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Tidbits – October 2021

Evolving “facts”

When a student visited his old university during a 20-year reunion he discovered that his old Evolutionary Science professor was still working there. He decided to track down the professor and found him in his old classroom grading exam papers. The former student was surprised to see that the questions on the test were the exact same ones he’d answered two decades before. So he asked his professor, “With the tests always the same year to year, aren’t you worried that your new students will be able to cheat off tests from your previous classes?”

The professor smiled as he answered: “The test questions might stay the same, but the answers are always changing.”

Wearing your convictions

A friend used to visit with the “reproductive rights” group on campus every time they set up a display. He went there to talk to them, and I followed along to grab a copy of all of their pamphlets, which I’d later shred. I knew what I was doing was petty and pathetic, but it still struck me as more useful than what my friend was doing. What good would talking ever do with these people?

Except… he reached one of them.

It took repeat visits, and I don’t know that he changed her mind. But what she said made it clear she did finally hear him: “You really think it’s a baby, don’t you? I always thought you guys just wanted to control women’s bodies.”

Many on the other side of the abortion debate don’t know anyone pro-life. Or if they do, they don’t know that they do, because the slaughter of the unborn isn’t a topic most pro-lifers are eager to raise. But for the unborn’s sake, we must. For the sake of the unborn, we have to start putting our pro-life convictions out there – that our value comes not from our size, abilities, or age, but being made in the Image of God (Gen 1:27, Gen. 9:6) – so that anyone who is open to the truth will know who to talk to. And one way to brand yourself clearly and loudly is by wearing a pro-life shirt. There are lots to pick from online, but some options include:

USA
LiveAction.org
Abort73.com
ParacleteTees.com
ProlifeShirts.com

Canada
MarchForLife.ca

Sequel to The Screwtape Letters

Over the years radio commentator and columnist Paul Harvey (1918-2009) shared a few different versions of a curious column that, like C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters before it, seemed to provide insight from the Enemy’s side. This excerpt is from a 1996 version of his “If I were the Devil” column:

“…I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’ To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which are in Washington …’”

The Christian rooster?

You’ve seen them on barns, but did you know rooster weather vanes have a history on churches? The Farmers’ Alamanac says it started with a couple of popes. Gregory I (c 540-604) declared that the rooster – already an emblem for Peter who denied the Lord three times before the rooster crowed – should be the emblem for Christianity. Then, a few hundred years after, Nicholas I (c 800-867) was said to have ordered churches to display a rooster on their buildings.

One problem with this account is that the rooster is said by some to be a specifically Protestant symbol. For example, in 2011 a reporter for the Star News asked the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC why they had a rooster topping their steeple. Dr. Ernest T. Thompson explained that in Europe roosters had been used to distinguish Protestant churches from Catholic ones, which were topped with crosses.

“Our rooster reminds us then of our Protestant heritage. It points to the dawning of a new day, and to the joy of the resurrection. The rooster also points to Peter’s threefold denial of Christ ‘before the cock crows,’ and so is a reminder to us not to deny our Lord.”

Here we have the rooster being associated with not just Peter, but the new day’s herald is also said to symbolize the new beginning that we have in Christ’s victory.

So if you see a rooster on a church, that’s what it might represent. But if you really want to know, you best ask someone from that church.

R.C. Sproul on why public schools have to go

Why do we have our own costly Christian schools when a free education can be had at public schools? It’s because, as Dr. Sproul explains, of what the public system is teaching children about God.

“There is no such thing as a neutral education. Every education, every curriculum, has a viewpoint. That viewpoint either considers God in it or does not. To teach children about life and the world in which they live without reference to God is to make a statement about God. It screams a statement. The message is either that there is no God or that God is irrelevant. Either way, the message is the same.”

But if public schools are being used to teach that God is irrelevant – if they are doing the work of the Adversary – why aren’t we trying to defund and dismantle them? Is it because we aren’t as concerned as we ought to be about other people’s kids? Or is it because we don’t know what to offer as an alternative? Sure, we have our own Christian schools but what’s everyone else going to do? What if they can’t afford their own private schools?

One short-term fix is homeschooling, an often inexpensive alternative readily available with loads of online help. Another fix is a voucher system where the government still hands out education dollars, but to parents instead of schools. Then parents can decide what schools they want to support. Of course, so long as the government is paying for things, they’ll try to control it. That’s why the ultimate goal has to be to get them out of education entirely and return responsibility to parents. That’s no small task – it might take generations to take back a role the government had dominated for decades. Not a small task, but as R.C. Sproul makes clear, it is a necessary one.

The Amish on smartphones and social media

In a recent column, “What we can learn from the Amish,” Jonathon Van Maren shares this anecdote:

“…an Amish historian was once giving a lecture to a room full of academics on how the Amish live. To illustrate the Amish mindset, he asked his audience how many of them felt they watched too much TV and thought their lives would be better off without it. Nearly every hand in the room went up. Having admitted this, the historian went on, how many of you will go home and get rid of your TV? And every hand in the room went down. That, the historian explained, is where the Amish differ from the rest of society: they have decided to reject those things that will interrupt or inhibit the sort of lives they wish to live, while most of us remain voluntary slaves to things we know we would be better off without.

Van Maren then applies that to our technological age, to smartphones and social media, and how often we will complain about them, but how few of us are willing to forsake them or even put any sort of limits on them. The challenge the Amish present us is to consider,

“Does this help or hinder the sort of life I should live? And if it does not, why am I allowing it to influence and shape my life for the worse?”

Evolution is a non-starter

People can make more people. Dogs and cats can make more dogs and cats. The regularity of it might be why we’re not struck by the sheer wonder of this self-replication. That we’re under awed is one reason too many are overly impressed with evolution, which makes the absurd claim that this self-replication arose on its own, with no intent or intelligence behind it. As an exasperated Granville Sewell notes, over at EvolutionNews.org:

“…with all our advanced technology we are still not close to designing any type of self-replicating machine. That is still pure science fiction. So how could we imagine that such a machine could have arisen by pure chance?”


Up Next


In a Nutshell

Tidbits – August 2021

Now, that’s a Nicaean pun! A self-described “heretic,” famous for formerly being the lead singer of a popular Christian band, got some attention this summer for this tweet: Jesus was Christ. Buddha was Christ. Muhammad was Christ. Christ is a word for the Universe seeing itself. You are Christ. We are the body of Christ. The best response in this case might seem to be no response at all, as this fellow already knows what the Bible actually says and doesn’t really need more publicity (which is why I’m not sharing his name). But for those getting confused by the singer, the best response might have been the clever rejoinder by Andrew Snyder: “If you can’t say something Nicaean, then don’t say it at all.” Can we have a witness? "It is not your primary calling to change your culture.... Instead, you must constantly remember that the Lord has called you to be his witness before the lost and condemned world in which you now live." – John MacArthur (from his daily devotional Moments of Truth, with empahisis added) Pluck out the internet? “Most of the publications I write for are online…. I would still get rid of the Internet tomorrow if I had the chance, just to get rid of porn because of how poisonous it is. People are saying ‘Well the Internet has brought so much good.’ I wouldn’t take the tradeoff. 53% of American divorces court cases cite pronography as one of the key reasons for that divorce. 80% of young people view porn by the time they are between the ages 9 and 11. It’s tearing at the social fabric of families, of couples, relationships, churches. None of that is worth are ability to get a hold of each other faster, and to email each other quicker and to sell junk online. …. None of it is worth the cost that we pay for having it turn into the largest distributor of sexual violence in human history.” – Jonathon Van Maren on the Real Talk podcast Why marriages last On the occasion of his 23rd anniversay, Greg Koukl asked his daughters why they thought he and his wife had stayed together this long. One daughter quickly answered, “because you looooooove each other.” Koukl’s response: “That’s not it.”  That, he noted, was the Hollywood answer, but as couples who have been married for any length of time know that there are times where you might not feel all that loving towards your spouse and yet God calls on you to still love your spouse. How is that possible if you’re just not feeling it? Part of it is that love isn’t simply a feeling, but also an action, and even when you don’t feel it, you can still act it. Koukl shared this story: “I heard a priest once, at a wedding, say something very profound on this line. He said:  ‘You have come together this day, for this wedding, to get married because you love one another. From this day forward, that order is reversed. That is, you love one another, because you are married. ‘“ Bring the condemnation with concern This is an abbreviated version of a joke recently passed along by Douglas Wilson. At the risk of ruining the joke, I’m going to frontload an application. The moral of this joke is something we need to have in our hearts when we talk to people caught up in sins that disgust us. Do they hear concern, or only condemnation? When a little Methodist chapel up in the boondocks lost their pastor of many years, the congregation wanted another of the same stock. Their old pastor was old school, from beginning to end. He was a fiery fundamentalist, and he believed the Bible, all of it, and the people loved him. So they wrote their bishop down in the city, and requested he send them a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, and not one of those new-fangled kinds. This threw the bishop for a total loss, because he wasn’t sure he had one of those, but he made a few delicate inquiries. Much to his astonishment, he found one, and shipped him up there. And to his dismay, about three weeks later, they sent their new man packing. The following week, they sent the bishop another letter, asking for a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher. The bishop wasn’t sure he was going to be able to help them, but he made further inquiries, and found another one. He sent him up, but he only lasted two weeks. When the same scenario played out the third time, the bishop had almost given up hope. When he found a third preacher who seemed to fit that description, he commissioned him and sent him off, but without much hope. To his great surprise, this third man conducted a long and fruitful ministry at this little chapel, preaching hellfire and brimstone up there for two or three decades. This mystified the bishop, and he couldn’t make any sense. But one day he was at an ecclesiastical conference of some sort or other, and he spied an old-timer from that church who happened to be attending. His curiosity getting the better of him, he walked up to the old-timer and said, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” The old-timer said sure, and the bishop said, “I sent you people three hellfire and brimstone preachers, and you rejected the first two out of hand, and kept the third one for years. Do you mind explaining that for me?” At this, the old-timer grinned, and said, “It is pretty simple, bishop. The third one sounded like he didn’t want us to go.” How to live in an atomic Covid age Corrie Ten Boom and C.S. Lewis died long ago, but have some thoughts to share on living in our current Covid age. The Lewis quote is from his essay, “On living in an atomic age” while the quote from Ten Boom isn’t properly sourced. It is widely dispersed online but as Abraham Lincoln once warned in another quote widely dispersed online: “Don’t believe everything your read on the Internet.” But whether it was Ten Boom or not, there’s wisdom to be had for today. “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.” “In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty. This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.” – C. S. Lewis “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom What’s really in your job description? Christians, in an effort to impact their culture, will choose to mute their Christian witness. We enter the public square promoting God’s morality on abortion and sexuality, but without ever mentioning it to be such. When we do that we’ve misunderstood the purpose for which God created us. “…in your public involvement, don’t conceal the roots of your convictions about what is right and wrong. Don’t try to get a better hearing through downplaying your dependence on Christ and his Word and the gospel. “This is where many Christians, it seems to me, lose their saltiness and their light. Advocating for behaviors that are Christian is not the light of the world. Advocating for restraining behaviors is not the light of the world. There is nothing gospel in it. The light of the world is Christ and all that God is for us in him, all his gospel, and all his promises. If Christians become practical atheists in public, but simply advocate for behaviors that correspond to Christian ethics, they may see a little more political acceptance and affirmation in the short run, but they will lose the larger battle for the eternal good. “Do we really want to invest in a society whose outward behaviors are moral while everybody goes to hell?” – John Piper interviewed on DesiringGod.org April 26, 2016 on the question “Should Christians partner with non-Christians on social issues?”...


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