Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dwight Eisenhower: An American Experience

I just love this series.

American Experience Series:
Richard Nixon: American Experience
Jimmy Carter: An American Experience
Clinton: An American Experience
HW Bush: An American Experience 

Biographies on the Presidents:
President Barack Obama - "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Decision Points" by George W. Bush
President Bill Clinton - "The Natural" by Joe Klein: A Review 
President Ronald Reagan - "Ronald Reagan" by Dinesh D'Souza 
President Gerald Ford - "Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley: A Review
President Richard Nixon - "Breach of Faith"
President Abraham Lincoln - "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage"

All Around the web - June 29, 2013

Public Discourse - Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom, Fundamentally At Odds |

After all, if redefining marriage to include same-sex couples accords with justice and moral truth, there is no good reason for the new legal order to make room for “conscientious” religious dissenters, for clearly their consciences are malformed and unworthy of respect. Thus the fate of religious freedom, for scores of millions of Americans, stands or falls with the fate of conjugal marriage itself.

Some astute observers have noticed the dimensions of the problem and called attention to it. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a brief in both marriage cases now pending in the Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should not interfere with democratic legislative processes in this field, because only such processes can result in public policies that will prevent church-state conflict in the future. The brief describes many of the problems I will discuss below, but in the end I think it is too hopeful that same-sex marriage and religious freedom may be reconciled by lawmakers to any significantly greater extent than by judges.

Two groups of prominent religious liberty scholars (one led by Robin Fretwell Wilson, the other by Douglas Laycock) have written letters (such as this one from Wilson’s group) to state legislators and governors considering same-sex marriage bills, imploring them to include various statutory provisions that would afford some protection to religious freedom. Both groups have signally failed to achieve much, if any, meaningful accommodation of religious freedom in the recent legislative enactments of same-sex marriage in New York, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

The victorious legislators either do not see the conflict, don’t care about it, or actually welcome its arrival, relishing the further victories yet to come over the “bigotry” of religious dissenters. The last of these possibilities may be the likeliest, as Robert P. George suggested nearly a year ago here at Public Discourse. If so, our situation is dire indeed.

Mark Driscoll - 7 Reasons Why Sports Are Good For Kids |
  1. They put down technology. Kids need more exercise and less time eating junk food, drinking pop, and sitting down playing video games, surfing the Internet, or watching television.

  2. They learn to submit to authority. Having a coach who you have to obey is a good life lesson that prepares a child to submit to authority at school, work, and church. Kids who do not respect authority are destined for misery.

  3. They learn to work hard. In sports, you have to learn to try your best and persevere through difficult circumstances. This helps build character, fortitude, and the kind of stick-to-itiveness that life requires if you want to succeed at anything from marriage to career.

  4. They learn to play by the rules. One of the first things you learn in any sport is the rules. Once you know the rules, you have to learn to play by them or be penalized by those enforcing them. People who never learn to play by the rules make bad believers and good inmates.

  5. They learn to be on a team. Few activities force a child to work things out with others, think about someone other than themselves, and be part of something bigger than themselves. Being on a team encourages kids to mature in all of these areas. Good teammates learn lessons about being good family members, church members, and company members.

  6. They learn how to win. Being a humble winner who does not gloat and belittle the loser is hugely important.

  7. They learn how to lose. Everyone loses. Learning how to lose without blaming others, giving up, quitting, or pouting is a vital life lesson.

Erik Raymond - Why Church Membership |

1. Church Membership is Biblical
2. Church Membership is Historical
3. Church Membership is Practical
4. Church Membership is Theological

Eric Metaxas - Coming to a Vending Machine Near You |

Now, if you’re like me, you were somewhere between depressed and outraged in hearing this. My 14-year-old daughter can’t go on a field trip without my permission, but soon she'll be able to legally buy the morning-after pill without my knowing anything about it. Even 11- and 12-year-old girls will be able to pick up Plan B along with their candy bars and lip gloss at the neighborhood drug store.

What's next? Selling abortion drugs in junior high vending machines? (“No way!” you say? Well, they’re already in college vending machines. But maybe I'd better not give them any ideas.)

Even President Obama, the most abortion-minded president we've ever had, said that there ought to be an age limit on this Plan B. As he noted in 2011, the reason Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius insisted on an age limit was because “she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able . . . to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect.”

But if the President knows this drug is potentially dangerous, why did he abandon the fight to protect our daughters? Frankly, I've known ten-year-olds who haven't mastered the art of putting the lid back on a tube of toothpaste. And yet Judge Korman and President Obama are going to trust these kids to carefully read the instructions on a potentially dangerous drug, and take it properly? Are they kidding?

Thom Rainer - Four Ways Churches Break Attendance Barriers |

1. Create new groups
2. Create new worship services
3. Create new venues
4. Have a major event

Friday, June 28, 2013

Are Religious Homes Abusive Homes?: The Unscientific Claims of Richard Dawkins

Many atheist and secularist claim their convictions are based solely on science. This has led to their adoption of evolutionary theory and the campaign against any form intelligent design or creationism especially in the public square. To question the dogma of evolution is to be labeled a heretic, that is, against science. The same is true when it comes to other issues clouded many of whom have been clouded with theological and political implications like global warming and neuroscience (do we have a soul?, are we born gay?, etc.). This arrogance in regards to being the image bearers of science has led to the accusation, especially among the New Atheist, that the religious are brainwashing and abusing children by teaching them to question secular doctrine.

To assert that teaching one's children about God, Scripture, Jesus, etc. is a form of child abuse, presumably equal to that of sexual, emotion, mental, and physical abuse, is shocking in of itself. The believer should rightly be offended and appalled to think that others might think teaching one's children arguments regarding design in the universe or the nature of the Trinity is some how on par with the father who molests his own child or the mother who abandons her children. However, if we take the assertion at face value and study it from a scientific perspective, we find in short that the evidence - the scientific evidence that is - goes against this assertion.

At his blog, Thinking Christian, Tom Gilson shows the scientific irrationality of Richard Dawkins, a leading figure making this claim common among many secularists and atheists.

[The] symptoms [of abuse] are well known. They include fear, panic attacks, eating disorders, depression, low self-confidence, irritability, difficulty relating with others, substance abuse, and so on.
Not every abuse victim experiences most or all of these, but outcomes like this are typical. If a religious upbringing equals abuse, there ought to be signs that something like this happens to children of religious families.

There are data to test that hypothesis. It was published well before Dawkins’ book, so he had ample opportunity to know what science had to say. Christian Smith, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [now at Notre Dame], led a massive, authoritative study called the National Study of Youth and Religion. The results were published in the 2005 book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers (with co-author Melinda Lundquist Denton), published by Oxford University Press (yes, that’s Dawkins’ university). It is the best study of its kind to date.

This study sorted its 3,290 participants into levels of religious involvement: the Devoted, the Regulars, the Sporadic, and the Disengaged. Because America’s predominant religious groupings are Christian, the “Devoted” and “Regulars” were predominantly Christian—Protestant and Catholic. Therefore these results can fairly be taken as relating specifically to Christianity. (Results for other religions are hard to determine from the data.)

The closer teenagers were to “Devoted” rather than “Disengaged,” the less they engaged in these negative behaviors

Habits: Smoking, drinking, marijuana use, TV watching, pornography use, “action” video game use, R-rated movies;

At school: Poor grades, cutting classes, getting suspended or expelled;
Attitude: Bad temper, rebellious toward parents;

Sex: Early physical involvement, including number of partners and age of first sexual contact.
Those more “Devoted” on the scale showed more of these positive outcomes:

Emotional well-being: Satisfaction with physical appearance, planning for the future, thinking about the meaning of life, feeling cared for, freedom from depression, not feeling alone and misunderstood, not feeling “invisible,” not often feeling guilty, having a sense of meaning to life, getting along well with siblings;

Relationships with adults: Closeness with parents, number of adults connected to, feeling understood by parents, sensing that parents pay attention, feeling they get the “right amount of freedom” from parents;

Moral reasoning and honesty: Belief in stable, absolute morality; not pursuing a “get-ahead” mentality; not just pleasure-seeking; less lying to parents and cheating in school;

Compassion: Caring about the needs of the poor, caring about the elderly, caring about racial justice;

Community: Participation in groups, financial giving, volunteer work (including with people of different races and cultures), helping homeless people, taking leadership in organizations.
You can read the rest here. The point is to show how presuppositions shape theology and our interpretation of science. Dawkins, a scientist, has made frequent assertions based on no other evidence than his own bigoted beliefs about religion and other people who differing (a)religious beliefs. The assertion that teaching children to question his dogma is a form of child abuse is dangerous on the one end and unscientific on the other. To believe the science in this case is to reject Dawkins and those like him. Those who raise their children in a manner that Dawkins decries turns out to be better for the child and for society. Dawkins is simply on the wrong side of science.

There is an important lesson to be learned here. Theology is more important than the broader culture gives it. Dawkins approaches science with as much theological presuppositions as the Christian does. My hesitance to embrace much of evolution is rooted in theological convictions and logic. Dawkins has admitted that his acceptance of evolution is his primary fuel for his atheism. In the end, therefore, we are all theologians and to deny that is to only kid ourselves.

For more:
Dawkins Take on Sex, Death & The Meaning Of Life: Full Series
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Collision:  An Important Documentary About Faith and Atheism  
Atheism and Moral Relativistic Parenting: Touchstone Takes on Harris
Harris on the Science of Morality:  Nice Try But No Cigar  
Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality
Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism
The Atheist Debates
Atheism Is Not Great - The D'Souza and Hitchens Debate
John Lennox: The New Atheism and the Gospel  Blogizomai -D'Souza: Are Atheists Cultural Christians
Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Re: Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
"Atheism Remix" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
"The Delusion of Disbelief" by David Aikman
"The End of Reason" by Ravi Zacharias
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza

All Around the Web - June 28, 2013

Every water in the United States. HT: 22 Words

CNET - Google plans to wipe child porn from the Web |

Photos and videos of child pornography on the Web have multiplied at an alarming rate over the past few years. In 2011, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said it received 17.3 million images and videos of suspected child abuse, which is four times more than 2007.

Google has announced that it wants to help curb this proliferation of child pornography. In fact, the Web giant plans to take it even a step further -- it wants to completely eradicate child porn from the Internet.

"Behind these images are real, vulnerable kids who are sexually victimized and victimized further through the distribution of their images," Google Giving director Jacquelline Fuller wrote in a blog post on Saturday. "It is critical that we take action as a community -- as concerned parents, guardians, teachers and companies -- to help combat this problem."

Google's plan is to build a database of child porn images that can be shared with other tech companies, law enforcement, and charities around the world. The database will let these groups swap information, collaborate, and remove the images from the Web.

USA Today - Marriage rate may be low, but more weddings predicted |

The marriage rate is at its lowest point in more than a century, and the number of marriages across the USA fell more than 5% during the recession. But a new analysis projects that pent-up demand and the large population of marriage-eligible Millennials, ages 18-34, means more will be headed to the altar over the next two years.

Cultural changes about whether and when to marry, the fact that two-thirds of first marriages are preceded by cohabitation and the recession's financial fallout — including unemployment and underemployment — fueled the wedding decline. Projections from the private company Demographic Intelligence of Charlottesville, Va., says the signs are right for a temporary boost in weddings.

The company projects a 4% increase in the number of weddings since 2009, reaching 2.168 million this year; 2.189 million in 2014. Depending on the economic recovery, the report projects a continuing increase to 2.208 million in 2015.

WORLD Magazine - Pew: Media favors same-sex marriage |

A search for same-sex marriage on AP pulls up a slew of photos featuring sad homosexual couples denied the “right to marry,” and not much else. Now a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism recognizes what any perceptive reader could have told them. 

Around the time the U.S. Supreme Court was considering the same-sex marriage issue, news reports had more quotes from supporters than opponents, the study concluded. Pew looked at nearly 500 stories on the topic over a two-month period that began just before the court heard oral arguments in March. By a 5-to-1 margin, stories with statements supporting legalization outweighed those dominated by opponents' views.  

The findings were consistent across various media: Almost half of newspaper stories showed at least a 2-to-1 margin of pro views to con, 8 percent were dominated by opponents, and 48 percent were largely neutral, Pew said. All three cable news networks had similar proportions of supporter to opponent content in their stories. 

But Pew blamed the results largely on the number of stories about polls showing societal attitudes swiftly moving toward support for gay marriage, or about politicians announcing their support.
That excuse seems unreasonable, considering an earlier Pew Research Center Survey found that 51 percent of the public favored legalizing same-sex marriage and 42 percent opposed it. Attitudes may be changing—but not as much as media coverage suggests.

Tim Challies - The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Tyndale New Testament |

The moment Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the university chapel at Wittenberg, he set into motion a series of events that brought about a great Reformation. This Reformation would soon spread beyond Germany and as it did so, it would forever transform the Christian faith. One of the jewels of that Reformation is now in the collection of the British Library: William Tyndale’s New Testament. It is the next of the twenty-five objects through which we are telling the history of Christianity.

William Tyndale was born in 1494 in Gloucestershire, England. Born into a wealthy family he had the privilege of studying at Magdalen Hall, Oxford and at Cambridge. He was a brilliant scholar who was soon fluent in eight languages. At Cambridge he studied theology, but remarked later that the study of theology had involved little study of the Bible. Also at Cambridge he encountered the teachings of Desiderius Erasmus and became convinced that the Bible alone should be the Christian’s rule of faith and practice and that, for this reason, every Christian ought to have access to the Bible in his own tongue. The established church regarded these as dangerous ideas associated with Lutheranism and the Reformers. His controversial opinions led him to a disciplinary appearance before the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, but no formal charges were laid against him.

Dr. Russell Moore - Eschatology Reading Lists |
  • Gregory A. Boyd, God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997)
  • Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1992)
  • Robert G. Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977)
  • Brian E. Daley, The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology (Hendrickson, 2003)
  • Russell D. Moore, The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004)
  • Jeffrey Burton Russell, Paradise Mislaid: How We Lost Heaven and How We Can Regain It (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Jerry L. Walls, Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Marriage on the Line: A Timely Discussion

On June 24, Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church, led a panel discussion with David Platt, Paige Patterson, JD Greer, and Susie Hawkins on marriage, homosexuality, etc. It is timely in light of yesterday's Supreme Court decision. 

For more:
A Must Read: Open Season on Marriage Traditionalists
All Around the Web - Gay Marriage Special Edition
Our Strategy Must Change: Dreher's Word to Social Conservatives
A Must Read: Told You So
McCarthy Marches On: They Are Who We Thought They Were
Can It Happen Here? It Already Has: Metaxas on the Threat of Religious Liberty in a Pro-Gay Culture
A Must Read: The New York Times & Ex-Gays
Obama on Gay Marriage: The Full Interview
The Piety of Hate: Identifying the Real Source of Bigotry in the Debate Over Homosexuality
Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2  

What's Wrong With a Feminine God?: Some Quotations

In an earlier post, I raised the challenge of progressive Christians wanting to de-emphasize masculine language and names of God in Scripture (like Father and King) and replace it with feminine imagery of God in Scripture. To read how Dr. Bruce Ware responded to such trends you can click here. In this post, I want to highlight a number of the voices that made such an argument.

Brian McLaren

Secondly, Alice struggles with referring to God as ‘he.’  She is not alone: Many women, and men as well, resist (with good reasons, in my opinion) the idea of God as an ‘alpha male’ on whom one must depend.  That kind of dependence, they fear, only serves to reinforce a kind of weakness and ugly dependence in believers, while bolstering a chauvinistic worldview that places maleness on top of the ‘great chain of being.’  This is a huge subject, easily deserving a book in itself.  (I devoted a single chapter to it in Finding Faith, but apparently that chapter did not help her a great deal . . .)  But the very least a spiritual friend can do for someone like Alice is to understand the reason for her struggle, and assure her that there were good reasons for biblical language using predominantly, though not exclusively, male imagery for God (I mention some of these in Finding Faith), and assure her that God’s true essence both comprises and transcends the virtues we associate with both maleness and femaleness. -More Ready Than You Realize, 50-51

This is as good a place as any to apologize for my use of masculine pronouns for God in the previous sentence. You’ll notice that wherever I can, I avoid the use of masculine pronouns for God because they can give the false impression to many people today that the Christian God is a male deity. God Is not a male. Instead God is personal (we might say super-personal) in a way that human maleness and femaleness together image better than either can alone. Maleness and femaleness are biological categories, and God is Life beyond biological categories. -A Generous Orthodoxy, 74.

The masculine biblical imagery of “Father” and “Son” also contributes to the patriarchalism or chauvinism that has too often characterized Christianity, maybe even more significantly than the pronoun problem . . .

Significantly, seeing Jesus as the “Son of God” can actually help remove the macho-power and patriarchal dominance ideas often associated with God. Jesus comes not as a loud, bullying macho general but as a vulnerable baby.  Jesus lives as a poor Jew without ecclesiastical or political power and models not a conquering arrogance but a filial submission, not rugged independence but courageous obedience, not angry dominance that threatens with suffering but loving faithfulness that suffers instead.  If Jesus truly reveals and images God, this vision of God is vastly different from the tough, macho judge and angry male potentate that many people think of when they think of God. -A Generous Orthodoxy, 83-84.

But here is where our problem moves beyond the semantic to the practical. Along with our language limitations, through the centuries we humans have had - and still have - some very restrictive views on the females of our species  . . . These restrictive views have varied form culture to culture, finding expression n everything from forced female circumcision to excluding women from democratic processes, from considering them as uneducable to counting them as property. 

And no doubt, wherever languages like English lead people to refer to God with masculine pronouns, there has been the temptation to assume that god is actually masculine . .  . thus implying that man is more godlike, and woman less so - and thus justifying and perhaps even encouraging all kinds of oppression and subjugation and mistreatment of women. To remedy this situation, some have tried to balance "he" and "she" references to God . . . Others have tried to avoid using pronouns for God altogether . . . Still others have hoped that by capitalizing the first letter (e.g., "He" or "Him"), they would be showing that God has category of His (or God's?) own . . . thus transcending the merely human categories of gender; and others still continue to use standard English practice with masculine pronouns, keeping in mind their belief that God is not a male. -Finding Faith, 156-157 (see his broader discussion n 155-159)

Rob Bell

Watch Nooma 021 | She in Faith & Spirituality | View More Free Videos Online at

William Paul Young

[Papa says] “I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature.  If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I love you.  For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me ‘Papa’ is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

[Papa says] “To reveal myself to you as a very large, white grandfather figure with flowing beard, like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes.” -The Shack, 95.

Tony Campolo

God is greater than any theology or system of ideas we come up with about God.  God is not defined by our systems, by our theologies – not even by our firm convictions about him or her.  Yes, or her – for God also transcends anything we think we know about masculinity and femininity.  Check your New Testament Greek: against the masculine God the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the feminine gender.  Even the Trinity defies the systematic packaging that theologies try to give it. -Adventures in Missing the Point, 34 (See also his chapter "Does God Have a Feminine Side?" in his book Is Jesus a republican or a Democrat?)

More examples could be given. These are not scholars, but popular progressive Christians who have written best-selling books and worked with the rich and powerful.

For more:
What's Wrong With a Feminine God?: Two Points from Bruce Ware
Ware on the Trinity & Relationships 

What's Wrong With a Feminine God?: Two Points from Bruce Ware

It has become increasingly popular, particularly among progressive Christians, to de-emphasize (out of embarrassment really) masculine language commonly used to describe and name God. For example, God is spoken of as a Father or as a King throughout the Biblical text in both testaments. The rise of feminism has led many to call into question and even to reject such language. In replace of this patriarchal God unfit for modern times, these progressive Christians have sought to emphasize some of the feminine language used to describe God (for example, Jesus wanting to gather Israel like a hen gathers her chicks). Let us, therefore, speak of the Father/Mother and the Child of God (Jesus). Or, let us be done with masculine names of the Trinity (especially the Father and the Son) and replace it with gender-neutral terms like Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.

But if we are to take Scripture seriously, there are a number of problems with this approach. In his chapter on feminist theology and the Trinity in Wayne Grudem's edited book Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood Dr. Bruce Ware argues against this tendency. The first two points are worth noting here.

First, Dr. Ware notes that the Bible never employs feminine metaphorical language to name God. True, God is sometimes said to be or act in ways like a other (or some other feminine image), but never is God called "Mother" as He is often called "Father."


. . . one might be tempted to dismiss the above "factual" point by appeal to the inherently patriarchal culture in which our biblical language of God was framed. But appeal to culture shows just how odd and even unique it is that Israel chose to use only masculine (and not feminine) language when naming God. The fact is that the most natural route Israel might have taken is to follow the lead of the nations surrounding her, which spoke with regularity and frequency of their deities as feminine. That Israel chose not to do this shows her resistance to follow natural and strong cultural pressures, and it indicates that she conceived of the true God, the God of Israel, as distinct from these false deities. (238)

 These are two important and valid points. Regarding the first, many Emergents and other progressives have revealed a spirit of eisegesis rather than a spirit of exegesis. That is to say that they enter the biblical text with cultural baggage wanting to defend their presuppositions rather than come to the text seeking to understand what the text actually says and means. Yes feminine language is used to describe what God does, but never is God given feminine names.

Regarding the second point, this is one that I had not come across before and it bears emphasis. If we interpret Scripture purely through cultural lens, then perhaps the accusation of patriarchalism might stick. However, Israel stands out for two obvious reasons. First, they were monotheist. Egypt was very polytheistic. Assyria was very polytheistic. Babylon was very polytheistic. Greece and Rome were very polytheistic. And yet through it all, Israel remained worshipers of one, true, and living God. Secondly, Scripture uses strong masculine imagery and names for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps these early Jews were patriarchal, but the culture around them worshipped mostly goddesses. Israel resisted and avoided this tendency.

More could be said on this issue and Ware in his chapter has much more to say and I would encourage you to buy the book and read it for yourself.

For more:
Ware on the Trinity & Relationships 
Alumni Academy Christology Lectures From Dr. Bruce Ware
"Their God is Too Small": A Review
Reviews in Brief - The Trinity

All Around the Web - June 27, 2013

Ethics and Religion Weekly - Russell Moore | This is a good profile of Dr. Moore from PBS.

Watch Russell Moore on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Justin Taylor - God Sent What We Needed | This'll preach.

D. A. Carson:

If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, He would have sent an economist.
If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist.
If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician.
But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death, and he sent us a Savior.

WORLD Magazine - Marriage keeps kids out of poverty |

In 1965, the U.S. Department of Labor produced a report arguing that “the decline of the black nuclear family would significantly impede blacks’ progress toward economic and social equality.” The document, know as the “Moynihan Report,” stirred heated controversy. The Urban Institute revisited the subject this year.  

The new study again focused on the African-American community, and its disproportionately high poverty rate. Once again, it found that increasing single-parent households lead to poverty—but now the percentage of black children born to unmarried mothers is three times higher than it was in the 60s.

The share of white children living without fathers has also increased, but rates remain significantly higher among blacks. In 2009, nearly three-quarters of African-American children were born outside of marriage, resulting in 40 percent of black children living below the poverty line.

France 24 - 'Intersex' included on Australia's new gender guidelines |

The Australian government has announced new guidelines on gender recognition which state that individuals should be given the option of selecting "male", "female" or "intersex" on their personal documents.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the new guidelines, which come into operation from July 1, will make it simpler for people to establish or change their sex or gender in personal records held by federal government departments and agencies.

"We recognise individuals may identify, and be recognised within the community, as a gender other than the gender they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as an indeterminate gender," Dreyfus said in a statement Thursday.

Thom Rainer - How Long Does a Pastor Preach? |  I'm around 31-35 minutes usually.

Most of the respondents gave me a time range. In each of those cases, I took the midpoint of the range they gave me. Here are the results, mostly in increments of five minutes:

Less than 15 minutes — 1%

15 to 20 minutes — 1%

21 to 25 minutes — 5%

26 to 30 minutes — 18%

31 to 35 minutes — 23%

36 to 40 minutes — 18%

41 to 45 minutes — 26%

46 to 50 minutes — 1%

51 to 55 minutes — 4%

56 to 60 minutes — 1%

More than 60 minutes — 1%

Here are some quick observations:

  • Very few pastors are preaching a very short sermon or a very long sermon. Only 2% preach a sermon that lasts less than 20 minutes. And only 2% preach a sermon that goes over 55 minutes.
  • Most pastors preach sermons lasting in a relatively small range: from 26 minutes to 45 minutes. Of those reporting, 85% of the sermons fell in that time range.
  • The median of all the times reported was 36 minutes. That means that 50% of the sermons were shorter than 36 minutes, and 50% were longer than 36 minutes.
  • Among the laypersons who offered comments, six out of ten thought the length of the pastor’s sermon was just right. Four out of ten thought the sermon was too long. None thought the sermon was too short.
  • Some pastors would like to preach longer, but they are constrained by radio, television, multiple services, or pressure from church members. I do not have an estimate of how many pastors would like to preach longer than they currently do.

If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor.

The main reason why people watch beauty pageants.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Must Read: Open Season on Marriage Traditionalists

At his blog, Dr. Denny Burk links and highlights a few paragraphs from an article written by Rod Dreher regarding today's Supreme Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8. The article is simple titled Scalia: ‘Open Season On Marriage Traditionalists' and pays particular attention to the dissenting paper written by Justice Antonin Scalia.

First, Dreher quotes from Scalia's dissent. Here are some of the highlights.

However, even setting aside traditional moral disapproval of same-sex marriage (or indeed same-sex sex), there are many perfectly valid—indeed, downright boring—justifying rationales for this legislation. Their existence ought to be the end of this case. For they give the lie to the Court’s conclusion that only those with hateful hearts could have voted “aye” on this Act. . . . By holding to the contrary, the majority has declared open season on any law that (in the opinion of the law’s opponents and any panel of like-minded federal judges) can be characterized as mean-spirited.

The majority concludes that the only motive for this Act was the “bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” . . . Bear in mind that the object of this condemnation is not the legislature of some onceConfederate Southern state . . ., but our respected coordinate branches, the Congress and Presidency of the United States. . . . It makes only a passing mention of the “arguments put forward” by the Act’s defenders, and does not even trouble to paraphrase or describe them.
See ante, at 21. I imagine that this is because it is harder to maintain the illusion of the Act’s supporters as unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob when one first describes their views as they see them.

The Court mentions none of this. Instead, it accuses the Congress that enacted this law and the President who signed it of something much worse than, for example, having acted in excess of enumerated federal powers—or even having drawn distinctions that prove to be irrational. Those legal errors may be made in good faith, errors though they are. But the  majority says that the supporters of this Act acted with malice—with the “purpose” (ante, at 25) “to disparage and to injure” same-sex couples. It says that the motivation for DOMA was to “demean,” ibid.; to “impose inequality,” ante, at 22; to “impose . . . a stigma,” ante, at 21; to deny people “equal dignity,” ibid.; to brand gay people as “unworthy,” ante, at 23; and to “humiliat[e]” their children, ibid.

I am sure these accusations are quite untrue. To be sure (as the majority points out), the legislation is called the Defense of Marriage Act. But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.
This is strong language from Justice Scalia, but I concur with his sentiment. The primary argument used by same-sex defenders has been one of compassion while demeaning the other side with inaccurate names of hate, bigotry, and immoral. Scalia makes a good point in arguing that defending traditional marriage is no more hateful than defending the Constitution of the United States. To say no does not automatically equal hate and yet that is exactly what defenders of traditional marriage have been told.

In addition, defenders of traditional marriage have for years made arguments regarding what is best for family, men and women, children, and society at large and yet all of that has been written off as the babbling of baboons. In addition the argument typical referred to as the slippery slope has been put forward with clear evidence. If standing on moral grounds equals bigotry than there is nothing to keep society, and now the courts, from embracing as a Constitutional right any and all forms of sexual vice and marriage including, but not limited to, polygamy, polyamory, incest, and the lowering of the age of consent.

Finally, the implications this decision, and the future decision that will snowball from this one, affects religious liberty. Dreher concludes his article thus:
Scalia has chillingly illuminated the future for marriage traditionalists: the only reason to oppose same-sex marriage is hate. In constitutional law, there is no rational basis for supporting traditional marriage. Henceforth, the Court has declared open season on religious and social conservatives and their institutions. Given the majority’s holding that hatred is the only plausible explanation for denying same-sex marriage, I see no reason why the Supreme Court will not declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right.

And the logic of the Court’s language here ought to put fear into the hearts of anyone who does not share the belief that homosexuality is morally neutral, or morally good. The Supreme Court says we are haters, full stop. You know the liberal mind: thoughtcrime cannot be allowed to exist. How can the federal government maintain a tax exemption for churches that hew to the Biblical teaching on homosexuality, given that the Supreme Court now has put opposition to homosexuality in the same category as racism? We live in interesting times.
I suspect that in the coming days a lawsuit will be filed from a gay couple who have been denied to marry on church property. Do I, as a pastor, still have the freedom to deny certain couples, heterosexual or homosexual, access to our church property or can I refuse to marry them on convictional grounds?

As Dreher says, we do live in interesting times, but the gospel is greater than this. Regardless of where the winds of culture blow, Christians remain a victorious people not because of any decision from the oligarchs at the Supreme Court, but because Jesus is not dead. The tomb is empty. Regardless of any opposition the church faces our King reigns, the Kingdom is coming (and is already here), and our hope is in him.

Rob Dreher - Scalia: 'Open Season On Marriage Traditionalists'
Denny Burk - A sweeping decision in the DOMA case

For more:
All Around the Web - Gay Marriage Special Edition
Our Strategy Must Change: Dreher's Word to Social Conservatives

A Must Read: Told You So
McCarthy Marches On: They Are Who We Thought They Were
Can It Happen Here? It Already Has: Metaxas on the Threat of Religious Liberty in a Pro-Gay Culture
A Must Read: The New York Times & Ex-Gays
Obama on Gay Marriage: The Full Interview
The Piety of Hate: Identifying the Real Source of Bigotry in the Debate Over Homosexuality
Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2 

All Around the Web - Gay Marriage Special Edition

Russell Moore - How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness? | You should always begin with Dr. Moore.

The Supreme Court has now ruled on two monumental marriage cases, and the legal and cultural landscape has changed in this country. The court voted to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and remand the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Proposition 8 case, holding that California’s Proposition 8 defenders didn’t have standing. The Defense of Marriage Act decision used rather sweeping language about equal protection and human dignity as they apply to the recognition of same-sex unions. But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the gospel?

In one sense, nothing. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is calling the cosmos toward his kingdom, and he will ultimately be Lord indeed. Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That’s why the gospel rocketed out of the first-century from places such as Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which were hardly Mayberry.

In another sense, though, the marginalization of conjugal marriage in American culture has profound implications for our gospel witness. First of all, marriage isn’t incidental to gospel preaching.

There’s a reason why persons don’t split apart like amoebas. We were all conceived in the union between a man and a woman. Beyond the natural reality, the gospel tells us there’s a cosmic mystery (Eph. 5:32).

R. Albert Mohler - “Waiting for the Other Shoe” — The Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage |

On the last day of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today on two same-sex marriage cases. Both are important cases, and both will go far in redefining the most basic institution of human civilization. The Court knew it was making history. A majority of the justices clearly intended to make history, and future generations will indeed remember this day. But for what?

In the first decision handed down today, the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, is unconstitutional. Specifically, it found that the federal government’s refusal to recognize a same-sex marriage that is legal in a state to be unconstitutional. The Court left in place the DOMA provision that protects states from being required to recognize a same-sex union that is valid in another state. In the Proposition 8 case, the Court’s majority held that the plaintiffs in the case, representing the people of California, lacked legal standing to appeal the lower court’s decisions that found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. In 2008, a majority of voters in California passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in that state as the union of a man and a woman, effectively overturning a California Supreme Court ruling that had legalized same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in that case today means that the decision of the Federal District Court stands, presumably meaning that same-sex marriage will be legal again in California. This is presumably the case, but not necessarily, because of disputed provisions in California law. Courts in that state will have to sort out those issues

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases |

1. The two cases, United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, are each based on differing -- and perhaps mutually exclusive -- theories of which level of government has the right to define marriage.
2. United States v. Windsor was a direct challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
3. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law that restricts federal marriage benefits and required inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages.
4. In a 5-4 decision on Windsor, the Court struck down DOMA  and ruled that the federal statute is an unconstitutional deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
5. In Windsor, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia wrote dissenting opinions, claiming the Court lacks jurisdiction to review the decisions and that Congress acted constitutionally in passing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
6. Hollingsworth v. Perry was a case challenging whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
7. Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections.
8. In a 5-4 decision on Perry, the Court ruled that opponents of same-sex marriage did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial years earlier.
9. The Perry decision makes same-sex marriage legal again in California.

WORLD Magazine - Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, but passes on Prop 8 |

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote Wednesday, ruled that proponents of California’s Proposition 8, which is a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, did not have standing in the case to appeal it at the federal level. The decision not to decide leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. California officials likely will rely on that ruling to allow the resumption of same-sex marriages in about a month. 

The high court said nothing about the validity of same-sex marriage in California and roughly three-dozen other states. 

The vote was not along ideological lines. 

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Antonin Scalia.

TIME Magazine - In Landmark Ruling, Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense Of Marriage Act |

Seventeen years after a Democratic president signed a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down Wednesday, capping one of the fastest civil rights shifts in the nation’s history.

In a landmark 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by President Bill Clinton, is an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The Court broke along familiar ideological lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion, joining his four more liberal counterparts. “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment,” Kennedy wrote. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Samuel Alito filed separate dissents to the Court’s decision. Scalia delivered a lengthy and scathing oral dissent in court as after the decision was announced.

The offending section of the law, which sailed through Congress in 1996, restricted gay couples from receiving more than 1,000 benefits accorded to married couples, even if they were legally married in the states where they reside. In a forceful indictment of the law, Kennedy cited the contradictions between state and federal statutes as among the reasons for striking down the measure.

Last week, the largest Christian ministry devoted to helping homosexuals struggle against their attractions apologized to the gay community and announced it was shutting down.

Today the Supreme Court of the United States struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996. The Supreme Court also declined to rule on Proposition 8 from California (Christianity Today has the full story here).

In doing so, same-sex marriage remains a state issue and (although this is not completely clear that this time) it appears to remain legal in California, as it is in 12 other states and the District of Columbia. Also, the United States government will recognize the legality of those marriages with respect to federal benefits. (I'll update this paragraph as the ruling is analyzed, but this is the first look.)

Needless to say, our culture is changing-- quickly and dramatically on this issue. But how should Christians respond?

Our typical response has been to post on blogs, write articles, and send tweets to shout about our opinion and speak out against those who differ. But, I'm not sure that is all we should be doing. Why? Because courts don't determine biblical morality, and regardless of what government does, churches shouldn't stop their mission.

1. The Loss of a Culture of Marriage
2. Threats to Religious Liberty
3. The Cost of Conviction

John Stonestreet - The Supreme Court, Marriage, and Us |

We should hear today the Supreme Court’s decisions on two cases which will significantly impact the legal definition of marriage in America. However, Christians must not think that this will in some way “settle the matter.”  Whether the legal definition of marriage is upheld or overturned in law, the functional definition of marriage is already thoroughly wrong in culture, and too often, in the church.

So, we’ve got work to do. And, we can look at the breadth of the pro-life movement for lessons learned. As long as it’s a joke on sitcoms that marriage ruins men’s lives and stunts teenagers freedoms, we’ve got artistic work to do. As long as tax laws penalize marriage, we’ve got legal work to do. As long as cohabitation is the choice for young couples, we’ve got mentoring work to do. And as long as we cannot articulate over the back fence what marriage is for, we’ve got training in pro-marriage apologetics to do.

The Weekly Standard - Clinton Hails Supreme Court Overturning Law He Signed | As the headline says, a former president celebrates the supreme court tearing down a law he signed. We have come a long way in 20 years.

President Bill Clinton released a statement, together with his wife Hillary Clinton, hailing the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill he signed into law in 1996.

"By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union. We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California. We applaud the hard work of the advocates who have fought so relentlessly for this day, and congratulate Edie Windsor on her historic victory," the Clintons' statement reads.

Denny Burk - A sweeping decision in the DOMA case |

The Supreme Court just struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In doing so, the court issued a sweeping judgment that in my view will lead to a constitutional right to gay marriage in very short order. One test case should do the trick. 

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, and there are some elements in it that are chilling—as Justice Scalia makes clear in his scathing dissenting opinion. The Court’s majority holds in contempt anyone who defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

CNN - Religious reactions to #SCOTUS decisions

Washington Examine - Obama: I won’t make churches conduct gay marriages | I guess I should gravel at his feet and say "Thank you Mr. President for perserving my religious liberty."

Here’s Obama’s full statement:
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal — and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.  How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.  Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts:  when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

Hump Day Humor: Don't Try to Fix Her

Why Death by Electric Chair is Nothing Like Crucifixion

All Around the Web - June 26, 2013

John Stonestreet - The Image of God |

RC Sproul - Does God Change His Mind? | I believe the doctrine of God's immutability is sorely overlooked.

To “change one’s mind,” in the New Testament means to repent. When the Bible speaks of my repenting or your repenting, it means that we are called to change our minds or our dispositions with respect to sin—that we are to turn away from evil. Repent is loaded with these kinds of connotations, and when we talk about God’s repenting, it somehow suggests that God has to turn away from doing something wicked. But that’s not what is always meant when the Bible uses this word.

Using a word like repentance with respect to God raises some problems for us. When the Bible describes God for us, it uses human terms, because the only language God has by which to speak to us about himself is our human language. The theological term for this is anthropomorphic language, which is the use of human forms and structures to describe God. When the Bible talks about God’s feet or the right arm of the Lord, we immediately see that as just a human way of speaking about God. But when we use more abstract terms like repent, then we get all befuddled about it.

Denny Burk - The question Rep. Pelosi won’t answer | The question she refused the answer was, "So the question I have for you is what is the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did to a baby born alive at 23 weeks and aborting her moments before birth?" The reason is because there is no logical answer.

Denny Burk - The Case for Plural Marriage: The slippery slope gets slicker and steeper | This was inevitable.

The redefinition of legal marriage in our culture will not end with same sex “marriage.” The polygamists are waiting in the wings for the opportunity to make their case—a case that will be all the more compelling as arguments for gay “marriage” take hold across the country. If marriage becomes defined as legal recognition of whoever it is that you love, on what basis will the polygamists be excluded?

But redefinition won’t end with polygamous marriage either. The polyamorists are beginning to make their case as well. In an article for Slate magazine, Jillian Keenan argues that polyamorous unions should be on an equal footing with all other marriages. The polyamorous “family” featured in the article includes two men and two women, all of whom share one another sexually. Their relationship is defined as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”
What does all of this have to do with legal marriage? According to the article,

Despite the stereotype of polyamorists as sexual anarchists who wouldn’t be interested in legal marriage anyway… 65 percent of poly families would choose to legalize their unions if they could, and an additional 20 percent would at least consider the option if it were available.

 Keenan goes on to argue that children can flourish just as easily in polyamorous families as they can in a traditional family.

Financial Times - Rural US shrinks as young flee for the cities | missions alert.

The population of rural and small-town America contracted over the past two years for the first time on record as young people left to search out work in the cities and birth rates fell, according to official data.

An analysis of US Census Bureau data by the Department of Agriculture found that although population growth in America’s rural heartland has risen and fallen for decades with changes in the US economy, the pace of decline accelerated in the years 2010-2012. And for the first time, the so-called “natural increase” in population – total births minus deaths – was insufficient to offset the loss from those migrating away.

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The net loss of population represents a natural increase of 135,000 offset by a larger loss from out-migration of 179,000, a drop of 0.9 per cent.

Moreover, so-called exurban areas, which have grown rapidly for decades as cities sprawled, also declined in population for the first time during the 2010-12 period. The rate of decline was marginal, but considerable in the context of the years 2004-06 when exurbs added roughly 500,000 to their population.

I know I'm late on this, but its pretty good and worth passing along even after Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Freed by Our Prophet, Priest, and King: Anthony Carter on the Work of the Blood of Jesus

From Anthony Carter's book Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accoplishesh Our Salvation:

As powerful as sin is, the blood of Christ is more powerful still. In Christ, the chains of our captivity have been broken, and the light of His grace has shone the way of freedom. But how has He freed us? Christ has secured our freedom because, in the shed- ding of His blood, He operated in the divinely ordained munus triplex, the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King. This is why He is called “the faithful witness” (as Prophet); “the first- born of the dead” (as Priest); and “the ruler of kings on earth” (as King). In the threefold office of Christ, we are granted our freedom from sin.

As Prophet, Jesus pronounced an end to all our sin. In the Old Testament, the prophet was the mouthpiece of God to the people. In fact, the prophet often prefaced his words by saying, “Thus says the Lord.” As God’s mouthpiece, the prophet spoke the words of indictment against the people for their sin (Isa. 1:4) and called them to repentance (v. 18). The prophet pronounced the forgiveness and pardon of God (Isa. 40:1–2). Jesus, as the final and sufficient Prophet, has done all of these for us. He came not just proclaiming the Word of God; He is the Word of God (John 1:1). He came to the world because of sin (Matt. 1:21). He proclaimed our need to repent and believe on Him (Mark 1:15). And He proclaimed our pardon and forgiveness for sin (Col. 1:14).

As Priest, Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for all our sin. In the Old Testament, the high priest was the mediator between the holy God and His sinful people. As mediator, the high priest entered the Holy Place and offered a sacrifice to God on behalf of the people once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:34). He sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat “because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins” (Lev. 16:16). This he did year after year after year. Christ, as our Mediator and High Priest, not only offered the sacrifice (once and for all), but He is the sacrifice. Like the high priest of old, Christ entered the Holy Place, but unlike the high priest, He entered to offer Himself. He had to enter only one time, for He sprinkled His own blood on the mercy seat. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this cre- ation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb. 9:11–14)

As King, Jesus rules in such a way as not to allow sin to reign over us any longer. In the Old Testament, the monarchy was established for the peace, prosperity, and welfare of the nation. The prototype king was David. No king was ever as beloved as he was. He was God’s viceregent among the people. With David on the throne, the nation of Israel could say, “All is well.” Few things comfort a nation more than having a ruler of righteousness and strength sitting on the throne of power. It was said of David that he “reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people” (2 Sam. 8:15). However, we have a King greater than David. Christ came in the line of David as David’s son and yet also as David’s Lord (Matt. 22:42–45). He is “the ruler of kings on earth” (Rev. 1:5) and “King of kings and Lord of lords” (19:16), including David. He rules with perfect justice and equity. As our King, He has fought our battles and now rules in such a way that sin never can reign over us (Rom. 6:7–14). (110-113)

For more:
"Blood Work" by Anthony Carter: A Review
John Knox on the Threefold Office of Christ

"The Cross of Christ" by John Stott: A Review
"In My Place, Condemned He Stood"
"It is Well"
"Precious Blood": A Review 
"Death by Love" by Mark Driscoll 
Its Not Just a Theory: Stott on Penal Substitution
John Stott on the The Human Enigma
Theology Thursday | Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution: A Review of the Evidence
Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Social Gospel
God as Butcher: McLaren on Penal Substitution  
The Postmodern Social Gospel:  Brian McLaren Proves My Point  
Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Social Gospel
Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution:  A Look at the Evidence
Allison: A History of the Doctrine of the Atonement
"Salvation Brings Imitation": Piper on Christus Exemplar
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 1 - Introduction
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 2 - Christus Exemplar and the doctrine of sin and depravity
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 3 - The History of Christus Exemplar
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 4 - Christus Exemplar and Humility
Sanctification Demands It: The Necessity of the Atonement 

All Around the Web - June 25, 2013

Wall Street Journal - Why Dads Don't Take Paternity Leave |

Firms are catching on to paternity leave. Dads? Not so much.

Yahoo Inc. announced in April that new fathers can take eight weeks off at full pay. Bank of America Corp. offers 12 weeks of paid leave, and Ernst & Young a few years ago bumped its leave policy from two weeks to six. Fifteen percent of U.S. firms provide some paid leave for new fathers, according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management to be released on Father's Day.

It sounds like progress, but in reality men are reluctant to take time off for a variety of reasons, ranging from a fear of losing status at work to lingering stereotypes about a father's role in the family.

Leave is the norm for women, but men have only become a part of the discussion as traditional housewife and breadwinner roles have shifted. Countries around the world, such as Sweden and Portugal, have mandated leave for fathers, but leave in the U.S. remains stubbornly short—if it is taken at all.

CredoWhy did Wayne Grudem leave Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for Phoenix Seminary |

Breitbart - Report: Homeschooling Growing Seven Times Faster than Public School Enrollment | I consider this to be good news.

As dissatisfaction with the U.S. public school system grows, apparently so has the appeal of homeschooling. Educational researchers, in fact, are expecting a surge in the number of students educated at home by their parents over the next ten years, as more parents reject public schools.

A recent report in Education News states that, since 1999, the number of children who are homeschooled has increased by 75%. Though homeschooled children represent only 4% of all school-age children nationwide, the number of children whose parents choose to educate them at home rather than a traditional academic setting is growing seven times faster than the number of children enrolling in grades K-12 every year.

As homeschooling has become increasingly popular, common myths that have long been associated with the practice of homeschooling have been debunked

Justin Taylor - So Why Are Performance-Enhancing Drugs Wrong? |

Justin Barnard—director of the Carl F.H. Henry Institute for Intellectual Discipleship and associate professor of philosophy at Union University—has done some helpful work on this and related questions. Here is an excerpt:

Thole point of using performance-enhancing drugs is to hit the ball harder and hence, farther. But while the ability to hit the ball well (e.g., hard) is a good, it is only one good, among many, in the game of baseball considered as a whole. And among those for whom it is morally bothersome, this is precisely what bothers fans when heroes are exposed for having violated the purity of the game.
Specifically, the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball violates the integral relationship that exists among all of the game’s goods considered as a whole by virtue of employing means (i.e., performance-enhancing drugs) which, by their very nature, treat a single good as though it were an exclusive end in itself (i.e., the good of hitting the ball a very long distance or even more basically, the good of raw athletic power or strength). By their very nature, performance-enhancing drugs work so as to maximize a single good (e.g., muscles that are bigger, faster, stronger, etc.). Moreover, the use of such drugs in baseball (or in any other sport for that matter) implicitly treats the single good at which the drug aims as though it were the most important or only good of the game considered as a whole. That this is false about home-run-hitting is illustrated by the robotic baseball thought experiment. If merely hitting the ball (very far!) were the most important or only good of the game of baseball considered as a whole, why not get rid of the players and replace them with machines? After all, we already have the technology to create machines capable of hitting baseballs farther than most steroid-enhanced players alive!
Of course, the thought experiment helps us to realize that home-run-hitting, exciting and important as it is, is merely one good among many in the game of baseball considered as a whole. Activities like the use of performance-enhancing drugs trouble us morally—not merely because of the conventions of the game—but more significantly because they violate the overarching goodness of the unity of the game’s goods, considered as a whole.

CBS New York - Seen At 11: Are Cosmetic Procedures For Pets A Good Idea? | I wish we treated our born and unborn children as good as we treat our pets.

From facelifts to nose jobs and even Botox, animal lovers are now spending millions each year enhancing their pets’ droopy eyes and cats’ crooked teeth.

But would you put your pet under the knife?

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Wednesday night, pets are now heading for the types of cosmetic procedures people have been getting for years – from braces and eye replacements to various lifts and tucks.

“I think it is becoming more common for clients to pay for cosmetic surgeries,” said veterinarian Dr. Chris Bern.

The Blaze - Doctor Compares Deadly Abortion Injection to a Flu Shot or Vaccine, Says Unborn Baby ‘Not a Thinking Being’ Like Adults |