Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Year in Calvinism - 2009

Here's a look back at some of the highlights from our This Week in Calvinism feature this past year:
  • "Arminianism in diapers," an interesting post by Paul Manata on the eternal state of infants. (1/2)

  • Every anti-Calvinist knows about Michael Servetus, but not many know about the Libertines who tried to have John Calvin killed. Here's a little history lesson, courtesy of Dr. James Galyon. (1/9)

  • Minister-turned-atheist John Loftus calls Calvinism "bulls--- ." (Yeah, I know. He's a class act.) That's quite a charge coming from someone whose own worldview does not allow for such things as right or wrong. But the real irony is that his concept of a universe sans Creator is doomed to naturalistic predeterminism. There is no way around it. In such a world even our "free-will" thoughts are nothing more than the result of chance chemical reactions and the random firing of neurons. So, human beings can't possibly be free to do what they want to do. We Calvinists at least allow for that. And yet Mr. Loftus thinks our belief system is the problem. That's just...well...you know. (2/6)

  • Calvinists told to get the "L" outta here. (2/27)

  • TIME Magazine presents 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Number three on the list: Calvinism. (3/13)

  • Kevl uses Nicholas Cage's latest movie to expose Calvinism's "determinism" and thereby reveal the difference between Calvinism and Christianity. (4/10)

  • Joshua prefers Universalism over Arminianism and Calvinism. I guess that means God does everything for us rather than his own glory. Sorry, but we are not more important than God. (4/17)

  • Finally, after hundreds of years, someone has managed to disprove Calvinism. And he did it with only 39 verses! (4/24)

  • Getting around total depravity, the supreme sovereignty of God, and the "age of accountability" question is easy. Simply deny original sin. (5/8)

  • Calvinism is on the rise in China. (5/29)

  • The anti-Calvinist, anti-Christian "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was the anthem of the War of Northern Aggression. (6/5)

  • Eric Carpenter loves Calvinism because it is Trinity-centered. He notes, "The Calvinistic view of salvation emphasizes the involvement of all three members of the Trinity. It also emphasizes the cooperation of all three members: the Father elects those He sovereignly chooses, the Son pays for the sins of the elect, and the Spirit regenerates the hearts of the elect. All three members of the Trinity work together as One." (6/12)

  • At 500, John Calvin still holds relevance in social and theological thought. (7/10)

  • Let me get this straight: Election is based on God's foreknowledge of who will respond to the gospel, but in order to respond to the gospel those people must first be given the grace necessary to do so? Then on what basis does God choose who receives this grace? If Arminians argue that everyone receives the same amount of grace, then salvation is ultimately up to man since it hinges on his decision. If, on the other hand, only certain individuals receive this grace (or receive greater amounts of it), then Arminians are right back to square one on the election issue. (8/7)

  • Doug Wilson has an excellent post on Brian McLaren's decision to join Muslims in observing Ramadan. (8/28)

  • H. L. Mencken disliked Calvinists, but he disliked ex-Calvinists even more. (9/18)

  • Once again we read of Calvinism's implication that God is the author of sin. What I don't understand is why the Arminian is off the hook. After all, did God not create Adam knowing full well that he would sin, condemning the rest of humanity to be born into that sin? Could not God, having bestowed upon man free will, have done a better job of making not sinning more appealing? The point being, no matter how you look at it, there must have been a greater purpose for allowing Adam to sin. (9/25)

  • Two quick apologetic tips on the Trinity. (10/9)

  • John Piper addresses the question, "How willingly do people go to Hell?" (10/30)

  • When Calvinists speak of God saving those who die in infancy, is it just a matter of wanting to have our cake and eat it too? Calvinists maintain that all fallen, sinful human beings, even those with the capacity to understand, reject God. That's the concept of total depravity in a nutshell. Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the salvation of infants merely reinforces the fact that salvation is all of God? (11/6)

  • David angrily spouts, "Calvinists would have you believe that God blinds men's eyes to the gospel until He is content to give some faith to believe and withholds that same faith from others whom He wishes to damn! That is not the God of the Bible!" So I guess that means Paul lied when he said faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). (12/4)

  • Don't waste your Calvinism! (12/11)
Have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Worldview Caricatures

You've probably seen variations of these floating around the blogosphere:
    Christianity
    The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie, who was his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
Written, no doubt, by someone subscribing to:
    Atheism
    The belief that there was nothing, and nothing happened to nothing, and then nothing mysteriously exploded for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything mysteriously rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits, which then became dinosaurs.
The first caricature displays a lack of understanding about the belief it seeks to lampoon. The second is actually pretty accurate.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Primacy of the Word

Speaking in tongues. Healing the sick. Prophesying. Those who place great emphasis on such gifts seem to have forgotten Romans 10:17: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." People are saved through the preaching of the gospel, not through miraculous signs and wonders.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sending the Wrong Message

Even at first glance one should see just how dangerous this kind of theology is.



Uniting Christ with the state? No thanks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - December 18, 2009

Eternal Death vs. Eternal Life

Hell is not temporary. It is a place of eternal punishment. Those sent there have no hope of escape, and, contrary to what some Christians believe, they are not annihilated once God has determined they have suffered sufficiently for their sins.

Revelation 20:10 says that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire where "they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." This is known as the "second death," something that has no power over believers (Revelation 20:6). "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). There is no indication that there will ever be an end to their suffering.

Does it make sense to condemn a finite sinner to an everlasting punishment? Wouldn't that make God unjust? Such questions fail to take into consideration all of God's attributes. Yes, he is love, but he is also just and holy and eternal. And considering that it took the death of an infinitely holy and eternal God to pay the price for sin so that we might be redeemed, it stands to reason that the only just penalty for sinning against that same infinitely holy and eternal God is an infinite and eternal punishment.

Let's not complicate the issue. The choice is clear: eternal death or eternal life. We talk about Hell not to scare people into the Kingdom but to emphasize just how seriously God takes sin.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Doctrine of Hell Taught in the Old Testament

Many of those who don't believe in the existence of Hell think it is a New Testament invention, or at least a misinterpretation of Old Testament terms like "grave" and "Sheol." While it is true that the Old Testament believers did not have the benefit of seeing through the lens of the New Testament, there was an understanding of a permanent separation of the saved and the lost.

Take a look at Daniel 12:2: "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." If that doesn't teach the concept of eternal punishment, I don't know what does.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Reason for ALL Seasons

Christ our savior isn't just the reason for this season. As the Creator of the universe he is the reason for all seasons.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:1-3).

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him" (Colossians 1:15-16).

"But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (Hebrews 1:2).


Friday, December 11, 2009

2 Corinthians 6:14

This Week in Calvinism - December 11, 2009

  • When you try to make the argument that "EVERY person is elected in Christ," you are left grasping at straws when trying to explain why not everyone is saved. Saying that election is conditional on faith makes no sense unless you believe that faith precedes election, which is in fact impossible.

  • Hank is already up to part 15 of his five-part response to the objections to Calvinism.

  • Where'd all these Calvinists come from?

  • Now I've heard everything: "Calvinism effectively denies God the right to endow His creation (man) with the freedom of choice. Thereby Calvinism itself is denying God a sovereign right to act as HE may desire."

  • John Piper explains why Christian parents should require their unregenerate children to act like they're good.

  • Don't waste your Calvinism!

  • John Mark Reynolds breaks down the biblical writers into their respective theological camps and/or denominations. Funny stuff!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Complaining

The next time you find yourself complaining about something trivial, try to think about what you're actually saying: "Lord, what are you thinking? I know what's good for me better than you!"

It kind of forces you to put things into perspective.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What's REALLY Hard to Understand

If I believe that "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," what possible reason would I have for doubting what the Bible has to say about Noah and the ark, the plagues of Egypt, the exodus of the Israelites, Jonah and the whale, God taking on human form, the miracles of Jesus, his death and resurrection, Pentecost, or the coming judgment? Seriously, if I can get past Genesis 1:1, the rest is a piece of cake.

What I can't understand is why a holy, just, and sovereign God would save a wicked, damnable sinner like me.

Friday, December 04, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - December 4, 2009

  • John MacArthur concludes a five-part series entitled "The Spirit's True Work."

  • Time Challies wraps up his own five-part series, "Leadership in the Home."

  • James Anderson on Calvinism, assurance, and inerrancy.

  • David angrily spouts, "Calvinists would have you believe that God blinds men's eyes to the gospel until He is content to give some faith to believe and withholds that same faith from others whom He wishes to damn! That is not the God of the Bible!" So I guess that means Paul lied when he said faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).

  • Seeking Disciple vs. J. I. Packer

  • The Contemporary Calvinist made it into Eric Carpenter's top ten. Thanks, Eric!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Am an Atheist

I am an atheist when it comes to the supposed existence of an all-powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster that created everything.

It's true that the existence of FSM is something I can neither prove nor disprove 100%. After all, I am not omniscient. I don't know everything there is to know about everything. But I think I am safe in denying the existence of such a being.

For one thing, there is a lack of credible eyewitnesses. If any person has ever claimed to have seen FSM -- and I'm not aware of a single one -- that claim was never corroborated by anyone else.

There are also no authoritative written accounts of FSM making itself known to its creation, and nothing chronicling FSM's work throughout history backed up by thousands of ancient manuscripts. In fact, most of what has been written about FSM has been written by admitted nonbelievers within the last five years.

Furthermore, I know that spaghetti is a physical creation, and as such it cannot exist outside of the material realm. To conclude otherwise goes against all logic and reason.

(By the way, I would use the same arguments against the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

All Means All...

...and that's all all means. That's what most Arminians will argue when quoting verses like 2 Corinthians 5:14 and 1 Timothy 2:6.

But does all really mean all all the time? Let's take a look at a couple of examples:
  1. We all live on the third planet from the Sun.

  2. Let's all go out to dinner.
One of the preceding statements refers to all people everywhere, and one refers to all people of a particular group. So, yes, in these examples all really does mean all. You won't get any argument from me.

A couple more:
  1. All sunrises occur in the eastern sky because of the direction of the Earth's rotation.

  2. It's a great restaurant; I eat there all the time.
Both refer to how frequently a particular event occurs. One can be taken in a wooden, literal sense while the other should not. How we make the distinction depends on the context.

All clear? Good!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Question for Dispensationalists

Will the unborn children of non-believing mothers be included in the Rapture?

I'm not being facetious. It's just that I've never heard this addressed before, and, as excruciatingly detailed as they are, no dispensational End Times chart mentions it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Am I Growing in Love?

I often ask myself this question: Do I take more pleasure in seeing the guilty get what they deserve than in knowing that I am getting what I don't deserve? I confess that sometimes the answer scares me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Putting Sermons into Proper Perspective

Whenever you hear someone preach, ask yourself this question: Why did Christ need to suffer and die on a cross in order for this sermon to make sense? And pastors, it wouldn't hurt for you to ask yourselves the same question.

(As heard on the White Horse Inn, 11/22/09.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Women in Heaven?

I can understand why some might think that after reading Revelation 8:1.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - November 20, 2009

  • David writes, "In the end, Calvinism is really about hope: the belief that God knows what he's doing. It means that even evil itself is subject to his authority, that our groanings are the language of our yearnings for a place beyond, that such things are but shadows of a brighter land in which the object of our hope and affection, the author and perfecter of our faith, waits with absolute certainty and power."

  • Pray like a Calvinist...and work like one too!

  • Bill O'Reilly on Calvinism.

  • John Piper offers some advice for those times when you don't want to do what you ought to do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Hell?

Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it isn't true. What we see in this video is akin to someone committing a murder, being convicted in court, standing before a judge, and believing no sentence will be passed down because the judge happens to be a kind man.

Note especially what is said at 3:53. Those of us who believe in Hell are "believing in a place that no one would rationally think of in this day and time." Translation: Forget what scripture says, because going by the world's concept of rational is how we should live.



This is what happens when words like "holy," "just," "sin," "punishment," and "atonement" cease to have any meaning.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Rid the Church of Goats

Today's Grace Gem is from D. J. Ward:
    The best way to purify the church and keep it pure is to get rid of all the goats! And the best way to run the goats out of the church is to feed them sheep food. God's sheep will grow in grace under the preaching of grace, but goats will go hungry because they choke on sheep food. They will soon leave and go somewhere else. Preach sovereign grace!

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - November 13, 2009

  • The Wittenberg Door addresses the issue of whether or not God's love is a "forced love" (part 1, part 2).

  • Steve's a Calvinist who believes that our assurance must rest on the concept of a universal atonement.

  • The Regulative Principle of Worship in historical perspective.

  • Triablogue's Steve Hays introduces us to yet another anti-Christian book from a bunch of "hack village atheists."

  • Calvinistic Cartoons turned one year old yesterday. Happy birthday, Eddie!

Friday, November 06, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - November 6, 2009

  • Dan Borvan shares a few of the things he has unlearned over the years.

  • This past weekend we remembered the Reformation leaders.

  • Here's a blogger trying to understand Calvinism. Two points down, only three to go!

  • When Calvinists speak of God saving those who die in infancy, is it just a matter of wanting to have our cake and eat it too? Calvinists maintain that all fallen, sinful human beings, even those with the capacity to understand, reject God. That's the concept of total depravity in a nutshell. Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the salvation of infants merely reinforces the fact that salvation is all of God?

  • Les Lanphere attempts to prove Calvinism without Paul.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Green VBS

You know your church has simply run out of ideas when it chooses to substitute gospel-centered teaching with green-centered teaching:
The theme for this VBS package? Mark 4:1-9, the parable of the sower, of course! Seeds. Planting. Growing. See how nicely that ties in to environmentalism? Here's a sample of the study plan:
And you thought the parable had something to do with the preaching of the gospel and the responses of those who hear it. No, the real lesson we're supposed to learn is that God's love can help us overcome life's challenges, enabling us to better care for the planet.

Man, Spurgeon was way over-thinking this parable.

Friday, October 30, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - October 30, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - October 16, 2009

  • Hank at Think Wink is up to part 13 of his five-part series on objections to Calvinism.

  • Despite being the most popular view of the atonement, there are problems with Arminian universal redemption. (Yes, I realize not all Arminians believe everything presented here.)

  • Calvinism (not really) refuted.

  • No-point Calvinism?

  • A while back, Roger Olson challenged Calvinists (especially those who criticize books like The Shack) to come up with a novel presenting a clear picture of their own theology. He thinks the picture of a God who actually is in control of life's tragedies would send people scurrying from Calvinism. Triablogue's Steve Hays has an excellent response.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fahrenheit 451, Fundamentalist Style

You're invited this Halloween to Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina, at 7:00 pm for a night of great preaching, singing, warm fellowship, and fried chicken with all the sides. Oh, and a good old fashioned book burning.

Slated for destruction are all the modern (i.e. post-1611) Satanic Bible translations such as the NIV, NKJV, and NASB. Also on the menu are books by popular heretics like James Dobson, John Piper, John McArthur (sic) and Mark Driskol (sic). Missing from the list are the ESV translation and books by R. C. Sproul, but I'm sure these are just oversights.

Naturally, you can't have a holy bonfire without the obligatory collection of Devil's music. The folks at AGBC will be ridding the world of vile recordings from every genre imaginable: "country, rap, rock, pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel, contempory (sic) Christian, jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc." (I'm not really sure what they consider to be acceptable music, but I'm pretty sure I don't own it.)

If you want to spoil the Devil's favorite holiday this year, swing on by Amazing Grace Baptist Church. And don't forget your torch!

Friday, October 09, 2009

What David Letterman Can Teach Us About the Gospel

On the David Letterman blackmail/sex scandal, Russell D. Moore writes:
    Letterman said the extortion note was disturbing, first of all, because he feared the mysterious correspondent was watching him. Someone who knew this much about his life, would this figure be tapping him on the shoulder from the shadows? Pulling him into the back of the car?

    Letterman also, though, was upset by the note because it was true. ...

    ... You and I once felt a deeper, more primal blackmail, and it scared us to the core. In fact, we often still do. Now, for most of us, it's not the same kind of transgression or the same type of discovery. But we’re blackmailed just as surely, in fact even more so.

    The Scripture says that Satan's reign over this present order is by holding us captive through the slavery of the "fear of death" (Heb 2:15). And why are all humans afraid of death? Because, like Letterman's letter in the back of the car, our conscience is pointing us to judgment, with a "black box" of evidence of our guilt (Rom 2:15-16).
Read the full article here.

This Week in Calvinism - October 9, 2009

  • Philip Stephens would like to see Arminians and Calvinists drop the labels and get along.

  • Chris Roberts is surprised "that Calvinists are the ones accused of being divisive." I don't get it either, especially when we aren't the ones throwing the word "heresy" around.

  • Calvinism a "balance wheel" for Christendom?

  • Triablogue's Steve Hays writes, "At a specific level, Calvinism is a theology of hope and thanksgiving. We believe that God has a plan for the world. That everything happens according to his plan. Even the evils we see and experience in this world are there as a means to a greater good. For a Calvinist, the whole world is God's world. Light and shade."

  • Two quick apologetic tips on the Trinity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Quote Me on That

Dr. James White shares one of the most bizarre moments in his nearly 20 years of debate experience. In this clip he is debating Dan Barker, "one of America's leading atheists." Just as Dr. White is beginning to make his opening remarks, Barker pipes up to protest the use of his own book as a source of reference: "We're not debating my book, we're debating the topic tonight. I may have changed my mind in the book." Translation: "Don't try to confuse people by repeating what I have publicly stated regarding the topic we are debating. I may no longer believe what I wrote in that book -- which is on sale in the back for $14.95 -- and even if I do, I fail to see how what I believe is relevant."

Huh?

Friday, September 25, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - September 25, 2009

  • Novelist Marilynne Robinson discusses her books, Gilead and Home, as well as religion, Calvinism in particular.

  • Once again we read of Calvinism's implication that God is the author of sin. What I don't understand is why the Arminian is off the hook. After all, did God not create Adam knowing full well that he would sin, condemning the rest of humanity to be born into that sin? Could not God, having bestowed upon man free will, have done a better job of making not sinning more appealing? The point being, no matter how you look at it, there must have been a greater purpose for allowing Adam to sin.

  • Royce isn't a five-pointer, but he does recognize the fact that salvation is not of our own doing, "so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:9).

  • Dan Phillips responds (as only Dan Phillips can do) to a challenge against particular redemption.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just Give Them the Bad News?

For some reason I got a kick out of this caller comment featured on Wretched Radio with Todd Friel:
    "When I go to a restaurant I like to leave a tract with the tip. If you get bad service, is it wrong to just rip the tract in half and just give them the bad news?"

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - September 18, 2009

  • A Baptist-turned-Catholic embraces predestination as "an amazingly biblical doctrine."

  • Bill believes in the doctrines of grace, but he does not, "and will not, place these doctrines over Christ or the authority of scripture." That's what hyper-Calvinists do.

  • H. L. Mencken disliked Calvinists, but he disliked ex-Calvinists even more.

  • Southern Baptist Robin Foster officially resigns "from any connection to Calvinism or its movement."

  • One must really hate Calvin to view him as a spiritual successor to Muhammad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Cannot Reason with a Pro-Choice Atheist (Continued)

What follows is the rest of my correspondence with atheist Marie Castle. She picks up where we left off:
    Here is the bottom line: The woman's welfare is far far more important in these matters. How much damage would you have your wife suffer to continue a disastrous pregnancy? So maybe she might be willing, but does that mean every woman who is not willing should be forced to suffer. A few years ago then-Sen. Dave Durenburger's wife was pregnant and was diagnosed with cancer. The medical opinion was that, to save her life, the pregnancy had to be aborted. She, being a good Catholic, refused and chose to forego cancer treatment and let the pregnancy proceed. She died, the baby lived. That was her choice. However, Sen. Durenburger was staunchly anti-abortion and supported legislation that would force his wife's decision on every woman in similar circumstances. Where is the morality in forcing all women in such circumstances to abide by Catholic doctrine?

    As for abortion and fetal development, Catholic theology is that abortion is wrong primarily because the fetus dies without being baptized and baptism is essential to removing original sin so the soul can enter heaven (I'm remembering my years as a devout Catholic here). That is while canon law prescribes excommunication for having/doing an abortion, but lists infanticide as only an ordinary mortal sin. The teaching has until recently been that unbaptized fetuses go to limbo, described as a place of earthly-type happiness but without the ultimate happiness of heaven and seeing god face to face. Now that the pope has decided limbo doesn't really exist and unbaptized fetuses can presumably go straight to heaven, the theological objection to abortion no longer exists.

    However, there is the matter of when ensoulment occurs. This is another theological problem because Catholic theology defines personhood as occurring at the moment of ensoulment. Before ensoulment, abortion was allowed because of the absence of personhood. Over the centuries, when ensoulment happens has varied. At one time it was thought to occur at "quickening" (about 5 months gestation) because of the Bible story of Mary (pregnant with Jesus) visiting her cousin Elizabeth (who was also pregnant) and Elizabeth saying "the babe in my womb leaped for joy" at the arrival of the in untero Jesus. Another idea was that ensoulment occurred at 40 days gestation for a male fetus and at 80 days for a female fetus. The difference was because it took females longer to become human. The only consistent objection to abortion the Catholic Church has had has been if the pregnancy was the result of sin.

    Lately, the discovery of DNA has led the pope to decide ensoulment and therefore personhood begins at conception. However, this runs up against canon law again, where priests are instructed on baptism. They are told that, in the case of the birth of a severely defective child, a "monstrosity," the baptism must be given only conditionally, just in case the "monstrosity" is human. So it seems that it's not enough to have human DNA to qualify as an ensouled person, one must also be assembled properly.

    The Catholic Church is not really all that concerned with preserving fetuses as it is its claim to infallibility. I talked with a local anti-abortion Catholic leader about what penalties the Church would like to see applied to women who have abortions. He said they weren't much interested in punishing anyone, their main interest was having the law reflect Catholic doctrine. That's true. For many years when abortion was illegal, clandestine abortions were commonly available. I remember those days. Catholic publications went on about the evil of abortion and dismissed the many deaths of women from botched abortions as "the wages of sin." Hardly ever did they make any attempt to shut down the clandestine operations and certainly never, as far as I knew, even editorialize against them. That the law validated Catholic doctrine was really all the Church cared about.

    This figures, given the Church's history regarding women. Let's consider the Council of Ma├žon in France in 585. The bishops gathered there agonized for weeks over whether women could be considered human. They finally voted 32-31 that women were, well, at least not part of the animal kingdom. As recently as 1912, the Catholic Encyclopedia declared that women are inferior to men "both as regards body and soul."

    For a church that has had such a hard time even deciding if women are human, their position on abortion looks like just more of the same desire for absolute control of women.

    Bottom line: You can be just as anti-abortion as you like. All I care about is that you keep your religious beliefs out of our laws. Personhood does not begin with conception. There is no such thing as a single-celled person!
I responded:
    Thanks for the lesson in Catholic church history, but I'm Protestant. We don't much care what the Catholic position is. Our authority is the word of God. Sola scriptura and all that.

    I realize that as an atheist you don't care what the Bible has to say, but what about simple biology? Conception occurs when the egg is fertilized by the sperm. The cells immediately begin dividing, and all of the genetic information that person will have as an adult is already present. If it isn't a person -- whether one, two, or three cells -- then what is it? A kangaroo? A frog? A rock?

    I don't believe size matters in determining personhood. A newborn baby is no less of a person than her mother. Someone who is 5' 3" is no less of a person than someone who is 7' 5".

    When do YOU believe personhood begins? I think it's important to find that out if you're going to insist on putting YOUR religious beliefs into our laws.
Marie:
    It's really not realistic to say personhood begins at conception because the whole gestation process can off the track. When a fertilized egg starts developing and attaches to the uterus, the first thing formed is the placenta, without which a fetus cannot develop. Sometimes the process stops there and all you have is a placenta. Very likely these are the very early abortions, maybe so early the woman experiences only a somewhat late period. It's quite a stretch to say that placenta was a person, even though it contains human DNA.

    Sometimes the fetus does start to develop but things go wrong and what should be various body parts ends up looking like a bunch of grapes - nothing remotely human, although still with human DNA. Along the way various parts don't form. When it's the brain (anencephaly), it's hard to say it's a person because the brain is where personhood lies. Anti-abortionists like to point out the early stages when there is a beating heart as a sign of personhood, but the heart develops in stages. The early 2-chamber heart is at the lizard level of evolutionary development. Persons have a 4-chamber heart. Gestation pretty much goes through the evolutionary stages, with a tail, gills and other such things that drop away as gestation proceeds. During the 1st trimester, when the vast majority of abortions are performed, there really isn't enough there to say it's a person, especially since the most significant part - cognitive development, that all-important brain - is still several months away, and a lot could still go wrong that would make "personhood" questionable at best.

    Where terribly wrong things show up is generally at the boundary of the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. By that time, the woman is either carrying a wanted fetus or has decided not to have an abortion. By that time, almost no abortions are performed for other than medical reasons, and it's no fun, believe me. When I was Catholic I had this experience but, being Catholic, continued the pregnancy, carrying a fetus with an 89% chance of being seriously defective. I filled up with 40 pounds of fluid so I could not walk without great pain, and could not lie down without considerable discomfort. My internal organs were being badly compressed so it was hard to breathe. On top of that was the mental stress. By the 8th month the doctor said he would induce labor because there was no point in me going through all that misery for nothing. You should know that abortions are extremely dangerous to perform during the 3rd trimester and they are done only in the most extreme circumstances. What doctors try to do is either induce labor or do a c-section if the woman's condition allows it.

    So my doctor induced labor and I had a 4-pound girl who looked OK until it turned out that her intestines had not formed properly and were almost totally just a fibrous mass. Also, her esophagus was solid instead of hollow. She could not eat. It took her a few days to starve to death. But isn't it wonderful that she got baptized? Yeah, sure. One of those late-term abortions the anti-abortion people so abhor and trivialize and even say (as one did) that women have them just because they are tired of being pregnant and want to fit into their little black dress, would have saved all concerned a lot of pain and suffering. (Want to hear about that little black dress? Go to [http://www.atheistvoices.com/pages/castle.html] and listen to me debate religious right talk show host Todd Friel.

    The bottom line is that pregnancy and childbirth are physically and mentally (in addition to social and economic problems) not a walk in the park. If doctors were required to tell women all the things that could go wrong in a pregnancy (as they are required to "inform" women about abortion, as though women don't know what pregnancy is) there would probably be a lot more abortions. Why do you think obstetrics is a medical specialty? Here's a list of just the problems I can think of, many of which I have personally experienced in the 10 pregnancies I went through (this does not include late miscarriages - at about 4 months - from which I very nearly died. It was a horrendous experience): toxemia, high blood pressure, pernicious vomiting, ectopic pregnancy, hemorrhaging, anemia, breech birth, placenta previa, and eclampsia. All of these can be life-threatening.

    There are also the social and economic realities to consider, which can cause considerable hardship. And all these are borne personally by the woman involved. Giving her a year's supply of diapers and holding her hand and patting her condescendingly on the head as though she's some airhead incapable of running her own life are of no help.

    Please have the decency to respect women's decision as to what they should do about a problem pregnancy. People who don't believe in abortions are entirely free to not have one, but they have no business forcing their shaky philosophical notions about "personhood" on people who think otherwise. The only 100% real person in all this, and the only one who is the 100% sufferer is the woman. Leave her alone.
Me:
    You still have not addressed my question about when personhood begins. I am sorry for the hardships you have gone through, but we are still talking about innocent human life.

    Just as in any other medical emergency, I think everything should be done during a problem pregnancy to save both mother and baby. I realize that there are circumstances that may arise in which doctors may have to choose to save the mother's life over the child's, but those are few and far between. No pro-lifer I know would insist on killing the mother to save the child. However, you're arguing a moot point since you believe that all women should be able to have an abortion at any time for any reason.

    Is a baby a person two weeks before it is born? Is it a person two weeks after it is born? Two years? It seems to me that someone who doesn't believe in God, yet believes in a woman's "right to choose," would grant women the "choice" at any point during their role as mother to have an abortion. I am concerned about when personhood begins; you seem to shrug off the issue as if it doesn't exist.

    This all goes back to our presuppositions. I believe in God, the Creator of the universe and ultimate Law-Giver. My morality extends from that. You don't believe in God, but you insist on using terms like "right" and "wrong," even though such concepts cannot be accounted for in a naturalistic worldview.
Marie:
    This is going nowhere. You have a belief based on the idea that there is a god somewhere (what does it consist of and where is it located?) that has set some rules about pregnancy. These amount to a requirement that, where reproductive matters are concerned, it's OK and in fact preferable, to throw women under the bus. Who cares about her welfare? All pregnancies must be brought to term if at all possible, and what happens to the woman is not even a factor. The woman is simple a vessel, and a disposable one at that. She should be only a public utility subject to government regulation. Given the shaky gestational process, the only rational position is that personhood begins at birth. The U.S. Constitution defines a citizen as "a person born or naturalized in the United States." The key word id "born." That is the point where government reasonably steps in to protect that BORN person. Before that, the situation is in the woman's hands because it is her body and her life circumstances being affected and no government or individual can step in to do anything meaningful.

    As for morality, mine is harm-based. It is wrong to cause harm unnecessarily. It is wrong because society cannot function if people go around harming each other. It is a human-centered morality based on human needs an circumstances. Your morality is based on what you imagine some imaginary god wants, with no basis in reality, only in your interpretation of something written 2000 years ago by people who thought the Earth was flat. There is no basis for granting them credibility to determine who we are to live today. Only reason, compassion and real-world consequences can help us develop a moral social system. Your willingness to force women to suffer all manner of harm to satisfy what you think your imaginary god wants show how immoral your views are. You will have to prove to me that your version of a god exists. Tell me what it consists of and where it is located and how you know, and also how you know what it wants and I will consider that you have a case worth discussing. Without that, all I see is a guy so besotted with religious beliefs that he can't see the humanity in women but can see the most sacred and valued and precious humanity possible in a fertilized egg. In any other but a religious context you could be committed to a mental institution for having so thoroughly lost touch with reality.
My concluding remarks:
    You may not realize it, but you just refuted yourself using your own "moral" arguments. Before I get to that, however, let's sum up your position.

    Your "harm-based" moral system is dependent upon "compassion and real-world consequences," yet you have no objective standard by which one can determine the difference between what is harmful and what is compassionate. Someone who kills another person does so after having justified the action in his own mind. Person A may think that his own welfare depends on the death of Person B. B disagrees, naturally, but why should his opinion carry any more weight than A's? In fact, B's death may mean the improvement of the welfare of 10, 100, or even 1,000 people. Such things must be considered when using a purely naturalistic approach to morality. Nothing is wrong just because it is wrong. One person's idea of harm isn't necessarily shared by others, and since you don't believe in an objective moral standard, then you are in no position to tell anyone that their actions are immoral.

    Now, here is where your naturalistic, harm-based morality falls apart when it comes to abortion. You said, "It is wrong because society cannot function if people go around harming each other." (Of course, that all depends on how you define harm, which you have yet to do.) If every woman were to abort each pregnancy, society wouldn't just fail to function, it would cease to exist. You can see the dilemma you have created for yourself. You claim that doing harm to others is wrong because it in turn harms society at large, yet if every woman were to do that which you claim is perfectly moral (i.e. kill the non-person growing inside of her), then that would completely destroy the society you seek to protect. And I'm the one who has lost touch with reality?

    You are correct to point out that this is going nowhere. Ben Franklin* was also right when he noted the futility of trying to reason people out of a position they had not reasoned themselves into.

    I will be praying for you, Marie. No amount of discussion or debate will convince you. Only the Holy Spirit is able to open your eyes and heart to the Truth.
I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to also pray for Marie and anyone else they may know with similar convictions, because no one can be reasoned or argued into the Kingdom.

* This quote has been attributed to Ben Franklin, but it is probably more accurately attributed to Jonathan Swift.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You Cannot Reason with a Pro-Choice Atheist

I recently had an email "dialog" (for lack of a better term) with Marie Castle, Communications Director for Atheists for Human Rights. It all started when I ran across a blog post of hers in which she denounces as "absolutely despicable" the fact that we pro-lifers "get so misty eyed over the abortion loss of an unfeeling, unthinking, partially formed fetus, yet dismiss the fully sentient woman as a self-centered airhead acting only out of 'convenience.'" She rambles on about how we're "tunnel visioned sadists" who care nothing about the poor, distraught women who only have perfectly sane and rational reasons for murdering their children.

One commenter noted the fact that women do have a choice, but that choice is made before impregnation. Put bluntly, women can decide whether or not sex is worth the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.

Not surprisingly, a respondent brought up the issue of rape, a favorite topic of the pro-aborts. He pointed out that in those situations women don't have a choice, so, "Who are you to decide what is right for everyone else?"

This is where I entered the conversation:
    Who is anyone to decide what is right for the life of the unborn baby? To skirt the issue Marie and other atheists prefer to use terms like "unfeeling, unthinking, partially formed fetus." I'm interested in knowing how someone with a purely naturalistic worldview accounts for things like "right" and "wrong." If we're all just a collection of atoms, who cares?
Shortly afterward I received the following email from Marie:
    Interfering with a woman's right to control her bodily processes is nothing more than extended rape. A rapist essentially is forcing a woman to bear a child against her will. Laws restricting or prohibiting abortion do the same thing. You may get all misty-eyed over the fate of a fetus, but it's none of your business. Absolutely none! Especially since you cannot, and would not take over the pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing for her. You're not better than the rapist who impregnates her and runs off.
There you have it. I'm a rapist because I want to see innocent life protected.

My response:
    My wife and I just adopted a child, and we are in the process of adopting two more. Please don't tell me that we don't care. Just because you wouldn't take on that responsibility doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. There is no such thing as an unwanted child. Our belief as Christians is that every human is created in the image of God, therefore we cannot justify destroying an innocent life because of another person's sin. What's interesting is that pro-aborts always fall back on the rape issue. However, you believe that a woman should be able to abort her child at any point during her pregnancy for any reason, so don't pretend that you're taking the moral high ground here. Which brings me back to my original comment: How do you account for morality? What is your basis for making any kind of moral judgment? If the fate of the fetus isn't my business, then I could argue that the mother's fate is of no concern of yours. You don't believe in a moral Law-Giver, so how can one collection of atoms be deemed any more important than another?
The "moral" atheist responded:
    The only valid consideration of what is moral or immoral is harm-based. Does an action unnecessarily harm someone? If it does we consider it immoral. We learn not to harm others because we don't want to be harmed. Consequences matter. However, most people behave fairly well toward one another because they have human feelings. Most people just don't WANT to hurt others, and that includes atheists and theists. It doesn't take a god belief to understand this. If a woman aborts a fetus, what harm factors are involved? The fetus never knows whether it is or is not being harmed, while the harm to the woman in continuing the pregnancy can be severe. It is real, measurable, observable harm, while the harm to the fetus exists only in the minds of people who think a woman has a moral obligation to continue a pregnancy no matter the cost to her. Why does every pregnancy have to be carried through? If a woman has, say, two children during her lifetime, does it matter which of her 100,000 eggs make it to birth? Nature aborts fetuses by the thousands. Almost all abortions are done during the first trimester, when there is really nothing there you could call a person. (And no, despite what the pope thinks, there is no such thing as a single-celled person.) So-called "late-term" abortions are done at the boundary of the second and third trimesters, and ALWAYS and ONLY for very serious medical reasons. I used to describe to people like you the serious emotional and physical stresses a woman goes through in a pregnancy, especially one more difficult than normal, but gave it up when it was obvious people like you don't give a damn. To people like you, no matter how much a woman may suffer or even die, it matters not, she is there to do it. Women are treated as though they are mere childbearing vessels, and a disposable one at that. A former anti-abortion (read: misogynist) legislator here had a sign over his desk: "Women weren't meant to be free; they were meant to have babies." He, like you, seemed to think women in their reproductive capacity are a public utility needing government regulation. Here's someone who agrees with you: Adolph Hitler, in "Mein Kampf," wrote, "When I come to power I will put to rest the ridiculous notion that women have a right to control their own bodies." You misogynists are all alike. You get all blubbery about fetuses, but don't give a damn about real, live, totally sentient women. I suspect the truth is not at all your concern for fetuses, but your outrage that women should have any power over reproductive matters. You whine about "abortion on demand," yet throughout history what we have had is childbirth on demand -- MALE demand! Women had no say in the matter until recently, and even now only in more advanced societies. You've lost that and want that total control back. It won't happen. And yes, I am sure you do care about the children you adopted, but you don't give a rat's patoot for the women who bore them. You may thank them (perhaps as you would a loyal slave) but you are willing to legally force all women with unwanted pregnancies to suffer the trauma of giving up a child for adoption that nature has bonded them to over nine months. How very moral of you!
Really, how does one respond to that? I gave it a shot:
    Insults, coarse language, ad hominems, and straw men are what I have come to expect in these kinds of conversations, so excuse me if I don't waste my time refuting your ridiculous Hitler argument. (Besides, you probably think that since I'm not Jewish, I have no right to condemn Hitler's killing of Jews.) Let me deal with a couple of points. First of all, my wife and I have been through two failed pregnancies. We are well aware of the emotional and physical stresses. Secondly, being pro-life has nothing to do with a desire to tell women what to do. You don't callously disregard the opinions of men who agree with your position on killing unborn women, so why write off those who disagree with you as misogynists? Pro-life women have traditionally outnumbered pro-life men, especially those who actively work within pro-life organizations. What does that tell you? Finally, you have still failed to account for your ability to make a moral judgment. Your "harm-based" morality is just a reinterpretation of Luke 6:31: "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." You say that consequences matter, but on this side of the grave not all actions deemed "harmful" (a term you fail to define) result in negative consequences. Suppose there are two families living in a remote forest, and one family decides to kill the other. Based on the pragmatic "morality" of atheism, one could argue that without the extra mouths to feed, food in the forest would be more plentiful for the one family remaining. By your reasoning, what's "moral" depends upon the consequences being negative or positive. In the Christian worldview, murder is wrong because the ultimate Law-Giver says it is wrong, regardless of the consequences. But I doubt you even hold to your own definition of morality. You justify abortion because "the fetus never knows whether it is or is not being harmed" (even though the abortionist DOES know). Let me get this straight: Harm is only considered harm when the one being harmed doesn't know he or she is being harmed. Would you apply that same twisted logic to people in comas? The mentally disabled? What about those who are merely asleep? You can begin to see the kind of slippery slope upon which you are perched. Since you have thus far made no distinction between the different developmental stages during gestation, I can only assume that you consider an unborn baby to be a non-sentient blob even in the final months of pregnancy. So, when does a fetus become a viable, sentient human being? Certainly not at birth. No newborn is able to survive on its own outside the womb. It is unable to reason, and it requires constant care and feeding or it will die. Not to be facetious, but some parents might argue that their babies aren't able to survive on their own until about age 21 or so. Here's a question for you: Can a moral argument (however you want to define "moral") be made for the abortion of a "fetus" in its post-natal stage? If you have anything further to add, feel free to comment on my blog where our little conversation is posted.
Will she or won't she? We'll see.

UPDATE: You Cannot Reason with a Pro-Choice Atheist (Continued)

This Week in Calvinism - September 11, 2009

  • Calvin on man's full culpability.

  • Calvin on law and gospel.

  • Wesley on justification. (Hmmm. Was he a closet Calvinist?)

  • Meet Jupiter Hammon, America's first black poet.

  • Apparently late to the game, Christianity Today sees evidence that "Calvin is making a comeback."

  • Article found on a Catholic web site: Calvinism and the Seeker-Insensitive Church. The author notes the "intellectual debt we owe to Calvin," and concludes, "These dusty old theologians often knew more about human nature and behavior than we moderns, with our surveys and focus groups, will ever know."

  • The Exiled Preaacher reminds us that the "Reformed faith is much more broad, rich and deep" than what is summarized in TULIP.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pet Care in a Post-Rapture World

You may recall YouveBeenLeftBehind.com, an Internet service designed to automatically email pre-written messages from you in the event of the Rapture, giving you "one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends for Christ." It claims to be a site "programmed and run by Christians, for Christians."

Well, it seems atheists have now decided to cash in on the Rapture. Their gimmick: offering to care for pets once their Christian masters have flown the coop.

The site, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, makes the following claim:
    We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you've received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

    We are currently active in 20 states and growing. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral/ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet's natural life.
Sure, this is an obvious attempt at mockery (despite the insistence that it isn't a joke), but I cannot help but wonder how many dispensationalists might actually take them up on this.

This Week in Calvinism - September 4, 2009

  • How Desiring God got started.

  • Earlier this week, BBC Radio 3 featured a less-than-flattering program on John Calvin. The audio is available for another day or two here. One of the bizarre conclusions reached: Calvin hated Servetus so much that he had him burned at the stake to show that Calvin wasn't an Anabaptist.

  • The Irish Calvinist is "trying to catalog some of the best basic introductions and explanations to Calvinism," and he would appreciate your help.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Time to End the Notion of "Race"

Thabiti Anyabwile notes: "When Muhammad Ali proves to be Irish, it really is time to end the notion of 'race.'"

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Brief Thought on Health Care Reform

Ephesians 4:28: "Let the [politician] no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need."

Friday, August 28, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - August 28, 2009

  • Carl Gobelman reviews The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel.

  • Doug Wilson has an excellent post on Brian McLaren's decision to join Muslims in observing Ramadan.

  • Daniel Townsend offers a thoughtful critique (part 1, part 2) of open theism.

  • In discussing the fact that we can sin without actually committing the act itself, Peter Pike heaps another coal on the Arminian fire.

  • Arminians often equate Calvinism with determinism, saying that it makes God the author of sin. Dominic Tennant argues that Arminians are just as "deterministic" as they accuse Calvinists of being.

  • Halden Doerge, a foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Calvinist blogger, attacks the "false god" (more like straw man) of John Piper.

  • Speaking of John Piper, the Desiring God Conference is coming up September 25–27. This year's theme: With Calvin in the Theater of God.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - August 21, 2009

  • Dr. James Galyon has been stirring up hornets' nests over the issue of regeneration.

  • The Seeking Disciple asks, "Was Calvin more biblical than Calvinists?"

  • John Heuglin, speaking as an Arminian-leaning Pentecostal, "cannot come to the conclusion that we should not call [Calvinists] our brothers and sisters in Christ or deem them as apostates or false teachers." That's certainly more gracious than some.

  • John Calvin: Love him or hate him, you can't ignore him.

  • Steve Hays wonders whether or not Arminius was as complicit in the execution of Servetus as Calvin is accused of being.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Christianity vs. Atheism: Some Brief Observations

Christianity is defined by a belief in something -- particularly, a belief in the God of the Bible. Atheism is defined by a non-belief in something -- particularly, a non-belief in the God of the Bible.

Christians choose to be identified by that which they believe to be true. Atheists choose to be identified by that which they believe to be false.

The practice of Christian apologetics is based on defending a belief. The practice of atheist apologetics is based on attacking a belief.

Christianity teaches absolute truth based on the unchanging word of God. Atheism teaches relative truth based on the changing scientific consensus.

Christians look to God's word as their objective moral standard. Atheists have no objective moral standard, so whenever they discuss morality (which cannot be accounted for in their naturalistic worldview) they must steal from Christians.

Christianity offers purpose and meaning in this world and hope beyond. Atheism offers none of the above, yet atheists continue to proselytize.

Friday, August 14, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - August 14, 2009

  • Meet Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833), America's first black preacher and a Calvinist.

  • Dr. Dave Noffsinger is "an enemy of the doctrinal teachings of John Calvin or any that line up with his heresy." He claims Calvinism destroys the very person and purpose of God because Christ "came into the world to save sinners! All sinners!" So, since not all sinners are saved, does that mean God failed? Calvinists happen to believe that Christ actually saved everyone given to him by the Father (John 10:29).

  • Tullian Tchividjian is correct when he notes that every church is dying.

  • Was Spurgeon KJVO?

Friday, August 07, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - August 7, 2009

  • Those pesky Calvinists.

  • Arminian Peter Lumpkins takes on R.C. Sproul.

  • Let me get this straight: Election is based on God's foreknowledge of who will respond to the gospel, but in order to respond to the gospel those people must first be given the grace necessary to do so? Then on what basis does God choose who receives this grace? If Arminians argue that everyone receives the same amount of grace, then salvation is ultimately up to man since it hinges on his decision. If, on the other hand, only certain individuals receive this grace (or receive greater amounts of it), then Arminians are right back to square one on the election issue.

  • Why read Calvin?

  • As far as Catholic M. Barnes is concerned, there is no such thing as Calvinism. He writes, "Calvinism does not exist, at least not any more than the Ku Klux Klan does. Oh sure, there are still several groups that run around in rural communities in the South, calling themselves everything from 'The Traditional Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan' to the 'International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan'. But everyone knows what Nathan Bedford Forrest started over a century ago after the War Between the States has long since disbanded, only to be revitalized by kooks, losers, and provocateurs trying to keep the torch aflame every other decade or so." Talk about your papal bull. He goes on to excoriate Calvinists for their lack of authority and unity. Oh, if only we could learn to be as submissive and unified as Catholics...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What Are the Desires of Your Heart?

Lately I've been reflecting on Psalm 37:4, which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Contrary to what the Word-Faith false teachers may tell me, this is not a promise that God will grant me health, wealth, and whatever else I want in life.

I also know that this verse is not a cryptic statement that in some twisted way means that God will not grant me the desires of my heart. He will. But I must first ask myself what it is I desire and why. I may think that promotion, new car, and bigger house may help my Christian walk, but perhaps they will only hinder it. Maybe I am allowing the material trappings of this world to divert my attention from the Source of all things (which is more likely the case).

What, then, does the psalmist mean? If I truly delight myself in the Lord, then my desires will coincide with God's, and he will give me the desires of my heart according to his good and perfect will. In the end the focus will be on God, not on me.

Friday, July 31, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 31, 2009

  • Gene Edward Veith reconsiders Calvin and culture.

  • Was John Calvin really a monster? Christopher Howse avoids answering the question.

  • Tullian Tchividjian presents gospel gold from John Calvin.

  • Stephen Garrett discusses three steps to Hyper Calvinism.

  • Some theorize that a personal struggle with the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination greatly affected the thinking of Tyrant, er, President Abraham Lincoln.

  • Contrary to what some may believe, Calvinism can't heal all wounds.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Day We Met Our Daughter



To say that Monday, July 13, was a whirlwind day would be the understatement of a lifetime. Dawn and I woke up in Beijing at 4:00am, finished packing, and ambled down to the lobby at 5:15. This was the day we had been waiting for.

After a two-hour flight we landed in Chongqing. Hot. Muggy. Barely a breeze. But a really cool city!

We arrived at our hotel with plenty of time to spare.



To pass the time we began to unpack, get all the baby's clothes and toys ready, and anything else to keep our minds off the wait. Sure, we waited three years, but that doesn't mean the last three hours are any easier.

Before long, we were off to the Civil Affairs office. The best way to describe what we were feeling is...not being exactly sure what it was we were feeling.



That non-feeling feeling grew into nervous anticipation as we sat in the waiting room with the other parents.



Then, before we knew it, our name was called.



It's amazing how far along Olivia has come since that day. We praise and thank God for his tremendous blessing, and look forward to the day when all of our kids are under one roof.



You can see more pictures at our family blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 24, 2009

  • John Wesley charges that Calvinism makes God out to be worse than the Devil.

  • Eddie Eddings presents another installment of Strange Facts about Christian Leaders.

  • The 700 Club recently featured a report on the modern state of Calvinism. You can view it here.

  • Calvinism is not a dour theology.

  • David Mathis of Desiring God has posted part 5 of a 9-part series on the life of John Calvin.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - July 10, 2009

  • Frank Bellizzi wishes John Calvin a happy 500th birthday.

  • Puritain Lad rightly reminds us that a belief in Calvinism is not part of the ordo salutis.

  • Margaret DeRitter, who has a love-hate relationship with the reformer, is "grateful there's more to Calvinism than predestination."

  • At 500, John Calvin still holds relevance in social and theological thought.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Where I'll Be for the Next Two Weeks

One of the reasons blog updates have been rather infrequent lately is that I've been busy getting ready to leave the country. My wife, Dawn, and I are finally going to China to meet our daughter! We've been waiting for this day for over three years now, so you I'm sure you can imagine our excitement.

We would appreciate your prayers as we embark on this adventure. Dawn had sent this list of requests out to our friends and family. If you would, please pray...:
  1. That we will have safe flights. We have seven flights over the next two weeks.

  2. That we will stay healthy.

  3. That we will not be quarantined. The U.S. State Dept. has a travel advisory regarding the quarantines, which last up to 7 days, with reports of some poor conditions (not enough water to drink, lack of good water and food, etc). Upon arrival in Beijing, you stay seated on the plane while people enter in hazmat suits and take the temperatures of all the passengers. If we or anyone within three rows of us have fevers or exhibit H1N1 symptoms, we will be quarantined. This would be difficult to accept as we would miss the Beijing tour (The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and more), but it would also delay our "Gotcha Day" when we meet and receive Olivia. This would also add expense. We have also learned that some hotels are checking the temperatures of guests. There have been adoptive families quarantined on their trips, although overall, quarantine percentages are low in comparison to amount of travelers.

  4. That we and the other families will have fast and healthy bonding with their babies/kids. We witnessed that this can happen with our kids in Haiti and with fellow travelers. We believe it can happen here, too!

  5. That Olivia and the other kids with have smooth transitions and don't get sick. It is stressful for the kids as they have to adjust to so much -- new caregivers, different schedules, food, surroundings, etc. Aside from the day she was born, Olivia has never been outside the orphanage.

  6. That we will bless others around us and be an example for Christ. We have to show our passport to attend an International Church service, which reminds us of the blessings we have in this country.

  7. Please pray for our older two, Patricia and Philippe, in Haiti. There are families visiting in June and July and we know it must be hard for them as they watch to see if we will get out of the van. Patricia kept asking if we were coming back in June and was so sad when we said no. They know about Olivia, but will see her picture for the first time on July 15th or 16th, when another Haiti mom will visit and share pictures with them.
Above all, we want to bring glory to our Heavenly Father, who adopted us into his family.

Soli Deo Gloria!
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