Abortion, euthanasia

My bad: on making theological retractions

“My bad,” is a pretty common expression when playing pick-up basketball. If you make an errant pass or let your man drive around you or lose the ball off the dribble, the standard way to acknowledge your error is simply to say to your teammates, “my bad.”

Contrary to Erich Segal, marriage means always having to say you’re sorry. Segal wrote this inanity because, as Sir Elton John puts it, "'sorry seems to be the hardest word." To say "my bad" to my wife is hard, but repentance is the privilege of the Christian and God has set things up so that "my bad" and "sorry" are a necessary part of the grease that keeps a marriage running smoothly.

In marriage, "sorry” can cover a whole multitude of issues, all the way from putting the wrong piece of clothing in the dryer to dropping a plate to an angry outburst.  But … How does a pastor or theologian say "sorry" or "I was wrong?" And if you’re a published author, it gets even more complicated.

I remember one time hearing a pastor … 


Cutting through the rhetoric...

As already noted, the Hobby Lobby decision isn't particularly landmark. It is here, for now, but will likely dissolve within a short time-frame. During the interim, we will have our eyes and ears abused with twisted narratives used to induce panic and anger; certainly not careful thought or reflection. The weightier the issues, the more sinfully stupid people think about and talk about topics. It is not merely painful to our ears and eyes, it is tragic.

One such issue that sticks out is how so many articles and "news" outlets are focusing on the fact Hobby Lobby isn't a real person...


The Hobby Lobby decision put in context...

The Supreme Court of these United States declares Hobby Lobby will no longer be required to submit to Washington D.C.'s oppression and we're supposed to be happy and grateful? Are you kidding me?

The cornerstone of our nation's principles of government is the recognition that all men have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yet Christians are tickled pink and giggling with excitement that closely held family corporations of a certain inordinate religiosity will no longer be obligated to pay for the slaughter of their employees' children. It doesn't take much for the court jesters inside the Beltway to make us grateful, does it?

Sometimes I think I have a clear view of the game plan. The relationship between Christian citizens of these United States and their civil magistrates is much like professional wrestling...


R2K hipsters want the PCA to merge with the PC(USA)...

To those who wonder why I left the PCA, most of it had to do with our pastors college and church planting with Clearnote Fellowship, our local presbytery. Then too, it was so tiring living in the middle this sort of faithlessness in my General Assembly work and on the floor of GA and presbytery meetings. This article is taken from the byFaith blog. Thus I suppose they would claim copyright. But really, there's nothing creative here to warrant copyright. They pulled the faithless words out of the public meeting of the Overtures Committee. Then there's the fact that byFaith consistently gags good comments and has been doing so for years. So I figure there ought to be one place where people are really free to leave comments (while of course abiding by our commenting rules).

To the issue at hand: the PCA General Assembly is meeting and its Overtures Committee just shot down the following overture using the following reasoning. The battle is all around them and they fear confessing Christ will jeopardize their hipster church planting.

You know, not one of these guys who lectured the other commissioners on the committee and Savanna River Presbytery about the danger of this statement has ever counselled or admonished or rebuked or excommunicated or encouraged or hugged or kissed (with a holy kiss) one single homosexual. It's clear from their whining that they don't know a thing about evangelizing or ministering to men tempted by same-sex intimacy. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Then, you add the R2K spirituality of the church nonsense and we have a hipster/R2K perfect storm of cowardice...


I have had enough of your liturgies, homilies, and sacraments...

[NOTE FROM TB: Please note the apology and change to my comment below. I took an uncalled-for jab at attorneys, and therefore at my dear brother, Dan, below. Fact is, Dan and several other attorneys I know and love are precisely what I was calling for—faithful Christians who live out that precise righteousness spoken of by Isaiah. I praise God for them and their faithful service to many needy and oppressed!]

It's all well and good to say the Christian should not look for the civil magistrate to supplant the preacher of the Gospel in calling men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We don't need huge books to make that point. It's obvious. And yet I suppose it is precisely those obvious places where scholastics like to sit and ruminate. And if they pull off the supercilious thing well enough, they may be successful in enticing callow young men to listen to their ruminations; or better yet, buy them.

Meanwhile, the real action continues unimpeded. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being forced out of their calling, their work and profession, by civil magistrates, professional societies, professors, teachers, school boards, trade organizations, public monopolies like the AMA and Apple and Google, and state bar associations—all united in their attack upon God's Created Order and Law. It's impossible to miss. Everyone sees it every single day and its fruit of blood and damnation is piled up three feet high and rotting in our nation's public square...


Rachel Held Evans: it's so scary to say "no" to a woman...

[NOTE: Not until after writing this piece and making my comments posted prior to May 22 at 5:21 PM did I realize the author of the piece I'm critiquing, Owen Strachan, serves as Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I'm sure I'd known who he was in the past but it wasn't mentioned on Patheos and I'd forgotten it. I note this because David and I have been critical of CBMW over the years, but this post was written blind to the fact that it was CBMW's spokesman speaking.]

My esteemed sister, Kamilla Ludwig, directed my attention to a long Patheos post critical of Rachel Held Evans's naming God "Herself." The post has many helpful things. Do read it, but as you read you will not be able to help noticing the post's endless handwringing. The author's discomfort at saying anything negative about someone else is the ethos of the piece that almost gags the critique itself. We get the feeling the author did his writing in the breakfast nook while being berated by his mother over in the kitchen. She kept saying to her naughty son, "A gentleman never hurts a lady. Bad boy! Judge not lest ye be judged. Bad boy! Love always expects the best. Bad boy! Very very bad boy!"

Then, the author ends his essay with a footnote titled, "Brief excursus on the term 'heresy' and 'God as woman' language." Here is the text of the footnote, resplendent in its pomo timidity, self-doubt, and...


Vindicate the weak and fatherless...

In his own eyes, every man is righteous.

Recently, my wife was having dinner with a large group celebrating the birthday of a dear woman who had reached her ninety-seventh year. One of the men at the table proposed they sing "Happy Birthday," but there was a fly in the ointment: a woman in their group voiced disapproval of such an intrusion in the privacy of others.

Another man at the table responded, "Oh, come on; all of us would be happy to hear a table singing 'Happy Birthday'!" Seeing she'd lost the battle, the table began to sing while the objector got up and walked away. One celebrant announced to the others in the restaurant, "She's ninety-seven!", so of course the whole restaurant joined in the happy chorus. It was very sweet.

When the song was over, the objector returned to the table and my wife asked, "I guess you were making yourself scarce?"

She replied, "I have high morals and I take them very seriously."

This isn't an article on ethnic or regional differences in conviviality...


Stalin's daughter has this to say about George Kennan...

During the twentieth century, close to half the world's population suffered behind Communism's Iron Curtains. And behind those curtains, murder was systematically practiced on a scale the world had never before known. Obscene bloodlust against their own subjects was the common denominator of Communism's leaders including Cambodia's Pol Pot, China's Mao Zedong, and the Soviet Union's Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin—better known as "Papa" Joe Stalin. Stalin himself slaughtered at least fifty million of his fellow citizens.

The March 31, 2014 issue of The New Yorker has a short profile1 of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, who spent much of the second half of her life here in these United States of America. Until he died a few years ago, Svetlana's closest friend was the American diplomat of the Cold War, George Kennan. Their relationship was up and down...


God bless America...

Here's text from an e-mail I received recently from Dr. David Canfield, an elder at Clearnote Church, Bloomington. David gave his permission for me to post it here on Baylyblog. There is a context for the letter, but it's unimportant to David's larger point.

* * *

The problem is not, essentially, that President Obama has... That is just a symptom of the true problem, viz., that America (and this has happened to a great extent during my lifetime) has abandoned the notion of us, both as individuals and a nation, as being under authority. I speak of authority in all of its manifestations. We have seen, for instance, parental authority ripped to shreds, and the US Constitution is now viewed as a list of suggestions that might...


Forty-one years of the slaughter of babies across America...

Yesterday marked the forty-first anniversary of the legalization of baby-slaughter by the evil justices of the Supreme Court of these United States. Their arguments were devious, or simply lies. But they had their way, and now they will face God and give an account for these forty-one years of bloodshed of innocents. Again this year, I post a sermon preached ten years ago in Indiana's Statehouse to focus our thoughts on this greatest of all evils we face today. Take time to read the sermon, thinking how you can speak up, and like Noah, be a preacher of righteousness.

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The Lord'€™s Throne Is in Heaven

(For the choir director; a psalm of David.) In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain; for, behold, the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string to shoot in darkness at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'€™S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face. (Psalm 11:1-7)

Thirty one (now forty-one) years ago today, on January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court of these United States issued its infamous ruling, Roe v. Wade, in which the Court declared that a mother's intentional killing of her unborn child was a fundamental right guaranteed under our Constitution. Since that ruling, it has been a commonplace to observe that Roe v. Wade, the Court's repeal of the laws prohibiting abortion on the books of all fifty states, was simply the exercise of raw judicial power with a legal justification based upon a mist and a vapor--€”or as the Court itself might put it, emanations from penumbras.

Our Supreme Court: intentionally conniving at murder...

Since 1973, no one has made a name for himself defending Roe. v. Wade’s history, biology, ethics, logic, or justice; and only a few have been foolish enough to claim this ruling will stand the test of time...


Abortion and the pain of motherhood...

"God loves life." This was the title of our sermon this morning at Sawyer Highlands Church here in Sawyer, Michigan. For over thirty years, Mary Lee and I have been attending this church just down the street from the Michigan House where I come to write. Pastor Jeff Dryden preached on abortion with Psalm 139 as his text. As usual, it was an excellent sermon. Faithful to Scripture with loving application to all of us sitting under his ministry. If you're in the area, I highly recommend this congregation to you. It's Reformed and Baptistic with elder rule, and entirely unpretentious—a godly combination.

Pastor Dryden's sermon got me thinking about the moral agency of women. It's hard to face how we have turned our wives and daughters into murderers, today. We don't mind condemning the men who failed them and their child nestled in the womb, but always remember that Sapphira was killed by God after He killed her husband, Ananias. Regardless of our own sins as fathers and brothers and husbands, women who chose to kill their baby are murderers and must be led to confess it so they may repent and believe in the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing them from all sin. Even such a horrible one.

Again, women are moral agents. Here's an excerpt from the fatherhood book I'm working on that I trust will help remind us of this important facet to the pastoral care needed by the women of our churches.

* * *

Recently, I have been thinking about an excuse mothers use for murdering their unborn children through abortion. They say they did not want to bring their child into the world, only to suffer. Their child would have been unwanted. Their child was diagnosed in the womb with Spina Bifida or Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and they could not bear the thought of what life would have been like for him. So they had an abortion. It was for their beloved child’s own good, of course.

Now I am not making this up...


The ghouls of nationalized health care..

This is so cruel. And similar cases will multiply as federal administrators take over every last health care decision for every last person in these United States. They will calculate the cost of submission to the Sixth Commandment and find murder quicker and cheaper. And Christian fathers will be helpless to protect their wives and children.

Mark my words.


Nelson Mandela's defense speech, "I Am Prepared To Die" (with links)...


Nelson Mandela has died. As Scripture puts it, God has blown upon this fair flower and he has returned to dust:

All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it... - Isaiah 40:6, 7

But who was Nelson Mandela? If you recognize that Reformed theology is simply Biblical theology, it's important for you to know.

Why?

The history of Nelson Mandela's fatherland and apartheid is bound up with Reformed men and their theology just as the history of the Confederacy, the Civil War, and slavery in America is bound up with Reformed men and their theology. God hates injustice, oppression, and the bloodshed of innocents, whether the oppressor is Pharoah in Egypt, Jezebel in Israel, Nero in Rome, the Roman Catholics in the Middle Ages, or Protestant and Reformed Christians in South Africa or these United States.

So then, to help with an understanding of Nelson Mandela's work, here is the text of the opening speech he gave at his Rivonia Trial in 1964. The title of the speech comes from the speech's final words, "I am prepared to die."

For what was Mandela prepared to die? Read on and see. I've provided links for names, organizations, legislative acts, and terms average readers would find confusing. Near the end of the text, I've provided a link to an audiotape of the speech you can listen to as you read the final paragraphs of the text.

Nelson Mandela spoke for four hours. When he declared "I am prepared to die," as he said it, he looked directly in the eyes of the presiding judge, Dr. Quartus de Wet.  During the rest of the trial he never again made eye contact with Judge de Wet. Following his conviction, Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison, eighteen of those years on Robben Island. South Africa's President F. W. de Klerk released him on February 11, 1990.

My son Taylor is married to a beautiful Afrikaans-speaking South African woman...


Lawsuit claims chimpanzees should be recognized as "persons," and liberated...

Back in the late seventies at UW-Madison, my friend Keith Yandell suggested I take a course offered by the Philosophy Department titled "Environmental Ethics." Taught by the then-chairman of the department, Jon Moline, the course began with Dr. Moline presenting to the class a current effort in California to establish in court that Redwood trees were persons and deserved protection as such under U.S. law.

A decade or so later, I read a piece in the New York Times Book Review written by a professor of philosophy at Harvard. He was reviewing a book by a Kentucky philosopher which made the case that distinctions between men and animals were simply "speciesism." That part is boring.

What I found noteworthy was the Harvard man's reaction...


Supreme Court accepts Hobby Lobby appeal...

The Supreme Court has accepted an appeal of the requirement by President Obama's nationalized medicine that corporations pay for the murder of unborn children. The appeal filed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Mennonite woodworking company, is based on the companies' religious opposition to providing their employees abortifacient drugs such as "Plan B."

So now we'll see if Chief Justice Roberts has "grown" into lying about the First as well as the Tenth Amendment. Also whether he sees baby-slaughter as no big deal.

Reporting on SCOTUS agreeing to the review, USA Today...


The Seventh Circuit Court rules for religious freedom...

We praise God that, this past week, the Seventh Circuit ruled that owners of two closely held corporations (one in Indiana, the other in Illinois) could assert religious freedom rights against nationalized healthcare's contraception mandate. The Seventh Circuit entered preliminary injunctions against the federal government imposing any enforcement penalties against these two companies.

Quoting from...


Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) responds: the best defense is a good offense...

(This post is the follow-up to an earlier post which should be read first. The earlier post is titled "Christian Medical and Dental Association doesn't want abortion to divide Christians...".)

Last week, we heard from Christian Medical and Dental Association's CEO, Dr. David Stevens. He responded to our earlier post (detailing CMDA's punitive actions toward a dental student who taught a pro-life position in CMDA's Bible study) by laying out his subordinates' explanations of their actions. Thus, his communication with us was simply a number of bullet points, criticizing the dental student's teaching method and character.

There was no acknowledgement that CMDA was wrong in disciplining the student for his pro-life commitments. In our earlier work seeking a resolution to this matter, this is the response we had gotten from CMDA regional and national staff, so we weren't surprised Dr. Stevens continued this line of defense.

The same day we heard from Dr. Stevens, World Magazine contacted us asking for more information. We declined, explaining that we wanted first to work toward a private resolution.


R2K is segregationist...

It's a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they did not keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and to the Temple and to their authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

Why "R2K" instead of "2K"?

First, a word about names. Why do I make it a habit to refer to this modern novelty as “R2K,” the initial 'R' standing for "Radical" or "Revisionist" two kingdom theology, rather than simply “2K” standing for "Two Kingdom"?

In the Reformed and Protestant world, fathers of the Church have long referred to “two-kingdom” distinctions they have employed as necessary to delineate the proper spheres of authority of state and church; of city councilmen on the one hand and deacons, pastors, and elders on the other hand. These two kingdoms or spheres of authority Martin Luther variously referred to as the Kingdoms of this World and the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdoms of God’s Left Hand and the Kingdom of God’s Right Hand. So in that sense we could say that, insofar as the modern Escondido Theology or R2K men are speaking about the distinctions between the state and Church, and therefore the distinction between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God, they are joining a large and long conversation dear to the heart of each one of us pastors, elders, and believers living in this world while not of it.

In his helpful article, “One Kingdom or Two?”, Cornelius Venema writes:

…the two kingdoms [R2K] doctrine is alleged to be the venerable, original position of the Reformed churches. …(This) historical claim on the part of two kingdoms [R2K] advocates… represents a tendentious reading of the historical record.

- in "One Kingdom or Two? An Evaluation of the 'Two Kingdoms' Doctrine as an Alternative to Neo-Calvinism," by Cornelis Venema. Mid-America Journal of Theology 23 (2012): 77-129.

In Protestantism, both Presbyterian/Reformed and Lutheran, we now have five centuries of discussion and debate of this distinction and how best to work it out. No one has arrived at a solution to the tension and conflict that have always prevailed between the two kingdoms and it was this same conflict that led to this exchange between Pilate and Jesus Christ...{C}


Christian Medical and Dental Association doesn't want abortion to divide Christians...

Then they themselves also will answer, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?" (Matthew 25:44)

(NOTE: CMDA's president, vice-president, and midwest regional director have all responded to the content of this post by attacking the gifts and character of the young dental student whose teaching on abortion CMDA had disciplined—as outlined below. We have now published a follow-up post in which we document CMDA's defense, responding with a careful and detailed demonstration of their attack's errors of fact.)

Walmart has an unimpeachable return policy. Read about it on their national website. It is one of the most generous in the industry, but it's only as good as the implementation at your local Walmart when you try to get a refund. If every Walmart were free to reject returns, the official policy wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on. This is true of every national organization with local branches. The acid test of a national policy is its local implementation.

This is seen all the time with parachurch ministries. For example, the national office of Inter-Varsity was unwilling to discipline a local chapter that promoted homosexuality. Similarly, although the PCA issued a fevered condemnation of Federal-Vision theology at the national level, she hasn't been able to find any local individual who holds to what she condemned. Men tried for Federal-Vision leanings are always exonerated.

The most recent example is the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA). Officially opposed to abortion since 1985, CMDA punished a man who taught their curriculum and position on abortion in one of their local Bible studies. When their official position against abortion becomes painfully local, they undermine it. They are prophets at a distance, but at home they desire peace.

Case in point: a godly, irenic dental student (let's call him John*) attending a CMDA Bible study was asked to take over teaching the study...