While sitting in a moral philosophy class at a community college in Washington State, the professor stated that he could disprove any view by using an extreme example. To prove his point, he stated that there must be exceptions to the pro-life position, therefore, the pro-choice position must be true. While it’s been some eleven years now since I took this moral philosophy class, this teacher’s statement has stuck with me and caused me to think through my own position on this issue several times over. As a Christian, I firmly believe in the pro-life position not only because the Bible teaches it but because the pro-choice position is murder.
My professor at the time stood in front of his class and decried the pro-life position by stating that he could use an extreme example to disprove the pro-life position. In recent days, we’ve seen the horror of the pro-choice position up front and personal through the publication of the Planned Parenthood undercover videos. While my former professor would now likely take issue with me flipping his statement on its head, that’s what I intend to do now while showing the absurdity of abortion and the importance of life.
I’m an old-fashioned Christian who believes the Bible. So when the Bible says that God created life and that murder is murder, I take God at His Word. Exodus 20:13 reads, “You shall not murder.” The word murder is the transliterated word Ratsach and according to Strong’s means, “To murder, slay, kill, premeditated, accidental, as avenger, slayer intentional, and to assassinate.”[i] There is a difference between a child in a mother’s womb and one outside of it; yet the early church saw both as equally living people and taking their lives as murderous. Charles H.H Scobie said, “Scripture uses the Greek word brephos for Elizabeth’s unborn child (Luke 1:41,44), unborn Jesus in Mary’s womb (Luke 2:12) and also for the children brought to Jesus (Luke 18:15).”[ii] God in His Word reveals that a child in the womb and a child singing and dancing around in worship are equally human beings, who both bear the image of God. Abortion is wrong because it is the killing of an unborn child created in the image and likeness of God.
When someone commits first-degree murder, justice says to try them in the court of law. The evidence is examined, arguments are put forth, and the person is either declared guilty or innocent on the basis of the evidence and the arguments in the court of the law. When a pregnant woman walks into an abortion clinic, she walks in with a living child in her belly and chooses to murder the child. Some people might take exception to this—especially those who hold to a liberal political philosophy. They would say it’s not murder, and that the lady had a “choice” and she simply choose to end the life of the baby. My question is, “What is the difference between someone who commits first-degree murder and is convicted of it and the lady who walks in and aborts her child?” According to the Bible, there is no difference since murder is murder. When the Nazi’s tried to exterminate the Jews during WWII, their evils were met by an entire generation rising up to fight against and defeat them. Yet, young ladies go into abortion clinics every day and “choose” to abort their child even though there are other options, including giving up the child for adoption.
The absurdity of abortion is truly appalling. Entire generations are being wiped out by abortion and yet many people sit idle by and do nothing. Some even continue their support of the pro-choice position even while it kills our future leaders in every sphere of life. These are the same people who want the first-degree murderer to be convicted of their crime, and other criminals to be convicted of their crimes, too. As someone who holds to a biblical worldview, I find it absurd for people to argue for morality and ethics at all when on the one hand they argue that someone who commits a capital murder offense should be convicted of their crime, while on the other hand, someone who walks into an abortion clinic and aborts their child is not convicted of a crime.
Choices have consequences. If you think you can walk into an abortion clinic and have an abortion, I must ask, what differentiates you from the person who is convicted of murder? Furthermore, what separates you from the Nazi’s who killed generations of people? These are alarming questions to be sure. To be clear, there is no difference. People who murder people are murderers. The truth is the Bible goes further than the mere act of physically killing someone. We can murder through our words and our actions, since our words and actions stem from our heart. Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Matthew 15:19 reads, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Mark 7:21 is similar, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery.” Romans 3:12-14 also describes it this way, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; ‘no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness’.”
You might be thinking, “I’ve had an abortion, is there no help for me now?” I want you to know that there is hope for you. No one is beyond the gaze of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord is mighty to save, promising to forgive, and gracious to cleanse people of sin, including those who have had an abortion.
Behind the positions that people hold to are people created in the image of God. It’s easy to miss this point when speaking about the pro-choice position. It’s easy to see the horror of the Planned Parenthood videos and be justly outraged by them. It’s much harder to love people like Jesus does, praying for them and speaking the truth in love to them.
My intention in this article has been to help you understand the worldview of the people around you who support abortion. Yes, you might think that their worldview is faulty and I don’t disagree with you. With that said, as Christians, we’ve been commanded by Jesus to love our neighbors. This command is not an option; it’s given to us by God because He knows that we’ll want to run away from those who reject what we believe. It’s easier to dismiss people who disagree with us but it’s much harder to walk alongside them, love them, listen to their thoughts, pray for them, and speak the truth in love to them.
I encourage you today to pray for your neighbors. Instead of casting judgment on people who have had an abortion please love them, pray for them, and speak the truth of the gospel to them. Befriend them for the purpose of imparting the truth of God’s Word. Yes, abortion is wrong and it’s murder; but so is verbal abuse, or swearing at your spouse. So the next time you think you’re better than someone—think about how you’ve acted in the past towards your spouse, your friends, or your neighbors. Then repent, apologize to those you’ve offended, and begin again to pray, speak, love, and live the gospel all to the glory of our God who pardons sinners, reconciles them to Himself, and shows them the meaning of life. Go and speak about the importance of life as created by God in His image, along with the absolute necessity of being born again.
[i] Strong, James, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson), 943.
[ii] Charles H. H. Scobie, Ways of our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 834.
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As the culture changes all around us, it is no longer possible for Christians in North America to think they are the Moral Majority. This may be bad news to America, but it is good news for the Church. Christians need a church that speaks to social and political issues with a bigger vision in mind: the Kingdom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Biblical Christianity has always been countercultural. Christians today have a real opportunity to be about knowing and making known the gospel of Jesus Christ to their friends, family, and coworkers. This is why as I read Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Dr. Moore, the President of the Ethics and Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, I was deeply encouraged. Christians are to seek the Kingdom of God, before everything. We connect the kingdom agenda to the culture around us, both by speaking it to the world and by showing it in our churches. As we do so we remember our mission to oppose demons, not to demonize opponents. As we advocate for human dignity, for religious liberty, for family stability, we need to keep in mind we are called to do so with the gospel that turns the world upside down.
Onward is a book that calls Christians to have a right understanding of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is already and not yet. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Kingdom was inaugurated. The Kingdom is not yet in that Jesus has not yet returned, His people are not glorified, and His Kingdom is not yet fully established. Onward is a call to help Christians live in the already while they anticipate the not yet of the Kingdom of God. To this end, Dr. Moore helps readers understand they are a prophetic minority, what the Kingdom of God is, how to engage culture, engaging in mission, religious liberty, family stability, convictional kindness, and a gospel counter-revolution.
Dr. Moore notes, “Kindness does not avoid conflict; kindness engaged conflict, but with a goal of reconciliation” (200). With those words in chapter nine, Dr. Moore demonstrates why a generation of young pastors and ministry leaders have been helped by his ministry. Dr. Moore models convictional kindness in that he speaks to the issues of our day but with great compassion by speaking the truth in love. People are created in the image of God and deserving of dignity and respect. Behind the positions that people hold to are people who need Jesus Christ. This is what Dr. Moore does so well in Onward, he helps us to understand how to minister the gospel in-between the already and not yet of the Kingdom of God, by presently growing in, and making known the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
Onward is not a call for surrender, panic, or outrage. Jesus is alive. Onward will help Christians to understand the times we are in, to follow Jesus in them, and to press onward in the future. I highly recommend this book and believe every Christian will be helped by reading and reflecting on the truth in this book, and applying the message of it to their lives.
I received this book for free from B&H for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Few issues today are as important as understanding the connection between the gospel, discipleship, missions, and apologetics. I’ve learned these truths through ministering on the streets of Seattle, being in college campus ministry, and at local coffee shops around my area. Engaging in discipleship, missions, and apologetics in a manner worthy of the gospel means understanding how they relate first to the gospel and then to the Church’s mission. I hope to trace out some of these vital connections and in so doing help readers understand that the story of Jesus exposes faulty worldviews. For example, in John 4, Jesus unveils the woman at the well’s faulty worldview. He asks her questions designed to draw her closer to understanding who He is. As the woman’s understanding grows, she sees her need for Jesus. She understands that Jesus is the Son of God. Then she becomes a disciple of Jesus and goes on mission for Jesus in reaching her neighbors and town for Him. This is how the gospel works. Jesus exposes the faulty worldview story we find ourselves in by showing us our need for His better and truer story, then He saves us by showing us the majesty of His death and resurrection. From there He grows our understanding of Himself and sends us out on mission. Part and parcel of this mission is to show the truthfulness of His story in history in comparison to the faultiness of every other story.
As the Church, we come together on the Lord’s Day because of the gospel. We gather to be reminded of what Jesus accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection. We assemble together because God has taken those who were formerly not His and redeemed us through the blood of the Lamb of God. The Apostle Peter calls us to “give an answer for the reason for the hope that we have but to do so with gentleness and respect” (1 Pt. 3:15) because we are honoring Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts (1 Pt. 3:15).
Apologetics exists not because we know all the right answers to doctrinal and theological questions. Apologetics is the result of a life centered on Christ being formed in our lives. This is what Peter emphasized in 1 Peter 1:13-17, namely that God who is holy has called us to be his own and as a result, we’re called to manifest godly character in keeping with our status as his beloved.
Redeemed people long to see Christ formed not only in the lives of others but in their own lives and to share their stories so that others may come to know of the Savior they love. The real work of apologetics is sharing the stories of God’s grace, goodness, and work in our lives with others. Part of apologetics does deal with objections and responds to error, heresy, and false teaching, but, before we do that, Christ must be honored preeminently in our hearts as noted in 1 Peter 3:15. We’ve been called as a people because of the gospel to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pt. 3:16) and to have a Christ-like character being formed in our lives (2 Pt. 1:3-15).
Because we are disciples of Jesus, we must grow in Christ-like character. Jesus had much to say to the disciples about discipleship. Luke’s Gospel is arranged around the question of “Who is Jesus?”, a question explored in great detail from Luke 1:1 to Luke 9:51. Luke also spends considerable time noting the training of the disciples in his Gospel. This training focuses on helping the disciples learn about Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be a learner of Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus means to grow in understanding of who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He demands.
This is why exposing faulty worldviews as I mentioned at the outset is so important. Faulty views of the gospel, discipleship, and missions abound today. One prime example of a faulty perspective on these issues can be found in the book Heaven is for Real. In Heaven is for Real, the author promotes a worldview where God’s words are not enough, instead suggesting that in some way we need more assurance than Christ has given us that we will rise from the dead. The truth is one day when we die we will be with Jesus. This truth compelled the Apostle Paul to long for this Day, the Day Jesus said we would receive the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). Mature disciples of Jesus are those who are growing in their understanding of the gospel and can apply that knowledge in real-world situations. As disciples of Jesus therefore, we must grow in our understanding of Jesus for the purpose of exercising godly discernment so we might speak the truth in love to people.
The message of the King demands faithfulness to the means the King has given. King Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, indwells believers for the task of growth in Him and also to be about doing the work of the Kingdom. When either growth in Him or missions for Him are emphasized above the other, the redeeming message of the gospel is compromised. The gospel’s call is personal in that it alone justifies the sinner, as well as transforming every area of one’s life. Furthermore, the gospel is corporate in that it calls people everywhere to repent and believe in who Christ is and what Christ has done in His death, burial and resurrection.
The reason we engage worldviews comes from the mission of Jesus who came into the world to redeem man from sin. By coming in human form, the God-Man Jesus lived a sinless life, performed miracles, taught His disciples, and demonstrated how to engage people with the truth in love. When dealing with the religious leaders of Israel, Jesus often asked questions and went against the grain of theological thought of His day. Jesus was not novel with the Old Testament, but he did interpret it through the perspective that He came to fulfill its meaning. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, and the Prophets all looked ahead to the hope they would have in a coming Savior. New Testament believers today look back to what Jesus has done in His finished work. Jesus engaged people where they were and helped them to understand who He is and what he has done. This should provide believers today with the urge to engage people through a biblical worldview.
The mission of Jesus is to rescue sinners (Lk. 19:10) from sin through His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus called his disciples to mission. During His earthly ministry, Christ called His disciples to a small missions trip to prepare them for future service (Lk. 9), He called the seventy-two to ministry (Lk. 10:1-16), and now He calls believers in our day to a mission to make disciples. While the mission of Jesus is to redeem lost sinners, his mission is also to grow in intimacy with those who follow Him. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 that the gospel is both inward and outward. The gospel is a message that one first must believe personally and then confess outwardly. The gospel is a message we first must apply to our own life and context before we can ever hope to confess it outwardly with any degree of effectiveness. Preaching the gospel to ourselves is the greatest way to fight against sin and grow in sanctification. We first must be a disciple before we can do the work of a disciple. Jesus taught that a disciple is not greater than his master, so a disciple must first learn from his master before they do the work of the Master.
The mission of Jesus is to go out and make disciples (Math. 28:18-20, Lk. 24; Acts 1:8). As a result of going out on mission, we will engage all manner of worldviews and the interaction with these various worldviews is ultimately a Great Commission concern. The gospel is the timeless message we are to preach but the way one ministers that message may change depending on the context we find ourselves or the background of the person we interact with. Regardless of context or background, the Christian must preach the gospel in such a way as to make it clear to the person listening that Christ died, was buried, and rose again.
We live in a rapidly changing world where many voices are calling for Christians to compromise on matters related to the gospel, the Bible, and ethics. Christians have been called to be in the world but not of the world. This is why as Christians we must know what we believe so we can accurately, boldly, and precisely represent Christ as his ambassador in a pluralistic therapeutic culture. This is why understanding the gospel will help us to have a biblical view of discipleship and missions with the result that we’ll be able to be an effective witness for Christ in the world in the context of the local church that makes, matures, and multiples disciples to the glory of God.
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“No issue has less unanimity among evangelicals than the matter of discerning the best way to relate the doctrine of creation to the scientific theory of evolution.” (23) Thus begins a survey of the various views in 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution by Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker(Kregel, 2015).
While debates about soteriology and eschatology draw a lot of heat and division, it is perhaps the multi-faceted discussion on the origins of man and nature that bring much more heat than light. From the academy to the church pew, there are so many view points and varieties of view points that it can be hard to keep them straight. What is important to one is not to the other and what is clear to the other is not to the one. Add to that the vast body of knowledge and information that one needs to be familiar with in order just to carry an informed discussion.
With all of the views and books supporting those views it is easy to get lost in it all. This is where 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution comes in so handy. Though the authors are theologians and not scientists (which might be the only downfall to the book), they do an excellent job of presenting the various views with reasoned critiques of every position, including their own (Rooker is young-earth and Keathley is old-earth).
Perhaps the main thing that causes so much more heat than light in the discussion is that people don’t know how to keep the main thing the main thing and the rest of it in proper perspective to that. The authors model how to do this well by stating, “We must know what to hold firmly and what must be open to revision. Our commitment to doctrine must be strong, but we hold to any particular apologetic approach much more loosely” (17). If you can read this book with a humble and open mind it will help you see that, no matter your view, no view/theory can put together everything we know satisfactorily.
It is the confusion and conflation of doctrine and apologetic approach that is the problem. It is more important to believe that God created the universe and everything in it than how He created it, though what you believe about how He created it has importance as well. It is more important to believe that God created everything than the time frame within which He created it. There is value in ‘iron sharpening iron’ in the discussion of secondary and tertiary issues but they are counterproductive if we allow them to destroy our unity over the fact that it was all done by the Triune God, even if we cannot understand the how of it all.
40 Questions About Creation and Evolution is a thoughtful survey of the historical, exegetical, scientific, cultural, and worldview issues related to the debate on creation and evolution. While this book might best benefit those who are new to the study, it is a book for everyone who cares about the issues.
I received this book for free from Kregel for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Use the word apologetics and quite likely a great number of things will come to mind ranging from two people dressed in suits on a stage arguing about a variety of complicated approaches to engaging scripture in a manner that seems far removed from something the average laymen could ever understand. Given Scripture commands “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15), it is thus important for all believers to understand what doing apologetics is all about and why it is an essential element of our walk with God and how we interact with the world around us.
Brian Morley in his very helpful book Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches, outlines the various methodologies related to the doing of apologetics. This is a survey book and in it, Morley focuses on providing the reader with an overview of the key figures over the years in the field of apologetics, their respective systems of apologetics, how they are similar and how they differ, and most importantly, Morley shares how each system can be used to do what apologetics should be focused on to begin with, that of sharing the message of Scripture and the truth contained therein.
There is much to enjoy about this book. The topic of apologetics can get quite heady very quickly, especially when matters of a philosophical nature are included as well as the seemingly never ending list of theological terminology that can make many a readers mind shudder. While Morley does not shy away from engaging the technical and philosophical aspects of apologetical methods and their proponents, he does so in a way that helps the reader understand what each apologetics method is focused on doing, why it approaches things in the manner it does, and the pros and cons if you will of each of those constructs.
The one element I most appreciated about this book was the “Thinking it Over” section found at the end of each chapter. In these respective sections, Morley provides a lengthy list of questions for the reader to ponder that both reflect back on the information provided in that chapter and challenging the reader to engage the information discussed on an even deeper level of thought and action. For instance, in his chapter on John Frame, Morley asks the salient question of “Can the believer and nonbeliever know the same thing?” Now Morley covered Frame’s position on that question so the reader can certainly reflect on what Frame thought; however, the intent of asking such a question is to help the reader examine that particular apologists’ train of thought and apologetical methodology and whether that approach can answer some important theological questions.
Other added bonuses provided in this book are definitions of key apologetical terminology and an excellent collection of recommended resources by the specific apologists Morley explores in this book as well as texts written on those apologists and their respective apologetical methods. I would venture to say that even those well versed in the field of apologetics and familiar with the various apologists discussed in this book will find that after reading Morley’s excellent book, they will have added to their body of knowledge and understanding of apologetics in general and the methods by which apologetics is conducted.
This would make an excellent Bible College or Seminary text on apologetics, it would be a valuable book for a church small group to use, and it also is a wonderful tool for all believers to have as it contains a wealth of information on apologetics. As we noted earlier, doing apologetics is not just the responsibility of academics and those who like to debate. All believers are called to defend the faith and to share why it is they believe God’s Word to be truth. Morley’s book will go a long way to helping believers understand the various ways of doing apologetics. I highly recommend this book.
This book is available for purchase from IVP Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from IVP Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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I live in an area with a large number of people who attend the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, many of my friends and co-workers are of the Catholic persuasion. Most of the time, conversations do not center on matters of doctrinal differences between the Catholic Church and Protestants. As a Protestant, I am well aware of the Protestant Reformation and as a former Seminary student, I am also knowledgeable of the reasons behind the split from the Catholic Church. With that said, I admittedly am not that knowledgeable of many of the specifics of Catholic doctrine. Thus, I was excited to read Gregg Allison’s book Roman Catholic Theology & Practice: An Evangelical Assessment.
My hope was that by reading this book, I would be better prepared when conversations regarding the differences between Catholic and Protestant/Evangelical doctrine present themselves. Since I have one co-worker who likes to engage in such discussions, having a resource to both understand her position based on her Catholic upbringing and what the Evangelical approach to similar points of doctrine are would be quite helpful. After reading Allison’s book, I am far better prepared for interactions on matters of doctrine with my Catholic friends and colleagues.
Allison provides the reader with a reasoned and well-researched profile of core Catholic doctrines and the Evangelical response/perspective on those doctrines. He notes in the introduction to this book that he is an “evangelical theologian whose experience with Catholic theology and practice is more extensive and personal than that of most evangelicals.” I found that statement quite comforting as it demonstrates the author is one familiar with the subject matter he is speaking to rather than simply going on a tirade against an opposing doctrine. Additionally, one of his main purposes in writing this book is to not only outline points of doctrinal disagreement, but also to point out when applicable, points of commonality between Catholic and Evangelical theologies. It is those points of agreement that can at times be a springboard for discussion rather than simply focusing solely on where the two sides find disagreement.
Each section and each chapter first focuses on a point of the Catholic catechism, analyzing the specifics of that particular element of Catholic doctrine and how that system approaches Scripture on that subject. That discussion is followed by an Evangelical assessment of the Catholic doctrine, again noting points of agreement as well as points of disagreement, being careful along the way to engage the Scriptural proofs for the Evangelical position.
All in all, I found the information to be fascinating and informative. An example of something I found interesting was the Catholic Catechism’s discussion of sin. I had heard my Catholic friends mention venial and mortal sins which is the idea that some sins are less serious (venial) while other sins (mortal) are a more “grave violation of the law of God.” Allison does an excellent job of explaining the details and what qualifies as sins which belong in either category. Closely connected with the idea of venial and mortal sins is the concept of purgatory. Venial sin “does not result in the loss of sanctifying grace…however, venial sin does merit temporal punishment in purgatory.” According to Catholic doctrine, mortal sin can only be appeased through the “sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.”
Allison rightly notes the Scriptural problems with the core tenets of venial and mortal sins. While he asserts that Scripture does not degrees of sins in regards to “terms of the consequences that different sins produce”, Allison correctly notes that the Catholic approach is far too weighted on trying to differentiate between sins with a resultant allowance to deal with sin by one’s own efforts. The correct and biblical approach is noting that all sin is an affront to God regardless of how “minor” or “major” it may be regarding its earthly consequences. Moreover, while living a life of loving obedience to God’s law should be the goal of all believers, only the shed blood of Christ can deal with the issue of sin and its impact on our relationship with God. Human effort is wholly insufficient, thus the need for Christ to come and die for sin.
This is a book I highly recommend, especially for those like myself who have a number of Catholic friends, family, and co-workers or for those interested in learning about the differences between Catholic and Evangelical doctrines. Well researched, informative and scholarly without losing its accessibility, this is a book I will refer to quite often.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.
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