Immanuel Kant, though a rather bright fellow, built an imaginary wall. He taught that there are two worlds, the noumenal and the phenomenal. The latter was that world which could be experienced by our senses, what we see, hear, taste, touch and smell. The former was where the actual thing-in-itself dwelt. God Himself, being spirit, resides exclusively in the noumenal realm, since the wall between the two worlds is unable to be scaled. According to Kant, you can’t get from the phenomenal world to the noumenal. Paul, inspired by the far brighter, indeed omniscient Holy Spirit, disagrees, arguing in Romans 1 that we know the unseen God by the things we see. But, being sinners, we suppress that truth in unrighteousness.
I’m tired as I write this, but, I suspect, not half as tired as I will be as you read. 48 hours from now I will be just 8 hours into a 35 hour trip to Indonesia, 28 of which will be in the sky. I’m usually quite comfortable flying, avoiding the grouchiness that plagues so many frequent fliers. I’m quite comfortable as well on my morning walks. But I’m pretty sure a marathon would do me in.
There is a thin line between friendly fire and sound coaching. I’m grateful for everyone who recognizes the humanity of the unborn and longs to see them protected from all who would do them harm. That said, from time to time our rhetoric carries with it unhealthy assumptions, however potent they might be at tugging at our heartstrings. We end up, while fighting for precious ground, giving up more precious ground. Here then are three arguments I hear regularly from my friends that I don’t believe help.
Unborn babies bear God’s image. It is His sanctity that makes them holy, not their own. It is not their genetic background, their capacity to feel pain, their wide open futures, their potential capabilities that makes them imbued with dignity and value. It isn’t their relative moral innocence, but the image of God, graciously given to all, no matter the circumstances of their conception, no matter their viability, no matter the relative development of their organs.
It’s a story I tell often, though it is embarrassing to me. I was a young man and came up with what I believed to be a brilliant idea. It was the height of the Steeler’s dynasty. I loved the Steelers, (and still do) and loved Jesus (and still do.) So I figured out a plan to serve them both. “Lord,” I prayed, “if you will make me an all-pro wide receiver for the Steelers, I will be able to do great things for the kingdom. When I catch the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl I will point heavenward to you. When the reporters ask me if I’m going to Disney World I’ll tell them I’m going to church. In the locker room I’ll give all glory to you.” Great plan huh? But God didn’t bless me with any of the physical gifts I would need. So I came…
While the Christians who went to their deaths under the empire of Rome died for their faith, I fear they did not die for our faith. First, we must understand what Rome had against these saints. Part of the genius of the Roman empire was their “broad-mindedness.” They did not roll into town after their phalanxes had left not one brick upon another and rebuild from scratch. Instead it was their habit to assimilate. As they did with the Pharisees, they cut a deal. We will rule over you, but you can, by and large, keep doing what you were doing. Keep your temple. Worship there. Keep your traditions, your way of life. All we ask of you is that you pay your taxes, acknowledge our authority, and then this one other little thing- we need you to acknowledge that Caesar is Lord. Burn a pinch of incense, bow the…
Moments ago I finished a refreshing encouraging conversation, recorded for a future podcast, with my friend Tim Challies on the subject of writing. One of the things covered in that conversation was dealing with criticism. The irony is that each of us has at one time or another criticized, or at least critiqued the other. Tim is quite clear on his conviction that public schools are a viable option for Christian parents. I’ve been quite clear over the years that I think not. Our pens, mightier than swords, have crossed. That, however, has not kept me from being blessed by, served by, taught by Tim.
The contrast didn’t hit me like it should have. I was outside Orlando Women’s Center, praying for my friend John Barros as he preached the Word to people intent on killing their babies. I asked God to move with power to rescue those precious babies. I asked Him to open the eyes of the moms, the boyfriends, the fathers, the grandmothers. How, I couldn’t help but wonder, do they think any of their relationships will survive this? Abortion is an act that says to everyone in the know, “No matter how close you think we may be, you should know that if you ever get in my way, no matter how helpless and needy you may be, if I can get away with it I will kill you.”
The devil is resourceful and hard working. There is no temptation he will not use, no stratagem too tiny to try us with. He does, however, have a few areas he specializes in. He is called Satan because he is an expert at making accusations. He delights to accuse us when we are innocent, and when we are guilty. He is also a murderer and has been from the beginning. Those who hate Him, we are told, love death (Proverbs 8:36). He is also not just a liar, but the father of lies (John 8:44). When we hear a lie we ought to smell sulfur. Every lie has his hoof prints on it. Of late the broader culture has been rather frantic in telling and believing lies with respect to Bruce Jenner, and we Christians too often face the temptation to believe them. Here are ten we must never give…
It is because we are saved by grace that we sinners are able to confess publicly that we are sinners. It is because we are sinners, however, that we are so quick to get defensive anytime someone accuses us of a specific sin. Why the disconnect? Because being a sinner is a condition, a universal condition, an oddly antiseptic descriptor of humanity. Sinning, however, that requires acknowledging that we have done wrong. And we can’t have that.