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News

Saturday Selections – Feb. 19, 2022

Kinsey - the man behind perverted sex-ed The biggest bit of propaganda Kinsey passed along? That chastity was basically impossible. Thus sex-ed programs teach "safer sex" rather than actual safe sex – ie. sex only between a committed husband and wife – presuming that kids are akin to beasts in heat who couldn't possibly control their urges. God, in forbidding adultery (Ex. 20:14), presumes something very different. A case for shorter hymnals John Ahern argues for limited hymns. His main point? We can only sing songs well if we actually know them. Why Postmodernism promotes Big Government In this short yet provocative piece, J.P. Moreland offers an explanation for why the godless want government to get bigger and bigger. A how-to for combatting the lie of "deep time" Dinosaur soft tissue used to be inconceivable. Now it is incontrovertible. Our polygamous past This is quite a good practical case against polygamy: men with many wives leave other men without the ties that bind. Then, without families to concern them, these men often cause trouble. It's such a good argument that Christians might be tempted to base their arguments against polygamy on this line of reasoning. But a practical case against can be answered with practical solutions. For example: mayhaps we need to encourage women to take more than one husband so as to even things out. Now our "too many unconnected men" problem is solved...but not in any sort of fashion we were intending. Thus, when we defend God's truth – that "a man should leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Eph. 5:31) – we need to defend it as God's truth. It's only once we have established that as our foundation, that we can then stack arguments like this "practical case" against polygamy on top. While practical objections can't stand on their own, they can stand when supported. Practical problems do come with disobeying God. But will the world listen to us if we talk to them about God? It doesn't seem likely. But is our goal to get pagans to act like Christians? Or do we want them to be Christians? One thing we can be quite certain of: if we are too ashamed to talk about God, we won't be used by God to bring people to Him. Do we want the Bible back in public schools? Gary DeMar explains the problem with that sort of partial victory... ...

Christian education - Sports, Marriage

Does God picks sides in sports and politics...and marriage?

The reason most people tune into the NFL playoffs is to watch large men fight over a small ball. But in 2015 there was also another battle going on, of interest even to those who can’t tell a pass from a pick. After their January 18 semifinal game that year, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a debate of sorts about whether God chooses sides in sporting contests. Though they were down most of the game, Seattle won by outscoring Green Bay 21-3 over the final six minutes. Afterward an ecstatic Russell Wilson credited God for his team’s remarkable comeback: “That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special.” Wilson’s statement seemed to imply that God wanted Seattle to win – that He was on Seattle’s side. As might be expected, losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a different perspective: “I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome.” So does God pick sides in football games? Is God on our side? A few thousand years back a similar sort of question was asked right before a different sort of contest. Israel was about to attack Jericho when Joshua saw a man with drawn sword standing in front of him. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Neither? It’s a curious answer – why wouldn’t the commander of God’s army side with God’s people? Because that would be getting things backward. Yes, there are two sides, but the dividing line isn’t drawn where we think it is – it isn’t a matter of us versus them. No, it’s all about God. Instead of expecting God to back our team we should start trying to be a part of His. Aaron Rodgers had it right: God isn’t for or against any football team. He doesn’t pick sides; He is the dividing line. The question we’re faced with is only, are we for or against Him? What does that look like? That’s the real question, and one we’re to consider any time we’re called to battle. In the political arena, many a Christian candidate has lost his way by asking God to support their campaign rather than ensuring their campaign sides with God. It’s only when getting elected becomes something secondary that siding with God can become our first priority. In marriage, we’re not called to battle, but battles do come, and it gets that much the worse if one spouse, or both, thinks that God is on their side. No, God isn’t going to side with your stubbornness. He doesn’t think you’re being principled; He knows you’re just self-centered. So stop thinking of yourself, and start thinking about Him and what it looks like to play for his team in your marriage. Then you’ll forget about being right, and worry about being biblical: being forgiving, submissive and self-sacrificial. There are also battles in basketball, baseball and every other sport too. When our kids are playing for their Christian school’s team they need to understand that God has a team out there on the floor, and there might well be a team opposing Him too, but that division won’t be shown via uniform colors. Players who want to side with God will make his priorities their own. So they can set their sights on scoring 20 and winning the championship game but that can’t be their ultimate goal. What’ll be more important is trying to do all that God’s way: playing with self-control, hearing the coach, respecting opponents and, despite the mathematical difficulties, giving 110%. Conclusion So God wasn’t siding with the Seahawks. That’s getting it backward. We are called to be on His team and called to play, and to campaign, and to love, and to battle His way. Let’s see things rightly and live our lives seeking His way. This originally appeared in the March 2015 issue under the title "On whose side? Battling Christians should pick the right team"...

Apologetics 101, Pro-life - Abortion

Pro-life 101: Removing the red herrings

RED HERRING: In argument, something designed to divert an opponent's attention from the central issue. If a herring is dragged across a trail that hounds are following, it throws them off the scent. – Dictionary.com ***** It’s about the unborn, but we so often get distracted. There’s only one issue that matters in the abortion debate, and that’s who the unborn are. If they aren’t human beings made in the very Image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) – if the unborn is just a bit of tissue – then no one should care if a woman goes in for elective tissue to get this bit of excess tissue taken care of. Tonsillectomies, appendectomies, bunionectomies: we don’t protest any of these things. If the unborn aren’t human, no one, including Christians, should object. But if they are human, if they are fellow Image-bearers, then the unborn warrant the same protection that everyone else has under the law. God has said, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13) and written that on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15) such that even the world acknowledges (or at least knows) that killing human beings is wrong. So it comes down to just one issue, just one question: “What are the unborn?” That’s what it’s about…but this isn’t what we most often talk about. Abortion supporters will talk about anything and everything else, trying to distract us with red herrings. And, strangely, pro-lifers will throw out red herrings of our own. So how can we stay focused? First, we need to be able to spot these red herrings whether offered up by their side or our own. Then we need to always, always, get back to the only issue that matters: the humanity of the unborn. 5 pro-choice red herrings So what are the most common pro-choice, pro-abortion red herrings?* #1 "Women have the right to privacy.” This argument is the basis for legal abortion in the United States, and it is popular in Canada as well. But we all know a right to privacy has limits and can’t be used justify child abuse – parents aren’t allowed to abuse their children so long as they do it behind closed doors! So the real issue isn’t privacy, but rather whether the unborn is a human being. If it is, then it shouldn’t be abused or killed, even if that abuse/dismemberment takes place behind closed clinic doors. #2: "Women should have the freedom to choose.” This is another right that must have limits. We aren’t free to do everything, so the key question here is: “women should have the freedom to choose what?” We don’t believe people should have the choice of whether they are going to kill others, so if the unborn are human beings then they should be protected like all other human beings. #3: "Women shouldn't have to carry a child conceived through rape.” The emotional impact of rape can be devastating, and complex. However, the moral issue is clear – it still depends on whether the unborn are human. If the unborn child is human we shouldn’t kill it for the sins of its father (we don’t even kill rapists!). So the issue is not rape, but rather whether the unborn are human. #4: "Making abortion illegal forces women into dangerous back-alley abortions.” In what other circumstances are we worried about making crime safer? Bank robbing is also hazardous, but no one thinks that a good reason to make it legal. Thus, if the unborn are humans, we would not be all that concerned that those who want to kill it may have to do so under risky conditions. So, once again, the issue isn’t back-alley abortions, but the humanity of the unborn. #5: "What about when the woman’s life is in danger?” Before Canada’s abortion law was struck down, this was one of the reasons abortions would be legally permitted. However, in many instances it was only the mother’s mental, not physical, health that was said to be at risk. So while this was a frequently used justification, it is only a very rare situation in which a mother’s life can be saved by aborting her child. This might seem an ethically complicated situation, but clarity can be found if we ask the one key question in the abortion debate: “What is the unborn?” If the unborn aren’t human beings, then if the woman’s life was in any sort of danger, abortion should be permitted. However, if the unborn is human, then this baby should be treated as fully human, just like the mother, and treated as such. Then abortion wouldn’t be permitted for faux dangers, as was happening in Canada. But it would be an option where there is a genuine danger, not because the unborn is worthless but because in some circumstances only one life can be saved. Common ground Both abortion advocates and pro-lifers employ red herrings and for the very same reason: pro-choicers raise red herrings because they don’t want to talk about the real issue. pro-lifers also raise red herrings, and again, it's because pro-choicers don’t want to talk about the real issue. When the abortion supporters absolutely won’t talk about the humanity of the unborn – when they won’t stick around for it, when they won’t take their fingers out of their ears, when they won’t stop screaming long enough to listen – then what use is there to talk at all? In the face of such bluster there is no reasoning, and no chance to dialogue. That's why many pro-lifers have changed tactics. Instead of asking the pro-choice side to join with us in common cause for the unborn, we've instead looked for a common foe. Feminists don’t want to defend the unborn, but they oppose sexism. Can we work together to stop sex-selective abortions, which target girls far more than boys? Might a woman who cares nothing for the unborn, still be concerned with anything that would impact her own health negatively? Can we save her baby by raising the abortion/breast cancer link and showing her that abortion isn’t in her own best interest? What of a vegan who catch-and-releases even the flies in her home? Might she be shocked to hear that a 20-week fetus feels pain as its limbs are being torn off one by one? Though she has no interest in the unborn as human beings, she wouldn’t treat her rescued pet goldfish like this. Maybe this sort will join with us in opposing abortion when the fetus is developed enough to feel pain. These are “red herrings” in that they don’t address the only issue that really matters: whether the unborn is a human being. But we use them because through them we seem able to make the forward progress that can’t be had while talking about the humanity of the unborn. 4 pro-life red herrings Thus there seems real potential in talking about more than just the humanity of the unborn – trying other approaches can save lives! But there is also an accompanying danger. The truth is that the only reason abortion should be illegal is because the unborn are human beings. As pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf has noted, it would be fine to experiment on fetuses, clone them, use them in make-up, harvest them for their stem cells, eat them, kill them for any reason at all… if the unborn were not human beings! But if they are precious human beings like you and me, they deserve the very same protection. That's the heart of the matter and the only relevant issue. The danger with using "pro-life red herring" arguments comes when we present these arguments as our only, or main, objection to abortion. These are arguments we can use, but they are not ones we can stand on...because they won’t support us. What follows are four of the more common pro-life red herrings, and explanations of how these arguments fall to pieces when they are presented on their own, apart from the issue of the unborn’s humanity. #1: “Maybe your unborn baby is going to cure cancer!” There are many versions of this argument (it is sometimes called the “Beethoven argument” as in “What if your child is going to be the next Beethoven?”) but all focus on the baby’s potential: the reason a child shouldn’t be aborted is because of what they might do in the future. But what if a mother already knows that their child isn’t going to be a genius? What if they’ve been given a Down syndrome diagnosis? Do we think the mother should be allowed to abort then? No, of course we do not. So this isn’t about what the child might be able to do one day, but rather about whether or not they are human beings. If they are, then no matter what they will or will not be able to do some day, they should be given the same protection as all other human beings. #2: “What if the fetus can feel pain?” Here the focus is on what the unborn can do right now. Other forms of this argument focus on other abilities: it has brain waves, or a beating heart, or can react to music, etc. But what if a child doesn’t have this ability yet? Would it be fine to abort the child then? No – that’s not what we believe at all. The real issue for us is not what the unborn can do right now – whether they have this ability or that – but whether they are human beings, made in the very Image of God, just like you and I. #3. “Studies show that abortion causes breast cancer!” While some studies show abortion increases a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer, drinking a glass of wine a day, or being overweight also increases her risk. Should we then restrict wine or caloric intake for women? No? Then why would this be a good reason to restrict abortion? This issue is not whether abortion harms a woman, but whether it kills her child. #4. “Did you know they’re selling baby body parts?” The Center for Medical Progress has exposed that Planned Parenthood in the US is selling body parts from the babies they abort. This is contrary to federal law and the details have horrified many millions. In response Planned Parenthood has agreed not to take money for these body parts – they promise to stop selling them, though the abortions will continue. Are we satisfied? No, our objection isn’t to the selling of body parts, but rather that there are body parts to sell. The killing is what we want to stop. Using red herrings the right way To be clear, it’s not wrong for us to use these “pro-life red herrings,” but we shouldn’t rely on them. These are not, after all, our arguments. We don’t believe them. We know it’s not the possibility of breast cancer, or that the fetus could feel pain, that makes abortion evil. That’s not only not our position; we know that it is factually and actually wrong. Instead, these are arguments we’ve adopted from the other sides’ worldview. We aren’t feminist (or at least, not at all in the way they are) but we can step inside their worldview and consider why a godless feminist might still object to abortion. And then, with that insight in hand, we can confront them with the reason why they, by their way of thinking, should oppose at least some abortions. But we always want to up be clear about the fact that they’ve got it all wrong. We want to use their arguments, but we sure don’t want to stand on them because they are without foundation. Thus when we make use of their arguments, they should always be connected to our own. First we adopt their worldview for the sake of argument, and then, once we have them talking, we lay out our own. Our argument need not be presented explicitly, but it does need to be done clearly. That might seem a contradiction in terms, but that's exactly what has been done by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Their brilliant undercover work exposed that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal baby body parts. Their explicit argument was that Planned Parenthood was breaking the law, but barely concealed was the real issue: Planned Parenthood isn’t just doing something illegal, but murderous. The CMP aren’t speaking to the humanity of the unborn, but the video footage they shared speaks for itself. It’s hard to miss the horror of what’s really going on when we hear abortionists laughing as a speaker recollects the time a baby’s “eyeball just fell down into my lap!” ARPA Canada is another example of how to make good use of red herrings. They use the fetal pain and parental notification arguments, and then put on enormous cross and flag displays (see the October 2014 RP issue for stunning pictures of the Parliament Hill display) that speak directly to the humanity of the unborn. Again, it is hard to miss the horror of what’s really happening when 50,000 pink and 50,000 blue flags – each one representing a child killed by abortion in Canada this year – cover the hillside. Conclusion There are many arguments offered in the abortion debate, but just one issue that matters. If we can spot the red herring arguments, and then either clear them away, or put them to our own uses, we will be ready to direct the conversation back to where it belongs. Then we can highlight the humanity of the unborn to a culture and a country that wants desperately to talk about anything else. May God grant us insight, clarity, and courage as we speak up for these little ones. Endnote * These five examples are taken from a list in Making Abortion Unthinkable: the Art of Prolife Persuasion, a DVD-based pro-life apologist group study by Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf (that I highly recommend). The wording is mine but the ideas are largely theirs. A version of this article first appeared in the November 2015 issue....

News

Saturday Selections - August 8, 2020

Our Kids Online: Porn, Predators & How to Keep Them Safe A new documentary making the rounds is an eye-opener and can be rented for $5 US at the link above. Read our review here. What do you believe? The value of knowing...in words "You say one picture is worth a thousand words? Well, let’s see about that. You give me one thousand words and I’ll give you the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm; and the Hippocratic Oath; and a sonnet by Shakespeare; and the Preamble to the Constitution; and Lincoln’s Gettysburg address; and I’ll still have enough words left over for just about all of the Boy Scout oath. And I wouldn’t trade you those things for any picture on earth." Why science and atheism don't mix "Science proceeds on the basis of the assumption that the universe is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to the human mind. No science can be done without the scientist believing this, so it is important to ask for grounds for this belief. Atheism gives us none, since it posits a mindless, unguided origin of the universe’s life and consciousness." While John Lennox is not a six-day creationist he does solid work here pointing out this gaping hole in atheistic evolutionary thinking. Two fantastic responses to racism Black conservatives are frequent targets of racism. These two Christians show how to respond with grace and power. The most frightening text in the Bible? Michael Kelly weighs in on Matthew 7:21-23, and the Church's role in addressing self-deception. When they say "Assisted Suicide is compassionate" (6 min) Why is suicide wrong? For the same reason that murder is: because we are taking the life of an image-bearer of God, and that is His, and not ours to take. This video overlooks this Christian foundation, and lists four practical problems that often result when a nation accepts Assisted Suicide. The four points are fantastic, and the video important viewing. But when we miss out on the Christian foundation, then any arguments we build won't have a firm footing. If it is only practical problems that prevent us from supporting Assisted Suicide, then that is where the debate will be had, and the other side will offer practical solutions. So, for example, if "sometimes a terminal diagnosis is wrong" there is an easy solution to that: a second opinion (or even a third, and fourth). Practical problem solved! Why won't such a practical solution actually work? Because once we think life something that is ours to take, then we won't value it enough to protect it this adamantly. The core problem is not a practical one, but whether we are going to treat life as given by God. When we understand that is the core issue, then we can point out the practical problems that result from seeing life as anything short of sacred. But those practical arguments will only stand if they rest on a foundation of Rock (Ps. 78:35). This post has been edit to correct a wrong link for the Michael Kelly article, which in its original mistaken form, took readers to what seems to be a cult's page. So, yeah, not the intended destination. Our thanks to the reader who caught this mistake - it is now fixed!...

News

Saturday Selections - August 1, 2020

Why this valedictorian regrets finishing on top (6 minutes) It took him a whole year to learn this lesson, and he's happy to share it. Free episode from Tim Challies' new documentary EPIC (25 min) In his 10-episode documentary EPIC, Christian blogger extraordinaire Tim Challies takes us around the world to investigate Church history by looking at a variety of key historical objects. In this first, free episode, we head to Israel to see what may (or may not) be Jesus' tomb, and go to Italy to see some ancient anti-Christian graffiti. NBA player wanted his jersey to highlight the national debt Now that the NBA has resumed play, we're seeing jerseys that, instead of the player's name, feature one of several approved "social justice" messages. A message that didn't make the cut was Spencer Dinwiddie's request for "trillion" which, coupled with his jersey number 26, would have been the current US national debt. 8 lessons from a friend whose life (and death) preached Christ A young pastor who was never famous passed away this past month. Part of his legacy was teaching a small group of men how to be godly men. "No Justice, No Peace"? Do two wrongs now make a right? (10-minute read) A 70-something-year-old waving a "No Justice, No Peace" sign at a BLM protest probably doesn't understand the threat implicit in that slogan. But the rioters do. Intent on burning down the system, they are acting as if two wrongs can make a right. But as Hendrik van der Breggen explains, that simply isn't so. Pornography is harmless. What would you say? (4 minutes) This is a great video laying out some practical problems that result from pornography use. But where the video falls short is that, even as it is produced by Christians, it fails to address pornography as the spiritual issue it is. The real problem with pornography is that it breaks the 7th Commandment (do not commit adultery). Sinning does bring with it practical problems, but if that was all there was to it, then we could address those problems with practical solutions. For example, if porn use makes someone lonely, only using it with someone else. Practical problem solved! What we need to do, then, is to stack these practical objections on top of a solid Christian foundation. Then our argument might sound something like this: Pornography isn't harmless; it's a sin against God. As a sin, it is destructive, causing – as this video describes – loneliness and sexual disfunction. ...

Religion

Christianity explains everything…even Reincarnation

How would you react if a Hindu told you that reincarnation was true? That isn't something that would unsettle or anger you, is it? The man is wrong, and if the situation allows you might try and convince him of his error, but his claim wouldn't upset you. Would you react differently if a Christian told you that the evidence for reincarnation couldn’t just be dismissed? And what if instead of one Christian telling you, it was two, and both were well-respected philosophy professors? At this point, some of us might start getting a little perturbed. We don't know how this could possibly fit with our Christian worldview, and we're getting...uncomfortable. We might be annoyed, even a little angry. The problem with this defensive reaction is that it has us acting like God and His Word can't stand up to challenges. At some point, most of us have reacted this way, though the trigger might have been sickness, or money troubles, or maybe the challenge of evolution. Whatever it is, we get scared, and start doubting whether God can provide the answers we need. Hunkering down behind our church pew doesn't help though. Even when we find ourselves having doubts, God's people can and should proceed in trust, knowing that our doubts don't actually impact His faithfulness. Our doubts won't make Him disappear, so we can tackle our questions, instead of hiding from them. We can turn to Him, asking for help and the answers we need. Now, Hindus don't come around door-knocking like the Jehovah's Witnesses, so the evidence for reincarnation isn't a challenge many of are going to have to face. But it is a fun example of how proceeding in trust can help us dig out unexpected truths and better understand the world as God has really made it. So let's take a closer look. The evidence J.P. Moreland and Gary Habermas are two Christian philosophers. Separately they have authored or edited such orthodox titles as: In Defense of Miracles; Love Your God With All Your Mind and The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. These guys are not New Age wing nuts. They’re not crazy. Though what they’re saying seems crazy. In their collaborative effort Beyond Death they devote a chapter to reincarnation and present some interesting evidence. A case they call typical involved a four-year-old boy named Prakesh who suddenly started telling his parents his actual name was Nirmal and that his home was in a different village. He told them many details about his “real” family including the names of friends and relatives and what business his father was in. He repeatedly tried to run away to this “former” home. Five years later things got really interesting when: “…Nirmal’s ‘real’ father visited Prakesh’s village and Prakesh recognized him. It was discovered that Nirmal was actually the name of the man’s son, who had died prior to Prakesh’s birth. Prakesh wanted to return ‘home,’ and subsequently was reunited more than once with those whom he claimed to have known in his previous existence. He recognized those he said were his former relatives and friends, greeted them with appropriate emotions, and provided precise details concerning the furnishings of his earlier home. Yet he was puzzled by the changes that had occurred in the intervening ten years.” Another explanation? This story is pretty compelling and it is easy to see why it and others like it are viewed as good evidence of reincarnation. But reincarnation does not fit with the Christian worldview; in the Bible we are told we live once, die, and then are raised to a new life in a different, perfect state. We die once and are raised once, not again and again and again as the reincarnation model states. So reincarnation is not true. But the evidence for it seems to be. What is a Christian to think? Is there another explanation that will fit the evidence? A better explanation? Yes. We need to look at the evidence a bit more deeply but by doing so we get a clearer picture of what is really going on. In a bit of an ironic twist, Moreland and Habermas turn to a reincarnation advocate to find the information they need to undermine the reincarnation position. Ian Stevenson presents a number of cases in which a child claimed to be the reincarnation of someone who was still alive when the child was born. But how can that be possible? Reincarnation is supposed to involve the passing on of a soul from a dead body to a new one, not the passing on of a soul from a living body to another body. So I cannot be a reincarnation of my brother Jeff since my brother is still alive and still very much in possession of his soul – he cannot pass it on to a new body until his old body is done with it. But in the cases Stevenson cites the reincarnated individual was born before the “earlier incarnation” had died. In one case in India “the deceased individual died when the second person was three and a half years old.” The spiritual realm Reincarnation has no explanation for such events…but the Bible does. In Scripture we learn that evil spirits can take possession of a person and control both what they say and what they do (see, for example, Mark 5:1-15). Scripture also tells us that these evil spirits have been living on earth for millennia. In the course of their time here they have undoubtedly seen a lot and had the chance to learn many facts and details about the lives of people long dead. They would know this information because they were actually there! So the evidence for reincarnation can be explained just as easily, and indeed better, as evidence of demonic possession. These people are not reincarnated versions of some former person – they are possessed by demons who have memories of events from long ago. Additionally, Habermas and Moreland note that many of these “reincarnation cases” occur in cultures that have very occultic religions. They quote one former Hindu guru who described his religion this way: “My world was filled with spirits and gods and occult powers, and my obligation from childhood was to give each its due.” Perhaps the reason “reincarnation” is more common in these cultures is that they openly worship evil spirits. It doesn’t seem too far a stretch to suppose that in a culture that prays to evil spirits, possession by these spirits might be more common. Conclusion The secular cynic dismisses anything supernatural because he can't touch, taste, hear, or see it. But, consequently, he has no answer for the evidence we've just encountered. Christians can sometimes act quite similar, dismissing evidence that doesn't easily fit in with our worldview. But we don't have to act so fearfully. While the secular sort can only maintain his worldview by ignoring all that conflicts with it, the Christian can be confident that nothing conflicts with it. Hindus probably aren't going to be knocking on your door any time soon. But you may get asked an uncomfortable question today. Whether it's your own kids asking questions about the birds and the bees, or a coworker asking about God and your faith, we're all going to get hit with questions we aren't ready to answer. That might leave us tempted to shy away from the challenge, and change the conversation to something about the weather or sports. But then our fear will have muted our witness. It's when we understand that what God has told us – about Himself, about ourselves, and about the world – is trustworthy, that we'll be able to seek out that truth boldly. Then what might seem uncomfortable questions can be recognized as opportunities to find out more about God. We might not always get a full answer – humility is also important, as only God is omniscient – but there are answers. Then, when we are bold we'll be able to share how Christianity explains not only reincarnation but everything else too! A version of this article was originally published in October 2003 as “Coming back again and again and again.”...

News

Poll: More Canadians condemn plastic straws than abortion

An Angus Reid poll, conducted in January of this year, asked 1,528 Canadians for their moral perspectives on a wide variety of issues. Among the findings: while 46% thought that sharing someone’s streaming account without paying is always or usually morally wrong, only 20% thought the same of “doctor-assisted dying” and just 26% for abortion. Canadians are rejecting God’s Law and like the Pharisees of old, they are creating their own substitutes in an attempt to justify themselves (Luke 18:9-14). Sure, I may have just had my elderly mother euthanized, and had my unborn baby aborted, but I’m a good person because I always use a bamboo, not plastic, straw. I’m doing my part! What are some of Canada’s replacement commandments? In varying percentages, Canadians think it always or usually wrong to: eat meat: 7% fly for recreation: 11%, or business: 12% buy a gas-guzzling SUV: 41% use single-use plastics like straws and cutlery: 51% have a Death Penalty: 57% spank a child: 60% do scientific testing on animals: 64% Almost half of Canadians think watching pornography is always or usually morally acceptable (45%) even as 47% say having a handgun in the house isn’t. 44% disapprove of buying a fur coat, but just 19% condemn gambling. In a twist, a few real sins are recognized as such. A majority of respondents still thought it always or usually wrong to buy sex (59%), not declare income to avoid paying taxes (84%), or have an affair (89%). The overall lawless trend this poll reveals presents Christians with a curious opportunity: if we’re up for it, God’s people have the opportunity to contrast the sandy underpinnings of the world’s moral code with the Solid Rock (Ps. 18:2) undergirding our own. However, to seize this opportunity we have to make sure our feet are firmly planted. We can’t fall for our culture’s manufactured morals. That means, when a vegan friend looks down their nose at our steak, we shouldn’t feel guilty. We can be confident about eating meat, no matter what our friend thinks, because we know God permits it (Gen 9:3) and that settles it. Likewise, even when 99% tell us otherwise, we can be confident it is still a sin to covet our billionaire neighbor’s goods. How do we know? Because God forbids it (Ex. 20:17). To seize this opportunity we also have to be fearless. A poll like this might tempt us to despair, what is our country coming to? But if we’re confident that Christ has already won, then we should be able to say with David, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can Man do to me?” (Ps. 27:1, Heb. 13:5-6). With that assurance, we can step into the fray and challenge the world’s misplaced convictions. So, for example, we can challenge them on the conviction that doing scientific research on animals is wrong. Is that so? Our secular culture says Man is just one more product of evolution, and if so why should any moral code apply to us? What other creature is condemned for its conduct? When a lion eats a gazelle, do we wag a disapproving finger? Or do we instead think it unremarkable when one animal takes advantage of another? Why should Man be treated any differently? Once we’ve exposed the empty space supporting their conviction, we can explain our own. Christians know that Man is indeed different, special because we alone are made in God’s Image (Gen. 1:27, 9:6). And because we are special, it is much better to first test a drug on a rat, or a pig, or a dog, before we would ever test it on a boy. God’s Law vs. the world’s manufactured morals – has the contrast ever been clearer? May God’s people take full advantage of this time and opportunity, and may God bless our efforts, using us to bring many to Him!...

In a Nutshell

Tidbits - April 2020

Are we only after better-behaved pagans? Christians have made a habit of advocating for Christians positions without advocating for them as Christian positions. So we raise practical objections and stand against trangenderism because it just isn’t safe allowing men into women’s washrooms. We oppose euthanasia by arguing it’ll put pressure on the aged who don’t want to be a burden to their families. We fight promiscuity because it leads to STDs. And we argue against abortion by highlighting how it might be linked to an increase in breast cancer. It’s true that were the world to live by God’s standards for only entirely secular reasons, their lives would likely be more enjoyable. But, as C.S. Lewis noted in Mere Christianity, that might also be accomplished if they followed any of the great teachers. “It is quite true that if we took Christ’s advice we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that Plato or Aristotle or Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what? We never have followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why are we more likely to follow Christ than any of the others? Because He is the best moral teacher? But that makes it even less likely that we shall follow Him. If we cannot take the elementary lessons, is it likely we are going to take the most advanced one? If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.“ If we’re only presenting “good advice” the world is as likely to reject it as any other advice. So what if promiscuity brings with it an increased chance of STDs, or abortion might result in breast cancer? We don’t know if we even have a tomorrow. So as Paul put in 1 Cor. 15:29-32, if there is no God – if we live only for today – then “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” So often we are looking for the savvy argument, the magic bullet that will sway even the unbeliever to side with us. But the truth is, we need to look for the God-glorifying argument. That is why we were put on this earth: not to convince pagans to be better behaved, but to glorify God. And we might just find that God has so arranged things that the God-glorifying truth is often also the savvy compelling one. Chesterton on war G.K. Chesterton was 40 when “the Great War” began, and he died three years after Hitler’s rise to power. So even though he didn’t see WWII, this journalist and Christian apologist lived through the lead up to both World Wars, and understandably has some pronounced views on the subject of war. “War is not the ‘best way of settling differences;’ it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.” “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” “The only defensible war is a war of defense.” What kind of impact will you have? In the US, federal elections happen every two years, and in Canada too, whether it is federal, provincial or municipal, there always seems to be an election just around the corner. A lot of elections going on means there are a lot of opportunities for Christians to speak God’s truth in this sphere and have an impact. How can we have an impact? Occasional Reformed Perspective contributor Tim Bloedow thinks one of the best ways would be by imitating Dr. Glenn Martin. This professor was convinced that every serious Christian should try to influence the vote of at least 100 people. He himself wasn’t satisfied unless he attempted to influence at least 1,000 and the way he went about it was by writing these 1,000 people to tell them how they should vote, and why. So, with the ever-present next election just around the corner, what are some ways you can present a Christian witness in the political sphere? 4 for video gamers to consider Phillip Telfer has been speaking about media and teens for a couple decades now, and in his latest booklet he offers a number of “considerations” for video gamers, and their parents, to, well, consider. Four of them are: TIME-STEWARDSHIP: Video games can be a huge time sink. Yet time is one of God’s gifts, one of the talents, we are supposed to invest wisely so video gamers should make a deliberate decision about how much time they are going to spend – going to invest – and then stick to it. ADDICTIVE: Video games can be habit-forming and addictive. In moderation some games might be just fine, but we need to understand that these games’ programmers aren’t trying to promote moderation. So, recognizing this, what can we do to prevent or counter video games’ addictive nature? ESCAPISM: Video games foster escapism. It is easier to play video games with people half a world away than to deal with our own family, or to go out and make friends. FALSE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Video games often give a false sense of accomplishment. The stereotype of a gamer is the 30-something-year-old living in their mom’s basement. But it doesn’t need to go to that extreme to be undermining real-world ambitions. Telfer’s 29-page booklet, 7 Considerations in the age of video games, can be downloaded for free here. Why are great quotes great? What makes a quote memorable? One key is a clever turn of a phrase, as in Yogi Berra’s “It ain’t over till it’s over” or Alexander Pope’s “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” But the very best quotes have another essential ingredient: wisdom. And it’s no coincidence, then, that the best quotes have parallels in Scripture, or echo biblical principles. “The cure for crime is not the electric chair but the high chair.” – J. Edgar Hoover “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Prov. 22:6 The FBI Director makes the same point as King Solomon: parents, for good or for ill, set their children out on a course that, in general, they will follow for the rest of their lives. “With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spiderman’s Uncle Ben “To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48 Uncle Ben’s statement might be the most famous in superhero movie history, and the reason it rings true is because it echoes what Christ says in Luke 12:48, and a point He makes in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” – Matt. 7:12 We all know how others should behave, and, in fact, prefer to preach rather than practice. But as Jordan Peterson put it last year: "If you can't even clean up your own room, who… are you to give advice to the world?" In Mathew 7 Christ confronts this hypocritical tendency a few different ways, urging us to think first of the beam in our own eye, rather than the mote in our neighbor’s (Matt. 7:3-5), and then calling on us to do to others as we would want done to us. We are responsible first and foremost for our own behavior. Some good news on the homefront In his short review of Glenn Stanton’s The Myth of the Dying Church, Marvin Olasky shares some big news. While we regularly hear about declining church attendance across the US (and the rest of the Western world), Stanton pointed to polling that shows there’s a decided upside too. From 2007-2014 there has been an increase in the percentage of Americans who: “say their faith is ‘very important to them’” “identify as Christian and say they pray daily, beyond a church service” “say they read the Bible at least once a week” “say they attend a small group for prayer, Bible study, or other religious education” In addition, over this same period, there has been an increase among regular church attendees, of those “who say they speak about their faith with others.” The Devil wants us to despair and forget that Christ has already won. Let’s not blind ourselves to the work God is doing even here in the supposedly “post-Christian” West. Gotta serve somebody “So many political and theological liberals need a cause to substitute for their moral obtuseness on such issues as abortion and homosexual behavior. They’ve found it in the worship of animals and plants. “ – Cal Thomas...

Documentary, Movie Reviews, Pro-life - Abortion, Watch for free

The Missing Project

Documentary 2019 / 75 minutes RATING: 8/10 2019 was the 50th anniversary since Pierre Trudeau’s government first legalized abortion in Canada. To mark the occasion a number of pro-life organizations came together to make this film. This is, in part, a history lesson, detailing the country’s sad descent to where the unborn today have no protections under Canadian law. The Missing Project begins by explaining the divisions that exist among pro-lifers, between what’s called the “abolitionists” and the “incrementalists.” As ARPA Canada’s André Schutten clarifies: “In Canada, the pro-life movement is very split on the question of, 'How do we implement a law?' So some people within the pro-life movement are adamant that we can only ever advocate for a total ban on abortions . Whereas others, including myself and my team, we certainly believe that we can make incremental changes .” One of the film’s strengths is how it gives time to representatives from both these sides. Whatever camp pro-lifers might have fallen into, it was a confusing time after the abortion law was struck down in 1988 and the Mulroney government proposed Bill C-43. No one knew at the time that this would be the last abortion restricting legislation proposed by a Canadian government. Some pro-lifers opposed it, hoping for much more. In a horribly ironic twist, these pro-lifers were joined in their opposition to the bill by abortion advocates who didn’t want any restrictions at all. They say hindsight is 20/20 but that isn’t true in this case. Pro-lifers today still fall on both sides. We hear some arguing the bill would have done almost nothing, and then get to hear from one of the bill’s crafters who argues that it would have at least done more than the nothing we’ve had in place since then. Bill C-43 was defeated in the Senate on a tie. After hearing from the various sides, viewers will probably be grateful that they weren't Members of Parliament at the time, and didn’t have to decide whether to vote for or against this bill. After the historical overview, we start hearing about the many things that have been missing in the public debate about the unborn. First and foremost, there are all the missing children, millions killed before they saw the light of day. Missing, too, is any media coverage of their plight. While that violence is committed behind closed doors, Jonathon Van Maren notes the media also have no interest in covering violence done in broad daylight against pro-life demonstrators. "...abortion activists often take their core ideology to its logical extent, which is that they can react with violence to people they find inconvenient - that's the core message of the abortion ideology." A missing answer At one point an atheist lists herself as one of the missing voices in this debate. It is odd, then, that while she was given time to make her argument – that we need to present secular arguments so as to reach atheists like her who don’t care what the Bible says – we don’t hear anyone making the argument for an explicitly Christian pro-life witness. There are many Christians in the film, but no one answering this young atheist, explaining that if we are only the chance product of an uncaring universe, why, from that worldview, would anyone conclude life is precious from conception onward? She believes it, but not because of her humanist stance – it's only because God's Law is written on her heart (Romans 2:14-15). So not only is it our joy and privilege to glorify God in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31), even from a very practical perspective, proclaiming the triumph of the Author of Life is the only answer to a culture of death. Conclusion That said, this is a film every Canadian Christian should watch because there is something here for everyone. Even if you've been involved in the pro-life movement for 20 years, you are going to hear something you’ve never heard before.  If you don't want to watch, because the death of 100,000 children a year is simply too depressing a topic, the filmmakers made sure this film is also encouraging. For example, about two-thirds of the way through, when we could really use a brief reprieve, the director gave us a moment of delight. Dr. Chris Montoya explains how we know a baby is able to learn from the time of the first detectable heartbeat. I won’t give it away, but it involved a tuning fork and thumping mom’s tummy. In a film full of muted horror, this was a moment of wonder – a kid at two months can already respond!  Another reason The Missing Project is encouraging is because of the challenging note it ends on. We learn there are things that can be done to help these babies. We don’t have to just toss up our hands in despair.  Another reason for hope is that, although God is not mentioned, Christians can fill in the blanks. We can see God at work in these various organizations, and it isn’t hard to imagine how His people can ally with and make use of these groups to offer our own Christian pro-life witness. So watch, learn how to spot our culture’s pro-abortion lies, be challenged, discover all the opportunities, and then go spread the truth that every one of us is made in the very image of God, right from the moment of conception.  The Missing Project can be viewed, for free at WeNeedALaw.ca/MissingProjectFilm where you can also find discussion questions and tips on how to host a movie night. Check out the trailer below. For more, you can also check out the 50 individual interviews that started this project – one for each year abortion has been legal in Canada. You can find those on the Life Collective website and also on YouTube here. Some of these individual interviews do raise an explicitly Christian perspective. ...

News

Saturday Selections - December 28, 2019

John Piper: You are not addicted to pornography (5 minutes) "The fact is 99 percent of those who give way to lust in pornography or fornication or adultery are not decisively controlled by their sexual desire. They are decisively controlled by what they believe..." Building friendships with your young children This article shares eight ways we can foster friendship with our children (and none of them involve being a pushover). The inner workings of your cell are as complicated as a city! (10-minute read) We need DNA to make proteins and proteins to make DNA. So which came first? Ann Gauger gives a fascinating overview of just how brilliantly even our cells have been designed. Conservatives face off: should we ban porn? (10-minute read) Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could ban pornography? Strangely, some conservatives don't think so, worried that if we impose our morality on others, the Left will try to impose theirs on us. Jonathon Van Maren lays out the contrasting conservative positions here, and it is certainly worth reading. But what we don't hear is an explicitly Christian position: that we shouldn't impose our morality, but God's. We get our morality from God, so that might not seem all that different. But consider this: when Christians try to impose God's morals without making mention of God, then we seem to be doing exactly what the Left does. We seem to be imposing our arbitrary standards – merely our own opinions – on everyone else. So we have to stop presenting God's standards as if they are simply our own, or simply a good practical approach – we need to argue for God's standards as God's standards, which is the reason they are applicable to all of His creation. Pornography is, of course, a health issue – flouting God's Law often results in bad health consequences (ex. drunkenness, promiscuity, homosexuality, all lead to health issues). But it is first and foremost a sin issue. If we lead with the health aspect, we're not standing on God's solid foundation, and then we shouldn't be surprised when we find we're on shaky ground. One example: pornography might result in some health issues, but frequent users have been found to be more tolerant of "alternative lifestyles" like homosexuality and transgenderism. So, from a secular perspective, sure, it might have downsides, but this upside too! The key then is that we need to address this issue (and all others) not as conservatives, but as Christians. In this case, that means speaking of why God created sexuality, and how He has made each one of us in His very Image, and how, when we depart from our Maker’s plans for us, it is to our own hurt. That’s a harder conversation to be had than: “Porn use leads to erectile dysfunction!” But it is the conversation that brings honor to God in a way that trying to impose Christian morals via non-Christians conservative reasons doesn’t. And only then are we addressing the heart of the issue: rebellion against God. Does that mean we have to start quoting chapter and verse when the speak to this issue? No. But it does mean that we need to lead with God, our Solid Rock. That might look like this: "God says that sex is something special, saved for marriage, and a private act. That's why social science also shows that sex, in that setting, binds hearts closer together, helps keep families intact, and ensures the children that may result will be born with a mom and dad. Pornography treats sex as cheap, dirty, and a throwaway. And that leads to promiscuity, disease, unexpected pregnancies,  erectile dysfunction, addiction, and so much more. God made us, so He knows what's best for us. And pornography is just so very harmful..." How I was (temporarily) deceived There's a lot of impressive-seeming "scholarship" out there that attacks God's Truth, and as a young man Dr. Wes Bredenhof got stymied by one bit of it – the Documentary Hypothesis. He soon discovered, though, that there are answers to be found for the Bible's many critics...if we'll look for them. How long does it take to read each book of the New Testament? Sometimes it might seem like reading the Bible front to back is an intimidating task. But would we dive in more eagerly if we understood just how little time it takes to dig in deep? For the full chart click on the link above or the picture below. And for a number of different Bible reading plans (from Ligonier Ministries) click here. ...

News

Christians now forced to stand on the Bible, not the dictionary

“Ain’t” is in the dictionary, and something else you might not expect is now too. In September, the US’s oldest dictionary publisher, Merriam-Webster, announced they were adding in a “nonbinary” definition for the word “they.” According to the new entry, “they” can be “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” In other words, if a guy who thinks he isn’t a guy wants us to call him “they,” he’s now got the dictionary backing him. But lest this depress, there is a shiny silver lining to this story. With the addition of this definition, God has taken away one of the worst arguments Christians might otherwise be tempted to use: an appeal to the dictionary. But that was never an authority we should have stood on. We don’t know we’re male and female because the dictionary says so, but rather because God says so (Gen. 1:27, Mark 10:6). Our stand isn’t based on the authority of the dictionary but on the authority of God’s Word! And now that’s all we’ve got. We can thank God, then, for giving us all that we need, and thank Him also for taking away a red herring that might otherwise tempt or distract us from standing on His Truth....

Movie Reviews, Pro-life - Euthanasia

Euthanasia film highlights horrors, but offers the wrong solution

This 15-minute film explains what's going on in Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002. It shows how euthanasia, first offered only to those who were supposed to be near death, has now been expanded. Now nurses can do it. And non-terminal people can get it. And children. And the mentally ill. And people who are sick, but whose conditions are not irreversible. https://youtu.be/r7ME2HKsUd4 This is not how it was supposed to be. But in Belgium they have found as one doctors puts it "The supply of euthanasia, stirs the demands," so the legalization created the pressure to allow more and more to qualify for euthanasia. This is a film that should be viewed by all, and liked and shared, so it can have the widest possible reach. People need to understand where this slippery slope is taking us. But it is also a film that should be critiqued. It was produced by a Christian group – the Alliance for Defending Freedom – and yet it is an entirely secular presentation. They likely thought this approach would allow their film to reach more people. After all, non-Christians who aren’t interested in God might still be horrified if they heard about the man in this film who only discovered his physically healthy mother had been euthanized after the fact. But avoiding mention of God is a huge mistake. Their secular defense can only highlight how euthanasia isn’t happening as it was promised. This secular strategy means their complaint can’t be "Euthanasia is wrong" but only, "Euthanasia is not as it was advertised." By avoiding the moral argument, they have to rely on mere practical objections; they can only show where the system failed. And the problem with practical objections is that they invite practical solutions. The man whose mother was killed? Ah yes, regrettable, Belgian officials might admit, but that could be prevented in the future with a bit more paperwork requiring children to be notified. As a strictly secular objection the film can only be a cry for the system to be tweaked, rather than overturned. But, of course, tweaks won’t work. Our problem isn’t merely the expansion of euthanasia – expansion is a given so long as any euthanasia is allowed. Why? Well, any strict rules we bring forward will always end up excluding someone just on the border of the rules. Then, since their case is not all that different than the cases already approved, on what basis can we exclude this poor suffering individual? That’s why the rules will always be stretched – because so long as no fixed moral standard is applied, there is nothing to prevent the rules being nudged a bit, and then nudged again, and again, until they’ve expanded to include any and all. That’s where we will inevitably end up when we stick to a secular argument. Will it be any different if we share the real reason euthanasia is wrong? Will the world listen when we explain that the reason euthanasia – all euthanasia – is wrong is because all life is precious, and a gift from God? Will they care if we tell them that euthanasia is wrong because our lives are not our own to take and dispose of as we please? Will they be convinced when we explain that our lives belong to God? I don’t know. But God will be glorified by it. And we can help Christians who might be wavering - Christian doctors, and nurses, and sons and daughters with aging parents - we can help them understand what God thinks, and what He demands, and what HE says compassion looks like. God says that putting a light under a bushel is foolish – why then do we insist on making godless argument to combat immorality? The world is only hearing lies, and we do it no favors when we keep the Truth from them. Who knows how God might use us if we but have the courage to be a light?...