If This Is Such A Grievous Sin, Jesus Would Have Mentioned It

16 06 2015
Image result for jesus preaching

A post at Stand Up For The Truth describes the efforts of “progressive Christians” to “use the Bible to promote abortion”. It describes the effort among pro-choice “Christians” to establish the beginning of life at the point when the baby takes his or her first breath (rather than at the point of conception). The post cites an article on The Christian Left Blog (entitled, “The Bible Tells Us When A Fetus Becomes A Living Being”) making a case for life starting when a baby takes its first breath. I’ve already discussed the problems with such a view in a prior post, but I was struck by the final line in the Christian Left blog post:

“In the end, if abortion was such a grievous sin Jesus would have mentioned it.  He said nothing.”

I’ve heard this kind of argument many times over the past few years, applied to any number of behaviors that people are trying to justify or reconcile with the Christian Scriptures. I bet you’ve heard this kind of statement as well. “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality in all of his sermons to his disciples and the masses. If it’s such a big deal, Jesus would have preached on it.” There are many variations of this kind of argument, but all of them seem to miss the point. Jesus’ apparent “silence” on abortion or homosexuality do not result in God’s approval or affirmation of such behavior for the following reasons:

Jesus Agreed:
Jesus already acknowledged the fact that he was in complete agreement with the teaching of the Old Testament unless he specifically delineated a new line of instruction. He did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets… but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus Observed:
Jesus was a dedicated, devout and observant Jew. You want to know what he thought about homosexuality or abortion? Simple; just look at what other devout, observant Jews would have said. They most certainly would have affirmed the Old Testament teaching (like the teaching on homosexuality found in Leviticus 18:20 and 20:13)

Jesus Said More:
We also know that the gospel writers didn’t capture all of Jesus’ teaching on any of these topics. John said that “there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Don’t be so sure that Jesus didn’t actually teach against these behaviors.

Jesus Said Less:
But none of this really matters if you stop and think about it. Are we truly going to take the position that any behavior that Jesus did not specifically condemn is therefore allowable and approved by God? Really? How about bestiality? How about pedophilia? Jesus never said anything about these behaviors; you might say that Jesus said a lot less than he could have! Does this mean these behaviors are morally virtuous? Few would agree with that idea.

There are many things that Jesus “said nothing” about. This means very little, however, when you really stop and think about it. As Christians, we need to consider the entire counsel of God before we determine whether or not God’s Word approves or condemns a particular behavior.





The Seven Modern Sins

4 05 2015

Image result for sin

 

  1. Politics without principles.
  2. Pleasures without conscience.
  3. Wealth without work.
  4. Knowledge without character.
  5. Industry without morality.
  6. Science without humanity.
  7. Worship without sacrifice.

Canon Fredrick Donaldson





Environmentalism and the Christian Worldview

22 04 2015

I encourage Christians to care about the environment.  Things like recycling waste, treating water as a precious commodity, taking caution about what is released into the atmosphere, standing up for animal rights, etc. I come to the issue not just as a member of the human race on planet Earth, but as a child of the Creator. A Christian worldview will help us to see our responsibility to the environment and the sometimes faulty thinking of the the modern environmentalist. J. Warner Wallace gives his thoughts on the issue. Happy Earth Day.

Pastor Dave

J. Warner Wallace

38

Environmentalism From A Christian Perspective
As a Christian, I definitely understand my responsibility to protect and steward the natural environment. This responsibility is “grounded” in God’s purpose for me as a human created in His image. Adam and Eve were given “dominion” over all creation (Genesis 1:26-28) but they clearly understood this as a responsibility to “work” and “keep” the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Dominion is not reckless power; it is careful responsibility and stewardship. By the time the nation of Israel was established, God provided a number of laws to make sure His children understood the importance of His creation and they learned to respect and care for other animals (see Leviticus 25:1-12, Deuteronomy 25:4 and Deuteronomy 22:6). My concern for the environment is an act of obedience and respect for God’s creation. Everything in nature (humans included) began as a result of God’s creative act. All this created “stuff” is important to God.

Environmentalism From An Atheistic Perspective
But why should an atheist care about the wellbeing of another species? How is this concern “grounded” from an atheistic perspective? If everything in nature is the result of evolutionary processes and the “survival of the fittest,” why should we advocate for a species that isn’t “fit” enough to survive without our intervention? Why shouldn’t we just allow natural selection to run its course? Evolution is a merciless tyrant. It couldn’t care less about weak species that aren’t “fit” enough to survive. Why should humans care if some remote species of caterpillar is being extinguished in a region we need to use for a purpose benefiting us as humans? The argument that all life forms are inextricably connected to a delicate ecosystem is a weak effort to promote religious environmentalism. The archaeological record reveals the destruction of thousands of species apparently “unfit” to survive. The destruction of these species hasn’t inhibited our human survival. Why should we care when a modern species suffers a similar fate? From an atheistic worldview, fully submitted to the brutal and unguided process of evolution, none of this should be of any concern to us. Why should we even concern ourselves with the future of our own species? From an atheistic perspective, why should we care if the generation living today is the last generation of humans to ever live? In fact, many environmentalists I know would prefer this to be the case, given what they claim about human impact on the planet.

My Christian worldview compels me to see the environment unselfishly. The respect I have for my environment is more than simple utilitarianism. The “natural” world around me is a reflection of the “supernatural” God who created all species with the same love, attention to detail, and creative concern. As I learn to submit to my Maker, I come to appreciate everything He’s made. My concern for the environment is not rooted in my evolutionary status (allowing me to take advantage of the environment if it suits me). My concern for the environment is rooted in God’s supernatural nature and power (compelling me to care for the environment with the awe I offer the Creator). True environmentalism must be grounded in the Creator of our environment. The rights of all animals (humans included) must be grounded in the purposes of God.

 





The Power of Words

11 04 2015

 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

This is a wonderful, one minute clip filmed in Glasgow
Full of wisdom. . . . And very brief.
It’s not a joke, it’s not religious, it’s not political .
It’s just . . . Special. I think you’ll agree.
Please enjoy this one minute clip. It has a meaning for most of us.

 

 





Slavery in the Bible

9 04 2015

Am I Not a Man and a Brother? abolitionist medallion by Josiah Wedgwood

It is a good question asked by believers and unbelievers alike- “how come the Bible permits slavery”? How would you handle that question? Lawren Guldemond gives some helpful insight.  Pastor Dave

By Lawren Guldemond

In several of his letters, the Apostle Paul gave instruction that Christian slaves should be obedient to their masters, and Christian masters should be fair in ruling over their slaves.[1] Those letters are part of the Bible. Adversaries like to point this out and argue that the God of the Bible is in favour of slavery, and is therefore despicable and morally inferior to modern secular humanists.

If God is real and good, and the Bible is His Word, why doesn’t the Bible contain denunciations of slavery rather than apparent endorsements?

First of all, the Bible does prohibit slavery in its absolute form. Exodus 21:16 proscribes the death penalty for those who enslave others, and for those who buy the kidnapped victims of such slave traders. In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul reaffirms this by including enslavers in a list of denunciations (I Timothy 1:10).[2] Deuteronomy 23:15-16 prohibited giving runaway slaves back to their masters, and commanded that they be given refuge instead. If a master struck a slave and knocked out a tooth or blinded an eye, the slave went free (Exodus 21:26-27). If a master beat a slave to death, it was commanded that the master be punished (Exodus 21:20). Furthermore, the laws of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) mandated that everyone in bondage be set free every seventh year. Taken together, these limitations prevent the kind of unbridled despotism that slave owners practised in the antebellum American South. Observe that every one of these commandments was violated by those who ran the transatlantic slave trade and the southern cotton plantations.

The “slavery” allowed for in the Bible is not equivalent to the absolute slavery imposed on Africans in the New World.[3] The biblical model is better understood as indentured servitude. In a typical case, a free man who is struggling and failing to make a living as an independent farmer on his own land might decide to become a bondservant to a prosperous farmer in order to gain food security. According to Paul Copan:

We should compare Hebrew debt-servanthood (many translations render this “slavery”) more fairly to apprentice-like positions to pay off debts—much like the indentured servitude during America’s founding when people worked for approximately 7 years to pay off the debt for their passage to the New World. Then they became free.[4]

It was a provision for the welfare of those who became bankrupt, that they should become servants to others who were financially stable and competent and could therefore provide for them, in return for their service in labour. Biblical jubilee laws (Leviticus 25) mandating debt forgiveness, release of bondservants, and the restoration of farmland back to the family that had sold it all served to prevent those who fell into debt bondage from being trapped in that estate permanently. (For further reading, see the lengthy discussion of the nature of servitude in Hebrew society and the Gentile societies that surrounded them in the Ancient Near East (ANE) on Glenn Miller’s Christian ThinkTank website)





Christian Exiles in the American Culture

15 03 2015

Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence

by John Piper

American culture does not belong to Christians, neither in reality nor in Biblical theology. It never has. The present tailspin toward Sodom is not a fall from Christian ownership. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). It has since the fall, and it will till Christ comes in open triumph. God’s rightful ownership will be manifest in due time. The Lordship of Christ over all creation is being manifest in stages, first the age of groaning, then the age of glory. “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). The exiles are groaning with the whole creation. We are waiting.

But Christian exiles are not passive. We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Or we should. This is my main point: being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.

Being Christian exiles in American culture does not end our influence; it takes the swagger out of it. We don’t get cranky that our country has been taken away. We don’t whine about the triumphs of evil. We are not hardened with anger. We understand. This is not new. This was the way it was in the beginning –- Antioch, Corinth, Athens, Rome. The Empire was not just degenerate, it was deadly. For three explosive centuries Christians paid for their Christ-exalting joy with blood. Many still do. More will.





Loving Our Gay and Lesbian Friends

1 03 2015

The Gospel Coalition

Rosaria Butterfield has watched the game from both sides. Or played on both teams. Whatever the metaphor, the atheist-lesbian-professor-turned-Reformed-pastor’s-wife has a unique vantage point—one from which we have much to learn.

“Prior to conversion, my experience with Christians was that they were mostly fearful people,” Butterfield recalls in a new interview with Mark Mellinger. “They used the Bible as a punctuation mark to end a conversation rather than deepen it.”

The author of the popular book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Crown & Covenant 2012) [review | “Homosexuality and Christian Faith” TGCW14 workshop] insists that relationships—raw, honest, empathetic relationships—are vital:

How can you possibly have strong words without strong relationships? And how can you possibly have strong relationships without taking the risk of being rejected? If you want to put the hand of the lost into the hand of the Savior, you have to get close enough to get hurt. That may be a new idea for many Christians, but it’s the ground rules of the new game.

And by the way, she adds, “Don’t presume that the worst sin in your gay and lesbian neighbor’s life is sexuality. It’s not. The worst sin is unbelief.”

Homosexual activity is symptomatic, not foundational, Butterfield observes—a “fruit sin” rather than a “root sin.” As she explains, “The fruit of homosexuality is the ethical outworking of a heart and mind and identity that rejects the idea that God is Author and, by implication, that his Word has the right to interrogate my life, not the other way around.”

Is Butterfield fretting about cultural decline and hostility? Not exactly. “When Christians are ‘losing’ socially and politically, we tend to do better,” she notes. “We pray more, and we’re humble. And we don’t make moral proclamations in place of gospel invitations.”

Not only is Butterfield unwilling to rail against gays and lesbians, she believes they have much to teach Christians. “The gay and lesbian community is a real community,” she says, “from which the church has a lot to learn about standing with the disempowered and being good company for the suffering.” In fact, she often tells believing parents with gay children, “You will have to work very hard to love your son and daughter as much as the gay community is.”

Watch the full 19-minute video to see Butterfield discuss gay pride marches, gospel bridges, “heretical” reparative therapy, and more.