“The fitness or credibility of the Grand Miracle [the incarnation] itself cannot, obviously, be judged by the same standard. And let us admit at once that it is very difficult to find a standard by which it can be judged. If the thing happened, it was the central event in the history of the Earth—the very thing that the whole story has been about. Since it happened only once, it is by Hume’s standards infinitely improbable. But then the whole history of the Earth has also happened only once; is it therefore incredible? Hence the difficulty, which weighs upon Christian and atheist alike, of estimating the probability of the Incarnation. It is like asking whether the existence of Nature herself is intrinsically probable. That is why it is easier to argue, on historical grounds, that the Incarnation actually occurred than to show, on philosophical grounds, the probability of its occurrence. The historical difficulty of giving for the life, sayings and influence of Jesus any explanation that is not harder than the Christian explanation, is very great.” —C.S. Lewis, Miracles, (HarperCollins, 2001), pp. 174
Originally posted February 22, 2012. Lightly edited October 12, 2020
Don’t settle for “falling in love.” Stand back up. Get your balance. There is so much more to love. The problem with falling in love is that it says too little about love. It relegates love to one specific aspect of our being, namely, the emotions. I remember watching a special with Bethany about how those who are twitterpated are actually measurably stupider. Their euphoric emotional high resulted in lower test scores and decreased their ability to reason and think logically. While on such an emotional high, one is loving their beloved with less of their being. Dear newlywed, turn to your beloved and tell them not to worry. Soon Cupid’s toxins will wear off and you’ll come to my senses and love them more.
Some overreact against such an Epicurean smelling concept of love and go Stoic. They relegate love to the faculty of the will. Love is a choice they say. Well, yes and no. They are as equally reductionist as the person who makes love to reside wholly in the affections. But we are whole beings, and true love, the deepest love, engages the whole of us. Stoic “lovers” (a genuine contradiction) may cite Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 as a defense, but notice two things. First, one can choose (an act to the will) to give away all they have, and make the ultimate self-sacrifice by giving their body to be burned and not have love (1 Corinthians 13:3). Pure will and act alone do not constitute love, something is missing. Second, love rejoices in the truth. Love has affectional as well as volitional aspects.
I am called to love God will all of my being, none of me is exempt (Deuteronomy 6:4-6). So in a very real sense, you must “fall out of love” to really love someone, to love them with more of who you are. And this means discovering deeper, truer, and stronger affections as part of that love.
But let me offer this last caution in regard to loving God: this does not put a governor on how high the affections may soar. In loving God my heart, mind, and will need not be at odds. Yahweh is infinitely glorious so my mind is never disengaged; and if I truly perceive Him in my mind, my affections, no matter how intense, are never an overreaction; and when guided by truth and motivated by joy my actions can never be too radical. In other words, loving God with all of our being does not mean that any capacity (emotional, mental, or volitional) is limited, but rather liberated to soar to infinite heights.
Don’t settle for a honeymoon “falling in love” with God either. And when the euphoria fades, don’t thinking you’re necessarily forgetting your first love. Perhaps, you’re falling deeper into a mature kind of love, like that of the couple who sits in the pew across from you that just celebrated their golden anniversary.
“I feel a strong desire to tell you—and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me—which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” —C.S. Lewis
To mask or not to mask? This is not the question we should be zealous to answer. To be charitable or to condemn, that is the question. In the first instance, God has not spoken; wisdom is called for. In the second, an authoritative answer is readily available—show charity.
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:1–12).
Concerning days and meat, Paul laid down guidance elsewhere in his letters to guide the weak in conscience into maturity. Still, Paul was zealous not to cause a brother to sin against their conscience in such matters where there is liberty. Now if Paul did this, in areas where God’s truth does give guidance, how much more charity should we display in an area where God has not spoken.
Wisdom and lies can be found on both sides of the question we are not asking. Who is sufficient to answer that question? Let each soul research for himself. May each soul feel liberty to do so without condemnation. What is not sin should not be judged as such. If either side thinks itself superior, they have assumed a God-like omniscience. Our father Adam may have eaten from the tree of knowledge, but he thereby plunged us into ignorance. He desired to be like God, but the apple fell far from the tree. Let us not add sin to sin by thinking the eating had its desired effect. We are far from perfect knowledge.
Even more concerning, is that by seeking to bind your brother’s conscience to your own, you have established yourself as the standard by which to judge. We crooked twigs shouldn’t try to play as though we were the official and standard yardstick by which all measurements will henceforth be made. We should not even advocate for a particular collective twig position as though that were the standard. If every ruler in the world were shaved down to eleven and a half inches, a foot would still be twelve. We don’t measure up. And concerning masks, God gave no measurement. Be your head masked or not, your nose shouldn’t be upturned toward your brother, but bowed before your Maker.
Feel free to point out how you believe the government is making a totalitarian play and warn of the dangers of being a lemming. Feel free to speak of how concern for your brother and respect for the established authorities are strong grounds for wearing a mask (where masks have been mandated, a separate conversation is necessary). But above all of these, wherever you may land, eschew demonizing your brother and prioritize charity. And farther up still, shout loudest about that which is most worth joyfully shouting—the gospel of Christ. And though one brother do so with a mask, and another without, may both do so praying for one another. Though these brothers may socially distance themselves out of respect, may they be spiritually united, longing that the good news prove graciously contagious, for therein lies the ultimate cure for all that ails us.
*Mere Christianity, (HarperCollins, 2001) p. 186
Let’s begin with some qualifications, that is, my presuppositions. I’m not wanting to miff everyone at the same time. This particular argument (meant in the old sense of setting forth reasons) is intended for those friends with whom I agree more. It’s worth recalling Chesterton’s observation that, “People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.”
Many pastors, and many of them better than I, have satellite campuses where the sermon is taken in by video. Some refer to these campuses collectively as a church. On a lesser but related level, others live stream their services so that those not present can participate in church. I am not a fan of multisite, multiservice, or multimedia for the purpose of virtual participation as a way of doing “church.” I think these multis contrary to nature of what it means for the church to gather as the church. So before I go on to miff others, to my multiple friends who do multi-church, to you with whom I agree less on this topic, I am not arguing with you here. I want to argue with those with whom I agree more. If you don’t think my premises valid, there’s no point in me pressing you with my conclusion.
Perhaps this quarantine has me itching to make less friends, but I don’t believe that to be my true intent. I don’t want to make less friends; I want to make better friends and I hope my friends will return the favor and seek to make better of me. Lord knows I need it. So then, for you who share my quibbles with the multis, I want to give a word of caution concerning “online church.”
When a father wields the rod, his children shouldn’t stuff their pants. When God disciplines His children, we shouldn’t try to mitigate the pain. In years past, when the saints were incapable of meeting, they sharply felt the loss. Such privation should drive us deeper into lamentation, contrition, and petition for mercy. If God has acted so that the assembly cannot assemble, let us not fool ourselves that we are. Instead, let us feel profoundly the sting.
Dear brothers, with whom I agree more, if you don’t believe church can be done by means of the interwebs, don’t try now. I don’t doubt many of you are better shepherds than I and that your motives are sound and your hearts full of love, but words matter. Use technology to shepherd your flock, but not to redefine. Offer supplements, but not substitutes. If you, as a shepherd, offer something to your scattered flock, don’t give them the impression that they are assembling when they are not. Don’t call non-church “church.”
As there is no substitute this side of glory for the assembly that will then take place, so there is no substitute for the foretaste of it in special work and presence of our Lord when the saints assemble in covenant faithfulness to receive the grace of God by His ordained means of word and sacrament. Corporate worship is a promised anticipation of this future glory. Bonhoeffer realized the glory of this and that it is a glory that some saints longingly go without.
“So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this bless ing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible fellowship is a blessing. They remember, as the Psalmist did, how they went ‘with the multitude… to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday’ (Ps. 42:4). But they remain alone in far countries, a scattered seed according to God’s will. Yet what is denied them as an actual experience they seize upon more fervently in faith.”*
The darkness is meant to create a longing for the light. While it is dark, let us long. When the sun rises, let us sing. In all things, let us express gratitude. Yes, the mature can receive even the rod with thanksgiving, knowing it it the rod of our perfect heavenly Father.
In closing, know this post is intended from one shepherd to other shepherds; but for those sheep listening in, a word of caution: better to submit to your elder across the street than rebel with another across the country. He’s likely a far better shepherd than I. If your conscience is bound as mine is, respectfully and lovingly let him know, and then watch with the acknowledgement that whatever you’re doing, you’re not doing church.
*Bonhoeffer, D. (1978). Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community (pp. 18–19). Harper Collins.
“In recent days the pro-life, anti-abortion movement has become divided and distracted.
That is why, in my capacity as president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), I am hoping to lead our churches toward unifying around two policy measures that would protect life, with the intent of ending abortion in Oklahoma.” (emphasis mine) —Blake Gideon, “Protecting the Life of the Unborn, Ending Abortion” in the August 1st, 2019 edition of The Baptist Messenger
[DISCLAIMER: The “you” addressed below isn’t merely Blake Gideon in particular but the leadership of the BGCO in general. In some of this I’m reading between the lines, but I think I’m doing so with great warrant and am open to reproof if I’m wrong.]
Remember that childhood friend that when it was your toy they spoke of the virtues of you sharing, but when it was their toy they spoke of the evils of your selfishness? Is something like that going on here? Why is it that when you like the bill we should be unified, but when we like the bill and raise concerns over your disapproval of it, we’re being divisive?
A bill that would have ended abortion altogether in our state was spoken against. Now we’re to be gung-ho about a couple of bills that would still allow for abortion (the first in the case of children younger than approximately 6 weeks, the second under the vague category of “the health of the mother”). Pardon? If I speak for abolition, against your recommendation, I’m being divisive. If I don’t wholly support the bills you endorse, I’m being divisive. Am I missing something?
Let’s say that it is me who is sowing division, the real question is should I be? Rather than hash things out on the level of accusations of not sharing or being selfish (meaning unity and divisiveness), let’s talk about what may be and what shouldn’t be shared. Toothbrushes shouldn’t be shared; candy, necessitating said toothbrushes, may be shared. Rather than calls for unity, let’s find out if we’re unified. Yes, we all agree abortion is evil. Yes, if we can run the ball down the field for five more yards I’m ok with that so long as you’re playing to win (and a gain of about five yards is the most I’d expect from such a play). But I’m left wondering if you really want to win this game or just run the clock into overtime again and again so as to pull in more at the concessions.
Forgive me, I do believe the BGCO has good intentions, but I am scratching my noggin trying to figure out how that is so. The reasons for not supporting a bill to end abortion coupled with the reasons for supporting bills that limit abortion don’t add up in my mind. Let’s have the conversation there. If at the end of the debate we disagree, that will prove illuminating and helpful.
Instead of shouting “Share!” when it’s convenient for your toy and “Selfishness!” when it’s ours, let’s vigorously argue for when we should share and when we’re being selfish. Paul and Barnabas departed ways over John Mark. Who was right? I don’t think there was a “right,” but it was ok for them to amiably part ways. Concerning abortion, we’re not dealing with something so innocuous. If Paul and Barnabas could argue and part over Mark, then we should certainly be able to do so concerning abortion. I believe there is a clear right and wrong here. Calls for unity are then a call for silence; a call for one party to sear their conscience. I’m not eager for a parting, but I would like a conversation (here you’ll find a series of posts with questions I’d like answers to). If we can’t come to an agreement, we might not be able to play together anymore, but we can walk away from each other like men.
“WHEREAS, Concerns have been raised by some evangelicals over the use of frameworks such as critical race theory and intersectionality; and
WHEREAS, Critical race theory is a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society, and intersectionality is the study of how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience… be it…
RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks…” —Resolution 9, On Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality
The permitted is certain to be utilized. This is what frightens me.
Yes, God’s common grace pervades the world and grows in unexpected soils, but this is no reason to promote the nutritional value of radioactive apples grown in Chernobyl. Some fields devoid of saving grace are ripe with common grace. I don’t think that’s where we’re gleaning. While Paul did quote a few pagans, he didn’t commend Stoicism or Epicureanism themselves as useful tools. I may have quoted Freud once but I’m certain I’ve never commended Freudian psychoanalysis. Critical race theory has tools within it but is itself is a theory, not a tool. Trying to use it as a tool is like trying to use abortion as a tool for life. Intersectionality as a tool for racial reconciliation is about as valuable as using the morning-after pill as a prenatal vitamin. Wrecking balls make poor hammers when you want to drive nails and build something good.
But what about demo work? Racism, injustice, and tyranny are evils, but critical race theory and intersectionality are not the tools the saints should use to tear them down. When you use the devil’s tools to tear down the devil’s works, you’re still playing in his toolshed. Taking over a racist Nazi regime with a revolutionary Communist one is not the answer. Instead of destroying strongholds, we’ve built new ones and now labeled them safe playgrounds, with the qualifying fine print of playing by the rules of Scripture of course. We’ve traded our DeWalt tools for those of Playskool because we’ve been told they’re “safe” and cannot be used for oppression. This is just a ploy of Big Brother to keep potential usurpers under control. Also, these toy tools are likely coated in toxic paint.
Some tools are custom made for evil jobs such that the tool cannot be separated from the designated task. Further, to seek some redeeming use of such tools is folly when we already have that through which God is building up a new creation. He has promised to supply the power, we need only pick up the tool. Our task is simply to be faithful. The gospel is the tool. The Word is sufficient. If you want an analytical tool, it pierces and divides. If you want to build unity, it’ll do it and it alone. Why buy a dusty pagan stone axe when you’ve got a chain saw?
If I am told that such tools can help me in using or applying the tool, yes, perhaps the abortionist may have some information that can help a doctor deliver a baby. Common grace can indeed grow in such places. But the worldview ain’t that tool and that is what it seems I’m being permitted to pick up. I don’t feel as though I’m being asked to sniff the flower of God’s common grace so much as the manure pile it grew out of. The Word itself is the best lens by which to read both the Word and the world. When I breathe in the Word, I notice more clearly the stink of the world and am better able to spot and appreciate a flower when I find one growing there.
True, God’s big book of natural revelation does help in understanding His small book of special revelation, but it’s one thing to pick up a flower, another to pick up forceps. Look at the build date and the manufacturer. Creation was made good by our good God. Intersectionality was crafted by man post-fall (for some background on its forging, listen to this episode of Al Mohler’s The Briefing). It is an idol. I don’t need to learn from Baal to understand how YHWH liberates his people. A study of Baal may help me understand sinners, and in this way, what God is communicating to them; it might serve as a dark backdrop, contrasting God’s truth with this world’s lies; it cannot, however, in itself, serve as a tool in the way of righteousness.
Where others see permissible “analytical tools” I see a hammer and sickle: a hammer that cannot build but only tear down the church and a sickle that can only gather weeds and not wheat. Let us lay them down and take up again the sword of the Word.
For the message you recently sent me I am downright grateful.. It was encouraging. I pray that you will find this empowering.
Regarding women preaching, you’re correct, the current quake finds its epicenter in Beth Moore’s tweet that she would be preaching on Mother’s Day (reportedly at North Point Church where Andy Stanley is). On the heels of this, was news of her invitation to Truett Seminary for their “National Preaching Conference”, being listed as a “Guest Preacher.” Many have been supportive of Moore, even out of reformed camps.
Frankly, I’m glad the cat is out of the bag and that she isn’t pretending to do anything otherwise than preach. She’s been flying under the radar for far too long. Calling a missile a bird might fool some, but now there is no excuse. Will we stand on the side of Biblical orthodoxy or join those attacking it?
Additionally, I would add that my biggest concern with Moore isn’t that she is a woman. She would be disqualified if she were a man. Mysticism, emotionalism, and poor exegesis permeate her teaching. You mentioned your past experience in the heretical Word of Faith movement and how this all sounds eerily familiar. I believe the Charismatic movement has been subtly making major inroads in Baptist circles for decades (i.e. the soft prosperity of The Prayer of Jabez). We came to a fork in the road way back and chose the wrong path. This is just the latest incident demonstrating that we haven’t turned around. Another disconcerting mark of her teaching noted way back was the use of word studies to find the broad semantic range of a word as leverage for eisegesis, that is, reading her desired meaning into a text. I don’t think Moore’s intent is to be unfaithful to the text, but that is the result.
Regarding the trajectory of the denomination, my biggest concern is how deeply this is tied to feminism, #MeToo, cultural marxism, and intersectionality as driving forces in the culture. The current is strong, and I’m afraid we’re not acting like salmon anymore. I agree, we need to hate all evil acts of abuse, but when you use the devil’s tools to destroy the devil’s works, you need to know you’re just playing around in his toolshed. We’ve come to another fork, and I think the disaster is going to be more severe. If at first fork we chose a path leading to false teaching, we’re now pondering one that leads to apostasy.
Yes, historically it has always been the orthodox belief that the office of elder is limited to qualified men. The main “Biblical” argument for including women is to recall the small number of prophetesses we find in the Scriptures. While there obviously are female prophets, we never find a woman who is “king.” Though Athaliah makes a run as queen and Jezebel is essentially pulling all the strings, these are not exactly positive role models. Nor do we find women acting as priests. The function of teaching is tied to the priests and Levites more than the prophets. The prophets preeminently spoke God’s word, rather than teach it. Also, in this vein, when Paul gives instructions concerning women prophesying in the New Testament, she is to do so manifesting that she is under a head, (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2–16). This connects to Paul’s prohibition of a woman teaching men or exercising authority over a man in the church (1 Timothy 2:12).
The novel spin being put on 1 Timothy 2:12 today, making room for women preachers, is that it should be read as a hendiadys, that is, two words joined by a conjunction to express a single idea. If what was banned was a woman “teaching and exercising authority over a man” as a single idea, then a woman could be permitted to exercise the function of an elder, teaching, while being denied the office. This is what some are calling “soft complementarianism.” I think it’s rather a hardened compromise.
But this anticipates the question you asked, what of those men who teach in the assembly who are not elders? While it’s understandable that the question arises, as it is deployed by opponents of the Biblical view, it is a smoke screen. When a non-elder preaches he isn’t violating any prohibition. Let me demonstrate with a question. How is one to know if a man is qualified when one of those qualifications is being “apt to teach” if he is never able to teach until he is an elder?
Truly, all teaching in the church should be under the elder’s oversight, as part of his promoting truth and guarding against false teaching. When the elders permit a woman to preach, then automatically, in the very act, they and the woman involved have already violated the Scriptures, however orthodox the sermon may be.
I thank God for your recognizing the rightness and goodness of God’s order and recognizing the lies of the world and your desire to mortify them as they seek to take root in your own heart. “Feminism” is a peculiar word for that which is an attack on the feminine, saying that if womanhood is to have any value, it must be equivalent to manhood. I’ll allow Douglas Wilson to colorfully reiterate the point: “Ironically, we call this attempt by some women to be more like men “feminism,” which is a bit like calling an attempt by cats to be like dogs felinism.” And thus we have already tilted the hat to gender confusion in the church.
In reply to the accusation of belittling women, I believe the Biblical view bebigs them. Womanhood, motherhood, and sisterhood are glorious things in which women are immeasurably superior to men. Chesterton nailed the disparity when he said, “Nothing can ever overcome that one enormous sex superiority, that even the male child is born closer to his mother than to his father. No one, staring at that frightful female privilege, can quite believe in the equality of the sexes.” Equal in value, dignity and worth? Certainly. In roles? Heaven forbid!
Yes, the serpent is whispering in Eve’s ear again as you suggest, and the blame still lies with Adam, but at least in the Garden his sin was one of passivity. Now he is actively inciting his wife with snake’s crafty lies. “Become like me, and you’ll be like God.”
Dear sister, I thank God that you are feeding on that which is far more nourishing and empowering, the Word of truth.
[This post slightly expands on my remarks made at the Baptist Rally to Support SB 13 on February 25]
“The BGCO is categorically opposed to abortion, and it is our prayer and goal to see lives saved and an end to abortion in Oklahoma and beyond. Through the years, Oklahoma Baptists have championed numerous bills designed to protect life and fight abortion.” —Open Letter from the BGCO to Oklahoma Baptists
“So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:6–7).
“And he [King Josiah] defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech” (2 Kings 23:10).
Sometimes a wise man can be a fool. When the king was a fool, God sent a prophet. I hope I’m Nathan speaking to David. I pray that my motives are loving and that my brothers are repentant. At this time, I do not wish to be seen as an Elijah rebuking Ahab. As far as I can see, we all hate Jezebel and her idolatries. I think we’re debating whether or not she should be thrown down from the wall now, by whom, and how.
If the streets are clear below, let Jezebel be cast down! BGCO leaders, the time has come. The time is now. I don’t care who. I don’t care how.* Let her be cast down; let her be cast down now!
When God has spoken, let us tremble at His Word. As Jeremiah Burroughs said, “True fear and trembling at the Word is that which will settle the heart and strengthen the heart against all other fears. It will swallow up other fears that are greater.” If we fear God, we will be bold before men. I long for a Josiah, trembling at the word, zealous to extinguish the worship of Molech. I long for a Wilberforce, spending his own life, tenacious for the lives of others. I’m thankful for the kings of old whose hearts were right to the Lord yet failed to purge the land of idolatry (i.e. 1 Kings 15:4), but I want to see all the high places taken down and I’m not looking for the world to do so. If Molech is to be defiled, the church must be sanctified.
May God grant us repentance and reformation.
*The emphatic if that begins this paragraph is meant to indicate that justice and righteousness are assumed regarding the how.
“In recent days, you may have read discussions about Oklahoma State Senate Bill 13, the ‘Abolition of Abortion Act.’ Regarding SB 13, after considerable prayer and careful study of the proposed policy, including direct conversations with the bill’s principle author, we have several concerns.” —Open Letter from the BGCO to Oklahoma Baptists
I’m trying to be a faithful prophet here, but not that kind of a prophet. I do not posses any knowledge of the several unnamed concerns. I would like to hear them. I hope they are more substantial than those given. To the best of my knowledge, the particular leaders whose signatures are applied to the letter haven’t explicitly disclosed any further rational. But in the smorgasbord of the interwebs I do keep seeing two staple reasons from some Southern Baptists pastors as to why we shouldn’t support SB 13 and should support the leadership of the BGCO.
The first staple I’m hearing we must have a healthy helping of is unity and peace. I do want to fight for unity, but I also want to contend for the faith. These two battles are not at odds. The fight for true Christian unity is a fight for the truth of Christ. Unity by itself is not a virtue. D.A. Carson explains, “The Bible itself recognizes that unity is not an intrinsic good. There is good unity, and there is bad unity. Bad unity occurs in Genesis 11 when rebellious humankind unites to build a tower to heaven to defy God.”
Disagreement is not division. Uniformity is not unity. Let’s hash this out and not kill all discussion with demands for peace. If we must part ways here, as did Paul and Barnabas, I will pray both for your repentance and for your fruitfulness in preaching the gospel of Christ.
The leaders have expressed their conscience. Are we not allowed to express our own without being accused of causing division? If so, this is an easy flip. It is the expression of their conscience, as representatives of our churches, that has sown division.
If that’s the meat, here are the potatoes:* some don’t want to get behind this legislation because of radicals who may be involved with it. This is the genetic fallacy. A prophecy concerning our Lord came through pagan Balaam and was true nonetheless. I don’t care if Hitler wrote this legislation, if it would end this holocaust and do no injustice otherwise, I’m voting for it.
Protestants owe much to Francis Schaeffer for the fact that we’re fighting for life. Initially Schaeffer faced kickback for his efforts against abortion by Evangelicals who said the life of the unborn was a Catholic agenda. Schaeffer used the language of “co-belligerents” in reference to Catholics in this war. We are certain to face this battle with both allies and co-belligerents. The presence of co-belligerents with whom we have disagreements should not cause us to falter.
It is naive to think that once any good legislation is put forward other persons more radical than we won’t get wrapped up in it as well. I wouldn’t fault an American soldier for using a foreign weapon. Others may be offering up this meat to an idol. We need not participate in their worship and we are free to buy their meat from the market. Meat is meat. Truth is truth. Man’s hands may dirty the surface, but if there’s truth, it’s God’s. A good hammer shouldn’t be trashed because of whose fingerprints are on it. If it is being used as a murder weapon, bring forth the evidence. Otherwise, let’s build.
Is our concern God’s justice or man’s justification? Am I hitting the nail on the head?
*The meat and potatoes are often served with the gray gravy of “this bill isn’t worded well.” I take this to refer to the previous concerns I’ve dealt with. If not, I haven’t found any words telling me what isn’t worded well.
“The bill even goes so far to repeal original Oklahoma laws already on the books that allows abortion only to save a mother’s life.” —Open Letter from the BGCO to Oklahoma Baptists
ad hominem: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
This isn’t so much an argument against a straw man as it is an argument of straw against the man. Methinks it is a bit like complaining that your doctor doesn’t have the smallpox vaccine on hand anymore. This is no severe measure because the need for such severe measures are an anomaly. When such anomalies do occur, we don’t need legislation that can then be twisted to kill a child for the “health” of the mother. This very play was just run with abortion legislation in New York and celebrated with applause.
Doctors are trained to preserve life. They don’t need laws for that. This bill is not about killing mothers instead of babies. There is no draconian angle here that I’m aware of. The ambition is simply for life all around. Let’s go for all the life we can every time.
It’s this simple, no mothers or babies are to be harmed in the implementation of this bill. If the fire alarm goes off, our ambition should be to save as many lives as possible. If the fireman can’t save them all, we’ll cry both with him and the family for their loss and blame no one. But let’s not talk about legislation that could be used to validate arbitrary decisions not to try to save some. If we do, we’ll likely see arsonists signing up to be firemen. As we don’t wish to legislate for firemen when negligent homicide is permissible, neither should we tell doctors when they can get away with murder.
This objection is built like a cheese puff: there’s an initial flavor explosion, but it’s really mostly air with little substance. Whatever nutritional value can be gained from this puff supports very little life. You can’t argue against a heavy block of cheddar with a cheese puff. You can’t argue against the saving of thousands of lives with the saving of a few lives that would have been saved anyway.