Friday, December 26, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - December 26, 2014

  • Confessions of an ex-Calvinist.

  • Parts two and three of Roger Olson's review of Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology.

  • Olson compares the Young, Restless, Reformed movement with the Bill Gothard phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s.

  • David Platt discusses our obligation to the unreached.

Friday, December 19, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - December 19, 2014

  • Roger Olson responds to John Piper's comments about Arminians.

  • Olson also begins his review of Oliver Crisp's book Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology.

  • "A lone Arminian voice crying in a Calvinist wilderness"? According to Baptist News Global, "Roger Olson is one of the few voices in American evangelicalism, and among Baptists, who regularly speaks out against the increasingly popular Calvinist movement."

  • "Why can we consider Calvinism as being in some sense evangelical?" asks William Birch. "Because most Calvinists, unlike some of their hyper-Calvinistic counterparts, preach like an Arminian!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A daughter's open letter to her porn-addicted father

Addictions of any sort can tear families apart and ruin lives. An addiction to pornography is no different, as this heart-wrenching letter one daughter wrote to her porn-watching father reminds us:
I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.
Read the full letter here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - December 12, 2014

  • Apparently, Acts 13:48 does not support Calvinism.

  • Question: "Can an atheist beat a Calvinist?"
    Answer: "Yes, in a copper bowl with a whisk. Best results if the bowl is put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before. Cream of tartar is optional, and leads to a slightly stiffer confection."

  • According to D. G. Hart, "New Calvinism is warmed-over New Evangelicalism with a hint of hipster."

  • Was John Calvin really a Calvinist?

  • Roger Olson whets your appetite with a preview of Deviant Calvinism by Oliver Crisp.

Friday, December 05, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - December 5, 2014

  • An anonymous former Calvinist wants to evangelize a particular group of people. He asks, "How can we best reach the children of Calvinists whose philosophical presuppositions have undercut any genuine sense of man's personal responsibility or genuine free will?"

  • Paul Dohse believes that "Calvinism keeps the 'Christian' under law via a particular view of double imputation."

  • Proud Calvinism?

  • More Arminian antics over at Calvinistic Cartoons.

  • Christine Hoover shares one simple tip to make this Christmas unforgettable for your children.

Friday, November 28, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - November 28, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bible doesn't make BuzzFeed's list of books that could make the world a better place

I don't spend a lot of time on BuzzFeed, but every once in a while a link will catch my attention. Like "21 Books That Could Make The World A Better Place." Here are the books that made the list:
  1. Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall
  2. Sold by Patricia McCormick
  3. Night by Elie Wiesel
  4. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  6. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  7. The Big Necessity by Rose George
  8. Room by Emma Donoghue
  9. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  10. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  11. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  12. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  13. If I Just Had Two Wings by Virginia Frances Schwartz
  14. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  15. Quiet by Susan Cain
  16. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  17. How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff
  18. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  19. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  20. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  21. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Naturally, the only book that actually could make the world a better place didn't make the list.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Interactive timeline on the inerrancy of scripture

From Moses to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. View the interactive timeline here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - November 14, 2014

  • Now this is a new one. Steve Tassi believes the parable of the good Samaritan refutes Calvinism. He writes, "Jesus clearly makes the moral argument, that you are committing an immoral act when you do not help someone or simply pass by one who is unable to help themselves." Tassi goes on to argue that since Calvinists believe God passes by totally depraved sinners who cannot help themselves, then God is immoral by his own standards, and Calvinism can't be biblical. Surprisingly, Tassi is not a universalist.

  • The Seeking Disciple is an honest Arminian who is consistent in his theology when he preaches to the lost. He wants Calvinists to do the same. He writes, "[Calvinists] simply end by pleading with the lost to come to faith in Christ and be saved when in fact they should be preaching, 'Those of you who are regenerated, come to faith in Christ as proof of your divine election.'"

  • Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, misses Mark Driscoll: "Maybe he will eventually reemerge chastened and wiser. Unapologetic, polemical, muscular Christianity is needed in every age to challenge sleeping, self-satisfied, apathetic religion." Did we not have muscular Christians before Driscoll?

  • You are not your own.

  • Nine steps to putting that sin to death.

  • Here's the trailer for Doug Wilson's upcoming book, Rules for Reformers.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Friday, November 07, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - November 7, 2014

  • Regarding Oliver Crisp's book, Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology, Guillaume Bignon concludes, "[I]f the Westminster Confession of faith is the standard by which we measure whether a view qualifies as reformed, we must conclude that the hybrid view contemplated (though likely not believed) by Oliver Crisp is still too deviant to be Calvinist."

  • Over the years, Roger Olson has said some foolish things. His recent comments on capitalism are no exception. Comments like, "Capitalism is a thoroughly secular economic system where participation requires thinking, deciding, and acting as if God does not exist." Olson concludes:
    All I want to say here is that when Christians support and engage in modern, free market capitalism, as it exists in America, they ought to feel it as a crisis within themselves and not comfortably internalize its methodologically atheistic foundations and impulses. Beyond that, insofar as it's possible, they ought to support cooperative businesses and government regulations that soften the "blows" to the weak built into capitalism.
    I am not at all surprised at Dr. Olson's economic ignorance. What surprises me is that he didn't take the opportunity to get in a dig against Calvinism.

  • Calvinism is refuted by all those Old Testament references to "freewill offerings"? Um... okay.

  • "Nicene Nerd" Caleb Smith seeks to explain how "Evangelical Calvinism" differs from classical "TULIP Calvinism."

  • According to T. C. Moore, "New Calvinism makes God into God's own enemy."

  • An Arminian asks, "If God has indeed causally determined 'every thought, word, and deed in all of history,' wouldn't that reduce the inspiration of Scripture to a redundant doctrine?" No, it wouldn't, but since when do Calvinists hold to strict causal determinism? Ever heard of compatibilism?

  • God is merciful not to tell us everything.

Friday, October 31, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - October 31, 2014

  • James Ach accuses James White (and other Calvinists) of being "inconsistent."

  • Bob Wilkin will be leading a conference next weekend titled "Doubt and the New Calvinism: The Current Crisis in Assurance."

  • Calvinism on the ground in China.

  • Roger Olson reviews Prevenient Grace: God’s Provision for Fallen Humanity by Arminian scholar W. Brian Shelton (no relation).

  • Lots of free resources available from Ligonier through the end of Reformation Day Friday.

  • Jon Bloom of Desiring God tells the story of October 31.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Anti-family planning propaganda, courtesy of Disney

"All of us have a responsibility toward the family of man...including you."

Friday, October 24, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - October 24, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - October 17, 2014

  • Why do so many people resist Calvinism, even those who eventually become Calvinists? "Isn't the answer obvious? It is because Calvinism contradicts, and blatantly so, our most basic moral axioms or intuitions. It contradicts, for example, the self-evident truth that we are genuinely free."

  • Kent Brandenburg writes, "The five points of Calvinism do not present a different gospel per se, because those five points don't deal with the crux of the gospel, which is, one, whether you believe in a biblical Jesus, and, two, whether your faith is a biblical faith in Christ."

  • James J. Cassidy lists five reasons why he is not a New Calvinist.

  • Chris Woznicki writes, "To say that predestination, a doctrine clearly taught in scripture, is unjust is to say that there is a rule of righteousness above God."

  • Be prepared to answer your kids' questions about the Bible.

Friday, October 03, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - October 3, 2014

  • Roger Olson on where Calvinists and Arminians agree.

  • "In Romans," writes Jeremy Myers, "'Salvation' is about deliverance from the temporal consequences of sin now." It ain't about God's sovereign choice.

  • What is the highest good? Phillip Holmes explains.

Friday, September 26, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - September 26, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - September 19, 2014

  • Many people like to avoid the Calvinist or Arminian label by claiming to be Biblicist. However, according to Mark Snoeberger, "'None of the above' is not a valid answer." He believes the issue comes down to one question: "Do believers play any independent role in their own regeneration?"

  • Roger Olson poses a question to Calvinists.

  • Ken Chitwood writes that while religion once played a larger role in Scottish history, "it has faded into the background in an overtly secular Scotland and generally areligious United Kingdom."

  • Is the decline in membership among Baptists due to uncivil conduct over issues like Calvinism?

  • Michael Brown debates Brian Zahnd on the nature of the atonement.

  • Tim Challies on the app that revitalized his prayer life.

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Joel Osteen is a friend to sinners"

Phil Munsey, head of Joel Osteen's Champion's Network, has written a completely unbiased article on America's favorite preacher:
When Jesus was in the homes of the gluttonous and wine-bibbers, Jesus appeared comfortable, and so did the sinners. I'm sure the disciples felt betrayed, confused, angry and maybe a bit envious. Why was Jesus spending time with those people?

Like the disciples, we as Christians may feel betrayed—left out. And with a culture that has seemingly rejected our faith and oftentimes mocked and misrepresented it through the media, it's easy to be disillusioned. Why would Joel and that grin of his be with "those" people? Why? Because Joel is a friend to sinners too.

Joel is an invited guest to our neighbor's home, to the person we do business with, to our families and friends—all of whom watch and are positively influenced by his ministry. My goodness, even our president watches!

I believe history will record the past 14 years of Joel's ministry and influence as one of the most effective pastor/evangelist of our time. And his compassionate passion for people indicates to me that his best efforts are yet to come!

Can I encourage us to begin to believe the best in and for each other? To especially pray and protect the gifts of Joel and Victoria? God has given them to represent and reach an increasingly number of unchurched, de-churched and unbelieving in our world. To be a friend of sinners should be a claim no one should be ashamed of!
It seems we've had Brother Joel all wrong.

Friday, September 12, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - September 12, 2014

  • Now it makes sense. Faithful Word Baptist Church, starring the anti-Calvinist Steven Anderson, is nothing more than a low-budget reality TV series. I mean, why else would it have its very own page on IMDb?

  • Dr. Christopher Cone is neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian.

  • Joel McDurmon discusses "Calvin's great error on biblical law."

  • James White begins critiquing the recent Montgomery/Jones vs. Zahnd/Fischer debate on Calvinism.

  • Charismatics fire back at John MacArthur and other cessationaists.

  • A history of Hell in America. Man, those dour Calvinists sure loved preaching about damnation, didn't they?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When speaking to Middle Eastern Christians, try not to force Israel down their throats

That's a lesson one politician learned the hard way:
Sen. Ted Cruz was booed offstage at a conference for Middle Eastern Christians Wednesday night after saying that "Christians have no greater ally than Israel."

Cruz, the keynote speaker at the sold-out D.C. dinner gala for the recently-founded non-profit In Defense of Christians, began by saying that "tonight, we are all united in defense of Christians. Tonight, we are all united in defense of Jews. Tonight, we are all united in defense of people of good faith, who are standing together against those who would persecute and murder those who dare disagree with their religious teachings."
He didn't stop there, of course:
"Those who hate Israel hate America," he continued, as the boos and calls for him to leave the stage got louder. "Those who hate Jews hate Christians. If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps. If you hate the Jewish people you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ. And the very same people who persecute and murder Christians right now, who crucify Christians, who behead children, are the very same people who target Jews for their faith, for the same reason."

The cries of "stop it, stop it, enough," and booing continued. "Out, out, leave the stage!" At this point IDC's president, Toufic Baaklini, came out to the stage to ask for the crowd to listen to Cruz, but Cruz had already had enough.

"If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews," he said. "Then I will not stand with you. Good night, and God bless." And with that, he walked off the stage.
So, disagreeing with Israeli military action and foreign policy amounts to hating the Jews? Way to stay classy, Ted.

Friday, September 05, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - September 5, 2014

  • T. C. Moore reacts to the recent Calvinism debate between Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones, and Brian Zahnd and Austin Fischer:
    Montgomery and Jones should march back to their alma mater and demand every cent they spent on their M.Div. and Ph.D. respectively. There is no justification for how they can be trained in biblical interpretation and yet remain this misguided outside of gross educational negligence or intentional indoctrination.

  • Pastor Jeff Weddle's analysis of the debate was even more colorful:
    So based on breathing styles, the non-Calvinists won the debate hands down. I would love to sit down and chat with Austin Fischer.

    Calvinists–we already detest your theology and your notion of God, try not to further detest us by dropping into breathy speech patterns. Not winning ya any points.

  • Roger Olson thought the debate was "a model of how such disagreements among evangelicals should be handled–no ridicule or caricaturing or misrepresenting of others’ views but only serious, irenic engagement of ideas."

  • John Piper discusses how to find strength in the strength of God.

  • Deviant Calvinism.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The cross displays God's hatred of sin

From The Course of Faith, or the Practical Believer Delineated, by John Angell James:
The death of Christ, apprehended by faith, presents the strongest motives to holiness—by setting forth in the most vivid and striking manner, the holiness and justice of God, and his determination to punish transgression; the immutable authority of the Divine law; the evil nature of sin; and the fearfulness of falling into the hands of the living God. Not all the judgments God ever inflicted—nor all the threatenings he ever denounced, give such an impressive warning against sin, and admonition to righteousness—as the death of Christ. The torments of the bottomless pit are not so dreadful a demonstration of God's hatred of sin as the agonies of the cross.
If you haven't done so already, sign up for your daily dose of Grace Gems.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Mohler: "America deserves the Osteens"

Albert Mohler on Joel and Victoria Osteen:
America deserves the Osteens. The consumer culture, the cult of the therapeutic, the marketing impulse, and the sheer superficiality of American cultural Christianity probably made the Osteens inevitable. The Osteens are phenomenally successful because they are the exaggerated fulfillment of the self-help movement and the cult of celebrity rolled into one massive mega-church media empire. And, to cap it all off, they give Americans what Americans crave — reassurance delivered with a smile.
Mere happiness cannot bear the weight of the Gospel. The message of the real Gospel is found in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." That is a message that can be preached with a straight face, a courageous spirit, and an urgent heart in Munich, in Miami, or in Mosul.

If our message cannot be preached with credibility in Mosul, it should not be preached in Houston. That is the Osteen Predicament.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sorry, Arminians, but free will may just be the brain's 'background noise'

OK, so the title is tongue-in-cheek. Mostly. But consider this report from Live Science:
It's a question that has plagued philosophers and scientists for thousands of years: Is free will an illusion?

Now, a new study suggests that free will may arise from a hidden signal buried in the "background noise" of chaotic electrical activity in the brain, and that this activity occurs almost a second before people consciously decide to do something.

Though "purposeful intentions, desires and goals drive our decisions in a linear cause-and-effect kind of way, our finding shows that our decisions are also influenced by neural noise within any given moment," study co-author Jesse Bengson, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Davis, wrote in an email to Live Science. "This random firing, or noise, may even be the carrier upon which our consciousness rides, in the same way that radio static is used to carry a radio station."
So it would seem Calvinism is backed up by scripture and science! :)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Combating anti-creationism with better screening and cheaper seminary training

I have long believed that those holding to old-Earth creationism or theistic evolution do so out of intellectual laziness. It's much easier to interpret scripture in light of the conclusions drawn by atheist scientists. We Christians are simple folk. We can't possibly be considered competent when it comes to complicated issues like figuring out the age of the earth. I mean, taking the Bible at face value? Who does that anymore?

Unfortunately, many of us have abandoned sound, critical, biblical reasoning when it comes to science. We have bought into the lie that science and religion don't mix. The Word of God, which should be the lens through which we see all of creation, is now the object of study through a naturalistic lens. As a result, the literal six days of creation in the book of Genesis are reduced to mere literary devices used to describe what couldn't possibly have been understood by primitive minds. This is know as the "framework hypothesis."

Gary North describes how the framework hypothesis has infected Presbyterianism. The solution? Better screening and more accessible seminary training:
The framework hypothesis offers seminary graduates a way to wiggle out of the textual trap of Genesis 1. But there is no wiggle room in the chronology of Genesis 11. If Presbyterian ruling elders wanted to screen out the frameworkers, they could use the chronology of the flood to serve as a substitute for Genesis 1. They could grill them in their presbytery examinations. Those candidates who see what Genesis 11 will do to their academic self-image could then become Methodists or Episcopalians.

It is time for presbyteries to set up their own online seminaries, give the training away for free on YouTube and, and bring candidates under real care of regional presbyteries. Young men would not have to go into debt. Older men could do this on a part-time basis after work. There would be far more candidates for the ministry. The range of talents would be wider.

In 1811, American presbyteries began to surrender to the newly invented theological seminary (Princeton) the spiritual authority to monitor the progress of candidates for the ministry. The Calvinist Congregationalists had invented the first seminary in 1808 — Andover — because Harvard had publicly gone Unitarian in 1805. But they still required their young men to graduate from Harvard or Yale, and then study three more years. This dramatically reduced the supply of Calvinists for Congregational pulpits, and by 1860, the Unitarians had taken over Congregationalism. They had the votes.

This was replicated by Presbyterianism. The liberals took over all but Princeton Seminary by 1900, and by 1926 were in control of the Presbyterian Church, USA. In 1936, they de-frocked nine Calvinist pastors for resisting — out of 10,000 ministers.

Lesson: the faction that sets policy for the seminaries will take over the denomination within 50 years. It has to do with screening.

It is time for presbyteries to reassert their authority to train pastors — where Presbyterian law has always officially lodged this authority. Internet technology makes this possible. Cheap.

If Salman Khan can teach 10,000,000 students every month for free, then a presbytery can do the same for maybe 10 to 15 students. Trust me. It really can. The presbyteries can farm out some courses across presbyterial boundaries. The Internet is in the cloud. It's great for heavenly material.
Creationism should not be dismissed as a peripheral issue. While a thorough scientific understanding of Genesis 1 isn't on par with faith and repentance, it remains a vital part of our theology.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Calvinism debate: Montgomery and Jones vs. Fischer and Zahnd

The following debate, moderated by Christianity Today editor Mark Galli, took place at Missio Dei Church in Chicago on August 27.

Proposition 1: Calvinism necessitates unconditional predestination, and unconditional predestination is incongruent with the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Proposition 2: The cause of repentance and saving faith is not synergistic but monergistic.

Thanks to THEOparadox for the link.

Friday, August 29, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - August 29, 2014

  • Dr. Ralph "Yankee" Arnold begins his "sermon" by asking, "Can a man be forced by God to accept Christ as savior against his will and call that grace?" I personally don't know anyone who has complained about being raised from death to eternal life against his will, so I wouldn't know.

  • Though not a Calvinist, Kevin Daugherty appreciates what Calvinism has to offer.

  • How single-handed is God's grace? For Matt Smethurst, it's a debate worth having.

  • Austin Fischer and Brian Zahnd debated Daniel Montgomery and Timothy P. Jones on Calvinism Wednesday night. I didn't see it, but I would appreciate it if anyone has a link to the audio or video.

  • Mark Driscoll steps down as pastor of Mars Hill Church.

  • David Platt takes office as president of the SBC International Mission Board.

  • Are you worthy of Jesus?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Outsourcing the church's job to the state

Gary North reminds the church that we cannot beat something with nothing:
What has been Christianity's solution to the need for education? It has been to promote tax-funded education. In other words, Christianity has simply deferred to the state, and the result has been anti-Christian education. Today, pastors do not preach from the pulpit against the public schools. They know better. They would lose too many of their congregations members. There are more Baptists teaching in public schools than there are Baptists teaching in Christian schools. In the 1960s, a series of Supreme Court rulings separated Christianity from state education. This did not lead to an exodus from the public schools by Christians.

Christians do not want to write the checks. It's as simple as that.

The solution offered by modern churches to members who are in financial difficulty is to send them to some government welfare agency.

The churches have defaulted, and they have not given guidance to members who might otherwise start charitable organizations. Then the leadership of the churches wail on the sidelines of life, complaining that the world doesn't pay any attention to the church. This has been going on in Protestant circles for about 300 years. Pastors complained about the Washingtonians in the 1840's. They also complained about the Second Great Awakening in the 1840's, just as their predecessors complained about the First Great Awakening in the 1740's. They don't want competition, but they don't want to write the checks. And so it goes.

You can't beat something with nothing. If someone else is doing something positive, and the church has nothing to match it, the church's task is not to criticize whatever is being done. Its task is to get busy. This takes vision. It takes a strategy. It takes money. It takes dedication and leadership.

It is easier to point the finger and complain.
Isn't it about time we put our money where our mouth is?

Friday, August 22, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - August 22, 2014

  • Jeremy Myers has kindly provided a list of links to his blog posts against Calvinism. They will eventually be compiled into a new book titled The Words of Calvinism and the Word of God.

  • SBC Today has posted the sixth and final part of a sermon from Adrian Rogers on Calvinism. (Follow the link to read parts one through five.)

  • Doug Wilson responds to Thomas Umstattd's article "Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed."

  • Apparently, Arminians don't really pray like Calvinists. For example, when they pray for God to save someone, they "mean something like, 'Take action to lead them resistibly and willingly to believe in Jesus,' which would include any number of actions God might take." Sorry, but I cannot imagine praying with the intention that God be careful not to violate someone's free will.

  • What gospel tracts do you use?

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - August 15, 2014

  • Bobby Grow sums up how he, as an evangelical Calvinist, can attend a Calvary Chapel church: a belief in universal atonement.

  • Roger Olson admits that God is in control of man's sinful actions: "How are sins 'accomplished by God' according to his consequent will? No creature is totally autonomous of God; no creature can act without God's permission and even aid." And yet only Calvinism makes God into a "moral monster."

  • Olson does assert God's sovereignty, "However, once God decided to created the world (I realize that language is philosophically problematic but it is biblically faithful nonetheless) he voluntarily became dependent on the world for some parts of his life experience."

  • Peter Lumpkins is back to slamming James White.

  • Tim Challies invites you to join him in reading Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a slightly modernized version of John Owen's The Mortification of Sin.

  • Those Dutch Calvinists were responsible for apartheid. And apparently even Jesus himself was racist.

  • Trevin Wax reflects on the the Gospel Project Panel: Soteriology and the Mission of God.

  • Evangelistic Calvinism: the doctrines of grace in the sermons of George Whitefield.

Friday, August 08, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - August 8, 2014

  • Calvinism dishonors Christ's Sacrifice?

  • Peter Lumpkins recalls a parable he read concerning the insincerity of the gospel call in Calvinism. Like all such parables, it fails to grasp an understanding of what Calvinism actually teaches.

  • 21st Century Reformation has posted a lecture by J. Dan Gill that seeks to answer the question, "Why Doesn't Calvinism Sound Like Jesus?"

  • A little too expensive and dry for my taste, but Bloomsbury Publishing has a new book coming out titled Neo-Calvinism and the French Revolution. You can plan on paying just under $100. The ebook version is about $10 more.

  • Tim Challies provides a list of ebooks ranging from free to $7.99. Now that's more like it!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Ann Coulter is annoyed by the "narcissism" of "idiotic" Christian missionaries

The funny thing about the internet is that it doesn't forget. Once you say something, it's out there. Forever. Someone should have reminded Ann Coulter of that fact before she attacked Dr. Kent Brantly of Samaritan's Purse.

In her latest column, Coulter criticized Dr. Brantly for traveling all the way to Africa to serve while ignoring all the problems here at home:
Can't anyone serve Christ in America anymore?

No—because we're doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul.

About 15,000 people are murdered in the U.S. every year. More than 38,000 die of drug overdoses, half of them from prescription drugs. More than 40 percent of babies are born out of wedlock. Despite the runaway success of "midnight basketball," a healthy chunk of those children go on to murder other children, rape grandmothers, bury little girls alive—and then eat a sandwich. A power-mad president has thrown approximately 10 percent of all Americans off their health insurance—the rest of you to come! All our elite cultural institutions laugh at virginity and celebrate promiscuity.

So no, there's nothing for a Christian to do here.

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.

If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.
Classy as always, Ms. Coulter.

She goes on to grumble about Dr. Brantly's apparent lack of patriotism:
America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet.

Not only that, but it's our country. Your country is like your family. We're supposed to take care of our own first. The same Bible that commands us to "go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel" also says: "For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'"
Coulter concludes her tirade by accusing Dr. Brantly and others like him of "Christian narcissism." It seems she thinks about as highly of Christians missionaries as she does liberals and immigrants.

Three thoughts immediately spring to mind upon reading her article. First, it seems to me that a doctor who believes he is called to help people afflicted with diseases like Ebola might actually desire to travel to places that have people afflicted with diseases like Ebola. Call it an educated guess.

Secondly, Ann Coulter is not writing from a Christian perspective. She may claim to be a Christian, but she certainly isn't drawing from scripture. For her, America is God's chosen nation, and nationalism is her religion. That's probably why she thinks it's a good idea for America to invade other countries, "kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity"—or at least her version of it.

Thirdly, everything Coulter said about this doctor could be said of every soldier sent overseas to kill and die in the name of freedom. Really, is there a more worshiped image in this country than a man or woman in uniform? But you won't hear that kind of talk from her. It's much easier to hang on to one's conservative credentials by attacking Christian missionaries.

Sadly, Ann Coulter's writings are now a permanent fixture of the internet. However, it is encouraging to remember that her views will one day be scraped into the dustbin of historical irrelevancy along with those of other nationalist jingoists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly.

Friday, August 01, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - August 1, 2014

  • Kind of a "one stop shop" for anti-Calvinists. Be sure to check back often for updated information!

  • WORLD Magazine reviews the book To the Ends of the Earth by Michael A.G. Haykin and C. Jeffrey Robinson Sr.

  • Roger Olson once again sounds the alarm on stealth Calvinism.

  • In a follow-up comment, Olson says he disagrees "that being an open theist is any indicator of a low view of Scripture."

  • Joshua Porter shares ten things he wishes every Calvinist understood.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

20 free ebooks from R. C. Sproul

Last year, Ligonier Ministries made the ebook editions of R. C. Sproul's Crucial Questions series free. There are currently 20 titles available for download. Check them out here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mission accomplished: Ridding Iraq of Christianity

I was always baffled by the overwhelming support evangelical Christians gave to our government's invasion of Iraq in 2003. Just over a decade later, Christianity appears to be dying out in that country:
The vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq has warned the end for Christians in the country appears "very near" as he appealed for help after a deadline set by Islamic militants to convert or be killed expired.

Canon Andrew White, dubbed "the bishop of Baghdad" for his work at St George's church in the capital, spoke after the ultimatum handed to Christians in the northern city of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq Levant (Isis) to convert, pay a tax or be put to death passed last week.

For those Christians who did not comply with the decree by 19 July, Isis warned that "there is nothing to give them but the sword.” Many have since fled their homes and Rev. Andrew-White told BBC Radio 4 Today desperate Christians were trapped in the desert or on the streets with nowhere to go.

"Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing," he said. "We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off.

"Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near."

The "war on terror" has been a dismal failure. In the name of "fighting for our freedom," our nation's armed forces have seen to it that the Middle East is a safe haven for radical Islam. Given that history, why do Christians continue to sign up for military service?

Friday, July 25, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 25, 2014

  • In a series of blog posts, Jeremy Myers hopes "to show that while I am not a Calvinist, I stand fully within the Reformation emphases of grace, faith, Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the glory of God."

  • Is Arminianism the dominant theology in the Western church?

  • One Arminian's story of leaving Calvinism and pursuing truth.

  • Dominic Bnonn addresses the "unfairness" of election.

  • He then moves on to discuss double predestination.

  • This brief chart compares Calvinism (or many Southern Baptists' perception of Calvinism) with SBC traditionalism.

  • James White dissects the chart in the latest edition of his podcast.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's time for the hymnal to make a comeback

In my opinion, one of the worst things ever to happen in the church was the abandonment of hymnals. Jonathan Aigner gives some good reasons why we should still be using them:
  1. Hymnals actually teach music. We're making less music than ever before. Oh, to be sure, there's lots of music going on around us, but very few people are actually making it. We're just consuming it, or at the very most, singing along with music someone else made first. But even an untrained musician can look at the words and music in the hymnal and learn to follow melodic direction and rhythmic value.

  2. Hymnals set a performance standard. Contemporary worship music is based on recording instead of notation. This is endlessly confusing, and it opens each song up to individual interpretation. Without notation, it is exceedingly hard to sing well as a congregation. Hymnals fix that. Everybody has the same notation, so we all know how the song is supposed to go.

  3. Hymnals integrate the music and text. Words on a screen give no musical information. Hymnals fix that. Singers aren't dependent upon learning the song by rote.
He lists 12 more reasons, and I think he makes some good points.

Isn't it about time for the hymnal to make a comeback?

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 18, 2014

  • Are Calvinists determinists? Yes, but which type of determinists are we?

  • Ed Stetzer interviews pastor and author Daniel Montgomery about his new book, Proof: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace.

  • Daniel Montgomery will be joined by Proof co-author Timothy P. Jones in a debate on Calvinism with Austin Fischer and Brian Zahnd.

  • Jonathan Merritt on Calvinists:
    Let's be clear that Calvinism is not monolithic. You're likely referring to what has been called "neo-Calvinism" or "the young, restless and reformed movement." But there are a lot of other Calvinists — unaffiliated Kuyperian Calvinists, Dutch Reformed, others. — who have as many issues with neo-Calvinists as Arminians do. My personal opinion is that the movement is a mixed bag, like most Christian sects. They are rigorously theological in their thinking, and that is something I can appreciate. But they also are tribalistic, insular and, quite honestly, come off to many like arrogant jerks much of the time. These problems will need to be addressed if the movement wants to become sustainable over the long-term.

  • Former Calvinist Jeremy Myers writes, "With every passing year, I am more and more convinced that Calvinism reads Scripture incorrectly, distorts the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has ultimately abandoned the roots of the Reformation."

  • Was Luther a Calvinist?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No sexual revolution for young evangelicals

According to a recent study by a University of Texas sociologist, evangelical Christians between the ages of 18 and 39 are defying the secular culture in favor of Biblical teaching. Russell Moore and Andrew Walker, writing for National Review Online, report:
The research, to be fully released in September, was introduced in Mark Regnerus's presentation "Sex in America: Sociological Trends in American Sexuality," unveiled at a recent gathering of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's leadership summit. According to Regnerus, when compared with the general population and with their non-observant peers, churchgoing Evangelical Christians are retaining orthodox views on Biblical sexuality, despite the shifts in broader American culture.
Given how inundated we are with the media's liberal view of sexuality, that may seem surprising. But is it really?
As American culture secularizes, the most basic Christian tenets seem ever more detached from mainstream American culture. Those who identify with Christianity, and who gather with the people of God, have already decided to walk out of step with the culture. Beliefs aren't assumed but are articulated over and against a culture that finds them implausible. Evangelical views on sexuality seem strange, but young Evangelicals in post-Christianizing America have already embraced strangeness by spending Sunday morning at church rather than at brunch.
As mainstream culture continues to deteriorate, look for these young evangelical rebels to stand out even more.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Five years ago today, we met our daughter for the first time

(This was originally posted on July 30, 2009.)

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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 11, 2014

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Modern Seminarian

Whether you have attended seminary or not, you will enjoy Lyndon Unger's hilarious version of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic song "Modern Major General."

Monday, July 07, 2014

Same-sex "marriage" opens the door to acceptance of pedophilia

I have always believed that the "equality" claim regarding the issue of gay "marriage" is misleading. If equality really is the goal, then the push would be to give everyone the same rights, regardless of the nature of their respective relationships, and that would have to include "intergenerational intimacy." Homosexual activists who wish to be consistent cannot consider pedophilia wrong because every single argument they have used in support of same-sex "marriage" can also be used to support every other possible arrangement one can imagine.

That is exactly why we are now seeing a push to normalize pedophilia. The Telegraph reports:
"Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males," said the presentation. "At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children."

Some yellowing tract from the Seventies or early Eighties, era of abusive celebrities and the infamous PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange? No. Anonymous commenters on some underground website? No again.

The statement that paedophilia is "natural and normal" was made not three decades ago but last July. It was made not in private but as one of the central claims of an academic presentation delivered, at the invitation of the organisers, to many of the key experts in the field at a conference held by the University of Cambridge.
Homosexuals performed their "marriage equality" routine on the world stage to uproarious applause. It's almost time for the next act, and the pedophiles are already waiting in the wings.

Friday, July 04, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 4, 2014

  • Laura McAlister barely escaped becoming a full-blown Calvinist: "On the cusp of embracing it all, however, I realised that I'd turned God into something far worse than a weakling. I'd turned Him into a tyrant. When I saw the inevitable outcome of such logic, I was horrified. I was confused and angry." She's a Catholic now.

  • Tom Chantry on New Calvinism and orthodoxy.

  • Do you pervert the grace of God? David Mathis lists seven grace checks from the book of Jude.

  • On this Independence Day, Shane Kastler asks, "Are we simply celebrating a different slave driver?"

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Insider Movement explains away the gospel

The Insider Movement Paradigm teaches that one can follow Jesus Christ within the confines of one's native culture. An extreme form of IMP has become popular in Muslim countries, where some Christians, fearing persecution, adhere to Islam in public.

David B. Garner discusses the problems with the insider movement and how they affects missions:
The IMP does not present the gospel faithfully and is therefore not faithful missions. We must not pretend, for any reason, that it is. We must not become complicit—theologically, missionally, or financially—in any agreement of the temple of God with idols.

To love Christ is to long to see his redemption purely proclaimed and to see sinners truly claimed. Under the faithful direction of the Head of the Church, the faithful Church will love missions and do missions...faithfully. It will never explain the gospel away, but for the sake of Jesus Christ and his Church, will tirelessly explain the gospel.

Friday, June 27, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - June 27, 2014

  • Last week, Tom Chantry explained why New Calvinists are antinomian. This week, he explains why New Calvinists are legalists.

  • Oh, and New Calvinists are also obsessed with celebrity.

  • Shane Kastler offers an explanation of why sinful man is both totally depraved and without excuse.

  • Matt Tuininga on "imperial Calvinism."

  • Dr. Lawrence Cross criticizes the Australian prime minister's administration for being too Calvinistic, i.e. protecting the rich at the expense of the poor. Yeah. That's exactly what Calvinism teaches.

  • Timothy Paul Jones discusses the manifold meanings of the term "Calvinist," and concludes that "if the term 'Calvinism' is used at all, it ought to be reserved for theological perspectives that stand in clear continuity with Calvin's own teachings."

Friday, June 20, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - June 20, 2014

  • Some religion professor you've never heard of thinks the problem with Bowe Bergdahl may have been his Calvinist church.

  • According to Briallen Hopper, the current resurgence in Calvinism "is a far cry from the Calvinist revival that burned through the Northeast a few centuries ago during the Great Awakening." He concludes, "The loss of ecstasy and the diminishment of bodily experience in American Calvinism is a real loss."

  • Roger Olson asks, "Is this the best of all possible worlds?" He thinks the Calvinist must answer "yes."

  • Well, what do you know? Some Southern Baptists disagree on theology, but agree on the urgency to evangelize.

  • Is New Calvinism "rampant with antinomianism"?

  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) takes a bigoted stance on marriage by voting overwhelmingly to limit marriage to only "two persons."


Friday, June 13, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - June 13, 2014

Monday, June 09, 2014

Romans 1:21

The fact that this woman can't see the irony in doing a pro-abortion video while her kids play in the background speaks volumes.

Friday, June 06, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - June 6, 2014

  • D. G. Hart on Presbyterianism, Calvinism, and Scottish Independence.

  • "There are many crazy and dangerous cults operating today, not many worse than Calvinism," writes one contributor in the Thinking Atheist forum. It's obvious the forum places much more emphasis on "atheist."

  • Tim Challies on unanswered prayer.

  • Tullian Tchividjian clarifies his apology following his departure from The Gospel Coalition.

  • Doug Wilson schools N. T. Wright on evolution and theology.

  • Matthew Westerholm discusses God's extraordinary work through our ordinary means.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Should we fast?

Fasting wasn't just for ancient Israel or the early church; it is a powerful tool for believers today. David Mathis of Desiring God writes:
What makes fasting such a gift is its ability, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to focus our feelings and their expression toward God in prayer. Fasting walks arm in arm with prayer — as John Piper says, she is "the hungry handmaiden of prayer," who "both reveals and remedies."
    She reveals the measure of food's mastery over us — or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God. And she remedies by intensifying the earnestness of our prayer and saying with our whole body what prayer says with the heart: I long to be satisfied in God alone! (When I Don't Desire God, 171)
That burn in your gut, that rolling fire in your belly, demanding that you feed it more food, signals game time for fasting as a means of grace. Only as we voluntarily embrace the pain of an empty stomach do we see how much we've allowed our belly to be our god (Philippians 3:19).

And in that gnawing ache of growing hunger is the engine of fasting, generating the reminder to bend our longings for food Godward and inspire intensified longings for Jesus. Fasting, says Piper, is the physical exclamation point at the end of the sentence, "This much, O God, I want you!" (Hunger for God, 25–26).
He concludes:
Fasting, like the gospel, isn't for the self-sufficient and those who feel they have it all together. It's for the poor in spirit. It's for those who mourn. For the meek. For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. In other words, fasting is for Christians.

It is a desperate measure, for desperate times, among those who know themselves desperate for God.
I think a better question is "Why don't we fast?"

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A men's conference to skip

It's not a written rule, but I typically shy away from any men's conference that features as its headline speaker a liar directly responsible for the senseless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, and who denies the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.

Way to go, LifeWay.

Friday, May 30, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 30, 2014

  • Steve Hays responds to Roger Olson's question, "Do Arminians and Calvinists worship the same God?"

  • Zach Hoag used to be a Calvinist. "But when the intellectual high wore off," he writes, "I was faced with an inhumane theology that shut good, Christian people out of the kingdom and created church environments of drastic unhealth and dysfunction."

  • Isaac Watts: the Calvinist.

  • Bob Robinson thinks "these New Calvinists should not be called 'Neo-Calvinists,' but rather 'Neo-Puriatans.'"

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 23, 2014

  • Four misconceptions about Calvinism.

  • Jonathan Merritt sees some troubling trends in the "Calvinist revival," such as isolationism, tribalism, and egotism.

  • Despite the fact that Roger Olson believes "consistent Calvinism turns God into a monster and makes it difficult to tell the difference between God and the devil," and despite the fact that he said he would not worship God if it was proven that "the God of consistent, five point Calvinism is the one true God over all," he still believes that Calvinists and Arminians worship the same God.

  • In the SBC, Calvinism is on the rise while baptisms and church membership are declining. Do we blame Calvinism?

  • Red-letter Christian Jenny Rae Armstrong asks a "big question" of both Calvinists and non-Calvinists: "How does our concept of God impact our beliefs about authority, submission, and how God has called people to live in relationship with one another?"

  • John Piper introduces us to his latest book, one that "may be the one most different from all the others. It is less about the God we see and more about how to see him."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The "full gospel"?

Healing, miracles, moving, teaching, AND prosperity? This church has it all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Common Problems in Modern Preaching

From topical sermons with too little law and gospel, to theological lectures that fail to connect with listeners, Andrew Webb discusses some common problems in modern preaching, both in reformed and non-reformed circles.

Friday, May 16, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 16, 2014

  • Author Marilynne Robinson discusses guns, gay marriage, and Calvinism. Is it really surprising that one who writes fiction for a living would have such a weak grasp of the truth of scripture?

  • Biola senior Nate Lauffer writes:
    Either we give up 2 Thessalonians, our familiar moral reasoning, or unconditional particular election. I'm not giving up the first two. So then, unconditional particular election has to go and Calvinism is false.
    He reasons that scripture wouldn't command us to do something we aren't capable of doing. Of course, there's that whole depravity thing, but he doesn't address that.

  • Kellen Kriswell of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa offers some advice for card-carrying New Calvinists.

  • Shane Kastler explains why Calvinism is not fatalism.

  • At 4:00 pm (PDT) today, you can tune in live for a special Friday edition of The Dividing Line. Dr. James White will be interviewing Dr. Michael Brown about his new book Can You Be Gay and Christian?

  • Tim Challies asks, "Whatever happened to evening services?"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Our Community Is Hosting a "Conversation" on Race

It seems the city in which I live has a human rights commission. Who knew? On May 22, they're holding a "conversation" on the topic "White People Facing Race: Uncovering the Myths That Keep Racism in Place." According to the city's web site, "This will be a safe place for participants of all races to explore their personal and societal views on race and gain an understanding of where those views come from."

This is such a vital and important conversation that space is limited to 25 people. And the discussion was developed by someone with a Ph.D. who has written a lot about "white privilege," so I'm sure it will be entirely objective and unbiased. Those who take part "will learn about the myths that entrench racism in our society. These myths include Meritocracy; Manifest Destiny; White Racelessness; Monoculture; and White Moral Elevation." I'm not sure what there is to talk about when they seem to have already zeroed in on the problem, but, hey, it can't hurt to sit around and chat for an hour or so.

I'm half-tempted to show up with my entire family...

That ought to break the ice and get the conversation rolling.

On the issue of race, I would start at the very beginning, when human beings were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Regardless of color or ethnicity, we are all part of the same creation.

From there, I would point out the real problem: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Racism is selfishness. Racism is pride. Racism is sin, pure and simple.

Once we recognize what's wrong, we can understand the remedy: "For God so love the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The solution to racial problems can only be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

One creation. One problem. One solution. And no Ph.D. required.

Friday, May 09, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 9, 2014

  • An Arminian lists five reasons to remain a Calvinist.

  • The Associated Baptist Press reports that Al Mohler believes in the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. This is news to the ABP?

  • "This Week in Calvinism" just wouldn't be complete without some comment from Roger Olson. Here, he rails against Mohler's defense of limited atonement:
    I believe that limited atonement is more of a dividing line than Mohler claims. Perhaps in this case he is more generous than I am. I don't reject someone who believes as he does as a heretic, but I would have real trouble preaching the "gospel" alongside them. ...

    ... I believe that belief in limited, "definite," "particular" atonement is a "deep deviation" from historical Christian orthodoxy, a doctrine that makes God monstrous and unworthy of worship, unbiblical, and a serious threat to the gospel and evangelism.
    But at least he still considers Calvinists to be Christians.

  • Does Calvinism thwart evangelism? No.

  • Dr. Eric Hankins closes out his four-part response to Dr. Nathan Finn's essay "On the 'Traditionalist Statement': Some Friendly Observations from a Calvinistic Southern Baptist." According to Dr. Hankins:
    The coherence of Calvinism is the coherence of determinism. ... We are not troubled by the claims of Calvinism because we don't understand them. We are troubled by the claims because we do.
    (Also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

  • You can believe Calvinism without wearing it on your sleeve. Clayton Milano writes:
    Calvinism stopped becoming a belief to be taught and instead became a worldview to be embraced. The truth is that I am more of a Calvinist today than I was nine years ago. It is my worldview. It is so biblically self evident that I no longer find a need to argue for it. I am living out of it rather than preaching it.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Woman's Abortion Video Celebrates Child Sacrifice

For my wife and I, YouTube was a site for sharing with friends and family the joy of becoming parents through adoption. For Emily Letts, it was a site for sharing her first snuff film. I'm sorry. That was a bit harsh. It was a site for sharing the sacrifice of her child on the altar of convenience in her pursuit of consequence-free sex.

According to filmmaker and author Jennifer Baumgardner (no, I have never heard of her either), Emily's video was "totally moving, simple, and philosophically powerful." So much so that it won a Judge's Choice award in the First Abortion Stigma Busting Video Competition.

"I just want to share my story," Emily says in the video, "to show women that there is such thing (sic) as a positive abortion story." Positive for whom, exactly? The one who makes it out of the abortion mill alive, of course.

The video is extremely graphic. No, it doesn't show the actual murder—the pro-aborts aren't that stupid—but it does expose the raw wickedness of abortion and those who support it.

If you choose not to watch it, I will sum it up for you. Once the horrific procedure is completed, Emily sighs, "Yeah. Cool. I feel good." And then, as she is wheeled out of the execution room, "I'm done! Yay!" The epitome of grace and class.

She saves the best for last. A month-and-a-half after murdering her child, Emily looks into the camera and says, "I don't feel like a bad person. I don't feel sad. I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life."

And there you have it. Emily knows exactly what she did in that room. She sacrificed her child to the spirit of the age, and she's proud of it.

"They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds" (Psalm 106:36-39).

Friday, May 02, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - May 2, 2014

  • Al Mohler explains why Christians should support the death penalty, at least in principle.

  • Roger Olson, in response to Mohler, writes, "I find it interesting that Mohler claims that the Bible and Christianity (as he understands it) definitely defends capital punishment when a broad range of evangelical Christian ethicists oppose it." Well, I find it interesting that the Bible supports a great many things that a broad range of professing Christians oppose.

    Olson makes sure to get in a dig against Calvinism, too: "Oh, silly me. Mohler is a Calvinist. He would surely say something to the effect that if God had any use for the person he wouldn't allow the state to execute him (or her)." Classy as ever, Dr. Olson.

  • My response to Roger Olson:
    Dr. Olson, perhaps you could point out where the Bible prescribes "sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole and solitary confinement for violent inmates." If not, what is the justification for saying that it is perfectly fine to take someone's liberty, just not his life? And what if that person is killed while in prison but later found innocent? How is your position more just and moral?

    You may also want to address the issue of arming police officers. By giving agents of the state a gun, you are essentially giving them the power to execute others without even the benefit of a jury trial. We have seen that power abused all too often under the guise of enforcing the law. Surely a consistent death penalty opponent would support an unarmed police force.
    It's always wise to think through one's own position before attacking someone else's.

  • Doug Sayers asks, "How can salvation be 'all of grace' and yet require a condition, which must be met by the sinner alone?" Well, where does scripture say that the sinner alone is capable of meeting such a condition?

  • Micah Burke of responds. Quite thoroughly, I might add.

  • David Anson Brown writes:
    Modern Calvinism has detrimentally accelerated the regression and lack of individual participation in the Christian Church by redefining Fundamental Christianity to the point that the onetime Fundamental Christianity that did agree with and practice Biblical concepts no longer exists. Today modern Calvinism is presenting concepts that are both extra biblical [i.e. Calvin's Institutes] an unattainable [i.e. individual justification through individual obedience to elders and leaders]. In other words Christianity that at one time was well summarized and practiced in the Church Creeds and in the Church Professions of Faith and in the Church Doctrines has been redefined by the Calvinist movement into something that is only in appearance doctrinal but in reality is not really a true Christianity.
    I long for the day when critics of Calvinism begin to have some sort of grasp on exactly what it is they're criticizing.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Addressing Two Terrible Arguments Against Homeschooling

Even before we had kids, my wife and I were discussing homeschooling with a friend. "As Christians, we're supposed to be salt and light," our friend argued. "I almost think it's a sin not to send your kids to public school."

I don't think I've ever heard a more ignorant argument against homeschooling in my life. By that reasoning, one could say we need more Christians working at strip clubs and abortion mills. After all, those places could use a little salt and light as well.

On his blog, Matt Walsh addressed two terrible arguments against homeschooling presented in an email from a reader. The first was similar to our friend's: "If we don't help the system, the system will not work."

Walsh responded:
Is this really a priority for parents? When my wife and I make a decision for our family, should we stop first and ask, "wait, but will this help the system?"

Would you REALLY put the welfare of 'the system' over that of your own children?

I'd hope that you wouldn't, and I'd hope that this line of logic is unique to you, but I know that it isn't. I've heard it before. I've heard it so often, in fact, that I'm starting to think I'm the strange one for having absolutely no desire to make my children martyrs for some bureaucratic machine.

You know what my kids need me to be? A parent. Their dad. Not a cog in the system, not a member of the community, not a loyal townsperson in the village, not a 'team player.'

Sure, I'll tell them not to litter and I'll make sure they play nice with the other kids in the neighborhood, but when it comes to making choices about something as serious as their education, I don't frankly care how our decision effects the community. Does that make me callous? I don't know. I think it just makes me a man with priorities.

Would the school system be helped if my family 'participated' in it? Maybe, and I'm sure the circus would be helped if you went on stage and stuck your head in a lion's mouth. But you won't sacrifice your scalp to the Ringling Brothers, and I won't sacrifice my kids' brains to public school. I guess we're even.
The second argument was just as ridiculous as the first: "It's most important for kids to learn the academic fundamentals, but learning proper socialization is very important as well. Public school gives young people the chance to become well adjusted adults."

Walsh's response:
Expecting your kid to learn 'social skills' from public school, is like sending him to live with chimpanzees so that he'll learn proper table manners.

'Socialization' — in the public school context — means that your child will simply absorb behavioral cues from her peers. She learns to socialize by aping her friends, who are themselves only copying other girls. She learns to repress the parts of her that don't fit in, and put on an exterior designed to help her fade into the collective. I'm not theorizing here, this IS the social process in public school.

It's also competitive; your social status depends on your ability to cut your peers down, until your can easily step on them and elevate yourself.

Expressing your ideas, showing vulnerability, communicating your deepest thoughts and feelings — these are all fervently discouraged. Kids are tasked with expressing not their own thoughts, but sufficiently imitating the thoughts and views of the peer collective. Children who can't keep up, or who have no desire to keep up, will either have to be the most self-assured human beings on the planet (which is unlikely, since they haven't been given the tools to develop that self-assurance), or they'll become bitter, self-conscious, and depressed.

There is nothing positive about any of this. Nobody is better for it. Nobody benefits. The psychological damage can be lasting, maybe even permanent. Again, this is not my theory. This is just the way it works. How could you be so oblivious, Dan?

Now, homeschool socialization is different. Here, a child learns his social skills from his parents. He is oriented by adults, not other children. He matures, and grows, and is provided a safe environment to, as the phrase goes, be himself. Despite common perception, I don't think most homeschool kids are locked in a tower like Rapunzel, and forbidden from human contact. They have friends, they play sports, they emerge into society and interact with people.

The only difference is how they learn to interact. The public school kid learns to interact based on how his peers carry on in the hallways and at the lunch table, whereas the homeschool kids learns to interact based on the guidance of his parents.

Who has a better foundation for becoming a well adjusted adult?
Anyone with an interest in homeschooling, either for or against, will want to read the entire post.
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