Should Christian couples consider becoming foster parents when there is a risk that the child may be adopted by a “gay-couple” and then be subjected to their lifestyle which is contrary to Christian belief?
It’s Darwin Day, a day when evolutionists celebrate “science and reason,” allegedly.
But this annual celebration is more about the Darwinists of today than the Darwin of yesterday. Conspicuously absent each year is a tribute to one of Darwin’s most noteworthy traits: intellectual honesty.
When you read Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, you can sense his honesty about the problems with evolutionary theory. Like a good scientist should do, he acknowledges that his theory could be proven false (it’s falsifiable). He even offers specific examples of the kind of data that is necessary to show he’s mistaken about his theory. He was a fair-minded man.
Not so with Darwinists today. According to them, evolution is not only a proven fact, but impossible to disprove. It’s scientific dogma. Sure, they give a nod to falsifiability by saying evolution is “testable,” “open to evidence,” and is “forever uncertain,” but this is just lip-service. Their lips would serve the scientific community far better if they uttered the words “open to error” and actually meant it.
If Darwinists were open to evidence against evolution, they would consider the evidence of design and intelligence in biology. Though these might qualify as evidence to reasonable scientists, they are the very things Darwinists disqualify by definition.
Noted Darwinist Douglas Futuyma says, “In a scientific sense, there can be no evidence for…creation.” Notice he doesn’t say, “There is no evidence,” or “We haven’t found any evidence yet.” He says there can’t be. That’s because he’s not open to any evidence that might possibly cast doubt on Darwin’s theory. So much for continuing Darwin’s legacy of being fair-minded. Futuyma has left the school of science and entered the department of dogma.
Why have Darwinists abandoned the falsifiability of evolution? It’s because, in their mind, any evidence against evolution is evidence for an intelligent Designer. Darwinists aren’t interested in the right answers, but the right kind of answers.
It’s too bad for Darwin. His legacy couldn’t continue the treasured scientific tradition of fair-mindedness and falsifiability. Instead, Darwin Day celebrations reflect the mentality of Darwinists rather than Darwin, a man of more noble character than his theory’s progeny.
Newsweek's Lisa Miller reports on two new books that purport to offer a more accurate understanding of what the Bible says about sex. Jennifer Wright Knust authored Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire, and Michael Coogan wrote God and Sex: What the bible Really Says. They both contend that Christians have misunderstood the Bible's teaching that sex is for marriage between a man and a woman, and that's there's a lot more sex in the Bible than it seems at first glance.
It's true that the Old Testament especially is a pretty earthy text, and a lot of the imagery is lost on us across time and language. But he reads too much into this in some cases. He makes the case that feet are used as a sexual allusion in some places, and then concludes that this is also the case when the woman washed and kissed Jesus' feet. He's probably right about some allusions, but there are also literal things called feet. And sometimes feet at just feet. There's nothing in the context of this event to indicate there's an allusion to sex intended.
This kind of wooden illiteralism baffles me in liberal scholarship sometimes. Another example is Knust's claim that Jonathan and David enjoyed each other sexually because David says, "Your love to me was wonderful." There are all kinds of love we experience, and we're all quite familiar with the deep love among friends. Jane Austen famously writes about this kind of love in addition to romantic love. It's ironic that while Christians like me are often accused of being simplistic and seeing things in black and white, that that is otherwise the case in so-called critical scholarship that seeks to unearth what we've never understood correctly in the Bible. Knust and Coogan appear to thing all love is sexual love, just like all feet are sexual allusions. This pays no attention to the details of the text, especially when any clues to sex are utterly missing.
Coogan claims that there is no "traditional marriage" in the Bible and cites a number of examples from the Old Testament we're all familiar with. But to apply a moral principle to hermeneutics, you can't get an ought from an is. Just because the Bible reports these things, doesn't mean they were permissible and condoned. The Old Testament people were very much products of their culture when God calls Abraham out of Ur to begin making a nation to work through. Change in the secular mores is then slow and incremental over time. But the ideal of "traditional marriage" is present in the Bible in the model of creation, and it's affirmed in the New Testament in specific moral commands.
Knust offers a truly unique interpretation of what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah really was: having sex with angels. He explains that in that time, people believed angels were real and sex with them led to death. There's a textual problem with this interpretation. It says that whatever this sin was was ongoing to the extent that it tormented Lot. Are we to believe that Sodom and Gomorrah were the hook up capital in the region between men and angels? No, the text tells us it was the behavior of the men of the cities that was the ongoing sin for which they were judged. Men. Not angels. The angels on the scene to warn Lot are the only angels mentioned in the text, so it's really not possible that proscribing sex with angels was the point of the account. This interpretation illustrates Knust and Coogan's fundamental posture toward the Bible: it's merely a mortal book that reflects the limited cultural beliefs and biases in history.
I'm completely in favor of finding out what the Bible really means. You don't have to believe it to be God's word to be able to discern the meaning of the text and do decent hermeneutics. But if this article is a fair sampling of their books, I'd say we learn more about their biases about the Bible than what the Bible actually says about sex.
I love this book: Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day, edited by Kevin DeYoung. I always expect I'll like a book by Kevin - he's a great thinker with a pastor's heart and a good writer. I like the cover because I like vintage-looking things. I knew I liked the topic and the contributing authors. But I didn't know how much I'd love this book until I cracked it and began reading. I love this book.
Kevin explains that the book has two aims: "to introduce young Christians, new Christians, and underdiscipled Christians to the most important articles of our faith and what it looks like to live out this faith in real life"; and "to reassert the theological nature of evangelicalism." Those are goals I'm on board with. And the writers do it with typical humility and clarity.
Not to scare you away, but this book is a catechism, a Christian primer that is written engagingly, understandably, and intelligently. It's written with the questions and issues raised by the Emergents in mind that have resonated with twenty-somethings. But unlike the solution the Emergents have offered to rethink Christianity, the authors of this book draw from the historic Christian tradition of 2000 years. Christianity isn't something to be reinvented. It's something we are stewards of from one generation to the next. There is a truth about Christianity that isn't up for revision. It's us that has to conform to Christianity, not the other way around. In our culture this conviction is often characterized as arrogant, but the writers in this book explain and exemplify why that is inaccurate. Our confidence isn't in ourselves, it's in the truth we have been persuaded of. And this books goal is to explain these convictions in a fresh way.
The first chapter engages the goal of the book: "The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation." And Kevin DeYoung shares that there is no secret. "If you walk with God and walk with people, you'll reach the next generation." We can find ways to engage contemporary culture in church, but we can't lose site of the fundamentals: "Grab them with passion. Win them with love. Hold them with holiness. Challenge them with the truth. Amaze them with God." Maybe these don't seem very innovative, but they have been transformative principles for millennia.
Collin Hansen then gives a quick history lesson in chapter two, which helps to place ourselves in the context of church history. Our roots stretch back to Jesus and the Apostles, the truth that is unchanging. He gives a quick but informative tour of the major events and issues at key points in the last 2000 years of Christian history. This is important. We are stewards of the faith. To carry on we must know what came before.
Chapters 3-10 cover the core Christian beliefs. These are the fundamentals that define evangelical/Protestant Christianity. The authors explain them clearly, demonstrating them from the Bible, and give a logical defense that shows they're aware of the current challenges made against Christianity. Christians are often unable to explain what they belief when asked directly. Kevin gives an example from his time in college after growing up in the church. These chapters are a great sine qua non of Christian belief that everyone who claims the name should understand. I like the title for the chapter on sanctification: "Being Authentically Messed Up Is Not Enough." I learned a good answer I've never heard before to the question of whether babies will go to Heaven in Tim Challies chapter "Jesus Christ: The Only Way and Our Only Hope." (You can read it for yourself.) These are tight, but comprehensive chapters that are highly informative.
Christianity is a worldview, not just a list of beliefs. It's a way of seeing the world. The convictions and values at the core of Christianity have implications for all of life. The remaining chapters cover a number of these topics that are the natural consequences of a Biblical worldview: vocation, social justice, homosexuality, abortion, gender confusion, the nature of the local church, worship, missions. Some of these are "cultural" issues that are sometimes thought to be side issues that present stumbling blocks to those outside the church, especially young adults. The solution from that point of view: jettison them and update our point of view. The writers of these chapters demonstrate why these are not simply cultural issues we are at liberty to change.
The chapter on worship by Tullian Tchividjian is a lesson on perspective: "[W]e can't approach God anyway we please." He points out that a "church's worship...ought to be God-centered and gospel-fueled." That worship is multifaceted, reaching our minds, emotions, and will. "God-centered worship produces people who think deeply about God, feel passionately for God, and live urgently in response to God." He doesn't suggest criteria for how we incorporate contemporary style into music, rather he gives the principles to assess what should be incorporated into worship. He considers the question: What should worship be, which I'm afraid doesn't seem to get asked very often before delving into how to incorporate contemporary culture. Worship isn't about us, it's about God.
This book reflects passion for God, love for what He's revealed to us, humility to live consistently with the truth, and confidence that this is the most important endeavor we can engage in. It truly represents "generous orthodoxy." God has revealed Himself for all people at all times. That is the unchanging truth, the old faith. And God has given us the privilege to share it with anyone who will come each new day. This book reminds us of that and helps us to be better stewards of our role in God's plan. This book isn't a critique of current trends in the church, but it is a response. It's a model and a tool for teaching the old faith for a new day.
This new book by Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God, is a response to the critic's challenges. This is a common charge made by the "new atheists." Many Christians from a liberal theological perspective would tend to agree. And I suspect many evangelical Christians harbor concerns along the same lines that they never express.
Greg has said, "If you ask the hard question, you need to be willing to listen to the hard answer." This challenge to God's moral character is an important one. After all, His perfect moral character is in part what demands our worship and honor. He is the ground for all morality. These are key factors in the Christian worldview, so if God is a moral monster, there is serious reason to doubt Christianity is true. It's a hard question, and it deserves a hard answer. But hard answers are rarely brief ones, and therein lies the obligation of the critic who poses the question: to listen and carefully consider the answer given.
Paul Copan's book gives a thorough answer to the general and many specific claims in this indictment of God's character. He's a jealous megalomaniac, child abuse and bullying misogyny, petty, condoning slavery, and massacre and ethnic cleansing. One answer is to abandon the divine origin of the Old Testament, relegate it to mere human authorship that only reflects the cultural values of the ancient Israelites and ascribes these to their god. That's the easy answer. Copan gives us the hard answer taking seriously the text's claim for its divine origins as a self-revelation of the one, true God.
There are two general kinds of challenges you can make to any worldview or idea: internal and external. There may be external factors that critical would an idea. There may be internally inconsistent problems that doom it, as well. The challenge to God's moral character is an internal one claiming the God the Bible reveals is a monster. So the hard answer must garner details from the worldview itself to show why this charge is untrue. Copan carefully explains the Biblical, cultural, and historical factors that refute this challenge. These are the factors that critics cannot blithely dismiss because they have drawn from the Old Testament to make the challenge so factors they have overlooked from that same source are relevant to the answer.
For instance, was wiping out the Canaanites indiscriminate massacre of an entire society? It's certainly a harsh punishment that could appear to be unjust - until you consider the details of Canaanite society at the time. Incest and human sacrifice were common religious practices. It was a horribly violent culture. The Old Testament tells us that God used the Israelites to carry out His judgment and punishment that seem more just when you factor in the Canaanite's actions. This was a horribly corrupt culture.
It wasn't just xenophobic, because the very same Old Testament text tells us of God punishing Israel when they turned against Him. Critics characterize this as petty jealousy on God's part. But if He is the true sovereign, as the Old Testament claims, and He made a conditional covenant (contract) with Israel (Mosaic Covenant), God's reaction seems to be more reasonable when the conditions of the contract are broken. Even in our own experience, we know there is appropriate and inappropriate jealousy. A spouse has a right to be jealous if their partner shows attention to another that should be reserved for their loved one. God has a unique claim on us as His creatures. His jealous is an appropriate response.
Copan also explains enlightening details about the Mosaic Covenant that illustrate God's moral character. It's a legal document for the nation Israel. Other nations had their own. The Mosaic Covenant reflects the historical character of these kinds of documents, but it also demonstrates tremendous improvement. Capitol punishment for some of the crimes in the Mosaic Law seem horribly harsh - until we realize that these were maximum sentences that could not be exceeded, not the actual punishments that were to be carried out. The Mosaic Law limits how severely criminals could be punished, it doesn't require these punishments. It is also the only code of its time that applied equally to all citizens, not privileging a certain class with extra protections. These are just a couple of examples of these important factors Copan brings out.
While Copan provides the hard answer to a hard question, the book isn't hard reading. It's 222 pages of reading, and even had a section for study and discussion. I think it's a book that will settle doubts some Christians may harbor. It's certainly a book that soundly answers the critics. God is not a moral monster. He is a God who deserves worship for His perfect moral character.