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Saturday Selections – October 17, 2020

What color is the balloon? (2 min) "The funny things about truth is, it's true...whether you believe it or not." Teens did surprisingly well in the COVID lockdown (10-minute read) Many adults have struggled during the COVID lockdown, whether because of job loss, or fears of death. Surprisingly teens's mental health has seen improvement over this same period. But why?

"More sleep and family time – and less social media – may have made the difference."

Life on Venus? Why "settled science" is so often hot air. It's in the interests of the media, and scientists, to hype up their findings. Car seats as contraceptives? By one estimate, US child safety seats save 60 children a year. Some economists are arguing they may also lead to 8,000 fewer births a year. How so? Only two of these seats fit in a car, so for parents to have a third child they'll need a new, bigger vehicle, raising the cost of that third child considerably. That might force some families to delay growing their family, and those delays can lead to smaller families over all. As the article author writes:

"The point of this is not to launch a campaign to do away with child safety. It is to remind us that laws made with the best of intentions have unexpected consequences. Legislators need to bear this in mind when they impose restrictions which are simply 'common sense.' This has an obvious application to the Covid-19 lockdowns."

A psalm for every day When Lindsey Tollesfson was 8 weeks pregnant, the doctor gave her a devastating diagnosis for her unborn son.

"A verse kept ringing through my head: 'Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds' (James 1:2). How could I count it joy that my doctor told me my son would soon die? James wasn’t just saying 'rejoice despite your trial'; he was saying 'rejoice because of your trial.' Where could I turn to help me obey this command from the heart? I turned to the Psalms for comfort and wisdom, and I invite all who are walking through difficult circumstances to do the same..."

Good news you probably haven't heard (5 min) It might not seem like it, but even this year there are positive global trends making life better in dramatic ways. While the video below is a secular presentation that credits the Englightenment for the progress being made, these improvements are a fruit of biblical principles like property rights and the free market, freedom of speech, stewardship, recognition of the Imago Dei, and doing to others as we would want done to us.

News

Saturday Selections – September 26, 2020

A Christian take on Jordan Peterson the man, and the phenomenon (5 minutes) There's much to admire about Jordan Peterson...but we don't want to leave people where he's leading them. People deficient in vitamin D 54% more likely to get COVID-19 ...or to put a more positive spin, folks who get enough Vitamin D have a lower chance of getting COVID-19. There is also such a thing as getting too much Vitamin D, so this is a good one to bounce past your doctor. Texts to tell theistic evolutionists Gen. 1:29-30 and Gen. 9:3-4 are problematic texts for theistic evolutionists. Why are there so many wildfires in California, but not in the southeast US? Christians understand we are to steward God's creation – we are to actively take a role in managing nature – while the secular approach to the environment too often sees Man as only a problem, and therefore his absence as the solution. But that hands-off approach hasn't worked out well in California. WORLD magazine's Julie Borg also weighs in here. Legalizing "assisted dying" can lead to an increase in suicides Assisted-suicide proponents didn't expect that legalizing assisted suicide would increase the number of people taking their lives without assistance. But that's how it seems to be, and that shouldn't have surprised anyone: when legislation tells people that life is not sacred but disposable, people might just believe it. Embarrassing testimony (5 minutes) Tim Barnett offers up this interesting defense of the Gospel's trustworthiness: because they make the disciples look bad. ...

News

Saturday Selections – September 19, 2020

Chickens are fearfully and wonderfully made too! (4 minutes) This incredible video shows how a fertilized egg becomes a chicken and it is amazing! Should parents spank their children? While spanking isn't the only tool in the discipline toolbox, Sam Crabtree of DesiringGod.org explains why it is an important one. Creation scientists debating their Flood models If you follow the creation/evolution debate you've come across creationist critiques of holes in evolutionary theory. But did you know creationists critique each other's theories too? This is an intriguing overview of some different Flood models creationists have proposed. The economic stimulus program that won't cost taxpayers trillions As the article explains, if President Trump (and Prime Minister Trudeau) would simply cut their tariffs on incoming goods, they could quickly and greatly increase their citizens' wealth and opportunities for investment and job creation. But doesn't cutting tariffs cost local jobs? Tariffs do protect some jobs but at the expense of other jobs. By making all of a country's consumers – including manufacturing companies – pay more for a good they could have bought cheaper from overseas, those extra expenses represent money that these companies can't use to invest in their own business. That's why tariffs cost jobs too. Tariffs are the federal government interfering in the economy to favor some companies at the cost of all consumers...which include some other companies. Would we want them to take from our company to favor another? Then Matt. 7:12 – do unto others as you would want done unto you – tells us we shouldn't be asking them to do it for our benefit either. RedeemTV.com offers free Christian films and TV shows RedeemTV is the latest free streaming service and while Christian films do often suffer from a lack of quality, there are a few offerings here worth checking out: C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert  - a fantastic one-man stage production with Max Maclean as C.S. Lewis Tortured for Christ - a well-done drama about Pastor Richard Wurmbrand's stand against the Romania government Martin Luther - this 1950s film was nominated for an Oscar Francis Schaeffer: How Should We Then Live? – This 1970s documentary series remains very relevant today Torchlighers - this series about "Christian heroes" features some figures we might admire for their bravery even as we don't want to present them as "heroes" to our children. Another caution: though animated, some episodes are too intense for younger children, as sometimes martyr's deaths are depicted. Parents should be sure to preview. The Jenny Geddes Band: Hold your peace (5 minutes) Romans 9...with a beat. ...

News

Saturday Selections - September 12, 2020

Who has measured the heavens with His fingers? (2 minutes) This video unpacks what's contained in an area of space that you can cover with just the tip of your finger. God's universe is bigger than big! <span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span><span data-mce-type="bookmark" style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" class="mce_SELRES_start"></span> Why Bibles given to slaves omitted most of the Old Testament While the Bible teaches we should be in submission to God – slaves even – His Word is all about freedom too, which seems to be why slaves that were given the Bible were given an abridged version. You need to know what your kids are listening to (10-minute read) The lyrics of the mega-hit WAP celebrate promiscuous, loveless sex in a ruder, cruder form than anything Madonna ever managed... and it is the #1 song in the world right now. So what are your kids listening to? Is it ethical to use data from Nazi medical experiments? The Nazis performed research on imprisoned Jews, and today we do research using the remains of aborted children. The justification given for this experimentation, in both cases, is that the subjects weren't fully human. If that is a reason not to use cruelly-derived  Nazi research – which is universally condemned and unlikely to ever be otherwise – isn't there all the more reason to steer clear of the results of experimentation on aborted fetuses? After all, abortion is an evil still with us. This is an especially relevant question today considering that some of the COVID vaccines in the works are being developed with the remains of aborted children. "Respectable sins" of the Reformed world "Respectable sins" are the ones that we justify and might even defend...if we talked about them at all. Tim Challies lists several specific to the Reformed world, including suspicion, gossip, and slander. The OT chapter Jews don't read: Isaiah 53 (10 minutes) Christians think Isaiah 53 is about Christ. But what do Jews think? This is a wonderful video, with the interviewer, a Jewish "Ray Comfort," sharing the chapter with Jews, and then lovingly confronting them with their sins and need for the Saviour. ...

News

Saturday Selections - September 5, 2020

Well-intentioned racism is racism still (5 minutes) Uncle Tom is a new documentary about how American black conservatives are ridiculed as being traitors to their race. Why? Because they don't think as the Left say they should think. Telling blacks how they should think is, of course, racist, but the irony is lost on the Left. What this deleted scene shows is that racism can come in all sorts of flavors, including a compassionate patronization. In biblical justice, there is a distinction between equality and equity "1 Kings 3:16-27 provides an excellent example of the biblical distinction between equality and equity. One woman wanted equality whereas the other woman wanted equity. King Solomon judged with equity, not equality, which meant that one of the women went home without a baby. Biblical justice is a matter of equity, not equality. Yes, there is a difference—and it’s not an insignificant one." Slavery was everywhere in the world. A white Christian man abolished it. "Every society on Earth in all of history had slavery. Every single one. The Europeans/ Americans had slavery. The Arabs had slavery, massive slavery. The word for black person in Arabic is “abeed” which means slave. That’s how common slavery was. Slavery in Asia, obviously. Slavery in Black Africa. Black Africans had Black Africans as slaves. Indigenous Native Americans had slaves. Every society in history had slavery. So the only question that is honest is not 'who had slavery?' It’s 'who abolished slavery?'" Was Jesus a socialist? The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared "Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind." And many a Christian seems to agree... "Transitioning" doesn't seem to improve mental health after all The study, as it was first reported, showed that transgender folk who get surgeries feel better about themselves. And this got a lot of media coverage. Now a closer look at the data shows no such mental health benefit. And that is not getting the same coverage. Darwin's impact on society in under 3 minutes Sometimes apologetics is simply about clarifying the difference between what God tells us is true, and what the world says is true. Here we see how, in contrast to God's grace and sacrificial love, Darwin offers only meaningless. ...

News

Saturday Selections - June 27, 2020

Is Critical Theory Biblical? (6 min) If you haven't heard of Critical Theory, you've likely encountered aspects of it: wokeness, white privilege, identity politics, and even the #MeToo movement's slogans "believe all women" are all elements of Critical Theory. It's being embraced by some Christians because it seemingly helps the poor and oppressed. But as Joseph Backholm describes in the video below "critical theory reduces human beings to categories according to race, gender, sexual preference and orientation, income, and on and on." And in doing so, our worth is based, not on in Whose Image we are made, but according to our category. One nit to pick with Backholm's terminology: he says we are all equally sinful. That makes it sound like we've all committed exactly the same amount of sins, but Backholm's point is that we all share the same need for a Saviour. That nit aside, this is a fantastic summary of an ideology that we're going to need to understand. A devil offers advice on evangelism In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis shared letters from a senior demon to a junior demon advising how best to keep their "patients" from being saved. In Lord Foulgrin's Letters, Randy Alcorn shared more devilish correspondence, including Letter 30 shared here, about how best to distract and misdirect a Christian from ever actually sharing his faith. Sweden gives some elderly morphine, rather than the oxygen, to "treat" COVID “Elderly people were not taken to hospitals—they are given sedatives but not oxygen or basic care.” Euthanasia is not legal in Sweden, but, as Michael Cook reports, that didn't stop doctors without consciences from "throwing their patients overboard." That's the key for us in Canada to understand and share: this is what happens when we stop caring about every life. Who is discipling your children? David Murray explains, "Our children are being discipled. The only question is, who’s discipling them? You or the world?" Bad cops - bad unions? This lacks depth, but the point it raises – that some police unions have been defending bad cops – is one worth raising. As Calvinists, we know that Lord Acton's adage, that "power tends to corrupt," is based on a solid understanding of human nature. That is a reason, then, to hand over only as little power as necessary – it is a reason to have small government, including not overly large police forces – and a reason to be on guard for when, and not if, abuse happens. Police are a necessity, and the reason we want to defend them is that we have an inkling as to how hard their job can be, and we are grateful to find people willing to do this difficult dangerous job. But defending the police doesn't mean pretending that bad cops don't exist. Figuring out how best to weed out the bad apples is one part of defending the police. Looking closely at police unions might be a place to start. For those with more time, be sure to check out two ten-minute podcasts from WORLD magazine (a Christian, and often times specifically Reformed publication), the first on the Democrat police reform proposal, and the second on the Republican proposal (both podcasts are also available as transcripts at the links). The story behind the Bible app that's been downloaded nearly 500 million times (15 min) It was almost an accidental success - the YouVersion Bible app was an afterthought to what was meant to be a Bible website. But when the website got mild interest, one young programmer suggested getting something on the Apple's App store, which was opening shortly. Since then it has been downloaded almost a half billion times! There's so much more to the story - this is a fascinating peek at what God is working at behind the scenes. ...

News

Saturday Selections - June 20, 2020

Homosexuality vs. transgenderism This video below is fantastic, but there's a lot packed in here, so the argument is worth writing out as well. What the narrator, Joseph Backholm, is explaining is that there is a fundamental conflict between homosexuals and transgenders. Whereas homosexual men say they are attracted to men, transgenders say you can't even know someone is a man by looking at him because gender is not tied to biology. Or, in other words, maleness and femaleness can only be known by asking not by seeing. It then makes no sense for a homosexual to say they are physically attracted to one gender or the other, because there are no physical attributes unique to one gender or the other – ie. men can have breasts, and women, penises. So transgenderism and homosexuality can only remain allies so long as they don't discuss their foundational assumptions. While homosexuality and transgenderism can't both be right, they can both be wrong. Backholm notes that "Our fundamental identity is not found in our sexual attractions, or in our feelings about how masculine or feminine we are." But he leaves it at that. Christians need to carry on and note that attractions may fade, and feelings may change, so grounding our identity in either of those is going to be disappointing. But we can find our true identity by turning to the One who made us.  Does systemic racism exist?  "Systemic racism isn’t whatever I – as a black man – says it is. My perceptions are not proof. My experiences are not authoritative. I am not God. "....Therefore, if we’re going to accuse our governments of participating in systemic racism today, we should be able to list examples of systemic partiality against black people today. ...Social justice proponents are unable to list racist laws or policies to support their accusations, so they usually resort to perceptions and racial disparities as evidence for their accusations.... Systemic racism theory essentially demands groups to prove they’re not systemically racist – instead of demanding social justice proponents to prove the legitimacy of their accusations." Deepfakes show the need for knowing your sources are trustworthy Deepfakes are faked videos of celebrities or political leaders that can't be distinguished from the real thing. We live in a world in which Justin Trudeau can be made to say anything, the video posted on YouTube, and the viewing audience would not, just from seeing and hearing it, be able to tell it from the real thing. The only way to discern whether it is true or not would be whether it was received from a trustworthy source, or not. But with trustworthy sources at a minimum these days, it underscores the need for higher standards in our media consumption. We can't believe everything we find in our social media feed...and we shouldn't be passing on what we ourselves don't know is reliable. Vaccines that use aborted fetuses' cells draw fire COVID-19 vaccines are being developed using cells from aborted fetuses. These fetuses were aborted long ago – more than 30 years ago – so the question is raised, does it really need to concern us now? Pastor Douglas Wilson proposes that before answering that question we should reframe it properly and ask: "Is it lawful for Christians knowingly to use vaccines that were grown in the cultivated remains of a murder victim?" Men: don't let chivalry die on your watch J. Aaron White (and the apostle Peter) on how gentlemen should be studying our wives, serving our wives, and enjoying our wives. Romeo and Juliet 2020 remix For all the English teachers out there... ...

News

Saturday Selections - June 13, 2020

Dandelions: more amazing than you knew! (4 minutes) I've shown this to all my kids - same reaction from all of them: "Wow!" When someone says "There is no truth..." As Greg Koukl explains, uttering the statement, “There is no truth,” in itself establishes the truth of at least 17 different things. So when we meet radical skeptics – those who doubt everything – we should challenge them to be "intellectually honest skeptics." "...we must be as skeptical about our skepticism as we are about our knowledge. We should take the burden of proof to defend our skepticism instead of simply asserting our skepticism. Anyone can assert disbelief. Whether they can make sense out of it is a different thing." This is how we do it here With so many wanting just to tear down and destroy, here is an example to inspire: this is a town where police, churches, and Black Lives Matters protesters marched together. Why the media is biased, even when they don't mean to be It's the nature of the business for journalists to give more coverage to scandal, failure, and conflict, than for success, calmness, and competency. And what they cover, they encourage. Pursuing godly manhood "Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with beards, flannels, bonfires, work boots, pocket knives, pickup trucks, or hatchet throwing. In fact, it might do some of us a lot of good to put our phones down and spend some time in the woods. Nevertheless, God’s Word is more concerned with character than charisma..." On the age and origin of Pluto (11 min) While working as an engineer for the US military space program, Spike Psarris examined the stars and planets. The evidence drove him to first become a creationist, and then a Christian. To share his findings, he crafted a series of 3 DVDs that explore Astronomy and the creation of the universe. While he is a soft-spoken man, his facts pack quite the wallop. And now he has turned his gaze to Pluto: "I am in the process of updating my Solar System DVD. One of the major topics that needed updating was Pluto; my DVD was published several years before the New Horizons probe visited Pluto, and that spacecraft made many fascinating discoveries....This chapter is now finished, and you can watch it online for free here" "Just Thinking" Instagram goodies Are they devotionals, or doodles, or a wonderful combination thereof? For the last few years now, Reformed artist Jason Bouwman has been sharing thought-provoking pictures like the one below, and you can find hundreds more on his Instagram page. ...

News

"Black lives matter" isn't always about black lives

On May 25 a Minneapolis black man, George Floyd, died in handcuffs while three police officers kneeled on him, including one, Derek Chauvin, who was kneeling on his neck. In the weeks that followed protests erupted in cities across the US and the world, and protesters also made their feelings known on social media, many using the #blacklivesmatter hashtag. Christians nodded their agreement, but some wondered at the emphasis on blacks. After all, we know that all of us are just one race, and wouldn’t furthering that understanding be the best way to counter racism? So many well-meaning Christian noted that “all lives matter” because, of course, they do. But what this overlooked is the specific charge being made: protesters are saying that many black lives are not being treated like they matter. One clarifying analogy shared around social media about the “all lives matter” slogan told of a husband speaking at his wife’s funeral about how much she mattered to him only to have someone take the mike and share that “all wives matter.” This is a true statement, but at this time and place would be understood as entirely missing the point. So let’s be done with “all lives matter.” Does that mean we should embrace the “black lives matter” (BLM) slogan? The problem with doing so is that there is more to BLM than just the slogan; there is also a Black Lives Matter movement. While the movement is loosely knit, some of its key leaders are as interested in promoting homosexuality and transgenderism as they are in fighting racism. In a 2015 interview with MSNBC, one of the founders, Patrisse Cullors, noted that the hashtag #blacklivesmatter: “...was created by two black queer women, myself and Alicia, and one Nigerian-American woman, Opal Tometi…” It doesn’t take much digging to find abortion-promoting work as well. So the slogan speaks to one matter, but the organization is taking on many more, much of it in direct opposition to God’s will. There have been a couple of suggestions on how Christians might modify the BLM slogan to, on the one hand, acknowledge the grievance being made, and, on the other, distance us from the BLM organization. “All black lives matter” is a pro-life suggestion, meant to highlight how blacks are disproportionately victims of abortion. But, unfortunately, the BLM organization is already using this slogan, with the “all,” in their case, referring to transgender, gay, and lesbian blacks. Another possibility: “Black lives matter too.” This acknowledges the grievance, but in a way that is more unifying, and less an us vs. them statement. And it also takes us a step away from what the BLM organization is doing. Whatever slogan we use, what’s most significantly missing here is God’s perspective. The biggest contribution God’s people can make to this discussion might be to add just a few select biblical words. We can note that George Floyd, an image-bearer of God (Gen. 1:27), was killed. When we put his death in that context then it becomes clear what needs to be done and what should not be done. By making it about God, and His standards, then we understand Floyd’s life was precious for the very same reason that our lives are. We’ll know that justice needs to be done. It will also be clear that our calls for justice can’t be accompanied by evil. How can we demand God’s justice for one image-bearer, even as we throw bricks or insults at other such image-bearers? #ImagebearerOfGod might not make for an effective hashtag, but it is the beginning of an explicitly Christian, God-acknowledging message, which is what our world most needs to hear....

News

Don’t wish you were here: illustrator’s National Park posters go viral

Illustrator Amber Share always wanted to create a vintage travel poster for each of the 63 National Parks in the United States. After sharing some of her posters on Instagram (@subparparks) and an article on BoredPanda, her efforts went viral. Her posters are beautiful, but what garnered the most attention was the wording: she added a tongue-in-cheek humorous twist to them by lettering the worst comment that was ever posted online by a visitor. Some of the results were: Olympic National Park in Washington state: "No WOW factor” Grand Teton National Park: "All I saw was a lake, mountains, and some trees.” Grand Canyon National Park: "A Hole. A very, very, large hole.” Yosemite National Park: “Trees block view and there are too many gray rocks” And perhaps the worst one of all, " Isle Royale National Park: “No cell service and terrible wifi." While this is humorous, it is sad to note two things that this says about our culture. First of all, it reflects our real national pastime: complaining! Secondly, it shows what an indoor culture we have become, as these visitors completely missed the value in the beauty of creation. In contrast, Christians can be a light in this world just by following the command in Philippians 2: 14-15: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Instead of limiting ourselves to small screen entertainment, we will better appreciate God’s amazing landscapes firsthand, and rejoice with Psalm 96:11-12: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord….” A line from an old John Denver song says, “I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly.” Let’s not trade reality for an inadequate substitute. Go outside and rejoice in God’s magnificent creation! And don’t let Junior say, “Uh-huh” and sit in the car with his video game. Pictures are used with permission of the artist, Amber Share....

News

States, cities, reverse course on plastic bag bans

In 2007, San Francisco was the first city to ban regular single-use plastic bags, directing businesses to use compostable plastic bags, paper, or, preferably, reusable bags. In the years since, more than 120 other cities, and some states have followed their lead. But now the city is reversing direction, at least in part. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the city's Department of Health issued a new guideline: people were not permitted "to bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home" to coffee shops, grocers, and other stores. An April 9 Wall Street Journal editorial noted: "The department was responding to fears that the reusable bags are more prone to carry coronavirus than the disposable bags that were standard before the 2007 ban." San Francisco isn't the only government changing course. Massachusetts, Oregon, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, and other locales across the US are responding to the coronavirus by discouraging or prohibiting reusable bags, and often times suspending or delaying the implementation of single-use plastic bag bans. While the coronavirus has brought increased attention to the health risks that can come with reusable bags, those risks have always existed. An earlier March 16 WSJ editorial shared that when researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University randomly tested grocery shopper's reusable bags they found, “Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half.” The same researchers also discovered the reason why: most shoppers either rarely or never washed their reusable bags. One of the key benefits of all sorts of disposable plastics has been hygiene. As the Fraser Institute's Ross McKitrick wrote: We used to get our meat the way we still get most of our vegetables – from open counters. But people grew uncomfortable with the exposure of meat to insects and germs, not to mention the problem if people handle raw meat in one aisle then touch products in other aisles, so stores responded with those little Styrofoam trays with absorbent liners and clear plastic wrap, to which we all soon grew accustomed. Lots of things got wrapped in cellophane to avoid being touched by other customers. Would you want to buy a toothbrush from a bin that a hundred people rummaged through? As for disposable plastic water bottles, this is surely one of the great public health inventions of the modern age. They are remarkably cheap and they save us the ordeal of shared public water fountains. So the question might be asked, why does anyone have a problem with these plastics? What was motivating these bans? Part of the answer is probably related to plastics being produced from oil. But even in a world obsessed with global-warming, this doesn't make them worse than paper, which seems to have the higher carbon footprint. The real issue is pollution. Environmentalists point to the amount of plastic being ingested by animals, particularly marine animals. You may have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or one of the other ocean garbage patches where the currents collect plastics into large islands, meters deep in some places. While this pollution is a problem, it is not a Western problem. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, in their article "Plastic Pollution" published on OurWorldinData.org make the case that as of 2010 Canada and the US combined accounted for less than a percent of the "global total mismanaged plastic waste." They define this as "the sum of littered or inadequately disposed of waste...that could eventually enter the ocean..." The big polluters are China (28%), Indonesia (10%), the Philippines and Vietnam (both at 6%). These four, together, amount to just under 50% of all such mismanaged plastic. This is due in large part to inadequate or non-existent garbage disposal, with waste flowing directly into key rivers, and then out into the ocean. This isn't to dispute that there are plastic bags littering North American streets. That is a problem. But it a much smaller problem. And it is a problem that is eradicated by creating other problems: ban single-use plastics, and their replacements might well make us sick. Those who reject God will often look to the government as a replacement, turning to it to solve all their problems. In contrast, Christians, understand the government can't address every problem and shouldn't try – God has assigned them a limited role because they are made up of limited people. Our government should legislate with restraint because we live in a broken world and, consequently, any "solution" politicians settle on is going to come with tradeoffs – any benefit will come with a cost. One cost common to all government action is a loss of freedom for citizens to make choices for ourselves. It is, after all, the government that demands we do things their way or else. That "or else" might amount to fines, or jail time, or the loss of a business's license, but whatever the punishment might be, the ability to mete this out to dissenters is a fearsome power and one that, therefore, should be used with restraint. Another reason for restraint is simple humility – an acknowledgment of our finite abilities. If reasonable, informed, intelligent people can disagree about what approach might be best, the government should be hesitant about stepping in and deciding for everyone. With bag ban reversals highlighting how politicians missed something in their original deliberations, will they take the lesson and act with restraint going forward?...

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The “religious ghost” behind Tim Tebow joining the Philippine national baseball team

Heisman-winning former college quarterback and now minor league baseball player Tim Tebow has accepted an invitation to play for the Philippine national team. Like every other sporting event, this year’s qualifying games for the 2021 World Baseball Classic have now been put on indefinite hold but this story is still worth a closer look for how the mainstream media reported it. Tebow is as well known for his public Christian faith as he is for his athletic exploits, but God is not popular among secular reporters. That's why there is, in this story, what GetReligion.org’s Terry Mattingly calls, a “religious ghost.” These are obvious angles in stories that reporters leave unexplored because they don’t like where they lead: to some sort of acknowledgment of God. In this instance, every reporter has to explain how it is that this well-known American athlete can play for a Philippine team. But that doesn’t mean they have to give a full answer. So a WCTV account gives as explanation that Tebow was born in the Philippines, and leaves it at that. Two ESPN.com stories do a little better, noting that the reason he was in the Philippines was because his parents were serving there as missionaries. A third ESPN story did even a titch better, sharing that “Tebow has spent a considerable amount of time in the country of his birth and has even been engaged in philanthropic activities in Davao.” But only MLB.com dared flesh out what was a ghost (there, but insubstantial) in the other accounts. In digging further into Tebow’s religious motivations, Anthony DiComo gave readers a good understanding of why Tebow would want to represent the Philippines. He…returned frequently to the Philippines as he became active in missionary work himself, spending at least three weeks there annually for nearly 15 years in a row…. In 2014, Tebow opened the Tebow CURE Hospital in Davao City to “meet the physical needs and provide spiritual healing for deserving children in the Philippines who could not otherwise afford care,” according to the hospital’s website…..“I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been back,” Tebow said, noting that his parents still have a ministry in the Philippines. For covering the obvious religious angle, Mattingly gives "kudos to MLB.com," noting: "It’s not that hard to get the faith details right. It just takes a little bit of journalism." Picture credit: Keeton Gale/Shutterstock.com...

News

Saturday Selections - April 11, 2020

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra: quarantine edition In this rousing, at-home rendition, the RPO plays Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," better known to many by the lyrics Henry van Dyke wrote for it in 1907: "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee." Freud the fraud He is one of the most influential figures of the modern age. But this past month a secular science magazine headline asked, "Was Freud right about anything?" The answer given? A decided, "No." So why did so many buy what he was selling? Was it because of the materialistic – the atheistic – worldview that came with it? Might it be, as Chesterton has sometimes been credited with saying, that, "When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything"? Martin Luther on the coronavirus (20-minute read) The bubonic plague hit Wittenberg in the fall of 1527. It was highly contagious, painful, and in an earlier 1347 outbreak, might have killed as much as 60% of Europe’s population. While they didn’t, at the time, know what caused it, they were aware it involved being around sick people. So when the plague struck, healthy people would flee. But Luther did not. When another pastor asked him "whether it is proper for a Christians to run away from a deadly plague,“ Luther wrote a letter in reply, titled “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague,” that is applicable to our own situation. While the whole letter is worth reading, one excerpt, in particular, has been making its way around the Internet: "I shall ask God to mercifully protect us. Then I will fumigate, purify the air, administer medicine, and take medicine. I shall avoid places and persons where my person is not needed in order not to become contaminated, and thus perchance inflict and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God shall wish to take me, He shall surely find me. But, I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible either for my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but shall go freely. This is a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy, and does not tempt God." Should we outlaw child labor? Before you answer... The article title is, "When good intentions harm children" but the lesson it preaches is one that can be applied more broadly: everything comes with tradeoffs, so before we make any big decision, we should find out what the possible downsides are – we should count the cost (Luke 14:25-33). What I didn't learn in business school... "What I didn’t learn in business school is that good business principles didn’t originate in the halls of academia; they are in fact biblical principles." How can I explain sin to an unbeliever (1 minute) Sometimes sinners will dispute the obvious, and before we reply we need to hear Proverbs 26:4, where God warns: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him." If we treat a foolish question with respect, acting as if it really is a legitimate concern, then to onlookers we can look as foolish as the questioner. For example, if someone were to say, "Prove to me gravity exists!" the exact wrong sort of response would be, "That's a really good question - let me think about that." In this clip, Dr. RC Sproul is asked how to explain to a sinner that sin really exists. That fact sin exists is written on this unbeliever's heart (Romans 2:15) so he knows better and this is a question along the lines of "Prove to me gravity exists." Then RC Sproul shows how not to answer a fool in his folly – his answer treats the questions with the amount of respect that it is due. Brilliant! ...

News

Saturday Selections - February 8, 2020

Long story short: Homology (8 minutes) One of the main arguments Darwin used for his theory was homology – that very different animals have some odd similarities, like how a whale, human, and bat have similar "arm" bone structures. Darwin asked, how could these similarities exist other than that we're all related? But it turns out, homology is no proof of evolution! Time to hit pause on gene-editing When it comes to human gene-editing, China is acting more responsible than the West, where "we insist on charging ahead despite our imperfect knowledge with an unbounded confidence in our abilities." Woodpeckers are freaky cool! Football players get concussions at impacts of 80 g, but woodpeckers deal with impacts amounting to 1,200 g. How do they escape brain injuries? This article is not from a Christian perspective, but in laying out how wonderful these critters are, it points us to their amazing Designer. Watch the embedded video to see the impacts in slow motion! (h/t to Crev.info) Your face was designed to show emotion Did you know about half the muscles in your face are there to make facial expressions? A license for your thoughts? "You need to get a government license for many things in Canada; so far, publishing your thoughts is not one of them. But in recent weeks two warning shots have been fired…" The Riot and the Dance: Water (3 minutes) Riot and the Dance: Earth (reviewed here) was one of the most original nature documentaries made, exploring not just the beauty, but also the "riot" of what is going on in this created, marvelous, but also fallen, world. Now there is a sequel coming out, and the trailer looks good! ...

News

Saturday Selections – February 1, 2020

World's largest pro-life march, in 60 seconds This past week hundreds of thousands came to march in Washington D.C. to highlight the need to protect the unborn. May God bless these efforts on their behalf. Roger Scruton on beauty Philosopher Roger Scruton (1944-2020) was a favorite among many Christians, though he was not one himself, disputing the resurrection. But in the same way that Jordan Peterson gets many things right because, even in his unbelief, he takes much of the Bible seriously (and more seriously than many self-professed Christians) so too Scruton has some valuable insights on art that are discussed here. 3 ways boys can benefit by reading "girl books" "Reading about women will not lift the veil and reveal all the mystery that women will always have for the young man. It can, however, help a young man know the difference, to borrow characters from Pride and Prejudice, between an 'Elizabeth' and a 'Lydia.' If it helps in this way, it is worth so much." Sesame Street pushing an agenda Billy Porter, a cross-dressing LGBT activist, will make an appearance on the upcoming 51st season of the children's show. Free Documentary: By what standard? The Southern Baptist Convention is a large American denomination with a Calvinist leaning, it is the home of Albert Mohler and also Beth Moore, and it has been wrestling with the issues of complementarianism, social justice, and also something called "Critical Race Theory." This 2-hour documentary certainly isn't for everyone, but it is eye-opening in showing how troubling worldviews can sneak into the Church via the best of intentions. CNN helps Christian satire site grow... (5 minutes) It's amusing to see how attacks by Snopes.com and CNN have only helped the Christian satire site Babylon Bee grow. It's also instructive to watch how Babylon Bee enters the fray. Christians needn't be fearful – after all, we know God has already won! – so we can contend with a spirit of joy. This is what winsome looks like. ...

News

Is the human population getting colder?

The average normal temperature for a human being is supposed to be 37°C (or 98.6°F) but did you know that figure is based on 150-year-old data? In 1868 Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich popularized that figure based on his study of one million temperature readings taken from 25,000 patients. But now, as The Wall Street Journal’s Jo Craven McGinty reported, a new study of 189,338 individuals, and 677,423 temperatures – taken from the Civil War era until today – suggests that humans’ average temperature has been steadily dropping. According to Dr. Julie Parsonnet and her research partners, the new norm seems to be 36.4°C or 97.5°F – a drop of one degree Fahrenheit. A 2017 study in England, analyzing 250,000 temperature readings, noted a similar, though slightly smaller, drop of approximately 0.75°F. So why might mankind be cooling off? “We as human beings have evolved over time – physiologically changed," Parsonnet told Live Science. Is she attributing it to evolution? Well, yes, though this is the kind of change over time that creationists also think regularly happens. We know, for example, that the many different dog species we have today came from just one, or maybe a few, dog “kinds” on Noah’s Ark. To get Chihuahuas, Saint Bernards, and everything in between involved a lot of change over time, though, like this temperature drop, it never involved one species turning into another. As Parsonnet noted we are taller, and heavier, living longer, and have less infectious diseases than we did 150 years ago, so it really wouldn’t be that surprising if mankind’s average temperature has changed. Evolution, yes, but not the molecules-to-man type that Darwin proposed. This is more like the adaptability inherent in a special creation that has been fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:44)....

News

Saturday Selections - January 25, 2020

The Gospel vs. Sorcery in Papua New Guinea (30 minutes) In Papua New Guinea the fear of  "sanguma" – sorcery – is such that it leads people to stone and kill supposed witches. What is the answer to such fear? We know Jesus can defeat demons both supposed and real. But how can the people of Papua New Guinea know unless someone tells them? In this half-hour video, we get to follow along as seven men squeeze themselves into one Land Cruiser and, over the course of one week, take the Gospel to thousands who show up and listen in the marketplaces. As Pastor Ryan Dejonge notes at one point, "We have this window of opportunity in Papua New Guinea. You can't do this in Australia...you can't do this in Canada. You would just get people fighting you – you're not going to get people hearing the Gospel . God has given us a window of opportunity. He's given us this open door. And we've realized this is a real and a useful way to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ....Our moment is now." (The link below might look broken but give it a click because it does work.) If you won the lottery, would you be at work tomorrow? Most people, if they came into a fortune, would quit their job instantly. But what about Christians? Harvard study shows the dangers of early school enrollment The Foundation for Economic Education's most popular article this decade wasn't about economics. Instead it asked: "Are ADHD rates rising because we send children to school at younger ages?" Man to "woman" to "non-binary" and back again James Shupe declared himself a woman, then declared himself non-binary, but has now asked to be legally recognized once again as the man he is. The Darwin Dictionary Seemingly inspired by Ambroise Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, Keaton Halley has crafted his own Darwin's Dictionary to highlight the creative ways evolutionists employ language. Here are a couple of examples: Abiogenesis, n. – Rocks begetting life, in violation of the most basic, observed law of biology. Big bang, n. – The logic-bending theory that everything was produced when nothing at all exploded. Each entry includes a link to a great article explaining the creationist perspective. How does the Women's March define what a woman is? (3 minutes) Joseph Backholm has a history of asking questions the Left can't, or won't, answer. A few years back he hit a college campus asking "Am I a 6-foot-5 Chinese woman?" This time around he went to the 2020 Women's March in Washington D.C. to ask the marchers three things: How would you define what a woman is? Are there any innate differences between men and women today? Do you think anyone can be a woman? They found these tricky questions. Why? Because the modern feminist movement celebrates women as something special, even as it holds that men and women are identical which means there has been a longstanding conflict between the answers feminists give to questions 1 and 2. Question 3 only exasperates the problem: if men can now become women, it makes it all but impossible to celebrate the distinctly feminine. In fact, when there are no differences between men and women, and men can become women, then the term woman is rendered meaningless – a word that can mean anything at all means nothing at all. There's one other reason his interviewees were reluctant to chat. I think, on some level, they were worried about the question that would come next: this white male asking them, "Can I be a woman?" And what could they answer to that? (WARNING: One of the marchers in this video takes God's name in vain.) ...

News

Saturday Selections - November 23, 2019

The power of words One of the greatest challenges of marriage is how you speak to your spouse. Science says Adam and Eve are impossible...or does it? Science is often portrayed as entirely unbiased and indisputable. So when scientists say that mankind's genetic diversity couldn't have come from a single original couple – when they say they've disproven Adam and Eve – many, Christians among them, will treat that as the final word. But this ignores the assumptions that underly scientists' conclusions. Science doesn't make pronouncements; some scientists based on their assumptions make pronouncements that other scientists might well dispute. Recently two Intelligent Design (ID) proponents used their own starting assumptions and discovered – voila! –  that the data can be made to fit easily enough with an original starting couple. Their findings still don't fit with a recent creation – they put the date for this common couple as being half a million to two million years ago – but, of course, ID proponents and creationists also operate from different starting assumptions. Christians have to remember and remind the world that there is a huge difference between unchangeable, unassailable truth, and what some scientists conclude based on their data and starting assumptions. The most politically incorrect Bible passage Alan Shelmon nominates 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 and explains why politically incorrect is also powerfully correct. Greg Koukl lays out his "Inside Out" tactic This 10-minute read is well worth your time, as apologist Greg Koukl demonstrates how we can use truths people already know – God's law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15) – to point them to God. When there are no more volunteers In showing how Christians can, in their volunteer roles, be a light to the surrounding community, John Stonestreet is inadvertently making the case for single-income families – after all, it's hard to volunteer when both mom and dad are busy with their day and maybe night jobs. So is this an attack against families who have to have both mom and dad working full time? No, parents need to provide, and if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. But, the thing is, for many that isn't what it takes and yet we still do it. Why? Part of it might be because the world judges worth by the size of a person's paycheck, or by the status of their career. Thus many women are influenced to then choose to work full time outside the home to prove their worth. Part of it is due to our young men settling, early on, for jobs that might well provide a plush income for a single man, but won't be nearly enough for a family man, which then necessitate double incomes. If we want to be a community of volunteers, part of it will involve being a community in which young men are taught they should start businesses or seek out jobs and careers that will provide for all the financial needs of their family. That often isn't possible. But when it is, it opens up possibilities..like letting our light shine through volunteering. How do transgender activists view sex and gender? (5 minutes) If "man" and "woman" have no set meaning, then how can transgender advocates argue that a man can feel like, and actually be, a woman? ...

News

Did YouTube ban a video because of this one sentence?

A couple of years ago The Daily Signal published a video by Dr. Michelle Cretella on transgenderism. It was titled “I’m a Pediatrician. Here’s What I Did When a Little Boy Patient Said He Was a Girl.” While the video was successfully posted to YouTube, some months ago Daily Signal discovered the video had been removed for violating YouTube policies. In a November 5 article, editor-in-chief Katrina Trinko reported that they discussed the matter with YouTube and learned the tech giant took issue with one specific sentence, labeling it as “hate speech.” In the offending line Dr. Cretella stated: “…if you want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender…” We’re only hearing from The Daily Signal’s side of the story here, and maybe YouTube has a very different take (I did reach out to YouTube last week but haven’t heard back and don’t know when or whether I should expect to). But if they’re banning videos for factual statements, then all of us using the site need to evaluate how dependent we are on YouTube for keeping us informed. Fortunately, these days there’s more than one way to get a message out – this same video has been viewed on Facebook more than 70 million times....though in July it was briefly dropped by Facebook too....

News

Saturday Selections - November 16, 2019

How do starlings flock in murmurations? (4 minutes) These living clouds are jaw-droppingly astonishing. God is awesome! Rosaria Butterfield on "gay Christianity" (25-minute podcast) This past summer Abounding Grace Radio interviewed Rosaria Butterfield about her life story – from unbelieving homosexual advocate to Reformed Christian writer – but also on the issue of whether one can identify as a "gay Christian." The interview was wonderful but only caused a stir when, this past week, a pastor tweeted out a couple of sentences from it. “Gay Christianity is a different religion. I’m not standing in the same forest with Greg Johnson and Wes Hill and Nate Collins looking at different angles of the trees, I’m in a different forest altogether.” This quote was Rosaria calling out a number of Christians who, on the one hand, say that homosexual sex is sin, but who, on the other hand, are promoting the idea that one can be a "gay Christian." This is a somewhat subtle error, but the problem is more obvious when we try the same approach with other temptations. Should someone identify as an "angry Christian" or "adulterous Christian"? Clearly not – a Christian shouldn't identify with their anger or wandering eye. This podcast is an important one, spelling out a current controversy happening even in conservative Churches over how we should fight homosexual temptation. Keith Getty: The modern worship movement is "utterly dangerous" “Over 75 percent of what are called the great hymns of the faith talk about eternity, Heaven, Hell, and the fact that we have peace with God. Yet, less than 5 percent of modern worship songs talk about eternity.” Biblical Edom unearthed Secular archeologists treat the Bible as just another ancient book. But the Bible isn't just another ancient book – this is real history – leaving archeologists repeatedly surprised when findings verify aspects of the biblical account. How to make your Gillette Mach 3 (or any other expensive) razor last 6 months Gary North shows how some olive oil and an old pair of jeans can save you a lot of money in replacement razor blades. A helpful tip for family Bible reading (2 minutes) Dr. Calvin Beisner speaks of why he would read passages of the Bible with his family even when he didn't feel fully capable of explaining them to his children: it was because he was convinced that God uses His Word. Parents will fall short (which isn't to say we shouldn't study) but we can trust God will act through His Word. ...

Humor, News

Tearing down tyranny, one joke a time...

November 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, for 28 years, divided socialist East Germany from the free West. To mark the anniversary some old East German jokes gained new life. What sort of jokes? Jokes that mocked the State for its incompetence and vindictive pettiness. Jokes that could get an East German arrested back then if the police found out he'd shared them. But if jokes could land you in jail, why did people risk telling them? Because every punchline was an act of resistance. A government that couldn't take a joke was a government that had overstepped its bounds and this became a small way of pushing back. So to mark the anniversary here are a few of the more popular jests from 30 years ago. Why do Stasi (East German secret police) officers make such good taxi drivers? – You get in the car and they already know your name and where you live. The five rules of socialism: Don’t think. If you think, don’t speak. If you think and speak, don’t write. If you think, speak and write, don’t sign it. If you think, speak, write and sign it, don’t be surprised. What would happen if the desert became a socialist country? Sand would become scarce. Three East German political prisoners were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “My watch always ran ahead, and I would always arrive at work early, so they said I must be spying.” The second fellow shared, “My watch always ran slow, so I was always late for work, so they said I was guilty of sabotage.” Then the third fellow said, “I was always exactly on time for work so they said my watch much be from the West.” Asking, how could it happen here? We mark this anniversary as a tribute to those brave and wise souls who fought tyranny in the past. But we also mark it so we can learn from the past to hopefully avoid the same sort of mistakes going forward. When we see the trouble Big Brother brought the East Germans, we'll be motivated to pre-empt the same sort of government over-reach here... before it gets to the point where we're arrested for telling jokes. With that in mind, here are a few jokes worth telling while we still can. Three Americans businessmen were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “I charged more for my goods than anyone else. So they convicted me of price gouging.” The second fellow shared, “I charged less than anyone else for my product, so they convicted me of anti-competitive dumping.” Then the third fellow said, “I charged the same for my product as everyone else, so they convicted me of price-fixing.” Here's a switch worth making: let's treat convicted murderers like we've treated the unborn and let them be executed, and treat the unborn like we've treated convicted murderers and give them life. A cheap Albertan fellow heard that women drivers get better insurance rates so he phoned up his insurance company and asked, "If I identify as a safer driver, can I get this cheaper rate too?" "I'm sorry sir," the insurance rep replied, "You can't simply identify as a safer driver and expect us to take that seriously." "Okay," he said, "but what if I identify as a woman - can I get the better rate then?" To which the insurance rep replied, "Of course ma'am. What do you think we are – a bunch of transphobic bigots?" What should a Christian think of mocking humor? Some Christians argue that humor, and particularly biting humor, has no place in Christian dialogue. Passages will be cited such as 1 Peter 3:15 and Proverbs 15:1: "...give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." But this "absolutely no mocking" understanding overlooks that God Himself mocks foolishness, with one of the funnier examples occurring in Isaiah 44:14b-17: "He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, 'Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!' And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, 'Deliver me, for you are my god!'” During His time on Earth, Christ had a biting way with words as evidenced repeatedly in Matt. 23 in thrusts like these: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (vs. 27). "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (vs. 24). Ah, you might say, it's one thing for God to do something and quite another for us to do the same. There is truth to that, but let's also remember that we are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1, 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21). And let's remember, too, how others in the Bible have used humor or in other ways shown approval for mockery. For example, Luke evidenced a dry wit in Acts 17:21, poking fun at the Athenians: "Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." Solomon wasn't pulling any punches when he compared beautiful women without discretion as being "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (Prov. 11:22).  David in Ps. 52:6-7 spoke of how the "righteous will...laugh at" the foolish fellow who "trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others." More texts could be cited, but this last one is a must – in 2 Cor 10:5 we are told to "tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God." It takes wisdom to know when to tear down arguments and when to answer more gently, but one general (and certainly not absolute) rule is that the broader the audience, the more pointed we can be. And vice versa. So if one of our coworkers is bald, bearded, and loves wearing his summer dress even into the depths of fall, we won't want to start a conversation by making fun of his fashion sense. But when politicians and judges and celebrities start insisting that men should be allowed to compete as women, that is an idea that must be mocked – to treat it as anything less than insane is to give it too much credit (Prov 26:4). So as we mark the Berlin Wall's demise some 30 years ago, we can remember that humor has been used as a weapon for a lot longer than that, by both God and man. To learn more about the godly use of pointed humor, a great small book on the subject is Douglas Wilson's "A Serrated Edge."...

News

Saturday Selections - Sept. 21, 2019

Real men know when to cover an offense (4 minutes) When we're sinned against, we have two options: to lovingly confront the sinner, or, to loving "cover" or overlook the offense. In this video, David Murray looks at when to overlook an offense, including how we can tell whether our "overlooking" is not about love, but laziness or being too uncaring to confront a loved one who really needs to be confronted. (For a transcript of the video, see the link above.) British government fights genital mutilation among Muslims, encourages it among others The British government is setting up support centers for victims of female genital mutilation, a practice done in some Muslim-majority countries that can involve cutting off a woman's clitoris. But even as the government is, in this limited way, discouraging one form of genital mutilation, it is encouraging it in another: funding irreversible "transgender" surgeries that involve cutting off men or women's genitals in an attempt to make them what they can never be: the other gender. They are lying to us In 2002 Jonathan Wells published Icons of Evolution in which he asked why evolutionists continued to use certain arguments and evidences even after they'd been discredited. He showed how decades afterward "proofs" like the Miller–Urey experiment would still be taught in school textbooks, though the experts themselves knew better. In this short article by philosopher J. Budziszewski, he gives an answer: they know better, but they know they can fool folks who don't know better. And they've come up with ethical justifications for fooling them. Seeing through a university prof's attack A university professor can confound a student by asking them one question after another. But that you don't know every answer to every challenge to God's truth doesn't make that truth any less true. The Cobra Effect – Big government brings with it a lot of unintended consequences (10-minute read) An Indian government intended to curtail cobra infestations, but their bounty on cobra tails incentivized citizens to start raising cobras to collect on the bounty, leaving the region with even more cobras than before. This scenario – a good-intentioned government incentivizing harm – is so oft-occurring it's been given a name: "the cobra effect." This article explores historic examples of this effect, and makes the point (as does Proverbs 27:14) that good intentions are not enough. It argues that, since unintended consequences are so hard to anticipate, governments should approach the creating of legislation with great humility and restraint – meaning well doesn't mean you will do well, so don't make a law unless it is vitally necessary. Hard as it is to believe, hummingbirds actually get cooler in slow motion Hummingbirds must be why super slow motion film was invented. At full speed they are jaw-droppingly amazing – watching these little zipsters is prayer-inducing. And then seeing them in slow motion offers a whole other appreciation of what God has packed into these littlest of the beasties. Wow! Just wow! ...

News

Public doubt: Josh Harris abandons God, and Hillsong’s Marty Sampson struggles

In July, Josh Harris, the author of the 1990s Christian bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, declared he was kissing his wife and his God goodbye. He made the announcements on Instagram where, shortly thereafter, the former pastor shared a picture of himself as a participant in this year’s Vancouver Pride Parade. In mid August another public figure used Instagram to announce a crisis of faith. One of Hillsong  Church’s worship leaders, Marty Sampson, told his followers: “I’m genuinely losing my faith… and it doesn’t bother me…. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.“ He then laid out some of the questions that had been troubling him: “How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people. But it’s not for me.” The post has since been deleted, and Sampson has since clarified that he hasn’t renounced God, but that his faith is on “incredibly shaky ground.” This public apostasy of Josh Harris, and the equally public struggle of Marty Sampson were met by all sorts of reactions. Among the constructive ones, was a Facebook post by John Cooper, the leader singer of the Christian rock band Skillet who, while never mentioning either by name, was clearly writing about both Harris and Sampson. He began by questioning why Harris continues to act as a public figure: “I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, ‘I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it…therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.’ I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?” Then he addressed Sampson, not mentioning him by name, but responding to a question in Sampson’s post: “…there is a common thread running through these leaders/influencers that basically says that ‘no one else is talking about the REAL stuff.’ This is just flatly false. I just read today in a renown worship leader’s statement, ‘How could a God of love send people to hell? No one talks about it.’ As if he is the first person to ask this? Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Breakpoint Ministries’ John Stonestreet saw Sampson’s struggle as revealing “a failure on the part of the church to take the difficult but essential task of faith formation seriously enough.” In his August 10 column, he noted that the faith Sampson felt himself falling away from was an emotion-driven, uncritical and uneducated faith that discouraged questions because it couldn’t stand up to them.  But this is not Christianity. This is not the faith of David, or Habakkuk, or Solomon, who all came to God in despair, asking questions in doubt. God is not scared of our questions…though as we see with Job, He doesn’t always give us the exact answer we were asking for. But He invites inquiry – honest questions, not simply scoffing (Prov. 3:34) – because He wants us to love Him with not only our heart, but also our mind (Matt. 22:37). So, as Stonestreet notes, it isn’t wrong to admit to doubt. But that a worship leader feels that no one is talking about these things reveals a congregation that isn’t interacting with the Psalms, or preaching on Habakkuk, and Job, and Ecclesiastes. As Stonestreet puts it, his church failed him. In 1 Cor. 10: 1-12, Paul tells us to take it as a warning when we see the problems others face. So, in our Reformed churches, how are we dealing with these types of questions? How do we address the doubts that are common to many a Christian? Are our churches a place where honest inquiries are welcomed? Or, if Robert Sampson were in our midst, would he feel that here too, “no one talks about it”?...

News

News or fake news: third of Brits have dinner in silence?   

In September, at least five of the United Kingdom’s online newspapers shared the results of a study claiming one-third of Brits eat their dinners in complete silence (we linked to just the one paper because the others are sleazy). They reported the study was commissioned by Old El Paso, the Tex Mex food producer, and involved 2,500 British parents.  Other  findings include: 4 in 10 parents don’t eat at the same time as their children most days only 20% of families eat dinner together every day of the week 44% of respondents admit to staring at their phones well eating Apparently more and more families don’t have the energy or intimacy to know how to interact with one another. That’s sad, if true. But this has a whiff of fake news about it. How so? The original study is untraceable – we’re told it was commissioned by Old El Paso, but we aren’t told what polling organization did it. No further information can be found on the company website or social media pages. Also, while the news articles have a few different titles, most were authored by just one reporter, Rob Knight (a few others were unattributed, and some were shorter abridgments). So even as it seemed this story was coming from lots of different sources, it actually amounted to just one. What we’re left with is one reporter telling us about a study that can’t be traced, which was published by a company that hasn’t publicized it on their website or social media. None of that means its fake. It does give us reason for healthy skepticism. For Christians, how many Brits talk during dinner isn’t as important as that we know how to handle such news stories. We’re all news outlets now, what with our social media accounts, so the question we have to ask is, are we going to be reliable or unreliable reporters? This is a big deal. After all, we worship a God-man who died and came back to life, which is already a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23). We don’t want to blow our credibility where it hardly matters by passing along trivia that doesn’t turn out to be true. Instead we want to be careful in the small things, so that we will be seen as trustworthy when we talk about what, or rather Who, really matters....

News

New study: Universe may be younger (or older) than scientists previously thought

The Associated Press headline read, "Study finds universe might be 2 billion years younger." While that wasn’t a complete come-to-creationism capitulation – even running with the new estimate would leave secular science more than 11 billion years off the biblical timescale – it seemed an encouraging development. Hey, they’re moving in the right direction! But it turns out the headline, while technically accurate, should have had the “might” underlined, italicized and bolded since there was quite the margin of error. Yes, Inh Jee and his team from the Max Plank Institute in Germany think the universe might be 11.4 billion years, which is down 2 billion from the conventionally held 13.7.  But her margin of error is so large that the upper range of her team’s estimate would actually make the universe even older. Shucks. What’s still noteworthy, though, is simply that the age of the universe is still being debated. Did you know that was happening? Secular science is represented in the press and classrooms as having it all figured out. But this is another instance in which they’ve been left looking for their erasers, readying themselves for another correction to their ever-changing textbooks. In contrast Christians can be grateful for, and confident in, the unchanging source of truth God has given us in his Word....