Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nationalized Healthcare? (Part 3): Suggestions for improvement over the proposed bill

On last Friday's Albert Mohler Radio Program, Dr. Mohler addressed "Christian Concerns in the Healthcare Reform." The highlight of this show, in my opinion, is a section in which Dr. Mohler told what advise he would give President Obama about healthcare reform if he were given the opportunity to do so. The following is a quote from Dr. Mohler:

Number 1: Get straight on the abortion issue. The current legislation would, inevitably, end up with taxpayers funding abortion for those who are covered. And they could very easily- this administration and those in Congress- could very easily resolve that problem the same way they have for other government-funded healthcare programs. The refusal to do that means that they are intentionally making abortion coverage a part of this legislation.

I'd say, Mr. President, you really need to step back from government or quasi-governmental panels advising persons about end-of-life decisions, major healthcare allocation decisions, what we even call healthcare rationing decisions. And that IS in the President's statement; from, for instance, the New York Times on April 14th, the President said this: and I quote, "The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total healthcare bill out there. It is difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. That is why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance." Drop that. Drop that; because whether you want to call them 'death panels' or anything else, this is a panel that is going to be making decisions and making advice about the end of it. And a part of this is that the President's main adviser on this- who is Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the President's Chief of Staff- is on the record; I've got about 3 inches of articles by Dr. Emanuel from the Journal of the American Medical Association, mainly, in which he comes up with all kinds of formulas about how this kind of allocation would work. And I don't think the American people would go for that even for a second if they understood it.

I would also say, Mr. President, when you talk about a major reform in healthcare, it's going to have to hurt to make the hard decisions about, for instance, staring down those tort lawyers and others who have such lobbying power- and you say, 'Well, the insurance companies do too;' that's true, and everyone should be held to account here, but I do believe that one of the main issues right now is not too LITTLE government involvement, but Rudy [referring to a previous caller], I've got to tell you, it's too MUCH government involvement, and I think this President could take the lead to say, 'I think we need to reform healthcare, and we're going to do it this way, we're going to do it that way,' and I think he could create a plan that would have massive bi-partisan support that would really help those who have health insurance now and those who do not. Because what we really want is to be able to have more persons who have better healthcare. And I just honestly don't believe, Rudy, that the government is the solution to that, but the government is going to have to be involved to some extent, no question about it.

I urge anyone reading this to listen to the entire program, available HERE.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nationalized Healthcare? (Part 2): The role of government

Congress is expected to vote on healthcare reform in September; many people are hoping that congressional action concerning such reform will result in the U.S. government providing healthcare for each citizen. Is government-provided healthcare a good idea? How are Christians to think about this issue? The argument about nationalized healthcare is usually structured around what course of action is perceived to result in the most people being satisfied with their healthcare, or which healthcare system is perceived to "work" in terms of efficiency or economics. These kinds of considerations are, at best, secondary in a Christian worldview. For the Christian, the primary question is not, "is it economical?" or, "is it practical?" but rather, "is it biblical?"

Is government-provided healthcare biblical? To answer this question, we must consider the biblical limits to government. Summarizing the biblical data on this issue, David A. Noebel writes:

Government was established by God to manifest and preserve His justice on earth. This is government's central purpose; as such, the state should concentrate on enforcing justice and avoid meddling in other institutions' business. Generally speaking, the church was ordained to manifest God's grace on the earth, and the family to manifest God's community and creativity (including procreativity). The government, then, as the institution of justice, should prohibit, prevent, prosecute, and punish injustice. The church, as the institution of grace, should preach the gospel and be the chief vehicle of charitable aid to the needy. And families should have chief responsibility for bearing, raising, and educating children, and for creating, possessing, and disposing of property.

Each of these institutions is limited by its own definition and by the other two. Because government is an institution of justice, not of grace or community or creativity, it should not interfere with freedom of religion, attempt to dispense grace through tax-funded handouts, control family size, interfere in raising children (including education), or control the economy and the disposition of property.

If Noebel's analysis is correct, then government is "the institution of justice" and "should prohibit, prevent, prosecute, and punish injustice." Government should not "attempt to dispense grace through tax-funded handouts," and this would include the "grace" of "tax-funded" healthcare.


Nationalized Healthcare? (Part 1): Two concerns

As healthcare reform is currently being debated in Congress, I would like to dedicate a few posts to thinking about this issue.

In this post, I would like to point readers to the July 23 broadcast of the Albert Mohler Radio Program. On this program, guest host Dr. Russell Moore interviewed two democrats who raised concerns over the proposed healthcare reform.

Dr. Moore's first guest was Kristen Day, the Executive Director of Democrats for Life. Day pointed out that any legislation for the government to provide universal healthcare must specifically state that this healthcare will not include funding to provide for abortions; if a prohibition against abortion provision is not explicitly stated, then precedent would dictate that abortion would be covered, and thus all tax payers, even those who object to abortion, would find themselves contributing to state-provided abortions- a serious ethical dilemma indeed.

The second guest was Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS), who raised concerns over how nationalized healthcare would be funded. Taylor proposed some alternatives to nationalized healthcare, which would address some issues raised by those calling for reform in a more fiscally responsible manner.

I strongly encourage everyone reading this to listen to the radio program described above, which is available HERE.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ELCA to vote on whether to allow practicing homosexuals to clergy

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is meeting this week in Minneapolis this week for their annual churchwide assembly. On Friday, the assembly is expected to vote on whether to allow individuals who are involved in 'committed homosexual relationships' to be ordained as ELCA ministers.

What is at stake?

The Bible is clear in both the Old and New Testaments [for example, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27] that homosexual activity is against God's Law and the natural order that He has established. Once the authority of the Bible is ignored in defining sin, then the definition of sin becomes considered as a matter of human opinion. As people constantly excuse their own actions, without the biblical witness, virtually no one believes that the sins in which he or she is habitually involved are really that bad. Therefore, without the authority of the Bible to define sin, people do not see themselves as sinners- the Law loses its power to convict of sin- and thus people do not see their need for a Savior.

This is, therefore, not only a social issue, but a gospel issue.

Jesus died to provide atonement for sin, including the sin of homosexuality. Jesus lives to set people free from sin, including the sin of homosexuality. If the ELCA refuses to recognize this, then they are not being more loving towards people engaged in homosexuality, they are depriving them of a Savior.

I ask readers to be in prayer for the ELCA this week.

UPDATE: As most readers know, the ELCA did vote in favor of allowing persons in 'committed homosexual relationships' to b ordained as Lutheran ministers. Dr. Albert Mohler responds to the rationale of the ELCA HERE.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Thomas Aquinas On Original Sin, Part 5.

From Summa Theologica:

Treatise on Habits in Particular, Question 82, Article 1: Whether original sin is a habit?
Aquinas answers that original sin is a habit, with "habit" indicating a disposition toward something. Aquinas argues that due to Adam's sin, mankind suffers a lack of original justice ["justice" being defined in terms of right standing: particularly, in this case, right standing before God] and that from Adam mankind inherits an inclination toward sin. Although Aquinas' theological reasoning in this article seems sound, and I could find some passages- such as Ephesians 2:3- that relate to his assertions, he sadly offers no biblical proof texts in this section.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dr. Peter Masters' False Exaltation of Historic English Culture Above All Others

From Dr. Masters' sermon delivered on June 21st of this year:
You constantly read this: 'Culture is neutral- morally neutral. So if culture changes, we can adopt it. We can do what we please.' Well, wherever do you find in the Bible that culture is morally neutral. Nowhere it's in the Bible text- it isn't in the Bible at all. The Bible says the opposite; it says there is a great world system, 'the system of this world,' which is under the sway and the rule of Satan. Culture of this world is often demonic- it's written in the vaults of Hell, it's wrong, it's antagonistic to Christian thinking and the standards of the Word of God. But no, they say, 'culture is neutral.' So whatever cultural form comes about, even if it's invented in the entertainment business by people who did it while on drugs and who are emphasizing rebellion against God and just about everybody, and sexual liberty, that's a culture which is morally neutral. And we should do the same. This is what people want, this is what the young wants, this is what the worldly wants.

Point of Agreement
Dr. Masters makes a good point in debunking the false idea that culture is morally neutral. He alludes, I believe, to Ephesians 2:1-3, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (KJV).

Just as no human person is morally neutral, but we have all become naturally "dead in trespasses and sins," opposed to God and His Law unless born again by the Holy Spirit, so no human culture is morally neutral.

An argument for particular worship styles based on an idea of the moral neutrality of cultures is, then, biblically indefensible.

Greater Application Needed

However, it is not acceptable that Dr. Masters would fail in applying the biblical idea of all cultures as naturally under Satan's sway TO HIS OWN CULTURE. One of the great things I previously noted about the Metropolitan Tabernacle is the ethnic diversity among the congregation that one finds when visiting there; pews are shared by people of every skin color and many different accents. Why, then, are ALL the hymns sung at Met Tab written by Watts, Wesley, Rippon, and almost no one else? There are many good things about the songbook used at Met Tab– especially the section of Psalms, as the singing of Psalms is sorely neglected in most churches today– but are we really to believe that the only godly songs were written in 18th century England?

A major reason for the limited selection of songs at Met Tab is that Dr. Masters has (illegitimately, as I have argued) defined “worldliness” in such a way as to exclude music styles originating from many cultures throughout the globe. In other words, if rhythmic music is inherently “worldly,” then African or Latin-style music, which tends to be more rhythmic than European music, is inherently invalid for worship. On the other hand, if Dr. Masters is incorrect, and rhythmic music is not necessarily “worldly,” then such a prejudice is unnecessary.

It is true that African and Latin cultures (to stick with the examples just mentioned) are not morally neutral, but neither are European cultures. THUS, THE PIPE ORGAN IS NOT INHERENTLY MORE SPIRITUAL THAN THE CONGA DRUM. Someone will say, ‘but Latin instruments and African instruments such as the djembe have pagan associations.’ These objectors forget that it was Jubal, from the cursed line of Cain, who is named as the father of those who play the harp and flute (Gen 4:21), and yet the Lord redeemed these instruments, commissioning their use in the temple. [Likewise, occupations such as cattle-herding and working with bronze and iron originated among Cain’s descendants, yet these occupations were redeemed by the Lord and used among His covenant people.] Cultural artifacts such as musical instruments or styles may be redeemed for the Lord and may be used by His people in worship; consideration of how these artifacts are to be utilized for the glory of God while retaining focus on Him and on edifying others does require careful inquiry into biblical wisdom, but we must not take the easy way out by imposing restrictions on worship that are ill-founded in Scripture, which restrictions limit the diversity in worship that God desires (Rev 5:9).