Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Perhaps my proudest moment as a father yet . . .

Friday, August 19, 2011

You're killing the same creature to which you're dedicating your life

It all began with the cover story of the August 14 edition of The New York Times Magazine called "The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy". As Albert Mohler details, Reporter Ruth Padawer first takes her readers into the examination room of an obstetrician who is about to abort one of two fetuses within the womb of a woman identified as “Jenny”. Padawer’s report is largely about that phenomenon (reducing twins to a single pregnancy by eliminating one fetus), for the reduction of a pregnancy from twins to a single baby is not about increasing the odds of a healthy delivery, but about the ominous rise of what amounts to personal preference.

This “reduction” has become an all-too-common but seldom spoken of procedure in a society of designer children, designer families, and designer lives. And the “designer” in all of this is the autonomous self (though one doubts that the autonomous self in the womb would make the same choice as her mother).

Yet the most surprising response to these reductions has not been from the camp of the pro-lifers but rather the pro-choicers. Abortion supporters are having unexpected—and unfavorable—responses as the muddled logic surrounding abortion gives way to the cold, hard truth now confronting them. And this brings me to the reason for writing this post. William Saletan over at Slate has written an insightful piece that I wanted to share in part:

This bifurcated mindset permeates pro-choice thinking. Embryos fertilized for procreation are embryos; embryos cloned for research are "activated eggs." A fetus you want is a baby; a fetus you don't want is a pregnancy. Under federal law, anyone who injures or kills a "child in utero" during a violent crime gets the same punishment as if he had injured or killed "the unborn child's mother," but no such penalty applies to "an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman … has been obtained."

Reduction destroys this distinction. It combines, in a single pregnancy, a wanted and an unwanted fetus. In the case of identical twins, even their genomes are indistinguishable. You can't pretend that one is precious and the other is just tissue. You're killing the same creature to which you're dedicating your life.

HT: Stand To Reason

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are you a cat or a dog in your theology?

During his Sunday message "The Mission", Matt Chandler used something that I found insightful as an idea and helpful as an illustration. This "Cat & Dog Theology", a concept developed by Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison, draws a distinction and informs the differing ways we approach God, Jesus, and the Bible.

“A cat goes, ‘oh my owner feeds for me, cares for me, cleans up after me…I must be God!’ And a dog goes, ‘my owner, my master, feeds for me, cares for me, cleans up after me…he must be God!’ And that’s why when you come home, your dog is all over you, and unless you have like .0000001% of cats, your cat could care less when you get home. And far too many evangelicals are feline in their theologies…‘Well god loves me, he’s for me…I’m the point!’ And when you’re the point, everything falls apart.”
Does this mean cats are basically moralistic therapeutic deists?

Monday, August 15, 2011

To beer or not to beer, that is the question.

John MacArthur continues his fatherly chat with the Young, Restless, and Reformed crowd and continues to provoke more than a little feedback in the process. Long time friend of the blog, Andrew Faris, has posted a response on his blog to John MacArthur's latest piece:

MacArthur and others will think this 27 year old Reformed-ish blogger foolish for being unwilling to listen to reproof. And that’s possible, since MacArthur’s most recent post focuses on the inordinate love of beer amongst YRR’s, and, well, I really like beer myself. So maybe my ears are a little too closed.

But maybe MacArthur is just being condescending about a preference that really does fall within Christian liberty.

I have no comments right now, except that I really like beer, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

If you play with knives long enough...

Recently I had a conversation with a couple friends in which one of them shared his dislike of feeling like he needed to read the Bible every day. He has always had a strong reaction against legalism and said that he couldn't in good conscience read the Bible if he just felt like he was checking a box on a to-do list.

I suggested that, while his choice was well intentioned, he would be better served in the long run by developing a discipline of reading even when he didn't feel like it. I mentioned Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I suggested that, even if your heart isn't in it on any given day (or week), we are told that Scripture is living and active, "sharper than any two-edged sword". From vivid childhood experience I said this: "If you play with knives long enough, you're going to get cut." If you read even when you don't feel like it, eventually God will cut through and your reading will become more than just checking a box.

So my question for you brilliant readers is this: agree or disagree? Would your advice have been different?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: If God, Why Evil? by Norman Geisler

Last week I began a two-part series of book reviews addressing the problem of evil. Even with the common subject matter, If God is Good . . . by Randy Alcorn and If God, Why Evil? by Norman L. Geisler could not be less alike in their approach. Here's the breakdown of the two books (denoted as IGIG and IGWE:

IGIG is a beast at almost a half century of pages (494 to be exact). IGWE, before the appendices, is a mere 122 pages.

IGIG is accessible, pastoral and an easy read. IGWE is more academic, even to the point of stating the various problems in proper logical argument form.

Simply stated: IGIG is written with the sensitivity of a pastor. IGWE is written with the sensibility of a professor.

As Geisler writes in the introduction, "At the same time our heart needs comfort, our head needs answers". Just such answers are the focus here. If God, Why Evil? by Norm Geisler is a sharp, intellectual stab at the heart of one of Christianity's most vexing questions (and yes, that question just happens to be the title). While the book is brief, Geisler brings all his apologetic weight to bear and the result is a pleasure to read.

This book is not for those struggling with evil and pain on a deep personal level. For such, this will feel too academic, too sterile. However, for those struggling with Christianity because of the intellectual objection surrounding God and evil, I cannot think of a book I would recommend more highly. It's smart and brief. It will take a few hours to read but a few weeks to digest.

While I think the brevity of the book is a great selling point, I think the publisher was a little worried about it. I merely say that because there are a couple appendices tacked on the end that seem only loosely related. Titles like "Animal Death Before Adam" and "A Critique of The Shack" should prove my point.

All in all, this is a solid book. Oh yeah, and it has my daughter's endorsement as well!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Apologists, those questioning Christianity

This book was a free review copy provided by Bethany House.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: If God Is Randy Alcorn

The problem of evil is one of the most timeless challenges surrounding the existence of God. It is also a timely problem as it lies at the heart of the currently popular debate within Christian circles regarding hell. For these reasons, books tackling the topic of hell and the broader one of evil seem to be surfacing at a rapid rate. So this week and the next I will be reviewing two books covering the same subject matter. But with that exception, these two books could hardly be less alike.

My first impression of If God Is Good... by Randy Alcorn wasn't a coherent thought. It was, however, memorable enough that my two year old daughter echoed my comment back to me later when she saw the book again saying, "Holy cow!" (which was exactly what I said when I first pulled the book from its box). Alcorn has written a tour de force on the problem of evil from every conceivable angle. Clocking in at 494 pages, this book is not for the faint at heart—if your heart faints at the thought of reading anything longer than a blog post.

While the length of the book might be intimidating for some, the readability will not be. Alcorn's style is easily accessible and, even when dealing with more philosophical arguments, handles them with the everyman in mind. For this reason, while a straight read-thru may not be a practical goal for everyone, this may be one of the best books to have on hand as reference material on the problem of evil.

Randy approaches his topic with the heart of a pastor throughout the book, even introducing the book with "A Note to Readers, Especially to Those Hurting and Confused". His sensitive and yet straightforward manner are welcome in an issue that can quickly become either academic or calloused.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Every Christian's library as (at the very least) reference material

This book was a free review copy provided by Multnomah Books.