Donald Trump, G.K. Chesterton, and the 10,000 Commandments
During his campaign, Donald Trump promised he would get rid of two regulations for every one that he added. Why make such a pledge? Because regulations come with all sorts of compliance costs. How many lawyers and accountants does it take to help businesses comply with tax regulations? Safety regulations might require a business to buy bright yellow vests for their employees, and that’s a compliance cost too. Then there are also required certifications, and training, and it all adds up.
In fact, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) – an American free market think tank – estimates federal regulations (this doesn’t even include state or city regulations) cost US taxpayers $1.9 trillion annually as of 2017. That works out to $15,000 each year for the average American household.
In this year’s edition of their annual regulations report “Ten Thousand Commandments 2018” the CEI gave Trump credit for reducing some regulations. But they figured it amounted to bumping the metaphorical 10,000 in their title down to 9,999.
This secular think tank has picked an intriguing title for their regulation report. “Ten Thousand Commandments” seems to be a reference to a very religious statement attributed to G.K. Chesterton:
“If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.”
Chesterton’s point? When a culture rejects God and His call for self-control and self-regulation, the State steps in, trying to replace Him and his Law. But they do a muck of both. When everyone is looking out for number one, and isn’t trying to reflect God, or look out for his neighbor’s interests, then instead of compassion and care, we will have to have regulation and legislation.
So how then should Christians view regulations in a godless culture? As a sometimes necessary evil. They are costly, but there is a reason for many of them. However, in the midst of 1,000-page healthcare bills and 500-page omnibus budgets, we can be sure they are sometimes a very unnecessary evil too. Whittling them down isn't going to impact the country's spiritual health – no matter how successful his efforts, Donald Trump isn't going to take the US from Ten Thousand to just Ten Commandments. But with this type of effort many countries could have a positive impact on their material wealth.
Saturday Selections - May 12, 2018
5 questions to ask a book before you read it Tim Challies lists 5 questions to "help you filter the few books you will read from the thousands you�...
U2 shows us how love can hurt
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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 creationi...
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....
When a gay couple wants you to help them celebrate sin
Back in 2012, an American couple that rented out their barn for weddings ran into trouble when two ladies wanted to reserve it for a gay “marriage” ceremony. Cynthia and Robert Gifford, both Catholic, refused – they didn’t want their farm used to celebrate what God condemns. The lesbian couple lodged an official complaint, and the New York Division of Human Rights ruled in their favor, fining the Giffords a total of $13,000 for their refusal. Two years later New York’s Supreme Court Appellate Division upheld the ruling. The appeals judge, Karen Peters, said that the Giffords could “profess their religious beliefs that same-sex couples should not marry,” but as long as they allowed heterosexual couples to use their farm, they had to let same-sex couples do so too. The “perfect solution”? So what could the Giffords do? A March 23 Faithwire.com article detailed the couple’s response. They are continuing to rent out their barn and farm, but on their website they’ve announced that a portion of the proceeds from any wedding will be donated to support traditional marriage. The notice reads: At Liberty Ridge Farm, our deeply held religious belief is that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the Farm is operated with the purpose of strengthening and promoting marriage. In furtherance of this purpose and to honor and promote our moral and religious beliefs, we donate a portion of our business proceeds to organizations that promote strong marriages such as the Family Research Council. The couple’s response got a couple of media outlets quite excited, with Faithwire’s Will Maule suggesting they “may have just solved the gay marriage dilemma” and The DailyWire’s Hank Berrien describing it as the “perfect solution.” This, they thought, was the way forward for Christian wedding cake bakers, and wedding photographers, and wedding venue owners. By declaring their support for traditional marriage, the Giffords are sure to dissuade many gay couples from even considering their farm. And the activist sorts who want to push the issue and rent it anyway? Well, if they know that using the Giffords' barn means, in effect, making a donation to the conservative Christian lobby group, the Family Research Council, that might just dissuade them too. This would seem an approach that Christian wedding photographers, and wedding cake makers, and more, could readily imitate. But it is it really the perfect solution? On the very same webpage the Giffords promise that all “couples legally permitted to marry in the state of New York are welcome to hold their wedding at Liberty Ridge Farm. We serve everyone equally.” This statement is probably a requirement from the judgment against them, but it would seem to concede too much. On the one hand the Giffords are speaking up for traditional marriage, but on the other, they are promising to host and help with same-sex “marriages.” This is a muddled message. Still, is there something that we can be inspired by here, and perhaps improve on? Shrewd and innocent In Matthew 10:16 Jesus told his disciples that in their dealings with the world, they should be shrewd and innocent: I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. The Giffords’ approach is certainly shrewd. It seems sure to decrease and maybe even eliminate the requests they might otherwise get from homosexual couples. What might be missing in the Giffords’ approach is the “innocent as doves” part. When Christians oppose gay “marriage” we’re not going to be portrayed as innocent doves, but as bullying bigots – we’re going to be accused of simply hating those who are different. That’s why it’s important we explain ourselves. And it’s just as important that our motivations be truly godly. We can applaud the Giffords for their desire to stand up for traditional marriage but if we’re going to build on what they’ve done, we shouldn’t overlook where there is room for improvement. In their explanation, they speak of honoring and promoting their “moral and religious beliefs.” They also speak of traditional marriage as being a “deeply held religious belief.” Something is missing here. Or, rather, Someone. We don’t oppose gay “marriage” because of our deeply held religious beliefs. We oppose it because God made us male and female (Gen. 1:27), and because a man is to leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). We oppose gay “marriage” because that is not how God intended marriage to be. We oppose it because we know that homosexuality is a sin, and that unrepentant sin separates a person from God. We oppose it, because if we love our gay neighbor then we want them to know that a commitment to continuing to live this sinful lifestyle “until death do us part” is a commitment to rebellion against God. It sets them on the road to hell. That’s why we can’t help them celebrate. Out of concern for the couple themselves, we don’t want any part in these ceremonies – we know it’s going to harm them! Of course, a reporter from the 6 o’clock news isn’t going to give us the time and space to communicate our concerns. But when it comes to our own websites, we have all the time and space we might need, so let’s spell it out there, with clarity and love. “Ewww!” is not an option To be clear, this isn’t simply about finding the right words, so we can say just the right thing. This is about living out the love God calls us to. If we’re saying we oppose gay “marriage” out of concern for the salvation of homosexuals, but we don’t actually feel that in our hearts, it’s going to come out. We can’t be a light to the world, if we’re faking it. So if we’re not feeling concern for them, then, before anything else, we need to ask God to work on our hearts, and to help us better love our neighbor as ourselves. Conclusion While the Giffords’ approach is shrewd, it’s also more than a little confusing. That’s in large part because, even as they are conceding they will host gay “marriages” but don’t want to, they don’t make it clear why they are opposed. Christians still have the freedom to speak our beliefs, including what we know to be true about marriage and homosexuality. What would happen if all the Christian wedding cake bakers, and wedding photographers, and wedding venue owners did so? What would happen if we all stated our concerns that these sinful commitments separate the couple from God? And what if we stated that, if a gay couple uses the law to compel us to be a part of their ceremony, then we are going to donate all funds to homosexual outreach so we can express these concerns to many more? Is that a stance we can, in good conscience, take? Or does it concede too much? Might there be another better way for us to be both clever and clear? If it’s not clear just yet what exactly the “perfect solution” is, this much is clear: Christians need to explain our opposition to gay “marriage” with clarity and charity. Our opposition isn’t first and foremost because it undermines traditional marriage, or because it offends our “deeply held religious beliefs.” We oppose gay “marriage” because it is a commitment to life-long rebellion against the one true and holy God, and if the couple keeps to that commitment, then they are going to hell. That’s the clarity. And the charity is in expressing that in all sincerity, and with genuine concern....
“Non-binary” fellow takes on feminist law
In mid March news broke of yet another “first,” this time in an Oregon county where Venn Sage Wylde, a “non-binary candidate” – a man who doesn’t want to be identified as a male or female – is running for the position of “Precinct Committee Person.” The interesting wrinkle here is that, by state law, these positions are to be filled with an equal number of men and women. Why? This type of law is typically meant to increase the participation of women in politics and based on a feminist ideology that declares women and men to be identical, both in interests and abilities. So the lower number of women in politics is understood as being irrefutable proof of discrimination – what other explanation could there be? – which such a law is then brought in to correct. Of course, this sort of feminist thinking ignores the possibility that men and women might actually be different. It denies that God, in making us male and female, gave us different roles, and different abilities, and might even have given us different priorities. Could it be that more women than men find politics noxious and unattractive? Feminists deny that’s even a possibility. However, there is one gender difference feminists will tout: they say women are uniquely oppressed. So, again, that’s why we need “corrective” laws like this one. But what happens when a feminist law is protested by a “non-binary” fellow? Venn Sage Wylde has previously been elected a “Precinct Committee Man,” but earlier this year he went to the courts and had the State officially affirm his non-binary claim. Then, when he decided to run for a “gendered” position, that left the State with a problem. However, it turns out Multnomah County is nothing if not quick to appease. They immediately granted Wylde his wish and created a ballot with three offices: Precinct Committee Man Precinct Committee Woman Precinct Committee Person What’s unclear is how this can possibly work. Originally there was supposed to be one man and one woman elected for every 500 electors. Is there now going to be one man, one woman, and one “person” for every 500? Is this 50/50 split going to now be a 33/33/33 division? And how are they going to deal with the fact that while there are roughly as many women as men in the world, there are nowhere near as many folks claiming to be non-binary? There’s only one possible way forward: Oregon is going to be forced to eliminate their gender-based requirements. When that happens, it’ll mean that God has used a “non-binary” fellow to frustrate feminists’ ambitions; He’ll have used one rebel to correct another....
Glenn Beck on Stephen Hawking (1942-2018): When almost right is completely wrong
When renown theoretical-physicist and atheist Stephen Hawking, 76, passed away March 14, it made headlines around the world. He was probably the world’s best known scientist, his fame due in part to his 10-million copy bestseller A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. He was also known for his decades-long battle with ALS that confined him to a wheelchair and took his ability to speak, forcing him to communicate via a distinct computer-generated voice. In a tribute to the man, radio talk show host Glenn Beck addressed how the world doesn’t properly value the disabled: “Stephen Hawking is a prime example that all life is precious and has meaning. How would Margret Sanger or George Bernard Shaw view Stephen Hawking? They would say he didn’t have any quality of life. They would say he was disabled and therefore a burden on society. They would say he was worthless. “All of those sentiments are untrue. The world is a better place because Stephen Hawking chose to live his life to the fullest despite his crippling disease. He leaves behind a loving wife, three children and a legacy unmatched by many. Agree with him or not, he challenged our perception of the universe. But more than that, he showed us that no one can define your life except you. You are the master of your own world.” As a Mormon, Beck speaks from a generally Judeo-Christian perspective, and thus often defends the disabled. But while his sentiments here are right, his argument is wrong. In its push for euthanasia and abortion, the world argues that life is worth living only so long as we can be productive. Thus they justify euthanasia as the best end to a person’s life who, due to age, has become infirm. Similarly, the world touts abortion as the best “treatment” for unborn children with Down syndrome; since their disability will limit what they can do, their lives are not valued. To put it in more formal terms the world argues: If you can’t do much then your life isn’t worth much, And the disabled can’t do much; Therefore their lives aren’t worth much. Beck counters this argument by disputing the second premise: yes, Hawking was severely disabled but look at all he was able to accomplish! Some disabled people can do amazing things! This point is true enough. But in attacking only the second premise, Beck gives credence to the first. He acts as if the world is right: our lives are valuable only if we can do, and achieve, and accomplish. In granting this point, Beck is (albeit inadvertently) attacking the worth of any who are so severely disabled they can’t do much. Yes, some disabled people can make notable accomplishments…but what of those who cannot make decisions for themselves, can’t define their own lives, and are not the masters of their own world? Beck has lost sight of where our worth comes from. It isn’t found in what we can do, but instead is found in Who made us. We are all made in God’s Image, from the smallest unborn baby, to the most aged and infirm adult – this is why all lives are valuable and should be respected. This is also the only way in which we are all equal, and thus the only basis for equality. Beck was half right – many disabled people are able to accomplish notable things. But this is an example of how being half right is sometimes the same as being horribly wrong....
New Gerber “spokesbaby” has Down syndrome
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Leaving Frozen out in the cold?
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Billy Graham (1918-2018): The last of the Great Revivalists
Without a doubt, Billy Graham has had a huge role in shaping American Christianity. His death on February 21, 2018 signals the passing of an era. American revivalism was a movement of spiritual wakening that began in the 1700s with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. It carried on with celebrity preachers like Billy Sunday and Dwight Moody – but it really reached both its climax and end with Billy Graham. Reformed roots, but Arminian He was born and raised in a Christian home. His parents were members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. His wife Ruth was also a Presbyterian. He dates his conversion to 1934, when he was sixteen years old. Billy Graham says his conversion happened during an evangelistic campaign. Before he became a full-time evangelist, he served as a pastor of two churches and was also the president of a Bible College. By this time, he was a member of the Southern Baptist Church. Many Southern Baptists are monergistic in their doctrine of salvation (believing that salvation not a cooperative act between the Lord and Man, but rather the work of God alone) but sadly, Billy Graham was not. Let’s be up front with this fact: Billy Graham was an Arminian. The “Statement of Faith” of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association signals this clearly when it says: “…repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ results in regeneration by the Holy Spirit.” Rather than regeneration resulting in faith (the biblical view found in Reformed theology), the BGEA says faith results in regeneration. First you believe (using your free will) and then you are born again. Regeneration follows faith, rather than preceding it. That’s Arminianism and it was also evident in Graham’s 1977 book, How to be Born Again. Ever since that book was published, Reformed critics have pointed out that you can’t lay out steps for people to follow to be born again – regeneration is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit who works this, as the Canons of Dort say, “in us without us” (CoD 3-4.12). Telling someone how to be born again is just as absurd as telling a baby in the womb how to be born. Preached to millions Graham began doing evangelistic work in about 1944. The first few years were spent in obscurity in the United States and England. But this changed dramatically in 1949. It happened in Los Angeles where Graham was doing a series of revival meetings. William Randolph Hearst was the head of an American newspaper chain. Somehow word about Graham reached him. He liked what he heard. Graham was patriotic and young people were attracted to him. Hearst was also an American patriot, and because this was the time of the Cold War, he was deeply concerned about the communist threat from the Soviet Union. He saw Graham as a figure who would encourage and support American values. Graham could be helpful in shielding America from the Soviet Union’s plans to dominate the world. Hearst sent a two-word telegram to all his newspapers to “puff Graham.” And they did. Newspapers all over the United States were covering Graham’s crusade in Los Angeles. He soon appeared on the cover of leading American news magazines. His crusade in Los Angeles was planned for three weeks, but because of the news coverage, Graham extended it to eight. And this is where the story of Billy Graham’s celebrity status begins. In 1950, he started the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Association started organizing crusades around the world. It also started a radio broadcast called “The Hour of Decision,” and eventually that led to his appearance on television as well. When I was a boy, I can remember watching the Billy Graham crusades on television sometimes. I grew up in a church of Dutch immigrants and I wasn’t used to hearing a preacher without a Dutch accent. He preached clearly. He often had a Bible in his hand, and he seemed to be preaching about what the Bible says. Billy Graham was a skilled communicator. He was simply a preacher, a man who preached with sincerity and seriousness. Over the years, Graham did over 400 crusades in 185 countries. His largest event ever was in Seoul, South Korea in 1986 where one million people attended a single crusade evening. His last crusade was in 2005. Through television and radio, he has preached to millions of people. Consider this fact: more people have heard Billy Graham preach than any other single preacher in the history of the world. That’s amazing. Minimized key doctrinal differences So what were some of the features of Billy Graham’s revival ministry? He preached for individual decisions for Christ. Following in the footsteps of revivalists before him, public relations campaigns were crucial. So was getting the sponsorship of local churches. Graham also made efforts to involve churches by having them send volunteers for his crusades. They would work as counsellors and in other capacities. Local churches would also be involved with follow-up. Billy Graham wanted to make sure that the people who made decisions would be contacted by local churches soon afterwards. Graham even said this was the most important aspect of his work. This became controversial in the late 1950s because of who he was working with. He worked with evangelical churches, but he also worked with the large mainline churches that were friendly to liberal theology. Converts from his crusades would be directed to become members of these liberal gospel-denying churches. That caused many fundamentalist Christians to become angry with Graham. Eventually Billy Graham even came to cooperate with Roman Catholic Churches. If someone would come to a crusade and make a decision and identify as a Roman Catholic, then they would be directed back to the Roman Catholic Church for spiritual care. Billy Graham was surprisingly open to Roman Catholicism. At one point he said, “I have no quarrel with the Catholic Church.” In another place, he said, “I feel I belong to all the churches. I am equally at home in an Anglican or Baptist or a Brethren assembly or a Roman Catholic Church.” He was invited to worship alongside Pope John Paul II at a service in South Carolina in 1987, and he would have if not for an unexpected invitation to China. Doctrinal differences were minimized and became irrelevant. Carrying on the tradition of previous revivalists like Dwight Moody, another important feature of the Billy Graham crusades was the music. Especially at the “moment of decision,” it was important to have the right music played and sung by skilled musicians. Billy Graham had a long-standing relationship with George Beverly Shea. Shea began working with Graham in 1947. Shea would sing a solo before Graham gave his message. That was to prepare the crowd to receive his words. After the message, however, Shea turned the singing over to the choir. They would sing the well-known hymn “Just As I Am” and people would be invited to come forward and make their decision. The music set the mood. The end of an era Billy Graham retired from active ministry in 2006. Since then, there hasn’t really been anyone to replace him in American revivalistic evangelism. His son Franklin has done some crusades, but he’s not as popular as his father was. The phenomenon of revivalism appears to have run its course. Revivals as big events with preaching and music can hardly compete with television, movies, and the Internet. With Graham’s death, the era of American revivalism definitely seems to have drawn to a close. End note All of this is from Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided, 68-69. This post is reprinted with permission from Dr. Bredenhof's blog, Yinkahdinay. The picture is from Shutterstock.com. __________________________ Quotes by and on Graham Fighting segregation “Millions of people were intensely charged over segregation, and any preacher defying the color line in the South in the 1950s was exposing himself to physical harm and even death….The story is told… of how at one of his early 1950s crusades, Graham asked the head usher to take down the ropes used to segregate blacks from whites. The usher refused. So Graham walked down off the platform and took down the ropes himself. I don’t care what you say, that’s courage right there.” - Dr. Joel McDurmon On staying free of scandal "We all knew of evangelists who had fallen into immorality while separated from their families by travel. We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion. From that day on, I did not travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than my wife. We determined that the Apostle Paul’s mandate to the young pastor Timothy would be ours as well: “Flee … youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 1:22, KJV)." - Billy Graham on what would come to be known as the “Billy Graham rule” that he and his ministry team crafted back in 1948 in Modesto, California. On death "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God." - Billy Graham, adapting a quote from D.L. Moody...
Feminists vs. transgenders? Why the Left is turning on itself.
In Judges 7 Israel is faced with a fearsome foe, and God decides to use that foe's strength against it. Gideon and his 300 get to watch as "the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army." Might God have something similar in mind for today's liberal Left? Consider the case of Gabrielle Bouchard. This past December, Bouchard made news, and drew the ire of a small number of vocal feminists, when he became head of Québec’s largest feminist group. Bouchard is a man who identifies as a woman, and the group he now heads, the Fédération des Femmes du Québec (FFQ) has the typical feminist stands: abortion is good, capitalism is exploitive, the patriarchy is evil. It's on this last point – men running too much of the world - that the FFQ is getting attacked. Diane Guilbault, the head of a rival feminist group, told the National Post that she doesn't appreciate a man being in charge of a feminist group because: “the experience of a woman who is born a woman is completely different from the experience of a man who decides one day to present himself as a woman.” While the protest against Bouchard has been limited, it has garnered some favorable coverage from a mainstream press that isn’t sure which side they should pick when one leftwing group takes on another. A month earlier a similar sort of conflict occurred south of the border. An American white man, Ja Du, publicly identified as a Filipina woman and the mainstream press didn’t know how to handle that either. The liberal Huffington Post decided to accept he was a woman, but wasn’t yet ready to do the same for his transracial claims. Their headline read: “Filipinos aren’t happy with this white woman claiming to be a Filipina.” Their hesitancy is puzzling: once you grant a man can become a woman, what logic prevents us from acknowledging a white man can become an Asian woman? Why is that a bigger leap? Of course we knew it wasn't going to be long before "transracialism" was going to be embraced too, and this past week the National Post's Barbara Kay reported that the State of Delaware is going to allow students to self-identify not only their gender, but their race too. But the more the Left embraces this craziness, the sooner the infighting is going to get serious. The conflicts we see here – one feminist group vs. the transgender head of another, and the liberal media picking transgenders over transracials – might not seem to matter. But the problems these groups have with one another are only going to grow. Why? Because at their core, feminist, transgender, and transracial views contradict. And it's only a matter of time before these unnatural allies turn on one another. Are the differences real or not? The divide between feminists and transgenders comes down to how each answers this question: are the differences between the sexes real? The typical feminist is going to answer with a "no." They'll acknowledge reproductive differences only because those are impossible to overlook. But when asked why there are far fewer female CEOs, or why the overall average wage for women is lower than that for men, the standard feminist line attributes the difference to discrimination. It is most certainly not a result of men and women having different interests, or different strengths and capabilities – after all, anything a man can do a woman can do too! To put it another way, the predominant feminist take is that the differences between men and women are only outward and insignificant - we look different, but we aren't actually different. Meanwhile when a man like Gabrielle Bouchard claims that, despite how he looks, he feels like a woman then he is, unavoidably, attacking the feminist position. After all, he's implying that there is something, outside of the outward appearance, that makes a woman different than a man. In making his claim to be the other gender, Bouchard is acknowledging that there are differences between the genders that are both real and significant. What exactly those differences are, isn't generally discussed. That's where Christians need to press the issue and ask: what does it mean to feel like a woman? What does that feeling involve? Imagine if a man said he knew he was actually a woman because he felt more sensitive and emotional, liked dresses and the color pink, and felt so very nurturing. What would feminists think of that? It doesn't really matter what differences a transgender might point to, feminists are going to either deny the differences are real, or that they are important. So we can see the rupture already starting. We can tear it wide open if we press that question: what exactly does being female or male mean? Are the groups fixed or not? When it comes to transracialism, it might seem surprising that even a liberal-leaning publication like the Huffington Post is slow to embrace the idea. Why would any on the Left have a problem with accepting that a person can swap ethnic identities? Maybe it's because, on some level, the Left understands that transracialism (along with transgenderism) undermines identity politics: minority groups pressing for preferential treatment to compensate for past wrongs (real or supposed) done to their group. After all, what happens to identity politics when it becomes possible to switch groups? What happens to demands for preferential treatment when a white man can be acknowledged as black and female? What happens to hiring quotas when an applicant can choose to identify as whatever combination of special identities a company is looking to check off? It becomes hard to pit one group against another when the lines between them are being erased. The tipping point Christians might be discouraged at just how fast our culture is embracing ideas that, only a few short years ago, would have been dismissed as crazy by just about everyone. But there is a bright side to the speed at which the Left is adopting one incoherent idea after another: the more craziness they stack on their shaky foundation, the sooner the whole mess is going to tip over. We can hasten that tipping point by asking questions that highlight that incoherence, like: Are the differences between the genders real and significant? What does it mean to feel like a woman, or feel like a man? What does it mean to be of a different race? And if I can be a different race, can I be a different age? Or a different height? How about a different weight? Or socio-economic status? Why, or why not? We can also point our culture to the one worldview that's built on a firm foundation. We can begin by teaching them that God made us male and female, and that can't be changed (though our feelings about our gender can be). We can share that gender-based differences do exist and they are significant, but they aren't scary, and don't have to be ignored or diminished. We can explain that acknowledging men are physically stronger than women isn't an attack on women's worth, because our worth doesn't come from our muscle size, or any other ability. We can point out that there is only one way in which we are all equal, and so, only one basis for any claim to equality: we are all made in God's image. We can clarify that while there are all sorts of ethnicities and cultures, there is just one race – the human race – and the denial of that truth has led to untold discrimination and persecution. And we can explain that the reason this all makes sense in a way that their secular worldview just doesn't, is because it is God's truth, and it is trustworthy because He is. Ryan T. Anderson has a similar, longer take, titled "Transgender ideology is riddled with contradictions. Here are the big ones." available here....
Saturday Selections - Feb 10, 2018
What does a kind husband look like? Some thoughts on the lies that husbands can tell about God in the way they treat their wives, and five characteristics of a kind husband. On costly grace... Rachel Denhollander made news around the world for the words of condemnation and grace she offered at the trial of Larry Nassar, her abuser. In both instances she pointed Nassar to God: how he stands utterly condemned before a wrathful and just God who will mete out what Nassar deserves, but that should Nassar ever truly face and be crushed by the evil he has done, he can experience the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. ...and an inwardly blind Church David Murray reflects on an aspect of the Rachel Denhollander account that didn't receive much coverage - how she noted that her advocacy for sexually abused victims had the result that she "lost her church." She argued that, due to poor theology, much of the conservative Christian church is not able to see the evil happening within its own doors. Euthanasia decision raises question of the purpose behind health regulations The government doesn't allow just anyone to call themselves a doctor, and the reason for that regulative restriction was supposed to be safety – we don't want just anyone performing surgery. But if medical regulations used to be about keeping out the dangerous, they are now being used to keep out the disagreeing. Disagree with the government on euthanasia and they'll use their regulations to exclude you from practicing medicine. No matter than you aren't even a bit dangerous. Understanding Gov't with a biblical understanding of human nature On why government has to be limited.... More on Chip and Joanna Gaines and whether they're wrecking the earth Overpopulation proponents are worried about having too many people on the planet. That's why Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines encountered criticism when they announced they were pregnant with child #5. But as E. Calvin Beisner explains, this criticism is baseless for biblical and empirical reasons....
26-year-old woman gives birth to 25-year-old girl
We start counting our age from the day of our birth, but if we think on that for a moment we realize that’s not, technically, accurate. Life begins at conception, not birth, so most of us are nine months older than we’ve been owning up to. But in the case of little Emma Gibson, the difference between conception and birth wasn't nine months, it was just over 24 years. When she was born this past November, she was already 25 years old because Emma had been conceived, via in vitro fertilization (IVF), back in 1992. And at that time her adoptive mother, Tina Gibson, was just 18 months old. Since 1992 Emma had been left in frozen storage. As WORLD magazine’s Jamie Dean reported, Emma isn’t the only child that’s been left waiting. At least 600,000 embryos sit frozen in storage facilities across the United States, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Some reproductive experts believe the number is closer to 1 million. Canadian estimates are hard to come by, but a 2014 CBC article put the number at 60,000. To the world, these hundreds of thousands of embryos are a legal headache. While they don’t acknowledge them as human, they do seem to recognize there is something special about them, which is why so many of these children are not being destroyed but being indefinitely stored, without plans as for what to do with them. Emma’s rescue underscores the opportunity Christian couples have to save embryonic children via what’s called “snowflake adoption" – a frozen embryo can be thawed, and if it survives that thawing, can then be implanted in its adopted mother’s womb and, hopefully, carried to term. But even as Christians are involved in rescuing children from this frozen state, what should we think about IVF for our own infertility treatments? When couples struggle with infertility, IVF is presented as a near miraculous means to help them get the baby they’ve been yearning for. IVF is all about babies, and we’re pro-life, so we’re all about babies too! On the face of it, IVF would seem a life-affirming medical procedure. But there is a reason hundreds of thousands of children are left frozen, waiting to be born. IVF, as it is commonly done, involves the intentional creation of “excess” embryos – the creation of more children than will be implanted in their mother’s womb. That’s not how it has to be done, but that’s how it is done most of the time for reasons of cost effectiveness. These embryos then face one of four fates: Any that seem abnormal are, as a rule, “discarded” – British numbers indicate that this happens to roughly half the children. Some are implanted in the mother. A small number are donated to science for experimentation (where they are killed). The rest are left in a frozen state, waiting to be born. But unless something dramatic happens – unless “snowflake adoptions" start happening by the hundreds of thousands – the most likely fate for these children is eventual death. Christian couples struggling with infertility need to understand that the IVF industry offers hope, but has a great darkness to it. We don’t think of IVF doctors as abortionists, but when we recognize that life begins at conception then it’s no slur to make the comparison. Abortionists kill half their patients and it seems the same, or worse, can be said about IVF doctors too. So, of course, to rescue babies like Emma, we’ll need help from this IVF industry – there is a right way that IVF can be done. But we mustn’t be naïve about the darkness underlying this industry, lest, in our ignorance, we get caught up in it....
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...
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 is happening, even at Christian schools. God's creation big and small In this three-minute video we get a look at God’s creation on an unimaginably vast scale, and on an infinitesimally tiny scale too. Though the presentation is secular, it reveals His genius through and through. The damsel and villain The whole of history, in one 7-minute spoken word piece. Hope for the frozen unchosen What happens to the millions of babies who are created via IVF? As WORLD magazine reports, many (British numbers put it at more than half) never make it past conception – they are discarded as being abnormal. Some of the others will be implanted, but since the normal IVF practice involves conceiving many more embryos than will be implanted, "excess" children are discarded, or donated to science for medical experimentation, or, in most cases, left in a frozen state awaiting a yet undetermined fate. In the US there are somewhere between 600,000 and a million of these children frozen right now, and some Christians are working to provide these survivors a chance to be born. Free e-book: Scott Klusendorf's The Case for Life If you're willing to fill in a 10-minute survey on your Bible reading habits, Crossway books will give you a free e-book copy of Scott Klusendorf's fantastic pro-life "how-to" manual for defending the unborn. There's no such thing as a free education With the increasing push for free university education, the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics thinks it's important we understand how a free education's costs are considerable....
When marriage means only: "a way to avoid taxes"
Matt Murphy and Michael O’Sullivan are good friends – they’ve been friends for almost 30 years. They are also straight. And, as of the Dec. 22, according to the Irish government, they are husband and husband. The two decided to get “married” so that 85-year-old Murphy could pass on his house to the younger 58-year-old Sullivan, tax-free. As O’Sullivan explained the arrangement to Independent.ie: "I was homeless, sleeping in my car and needed someone to move into his home and take care of him. He was losing his sight and needed a full-time . He told me that he couldn't afford to pay me but said that I could live with him and he would give me his house when he passed away as payment.” The problem was, if Murphy simply deeded the house to O’Sullivan in his will, O’Sullivan would be faced with a €50,000 tax bill under Ireland’s inheritance tax. And since the formerly homeless O’Sullivan doesn’t seem to have a lot of money lying about, such a bill might well have forced him to sell the home to pay the taxes. And then he’d be homeless again. However, spouses seem to be exempt from this inheritance tax, and when the two straight men heard of this option they decided it only made sense to get “married.” There’s an obvious problem here, and another lurking underneath. Marriage becomes meaningless First up, we can see here that when God’s standards are abandoned, the State’s replacement has no foundation. Redefining marriage hasn’t left us with a different version of this institution, but only turned “marriage” into a meaningless term. As God defined it, marriage is a man and a woman becoming one flesh, for life. The State undermined the “for life” part with no-fault divorce, and the “man and woman” part by recognizing same-sex couplings. The act of homosexual sex makes a mockery of the “one flesh” part, and, in a different way, the Murphy/O’Sullivan “friendship marriage” does too. So what then are we left with? Marriage has been redefined to mean only “a means of tax-avoidance.” Death taxes are problematic Another problem lurking in the background of this story is the nature of the tax they are working so hard to avoid. Of course, taxes are never popular, but inheritance taxes are particularly problematic. How so? Well, consider the basis on which the State is taking in these taxes. Normally taxes are justified as a trade of sorts. We fund the government and in exchange we get benefits from that government, like policing, roads, healthcare, unemployment insurance, etc. But what services will Murphy get? None at all – the tax only kicks in after he has departed. It is something for nothing. Consider also that while elections give us a say in how taxes are used, an inheritance tax is “taxation without respiration.” A death tax is revenue without accountability, since (at least in most electoral districts) the dead don’t get to vote. This type of taxation also undermines property rights. Do we really own something if we can’t give it to whomever we wish? Murphy wants to give his home to his friend, but he can’t (or at least he can’t unless he resorts to these extreme measures). He can only given a portion of it, with the State demanding the rest. But Murphy’s wealth has already been taxed when he first earned it, so why isn’t the remainder – the after tax portion – now finally his to do with as he wishes? Finally, we should consider what such a tax encourages. If parents spends all their wealth and leave their children nothing, then the State is satisfied. But if parents save, and invest, and build a business that they want to hand on to the next generation, then the State demands a share. So such a tax encourages spending, and penalizes investing....
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....