Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ethics- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, was executed by the Nazi regime in 1945. Compiled and published in 1949, his papers on ethics contain the following excerpt:

"Marriage involves acknowledgment of the right of life that is to come into being, a right which is not subject to the disposal of the married couple. Unless this right is acknowledged as a matter of principle, marriage ceases to be marriage and becomes a mere liaison. Acknowledgment of this right means making way for the free creative power of God which can cause new life to proceed from this marriage according to His will. Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder. A great many different motives may lead to an action of this kind; indeed in cases where it is an act of despair, performed in circumstances of extreme human or economic destitution and misery, the guilt may often lie rather with the community than with the individual. Precisely in this connection money may conceal many a wanton deed, while the poor man’s more reluctant lapse may far more easily be disclosed. All these considerations must no doubt have a quite decisive influence on our personal and pastoral attitude towards the person concerned, but they cannot in any way alter the fact of murder."

Bonhoeffer's writing was in opposition to the Nazi doctrine of Lebensunwertes Leben, life that is not worthy of life, and its usage to dictate life and death over the unborn as well as the 'unfit'.

In the 1930's and 1940's Germany, it was the regime controlling 'the guillotine'. In present America, it is between a woman and her doctor with the judicial regime in the background nodding in approval. Will it be long before forced euthanasia of various categories of the 'unfit' and those whose 'quality of life' do not meet arbitrary standards are similarly feted, fated, and fetid?

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Other White Meat

A Jeff Jacoby column on Townhall.com entitled 'The Atheists' Bleak Alternative' concludes:

"What is at stake in all this isn't just angels on Christmas cards. What society loses when it discards Judeo-Christian faith and belief in God is something far more difficult to replace: the value system most likely to promote ethical behavior and sustain a decent society. That is because without God, the difference between good and evil becomes purely subjective. What makes murder inherently wrong is not that it feels wrong,but that a transcendent Creator to whom we are answerable commands: "Thou shalt not murder." What makes kindness to others inherently right is not that human reason says so, but that God does: "Love thy neighbor as thyself; I am the Lord."

Obviously this doesn't mean that religious people are always good, or that religion itself cannot lead to cruelty. Nor does it mean that atheists cannot be beautiful, ethical human beings. Belief in God alone does not guarantee goodness. But belief tethered to clear ethical values -- Judeo-Christian monotheism -- is society's best bet for restraining our worst moral impulses and encouraging our best ones.

The atheist alternative is a world in which right and wrong are ultimately matters of opinion, and in which we are finally accountable to no one but ourselves. That is anything but a tiding of comfort and joy."

Actually, these days, Jacoby falls short on one alternative. He didn't mention an alternative reality possible with an Islamic America.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I have often marvelled that the Pilgrims held a feast of thanksgiving to God while preparing to enter the New England winter when, in the previous winter, one-half of their number had died.

Abraham Lincoln's proclamation of a day of thanksgiving to God did the very same thing in 1863; honoring God and his goodness while in the midst of a bloody civil war. This was the proclamation that set aside the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom."

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed."

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

And as I am the party of the 'big tent', I don't want to exclude my secular friends. To them I say, "Happy Turkey Day!" (Although it does make me wonder... Did you kill, stuff, roast, and eat a veteran on Veterans' Day?)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grudem on Townhall!

I was awfully surprised to see an article published on Townhall.com yesterday by Wayne Grudem, the author of my favorite text on systematic theology.

Excerpts from 'Memo on Prayer and the Nov. 7 Election':

"Please continue in much prayer for the election coming up November 7th." [...]

"As I think through the different branches of US government (executive, beginning with the President, then the legislative branch, and judicial branch), and think about many people in leadership at the state level, I know of many, many people who are seeking to do right for our nation and are praying earnestly that God would grant blessing and success to their efforts. Many of them openly profess their faith in Jesus Christ, and many others are unbelievers but (by God’s common grace) are genuinely seeking to do what is right for the nation and have basically good goals for the nation (or so it seems to me)."

"Particularly with regard to President Bush, I was praying this morning, asking, “Lord, if you will not help this kind of a courageous President who earnestly seeks to follow you, and continually seeks to walk in paths of righteousness, then what kind of President will you ever help?” He has been frustrated by a wayward and timid Congress, and especially by a foolish Senate rule that effectively requires 60 votes to pass anything, but he himself has steadfastly done just what I (at least) had hoped he would do with regard to:"

Grudem goes on to list 20 things for which he is thankful.

He concludes:

"I can become troubled and discouraged (and astounded) by the polls that I see in the news media, but I continue to be encouraged that God is still in control of the affairs of nations (Ps. 75:6-7; Dan. 4:17; Rom. 13:1). And so, I call out to him to have mercy on us (for certainly the sins of our nation are many) and to hear the prayers of his people for the good of this nation and of the rest of the world (Matt. 6:10; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). The Lord could certainly intervene remarkably in events and in people's hearts in the next few days."

"Please pray with me for this (if you feel the same way)."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Wisconsin Marriage Amendment

It is indeed unfortunate that this November's midterm elections also contain the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment proposal. Not long ago an action such as this would have been thought unnecessary. Times are achangin' and the few are finding the present judicial sentiments favorable to the pressing forward of their agendas.

Perhaps it is needless to say, but I will be voting for the implementation of the amendment. Primarily, there is assuredly Biblical warrant, but also many political and cultural reasons as well.

Homosexual activity is sin.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, NASB)

Notice that at least seven elements on this list are not generally judged to be illegal in our culture, but all are nonetheless aspects of wickedness.

God takes His stand in His own congregation. He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? (Psalm 82: 1-2, NASB)

Rulers or judges that grant special rights or favors to the wicked are held responsible for those actions. The whole culture will suffer as well.

As this upcoming vote is in the public sector, the meme of 'separation of church and state' lifts its raucous voice. God has no say or place in this matter. It is as though the default position is that He doesn't exist and should have no say in governmental matters even if He did. So I shouldn't be bring that argument or philosophy to bear. Concerning these matters, however, I am not the one who first brought it up.

From the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ..."

From the Preamble of The Constitution of the State of Wisconsin:

"We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, form a more perfect government, insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare, do establish this constitution."

Nevertheless, God is no longer 'allowed' a voice. Since neither unalienable rights nor a level of equality have been endowed by the Creator, where, praytell, do they come from? The only plausible answer is that the government creates and defines them according to their sentiments at the time. Therefore The Declaration of Independence has been altered to read, "That to create and secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers without the consent of the governed."

Therein lies another reason for which I will vote for the Marriage Amendment. I wish to make it more difficult for the judicial aspect of government to create and secure a 'right' without the consent of the governed. I do not want them to redefine marriage by fiat, feelings, or sentiment, according to their rationale of what should be, contrary to that which has already been defined by tradition, natural law, common law, as well as positive law.

Power to define is power to control. For example, we have allowed a redefinition of human life. A baby is not defined as human until its head clears the birth canal. Until then you may manipulate a breech 'birth' and before the head presents, you may insert a catheter to suck out his brains. It is the moral equivalent to pithing a frog in a high school biology lab.

That which the government 'endows', the government can take away. Only the government's rights remain unalienable.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Quote of the Day

“When a child of God looks in the Word of God and sees the Son of God, he is changed into the image of God by the Spirit of God to the glory of God.” --Warren Wiersbe

Friday, June 09, 2006

Jawbone of the Church Fathers

Although I have some minor disagreements with this author's view of human nature and organic inclinations, his general point is very well taken.

Youth When the Church Was Young

"The Church Fathers had a distinctive approach to youth ministry.

Now, don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t uncovered any evidence that St. Ambrose led teens on ski trips in the nearby Alps. Nor is there anything to suggest that St. Basil sponsored junior-high dances in Pontus. (There’s not even a hint of a pizza party.) In fact, if you check all the documentary evidence from all the ancient patriarchates of the East and the West, you won’t find a single bulletin announcement for a single parish youth group.

Yet the Fathers had enormous success in youth and young-adult ministry. Many of the early martyrs were teens, as were many of the Christians who took to the desert for the solitary life. There’s ample evidence that a disproportionate number of conversions, too, came from the young and youngish age groups.

How did the Fathers do it?

They made wild promises.

They promised young people great things, like persecution, lower social status, public ridicule, severely limited employment opportunities, frequent fasting, a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe, an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.

The Fathers looked young people in the eye and called them to live purely in the midst of a pornographic culture.
They looked at some young men and women and boldly told them they had a calling to virginity. And it worked. Even the pagans noticed how well it worked."...

..."What made the Church attractive in the third century can make it just as attractive in the twenty-first. In the ancient world and in ours, young people want a challenge. They want to love with their whole being. They’re willing to do things the hard way — if people they respect look them in the eye and make the big demands. These are distinguishing marks of youth. You don’t find too many middle-aged men petitioning the Marines for a long stay at Parris Island. It’s young men who beg for that kind of rigor.

No young man or woman really wants to give his life away cheaply. Tarcisius knew better. So do the kids in our parishes."...
(Emphasis mine)

(H.T. Joe Carter.)

Crossposted at Grandpa John's.
I am hoping that soon I will begin writing for this blog again.