Backstory

Everyone has a backstory, and most of the time it helps to hear it. This blog really isn’t about me; it’s about Christ Jesus and His glory. Yet, I know that as Paul let his churches know him as a “father” and even (amazingly!) a “mother” in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, so readers want to know who they are hearing from. That desire is a good thing, a gift from God to connect humans made in His image (Genesis 1).

For the most part, the last three years have been the hardest spell of my rather short life. I’ve hinted at it here and there (and I hate to either use this blog for confession or to downplay the importance of serious thought), but for a time blogging has taken a distant backseat to Scripture, prayer, my wife, our children, worshipping with our local church, working hard in my vocation, and building God-centered friendships.

None of that is to say that blogging isn’t important to me; serious thought is commanded for the Christian. Indeed, so many of the benefits of life are lost without serious, faith-filled thought. I shudder to think how much grace I’ve lost, forgotten, or neglected through my own poverty of biblical thought.

And none of this is to say that my readers aren’t important to me. I thank the Lord for each and every person who benefits from this blog and who encourages me, whether through comments, questions, or just seeing that someone liked what I wrote.

I enjoy all of this and count it a privilege to write to you. Now, back to covering topics so much larger than myself . . .

Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

Grace in the Dark

Micah 7:7-9 is a glorious passage to those in the dark. Let’s look at its broader context, starting with verses 5-10:

5 Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend;
guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms;
6 for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.
10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?”
My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.

Notice a few things here:

  1. The destruction of Jerusalem is so thorough that Micah’s hearers cannot trust their friends and family members. This is a deeply unbelieving generation, when members of your household can no longer be dear to us in our worst times.
  2. Micah speaks of an opposite response: waiting on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord is the opposite of hating one’s father and mother.
  3. Micah trusts that God will hear him: “My God will hear me.” God’s ear and response are the content of Micah’s hope.
  4. God’s victory nullifies the enemy’s taunting. In fact, God wins the victory even over the truth in the enemy’s taunts.
  5. God brings Micah out to the light. This is no “look at how far I’ve come” testimony. It is a statement of God’s saving, justifying power. He brings us out of the darkness into the light.

Grace often comes in those in the dark. “When I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me,” (v.8b). It is precisely at this time that the Lord is a light to us, when, like Micah, we sit in the dark.

Often, sitting in the dark, we think God has abandoned us. Our circumstances, if they can be trusted, tell us this and little else. They sound like the enemy of verse 10, “Where is the LORD your God?” But don’t forget the rest of the verse: “My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.” God wins. But how?

Recall that verse 9 says that God is the one who pleads our case. While He is already the offended party and the judge, He now “switches sides,” in a manner of speaking, to plead for us. Despite the fact that we have wronged Him directly, He now argues for our innocence. When Christ appears in our place, God’s judgment can be – and must be! – for us and not against us.

Once God has pleaded our case, there is no truth to the darkness any longer. True darkness only comes from the presence of sin, and upon justification all sin is declared “PAID” in Christ.

From all this darkness, then, God brings us out into the light. When we remember the truth about sin, righteousness, justification, the cross, and God’s grace, the light dawns. Faith, in other words, is the evidence that God has brought about the light of truth in our hearts.

Not long ago, I sat in the dark. When I could carry my sin no more, God reminded me that it was already paid in Christ. He reminded me of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He brought me out into the light.

How to Explain a Quote from Literature

In class, we have been working on explaining quotes in paragraph form. Here is our three-step process:

  1. Note the context. This is the “who-what-when-where-why-how” of the quote itself. Where does it appear? Who said it? What was happening in and around that scene? 1 sentence, including citation (page or act/scene/line number).
  2. Explain the quote. Use your own words to explain the words on the page, but don’t just re-quote the quote. 1-2 sentences.
  3. Connect the quote to main themes. Pick 1-2 themes in the larger book/poem/play and explain how the quote connects to those. 1-2 sentences.

See the worksheet for examples, and happy explaining!

Losing the Gospel By Being “Missional”

“Missional” seems to be the new shibboleth for “Hey, we live for Jesus, and we think we’re cool.” The problem isn’t the emphasis on discipleship, but the emphasis on what we do instead of what Christ has done.

Theologians have warned over and over (and over and over) and over and over again that Christianity will always tend to return to works rather than grace. This is plainly true throughout Scripture and history. When the emphasis lies more on what we do than on what Christ has done, we are preaching man-centered works rather than Christ-centered grace.

Scan the blog posts, books, sermons, and Twitter feeds of our modern “missional” teachers, and you’ll see that many are more obsessed with the day-to-day of individuals living “missionally” (even going to lengths to show how “missional” their own churches are) than the age-to-age of Christ’s accomplishments in the gospel.

The proof is in the pudding. We can talk all day long about the gospel being great; but, until we preach it with great weight, urgency, and emphasis, we really don’t believe in its greatness. We’d simply rather talk about us.

The defense generaally comes back that such preachers are just “trying to help people” and “recover what’s been lost” in Christian discipleship. The funny thing is that’s not how the Bible does it. The Bible relentlessly, unapologetically, directly preaches Christ and Him crucified. Too often, Christian leaders don’t.

I appreciate the heart behind wanting to be “missional,” but only to a point. As C.S. Lewis cautioned, however, if we put second things first, we lose first and second things.

You Can’t Teach Critical Thinking if You Don’t Believe Anything

Or, “The Great Lie of American Secularism”

“Critical thinking,” everyone says, is a buzzword in education these days. Conference speakers, school administrators, parents, and political leaders all kick the dust around it. Yet true critical thinking remains an enigma. Why?

Because you can’t teach critical thinking if you don’t believe anything.

The logic is simple:

  • Premise 1: Critical thinking is the set of thinking skills involving synthesis, analysis, creation, and evaluation.
  • Premise 2: Each of these skills require a set of definite criteria, i.e. stated beliefs.
  • Premise 3: American secularism devalues any defined criteria, and, in fact, provides none of its own.
  • Conclusion: Secularists can’t teach critical thinking.

If you find these statements controversial, or have never thought of the implications of your own beliefs, take a moment to break these thoughts down.

Critical Thinking Defined (Premise #1)
The first premise isn’t controversial – it’s a simple definition of critical thinking, or “higher-order” thinking skills. Philosophers and educators have agreed on these for thousands of years. The pyramid of thinking skills goes up from knowledge to comprehension to application to synthesis/analysis to creation to evaluation.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills, in other words, are the development and deepening of acquired knowledge with direction in its development. By definition, the skills have to go somewhere. Understanding this, premise 1 stands.

Higher-Order Thinking Skills Require Beliefs (Premise #2)
Premise 2 is where I may lose some people, and where the crux of my argument lies. Beliefs not only help critical thinking, they essentially enable it. There is no true “critical thinking” that cannot take apart knowledge and put it back together within an external control, a worldview.

Remember, the meaning of “integrity” is soundness, wholeness, honesty of life. The key question is, “What is the principle with which we will synthesize and analyze?” Secularists have no principle but themselves, who are ever changing as the weather (remind anyone of Jude 1:12-13?). Thus, true synthesis and analysis are impossible without coherent worldview principles.

In mathematics, breaking down numbers into parts, equations, or proofs requires a controlling principle, i.e. the soundness of our number system. Without this, analysis and synthesis fail in numbers, as in the rest of life.

When it comes to the skills of creativity, we live in a strange culture. To American secularists, “creativity” is its own value, apart from beliefs and morality. Historically, beauty has been valued for its conformity to truth. In a truth-less culture like ours, however, a painting or motion picture or song is called “good” without any baseline meaning for the word “good” itself. As Al Mohler has observed, however, character terms like morality and integrity “lack all content if they aren’t specifically tied to worldview convictions.” Thus, teachers who teach creativity without conviction are like well-wishers who send sailors off in on a voyage to nowhere, saying, “Have a great journey!”

Now we can see where the highest critical thinking skill, evaluation, will go. Without worldview, evaluation also fails. If all the steps before it have flown apart at the seams, we should not expect evaluation to succeed. Evaluation is the culmination of study and thought. Without beliefs, both those preceding skills and the end result are impossible. To put it another way, how are we to evaluate if we have nothing to evaluate against?

American Secularism Believes Nothing (Premise #3)
Of course, it is impossible to believe nothing. Everyone has a worldview. But here we mean, “nothing positively defined outside ourselves.” We truly believe we are the measure of all things. The universe’s buck stops with us. We ought  to command the waves, the wind, the seas, and the stock markets – and we’re mystified when we can’t.

Because of our radical individualism, we believe that no truth exists outside of ourselves. If enough of us agree on something, that can become a cultural “truth,” but that “truth” fails when it face a “truth” from another culture. Again, the war of little “truths” proves that we believe in no Truth at all, only what works for us until culture or personal discernment proves otherwise.

Every secularist has a worldview, but the sine qua non of the secular worldview is that truth doesn’t exist.

Secularists Can’t Teach Critical Thinking
If premises 1, 2, and 3 are true, the conclusion is that belief-less secularists can’t teach belief-dependent critical thinking. Critical thinking is a bundle of skills that depends not only on raw knowledge, but on a coherent worldview – an integrity of thought – that enables and propels honestly critical thinking.

Further, thinking that only aims to support self (the primary secular principle) can never be truly critical, because critical thinking requires the critical evaluation of ourselves. We are the ones who must finally be evaluated, not merely do the evaluating. Without self-evaluation, all of our learning becomes an exercise in narcissism, hypocrisy, and vanity.

Even more, for critical thinking to reach its true end, we must evaluate ourselves now – because we will one day be evaluated by God, according to His perfectly coherent, perfectly true worldview.

Legal Principles Have Universal Applications

[This post is fifth in a series on Francis J. Beckwith's seminal paper, "The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law." Part 1 is called, "The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade;" Part 2, "Novel Inventions of Abortion Law;" Part 3, "19th Century Anti-Abortion Law;" and Part 4, "Is the Unborn a 14th Amendment Person?"]

Second, though Texas cited no cases in which the unborn are declared Fourteenth Amendment persons, at least one federal court case did: Steinberg v. Brown. It is unknown as to why Blackmun cited Steinberg but failed to include the following, which would undoubtedly destroy his majority opinion:

It seems clear, however, that the legal conclusion in Griswold as to the rights of individuals to determine without governmental interference whether or not to enter into the process of procreation cannot be extended to cover those situations wherein, voluntarily or involuntarily, the preliminaries have ended, and a new life has begun. Once human life has commenced, the constitutional protections found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments impose upon the state the duty of safeguarding it.

“Once human life has commenced, the constitutional protections found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments impose upon the state the duty of safeguarding it.” As Beckwith observes, this shouldn’t have been controversial: “A legal principle has universal application.” He offers the examples of anti-burglary laws written before the advent of computers and freedom of religion laws written before a new faith was invented. Both would apply to new knowledge or situations without changing the nature of the laws.

Dear Pastor, Do Your Job

What do I do with this?

What do I do with this?

According to a multiplicity of biblical texts like Mark 1:15, Ephesians 4:10-15, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, and Hebrews 13:7, the pastor’s job is to preach the Bible for the glory of God:

  • His job is not to be a community organizer; his job is to preach the gospel that might get him stoned.
  • His job is not to meet with other pastors and become well-known; his job is to teach the Bible so well that every man under his charge might well become a pastor.
  • His job is not to counsel the hurting sheep but to feed all the hungry sheep, including the hurting. Counseling may follow preaching, but it must not precede it.
  • His job is not to attract unbelievers; his job is to preach the gospel and believe that God will bring whomever He may will.
  • His job is not to manage services, though the preaching ought to well flow in congregational worship. His job is to preach the gospel as an act of worship both to the God who spoke His Word and to bring the people to worship this same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • His job is not to manage the church like a business; His job is to lead her by speaking the Word of God to her.

Often when we see churches going astray and becoming diseased, it is simply because her pastors have forgotten these basic principles. God’s Word never changes, dear pastor, so there’s no need to innovate with bells, whistles, and rock-and-roll show tactics. As Andrew Peterson sings to his son, just “stick to the old roads.”

Is the Unborn a 14th Amendment Person?

[This post is the fourth in a series on Francis J. Beckwith's seminal article, "The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law." Part 1 is called, "The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade;" Part 2, "Novel Inventions of Abortion Law;" and Part 3, "19th Century Anti-Abortion Law."]

B. Is the Unborn a Person under the Fourteenth Amendment?

Blackmun and the abortion-hungry Court had one more legal foundation to tear down: the unborn’s right to the personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment. The relevant part of the amendment reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any  person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Blackmun cites three reasons why the unborn are not Fourteenth Amendment persons: the Constitution doesn’t define them as such, Texas had no cases holding the unborn as Fourteenth Amendment persons, and abortion’s de facto practice in the nineteenth century. As Beckwith argues, “each reason is seriously flawed,” (p.51).

First, Blackmun’s logic on the Constitution’s definition of “person” merely begs the question. The Constitution didn’t aim to define “person” biologically. Without such a definition, the lack of one cannot exclude the unborn. To do so is to construct an argument from ignorance, but it wasn’t the last time in Roe that Blackmun did so. Further, though the development of the unborn was not known at the time of the Constitution but was at the time of Roe, Blackmun allowed no room for that in his analysis, (p.51-52).

Stories Live Out Truth

I’ve been saying for a while, in various conversations with students, teachers, and parents, that Christians (and conservatives in general) have failed to defend the philosophical foundations which once made our country the freedom-loving, capitalism-enjoying, life-defending, worship-freeing nation it was meant to be. Those days, clearly, are gone. Now all parts of the “right” (our country’s term, not mine) are fighting for our philosophical lives.

Here, however, I am not assuming that all Christians are conservative politically or that all conservatives are sympathetic to Christian views. I am only saying that Christians and conservatives share some of the same public values, and that Christians should care about the truth being told in our country.

This is why Rod Dreher’s recent piece, “Story Lines, Not Party Lines,” is so important. In it, he makes the case for the importance of stories and why America needs conservative true stories so badly:

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

One direct application for me was this: what stories am I telling my family, my students, my friends and church and world? The world may be won or lost according to stories like mine.

Why? Because, as Dreher explains, “Stories work by indirection: not by telling us what to believe but by helping us to experience emotionally and imaginatively what it is like to embody particular ideas.” Embodiment must come with ideas, and is not optional.

This squares well with the Bible’s tight balance between positive doctrinal literature (epistles, wisdom, prophetic writings), positive and negative narrative accounts (OT history), and those that skillfully intertwine both (Pentateuch, Gospels, Acts, Revelation). God Himself sees truth as not only abstract but very livable. Jesus Christ was and is and always will be truth embodied in flesh.

Our children, husbands and wives, churches, friends, schools, and nation desperately needs stories worth telling – the kind of stories that are worth mimicking, the kind of stories that are worth building our lives on. Are you telling those stories, or are you leaving it up to the televison, internet, or paperback section?

19th Century Anti-Abortion Law

[I've been blogging through Francis J. Beckwith's seminal article, "The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law." Part 1 is called, "The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade," and Part 2, "Novel Inventions of Abortion Law." ]

Then Beckwith further analyzes in two sections below:

A. Were Anti-Abortion Laws Meant to Protect the Unborn?

Beckwith begins, “Blackmun was wrong about the primary purpose of theanti-abortion laws. Although protecting the pregnant woman was an important purpose of these statutes, there is no doubt that their primary purpose was to protect the unborn from  harm,” (p.46).

Beckwith then quotes James S. Witherspoon’s research to show that twelve different legal commonalities between nineteenth centurty anti-abortion statutes at the state level prove this very same point: “the primary purpose of nineteenth-century antiabortion statutes was to protect the lives of unborn children is clearly shown by the terms of the statutes themselves.” Here are the twelve elements, to be understood “individually and collectively”:

  1. The laws’ punishment for attempted abortion increased if it caused the child’s death.
  2. The laws gave the same range of punishment for child-killing in an abortion as for mother-killing in an abortion.
  3. The laws called attempted abortion and other child-killing acts “manslaughter.
  4. These laws prohibited all abortions, except those necessary to save the mother’s life.
  5. These statutes called the fetus a “child.”
  6. These laws called the unborn child a “person.”
  7. These statutes categorize abortion with homicide, related offenses, and offenses against born children.
  8. The laws gave abortions severe punishments.
  9. These laws treated mother-killing abortions as “manslaughter” rather than “murder,” as they were at the common law level.
  10. The laws required that the abortion be attempted on a woman who was indeed pregnant.
  11. The laws required that the abortion be intended to “destroy the child.”
  12. The laws incriminated the woman’s participation in her own abortion.

Taken together, these commonalities prove that Justice Blackmun and the majority Court of Roe ignored the legal evidence and lied about their research.

Free Will and Free Reading

How Autonomous Free-Will Ruins Theology

Once in conversation, I noticed a connection between our (wrong, evil, disastrous) idea of “free will” and how we read the Bible. It works like this: once the door of “free-will” is open to ourselves, we apply it to everything we read, too. Once we are free to “choose” God, we think we are free to “choose” whatever other “truth” fits our selfish hearts.

The alternative, should we not yet see, is to submit ourselves wholly to the Word of God  in personal decisions, in interpreting the Scripture itself, and in interpreting the world around us. Either the Word rules you, or you think you rule. It really is that simple.

But what most (though not all) bad interpretations come down to is simply an amplified sense of self. In all bad theologies, we become divinized versions of ourselves, able to contort and invent the Scriptures as we see fit. We don’t submit to the rules of Scripture (context, context, context; theological principles and reading the whole as a unit) because we have better rules.

Indeed, out of this false sense of righteous self, we reject the rules and make God’s Word (should we actually be able to “make” it) say what we say. Instead of speaking the Scripture, we force the Scripture to speak us.

Novel Inventions of Abortion Law

[In Part 2 of 7, we'll look at the next section of Francis J. Beckwith's paper, "The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law."]

Beckwith’s second large section is titled:

II. How the Court Found a Right to Abortion

The wording here is choice: the Supreme Court of the United States had to prod, dig, and search to produce a “right to abortion” in their Roe decision. Here’s why: the Court had to eliminate two huge impediments to interpreting the “right to privacy” for birth control from from the Griswold case to include abortion (see p.42). Those two impediments were the long-standing, near-omnipresent US laws protecting the unborn and the constitutional rights given the unborn under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Therefore, in order to legalize abortion, the SCOTUS had to prove that such a “right to privacy” does include abortion and that the unborn is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment. Blackmun started with ideologically misreading the history behind anti-abortion law:

  • Justice Blackmun differed on the purpose of prior anti-abortion laws: “According to Blackmun, the purpose of these laws, almost all of which were passed in the nineteenth century, was not to protect prenatal life, but rather, to protect the pregnant woman from a dangerous medical procedure,” (p.44).
  • Blackmun reframed common law history in his own terms: “Blackmun argues that under the common law’s framework, prior to the enactment of statutory abortion regulations, abortion was permissible prior to quickening and was at most a misdemeanor after quickening. Therefore, Justice Blackmun claims that because abortion is now a relatively safe procedure, there is no longer a reason for its prohibition. Consequently, Justice Blackmun asserts that given the right of privacy, and given the abortion liberty at common law, the Constitution must protect a right to abortion,” (p.44).
  • Blackmun changed the timeline: Though the Roe majority decision outlines historical laws concerning abortion, “Blackmun’s historical chronology is ‘simply wrong,’ because [contrary to his own timeline, ed.] twenty-six of the thirty-six states had already banned abortion by the time the Civil War had ended,” (p.45).
  • Blackmun was later exposed: “Justice Blackmun’s history (excluding his discussion of contemporary professional groups: AMA, APHA, andABA) is so flawed that it has inspired the production of scores of scholarly works, which are nearly unanimous in concluding that Justice Blackmun’s “history” is untrustworthy and essentially worthless,” (p.45).

US Supreme Court convention requires that judges research and consider prior case law, particularly those that set legal precedent, before handing down their own decisions. In this case, Blackmun and the majority judges co-opted a clear history of anti-abortion laws at the state level, as we will see next time.

    How to Produce Wet, Spineless, Feeble-Minded Men

    Why are Western churches full of women, spineless men, and fewer and fewer children? Robbie Low, a vicar in the Church of England, investigates this trend in his Touchstone article, “The Truth about Men and Church.” After explaining a Swiss survey linking a father’s influence to his children’s church attendance, Low illumines various connections between fatherhood and the church: the church’s mission, feminism in the culture, the disintegration of the family, and the training of church leaders.

    On the last connection, he drops this hammer of a quote on Western church culture:

    One does not need to go very far through the procedures by which the Church of England selects its clergy or through its theological training to realize that it offers little place for genuine masculinity. The constant pressure for “flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry” is telling. There is nothing wrong with these concepts in themselves, but as they are taught and insisted upon, they bear no relation to what a man (the un-neutered man) understands them to mean.

    Men are perfectly capable of being all these things without being wet, spineless, feeble-minded, or compromised, which is how these terms translate in the teaching. They will not produce men of faith or fathers of the faith communities. They will certainly not produce icons of Christ and charismatic apostles. They are very successful at producing malleable creatures of the institution, unburdened by authenticity or conviction and incapable of leading and challenging. Men, in short, who would not stand up in a draft.

    The feminized church produces feminized men.

    Though the characteristics named (“flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry”) don’t seem at first glance to be emasculating, Low explains what a feminized church really wants from their leaders: malleability, spinelessness, feeble faith.

    In case we have forgotten, sensitivity, flexibility, inclusivity, and colloborative ministry aren’t fruits of the Spirit. Neither are they characteristics of Christian leaders. The Bible does tell us, however, of elders who “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Three of the primary jobs of the Christian leader are to hold fast the word, give sound instruction, and rebuke false teaching. Collaborating with false teachers in the name of “flexibility and inclusivity” won’t get that job done.

    As Low puts it, then, the historical timeline for producing wet, spineless, feeble-minded pastors goes something like this:

    1. Fathers begin leaving families.
    2. Feminism (a “lie direct” in its name) takes hold in the culture.
    3. The Protestant church at large follows feminism as a controlling worldview.
    4. The church seeks more female leaders and more femininized male leaders.
    5. Unbelieving men leave the Protestant church en masse.
    6. Unbelieving men seek alternate views of manhood, exampled in womanizing, materialism, violence, and/or homosexuality.
    7. The Protestant church ignores these developments and continues in its unbelieving feminist ways, slightly tweaking its language to suit the culture.

    Point #4 is where we want to zoom in. How exactly does the Protestant church tend to seek out female leaders and feminized male leaders? In my experience at least, it looks something like this:

    1. Manhood qua manhood is devalued and quickly neutered.
    2. Church language (contrary to the Bible’s language) becomes emasculated or neutered.
    3. Men, the local church, and families are soon evaluated in women’s terms.

    If that seems a little far-fetched, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Why are men in the church more often lauded for flexibility rather than strength?
    • Why is conviction seen as a sign of rigid bone-headedness rather than faithful service?
    • Why are churches more concerned with the soft skills of counseling and customer service rather than the hard skills of rightly dividing the Word and refuting sound doctrine?
    • Why do more and more worship songs sound like sappy high school poetry than the marching hymns of the King of Kings?
    • Why has church discipline, the protection of Christ’s body, been so often traded for quiet conversations and the overlooking of apostasy?
    • Why do our churches feel more like coffee shops than battlefield hospitals?
    • Why do we ask pastors to rightly manage their homes but are repulsed when they actually discipline their children? (Both, after all, are in the same passages.)

    When we begin to pick at the surface, we quickly see that with manhood everything is at stake. As Low puts it, rejecting God’s good order of patriarchy rejects all three persons of the Trinity. No wonder our churches are full of convictionless men when we train convictionless leaders in a convictionless gospel.

    The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade

    [Introductory note: Back in 2003, Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University, wrote a full-on expose of the Supreme Court's supremely flawed reasoning in Roe v. Wade, entitled, "The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law." After reading and notating the paper, I am offering a seven-part series outlining his main arguments with further commentary. I'm no law expert, but a simple course in logic (or understanding the basic logical fallacies) is all we need to see the lies beneath the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.]

    The Fear of the Lord and the Facts of Abortion

    Long ago, the fear of the Lord and good sense told me that US abortion law was on shaky ground at best. Even middle schoolers – yes, twelve-year-olds – know it’s wrong to kill an unborn child. How is it that the grown-ups are so much smarter and get it wrong? Because we as a country no longer fear the Lord.

    To prove the shaky ground is actually no ground at all (and illustrate the fact that our country no longer fears the Lord), Francis Beckwith has done us all a service. His 2003 paper, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law” is a logical expose of the Supreme Court’s fallacious, misleading logic and outright lies in interpreting constitutional law.

    That alone is enough to read the entire 36-page essay, but here’s a taste of Beckwith’s darkness-exposing analysis:

    The current law in the United States, except for in a few states, does not restrict a woman from procuring an abortion for practically any reason she deems fit during the entire nine months of pregnancy. That may come as quite a shock to many readers, but that is in fact the state of the current law (p.38).

    Beckwith uses the same command of current and past abortion law to untangle several gnarled issues, outlined below:

    I. What the Court Actually Concluded in Roe

    In this section, Beckwith quotes the Roe decision extensively and exposes Justice Harry Blackmun’s argument piece by piece:

    • “Therefore, Roe does nothing to prevent a state from allowing unrestricted abortions for the entire nine months of pregnancy,” (p.39).
    • “Thus, reproductive liberty, according to this reading of Roe, should be seen as a limited freedom established within the nexus of three parties: the pregnant woman, the unborn, and the state. The woman’s liberty trumps both the value of the unborn and the interests of the state except when the unborn reaches viability,” (p.39).
    • “[Justice Blackmun's] framework has resulted in abortion on demand,” (p.39).
    • “Blackmun’s choice of viability as the point at which the state has a compelling interest in protecting prenatal life is based on a fallacious argument,” (p.40).
    • “The Supreme Court so broadly defined health in  Roe’s companion decision, Doe v. Bolton (1973), that
      for all intents and purposes, Roe allows for abortion on demand. In Bolton, the Court ruled that health must be taken in its broadest possible medical context and must be defined ‘in light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial,  and  the  woman’s  age—relevant  to  the  well  being  of  the  patient’ because ‘[a]ll these factors relate to health,’ ” (p.40).
    • The 1983 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee concluded the same, stating that that “no significant legal barriers of any kind whatsoever exist today in the  United States for a woman to obtain an abortion for any reason during any stage of her pregnancy,” (p.40).
    • Furthermore, the Court (as Gosnell and Planned Parenthood events have proven) left the interpretation of the viability of the fetus open to mean whatever “meaningful life” may mean, determined “exclusively by the pregnant woman,” (p.42).

    In other words, because Blackmun did little to protect the rights of the unborn over against the rights of an abortion-hungry mother, his regime has (rather logically) resulted in abortion-on-demand as the modern status quo.

    Next time, we’ll dive into part 2, “How the Court Found a Right to Abortion,” and it’s really more like they invented it.

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