The Baby Butcher Exposed

Imagine, for a moment with me, that there is a butcher in your town. He receives, kills, strips, cuts, and sells fresh animal meat. He runs a good business. You have been to this particular butcher many times – he sells really good bacon, after all, and he does it at a reasonable price.

Pig in Pen by Kim Newberg

“Pig in Pen” by Kim Newberg

Now imagine you find out this butcher also sells baby meat. Not baby calves, goats, pigs, or chicks, mind you – no, human babies. Sound far-fetched? Gross? Something, if you saw it on a movie screen, you would have to wipe your conscience clean of?

Now imagine it’s happening in your town, around your corner, right now. Because it is; and the butcher is named, in a direct lie, “Planned Parenthood.” It is now documented all … over … the … place.

The butcher is still open in your town, and he never sold good bacon. He just lied to us, and we bought it.

“Planned Parenthood” cares nothing about parenthood, only ending it. Planned Parenthood receives its sick heritage from Margaret Sanger, and continues it to this day. The fact that we as a country let this butcher murder our children, then sell them back to us, is sheer madness.

It is a difficult to even come up with words for this Holocaust. We sit and teach about the horrors of Hitler and concentration camps, then we take taxpayer dollars and fund the very same thing against our own children. We may be the worse society to ever blight the earth.

As a human being, a father, and a Christian, I am begging each and every reader, please fast, pray, speak, and act for the unborn. Here are a few ways:

  1. Fast and pray. Gather a few friends and plead for our repentance, faith, and conversion in our land.
  2. Pray the Scripture. Texts like Psalm 82, Proverbs 1, Matthew 18-19, Ephesians 5, and Revelation 21-22 come to mind.
  3. Stop taking abortion lightly and winking at it. It’s no joke. If you require a visual reminder, go to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC,  and remind yourself that our country does the same thing to the tiniest of humans.
  4. Petition and vote pro-life. And not because this is a political issue, but because pro-life-ing is neighbor love.

It is wicked how so many false professors quote “the two greatest commandments are loving God and your neighbor,” then ignore the call to love our smallest neighbors. But loving the unborn doesn’t make God convert a man, God converting a man makes him love the unborn.

Shearing a Wolf’s Wool

Lots of writers do lots of write-y things with words. Some of them are good, some are bad, and some are just plain evil. The ones that are hard to detect are what the Bible calls “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” These are leaders, thinkers, and wordsmiths who cloak lies in truth-y language. However, once we learn the rules of solid biblical interpretation, the wolves lose their wool.

Once such wolf is Morgan (MA) Guyton. He writes at various places on liberal “Christian” issues, often twisting text after text to suit an agenda. In other pieces, he denounces the importance of a theological faith and decries belief in penal substitution. He also likes to twist the Bible to defend homosexuality.

Tuesday, Guyton posted “Six scriptures I would use to address Kevin DeYoung’s 40 questions for rainbow flag-waving Christians,” a sort of response to the aforementioned first piece by Rev. DeYoung. He first lauds other pro-sodomy responders (leaving out this excellent response by Douglas Wilson) before launching into his torturing of six biblical texts. 

This is the Word of God, let me remind you, that Guyton is handling. Let all the beasts of the field be silent before Him. We’ll take them in Guyton’s ordering, but with a more open Bible and a less “open” mind:

1.  Matthew 9:13: “Go and find out what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’”

As will become a theme in our examination of these texts, Guyton has conveniently taken this one out of context. In Jesus’ quote of Hosea 6:6, He addresses the Pharisees’ fear of contamination around obvious sinners. True enough, and Guyton is right to call for association with and around sinners:

If Jesus’ interpretation of Hosea 6:6 summarizes God’s basic demand for humanity, which I think it does, then what God most wants from us is our radical hospitality for other people, not our willingness to make sacrifices to show how much we “glorify” him.

But this is what makes wolves so hard to spot: Guyton implies that this “mercy” removes the naming of sin as sin. But Jesus doesn’t shy away from naming these obvious sins; He never does. This is part of His “mercy.” A quick trip back to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or ahead to His diatribe against divorce (Matthew 19) shows us just how serious sexual immorality is to Jesus, and how seriously He loves us out of those sins.

Homosex is no less than, but is equal to and worse than, other forms of sexual immorality. It is serious enough that Jesus gave His own blood to save us from (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Hosea 6-7 has a more colorful explanation in the near context, one which Guyton conveniently forgets. In 6:5, God says He has already “hewn them [Ephraim and Judah] by the prophets… slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.” God has already delivered the law to His disobedient Israel, and judged them for it. How did they disobey? He calls their temple a place of “whoredom..defiled” in 6:10, and names them all “adulterers” in 7:4. Clearly, sexual immorality is in view.

What Jesus means then, in desiring mercy to sinners and not sacrifice, is that we are wrong when we think removing ourselves from others’ pain and sin looks good to God. This sinful arrogance is no holiness. What He doesn’t mean is that holiness is of no issue, or that there are no more sins. “Mercy,” Mr. Guyton, does not mean the removal of law or of repentance.

Jesus is the most supremely merciful human being (and God) to ever live, and he both ate with these sinners and called them to repentance from their very real, very present sins (parallel in Luke 5:32). In other words, sodomy is still wrong under this text.

2. Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

Here Guyton begins more subtle appeals to the prima facie position that homosexuality is natural, normal, and allowable. He picks a doozy of a text to work from, the very place where God gives the man a woman for special companionship. After quickly tossing aside the creation account as “allegorical story” rather than “historical event,” Guyton is free to interpret as he pleases. He sees the main point of the text not as God giving himself glory, but rather “to provide the man with companionship.” Conveniently, to Guyton, the gender of said companion matters not. He then clarifies his meaning:

Now it’s true that our culture’s idolatry of marriage and the nuclear family (largely orchestrated by evangelical Christianity) has left us with a very diminished imagination for how companionship and community can occur between people, but if we’re using Genesis 2:18 as a moral guide for us, then it’s not good for gay people to be alone just so that fundamentalists can have an easier time interpreting their Bibles.

Notice the lengthy ad hominem against evangelicals. In other words, it is a bad historical tradition, not this text, that teaches one man-one woman marriage. But to say that this passage even allows for Adam-to-Adam companionship in marriage is to make an argument against the text. 

And talk about out of context! Guyton doesn’t even finish the verse, let alone the rest of the chapter. This is deception of a supreme grade. What the text says next (!!!) is that God “makes” a “helper fit for him [Adam].” None of those words are accidental.

What actually happens in the biblical text is that God gives the man a companion, who is specifically and importantly a woman. God even fits her for him. This is no accidental connection in the text. One man-one woman marriage is the precise application of this text according to verse 24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

“Man, his, his, his wife, one flesh.” These are all words Guyton has excised from his “bible” in lieu of a more palatable interpretation. This is precisely what wolves do.

3. Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.”

The context of Mark 2 shows that Jesus is discussing what is good and lawful for the Sabbath. The Pharisees (to Guyton, these are often Bible-believing evangelicals, as we will see) charge Jesus with law-breaking. So he jumps to proof-texting:

This is precisely where the fault-line is between Christians like me and the fundamentalists. They need for there to be some Biblical laws that have no other explanation than “because God said so” or “for the sake of God’s glory.” If every law has an explanation in terms of its benefits for humanity, they think it takes away God’s sovereignty and leaves us with nothing more than secular humanism.

This seems like quite a leap. To Gutyon, if Jesus says the Sabbath is for humanity, then all of our understandings of God’s laws are also thrown out the window! 

The problem is that the author again “forgets” the second half of even one thought: “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” The point isn’t that Jesus is a LGBTQ-approving humanist; the point is that He rules and reorients everything to Himself. This has always been the point of marriage (see Genesis 2 in Ephesians 5, for instance), Mosaic law (the “tutor to Christ” in Galatians 3), and our bodies in general (Genesis 1:27f referenced in 1 Corinthains 6:20).

Apparently Guyton is uncomfortable here with translating the word anthropos as “man,” but that’s a separate – though related – line of questioning.

4. Romans 14:14: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”

It’s hard to get more ridiculous than #2, but this one sure does try. The text speaks of church members arguing over food (14:2) and day-observance (14:5f). The “nothing in itself is unclean” doesn’t refer to sexual license, because Paul summarizes it as “eating and drinking” in verse 17. 

Guyton doesn’t think so: 

Nothing is unclean in itself, but many things are unclean because of how our mind covets idols instead of God.

In Guyton’s terms, as long as we can maintain “our attentiveness to the presence of God in our lives and our ability to experience the bliss of union with Christ,” anything is permissible. Christian experience (Theme alert!) is the new rule of faith, not Scripture. If you can say you still love and experience God, Guyton teaches, go lay with anyone – man, woman, child, relative, animal – you please.

That might sound overstated, but it’s exactly the outcome of Guyton’s teaching.

5. 1 Corinthians 7:32, 35: “I want you to be free from anxieties… I say this for your own benefit not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.”

The soft wool of a wolf is when he says he follows sheep-flavored rules of interpretation. So Guyton nods along, “The best way to build a sexual ethic from the apostle Paul’s teachings is to look at Paul’s explicit rationale when he is directly offering prescriptive teaching about sexuality (1 Corinthians 7).” The problem is that this text isn’t the chair text; Ephesians 5 is. Ephesians 5 is gives the highest and clearest meaning to marriage: the glory of Jesus Christ in the church, His bride, a whore made a glorious woman. This text is driven by questions from the Corinthian church (7:1), but that still doesn’t allow it to be queerly twisted.

Guyton disagrees: “I believe that any Christian conversation about sexuality should use 1 Corinthians 7 as a foundation.” Thus, the author’s willful inattention to Ephesians 5 is why he can write things like: 

When Paul talks to the Corinthians directly about sex, he doesn’t say that marriage is the way that they will show the world how Christ loves the church or anything like that. He offers marriage as a “concession, not a command” (1 Corinthians 7:6) “because of cases of sexual immorality” (v. 2). In 1 Corinthians 7, marriage is fundamentally a question of social pragmatism.

with a straight face. Paul doesn’t teach that marriage is the paradigm for Christ’s love for the church?!? Have you lost Ezekiel 16, Hosea 1-3, Ephesians 5, and Revelation 19 from your “bible,” Mr. Guyton? What utter nonsense.

In a separate post on the same text, Guyton elaborates: 

So to me, the burden of proof for a Christian who wants to maintain an opposition to homosexuality is to demonstrate why and how monogamous same-gendered sexual intimacy clutters people with anxiety, contradicts good community order, or hinders devotion to God. These are not just proof-texts; they are more than speculative translations of obscure Greek words or mentions in passing of what Paul thinks is “unnatural.” They are reliable ethical principles for a community’s sexuality that Paul presents as such.

There is no “burden of proof for a Christian who wants to maintain an opposition to homosexuality,” and, even if there were one, it certainly isn’t demonstrating how sodomy is bad for our minds, communities, or personal faith experience. The place to look, Mr. Guyton, is in Scripture. Lots of texts, omitted from your false exposition, speak clearly.

Furthermore, say this text, however, even allows homo-practice is to make yet another argument from silence, and a particularly obvious one. Paul covers the gamut of known, lawful situations for marriage and for singleness. He nowhere covers sodomy, because it isn’t in his purview of Christian marital or singleness arrangements. In this text, that might sound like an argument from silence, except that he makes it quite plain in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6. 1 Corinthians, in case he lost his place, is in the chapter immediately before. 

6. Matthew 25:40 “Just as you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done for me.”

Here comes an appeal to pity. Guyton calls this verse an extension of Hosea 6:6 (dealt with in #1 above), summarizing with, “The way that we honor God’s sovereignty insofar as queer people are concerned is by treating the queer people in our lives as though they are Jesus and asking them to pray that Jesus would live in our hearts also.” He again conveniently “forgets” the context.

The context of Matthew 25:31-48, the famed “Sheep and Goats” passage, is the professing church. Note that the kingdom is prepared for the sheep “from the foundation of the world” (25:34) and that the sheep loving, feeding, and housing the poor is done to “My brothers” (25:40). “Queer” people, to use Guyton’s term, are excluded until they repent (1 Cor. 6:9-11). So this text doesn’t work for that purpose.

Secondly, the goats are the ones who refuse to love Christians (25:41-48) and go to “eternal punishment” (25:46). Unrepentant homosexuals hate the Word of God, and, if they do come to a “Christian” “church”, either hate Him actively, or hate Him implicitly by remaking Him in their own image.

It is a lie, a dirty, dirty trick, to use this text to promote loving homosexuals apart from repentance, when their very lack of repentance is the warning for which this passage was written. In other words, unloving, unrepentant LGBTQ men and women, whether they attend “church” or not, are goats. They are not sheep, not brothers; the unrepentant are goats.

Concluding Questions for Mr. Guyton…

  1. What does “call sinners to repentance” mean in Luke 5:32? Did Jesus call sexually immoral sinners, like the prostitute, to turn away from sexual immorality, or not?
  2. What bearing do Genesis 2:18b (which you forgot in your exposition) and the end of the passage (2:24-25) have on your interpretation of Genesis 2:18a?
  3. Does the Sabbath being made for man mean that sodomy was made for man? If so, how does sodomy picture Christ and His church, as taught plainly in Ephesians 5?
  4. Does Romans 14:14 also teach that bestiality is permissible for Christians, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their experience of God and the bliss of union with Christ?
  5. If a believing community were to approve of consensual incest, would this be permissible under your interpretation of Paul’s sexual ethics from 1 Corinthians 7?
  6. What does the phrase “My brothers” mean in Matthew 25:40? What about in places like Matthew 12:50 and Matthew 18:21f? Could it possibly mean “everyone” in any of those passages?
  7. What place does the word “repentance” have in any of these texts? How exactly is sodomy not a sin to be repented of?

…and a Charge

Mr. Guyton, if you can write things like, “When I use these criteria [1 Cor. 7], I find pedophilia, incest, polygamy, bestiality, promiscuity, pornography, and adultery to be out of bounds, while monogamous straight and gay companionship are legitimate,” then you are a wolf without question. I am praying for your very soul as I write this, and these words are surely harsh. I pray the Lord waken you from death in your sins. He is life, He is truth, He is good. Repent of your unbelief in His Word, the person of His Son, and turn to Him.

But if you will not repent, please at least be honest with your family, church, ministry, and writing audience that you do not believe the Bible on its own terms. Resign from whatever posts you have that are associated with Christ, and stop trampling His name to advance your unbelieving interpretations.

You are tearing at the body of Jesus, for whom He gave His life. He will not take it lightly on the last day.

A Party for Pedophiles

A few years back, I remember my dad’s 50th birthday party. Oldies music blared as we sat around dimly lit, circular tables in a country club ballroom (the best kind!). The random assortment of friends and family danced late into the night. We enjoyed honoring Dad.

What would have been odd is if we gathered that night to praise someone’s sin. “Thanks for coming, everyone, to honor Bob the Drunk. He’s been getting liquored up for the last 30 years, and that’s something to celebrate.”

Keep this in mind until the end. 

In recent days, years, and decades, the LGBTQ agenda has pushed forward in the West on all fronts: television, movies, music, literature, education, news, stealth organizations, etc. Two Fridays ago, they rejoiced, with the President, in the passing of a no-holds barred approach to same sex marriage mirage. (Doug Wilson, to my knowledge, coined this term; and it applies without qualification.)

Without touching the legal issues surrounding the case, it is important to think through the issue biblically. Understand, first of all, that we have all been told several lies surrounding the issue:

  • Sodomy is no different than any other sin. (False.)
  • Homosexuality is laughable, but not condemnable. (False.)
  • Sodomites can be likable and friendly. (Irrelevant to morality.)
  • Marriage is a fundamental human right. (Not in the way you mean it.)
  • Each individual is able to define marriage as he or she likes. (No, God does.)

By the time we have finished strolling through that boiling cauldron of fecal matter, it’s hard to discern the truth. So the rest will be a wake-up call, one you might even think feels “rude.”

What all LGBTQ issues boil down to is this: is sodomy a specially damnable sin that the Bible clearly speaks on, or isn’t it? The relevant texts are many (Genesis 19, Leviticus 20, Jeremiah 16, Matthew 19, 2 Peter 2, Jude 1), but we will focus on Romans 1:24-28 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. [26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; [27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. [28] And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. [Romans 1:24-28]

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor homosexuals, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-11]

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is already addressing a church that is “deceived,” much like today’s church. And what are both of us deceived about? This list of damnable lifestyle sins. To review:

  • Fornicators – those who practice sexually immorality
  • Idolaters – those who practice worshipping idols
  • Adulterers – those who practice unfaithfulness to a true spouse
  • Effiminate – sometimes translated, “male prostitutes”
  • Homosexuals – those who practice same-sex sexual relations
  • Thieves – those who practice stealing the property of others
  • The Greedy – those who cultivate hearts of lust for material goods or money
  • Drunkards – those who practice alcoholic overindulgence
  • Revilers – those who practice insulting others and God
  • Swindlers – those who practice tricking others out of money

Each of these is specially damnable. That means they are sins of ongoing practice that exclude humans from God’s kingdom. Those are the words of the biblical text. Any person practicing thievery, drunkenness, adultery, or homosexuality who claims to be a Christian is not a Christian. He or she will not enter God’s kingdom. There is no wiggle room left in this text.

But lots of LGBTQ-supporting folks who claim to be Christ’s will say, “That’s a long list, and Jesus saves from all of them. Why is same-sex attraction ‘especially’ damnable?” To that particular objection, we offer three reasons:

  1. Sodom is no joke. Genesis 19, 2 Peter 2, and Jude 1 all speak of the reprehensibility and terror of homosexuality, by way of connection. Sodom and Gomorrah, for those who don’t read closely, were burned with fire and sulfur from the Lord for their sexual immorality, part of which was certainly homosexuality. It wasn’t merely “gang rape,” as many will say, but a lifestyle of sexual promiscuity of all types and forms, including homosex. Peter and Jude go on to use this as an “example” to lustful men of our day. Sound familiar? It’s what this post is doing now.
  2. Homosex tortures marriage. “Torture” is no understatement. Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 and parallels, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Note the connection between creation order and marriage. Not only does homosex deface marriage, it changes our understanding of what it means to be made “male and female.” 
  3. Sodomy is an abomination. Before we do the whole “that was the Old Testament, man, come on” dance, think about other OT texts you treasure and point to: creation, prophecies of Christ, Psalm 23, the Proverbs. We don’t get to pick and choose which passages are true. When God commands death for man-to-man relations in Leviticus 20:13, that word is inspired, too. Homosexuality is here paralleled with adultery, various forms of incest, and bestiality. All of them appear in one paragraph, and all of theme deserve capital punishment. Thus, when Christians compare sodomy to incest and bestiality, we are repeating the words of our Maker.

Homosexuality is particularly deviant, defiant, and well-loved in today’s culture. But, do not fear, little flock; God is not mocked. 

Last week, a sister in our church claimed she would have “no problem” going to a homosexual wedding ceremony. I was surprised. Maybe she doesn’t know what she’s saying, I thought. I asked a few questions about what she meant, and it became clear that she understood her words.

“Then would you go to a 10-year celebration for an adulterer? Or a con artist? What about a pedophile?”

“Ew, no, of course not.”

“Then you’ve been fooled. Homosexuality is worse.”

Need a Tax Break? Murder Your Child

That’s what the IRS says, apparently.

In a report yesterday from Life Site News (complete with IRS links, for those concerned about “bias”), IRS publication 502 states that “legal abortion” can be cited as a medical expense for 2014.

I forgot, how again is murdering another person part of “medicine”? Isn’t that the exact opposite of the Hippocratic Oath? Or has that oath been changed to suit our murderous desires?

Beyond this madness of calling baby dismemberment “medicine,” there is the matter that, according to IRS Publication 501, the federal government does not allow the same tax credit for a stillborn child. Translation: if your child dies on his own, it’s not medicine; if you kill him, it is.

This is the most backward understanding of “medicine” imaginable.

No wonder that the federal government gives the abortion industry over $520 million a year – it is incentivizing the war on preborn children for taxpayers, too.

Lessons from Watching Mars Hill Church Burn to the Ground

Kalapana Gardens burning

Kalapana Gardens burning

Five years ago, I listened to Mark Driscoll regularly and followed Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. I’ve heard a good 2-3 dozen of his sermons and read several of his book excerpts. I thanked God for what He was doing there, and I benefited from their teaching and ministry. Unlike some, I don’t have a doctrinal axe to grind. I’m a complementarian who fully supports the Scripture MHC has often stood on to support their position (of course, the ways they have gone about that are questionable). I have lots of disagreements with them, but they are biblical, not stylistic. I’m someone who is, though from afar, a close enough watcher to know what MHC is about.

And what we’ve witnessed over the past 15 months at Mars Hill is the absolute incineration of a a local church. The charges of heresy, plagiarism, money laundering, misuse of funds, workplace bullying, and the like were bad enough – then they were found to be true! And instead of repenting, the founding pastor, Mark Driscoll, resigned. Resignation isn’t repentance.

MHC subsequently announced that they would be breaking up their separate campuses and going their separate ways, which is all for the best.

It sounds rough, but Mars Hill going down was what had to happen.

  1. Driscoll wasn’t going to and didn’t repent. He never showed signs of true repentance, like, you know, listening to other elders, naming and taking responsibility for specific sins, and remaining under the discipline of the church. No, he just left. That’s not repentance; that’s self-removal.
  2. The ongoing leadership structure was harmful, not helpful, to the church. Anytime a group of men can unilaterally make decisions and cover their own behinds, bad things tend to happen. In a local church, this is toxic. See the charges against Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, for another illustration of what happens in a similarly governed body.
  3. Therefore, Mars Hill SHOULD CLOSE DOWN. The leaders their, Driscoll in particular, had a chokehold on their people, their precious sheep they were called to be under-shepherds for. The simple fact that so many continue to defend MHC and Driscoll after every charge has been validated just goes to show that we, like sheep, so often blindly follow even when the truth says otherwise.

Thus, several lessons are in order for local churches and their leaders particularly:

  1. Church Leadership Structure Matters. Please don’t be so naive as to think that MHC’s top-heavy leadership didn’t play a MASSIVE role in all of this. Scripture teaches that churches are to led by a plurality of elders yet governed by the entire body (Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 1, et al.). Mars Hill wildly distorted this teaching, turning the elders into various sub-groups and boards that all reported upward to Driscoll’s henchmen. How do I know? When you listen to Driscoll’s teaching enough, particularly to other pastors, you hear him lampoon congregationalism in favor of his corporate America eldership apart from Scripture.
  2. Church Leadership Character Matters. Are we really to believe that these elders, helping cover up Driscoll’s and others’ sins, were men of integrity? Are we really to believe that the warning signs were not present earlier in their lives, in their decisions, in their families? Or were these men so pliable that they had to bow to Pastor Mark? Either way, the first elder cover-up should have been grounds for discipline. Which leads us to . . .
  3. Unilateral Decision Making is a Bad Idea. Every statement out of Mars Hill seems to come from some lofty Executive Elder Board or “Board of Advisors and Accountability.” Where are the poor, lowly members? Mars Hill had no structure for the church to practice accountability and discipline, as in Scripture. What happened at Mars Hill, time and again, is that a select few elders got together and made decisions to keep their own jobs, not to shepherd their people in the gospel.
  4. Elder Idolatry is a Real Thing. Sabbaticals are healthy – take a break, guys! It doesn’t all depend on you; it depends on Jesus. Mark Driscoll, friends, is not the end-all be-all of Christianity in the Great Northwest; and shame on some of you for acting like it. Jesus will march on in Seattle – without Mars Hill Church to boot.
  5. Public Repentance is a Command, Not an Option. So many Driscoll defenders say he repented. I challenge any and all DD’s to find one place in the last two years where he specifically and publicly named his sins. It’s not possible because he didn’t do it. Vague apology letters don’t cut it. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19-20, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” The charges came from dozens of people, but the rebuking publicly . . . ummm, that didn’t happen.

“Mars Hill Church burns to the ground” might sound tough. People were hurt, right? Sure they were, but this article and the campuses closing didn’t do it. The leaders did.

Dear Exhale, Abortion Isn’t Peacemaking

Steve Peacock over at WND reports that pro-choice “pro-voice” group Exhale is touring the country telling “hopeful” stories about murderous “mothers” who are “brave” enough to speak.

My open challenge to Exhale is this: visit the site and discuss with me how you can call abortion “peacemaking.” Your pledge reads:

I am pro-voice.

I believe open, honest, vulnerable storytelling is a powerful and radical act of courage that can change the world in the midst of hostility, attacks, and demonization.

I trust that connecting through diverse personal experiences can humanize toxic conflicts and reveal complexity hidden within “us vs. them” divisions.

I pledge to be pro-voice in my everyday life by listening openly, speaking personally, connecting respectfully, taking leadership, and building community around polarized issues and stigmatized experiences.

I’m honored to follow a long and powerful line of peacemakers.

Lots of observations are in order:

  1. “I am pro-voice” is a euphemism for “I support the butchering of children.”
  2. “Radical act of courage” is straight-faced hypocrisy by people who sacrificed their own children for their selfish desires. The strong executing the weak is never considered “courage.”
  3. Pro-lifers are not the ones making ” ‘us vs. them’ divisions.” Pro-choicers are the ones tearing babies limb from limb.
  4. “Listening openly” in this context means nothing more than “condoning weepy-faced murder.”
  5. I almost can’t believe you wrote about any “long and powerful line of peacemakers.” How again is abortion “peacemaking”? Who is at peace? Is Exhale trying to help serial killers be at peace with their scream-less victims and their screaming consciences? And are you proud of this?

For reference, I stand and have always stood on this simple logical breakdown:

Premise #1: Murder is always wrong.
Premise #2: An unborn child is a full human being.
Premise #3: Abortion ends the life of an unborn child.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is always wrong.

Feel free, Exhale “Pro-Voice,” to disagree. But do so along logical principles. Are you “brave” enough to tell us your logical principles?

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).

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