Saturday, February 26, 2011

Repost Friday | Polygamy in the Mainstream: The Slippery Slope In Full Effect

See, I told you so.  In previous posts, we have discussed how in a postmodern culture any attempt to redefine what is already considered a relative term or institution never gets a final definition.  Marriage is one of those institutions in which our postmodern culture is unable to come to a final definition.  We are all aware of the ongoing battle over same-sex marriage and the circular arguments presented on both sides.  One of the real dangers that is often considered foolish and misguided made by proponents of traditional marriage is the slippery slope argument.

The argument basically goes that once marriage is redefined to include something new (in this case homosexuality) then there is no end to where the redefinition of marriage will end up.  In other words, homosexuality is just the crack in the door that will lead to other sexual lifestyles into the forefront who will then fight for their own rights for marriage.  This argument has been made many times before and time after time it gets shut down by the culture under the argument, "that'll never happen."

But all one has to do is survey the institution of marriage just in the past 100 years.  At the turn of the 20th Century very few marriages ended in divorce and those that did were considered shameful.  Divorces were rare in the early to mid 20th Century but over the decades, divorce became more common and now half of all marriages (including among Christians) end in the pain of divorce.  Eventually society just accepted it and marriage became legally easier to get out of especially through no-fault divorce laws available throughout the nation.

It seemed that marriage, in a way, was redefined.  Maybe not between the sexes but into its nature.  Marriage went from a covenant to a contract to now a certificate.  A covenantal marriage is characterized by lifelong, unconditional, eternal love between two persons (of the opposite sex I should add).  When marriage is considered to be a covenant between a couple made before God marriages are taken more seriously.  Contractual marriages, on the other hand, when necessary will always look for ways out.  A contract, though binding, can always be broken.  There are always loopholes.  Marriage went from covenantal to contractual and now they are merely certificates.  Certificates are nothing more than fancy pieces of paper.  Marriage, then, becomes as discardable than that student of the week certificate we all received when we were young.

Our obsession with divorce has lead to what we could call serial monogamy; that is, persons who marry only to divorce and remarry someone else.  When this pattern is repeated multiple times, we become more polygamous than anything else.  Sure we may only have one spouse at a time, but our approach to marriage is as if our current marriage is only worth our while until another person walks into our life or until we get tired of living (and sleeping) with the same person.

From a divorce culture came a cohabitation culture.  Let's be honest, divorces are expenses.  Why not simply live with someone, enjoy the civil union benefits and if it doesn't work out, move one.  This is not a redefinition of marriage, but a rejection (and a confusion) of what marriage is.  My generation grew up in a divorce culture and we were forced to make a decision:  return to a covenantal, life-long understanding of marriage or reject marriage all together.  And from the looks of it, we have chosen the latter.

But why even bother with that?  Why not hook up, have friends with benefits, and simply experiment?  It seems our culture is increasingly pushing us towards sexual experimentation and exploration apart from relations.  Abstinence until marriage is scoffed off and the growth of Darwinian sexual ethics pushes our society into viewing sexuality as the result of our genes apart from ethics or morality.

And at this point, we wonder why people want to redefine marriage as including persons of the same gender.  My question is, why should we even bother with marriage at this point?  Outside of the religious and moral community, marriage is a certificate at best and almost exclusively unnecessary among the secular.

The slippery slope is alive and well already. Therefore, to deny that opening the door to include same-sex partners into the definition of marriage will lead to an emboldened push to include other sexual lifestyles into marriage.  Polyamory is already essentially be practiced at high schools and college campus's throughout the West.  Even small-town, religious communities are having to deal with citizens sleeping with multiple partners without any deep emotion or relational attachment to the person(s).  Furthermore, it is wrong for us to act as if this is only a problem among young people.

What comes after homosexuality is included within our postmodern "definition" of marriage?  Certainly polymary is next but polyamory does not involve marriage.  Certainly many married couples have multiple partners and thus are practicing polyamory, but polyamory itself is not a marital issue.  That means that the next push for sexual liberation will likely be polygamy.  The rise of Islam in the West, beyond our downward spiral into sexual immorality, only makes this more likely.  Is it any secret that Islam encourages and pushes for men to have multiple wives?  Did Mohammad not himself have many wives (including a 9 year old!)?

If you don't believe me consider the latest show being pushed by TLC.  TLC is the home of shows like 19 and Counting which follows a family of 21 (the Duggar's) who are again considering having more children.  Many Christians, including myself, celebrate the Duggar's willingness to embrace life and raise their children as Christians.

But now, TLC is pushing polygamy.  The show is called Sister Wives and follows a "family" which consists of one husband and four wives.  In the promotional video for the show, the husband says that he fell in love (wife 1), and then fell in love again (wife 2), and fell in love again (wife 3).  He goes on to say in the video, "If you good at one marriage, they figure you'd be good at two.  I hope they think I'll be good with four."  The tag-lines in the video read "Rethink Love. Rethink Marriage. Rethink Family Reality."  A fitting description of a show promoting polygamy.

The push to redefine something (in this case marriage) always begins with a push to "rethink" it.  Eventually rethinking leads to redefining.  Rethinking God leads to redefining God.  Rethinking the gospel leads to redefining the gospel.  Rethinking marriage leads to redefining marriage.

Let us not forget, at the same time that Sister Wives is not the first show promoting polygamy.  HBO has been producing the show Big Love for years now and the fact that it is still on the air says something about how attractive and entertaining such a story is in our culture. The show tells the story of a Mormon with multiple "wives."  However, since it is illegal to have multiple wives at the same time, he only has one legal wife but the other "wives" live in nearby houses.

Are we seeing, then, the beginning of a new push in sexual morality?  Perhaps.  Anytime a new sexual ethic gets hours of promotion and positive spin through the media the acceptance of such a lifestyle is inevitable.  It is the classic "yuk factor."  At first such a concept is gross (yuk!!), but eventually we get used to it and don't consider it as morally repugnant as we did at first.  Perhaps shows like Sister Wives and Big Love will only affect the yuk factor but expect a new push for polygamy in the coming years and decades.

The slippery slope is in full affect and apart from the return to the gospel, expect the culture to find news ways to indulge their sexual senses.  The debate will not end at homosexuality.  The debate will not end at polygamy.  The rethinking and redefinition will not end period.

HT: First Things

For more:

Commentary - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 1
Commentary - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 2
Commentary - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 3
Commentary - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 4   
Commentary - The Next Step: Is Polyamory the Next Sexual Movement?
Commentary - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
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
Commentary - Do You Part A Take Party B:  California Redefines Redefinition 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Theology Thursday | Calvin on the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection

I came across the following quote from John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion regarding the resurrection and why it was necessary for our salvation.  The reason for this inquiry was that very little, it seems, is said about the redemptive work of the resurrection today.  It seems that many Christians assume it without really discussing it.  Most want to argue the proof of the resurrection and thereby miss the necessity of the resurrection (apart from making a point about Christ's deity).  Others want to discuss our future resurrection and so move straight to eschatology.  Certainly this is extremely important and is Paul's main point in 1 Corinthians 15.

But what does the resurrection have to do with our justification?  Many lay out how it affects our sanctification and glorification, but few really, in great detail, discuss how it affects our justification.

Here is what Calvin had to say:

The nature of it is better expressed in the words of Paul, 'Who (Christ) was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification," (Rom. 4:25) as if he had said, By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored.  For ow could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power?  how could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest?  Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the resurrection of Christ:  by the former sin was abolished and death annihilated; by the latter righteousness was restored and life revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed upon us by means of the latter . . . 

In these words we are not only urged by the example of a risen Saviour to follow newness of life, but are taught that by his power we are renewed unto righteousness.

I believe that the great Reformed theologian hits it dead on in this section.  The phrase, "By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored," is an excellent summation of why the resurrection was necessary and how it fulfilled the work necessary for our salvation.  Calvin rightly points out that the atonement accomplished on the cross dealt primarily with sin (justification) while the resurrection deals with repentance and obedience (sanctification).  We see here that the two are not separable.  Those who are justified are also repentant and obedient.

I encourage Christians everywhere to look more into this theological area of the resurrection.  As Protestants we oftentimes place so much emphasis on the cross that we forget the resurrection or at the very least speak very little on it.  We must emphasize both.  The cross deals with sin while the resurrection deals with our righteousness.

Merry Easter and let us pray that the gospel, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, be proclaimed and sinners repent and bear fruit of that repentance.

Original article here.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition: The Gospel and the Shameful "Guns in Church" Message

The past two thousand years are stained with the blood of countless martyrs.  Many have been chronicled in books like Fox's Book of Martyrs and Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus Freaks among countless others.  Everyday it seems Christians are being executed for the simple fact that they have embraced Christ.  Persecution is not new to the Christian Church (and it would be wise for American Christians to remember that) and since her birth, the Church has always been willing to sacrifice their lives and livlihoods following the example of their Savior who died for them.

This is what Jesus implied when He called on His followers to pick up their cross and to follow Him.  The only person to literally do that is Simon of Cyrene would had to bear Jesus' cross and followed Him to the place of execution.  We, as Christians, are called to mimick that.  We live by dying.

This is central to the gospel.  Instead of self-esteem and self-fulfillment and self-actualization, the gospel calls us to selfless sacrifice in every aspect of our lives.  Our marriages, lives, relationships, worship, giving, sanctification, and everything else ought to be characterized by sacrifice and submission to our Lord who Himself sacrificed and submitted Himself for us.

And yet many Christians completely miss this message and we do so to our own shame.  Consider for example of a bill being presented in the Georgia state legislator that would allow persons to carry a weapon to worship in order to protect the other members.  What concerns me most about all of this isn't necessarily the law (we can debate the extent of the 2nd Amendment until we're blue in the face), but about who is promoting such a bill and why.

Consider two videos featuring Georgia pastors begging Georgia voters and citizens to support the bill.  The two pastors in this case are Pastor James Brown Jr. of Covenant Baptist Church in Barnesville, GA and Pastor Joe Morecraft of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Cumming, GA, but they are not alone.  Many other pastors and faithful church members and Christians have publicly supported the bill arguing that it will lead to the protection of worshipers in the state.

In his video, Pastor Morecraft argues:

First, it is a God-given and constitutionally protected right in America and throughout the states," explained Brown. "Our Founding Fathers made it explicitly clear it was the right of the people 'to keep and bear arms.' In 1770, Georgia passed a law requiring guns to be carried to church. While some say things have changed since the 1600 and 1700s, one thing has not changed – man's depraved heart. The same reasons they passed the law then, is the same reason why we should remove the prohibition today.

He then adds:

Second, with the rise of violent crime against houses of worship in the U.S. and throughout the world, it only makes sense that we should be able to defend ourselves and our loved ones. We have witnessed criminals and maniacs committing acts of violence upon defenseless people in places of worship. Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, Colorado, and California are recent examples. Many places of worship have large amounts of cash and crowds gathered in one place. This makes them an easy target for criminals and maniacs.

Third, we are witnessing the rise of civil tensions all throughout the world. As civil unrest, anti-Americanism, and even anti-Christianity increase, we should be able to worship and conduct church affairs without being a target of opportunity. There are many factions throughout the world who would like to do us harm. Now, many of these factions are operating in America.

Whether it is criminals, maniacs, or civil oppression, God has granted us the right to use these means to defend our most precious right – life. Jesus answered this question simply by stating in Luke 11:21, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:"

We must not let this prohibition be the cause of innocent adults and children being assaulted in our worship gatherings. HB 54 simply removes the prohibition against lawful citizens carrying weapons in places of worship

Such a statement ought to concern every Christian.  This is not about a law, but about the language Christians are using in defense of a law.  Notice that the pastor begins with the US Constitution, not with the gospel.  Certainly the Constitution grants all US citizens the right to carry and bear arms, that is not the issue, but anytime Christians begin with something other than Scripture and/or the gospel, red flags ought to be raised.

However, the main motivation behind supporting the bill seems to be on the basis of defense.  Admittedly (especially as a husband, a father, and a pastor myself), defense is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with and churches ought to take security into account.  However, the language employed by these two pastors and the supporters of such bills concerns me.  One pastor tells the story of a missionary who had his church attacked during worship wherein he was able to defend the congregation by shooting the attackers.  Grant it, terrorism and the persecution of Christians is tragic and ought to be taken more seriously by our media and culture, but for Christians to brag about killing anyone - even in defense - concerns me greatly.

Recall the story of Malchus in the Gospels.  Malchus was among those who arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus.  In defense, Peter took out his dagger and swung at him and cut off his ear.  Scholars and commentators seem to agree that Peter probably wasn't aiming for his ear, but for his head.  In other words, in an attempt to defend Jesus, Peter sought to kill a man.  We all know how the story ends.  Instead of "finishing" Malchus off, Jesus condemns Peter's violent act, heals the wounded man, and then walks to His eventual execution without a fight.  Before being marched away, Jesus scolded Peter, "those who live by the sword die by the sword." A fitting rebuke for the well-intentioned, but sorely mistaken disciple.

It is hard for me to imagine Christ or the early Christians openly advocating the right to carry a gun to a place where they worship their Savior who died for them in the name of defense.  It is sacrifice that makes us Christians and it is sacrifice that we ought to live by.  This is all a reminder of why Christians ought to think carefully before defending public policy or publicaly supporting a bill.  We ought to speak first as Christians, not as citizens.  Our concern is not to live for this world, but to die everyday for the One who died in our place.  The gospel is paramount to everything else and it would be good for Christians to remember that.

So instead of defending the right to use violence, let us instead use the pulpit and the position of pastor and Christian as an opportunity to point others to the One who, instead of resorting to violence, suffered violence in our behalf.  He took upon Himself the righteous wrath of God in our place so that we wouldn't have to for an eternity.  We are the ones who crucified our Creator.  He freely sacrificed Himself in order to bring out our salvation and calls on us to do the same.  Let us die to ourselves for the sake of others, literally or metaphorically, so that in turn we might remind them that we were not the first to lay down our lives.  Christ set the example and because of His death we are freed from fear and adopted children of God.  So who cares about who may storm our church and interrupt our worship?  To live is Christ and to die is gain.  What do we have to lose?  Only the gospel can declare victory in death and suffering.  Oh death, where is your sting?

World Net Daily -Ministers start preachin' 'guns in church' message

For more:
Blogizomai - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ    
Blogizomai - The Gospel and Pulpit Freedom Sunday:  How Christians Have Missed the Point 
Blogizomai - Why I (Hesitantly) Signed the Manhattan Declaration   
Blogizomai - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Ground Zero Debate? 
Blogizomai - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Koran Burning Debate?
Blogizomai - Jesus Was Not Political:  The Danger of Equating Jesus With Our Political and Economic Policies   
Blogizomai - What Would Jesus Do About Illegal Immigration?:  Confusing Jesus' Message With American Policy  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Love Ever Wrong?: The Danger of Shaping Law on Such a Weak Foundation

Is love reason enough to change the law?  That is the argument being put forward by many in the pro-homosexual movement.  But before we assign such an argument to liberals and progressives, it should be noted that this has become the mantra of many who are associated with the right. One of the most prominent examples of late comes from one of the twin daughters of former President George W. Bush.  Barbara Bush in an ad campaign in support of gay marriage in New York which the new governor wants to make legal (this same attempt failed a few years ago).  Ms. Bush says in the short ad:

“I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.”

The ad then ends with the former first daughter begging the viewing to join us in their fight for equal rights for homosexuals.  Note the argument put forward:  since homosexuals love each other, they should have same rights as heterosexuals.  Love, it seems, is a strong enough bound to change the current laws of New York and beyond that the laws of the nation.

Ms. Bush is not the only traditional "right winger" to make such an argument.  The daughter of failed Republican Presidential nominee and current Senator John McCain, has repeatedly come out in support of more liberal social issues - like homosexuality and same-sex marriage - on very much the same grounds.  Likewise, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney has come out of the closet as a homosexual and has shaped the more progressive views of her father on this issue.  The former vice president has repeatedly defended his views on the basis that his daughter loves her "partner" and that is enough for him.

In addition, the former first lady, Laura Bush, has also come out in support of gay marriage in contrast to her husband who fought for a Constitutional amendment banning it while serving as Presdient.  While promoting her book Spoken from the Heart on Larry King!, Mrs. Bush said:

I think that we ought to definitely look at it and debate it. I think there are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman, but I also know that when couples are committed to each other and love each other that they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has.

Notice the language.  Again, like that of her daughter's video ad campaign, Mrs. Bush makes love the primary basis of her defense in favor of same-sex marriage (Mrs. Bush would then go on in this same interview to admit her support of abortion).

Many more examples could be given of similar "right wingers" supporting same-sex marriage on the basis of love. This all begs the question raised at the beginning, is love reason enough to change the law and to redefine marriage?  At least to these public figures, it seems that society can.  But this isn't just a progressive Republican argument.  Even our own President has uttered similar words shockingly in his most prominent yearly speech, the State of the Union.  In January 2011 before a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama defended the passing of legislation which ended the military policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on similar grounds.  He said:

Our troops come from every corner of this country -– they’re black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American.  They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim.  And, yes, we know that some of them are gay.  Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.  (Applause.)  And with that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC.  It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past.  It is time to move forward as one nation.  (Applause.)

These statements are simply astounding.  The President defends his policy on the basis of "love" (whatever is meant by the word) on national TV during his yearly State of the Union address.  Likewise, countless other public figures on both sides of the aisle are defending same-sex marriage based (though not limited to) on the argument that if persons love each other (regardless of their genders), they ought to be subject to the same rights as everyone else.

I have a hard time believing that such persons actually believe this.  Though it may sound logical in regards to homosexuality and the current debate over the definition of marriage, I'm not sure many have considered what this argument implies and how far it goes.  If the presence of love is enough to change a law and to redefine something as consequential and foundational to society as marriage and family, then where does the madness end?  To debate the merits of same-sex marriage is one thing, but to suggest that love is enough is rather dangerous.

Think about it.  What if the relationship is polygamous, would the argument not equally apply?  If those in the relationship confirm their undying love for each other then should the doors of marriage be opened to such relationships?  What if the relationship is incestuous?  What if the relationship involves a minor?  The assurance of love (again whatever we mean by the word), at least as the law currently stands, is not enough to redefine marriage and legal sexuality in these instances and yet it is the basis on which many defend same-sex marriage.  If love is enough for two men, why not other sexual lifestyles and preferences?  Again, where does the madness end?

This is one of the problems with the shape of the debate.  Rights are being offered on the relativistic notion of love.  The meaning of love is increasingly becoming more fickle everyday in our society, and yet this unsure foundation (by our own destruction of the word) is becoming the most used argument for same-sex marriage.  The debate over marriage has become nothing more than platitudes than a serious and open debate. And both sides are guilty of this.  Those in favor of redefining marriage use simple bumper sticker slogans emphasizing love as enough to change the law and yet the same people would reject applying that same argument to other lifestyles.

In a relativist, postmodern, fallen society like ours that emphasizes emotions over logic at times, love appears to be reason enough to defend a policy, but at the end of the day, such an argument is destructive on multiple grounds.  Christians must respond differently.  First, we must more clearly define and exemplify what real love is.  To the Christian, love is defined and shown at the cross.  Sacrifice, service, submission, forgiveness, reconciliation and service are just a few of the qualities that sum up the love shown on the cross.  All of these attributes, and love itself, are unconditional and eternal.  The fickleness of society's love is not the love that Christians ought to embrace.  Therefore, for Christians we begin at the cross for answers and for definitions, not twenty second ad videos.

Secondly, Christians need to establish more clearly why marriage matters and we can begin by fixing our own.  Until our divorce rate drops drastically, we are destroying our own argument by our own lack of authenticity.  We are hypocrites holding onto a right definition of marriage that is being ignored in many of our homes.

Thirdly, we must establish why marriage is a gospel issue and how sexuality itself is a gospel issue.  We are all enslaved idolaters and we are foolish to think that embracing fallen sexuality will somehow bring us peace, contentment, true love, respect, fulfillment, satisfaction, or joy.  Obeying the god of sex will not bring the promises it has made.  The gospel explains why heterosexual monogamous marriage is best and points us to the cross and resurrection.  Truly understood and practiced, Christian marriage brings us closer to our maker and our God than to ourselves and our self-centered, fallen selves.

It is necessary for Christians to think more clearly through such issues and to be more careful how we engage such debates over marriage.  Let us begin with ourselves and see to it we are being shaped by the gospel less we make the gospel void and ourselves hypocrites.  At the same time, let us engage the culture with the gospel of liberation and restoration.  Only Christ liberates the sinner from his bondage to sin and restores us to a state more like Himself.  Love is a powerful motive for marriage and it is the right motive for marriage, but cheapening its meaning won't bring Utopia or freedom, but brokenness and more moral confusion.

New York Times - Bush’s Daughter, in a Break, Endorses Gay Marriage 
Candace Chellew-Hodge - Another Bush Comes Out for Gay Marriage

For more:
Blogizomai - Marriage & the Limits of the Law:  Why Only the Gospel Regenerates & Changes Behavior  
Blogizomai - What's the Big Deal:  Christianity and Homosexuality  
Blogizomai - From Morality to Law:  The Question and Challenge Incest in a Post-Sodom Culture 
Blogizomai - Polygamy on Trial - Canada Opens the Legal Debate of Plural Marriages
Blogizomai - Polygamy in the Mainstream:  The Slippery Slope in Full Effect  
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 1
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 2
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 3
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 4   
Blogizomai - The Next Step: Is Polyamory the Next Sexual Movement?
Blogizomai - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?  The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality (Part 2)
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?:  The Way Forward is Backwards - Cave Men and the Return to Amoral Sexuality (Part 3)
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Monogamy and What Jealousy Says About Naturalism
Blogizomai - Do You Part A Take Party B:  California Redefines Redefinition  
Theology - The Stipulation That Paralyzes: Tony Jones and the Limit of the Emergent Worldview 
Theology - Pinata Theology: Ignore the Issue and Swing at the Distraction - What Piper Has Taught us About the Church 
Blogizomai - Heteronormativity: Another Word for Heterophobia

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Many Crimes of Planned Parenthood: Glenn Beck Exposes America's Largest Abortion Provider

Regardless of what you think of Glenn Beck, consider the following video taken from his show on Friday  February 18, 2011 regarding the documented and proven abuses of Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider in America.  I have argued before that Planned Parenthood's history and even current actions make them eugenic in nature, immoral beyond imagination, and criminal.  It is amazing how so much evidence around the country has mounted and made public and yet no one is going after them in prosecuting a company built on death and illegal activity.

Watch the interview below:

HT: The Right Scoop

For more:
Blogizomai - From White Sheets to White Coats:  Abortion and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights  
Blogizomai - Eugenics in the Present Tense: Eugenics in America Today - Part 1
Blogizomai - Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 2
Blogizomai - Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 3
Blogizomai - Abortion Reduction:  The Danger of Compromising on Life
Blogizomai - Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?   
Blogizomai - The Follow of Abortion Reduction: A Lesson in Common Sense
Blogizomai - Social Conservatives Take Heed: 100 Days of Change
Blogizomai - The Slavery of the Unborn: Why Abortion Reduction is Not Pro-Life
Blogizomai - From Life to Choice to Economics: A New President and a Change in the Debate Over Life
Blogizomai - Colson: The March of Death
Blogizomai - "No We Won't": Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction
Blogizomai -The "Personhood" of Animals: The Argument is Made . . . Again
Blogizomai - Hitler Is Alive And Well: Repeating the Mistakes of the Past

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Theology Thursday | Don't Be Fooled: The Conversation Is Not Open To Everyone

The Emerging Church is quickly becoming a liberal movement that pushes tolerance expect those who do not tolerate them.  This is an unfortunate side affect of liberalism.  Whether it be political, secular, social, cultural, or religious liberalism, liberals in postmodern society cry foul when conservatives take traditional stands and accuse them of intolerance.  What they fail to miss is to accuse one of intolerance is itself intolerant.  So while asking to be tolerated, liberalism rarely tolerates views other than their own.

This is exactly what is happening to the Emerging Church.  The Emerging Church defines itself as a conversation where nothing is off limits.  The Emerging Church pushes community because community implies conversation.  For the past decade, conversation has been its battle cry.  At the Emergent Village website, the movement's "theology" is defined as:

We believe in God, beauty, future, and hope – but you won’t find a traditional statement of faith here.  We don’t have a problem with faith, but with statements . . . Whereas statements of faith and doctrine have a tendency to stifle friendships, we hope to further conversation and action around the things of God.”

Likewise, Phyllis Tickle's important book, The Great Emergence defines the movement as a conversation.  This conversation “is not only true but which will always be true.”* Though simple, the Emerging Church is, in essence, an ongoing conversation.  Its adoption of postmodernism and theological relativism that stresses mystery and narrative along with its stance on social issues are all rooted in their belief in the autonomy of the believer participating in a community of spiritual seekers and equals.

The Emerging Church is not alone as a postmodern theology that emphasizes conversation.  In their book, Beyond Foundationalism, Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke, a book praised by many Emergents, argue that any theology that takes seriously postmodern sensitivities views itself as conversation.  This conversation is defined as an ongoing conversation we share as participants in the faith community as to the meaning of the symbols through which we express our understanding of the world we inhabit.**

Conversation, then, defines the theological and philosophical approach of any postmodern Christian movement.  Postmodernism’s fear of certainty presupposes this point.  Rather than say with certainty what is true and binding, it is best to bring one’s experiences, thoughts, and opinions to the community of equals each learning from one another.  It is theological snobbery to think that one person can fully understand and grasp complete and final truth.  Therefore, each individual must join the chorus, sharing with one another in an ongoing conversation and experience in order to discover and uncover truth.

So central is this concept that anything that might stop the conversation is avoided including confessions of faith.  In an interview with Whosoever Magazine Tony Jones explains their uncertainty regarding confessions and statements of faith:   

Jesus didn’t have a statement of faith – and neither does the Emerging Church movement.

“Emergent aims to facilitate a conversation among persons committed to living out faithfully the call to participate in the reconciling mission of the biblical God.  Whether it appears in the by-laws of a congregation or in the catalog of an education institution, a ‘statement of faith’ tends to stop conversation,” writes Tony Jones in his new book The New Christians

The context of this article is interesting.  Jones is quoted in an online magazine for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Christians.  A traditional confession of faith would have condemned homosexual, bisexual, and transgender persons calling for their repentance.  But by placing special emphasis on conversation, the Emerging Church opens its doors to virtually any conversation with infinite possibilities.  It therefore, is constantly willing to shift its views and its directions if the conversation so demands it.  Conversation trumps conviction.

But this conviction towards conversation, tolerance, community, and uncertainty is only half true.  A movement cannot sustain itself under such parameters.  Theological anarchism leads to atheism and the Emerging Church has allowed many wrong doors to be opened.  Like all postmodern movements, what the Emerging Church tolerates and wants to engage in conversation are discussions that reflect their already limited values like interreligious dialogue, relativism, political activism, a rejection of penal substitution, an uncertainty about Scripture, and the gospel.  To try to question these pillars of their faith is to encourage the wrath of Emergents.

Here are a few examples.  First, a few years ago Jim Wallis responded to some comments made by Dr. James Dobson about then Senator Barack Obama.  Obviously, Dobson is not a fan of Obama and Wallis is.  Wallis is always calling for persons to have a conversation, reach over the aisle and engage one another in dialogue.  Wallis exhorts Dobson to be more civil in declaring their disagreements with the Senator.  Wallis wrote:

[James] Dobson and [Tom] Minnery’s language is simply inappropriate for religious leaders to use in an already divisive political campaign.  We can agree or disagree on both biblical and political viewpoints, but our language should be respectful and civil, not attacking motives and beliefs.

And yet prior to writing this paragraph lecturing James Dobson, Wallis wrote:

I believe that Dick Cheney is a liar; that Donald Rumsfeld is also a liar; and that George W. Bush was, and is, clueless about how to be the President of the United States.  And this isn’t about being partisan . . . I’ve heard plenty of my Republican friends and public figures call this administration an embarrassment to the best traditions of the Republican Party and an embarrassment to the democratic (small d) tradition of the United States.  They have shamed our beloved nation in the world by this war and the shameful way they have fought it.  Almost 4,000 young Americans are dead because of the lies of this administration, tens of thousands more wounded and maimed for life, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis also dead, and 400 billion dollars wasted – because of their lies, incompetence, and corruption.

But I don’t favor impeachment, as some have suggested.  I would wait until after the election, when they are out of office, and then I would favor investigations of the top officials of the Bush administration on official deception, war crimes, and corruption charges.  And if they are found guilty of these high crimes, I believe they should spend the rest of their lives in prison – after offering their repentance to every American family who has lost a son, daughter, father, mother, brother, or sister.  Deliberately lying about going to war should not be forgiven

What happened to the civility?  Where did the respectable dialogue go?  The truth is, Wallis loves Obama (and so defends him) and vehemently rejected Bush policy and so attacks openly his policies and his administration.  The language here is much worse that Dobson's words about President Obama and yet Wallis gets a pass.

Another example (and many more could be given) regards the recent comments of Glenn Beck.  The story is getting old now.  Glenn Beck called for his supporters to leave any church that undermines the pure gospel for a social gospel (which is all social and no gospel).  Many Emergents, including Wallis, reject this idea and have responded in full force against the radio and TV host.

To Wallis' credit, he has repeatedly asked Beck to have a dialogue on the issue rather than busting out his "hammer."  However, shortly after calling for a dialogue, Wallis called on Christians to stop listening and watching Glenn Beck.  So which is it?  Other Emergents have joined force.  Self-confessed liberal Emergent Peter Walker posted an article with the title, "Let's Steer Away From Glenn Beck . . . AMEN"

Once again I ask, where is the conversation?  It seems to me that whenever one challenges the beliefs of the Emergent "conversation" the conversation turns almost vitriolic.  Emergents refuse to talk to those who refuse to talk to them.  I can understand that.  But for all of their talk of civility, love, tolerance, and open mindedness, when one side shuts the conversation down, they are quick to respond by throwing out worse hate than their opponents.

Christians need not fall for this empty argument of conversation, civility, tolerance, and openness.  The gospel, by definition, is intolerant.  The gospel is exclusive meaning people will be left out.  The gospel is limited to certain doctrines and repentance excluding other religions and other beliefs.  Though Emergents do not like it, God did not ask them their opinion when He declared it to be true.  The gospel is part of God's character, not man's ever shifting values.  Do not be fooled by this wolf in sheep's clothing.  Affirm the intolerant gospel and bring more glory to God even if it means to be shut out of the conversation heretics are having.

*  Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, 153.
**  Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke, Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context, 24.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Repost Friday | Morality and Law: Why Every Bill is an Attempt to Legislate Morality

A common accusation made against social conservatives like myself is that when it comes to public policy and law you cannot legislate morality.  We've all heard it, but the accusation seems to only apply to social conservatives and Christians in the eyes of the culture.  This is rather off balanced.  Take the heated issue of homosexual marriage for example.  Those who are against it are boldly criticized that they are simply trying to legislate morality and enforce their morality down everybody else's throat and yet they will then turn around and seek to legalize same-sex marriage without ever facing the same accusation of legislating morality.

Here's the truth:  virtually every law debated and/or passed is legislating morality.  All law is moral.  Every law reflects the moral judgments and convictions of a given culture.

Think about it.  The concept of law, justice, and policy is oftentimes shaped in the form of morality.  It is immoral - thus illegal - to commit murder.  Therefore, it is moral, and thus the role of justice to protect the innocent and discipline the guilty.  Murder, then, is both a legal and a moral issue.  Take something less obvious like health care.  Obamacare, as it is popularly known, is now the law of the land.  Recall for a minute the driving language and force for its passage:  morality.  Once it was passed, one Congressman said that with this law health care went from being a privileged to a right.  That is the language of morality.  Furthermore, many in support of the law argued that it is simply immoral for hospitals and insurance companies to deny health care and access to anyone.  Therefore, many sought to demonize health insurance companies inciting moral self-righteousness.  By demonizing them, the politicians and their supporters are then able to take the moral high ground.

This does not mean that all moral issues are legal issues.  For the most part, there is no law banning adultery or lying (except in the case of perjury; just ask Bill Clinton and "Scooter" Libby).  However, that does not negate the fact that most laws are moral, but not all morals are laws.

This is the argument put forward by Micah Watson in an important article titled "Why We Can't Help But Legislate Morality" and is a must read.  As has been stated above, Watson affirms the argument that:

The truth, however, is that every law and regulation that is proposed, passed, and enforced has inherent in it some idea of the good that it seeks to promote or preserve. Indeed, no governing authority can in any way be understood to be morally neutral. Those who think such a chimerical understanding is possible could hardly be more wrong. For, in fact, the opposite is true: You cannot not legislate morality.

He goes on to add:

As Hadley Arkes has argued, if it is wrong to torture other human beings, then we do not content ourselves with mere tax incentives to encourage citizens to stop. We know that the wrong of torture requires that this choice be removed altogether from the domain of what is acceptable. You can enjoy the symphony, a NASCAR race, or the latest offering at the movies, but the logic of morals and law removes the option of torturing your neighbor for your weekend’s entertainment—even if your neighbor annoys you.

This is a powerful, though sarcastic, approach to the issue.  When we debate torture, as we have in the past several years, we don't respond with tax incentives, but with moral indignation or defense.  It is either right or wrong for a certain interrogation tactic to be used.  But what about taxes, tax policy, and the government's use of the tax code to curve human behavior?  The debate over such taxes is oftentimes clouded with moral language.  For example, many argue that it isn't right for the rich to pay the same level of taxes as the poor.  Therefore, the rich ought to pay more in defense of the poor.  That is the language of morality.

Watson concludes then:

To legislate, then, is to legislate morality. One can no more avoid legislating morality than one can speak without syntax. One cannot sever morality from the law. Even partisans of the most spartan libertarian conception of the state would themselves employ state power to enforce their vision of the common good. Given this understanding, the term “morals legislation” is, strictly speaking, redundant. The real question is not whether the political community will legislate morality; the question is which vision of morality will be enforced and by what sort of government.

That is the real question.  Who will determine which vision of morality will be enforced and by what sort of government?  That is the real debate.  It isn't, "law should be free from morality" but "whose morality will determine law?"  That is the debate that is raging and yet one side has conveniently convinced both sides that they are free from enforcing their moral code onto the rest of their citizens when in fact they are guilty of the same.  It is imperative then, that the public debate over law not just be about semantics and politics, but about the morality of the law.  The laws we pass say more about our values than we have traditionally thought.  That means, the things we support, defend, and vote for/against reveal what we truly believe.  All law is moral.  Every moral judgment is based on a theology.  Therefore, we are all theologians.   It is time for Americans to begin to have a more substantive debate that gets to the core of the issue, and stop playing verbal politics.

The Public Discourse (Micah Watson) - Why We Can't Help But Legislate Morality

For more:
Blogizomai - Legislating Morality:  We All Do It, But Only a Few Get Blamed For It 
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  Libertarianism vs. Conservatism - What Rand Paul Has Taught Us

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Theology Thursday | A Fad Within a Movement: What is the Emergent Conversation and Where is it Going?

There has been a lot of interesting developments within the Emerging Church movement lately. It seems that as the days go by, more and more Emergents drop the label and move on to something else. Some are more influential, others less, but many are abandoning ship. The farther left the Emergent movement goes, the smaller the influence and power they have. This was all predictable of course as it is the same story throughout history. The more liberal, the smaller numbers.

But this has raised a question for some: is the Emergent Church Movement a fad or a movement? Its a good question and some have offered their opinions. Here is mine: the Emerging Church is a fad within a movement. Here's my explanation:

From the beginning, the Emerging Church cracked a door that lead to liberalism. Anytime people begin to talk about keeping up with the culture, contextualization, and relevancy, it is inevitable that liberalism will appear down the road. It began whenever Mark Driscoll officially left the movement as he, from early on, saw the dangerous direction of the "conversation." Likewise, others were quick to make a clear distinction between "Emerging" and "Emergent." "Emerging" traditionally meaning the more conservative side while "Emergent" meaning more liberal. The Emerging Church included persons like Dan Kimball while Emergents included Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell.

The door that was cracked has been opened and Emergents have entered the realm of liberalism. As the time goes on, it becomes more and more clear the liberal mindset of Emergent leaders. They have redefined the doctrine of hell, God, the cross, the resurrection, Scripture, sin, the church, preaching, missions, original sin, the gospel, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Creation, Substitutionary Atonement, the Trinity, and a host of foundational issues. Increasingly, the masks are coming off and instead of postmodern leaders, we see Arius, Pelagius, Marcion, Rome, Barth, Schleiermacher, and Rauschenbusch.

If you don't see it in the leaders, one can easily see it in those who have joined the conversation. The "common folk" are clearly jumping headlong into theological liberalism. They are increasingly embracing universalism, promoting homosexuality as healthy and moral, and denigrating the gospel to environmentalism and social activism. Read the blogs, watch the videos, hear the stories and the beliefs of the real Emerging Church. The influence of Emergent leaders is clearly towards liberalism.

The reason I say that the Emergent conversation is a fad within a movement is because liberalism has been with us for some time. When Emerging was born, there was a real desire to change the culture with the undiluted gospel. The problem wasn't with the goal, but the starting point. They began with the culture to find the gospel, rather than beginning with the gospel. As a result, they let the culture define their gospel. That is the trend of liberalism. The Emergent Church has simply been grafted into the broader theological liberal movement.

This means that before long there will be nothing distinct with Emergents. They will look exactly like postmodern liberals. Even now it is difficult to tell the difference between postmodern theological liberalism and the Emergent Church. Though none of its major leaders are as far left as John Shelby Spong, many of its followers are getting close. I predict that this fad within a movement will only continue to sink deeper into theological liberalism.

This was all inevitable. Whenever one rejects the transcendence of the gospel, liberalism will result. By seeking to make friends of the culture rather than seeking repentant hearts, the Emergent conversation became nothing more than quicksand for liberalism. In fact, the very concept of having just a conversation was a major first step towards liberalism. Liberalism is all too often too bent-wristed to say anything less someone be offended; ergo it is better to have a conversation than a debate.

Before long, the Emergent conversation will move from Christian pop magazines to history books. However, the movement in which it is increasingly being grafted into will continue to live on. What is at stake between the classic theological conservative and liberal debate is the gospel and it has always been that way. Theological conservatism holds firmly to the gospel's transcendence, man's depravity, and God's immutability. Theological liberalism, on the other hand, continues to drift in the wind, changing their message and their theology with the ever passing moment.

Emergents will be a thing of tomorrow. Liberalism is here to stay.
Original article can be found here.
For More:
Theology -   The Future of the Emergent Church: McLaren Weighs In
Blogizomai - Accomodationism Breed Irrelevancy:  Why Liberalism Fails and the Transcendent Gospel Triumphs  

Theology -   Where to Begin?: 10 Emergent Must Reads
Sermon Podcast - November 29, 2009 - The Transcendence of the Gospel

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome to Plan B: Abortion as Contraception

Safe, Legal, and Rare remains the slogan of the pro-choice movement, but the statistics beg to differ.  Though abortion may appear to be safe (though its more complicated than that) and certainly abortion remains legal, it is certainly not becoming rare.  As discussed previously, the abortion rate, though has been slowly declining over the years, seems to have plateaued in recently.

But perhaps we should look at the equation differently.  In spite of all the rhetoric in recent years about Abortion Reduction and the call for an increase in poverty prevention as the answer to lowering the abortion rate, abortion still remains all too common.  Perhaps we should look at this issue, and find the real motivation for abortion, at its legal birth in America.  Pro-choice supporters argue against the notion that abortion has become a form of conception.  But the evidence does argue differently.

When there's a plan b human behavior changes.  For example, if there is a pill proven to lower my weight and fat, then why worry so much about diet?  After all, I'm going to lose the weight anyways right?  Or perhaps say this imaginary pill is a last resort for when we do overeat or do break our diet goals.  If we do consume too much calories, this pill could "save" us from gaining weight.  Thus, the pill is a plan b or a backup plan to our diet.  If we go off track, then there is always the diet pill.  What are the chances, if such a pill actually existed, of persons possessing the pill avoiding its use?  In other words, knowing that there is always a plan b, a last resort, that prevents what we don't want (in this case weight gain) would that not encourage overeating and breaking one's diet?

The argument really comes down to human nature.  If I know that there are no police checking for speeders, then I am more likely to go over the speed limit.  If I know that there is a backup plan, a plan b, then my behavior drastically changes.  Sex, contraception, and the abortion rate is no different.  Knowing that abortion is an option logically would lead to the increase of conceptions.  And this is exactly what the statistics show following the legalization of abortion-on-demand in 1973.

According to an article on National Review Online then passed along by the blog of World Magazine, the conception rate increased almost 30% while the number of births decreased (during the same time) 6% following Roe vs. WadeWorld Magazine rightly notes then, It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out: People behave differently when they know abortion is an option.  The National Review Online goes on to show:

[These statistics] indicates that some women (and men) took the existence of legal abortion as a license to be less responsible in their sexual behavior; indeed, it suggests that a large majority of terminated pregnancies wouldn’t have existed in the first place if abortion hadn’t been legally available as a backup.

And the overwhelming majority of women who have abortions did behave irresponsibly. According to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of them didn’t use any form of contraception at all in the month they got pregnant. Of those who did use contraception, three-quarters of pill users and half of condom users admit they used their method “inconsistently.” Only 13 to 14 percent of pill and condom users claim they got pregnant despite “perfect” use.

It’s not as if they don’t know better. In the Guttmacher survey, most women who didn’t use contraception in the month they got pregnant had used it in the past. And as Benjamin notes, “comprehensive sex ed” classes that encourage contraception seem to have no effect whatsoever

Herein lies the difference between liberal and more conservative worldviews.  Liberals consistently preach "education" as the answer to the high abortion rate that has now plateaued.  For decades, programs like sex education where students learn to use a condom and encouraged to use the pill if sexually active have become the norm and yet the rate of abortion remains high.  The concept of abstinence appears to be a mortal sin for those who push sexual education in public schools. To make matters worse, many politicians (like our current President) have promoted sex education (in some form) even to children as young as Kindergaten and other schools have made condoms available free of charge to all students to all ages including primary and elementary students.  And yet in spite of all of the money poured into "educating the masses" it doesn't seem to be working.  With the rise of sex and the encouragement that sex is a natural desire that cannot be control and we should be open about exploring our sexuality comes a rise or an increase demand for a plan b - in this case, abortion.

Conservatives have pursued the mantra of personal responsibility.  Just as education among liberals goes beyond sex and is seen as the answer to poverty prevention and everything else, so too conservatives see personal responsibility as a comprehensive strategy that effects all avenues of life including lowering the abortion rate.  Conservatives want people to know that we ought to sleep in the beds we make.  Thus to have unprotected sex (or to have sex in general) contains a risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.  That's just the way the world works.  Sex leads to pregnancy and it always has.

Though I am all for education (with limits) and personal responsibility, neither option will solve the problem.  The real problem is human nature and the mentality that a plan b option allows us to rationalize immorality, and in this case, murder. The real problem is not our intellect (everybody knows that sex and pregnancy go together) or responsibility (though as the statistics show many fail to be responsible for their own actions), but human nature.  Plan b's are oftentimes promoted as a last resort option, but in cases like sexuality, they become an excuse for immoral behavior.  Education won't change behavior.  Preaching personal responsibility won't change behavior.  As a Christian I see the gospel as the only remedy for changing the gospel as the gospel changes our nature, not merely seeks to mask our evil roots.

But all of this goes to show how we are foolishly chasing our tails.  We want sex, but we don't want the consequences.  A depraved culture that has lost its moral compass cannot make the connection that adding a plan b will not lead to greater liberation and fewer deaths, but rather make us slaves to our desires and an increase in deaths.  In an overly sexualized world, sex becomes the maximum point of worship and the gods of sex demand us to sacrifice our children in obedience.  The orgasm, as Dinesh D'Souza suggests, is the greatest sacrament of our culture followed by abortion.  You can't promote one without the assurance of the other.

So for all of the talk about abortion becoming rare, we must admit that this has never really been the case.  Though many have clouded the legal defense of abortion in language of choice and equality (after all, its not fair that men can't get pregnant), depraved souls see it as just another plan b.  Why be more careful when you can always "terminate" the "curse" in your belly.  Don't the gods of sexual freedom demand at least that much sacrifice?  is it no accident that the infamous abortion pill is called Plan B?  I think not.

National Review Online - The Truth about Abortion:  Most abortions serve as nothing more than birth control 
World Magazine Blog - What Roe v. Wade has wrought

For more:
Blogizomai - Legal, Safe, and Abundant:  The Shocking Truth of a Common Abortion Slogan 
Blogizomai - An Important Read:  Abortion Rate and New York Law 
Blogizomai - Abortion Reduction:  The Danger of Compromising on Life
Blogizomai - Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?   
Blogizomai - The Follow of Abortion Reduction: A Lesson in Common Sense
Blogizomai - The Slavery of the Unborn: Why Abortion Reduction is Not Pro-Life
Blogizomai - From Life to Choice to Economics: A New President and a Change in the Debate Over Life
Blogizomai - Social Conservatives Take Heed: 100 Days of Change
Blogizomai - "No We Won't": Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction

Friday, February 4, 2011

Repost Friday | Just Add Universes: The Foolishness and Motivation Behind Atheism's Leap of Faith

What are the chances of order coming from chaos?  Have you ever tried it?  Have you ever witnessed it?  Put a stick of dynamite inside a printing press and you will never get the US Constitution.  The chances of order coming from chaos is slim to none.  Actually we could say that such things don't happen period.  Order is designed, chaos is simply is not.

This is one of the more powerful arguments for Intelligent Design.  Whether we look into the sky or through a microscope we see order, not chaos.  The Earth is exactly in the right spot in our solar system for life to survive.  Its axis helps support life.  The moon is the perfect size, at the perfect distance, with the perfect rotation for life to exist.  What we see is design.  Look at a cell and you witness a factory at work at the smallest of levels.  Once again, we see design at work.

What we see is order at work.  The sun always rises in the morning and sets in the evening.  The moon always goes through predicable stages.  Days are always the same length of time.  Life seems order.  It is ordered.

This begs the question then; What are the chances that an accidental explosion in space billions of years ago led to the creation of an entire universe wherein at least one planet spawned intelligent life which could then study the universe that created its life?  Slim to none.  In fact, it is impossible.  Such order, design, and intelligence is not the result of accidental chaos.

This doesn't mean that explanations haven't been given to explain away the impossibility of such an ordered universe coming from chaos.  According to Darwinism, the house always wins.  The audacity to argue that life and order has come from chaos is profound.  Such a hypothesis is absurd.  The leap of faith to believe in such a thing borders on the miraculous, but many continue to hold to it.

A growing hypothesis promoted by evolutionary scientists to explain why the slim chance of order proceeding from chaos happened in our favor is known as multiverse.  The argument is that our universe is only one among millions - billions even.  The argument goes that when the Big Bang took place, the chaos led to billions of universes with ours resulting in life.  Others suggest that since the original big bang, multiple big bangs have taken place thus resulting in an infinite number of universes.  This helps explain away the chances of order taking place.  The idea can be compared to winning the lottery.  The chances of me winning are slim.  However, the more people that play the better the chance that someone would win.  So though I may not win, someone will.  That is what is going on in the multiverse hypothesis.  If there are multiple universes, instead of just one, then the chances increase for one of those universes supporting life like ours.

The question then becomes:  what evidence is there for such a theory?  None.

In his wonderful book, What's So Great About Christianity? author Dinesh D'Souza raises this issue and shows the real motivation behind such a hypothesis.

As Weinberg admits, "These are very speculative ideas . . .without any experimental support."  Smolin is even more candid.  he calls his ideas "a fantasy . . . It is possible that all I have done here is cobble together a set of false clues that only seem to have something to do with each other . . . There is every chance that these ideas will not succeed."  I appreciate their candor, and I am reminded of that old Ptolemaic remedy for problematic data:  "just add epicycles."  Now we are in the real of "just add universes." -134

That seems to be the answer to the dilemma:  just add universes.  The motivation is obvious.  The anthropic principle is a serious threat to the naturalistic worldview.  The anthropic principle says that since life seems fine-tuned for human habitation, then it must have a Tuner (see D'Souza, What's So Great About Christianity?, 130).  In other words, if it looks designed, then it probably is.

But such an argument is what Darwinists are trying to avoid.  For if there is designer, then there must be a Designer.  If causation wasn't burdensome enough, the anthropic principle has only made the case for evolutionary atheism even worse.  If chaos never comes from order and if the earth and the world she dwells in seems designed then there must be a God.

But instead of embracing such an obvious message, many atheistic scientists are trying to pull rabbits out of their hats.  The multiverse argument is one such rabbit.  In spite of the lack of evidence for multiple universes, these scientists speak of it as if it were fact.  In recent days, physicist Stephen Hawking has continued to promote this absurd idea (in the past Hawking has argued for an infinity of universes based on what is known as "imaginary time."  Again, no evidence and the speculations sound more like science fiction) in his attempt that God is unneeded for our seemingly orderly and designed universe.

What such a principle does, and what Darwinism is known for, is reject human dignity and signifiance in its effort to rob any need for God.  The larger the universe (or universes) the less significant we become.  The bigger things are, the smaller we are.  The anthropic principle argues that the majesty of the universe reminds us of the wonders of our Creator.  Atheistic evolution, on the other hand, points us to nihilism based on accidental biology.  If we are just one world of billions spinning in one universe of many resulted by an accidental explosion then our existence as no significance, meaning, or purpose.

As Christians we must realize what this means and why atheists are so motivated to push such leap of faith theories.  Christianity, built on the gospel, points us to a Creator that designed the wonders of the universe for our observation so that in it we might revel at the might of our Maker.  The gospel reminds us that though the universe is beyond our grasp, our God and Creator has paid special attention to us.  God forces us to stand in awe of His majesty.  And since creation points us to an transcendent and yet immanent, Creator, we, therefore, have the assurance of meaning and purpose.  Evolution, as pushed by popular atheists like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, on the other hand, in their attempt to disprove the necessity of God, pushes us farther into meaninglessness.  This is the great divide between naturalism and creationism.  One offers purpose and meaning, the other offers nothing but emptiness.

But perhaps the greater point here isn't just the result of materialism, but the motivation behind it.  One must admit that the multiverse hypothesis is foolishness and will likely never be proven.  So why promote it?  Here we must admit that oftentimes worldview, philosophy, and theology cloud our scientific judgments.  Instead of going where the evidence leads, many are taking a leap of faith and defending an unproven theory.  Which makes more sense - the slim chance of order from chaos or a Designer that designed order?  The motivation behind promoting the foolishness presented here is the real revelation.  In an effort to live freely without God, man is forced to hide Him under any rug they think is big enough to hold Him.  But even drawn up, unprovable theories cannot deny the fact that the world seems designed.  And if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, maybe it is a duck.

What we have here is a reality that we all want to deny.  Science isn't as objective as we have been led to believe.  Behind every study, exploration, and experiment is a bias human being driven by their worldview.  Reject God and you will go out of your way to overlook Him.  Atheism is big business in the culture these days and any theory (regardless of how foolish it sounds or how little, if any, evidence supports it) promoted by atheists will receive its fair share of coverage.  The reason for this cannot and must not be missed by Christians.  If there is a God, then we are accountable.  But if there is no God, then all is permissible.

However, where this all leads is where the real danger lies.  Atheism appears liberating, but as it is presented today, it is suicidal.  By removing God from the telescope, we are left looking into empty space with no meaning or purpose.  Morally liberating though it may be, but the consequences are dire.  If there is no meaning or purpose in life then let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.  But even that is without any real, transcendental meaning.  The emptiness of atheism is perhaps its greatest flaw.  Turn to atheism and you are all alone.  Turn to the Creator who providentially created you and you will find hope.

For more:
Breakpoint (Charles Colson) - Stephen Hawking's Leap of Faith:  Unnecessary Science
Commentary - Causation and the Existence of God:  How Scientists Continue to Prove Aquinas's Point  
Commentary - Creation or Manipulation:  The Limits of Man and the Evidence for God
Commentary - Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality  
Commentary -John Lennox: The New Atheism and the Gospel
Commentary -D'Souza: Are Atheists Cultural Christians
Commentary -Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Commentary - Re: 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


*  The above picture is taken from the first Men in Black movie. This is a screen shot from the final scene of the movie revealing a multiverse where an alien holds our universe in his hands like a marble.

Prayer & Breakfast: Obama at the 2011 National Prayer Breakfast

Yesterday President Barack Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.  I always find such events interesting for various reaons and this year has received more press (it seems) than most.  Many are pointing out the political motivation behind the speech.  The poll from last year stating that almost 20% of Americans are convinced he's a Muslim while only about 35% believe he's a Christian (leaving a huge number without a clue about the faith of their President) seems to remain fresh in the mind of the administration, or at least in the media.

Certainly there are political motivations in the speech.  Then again, there are political reasons for everything the President does.  After all, next year he has to run for re-election.  However one should note that the President has spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast every year he has been in office.

I am avoiding commenting on what was said by the President for my own purposes.  Instead,I simply want to post the video and let others decide what to think about it.  No matter how hard Obama tries, he will never be as natural talking about his faith as his predecessor, President George W. Bush, was.  Nonetheless, here he is:

To read the transcript, click here (HT:  CNN).

For more:
Blogizomai - Is Obama a Muslim?:  Are We Asking Ourselves the Wrong Question? 
Blogizomai - Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama the Messiah? 
Blogizomai - It Ain't Easy Being the Messiah:  Is Reality Finally Hitting Americans About the Messianism of Politicians? 
Blogizomai - With Presidents Like These Who Needs Gods?:  "God of All Things" and the Modern Presidency 
Blogizomai - Politics is Thicker Than Promises:  Lessons Learned From Obama and the Gay Community
Blogizomai - Jesus Was Not Political:  The Danger of Equating Jesus With Our Political and Economic Policies  
Blogizomai - The Gospel and Pulpit Freedom Sunday:  How Christians Have Missed the Point 
Blogizomai - Why I (Hesitantly) Signed the Manhattan Declaration  
Blogizomai - The State of Our Union 2011 
Blogizomai - The Contrasts Are Clear:  Obama and Jindal's Proposals  
Blogizomai - To Comfort a Nation:  Obama in Arizona and How the Nation Reacted 
Blogizomai - The Beginning of the End:  Obama Announces the End of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Theology Thursday | The End: John 20:31 or 21:25?

Recently, our church just finished a series on the last week of Jesus. On Easter we looked at John 20 and the story of "Doubting" Thomas. The Sunday after we studied John 21 regarding Peter. The question is often raised when looking at these two chapters is did John originally end his Gospel at 20:31? If so, where did chapter 21 come from? Who wrote it? When was it written? And other such questions are raised.

John 20:31 reads:
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This is a good ending. In a culture that has millions of books and movies at our disposal, such an ending satisfies us. In this verse, John sums up the entire book defining the gospel as belief in Jesus Christ. However, in our Bibles the Gospel of John does not end here.

Chapter 21 begins by telling of Jesus performing another miracle in which He helps the disciples catch a large number of fish (cf. Luke 5). Afterwards, John tells of the conversation that Jesus and Peter have regarding Peter's love for the Lord. Finally, the narrative concludes with Peter asking Jesus if, like Peter, John would one day die on account of Christ. The final two verses of John reads:
This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

This too is a fitting conclusion to John's Gospel. So which is it? When John originally wrote his gospel, did he end at 20:31 and then add chapter 21 later, or after writing 20:31 did he immediately begin writing chapter 21? There are many who have argued both ways (and made other suggestions), but I believe that John, immediately after writing about Thomas and the disciples belief began to write about the call to love Jesus through the mouth of Peter.

There are a number of reasons to affirm this. First, linguistic evidence strongly suggests it. In chapter 21, there are only 28 words which do not appear anywhere else in the Gospel. Though this seems high, many of these are the result of the narrative. John introduces new words because he is telling a very different story with different details.

But though there are some differences, there are also many recurring characteristics here. One such characteristic is the use of synonyms. In vs. 15-17, John uses 4 sets of synonyms: love, know, sheep, tend. Furthermore, John has Jesus using the double "Amen" (translated "Truly, Truly...") as he does throughout his Gospel. Finally, and this is not an exhaustive list, John has the phrase "This he said, indicating . . . " (in vs. 19, cf. with 12:33). These characteristics strongly suggest that it is John, and no one else, who wrote chapter 21.

This is an important point. Many have argued that after John's death, trying to clear up some misconceptions regarding the coming of Christ, wrote chapter 21 (see 21:20-23). The problem with this is that if someone else wrote chapter 21, they have a unique ability to have the same exact unique writing style as the original author. This is virtually impossible. Most of the time one can compare the writings of two people, no matter how closely connected they are, and they be completely different. Here, on the other hand, the writing styles are strangely identical to chapters 1-20.

Secondly, the manuscript evidence supports the original composition of chapter 21. There is virtually no manuscripts who do not have chapter 21 included with John's Gospel. In other words, everyone, to the best of our knowledge, ever read John's Gospel minus chapter 21. If John originally ended at 20:31, he must have added chapter 21 prior to the Gospel being copied by the early Church. It is almost unanimous that 21 is always found with John's Gospel. Therefore, it is likely that John himself wrote chapter 21 and he did so either immediately after finishing 20:31 or prior to the copying of the Gospel.

Thirdly, 20:31 is not as good of an ending as it appears. It certainly sounds like an ending, but in Johannine theology, it does not complete the story. To John, the Christian life is about love. Throughout his epistles, and even in his Gospel, John repeats the necessity and the centrality of love. We as believers (ch. 20) are called to love (ch. 21). Love, however, is not defined or illustrated as mere affection, but selfless, self-sacrificial, self-denial love that forsakes all and follows Christ. The story of Peter in chapter 21 tells this story and serves as a fitting conclusion to Thomas exclamation that Jesus is both Lord and God.

John has two purposes for his Gospel. First, he wants us to believe in Jesus Christ that He is both Lord and God on account of His death and resurrection. Secondly, the Christian life is about more than just belief. To believe is to act. Faith is not passive, but is active. If we do not love one another (cf. 1 John) then we are not true believers. Loving one another is rooted in our love for Christ. John 21, then, serves as a fitting, and expected, conclusion to John's account of the ministry and teaching of Jesus.

In conclusion, John 21 is what John originally wrote when writing his Gospel. Any attempt to argue that John intended on concluding his Gospel at 20:31 goes against the available evidence. Any study of the linguistics, manuscripts, and theology of John will prove that the beloved apostle purposely wrote 20:31 fully intending on writing chapter 21 immediately after. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the gospel and the Holy Spirit, we must accept it as authentic and inspired as it reveals to us the very Word of God.

Theology - The End:  John 20:31 or 21:25?  

For more:
GBC - Listen to the Gospel of John Online for Free  
GBC - MacArthur on the Comfort of the Spirit 
Reviews - "God's Word for Human Words":  Full Series