Saturday Selections – Sept. 8, 2018
Porcupines are able to make it through the birth canal without harming their mother because they are born with soft quills that quickly harden.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair – once America's most famous atheist – thought Christianity was about faith apart from works. And that's one reason she rejected it. Christians should not make the same mistake.
Parents who put off having children till they are in their 30s deprives those children of years’ worth of their parents' loving presence and their parental guidance later in life.
College takes time and money, but it used to offer a real benefit: higher paying, better jobs. Now companies like Apple, Google IBM, no longer require a college degree – they want skills, not a piece of paper.
There's a lot about the pill that the medical community isn't readily sharing with those who use it. The most notable is that the pill can have a third action that doesn't prevent pregnancy, but instead prevents implantation - if a child was conceived it would cause a miscarriage. The mainstream press still won't talk about that, but a recent BBC report shared some of the under-reported side-effects
Saturday Selections - September 1, 2018
Pet clones - on the edge of human cloning? and The IVF needle baby The folks at Breakpoint.org have consistently solid, thoroughly biblical, comment...
Saturday Selections – August 25, 2018
Colorado Civil Rights Commission is after Jack Phillips again! A baker, who had to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court to be allowed not t...
Adam Ford wants you to bypass social media
Adam Ford was a wildly successful Christian cartoonist (Adam4d.com) before he mostly gave that up to start a wildly successful Christian satire site (...
Alberta man says he is woman to save money on car insurance
When an Alberta man learned he would pay $1,100 less for car insurance if only he were a she, he saw a loophole he could use. Identified only as “David” by CBC, to protect his identity, the 24-year-old got a doctor’s note that declared him a woman, and used that to change his birth certificate and driver’s license. He shared his changed “gender” with his insurance company and now, instead of paying $4,517 a year, it will only cost him $3,423. While David assured CBC that, “I didn’t do it to criticize or ridicule transgender or LGBT rights” his stunt has gotten folks talking. Stephanie McLean, an NDP MLA, and Marie Little, the former chair of the Trans Alliance Society, have both attacked him for insincerely stating he identifies as a woman. But there’s another battleground here that isn’t being explored by the mainstream press. David has bought into the politically-correct notion that men and woman are not notably different. That’s why he was angered when he, as a man, was treated differently by the insurance company. He saw this as outrageous sexism. Meanwhile, transgender activists like Marie Little think there are real differences between the genders. If there weren’t, then what sense would it make for a man to say he felt like a woman? So, which of the two is right? Are men and women practically identical? Or are they fundamentally different? These two questions could get a ruckus going among the politically correct. And here’s a third: if, instead of insincerely identifying as a woman, David had in all sincerity identified as a safe driver, should his insurance company have concluded: “If that’s how he identifies, then that’s what he must be”?...
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!...
Venezuela’s inflation to hit 1 million percent?
An official with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that by the end of the year Venezuelan inflation will his 1,000,000 percent. What does that even mean? It would be like that $1 dollar soda you bought with your burger increasing in cost to $10,000 by year’s end. As recently as 2012 Venezuela was being touted by some as an example of socialist success. So what, over the space of just the last six years, has caused the sudden collapse of the Venezuelan economy? Oil prices are certainly a factor. Venezuela’s main export is oil and world prices for a barrel of crude fell from $100 (US) in 2014 to roughly $30 in 2016 before slowly rising to around $70 today. But many other oil-producing countries have been able to ride out this oil price drop. Another significant factor is surely the precipitous loss of economic freedom in the country. Since 1995 the Heritage Foundation has been ranking countries on their Index of Economic Freedom. The higher the score, the more individuals “are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please.” In 1995 Venezuela scored a 59.8, which gave them a “mostly unfree” rating but that was, at least, a couple points better than the world average. However, since then the Venezuelan government has taken over large parts of the economy by nationalizing everything from oil projects to glass manufacturing. The Heritage Foundation ranks countries who score under 50 as being “repressed” and Venezuela now comes in at just 25.2. (By way of comparison, the United States, Canada, and Australia score 75.7, 77.7, and 80.9, respectively.) The Index of Economic Freedom highlights many practical reasons why a loss of economic freedom leads to a loss of economic prosperity. If a business owner has to bribe officials to get his permits, or can't hire new workers because high taxes don't leave him money to pay for them, or he isn't sure whether he'll even own his business next year for fear the government might nationalize it, we can understand that this type of business environment is going to stifle initiative and innovation. Why start or expand a business – investing your sweat and yours savings – when the government is going to take most of the earnings via high taxes, or might take it from you completely via nationalization? But the practical argument against socialism is only the outworking of the theological argument. As Nancy Pearcey has noted, "biblical principles are not only true, but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world" and reverse is true too: what conflicts with biblical principles isn't going to work for long in that grit and grime. While socialism might seem admirable at first blush, as John Piper explains, it isn't biblical: "Socialism borrows the compassionate aims of Christianity in meeting people’s needs while rejecting the Christian expectation that this compassion not be coerced or forced. ....ll of the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, assumes both the legitimacy — and, I think, the necessity — of personal ownership. 'Thou shalt not steal' makes no sense where no one has a right to keep what is his." Venezuela is just the latest example of how socialism fails everywhere it is tried. Will the world ever learn?...
Saturday Selections - August 4, 2018
Parents: act, don't react! This is an incredibly helpful piece of parenting advice on the topic of disciplining and spanking. When we react, we are most often punishing, not disciplining. (6 minutes). Conversation-killing short answers Is your teen giving you one word answers to all your questions? Jay Younts points us to the Bible to figure out how to really reach our children. Reading and forgetting might be worse than never reading at all "James talks about the man who looks into a mirror, sees his face is dirty, but then goes away and forgets all about it—as a result, he still has a dirty face. What was he talking about? People who look into (study) the Bible, find out what is wrong with them, but go away and do nothing about it." Albert Mohler on a pope that likes to push Catholic's buttons Reformed baptist Albert Mohler has a 20+ minute daily podcast well worth a listen or a read. On April 5, he delved into how Pope Francis is subverting established Catholic doctrine by offering up a trail of vague hints as to what he believes. The controversies that follow the Pope could be ended in a moment if he would just make a straight-forward statement that affirms what the Catholic church has also always affirmed...but he doesn't do that. A war criminal converted An account from the aftermath of World War II about a Dutch collaborator who was sent a Bible by the mother of one of the men he helped kill. Big numbers! A short video exploring numbers on the grand scale – how many stars are there in the universe? – and the microscopic scale – how many atoms in a grain of sand? (6 minutes) ...
Why do more today feel like have-nots?
Back in 1988 a Pew Research poll of Americans found that a majority thought they were doing quite well, describing themselves as “haves.” Just 17%...
Saturday Selections - July 28, 2018
How to help your daughter deal with mean girls Three tips on how to help your girls deal with - and not become - mean girls. Some cultures are bette...
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. ...
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....
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. ...
Saturday Selections - June 23, 2018
What submission means for singles Wives are called to submit to their husbands so does that mean submission is only for marriage? Supercomputers don't compare to single cells Paul Nelson talks with Del Tackett about "how a single cell is more complex than any computer." "Happy wife, happy life" and other misleading advice to young husbands Martin Luther once noted there are two sides of a horse we can fall off of, and swing back from the one side can have us falling off the other. When it comes to headship, some Christian men understood their headship role as being a domineering, rather than sacrificial one. Perhaps in an overreaction, there are men who think their headship role is sacrificial in so far as it involves doing whatever their wife asks, but they've abdicated any sort of leadership role. Other gospels? A number of scholars address the claim that there are other gospels (4 minutes). Should Christians be conscientious consumers? In a world in which the corporate sphere increasingly endorses what God opposes, should Christians be boycotting this business and that? Douglas Wilson argues that while that can be a legitimate tactic, that's quite different from saying it is a moral obligation (7 minutes). Dogs can talk In this half hour film Ray Comfort introduces us to his incredibly cute dog, Sam, and highlights how man's best friend can break the ice for evangelism (28 minutes). ...
Saturday Selections - June 16
Free book on what it means to be a man What does it mean to be a godly man? Dr. Bredenhof reviews The Masculine Mandate, and a link at the end of his review shows where you can pick up the e-book version for free until June 18. Fantastic free film for the kids From now until June 20 you can get a FREE download of The Wild Brothers, Episode 1 – the coupon code at checkout is KIDS18. Young and old will really enjoy this series (this is the first of eight videos) about a missionary family in the jungles of the South Sea Islands. Exotic setting, exotic animals, and adventurous Christian boys - it's quite the combination! Defend your body with the Word "...part of the problem, I know, is myself: I haven’t learned contentment. I haven’t fought to infuse my thinking about body image with God’s word. I haven’t wrestled with this because, for most of my life, my body conformed to the pattern of the world—and as long as it conformed, I felt little pressure. But now that it doesn’t, I’ve been caught unprepared." The hardest job in school: The board member? There are a lot of hard jobs in our schools so this title might be a bit much. But these two articles offer a lot for board members to consider. 5 fears that keep us from talking to our kids about porn "Why do we put off what we know we need to do, even when we know it is something very important? In my experience most parents know that modern day pornography is more dangerous than ever and that they need to regularly talk with their kids about it. However, my experience also demonstrates that a lot of parents put off these conversations until they discover their child has started viewing pornography. We do this because we are afraid." Earth: the perfect place to watch eclipses The moon is roughly 400 times closer to us than the Sun, and amazingly also 400 times smaller than the Sun. That makes it possible for the moon to completely block out the Sun during an eclipse while still allowing us to observe and study the Sun's corona. "It is an amazing 'coincidence.' The one place that has observers is the one place that has the best eclipses" (5 minutes - read more here). ...
Saturday Selections - June 9
I believe in "theistic evolutionist" Dr. Bredenhof on the disingenuous way some in the creation/evolution debate describe their positions. Airport s...
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." ...
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....
Saturday Selections – May 26, 2018
I want to buy your cheapest phone Tim Challies has bought a "dumb" phone to help him regain balance and control over his "digital assistant." No, the eye is not badly designed The claim that the eye is badly designed - and that this bad design is evidence of it chaotic unplanned evolutionary origin – is a myth that keeps popping up: by Richard Dawkins 30 years ago, to Dr. Nathan Lents this year. But, all we need is a closer look at the eye to see the critics have been blinded by their worldview – what they see as a design problem is actually a design feature! The biblical way to fly a plane? Is there really a Christian way to fly an airplane? You bet! As Kuyper once said, there is not one square inch of creation that Jesus doesn't declare as His own. So whether flying planes, or doing math, there is a Christian way to do it. Math? Yes, that too: "As the apologist Cornelius Van Til once said, paraphrasing, it is not that the unbeliever cannot count, but that his worldview cannot account for counting." Alfie Evans not alone: Hundreds of patients starved to death in the UK every year Those of us with Dutch relatives have heard the reports of elderly folk in the Netherlands who are scared to go to their hospitals – they don't trust that the staff will look at their lives as worth extending and fighting for. The same fear exists in some places in Australia, and as this article illustrates, it would seem the British elderly also have a reason to fear their public healthcare system. When all life isn't regarded as precious, then it might just be your life they don't find precious. More on the importance of questions Joseph Backholm asks "How can we have civil discourse when the other side isn't willing to have ANY discourse?" God says the law is written on our heart, and one bit of that - Proverbs 18:17 - says that one side seems right until the other comes and tests it. So when people are unwilling to share the reasons for why they believe what they believe, we can use questions to point out to them that their ideas are untested – that they believe what they believe, not because they have weighed both sides, but only because someone told them what to believe. (Warning: there is some bleeped out language) School shootings: the cause and cure Ray Comfort's new 20-minute movie is worth watching for the first few minutes alone. Comfort interviews young people and asks them if they can call a school shooter evil...and they can't! Our culture doesn't want to condemn evil because then they would have to own up to their own. But God's law is written on their hearts... ...
Are young people the loneliest generation?
In our ever more connected age, somehow loneliness seems to be growing. Earlier this year the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, appointed a “minister of loneliness” to address the situation. And this past month a study on loneliness among Americans found loneliness a particular problem among youth – those aged 18 to 22 felt far more isolated than those aged 72 and over. On the study’s 80-point scale, anything at a 43 and up was considered lonely. Generation Z, 18 to 22 year olds, scored an overall average score of 48.3. This compared to a 38.6 for the “Greatest Generation” of 72 and over. So why would young people feel lonelier than their grandparents and great grandparents? Might it be due to social media, with young people perhaps making more Facebook “friends” than real friends? That could be a part of it. Heavy users of social media did score higher/were a bit lonelier than those who never used social media. But the difference was only 2 points, and not enough to explain the nearly 10-point gap between youth and their grandparents. Another possibility? The study found those who lacked regular “meaningful in-person social interactions” were far lonelier. So social media is part of the explanation, but perhaps some of it is also the constant stream of trivialities occupying youth (and many of their parents too): video game marathons, clip after YouTube clip, constant texting, endless sport commitments, Netflix-binging, and keeping up with the latest love interest of this musician or that actor/royal/celebrity famous for being famous. Constant, quick, shallow engagement doesn’t leave a lot of time for the slower, deeper, more meaningful exchanges. Loneliness happens in the Church too, and often times for the same reasons. We may have the opportunity for social interaction – there are a lot of people in our churches – but that doesn’t automatically mean those interactions are going to be of the meaningful sort. Christians also put on masks – for public viewing it’s tempting to play the part of the always-perfect parent, ever-supportive spouse, or trouble-free son or daughter. We’re good at shooting the breeze, talking sports and the weather. It’s easy to have a ten-minute conversation after church that’s about nothing at all. God has a prescription of sorts for a more meaningful conversation. He wants older men and women mentoring their younger counterparts (Titus 2). And He wants parents and grandparents to talk about how God has worked in their lives. David puts it this way: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4). Of course, there’s a bad way this can be done. When we’re older, we sometimes find ourselves amazed when a young fellow or lass is willing to listen to what we have to say…so we try to squeeze every last bit of wisdom in that we can. And we don’t let them get a word in edge-wise. But relationships aren’t built via one-way communication – to be a help to the next generation we have to care enough about them to ask them about their interests, struggles and joys. Young people, you have a role in this too. God wants you seeking wisdom from your elders (Prov. 3:1). If they aren’t coming to you, it might be because they can’t imagine the younger generation really wanting to get to know them and learn from them. So, approach them after church. Introduce yourself. Ask yourself over for coffee sometime. Ask questions. Grab hold of that wisdom with both hands. There is more to relationships than simply sharing our joys, sharing the good God has done us. As David models in Psalm 3, 6, 25, and others, it also involves letting others know about our struggles. Finding a group of people you can trust and count on and “be real” with can be a hard. But is worth pursuing. God has given us the communion of saints for a reason – He knows what we need, and He has given us each other....