Tag Archives: Christianity

Quotes from Acton Institute Power Blog.

Many of these quotes put me in mind of leftists who cannot abide "Conscience Clauses" regarding forcing Christians to participate in the celebration of gay unions.

Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, “that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only be reason and convection, not by force or violence.” The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.

—James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance

While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the conscience of others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in this case are they answerable.

—George Washington, Letter to Benedict Arnold

Every man must give an account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in that way that he can best reconcile to his conscience . . . . It would be sinful for a man to surrender that to man which is to be kept sacred for God.

—John Leland, The Rights of Conscience Inalienable

 

I have learned that great articles disappear off the web.  So, with a clear disclaimer that if the author wishes, I'll make it private (so only I can read it,) and with a clear link to the article and appropriate credit, here is the text of

~~~

By Colin J. Smothers

In Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, John Piper speaks about two methods that can be used to commend a vision for biblical complementarity—the teaching that God has created men and women with distinct differences for His glory and our good.

The first method is careful, exegetical argument that demonstrates the plain teachings of the Bible on complementarity. We need people who do this, and we should be thankful for people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem for doing just this.

But the second method is just as important. This method is a robust portrayal of the vision of complementarity, and we are in need of people who do this, too. We need people who are able to show that God’s ways are good, that God’s ways are most satisfying.

Complementarianism is true not just because it is right, but also because it is beautiful.

And so I have excerpted below the introduction to John Piper’s chapter in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood because of the way he portrays his faithful parents living out complementarianism. Piper’s reflection on manhood and womanhood through the lens of his childhood is not only beautiful, it is compelling. It is compelling because it is God’s truth, and God’s truth resonates with us. It is what we were created for.

When I was a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my father was away from home about two-thirds of every year. And while he preached across the country, we prayed–my mother and my older sister and I. What I learned in those days was that my mother was omni-competent.

She handled the finances, paying all the bills and dealing with the bank and creditors. She once ran a little laundry business on the side. She was active on the park board, served as the superintendent of the Intermediate Department of our Southern Baptist church, and managed some real estate holdings.

She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn’t do.

I heard one time that women don’t sweat, they glow. Not true. My mother sweated. It would drip off the end of her long, sharp nose. Sometimes she would blow it off when her hands were pushing the wheelbarrow full of peat moss. Or she would wipe it with her sleeve between the strokes of a swingblade. Mother was strong. I can remember her arms even today thirty years later. They were big, and in the summertime they were bronze.

But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics.

When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson’s for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. These were the happiest times for Mother. Oh, how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership. Later I learned that the Bible calls this “submission.”

But since my father was gone most of the time, Mother used to do most of those leadership things too. So it never occurred to me that leadership and submission had anything to do with superiority and inferiority. And it didn’t have to do with muscles and skills either. It was not a matter of capabilities and competencies. It had to do with something I could never have explained as a child. And I have been a long time in coming to understand it as part of God’s great goodness in creating us male and female. It had to do with something very deep. I know that the specific rhythm of life that was in our home is not the only good one. But there were dimensions of reality and goodness in it that ought to be there in every home. Indeed they ought to be there in varying ways in all mature relationships between men and women.

I say “ought to be there” because I now see that they were rooted in God. Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God. He designed our differences and they are profound. They are not mere physiological prerequisites for sexual union. They go to the root of our personhood.

Excerpted from John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 31–32.

May God enable our churches and our homes to reflect His glory in living out His design for manhood and womanhood. Let’s not just know that God’s truth is true, let’s demonstrate that God’s truth is true.

From the Acton Institute Power Blog -
Persecution Of Christians: Will It Get Worse?

Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence. The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith.

~~~

SWEDEN: Surging Scandinavian Rape Wave Attributed to Who?

According to 1onews.com, “A woman’s chance of being raped in Sweden during her lifetime is about one in four which is about the same as the chance of being raped in a war torn country such as Syria or Iraq. When it comes to rape, Islamized Sweden is already in a state of war. Sweden does not publish statistics on immigrant crime. If we want a clue about who is committing these tens of thousands of rapes and other types of sexual assaults, we can look at to another Scandinavian country, Sweden’s neighbor Norway. In Norway nearly 100 percent of all Oslo attack-rapes (where the attacker and the victim did not know each other) in the last five years were committed by immigrants from “non-Western” countries. In the Norwegian city of Stavanger, 90 percent of rapes are committed by “immigrants.”

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Girl Meets God in the Classroom, Part 1

I had used Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God once before in class, an honors freshman colloquium on the theme of metamorphosis of body, heart, mind, and spirit. On the first or second day of discussing the book, comments made by a few students surprised, stunned, and, ultimately, silenced me.

“I wasn’t raised with any religion,” one student said, “so I can’t relate at all to this book.” A couple other students agreed.

And Part 2:

This one.

Dear Mom and Dad (and whomever else I made a hypocrite in the eyes of God), the letter-essay begins.

I suppose all the baptismal water has evaporated out of my pores by now. Every inch of my body must scream sin to you. I wonder what happened. When did I make you feel that you failed as a disciple of Christ? I am sorry that I made it impossible to keep the promises you made twenty years ago while I was crying in your arms in a gown of white. I feel guilty knowing that even though you believe in the existence of heaven, you do not have the reassurance that you will meet me there one day. I am sorry I do not believe in what you do.

~~~

Summary of the OIA Method

  1. Observation – what does it say?
  2. Interpretation – what does it mean?
  3. Application – how do I need to change?

I'll be referring to this often, I think.

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Why are 'Christian movies' so bad? Talking about Jolie, Zamperini, 'Unbroken' and wisdom from Robert Duvall...

I feel exactly this way about a "Christian book" that I'm reading.

 

I use the tag quite a bit, and will be using it quite a bit more.

Visualize the point where either faith directly impacts politics, or where politics directly impacts faith.

In the past, faith has informed our politics; our faith has a direct affect on how we see politics, how we vote, how we discuss the state of our country.  More and more, I see politics, or politicians, or the government itself having a direct affect on how people of faith are allowed to live out their faith.

Where people of of faith are forced by law to violate their conscience, visualize that point. Where people of faith are forced to act, or are prevented from acting.

Dictionary.com  defines "persecution as the state or act of being persecuted."

Persecute:

to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

With this in mind, I suspect that there will be more stories where faith and politics intersect.

 

First - It's HARD for me to memorize Scripture when I'm out of my routine.  But I'm wrapping up being able to quote the first chapter of Philippians.

But...what have I learned?

Summary of the "OIA Method" is here.

  1. Observation – what does it say?
  2. Interpretation – what does it mean?
  3. Application – how do I need to change?

The absolute basics:

thanks for believers, advance the Gospel, live to serve Christ.

But deeper - we (believers) are spiritual siblings - brothers and sisters in Christ.  More than that, we share grace.  Paul wrote, "You are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment, and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel."

When a spiritual sibling is persecuted for the sake of Christ, we should feel that grief along with them, and we are partakers with them of grace.

When we support a missionary in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, we are partakers with them of grace.

It puts a different spin on the "children of Christ" aspect and reminds me yet again that it is "all of grace."

from Aish.com by Dr. Gerald Schroeder

How did I get to this site?  My thought process was something like

  1. How old is the world?
  2. How old is the world according to Scripture?
  3. How can we best understand what Scripture means (answer: find out what the people who wrote it and originally read it thought it meant.)
  4. Who would know better what the ancient Jews thought...than ancient Jews?
  5. What is the closest we can get to that?

A lot of this made my head hurt.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder earned his BSc, MSc and double-Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics and Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

So...he's a smart guy  😉

Now...add to that, the Bible commentary he uses is all pre-1300 (so, no modern science has affected the reading of Scripture.)

In 1959, a survey was taken of leading American scientists. (...)Two-thirds of the scientists gave the same answer: "Beginning? There was no beginning. Aristotle and Plato taught us 2400 years ago that the universe is eternal. Oh, we know the Bible says 'In the beginning.' That's a nice story, but we sophisticates know better. There was no beginning."

That was 1959. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the echo of the Big Bang in the black of the sky at night, and the world paradigm changed from a universe that was eternal to a universe that had a beginning. After 3000 years of arguing, science has come to agree with the Torah.

Okay - when do the Jews say the universe began?  They start with Rosh Hoshana - the Jewish New Year.

"Hayom Harat Olam ― today is the birthday of the world."

Does it mean that (about)5,700 years ago, the universe came into existence?  According to this article, the "birthday of the world" celebrates, not the cosmos, but rather the creation of the human soul.

So (to use the article's wording) the Bible has two clocks.  The first "clock" is the time leading up to Adam, the second clock begins with the soul of Adam.

One of the reasons for seeing this concept is the language.  Is there anywhere else in the Bible where a "day" is described as "morning and evening?"  This bizarre word usage is used until Adam; after Adam "normal" human time is always used.

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations;(Deut 32:7 ESV)

Nachmanides (died 1270 AD) saw this verse as "split time" - "days of old" = pre-Adam; "many generations" = post Adam.

1 Comment

Phil and I have been discussing this exact topic - how Christian should respond to the state's newly revised definition of "marriage" and what to do when pastors can no longer, with good conscience, act as state administrators

In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.

As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.

The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.

Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name.

Drafted by:

The Reverend Ephraim Radner

The Reverend Christopher Seitz

Link here

This is my second time through this book, the first time I breezed through, this time I want to get at what he wants to get at.

Worship matters. It matters to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God. That's why it's so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it.

The first chapter is about how Kauflin started his career, and about a really dry spot he went through. Frustrated and tired, he was pointed again at the cross (a good thing.)

What I hope to get from this book HOW worship matters, as well as WHY worship matters.

There is a line that Sunday morning groups need to grapple with, that many don't: what is the difference between being in a performance group, and being in a group that deliberately leads a congregation in corporate praise?

That's not a matter of how to choose songs, that's a matter of leadership technique.

I am starting on a task: to memorize the book of Philippians. So far, I have chapter 1, verses 1-7 (7 is shaky)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,

because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

It struck me again, the "why" - it's the Gospel.

Why does Paul thank God for the Philippians? Because of their partnership in the Gospel.

What is the good work? the partnership in the Gospel.

Why does Paul hold them in his heart? they are partakers with him of grace (the Gospel)

I am puzzling over verse 7.

NIV renders it

whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

vs the ESV

or you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

It seems a little thing, in the NIV Paul comes first, in the ESV, the Philippians come first.

But it is a big thing:

In the NIV Paul puts himself first, and (given the lack of punctuation in the translation, is taking the credit for himself.

whether I am in chains or [whether I am] defending or confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me.

The two acts are as one - in chains or defending and confirming

In the ESV, Paul puts other first:

YOU are all partakers with me, BOTH in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel

the "both" specifically makes them two different acts.

The Philippians shared grace with Paul while he was imprisoned and they shared grace when they defended and confirmed the Gospel.

To me, that becomes important in knowing the character of Paul.

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I have heard it said (correctly) that the early Christians faced a moral world that in either the same depravity, or worse than what we see now.

Well, farther back than that.

If the Hebrew people had not lived surrounded by idolators and other evils, they would not have fallen in WITH them. So the evidence is that their world saw evil, as ours does.

The Jews just before Christ had forcibly dispersed, and some had returned; and the evil that they saw was as evil as today.

I think (purely subjective) that today seems more difficult for us because it appears so new to us. And (objectively) we do see things that we have NEVER seen before.

Was immorality rampant in 1st Century Rome? Absolutely. Was it worse than today? I don't know. Some say yes, others say no.

I think that we feel it more because Western Christians have long enjoyed "majority rule," thus staying safely wrapped in the insulation of tunnel vision.

The phrase "total depravity" best describes the world, and always has. We expect it.

We grieve - yes, for that depravity, but we grieve having to stand by, seemingly helpless, watching the DECLINE of our country and culture, at a breakneck speed.

Homosexuality is the best example.

Only a couple of decades ago, we (collectively) viewed same-sex-sex as abnormal. We knew gay people, we loved them as friends and family, but we loved them, not their chosen lifestyle.

Gay people sometimes (perhaps often) faced bullies and that should never have happened. People should never see bullying as acceptable.

In (culturally speaking) a very short amount of time, we see a decline.

- Traditional family unit (dad, mom, kids) and the gay community as outliers.

- A move away from the traditional family unit with the introduction of "consequence free sex" and "no-fault-divorce" (note: we do find good and Biblical reasons for divorce, and I don't find "nobody's fault" on the list.)

- With the traditional family unit undermined, open acceptance of the homosexual becomes tolerated by the culture

- As single motherhood becomes more acceptable, homosexuality becomes not only tolerated, but acceptable as a viable option.

- Demand of recognition of gay relationships becomes more popular, as does public spending for single motherhood.

- Demand of recognition of gay relationships becomes the demand that the culture view those relationships as identical to heterosexual relationships.

- The demand to see homosexual relationships as identical becomes the demand for culture (via "we the people") to sanction these relationships.

- the demand for sanction becomes the demand for approval

- the demand for approval becomes the demand for celebration by all people.

- the demand for celebration becomes the demand for participation, regardless of sincerely held religious convictions.

As Christians today look around and see our spiritual siblings SUED and FORCED to provide services to ceremonies found morally offensive, I find myself able to identify with Christians in other times and places, who steep in total depravity through no fault of their own.

We, who enjoyed cultural insulation for centuries, may find this a difficult transition. No, we WILL find this a difficult transition. From power to weakness, from majority to minority, from peace to persecution.

Is the "remnant" ready? I want to be part of the remnant - and I know I'm not ready. If the "steps of grieving" can be applied to this - I'm still in the "denial stage" but we need to get ready.

We need to be in the world, but not of the word. Persecution awaits, Jesus promised. Whether we will be found worthy of the persecution that HE endured, is yet to be seen.