Archive for the ‘america’ Category

Once again, Mohler’s astute analysis cuts through the rhetoric, penetrating to the heart of the issue:

What the pro-abortion movement fears most is that Americans will pause to consider what this trial [of Dr. Kermit Gosnell] really means. It means that Dr. Gosnell would not be on trial for murder if he had killed those three babies while inside their mother’s body. His murder convictions have everything to do with the fact that the abortions were “botched” and the baies were accidentally born alive. Had the abortions been “successful” — even up to the last hours of pregnancy — Dr. Gosnell might have been charged with performing a late-term abortion, but not of murder.

And, speaking of late-term abortions, the abortion rights movement is against all legal restrictions on those as well. They insist on a woman’s unfettered right to an abortion up to the moment of birth.

Even more chillingly, a Planned Parenthood representative recently told a committee of the Florida legislature that even a baby born alive after a failed abortion should have its life or death decided only by its mother and her doctor.

This is America. A nation that has legalized murder in the womb and that now finds itself staring at what abortion really represents. Human dignity cannot survive in a society that insists that a baby inside the womb has no right to live while that same baby, just seconds later, is a murder victim. Respect for human life cannot endure when a baby inside the womb is just a fetus, but when moved only a few centimeters is a full citizen.

William Edgar, writing for Reformation21:

One of the most important [issues for Christians to work through] is social justice for all people, regardless of their background, or, indeed, sexual orientation. If marriage is not, strictly speaking, a right, nor a civil right, but a creation ordinance, what of the civil rights of gay people? We ought to be just as zealous to safeguard the rights of gay people as we are to safeguard marriage for monogamous heterosexuals. Not because they are gay, but because they are people, citizens, image-bearers. So legislators need to figure out the most equitable way to ensure that every citizen be given the proper access to social benefits, retirement, inheritance rules, etc.

And, surely, there is much repenting to be done over attitudes toward gay people that are hateful and prejudiced. I went to a boarding school many years ago, where the only view of gay people was “yuck!” Yet surely there were young men there struggling with their sexual identity and in need of compassionate counseling. Furthermore, those of us who are married (heterosexually) have a good deal of homework to do in our own families. It won’t do to criticize gays as unhappy, guilty, etc., if our own marriages are flagging. And then, the church needs to think through what it means to be celibate. Certainly this legitimate calling has also been maligned by sub-Christian attitudes.
 
At the end of the day, however, we do not recommend heterosexual marriage because it works best, because children may be born, or because it is the traditional view. We recommend it because God as [sic] ordained it, and it is a good thing: “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Heb. 13:1).
 
Read the rest of the article here.

When Christians Become a ‘Hated Minority‘” (CNN):

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a “postmodern” era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It’s an environment in which anyone who says “this is right” and “that is wrong” is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

The One, the Three and the ManyColin Gunton offers some penetrating analysis of this “intellectual tribalism” in his book The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity:

The characteristic peril of the modern is to be found in the tendency to homogeneity, to the intellectual and social pressures by which the distinctive individuality of people and things is endangered. … [T]he death of rhetoric is the reason why much modern political dispute takes the form of aggressive confrontation rather than rational engagement: the demonstration rather than the disputatio. Given the loss of confidence in argument, the noisy and potentially violent demonstration is all that remains. … [Alasdair] MacIntyre has argued that there is in the modern world a complete breakdown of a common language in which to argue and decide moral disputes. Listen, he says, to any argument about abortion or nuclear arms, and you will find that opponents speak past each other’s shoulders because they lack a common language in which to communicate. The reason is to be found in emotivism. …

A diagnosis of American conditions similar to that of [Wayne C.] Booth’s underlies Allan Bloom’s much discussed The Closing of the American Mind. … The problem is the cult of openness:

Openness used to be the virtue that permitted us to seek the good by using reason. It now means accepting everything and denying reason’s power. The unrestrained and thoughtless pursuit of openness, without recognizing the inherent political, social or cultural problem of openness as the goal of nature, has rendered openness meaningless … Openness to closedness is what we teach. (101-103)

UPDATE: Justin Taylor has posted a related article entitled “The Gay Marriage Campaign and the Despotism of Conformity.”  Check it out—it’s worth the read.

Russel Moore on the state of the America:

As Christians, we ought to recognize that the old majoritarian understanding of church/state relations is outmoded. Our situation today is not to hold on to some form of American civil religion. Our situation today is more akin to the minority religions of America’s past: colonial Baptists, nineteenth-century Baptists, early twentieth-century Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are appealing simply for the right to exist at all, in the face of an established religion armed with popular support and, in the fullness of time, state power.

It turns out we’re circling around to where we should have been all along: with the understanding that religious liberty isn’t “toleration” and separation of church and state isn’t secularism.

Indeed, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis note that we are already living in a “post-Christendom” context, and therefore should not be surprised when we are marginalized by society:

Christendom, however, is increasingly a spent force in the West.  Some of the symbolism remains.  The British monarch is still the head of an established church, and bishops still sit in the upper chamber of the United Kingdom Parliament.  But the reality of Christendom is fading fast, overtaken by secularism and pluralism.  The Bible no longer has authority in public discourse.  The church no longer has a privileged voice.  Church leaders still get invited to state occasions, but on matters of ethics they are ignored.  When the Pope visited the United Kingdom in 2010 he was greeted with all due pomp ad ceremony as a head of state.  But when it comes to his views on abortion and homosexuality, he is ignored by politicians and ridiculed by the media.  Lyndon Bowring, the Executive Chairman of CARE, said in an interview, “The greatest challenge … is the growing secularization of society, where Christianity is being increasingly squeezed out of our national life.  The ultimate result of this tendency will be a society that is hostile to Christian truth and practice.

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 19-20

Sobering words, but a timely reminder nonetheless.  Praise God our hope does not rest in the continuation of Christendom.  Rather, we trust in our sovereign Lord, who reigns from heaven and in whose hands the hearts of kings are but streams of water (Prov. 21:1).

Be sure to read the rest of Moore’s excellent article, “Louie Giglio and the New State Church.”

I don’t have any strong affinities for Rick Santorum.  For me, the jury’s still out on the best Republican candidate.  But, regardless of the candidate, what I can’t stand are ridiculous accusations of racism and/or discrimination whenever someone (usually a conservative) so much as mentions race.   And that’s just what happened recently in response to a comment Santorum made while campaigning in Iowa.

NPR reports:

At a campaign stop over the weekend, Santorum was asked about foreign influence on the U.S., but the former Pennsylvania senator went on a tangent about entitlement programs and appeared to tell a mostly white crowd that he did not want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

Now, of course, you have to dig a little deeper than NPR’s reporting if you want to get to the bottom of Santorum’s comment (although NPR certainly handled it better than the folks at The Raw Story, who misleadingly titled their article, “Santorum tells Iowans: ‘I don’t want to make black people’s lives better’“).

Here is Santorum’s comment in its full context (video):

It just keeps expanding — I was in Indianola a few months ago and I was talking to someone who works in the department of public welfare here, and she told me that the state of Iowa is going to get fined if they don’t sign up more people under the Medicaid program.  They’re just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That’s what the bottom line is.  I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.  I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families, and the best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling again.

The NPR article was quick to cite the fact that “the majority of welfare recipients are not black.”

But, as every informed voter would do well to remember, statistics are tricky.  Aaron Levenstein was right: “Statistics are like a bikini.  What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

For example, while it is indeed true that, with regard to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, African Americans only account for 22% of total food stamp recipients (as opposed to 34% for whites), that doesn’t necessarily mean that Santorum’s comment was completely off-base.  Indeed, while African Americans do not constitute a majority in this regard, the percentage of people who receive food stamps is much higher among the African American population (28%) then it is among any other race, whites in particular (8%).

So yes, white people do account for the largest percentage of welfare payments each month.  But that’s largely due to the fact that they make up the largest segment of the population (75% white compared to 14% black)!  The percentage of welfare recipients within each race tells a very different story.

In citing these statistics, I’m not attempting to subtly imply anything about “black people” or “white people.”  And I’m also not overlooking the many important factors that undoubtedly contribute to this disparity.  Those who often level charges of racism seem to assume that the citation of such statistics (whether formally or informally) necessarily implies some kind of generalized judgment (i.e. “White people work hard” or “Black people are lazy”).  But that’s just plain wrong.

Remember, I don’t have any special affinity for Santorum.  I’m actually quite ambivalent about the guy.  I also don’t have any problem with those (i.e. liberals) who disagree with Santorum’s opinion regarding the effectiveness of government sponsored entitlement programs.  However, to level a charge of racism (or something like it) is extremely disingenuous and unhelpful.  With poverty and unemployment levels much higher among African Americans than any other segment of the population, it seems that what the African American community needs is someone who wants exactly what Santorum wants: a plan to create opportunities for people to go out and earn money so they can provide for their families.

To say that is not to become a racist.  Rather, it is simply to acknowledge the way things are, which is the first step to figuring out how to make things better.

Skye Jethani writes (emphasis mine):

The New York Times conducted a survey of Christmas sermons in 1931 and reported a common theme: “the suggestion that Christmas could not survive if Christ were thrust into the background by materialism.” Another popular sermon of the period railed that Advent had become little more than a “profit-seeking period.”

Sermons about the pagan origins of Christmas or the danger of rampant materialism in Christ’s name are unlikely to be heard today. In recent years the dominant message heard from the Christian community during the holiday season has been precisely the opposite. Today, it seems many Christians are offended when unchecked materialism in December is not explicitly associated with Christ. The irony.

Since 2005, Fox News has deployed its minions to wage their war on the “War on Christmas,” and the American Family Association has pushed for a boycott of stores for not using the words “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal marketing. Like many public institutions, some retailers opt to use the inclusive phrase “Happy Holidays” which these groups interpret as a slam to Jesus Christ- the real “reason for the season.”

It amazes me that in less than a century Christians have gone from opposing over-consumption at Christmas to demanding it be done in Christ’s name alone.

He’s absolutely right.  The “war on Christmas” has nothing to do with the way we express our warm-wishes.  Far more harmful than any campaign to take Christ out of Christmas by a few liberals at the ACLU is when Christians act (and talk) like this holiday is primarily about stuff, singing “Silent Night” all the way to the nearest shopping center.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus.  It is the church’s memorial to the day that the infinite God of the universe humbled himself and became finite man, an event that J. Gresham Machen called “a stupendous miracle.”  And yet we so often turn our attention away from our glorious King…even in the midst of loudly proclaiming the importance of His name.

That’s the (true) war on Christmas.  Let’s stop fighting it.

Disclaimer: This post reflects my personal opinion on this topic.  I do not intend to impugn anyone’s motives, nor question anyone’s parenting decisions.  I recognize that there are godly Christians who would disagree with me on this issue.

I hear there’s a war on Christmas.  But when I look around, it seems that many Christians are fighting for the wrong side.

It’s ironic that so many people display such disdain for “Happy Holidays” and other politically correct phrases. “Keep Christ in Christmas!” they scream.  And, of course, I agree.  Christ should be at the center of Christmas.

But let’s get real.  Just preserving the word “Christmas” doesn’t mean we are keeping Christ at the center of this holiday.  Insisting that unbelievers honor Christ is just plain silly.  Additionally, Christmas has been mythologized and commercialized to such an extent that I don’t really think it matters what we say (I’m sure retail executives walk around saying “Happy Profit Days!” to one another).  This is especially evident with children: we’ve so tightly intertwined truth with fiction I wonder whether or not most kids can tell the difference.  The fact that Jesus was born in a manger is just as real as the fact that Santa sneaks down chimneys in the dead of night.  The only difference is that Santa hands out free candy canes at the mall.

About that fat man in a red suit…  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying magical characters like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and of course, good ol’ St. Nick.  The songs, movies, and decorations are all fun.  However, my appreciation for such fictional characters stops far short of thinking it’s a good idea to deceive my children into believing they actually exist.  That, in my opinion, just isn’t helpful (let alone moral – just stop and think about it for a few minutes).  Kids are going to get the “Santa” version of Christmas all day at school, at the mall, on the radio, at the grocery store, and on TV.  But when they’re with me and in my house, I want the focus to be right.  I want the focus to be on Jesus Christ, God with us.

Because that’s what Christmas is all about: God, and his generosity in becoming one of us, for our salvation.  It’s about the explosive beginning of what would be the most glorious display of God’s infinite grace in all of human history: the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son.

Why would we ever want to detract from that by directing our kids towards something that simply encourages selfishness, vanity, and materialism?  Why would we ever encourage our kids to delight in a few toys when they should be delighting in a magnificent God?

Additionally, what message are we sending to our kids when we finally reveal, after years of deception, that Santa isn’t real?  Well, we say two things:

  • First, we loudly proclaim that we are liars (which is ironic, as I would assume most parents work very hard to ensure their children tell the truth).
  • Second, we may unintentionally cast doubt on the other, slightly more important, “fantastical” story related to Christmas.  You know, the one about a virgin who inexplicably became pregnant and subsequently gave birth to God, only to be visited by shepherds responding to a bunch of angels in the sky and wise men following a magical star.  If you’ve just pulled the rug out from under your kids with regard to Santa, why shouldn’t they question this story as well?

I don’t ever want my kids to lump Jesus in with Santa, the Easter Bunny (don’t get me started), or the Tooth Fairy.

He’s just too important.

It seems to me that the real “war on Christmas” is well underway.  Sadly, many of God’s people have been complicit in the assault, heartily embracing a Christmas mythology that encourages greed and materialism rather than grace and mercy.

I know, I know.  Many of you will tell me to loosen up.  It’s just a bit of fun.  You’ll remind me that most of us believed in Santa when we were kids and yet turned out fine.  No harm, no foul.  And you’d be right; believing in Santa as a kid probably doesn’t cause many to lose their faith.  But my question still stands.

Why would we ever encourage our kids to delight in a few toys when they should be delighting in a magnificent God?