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Creationists: there's more of us than we knew!

Being a Christian, even in the “Christian” West, can sometimes feel a little lonely, and doubly so if you are a 6-day creationist-type Christian. But, like Elijah, who despaired that he was all alone only to find out that God had preserved thousands of others (1 Kings 19), we aren’t alone either. According to a YouGov survey from late 2017, 9% of Brits, and 15% of Canadians hold to a “creationist” position. That’s nearly 1 in 10 folks in the United Kingdom, and just about 1 in 6 here in Canada. Did you think it was anywhere near that high?

It’s worth noting that this survey was conducted using a multiple-choice questionnaire, and the “creationist” answer they gave didn’t accurately describe the creationist position. They characterized creationism as believing

“Humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current forms.”

This idea of a “fixity” or “immutability” of the species – that they never change – was widely held by Christians in the time of Darwin, but it isn’t a biblical idea, and creationists don’t hold to it today. The Bible does speaks of created “kinds” so we don’t believe a monkey could ever evolve into a man. But we do think a dog kind could change over time to become toy poodles, bulldogs, German Shepherds and mastiffs.

In fact, creationists believe this change can happen quite quickly, not in millions, but in just a few thousand years time. So the 9% of Brits, and 15% of Canadians who chose this answer either held to a slightly mistaken understanding of creationism, or were simply choosing the closest answer they could find.

Our true numbers may be greater still. Another 22% of Brits and 24% of Canadians picked:

“Humans and other living things evolved over time, in a process guided by God.”

While the word “evolved” makes this an answer most creationists would shy away from, if they understood it to mean only “change over time” some might have picked this as the closest corresponding answer to our beliefs – there may be some more creationists in the mix here.

And, finally, there may be creationists tucked in a third answer picked by 10% of Brits and 11% of Canadians: “I have another view of the origins of species and development of life on Earth which isn’t included in this list.” That would be a logical choice for creationists unhappy with option number one and two.

So, yes, we are a minority, but like Elijah, God has not left us alone!

News

Saturday Selections - July 21, 2018

Differences between salvation in the Qur’an and the Bible Three key differences, including that the Qur'an teaches Jesus did not die on the cross. On the bad idea of a "guaranteed minimum basic income" For over 50 years now, an idea has been floated in Canada to guaranteed basic income. The key point? There would be no conditions – not even for abled-bodied recipients. Citizens would be guaranteed this sum (one proposal suggests $16,000/year) whether they tried to work or not. The article here isn't written from a Christian perspective, so to the insight offered there we can add another – in our sinful state, Mankind is prone to the temptation of laziness, and this guaranteed income would only encourage that temptation. Beware the "spiritual danger of doing good" “I have seen friends and mentors throw themselves into the causes of justice and do extraordinary work for Jesus. I admired their passion, their devotion, and their sacrifice. But despite their extraordinary dedication, things went wrong. Burnout. Infidelity. Lost faith. Financial compromise. Personal meltdowns. My heart breaks for these friends and for the ministries they worked so hard to build.” Cheap sex and the decline of marriage Even as most Americans still wanted to get married, they want to do it later, so they can have sexual freedom now. But it turns out that approach brings with it some unintended and unhappy consequences (and we're not even talking about the diseases). Or, in other words, God's way is best. Summer causes global warming hysteria The Cornwall Alliance's Roy Spencer on how the media is being encouraged to equate summer heat in specific spots with global warming. Todd Wood, on created kinds The folks who brought us the documentary Is Genesis History? (which we review here) are back with their second volume of follow-up interviews. Instead of the 1-2 minute chunks we get to see in the original documentary, Volume 1 and 2 of Behind Is Genesis History offer the full 20-some minute interviews with all sorts of experts. This one, with Todd Wood, introduces us to the concept of "created kinds" (17 min). ...

News

The PCUSA and the need for more praise from the “mouth of babes”

This past June the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US – the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) – held their 223rd General Assembly. This is a denomination that already ordains sexually-active homosexuals so it's might not seem all that surprising when they make another departure from orthodoxy. But one observer, Dr. Mateen Elass, was surprised by just how comprehensive the departure has been. On his blog he shared the wording of a written prayer, handed out during the June 20 morning worship service at the Assembly: We praise you also for diverse faith among the peoples of the earth. You have bestowed your grace that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Practitioners of traditional religions and others may celebrate your goodness, act upon your truth and demonstrate your righteousness. As an average person in the pew, many of us are intimidated about evangelizing. We think we have to know everything about God before we can tell anyone anything about Him. Might we think differently if we understood what understood just how desperate the need is, and how great the poverty. Inside this 1.5 million member, formerly Reformed, denomination they don’t understand that serving other gods is not praiseworthy, but rebellion. This is a truth that their 20,000 ministers don’t seem to understand, but that we all know. All our children understand it. And if even our children know more than their ministers, then what excuse do we have for being too intimidated to speak? We might even be mere babes compared to some of the wise and knowledgeable theologians out there, but if God has called forth praise “from the lips of children and infants” (Matt. 21:16) – and He has! – then we can do likewise. The world – including many professing Christians too – need to hear about God from you and me....

News

Justin Trudeau, and what the need for two witnesses would have us do

On August 4, 2000, the 28-year-old Justin Trudeau was in Creston, BC to have fun at a festival put on by a beer company. Ten days later an editorial appeared in the local newspaper, the Creston Valley Advance, alleging that Trudeau had groped reporter Rose Knight and then offered this apology: “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.” On June 6, 2018, eighteen years later, the allegations resurfaced when commentator and former Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella shared a clipping of the old editorial on his twitter account and later on his blog. Will the PM apply the same standard? Why was Kinsella bringing this up now? He wanted to know if Prime Minister Trudeau was going to treat this allegation with the same zero-tolerance approach he’d been using with other Liberals MPs. Since 2014, he has expelled two MPs from caucus, and accepted the resignation of a third from caucus, and a fourth from Cabinet, when they were faced with allegations of sexual harassment. In the most recent instance, Kent Hehr had been the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities until he was accused of sexual harassment earlier this year. A day after the allegation – made via tweet – and before an investigation was conducted, the Prime Minister accepted Hehr’s resignation from his Cabinet post. Kinsella wanted to know “If what Kent Hehr did resulted in him being considered unfit for Cabinet, is Justin Trudeau similarly unfit?” He concluded his blog post with this question “Why aren’t you facing the same fate Kent Hehr did?” A confusing answer In responding to the allegations, the Prime Minister noted this event occurred long ago and stated “I am confident I did not act inappropriately.” But he went on to add that “often a man experiences an interaction as benign, or not inappropriate, and a woman, particularly in a professional context, can experience it differently.” Was Trudeau saying he was innocent? Yes. So the reporter had wrongfully accused him? Well, no, he wasn’t going to say that. To understand Trudeau’s answer we have to view it in light of the #MeToo movement that sprang up late last year. The movement started when, over the course of October and November, over one hundred women came forward to accuse one of Hollywood’s most powerful men, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual assault or sexual harassment. The #MeToo hashtag went viral when it was used by many others stars to make allegations against other powerful entertainment figures. It was no shock, to Christians, that in an industry that exploits women’s sexuality onscreen, women would be exploited off screen too. We could cheer as, one after another, sexual predators were being exposed. The wrong solution But the #MeToo movement wasn’t anchored to a Christian idea of justice, and without that foundation, it couldn’t provide the right sort of correction. Soon demands were made for the accuser to always be believed. It was said that in a he said/she said situation, the accuser is less powerful so we should presume they are telling the truth because their risks in speaking out are great and they don’t have much to gain in reporting. Trudeau echoed this position in January shortly after the allegations against Kent Hehr were made. He told the World Economic Forum that when women bring forward accusations “it is our responsibility to listen and more importantly to believe.” This is why Hehr had to resign, even before an investigation. It’s also why Trudeau was so hesitant to say his accuser was wrong. Because the accuser must be believed. Point people to the answer So is Trudeau hypocritical for disciplining others facing allegations, and not resigning himself now? Maybe. But that’s not the point we should be making here. The very different lesson that needs to be learned here is that the standard Trudeau applied to others – always believing the accuser – is one that shouldn’t be applied to anyone (Matt. 7:2). To be clear, I'm not trying to argue that Trudeau is innocent of what’s been alleged. The point is, unless another eyewitness comes forward, we can’t know...so we shouldn’t find him guilty. After all, false accusers do exist. As Douglas Wilson noted Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor is in the Ten Commandments for a reason. This is a common sin –  it's not like it only happens "every 25 years or so." So we need a better standard to guide us – we need God’s standard. And in Deut. 19:15 He tells us how to proceed: One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” In other words, we aren’t even to entertain allegations made by just one accuser. But what of the women who are exploited and harassed away from any witnesses? It’s only when we understand that the guilty, in such circumstances, can’t be punished that we will understand what sort of societal changes need to be made. What we need is to demand less privacy, and bring in more light. As Jesus says in John 3:20-21: Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. And like any needed change, God’s people can model it first. So what would loving the light look like? We can see it in structural changes like how, in new schools, the offices now include one wall made entirely of glass. The school counselor or principal can still meet with a student behind a closed door but they are in full view of any number of passersby. In professional settings meetings can take place in public areas, or in an office with the door open. And if ever we get a Christian movie mogul he should invite a star’s agent to accompany the star for any meeting. This isn’t a full-blown Billy Graham rule but if sexual exploitation is as common as the aftermath of the #MeToo movement has made it seem to be, then there is good reason for this move towards more accountability and less privacy. Does that mean we’re letting Trudeau off the hook? Yes, because he should never have been on the hook in the first place. While God knows what did or didn’t happen, until and unless a second witness is found we can’t know, so we mustn’t judge. ADDENDUM After this article was published online, a number of issues were raised that need to be addressed. What might a second witness be? Some readers noted that evidence can serve as a witness: (DNA, security camera footage, electronic banking records, self-incrimination, etc.). That’s a good outworking of the biblical principle requiring multiple witnesses. Now, what sort of evidence rises to the level of being a second witness? For guidance on this point we can ask whether we would be satisfied if such evidence was used as proof against us (Matt. 7:1-2 & Matt. 7:12).  The consistory is not the police A concern was expressed that this article might encourage church consistories not to go to the police unless there are two witnesses when members come to them with allegations of sexual abuse. To be clear, the government, and not the church, is tasked by God to deal with crime (1 Peter 2:13-17). So if a crime is alleged, then church leaders must report it to the authorities. The issue of abuse and how to prevent it, and expose it, is a complex one, so it’s worth noting that this article has a limited focus. I am asking what Deut. 19:15’s two or three witness requirement would have us do in the context of the public debate about the allegation against Trudeau. As citizens of democracy, we have a say in the laws that the police administer, and we have a role in the public debate. So what direction should we give the world about the sort of laws we should have? And, just as important, what sort of rules of business etiquette can we encourage? One possibility: it should be seen as inappropriate/creepy for the powerful to invite the vulnerable to have business meetings alone in their hotel rooms.  What about abusive marriages? Some wondered, if this two-witness requirement was followed, whether it could make it difficult to get out of an abusive marriage. A particularly manipulative spouse might only be abusive when no one else is around to see it. The elders have to report any criminal abuse allegations to the police, but they do have a role in counseling. So if a wife claims abuse, should church leaders required two witnesses before they’d approve of a divorce? My article doesn’t touch on how elders should apply Deut. 19:15, but this is a pressing question that needs an answer. Douglas Wilson digs further into God’s Word to addresses it in his article, “On a wife deciding to leave her husband” to explain that while two witnesses are needed to prove abuse, the same isn’t required to flee such abuse....

News

Saturday Selections - June 30, 2018

A refresher on the Columbo Tactic This past Spring, RP brought Tim Barnett around Canada to teach a couple of very effective apologetic tactics. In this clip his boss, Greg Koukl, gives a short refresher on one of them, the "Columbo Tactic." (4 minutes) Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford on how to bypass Facebook and Google's control of the Internet Facebook and Google are filtering the news you read. But it's not hard to bypass them...though few are bothering. How to share the Gospel with someone "My first question is generally, “Who do you think Jesus is?” This keeps the conversation on the person and work of Christ, which I find hard if we begin with a broader topic. It also gives people an opportunity to pull out of the conversation early, rather than after five minutes when they finally realize you want to chat about Jesus..." The Atlantic reports that some transgender surgeries are regretted Jonathon Van Maren on the controversy that occurred after a secular magazine reporting that some transgender folk have changed their minds about their gender....even after having surgery. Dangerous people are teaching your kids Jordan Peterson on the college/university experience on some secular universities in Canada. (5 minutes) Is heading to college more hazardous than joining the Normandy invasion? New St. Andrews (a Reformed college) President, Dr. Ben Merkle (speaking on the Glenn Beck Radio Program) on the hazards involved in sending our kids off to college. “We've seen a number of surveys that have demonstrated that of kids who are attending church regularly in their senior year in high school, by the time they finish their freshman year in college three out of four of them will have walked away from their faith and they're no longer involved as Christians….One of the statistics, a visual image that I think helps parents to think about it is, if you were to sign your children up to be in the boats on the Normandy Beach Invasion they would have a better chance of surviving that than surviving spiritually in colleges now. That experience is not something most parents are eager to sign their children up for, but we do it in a pretty unthinking way right now.” For the longer version, see the 1-hour presentation below. ...

News

Possible evidence of life on Mars may have been discovered...perhaps. Or not.

When the Mars Rover’s latest findings – organic molecules – were reported in early June it unleashed the latest round of hype about the possibility of life on Mars. Stories on FoxNews.com, and in the New York Times ran the far too hopeful headline “Life on Mars?” but clarified further on in their articles that, no, this wasn’t actually proof. Of the three possible causes for these organic molecules, biology – life – was one of them, but there were two other less hype-worthy possibilities: geology and meteorites. Anyone who reads the newspaper science section regularly knows that life-on-Mars stories pop up repeatedly, with the previous round happening just a year ago. FoxNews.com ran this headline: “If you're hoping humans find evidence of life on Mars, scientists have some very good news.” That story talked about evidence of there being water and oxygen in Mars’ distant past. Water and oxygen are key elements that life might have needed “if it ever existed on Mars.” But this finding was akin to saying since cars need aluminum, if we were to find evidence of aluminum deposits this would be an exciting development in our search for evidence of cars on Mars. Perhaps the biggest “life on Mars” story of them all took place back in 1996 when all the newspapers covered a NASA team’s announcement that the Martian meteorite they were studying seemed to have evidence of microscopic life. It was billed as being possibly the greatest scientific discovery of the century. Except it wasn’t. Ten years later and scientists had found non-biological explanations for all the meteorite’s microscopic features. So why this ongoing hype about life on Mars, despite the less than encouraging findings to date? Because secular science needs to find life elsewhere. There is a problem with the evolutionary account, one that even evolutionists acknowledge – life’s origins. Selection and mutation need something to be already living – and self-replicating – before they can operate. In other words, evolution can’t begin until after life has begun. So how, then, did that first simple life form come to be? Just consider, even with thousands of brilliant minds, and billions of dollars worth of the most amazing tools and machinery, and we still can’t create life on purpose. How very far we are then, from explaining how it could happen by accident. But if we could find evidence of life on Mars, well wouldn’t that show life can just…happen? Finding life on Mars would make things a little less awkward for evolutionists. Thus the search continues....

News

New euthanasia code illustrates Dutch slippery slope

Doctors in the Netherlands are getting mail. Every single general practitioner in the country – some 14,000 – will receive their own copy of the new national code of practice for euthanasia. An updated edition of the code was published in May by the Dutch committee that oversees euthanasia. The committee reviews each reported instance of euthanasia to ensure the doctor followed the law. This new code of practice is supposed to help doctors understand how they will be evaluated. However, the new code also illustrates how quickly the Netherlands has gone down a slippery slope The Dutch government’s Minister for Public Health, Hugo de Jonge, inadvertently hit the nail on the head when he told a Dutch newspaper, “The new code of practice has to offer guidance because for many doctor it feels unnatural to administer euthanasia.” The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia in 2002. The law was written to permit euthanasia for patients with “unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement.” Thus, it was not strictly limited to patients with a terminal illness. At the time, critics pointed out that this wording was highly problematic and would eventually lead to euthanasia for people who are still years or even decades away from their natural death. How right these critics were. The new code of practice devotes considerable attention to euthanasia for patients with an "accumulation of old age complaints.” These complaints are described as things like “sight problems, hearing problems, osteoporosis, arthritis, balance problems, cognitive decline.” In other words, these are the degenerative conditions that are a normal part of getting older. The patient does not need to have a terminal illness. In fact, there is not even a minimum age requirement. The only consideration is that the patient has unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement. And the code of practice readily admits this can be subjective. “The unbearability of the suffering is sometimes difficult to determine because the experience of suffering is deeply personal. “ Doctors are instructed to look at “the medical history, biography, personality, values, and pain threshold of the patient.” From there, a doctor should place himself “not only in the situation but also in the perspective of the patient.” The code of practice also talks at length about euthanasia for patients with advanced dementia, even though this practice is highly controversial and many doctors refuse to participate. In January, ethicist Berna van Baarsen resigned from the oversight committee because, as she told a Dutch newspaper, she considers it to be “indefensible.” The new code of practice also discusses euthanasia for psychiatric patients. They are eligible if their suffering meets the criteria of “unbearable with no prospect for improvement” – even if they’re still very young. In January, psychiatric patient Aurelia Brouwers was euthanatized. She was 29-years-old and had no terminal illness. The code of practice says doctors must consider carefully whether there are further treatment options for the psychiatric patient, but it also says the patient is not obligated to try every option. Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the oversight committee, told a Dutch newspaper, “You can always argue that there’s another treatment to try. But the question is – given strength of the patient and the odds of seeing improvement – whether it is worth it.” Euthanasia for psychiatric patients has grown at an astonishing rate. In 2011, there were only 13 reported instances. In 2017, that number had shot up to 83. Euthanasia in general has increased enormously in the Netherlands. In 2010, there were 3,316 reported instances. In 2017 there were 6,585. Thus, death by euthanasia has doubled in less than a decade. The chairman of the Dutch Royal Medical Association recently asked the Dutch Ministry of Public Health to communicate to patients that euthanasia not a “right” and that doctors are never obligated to administer it. Even if this is successfully communicated, rates of euthanasia are unlikely to decrease any time soon. As the new code of practice illustrates, the threshold for euthanasia in the Netherlands keeps getting lowered....

News

Saturday Selections – June 2

Why do churches need good organs and good organists? An interesting perspective on organs from someone outside Dutch Reformed circles. Antony van Leewenhoek: a Dutchman who opened up the microscopic world Though a layman, with no formal scientific education, Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) devised microscopes more powerful than any others of his time, allowing him to be the first to see bacteria. He also helped show that life only comes from life – his work rebutted the idea of "spontaneous generation." New Christian news aggregate site Adam Ford, best known as the founder of the Babylon Bee, has sold his Christian satirical news site so he can focus on his daily news aggregate site. Who needs God when you have government? A government big enough to provide everything we need is a government trying to replace God. Untangling assisted reproductive technology As Breakpoint.org's John Stonestreet explains, with more and more couples turning to IVF, Christians need to know where we stand on this issue: "silence on assisted reproductive technologies is no longer an option." Does God love everyone? R.C. Sproul gives a careful and clear answer below, which is a mix of "sort of" and "definitely not." ...

News

Australian rugby player won’t back down

Editor's note: After this article was posted, it was suggested that Israel Folau might be a Trinity-denying (and thus, heretical) Oneness Pentecostal, and he did make a Jan 18 tweet that does sound like that is what he believes. But he is reported as attending the Trinitarian denomination, the Assemblies of God. So, that makes it a little less clear what he believes. We will let you know should we get clarification. **** In Australia there are four main “football codes” (i.e. sports that fall under the general heading of “football”): Australian rules football, soccer, rugby league and rugby union. Recently, one of these, rugby union, had a major problem on their hands. A player had responded to a question he had been asked online, and his response was causing outrage both on and offline. Through it all, the player, a young deeply Christian man called Israel Folau, stood tall. Lets consider what he did, and try to summarize his response using some of his own words as you can find them in his April 16 article, “I’m a sinner too.” So what happened? Twenty-eight-year-old Folau currently plays rugby union for the Waratahs club in the Super Rugby competition that has teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He also plays for his country, the Australian team known as the Wallabies. This very talented sportsman has played professionally in three of the four football codes, having previously played rugby league and Australian rules football. Earlier this year he was ranked in the top ten rugby union players in the world. (Speaking of rankings, 105 countries play rugby union. New Zealand is ranked number 1 in the world and by quite a margin. Australia is currently ranked fourth, the USA fifteenth and Canada twenty-first.) Folau had injured his hamstring quite badly in a recent game and was likely going to be sidelined for some time. Folau wrote: “…that afternoon I put up the following Instagram post, referring to James 1: 2-4: ‘Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, because the testing of your faith produces endurance … so that you may be lacking in nothing.’” He continued: “In the comments section of that post, I was asked a question by somebody about what God’s plan is for gay people. My response to the question is what I believe God’s plan is for all sinners, according to my understanding of my Bible teachings, specifically 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10…’Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.’” This response created a furore, and not only in the media. Some key Wallabies sponsors, such as Qantas Airways and Asics sportswear, threatened to withdraw their financial support. Many fellow players also condemned him for his position, and there was a strong implication that he shouldn’t be allowed to hold his view, at least not publicly. Sports commentators were very strident in their condemnation of Folau and called for him to be sacked or resign. Rugby union governing body, Rugby Australia, tried to diffuse the situation and issued a statement that Folau had been spoken to, and that he would tone down his message. Folau denied ever agreeing to this, and reaffirmed his opposition to same sex marriage, and same sex relationships. This is what the world has come to: a man stands up for God and for his faith, and he is railed down. You might expect that he would back down. Not Folau. In a meeting with the code’s hierarchy he told them that if they “…felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately…I would sooner lose everything – friends, family, possessions, my football career, the lot – and still stand with Jesus, than have all of those things and not stand beside Him.” Folau is not without support and supporters. In fact, his stance has gained the attention of many international teams who would be willing to pay considerably more than he is currently receives. It is a shame that so many of our politicians don’t have the same backbone and willingness to openly live and declare their worldview. Bill Shorten, the leader of the main opposition party, the Labor Party, is one among quite a number of Australian politicians who claim to be Christian, but from whom we see no actions or words to back it up. If only they dared to be a Daniel, or that they took a lesson from Israel Folau, then perhaps integrity may return to the corridors of government. Now we might question why Folau chooses to play professional sport, which includes much time away from Sunday worship. We could assume that we might disagree with him on other things as well. But would any of us be so open, so courageous and steadfast when the pressure is put on? Folau started his column with a confession, “I have sinned many times in my life. I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily.” Quite the start! Then he continues: “But I would like to explain to you what I believe in, how I arrived at these beliefs and why I will not compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life. I read the Bible every day. It gives me a sense of peace I have not been able to find in any other area of my life. It gives me direction. It answers my questions.” Like us, Folau believes the Bible to be the truth, and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear. “If you see someone who is about to walk into a hole,” says Folau, “and have the chance to save him. He might be determined to maintain his course, and doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. But if you don’t tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do? In this case, we are talking about sin as the Bible describes it, not just homosexuality, which I think has been lost on a lot of people. There are many sins outlined in that passage from 1 Corinthians and I have been guilty of committing some of them myself. No man or woman is different from another – if you sin, which we all do, and do not repent and seek forgiveness, you will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Folau clearly holds some very traditional Christian beliefs about sin, heaven and hell, and homosexuality. In a supposedly free country, surely Folau should be able to express his genuinely held religious beliefs, especially when asked to do so? It is clear that it is getting more and more difficult for a Christian voice to be heard. Sadly, this episode joins so many from around the world that indicate we are steadily losing our rights to freedom of speech, conscience, and religious belief. As Folau noted, freedom of speech means that sometimes people will say things that others find disagreeable. So we should, firstly, stop trying to silence those who offend us. We cannot argue for these freedoms if we don’t allow them ourselves. We are heading into a new world, a new kind of tyranny, where contra opinion is muzzled, and dissent is howled down and crushed into submission. This is what we need to highlight, to raise our voice of concern on the silencing of opinion and freedoms. Secondly though, it is one thing to fight for these freedoms, it is a bigger challenge to honestly and openly use them and express God’s truths, our worldview, just as Folau has done, and continues to do. Are we, and would we be, willing to do the same? Would we be willing to actually exercise our diminishing freedoms? Would we be willing, for example, to stand up and openly call out homosexuality as a sin? We can hope and pray that Folau’s message has struck a cord in some ears that should be listening. A version of this article first appeared in the May 19 edition of Una Sancta. Photo is adapted from one by David Molloy and used via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license....

Music, News

U2 shows us how love can hurt

It’s been quite a week for U2. In the space of just four days, the Irish rock band took public stands in favor of homosexuality, transsexuality, and abortion. On May 1st the group tweeted their support for legalizing abortion in their native land. They told their 1.5 million Twitter followers that they wanted to “Repeal the 8th” which is the amendment to the Irish constitution that protects the unborn. Three days later they released the video to their song Love is bigger than anything in its way. More than three dozen people are shown, all in brief clips, and what’s most noticeable is the fashion choices made, particularly among the gentlemen. One man is wearing a bra, another a corset with thigh high boots. Many of these men have lipstick, pink shirts, pink pants, or a pink backpack. Among the women are some who look to be men dressed as women. Lest anyone think this all just a case of unique fashion choices, the video also includes shots of lesbian and gay couples kissing. We wouldn’t expect different from most any other rock band, but this is U2. The group has never publicly identified itself as Christian, but their songs contain dozens and dozens of biblical references, including 40, which is based on Psalm 40 and Psalm 6. And the lead singer, Bono, has professed to be a Christian, publicly talking about his family’s prayers, and noting that they regularly read Scripture. In an interview with music journalist Michka Assayas he gave a decent explanation of the atonement: “The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled. It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.” So it was to the surprise and disappointment of Christian fans that the band is ignoring God’s prohibitions against murder and homosexuality and is encouraging their fan-base to do likewise. Bono has often spoken of God as being love. Now it seems, he thinks love is God. What’s the difference? When we understand that God is love, then we are willing and even eager to submit to His wisdom and direction. Then we know that it isn’t loving to encourage behaviors He forbids. We understand that His restrictions protect us, in much the same way that a loving parent’s rules protect their children. Why does God forbid homosexuality (and abortion too)? Because as our Maker and our Father He knows this isn't good for us. But for Bono and his band, “love is bigger than anything in its way.” Are God’s commandments standing in the way of you and the same-sex partner you crave? Well, U2 wants you to know that love is bigger than God. But pursuing love while running from God isn’t going to bring anyone happiness. Oh, sure, rebellion can make us happy for a time. So can drugs, sex, and fame. But it doesn’t take long for the meaninglessness to become evident. In a strange turn, this brokenness is even evident in the video for U2’s latest song. More than three dozen lesbians, homosexuals, and transgender men and women dancing, hugging, and kissing. U2 is trying to tell us that this is love worth celebrating… so why does everyone look so miserable? Yes Bono, God is love. But love as a replacement for God? That’s going to be misery....

News

Saturday Selections - April 28, 2018

Rosaria Butterfield on hospitality On how hospitality is both easier and more radical than we know. And far more important too! Why I am a creationist Kenneth Gentry weighs in with a thorough response to the Framework Hypothesis, while, near the bottom of this page nine PhDs explain why they believe in a 6-day creation too. What Christians should know about embryo adoption Hundreds of thousands of children are waiting to be born. Here's what God's people can do to help these helpless children. Advice to guys who want to date my daughters "Do not tell her you 'like' her and put the ball in her court. Take some responsibility....Make a formal, in-person invitation. Since this is a 'date,' ask the girl to go out with you. Call her if you have to, but take the highest form of communication. Don’t be a coward and text it. Don’t post it on Facebook. Ask cheerfully. Ask privately. Ask clearly. And by the way, don’t just ask her to 'hang out.' What’s that?" What are the biblical warnings about government? "The debate about the size and role of government has huge implications for the lives of individuals all over the world. Important as the issue is, Christians are divided about what scripture has to say about government. What are some considerations that can help us frame this debate and work towards a conclusion? The Bible sets out four principles that can provide a foundation for the discussion." The deadly gospel of nice "...nice isn’t the same thing as love. True love is concerned with the good of the beloved, and can never be divorced from the truth of how God created us and intends us to live. When we ignore that truth, we can “nice” people to death."...

News

South Korean babies: going, going….

Last year South Korea had the lowest number of babies born since their statistics agency started tracking this back in 1970. The decline has been enormous: in 1970, just over one million children were born, while in 2017, the number had dropped to a third of that, at just 357,000. Back in 1970 women were, on average, having about 4.5 children each. Last year that number dropped to 1.05, or half the 2.1 number needed to keep the population stable. South Korea is facing a demographic crisis – as The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson reported, Statistics Korea says that by 2060 the population will have declined as much as a third, from the 51 million it has today, to somewhere between 34-44 million. Why has the South Korean baby become such a rarity? The same reason babies are becoming a rarity all over the developed world: having children is seen as a hindrance to personal fulfillment and career advancement. So, for example, the South Korean government’s Family Minister Chung Hyun-Back – the official tasked with addressing her country’s population crisis – is herself a childless 64-year-old woman who chose to remain single so she could pursue her career goals. She sees the problem as being one of discrimination and excessive work demands. Women who take maternity leave are often pressured to resign, rather than return, because companies find it problematic to accommodate their time away. And, when women have children and a career the statistics show that their husbands are not carrying the same load at home as they are. Thus women feel pressured to choose either a career or children. And more and more are choosing careers. Chung’s solution is to increase the accommodations companies make for mothers, and to push for more help at home from husbands and fathers. She doesn’t want women making a different choice – to choose children as a more important priority than career – but wants them to be able to do both. But is this realistic? In the real world we have only so many hours in the day. We recognize this limitation means that if the CEO of Apple also wanted to be the CEO of Microsoft – if he knew he had the talents and interest needed – time simply wouldn’t permit him to hold two full-time careers at once. So why do many think that time allows for both a committed career outside the home, and committed parenting inside it? It's only because the world has so belittled the importance of parenting that we've come to believe it can be done on a part-time basis, or handed off to daycare workers and schoolteachers. But deep down, even the world knows a choice is involved, because justice simply can’t be done to both roles. If both mom and dad are at the office or on their way to and from it for 9-10 hours a day, who’s caring for little Timmy after school? And when mom and dad get home, which parent is going to have the energy to listen patiently, correct lovingly, and seize teaching opportunities enthusiastically in those short hours that remain before the children head to bed? Maybe some do have that energy reserve, but for most of us this is why doing both isn't an option – not if we understand how important the parenting role is. That means that if South Korea and the West want to address their coming demographic crisis, then they need to stop pushing the impossibility of both. Instead the world needs to elevate the role of parenting, honoring it as a task worthy of our energies, our intellect, and our passion. It is challenge to take on that demands much but offers its rewards too. Christians also need to remember that raising children is no part-time gig, and no trivial pursuit. God has given parents the task of being our child’s primary educator, their disciplinarian, and their example of godly living. Raising them up in the ways of the Lord is quite the challenge but also quite the opportunity. Finances don’t always allow for one parent to stay at home. Divorce and death sometimes take one parent away. And when our kids head to school, then there might be time for parents to take on additional roles. But if we recognize parenting as the God-given calling it is, then we’ll understand that having a parent readily available to meet our children’s needs is an ideal worth pursuing....

News

Saturday Selections – March 31, 2018

Materially blessed like no other generation "...if the media truly reported the important changes in the world, “they could have run the headline NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY every day for the last twenty-five years.” Who spends less time outdoors than inmates? A three-minute film about how many of today's children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Three tips for responding to criticism Tim Challies offers tips that we could all use. The difference between Calvinists and Arminians John Piper argues that the difference comes down to the Calvinist capacity for mystery. Do we accept what the Bible puts forward as truth — even when we can’t fully comprehend it — or do we try to fit everything into our own philosophical boxes in order to avoid mystery? On our culture's never ending guilt What if our culture had just enough light to know it is guilty, but it also rejected God with such ferocity that it had no glimmerings that forgiveness is even possible? Christian satire site plays it straight Sometimes satire is as simple as stating our opponent's position out loud....

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