Friday, 28 August 2015

How do you use the tool of Scripture?

There are two ways to read the Bible. 

One is to read the Bible looking for passages and verses that confirm, bolster, strengthen, prove or otherwise seem to support our already held ideas and beliefs.  Someone who reads Scripture this way usually has a concrete stance on something and is looking for ways to argue their personal perspective in a more effective, powerful and authoritative way, so they seek to rally God’s Word to their pet cause.  This is using the Bible as a tool to accomplish their own ends, which is an unbelieving and unfaithful way to employ the Scriptures.  Reading the Bible in this way is reading it the wrong way. 

The other way to read the Bible is to receive it.  The Bible is a tool (though not merely a tool), but it is one that God wields on us long before we can turn around and wield it for any outward focus or goal.  The Bible is a gift which God has given to his people to be received.  It is a sword to be wielded, certainly, but before anyone can draw this sword and point it at anything, they themselves must first be worked upon by the sword in the hands of the Spirit.  Rather than using the Bible to prove our preconceived ideas and pet interpretations, we must submit all those ideas and understandings to the scrutiny of the Word itself.  The Holy Scriptures are what is true, what is first, what is foundational, what is ultimate, what is absolute.  We are the works in progress.  We submit to God’s Word, not it to us.  We must not seek to bend the Scriptures to our preferences or employ them to our purposes.  We must seek to be formed and shaped by them, for that is God’s purpose in the Scriptures for us.  Only when we are first shaped by the Scriptures can we hope to be used by the Spirit to employ the Scriptures to shape anything else.

Too often Christians handle the Bible as though it were a block of marble and we go to work on it with hammer and chisel, hoping to show everyone else that it is shaped the way we imagine it to be.  Instead, we must approach Scripture as though it is the tool in the hands of the Sculptor and we are the slab of marble which that tool is forming into a shape that conforms to the vision and purpose the Sculptor has for us.  The Holy Scriptures are a tool not to be worked by us until they have first worked on us.

Planned Parenthood update round-up

See Justin Taylor's post on the 7th PP video here as well as his post on the 8th PP video here. 

Be sure to scroll down each post to see further solid and helpful additional material that Justin Taylor has pulled together, some of which informs on the scope of the abortion issue and some of which helps to form a biblical response to it.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Planned Parenthood update...

Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition has a round-up of Planned Parenthood related news, including the lastest videos to be released.

Doug Wilson has more clear thinking on this unfolding moral drama.

Also, I want to encourage you to encourage every pro-lifer you know to get in touch with the various corporate sponsors of Planned Parenthood.  You can find a list of them HERE.  Every one of them has a website with a "contact" tab.  Corporations make decisions based on the market (what sells) or direct pressure from consumers (why people will no longer be customers).  Hit them in the bottom line.  Tell them that if they continue to sponsor PP, you will no longer spend your money on their products and you will be sure to share the fact of their sponsorship of PP with other pro-lifers you know.  I contacted both the Canadian & American Cancer Societies as well as Starbucks to let them know of my opposition to their support of PP.  From what I've heard, many others have put pressure on them as well and both have stated that do not support or no longer support PP.  Lets make sure all on this list hear from us.  United Way is one that really needs to hear loud and clear that they won't see any more money from pro-lifers if their support for PP continues.

And don't just fight PP.  Make sure that as you take the fight to them with one hand, you take the care to your local Pregnancy Care Centre with the other. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Panned Parenthood update

Yes, the title of this post is intentional - read on.  Here is a post by Tim Challies about how to respond to the current Planned Parenthood outrage over the sale of aborted baby's body parts.  If you watch the fourth video released by the Centre for Medical Progress, you will see Planned Parenthood staff dissecting, identifying, sorting and discussing the body parts of an aborted baby while they discuss the relative demand for the various parts.  You will also hear a lab tech declare that, "it's a boy", while sorting through the dead child's remains in a Pyrex pie plate (hence my blog post title - and I'm not intending this pun to be remotely funny).

Beyond the obvious fact of the atrocities being committed by Planned Parenthood as they murder hundreds of thousands of babies a year, the thing that strikes me so strongly as I watch these videos is the casual nature of the people participating in this baby holocaust.  The atmosphere is so sterile, the conversations so matter-of-fact, the manner so casual, the evil so clinical, so efficient, so bureaucratic.  This is convenient slaughter, this is murder and dismemberment where customer service is their specialty, whether you are a mother looking to have an abortion (80% of women who come to Planned Parenthood facilities for an abortion are simply seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy, rather than wanting an abortion due to medical reasons), or a "tissue sourcing" firm looking to purchase body parts, Planned Parenthood wants your experience to be efficient and satisfactory.  They want your future business. 

I encourage anyone who reads Challies' post above to read the other articles he's linked to as well.  For some further clear thinking on this issue and how best to respond in a way that will help end this tragedy, see also these posts:

Ross Douthat at the NY Times says that there is no pro-life case for Planned Parenthood, as some liberals have attempted to argue.

Justin Taylor also links to the 4th video and notes that a senior PP staffer says their doctors often save specimens for their own projects so she knows that it is possible to conduct abortions in such a way as to save whole, intact babies for sale.  You can see this here.

Kevin DeYoung reminds us why unborn babies have inherent value and why they are, in fact, people, and why their value or viability does not depend on size, independence, intelligence, or any of the other factors that pro-abortion advocates say render them not yet human.  You can read Kevin's thoughts here.

Over at Desiring God there is a convicting post which asks if the evangelical church's stance against abortion is too weak, pointing to the estimate that of the 1.2 million abortions every year in the US, approximately 156,000 of them are evangelical women getting abortions (if the stats are correct, which they probably are - compare them with the divorce stats, after all, which is something else evangelicals are supposed to be against).  You can read that here.  And while your there, you should read this article as well.

No one I know of is doing more online to help the church think this whole thing through, and fire up the church to seize this moment as a strategic opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the abortion lobby than Doug Wilson.  Lets hope he is widely read and heard on this.  He has had so many posts about the PP outrages lately that I will just link to his blog and you can scroll down and read the applicable posts.  Doug's blog is here.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Loving thy neighbour without condoning their sin

Doug Wilson has a great post about how to love our homosexual family, friends and coworkers without celebrating and condoning their sin.  There is a biblically faithful way to love and accept them as people made in God's image without at the same time accepting their sinful lifestyle.  This is a very important topic.  The church (or at least those most often heard in public discourse) seems to divide on this subject along the lines of either avoiding relationships with homosexual folks altogether or accepting their lifestyle wholeheartedly.  In actual fact, neither of these ways is godly love and neither is biblical. 

Here are a couple of quotes from Doug's post that I hope make you want to read the whole thing:
"...taking Scripture with Scripture, we can plainly see that there is a type of interaction with sinners that is not only permissible, but considered as a general pattern in the church, is actually required. In other words, it ought to be normal. There are other instances when Christians should have nothing to do with it."
"This is why wise Christian bakers will never bake a cake for a homosexual wedding reception, and they should always bake a cake for a homosexual’s birthday party. This is why families must not attend a homosexual wedding reception, and why they certainly should attend a homosexual’s birthday party — the one that the evangelical baker made a cake for."
While it is certainly true that biblical truth is always true at all times and in all circumstances, very often the two sides of a particular debate are taking only certain truths and applying them to a situation and the other side is using a different set of passages to justify exactly the opposite actions.  When forming a position on a particular issue, it is important to consider all of the applicable Scripture and the same is true when determining how to live out that truth.  Check out Doug's very wise biblical exposition and application here. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Planned Parenthood baby body part trade Part 2

There has been another video released showing another conversation with a high level official and doctor with Planned Parenthood discussing the market for "tissue" from abortions.  By tissue, they mean intact  organs, legs, arms, heads, and other body parts.  PP maintains that they are doing this not for profit - nominal fees intended to recover costs with maybe a bit extra, you know, for the time and effort, the extra trouble they have to go to to ensure that they not damage the body parts that they buyers are looking for.  And again, PP says they do this strictly for the benefits of scientific and medical advancement and that the way they do it is all legal.  The legality is certainly one of the issues currently up for debate, but the bigger issue is not the legality according to federal and state laws but rather where this stands according to God's law.  Of course the murder of humans is against God's law whether those humans are inside of the womb or outside.  They are made in the image of God with the inherent dignity that entails.

You can find the second video here at Doug Wilson's blog.  Again, it is not for the faint of heart, but if you are a Christian you better be serious about seeing the practice of government-funded abortion end, and therefore you better not be faint of heart.  And if you missed the first such video, you can see it here along with some thoughtful exhortation.

Kevin DeYoung has some further good thoughts about the abortion battle in light of the current controversy here.

Al Mohler adds his voice here and Russell Moore here and here.

BUT, if you only read one opinion piece on this whole issue, whether you are already convinced abortion is evil or you are as yet undecided, you really ought to read Rosaria Butterfield's thoughts in her article I Thought Planned Parenthood Protected Family Values.  

This issue is bigger than the US.  Planned Parenthood operates in Canada as well, and often not under that name.  And this issue is bigger than PP since many abortions happen in other clinics and in government funded hospitals.  Pray that these recent revelations about the baby body part trade cause many in our culture to wake up and see the abortion industry for what it is - mass murder on a colossal scale (even when there is no harvesting of baby body parts).  And pray that all who are not already aroused to this cause in the church would wake up and pray for the end of abortion.  Also, pray for and work toward the care of those who currently don't see any other option and declare the forgiveness and love in Christ available for those who now regret their past choices to have abortions.  And as many are doing in the US, consider telling your elected officials that you are absolutely opposed to this practice and that you are dead set against any of your tax dollars supporting this type of thing in Canada.

Father, forgive us our tresspasses.  Lead us not into temptation.  Deliver us from evil. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Planned Parenthood and the baby body part trade

This post links to some pretty disturbing material, but if you care about the fight to end abortion this is a pretty significant breaking story. 

Douglas Wilson has posted on a recent video which was released showing a doctor very high up in the Planned Parenthood organization discussing the trade in baby organs and body parts, harvested, stored, sold and shipped from their clinics (at least in the US).  I consider Doug to be a very reliable source, but I know that there are very credible seeming things on the interweb that sometimes turn out to be a hoax.  I looked into this story on Snopes and there is quite extensive discussion of the story including official and direct statements from both PP and the makers of the video.  Snopes currently has this classified as "Undetermined" and the issue that doesn't seem to be clear is if the PP clinics are harvesting and selling baby body parts legally (because the mothers have signed a donation form to allow their baby's body parts to be sold and used for research, etc.) or illegally.

However, whether this is being done legally or illegally (contrary to US gov't laws that allow only certain practices regarding the retention and use of the body parts of aborted babies), we need to stop and ask our selves what kind of a society do we live in where the mass murder of babies has become an industry and where a private, for profit, organization like Planned Parenthood can mislead women, kill children, and further profit by selling the body parts of the dead babies.  And we also need to not be hoodwinked by the debate over whether this body part trade is operating fully legally or if it is in contravention of law.  The fact is it is pretty disgusting that it is happening at all.  No matter what the laws of the land are, according to God's law taking human life is wicked and trading in persons as though they were commodities is an abomination.

I encourage you to read Wilson's post here.  Be warned, the conversation in the embedded video link is not for the faint of heart, made all the worse by the casual manner of the doctor.  Part of the power of the pro-abortion/pro-choice lobby is their success in hiding what actually goes on in abortion procedures and their white-washing of the industry as if it were a highly regulated aspect of routine medical care.  This type of story really puts the lie to that rhetoric.  May God have mercy on our culture.