A Damning Theology and Practice of Prayer
While it appears spiritual, it is erroneous to call fire on believers’ problems. We don’t bind demons or Satan in hell. Because we simply don’t have such authority or power. You cannot command Satan. Thus hours of prayer spent in these ways is corrupt and unbiblical. Christians must grasp a proper theology of the nature of their enemy, spiritual warfare, and prayer.
Prayer is important to many people, Christian or not. It seems to be intertwined with human DNA to seek divine help. Prayer happens everywhere: at shrines, in exam rooms, on the football pitch, in mosques, during travel, and in churches. The Bible itself is full of prayers and praying people. In fact, prayer is at the heart of all communications between God and his people. Such is the seriousness of prayer. But prayer can also be right or wrong, sound or erroneous, even heretical. Thus a proper understanding and theology of prayer is crucial for a Christian. It matters to God how we pray.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism provides an excellent, biblical definition of prayer. It describes prayer as, “offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.”
But recently I’ve noticed a huge emphasis among Christians on praying that casts out, binds, and calls down fire from heaven to burn Satan along with other problems in their lives. This practice is built on the presupposition that Jesus gave believers authority and power over spirits, principalities, and heavenly beings. Thus the believer is encouraged to bind and cast whatever stands in the way of their progress or prosperity. Through prayer, they call down heavenly fire against Satan, as well as those spiritual beings in league with him. However, casting and binding doesn’t seem to be the primary shape of most biblical prayers.
Believers Don’t Hold the Keys, Jesus Does
To support the above practices, Christians and especially preachers will often appeal to Matthew 16:19. They understand this verse to mean that Jesus gave believers the keys of heaven and hell, to bind and to loose anything above or below. However this understanding of Jesus’ words isn’t only a bad one, but it reveals a horribly presumptuous view of mortal man.
When Jesus spoke to Peter, he referred to the gospel that he’d entrusted to them, the disciples.
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Should A Mother be Legally Punished for Aborting Her Baby?By Zachary Garris — 9 months ago
In the case of an abortion, the mother’s actions are a cause of the baby’s death, without which the baby would still live. The woman and the abortion doctor partnered to murder her baby. Thus, if the woman voluntarily sought out the abortion—meaning she was not coerced by someone else (who would then be charged himself in the matter)—then she was guilty for the murder. She actively sought out the “doctor” to kill the baby in her womb. The woman is comparable to the man who hires a hit man to kill his wife. He is a murderer, even if indirectly. This is how state laws work for conspiracy in such murder. It is also how the Bible understands the guilt for murder.
Something happened that many of us never thought would happen—the Supreme Court just overturned its infamous 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which for the most part prohibited the states from regulating abortion in the first and second trimester. The 1992 decision Casey v. Planned Parenthood modified this to prohibit states from abortion regulations that place an “undue burden” on mothers prior to the baby’s “viability.” In other words, Roe and Casey legalized early-term abortions in all of the 50 states.
But that has all changed now with the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that was issued on June 24, 2022. By overturning Roe and Casey, the Supreme Court has returned abortion laws to the domain of the states—which is the rightful constitutional place for such criminal laws (made especially clear by the Tenth Amendment). Most criminal laws, part of state “police powers,” should be set by the states, not the federal government. With Roe rightfully overturned, this means a state like California can continue to permit abortion, while a state like Alabama can outlaw it completely.
We should celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade, both because it is the correct decision per the U.S. Constitution, but also because it ends the legal protection of the “right” for a mother to kill her baby inside her womb. However, while we celebrate Roe being overturned, we must also recognize this is a new stage in the so-called “pro-life” movement. If the goal is to outlaw abortion, then we must now seek to outlaw abortion in as many states as possible. Overturning Roe was just the beginning.
Yet even here there seems to be disagreement, as some who call themselves “pro-life” speak as if the goal is only to reduce abortions (a goal many “pro-choicers” also speak of). Others, like myself, say we certainly want there to be no abortions, but there is also the goal to simply outlaw abortion in all of the United States. Abortion is murder, and therefore all people who voluntarily participate in abortion should be charged with murder. (This is why “anti-abortion” is often a better term than “pro-life.”)
Thus, with the anticipation of Roe being overturned thanks to a leaked first draft of the opinion, a new debate arose among those in the so-called “pro-life” camp over two questions: (1) whether the mother who aborts her child should be punished by law, and (2) what the penalty for abortion should be for the doctor and the mother.
Should the Mother Who Aborts Her Baby Be Punished?
This question has generated some serious debate, as many in the “pro-life” camp probably never expected us to be in this situation. Let’s start with where there is agreement. Everyone on the pro-life side believes abortion is murder and is thus morally impermissible. Everyone agrees an abortion doctor/provider should be charged with murder, as he is the one who performs the act of killing the child. Therefore, states should pass laws criminalizing abortion as a form of murder, and states should shut down abortion clinics and prosecute abortion doctors. So far, so good.
Yet it logically follows that a woman who procures an abortion resulting in the death of her child should also be prosecuted for the crime of murder. Though the woman who hires an abortion doctor did not do the killing herself, she is an accomplice to the murder or a conspirator. Accomplice liability (sometimes called aiding and abetting) involves intentionally assisting another in committing a crime, while conspiracy involves an intentional agreement, even implied, to commit an illegal act.
In the case of an abortion, the mother’s actions are a cause of the baby’s death, without which the baby would still live. The woman and the abortion doctor partnered to murder her baby. Thus, if the woman voluntarily sought out the abortion—meaning she was not coerced by someone else (who would then be charged himself in the matter)—then she was guilty for the murder. She actively sought out the “doctor” to kill the baby in her womb. The woman is comparable to the man who hires a hit man to kill his wife. He is a murderer, even if indirectly. This is how state laws work for conspiracy in such murder.
It is also how the Bible understands the guilt for murder. King David instructed his men in a letter to have Uriah murdered—“Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die” (2 Samuel 11:15). Though David did not directly kill Uriah, the prophet Nathan told David that he did “what is evil” in God’s sight and “struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword” (2 Samuel 12:9). In other words, David was guilty of killing Uriah, an innocent man. And God punished him accordingly (2 Samuel 12:10). Hiring someone else to murder for you is still murder.
Let us also ask this question—if a woman who voluntarily had an abortion performed is not guilty for the crime of abortion, then what is she guilty of? Did she do nothing wrong? Was she a passive agent in the murder? The problem with saying the woman is not guilty of murder is this makes her to be a victim rather than a perpetrator of the crime. Sadly, this is how many “pro-life” advocates speak. Yes, there are many bad actors in the abortion industry, including those who teach abortion is morally permissible and encourage women to have an abortion (including employers that want childless women workers). However, that does not relieve women from moral and legal agency for committing an abortion. There are also lots of bad influences that lead to a person using heroin, or even selling it, but our laws do not say such a person is not legally responsible for breaking drug laws because he had bad parents and attended a drug-ridden school.
One of the greatest problems in the entire abortion industry is the fact that abortion has been legal. The law is a teacher, and the law saying abortion is permitted and a constitutional “right” teaches women and men that it is not morally wrong. But if a state outlaws abortion, then that has all changed. The law will explicitly teach that abortion is immoral and considered murder by the civil authorities, and those who carry out such murder will be punished. This teaching should be reflected in all state institutions, including public schools. Of course, women will only be charged for crimes after such a law is enacted, meaning there will be no ex post facto laws.
In many states, if a person murders both a pregnant woman and the baby in her womb, he will be charged with double homicide. It is only when the mother murders her own baby that she is not guilty of murder. This is a double standard. Consistency demands that the mother who kills her child via abortion is punished for the crime along with the abortion doctor.
A Critique of Those Who Do Not Want to Prosecute the Mother
Now some “pro-life” leaders are saying we should only pass laws that lead to the prosecution of abortion doctors, not the women who have the abortion performed on them. Let’s start with the argument by the influential Baptist Al Mohler from back in 2016:
But here’s where the pro-life movement returns back to say, who is the guilty party in an abortion? It is the person who brings about the death of the child. The woman seeking the abortion is not without moral responsibility, but she is not herself bringing about the death of the unborn human baby. That’s the crucial issue here, and that’s why the pro-life movement has consistently sought to criminalize abortion at the level of the person performing the abortion.
This argument flatly misunderstands causation in criminal law, including accomplice murder and conspiracy. Yes, the person directly performing the abortion is guilty for bringing about the death of the child. But so is the mother who voluntarily goes to see the abortion doctor to have her baby killed. Mohler says “she is not herself bringing about the death of the unborn human baby.” Following this logic, then neither did David “bring about” the death of Uriah, since he asked someone else to do the killing for him. Mohler fails to account for the role of indirect actions, wanting only to prosecute the hit man and not the guy who paid him to kill.
Next let’s turn to the argument by another Baptist, Denny Burk, who describes what I am advocating as “abolitionist” and argues the “pro-life” movement has always insisted on not prosecuting mothers who kill their children. Let’s just stop right there and say it is irrelevant what some movement said prior to Roe being overturned. Moreover, many states pre-Roe did incriminate women who had abortions (see below). I have long considered many within the Republican Party to only give lip service to being “pro-life,” and thus they would not actually know what to do if Roe were overturned. It is quite likely that many in the “pro-life” movement maintained a more palatable position so as to gain political favor. There is no reason for that now. We were previously working with the Roe boundaries. But it is a new age. As for the term “abolitionism,” this is often used for those who reject incrementalist approaches to outlawing abortion (which I do not). Thus, this is a separate issue and a straw man argument by Burk.
Burk has two arguments against prosecuting women who commit abortions. First is a moral argument that “it is not always clear what level of culpability should be assigned to the mother.” While the mother has “moral agency and culpability in seeking out an abortion… it is not always straightforward to what degree she is morally implicated.”
Critical Race Theory Program Teaches Disabled Preschoolers That “Whiteness Affects Everything”By Kendall Tietz — 1 year ago
The program explains to teachers that “we are all products of a racialized society” and that “Whiteness affects everything … inside and outside the classroom.” “When we use Clarifying Conversations we deconstruct whiteness,” according to the program’s training documents. “People experience compounded disadvantages or advantages as a result of intersectionality.”
A program designed by the University of North Carolina teaches 3- and 4-year-old disabled preschoolers to “deconstruct whiteness,” according to a report from Education First Alliance.
Education groups called on the North Carolina General Assembly to stop funding a statewide program that teaches critical race theory-aligned ideas to special education students, according to a press release from Education First Alliance.
The North Carolina State Board approved the extension of a contract with UNC Chapel Hill’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, which has worked with the Office of Early Learning of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction since 2013.
The program, called Equity and Cultural Responsiveness, defines whiteness as how “customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups are compared.” It encourages “deconstructing whiteness” by “challenging it” and “developing a personal vision for racial justice, and building skills to be accountable allies to people of color.”
Critical race theory holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “anti-racism” through the end of merit and objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
“With this vote, North Carolina’s schools became the most radically divisive education system in America,” Education First Alliance President Sloan Rachmuth said in the press release.
“Yes, we are seeing critical race theory in schools elsewhere, but it’s mainly taught in the higher grades,” Rachmuth said. “But preying on disabled 3-year-old children, getting them to participate in a political movement, and to hate themselves based on skin color in the process, shows our public schools to be more morally corrupt than all others.”
The $7 million extension continues the program through 2025, and it is funded through an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Preschool Handicapped Grant awarded to the state by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, according to Education First Alliance.
On Baby Grands and Expensive HymnalsBy David de Bruyn — 10 months ago
Christians must continue to pursue the highest and best, even in the presence of dire need. No period of undisturbed tranquility is just over the horizon, the arrival of which will then permit a Golden Age of pursuing the best that has been thought or written. The time for beauty, higher learning, and the pursuit of excellence is now, whether we are in Monaco or Monrovia. If we, in the name of wartime-lifestyle-gospel-centred-radical-whatever-you-call-it, eschew beautiful instruments and quality hymnals, all that will happen is we will sing inferior songs on inferior instruments.
“Why this waste?” said the greediest member of the Twelve. Judas’s supposed concern with helping the poor and for efficient use of ministry finances was really a facade for his unvarnished envy. Judas wanted money, and like every jealous soul, disliked money being spent lavishly on someone else.
The sentiment that it is frivolous waste to spend money on anything except dire need is popular among some Christians. It’s an easy sentiment to have, even a lazy one, perhaps. What could be a better use of money than giving it to those who have the least, right? And what could be a more wasteful use of money than spending more on those who already have enough, correct? Such “automatic-entitlement” functions rather like the Left’s politics of victimization. Find a race, gender, or “sexual orientation” that has been supposedly oppressed, and such a group automatically receives the unassailable position of victim, requiring special treatment, and requiring no defense of its now-privileged status. The same Leftist sentimentalism often brews within Christianity, and bubbles out when spending is on anything except extreme need.
My church is not wealthy, relative to some others in the city. Our monthly budget is exactly half of some of our sister churches not far from us. Of course, that same budget is several times larger than some of the other churches we know and fellowship with. That’s simply life, and as anyone who understands biblical economics knows, inequality is not injustice.
But given our middle-sized budget, what justification is there for spending a considerable amount of the hard-earned and saved money of our church on a very expensive musical instrument, and on hard-cover hymnals? How could we do this, amidst a sea of poverty? “Why this waste?” one might opine. Why not a few guitars and a simple Powerpoint projection?
One of the best answers comes from C.S. Lewis, in his essay “Learning in War-time.” Lewis faced a similar criticism during World War 2. What was the point of having scholars study medieval literature or Anglo-Saxon linguistics when there were Nazis bombing European cities? Wasn’t this an almost literal enactment of fiddling while Rome burned?