Helpful Doesn’t Equal Biblical

600px-Traffic_Sign_GR_-_KOK_2009_-_R-45.svgBook clubs can be dangerous things, and this one blindsided me. I was new to the area, the youngest person there with the least life experience and education. Everyone was a professing Christian. The first book up was a novel I had never read: it was saturated with pornography. So I stopped reading around page 5.

During the discussion about the book, nobody brought up the point that it was garbage, so I ventured a comment: “Yeah, it was really well-written, but I guess the thing that bothered me was all the pornography, which is why I stopped reading it.” Everyone’s defenses went up. Continue reading

All Kinds of Gluttons

drink These days, even the White House is worried about how big Americans are getting. In the west, we weigh significantly more per person than any other generation anywhere in the history of the world.  Healthcare professionals, educators and parents are all concerned. There are heaps of initiatives to address the problem before “we are all physically touching each other all the time,” as Jerry Seinfeld quipped.

Thing is, almost nobody is seeing the fat issue as an expression of a heart issue: an idolatry of food. That’s what gluttony is, whether or not our BMI is over 30. Because gluttony is a heart issue, it’s not just overweight people who are sinning here. There are all sorts of ways to be gluttonous while maintaining a socially acceptable figure. Here are a few: Continue reading

Art, Nakedness, and Redemption

Raffaello_Sanzio_-_Woman_with_a_Veil_(La_Donna_Velata)_-_WGA18824 A few weeks ago I learned the distressing news that a couple I know is divorcing; the husband has pursued pornography, and beyond, for a decade.  His sin has not only ravaged his wife’s life, but in violating that covenant he orphaned four young children from a faithful fatherhood.  He stands as part of a devastating trend of infidelity leading to divorce in evangelical churches.

Not long after hearing that, I learned, chatting with a friend and his college student daughter, that her Bible and ethics professor had recently shown her college (an ostensibly conservative, Reformed institution) class pornographic clips from movies to teach the class that we can find “redemptive value” in all art.

Hearing this made me think back to the divorcing couple. Continue reading

Christian Liberty?

Many evangelicals today claim “Christian liberty” in a way that can mean anything from Enlightenment ideals of individual rights and freedoms to the post-modern ideal of pluralistic relativism. Sadly, this means that “Christian liberty” all too easily becomes a buzz-word for living how I please, according to the way I interpret or apply Scripture–if there is even an effort to attempt at scriptural justification. This is radically different from the “Christian liberty” and “liberty of conscience” expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith in its summary of historic, biblical Christianity.

The first part of chapter 20 of this Confession directs the believer to understand that Christian liberty is “the liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel.” Christian liberty consists of freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, and the curse of the moral law. We receive this liberty because of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement. But there is much more to the gracious reality of Christian liberty through salvation in Christ: it is being delivered from this present evil world, from bondage to Satan and the rule of sin in our lives. Christ sets us free. In and through Christ we are also freed from the evil of afflictions (our afflictions will now work together for our good!), from the sting of death, from the victory of the grave, and from eternity in hell. Our vast and precious Christian liberty, as purchased by Christ for us, is an impelling motive to worship, and to holy thankfulness! Continue reading

Why I Don’t Watch Downton Abbey

Highclere CastleJust so you know, I want to watch Downton Abbey. There are a lot of reasons to. One, it’s pretty. I love pretty things, especially buildings and clothes. If the storyline was set in an Arkansas trailer park, I wouldn’t be interested. Two, it’s set (at least initially) in Edwardian England, a period I’ve always liked (did I mention pretty clothes?). Three, it’s everywhere, and not watching it makes me feel out of the loop, big time. Four, loads of Christians I know are watching it – godly, mature believers. So that must mean it’s okay, right?

I actually started watching episode one, season one, and got as far as the scene where Thomas kisses the visiting duke in his room. I turned it off. Later, when season three was going to come out and I realized that all sorts of believers were watching it (some admitting they were addicted), I thought that maybe I was missing something or being reactionary. Continue reading

Mordecai

Imagine that you are forced to live in a foreign country – one ruled by an absolute dictator. You have a niece, whom you have raised as your own child, and she is your only family. One day, the dictator’s thugs arrive and take her off to the palace, putting her in the dictator’s harem without reference to you. They give her beauty treatments for a year before the king violates her, then decides to make her his queen.
Continue reading