legally responded to this issue makes it only more frightening.  According to new British Laws, a frozen embryo cannot be stored for more than 55 years.  Thus, the far majority of embryo's (read:  human life) is either destroyed (I'm guessing to make more room for other frozen embryos) or donated for research (in which the embryo will be destroyed).  Either way, human life becomes an experiment or a second-thought.  The world in which we live in is a frightening thought.

At this point perhaps we should begin discussing how Christians ought to respond.  With anger?  Rightly so.  With concern?  How could we not?  With a call to action in defense of innocent human life being stored and oftentimes destroyed?  No doubt.  But is it not time for us to consider, especially as Christians, another option in addition to each of these?  If we are truly pro-life and want to defend the lives of those not given the chance of life and oftentimes encourage scared mothers to give their children up for adoption at birth, perhaps it is time for Christians to more seriously consider embryo adoption.

Unfortunately most Christians have not given this any thought.  With millions of experimental frozen lives sitting on shelves soon to be destroyed, how can we not intervene?  And while we continue to fight for their life through cultural debate and legislative action, why don't we also focus on something more powerful:  the gospel and adoption.  Christians are grounded in the gospel.  We are redeemed and have our faith, hope, and identity in the gospel.  The gospel ought to be everything in our lives.  All that we say, do, believe, and fight for ought to be driven by that fundamental doctrine of the gospel  So why not apply the gospel to a world that considers human life to be nothing more than an experiment or a commodity?

So what does the gospel have to do with frozen embryos and embryo adoption?  Everything.  The gospel begins with God's holiness and our depravity.  The gospel humbles us and exalts our Father.  Our God is bigger than the pockets we try to fit Him in.  At the same time, we are rebels.  We have spit in God's eye (so to speak).  However, in spite of such angry vitriol against our Creator, God has not only loved us, but has offered His love through the sacrificial gift of His Son.  And through the cross and resurrection, we are not just given a clean slate, but declared and made righteous and adopted as sons of God - heirs with Christ.

Adoption is central to the gospel.

How can we who have been adopted by God not give serious consideration to the adoption of others?  Certainly there are serious issues and questions to raise and consider prior to making a decision to adopt either an already born child, a soon-to-be born child, or a frozen embryo, but I believe it is time for Christians to take this more seriously.  At the same time, it is necessary for Christians to see that the gospel goes beyond walking the aisle but has real-life implications.  Do we see the gospel in the lives of the unwanted and the frozen?  In our confused world, Christians must respond with more than just legislative action, but with gospel evangelism and gospel-saturated action.  Until we go beyond the voting booth, the many ethical and moral issues we face today will not go away.  It is time for Christians to do more than just vote and debate.  It is time we act.  It is time we do what God has done for us:  show mercy, love the stranger, liberate, redeem, and yes, adopt.

Telegraph - Baby born from embryo frozen 20 years ago 
My Fox NY - Baby Born From Embryo Frozen For 20 Years 

For more:
Commentary - The Challenge of Frozen Embryos:  South Korea Undefines Human Life  
Commentary - Whose the Daddy?:  Biological Truth and Moral Ideology 
Commentary - "No We Won't":  Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Harris on the Science of Morality: Nice Try But No Cigar

The following video comes from the Daily Show with John Stewart an dis of the interview he gave to New Atheist leader Sam Harris.  Harris is about to release his newest book, The Moral Landscape, where he tries to make a scientific argument for morality.  To sum up the interview and the argument he makes here:  nice try, but no cigar.

This is one of the biggest challenges to scientism that tries to explain everything through science.  Morality does not make sense in an evolutionary mindset.  Perhaps some acts of morality could be relegated to the survival and the survival of the fittest.  However, nothing explains me willingly arriving late to a meeting because I helped a stranger on the side of the street change their tire.  Evolution cannot explain why moral acts like submission, sacrifice, or unrewarded service.  Evolution assumes that all that we do is for our selfish benefit.  Morality, however, makes the opposite case.  Morality by nature is giving up our selfish rights in favor of a higher and transcendent value.

In the video, Harris makes the argument that the Ten Commandments could be improved upon in five minutes, however it is no secret that many atheist (and even theist for that matter) have no problem committing adultery or coveting their neighbors new HD TV.  Improving them, and by that he means make them more strict and moral in his mind, can easily be done.  The problem isn't make the Ten Commandments tougher to keep, but keeping them as they are.

Though I haven't read the book yet if the following video says anything about the book it says that science remains short handed here.  Stewart even asks Harris to essentially turn morality into a mathematical equation and Harris is left stumped.  And though Stewart meant it as a joke, his point is well taken.  If science can make the claim that there is a transcendent morality rooted in our selfish genes, then something like a mathematical equation will be needed.  How scientifically, as opposed to theologically or philosophically, morality and ethics are determined remains an impossibility.

It is at this point we must go back to the argument brilliantly put forth by CS Lewis.  Harris and other atheist complain about how unjust the God of the Bible is in the Old Testament and how angry, wrathful, and vindictive He must be to pour His wrath out on His dying son.  But one must wonder, where do words like just and unjust come from?  On what basis morally can we condemn God or anyone?  Where did such ideas that come off of our tongues naturally originate?  It is this question that science still cannot answer.  Without an adequate answer, science remains limited to the observations of a microscope.

It is here we must return to the limits of science and the need for metaphysical studies like theology and philosophy.  Say for example there is water boiling on my stove.  You might ask me why the water was boiling and if I were a scientist bent on given a scientific explanation to everything, like Harris, then I would say something about water, heat, and molecules.  But ask my wife the same question and she would simply say, "I want some tea."*  Here we see that science cannot explain the motivation or even the reason why.  The how perhaps, but the why it is lacking.

Therefore, we must at this point admit the limits of science and the necessity of theology.  Being moral creatures we must admit that there must be a moral Law Giver who has created us with a moral soul.  And to such a Law Giver we give the title of God.

Nice try Dr. Harris, but no cigar.

*  This example is taken from Dinesh D'Souza's wonderful book What's So Great About Christianity? 

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sam Harris
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

For more:
Commentary - Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and 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 - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?  The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality (Part 2)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  The Way Forward is Backwards - Cave Men and the Return to Amoral Sexuality (Part 3)
Commentary -  Is What is Natural Moral?:  Monogamy and What Jealousy Says About Naturalism  (Part 4)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  My Genes Made Me Do It - The Question of Free Will (Part 5)

Is What is Natural Moral?: My Genes Made Me Do It - The Question of Free Will - Part 5

Do we have free will?  That is a question that has stumped many theologians and philosophers for centuries.  The debate is unending and always seems to turn on the same old question (and not to sound like Bill Clinton):  it all depends on what your meaning of "free will" is.  For theologians, it all comes down to such issues as Theology Proper and God's continual role in His creation, anthropology and human nature, harmitology and the our corruption selves, and soteriology and the role salvation plays in righteousness.  Philosophically, the issue turns on other hands, but at the end of the day, the debate remains - are we free.  Are humans responsible for their actions?  Are they morally culpable for the decisions they make?  Pelgians believe we are completely free while hyper-Calvinists believe we are more like robots.  And there are countless beliefs in between.  So what's the answer?

What has traditionally been a metaphysical debate has now become a scientific one.  Since the birth of evolution in the modern world (after the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species) many have tried to take the "science" of evolution and try to make metaphysical assumptions.  In other words, they are trying to scientifically solve theological and philosophical debates.  Thus the arrogance of scientism.

Naturalism continues to try this in various areas of life.  Take morality for example.  Rejecting any Divine Lawgiver, evolution pushes for a relativistic understanding of morality.  Since there is no real foundation for morality under the worldview of naturalism, morality then becomes a debatable subject without any real transcendence.

But what about free will?  Science claims to have an answer based on the implications of evolution.  Evolution is built on the survival of the fittest.  Therefore, we are subject to our genes.  We are animals who act out of our natural, animal instinct to survive and procreate.  Thus, free will is an illusion.  We are merely animals acting out of instinct.  When we are wronged, we fight back.  When we get hungry we eat.  When we feel to need to reproduce, we have sex.  We, therefore, are subject to our nature, our genes, our animal instincts.

In a nation that prides itself on freedom, this is a hard charge to accept.  Taken to its logical end, one must admit that the naturalists may be on to something here.  If we are merely animals, then everything we do, say, believe, and act are merely the outworking of our natural instincts.

If you think about it long enough, this does seem to be the direction we are heading.  Instead of criminals, drug addicts, or terrorists, we have victims.  Instead of punishing criminals, we rehabilitate them because they are sick.  We re-educate those who have broken laws because clearly there is something wrong with them.  Its not that they are morally corrupt or greedy, but genetically, physically, psychologically, or socially sick.

At the same time, many defend the morality of a lifestyle based on "orientation."  The argument about sexual orientation (namely homosexuality) is based on this point.  If there is a gay gene, then homosexuality is not morally wrong but a natural and civil right.  We cannot deny who we really are, thus we must live and endorse the actions we take driven by our genes.

It seems, at least for many in the scientific world, that free will, then, is an illusion.

Take the recent argument set forth by neuroscientist Professor Patrick Haggard who makes the argument that free will is a farce.  In a recent interview published in The Telegraph, the professor puts forth his proof that we are not free but instead robots.  The article begins:

For a man who thinks he's a robot, Professor Patrick Haggard is remarkably cheerful about it. "We certainly don't have free will," says the leading British neuroscientist. "Not in the sense we think." It's quite a way to start an interview. 
We're in the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, in Queen Square in London, the nerve centre – if you will – of British brain research. Prof Haggard is demonstrating "transcranial magnetic stimulation", a technique that uses magnetic coils to affect one's brain, and then to control the body. One of his research assistants, Christina Fuentes, is holding a loop-shaped paddle next to his head, moving it fractionally. "If we get it right, it might cause something." She presses a switch, and the coil activates with a click. Prof Haggard's hand twitches. "It's not me doing that," he assures me, "it's her."

The story goes on to record multiple robotic actions forced upon the professor through the transcranial magnetic stimulation.  Though the article admits that the machinery can't force Prof Haggard to do anything really complicated, the demonstration proves the mind can be controlled apart from our free will.  Personally I am surprised by the simplicity and the sophomoric argument being presented here.  The fact that when a doctor hits my knee with his little hammer and my leg moves has nothing to do with my free will.  When one speaks of free will, they are not necessarily suggesting that what we will, will happens.  I once jumped off a friend's roof willing that I would fly.  It didn't happen.  Is it because I don't have free will?  No.  It means that gravity's will is stronger than mine.

However, the article continues to make the bold assertion that the professors demonstration suggest that we are merely robots able to be controlled by a third party.

The idea that our bodies can be controlled by an outside force is a pretty astonishing one. "This is absolutely out of my control," insists Prof Haggard, as his muscles continue to move. "I'm not doing it, Christina is. I'm just a machine, and she is operating me." 

What does this mean in terms of free will? "We don't have free will, in the spiritual sense. What you're seeing is the last output stage of a machine. There are lots of things that happen before this stage – plans, goals, learning – and those are the reasons we do more interesting things than just waggle fingers. But there's no ghost in the machine." 

The conclusions are shocking: if we are part of the universe, and obey its laws, it's hard to see where free will comes into it. What we think of as freedom, he says, is a product of complexity. "An amoeba has one input, one output. If you touch it with one chemical, it engulfs it; with another, it recoils.

This raises a number of concerns.  If we are merely a more complicated version of an amoeba, then what does that say about human nature, justice, law, and morality?  The Telegraph notes:

Slowly, however, we are learning more about the details of that complexity. This, Prof Haggard says, has profound implications: philosophically, morally, and – most worryingly – legally. "We understand what brain areas are responsible for impulsive behaviour, and which bits are responsible for inhibiting that behaviour. There's a whole brain network associated with holding back from things you shouldn't do. 

"What happens if someone commits a crime, and it turns out that there's a lesion in that brain area? Is that person responsible? Is the damage to the machine sufficient for us to exempt them from that very basic human idea that we are responsible for our actions? I don't know." He refers to a major project in America, where "lawyers, neuroscientists, philosophers and psychiatrists are all trying to work out what impact brain science has on our socio-legal sense of responsibility".

This runs shockingly contrary to the sense of freedom that we feel in terms of controlling our actions, on which we base our whole sense of self and system of morality. "As far as I know," says Prof Haggard, "all societies hold individuals responsible for their actions. Even in animal societies, individuals have reputations. Non-human primates adjust their behaviour according to how other animals will respond. Junior males will not steal from older males, because they know they'll get beaten up. That's the beginning of social responsibility; the awareness that your behaviour has effects on the behaviour of others, and can have good or bad consequences.

You can see his argument and the danger it presents.  Not only does the science of determinism undermine transcendent morality, but it undermines the purpose of laws and the meaning of justice, innocence, and crime.  If one lashes out in anger in violence, is it wrong or is he acting out of his natural instinct?  If so, then should we empty our jails and replace them with hospitals?  Should we be disappointed and even angry if our spouse cheats on us?  Was the act of infidelity just the result of natural determinism?  Does infidelity even have meaning anymore?

The Christian worldview is quit different.  Where scientism and naturalism diminishes humanity to the level of primates and the animal kingdom, the gospel sanctifies humanity with morality, and the ability to rebel or obey.   Christianity affirms human responsibility and yet at the same time holds the view that God is completely and totally sovereign over everything at all times.  These two ideas are not contradictory, but compatible.  The argument presented by the professor suggests that what is natural is moral thus turning us into slaves - slaves of our genes.  The gospel, then, is a liberating truth that frees us from corruption and depravity.  Christian theology affirms human depravity as the result of our inherited nature (called Original Sin).  We are subject to sin.  We are driven towards rebellion.  Our genes and our very nature do lead us down the road to depravity.  That is the beauty of the cross.  The cross breaks the chains of sin and liberates us to be slaves of Christ.  Depravity is replaced with righteousness.  Bondage is replaced with a redeemer who sets us free.

It is at this point we must choose directions.  Choose the implications of evolution and choose bondage.  Then again, choice in this case is an illusion.  If evolution is true, then you do not choose evolution, evolution chooses you.  Or choose life.  Choose the gospel.  Choose freedom.  Not a false freedom that is really slavery, but a true freedom that frees us from the bondage of nature and the bondage of religion.  Choose Christ and you will be free indeed.

Telegraph - Neuroscience, Free Will and Determinism:  "I'm Just a Machine" - Our Bodies Can Be Controlled By Outside Forces in the Universe Discovers Tom Chivers. So Where Does that Leave Free Will?

For more:
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?  The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality (Part 2)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  The Way Forward is Backwards - Cave Men and the Return to Amoral Sexuality (Part 3)
Commentary -  Is What is Natural Moral?:  Monogamy and What Jealousy Says About Naturalism  (Part 4)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Glenn Beck on Fabian Socialism

Say what you want about Fox News host Glenn Beck, but no one is doing what he is doing and getting the ratings he is getting.  His love for history and how it applies to our lives today is something that needs to be more appreciated among Americans.  In order to avoid mistakes in the present and future we must study the mistakes of the past.  The same patterns we saw back then are repeating themselves today.  The following clip is from a few days ago regarding socialism, but not Soviet communism, African socialism, or fascism, but socialism of a different type.  What I like about the following clip is how Beck connects this worldview with what we see today in issues such as politics, policy, abortion, euthanasia, etc.  Even if you disagree with Beck on this subject, what he proposes should be taken seriously.  So instead of writing him off as a quack (and I don't agree with everything certainly), let us at least see if what he says is accurate, true, plausable and reasonable and regarding the following clip, I think what he presents is an argument we need to take seriously and make sure we don't down this road again like so many others.

For more:
Commentary - "Its a Human Problem:  What the History of Slavery Can Teach Us About Ourselves 
Commentary - Doomed to Repeat: Lessons We Must Learn Again - Part 1
Commentary - Doomed to Repeat:  Lessons We Must Learn Again - Part 2
Commentary - God and the Pledge:  A History and Its Affects
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel
Commentary - Who Isn't One?:  McLaren and Social Christians  
Shortblog - Beck and D'Souza on Obama and Anticolonialism 
Shortblog - Where are They Now?:  Glenn Beck on Radicals and the Weather Underground 
Shortblog - An Oil Spill Timeline 

Shortblog - Shortblog - Let's Party Like Its 1932?
Shortblog - Let's Party Like its 1932 - Part 2 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is Marriage a Curse or a Covenant?: The Deterioration of Marriage and a Return to Its Gospel Roots

The crumbling of marriage began to happen long before we started to seriously debate homosexuality.  When it began exactly is a matter of debate, but one cannot deny the affect of our divorce culture has had on the sanctity and place of marriage in society.  My generation could be called the divorce generation.  Not that we were prone towards divorce but where the victims of it.  We are the generation that watched mom and dad fight over everything, break up, split, and put us in the middle of it.  Before we talk about homosexuality, let us talk about divorce.

In the evolution - or destruction - of marriage since the rise of progressiveness in America, marriage has gone from an eternal covenant to a contract with clauses, to a discarded certificate , to now a curse.  Unfortunately my generation has been forced to make a choice:  choose marriage or reject it.  Since marriage is no longer considered a lovely covenant, but a curse most are choosing co-habitation.  Why would anyone put their own children through the pains of divorce when co-habitation is a no longer controversial and contraceptives give the couple the power over nature?

According to the Wall Street Journal, most couples are simply living together instead of getting married.  They report:

For the first time since the U.S. began tallying marriages, more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot, the culmination of a tectonic shift in the role of marriage and relationships that began in the 1960s.

High divorce rates, rising co-habitation and a tendency to delay marriage are main factors.
Marriage rates among young adults have been dropping for decades. But data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau show that for the first time the proportion of people between the ages of 25 and 34 who have never been married exceeded those who were married in 2009—46.3% versus 44.9%, according to an analysis by Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a non-profit research organization in Washington.

The remainder is a mix of those who have lost spouses and divorcees, who if combined with the unmarried group tilt the balance even further.

The future of marriage looks rather bleak.  Again, before we discuss homosexual marriage, let us deal with the deteriorating reality of heterosexual divorce.  As marriage lies on its death bed many, even among Christians, have pictured marriage in ways that don't seem real.  We've redefined love as being purely emotional infatuation instead of unconditional.  As a result, life-long monogamy is increasingly becoming a myth while serial monogamy and polyamory is on the rise.

It is time for a more comprehensive understanding of what love and marriage is.  As Christians it is time for us to uncover what marriage was and ought to be.  Marriage is more than a contract or a certificate, but an unconditional covenant made between two persons before God that reflects the work of Christ on the cross.  Unless Christians uncover the meaning and purpose of marriage, marriage will die.  The recovery begins in our churches.  Unless we show the value and benefit of marriage our culture will only continue to spiral down towards viewing marriage as a curse.

Marriage is a picture of the gospel.  The gospel reconciles the creature with the Creator.  The gospel is about love - real love as seen most clearly in the cross.  The gospel is unconditional, centered on grace and forgiveness - not because it is deserved but because love conquers a multitude of sins.  The gospel never fails.  Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).  We are called to love as Christ loved:  sacrificially, as servants, selflessly, and submissively (see Ephesians 5:22ff).

At every wedding I perform I always try to make this clear.  Our marriages are to be "til death do us part" because the gospel is eternal in the same way.  If marriage is a picture of the gospel, what are we saying about the gospel when we split and break apart?  If God has loved us with an everlasting love, why don't we love each other in the same way?

At the end of the day, then, perhaps of focusing so much on marriage, perhaps we Christians need to focus more on the gospel.  The gospel is by nature built on selflessness, servanthood, submission, and perseverance through suffering, and sacrifice.  The gospel is rooted in the cross where love, sacrifice, and a suffering endurance where put on display.  And it is at the resurrection that tragedy leads to hope and promise.  The gospel doesn't end with the cross, but with the resurrection.  So too, even when our marriage struggle and suffer, perseverance, rooted in the gospel, is worth it.  Only a gospel-centered marriage can make it beyond life's difficulties.  Only gospel-centered marriage makes sense of the world.

Marriage is deteriorating before our very eyes and for good reason.  Our understanding of what marriage is and what purpose it serves is on shaky ground.  Unless we recover the gospel as the core and purpose of marriage, marriage will become a thing of the past - an extinct creature lost in our societies evolution of progression.

When my young toddler watches the marriage of his parents does he see evidence of the power of the gospel?  Or does he see a curse?  When the culture stares at our marriage do they see a curse?  Or do they see the gospel?  If they do not see the gospel, then they do not see marriage.

Unless a consonantal understanding of marriage centered on the gospel marriage will only continue to deteriorate.  But if the church would begin to take its faith more seriously, there remains hope.  The gospel always promises hope.

Wall Street Journal - New Vow:  I Don't Take Thee - Young Single Adults Surpass Married Peers Amid High Divorce, Cohabitation Rates 
Boundless Online - More Emerging Adults Single Than Married
Boundless Webzine - Myths About Living Together  

For More:
Commentary - If Your Happy and You Know It, Thank Your Family?  
Commentary - A Seven Year Itch?:  Recovering Marriage in a Culture That Took It Out of Its Vocabulary - Part 1 
Commentary - Commitment?  What's That?  Recovering Marriage in a Culture That Took It Out of Its Vocabulary - Part 2 
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Monogamy and What Jealousy Says About Naturalism
Commentary - Do You Part A Take Party B:  California Redefines Redefinition  
Commentary - Polygamy in the Mainstream:  The Slippery Slope in Full Effect  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In Outrage Remember the Gospel: Responding to Blasphemous "Art"

This has been an interesting summer.  From the proposed building of a Islamic Center near Ground Zero in New York City to the threat to burn Korans by a small country church pastor in Florida, this has been an interesting summer.  The debate has been fairly consistent.  No one is questioning the freedom of such decisions, but the wisdom. The outcome of these two heated debates have not been so consistent.  The Mosque is still going to be built while the pastor decided not to burn the Korans on what he called International Burn a Koran Day.

Debates over wisdom and taste have come center stage on a number of occasions this summer and one must wonder if Americans have gotten the message.  In the public debates where religion and taste collide, it seems the controversial pastor lost while the controversial imam won.  The story, at least for the imam, isn't over yet as he still needs to raise enough money while many continue to protest the mosques building.

However, in all of this, both sides have made one major mistake.  Such debates could have been avoided if the controversy was labeled "Art."  For years now, some of the most vile and despicable acts of creativity have been given a pass and in fact celebrated all in the name of art and free speech.  It seems that freedom has its limits when it comes to religious expression, but when it comes to art, all limits are removed.  Such examples are numerous and I will not discuss them here, but consider the following from Loveland, Colorado.

In a ten artist art exhibit called "The Legend of Bud Shark and His Indelible Ink" Stanford University Professor Enrique Chagova offered a lithograph depicting Jesus Christ receiving oral sex from another man.  The "work" is titled "The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals."  Perhaps most appalling (as if that wasn't enough) is the fact that the exhibit is funded by tax dollars.  In other words, the citizens of Loveland are paying for this exhibit, including many (rightfully) offended Christians and those with a heart.

Chagova, it seems, is rather surprised by the outrage by many.  According to reports, Chagova responded to the controversy by saying, "My intentions are not to offend anybody . . . The main intention of my work is to express my personal concerns about religious institutions, not about the actual religious beliefs, which I respect."  The report goes on to note:

Chagoya said the part of his work that critics find objectionable is part of his statement on problems he sees with religious institutions, including the sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic church.

"I really respect people's beliefs," Chagoya said. "I just hope they respect mine."

Really? The best way to respond - the most tasteful way to respond - to the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church was to depict their Savior engaging in homosexuality?

But perhaps the confusion from the professor is understandable since few have raised their eyebrows over the debased "art" promoted by many in the elite of our culture.  Some are calling it pornography, I call it hypocrisy.  It seems that when it comes to art, nothing is off limits and everything is encouraged.  I should know because my wife is an art major and whenever I surveyed her work along with the work of her peers while in college, I was forced to hold my tongue and guard my eyes.  When it comes to art, expression is free from accusations of taste and wisdom. After all, those who bark against such expressions are considered too foolish and empty-headed to understand art and what the artist is expressing.

If burning Korans is distasteful and unwise especially to Muslims - even though modern technology can quickly replace them from hundreds of various publishing houses in many different languages - then certainly the blasphemy being funded by public money is distasteful and unwise.  Shouldn't all forms of religion be kept out of a publicaly funded project?  What about the precious separation of State and Church?

Fortunately I am not alone in my outrage.  Local citizens have protested the exhibit and perhaps the strongest protest would come from refusing to participate in the exhibit, but then again, when something is funded by tax payer dollars, "success" isn't measured by public approval or the bottom line.

But perhaps we should note something here.  Something regarding the clash of civilizations; the clash of two of the world's major religions and how they respond to blasphemy.  The imam behind the infamous mosque near Ground Zero has warned that to not build the mosque would embolden the Islamic world to be more violent.  Therefore, he reasons, it would be better for America to go ahead with the building of the mosque less more Americans be put in danger.  Such a comment makes me wonder if the imam is encouraging violence by fellow Muslims or is he simply stating what we already know.  If we build, perhaps we are in danger.  If we don't, we will be in danger.  Either way, we'll be in danger.

In Florida, many warned the pastor about his planned Koran burning that such an act would only embolden the terrorists and other radical Muslims in the Islamic world to do more violence against Americans.  The pastor was warned that by exercising his liberty he would put thousands of troops and innocent citizens in danger.  The fear of the Islamic world became a motivation for many to call on the church to halt their plans including some of the most powerful persons in the US government.

Compare that to the reaction to the insensitive art exhibit among Christians.  No fear of violence, just verbal frustration from those with a heart.  Christians have not called for the death of the professor (unlike those who called for the death of a Danish-cartoonist that depicted Muhammad in a negative way) but a reconsidering of what he has done.  What he has done isn't art, its publicly funded pornography wherein the world's largest religion is offended in an unthinkable way.

All of this is not to suggest that all Muslims are terrorists or that all Christians are pacifists.  Instead, it is a reminder of the difference between the two theologies.  Islam is a legalistic religion founded on a political ideology.  One cannot deny how closely Muhammad's theology and his politics were related.  Christianity, on the other hand, is not a religion of politics or legalism, though it does have political and moral implications, but of the gospel.  Instead of violence, the gospel promotes sacrifice and suffering.

It is here that we must be reminded of the gospel.  Christians must not act surprised when a secular, lost world does sinful, debased things.  Sinners sin.  The debased are debase.  This doesn't mean that as Christians sin or irrationality should be excused or permitted, but to be expected.  No Christian should ever be surprised.  In a secular world, such insensitive art makes sense.  In a world where what is most shocking is most creative, this makes sense.  But the gospel response is different.  Instead of just raising our voices, we ought to be clearly articulating the gospel and who the Savior really is.  It is tempting to simply respond in outrage pointing out the cultural hypocrisy here.  Certainly it is warranted and I have laid that out here.  But at the end of the day, Christians must do more than just complain and act offended, they must be reminded of their Savior who suffered under worse persecutions and verbal attacks all the while presented to them the gospel climaxing at the cross.  We must not forget the gospel.

Whenever we act as if we are the center of the universe our response to such things is wrong.  But the minute we remember that God is the center and Creator of the universe, and thus we are called to obey and serve Him above everything else, we must remember how He dealt with such things.  Love.  Patience.  Concern.  Gospel.  Will we preach religion, or will we preach Christ?  Whether Christianity is being depicted in blasphemous ways or the world falls on its knees and repent before God, the response should always be the same.  Gospel.  Certainly outrage is reasonable and right, but let our outrage be kindled with the gospel.  Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  We have a crucified Christ publicly shamed, mocked, and debased.  And for that, we have hope.  The Savior died in our place for our sins.

If He did that for us, He has done that for even those who would depict Him in ways that only an artist can get away with.  Let us not forget that.  The prophet requested of God, "in wrath remember mercy" (Habbakuk 3:2).  In the same way, let us have a similar response.  In outrage, remember the gospel.  Anger without gospel is religion.  Apathy apart from the gospel is antinomianism.  Remember the gospel.

CT Post - Flap over Colo. museum exhibit surprises artist 
The Blaze - Museum Exhibit Portrays Jesus in Porn Pose 
OneNewsNow - Anti-Christian 'art' display challenged 

For more:
Commentary - To Burn or Not to Burn, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Koran Burning Debate? 
Commentary - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Ground Zero Debate? 
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

"The Reformer": Christianity Today Does Exposé on Albert Mohler

As a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I found the long article in the latest issue of Christianity Today on the President of the institution, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.  For a magazine article, the author manages to cover many of the major issues in the life and ministry of Dr. Mohler and discuss his massive influence on the culture, evangelicalism, and the Southern Baptist Convention.  I believe that history will consider Dr. Mohler one of the most important Christians of the late 20th, early 21st century.

What Mohler has accomplished at Southern Seminary is nothing short of remarkable.  Anyone else would have given up through the process of reforming an institution like Southern.  SBTS is the mother seminary of the Southern Baptist Church and through Mohler's leadership, SBTS moved from being a more moderate/liberal institution that openly encouraged and promoted heresy to an institution standing as the flagship of conservative, Reformed evangelicalism.  The significance of such an event cannot and should not be ignored.  It is rare that institutions like seminaries or denominations shift from conservative and orthodox to moderate and liberal back to conservative and orthodox.  Mohler accomplished such a rare achievement.

I encourage you, then, to read the long article published in the latest addition of Christianity Today.  Interestingly, one of Mohler's heroes, the late Dr. Carl F. Henry, was one of the original editors and leaders of Christianity Today.    It was Dr. Henry that forced Mohler to reconsider some of his theological and exegetical beliefs.  Such discipleship from one of America's greatest thinkers has changed the face of American evangelicalism.

Christianity Today - The Reformer