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Christian education, Sexuality
The Sexual Revolution: a glaring gap in our kids’ education?
There is no series of historical events that have impacted every human being living in the West – and beyond – more than the Sexual Revolution. And yet, while many of us may be familiar with the term, few can explain what the Sexual Revolution really is and was.
Legal abortion; digital pornography everywhere; the LGBT movement; hookup culture; gender ideology; threats to religious freedom – all are either an aspect or a direct result of the Sexual Revolution. It has also shaped virtually everything that emanates from our screens, from popular TV sitcoms (which had a hand in mainstreaming revolutionary ideas) to mainstream Hollywood films, produced and directed by the revolution’s most powerful storytellers.
A sexualized West
We live, in short, in a culture that has been effectively conquered by a revolution we know very little about – because unlike the American or French Revolutions, our society was overthrown from within. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard noted:
“A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but a revolutionary age which is, at the same time, reflective and passionless leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance."
Those who brought about the Sexual Revolution did not attack government buildings – they initiated the “long march through the institutions,” eventually occupying powerful places of influence virtually everywhere.
When I arrived at university and lived on campus, I left a church community for what was, at first, a fundamentally foreign culture. For the most part, my peers had not consciously rejected the tenets of Christianity. Aside from traditional mentions of God at certain solemn occasions like Remembrance Day ceremonies, they had grown up in a world that was shaped, not by Christianity, but by the Sexual Revolution. So hookup culture was not simply uncontroversial, but standard. The idea that someone could actually oppose extramarital sex, or homosexuality, or pornography was for most of them simply weird. I had grown up shaped by the Christian community I was a part of; most of them had grown up in communities in which Christianity was a part of family history, a generation or two in the past.
Not treated like the pivotal event it was
At the Christian school I attended, I learned the history of the Bible; church history, and the great stories of the Reformation; the bloody history of the twentieth century, and of Canada’s great explorers and leaders of the past. Despite much insistence from some quarters that students do not learn about the injustice of the residential schools, I learned about those, too, as well as the history of a local Indigenous group (the Sto:lo).
But while we learned a little about the consequences of the Sexual Revolution – evils like abortion were covered in Bible class – we learned nothing about the Sexual Revolution as a historical event that had transformed and shaped the society we lived in, and that would impact nearly every aspect of our lives not only on campus, but beyond.
For many people, the study of history can seem tedious or useless. But if we wish to understand the cultural moment we find pressing in all around us, an understanding of the history of the Sexual Revolution is absolutely essential. The ideologies of the Sexual Revolution now form the basis of nearly every field of study in academia, and Christian university students often have no idea that what they are learning in education, law, psychology, or anthropology is actually based on the work of ideologues such as Margaret Mead or Dr. Alfred Kinsey. They will almost certainly hear arguments made against Christianity based on revolutionary research and junk science. To know the history of the Sexual Revolution is to have an invaluable context for what is taught in secular universities, and to possess a greater confidence in the Christian worldview.
Then the lightbulbs go off
Each summer at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, I teach a course on the culture wars to dozens of university students and high schoolers. Every time, as I’m speaking, I see shock and realization spread across their faces as many of the things they have been taught click into place. “That makes so much sense!” they tell me. And when the summer ends and they head back to their places of learning, I get messages throughout the year:
“One of my fellow students is citing the Kinsey Reports to attack the Christian view of sexuality. Can you email me the titles of some of your sources?”
“Thank you so much for your course this summer. It helped me understand everything my prof was saying in my mandatory sexuality course!”
These students, armed with the historical and cultural context necessary to understand what they were being taught, were thus prepared to defend their own worldview. In academic institutions often openly hostile to Christian belief, this context provides an invaluable confidence.
3 resources to help us understand
As revolutionary ideas spread even into many religious institutions, this history becomes even more essential to understand. As George Orwell once noted: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Unfortunately, the Sexual Revolution is as much a part of American or Canadian history as World War II or the Cold War – and its daily, real-world impact is more keenly seen and felt.
I believe that for students to be forewarned and forearmed, they should be taught this history before they enter university. There are an increasing number of valuable resources available. For higher grades, Carl Trueman’s Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution is a valuable analysis of the intellectual forces that brought this revolution about; Gabriele Kuby’s The Global Sexual Revolution is an important worldwide view; I attempt to explain how our current society came about in my own 2016 book, The Culture War.
The material is, of course, difficult – but considering the state of our culture, I do not think age 16 is too young to begin preparing. Increasingly, people are not rejecting Christianity because they do not believe in the historicity of the Resurrection or because they find theism intellectually challenging. They are rejecting Christianity because they believe that biblical standards are cruel and that God is loveless. To understand that, we must understand the history of the Sexual Revolution.
Jonathon Van Maren blogs at TheBridgehead.ca.
Saturday Selections – Dec. 31, 2022
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Saturday Selections – Dec. 24, 2022
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In a Nutshell
Tidbits – December 2022
Just ain’t the same “Watching church on a livestream is like watching a fireplace on TV: you can see everything with no warmth.” – Charlie Kirk Patriotism vs. nationalism: a useful distinction? In their column, “Should Christians be nationalists?” John Stonestreet and Timothy Padgett noted that the term “Christian nationalism” is being used by different people in very different ways. Some see it as “conflating the cross of Christ with the stars and stripes” while others equate it to white racism “dressed up in religious garb.” Still others, Reformed folk among them, are using the term to stake a claim for Christianity in the civic public square – they’d say they are simply denying that Christianity is something people should practice only in private, and that so long as we have nations,, we should seek for them to be Christian ones. When a term is being used to describe ideologies that range from the outrageous to the orthodox, that's more than a little confusing. So might it be useful to find an alternative? Sometimes we do have to fight for a term, like “marriage” and “woman,” because they have God-given definitions. Attempts to redefine here are rebellion against God, and the reality He has crafted. But not every word has to be a battleground; it's okay to never take back "gay." Of course, we shouldn't be naive about the fact that whatever terms we use, they'll be attacked too. We might not think of the dictionary as a key front in the culture wars, but the Devil is all about twisting definitions whether it's love, tolerance, family, and more. Thus, that a word is being twisted, isn't a reason to give up on it. But does the term “nationalism” have the same sort of importance? And might its historical associations with the Nazis (national socialists that they were) be reason enough to let this one go? I’m going to pitch patriotism and Christian patriotism as alternatives. They can and will be twisted too, but there is at least a little history that has already made a distinction between patriotism, and the nasty sort of nationalism. "’My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’" – G.K. Chesterton, in The Defendant “Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.” – attributed to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn “Patriotism isn't the same as nationalism. The former is a healthy love and respect for your country, but the latter is blind, total, and unrestricted support for any and all legislation, policies, or activities of a nation. Nationalism is the extreme, whereas patriotism is the goal, because good patriots know when to challenge their political leaders, laws, and policies when they become unjust or immoral.” – Fr. John Triglio Jr. and Fr. Kenneth Brighenti So, is it wrong to use the term “Christian nationalism”? No, but I am questioning whether it is smart. And the suggestion I’m making is that at this time and in this place, patriotism might be the less confusing term. Dad joke refresher There's a lot of pressure being a dad, first and foremost the expectation that we'll always have a joke at the ready. So dads, here's a helping hand, with some jokes worthy of you. Did you realize that incorrectly when spelled correctly is still spelled incorrectly? What has four letters, sometimes has nine, never has five, but always has six. Did you know that adding "ic" turns metal into its adjective metallic, but it doesn't work for iron? Isn't that ironic? If April showers bring may flowers, do you know what May flowers bring? Pilgrims! Did you hear I got a job offer to teach an English class in prison? Now I just have to consider the prose and cons. Did you ever read that, back in his day, the ladies thought that Samuel Morse was a dashing young man? My son asked me for a book mark. I told him, "Surely. Here's The Hobbit, and my name's Brian." He replied, "Thanks dad, but don't call me Shirley." I'm so proud. SOURCE: Hat tip to Al Siebring who was a source for some, and an inspiration for all, of these! A story you may have heard Garrison Keillor once told a story of a Saudi prince who badly needed a transfusion, but was of such a rare blood type that he was having trouble finding a match anywhere in the world. His doctors finally found a willing Dutch-Canadian who would do. (Keillor says it was a Scotsman, but I have a reliable source who says otherwise.) Grateful for this lifesaving gift, the Saudi prince bought the Dutchman a house on a hill overlooking the Fraser Valley and gave him a million dollars. But it wasn’t long before the prince needed another pint. This time he gave the man a bottle of Advocaat and a thank-you card. Because now he had Dutch blood in him. SOURCE: Adapted from Garrison Keillor, as told on “A Prairie Home Companion.” And with a hat tip to Sharon Bratcher Pro-life memes traveling the ‘Net Even since the overturn, earlier this year, of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade US Supreme Court decision that had legalized abortion in that country, pro-lifers have gotten a lot louder. And it is wonderful! Here are a few of the highlights We are unashamed of our narrow-minded opposition to killing human beings Killing a person on the basis of their size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency is as arbitrary and immoral as killing a person on the basis of their skin color. Our society hasn’t progressed. We’ve just shifted our violence to a more vulnerable victim. “Abortion is not health care because pregnancy is not a disease.” – Dr. Haywood Robinson, former abortionist “If abortion is healthcare, slavery is job creation.” – Darrell B. Harrison Death is not a solution to foster care. Death is not a solution to abuse. Death is not a solution to rape. Death is not a solution to being unloved. Death is not a solution to suffering. Killing a child in the womb because they have the potential to suffer is not compassion A deeper pro-life proof “Abortion is a Christological heresy too. It would posit that Christ, in the womb, was at some point fully God but not fully human…” – “G.K. Chesterposting” on Twitter When the Church marries the science of the day “Moderns have been taught to regard the Galileo battle as a battle between faith and science. And science won out, three cheers, yay! Because the bigoted theologians were sticking to their guns and they wouldn’t listen to Galileo who was the purveyor of new knowledge, new wisdom. “But it was actually a clash between the old science and the new science. So the problem that the Church faced was that the people who were resistant to Galileo were churchmen who married their theology to Aristotle. They had married the teaching of the Bible to the best science of the day when they were going through seminary. And then Galileo came along disruptively. The lesson urged upon us is, always believe science over faith. But the lesson ought to be actually, don’t let your faith get co-opted by the current science because he who marries the science of the day is going to be a widow tomorrow.” – Douglas Wilson Dec. 1, on The Renaissance of Men podcast https://youtu.be/kT8Vrz96RFc A business tip for parents In his business The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni has some advice that I thought my kids should hear. I read them a bit on what Lencioni called the fundamental attribution error (FAE). This is “the tendency of human beings to attribute the negative…behavior of their colleagues to their intentions and personalities while attributing their own negative…behaviors to environmental factors.” That way that translates from the business world to the home front wasn’t immediately obvious to my littles, so I explained that if one little bumps another, an FAE might lead the bumped to accuse the bumper of doing that “on purpose!” even as the bumper might point to how narrow the hallway was, or how much mom was asking them to carry, to show how “it totally wasn’t my fault.” It is the victim accusing the bumper of malice aforethought, and the bumper pointing this way and that to everything except their own carelessness. We went on to have a fun little chat about how God wants us to “attribute to others as you would like others to attribute to you” (Matt. 7:12). Hollywood wisdom “You just have to believe man! You just have to trust it will all turn out right.” That’s a common sentiment found in many a movie, and not just the Christian sort, but even the Hollywood variety. In fact, it might be more prevalent there, found in everything from Polar Express to the trailer of the newest Indiana Jones film. It's there Indy explains: “I’ve come to believe that it’s not so much what you believe as how hard you believe it.” But as John Tweedy noted in a Facebook post, “The idea is always presented as wisdom, but it is really very, very stupid.” That Indy is expressing this sentiment is particularly ironic, he notes, because Indy “…has spent a whole franchise shooting, stabbing, crushing, and burning people because those people intensely believed wrong things. I’m pretty sure those Nazis believe in Arian supremacy. I’m pretty sure those cultists believed in Kali Ma. I’m pretty sure those Soviets believed in Communism. And they were all bad guys, not because they didn’t believe hard enough, but because they believed wrong…. Intensity does not redeem error. It makes error more damaging.” SOURCE: With a hat tip to Cap Stewart...
The subterranean origins of certain Equality and Justice doctrines
A page from Hell's playbook **** If I were the devil – which some of you may believe after reading on – if my sworn mission was to devour the Christian faith from the inside out, then here is what I would not do. I would not slither into a Sunday service, breathing blasphemy and dragon fire, bragging about my triumphs at Auschwitz, commanding the congregation, “Deny that God is God!” I would not be an idiot. If I was the devil… I would dress up to look like justice, compassion, or equity, or some other ideal Christians would be quick to “Amen!” I would sink my teeth and suck the true, biblical content from those words – not that many of the Enemy’s people know the true, biblical content of those words to begin with – and then inject it with the venom of new meaning, a meaning that is antithetical to the Enemy’s definition of such silly words. Then I could get nearly every faithful Tom, Dick, and Sally to deny the Godhood of God while they think they are merely being more just and compassionate. I could get them to deny the Gospel itself while they think they are merely caring for the oppressed. Even better, I will include in that injection certain policies that are almost certain to further hurt the oppressed, the same policies I’ve used over and over to crush image-bearers. It’s the perfect evil trifecta I try to achieve in all my ploys. Rob worship from the Enemy, dupe the Enemy’s church, and inflict even more oppression on as much of that despicable race who bears the Enemy’s obnoxious image as possible. The oldest trick in the book Consider "equity," one of my favorite words. The ideologues use it often, but I’ve smuggled it into the average person’s mind under the common objection, “That’s not fair!” It’s literally the oldest trick in my book. When the first of the Enemy’s image-bearers stood at the tree, I convinced them that God and God alone knowing good and evil wasn’t fair. Why shouldn’t there be equity between Creator and creature? I like to think that I did my job so well that when they took the first bite they believed they were doing justice, righting some cosmic inequity by trying to equalize the powerful Have from the powerless Have Nots. It was the same trick I pulled with great success in Germany several millennia later. “Why should all the Jews be doing so well? Of course it’s because of their sinister plot to keep you Germans down. Wipe out their race and equity and justice will return to your beloved Deutschland.” And they fell for it, the damned fools, to the destruction of millions of Jewish souls. I robbed God of worship as they worshipped their Fuhrer, I duped much of the German church, and I inflicted even more carnage and misery on the Enemy’s image-bearers. And all under the guise of equity and justice. Those three powerful words: It’s–not–fair. I had the Soviet’s repeat it like liturgy about the Kulaks in Ukraine, “Why should they be such lucrative farmers while we scrounge.” I had the French revolutionaries singing hymns about equality, sowing the word egalite into their protest banners, while their guillotines fell and their Age of Equality became my Reign of Terror. And what was Marxism but a rallying cry for equality between the rich and poor, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat? I managed to turn the 20th century cry for economic inequality into state worship and obliterate over 100 million of the Enemy’s image-bearers in less than a hundred years. A million-plus per year, one of my finest centuries. History repeats And here we are in the 21st century, and, I can hardly believe it, they seem to be falling for the same old trick all over again. Wrap the Anthrax in something shiny, conceal the poison in an apple, dress the monster up like an angel, use words like “justice” and “equity” and “compassion” to describe tyranny, and the Enemy’s image-bearers will almost always take the fruit, open the anthrax, embrace the monster, and help me usher in tyranny every time. Fools. They deserve the ruin I relish bringing them. Yes, there have been a few – Douglass and Tubman in America, Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and Havel in Eastern Europe, the Scholl siblings and Bonheoffer’s resistance in Germany, to name a few from that loathsome cadre – who have exposed my plot. But few listen to them. And the Enemy’s image-bearers have such lousy memories and so few good historians, that I can roll out the same devious plot within a generation and no one is the wiser. I’ve got the majority on my side and the majority would kiss a snake, club a grandma, or crush a baby if I told them it was for "justice." Dr. Thaddeus Williams serves as Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Biola University. This article is an excerpt from his upcoming book “21 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice” and is reprinted with permission from the publisher. It is a homage of sorts to C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" and if you liked to learn more about Lewis's book you should click here. If, on the other hand, you would like to hear more of Dr. Williams thoughts on social justice, check out the 30-minute interview below on the topic of "How should Christians think about social justice?" on the Think Biblically: Conversations on faith and culture podcast. ...
Economics - Home Finances
When your finances have you scared
Inflation, rising interest rates, business failure, job losses – there’s no shortage of financial trouble these days. And these all contribute to anxiety and depression and even physical illness. This financial uncertainty has us looking for solutions to our many questions, questions like: Am I being responsible with what God has given me? What will the future bring? Where can I turn for help and advice? What should I do? Others aren’t looking for solutions – some will simply shut down in hopelessness and fear, as a kind of paralysis takes hold, procrastination sets in, and the feeling of financial doom settles over them. TRUST THAT GOD DOES REIGN How, then, do we move from fear to faith? The Bible contains many commands to God’s people not to be afraid. There are more than one hundred imperatives to “Fear not; be strong; be courageous,” and the like. Some commentators suggest that these commands rank second in number only to the commands to love. Why such repetition? The Lord knows we are weak, so He requires that we take hold of Him in faith. Our finances can be a major stumbling block in doing so. We confess that He is our provident God, and that all things come from His Fatherly hand, including prosperity and poverty. But when the prospect of poverty or financial difficulty looms over us, we panic and become fearful, and so we fail the test to trust Him. Likewise in prosperity, one can easily forget that the Lord is the provider of it all. USE WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU Trust does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. The Lord gives us knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to plan. We must do so under His guidance and with much prayer. Proverbs 16:3 tells us to “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” We have been given the tools for the job. First of all, we have God’s Word which has over 2000 verses that speak to possessions and finances. The Bible provides us with the principles by which we can think and act in a godly and faithful way, and it gives us direction and solutions. Another tool we have is our basic elementary school education which taught us the essentials of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Basic math can give us many answers. Armed with these tools, we can walk the path the Lord is leading us on. DON’T GO IT ALONE We should not try to do this alone. It should go without saying that we must seek the Lord’s guidance and direction in our finances, except this may not always be the case. Prayerful contemplation needs to be part of our financial exercise. We must commit all our finances to the Lord, rather than trying to sort things out for ourselves, and we do well when we consult His word in all situations. We are told in Proverbs 3:5 to: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” The Lord has also given us many advisers and He tells us to use them. Proverbs 15:22 says: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” There are many qualified and experienced brothers and sisters in the extended church who are able and willing to help. This may include the Deacons whom God has appointed for circumstances of need, and the ministry of mercy. For many other financial issues there are accountants, lawyers, and experts in investments, insurance, banking, mortgages, etc., and these people are all not much more than a phone call away. Qualified advisors can help us stand back from ourselves and our situation. This is a very important step in the quest for answers and solutions. Many who experience financial difficulty are too absorbed in their own problem to see a clear way out. Objective assessment is an important aspect of decision making. Standing back from your circumstances and understanding the problem in a detailed way, while looking at all the options, and asking lots of questions, will help to settle anxiety and to give comfort in decision making. CONCLUSION In all circumstances, including those relating to our finances, God tells us to turn from fear and anxiety and to look to him for our comfort and help. He provides tools and support in both His Word and his people. Finding solutions in the midst of difficult circumstances may require us to expend a lot of effort as well. Knowing the character of our God, it should provide great comfort when we read in Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” This has been a father-daughter collaboration: Rev. Hank Van der Woerd (MDiv) is emeritus minister (URCNA) and past president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC; Maria Dawes CIM CFP is a Portfolio Manager for Capstone Asset Management (www.capstoneassets.ca)....
Top 10 RP articles of 2022
Two news events of 2022 pop up in this Top 10 list, the first unsurprisingly regarding vaccine mandates, and the other a ripple of the astonishing overturn of Roe vs. Wade. C.S. Lewis and John Calvin also make appearances. So, without further ado, here are the best of the past year! Click the titles to check them out. #10 – Why do we suffer? Buddhism vs. Christianity Sharon Bratcher pits the answers these two religions offer. This is an old article that on a previous version of the website had more than 80,000 read it. This last year another 2,000 checked it out. #9 – 20+ Christian fiction suggestions for your 10-15-year-old boys Boys aged 10-15 can sometimes stop reading, so I didn’t want to pitch them run-of-the-mill material. Nope, I wanted to hit them with the best of the best, so what's included here are my top suggestions. #8 – Is recreational marijuana sinful? The answer this question was clearer when marijuana was still illegal. But as John Piper and others help us see, there's still a clear answer to be had. #7 – 10 tools to help pick a good flick You want to have a family movie night, but want to figure out beforehand if the film you have in mind is good or has problems. Here are ten easy to use tools to help you figure it out quick. #6 – Calvin’s Institutes: Which edition should you read? There are three main translations of this pivotal work. So which should you read? #5 – Pro-life memes and cartoons to share With the overturning this part year of the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision which had legalized abortion, there was every reason for Christians to speak up for the defense of the unborn. And here was a small tool in that fight. #4 – The hidden meaning of The Chronicles of Narnia This has been on the yearly Top 10 every year since it was first published in 2020. Cap Stewart explains how we’ve only recently discovered that C.S. Lewis – for his own private amusement because he seems to have never told anyone – linked each of his famous Narnia books to one of the 7 planets as medieval cosmology understood them. #3 – Christianity explains everything...including Reincarnation This didn't make the Top 10 in 2020 when it was first published, but more than 3,000 people checked it out this year. #2 – The RP 52 in 2022 challenge A lawyer, a missionary, and an editor challenged each other to read 52 books in 2022. Find how they did, and all that they read. #1 – A group of 50 BC doctors are challenging Dr. Henry's vaccine mandates in court Reformed doctor Matt Dykstra, and a group of colleagues, have challenged the BC government's requirements for medical personal to be vaccinated or else, in many cases, lose their positions....
Assorted, Church history
Santa Claus at Nicea
As we continue to celebrate Advent, we need to deal with a competing story. But it would probably be more accurate to say that we have to deal with a ...
A call to teach
“Inviting applications!” the ad calls out. It goes on to list four teaching positions that need to be filled, and tries to paint an inviting pictu...
Report from the front lines: pros and cons of teaching in a Reformed high school
It is one thing to hear from school administrators, boards, and parents about what is contributing to a teacher shortage. But how do the teachers themselves feel about serving in the career right now? What follows are the thoughts of six high school teachers with 104 years of teaching experience between them. It’s worth noting that teachers in different schools or provinces may well come up with different answers. What’s on offer here could provide direction for schools trying to figure out how best to retain current teachers. My hope is that it will also be a great encouragement to those considering the profession. Pros of teaching as a career: Can be very satisfying helping covenant kids grow in the Lord and helping parents fulfil their baptism promises – it’s very meaningful work (Eccl. 5) Often excellent communal support – all pulling together for a good cause – many allies Good support structures in place in daily school work – administration, parent committees, learning assistance department etc. Great colleagues who share the faith and worldview make for a pleasant work environment Job stability, including when the economy is suffering and jobs are harder to get Lots of holidays – off when your kids are off, and in good seasons (like summer months) Easier on the body – manual labourers can get worn out elbows, backs, knees, etc. More noticeable by middle age (assuming teachers take care of themselves) Decent wages – similar to a lot of government jobs – fairly close to public school teachers (about 90%) Benefits can be quite good – comparable to similar careers Indoor, climate controlled, clean, comfortable work environment especially nice in winter months – great resources and access to good supplies Good hours – never have to work odd hours, weekends, awkward shifts, unless you choose to (but there is a lot of work outside of school hours that needs to be done) Can make extra money, do bigger projects, go on long trips in summer holidays Some flexibility in when you want to work (go home sooner and work at home in the evening, e.g.) Good variety – can teach different age groups, courses, etc., and room to change things up over the years Potential for lots of fun – many of the activities or topics are quite enjoyable Kids can be easier and more fun to work with than adults – enjoyable to be around, lively and enthusiastic, great sense of humour – keeps you young (but can be exasperating, too) Freedom to come or go – sign contract yearly or choose to go elsewhere if you want, rarely any long-term commitment. Cons: Need to jump through a lot of hoops to get trained – lots of unnecessary/politicized courses and topics to cover, which can get tiring and demoralizing 5-6 years of university – expensive, especially if you have to move out of town – and lost wages for those 5-6 years, and lost years of experience, seniority, working your way up in other careers, requiring decades to catch up to peers (if ever) Pay not that good for that much university training – many trades pay better, RN nurses start at around $90k, RCMP make $106,576 after three years, etc., while most teachers start at $50k and max out at $80k Exhausting to be working with 20+ students all day – overstimulating and draining making decisions non-stop and trying to attend to them all, and especially hard if you’re an introvert (as quite a few teachers seem to be) Many students are getting harder to teach – less respect, less attentiveness, less willingness to work, more distractions outside of school Multiple students with learning issues mean more adaptations and modifications to ensure they are all included – this can take a lot of time and work Often lots of longer hours – marking, report cards, etc. – especially if there are large classes or if the course or grade level is new Can be pressure to teach new grades, courses, etc., which means you often cannot get familiar with one grade level or one set of courses (esp. in smaller schools or when there is lots of staff turnover) Government curricula changes regularly, forcing rewrites of course outlines, and the various bureaucratic hoops can get tiring and cause disillusionment Can be emotionally draining when you have troubled or struggling students A very public job – everybody in the community knows you and could have opinions about you (either good or bad). ...
KINGDOM WORKERS WANTED... for frontline role
THE APPEAL IS REAL: This ad may not be genuine, but it's still been ranked among the best ads of all time. In 1900, British explorer Ernest Shackleton was said to have posted this in London’s The Times newspaper to recruit crew for his 1901 expedition to the Antarctic. The appeal is certainly real: it recognizes that there are things more important than money and a comfortable life. (It misunderstands that the “more important” isn’t fame or honor.) Extensive training required, lower pay, high expectations, few advancement possibilities. Opportunity for eternal impact. **** When I started my undergraduate studies at university, I was on track to become a history teacher. It didn’t take long before I fell off that track. I’m not alone. The feature article in the Nov/Dec 2022 issue includes an encouraging statistic: based on surveys of grade 11 and 12 students that were done in 2019 and 2021 in Reformed Christian schools, about 40 percent of students considered teaching as a career. Yet good intentions don’t necessarily translate into reality. Reformed schools are reporting that the number of qualified applicants that they are receiving dropped from an already-poor 1.2 applications per opening in 2020 to a dismal 0.76 in 2021. Ouch. Canadian businesses are feeling the pinch of a worker shortage this year. But this is nothing new for Reformed schools, which have struggled with a lack of teachers for years now. With many different school communities all operating independently across a huge country, it seemed to the editorial team at Reformed Perspective that the issue of teaching and teacher shortages would benefit from some investigative research and extensive coverage. A common theme Listening to the thirteen individuals who graciously shared their insights with me as I worked on the feature article, I began to see a theme arise: A carpenter shared that he decided to teach and exit his former profession after being told by a client “I don’t really care what it costs, I just want my neighbour to be impressed.” He didn’t want to build structures that are just for showing off. He wanted to do something “with permanent value.” Convicted by a sermon about seeking God’s kingdom rather than his own, his journey led him to serving as a high school shop teacher. Read his full story in the Nov/Dec issue. A successful consultant with a degree in chemical engineering shared “I saw the need for Christian educators, listened to some advice of those much wiser than me, and decided to give teaching another chance. It was the best decision of my life to date.” You can find his testimonial in the Nov/Dec issue as well. Six high school teachers shared their thoughts about the pros and cons of their profession. At the top of the list was “Can feel a lot of satisfaction helping covenant kids grow in the Lord and helping parents fulfil their baptism promises.” While interviewing John Wynia and Kent Dykstra – two of the leaders behind “Teach With Us Canada,” a relatively new effort to address the teacher shortage – I pressed them on the question of the salary discrepancy between teachers and many other professions. They politely pushed back, reminding me that their surveys showed that those who pursue teaching are motivated less by financial gain and more for advancing God's kingdom. A school administrator who devoted many years to serving in Reformed schools before working in an interdenominational school, said he was struck by, and impressed with, how the interdenominational school spoke of teaching as a ministry. This wasn’t something he heard in the Reformed teaching context. What is “kingdom work”? These perspectives challenged me to consider some terms that get thrown around but are rarely defined. Is teaching a calling? A ministry? Kingdom work? Which careers do these terms apply to? Only pastors? The mission statements of Reformed schools make it clear that a teacher’s role is deeply spiritual in nature. But isn’t it dualism to elevate spiritual missions over physical or practical ones? Our Reformed heritage is hesitant to distinguish some professions as “callings” when we know that every task and job can be a means through which we honour God and further His kingdom. I have seen first hand how Christians can faithfully serve in God’s kingdom in many different realms and careers. My dad was a plumber all his life who has blessed countless families (including my own) with his skills and services. A school can’t stay open without plumbing! The same is true of my mom, who cared for our family of ten her whole adult life, never making a penny from her hard work. Likewise, I have seen very honourable people who were motivated to expand their business for financial gain. But their motivation was not selfish. It was for God’s kingdom. Because of their kingdom hearts, I can get paid a salary to work for Reformed Perspective, and many other worthy causes are given the means to exist. Does teaching belong in a special category when it comes to importance in the Christian community? We need more, but not just any Well, next to parents, teachers often have the most influence on our lives. Pastors have commented that they notice the difference of serving in a congregation where the youth attend a Reformed school or not. Where they don’t, the students are further behind when it comes to their understanding of biblical truths. Because of this great responsibility, it is appropriate that the apostle James reminds us that “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). Yet alongside this warning, the entire Old and New Testaments include a consistent and frequent calling to teach. But simply being a teacher (or a pastor, or a stay-at-home mom) doesn’t make someone a kingdom worker either. The role has to be filled with someone who actually uses it to further God’s kingdom and glory. We have likely all seen examples of where a pastor, teacher, or stay-at-home mom can cause great harm to God’s kingdom and glory. However honourable the intentions are with starting a Reformed Christian school, that doesn’t mean that what happens inside is going to be kingdom work. Who we serve, not just where The key, then, to whether we are doing kingdom work, is that wherever we serve, we do so “seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Each of us has to make decisions every day again to put God and His kingdom first. That applies to deciding which career to pursue, as well as how to actually fulfill the vocation we have been given. We can move forward with confidence, trusting that God will take care of us. In regard to the current teacher shortage, the feature article makes the problem and some potential solutions clear. What we now need is a willingness from some of God’s children to step up for service: For some, it could be a courageous transition from a career where they aren’t doing much to advance God’s kingdom, even if it translates into less pay or more instability. For current teachers, it may mean choosing to endure some trials (like large classrooms filled with ungrateful children) with joy (James 1:2). For those who need to choose a career soon, it can be a decision to not waste years trying out a variety of studies and careers to see which feels the most meaningful. We won’t find heaven on earth. It may also mean intentionally forgoing opportunities that offer treasure on earth “where rust and moth destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20). For many of us, it may mean cheerfully giving more for school tuition, or as donations to schools, so that they can help cover some of the debt that new teachers incur, and ensure salaries allow a teacher to provide for his or her family. It’ll take courage… and trust When it comes to our choices for careers and how we spend our finances, Reformed Christians have to be mindful of the temptation to be too careful, looking out for ourselves rather than trusting God to provide. As Kevin DeYoung says so well in his book Just Do Something: “We should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God – His character and His promises – and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name’s sake.” He later adds: “We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that’s all we need to know.” Speaking for myself, if some of the strategies that are being pursued by the Teach With Us Canada team (see the feature article in the Nov/Dec issue) were in place twenty years ago, I may well have stayed on track and been serving as a teacher today. Yet I’m grateful that the LORD has many places for us to serve, as long as we do so for His kingdom and glory. “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” – Romans 2:7 Mark Penninga is the Executive Director of Reformed Perspective. This first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2022 issue....
News, Pro-life - Euthanasia
“Markus showed us how to find meaning in suffering”
On Nov. 25, 2022, Mike and Jennifer Schouten testified before the Parliamentary Committee that is considering expanding euthanasia to children **** On May 29, 2022 Markus Schouten was promoted to be with His Lord, at the age of 18 and after battling cancer for over a year. Just six months later, his parents Mike and Jennifer had the very difficult job of appearing before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, in Canada’s Parliament, to share their story of walking with Markus through his suffering and death, and to urge our leaders to promote care for those suffering, rather than aid them with, and encourage them towards, suicide. They were the final witnesses to appear before this group of MPs and Senators, and their presentation made quite the impression, as they received questions for the next 45 minutes. We highly recommend you take the time to watch it. We reached out to Mike and Jennifer the following week to ask them about this experience. **** How did you get invited to share Markus’ and your family’s story with this Parliamentary committee? In April 2022 we sent in a written submission to the committee. At the time we had exhausted all treatment for cure and were focused on quality of life for Markus. We sent in the submission in consultation with Markus and with his blessing to use our experience as we were able to impact the current cultural conversations about euthanasia and assisted suicide. The invitation to appear before the committee came as a reply to our emailed submission in April. We had about ten days notice, but it came as quite a surprise to us. Was it a difficult decision for you to agree to this? There was some initial excitement about this opportunity that God had put before us, but quickly we began to relive those last days with Markus and this brought up the variety of emotions of his suffering and death. It was only with the help of God, and the prayers of the saints carrying us along that we were able to push through. What were some of your hopes or goals with doing this? Even prior to the invitation we were having more frequent discussions about suffering and how we (as Christians and as a country) have so much to learn about suffering well. The main focus we had as we prepared for the presentation was to present a Christian perspective on suffering and death, with the purpose of ensuring the committee members had to wrestle with their own pre-existing worldviews on euthanasia and assisted suicide. While we were there to speak into the conversation about expanding this to minors, we purposefully framed some of our remarks in such a way as they would apply to all aspects of the euthanasia debate. You had to endure a lot of questions from the MPs and Senators, some of which would likely have hurt. How did you feel about the questions that you were asked? We were surprised that they asked so many questions. Quite honestly we were preparing as though we might only receive one or two questions from sympathetic committee members, with those opposed to our perspective not giving us more opportunities to repeatedly emphasize our message. That so many MPs and Senators wanted to question us just meant we could speak truth to them in different ways each time. You shared that “Markus showed us how to find meaning in suffering.” Can you share any advice with others who are in the midst of suffering in similar ways right now, or perhaps will face this in the future? Suffering is hard and it looks different for everyone. Even though God has taken our family through the furnace of suffering (Isaiah 48:10) we have much to learn. Perhaps the most helpful advice we received early on in Markus’ cancer journey was the virtue of submission. Submitting to God’s will, especially when it appears His will is to go through a very hard season, and the only thing we (humanly speaking) want to do is flee from it, is challenging. Yet, through the power of our Saviour Jesus who has gone before us in traveling the road of suffering, we can submit to God’s will. This is not only right, it is liberating; it allows the sufferer to give his/her afflictions over to God and live in the assurance that He will carry us in the arms of Jesus, come what may. The love and hope that you have for Markus and our Lord radiated through your presentation and answers. Did you sense a spiritual battle being fought? Do you have any indication as to how your presentation went over? Absolutely. The most challenging part of the time we spent in the committee meeting was the spiritual component. The antithesis was palpable and became more apparent the more questions that were asked. The Senators, in particular, clearly had their minds made up and were trying their best to have us agree that even though it wasn’t something we would support, we should support it for others. We had a few committee members thank us personally immediately after the meeting. Since then we have reached out via email to all those who had questions for us and can thankfully share that one of the more strident members expressed that it helped her “think through the tough stuff.” What would you like to see Christians doing in the face of Parliament’s study into expanding euthanasia to minors? We need to be in prayer for the testimony of witnesses to touch the hearts and minds of the committee members. While our testimony was unique in that it was the only personal story to come before the committee, there were many other witnesses who cautioned the committee in expanding euthanasia to minors. Please pray that God would work through all the evidence before the committee with the result being that they recognize the dangers in making euthanasia available to children. There is still much opportunity to impact the recommendations that the Special Joint Committee will be drafting. They plan to have their report concluded by February 17, 2023 and we would encourage Christians to communicate to both their MP as well as the committee members before then. This can be done using ARPA Canada’s EasyMail system or by visiting the committee website where you can find contact information for all the members. Is there anything else you wish to share with RP’s readers? We are so appreciative for the many people who have reached out to us with words of encouragement and prayers on our behalf. We truly felt carried by your prayers. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) **** Presentation to the Special Joint Committee on MAiD A transcript of Mike and Jennifer's 9-minute presentation to the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) follows. You can also watch their presentation, and the question and answer period, in the hour-long video below. JENNIFER: This is our dear son Markus. On February 26, 2021 Markus was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. After 20 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation, numerous surgeries, including the replacement of his entire upper right arm with an internal prosthetic, we made the decision with Markus and his doctors to end treatment for cure and focus on quality of life. Markus’ care was then transferred from BC Children’s Hospital to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. The palliative and hospice care Markus received at our home was focused on addressing his suffering and valuing his dignity. The doctors and nurses knew his days would be short, and their efforts ensured that the days he had left were lived well. Markus wanted to die at home, surrounded by his family. But he also didn’t want to experience the intense pain and suffering that he knew would come as his lungs filled with tumours. On what turned out to be his last Friday, nurse Shana assessed Markus and said, “His time is short.” She advised us to take the window we still had for Markus to be transported to Canuck Place Hospice in Vancouver. With the increased intensity of his care we agreed. Our whole family was together at the hospice, and as we entered the evening it appeared that Markus would only last a few more hours. As each of his siblings said good night to Markus, he told them he loved them, and said, “See you in paradise.” Mike and I didn’t sleep at all but took turns sitting beside Markus. The nurses maintained his medication and Markus assured us that he was very comfortable and not in any pain. At one point he said to me, “This is how I hoped it would be.” As dawn arrived we realized that God had another day in store for Markus. Early that morning Markus’ friends arrived at the hospice and together they cried, laughed, and prayed. That afternoon both of Markus’ sets of grandparents also came to say goodbye. By early Sunday morning Markus was non-responsive and his breathing had become a lot more shallow. Just before 2:30 that afternoon Markus’ breathing slowed and with each of us around his bedside he took his final peaceful breaths and Markus’ soul departed from his broken body. MIKE: Markus died 6 months ago, on May 29, 2022, only 15 months after his diagnosis. If he was here today his appeal to you would be to not expand euthanasia to minors, for two reasons. Earlier this month it was reported in the news that CAMAP, the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers, is recommending that physicians have an obligation to bring up medical assistance in dying with patients who meet eligibility requirements. As Jennifer just shared, Markus met the eligibility requirements. This means that if euthanasia is extended to minors, the day will come when families just like ours, sitting with their dying children, will feel an obligation to end the suffering of their child by having a doctor euthanize him or her. Dear committee members, we recommend against the expansion of euthanasia because by giving some minors the right to request, you put all minors and their families in a position where they are obliged to consider. If that happened to Markus the message heard would have been clear: we don’t think your life is worth living and if you want we can end it for you. The second reason we recommend you don’t extend MAiD to minors is because by doing so you eliminate unimaginably beautiful experiences. When we went to the Canuck Place Hospice, we didn’t know how long Markus would live. We hadn’t even wanted to go the hospice initially, but being there allowed us to embrace each moment we had with him, and him with us. If euthanasia becomes available to minors then that Friday night when we thought Markus was going to go… after we’d all had our time with him to say our goodbyes… It would seem like the thing to do right? “It’s time,” the nurse would say. “It’s the compassionate thing to do. You’ve all said your goodbyes… he doesn’t have to suffer anymore…he should go now,” the nurse would say. But, then we wouldn’t have had Saturday…a most beautiful day filled with precious memories. We suffered much with Markus, and we miss him terribly. But Markus showed us all how to find meaning in suffering and was thankful for each day God gave to him. It is our heartfelt recommendation to this committee, on behalf of Markus and our family, that you do not extend MAiD to minors and instead focus on providing the necessary palliative and hospice resources to ensure the best quality of living, even when someone is dying....
Saturday Selections – Dec. 3, 2022
Wage gap bake sale (4 min) For a while "wage gap bake sales" were a thing at schools, where men would have to pay more for the baked goods than women. Why? To show them what it was like to be financially discriminated against. But the "wage gap" these sales were meant to highlight wasn't the act of discrimination that the feminist Left made it out to be. This video is a little over the top, but a good overall explanation. What Kuyper can teach us about managing social media Do we want the State doing it, or parents stepping in to save our kids from social media scarring? How you answer that will depend on what you expect from the "sphere" of State and "sphere" of family. I am not my body? To justify transgenderism, euthanasia, and more, the world subscribes to a dualism of body and self - ie. they say you are not your body. Then that allows them to also say you are not the sex you were born as since you are not your body. Or they can ignore caring for their elderly mother because that's not my mother; the "real her" left long ago. Christians would say we are not merely our body; there is more to us, but there isn't less, because our bodies are an integral part of who we are. This is a deeper article, but worth reading even if just to get the gist, because dualism is the worldview behind so much of what the world is promoting. If Canada’s incoming "assisted dying" rules were there a decade ago, I’d be dead Andrew Lawson explains how his struggle with depression a decade ago would likely have led to a state-assisted suicide, had that option been available then. Honoring parents when they don't deserve it Tim Challies speaks to the 5th commandment to honor our father and mother, and he addresses the hard cases of what that looks like with abusive or otherwise wicked parents. Overly excited soccer announcer Maybe you've come across one of these lately... ...
Amazing stories from times past
Four days in the life of Albert Tenfold
What you'll find below is a Reformed Perspective tradition that started back in the winter of 1991 – 31 years ago! Each year since then, at year's e...
Teaching your kid to appreciate broccoli
or, Cooking up a recipe for contentment ***** One of the most common complaints I hear from other parents is how they have been unable to get their ...
Saturday Selections – Nov 26, 2022
Gender is fluid until you bring up this... (2 min) It's becoming the norm to pretend that men can become women and vice versa. And some are up for pr...
Getting used to a new church
The time may come when you must leave the church you grew up in and become a member elsewhere. Let me be clear: I’m not encouraging people to withdraw or change their denomination/federation. I’m referring to church changes that are made because of marriage, affordability of location, employment, or desire to live near loved ones. It’s a huge life change, so I’m offering some suggestions to help you get used to your new place of worship and fellowship. When will I feel at home? It helps a lot to know that you are going to feel weird for the first few Sundays, or possibly the first few months. You knew every nook and corner of your old church, when to stand or sit, and most of the faces were familiar. You had friends there. Suddenly, the rooms, the faces, and maybe even the music are different. After a while, you will adjust to the new situation. You will recognize a few faces, begin to build new friendships, and get used to the differences. One of the benefits of being in a new church is that you come in with a clean slate. Nobody knows about the silly or awful things you did as a teenager or young parent, or pre-judges you because of them. As we mature and grow in grace, we (hopefully) leave behind some of our follies and sins, and learn to treat people with more kindness and patience, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Col 3:13) We progressively learn how to love one another (I John 4:7-8). Sometimes it’s easier to “turn over a new leaf” in a new location. How not to choose a church What characteristics should you consider in a new-to-you church? What if you actually have two to three or more choices? On one of our moves, there were two excellent churches that were exactly 8 miles from our home. Which to choose? There are lots of ways that people make their final decisions about this – and some are better than others! Some folks might want to choose a church based on which one has the nicest facilities. While I have had wishful thinking for a large fellowship hall and useful kitchen, in over 40 years of marriage, those amenities have always been at the churches that we didn’t choose. When my husband enrolled in Westminster Seminary, he had no vehicle, and therefore planned to walk up a fairly steep hill to Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). His dormmate, Leigh, had a crush on a girl who attended a smaller OPC about eight miles away. He offered Dennis a ride, which sounded much better than hiking up the hill – especially in poor weather conditions. Though the ride was important, for Dennis it was a mixture of the pastor’s friendliness and his excellent sermons that kept him attending that small church in Blue Bell PA, and led to my membership as well for over 25 years (most of which were after it became a Canadian/American Reformed congregation). So far, we have seen that great facilities, desire for love, and convenience might be subjective reasons for choosing a particular church. But more should be said about the “friendliness factor.” Friendliness is important, but sometimes it is overrated as a standard for choosing a church. Countless times, people have told me that they didn’t choose Church A or Church B because when they attended 1-2 Sundays, nobody said hello to them. In fact, I have two friends who had opposite experiences within the same church! As the visitor, you will initially feel awkward and out of place and a friendly welcome could help to alleviate that emotion. On the other hand, you shouldn’t judge a church by that. Perhaps there were reasons why no one greeted you. Maybe they were rushing to deal with their children, or frustrated because their car broke down, or ill, or grieving. Maybe the official greeters were greeting someone else when you walked by. Don’t think that they don’t care about you – maybe they just don’t care about you yet. And on this topic, just a word to church members: please do reach out to people you don’t know at church with a welcome and a desire to learn more about who they are! Don’t be so caught up in your own usual group of people that you neglect to include people who want to be an asset to your church! Wouldn’t it be nice to have more people to share all the responsibilities? So, how do you choose? First and foremost, you need to choose a church where you will find the pure preaching of the Word of God, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the appropriate use of church discipline. Not all buildings with the designation of “church” preach the truth, and you need to carefully research before attending. Secondly, consider the location. When you are choosing where to worship, it is best to live close to your church if at all possible. Make living close to other church members a priority when you are house or apartment hunting. Why? Because we have found that visiting other members, and having other members visit us, is much more likely to happen if the distance between us is short. When you live 30-60 minutes away, there will be folks who don’t want to drive to your house. And people are more likely to drop off a meal 5 minutes away than 30-60 minutes away. We all get very busy in our lives, so if you can make fellowship and caring more convenient, why not do so? You don’t want to use “distance” as an excuse to not participate in the life of the church (or the Christian school). Jump right in The way to feel a part of a new congregation is to get to know people, and the way to get acquainted is to get involved with smaller group meetings/service projects of any sort. In fact, this is probably the best way for introverts, especially, to begin feeling at home. Consider these examples that we have observed: Show up and work hard at a church maintenance day. One couple did this before they even officially joined. What a great opportunity to converse and demonstrate that they were serious about serving the Lord along with us. Attend the Ladies’ and Men’s Bible studies and take your children to youth meetings. Note the requests for meals for new mothers and shut-ins and sign up to help. Join the choir. Attend a baby shower even if you do not know the new mother – it’s a great way to get acquainted, and your attendance and a small gift are always appreciated. Shake the pastor’s hand and tell him who you are. Introduce yourself to one of the elders, or if they have cards in the pews, fill one out and place it in the offering plate. If you don’t want to be called, just give an email or home address. In my lifetime, I have noticed that churches are always happy to gain new members, and some of them will send you information about their church. Send get well or encouragement cards to people who are shut-ins or recovering from surgery. The inspiring Bible verses in them will be uplifting even if they haven’t met you yet. Knowing that someone cares and is praying for them is always appreciated. So what if they don’t know who you are – they will soon! Don’t sit back and wait for everyone to reach out to you. God calls all of us to help and encourage one another. Pray and ask Him to help you see ways to participate in your new church life. In Hebrews 10:24 we read, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Your efforts will bless someone. Conclusion Although you will feel out of place during the first few times you worship in your new location, gradually you will begin to feel at home. Serving the Lord – “Blooming where you are planted” – will bring you into contact with fellow members, and after a while, friendships are likely to form. Following some of these suggestions might just move things along a bit quicker....
In a Nutshell
Tidbits – November 2022
Chesterton saw it coming… A hundred years ago, in the Aug 14, 1926 edition of the Illustrated London News, G.K. Chesterton wrote a column that could be a commentary on our own time. The extreme skepticism that leads some to reject God was going to lead them to reject ever more of the real world. “The Declaration of Independence, once the charter of democracy, begins by saying that certain things are self-evident. If we were to trace the history of the American mind from Thomas Jefferson to William James, we should find that fewer and fewer things were self-evident, until at last hardly anything is self-evident. So far from it being self-evident to the modern that men are created equal, it is not self-evident that men are created, or even that men are men. They are sometimes supposed to be monkeys muddling through a transition stage before the Superman. But there is not only doubt about mystical things; not even only about moral things. There is most doubt of all about rational things. I do not mean that I feel these doubts, either rational or mystical; but I mean that a sufficient number of modern people feel them to make unanimity an absurd assumption. Reason was self-evident before Pragmatism. Mathematics were self-evident before Einstein. But this scepticism is throwing thousands into a condition of doubt, not about occult but about obvious things. We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which furious party cries will be raised against anybody who says that cows have horns, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green. Thomas Sowell on those who can’t, critiquing those who do “The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society, except their constant criticisms, can feel both intellectually and morally superior.” Secular isn’t a synonym for neutral “It turns out that, however you might wish otherwise, you eventually wind up wherever it was you were going. If you get on the plane to Chicago, and I would ask you to follow me closely here, you are going to land in Chicago. We are now arriving where a godless education must necessarily go. The public schools in America were not secular, they were godless. The public schools in America were not neutral, they were godless. The public schools in America were not even agnostic, they were godless.” – Douglas Wilson Wit and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin While best known as one of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin was also a printer, postmaster, scientist, diplomat, and inventor. On top of all that, he had quite the reputation as a public wit, spouting such well-known aphorisms as “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead,“ “Fish and visitors stink after three days,“ and “Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.” While he was likely not Christian (he seemed to deny Christ’s deity) many of his common-sense witticisms have some depth to them. Might it be because he was riffing off of the inspired Word? What follows are a few Franklin selections paired with texts that say something similar. Is the connection real or imagined? “Well done is better than well said.” “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22 “Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it.” “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” – Prov 12:15 “He’s a fool that cannot conceal his wisdom.” “A prudent person conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.” – Prov 12:23 “He that lies down with dogs, shall arise with fleas.” “One who walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Prov. 13:20 “Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.” “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” –Philippians 2:3 Lyric of the month This might be an oldie but it is a real goodie from the Newsboys: Real Good Thing Born to sin / and then get caught. All our good deeds / don’t mean squat. Sell the Volvo / shred the Visa, send the cash to Ma Teresa. Great idea / the only catch is you don’t get saved / on merit badges. Doctor’s coming / looking grim: "Do you have a favorite hymn?" Check your balance through the years, All accounts are in arrears. Guilt is bitter. / Grace is sweet. Park it here / on the Mercy Seat. When we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing. Why is only the other side quoting the Bible? In US politics one party is still acknowledging God’s Word as authoritative. And it’s not the Republicans. In an October debate with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist alluded to both Matthew 7:1 and 7:12 to, blasphemously, defend abortion and to justify allowing double mastectomies and other genital mutilations on children. “I believe that we need to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. It’s called the Golden Rule…. we’re all children of God. And that doesn’t mean that you are the one who’s supposed to judge what others are supposed to do, particularly women, with their bodies.” A month earlier, another prominent Democrat, California governor Gavin Newsom, ran billboards in Mississippi and Oklahoma that read: “Need an abortion? California is ready to help.” This offer of abortion was justified with Mark 12:31, included underneath, which reads “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Such mangling of the Bible for political purposes is nothing new of course. In the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democratic contender, John Kerry, called “Honor your Father and your Mother…one of the oldest Commandments” seemingly unaware that God gave all Ten Commandments at the same time. But even as Democrats continue to cite the Bible, it’s worth considering, why does it increasingly seem that the only folks willing to quote God’s Word are the murderers and mutilators? They do so blasphemously, taking God’s Words in vain… but in a strange way they, at least, are treating God’s Word as both relevant and authoritative in the public sphere. Hit back? It is a Christian parent’s repeated role to explain to their pint-size progeny that Jesus did not tell us to“do unto others as they did to us.” But, as Greg Koukl recently pointed out, there can come a time in debate or discussion when that is good advice – you may need to give as good as you got. It is the appropriate response when someone tries to pin you with what’s called the “Kafka Trap.” In his novel The Trial, Franz Kafka presented a Soviet-style interrogation where the denial of something would be presented as proof of guilt. So, for example: I think you have a drug addiction What? I do not! That just proves it – drug addicts always deny it! Today this Trap is most often used to accuse people of racism: if you deny you’re racist, that just proves that you are. When you’re hit with this you’re-hooped-either-way attack, Greg Koukl offers this tactic: do unto them as they’ve done to you ...accept his approach, then turn the Kafka trap back on him. Here’s an example: “I knew you’d say that, and I’m glad you did.” “What! Why?” “Because it proves you’re wrong.” “Huh?” “No one says that unless they’re mistaken. Don’t you see it?” “No.” “That’s even more proof you’re wrong. Sorry.” Or… “Do you know what ‘social justice’ means?” “Of course I do.” “That proves you don’t. No one who really understands social justice thinks he understands it.” Doing to others as they’ve done to you isn’t wrong here because this isn’t about revenge, but rather clarity. You’re exposing them for just how insubstantial their rhetoric really is. Coaches with a parenting tip for us all It’s said that practice makes better… but better at what? A basketball player that practices badly will engrain those bad habits. Then, whatever he might be doing wrong, whether it’s a high dribble, or putting no arc on his shot – he’ll actually get more consistently bad by practicing at it. And parents, the same is true for our children: if they’re mouthing off with regularity, or responding with the right words but the wrong tone, they are practicing being bad. And if that’s left uncorrected then they’ll get really good at being bad… especially when they hit the teen years. So just as it is important to practice basketball the right way, our kids need to not just say the words, but practice saying them the right way… lest they be practicing and reinforcing and engraining the wrong way. Free vs. free “There are constant calls from NDP candidates and MPs for free post-secondary tuition, free childcare, free dental care, free drugs (both pharmaceutical and recreational), free housing, free wifi . . . even free money (Universal Basic Income). The only thing they don’t want free is ‘dom’ . . . (as in freedom). They don’t want a free press. They don’t want free speech. They don’t want parents free to raise their children as they see fit. They don’t want a free conscience. They don’t want free thinkers at universities. – Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor, “Socialism …on the Instalment Plan”...
Science - Environment
7 biblical principles of environmental stewardship
As environmental issues have become centerpieces in recent elections, policy-making, and public discourse, Christians must promote a biblical understanding of what the environment is, what humanity’s relationship with the environment is, and what God’s plan for the environment is. The mandate to care for the planet – including the animals, plants, land, water, and air – is a theme present throughout God’s Word. Christians have a responsibility to articulate these biblical principles and to shape environmental public policy in a way that is consistent with Scripture. Here are seven biblical principles about the environment and how humanity should interact with the non-human creation. These principles form building blocks for a Reformed Christian perspective on public policy concerning environmental care and expose flaws in other environmental perspectives. PRINCIPLE 1 God, the Creator of all things, has commanded mankind to exercise fruitful stewardship over His creation “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”1 Those opening words of Scripture form the foundation of environmental stewardship. Because He created the earth and everything in it, God is the sole proprietor of all creation. All of creation belongs to Him.2 No human can lay ultimate claim over any aspect of creation – land, natural resources, or animals. Nevertheless, God delegated authority over creation to humanity at the very beginning of history. In Genesis 1:28, often called the cultural mandate, God commands mankind to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”3 In Genesis 2:16, He also placed the man “in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Caring for the earth is one of God’s purposes for humanity. The first command in the cultural mandate - be fruitful - can be understood through the Parable of the Talents.4 In this parable, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God, which encompasses all of creation, to a master who entrusts his property to his three servants. The servants understand that the property under their care is not ultimately theirs but belongs to their master. This master will eventually demand an account of how his servants managed his property. The two servants who fruitfully invested their master’s money were rewarded. The third servant, who neglected to fruitfully invest it, was condemned for his unproductivity. If the servant who allowed his master’s property to remain stagnant was condemned, how much worse would it be for a servant who deliberately wastes or ruins his master’s resources? This framework of fruitful stewardship over financial resources can also be applied to mankind’s treatment of the rest of creation. God entrusts the non-human creation to humanity, not necessarily so that humanity can simply preserve it in its natural state, but so that humanity might be fruitful with it.5 This requires mankind to develop and transform the earth’s natural resources, while also preserving ecosystems that provide valuable goods and services to mankind and that declare the glory of God (see Principle 2). Progress and development are implicit commands of God.6 As Dr. Cornelis Van Dam writes: “The divine mandate involves harnessing creation’s resources and making the most of its potential while being careful to use the resources wisely… It is telling that although the world began with a garden it will end with a great and beautiful city.”7 At the end of our lives or at the end of the world, God will reward those who fruitfully managed the creation that He has given to humanity, but will punish those who have not repented from their neglect or active destruction of it. Fruitful stewardship is mandatory. PRINCIPLE 2 All creation is valuable, but humanity, as the image-bearers of God, is the most valuable created being Scripture demonstrates that the whole of creation has intrinsic worth in the sight of God.8 After each day of creation, God declared his creation to be good – day and night, land and sea and air, plants, sea creatures, birds, and all animals.9 He commands the living creatures to “be fruitful and multiply”10 and to “abound on the earth.”11 After the great flood, God covenants with Noah and “every living creature” that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 9:8-17); in this passage, God mentions “every living creature” six times.12 God also covenants with the earth (Genesis 9:13) and the day and the night (Jeremiah 33:19-25). The book of Job and the Psalms abound with descriptions of how God delights in His creation. Matthew 6:25-33 also illustrates God’s care for His creation; He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the grass of the field with glorious lilies. The various parts of creation, in turn, also declare the glory of their Creator.13 The environment also has value to mankind.14 The resources of creation have – food, water, air, stone, wood, metals – nourish us and allow us to improve our standard of living. Creation provides many ongoing services that are indispensable to human flourishing:15 For example, plants use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide into the oxygen required for human respiration. Because creation is valuable both in the sight of God and humanity, God decreed how Israel was to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment in the Old Testament. Humanity was to allow animals to rest on the Sabbath16 and to treat animals well.17 Productive fruit trees were not to be cut down during the siege of a city, so that the productive capacity of the land would not be diminished.18 Even the land itself was supposed to rest fallow every seven years.19 Although these commands were made in the specific context of Old Testament Israel, the underlying principle to be responsible stewards over creation still applies. While God values all of His creation, He uniquely values mankind that He made in His image.20 Although after every day of creation God pronounced His creation to be good, God declared that creation was very good only after His creation of man. Thus, humanity is not merely equal to the animals or some other part of creation. He set humanity to rule over the rest of creation and gave plants21 and later animals22 to humanity as food. God established His original covenant with humanity and made humanity the object of this covenant. And, in Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus says that if God devotes such care for birds and grass, how much more will He care for humanity? Thus, a hierarchy exists in the created order.23 God, the sovereign and providential Creator, presides over both humanity and the other parts of creation. Humanity, the image-bearers of God, is below God but above the rest of creation.24 The non-human creation, although inherently valuable in the sight of God and man, rests at the bottom of this hierarchy. Humanity therefore should not adopt a “biocentric” philosophy that aims to preserve all life, nor an “ecocentric” philosophy that aims to preserve the environment in its natural state, nor an “anthropocentric” view in which nature’s only purpose is to serve humanity. Instead, humanity should adopt a “theocentric” view of both caring for and subduing the rest of creation in a manner prescribed by God.25 PRINCIPLE 3 God commands that humanity exercise both dominion and care over all of creation 26 In the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28, God commands humanity to have dominion over the earth and to subdue it. Theologians point out that the original Hebrew word for subdue (kavash) is a “fairly strong term” that “means to overpower, to conquer, to bring under control.”27 This subduing of the environment includes extracting the natural resources of creation to increase human standards of living (both before and after sin infected the world). For example, God created hills out of which humanity “can dig copper”28 and trees that men could “cut down” for wood.29 Jesus both curses an unfruitful fig tree and suggests that it should be cut down, for “why should it use up the ground?”30 The Mosaic Law prescribed a number of practices to prevent the spread of disease. Unfortunately, our ability to properly exercise dominion over God’s creation is limited by humanity’s finitude and is marred by sin.31 Humanity has the capacity to overconsume, pollute, and destroy as we endeavour to exercise dominion over the non-human creation.32 Focusing only on Genesis 1:28 may lead us to think we have the “right to do anything we want to the earth”33 – that the sole purpose of the environment is to serve as raw materials to fuel human needs and desires.34 We might ignore the health of other living creatures or long-term sustainability. In case humanity is tempted to simply exploit nature, God balances this command to subdue the earth by revealing His purpose for humanity: to keep (ESV), to take care of (NIV), to tend (NKJV), or even to serve(YLT) the garden.35 Exclusive attention to this command in Genesis 2:15 may also lead to an incomplete understanding of environmental stewardship. Under a care-only philosophy, humanity is to preserve the environment the way it is, to never harm or kill animals, or to make conservation the highest calling of humanity. Combining the commands of both of these verses (subdue and serve) may seem contradictory, but a proper Christian understanding of these terms makes them perfectly compatible. Authority and service go hand in hand within families, within government institutions, and within environmental stewardship.36 Christians acknowledge that human beings have an imperfect capacity to exercise responsible stewardship over the rest of creation. This requires humanity to continuously refine and re-evaluate its exercise of dominion and stewardship over the environment. We should study how our activities may threaten animal species, interfere with a nutrient cycle, or pollute a water source. The solution to imperfect stewardship is not to abandon the responsibility of stewardship altogether, but to develop our stewardship techniques. PRINCIPLE 4 God commands humanity to multiply and fill the earth In the cultural mandate, God also commands humanity to multiply and to fill the earth, exercising stewardship – fruitfulness, dominion, and care – as they go.37 Indeed, He scattered humanity when they failed to spread out around the world.38 Humanity’s capacity for multiplying and filling the earth expanded markedly with the Industrial Revolution and modern medicine, prior to which the world population grew much more slowly and numbered only in the hundreds of millions. Earth’s population has multiplied many times over in the past two centuries, reaching approximately 7.8 billion people in 2020. The UN projects that the human population will peak at around 11 billion by the end of the century.39 Although this rapid population growth allows humanity to fulfil God’s command to multiply and fill the earth at a whole new level, this significant growth has come with growing pains. This growth has led to problems such as the overexploitation of natural resources and excessive pollution. However, these problems are the result of specific human choices and habits, such as rampant materialism and consumerism,40 not simply the overall number of people. Although a large and growing population may exacerbate existing problems and even create new challenges, a growing population should be considered inherently good. Indeed, “inquisitive, creative, and resourceful human beings” are “the ultimate resource” in this world.41 Many secular environmentalists fail to recognize this. In their zeal to care for the environment, they oppose both population growth and particular human habits. Some go so far as to claim that humanity is a parasite destroying the environment, worthy of eradication.42 But such a perspective ignores the fact that God has placed humanity as active stewards over His creation. Human multiplication must be considered “a blessing, not a curse.”43 PRINCIPLE 5 Although God allows humanity to suffer the consequences of poor environmental stewardship, the end of history will occur according to God’s sovereign plan A society’s eschatology – their view of how the world will end – will inform its policies on environmental stewardship. Secular environmentalists, ignoring the creation and providence of God, attribute the end of the world to human action or some natural disaster – an asteroid, a virus, or variation in the sun’s rays, for example. The fate of the planet rests in either the hands of humanity or the whims of chance. A biblical worldview, however, understands that all of history, including the end of this world, is directed by God. God “created heaven and earth and everything in them” and continually “upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence.”44 This includes animals, plants, and the physical environment. God upholds His creation in ways we describe as laws of nature (e.g. the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, the law of biogenesis, etc.). Indeed, these laws of nature illustrate the covenant faithfulness of God.45Although humanity may mistakenly ascribe these laws of nature to nature itself, Christians know that these laws are issued by a Supreme Lawgiver. Absolutely nothing in creation occurs without God’s direction or permission. Despite the reality of God’s providence, God also allows humans to suffer the natural consequences of their actions. Adam and Eve’s disobedience and its consequence – the introduction of sin and evil into a good world – profoundly changed creation.46 As a consequence of man’s actions, God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”47 These thorns and thistles represent how all of creation has been impacted by the Fall. Because of the original human sin, the living creation now naturally experiences suffering, sickness, and death.48 Romans 8:19-23 also speaks about how “creation was subjected to futility,” is in “bondage to corruption,” and is “groaning together in the pains of childbirth.” In the same way humanity must continue to grapple with the environmental effects of sin today. Human activity can cause catastrophic environmental damage (e.g. the Chernobyl nuclear disaster or the Exxon-Valdez oil spill). A basic Christian eschatology does not “guarantee that some form of global or cosmic catastrophe will be averted,” just as we do not believe that any natural catastrophe – a devastating earthquake, hurricane, or volcanic eruption – will be averted because of God’s promise to Noah.49 Although God allows humanity to suffer the environmental consequences of sinful actions or negligence, the fate of the world is in God’s hands, not in human hands. Many prophesy that human activity will cause an environmental apocalypse, while others envision a technological utopia. Christians should reject both visions as unfounded. Although human care and dominion may contribute to the redemption or reconciliation of creation, only God can ultimately fix the sin and brokenness that afflicts this world.50 PRINCIPLE 6 God created the environment to be simultaneously resilient and dynamic 51 God created every individual organism, plant, animal, person, and the wider environment with an astounding resiliency. The human body, for example, can survive weeks without food, can heal cuts to its skin, and can run a marathon. The earth also has positive and negative feedback loops that keep weather patterns predictable, animal populations in check, and nutrients recycling themselves all across the globe. However, the environment is also fragile.52 Microscopic doses of certain natural and man-made drugs are lethal.53 An extra copy of a particular gene on a particular chromosome causes Down syndrome. The eruption of a single volcano – such as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 – can temporarily lower the world temperature and cause local or global famines. A single virus like COVID-19 can kill millions of people worldwide. The environment is sufficiently resilient to support huge numbers of people, even well beyond the current number, without apocalyptic impacts to our atmosphere, oceans, or critical habitats, if managed well.54This is a comfort to Christians who rest in the sustaining, providential care of God who will bring history to its conclusion in His timing. But the environment is not so resilient that we can do whatever we want without regard for our impact on the environment. The fragility of the environment necessitates the exercise of environmental stewardship by Christians and non-Christians alike so that we do not reap the consequences of our unwise actions.55 PRINCIPLE 7 Although cost-benefit analysis is an important tool to determine the wise use of resources, cost-benefit analysis cannot be completely comprehensive Many attempts to preserve or exploit the environment stem from an incomplete assessment of the value of the environment. Carefully weighing the costs and benefits is required in effective environmental stewardship.56 Of course, the challenge is to account for all the relevant costs and benefits (e.g. monetary, health, and environmental costs and benefits across wide swaths of the human population) as much as is reasonably possible. These costs and benefits cannot be properly estimated by experts in any single field. Although ecologists, biologists, chemists, and atmospheric and environmental scientists may lead the evaluation of the effect on the environment, experts in other fields – economics, political science, law, ethics, sociology, and psychology – must also contribute to developing the best human response. However, much debate exists about how to value the benefits that the environment provides and the cost of disturbing the environment. Some secular environmentalists, immersed in their study of nature, assign almost infinite value to the natural environment. Other professionals and laypersons, ignorant of the existence of many goods and services that the environment provides, assign virtually no value to the environment. Both forms of creation’s value mentioned earlier – its intrinsic value in God’s sight and its utilitarian value to humanity – must be considered when estimating costs and benefits. It is impossible to precisely appraise this value that God places on His creation and plug it into a cost-benefit equation. Instead, Christians should marvel at the handiwork of God, remembering that humanity is a steward of His creation. Even if a forest did not help convert carbon dioxide into oxygen or its trees provide useful timber for construction, it still reflects God’s creativity and praises Him; it should not be destroyed without ample cause, even if humanity cannot assign monetary costs and benefits to it. Thus, although empirical cost-benefit analysis is critically important, the moral component of environmental stewardship must be considered as well. CONCLUSION These seven principles outline a faithful Christian understanding of environmental stewardship that is fundamentally different from a secular understanding of the environment. Christian environmental stewardship recognizes that the environment is the creation of God and properly understands the responsibility of humanity, as the image-bearers of God, to exercise stewardship over the resilient yet fragile environment. Although humanity should carefully consider the consequences of their actions, Christians understand that God – not man – controls the end the world. May each of us be active, biblical stewards of the world that God has entrusted to our care! Levi Minderhoud is the BC Manager for ARPA Canada where he endeavors to bring biblical principles to bear on political issues of all stripes. In his spare time, he enjoys playing hockey, tickling the ivory, sharpening his wits with a good board game, and fellowshipping with friends and family. He and his family reside in Mission, BC, and attend the neighboring Abbotsford United Reformed Church. This is a slightly abbreviated version of a longer article available at ARPACanada.ca. References and Notes 1) Genesis 1:1 2) Psalm 24:1 3) See also Genesis 1:29 and Psalm 115:16 4) Matthew 25:14-30 5) Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science (Ontario: Freedom Press Canada Inc., 2008), 41–42. 6) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” in Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: Acton Institute, 2007), 44–45; Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York: Random house, 2006). 7) Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 178; see also Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 322. and Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science, 43 8) Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 120. 9) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 35. 10) Genesis 1:22 11) Genesis 8:17 12) Genesis 9:9-10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17; see also Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 92. 13) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 36. See also Job 38-41; Psalm 19; Psalm 104; Psalm 148; and Psalm 150 14) E. Calvin Beisner, Creation Stewardship: Evaluating Competing Views (The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, 2020), 10. 15) Sandra Diaz et al, “Assessing Nature’s Contribution to People,” Science Magazine 359, no. 6376 (2018): 270–72; W. M. Adams, “The Value of Valuing Nature,” Science Magazine 346, no. 6206 (2014): 549–51; Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 157. 16) Exodus 20:10; 23:12; 34:21 17) Deuteronomy 25:4; Proverbs 12:10 18) Deuteronomy 20:19-20 19) Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25 20) Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 325; see also Matthew 12:12, 10:31 21) Genesis 1:29 22) Genesis 9:2-3 23) Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 173. 24) See Psalm 8 25) Calvin Beisner et al., “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” in Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, n.d., 70; Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 78, 96–98, 112. 26) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 39. 27) Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 176. 28) Deuteronomy 8:9 29) Deuteronomy 19:5 and 2 Kings 6:4 30) Matthew 21:18-22 and Luke 13:6-9 31) James R. Skillen, “Stewardship and the Kingdom of God,” in Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care, ed. David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun (Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 2019), 102. 32) Calvin Beisner et al., “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” 84. 33) David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun, Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creational Care (Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 2019), 9, 12–13. 34) David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun, 12–13. 35) Genesis 2:15; for a fuller explanation of how humanity is to “serve” the garden, see Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 64. 36) Steven Bouma-Prediger, “From Stewardship to Earthkeeping: Why We Should Move beyond Stewardship,” in Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care, ed. David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun (Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College Press, 219AD), 81–91. 37) Genesis 1:28 38) Genesis 11:1-9 39) United Nations, “Population,” 2020, https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/population/index.html. 40) Steven Bouma-Prediger, “From Stewardship to Earthkeeping: Why We Should Move Beyond Stewardship,” 71. 41) David VanDrunen, Politics after Christendom: Political Theology in a Fractured World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2020), 243; Robert A. Sirico, “The Ultimate Economic Resource,” Acton Institute, 2010, https://www.acton.org/pub/religion-liberty/volume-8-number-3/ultimate-economic-resource; Julian L. Simon, The Ultimate Resource (United States: Princeton University Press, 1996). 42) J. Michael Beers et al., “The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation,” 51; Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science, 31; Cornelis Van Dam, God and Government, 182; Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible. 43) Calvin Beisner et al., “A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship,” 86. 44) Heidelberg Catechism, Question and Answer 26; see also Question and Answer 27 for a definition of providence 45) Arnold E. Sikkema, “Laws of Nature and God’s Word for Creation,” Fideles 2 (2007). 46) Genesis 3; Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 6 47) Genesis 3:17-19 48) Clarence W. Joldersma, “The Responsibility of Earthlings for the Earth: Graciousness, Lament, and the Call for Justice,” 63–64. 49) David Atkinson, “Climate Change and the Gospel: Why We in the Church Need to Treat Climate Change More Urgently” (Operation Noah, 2015), 17–18, http://operationnoah.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Climate-and-Gospel-David-Atkinson-30-01-2015.pdf. 50) Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, 133; David Paul Warners and Matthew Kuperus Heun, Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creational Care, 6. 51) Timothy Bloedow, Environmentalism and the Death of Science, 2. 52) Richard A. Swenson, “How Balance Is Displayed in Every Quadrant of the Created Order,” in In Search of Balance (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010). 53) For example, the lethal ingestion dose of botulinum toxin is 30 nanograms; 39.2 grams of the toxin would “be sufficient to eradicate humankind;” see Ram Kumar Dhaked et al., “Botulinum Toxin: Bioweapon & Magic Drug,” The Indian Journal of Medical Research 132, no. 5 (November 2010): 489–503. 54) Michael Shellenberger, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, Digital Edition (Harper Collins, 2020). 55) David Atkinson, “Climate Change and the Gospel: Why We in the Church Need to Treat Climate Change More Urgently,” 13. 56) Cornwall Alliance, “The Biblical Perspective of Environmental Stewardship: Subduing and Ruling the Earth to the Glory of God and the Benefit of Our Neighbors”; Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, 58; see also Luke 14:28...
Saturday Selections – Nov 12, 2022
Should Christians use someone's "personal pronouns"? (12 min) J.D Greear, former president of the conservative-learning Southern Baptist Conference, said he would, if asked, refer to a man as "she" and he would do so out of a "generosity of spirit." This is a pitting of truth vs. love, with Greear choosing to side with love. But it is a false contrast. In the same way that it would not be loving to affirm an anorexic in their delusion, it's not loving to affirm a transgender in their lie. As James White notes, some of the Christian confusion here comes from believing there is some sort of moral neutral ground. And some of it comes from not being prepared to pay the cost for standing up for God's Truth. (For more see When Steve wants to be called Sue.) Tim Challies on love covering a multitude of sins "There are as many ways to react badly to sin as there are ways to sin against one another. There are not nearly as many ways to react well to being sinned against. The Bible gives us two: lovingly overlook that sin or lovingly address that sin. The question is, when are we to overlook and when are we to address?" The "knockout punch" syndrome Gary Bates explains "why creationists are sometimes too quick to embrace the latest apparent ‘evidence’ for biblical creation." The problem with declaring a "pandemic amnesty" The problem isn't simply that mistakes were made when we didn't have enough information. The problem was, "when we did not have adequate information to know what was best, interventionist policymakers nevertheless acted as if they did know." Though this isn't a specifically Christian article (it cites a rabbi), it has thoughts on the nature of forgiveness and repentance which aren't far off. The case for kids (10-minute read) Kevin DeYoung: "I do not urge Christian couples to have as many children as possible. But I do urge them to have more children." On the significance of beards The beardless John Piper recommended this article, and I, equally beardless, add my kudos. In an emasculated world, beards can be a bit of a counter-protest and even a signpost. Voddie Baucham on how they're normalizing sin to our children... and us too (10 min) I've been asked why I wear pro-life shirts; do they prompt conversations? And the answer is, no, most often they don't. I either get a thumbs up, or a lady might make a throat clearing, scoffing sound. So, why wear them then? And why put a pro-life sign on your lawn, or an "Adoption, not Abortion" bumpersticker on your car? To, as one friend put it, normalize dissent. In our godless age, God's Truth is so infrequently presented that when it is, it might well be immediately ruled out as the crazy thoughts of some fringe minority. But the unborn's defenders number in the millions; we're no fringe element. We only seem like it because we're being quiet. So, to further the case for the unborn – to get it moved out of the crazy camp to a place where conversations can happen – we need to normalize being pro-life. The video below is on how impactful normalization can be, though the other way around. Consider just how many Christians feel uncomfortable when God's thoughts on homosexuality are shared publicly. That's the culture impacting us. And now, through children's shows, the world is trying to impact our kids: from Peppa Pig and Muppet Babies to Sesame Street and Blue's Clues. They seek to normalize what God condemns. Countering this involves more than just shutting off these shows (though it certainly involves that too). There's really no escaping the pervasiveness of this normalization effort. So we must acquaint our children with both God's truth and how to most winsomely communicate that truth on issues like transgenderism, and homosexuality, the unborn, marriage and more. And we need to hear preaching that isn't embarrassed by God's stand, but highlights how our good God, who loves us, knows what is best for us. ...