The discussion of the role of women in the ministry of the church dominated much of the proceedings of the Presbyterian Church of America’s 2017 General Assembly. Despite numerous disputes over the findings and recommendations in the report from the GA’s committee on this issue, it was ultimately adopted. The details of these recommendations and the debate have been widely covered. Less attention, however, has been paid to the context of the debate.
The PCA’s debate over this issue comes in the midst of a cultural war, a war that has existed since the fall but has become highly visible of late in the United States. By focusing more on the details of the report rather than on the war setting in which the debate was taking place, the GA seems to have lost sight of the forest for the trees. Pondering issues like how to “affirm and include underprivileged and underrepresented women in the PCA” in the midst of the cultural and ecumenical collapse on sex and the distinctions between men and women places the PCA in a situation where it is unlikely to be able to discern the scriptural role of women in the ministry of the church, much less be able to speak prophetically into the world on this subject.
Mark Steyn is one of the two best political commentators in the English speaking world today.
Here is an excerpt of his thoughts on the swamp’s victory in the Alabama Senate race yesterday:
Roy Moore was the nominee only because the smart guys over-invested in Luther Strange (just as in 2015 they over-invested in Jeb Bush). In the first round of primary voting, Mitch McConnell’s priority was to prop up Strange by taking out what he regarded as his principal threat, Mo Brooks. Congressman Brooks would have made an excellent senator, and would have been elected in a walk, and he can also claim more plausibly than Moore to be a populist conservative aligned with the Trump agenda. But McConnell didn’t want him in the Senate and, as he saw it, once Brooks was gone, Luther Strange would have no trouble walloping Moore in the run-off.
Looking at relationships between peoples in terms of color, and more specifically in terms of white racism and oppression of blacks, is the prevailing view among many secular and religious groups in America today. Thomas Sowell’s provides a historical perspective that suggest this view is not accurate in his book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals.
Thomas Sowell closely examines historical relationships between those of various racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds with the intent of applying it to race relations in the U.S. today. He begins with this quote:
These people are creating a terrible problem in our cities. They can’t or won’t hold a job, they flout the law constantly and neglect their children, they drink too much and their moral standards would shame an alley cat. For some reason or other, they absolutely refuse to accommodate themselves to any kind of decent, civilized life (p. 1).
“The central disease in the sexual revolution is the egalitarianism that drives everything else. Because it begins by setting aside portions of the plain Word of God, it ends by us discovering that the hidden intent the entire time was to dispense with the entire Word of God. And when that happens, there is no law to convict and no gospel to save.” — Douglas Wilson
From the beginning, the enemies of God have not directly attacked God Himself, but instead have attacked His subjects, using deceit to convince them that Scripture is not true, that God is not who He says He is. They do this in order to foment rebellion against Him. Satan sought to convince Eve that God was not good and that He was a liar (Genesis 3:1-7). The medieval Catholic Church sought to convince people that salvation rests not in God but in the church. The Deists of the 17th and 18th centuries sought to convince people that God was a benevolent but distant creator who has left us to fend for ourselves. All of this was geared toward making humans believe, like Eve, they can be like Him.
More recently, the enemies of God have become bolder by proclaiming that God does not exist at all. Now, humans don’t need to strive to be like God; since He doesn’t exist, they can strive to be Him. Continue reading
I’ve read a lot of books to my son, William, over the years. In part because of his reading challenges, in part because there are some VERY good books out there for younger folks that I didn’t read but are still very edifying for me today, and in part because of what I have read about the value of reading to our children–even as they progress into their teen years. So I thought that I’d put together a list of those books (plus some I haven’t read but plan on doing so or plan on having William read himself). I pray you find some books for you to read to your children or for them to read to themselves. Or for you to read on your own!
Books are listed in order of the age of the potential reader, from youngest to oldest in each section. Reading books aloud to children that are above their reading level is a great way to stretch their vocabulary and comprehension, and to spend special time with them.
All the books are recommended, but if I had to pick just one series of books on the fiction list, it would be the Mr. Pipes books by Douglas Bond (anything that Bond writes is worth reading). The Wingfeather series by Andrew Peterson; Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress by Oliver Hunkin; and Wise Words: Family Stories That Bring the Proverbs to Life by Peter J. Leithart would be the runner-ups. In the biography, etc. section—which has some adult books that many preteens might enjoy, my favorites are The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Beowulf by Douglas Wilson. In the study section, I really like Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men by Bob Schultz (fathers should read it too) and also like Boys & Girls Playing by J.C. Ryle.
I recently saw this headline claiming that abortion rates increased after Texas defunded the abortion provider Planned Parenthood in 2011. After claiming that the new policy resulted in the closure of some “women’s health clinics,” The Huffington Post article stated, “the abortion rate among teenagers in the state rose 3 percent over what it would have been had the clinics remained open.”
That sentence set off alarm bells in my head. Note what it didn’t say; that the abortion rate actually increased. The “would have been” language is usually code talk for statistical gymnastics in order to justify a position or theory that can’t be proven by the facts.
That is certainly the case here. In this research, the obvious point being made by the researcher is that by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, Texas conservatives actually achieved the opposite results they intended: an increase in teen abortions. That would be news; except it isn’t true. Though that didn’t stop the HuffPost’s headline writer from writing that is was.
As I attempted to log in to my Airbnb account yesterday, I was greeted with this message:
Before you continue
Whether it’s your first time using Airbnb or you’re one of our original travelers, please commit to respecting and including everyone in the Airbnb community.
I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.
Though I too often fail at it, my goal is to treat everyone with respect. But that doesn’t mean I always agree with them. And sometimes, I even think they are wrong. In other words, I judge them. And I judge whatever situation I’m in with the bias that comes with being a Christian who believes what the Bible says because it is God’s Word. I can’t not look at the world other than the way God describes it. And if there are people who are living out their lives outside of God’s Word, I’m going to see it as wrong–just as I see it is wrong when I sin against God. So I clicked ‘decline’ on Airbnb’s community statement.
The opponents of freedom thrive in an environment of complexity. One of my favorite examples of this is when Politifact labeled as half true a statement by Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams “Gas prices have gone up $2 since Obama took office.” Politifact looked at the facts, determined that gas prices had in fact gone up $2 dollars since Obama had taken office, but after a long, complex analysis of things that had nothing to do with the statement in question still labeled it only “Half True.”
Our job as free market conservatives is to cut through the false complexity of the left and the big government moderates and simplify the issues so that people can see the truth. It is very hard to do this, because, as R.C. Sproul points out below, we have to have in-depth knowledge of the very complex issues ourselves before we can simplify them without distorting the truth. It is also hard because any errors we make will be attacked by opponents of liberty.
“Beware the one who makes his living off criticizing the sin of others.” – Pastor Eric Landry, discussing the actions of Ham against his father Noah in a sermon on Genesis 9.
As I think about how biblically-minded Christians can deal with the constant assaults from the left, three things really stand out to me.
First is to have a strong commitment to liberty. An unwillingness to waver from this commitment in the midst of significant opposition will make us stand out in the midst of a generally compromising culture.
Second is excellence. Maintaining integrity and quality in our lives and work will provide us great freedom to pursue our goals because it allows the criticisms of our opponents to be seen clearly as unmerited attacks on us.
Third, and to the point of the quote above, is the positive, Bill Buckley-style “happy warrior” approach we should take in our work. As we present positive alternatives and a positive outlook on things, it brings people along with us and frees us from being caught up in the downward spiral of negatively. It’s not that we can’t at times be critical of the way things are, or even people occasionally, but our positive outlook helps us and others see the possibility of a better future much more clearly, even in the midst of the turmoil our nation in facing.
By the way, if you have never read William F. Buckley, Jr., you really should. His spirit of optimism is infectious. A great place to start is Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography. Another good one that captures both his and Ronald Reagan’s optimistic spirit is The Reagan I Knew.
Imagine there’s no Medicaid
It’s easy if you dare
No plans to hinder us
People receiving care
Imagine all the people
Living in good health
Imagine private health care
It’s no so hard to see
Less death or illness
Without the Fed’s decree
Imagine all the people
Living in Freedom
You may say that I’m a dreamer
That there’s no way to be free
But life without Medicaid
Is a world that could be