Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's a Small World After All

World Magazine ran an interesting story recently:
    Between lacing children's films with sexual innuendo and offering support to a gay-rights agenda, the Walt Disney Company has hacked off more than a few Christians in recent decades. But the September resignation of CEO Michael Eisner, coupled with the company's impending feature-length foray into Narnia, has helped soften opposition—even convincing the American Family Association to call off its nine-year boycott.

    Now, Christians may find reason to move beyond neutrality to qualified support of the global leader in family entertainment: Al Weiss, a top-ranking Disney executive, is planting churches—doctrinally sound ones, and lots of them.

    As chairman of the board for newly formed Vision USA, Mr. Weiss aims to raise $300 million over the next 10 years for aggressive church planting in 50 of the country's most influential cities. The project is well underway in Orlando, where several million dollars of grant money will help open eight to 10 churches by the end of the year. Preliminary efforts have also begun in Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Nashville, Charlotte, New York, and Washington, D.C. ...

    ... Though affiliated with the Baptist General Conference (BGC), Vision USA has partnered with a range of denominations willing to affirm the Lausanne Covenant, male eldership, and Reformed theology—most recently aligning with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. ... (Full article)
In a time when most evangelical churches seem to be more seeker-friendly than gospel-friendly, it is encouraging to see more Reformed churches sprouting up.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In Defense of Christmas...Sort Of

'Tis the season to be melancholy. Haven't you heard? Christmas is under attack! Christians all across America are being persecuted! You thought Nero was bad? Our most sacred of days is being secularized and no one seems to be doing anything to stop it!

Is this a foreshadowing of the coming Great Tribulation? Are we about to see the fulfillment of Revelation 13:17? Will we wake up one morning and discover that we cannot buy Christmas presents for our loved ones unless our hands or foreheads bear the mark of the Beast? Surely we must be living in the End Times!

Okay, back to reality...

Yes, I believe there are assaults on the tradition of Christmas, just as surely as the world rails against anything associated with Christ and his church. But given the state of our secular, hedonistic culture, it really isn't all that surprising when some people are offended when you wish them a "Merry Christmas."

It goes both ways, however. Many Christians are just as offended when they are greeted with the words "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." "How dare you take Christ out of Christmas!" they shout, as they claw, punch and bite their way through a gaggle of shoppers for the last Xbox 360 on the shelf so that they and their spoiled children can properly celebrate the Savior's birth.

Don't get me wrong. Despite the fact that, after all this time, I still have not received a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, I love Christmas. It is a time set aside for fellowship with friends and family. It is also the time of year during which we focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. While that does make Christmas a significant holiday, there isn't anything especially holy about it.

Debate continues even within Christian circles about the origins of Christmas. "Its roots go back to the pagan rituals of ancient Rome," some will argue. "No," others reply. "Christmas is a distinctly Christian celebration and should be embraced." Whatever your particular view may be, the fact remains that Christmas is a man-made holiday.

Romans 14:5 says, "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." That is not to say that traditions aren't important or that churches shouldn't have special days on their calendars. But considering that the only celebration in remembrance of Christ that is called for in scripture is the Lord's Supper, can we really justify getting worked up simply because we don't see the word "Christmas" in a store display?

My point is that many of us have a tendency to overreact when we see things we don't like. That is especially true at Christmastime. We're geared up for a fight, and when we hear the jingle bells ring we come out swinging.

Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, once noted in a sermon that the weapons of the believer are "prayer and the proclamation of the Word." Those are the weapons we should be using. "As soon as we lay down the two weapons given by our Commander," Begg continued, "we will be forced to take up the weapons that are present in our culture. And so we become just another marching special interest group…"

The result is a boycott here and a lawsuit there in the hope that an unbelieving world will relent and allow us to express our Christian beliefs. Of course, what usually happens is that we end up looking every bit as shallow and selfish as the very ones we believe are out to get us. We forget to exhibit Christ's love in a fallen world.

Is that how we want to be seen? Is that what we are called to do? Is our dedication to the defense of the gospel of Christ defined by how ferociously we defend a particular holiday? Will our petty complaints about society's disregard for the "true meaning" of Christmas help us reach lost souls?

This Christmas, may we be less offended by the "secularization" of a man-made holiday and be more focused on living as examples of the One whose birth we're celebrating. The world doesn't need Christmas; what it does need is Christ.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Your Best Flight Now

No real comment. I just found this story interesting:
    A dispute involving the wife of Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen delayed holiday travel plans for a planeload of passengers, but few details were released Tuesday.

    At least some people aboard the Continental Airlines flight were less than pleased after waiting about two hours at Bush Intercontinental Airport while the Osteens left the plane and their luggage was removed, said a woman who witnessed the incident.

    "She was just abusive," said Sheila Steele, who said she was sitting behind Victoria Osteen. "She was just like one of those divas." ...

    ... Steele said Victoria Osteen was upset about liquid on her pull-down tray and asked a flight attendant to have it cleaned. When the attendant, who was carrying paperwork to the cockpit, told her she couldn't do it immediately, Osteen replied, "Fine, get me a stewardess who can," Steele said.

    She said Victoria Osteen pushed a flight attendant and tried to get into the cockpit. ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Christian Response to Adversity

If we listen to most evangelical "conservative" Christians, it seems we are supposed to believe that militant Islam is the greatest threat facing America and the church today. Some, like President George W. Bush and Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, see our "war on terror" as a holy crusade against evil. As Boykin put it, "The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan."

Now, I don't want to get into a detailed analysis of our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The reason I raise this issue is because I have heard some Christians talk about military action as if it were a legitimate means of advancing the gospel of Christ.

John Piper has some sobering words:
    The cross is our life and our joy and our only hope of fellowship with God. Therefore it is a great sadness when militant Islam calls all Muslims everywhere to fight the cross. But it is not new. Acts 9:1 said that Paul was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," and Jesus said that "the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2). It is breathtaking to read the transcripts of Al-Qaida tapes giving thanks to God for the successes of their killing.

    My greatest longing in response to this enmity is that Christians walk in the way of the cross. Yes, militant Islam is big and threatening. It may even be the true Quranic Islam. There are alarmists whose whole tone seems to awaken political and even militant responses from Christians. My concern is that as the church we distance ourselves from this kind of response and focus on the truth that we will never spread the Christian faith by the sword. Some Muslims may kill to spread their faith. Some Christians have. But it is not the way of Christ. It is not the way of the cross.

    Let us heed what Peter said, "But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:20-21). Militant Islam may call the Muslim world to arms against the cross. But the followers of the cross will never take up arms to proclaim or defend Christ. We will die to make him known. But we will not kill to make him known. And even if there be but a remnant of Christ-followers left, the Lamb himself will stand forth at the end and win.
Read the full article here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

How Do I Know If I Am Elect?

Stephen Doe tries to answer this question as succinctly as possible—and I think he does a pretty good job:
    When people first begin to learn about the biblical doctrine of election, one question that often occurs to them is, "Am I elect?" And the more they think about whether or not they are elect, the more uncertain they become. So, if you believe in the doctrine of election, how do you know if you are elect?

    The answer is really quite simple: You continue believing in Christ.
For a more detailed explanation, read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Emergent Church

I readily admit that I know next to nothing about the "Emergent Chruch." All I really know for certain is that these people are trying to change the focus of the church so that it fits in with our post-modern culture.

Thankfully, Chip Bayer sheds some light on the confusion surrounding this new phenomenon. (SPOILER ALERT: The phenomenon really isn't all that new.)

Take time to read his essays on the subject:If we are going to be effective in our ministry, we need to learn to separate the good from the bad.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lessons in Faith

When Dawn and I decided to adopt a little girl from China, it was a very easy decision to make. But it wasn't one that was entered into lightly; it was a decision based on faith.

We have faith in God's Word. We believe that "children are a heritage from the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). We believe that Christians are to reach out to orphans (James 1:27). We believe that all Christians are adopted (Romans 8:15). And, as we enter into parenthood, we believe that God will meet our needs (Matthew 6:25-34).

In my opinion, it is very easy to "have faith" in something. It is quite another thing entirely to put that faith into action, and I am continually amazed at the faith exemplified in the lives of strong believers.

One such person is my friend Dr. Dave Black. Dave is a teacher in every sense of the word. Whether he realizes it or not, he continues to be a source of inspiration for me and countless others who have gotten to know him through his online writings. One of the things I have learned from him is the importance of living a life of faith.

He and his wife, Becky, have been ministering in Ethiopia and are headed back there again. Here is an excerpt from the December 8 entry on his blog:
In 6 days we leave for Ethiopia, even as a border war with Eritrea looks more and more likely. Understandably, our friends are concerned about our safety. One of the most important things happening in our life as a married couple is learning to be completely dependent upon God and to face whatever comes our way—good or bad—as from His loving hand. As Hebrews 11 says, whether people are delivered or not delivered, in every situation they stand in a position of faith toward the outcome. Sometimes Christians are delivered, and sometimes they are not. Still they tell the king, as did Daniel, "We're not going to bow." The man of faith does not bow. He does not bow to the world, he does not bow to the government when it usurps the role of God, and he does not even bow to the church (or to its traditions) when it is on the opposite side of the Bible.

Our day is no different from Daniel's. We too are confronted by our own fiery furnaces, and we face one of two outcomes. We can say, "Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Via email I hear from people the world over that they are being convicted by the Lord Jesus more and more not to bow the knee.

I don't have sophisticated tracking services like some websites do, but I do know that our reading audience includes people from Africa, Europe, and Asia. More and more of them are telling Becky and me how God has been leading them to move forward in their lives toward a simpler, more biblical, and more obedient way of living. Sometimes that has brought misunderstanding and opposition, even from those who are closest to them.

Which comes first, material things or spiritual things? This question is, perhaps, the one most frequently asked. The gross materialism that characterizes our modern culture—even our church culture—is becoming more and more repugnant to these pilgrims. Do not misunderstand me. I do not deny the necessity of material things. The problem is when the "natural" things of life (or whatever terminology you prefer) become first place. I have to smile when I read of those Christians who, in the face of the evidence contrariwise, want to continue participating in the gross materialism of "the holidays" because they cannot give up their attachment to the "innocent" things of the season.

All of us should always have a burning heart for the spiritual over the material, for truth over tradition. We all need the Lord's forgiveness for this—I more than anyone. So, what does God require of Becky and me? Is it enough to say certain words? Is it enough to affiliate with a certain group? No. God wants us to affirm the exclusiveness He has revealed.

And He has revealed these things to us in a way we can comprehend and implement among the children of men. To say "Christ" does not help anyone. Jesus taught that many "christs" would come. The word must contain the content of who God is, what He has done in Christ, and therefore what the Gospel is. Nothing short of this is enough. While a student in Basel I heard the term christophoros. It means "one who bears Christ." It was used by the church fathers in distinction to another term, christologos—"one who speaks about Christ." The true Christian is one who does not merely talk about Christ. He is one who bears Christ far and wide. Cross-bearing and Christ-bearing. That is our task as we leave for the great unknown.
It is my prayer that Dawn and I can set that kind of Godly example for Olivia, whenever she comes home. I pray that we will strive toward a simpler, more biblical, and more obedient way of living. May we learn to forsake the false comforts and securities of this temporal world and rest in the eternal promises of our Heavenly Father.

* Itinerary and Prayer Guide for the Blacks' Trip to Ethiopia

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hearing the Pitter-Patter of Little Feet...Not!

If you haven't read Wednesday's post and the article that precipitated it, you may want to start there before reading on. The culture of death and its effects are felt outside the walls of the local abortuarium.

Sunday's Chicago Tribune ran a fascinating article by Vincent J. Schodolski taking a look at the rise of childlessness among married couples. According to the article, a whopping 18 percent of women age 40 to 44 do not have a child. Schodolski quotes Emily Connolly, a 24-year-old Chicago retail saleswoman, who says, "Babies have just never interested me. My husband and I didn't get married to have children. We got married for us." As an aside, one hopes that Connolly's parents married for her.

Echoing Connolly, novelist Carole Matthews says that in the Western world, having children has become a mere lifestyle choice.

Such sentiments are increasingly widespread, and the cribs of the West are increasingly empty as a result. A look at fertility rates in Europe shows that only Islamic nations like Albania, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan are producing enough children to replace the existing population (note: the so-called "replacement rate" is 2.1 children per woman).

Even these numbers are deceptive. For in nations like Sweden and France, the birthrates of the foreign born far outpace those of native populations. In short, the people of the West are being displaced. Having swallowed the presuppositions of the contraceptive mentality and the culture of death, White Christians are in the midst of committing suicide as a people.

Establishing a Christian culture will first require Christians to reestablish the centrality of the family, and the primacy of family life. The family is the only institution of Paradise, and it is the preeminent institution in God’s economy. Indeed, we cannot understand God’s plan for us until we understand His plan for the family.

Consider, for example, the Ten Commandments. There is nothing pertaining directly to church or state therein, but several explicitly address family life. The imperative to honor our parents, and the prohibition of adultery and covetousness are intended to preserve the integrity of the family.

Moreover, the Bible often uses family terminology to describe the mysteries of the faith. For example, salvation is described as God’s adoption of His people. We see that Christ’s relationship to the Church is described as a marriage. The Trinity contains in part a relationship between a father and son. The Bible compares relationships in the church to relations between brothers and sisters. Idolatry is frequently associated with adultery, and the idolater is synonymous with the harlot. Such examples could be multiplied.

The point is that the family is important. And the primary function and duty of the family is to produce children. As Albert Mohler says in Schodolski's article, "God's purpose in creation is being trumped by modern practices. I would argue that it [not having children] ought to be falling short of the glory of God. Deliberate childlessness defies God's will."

Mohler is right, but such thinking is alien to American culture, including "Christian culture."

A few statistics will demonstrate that the family is under withering attack.

In the contemporary United States, children frequently aren’t even born into intact families—34% all births are to unwed mothers. 68% of black, 59% of Puerto Rican, 40% of Mexican, 50% of Hawaiian, 60% of American Indian, and 28% of white children are born to unwed mothers. (In 1950, 4% of births were illegitimate).

If kids are born into an intact family, there is a good chance things won’t stay that way. Fully 43 percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years and ultimately nearly ½ of marriages fail.

Of course, many babies don’t make it out of the womb at all.

There are about 1.3 million abortions per year, down from 1.6 million in 1990. There are 674 abortions for every 1000 live births. Somewhere between1/2 and 1/3 of women alive today have had at least one abortion.

Why are there so many abortions? I think James provides some insight: "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder" (James 4:2).

We want more. More money, more security, more education, more job opportunities, more sex without consequences. We crave absolute autonomy. Such godless views of man now even shape our laws.

Read just a portion of Justice O’Connor's opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey:

"The Roe rule's limitation of state power could not be repudiated without serious inequity to people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."

We have made a god out of self-enhancement, out of autonomy, out of our rights. The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, provided a list of reasons that women provide for having abortion:

25.5% Wants to postpone childbearing
7.9% Wants no more children
21. Cannot afford a baby
10.8% Child would disrupt education or job
14.1% Relationship problem or partner does not want baby
12.2% Too young to have baby
2.8% Risk to maternal health
3.3% Risk to fetal health
2.1% Other reasons

But the problem, as I've said, isn't confined to the abortion mill. The nation as a whole has a weak commitment to childbearing. Just 10% of American families have 3 or more children—making matters worse is that a quarter of those families are single-parent families. In the 1980’s a milestone was passed—more than 1/2 of American families (52%) have no children under the age of 18.

One of the reasons we are having fewer children is that we are marrying later. In 1970, just 36% of women ages twenty to twenty-four were unmarried. By 1995, 68% were in the "never married" category. Women are not just waiting longer to have children, but are conceiving fewer of them as well. 44% of all women of childbearing age (15-44) are childless.

Feminism has liberated women from the "narrow" and "constricting" roles of wife and mother. Meanwhile, the siren song of the marketplace drowns out God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. In 1950, 88% of women with children under six stayed in the home. Today, 64% of American women with children under six are in the labor force.

With their new status in the work world, fewer women marry. In 1970, just 36% of women ages twenty to twenty-four were unmarried. By 1995, 68% were in the "never married" category. So women are not simply waiting longer to have children, they are conceiving fewer of them as well.

For Christians, children are not to be merely an accessory, a "lifestyle choice." The Bible describes conception as an act of God (Ps. 127:3, Ruth 4:13, I Sam. 1:19-20, Gen. 16:2, Gen. 17:16, Ps. 22:9, Jer. 1:5, Gal. 1:15). Moreover, life begins in the womb (Is. 49:1-2, 5; Job 10:8-12; Ps. 139:13-16) and that child is created in the very image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). God commands us to be fruitful and multiply, for the purpose extending His dominion (Gen. 9:7) and producing Godly offspring (Mal. 2:15). Children are to be received as a gift from God:

Ps. 127:3-5
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD ,
children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate

Do you wish to receive a heritage from God? Do you wish to receive a reward from God? That includes having children.

Does the correlation between happiness and children seem strange to modern ears? Moreover, consider the analogy of children to arrows. How many arrows do you want going into battle?

That children are given to parents also implies a range of familial duties. Through parental neglect, children can become a curse rather than a blessing (Prov. 29:15, Prov. 17:25), and it is the duty of parents to rear their offspring in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Deut. 6:1-9, Eph. 6:4).

There is also an implied obligation for churches. A few years back, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported that 88% of the children of parents in SBC congregations leave the church at 18, never to return.

In most evangelical churches, parents and children are rigidly segregated by Sunday School, youth groups, and a panoply of other programs designed to replace dad as the center of Christian education.

Where in the Scripture do we see the kids being shuckled off away from their parents? Why do we think that is normal? Aren’t we denying our children the bread of life? Worship in Scripture appears to generally include children (Deut. 31:12-13, Ezra 10:1, Joel 2:15-16, Joshua 8:35, Matt 19:13-14, Eph. 6:1).

Commenting on similar trends in his own day, Charles Spurgeon said:

"I begin to feel more and more that it is a mistake to divide the children from the congregation…. If our preaching does not teach children, it lacks some element it ought to possess. I like to see the congregation made up not all of the young, nor all of the old, but some of all sorts gathered together."

What I have written may shock and even appall your average Christian. In Schodolski's article, we're introduced to Amy Showalter, 44, and her husband, Randy Boyer, 45, who decided not to have children and consider themselves devout and conservative Christians. They attend weekly services at the Crossroads Community Church in Cincinnati, billed as "a real place for real people." "Nobody has ever told us this is a sin," Amy says. "It just does not come up." Showalter says that after 11 years of marriage she and her husband have concluded that they would be bad parents. "We didn't feel we would be qualified," she said. "It was not that we wanted to be rich or anything like that."

I'm not surprised that such things "just don't come up." We wouldn't want to cause any discomfort. Instead we're fed pabulum by the likes of Rick Warren, who can write about the "Five Purposes of Marriage" and never mention children. Instead we are peppered with silly cliches such as, "God's plan for your marriage is wider and deeper than anything in your wildest, craziest dreams," "You and your spouse were both planned for God's pleasure," and "Life is about relationships, not achievements."

Ms. Showalter can keep Warren. I think I prefer Luther:

The purpose of marriage is not to have pleasure and to be idle but to procreate and bring up children, to support a household. Those who have no love for children are swine, stocks, and logs unworthy of being called men or women; for they despise the blessings of God, the Creator and Author of marriage.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Five Solas Still Unpopular with Catholics

You'd think that Protestants and Catholics would agree on soli Deo gloria. Well, perhaps they do in theory, but the papacy has a tendency to elevate men above their fallen, mortal status.

Then there's sola scriptura. The Catholic Church continues to believe that the Bible can only be correctly interpreted through Holy Apostolic Tradition by the Magisterium. It also teaches that church tradition is on par with what is revealed in God's Word.

Sola fide? Instead of Faith = Justification + Good Works, the Catholic formula remains Faith + Good Works = Justification.

Sola Gratia conflicts with the Catholic teaching of merit, so there probably won't be a consensus on that anytime soon.

But can't we even agree on solo Christo? Not quite. Pope Benedict XVI invited people to pray to God "that he will awaken in all of us this desire, this openness to God, and that those who do not know God may also be touched by his love, so that all of us journey together toward the definitive City and that the light of this City might also shine in our time and in our world."

If that's all that's needed for salvation, what was the purpose of Christ's sacrifice?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wreck the Malls with Bouts of Folly

Wreck the malls with bouts of folly
Fa la la la la la la la la!
There's no need for melancholy
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Don we now padded apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la!
Strolling into Yuletide peril
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Bizarre "Altarcation"

Yet another reason why we Reformed think altar calls are a bad idea:
    Victory Christian Center Pastor Attacked During Services

    TULSA - One of Tulsa's best-known ministers was attacked Sunday while giving the altar call. NewsChannel 8's Mark Bradshaw spoke with Billy Joe Daugherty of Victory Christian Center, who was almost knocked out in church. ...

    ... "I had been preaching on praise and Thanksgiving in every situation," he says. "And this guy walked forward. I thought he was coming to receive the Lord, but he had another plan."

    He sure did. As the music played, without warning, the man punched Daugherty in the face. And, before he could land a knockout blow, he was yanked away.
You can see the video here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Principles of Education For Christian Parents

Briefly, I’m looking to toss out some principles that should guide Christian parents as we think about educating our children. With three young sons, I’ve been thinking about the issue and would welcome any comments (

1) All of life is ethical.

Day by day, we make choices—individually as well as parts of groups. All human behavior can be appraised by moral values. Each of our actions gives expression to an unspoken moral code of right and wrong. In short, all of life is ethical.

While discoursing on the issue of Christian Liberty, the Apostle Paul closes his remarks by saying, "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (I Cor. 10:31). If, as Paul says, even in natural functions such as eating and drinking we must honor God, the implication is that honor is demanded in every sphere of life. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23). In short, there is no ethical neutrality.

2) The Scripture must be our yardstick

Paganism invariably places ultimate ethical authority in the polis, effectively making the state a divine entity. On the other hand, the medieval church fostered two sources of ethics—the divine revelation of Scripture, and the realm of human wisdom, or the laws of nature. The reformers stood in opposition to both paganism and medieval ethical dualism and proclaimed sola scriptura and tota scriptura—that only Scripture and all of Scripture is not merely a guide for faith and practice, but the yardstick for every sphere of human action.

3) According to God’s self-attesting revelation in Scripture, wisdom begins with theistic presuppositions.

The Bible states very clearly that it is the fear of God that is the starting point of all wisdom, and that His precepts and law are to serve as our guide: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding" (Ps. 111:10; see also Job 27:28, Prov. 1:7, Prov. 9:10, Prov. 15:33).

4) Education is inescapably religious.

Doug Wilson hits the nail on the head when he writes: "Education is a completely religious endeavor. It is impossible to impart knowledge to students without building on religious presuppositions. Education is built on the foundation of the instructor's worldview (and the worldview of those who developed the curriculum). It is a myth that education can be non-religious -- that is, that education can go on in a vacuum which deliberately chooses to exclude the basic questions about life. It is not possible to separate religious values from education. This is because all the fundamental questions of education require religious answers. Learning to read and write is simply the process of acquiring tools to enable us to ask and answer such questions."

Writing similarly, R. L. Dabney showed that it is impossible to teach ANYTHING without reference to some worldview: "The instructor has to teach history, cosmogony, psychology, ethics, the laws of nations. How can he do it without saying anything favorable or unfavorable about the beliefs of evangelical Christians, Catholics, Socinians, Deists, pantheists, materialists or fetish worshippers, who all claim equal rights under American institutions? His teaching will indeed be the play of Hamlet, with the part of Hamlet omitted…Since all truths converge towards God, he who is not to name God, must have all his teachings fragmentary; he can only construct a truncated figure. In history, ethics, philosophy, jurisprudence, religious facts and propositions are absolutely inseparable."

5) The purpose of Christian education is to demonstrate the glory of Christ.

Ultimately, we desire that our children become Christians and that the Holy Spirit uses our efforts toward that end. At the same time, we do not see that ALONE as the goal of “Christian” education, for “by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy" (Col. 1:15-18).

Education must be Chistocentric, for in the falling rain and the rotation of the earth we see the power and supremacy of God. In the beauty of a Shakespearean sonnet or a Bach concerto we glimpse God’s glory. In the narrative of history we take note of the merciful providence of God. In mathematics we see the order of God. In government we glimpse the justice of God. So our duty as parents is to ensure that our children are not taken captive "through hollow and deceptive philosophy," but that they learn to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (Col. 2:8, I Cor. 10:5).

6) As parents, we are responsible for what our kids learn.

I recall Doug Wilson once saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that "We are responsible for what our children learn, whether we teach it to them or not." I recall reading through Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 and being struck by the fact that I am responsible for what my children are taught. That by no means implies that I must teach them everything. However, should I choose to delegate certain things to the church or school, I am still ultimately responsible.

So all of life, including education, has an inescapably religious and ethical component. For the Christian, divine revelation is our authoritative source, and from Scripture we learn that education must be theocentric, with the glory of God being the ultimate objective. Moreover, as parents it is our obligation to ensure that our children obtain the sort of education I’ve been describing. Therefore, education that is either statist (advancing the interests of the state) or ecclesiocentric (advancing the cause of the church) is problematic. Education must ultimately be under the authority of parents, acting as God’s trustees on behalf of their children.

Having said that, I think parents can come to very different conclusions about the best way to educate their kids. While I think it is time for the church to begin discussing an exit strategy from the public schools, it is also necessary that dogmatism not guide the conversation. As Dr. Mohler has written, any such strategy must "acknowledge that Southern Baptist churches, families, and parents do not yet see the same realities, the same threats, and the same challenges in every context."

As I noted above, I have three children. The oldest started kindergarten last fall. He is currently enrolled in a Christian private school, but I’m not certain by any means that the environment there is best suited for our families needs. As the son of the schoolteacher, much of my antipathy for public education was learned at home. The remainder of my distaste stems from my own experience being sent to one of those reeducation camps. However, I realize that not all parents have the same scruples as I, and must refrain from issuing blanket proclamations.

One other item in conclusion. The time has come for churches to equip parents, support families, and offer alternatives—including subsidies where necessary. We must avoid the siren song of vouchers, which would ultimately ensnare private and religious schools in the tentacles of the state, and we must covenant together in search of new and inventive options.

This Probably Isn't the Purgatory the Catholic Church Had in Mind

If you haven't gotten around to it yet, check out Marc Heinrich's blog Purgatorio. He describes it as "a panoply of evangelical eccentricities, un-orthodox oddities and christian cultural curiosities," but in my opinion, that's a bit of an understatement.

So, if you're looking for some thought-provoking items or if you just need a laugh, drop by Purgatorio, "where a picture can be worth a thousand words...or may just speak for itself."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Historical Survey of Calvinism

Phil Johnson, a pastor at Grace Community Church, gives a brief yet concise history of Calvinism. Click here to download the MP3.

And be sure to check out Phil's blog, PyroManiac.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Flags in Church

Timothy D. Terrell of the Center for Biblical Law and Economics, in his essay Nationalism in the Sanctuary, explains the problem with displaying the American and Christian flags in church sanctuaries. Definitely worth reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Education of Our Children Should Not Be Left to the State

( editorial for 11/10/2005)

Parents of elementary school children in California were upset that their kids were the targets of a sex survey conducted by the Palmdale School District. The survey, distributed in 2002, focused on how often prepubescent school kids thought about sex and touched themselves—you know, just the kind of things educators need to know to in order to effectively teach reading, writing and math skills.

The parents filed a lawsuit, claiming that the survey "violated parents' substantive due process and privacy rights." Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Fields v. Palmdale School District, dismissed the suit, saying:
    We agree, and hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants' actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.
The court's ruling certainly seems like a violation of the rights and privileges of parents. But is it really? First of all, the court's ruling does not create law. The Palmdale School Board can still be pressured to end such ridiculous practices. Secondly, the parents who are complaining have already shown that they do not hold the education of their children in high regard.

I know this sounds harsh, but while I sympathize for the children, it's difficult to feel sorry for the parents. After all, they were the ones who turned custody of their children over to the government school system for six or seven hours a day, five days a week. Were they really all that surprised when the schools tried to undermine their parental authority?

By placing your child in the care of a government-run indoctrination center, you are saying that you trust the government to raise your child, essentially giving up your due process and privacy rights. You are admitting that the government is able to give your child something you cannot provide. When you consider how poorly the government manages everything else, why would any reasonable person think things would be different when it comes to education?

Note that the Ninth Circuit believes the school district's actions "were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose." In other words, those in control of public education have but one concern: the welfare of the state. Seeing to it that your child receives a quality education can only conflict with that.

There really isn't any way to sugar-coat this, so I'll just come right out and say it: If you willingly submit your child to the trappings of the government school system, then you have no right to complain about what they are taught. It would be like sending your kid off to play in oncoming traffic, expressing shock and outrage and blaming someone else when he was struck by a car. Sure, you can try to be involved by going to parent-teacher conferences, attending PTA meetings or getting elected to the school board, but when you get right down to it, you are in control of the education of your child.

My wife and I are in the process of adopting a little girl from China. This will be our first child, and even though it will be about a year before we travel to China to get her, we are preparing our home for her arrival. One of our main concerns is her future education. We are still weighing options, but one thing we know for certain is that she will never see the inside of a government school classroom. Why would we rescue her from a lifetime of socialist, atheist indoctrination in one country just so she can have the same experience on the other side of the world? Believe me; if that was our goal, it would be cheaper, less stressful and much easier just to leave her where she is.

For Christian parents, education is a tremendous responsibility. Believers have a duty to ensure that their children received a God-centered education. Scripture says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7a). Why settle for anything less?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Promise-Driven Life

Michael S. Horton has written an excellent article on a vital subject:
    [W]e are "wired" for law: tell me what to do and I'll get it done. That is not just the American spirit, but it is human nature. God's law is inborn, in our conscience, part of our moral makeup. The average person on the street will tell you that the role of churches and other religious institutions is to provide moral instruction—practical suggestions for successful living for the spirit, just as Suze Orman and Jake are there to help us out with our banking and bodies. ...

    ... Even as Christians, the law (in its third use) can direct us, but it cannot drive us, except to either despair or self-righteousness. Christians are not purpose-driven, but promise-driven. Purposes are all about law. ...

    ... We have a lot of purposes, a lot of goals—some of them noble. Desperate to save ourselves and our kids from everything but the wrath of God, we fail to realize that, however watered down, these are all nothing but law rather than promise. Eventually, we will become burned out on good advice. What we need is good news.
Unfortunately, the message of men like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen seems to have broader appeal. It's less offensive, and people readily respond to things that are more tangible.

O ye of little faith...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Not Yet Canonized, Darwin Has a Special Place in the Catholic Church

No surprise here:
    Evolution in the Bible, Says Vatican

    The Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.

    Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.

    His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the U.S., who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

    "The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator".

    This idea was part of theology, Cardinal Poupard emphasised, while the precise details of how creation and the development of the species came about belonged to a different realm#&151;science. Cardinal Poupard said that it was important for Catholic believers to know how science saw things so as to "understand things better."

    His statements were interpreted in Italy as a rejection of the "intelligent design" view, which says the universe is so complex that some higher being must have designed every detail.
As a Calvinist, it really isn't a stretch for me to believe that the sovereign Creator of the universe had a particular plan and design in mind when He spoke everything into existence. But then again, I never had any formal theological training.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Grace and Justice

R.C. Sproul, Jr., shares with us a beautiful, heart-warming adoption story on his "squiblog":
    ... We began the process of adoption a month or two after Denise's final surgery. We attended classes, filled out mountains of paper work, made countless phone calls to various agencies. We mentioned our hopes and plans to our families, congregation and a few close friends, and together we all prayed, and waited.

    A few months ago I received an unexpected phone call from my friend and co-laborer Doug Phillips. He began the conversation by telling me that he and his godly wife had recently, after seven healthy children, lost their first to miscarriage. Tears welled in my eyes as I sought to enter into my brother's suffering. That, ultimately, Doug explained, wasn't the reason for his call. He went on to explain that as he, and Beall and his children mourned the loss of their unborn child, that one son, Justice, approached his daddy with his piggy bank. "Daddy," this young hero said, "I've got some money saved up. Could we go down to the orphanage and get Mommy a new baby?" There was no more welling for my tears. By now they had reached the cascade stage. "You have a fine son in Justice, Doug," I told him. "R.C., out of that conversation, the Phillips family has made a decision. We are going to send you a contribution to help pay for your adoption." The cascade became a flood. ...
Grab a handkerchief and click here to read the entire post.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Problems of Contemporary Evangelicalism Are Nothing New

Sinclair Ferguson compares the problems of medieval Christianity to the problems of contemporary evangelicalism:
  1. Repentance has increasingly been seen as a single act, severed from a lifelong restoration of godliness. ... The "altar call" has replaced the sacrament of penance. Thus repentance has been divorced from genuine regeneration, and sanctification severed from justification.

  2. The Canon for Christian living has increasingly been sought in a "Spirit-inspired" living voice within the church rather than in the Spirit's voice heard in Scripture. What was once little more than a mystical tendency has become a flood. But what has this to do with the medieval church? Just this: the entire medieval church operated on the same principle, even if they expressed it in a different form: the Spirit speaks outside of Scripture; the believer cannot know the detailed guidance of God if he tries to depend on his or her Bible alone. ...

  3. The divine presence was brought to the church by an individual with sacred powers deposited within him and communicated by physical means. Today an uncanny parallel is visible wherever cable TV can be seen. Admittedly it is no longer Jesus who is given by priestly hands; now it is the Spirit who is bestowed by physical means, apparently at will by the new evangelical priest. Special sanctity is no longer confirmed by the beauty of the fruit of the Spirit, but with signs which are predominantly physical. ...

  4. The Worship of God is increasingly presented as a spectator event of visual and sensory power, rather than a verbal event in which we engage in a deep soul dialogue with the Triune God. The mood of contemporary evangelicalism is to focus on the centrality of what "happens" in the spectacle of worship rather than on what is heard in worship. Aesthetics, be they artistic or musical, are given a priority over holiness. More and more is seen, less and less is heard. There is a sensory feast, but a hearing-famine. Professionalism in worship leadership has become a cheap substitute for genuine access to heaven, however faltering. Drama, not preaching, has become the "Didache" of choice. ...

  5. The success of ministry is measured by crowds and cathedrals rather than by the preaching of the cross and the quality of Christians' lives. ... The lust for "bigger" makes us materially and financially vulnerable. But worse, it makes us spiritually vulnerable. For it is hard to say to those on whom we have come to depend materially "When our Lord Jesus Christ said 'Repent!' he meant that the whole of the Christian life is repentance."
This is an abbreviated version, so you will want to read the entire article.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Time to Grieve, a Time to Rejoice

At 36 years of age, I know that I am very blessed to have had all four of my grandparents around most of my life. But we all get older, and we all have to face the realization that life on this earth is only temporary.

I lost my paternal grandfather, L. R. Shelton, Jr., in January of 2003. On Sunday, October 8, my maternal grandfather, George M. Robertson--"Papaw," as we called him--passed away. He was 89 years old.

Some of my fondest memories of Papaw are from my childhood, when our family would travel from Fort Smith, Ark., to my grandparents' home in Picayune, Miss. It's amazing all of the little things I remember from those visits: the fragrance of pine trees in the air, the feel of the sandy soil between my bare toes, the smell of my grandparents' house and Papaw's cologne, the jagged pattern of the floor tiles. I recall the giant stereo console in the living room on which we played countless records and the multi-colored fiber optic lamp that kept us entertained for hours.

Field trips were standard. Whether it was going on walks to pick wild berries, trying to catch something in a nearby fishing hole, visiting a train museum or driving down to the Gulf, we always did things as a family.

But the best part of our visits was at night. Often we would gather together to watch 8mm home movies Papaw and other members of the family had made. As the silent images danced on the screen, we would snack on treats like fried okra and Papaw's world-famous, homemade peach ice cream. Those memories--and many more--are ones I will always cherish.

Papaw was a kind, gentle, Godly man who was always willing to give of himself. I never knew him to be selfish, and I never heard him speak a harsh word. Of course, he helped raise my mother to be the person she is today, and for that I am thankful.

It is always difficult to say goodbye, but as believers in Christ we know that all the joys and fond memories of this life are nothing compared to spending eternity in Heaven. Pain and suffering have no place there, and death will be a thing of the past. Our salvation will be fully realized as we leave behind this fragile existence and put on incorruptible, glorified bodies that will never know the ravages of time.

And therein lies the hope all Christians share. Yes, times like these cause us to reflect on the lives of the ones we have lost, but we rejoice in anticipation of the day when we will all be reunited in Glory in the presence of our Savior and Lord.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pat Robertson: "Prophet" or "Profit"?

Here we go again:
    Robertson: Disasters Point to 2nd Coming

    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – This weekend's catastrophic earthquake in South Asia in the wake of recent U.S. hurricanes and December's tsunami is catching the eye of televangelist Pat Robertson, who says we "might be" in the End Times described in the Bible.

    "These things are starting to hit with amazing regularity," Robertson said on CNN's "Late Edition."

    Robertson, a former GOP presidential candidate and host of the "700 Club" daily Christian TV show, noted, "If you read back in the Bible, the letter of the apostle Paul to the church of Thessalonia, he said that in the latter days before the end of the age that the Earth would be caught up in what he called the birth pangs of a new order. And for anybody who knows what it's like to have a wife going into labor, you know how these labor pains begin to hit. I don't have any special word that says this is that, but it could be suspiciously like that."
I think the difference between "prophet" and "profit" has been blurred. This "End Times" lunacy is really getting out of hand.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Family News

My wife, Dawn, and I have begun the process of adopting a little girl from China. To keep friends and family updated--and perhaps to educate others who are also interested in adoption--we have started a family blog ( Lord willing, we will be welcoming our new daughter into our home in about a year to a year-and-a-half.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Grace vs. Greed

Should churches be compensated for charity work?:
    FEMA Plans to Reimburse Faith Groups for Aid

    After weeks of prodding by Republican lawmakers and the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said yesterday that it will use taxpayer money to reimburse churches and other religious organizations that have opened their doors to provide shelter, food and supplies to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    FEMA officials said it would mark the first time that the government has made large-scale payments to religious groups for helping to cope with a domestic natural disaster.
At least there are still a few voices of reason out there:
    "Volunteer labor is just that: volunteer," said the Rev. Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "We would never ask the government to pay for it."
You know the church is failing in its mission when it seeks taxpayer reimbursement for doing what churches are supposed to be doing.

The Crank-Driven Life

It seems the woman who used one of Rick Warren's books to thwart her kidnapper wasn't exactly forthcoming when it came to the details of her experience--until now:
    Celebrated Hostage Gave Crystal Meth to Captor

    Ashley Smith, who was held hostage in her apartment in March by the man now charged with murder in the Atlanta courthouse shootings, was hailed as a hero after she disclosed how she had persuaded her captor to surrender, partly by reading to him from the spiritual best seller The Purpose-Driven Life.

    But in a memoir released yesterday, Ms. Smith also recounts that she gave the kidnapper some of her supply of crystal methamphetamine during her captivity and that she did not tell the police for some time afterward.

    In the memoir, Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero, Ms. Smith recalls that Brian Nichols, who has been charged in the death of three people shot at the Fulton County Courthouse and a fourth killed elsewhere in Atlanta soon before her kidnapping, asked her if she had any marijuana. She answered no but said she did have some "ice," or crystal meth.
Apparently, Rick Warren is more persuasive when his readers are under the influence of illicit drugs. That explains a lot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The American Empire: An Unholy Alliance between Church and State

The man hailed as the first Christian emperor of Rome was Constantine, whose alleged "conversion" in 312 A.D. came on the eve of a great battle for the Roman throne. In the simplified version of the legend, Constantine saw a flaming cross in the sky emblazoned with the words "In hoc signo vinces," meaning "By this sign, conquer"--and he proceeded to do just that.

Constantine the Great, however, was far from Christian. Throughout his life, he remained a worshipper of Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun) and retained the title of "Pontifex Maximus," which meant that, in addition to his duties as emperor, he served as the chief priest of the Roman pagan religion. (Ironically, the Catholic Church continues to bestow that title on its popes.)

Although Christianity was not the official religion of the Roman Empire during the reign of Constantine--that came later when Theodosius took the throne--it was tolerated and protected, which explains why so many Christians in the fourth century readily embraced their new emperor. How could anyone view the end of brutal persecution as a bad thing? In addition, Christians had a strong ally in government.

From Constantine's perspective, his acceptance of Christianity was probably more a marriage of convenience. There were numerous external and internal threats to the empire, so it was naturally easier to work with the Christians than to eliminate them. Their religion was spreading throughout the empire, so why not use that to his advantage? He could win over a growing minority segment of the population by ending their persecution while at the same time appeasing the majority by maintaining the old pagan practices. One of the ways he accomplished this was to merge Christianity with certain aspects of paganism, not the least of which included the celebration of Christmas and Easter.

But the acceptance of Christianity as a legitimate religion by the Roman Empire had its downside. Alistair Kee, in his historical treatise Constantine versus Christ: The Triumph of Ideology, noted that Constantine's reign was "a fundamental turning-point," adding, "From that time the imperial ideology, with all its implications for the accumulation of wealth and the exercise of power over the weak, was given religious legitimation by the church."

Over the centuries, Constantinian Christianity spread like a cancer. Christians became more militant and took up the sword to advance the Kingdom of God. Churches were no longer merely bodies of believers gathering together for worship and fellowship; they evolved into huge, elaborate cathedrals built on the backs of the poor. Popes, cardinals and bishops ruled as merciless tyrants, waging war, imposing burdensome taxes and executing those who dared to challenge their authority. Worst of all, the Bible was kept out of the hands of the layperson; only the clergy had the right to read and interpret scripture.

Christendom brought with it a renewed persecution of Christians. As we saw during the Reformation, believers were martyred not because of their "unbiblical" beliefs, but because they were seen as a threat to the social, political and economic hold the church-state had over the people.

It was this hold that led the framers of our Constitution to establish a separation of church and state. The separation they envisioned, however, had nothing to do with removing the Ten Commandments from courthouses or banning prayer from schools. They merely wanted to prevent government from interfering--both negatively and favorably--with the religious practices of its citizens.

Baron de Montesquieu, who was an inspiration to many of America's Founding Fathers, addressed the issue of the separation of church and state in his book The Spirit of the Laws. He saw the greatest threat coming from those in government who would embrace religion as a matter of official policy:
    A more certain way to attack religion is by favor, by the comforts of life, by the hope of wealth; not by what reminds one of it, but by what makes one forget it; not by what makes one indignant, but by what makes men lukewarm, when other passions act on our souls, and those which religion inspires are silent. In the matter of changing religion, State favors are stronger than penalties.
Within the last few years there has been a strengthening of the bond between church and state. Thanks to President Bush's "Faith-Based Initiatives," Christian organizations have been reduced to little more than political special interest groups. Call me cynical, but I just don't see how the church can honor God when those who should be trusting Him to meet their needs are scrambling for government handouts.

Not surprisingly, the result of this alliance isn't a more God-honoring system of government. In fact, there are some striking similarities between the Roman Empire of Constantine and the United States of America. What we are witnessing is the rise of a modern Constantinian church-state, characterized by a shift among Christians toward a more militaristic worldview.

You may recall Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, who stated unequivocally that terrorists are "after us because we're a Christian nation." Boykin implied that our "Christian nation" is leading the charge in what is in fact a spiritual war against Satan, and he also said that Bush is "in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

It seems George W. Bush, also a professing Christian, agrees. During a 2004 campaign meeting with an Amish group in Lancaster, Penn., the president said, "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job."

"Christianese" is like a second language for Washington politicians. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush (or was it God speaking through him?) announced the beginning of his "war on terror," claiming that it wouldn't end "until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Compare Bush's statement with the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:30: "Whoever is not with me is against me …" It was no coincidence. Bush knew that his worldwide crusade could only work with the support of his evangelical Christian base. And, sad to say, those on the "religious right" were all too eager to join in the bloodshed.

But none were content to limit the fight to terrorists. Bush expanded the conflict to include nations that had not even attacked our own. When he labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "Axis of Evil," he was sending the nations of the world a not-so-subtle warning that they dare not mess with America. In essence, Bush was securing his place in the hearts and minds of Christians as Emperor of the Holy American Empire.

It's as if our leader received a divine revelation and we are simply following along, thinking that we are doing God's will. As Constantine's armies rallied behind the cross, we hold aloft the American flag as our sacred symbol--and by this sign, we conquer.

Unfortunately, what Constantine claimed to have seen was not a sign from God. It goes against the words of Jesus, who said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world" (John 18:36).

The Apostle Paul reinforced this when he wrote, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). And yet American Christians today praise the holy crusade against terror as if the spiritual forces of evil can be defeated with troops, bombs and democracy.

We Christians need to realize that even though the American flag is displayed prominently in so many church sanctuaries, Christ does not share his throne with the state. When lying politicians invoke the name of God as they are sworn into office, we should be offended that our Lord's name is being taken in vain. When people criticize U.S. policies, we need to consider that America isn't the church, and the Body of Christ isn't bound by national borders or restricted to any particular geographic location. And when the government promises financial incentives to churches, we must remember that we cannot serve two masters.

Failure to distinguish between God and country, church and state, can be a deadly sin. As Alistair Kee wrote of Constantine the Great:
    He conquered the Christian church. The conquest was complete, extending over doctrine, liturgy, art and architecture, comity, ethos and ethics. And this is the greatest irony, that Constantine achieved by kindness what his predecessors had not been able to achieve by force. Without a threat or a blow, and all unsuspecting, the Christians were led into captivity and their religion transformed into a new imperial cult. … But this achievement, unheralded then, unrecognized now, represents Constantine's greatest conquest, the one which has persisted largely unchallenged through the centuries in Europe and wherever European Christianity has spread.
Who knows? Future generations may one day read about the rise and fall of the American Empire. If that happens, let us hope and pray that they learn the lessons from history that we did not.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Justice System with No Prisons?

Gary North, in his essay "I'm Behind Bars," makes an argument for eliminating the American prison system in favor of a more biblical approach to justice:
    In the Bible, the only prisons are in the empires: Joseph in an Egyptian prison, John the Baptist in a Roman prison, Peter and Paul in Roman prisons.

    There was no prison system in Mosaic Israel. This was no accident. There were punishments in Mosaic Israel: restitution to the victim, whipping, and execution for certain crimes. But there were no prisons. Why not? Because there was no need. The criminal owed no debt to society.

    If a person stole and then got caught, he paid double restitution to his victims (Exodus 22:4). He did not owe anything to society. He had not committed a crime against society. He owed money to his victims. ...

    ... The prison was supposed to reform men, to make them good. This was part of the Grand Idea: salvation by legislation. The public school system was part of this same messianic program.

    Now that Grand Idea looks less than grand. The results are in. Mankind has not yet been reformed. Taxes are a lot higher. Crime rates are a lot higher. Literacy rates are a lot lower. But the bureaucratic heirs of the original reformers still serve as caretakers of a clearly botched series of systems.
Worth a read.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Silent Victims of Hurricane Katrina

It seems everyone wants to lend a helping hand during times of disaster--even child killers. According to Abortion Clinics Online, a directory service for wholesale human slaughter houses, a number of clinics are offering FREE abortions to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

No, this isn't someone's idea of a sick joke. It's just another example of how these murdering savages will look for any excuse to satisfy their bloodlust.

God help us.

Monday, September 19, 2005

On a More Personal Note...

As some of you already know, my lovely wife released a vocal jazz album last year. The CD, Because I Love You, can be purchased from and is also available for downloading from iTunes and a number of other digital distribution sites.

For more information and audio clips, check out my wife's website at Even if you're not a jazz fan, you will thoroughly enjoy this collection of classic and contemporary love songs.

Oh, did I mention that you'll get to hear yours truly singing along on one of the tracks? Now that's an incentive!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Worshiping Uncle Sam's Golden Calf

One of the things we saw in New Orleans over the past weeks is the result of idolatry. The idol? The golden calf of big government, of course.

Joel Belz had some sobering words to say in his latest WORLD Magazine editorial, "Unquenchable Appetite":
    Happiness with the results of any big government effort, of course, is almost an oxymoron. The reason is simply that when people start putting their trust in big government, they've attached themselves to a false god. And false gods can't produce the goods.

    What we saw in New Orleans last week was the pathetic picture of people whose expectations in a false god had been so enhanced that when the false god stumbled for a day or two, some of his worshippers flew into a rage. They'd been betrayed, they said. Not only had their god failed to tend to their obvious physical needs in prompt style; he had made them look weak and foolish in the process.

    Note this well: A people who cannot, even while in dire distress, minister to the weakest and the dying among them; a people who do not, even while waiting hungrily for help they desperately need, respectfully and reverently take care of the bodies of those who do die; such a people will be known to history as frighteningly farther down the road to decadence than most of us want to admit.

    And then remember this: That such a people will in the days to come develop a bigger and bigger appetite for gods who promise them everything. And then they will show a lower and lower tolerance for gods who do not perform.
Ironically, the president last night promised to make that golden calf even bigger than before. If God's chosen people didn't learn from their mistakes after leaving Egypt, what does that say about our nation? I guess when people have been wandering aimlessly long enough in a spiritual wasteland, they'll fall for anything.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Repackaging the Gospel

The mega-church message being preached today has reduced the gospel of Christ to little more than a recipe for health, wealth and happiness. All you need to know is that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. If you just accept what He has to offer, all your troubles will melt away. Don't you want the happiness you deserve?

In an age when men like Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren are regarded as great spiritual leaders, is it any wonder why mainstream Christianity has become virtually irrelevant? Why do so many of us insist on repackaging the gospel in an effort to make it more palatable?

Scripture tells us that Christ was to be a "stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense" (Isaiah 8:14, Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:8). Yes, faith in Christ promises the blessing of eternal life. But the Bible also says that the believer will face persecution (John 15:20).

Consider the words of C. S. Lewis: "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity."

Let us preach Christ and him crucified. Let us call others to repent and believe. Let us not rob the gospel of its offense.

Monday, August 29, 2005

With "Friends" Like These...

"Evangelist" Pat Robertson calls for the murder of the democratically elected president of a sovereign nation that is not at war with the United States and "conservatives" rally to support him. The bile-spewing "Rev." Fred Phelps, of the apostate Westboro Baptist Church, takes his gospel of hatred to the streets once again. With "believers" like these in the limelight, the world seems to be hating us for the wrong reasons.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Fulfillment of the Law

John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., just concluded a three-part series (which is actually part of his ongoing series on the book of Romans) entitled "Love Is a Fulfilling of the Law." Check it out online:The mark of a Christian is love (John 13:34-35), and Paul's letter to the believers in Rome reminds us that love meets the requirements of (i.e., fulfills) the law (Rom. 13:8-10). Of course, those requirements could only have been met through Christ. Pastor Piper sums it up this way:
    Paul puts the risen, living Christ where the law was. Once you were alive to the law, but now you belong to Christ. In the place of law is a Person--a great Savior, a mighty Lord, an infinite Treasure. Our daily, hourly focus is now on him--his deliverance, his help, his guidance, the beauty of his love and justice and power and wisdom and truth, and all the joy of knowing him. And what comes of this union with Christ at the end of Romans 7:4?

    Fruit. " that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God." And what fruit is that? The fruit is love (Galatians 5:22; 5:6; 1 Timothy 1:5). And, yes, that love does fulfill the law--not perfectly (Christ alone has done that for me), but truly, because my life now in Christ has a new spirit, a new passion, new direction.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

What a Wonderful Universe

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
-Genesis 1:1

Scientists now know a little more about how little they know about the universe:
    Planet with Three Suns Challenges Theories

    Astronomers have detected a planet outside our solar system with not one, but three suns, a finding that challenges astronomers' theories of planetary formation.

    The planet, a gas giant slightly larger than Jupiter, orbits the main star of a triple-star system known as HD 188753 in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)...

    ...The new finding could upset existing theories that planets usually form out of gas and dust circling a single star, and could lead scientists to look in new places for planets...

    ...The fact that a planet can even exist in a multiple-star system is amazing in itself...
Yet another example of the breathtaking wonder of God's creation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What a Wonderful World

"Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them." -Psalm 69:34

I always enjoy reading stories like this:
    Deadly New Sea Creature Lures Fish with Red Lights

    For fish, the red light district is deeper and more dangerous than anyone imagined.

    A newfound deep-sea relative of the jellyfish flashes glowing red lights on twitching, stinging tentacles to lure fish to their deaths more than a mile below the surface.

    The discovery is odd, because scientists had figured deep-sea animals can't see red light, since they live where sunlight doesn't reach and therefore have no evolutionary reason to detect the color. ...
While scientists struggle to come up with an "evolutionary reason," I will remain content to simply be amazed by the seemingly endless complexity of God's creation and His sovereignty over all He has made. His glory can be seen in even the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean.

It is indeed a wonderful world in which we live!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Christians and Global Poverty

Evangelicals for Social Action sent an open letter to the president demanding a global war on poverty. Reading the list of signers, I noticed a few “conservative” evangelicals, including Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

According to Time Magazine, Land is “God’s Lobbyist,” and one of the most influential evangelical leaders in America. Land has a huge rolodex filled with the names of Washington insiders, not to mention an educational pedigree that includes stops at Princeton and Oxford, but he has evidently not taken an economics class.

The letter begins by emphasizing the moral imperative to clothe the naked and feed the hungry:

We write as evangelical leaders to urge a strengthened, expanded emphasis on overcoming hunger and poverty both here and abroad in the next four years. Precisely the commitment to moral values (including the sanctity of human life) that shape all our political activity compels us to insist as a nation we must do more to end starvation and hunger and strengthen the capacity of poor people to create wealth and care for their families.

ESA goes on to urge a greater commitment to foreign aid programs:

In 2000, virtually every nation on the planet approved the Millennium Development Goals that included a commitment to halve global poverty by 2015. But adequate funds to meet these goals are not being given, and the U. S. ranks absolutely last (as a percentage of GNP) among all developed nations in its governmental assistance to overcome global poverty. Our nation has fallen far short of the increase in health and development assistance that you proposed. The richest nation in history can and must grasp the opportunity to lead.

The ESA is also concerned about poverty here at home, and while they laud the work of charities and churches, they say that faith-based social services are just not doing enough:

But our faith-based social service agencies cannot by themselves solve the problem of poverty of the wallet. As you have often said, government can and should help solve this problem. Tragically, millions of Americans today work full time and still fall below the poverty level. The moral values that shape our lives tell us this is wrong. We believe our rich nation should agree that everyone who works full time responsibly will be able to earn enough to rise above the poverty level and enjoy health insurance.

ESA urged the president to stare down austere members of congress (hee hee) who might want to take an axe to "effective" government anti-poverty programs:

We know there will be powerful pressures, from some places, as you and the Congress work to reduce deficit spending, to cut even effective programs for poor people. We pray that you will not allow this to happen. We pray that God will give you the strength to act like the righteous king in Ps. 72:12-13 and “deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help, take pity on the weak and the needy, and save the needy from death.

Indeed, God's concern for the poor and helpless is manifested throughout the Bible. In fact, God's word has much to say about specific remedies for poverty.

But how is wealth created? The only way to achieve to broad-based wealth is by increasing productivity through capital investment. However, investment and capital accumulation don't spring from nowhere. To bear such fruit, a culture must first ingest principles of thrift and work based upon a future-orientation. In short, economic growth is a product of culture, and culture is a product of the religious presuppositions that under gird the culture. It is no accident that free-markets, capitalism and freedom constrained by law are largely confined to those parts of the world still borrowing off the spiritual capital accumulated by Christian ancestors.

Economist P. T. Bauer summarizes the ideology of pagan countries as:

lack of interest in material advance combined with resignation in the face of poverty; lack of initiative, self-reliance and of a sense of personal responsibility for the economic fortune of oneself and one's family; high leisure preference, together with a lassitude often found in tropical climates; relatively high prestige of passive or contemplative life compared to active life...belief in perpetual reincarnation which reduces the significance of effort in the course of the present life; recognized status of beggary, together with a lack of stigma in the acceptance of charity...

Bauer rightly concludes that these attitudes are "an integral part of the spiritual and emotional life" of millions, perhaps billions, of people. Moreover, irresponsible charity and foreign aid will only be reinforce these attitudes

Another assumption made in the ESA letter is that the state is the primary institution established by God to tackle poverty. But is that true? What are the legitimate functions of the state? According to the Bible, God established civil government for three primary reasons:

1) To protect human life that is made in the image of God: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Gen. 9:6);

2) To defend the law-abiding from lawbreakers: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:3-4);

3) To provide for a peaceful, orderly society: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Tim. 1:1-2).

Paul says that the civil authority is a servant of God (Rom. 13:4) who is responsible to enforce justice. The Biblical role for the state is limited to the administration of just laws to defend life and property, punish criminals, and defend the innocent. There is no implied right for the state to coercively take money from one party to give it to another in the name of social welfare.

Rather than dependence on the state, scripture commands responsibility on the part of individuals and families. Paul says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” The basic social institution is the family, not the state, and when we are quick to call on non-family agencies, we undermine the responsibility of families to care for their own.

While the church has a duty to care for indigent widows (I Tim. 5:3) who do not have family, even that charity is restricted. A widow is placed on a list and must be engaged in charitable service. She must be "well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds" (I Tim. 5:10). Here we see that principle that charity must not subsidize irresponsibility (II Thess. 3:10). The further that charity is removed from familial and local institutions, the more likely the principle is to be abused.

In conclusion, the Bible commands individuals, families and churches to provide charity to the poor in as direct a way as possible. Likewise, there are obligations imposed on the recipients of charity. Such a framework rejects the notion that "thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote," and reinforces the principle of loving our neighbor through real, concrete action. Basic to such change is the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit and propagation of the gospel rather than the "redemptive" power of the state.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Let the Children Come to Me"

I can't help but wonder why so many Christian parents insist on dropping their kids off at the church nursery before going in to worship. Do they believe that their children won't get anything out of the service? Are they under the impression that the proper mediums of worship for youngsters are crayons, glitter and macaroni? Or is it because they simply don't want any unnecessary distractions from the grown-up worship experience?

Yesterday at church, I found myself sitting next to a family who thought enough to bring their young daughter, who looked to be less than two years old, into the sanctuary. Like most kids her age, the little girl was a bit fidgety, but she didn't disrupt the service in the least. Even the brief coos and cries that emanated periodically from other children throughout the congregation didn't put a damper on our morning worship.

Consider the words of Mark 10:13-16:
    And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
In Luke 18:15, we are told that the people "were bringing even infants to him." Is there a principle here that can be applied to the way we worship today?

Just something to think about the next time you're tempted to dump the little urchins into Sunday morning daycare.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On the Christian Calling(s)

Too often when Christians hear the word “calling” they assume it to be synonymous with occupation. In fact, I think the idea of calling carries the concept of man’s lifetime service and subordination to God. As a husband, father of three young boys, member of a community, disciple of Jesus, etc., I wear a number of hats and have various sundry callings or purposes that God has laid before me.

Service to God, however, primarily implies service to men. Though the whole creation belongs to the Lord (Ex. 19:5) we are the stewards of His creation (Gen. 1:26-28). Christians occasionally exhibit Gnostic and Platonic tendencies when they over-spiritualize the faith. Spirituality divorced from the earthy practicalities of Scripture is, in fact, an enemy of true Christianity.

Having a wife and three children under age five presents a number of challenges and certainly creates constraints on my time. Yet what grander purpose could God have for my life than living in covenant under His authority with the beautiful woman he has given to me? Indeed, when God through the Apostle Paul described the glorious mystery of the relationship between Christ and His people, He used the metaphor of marriage (Eph. 5:22-33). Paul also used that opportunity to provide imperative commands to husbands and wives. Wives, through submitting to and honoring their husbands reflect God’s purpose for His people. Likewise, husbands become one flesh with their wives, and in loving their wives reflect Christ’s love for His people. In short, my calling and purpose is to love my wife.

Likewise, raising children is a Godly and honorable calling. In Malachi, we read, “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring.”

Writing when Christians looked to Scripture rather than the NY Times bestseller list to find life’s purpose, Martin Luther wrote about the purpose of marriage:

The purpose of marriage is not to have pleasure and to be idle but to procreate and bring up children, to support a household. Those who have no love for children are swine, stocks, and logs unworthy of being called men or women; for they despise the blessings of God, the Creator and Author of marriage.

Frequently, marriage and child-rearing are difficult tasks that appear distasteful in the eyes of foolish men. But we would have an entirely different view of the matter if we looked at things through God’s eyes instead, and sought to glorify and honor Him in all things. To quote Luther again:

Our natural reason looks at marriage and turns up its nose and says, "Alas! Must I rock the baby? Wash its diapers? Make its bed? Smell its stench? Stay at nights with it? Take care of it when it cries? Heal its rashes and sores? And on top of that care for my spouse, provide labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that? Do this and do that? And endure this and endure that? Why should I make such a prisoner of myself?”

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful and despised duties in the spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.

Its says, "O God, I confess I am not worthy to rock that little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of a child and its mother. How is it that I without any merit have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? Oh, how gladly will I do so. Though the duty should be even more insignificant and despised, neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor will distress me for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.”

Scripture says that children are a blessing (Ps. 127:3-5) from God, and that as parents we must train (Eph. 6:4), correct (Prov. 29:15), and instruct them (Deut. 6:1-9) in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

The education of children is also a noble calling, and it is a parental calling. Doug Wilson says that as parents we are responsible for what our children learn whether we teach it to them or not. In an age where parents hand their children to the state and church for instruction, such a warning should be frightening. Moreover, the education of which I speak is not merely religious instruction. There is no such thing as neutral or secular education. Either it is grounded in the fear of the Lord or it is atheistic (anti-theistic). Consider the words of God through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:

1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD , the God of your fathers, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The law and word of God are comprehensive in scope and as parents we are called to teach our children theology, science, history, economics, politics and all other disciplines from the perspective of God’s Word, always keeping in mind that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

I thank God that in His grace He allows me to participate in His Kingdom, to be His servant, to work for the fulfillment of His purposes. I'm grateful to my Father for the knowledge that crunching numbers is not the entirety of my calling, but that in serving others--particularly my family--I serve Him and participate in greatest of callings.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Women in Combat?

According to the NY Times, the Army failed to meet recruiting goals for the fourth consecutive month. The figures for May put the service nearly 8,300 soldiers behind its projected year-to-date number of enlistees. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps, which had not missed recruiting targets for the better part of a decade, has also come up short for four consecutive months.

The dim statistics from the Pentagon, largely the result of the continuing war in Iraq, have not diminished the zeal of the administration. Speaking at the Air Force Academy, Vice President Cheney ominously promised more "great victories to come."

Where will the soldiers come from to claim these “great victories?” There is still resistance to a draft on Capitol Hill and even within the Pentagon itself.

One potential stopgap measure advocated by an unholy alliance of egalitarian liberals, individualist libertarians, and imperious neoconservatives is to end the ban on open homosexuals serving in the armed forces. Neocon hawk Max Boot makes the pragmatic argument against the ban: “Sooner or later, the U.S. military will follow the example of Australia, Britain and Israel and lift its ban on openly gay service members. In the struggle against Islamic fanatics, we can't afford to turn volunteers away.”

Boot’s solution would bring limited benefits. Between 1994 and 2003 the Government Accountability Office says the military discharged 9,488 homosexuals. I doubt seriously that those additional 900 gay soldiers per annum would secure victory in the “War on Terror.”

However, a larger potential pool of fodder for the imperial project could be found by systematically tapping into the fairer sex. And what could be more “fair” than sending our nation’s wives, daughters, and sisters off to wage war? Libertarian feminist Cathy Young says that the “notion that women deserve special protection from violence…is ultimately infantilizing [and] no society dedicated to the principle of fair play can demand that men treat women as equals in all other walks of life, and then tell men their lives are more expendable.”

Today women comprise 15% of the active-duty military and 24% of the reservists. There are 9,000 women stationed in Iraq and 35 have perished in the fighting there so far.

What shall we make of the suggestion that women should serve alongside men? The question takes on greater importance as we consider the looming possibility of a draft that almost certainly would, in this day of gender confusion, include women.

Christians who aren’t embarrassed by their Bibles should forcefully put forth the truth that there is a comprehensive pattern of differentiation between men and women outlined in Scripture. It is men who protect and lay down their lives for women, even as Christ died for the Church, and it is women who bear a responsibility as nurturers. In Joshua 1:14, we read that the “wives, young children, and livestock” of Israel remained on the other side of the Jordan River while the “fighting men” crossed the river to wage war against the Canaanites.

Christians can also point to numerous other texts, including Deut. 22:5: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

The passage obviously refers to clothes, but the meaning is far broader. The intention is to maintain distinctions between the sexes. As R. J. Rushdoony said in commenting on the text, it “forbids imposing a man’s duties and tools on a woman, and a woman’s on a man. Its purpose is thus to maintain God’s fundamental order.” That fundamental order is hierarchical and, for lack of a better word, patriarchal.

Warfare is an inherently revolutionary business. Christians and conservatives used to understand that truism. Today, the pragmatic needs of the warfare state are being used to systematically undermine, eliminate, and obliterate distinctions between the sexes.

Having swallowed the egalitarian presuppositions of the Enlightenment, Christians routinely deny that there are in fact God-ordained sexual roles, and have functionally become egalitarians. But egalitarianism is heresy, for it denies the very principle of order itself and attempts to arrange creation on its own terms. Equality thus becomes a philosophical and religious faith that demands the fidelity of every individual and institution. “Conservative” evangelicals have been loath to do battle with the egalitarian ethos in our homes and churches, so we ought not be surprised that when this virus attacks other institutions we stand by impotently in the face of social revolution.

The progressive desexualization of our culture is running amok, and the distinctions between male and female are increasingly blurred. To quote Rushdoony again, “modern culture has a strongly transvestite character. Here as elsewhere it prefers the character of perversion to the law of God.”

Where are the pastors with the courage to preach on what God says about sending women into combat, and where are the Christian publications and leaders who will stand up and call the problem of women in combat what the Bible does: an “abomination”? Where are the teachers who will call the doctrine of equality what it is: “heresy”?
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