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Friday
Jan212011

What NPR Can't Handle

Nancy Pearcey in Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning:

I was once invited to be a guest on a National Public Radio program in San Francisco. But before going on the air, the producer first wanted to know my stance on abortion. The accepted view, he commented, is that abortion is acceptable “until the fetus becomes a person.”

“That phrase carries enormous philosophical baggage,” I explained. “personhood theory assumes a fragmented view of human nature, which treats the body as expendable.” By contrast, “those who oppose abortion hold a holistic view of human nature as an integrated unity. They insist that the body has intrinsic, value and worth.”

The producer seemed surprised by this argument. I went on: “The pro-choice position is exclusive. It says that some people don’t measure up, don’t make the cut. They don’t qualify for the rights of personhood.” By contrast, “the pro-life position is inclusive. If you are a member of the human race, you’re ‘in.’ You have the dignity and status of a full member of the moral community.”

A few days later the producer contacted me to say the program had been canceled. It can be difficult for liberals to accept the dehumanizing implications of their views. I had used some of the most venerated liberal buzzwords (inclusive, holistic) to demonstrate that a biblical worldview actually fulfills the highest ideals of liberalism far better than any secular worldview.

Related recent posts found elsewhere:

  • Jesus Loves the Little Children (Kevin DeYoung)
    Christians have always opposed killing children, whether infants outside the womb or infants inside the womb. The two were one and the same crime. “You shall not abort a child or commit infanticide,” commanded The Didache, a late first century church constitution of sorts. Despite the muddled arguments of denominational study groups (whose obfuscation with language is positively Orwellian), opposition to abortion and infanticide is not simply one position for Christians, it is the Christian position.
  • What About the Twins? The Deadly Logic of Abortion (Albert Mohler)
    The Christian revulsion over abortion and the destruction of human life is based in the knowledge that God is the Author of all life and of every life, without exception. Abortion is the business of death, and it is the great wound that runs through the nation’s conscience. These shocking accounts [the Australian couple who aborted twin boys just because they wanted a baby girl, and the Pennsylvania doctor charged with murdering seven babies who were born alive] may sear their way into the nation’s collective conscience, but unless the basic logic of abortion rights is overturned, such accounts will erupt again and again.
  • Update: Clarity Not Gadgetry: Pro-Life Apologetics for the Next Generation (Scott Klusendorf at The Gospel Coalition Blog)
    Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: Is the unborn one of us? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, elective abortion requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.
Thursday
Jan202011

Round the Sphere Again: Church History

Early Theology
Turretinfan shows that Cyril of Alexander used the “Sola Scriptura approach” in his arguments. Cyril did, it seems, equate apostolic teaching and scripture, and affirmed the perspicuity of scripture and the sufficiency of scripture.

Reformation Poetry
Four humourous poems from The Thirsty Theologian.

Thursday
Jan202011

Thankful Thursday

I’m thankful for the promise of warm winter weather this weekend. I’m thankful for the bright moon and for fresh snow.

I’m thankful that youngest son is so faithful in walking the dogs, even when he’s got a busy work day or when (like this week) he’s been housesitting and teensitting at a place down the street. His faithfulness means I can take the dogs for a walk when I want, but there’s no pressure on me when I’m busy….or just tired.

I’m thankful that when I accidentally locked myself out of my front door yesterday at -30, wearing only shirt-sleeves and socks, I’d already unlocked the back door. (A pox on outside knobs that open from the inside even though they are looked. I know they’re supposed to make us safer, but I’m pretty sure they don’t.)

I’m thankful that God is not counting my trespasses against me.

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.

Wednesday
Jan192011

Theological Term of the Week

perfectionism
The Wesleyan teaching that after the new birth, there may be a distinct second transforming work of grace in which “God roots all sinful motivation out of a Christian’s heart, so that the whole of his mental and emotional energy is henceforth channeled into love for God and others: love that is … free from any contrary or competing affection whatsoever”;1  also called entire sanctification. 

  • Scripture used to support the doctrine of entire sanctification:
    No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

    Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

    No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s  seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3: 6, 8, 9 ESV)

  • Scripture that disproves the doctrine of entire sanctification:
    If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 ESV)
  • From The Confession of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church, which teaches the doctrine of entire sanctification:

    Article XI—Sanctification and Christian Perfection

    We believe sanctification is the work of God’s grace through the Word and the Spirit, by which those who have been born again are cleansed from sin in their thoughts, words and acts, and are enabled to live in accordance with God’s will, and to strive for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

    Entire sanctification is a state of perfect love, righteousness and true holiness which every regenerate believer may obtain by being delivered from the power of sin, by loving God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and by loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. Through faith in Jesus Christ this gracious gift may be received in this life both gradually and instantaneously, and should be sought earnestly by every child of God.

    We believe this experience does not deliver us from the infirmities, ignorance, and mistakes common to man, nor from the possibilities of further sin. The Christian must continue on guard against spiritual pride and seek to gain victory over every temptation to sin. He must respond wholly to the will of God so that sin will lose its power over him; and the world, the flesh, and the devil are put under his feet. Thus he rules over these enemies with watchfulness through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith, which, of course, teached against entire santification:

    CHAPTER XIII.

    Of Sanctification.


    I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

    III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

  • From Keeping in Step with the Spirit by J. I. Packer:

    [T]he practical implications [of this doctrine] are unedifying. Dilemmas arise, admitting of no satisfactory resolution. The prime dilemma is that just indicated: How are Christians who believe sin to have been rooted out of them to be realistic about their own continuing sinfulness? Wesley’s teaching inevitably requires them not to be. Then a further dilemma arises: Should such Christians testify to their blessing? And if so, how? Not to testify would rob God of glory and men of help that the witness might bring them and would moreover be a cowardly evasion of possible trouble; but to testify in the way Wesley envisages (“I feel no sin, but all love. I pray, rejoice, give thanks without ceasing. And I have as clear an inward witness that I am fully renewed as that I am justified.”) would seem to lock them unavoidably into smugness of a rather unlovely kind.

Learn more:

  1. R. C. Sproul: The Heresy of Perfectionism
  2. GotQuestions.org: Is entire sanctification/sinless perfection possible in this life?
  3. John Hendryx: Can a Man Achieve Sinlessness?
  4. Jay Wetger: A Critique of the Higher Life Movement
  5. Wayne Grudem: The Doctrine of Sanctification: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (audio) 

Related terms:

Filed under Defective Theology

1From Keeping In Step with the Spirit by J. I. Packer.

This term was suggested by Kim of The Upward Call. Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

Wednesday
Jan192011

Round the Sphere Again: Good Words from Women

Meditating on the Text
Leslie Wiggins posted her thoughts on Philippians 1:7-10, which was last week’s portion a scripture memory challengs. She tells us, among other things, what kind of man Paul was not.

Preaching to Herself
From Staci Eastin:

And that’s the biggest part of the problem: I wrote a book about this. I know the cause of my angst is really unbelief. I even outlined it carefully and sent it to a publisher. And now they’re going to put their money where my mouth is and bind it up in print on real pages. I should be beyond this kind of thing by now, shouldn’t I?

The whole piece: Rainy Days and Unbelief Always Get Me Down.

Following Our Hearts
is not necessarily a good thing (Kim Shay): 

This principle of being “who I am” has been taken a hold of by modern secular psychology (and some “Christian” psychology, sadly enough) as being some kind of standard of virtue.  I am so “real” and “relevant” if I have the courage to be “who I am.”  They key to emotional health is to be “who I am.” 

But

My heart is deceitful.  It is sick.  Is this what I want guiding me?  I have inclinations to serve myself, not God.  So, if I have the “courage to be who I am,” is it any kind of courage at all?

Read more: Teach Our Children Well