Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

This Week in Calvinism - August 27, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

This Week in Calvinism - August 20, 2010

  • The Seeking Disciple clarifies Romans 9 from an Arminian perspective: "What Paul is contrasting in Romans 9 is not the individual salvation of one person versus another but the two people found in Israel. ... The elect are not the Jews but the elect children of promise are those who are in Christ Jesus." The point of Romans 9, as I understand it, is God's sovereign choice. If you continue reading through chapters 10 and 11, you learn that Gentile believers are "grafted in among the others." So how exactly is each individual person in Christ elected if not individually?

  • William Birch writes, "Either people are genuinely free to choose for themselves what they shall achieve, even if said choice is foreknown and thus decreed by God, or there is no genuine choice because God has already strictly predetermined what shall be." It seems to me the Calvinist could simply respond by saying, "Either God is genuinely free to choose for himself what he shall achieve, or there is no genuine choice because God has already strictly predetermined that his will shall be limited by man's."

  • Russell Moore explains why conservative evangelicals should thank God for Clark Pinnock.

  • The humility of Calvin's Calvinism.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What If There Was a Medical Prevention for Homosexuality?

If there was a medical prevention for homosexuality, you can imagine the controversy that would arise. Consider this recent report in the LA Times:
    Each year in the United States, perhaps a few dozen pregnant women learn they are carrying a fetus at risk for a rare disorder known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The condition causes an accumulation of male hormones and can, in females, lead to genitals so masculinized that it can be difficult at birth to determine the baby's gender.

    A hormonal treatment to prevent ambiguous genitalia can now be offered to women who may be carrying such infants. It's not without health risks, but to its critics those are of small consequence compared with this notable side effect: The treatment might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioral traits.

    That such a treatment would ever be considered, even to prevent genital abnormalities, has outraged gay and lesbian groups, troubled some doctors and fueled bioethicists' debate about the nature of human sexuality.

    The treatment is a step toward "engineering in the womb for sexual orientation," said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University and an outspoken opponent of the treatment.

    The ability to chemically steer a child's sexual orientation has become increasingly possible in recent years, with evidence building that homosexuality has biological roots and with advances in the treatment of babies in utero. Prenatal treatment for congenital adrenal hyperplasia is the first to test — unintentionally or not — that potential.

To the claim that homosexuality is a choice, the homosexual typically responds, "I was born this way. Do you really think I would choose this lifestyle and all that goes along with it?" Fine. Let's assume the cause of homosexuality is purely biological. If growing up gay means having to suffer shame, humiliation, discrimination, and alienation, how could anyone be outraged at the possibility of a medical prevention for all of that pain and suffering?

Some may argue that is the equivalent of trying to manipulate other inherent traits, such as sex or race, in order to make life easier. However, neither of those traits are behavioral. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is explicitly defined by one's behavior.

But the debate shouldn't be over the biological causation of homosexuality. It's a moot point. According to God's word, homosexuality is a sin, and it's root cause (biological or otherwise) is...well, sin (Romans 1:18-28). The one fact nobody can deny is that a conscious choice is made when one decides to justify and embrace the sin of homosexuality.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Week in Calvinism - August 13, 2010

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Atheism Is Not a Religion?

Many Christians respond to atheistic ridicule by saying that atheism is itself a religion. Michael Saporito, who blogs at "Symptom of the Universe," claims that atheism is not a religion. He writes, "Atheists state there is no god – there is nothing to find or prove there – believers say there is a god – show us some proof. The essential difference between atheists and deists and theists is that the latter two operate on faith and the former do not."

Let me pause for just a moment. It is a common diversionary tactic of atheists to say that the burden of proof rests on believers. After all, no one can prove a negative. But that is like saying, "I cannot prove there is no forest; I simply deny it exists. All I see are trees, therefore it is up to those who believe in a forest to prove its existence." I contend that the burden of proof rests on those who, despite everything they know about science and the laws of physics, insist the universe came about through mere natural processes. Whether we're here because of spontaneous generation, or because some unknown force, for some unknown reason, acted in some unknown way to alter the state of matter that already existed from eternity past, atheists have got a lot of explaining to do.

Mr. Saporito goes on: "The religious will deny proven knowledge such as carbon dating, which proves the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, not 6000 years old which is believed by many because an uneducated writer penned it into the bible a few thousand years ago. Evolution is another scientific truth that has been proven over and over again. Recently life was started from scratch in a laboratory."

Let's look at the issue of carbon dating. First of all, it can only be done here on Earth. One cannot perform carbon dating on a star, an asteroid, or another planet because those objects do not have the same conditions found here. Secondly, based on our current understanding about the decay of 14C and its ratio to 12C, carbon dating could only possibly date the Earth to tens of thousands of years at most. Many other assumptions must be made in order to extrapolate a figure like 14 billion.

The idea (i.e. preconceived notion) of a universe that is billions of years old is required if one is to buy into the theory of evolution. I stress the word theory because it is not, as Mr. Saporito insists, a "scientific truth that has been proven over and over again." For one thing, it cannot be subjected to the scientific method. No one can observe the process, much less repeat it so that it can be empirically tested. So unless Mr. Saporito has access to a working time machine, I will conclude that he is simply making another assumption.

He makes another leap of faith in saying that "life was started from scratch in a laboratory." My guess is that he is referring to the experiment conducted in March of this year at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, in which scientists "created" a microbe with an artificial genetic code. To imply that this is, in any way, a glimpse into the evolutionary origin of all life is a bit of a stretch. If anything, it only reinforces the concept that life of any kind requires a designer, someone establishing all the necessary conditions for that life to exist in the first place.

While trying to make the case that atheism is not a religion, Mr. Saporito demonstrates just the opposite. Rather than follow the dictates of logic and reason to support his position, he resorts to blind faith to make his point. So, if religion can be defined simplistically as a set of beliefs based on faith, what does that make atheism?

Friday, August 06, 2010

This Week in Calvinism - August 6, 2010

  • John, of "Honey and Locusts," reviews the book The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.

  • A TULIP that even non-Calvinists would find sweet-smelling.

  • Pastor Will writes, "In the Arminian view, it is free will that God desires more than universal salvation. In the Calvinist view, it is His glory that He desires."

  • Rampant Calvinism in Wesleyan hymnology?

  • The "Irish Calvinist" presents a helpful resource for family worship.

  • What the gospel really is to John Calvin.

Monday, August 02, 2010

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