Chip and Joanna Gaines and global warming
When Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines announced earlier this month that they were pregnant with child number five, the congratulations rolled in. Thousands of encouraging messages flooded the home-improvement-show hosts’ Twitter and Facebook pages.
But over at CBC.ca there was one voice of dissent, notable for the objection she raised. In her article “It shouldn’t be taboo to criticize parents for having too many kids” Kristen Pyszczyk characterized the Gaines’ decision to have baby #5 as “a choice that affects everyone who inhabits our planet.”
Yes, she was making the case that, due to the threat of climate change, the Gaines’ newest little one shouldn’t be seen as a blessing:
“Procreation is becoming a global public health concern, rather than a personal decision. So when people do irresponsible things like having five children, we absolutely need to be calling them out.”
Pyszczyk gets some facts wrong – she claims that “populations are multiplying exponentially” and they simply aren’t. But Christians don’t need to know the latest statistics to see through her argument. We just need to know our Bibles.
But what of the increasing numbers of mouths to feed that Pyszczyk is worried about? Well, her worldview blinds her to the full truth. Yes, children come with their own carbon footprint, and a mouth that needs filling, but they also come with two hands to work, and a brain to dream up innovations. And as Solomon teaches us, we can “sharpen” one another (Prov. 27:17). Why have we seen so many technological leaps this past century? Because we have more minds on the planet than ever before, and that means all the more opportunities for one to sharpen another. We are not just consumers but producers and innovators too.
The reason this matters is because Pyszczyk’s short-sighted “children as a concern” narrative isn’t just a minor mistake. This perspective has been a major justification for abortion, which, over the last half century, has killed hundreds of millions.
So it’s vital, then, that we teach the world to see children as God sees them. We can do that by congratulating families, like the Gaines, who are blessed with growing families, and we can do so by, when God allows, embracing that blessing ourselves.
Best pro-life signs at the US March for Life
This year's US March for Life took place on January 19 and marked the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which struck do...
Saturday Selections - Jan 20, 2018
Parents, your teens are being pressured to ‘sext.’ Even at Christian high schools. Jonathon Van Maren asks parents to stop being naive – this i...
Top 10 RP articles of 2017
At year's end it seemed a good opportunity to review the top articles of 2017. This past year we changed from being a subscription-based print magazine to being a donor-supported multi-media enterprise, and we've seen God bless this transition in many ways, including increasing our reach and impact. Of the more than 300 articles we've published in 2017, these Top 10 11 (a late entry, published after this list was released, slipped in to the #3 spot, so for the sake of simplicity this is now a "Top 11 list") were read by anywhere from 3,000+ to as many as 15,000...though we're not sure about that last number, because the traffic for our #1 article kind of broke the website, and also the counter. We were forced to move to a faster server that could better handle the large number of visitors - it was a problem we were happy to face because it meant the article was being noticed. So, here are Reformed Perspective's top articles for 2017, starting at.... #11 - Wikipedia: reader beware and Did Adam have enough time to name all the animals? Ties are a sneaky way to fit just one more into this list, with both of these articles registering roughly 3,900 views. The first is an article by Dr. Wes Bredenhof on how, while Wikipedia can be very useful, there are occasions where it can be not only biased but unfair. Thus there is a need for readers to beware. The second article is a fun and thorough response to an objection sometimes raised that there wasn't enough time on the sixth day for Adam to name all the animals. #10 - Jorge’s Heresy Christine Farenhorst relates how the pope has elevated Mary and in so doing diminished the need for salvation through Jesus Christ alone. #9 - Sales as a noble calling Rene Vermuelen was a columnist in RP for more than 25 years, and in this blast from the past he relates how the calling of salesman - sometimes looked down upon - is an area where Christians can let their light shine. #8 - Call me Billy This satirical poem mourns what our society is doing in affirming those who say that their "feelings" can remake reality. #7 - Princeton scientists announce discovery of “sex chromosome” Another satirical take, this time asking how or culture would react if sex chromosomes - XX and XY - had only just been discovered today. Would there be pressure to deny this reality? Of course there would be! #6 - Here’s the problem with just closing your eyes during the sex scenes We know R-rated sexual content is problematic. But sometimes we watch it anyway. This article encouraged readers to consider the psychological and spiritual harm done to the actors themselves when they perform sex scenes. If the harm we're doing to ourselves isn't enough to stop us from watching these sorts of films, then maybe the harm being done to the actors will shake our consciences. #5 - Overpopulation is a myth and we should have known it The overpopulation myth is one that has killed millions - it's why China implemented their one-child policy, and around the world it has had a hand in popularizing abortion. And while this myth is starting to be torn down it does still keeps reappearing in popular media – this lie has staying power. But it's also a lie that Christians should never have fallen for. Those who pushed it viewed children as a curse, seeing a baby as just another mouth to feed, which stands in stark contrast to how God speaks of children as a blessing. Each child is a mouth to feed, yes, but God has also given us hands to work, and brains in which to create - we consume, but God has so made us that we can produce even more than we consume. While Christians should have known better than to believe the overpopulation lie, instead our witness was compromised because too many doubted the Scriptures, and believed the skeptics. This is a mistake we can learn from. #4 - Is Recreational Marijuana sinful? More than 5,000 took in this article which offers up four Scriptural reasons to abstain from smoking recreational marijuana. With legalization just around the corner in Canada, the hope is that this article can serve as a conversation starter for parents and their teenage and older children. #3 - Heaven-bound: What will it be like? We all have questions about what comes next and they can be important to ask. #2 - 21 Things I learned living with teenagers Sarah Vanderguten shares the joy and troubles that come with parenting teens. It's a fun piece that will get any parent, and many a teenager, laughing. #1 – Investigating the Birth Control Pill And the number one article this year is about the birth control pill and how it has an abortive action that many Christians have never heard of. This is an article to pass on to friends and family because this is information that, on the one hand, is almost unknown, and on the other, is literally a matter of life and death....
The Top 5 most overlooked articles of 2017
Next week we're going to share a Top 10 of the most popular article we've published in 2017, but today we're sharing 5 articles that weren't all that popular – none of them got over a thousand reads on our site (though some were reprinted elsewhere) – but which we sure wish had gotten a wider hearing. These are 5 of the most overlooked articles published in the past year. #5 - Counting our blessings: ways the world is getting better The news by its nature focuses on what's going wrong in the world. So it's understandable that, when we look around us, we can lose sight of the incredible abundance of blessings God has given us. But how can we properly thank God if we're overlooking his gifts? In this article Michael Wagner shares some of the remarkable material ways in which the world is better off than it has ever been. #4 - Four things you can do when someone challenges your faith Author Greg Koukl writes: "Have you ever felt 'the big chill'? It’s the term I use for the cold shiver that runs up your spine when you’re confronted with what seems at first glance to be a persuasive challenge to your Christian convictions, that terrible suspicion that begins to settle in your bones that the challenger has a point. And it seems convincing. And it shakes you. "I have those moments, too, and they’re not fun. Over the years, though, I’ve learned a simple, practical system to deal with the “chill” and I want to pass it on to you. It’s not especially clever or novel – thoughtful people have been using it for ages. But it works well to sort things out and help you get to the truth of the matter." #3 - Mankind is rusting out...and that's a problem for evolution In this one-hour presentation Dr. John Sanford outlines there are two conflicting worldviews at battle in out culture: 1) we as a species are naturally going up 2) we as a species are naturally going down The first is the theory of evolution: Mankind is supposed to the end result of a long process of beneficial mutations that changed us, improved us, from our origins as a single cell, simple organism, to become the incredibly complex creatures that we are today. We as a species are improving. The second is the Biblical worldview. After the Fall into Sin we know that the world was put under a curse. Things started off perfect, but are broken now. We as a species, like all of creation, are breaking down. So which is it? Well, what Dr. Sanford explains is that the supposed driver of evolution – mutations – are hurting, not helping us. While an occasional beneficial mutation can happen, Sanford discovered that the rate at which we are mutating, from one generation to the next, is so rapid that we, as a species, are not long for this world. #2 - The Overton Window shows what speaking the unthinkable can do Understanding the Overton Window is the key to understanding why – practically speaking – it simply makes sense for Christians to speak with boldness in the public square. #1 - Not all humility is humble In this article, later reprinted on Creation.com, Rev. Witteveen details how there is a billion-dollar foundation trying to promote evolution in conservative Christian churches like ours. This is quite the eye-opener....
Saturday Selections - Dec 16, 2017
Ten books every teenager should read It isn't important that your son or daughter has read all the books on this list, or even any. What is important is that, as parents, we're encouraging our teens to make it their business to grow in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord. And that's where a list like this can help, offering an assortment of awesome books, so that hopefully something here will spark their interest. John Piper's tribute to RC Sproul (1939-2017) There have been any number of tributes this past week, after RC Sproul passed on to be with his Father, and John Piper's may be the best because he gives a number of examples of Sproul's "jolting exposition." Evolution vs. the Bible A ten-minute read on how "Francis Collins and BioLogos seek a different story of our origins than the one told in Genesis" Who's distracted by a girl wearing skintight leggings? Maybe the girl? This isn't a Christian perspective - it's from Psychology Today - but it is an interesting one on how tight clothing may be a distraction in the classroom...for the girls wearing it. On how the Reformation freed and elevated women This is a fascinating 40-minute presentation from the author of Popes and Feminists. On courtship vs. dating - a conversation between Joshua Harris and Thomas Umstattd Jr. This 17-minute conversation features Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and Thomas Umstattd Jr., author of Courtship in Crisis: The Case for Traditional Dating. It is a congenial and helpful discussion by two men who used to represent very different sides of this debate....
Science politicized: when democracy doesn't suffice anymore
In the West most citizens take pride in their democratic institutions, pointing to how it’s through democracy that change can be peaceably pursued. Of course, not all change is positive. As Christians we understand that getting the government we deserve – the government that most of us have voted for – is not always a good thing. Why? Quite simply, the majority can be wrong. But that’s an insight available to us because we have an absolute standard – God’s Word – by which we can evaluate the “will of the people.” But for the secular West, which has rejected God and his Word as their ultimate standard, democracy has largely been the replacement standard, and government is said to get its legitimacy from being supported by the largest number of voters. So it is with some interest, then, that we can see the idea that the best governments are democratically selected has come under serious scrutiny from some in the international community of scientists, and a new ultimate standard is being proposed. Scientists vs. democracy? For the last couple of years the influential scientific journal Nature has touched on this topic repeatedly. In editorials and other articles it has been suggested that some voter choices are more legitimate than others. In other words, not all votes are equally valid. The new assertive stance of many scientists became evident during the April 22, 2017 “March for Science,” when tens of thousands of scientists marched in Washington and in at least 600 other cities around the world. A news item in Nature (April 27, 2017) said this event “may have been one of the largest-ever demonstrations in support of scientific research and evidence-based policymaking.” These objectives may sound quite harmless, but the rationale was that the scientific agenda is under threat and needs to be more forcefully promoted in the political arena. These people apparently believe that the recommendations of scientists are not making it into policy choices nearly often enough. Thus an editorial in Nature on May 11, 2017 declared: “…fears are increasing that anti-science forces are on the march. Indeed, on last month’s March for Science, a ‘war on science’ was frequently invoked as a reason for researchers to mobilize.” Obviously the conflict cited is not overt, such as one with guns and other weapons. But it is a power struggle and the scientists want to make sure that they win. So who are the others involved in this conflict? Commentary in Nature labels the other side as “idiots” (December 1, 2016) or “dissenters, doubters and right-wing jackals” (January 5, 2017). Those are strong words to describe political adversaries. But this battle is intense. Globalism vs. democracy? The scientific view, at least as it is articulated by activists in Nature, includes a desire for governments to move further towards international, or even global control. This would involve taking it out of the hands of democratically-elected representatives. For example, a trio of advocates declared that countries need to put scientifically-advocated programs and ideals ahead of national priorities (Nature, October 6/16 p. 29) But what does this mean? Consider the case of the province of Ontario. A news item in the Edmonton Journal (November 21/17) reported that electrical power exports from sources with nearly zero carbon emissions (for example solar and wind energy) resulted in a loss to the province of Ontario of between $732 million and $1.25 billion over a period of 21 months. This is happening at a time when consumers in Ontario are suffering from exceptionally high electricity costs. This is an example of placing international priorities for climate control ahead of local interests. The scientific community keeps promoting international agendas in other ways too. For example, a Belgian microbiologist declared in Nature (February 16, 2017): “To prevent further breakdown of the EU, scientists must shout from the rooftops that many of our problems today can be solved only at a European, or even a global, level. We must challenge time and again the current populist view that countries are better off trying to address the most pressing problems on their own.” Similarly, a Dutch sociologist from Utrecht declared that: “Academics also have a moral obligation to protect liberal democracy. By promoting social and political pluralism, the system produces the circumstances under which researchers can do their jobs and science can flourish” (December 15, 2016). The people who favor policies which protect the interests of the voters, are considered to be right wing, according to the scientific press. These people are also much less interested in “racial, gender and sexual identity politics” (Nature December 1, 2016) than are many in science and academia. An editorial in Nature (same date) declares that scientists and academics are rightly worried about allowing political discussion to include conservative and religious viewpoints. The scientists consider that this latter initiative would lead to “unacceptably broadening the limits of acceptable discourse – and freeing and normalizing people’s worst base instincts and a rhetoric of hate.” This editorial admits however that academics are often “tolerant,” but only of their own point of view. Liberal democracy vs. populist democracy? With recent electoral results that are the opposite of what left wing interests had hoped for, some scientists are warning about an increasing tension between populism and liberal democracy. Thus Matthijs Rooduijn, a Dutch sociologist, declared that there are two types of voters: those that support “liberal democracy” and those who support “populism” (Nature, December 15, 2016). Obviously liberal democracy sounds very appealing, but what about populism? This latter term is what many scientists have suddenly adopted as a way to portray in an unfavorable light the opinions they do not like. Thus voters who make political choices that many scientists do not like are described as populists. So what are populists? The implication seems to be that populists represent an ignorant mob (such as in the French revolution.) Alternatively a sympathetic definition in an editorial in the Edmonton Journal (November 10, 2017) stated: “A populist political culture is one that includes a widespread belief in the moral and intellectual capacities of the ‘common people’ and thus a strong reluctance to defer control over decision-making to the state or other elites.” Dutch sociologist Rooduijn elaborated on this point: “populists not only attack political and economic elites; they also target ‘snobby intellectuals’ in academia” (Nature, December 15, 2016). Well, fair enough. The Dutch sociologist nevertheless declares: “Academics also have a moral obligation to protect liberal democracy.” A lead editorial in Nature on April 20, 2017 echoed the above sentiments: “Social scientists rightly see this co-opting of far-right policies by mainstream parties as being as dangerous to liberal democracy as populist far-right parties themselves…” It should be noted that some people succumb to the temptation to label anything with which they disagree as “far-right.” Media and academic elites vs. democracy? It is evident that scientists applaud some voter preferences but suggest that others are to be discouraged. Matthijs Rooduijn rejected the idea that voter preferences (as declared in the ballot box) should in general be translated into government policy. Thus he declares: “Right wing politicians in the crop currently making headlines are populists in that they want the will of the people to be the point of departure for political decision-making. This ‘general will’ should, according to their populist message, be translated as directly as possible into actual political decisions” (Nature, December 15, 2016) But the scientific view is to reject such an approach. There are many reasons such as climate change considerations or human rights that might discourage implementation of voter preferences. Liberal democracy, according to views expressed recently in Nature and other scientific press, apparently promotes whatever the scientific community prefers: pluralism (many cultures all equal), internationalism, human rights that take priority over religious values, and a climate change agenda. Populism apparently represents the opposite. Sensible people, informed people, one hopes will not be discouraged by unflattering terms. Let the voters make their own choices without intimidation from the media and academic elites. Let us all be aware that “Science is only one of many factors and interests that a thoughtful politician needs to weigh when choosing a position on a complex topic” (Nature editorial May 11, 2017). Indeed that editorial ends on a high note, and so will we: “Name-calling and portraying the current political climate as a war between facts and ignorance simply sows division.” Dr. Margaret Helder is the author of No Christian Silence in Science, a book every Christian teen considering a career in Science should read before heading off to university....
Outraged all the time: why Christians can't be
When the weekend edition of the Daily Mail reported that British schools were swapping out BC and AD for BCE and CE to avoid offending non-Christians,...
Survey: the US is a nation of heretics
A survey conducted last year by LifeWay Research and commissioned by Ligonier Ministries has found that most core Christian beliefs are lost on Americ...
Saturday Selections - Nov 4, 2017
Sing a little louder As we approach Remembrance Day, this powerful nine-minute film serves as a reminder that there are battles to be fought today too. It's about a German church during WWII that liked to sing praises to God. What could be wrong with that? Singing God's praises is good, right? While we all know that evil is a temptation, we need to understand our hearts are so deceitful we can use even good deeds to distract ourselves from doing what God is really calling us to (Luke 10:38-42). Big parts of accepted "Science" aren't scientific From the article: "Evolutionists have frequently criticized creationism as unscientific because of its basic commitment to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo—that is, 'creation out of nothing.' The idea that God simply called the universe into existence by His own power, without using any preexisting materials, is rejected out of hand by evolutionists since this would involve supernatural action, which is unscientific by definition – that is, by their definition. Yet, evolutionary cosmogonists maintain that the universe evolved itself out of nothing!" Martin Luther and Jay Adams Jay Adams has often been called "the Martin Luther of biblical counseling," and in this article the author makes clear why that is such an appropriate comparison. Suicidal trend in Young Adult/Teen fiction In the typical public library, the Teen/Young Adult section will feature novels and nonfiction that promote sexual experimentation, make light of suicide, attacks Christianity, and pushes gender confusion. As this Breakpoint piece also emphasizes, parents need to be aware that Young Adult/Teen books are a spiritual battleground! Wonderful news - extreme poverty has been halved! Overwhelmed by a constant diet of bad news? Then consider this: God is blessing the world in an enormous way that most aren't even aware of. Over the last 20 years, something unprecedented has happened – extreme poverty has been halved. Even as the population continues to grow, the number of people in extreme poverty decreased from 1.7 billion in 1999 to 0.8 billion in 2013. The fatal flaw with Assisted Suicide This video clip highlights the fatal flaw in assisted suicide. Today in Canada, we no longer view death as an enemy to be fought, but a treatment to be offered. And when we start viewing death as mercy, then our "angels of mercy" are going to start pushing death. As Christians, we understand that while we don't need to fear death - Christ has conquered it! - death is still an enemy. It is gross perversion to portray killing as mercy. Every one of us is made in His Image, and precious, and every life is a gift from God....
Saturday Selections - Oct 21, 2017
Welcoming vs. affirming In the LGBTQ debate there is a demand that for a church to be welcoming, it must also affirm people's lifestyle. Trevin Wax highlights the problem with that - it's not the church's business to be affirming anyone. "What is the crux of the problem here? It's the expectation that the church would be in the business of affirming anyone at all. The Bible teaches that God's righteousness cuts us all down to size. If a church were to close its doors to sinners, it would be empty. And if a church were to empty itself of only some kinds of sinners, it would soon be full only of self-righteousness. Better then for the church to close its doors entirely." Paul Tripp video offers encouragement for every parent Paul Tripp offers some insightful and encouraging biblical principles for parenting in his new videos series and the first session can be watched for free. This is a great hour-long session to watch with your better half (skip ahead to the 18:30 mark to get right to the talk). Should teens own smartphones? Some giants in the tech industry are questioning whether it's wise. Related, here is a Jewish a cappella group encouraging a shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) rest from more than just work Does Liberal Christianity leads to atheism? Bart Campolo says that his atheistic turn started when he gave up on believing that God is sovereign. After that, it was just a matter of working out things to their "logical" ends. Godly dominion vs. Environmentalism Dr. Calvin Beisner headlined Reformed Perspective's 2017 speaking tour, sharing a message similar to this one. What I want from the news Tim Challies gives a good summary of what we'd all like from the news (which is what RP tries to deliver). ...
Saturday Selections - Sept 30, 2017
This edition has been brought to you by the number 6: six items, six actions, and six surprises.... God painted ants on fruit fly wings Some things are just too cool not to share: God has crafted detailed pictures of ants on the tiny wings of a particular fly. Why? Because it is brilliant! Lots of astonishing pictures here. 6 actions to take when grieving the death of a loved one Thought this is a very short post, it has helpful suggestions summarized from the twice-widowed missionary-wife Elisabeth Elliot. 6 surprises every premarital counselor should cover Even the apostle Paul speaks of marriage as a mystery. To minimize some of the surprises, this is a good article for engage or newly married couples to read together. And it's a good reminder for all couples. More on why euthanasia safeguards can't work From the article: "Safeguards are ineffective to prevent slippery slopes. As British moral philosopher Dame Mary Warnock has put it in another context, 'you cannot successfully block a slippery slope except by a fixed and invariable obstacle.' In governing dying and death that obstacle is the rule that we must not intentionally kill another human being." The only flaw in this article is that the Christian ethic, serving as the foundation to Margaret Somerville's argument, is never acknowledged. So we need to take her point as to the weakness of "safeguards" but then be explicit as to the eternal standards we are appealing to. Or, in other words, don't just tear down the lie, as Somerville does here, but also present the full Truth, as founded on God's Word and his Law. How to avoid poverty Everyone wants to reduce poverty, and in the West, the way to do so is clear. But the in the West, our culture doesn't want to hear it if it involves doing what God wants. Now this article doesn't present it quite that way, but the prescription – finish high school, then get a job, then get married, then have kids – lines up nicely with God's will for marriage, and his commandment Don't commit adultery. Around the world, capitalism has helped raise millions out of poverty, but why? Perhaps because at its ideal (ie., not the crony capitalism type) it also lines up with God's commands not to steal or covet. On social justice I've only had a chance to dip my toe in this free resource, but this video series looks fascinating, and solidly Christian. It addresses questions like: "What is social justice today?" and, "What sort of social justice should Christians pursue?" (This does require you share your email address with them.)...
Destruction only destroys - the "broken window fallacy"
We are halfway into the 2017 hurricane season and tropical mega-storms in the Atlantic basin have already broken several records. Hurricane Irma has sustained its destructive power longer than any super-storm ever recorded (and our data goes as far back as the 1970s). At the time of writing, the expected damage caused is upwards of $250 billion US. In the midst of this destruction, some are speaking of an economic “silver lining” – that the incoming hurricanes might in fact be good for the economy. For example, William Dudley, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, argues that, “the long-run effect of natural disasters is that it actually lifts economic activity.” The reasoning is that after the initial harmful effect on human and economic resources, the inevitable rebuilding efforts will stimulate local economic activity. It will also increase demand for labor, driving up wages and ultimately making people wealthier. And if we consider the way economic activity is most often measured – via Gross Domestic Product (or GDP) – reconstruction efforts might seem to cause an increase in the economy. Unfortunately, this is not true. Simply put: destruction does not benefit the economy. In the case of Hurricane Irma, the GDP figure will show the value of reconstruction efforts, but not the value of what was destroyed. It is true that the reconstruction of infrastructure and housing spurs on economic activity. However, this argument ignores the opportunity cost – it ignores what could have been done with that money if it didn’t have to be spent on reconstruction. This observation was first made by the French economist Frederic Bastiat. He illustrated the concept that destruction does not benefit the economy through the example of a broken window. Replacing the window may improve the economic position of the repairman, but it means that the owner of the window has lower disposal income to spend on anything else. If the window hadn’t broken he could have had a window and a pair of news shoes. Now he can only afford to replace the window. Similarly, the destruction caused by the hurricane requires the government to spend money on reconstruction and aid, at the expense of what it might otherwise have done with that money. The government has to use resources to rebuild something, as opposed to using the resources to build something new. As Christians, we need to be sensitive to this fallacy in the measurement of economic activity. The task of stewardship of God’s creation is not only about the utilization of the resources within it. It is also about considering the destructive impact we have on creation through our activities. Far too often do we only consider the value that was generated through our activities, but we forget to properly count the cost of our activities, whether it be environmental or socioeconomic. May the Lord be a refuge and strength to those affected by the destructive power of the ongoing natural disasters across the world....
Canadian colonialism dressed up as aid
Red tomatoes and purple onions pile in front of her. Behind is sugar, bagged by the kilo. Bottles of Fanta and 7-Up stand on a white shelf in this sma...
Media bias and Australia's marriage debate
This month and next Australians are being given the opportunity to have their say on same-sex “marriage.” The Liberal-National (LNP) coalition ran...
Saturday selections - Aug 25, 2017
A baker's half dozen of the best articles this week from Reformed and others sources.... Thou shalt not bail How many people are coming to your event? Who can know when a "yes" means "maybe" or "probably not"? “Bailing is one of the defining acts of the current moment,” David Brooks wrote recently in his column for The New York Times. We are a culture of “ephemeral enthusiasm,” readily and indiscriminately saying yes to invitations because we know we can “back out later.” When cultists come knocking Justin Taylor provides "cheat sheets" - wonderful short summaries - of questions and points to raise with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. How to turn the table on pro-choice arguments The prophet Nathan turned the tables on King David, telling him to, effectively, judge himself by the standard with which he was judging another. Here's how to do this in the abortion debate. On the school performance/grace divide Jay Younts notes that even in Christian schools there is a focus on performance which stands in opposition to grace. How can we address this divide? A pre-nup agreement for "until death do us part" couples? This is from a Catholic writer, but it works for Reformed folk too - a very unusual nuptial agreement specifically for couples who are seeking indissoluable marriages. God gives us William Wilberforces for a reason With the Western world rejecting God, we sometimes forget that doesn't make Him any less powerful. We need to hear about men, like William Wilberforce, who was willing to strive, no matter how insurmountable the odds seemed. And who ended slavery in Britain because God blessed his efforts. But it wasn't only the result that honored God, but the submission - William Wilberforce tried where so many others refused to because they were more concerned with winning than fighting on God's side, on the issues that matter most to Him. Why Ezra Levant's Rebel Media fell Jonathon Van Maren shares how The Rebel Media's flirtation with the alt-right led to their quick downfall, but veteran newsman Ted Byfield (of Alberta Report fame) doesn't agree that the media outlet is down for good....
Saturday selections - Aug 12, 2017
The best articles this week, from Reformed and others sources.... What is the Shia Sunni divide? Did you know some observant Muslims pray only three times a day? This short summary shares the origins of the split between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Have smartphones destroyed a generation? This is a longer piece with an over the top title, but worth the read. With new technology these types of scary articles will pop up - you can go back and find articles about how the phone - the good old landline - was going to harm society. So there is an irrational "anti-technology" impulse to watch out for. But new technology does come with its challenges – it's a new tool for us to master. What's a bit different in this case is that this tool is being handed off to kids even as adults are still trying to figure out how to manage it. The result is that many kids aren't being taught about the dangers and trained on how to deal with them. So, instead of mastering the tool, the tool is mastering them. The real story of the “Miracle of Dunkirk” Dunkirk is playing in theaters now, but the film misses out on the real miracle that went on. How to prevent Global Warming? Prevent births! God said children are a blessing, but more and more often global warming alarmists are saying children are the problem. Why does this evolutionary biologist want to euthanize handicapped babies? This article is not written from a specifically Christian perspective - this isn't an example of the best way to argue against euthanasia. But what it does do is document that the slippery slope is real, and in doing so it offers supportive evidence to the Christian thesis that if we ignore God's law, we are left with chaos. 12 questions to ask before you watch Game of Thrones A new season has brought with it lots more hype. John Piper has 12 questions for Christians to ask before the watch Game of Thrones...
Dr. Jordan Peterson on...
On outwitting the obstructionists At a talk at Harvard in mid-April earlier this year Dr. Jordan Peterson shared advice on how we can bring back civility to our public debates. The Bible says when we are seeking out the truth, it is important to hear both sides (Proverbs 18:17) but on many college campuses that isn’t possible. Disruption-minded protesters show up and shout down the speaker they don’t like with chants about how, “We respect free speech…but this is hate speech!” This make discussion impossible. So how can we create room for discussion and debate on university campuses? Dr. Peterson outlined just how easy it would be. "I will tell you how serious the protesters are...Some of you may know that I participated in a debate on free speech...that the University of Toronto hosted....But one of the things I did when I was talking with the university administration was to suggest how they might deal with the possibility of protesters. So I said, well that's easy, I know how you can have absolutely zero protesters. Have it in the morning and they won't get out of bed in time. So we had it at 9 o'clock in the morning and there was one MPP - Member of Parliament - who showed up to hand out some pamphlets, and not a single protester. So it's like, if you want to have a controversial speech, just have it at 7 AM in the morning. You won't get a protester within 50 yards of it because they'll still be sleeping off last night's pot and alcohol-induced hangover." On the tactics of the politically-correct Left How do small fringe groups on the Left (like transgender activists) manage such a disproportionate influence in our culture? In an Oct. 5, 2016 video, on his “Jordan B Peterson” YouTube channel, Dr. Peterson outlined the tactics they use: Identify an area of human activity. Note a distribution of success. Identify winners and losers. Claim that the losers are losing only because they are oppressed by the winners. Claim allegiance with the losers. Feel secure in your comprehensive explanation of the world. Revel in your moral superiority. Target your resentment towards your newly discovered enemies. Repeat. Forever. Everywhere. In the name of compassion, these social justice warriors are breaking the Tenth Commandment, coveting their neighbor’s success. On the need for standing your ground We can often make compromises. In fact when what's at stake is an issue of preference, it's important we be willing to compromise – that's how we all get along, by doing to others what you would want them to do to (Luke 6:31), giving a little and meeting in the middle. But when it is a matter of right vs. wrong, it's vital we don't give an inch. If it is a matter of truth vs. lies, then we cannot compromise, not even in the name of compassion, love or grace (Jesus showed that grace and truth need to be paired, not pitted against one another (John 1:14-17)). So we must hold our ground, and we can't give it up, even if it only seems a little compromise at the time. Or as Dr. Peterson explained in an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience (Nov. 28, 2016): “Things get to terrible places, one tiny step at a time. If I encroach on you, and I’m sophisticated about it, I’m going to encroach 2 millimeters. I’m going to encroach right to the point where you start to protest, then I’m going to stop. Then I’m going to wait. Then you’re going to calm down. Then I’m going to encroach again, right to the point where you protest, then I’m going to stop. Then I’m going to wait..and I’m just going to do that forever. And before you know it, you’re going to be back 3 miles from where you started and you'll have done it one step at a time. And then you'll go 'Oh, how did I get here?' And the answer was, 'Well, I pushed you a little farther than you should have gone...and you agreed! And so then I pushed you a little farther than you should have gone again...and you agreed!" On whether he is a Christian Jordan Peterson is courageous, and when it comes to issues like gender, socialism, and resisting PC pressure, his stands have a lot in common with what we read in the Bible. And he also talks about the Bible a lot too, using phrases like “For all intents and purposes I believe that the Logos is Divine.” He also has a very popular video series devoted to delving into the Bible. And he has described himself as Christian. So is he? Is Dr. Peterson a Christian? When the question is asked, he has a hard time answering. The Spectator’s Tim Lott put it to him and wasn't satisfied with Peterson’s initial and hesitant “let's leave it at yes.” So Lott asked for clarification. The ellipses in the dialogue that follows indicate pauses of a few seconds each as Dr. Peterson considers the questions. Lott: “Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Literally?” Peterson: “…I find that I cannot answer that question. And the reason is because…okay, let me think about it for a minute and see if I can come up with a reasonable answer to that. The first answer is it depends on what you mean by Jesus?” Lott: “A historical human being that existed in a body.” Peterson: “It was a physical body, and it was on earth?” Lott: “Yes, that it was on earth, and it was literally came back to life, after death.” Peterson: “…I would say that at the moment I’m agnostic about that issue…which is a lot different from saying that I don’t believe it happened.” Dr. Peterson is not a Christian – he doesn’t know if Christ rose, and he is not turning to Jesus to pay for his sins. He is not a Christian. Is that important to know? It may well be. Peterson’s courage has made him a hero to many. And because he often talks like a Christian, some might well be confused into thinking that Dr. Peterson has more wisdom than he really has. So it is important to note that, even as we appreciate his courage, and his common sense in matters of gender, that he does have feet of clay. He is not standing on the firm foundation of God’s Word. Understanding that, we can also pray that God opens his eyes to the reality of the resurrection, and to his need for the Savior....
Have the MTV Awards set the stage for a transgender/feminist throw down?
At this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards, actress Emma Watson was the proud recipient of what she called the “first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex.” Instead of the usual best actor and best actress divisions, MTV decided to have one mixed-gender category. This seemed to be a response to the actions of actress Asia Kate Dilon, who self-identifies as “non-binary” – she claims to be neither male nor female. She made headlines when she was considered for an Emmy award, and didn’t want to be placed in either the actress or actor category…though she eventually settled on actor, noting that “actor” can mean male or female. When MTV decided to do away with their own gendered acting categories, they asked Asia Kate Dilon to make the award presentation for their new, supposedly more inclusive, award. Her presence on stage underscored that MTV’s change was done for the wrong reasons – this was intended as a fist, shaken at God and his binary creation. But just as no one is perfect, not even MTV can manage to always be wrong. Even in the midst of their rebellion they may have hit on something sensible. Why do we need separate acting categories for men and women? It makes sense in sports, where gender-based differences in muscle mass mean men competing against women wouldn't be a fair competition. But as Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown throughout his cinematic career, more muscles don't make you a better actor. So why the separate acting categories? The Oscars have "non-acting" categories like Best Director and Best Cinematography that aren't divided by gender. And even before MTV did it, another group, the Television Critics Association (TCA), already handed out acting awards without gendered categories. But here's where the problems pop up. Asia Kate Dilon is attacking the binary nature of gender. Feminists, however, believe the two genders do exist, and the difference matters. While feminists don't acknowledged gender-based differences in abilities, or interests, or in roles they do believe the two genders differ in how they are treated. Feminists believe that the only accounting for why there are fewer female than male engineers, or fewer female than male Best Director winners is oppression. So every year again, when the Oscar nominations come out, a story will be done about how only one of the 91 Best Director Oscars has gone to a woman. An Atlantic article on the MTV awards noted that of the 20 drama acting awards given out by the Television Critics Association 15 have gone to men. And 13 out of 20 comedy acting awards have also gone to men. Feminists are keeping track. So what happens when feminists who demand equal outcomes for the two genders run up against transgender activists like Asia Kate Dilon, who want to dismantle the two gender? Which oppressed minority gets the win? Sure, this year they managed to get along. But what if, instead of Emma Watson, a man had won the MTV Awards' "first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex”? Would it have still been seen as a triumph of inclusivity? Or would it be seen as evidence of gender-based discrimination? The truce can't last. Picture credit: JStone/Shutterstock ...