Thursday, February 27, 2014

All Around the Web - February 27, 2014

Denny Burk - Are conscientious Christians the new Jim Crow?
I have no interest in defending the legislation that recently failed in Kansas. I think that good people can disagree on whether that particular law would have been a good idea. Nevertheless, Powers’ argument is disappointing no matter how you feel about the Kansas proposal.

First, Powers promotes the canard that somehow Christian business owners do not “want to sell its products to a gay couple.” That is bearing false witness. None of the Christian business owners cited in recent reports are refusing to do business with gay couples. They are happy to serve gay people, and they have served gay people. In fact, I think one of the business owners even had a gay employee. Doing business with gay people is not the issue. They simply do not want to be forced into participating in a gay wedding. That’s the issue, but that is totally lost in Powers’ article. And it totally undermines the analogy to Jim Crow.

Second, Powers invokes the “what would Jesus do” standard, and she offers her self-evident conclusion that Jesus would have contributed his part to a gay wedding (“he’d bake the cake”). But for many Christians, this conclusion is a far cry from the Jesus that is revealed in the Bible. Yes, Jesus often ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” (Luke 15:1). No, Jesus never did anything that was promoting or participating in their sin! Jesus was a carpenter. What if he were still around today to offer his services? Indeed, what would he do if a gay couple asked him to design a platform upon which to conduct their gay wedding ceremony? Powers would have us believe that Jesus would employ himself as the set designer for sinful unions. I am guessing I’m not the only one who finds this portrait of Jesus to be inconsistent with scripture (e.g., Matt. 5:13-19; Rom. 1:32).

Charles Krauthammer - The myth of ‘settled science’
I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30 or 50 years are white-coated propagandists.

“The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge. Take a non-climate example. It was long assumed that mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths. This fact was so settled that Obamacare requires every insurance plan to offer mammograms (for free, no less) or be subject to termination.

Now we learn from a massive randomized study — 90,000 women followed for 25 years — that mammograms may have no effect on breast cancer deaths. Indeed, one out of five of those diagnosed by mammogram receives unnecessary radiation, chemo or surgery.

So much for settledness. And climate is less well understood than breast cancer. If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?

Trevin Wax - Pagan Propitiation vs Biblical Propitiation
“Propitiation” is one of those five-syllable theological words that tend to break up polite parties. But it’s also a word that’s well worth the work of understanding, because whether we know it or not, all of us are walking around working on some sort of plan for propitiation. The big question is whether our plan is a Christian one.

The Ancient Meaning

Here’s what I mean: Propitiation is an ancient word, which we as Christians have in common with other world religions. To propitiate a god is to offer a sacrifice that turns aside the god’s wrath. Anyone who believes in a god knows that they need some way to stay on the friendly side of that god. So they give gifts to the god, or serve in the temple, or give alms. And if the god is angry with them, they pay a price, or make a sacrifice, or find some way to soothe the god’s anger: they propitiate him.

This description may conjure up images of animistic tribes cravenly placating their volcano gods by tossing in victims; and in fact some modern Christians have argued that, whatever the Old Testament may have been about, the New Testament can’t possibly have anything to do with propitiation. But the fact is, the idea that God’s wrath must be turned aside by a sacrifice is very much a New Testament idea. It’s just that, as John Stott has argued, “the Christian doctrine of propitiation is totally different from pagan or animistic superstitions.”

Thom Rainer - Seven Occasions When You Should Not Hire More Church Staff
  1. When it takes ministry away from the laity. There has been a tendency in a number of churches to bring on staff as ministry hired hands. The laity thus pay the staff to do the work of ministry. That approach is both unwise and unbiblical. A new staff minister should demonstrate that he or she will actually increase the number of people who will do the work of ministry.
  2. When you add staff according to the way you’ve always done it. Church practices are changing rapidly. Communities are changing. Technology is advancing. When a church is considering adding new staff, the leadership should see it as an opportunity to reevaluate what the needs in both the church and the community are.
  3. When it’s not a smart financial decision. There will be times when a church should take a step of financial faith to add a staff person. But that doesn’t mean that such a decision is done without prayer, study, and good stewardship. Make certain you are comfortable that the resources for the new staff will be available.
  4. When a particular group in the church pushes its own agenda. It is not unusual for groups in a church to want their “personal minister” to take care of their needs. Make certain that the addition is best for the entire church, not just a select few who might have influence or money.
  5. When a friend needs a job. Don’t hear me wrongly on this point. I am not saying that a church should never bring on a friend of the pastor, staff, or some church member. I am saying that an addition should not take place only on the basis of that friendship.
  6. When it’s just to copy another church. I’ve seen it many times. A church, usually a large church, has a new and creative way of adding and naming new staff positions. It won’t be long before I see churches all across the country making identical decisions. Certainly it’s okay to emulate a church if it’s best for your church. But don’t add staff just because another church is doing it.
  7. When you are unwilling to deal with a current ineffective staff member. Here is the scenario. A current staff member is obviously ineffective in his or her current role. So that person is moved to another role, sometimes a role that does not add true value. Then a person is hired to fill the role once held by the ineffective staff member. This workaround results in a bloated personnel budget and, usually, poorer morale among the effective staff. Be willing to make the difficult decisions before adding new staff.

Truth Revolt - Abortions Outnumber Live Births for Blacks in NYC
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a report showing that, among blacks, abortions are outnumbering live births. 

The report labels abortions as "Induced Terminations" and shows that in 2012 there were 31,328 abortions among the "non-Hispanic black" ethnicity group. For that same group, live births totaled 24,758.

The second highest number of abortions were for Hispanic at 22,917. Hispanic live births reached 36,642.

Both groups far outnumbered abortions for whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders who aborted 9,704 and 4,493 children respectively.

50 Interesting Facts About The 50 State Capitals

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