Blind Faith

Susan (t’wife) spotted a great letter in The Independent today. I thought it worth quoting in full:

Admit it: abortion is used as contraceptive method of choice

Sir: Your leading article on abortion (16 March) states: “Information about birth control should be more widely published … Abortion is never the contraceptive method of choice.” There may be a small minority of people in this country who aren’t aware that contraception can prevent pregnancy. However it simply can’t be true that the vast majority of people who get pregnant by mistake do so because they have never heard of contraception.

There were 181,600 abortions in 2003 compared with 621,469 live births. How many of those 181,600 women took proper precautions to be really sure that they wouldn’t get pregnant, and how many of them took risks? Only 1 per cent of people will get pregnant if using contraception properly. I think the majority who had an abortion in 2003 knew about contraception and had used it in the past, but on the occasion they got pregnant they had sex when they knew they had forgotten to take a pill or didn’t use a condom. They chose to take that risk, and therefore did choose to use abortion as contraception should they get pregnant.

If you are old enough to be having sex you are old enough to remember to use contraception. Excuses such as being drunk and getting carried away aren’t good enough. We condemn people who kill by drink driving. We think that fox hunting is barbaric. Why is killing a foetus because you didn’t act responsibly when having sex any better? Whether or not people are prepared to admit it, abortion is used every day as a method of contraception by people who know all the facts of life.

London W12

I don’t know about you but I was horrified by the numbers. I knew that the number of abortions was around the 180k mark, but I had no idea it was so large relative to the live births. Think about it: for every ten live births there are three abortions.

Yes, society in general likes to believe the idea that, “Abortion is never the contraceptive method of choice”. But it’s blind faith driven by an ideology.

The facts tell us to believe something else.

Blind Faith

Edmund Clowney

I’m saddened by the death of Dr. Edmund Clowney last Sunday. (HT to Sacred Journey). Read about his life here.

Why am I saddened? I did not meet him. I did not attend a lecture that he gave or a service of worship where he preached. No, the one opportunity I had to hear him give a lecture series at The Tron, under the auspices of Rutherford House in the 80’s, I had to miss, I think because of illness.

But I got the tapes. And I have listened to them many, many times. I listened to them again this month. I can honestly say that they have been seminal in my thinking about Christ in the Old Testament.

Saddened, but rejoicing in God’s provision.

Edmund Clowney

What is ‘Emergent’?

I’m grateful for this discussion of the vocabulary of the Emergent Church from tallskinnykiwi (Let me guess. Is he tall? skinny? a kiwi? Nah! Too obvious.) It helps fill in my admittedly limited knowledge of the movement. Here’s a quote (but go and read the whole thing):

“Emergent”, as it is used in “emergent theory”, is a name given to the phenomena of how new organizational structures progress from low-level chaos to higher level sophistication without a hierarchical command structure. Emergent theory explains how birds change direction, how slime mould moves, how ant colonies are built and how knows so much about us. The process involves constant communication and feedback among the lowest level of organization, pattern recognition, local action affecting global behavior, and takes into consideration the element of unpredictability in a chaotic system. Solomon was wise in suggesting that we observe the ways of the ant and be wise (Proverbs 6:6) And the emerging church has been wise in allowing the vocabulary from emergent behavior to give a window of insight to the traditional church.

This is interesting. Others looking from the outside can give interesting viewpoints on how the church is developing and maybe see influences that the church itself is not aware of. I find the application of “emergent theory” to church kind of quirky but interesting.

The problem, I think, is the last sentence of the above quote. It seems that there is an attempt to give the idea of an emergent church a biblical basis (though I admit I may be making too much of this) by looking at the ant, as Solomon did. Ant colonies are chaotic systems which emerge. Solomon counsels looking to the ant. So churches should be chaotic systems which emerge.

Except Solomon was not talking about the system. He was addressing the question of a godly work ethic, or the lack of it. He was challenging slobs, layabouts, wasters. This verse is not adequate as a paradigm of the church. There needs to be something else.

I have to admit, though I am interested in the analysis of this movement from a scientific theoretical point of view, this whole approach screams alarm bells at me. If you can analyse a system in an a-spiritual, deterministic way without any reference to principles, should this not worry us? Perhaps there is more that can be said and I just don’t know about it.

I am concerned that the structure of such communities just evolves. It can’t. There are principles in the Bible that tell us how to organise.

It is bottom-up:

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.(I Thess 5:12, NKJV)

Those who work hard for the people of God get recognised by those people.

But it is also top-down:

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. (Heb 13:17, NKJV)

Those who are over us in the Lord, get to rule and direct.

You see, there is a much better biblical paradigm for the church. Not ants in a chaotic colony, but sheep in a well shepherded flock. In this paradigm, instead of groping about, we get to go places where the Shepherd leads.

What is ‘Emergent’?

White Horse Inn on Emergent

I’m ill. So I’m flopping around trying to get better.

I like the White Horse Inn. You get clever people thinking about the cultural and theological issues. Yes, it is American, writing from a reformational perspective, but well thought out and well worth spending time in.

Anyone interested in Emergent, should download this interview. It gives some pointers to the philosophical basis of Emergent, how it interacts with the Solas of the Reformation, the connection with medieval mysticism. To my mind quite measured. But then, I have a view. Go listen for yourself!

White Horse Inn on Emergent

What We Wish the Bible Said

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and opinions. (John 1:14)

“God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in their opinions.” (John 4:24)

“I tell you my opinion, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

“Then you will have an opinion, and this opinion will set you free.” (John 8:32)

“Sanctify them by their opinions; your word is an opinion.” (John 17:17)

What We Wish the Bible Said

TNIV Makes the News

So the TNIV makes the news in the UK. It comes with 45,000 changes from the NIV. The translators have taken the step of removing words like ‘aliens’ and replaced it with ‘foreigners’ since young people think of extra-terrestrial beings. (I have to admit that reading ‘aliens’ in our family Bible reading has actually added to the fun of the occasion and has offered the opportunity of explaining that ‘aliens’ really were outsiders!)

Of course, the most controversial changes have been in the use of gender neutral language as far as possible. The reason for all of this is given at the Zondervan website:

For Zondervan, more people engaging the Bible more means reaching 18- to 34-year-olds with the Bible in compelling, innovative formats, all supported by the most readable and reliable translation for today’s generation—the TNIV.

In other words, it is a marketing ploy.

There has been great deal of scholarly discussion of the TNIV, and its predecessor the NIVI, but Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary writes:

The scholarly discussions have their place. We can debate about the meaning of this or that individual verse. But in the end, the differences in opinion do not arise primarily from scholarly technicalities. If there is any justification for the overall policy of the TNIV, it is a pragmatic one.
(emphasis his)

Clearly pragmatism, increasingly the dominant consideration amongst those who call themselves Christian, is winning out over the plain meaning of Scripture as delivered to us. Poythress concludes:

[I]t is not legitimate to drop some meanings out of the Bible itself, for the sake of acceptability. We must beware lest, in spite of our good motives, we end up compromising the word of God. We then end up implying, in spite of noble intentions to the contrary, that God made a bad marketing mistake when he wrote the Bible the way he did, but that fortunately we are here to help him out! No. Rather, let us respect what God has spoken in his Word, and let us not attempt to be wiser than God.

More on the TNIV debate can be found here.

TNIV Makes the News