Monday, March 31, 2014

All Around the Web - March 31, 2014

Joe Carter - What's Wrong With Burning Aborted Babies?: A Common Grace Defense of Disgust
The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste in the United Kingdom, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found. The Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded 'totally unacceptable.' But before it was ended, at least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated over the last two years alone,

Commenting on the news, my friend Mollie Hemingway says, "People are reacting to this story with the natural revulsion one feels for such callous treatment of humans . . ." From what I've seen, though, the "natural revulsion" has primarily been expressed by those within the pro-life community. I suspect that those who have no qualms about the dismembering of babies would likely not be disgusted by the burning of their bodies.

Unfortunately, Christians have helped contribute to this callous disregard by undermining the role of disgust in helping to recognize and restrain sinful behavior. While we should never be disgusted by people there a broad range of human behaviors that we should find inherently disgusting. Yet while disgust was once considered a guide (albeit a fallible one) to God's natural law, we now chastise Christians for even implying that any sinful behavior can be disgusting.

Below I've posted a previously written essay explaining why all people -- but especially Christians -- should be careful about discarding the God-given emotion of disgust.

The Gospel Coalition - How to Preach Books of the Bible You Don't Like

Tim Challies - The False Teachers: Harry Emerson Fosdick
Harry Emerson Fosdick was not an original thinker as much as a popularizer who took the theory of liberalism from the seminaries and brought it to a common level. He wanted to modernize the faith by making it attractive to, and compatible with, modern times and modern sensibilities. At heart, liberalism questioned the nature of the Bible and denied its inerrancy, infallibility, and authority. Liberalism denied that the Bible is the Word of God and insisted instead that it contains the Word of God. Once Scripture’s authority had been denied, a host of doctrines would necessarily fall in its wake.

Fosdick questioned the essential beliefs necessary to be a Christian and began to challenge long-held, orthodox Christian beliefs such as the virgin birth, and the return of Christ Jesus. Robert Moats Miller, one of Fosdick’s biographers, wrote, “Fosdick could not believe that Jesus was virgin born. He did not ridicule those who did, but he was adamant that such belief was not essential to acceptance of Christian faith. … Fosdick doubted whether Jesus ever thought of himself as the Messiah; perhaps he did, but more probably Jesus’ disciples may have read this into his thinking.” He also denied the wrath of God, suggesting that wrath was simply a metaphor for the natural consequences of doing wrong. With wrath removed, it was inevitable that the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ would also be denied. Before long Fosdick’s Christianity looked nothing like historic Christianity.

In a later sermon, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism,” Fosdick spoke of his methodology in modernizing the Christian faith, saying, “We have already largely won the battle we started out to win; we have adjusted the Christian faith to the best intelligence of our day and have won the strongest minds and the best abilities of the churches to our side. Fundamentalism is still with us but mostly in the backwaters. The future of the churches, if we will have it so, is in the hands of modernism.” Of course, he was too optimistic, and too blinded by his own success. Liberalism posed a major challenge to the faith, but like all other challengers, it would rise and then wane.

Timothy Paul Jones - Church History: The Legacy of William Wilberforce

Baker Academic - The Need for Expository Preaching – an Excerpt from Biblical Preaching, 3rd Edition
Those in the pulpit face the pressing temptation to deliver some message other than that of the Scriptures—a political system (either right-wing or left-wing), a theory of economics, a new religious philosophy, old religious slogans, or a trend in psychology.

Ministers can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice at 11:30 on Sunday morning following the singing of hymns. Yet when they fail to preach the Scriptures, they abandon their authority. No longer do they confront their hearers with a word from God. That is why most modern preaching evokes little more than a wide yawn. God is not in it.

God speaks through the Bible. It is the major tool of communication by which he addresses individuals today. Biblical preaching, therefore, must not be equated with “the old, old story of Jesus and his love” as though it were retelling history about better times when God was alive and well. Nor is preaching merely a rehash of ideas about God—orthodox, but removed from life. Through the preaching of the Scriptures, God encounters men and women to bring them to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) and to richness and ripeness of Christian character (vv. 16–17). Something fills us with awe when God confronts individuals through preaching and seizes them by the soul.

6 1/2 seasons in, this is by far my favorite scene from The West Wing.

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