The Harassment of Humanity in the Harambe Hoopla

Like many of you, I have been inundated by the media buzz surrounding the killing of the gorilla Harambe. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know that the gorilla Harambe was killed by the zookeepers at the Cincinnati Zoo due to a 3-year-old child falling into the gorilla’s enclosure. Let me say from the beginning: the whole event was tragic. It was tragic that the gorilla had to be killed. It was a tragedy that the little 3-year-old suffered the horror of falling into the enclosure before being drug around the water while suffering great injury by the 450-pound beast. It is a tragedy! Far more troubling is the feedback that reactionary, controversy-loving, internet moguls have had pertaining to the case. Many people across social media have begun protesting the gorilla’s death. Some naturalist protesters have even issued threats to the mother of the 3-year-old boy. All-in-all, this harassing reaction has brought to mind modern thinking that demonstrate great areas of concern, none of them having to do with the animal’s death, but the devaluation of human life. Let’s look at three areas of concern that stems from harassment from internet activists.

  1. It troubles me that a parenting is being harassed.

I am the proud parent of a hyper-active 7-year-old boy. As any parent will tell you, it is easy for a child to do something ridiculously absurd in a matter of moments. Some protesters have claimed, “The mother should have kept a better eye on the child.” My first reaction to this claim is, “Have you ever had children?!?” If you have, you should know better. I privy myself a very protective parent. Some have even said, too protective. Yet, my son in a moment’s notice has fallen off a chair, run towards the road, reached for a camp fire, nearly fell out of a loft, and knocked down and nearly carried off by the ocean’s waves. All-the-while, I kept a “close eye” on him. Any parent will tell you, things can go crazy in parenting quickly.

Parenting is tough. It does not come with an instruction manual. Kids will be kids. So, to claim that a parent should be held accountable for a necessary action to save her child from certain death is absolutely absurd! Such a notion demonstrates the low societal view placed on the family unit, especially parenting. Kids are undesirable for some. However, the protesters must remember one thing: the protesters were once children. I am certain that they did things that were nearly as ridiculous as falling into a gorilla cage. Their actions may not have caused such a tragic event, but it is possible that they could have. What is the difference? The childhood actions of the protesters did not receive national attention as did this mother and young child. This leads to another area of concern in the realm of expertise.

  1. It troubles me that expertise has been harassed.

The professionals at the Cincinnati Zoo had to make a quick decision. They could either preserve the life of the gorilla while risking the life of the child or they could kill the gorilla and ensure the safety of the child. “Why didn’t the zookeepers use a tranquilizer?” many have asked. Professional zookeepers who deal with large animals on a daily basis have noted that tranquilizers would take too long and, as Jack Hanna noted, would have “aggravated him [the gorilla] further.”[1]

Unfortunately, society has become so self-obsessed that many feel themselves a highly-trained, professional voice on all matters. While the internet has allowed many voices to be heard (which is good), it has also enabled self-aggrandized opinions, which have little ground upon which to stand. The internet has provided a soap-box with a microphone for these uninformed opinions (which is not always good). The uninformed opinions are given the same weight as professionally informed expertise (which is really not good).

In example, I have read posts where the authority of scholars such as Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, and others have been demoted by self-appointed scholars who seek to dismiss the resurrection of Jesus. Why? It had nothing to do with the research of Habermas and Licona but everything to do with the conclusions that Jesus’ resurrection is historically authentic. The self-appointed scholars offered no rebuttal of substance. No evidence to the contrary was given. The antagonists simply desired for their uneducated opinions pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus (and anti-religious sentiments) to hold the same weight as these gentlemen who have spent countless hours and years researching the topic.

Take another example. Say that a medical doctor tells you that you have a particular issue which requires immediate action (e.g. the removal of your gall bladder). Your next door neighbor claims, “Ah, it’s something you ate. No need for surgery.” Whose advice holds greater weight? I hope you say your medical doctor does. So then why must we think that we know more about zookeeping than professional zookeepers?

Note: I am not saying that non-scholarly opinions are not important. However, the facts given by the experts must be given a great deal of weight. Experts can be wrong, and sometimes are. But to demonstrate an expert wrong, the proponent must have substantial evidence proving the contrary. When zoologists and zookeepers tell us that a tranquilizer will not work effectively with a 450-pound gorilla when a child’s life on the line, I will gladly accept professionally informed insight over the layman’s opinion any day.

  1. It troubles me that human life has been harassed.

Most troubling to me is the fact that human life has been demoted lower than that of animal life. The Christian worldview holds that human life holds the highest value. When God created humanity, “in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).[2] Humanity has been given a great responsibility with the natural world. God said in Genesis, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). Humankind was meant to have dominion over the earth. Instead, modern society has allowed the earth to have dominion over humanity.[3]

In a sense, Christians are called to be humanists and environmentalists. By humanists and environmentalists, I am neither referencing secular humanism nor naturalism. I am, nonetheless, claiming that the believer should hold a high value for human life and should hold a high degree of responsibility for the natural world. Society would do well to place the same value upon human life.

Conclusion

Please note: I am not saying that I take any pleasure in the death of the gorilla Harambe. Like many others, I feel that the entire situation was tragic. I am, rather, claiming that human life holds the greatest value. Make no mistake, the Cincinnati zookeepers had no desire whatsoever to kill this gorilla which they loved so dearly. The zookeepers had to make a quick decision. Would they save the life of the gorilla only to threaten the life of an innocent 3-year-old boy? Or would they kill the gorilla to ensure the young boy’s safety? The zookeepers made the right decision! If it had been my son, I would hope that the staff would have done the same. I am not a malicious person. I despise horror movies because I cannot stand watching someone or something harmed even in a fictional film. I take no pleasure in seeing any of God’s creatures suffer harm. Nevertheless, I would rather that 10 gorillas were shot to ensure that one innocent child was spared. Why? Do I hate gorillas? Absolutely not! I admire the gorilla’s enormous strength and grandeur. Gorillas are part of God’s great creation. Rather, I feel that human life has enormous value, the utmost value. While often straying from the plan of God, humanity bears the image of the Creator. My prayer is that modern society will see human life as God sees it—lives that are worth tremendous value.

 

© June 8, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Note

[1] Jack Hanna, quoted by Chuck Campbell, “Jack Hanna Defends Cincinnati Zoo’s Decision to Kill Gorilla,” USA Today.com (May 31, 2016), retrieved June 8, 2016, http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2016/05/31/jack-hanna-zookeeper-knoxville-cincinnati-zoo-gorilla-killed/85181272/.

[2] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[3] I am not dismissing environmental efforts. Rather, I am rejecting the notion that human life is of less value than other life forms on earth.

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3 Troubling Trends Encountered This Week

This past week, my heart has been grieved. It was not grieved by events happening in foreign nations. My heart was not grieved by any assault by atheistic innuendos. My heart has been grieved by particular things that I have seen coming from the American church. I was grieved in three areas of ministry and faith which were attacked, not by persons on the outside of the church, but by persons who are supposedly church leaders. These trends are highly dangerous.

1. Anti-biblical rhetoric.

The first area represents a trend that is of greatest concern. I read an article this week by a youth leader from the Raleigh-Durham area that demonstrated a troubling trend. The youth leader dismissed the authority of the Bible. He essentially claimed that the Bible was not the Word of God. Of utmost surprise to me what that many people came to his support! I don’t know of a more troubling thing for the church than for its young Christian leaders to be found dismissing the authority of the Bible. It is one thing to hold differing interpretations about a particular area of the Bible, but it is an entirely different problem when one dismisses the Bible entirely. Such a statement is especially troubling since this individual holds a great influence over the youth of his church.

2. Dismissal of biblical preaching.

Another problem I have encountered this week stems from a lackadaisical approach to expository preaching. Perhaps this dismissal stems from the lack of authority given to the Bible. Some feel that preaching is too old-fashioned. People want to hear stories and fancy tales rather than those pesky moral codes found in the Scriptures. The argument goes, “People want to hear about nice things. People want to hear about pleasant things. People do not want to be told what to do.” Would such people allow Jesus into their church? Would they allow the prophet Amos? What about that wildman John the Baptist? These men were teachers and preachers. Jesus expounded upon the Word of God (the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible). He often quoted and explained the texts. Don’t get me wrong! The gospel provides us positive things to contemplate. One of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. However, we must expound all of the Bible instead of picking and choosing those areas that are found most favorable.

I am reminded of the late Dr. Randy Kilby, former president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.” He said in one of his last messages before he died, “I hear people say, ‘Preach to the people’s needs. The problem is, you don’t know what the people need. Just preach the Word! God knows what they need” (Randy Kilby, 1998)! We desperately need more Randy Kilbys.

 3. Anti-apologetics.

The third problem has been a problem area for quite some time. This problem area is an anti-apologetics movement within the church. Which is really quite bizarre! Recently, a major denomination chose not to allow the proponents of Intelligent Design to host booths at their annual conference. The move by the major denomination stunned many of the leaders of the ID movement, such as Dr. Stephen Meyer. To compound the mystery of the denomination’s rejection of ID, many of the leaders of the ID movement are also members of the denomination in question.

Conclusion

We need to stay true to the calling that God has set before us. We must remain firm in our faith. But, we also need to realize that, as Jude has told us, in the last days we must be about “building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 20-23, ESV). Pray for those flirting with spiritual disaster.

 

© January 19, 2016. Brian Chilton.

 

Top 10 Challenges Facing the Church in 2016 (Part 1)

Since starting Bellator Christi three-years-ago, I have made it a practice to end each year with a glimpse of the challenges facing the church in the year ahead. The top-10 articles have become some of the more popular articles on the website. This year is no different.

It must be noted that I am writing simply as a pastor actively involved in church ministry. These lists are evaluations from what I see in the overall church, particularly in North America. These lists do not necessarily reflect any one particular church, or churches, to which I have served. Rather, this list reflects trends and issues that the church must address in the year ahead. While these issues reflect those facing the global church at large, the issues particularly relate to the church of North America.

 

This article will provide numbers 10 through 6. Next Tuesday’s article will provide the final five.

CHRISTIANS-GUNS

  1. The Christian’s Right to Bear Arms: To Bear or Not to Bear?

Dr. Jerry Falwell, Jr. recently supported the Christian’s right to arm themselves. Falwell’s statement seemed to ignite a firestorm not only in secular media outlets, but also in the church. Many leaders supported Falwell’s claim that Christians had the right and responsibility to defend oneself and one’s home. However, others such as John Piper condemned Falwell’s comments. That we are even having this conversation demonstrates the great cultural changes that have taken place since the days of the American Revolution. Nevertheless, the right to arm oneself, particularly that of the Christian, is not one that will be disarmed in 2016 (pun intended). With 2016 being a Presidential election year, anticipate this topic to find itself even greater ammunition (again, pun intended).[1]

How to combat:          Leaders will need to stress their views and explain why they feel the way that they do. Warning: it has been my experience that this issue can bring out great hostility by those on both sides. A spirit of comradery and openness will be necessary for advocates on both sides to allow for proper discourse and dialogue.

entitled-kid-494x328

  1. Entitlement: Ask Not What I Can Do for God, but what God can Do for Me.

The issue of entitlement is one that is beyond the scope of race or gender. Entitlement has become a phenomena for many individuals in modern culture. By entitlement, I mean the person’s belief that they are owed something. Perhaps the issue of entitlement stems from individualism gone wrong. While I am a capitalist, Socrates warned that extreme capitalism could lead to an individualized society where every person becomes his/her own island.[2] The Christian worldview is one that stresses the value and importance of community. Thus, this issue can become problematic, especially since the entitlement philosophy inherently opposes charitable endeavors. The philosophy of entitlement is focused on the self and not the needs of others.

How to combat:          Involving youth in missions work is a great way to demonstrate the impoverishment of the poor and afflicted. Charity and love for others must be emphasized.

Apathy-I-dont-care

  1. Apathy for the Lost.

Apathy has found its way on the top-ten list before. It is no stranger. By apathy, I stress the lack of concern that many Christians hold for the lost and downtrodden…particularly the lost. Other issues noted in the top five may hold a key in understanding the lack of enthusiasm that some hold. I am a congruist[3] and have many Calvinist friends. However, I do believe extreme Calvinism, especially that which espouses antinomianism, allows for such apathy regarding evangelism. This is certainly not true of all Calvinists. Many of my Calvinist friends are among some of the greatest of evangelists that I know. However, one must avoid views that negate the importance of the Great Commission regardless of one’s soteriological viewpoints.

How to combat:          Stress the Great Commission and the responsibility that Christians hold. Forgiveness does not excuse laziness and unholy living.

racism

  1. Race relations.

2015 has demonstrated just how problematic and deep the racial divide still remains. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Let us be clear. Racism and Christianity are incompatible. Racism and Christianity are oil and water. They do not mix. Unfortunately, fears and anxieties tend to diminish unity found in Christ. Instead, fears and anxieties elevate such tendencies.

How to combat:          Stress God’s impartiality[4] and that heaven will be full of various nationalities. Make an effort to befriend individuals of different ethnicities. See the value in all people. Dr. Derwin Gray is doing a great job in this area with his church Transformation Church in South Carolina.

unwavering-faith

  1. Trusting in God despite chaos.

With the increased “craziness” of the world, people—even believers—can succumb to negative thinking, conspiracy paranoia,[5] and alarmism. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Nonetheless, we must all remember that God is in control. In the midst of the chaos there exists a grand weaver orchestrating an elaborate tapestry that will in the end be for the best for the children of God.[6] While studies and surveys are useful. It is more important to trust in the sovereignty of Almighty God.

How to Combat:         WE MUST STUDY AND TEACH BIBLICAL and SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY!!! I keep coming back to the wise words of Dr. Daniel Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell is the Professor of Theology at Liberty University School of Divinity. Dr. Mitchell said, “The more I study God, the bigger God becomes.”[7] When we study the attributes of God, we come to realize just how mighty our God really is. So, to Dr. Mitchell I say, “Amen!”

Next week, I will provide the top five challenges facing the church in 2016.*

 

*Click here to read the second installment.

 

© December 29, 2015. Brian Chilton.

[1] In full disclosure, I must acknowledge that I support the Christian’s right to bear arms as I feel it is part of a person’s responsibility to protect one’s home. I do, however, readily admit that background checks should evaluate a person’s mental and emotional stability, as well as one’s ties to known terrorist agencies.

[2] See Plato’s Republic.

[3] Meaning that I believe both in the sovereignty of God and the free will of humanity. For a good explanation of this view, see Norman Geisler’s Chosen but Free: A Balanced View of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2010) and Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 356.

[4] Romans 2:11 and Acts 10:34-35.

[5] That is, seeing every minute thing as a conspiracy. For instance, “the weather is especially rainy. The government must not want the sun to shine!” Such a mindset provides governmental institutions a god-like status. Whether or not conspiracies exist is moot in this regard. Paranoia is antagonistic to faith.

[6] See Romans 8:28.

[7] Daniel Mitchell, Video Lecture, Liberty University.

50 Shades of Green: The Problems Associated with a Greed-Driven Life

There is concern among the Christian community about an ultra-erotic novel titled 50 Shades of Grey. While it must be admitted that this writer knows very little about the novel, it is certain that the Christian needs to avoid those things that would tempt them. While I will leave the book 50 Shades of Grey to be critiqued by another more knowledgeable about the book than myself, it does seem to me that there is another problem. For the sake of argument, let us call this problem 50 Shades of Green. What is 50 Shades of Green? It refers to a greed-driven life. While there is nothing wrong with possessing nice things, especially if one has worked hard for those things; there is something wrong about a life that is focused more on possessions and power than on the things in life that really matter (God, family, friendships, parenting, and the like). The Bible presents at least four problems that come by living a greed-driven life. Those four problems will be addressed in this article.

money bag

Greed Brings Immorality

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10). Some have misinterpreted this verse to claim that “money is the root of all evil.” However, Paul writes that the “love” of money is the core root of evil. Thus, a greed-driven life is a catalyst for immorality. Have you ever thought about what drives individuals to rob banks, steal information from another person’s bank account (e.g. identity theft), and even commit atrocious acts of abuse? Greed is the engine that drives such actions. It stems from the desire to have more.

While there is nothing wrong in one desiring to improve one’s life, it is wrong when one has an incessant desire, or craving rather, for more things. Part of the problem is that a person will never know contentment under such circumstances. I have known more than one person who has worked themselves to an early grave. Why? Perhaps, it came from a desire to possess more or to do better than everyone around them. In such cases, a person will not know peace and contentment. Rather, for such a one, life will be one continuous competition in which no ultimate winner will ever emerge.

Money_Dollar_Sign_Money_Clipart

Greed Brings Hypocrisy

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean” (Matthew 23:25-26). Jesus said of the Pharisees that they were guilty of hypocrisy. Why did they become hypocrites? Greed! Recently, Eric Metaxas wrote a powerful article for the Christian Post titled What We Can Learn from Young Atheists: What Turned Them Off Christianity. Metaxas writes, “Here’s something that one of the students told Larry Taunton; he said, “Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change [the lives] of others. I haven’t seen too much of that” (Metaxas 2014, http://www.christianpost.com/news/learning-from-young-atheists-what-turned-them-off-christianity-124151/). The Pharisees were not changed by their belief system. Jesus called them on their hypocrisy. The Pharisee’s hypocrisy was driven by greed. They wanted people to look to them for answers. They wanted to be liked. They wanted power. They wanted to have all that came with fame and popularity. However, the Pharisees sacrificed their integrity at the altar of greed. Jesus teaching and Metaxas’ article should remind us that we should not allow greed to warp our mentality. Greed should not cause us to warp the message of the Bible in favor of entertainment. Greed should not cause us to be so driven by proclamation that we fail to undergird the message by a close, personal relationship with God. Perhaps, part of the weakened state of the American church stems from congregations placing more focus and attention on the building in which they worship instead of the God in whom they serve.

money-hi

Greed Brings Idolatry

“Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature:  sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Atheists and agnostics will commonly call themselves “free-thinkers.” Yet, it seems that once one enters a “free-thinking community,” one loses the freedom to believe in God. If one chooses to believe in God in the “free-thinking community,” the community may not be as open to them as they once were. So, how free-thinking is the “free-thinking community”? Nonetheless, a greed-driven life leads one to idolatry. Idolatry is a lifestyle that leaves God out of the midst. Idolatry is the worship of a material thing over the Creator. It should be of no surprise that the “free-thinking community” refers to themselves as “pagans” or “the godless.” The free-thinkers do worship something. Perhaps the object of their worship is found in themselves. The object of worship could be that of their perception of science. The object of worship could even be in the free-thinker’s own fight against religion. Whatever the case may be, something is still worshiped.

As tragic as it is for the free-thinker, it is far more tragic for the believer to fall into greed’s idolatrous trap. When a person claims to be a Christian, the person should realize the value of life and of creation in general. When anyone allows greed to take control, the person will then justify his or her actions to obtain a particular thing. For a Christian, this may allow for unChristlike behavior. The Christian should remember that Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands” (John 14:15). How much do you love Jesus as opposed to materialism?

ShockedMonopolyMan-t

Greed Brings Atrophy

“They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep” (2 Peter 2:3). Peter was writing to the church concerning false prophets in the end days. In fact, I would suggest that every believer makes oneself familiar with the teachings of 2 Peter chapter 2. Peter warns the church about the problem of greed. A greed-driven life will lead one towards atrophy (or destruction). One will find that the more one is driven by greed, the less one is concerned about family, friends, or even God.

I will never forget a time when I met a Christian businessman. He was asking about how serious he should take the commands of Jesus in the workplace. I told him that he should take the teachings of Jesus very seriously. However, there were others who tried to justify his actions in business. I admit that I do not know what those actions entailed. But, if Jesus is God incarnate (which I believe He is) and if Jesus is the truth (which I believe He is), then what He taught and what He instructed in how we should live should be taken seriously, regardless of whether the context is in business, or in the life of one’s family. Now obviously, context is the rule. Nations cannot turn the other cheek whilst they are being bombed. They must protect their citizens. Of course, Jesus was not addressing national polity in His messages. Jesus was addressing individuals. Context is the key. Nonetheless, the clear teachings of Jesus should be followed by the one who claims Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Otherwise, a person will find oneself eroding in their relationship with God and in their relationships with others.

 

Conclusion

Do you need evidence that greed erodes? Just look around you. Nations will war against other nations because one nation wants what the other possesses: the driving force—greed. Businesses will ruthlessly overtake every other smaller business that they can drive out of business: the driving force—greed. Companies will charge hidden fees to obtain more and more of your money: the driving force—greed. Groups of individuals will ruthlessly take the lives of others that cause them problems: the driving force—greed. American sports constantly face union strikes that often interrupt American pastimes: the driving force—greed. The NCAA is potentially facing an implosion: the driving force—greed (be it from players or from the NCAA…you be the judge). The United States of America was once the greatest superpower in the world. The nation’s standing is eroding: the driving force behind this erosion—greed (and the rejection of God). Why do great churches crumble? Why do great leaders fall? The reason…they begin to look more upon themselves and their desires than toward the direction and leadership of the One who first gave them life: God. Greed is a dangerous monster. Don’t be found to hold 50 Shades of Green. Be found to be driven by God…not greed. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate the one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24, NLT).

fifty shades of green

 Bibliography

 Metaxas, Eric. “What we can learn from young atheists: what turned them off Christianity.” Christian Post.com. (August 1, 2014). http://www.christianpost.com/news/learning-from-young-atheists-what-turned-them-off-christianity-124151/. (Accessed August 4, 2014).

Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the Holman Christian Standard Version. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009.

Scripture marked NLT comes from the New Living Translation. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2007.

Laying the Smackdown to Austin’s Worldview

stone cold

If anyone has ever watched professional wrestling, then the name ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin has probably been heard more than on one occasion. Steve Williams, who later legally changed his name to his stage-name Steve Austin, has launched a podcast called the Stone Cold Steve Austin Show-Unleashed! Austin made waves recently when he expressed his opinion on same-sex marriage. Austin is reported as saying,

“I’m for same-sex marriage. I believe that any human being in America, any human being in the world, that wants to be married…if it’s the same-sex, more power to them…What also chaps my ***, some of these churches, have the high horse that they get on and say ‘we as a church do not believe in that.’ Which one of these ************* talked to God and God said that same-sex marriage was a no can do? Can you verify? Can you give me some background on that 411?” (Ranter X 2014, RantSports.com)

Austin goes on to say that he disagreed with the idea of Christian forgiveness. He said that he did not see how someone could do something horrible, say a prayer, and all be counted good with God. Despite his vulgarities, Austin actually brings to light some common misunderstandings that individuals hold concerning the Christian faith. This article will not discuss the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Lord knows that there is plenty of information out there on both sides concerning the topic. This article will, however, handle the three deep problems that Austin possesses in his worldview and argumentation outside the scope of the more controversial same-sex issue. The first problem will address a flaw in Austin’s argument. The second two problems will deal with misunderstandings that Austin holds with the Christian worldview. So to keep with the pro-wrestling theme, let’s lay the theological and philosophical smackdown!!! Are you ready to rumble?

  

Problem of Self-Refutation

When one enters the philosophical “squared-circle” (yes I know that a squared-circle is an impossibility), a person should evaluate any claim by its’ own standards. For instance, if a person says, “I can’t speak a word of English,” one can know that the statement is false as the person is speaking in English. Or if one says, “WordPress does not allow Pastor Brian Chilton to post articles,” one could easily know that such a statement is false as the reader is reading this article by Pastor Brian on WordPress. Austin claims that he is “chapped” over churches being on their “high horse” and claiming that “we as a church do not believe in that.” But, hold on! Isn’t Austin doing the same thing? Isn’t he saying that individuals can do a particular thing which he deems appropriate? What does it mean to be on one’s “high horse” anyway? Well, the phrase is normally used of someone who possesses “a haughty attitude or temper; a contemptuous manner” (Dictionary.com). “Haughty” means that one is “arrogant” or “proud” (Dictionary.com). Well now wait a minute! Isn’t Austin acting somewhat haughty in his approach to the traditional Christian? So, in a sense, isn’t Austin acting like he is on his own proverbial “high horse”? As the old saying goes, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” So Austin’s claim concerning Christians actually backfires as he is guilty of the same thing! So while this backfire does not disprove his claim, it weakens the claim quite a bit. It could be that some churches get on their “high horse.” Quite frankly, some of them do (e.g. Westboro Baptist Church). But, the problem is that Austin’s claims are employing the same tactic, so philosophically speaking, it doesn’t appear that the accuser would have as much a problem as was presented.

Austin is also guilty of employing an “ad hominem” attack. An “ad hominem” attack is when one uses personal assaults in order to argue for a particular point. It may be good in its entertainment value, but does very little in regard to the presentation of the facts on a particular issue. Everyone needs to get to the point where we stop yelling and accusing one another and start discussing the issues at hand. Austin’s comment shows just how heated certain issues become in the arena of ideas. Regardless of where one stands on an issue, there needs to be a level of decency. But, decency is a lost art in a culture full of hate and bitterness.

  

Problem of Revelation

Austin asks for some “411” on how Christians know that God gave particular “dos” and “don’ts”. Well, as Jesus would say, “ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 7:7). How do Christians know that God gave a set of standards? We know because of particular events throughout history when God made Himself known. This is what is termed revelation. There are two forms of revelation: general and special. General revelation is described by Norman Geisler as,

“God’s revelation in nature as opposed to his revelation in Scripture…More specifically, general revelation is manifest in physical nature, human nature, and history. In each case God has disclosed something specific about himself and his relation to his creation. General revelation is important to Christian apologetics, since it is the data with which the theist constructs arguments from the existence of God…Without it there would be no basis for apologetics (Geisler 1999, 670).

In other words, everyone has insight to God’s existence. No one would accept that something can come from absolute nothingness except when it comes to the most complex system ever known…the universe and everything in it. Whether individuals realize it or not, every person can know that God exists if they use a little common sense. But at the center of the problem is a heart of rebellion over an intellectual issue when it comes to knowing God. But, another form of revelation exists known as special revelation. Geisler describes special revelation as,

God’s revelation in his Word (Scripture), as opposed to God’s revelation in his world…Special revelation may have originally been given orally or some other way (cf. Heb. 1:1) but has subsequently been written down and is now found only in God’s written Word, the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

God’s special revelation has been confirmed by miracles…This is how the canon of Scripture was determined (Geisler 1999, 674).

 In other words, special revelation occurs when God Himself DOES appear to humanity and gives them the 411 on how they should live. Ultimately, the greatest form of special revelation came through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus performed miracles in the first-century and still does today. In fact, Jesus has healed many people through the two millennium of Christendom by simply calling upon His name. Lazarus is a good example in the first-century. Lazarus had died, but Jesus raised him back to life (John 11). Today, there are instances where individuals have been healed by the name of Jesus. Now, I am not referring to fake healers, but true miracles. I witnessed a miracle many years ago while in Bible college. A woman was playing in her yard with her kids. She reached down to pick up a baseball when she snagged her eye on a stick. The stick went deep into her eye. The doctors said that it had ripped her optic nerve and that she would never be able to see again. I joined many others who began to pray for this woman. Her husband was in chapel a few days after the event. He said with tears in his eyes,

“Everyone. My wife was not able to see after the accident. The doctors said that she would never see again. However the other night, she called me and said, ‘I am beginning to see black and white images.’ Yesterday, she began to see things in color out of her eye. We went back to the doctor and he said that somehow her eye had been completely restored. I am here to tell you that she can see better now than she did before the accident.” (Student at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, circa 1997).

The fact that miracles still take place in Jesus’ name demonstrates the power of God. It also demonstrates the fact that God has made Himself known. Many may find characteristics of love and kindness as weak. But, meekness is NOT weakness. In fact, it takes more strength and courage to love one’s enemies than it does to speak spitefully about them. Hopefully, this article does not come across as spiteful. If so, I would be counted out. This brings us to our final problem with Austin’s statements…problems with reconciliation.

 

Problem of Reconciliation

Austin later indicates that he has issues with forgiveness. Does any person deserve forgiveness? No, the person does not. But here is the problem, when one evaluates God’s standards that person will find that NO ONE would ever be able to live up to that standards that are required for one to get to heaven. Not only does a God exist who gives “dos” and “don’ts,” a God exists whose standards are so high that it would be impossible for anyone to earn a status in heaven. That is why God devised a plan to demonstrate mercy. This mercy is undeserved but given because of God’s love. The Apostle Paul writes “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). He goes on to say that “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant” (Romans 5:20). The great hope is found in that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). But unfortunately, “not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, ‘LORD, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:16-17).

This does not indicate that someone can be forgiven and continue to live a life of sin. In such a case, no repentance has occurred. One who is transformed by the power of Christ has repented of their sins (turned from their old life) and trusted in Christ who brings forth a new life. As Paul says to the one who has been transformed by Christ, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). So, in this case, one will find themselves pinned as no one is worthy of God’s grace and mercy.

 

Conclusion

Austin probably came to his conclusions by the political jargon of the day. As mentioned earlier, this article is not intended to defend or attack same-sex marriage; for there is something larger than the issue of same-sex marriage going on in our culture. The greatest problematic issue, in this writer’s opinion, is the assault upon religious freedoms. One might say, “Well Austin simply was presenting his opinions.” Yes, he was. However, ideas have consequences. If all of society begins turning on a particular group of individuals for their beliefs, history demonstrates that bad things eventually occur. Look at the ideology of Hitler who saw the beliefs and ancestry of Judeans as a thing to be cast aside. Or look at Pol Pot who had no use for those who disagreed with his agenda. Do we need to mention the Stalins or Mussolines? Wherever one finds themselves on the issues, let us not lower ourselves to ad hominem assaults and group-hating. Let us explore the issues with intellect and compassion. And yes…this goes for the Christian as much, if not more, than those who are opposed to our cause. In fact, many Christians have been guilty of standing upon their high-horses without concerning themselves for others. We may not agree with others, but let us not see anyone regardless of their religion, gender, race, or sexuality as an enemy. We may not agree with that person on the issues (let it be known that this writer accepts the Bible’s standards for morality), but remember that Paul indicates that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Stand for the truth! But, let us remember the words of our Lord, “love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44)! May we all pray that Austin’s eyes, and all those who hold an anti-Christian view, will be open to the truths of the Gospel message. For “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

With all due respect to Mr. Austin…that’s the bottom line….because Jesus said so!!!

 

Bibliography

 All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New Living Translation, 3rd Edition. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2007.

Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/. (Accessed June 1, 2014).

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

Ranter X. “Steve Austin Supports Gay Marriage and That’s the Bottom Line.” RantSports.com. (August 23, 2014). http://www.rantsports.com/pro-wrestling/2014/04/23/steve-austin-supports-gay-marriage-and-thats-the-bottom-line/#C7HXBFHa0DC8YBXf.99 (Accessed May 28, 2014).

Austin’s podcast can be heard at http://podcastone.com/Steve-Austin-Show. Be warned: it is explicit in nature.

The Value of Life and the Errors of the Pro-Death Movement

life

Recently, a woman by the name of Emily Letts posted a video on YouTube (found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxPUKV-WlKw) that positively promoted the abortion of her baby. While it is concerning that a woman would desire to destroy the life of her child, what really set this video apart is the fact that Letts sought to demonstrate that her abortion (i.e. the killing of her child) was a positive experience. In addition, another YouTube vlogger by the name “NaturalMomma” posted a video on how she supported Letts abortion in a video entitled “I Love Abortion” (found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHUPCobxOyY). The most disturbing element of this video was that while “NautralMomma” was addressing the glories of abortion, her children are heard playing in the background.

The real problem with both of these posts is not in the blatant promotion of the pro-choice agenda. No, there is a darker, more sinister attitude growing. This attitude is not necessarily found in every pro-choice individual, but it is found in the ideology of Letts and “NaturalMomma.” It is an attitude not of a pro-choice movement, but of a pro-death movement, although some may rightly argue that a pro-choice decision is pro-death advocacy. “NaturalMomma” and Letts both seem to find themselves more closely aligned with Bill Maher’s “pro-death ideology” (as seen in his interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqMSPooXJIk). In fact, the mentality found in these three indicate what I call a Pro-Death Movement. There are three main problems with this mindset:

 

  1. What is the value of life?

In the Letts, “NaturalMomma,” and Maher’s definition of life, there is no value. Life is expendable. Maher would claim that human life is equivalent to a dog. But in the grand scheme of things, even dogs have value. Let’s be honest, Michael Vick was condemned due to his exploits of animals, yet according to “NaturalMomma” the slaughter of innocent children is “nothing to be ashamed of” (NaturalMomma, YouTube). There cannot be a “positive abortion story” (NaturalMomma, YouTube) because in every abortion there is a victim…the child.

However, for the Christian, there is value to all life as opposed to Maher who sees no value in any life. In Genesis, it is recorded that God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Every human being has a purpose. Emily Letts, “NaturalMomma,” and even Bill Maher’s life holds value. And let it be said that just because I do not agree with these individuals does not indicate that I hate them for the very reason of Genesis 1:27. All life has value…even a fetus.

 

  1. Who decides when life is valuable?

Another problem is this: who gets to decide whose life is valuable? Here there are serious consequences to the Pro-Death Movement. Adolf Hitler saw the lives of Jewish individuals as expendable…and anyone else who disagreed with him. Joseph Stalin had no problem executing anyone who crossed his path. The same can be said of those of those ruled throughout history. For Bill Maher, I would probably be expendable.

Yet again, because there is value to life, people do not get to pick and choose who they randomly want to execute. That is why laws are set in place such as “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus also instructed the Christian to “love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44b-45). Why? Because all human life is valuable! Yes there may be times when capital punishment and war-time endeavors are necessary. However, an innocent child meets neither of those exceptions.

 

  1. When is life deemed valuable?

Finally, the advocates of the Pro-Death Movement must ask themselves…when is life valuable? Many pro-life advocates have used the acronym SLED to demonstrate the differences between a fetus and a fully grown adult and ask the question; when one is determined human? SLED stands for:

S- Size: (Does the size of a human determine its value? If so, does a midget hold less value than a giant? If not, then why is an unborn fetus seen any differently?)

L- Level of Development: (Does the level of development determine human value? If so, is one who is handicapped in some area less than human? If not, then why does the development of a fetus dictate anything different?)

E- Environment: (Does one’s environment determine human value? If so, then is one who lives in the country less human than one who lives in the city? If not, then why does the location of a fetus indicate anything different?)

D- Dependency: (Does one’s level of dependence determine human value? If so, then does a teenager who depends on his or her parents indicate that they are less than human…or a college student? If not, then why does the fetus’ dependency indicate anything different?)

When is a human a human? The Bible makes it clear. In Jeremiah, God told the prophet, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). In Romans, Paul wrote, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29). Life begins at conception. The Bible indicates that God foreknows individuals before they are even born. People have value. There is value to life.

 

Conclusion

This article was not written to condemn those who promote the Pro-Death Movement, but rather to demonstrate the great problems associated with any worldview that demerits the value of human life. Whether one is a few days or 100 years old, humans have worth. Humans have value. I have value. You have value, too.

 

 

All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New Living Translation, 3rd ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007.

Ban “Bossy” or “Bossiness”?

ban-bossy-quote-graphic_beyonce

Is “bossy” a bad word? According to the Girl Scouts of America and other high-powered leaders and entertainers, the term “bossy” is a derogatory term. The Girl Scouts of America have launched a campaign to ban the term “bossy” from being used to describe girls. The reasoning is that girls allow the threat of being called “bossy” to deter them from accepting positions of authority and leadership. Therefore, advocates desire to ban the word from being applied to females. This article will clarify term bossy and will demonstrate what is truly being desired: leadership.

The Definitions Used

Videos of the campaign can be accessed at http://banbossy.com/. In order to determine whether this is a legitimate cause, one needs to engage the semantics employed by the campaign. What do the terms used in the campaign really mean?

“Bossy”           The primary term used in the campaign is the supposed derogatory term bossy. According to dictionary.com, the term bossy means one who is “given to ordering people about; overly authoritative; domineering” (dictionary.com). Okay…Houston…we have a problem already. The term bossy indicates one who is overly authoritative. This is not a good indicator of leadership. It may be an indicator of one who is obsessively compulsive or one who has control issues. This has nothing to do with someone who is ambitious or in leadership. The term bossy would be derogatory for anyone who is domineering. But, let’s move on.

“Leadership”   Leadership, which is also used in the campaign,is defined as one who holds the “position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group: the ability to lead: the act or instance of leading; guidance; direction” (dictionary.com). Already, there appears to be a huge difference between one who is deemed bossy and one who displays leadership qualities. Guiding and directing individuals is completely different than one who is domineering. But, let’s move on to one more term.

“Ambitious”     Another term is thrown in the mix by the advocates of the campaign. One of the advocates uses the term ambitious. The term ambitious means “eagerly desirous or achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal; showing or caused by ambition; strongly desirous; eager; requiring exceptional effort, ability” (dictionary.com). In other words, this is someone who holds a desire to succeed. There is nothing wrong with anyone being ambitious. But one must ask; will someone have greater success achieving their goals by being bossy or by being a good leader?

The Traits of a Good Leader

What makes a good leader? According to Forbes Magazine, the top 10 qualities that constitute a great leader include: “honesty, ability to delegate, communication, sense of humor, confidence, commitment, possessing a positive attitude, creativity, intuition, and the ability to inspire” (Prive 2012, Forbes.com). Guess who wrote the article? A woman! Tanya Prive! Here is the problem that I personally hold with the “Ban Bossy” campaign; the advocates are not promoting true leadership. They are seeking to limit a word that they feel holds females back from their true potential. In reality, girls and boys need to be taught what constitutes good leadership. Bossiness is not a trait of good leaders. Jesus said that the best way to lead is by becoming a servant leader. Jesus said, You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). Jesus was a true leader.

It would seem to this writer that the problem is not with the term bossy, but with the attitude of bossiness. Bossy people do not make good leaders. Good leaders are able to delegate and bring out the potential in those they lead. If we want our boys and girls to learn the essence of true leadership, let us not make a trivial issue out of a vocabulary term. Let us teach our children the true definition of leadership. Therefore, let us rid ourselves of bossy behaviors instead of the term bossy. By getting rid of bossiness and becoming true leaders, the term bossy will no longer be necessary.

 

Bibliography

All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New Living Translation, 3rd ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007.

Prive, Tanya. “Top 10 qualities that make a great leader.” Forbes.com. (December 19, 20012). http://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyaprive/2012/12/19/top-10-qualities-that-make-a-great-leader/. (Accessed April 7, 2014).

Abortion: The American Holocaust

stop-abortion  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “holocaust” as either “a thorough destruction of life especially with the use of fire” and/or as “a mass slaughter of people” (Merriam-Webster, www.m-w.com). The term holocaust haunts me greatly. It does so because I have had the opportunity to meet two individuals who endured the horrors of a holocaust. I had the esteemed privilege to meet some Jewish individuals who endured the horrors of Auschwitz. My heart broke for them as I heard the ruthless antics of the Nazis led by the madman Adolf Hitler. Also, I met Siv Ashley. Mrs. Ashley survived the ruthless barbarism of Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia. As horrific as these stories are, I am met with a question in our own land. Are we guilty of a modern holocaust? This holocaust is not one in which the screams of the victims can be heard. This holocaust is occurring in every state in the United States of America. It is the holocaust of abortion. In order for abortion to be considered a holocaust of sorts, it must be asked if there is a mass killing of life going on with abortion, when does human life begin, at what point is a person considered human, and whose body is at stake when it comes to abortion.

Does Abortion Allow for a Mass Killing of Life?

 I am currently unable to report the number of abortions in 2013. The article will be updated in the event that such data becomes available. However, in 2008, it is reported that 1.21 million abortions were performed in the United States alone (Jones and Kooistra 2011, 41-50). Compare this to the 11 million people who were killed in the Nazi concentration camps, the nearly 4 million who died in the Cambodian genocide, and the 20 million who were slaughtered at the hands of Stalin. The problem with abortion is that the 1.21 million only represents one year. The overall number of deaths by abortion increases every year. Please note that I am not trying to lessen the impact of the concentration camps in Germany, Russia, or Cambodia. The numbers are used only to show the comparison between the number of deaths in these areas and the number of deaths occurring by abortion.

In my mind, a troubling statistic is found in the following: 58% of women who have abortions are in their 20s; 61% already have children; 56% are unmarried and single; 69% are economically disadvantaged; and…here is the kicker…73% report a religious affiliation (Jones and Kavanaugh 2011, 1358-1366). WHAT??? This is not occurring among the non-religious as much as the religious. This must take us in a different direction. We must answer the question about life and the body.

 

When Does Human Life Begin?

 Some will claim that life does not begin until birth. However, the Family Research Council provides the following information:

The cardiovascular system is the first major system to function. At about 22 days after conception the child’s heart begins to circulate his own blood, unique to that of his mother’s, and his heartbeat can be detected on ultrasound ().

At just six weeks, the child’s eyes and eye lids, nose, mouth, and tongue have formed.

Electrical brain activity can be detected at six or seven weeks,(CIFS 2001, 36) and by the end of the eighth week, the child, now known scientifically as a “fetus,” has developed all of his organs and bodily structures (England 1996, 350-358).

By ten weeks after conception the child can make bodily movements (Schwarzwalder, http://www.frc.org/brochure/the-best-pro-life-arguments-for-secular-audiences).

The writers of the Bible accepted the notion that human life begins at conception. God said to Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Therefore, God knows a person before the person is born. This gives emphasis to the notion that life begins at conception, but also to the acceptance that all human beings have worth. In the Hebrew law, concessions were made for a woman who lost her child prematurely. In Exodus we read,

“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Exodus 21:22-25).

The main point of the passage is found in the recognition that life begins at conception. Life was valuable even while inside the womb.

 

Who is Human?

Is a human a human only if they are fully developed? What about those who are not physically developed…children are not fully developed as they are not fully grown. Are they less than human? Individuals who suffer from mental illness are not fully developed mentally. Are they less than human? Well, some will argue, the fetus depends upon the mother. Does dependency make one human? In that case, young adults who still live off their parents in their 20s and 30s are not fully human in such an argument. Young adults in college would not be considered fully human since some are dependent upon mom and dad for help. What about the elderly in nursing homes? Are they no longer fully human since they depend upon others? Better yet, is there really any of us who does not depend upon someone another? The bottom line: life begins at conception. Human life has value.

 

Whose Body are We Debating?

 Some will claim, “It’s my body. I can do with it as I please.” While this is true to an extent, the problem with abortion is found in the fact that the issue is not over the woman’s body, it is over the baby’s body. A person has no more right to kill a baby inside the womb than they do a child outside a womb, an elderly person in a nursing home, or a late blooming adult. Biology dictates how life is produced. Biology was established by God. If pregnancy is the issue, then there is a simple method to abstain from the problem…abstinence from sex outside the confines of marriage. It is like a person who claims, “I get so tempted to eat a donut when I go to Krispy Kreme.” There is a good solution to that problem. DON’T GO TO KRISPY KREME!!! The same analogy applies…don’t you think?

Here we must speak of the issue of rape. What about cases where a person is raped? It must be noted that less than 1% of all abortions occur due to rape. Finer provides the following information pertaining to the reasons for abortions:

  • 25% “not ready for a(nother) child/timing is wrong”
  • 23% “can’t afford a baby now”
  • 19% “have completed my childbearing/have other people depending on me/children are grown”
  • 8% “don’t want to be a single mother/am having relationship problems”
  • 7% “don’t feel mature enough to raise a(nother) child/feel too young”
  • 6% “other” (this category had no further explanation)
  • 4% “would interfere with education or career plans”
  • 4% “physical problem with my health”
  • 3% “possible problems affecting the health of the fetus”
  • -0.5% “husband or partner wants me to have an abortion”
  • -0.5% “parents want me to have an abortion”
  • -0.5% “don’t want people to know I had sex or got pregnant”
  • -0.5% “was a victim of rape” (Finer and et al. 2005, 113-114).

 

Even if rape and health concerns were the reasons why people even thought about abortion, these issues would only count for less than 3.5% of all abortions that occur. The issue of rape-based abortion is steeped with emotion. However, if we are honest, we must ask, did the baby do anything wrong? Was the child guilty of wrongdoing? Would a judge condemn a teenage boy to prison over the bank robbery committed by his father? Of course not. Then why should a young baby be condemned for the heinous crime of his/her father? I am not suggesting that this is an easy issue and obviously this would require much more dialogue than what this article can bring. Yet, the question comes back to the issue, “Whose body are we debating?” In the pro-life opinion, the child is at the center of the debate and not the woman.

 

Conclusion: Does American Abortion Meet the Definition of a Holocaust?

If human life begins at conception, which most people would concede, then a willful taking of such life is murder. There are no two ways about it. Either abortion is murder or it is not. The only way those who promote abortion can wiggle around this fact is to claim that the life in the womb is not human. However, as we have shown, a human is human regardless of dependency, level of development, or the size of such life. The Christian understanding is that all human life holds great value. Statistics have shown that over 1.2 million abortions occur on most given years in America. Therefore, it is in my estimation that our nation is guilty of engaging in a massive holocaust. The only difference is which side of the womb the victims were located when their execution occurred. The perfect solution is not necessarily a political one, but a solution that would find a transformation of society. One that would show each person the value of every life.

 please-stop-abortion-please-stop-chile-kill

Praying that America will wake up,

 

 

Pastor Brian

 

Bibliography

 All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

England, Marjorie A. “What Is An Embryo?” in Life Before Birth, Marjorie A. England. London: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996.

Finer, Lawrence B. et al. “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 37, no. 5 (2005): 113-14.

Jones, R. K., and K. Kooistra. Abortion incidence and access to services in the United States, 2008Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2011, 43(1):41–50.

Jones, R. K., and M. L. Kavanaugh. Changes in abortion rates between 2000 and 2008 and lifetime incidence of abortionObstetrics & Gynecology. 2011, 117(6):1358–1366.

Moore, Keith L., T. V. N. Persaud, and Mark G. Torchia, The Developing Human. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders, 2013.

Schwarzwalker, Rob. “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences. Family Research Council. (Accessed January 6, 2014). http://www.frc.org/brochure/the-best-pro-life-arguments-for-secular-audiences.

The Commission of Inquiry into Foetal Sentience (CARE and The House of Lords). “Human Sentience Before Birth.” (2001): 3, 36.

Has the Dream Been Realized? Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Has the Dream Been Realized? Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

Has the Dream Been Realized? Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

marchonwashington     Today (August 28th, 2013) marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.    Although it must be admitted that our society has advanced by great leaps and bounds, one must ask; has the dream been realized?  In this article, two of Dr. King’s emphases in his “I Have a Dream” speech will be examined as the question will be asked: has the dream been realized?

Kids Holding Hands

Dream of Equality

One of the core tenets of King’s speech was on the equality of all people of various races.  King stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (King 1963, 5).  This is a biblical theme also.  Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).  Paul stated concerning the church, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, NLT).  James, the brother of Jesus, even wrote, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law” (James 2:8-9, NLT).  Therefore, Dr. King’s voice of equality was a very biblical message.  Are we where we should be in this regard?

We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.  In some regions, the role of race is not as much a factor as it is in others.  But, let us be honest.  There are still tensions.  Perhaps the passing of time will in the future mend the wounds suffered in the past.  In order for this to occur, people must be diligent in building bridges with others of different races.  Christians should lead the way.  The evangelical Christian should realize that God created all of us.  Yes, we all have weaknesses and faults.  But, we are all creations of God and have a purpose for being here.  This should help the Christian, of all people, to understand the necessity of loving others.  If a person is loved by God, who are we to act any differently?  Yes, if a person strays, kind-hearted corrections should be given with the best interest of the other in mind.  But, nothing should surpass the love that we are commanded to possess for people of all skin tones.  As the Gospel hymn is sung, “Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…Jesus loves the little children of the world” (Hymn: “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” Public Domain).  We are not there yet, but we should judge more by the “content of their character” (King 1963, 5) rather than the color of any person’s skin.

freedom

Dream of Freedom

King said, “When we allow freedom to ring when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholic, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last” (King 1963, 6).  The area of freedom is one that brings great concern for many people today.  Are we still the “land of the free”?  Considering the fact that individuals are losing the right to publicly profess their faith, one must wonder whether the First Amendment rights of all Americans will stand after the next century has passed.

jesus-statue in Montana     In Montana, a statue of Jesus, which held significance for the veterans being commemorated, was challenged by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  The American Center for Law and Justice reports, “Part of a war memorial on Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana since the 1950s, the statue was inspired by monuments the soldiers – who were also members of the Knights of Columbus – saw in the mountains of Europe during the war” (ACLJ, “ACLJ: Federal Court in Montana Keeps War Memorial in Place – “Win for Protecting Religious Heritage and History of our Nation”).  Is this really freedom?  It seems that we have taken a different turn than what Dr. King had imagined.  King said, “With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day” (King 1963, 5).  The great irony is, Dr. King, if living on earth today, might find that his dream of freedom was gained on the racial spectrum, but would be losing ground on the religious spectrum…the very fuel that sparked the fires of his bravery and fortitude.

Conclusion

A lot of good was done on August 28, 2013.  Dr. King reminded us of the great kinship that we all hold together.  We have many problems in our day and time.  The United States of America is more divided than ever before.  However, Dr. King reminded us then, as we need to be reminded now, that we are all creations of God.  Every life has a purpose and value.  The world may look at you as a loser.  You may have been called a mistake.  But, God sees you as a winner.  God sees the person you could be.  Despite the differences that many possess, let us be reminded of the value of life as we celebrate the work and message of Dr. King.  For Dr. King reminded us of what the Christian should have already seen…that every person of every race is made “imagio dei” (in the image of God).  As God told Samuel, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT).  As the realm of freedom is addressed, may it be reminded to the reader that true freedom comes through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Paul writes, “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 7:24b-8:2, NLT).

free-in-christ

Seeking to love all…red, yellow, black, and white,

Pastor Brian

Bibliography

ACLJ, “ACLJ: Federal Court in Montana Keeps War Memorial in Place – “Win for Protecting Religious Heritage and History of our Nation”, (ACLJ.org, June 25, 2013). Accessed August 28, 2013. <http://aclj.org/american-heritage/jay-sekulow-aclj-federal-court-in-montana-keeps-war-memorial-in-place-win-for-protecting-religious-heritage-history-of-nation>.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have a Dream,” Washington DC. March on Washington, delivered on August 28th, 1963.  Accessed August 28th, 2013. <http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf>.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007.

Respect and Concern: Lost Ethics

Jesus said that of all the commandments in the Bible, two stood out as the most important.  He said, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”[1]  The second commandment is to love those around you as you would love yourself.  How does one love oneself?  Well, the person cares for the difficulties that one faces in life.  The person holds certain convictions and holds them in high-esteem.  The person also cares for one’s welfare; providing food, water, clothing, and help for oneself.  Obviously, one’s family is an extension of oneself, so it should be taken for granted that a person would care for the members of one’s household.  As Paul writes, “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”[2]

As we examine this command, it appears that our society is losing, if not lost, the integrity of respect and love for others.  Three such cases will be presented to show that respect for others is a lost ethic in our modern times.

Lizzie Velasquez

Respect For the Difficulties of Others

My life has been greatly influenced positively by having met Cindy Smith and John Harvey.  These two individuals deal with great difficulties each day.  John has some issues in for which he draws disability.  Cindy is a walking miracle.  Doctors said that she would never walk, talk, or read.  She does all three at the age of 36.  Cindy suffers with cerebral palsy, a condition which makes it difficult for her to perform common tasks.  Cindy has faith in God and will tell you that it was the work of God in her life that gives her strength to do what many thought impossible.

Yet despite her triumphs, many have treated Cindy as if she were some kind of freak.  Teens used to laugh at her for the way she walked in high school.  Today, one would like to think that things are different.  But, Cindy still deals with onlookers from time to time.  This is not true in all cases, but is true far more times than one would like to imagine.  Without verbally expressing it, some seem to treat her as if she is a nuisance instead of the great miracle that she is.

This is not only true of Cindy, but is also true of others who deal with difficulties and disabilities.  Another such case is found with Lizzie Velasquez.  Velasquez, 24, suffers a condition which causes her to lose weight rapidly.  Instead of supporting her and helping her find moral support, many hiding behind the anonymity of the internet have callously and maliciously voted her as the “world’s ugliest woman.”  Where is the love?  Where is the compassion?  Where is the decency found in such comments?  Well, there is none.  This lack of compassion, although nothing new, has become more rampant in the information age.  Have we lost our ethical foundation?

respect

Respect For the Convictions of Others

On this site, we defend and proclaim biblical, evangelical Christianity.  We have convictions for which we stand.  We confront other views accordingly.  But, I hope that the reader sees that we seek to do so with respect.  If I, or any other evangelical Christian, lose respect and love for those who hold differing views, we are on dangerous ground.  Why?  It is because of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13.  Paul writes, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”[3] Love is the central tenet of Christianity.  As my dad would say, “If you take love out of the Bible, you have taken out the Bible.”

We Christians have become the targets for disrespect.  Becoming a Christian is a serious decision and should not be taken lightly.  Unfortunately, many have presented Christianity as a “say a prayer, be blessed, don’t worry about doing anything else” hokey-pokey kind of philosophy.  But, Christianity is much more.  Being a Christian in modern times comes with a price, yet not to the degree that it comes for our Christian brothers and sisters in areas where physical persecution is a reality.

The most recent issue of Christianity Today, at the time of this writing, has an article on persecution in the workplace.  The data suggests that, “36% of evangelicals are the targets of rumors and gossip at work, as opposed to 29% of all Americans (by another measure, [Christians] are almost 3 times as likely to say they’re often the target of gossip); 44% of evangelicals have been treated rudely at work, as opposed to 35% of all Americans (Born-again Christians are 79% more likely than others to say they’re often or sometimes the butt of jokes or derogatory comments); 50% of evangelicals have been lied to at work, as opposed to 42% of all Americans (Evangelicals and born-agains are nearly twice as likely to say their boss has lied to them).”[4]  This should not be a surprise for the Christian.  Jesus said, If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”[5]  This is a far cry from the wellness gospel presented by some today.  Yet, we cannot be consumed in this fact, nor should we look for ways in which we are being persecuted.  This can consume a person.  The believer can face these uncertain times with the certainty of the presence of God in his/her life.  This presence gives the knowledge that God will right all wrongs in the end.

coffee love

Respect For the Welfare of Others

Earlier, Lizzie Velasquez was mentioned.  The whole story, however, was not told.  Not only was Velasquez voted the “World’s Ugliest Woman,” she was advised by several individuals commenting on YouTube videos of Velasquez that she should kill herself.  Some even went so far, by Velasquez’s own testimony, that “she should do the world a favor and shoot herself in the head.”[6]

Words cannot express the disdain that this writer feels for those who would write such calloused and hurtful things.  But, this is not anything surprising for this writer.  This is the very reason why we have posted guidelines for commenters on this website.  Intellectual discourse is many times, especially online, demoted to name-calling and witty satire instead of good, solid conversation.  Some will claim that we hold back information that we do not desire.  In a sense, we do.  We do not hide from any arguments from those who differ with us.  But, we certainly do restrain and withhold comments which are deemed abusive and derogatory.

One great method of seeing the downward spiral of morality is driving in an urban environment.  In many places, drivers had rather mow you down than to move over into another lane.  This is nothing compared to the horrific comments that Velasquez has faced, but it is another indicator that our concern for the welfare of others is dwindling dangerously low, as a whole.

Conclusion

Respect for others is greatly being lost in our times.  But, it must be understood that the second commandment comes on the heels of the first commandment: the love of God with one’s entire being.  The second comes from the first.  When one knows the love of God found in Christ Jesus, then one can share that love with others.  When we grasp the true love found in God, we can then help others find their purpose.  We can help others who deal with the difficulties that Velasquez and Smith have encountered know that they do have worth.  They do have value.  They should be loved.  Maybe the world would be benefit from a little more from the teachings of 1 Corinthians 13.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.      Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!     Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.[7]

love cross thorn


[1] All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Matthew 22:37–40.

[2] 1 Timothy 5:8.

[3] 1 Corinthians 13:2.

[4] “Spotlight: Persecuted (or Paranoid) at Work,” Christianity Today, Volume 57, Number 6 (July/August 2013): 9.

[5] John 15:18–19.

[7] 1 Corinthians 13:1–13.