Archive for February, 2006

What is Forgiveness?

February 22, 2006

Russell Moore writes, “In Scripture, forgiveness is never sentimental. It is not ‘that’s okay, don’t worry about it.’ Forgiveness doesn’t point us to how civilized we are, or how sweet-tempered we should be. Forgiveness is a declaration that we have an eschatology.”

How so? Read the article.

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What is "The Mainstream"?

February 21, 2006

According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court has decided to review a 2003 law forbidding partial-birth abortions. The law has been struck down by lower courts, and a similar law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2000 in a 5-4 decision, with Justice O’Connor siding with the majority. Of course, now Justice O’Connor has morphed into Justice Alito (though not literally), which may indicate that the law has some chance at resurrection.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood of America, gave her opinion of this news: “Today’s actions by the court are a shining example of why elections matter. When judges far outside the mainstream are nominated and confirmed to public office by anti-choice politicians, women’s health and safety are put in danger.”

What exactly puts Justice Alito “far outside the mainstream”? Although we probably won’t know until the case is argued and decided, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Justice Alito believes that the Constitution provides no basis for asserting a right to a partial-birth abortion, and that such an act may be outlawed by the government because it is immoral. If that is true, does that make him an extremist?

On what basis does Planned Parenthood argue that favoring a right to partial-birth abortion is the mainstream view of Americans? Where in our national policy or in public opinion polls has that ever been indicated? In fact, the only reason partial-birth abortion exists in this country is because a handful of elitist lawyers in black robes decided for all of us that, even though the Constitution mentions nothing about it, it must be an inalienable human right. Abortion has always advanced through the fiat determination of an oligarchy in this country. “The mainstream” has never had the opportunity to determine national policy.

If Ms. Richards believes that this is an issue that should be left to the people, then by all means, give it to the people! Let the voters decide state-by-state the policies that they want, either regulating or outlawing the practice of abortion. I doubt that she would favor such a thing, because in many states abortion would be outlawed completely, and in most others it would be far more restricted than what it is now because of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

And so, let’s lose the silly rhetoric about Justice Alito being “far outside the mainstream” simply because he doesn’t agree with you, Ms. Richards. How long will you persist in the false belief that your opinion, no matter how few actually share it, constitutes “the mainstream” of American thought?

Humble Dogmatism

February 10, 2006

Mark Dever argues (correctly) that the conservative approach to Scripture is an expression of humility. It is in no way arrogant to subordinate your beliefs to what God has said, realizing that you don’t have the reasoning ability to sort out the truth on your own. Furthermore, once you have done so, it is in no way arrogant to actually believe what God has said with true conviction. And the reason I know this is because the Bible tells me so.

A Telling Admission

February 4, 2006

My present sermon series has brought me to John 3:22-36. In studying this passage, I just opened Calvin’s commentary and noticed these surprising words about John 3:22-23 (surprising words are in bold):

It is probable that Christ, when the feast was past, came into that part of Judea which was in the vicinity of the town Enon, which was situated in the tribe of Manassah. The Evangelist says that there were many waters there, and these were not so abundant in Judea. Now geographers tell us, that these two towns, Enon and Salim, were not far from the confluence of the river Jordan and the brook Jabbok; and they add that Scythopolis was near them. From these words, we may infer that John and Christ administered baptism by plunging the whole body beneath the water. . .

Of course, he goes on to explain that we need not follow the mode of immersion today, but it is interesting to see John Calvin argue that baptism, as it is described in Scripture from the ministries of John and Jesus, was by immersion.