Written by David C. Innes |
Thursday, November 3, 2022
The reformation of Christ’s church includes more than gospel thunder. It requires cultivating a healthy church life of avid prayer, devoted worship, deep community, mutual service, and Christian education, all centered in Scripture. Knox thundered as he did because he prayed as he did. Mary Queen of Scots said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies of England. For the church’s worship and community, he gave her The Scots Confession. He also insisted in The First Book of Discipline that churches provide schools for Scotland’s youth. “Every church must have one schoolmaster, able to teach grammar and the Latin tongue.”
You may have noticed that evangelicals are divided today over “tone,” the way we address the world around us and how we address our moral, social, and political issues. Should we lead with disarming winsomeness or combative confrontation? The Trump divide is only a tributary of this “conversation” that is sometimes more like a verbal brawl over how we are to present ourselves to the public.
Until very recently, Europe and the Americas were self-consciously Christian societies. Everyone, or so it seemed, had some church affiliation and was either baptized or was expected eventually to be. President Franklin Roosevelt, in his D-Day radio broadcast prayer, described the war against the “unholy forces” of Nazi Germany as “a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization.” It’s how we understood ourselves.
But this is no longer so. Through television, film, and advertising, Americans are represented as godless and getting by. Currently, 60 percent of Americans identify as “Christian,” a figure that includes evangelical and mainline Protestants, Pentecostals, and Roman Catholics. Twenty percent say they have no religious affiliation at all, and this figure is rising. So, there is much need not only for evangelizing the lost but also for calling the wayward home and the ill-taught to spiritual reformation.
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By Kevin DeYoung — 6 months ago
Scientific research is valuable insofar as it can reinforce the truths of the Bible and principles of natural law; namely, that when we observe the way the world works (and does not work), it becomes abundantly clear that marriage matters for human flourishing almost more than anything else.
Humanly speaking, there is nothing more important for personal well-being, positive social behavior, and general success in life than being raised by one’s biological parents committed to each other in a stable marriage. Over the past forty years, a vast body of research has demonstrated conclusively that children are deeply affected by family structure and that married parents are best for children. Any efforts — whether governmental, educational, or ecclesiastical — that mean to encourage human flourishing must take this reality into account as both an explanation for many societal ills and as a means to the end of hoped-for societal health and vitality.
Not a Myth
Family life in America has changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. In 1960, 73% of children lived with two parents in their first marriage. By 2014, less than half (46%) of children were living in this type of family. Conversely, the percentage of children living with a single parent rose from 9% in 1960 to 26% in 2014. An additional 7% of children now live with cohabiting parents. Moreover, the increase in non-traditional family arrangements has coincided with the decoupling of marriage and childbearing. In 1960, just 5% of all births occurred outside of marriage. By 2000, around 40% of all births occurred outside of marriage (a percentage that has held steady over the last twenty years). As of 2014, 29% of births to white women, 53% of births to Hispanic women, and 71% of births to black women were out-of-wedlock. In the span of only 60 years, what were once considered exceptional family circumstances have become the norm.
Given the changing portrait of the American family, it is not surprising that many people believe — or, given the uncomfortable prospect of implicitly judging others, feel compelled to say they believe — that there is no difference between one parent or two parents when it comes to raising children. According to one online survey, “more than 70% of participants believed that a single parent can do just as good a job as two parents.” Further, 60% of women “agreed that children do best with multiple adults invested and helping, but that two married parents are not necessary.” Christina Cross, writing in the New York Times, went so far as to decry “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home,” citing evidence that black children in two-parent families still fare worse than white children in two-parent families. But Cross’s argument fails to take into account how much better all children do in two-parent families compared to one-parent families of the same race. The percentage of white children living in poverty goes from 31% in families with only a mother, to 17% in families with only a father, all the way down to 5% in families with a married couple. The same percentages for black children go from 45% (mother-only), to 36% (father-only), to 12% (married couple). We can lament that black children in two-parent families are still 2.4 times more likely to be in poverty than white children (12% v. 5%), but we should also observe that white children raised by only a mother are 2.6 times as likely to be in poverty as black children raised by two parents (31% v. 12%). While there are still advantages to being white in this country, he much bigger advantage is being raised by two parents. It is better in America to be a black child raised by two parents than to be a white child in a one-parent home. The breakdown of the family is not a black problem; it is a problem wherever two-parent families decline and single-parent households become normalized.
Family Structure and Child Well-Being
The conclusion that children raised by their biological, married parents do better, by almost every measure, has been proven in hundreds of studies over the last several decades.
One of the best and most concise summaries of the academic literature comes from a policy brief published in 2003 by the Center for Law and Social Policy. Citing a 1994 study by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, the 2003 brief notes that children who do not live with both biological parents were roughly twice as likely to be poor, to have birth outside of marriage, to have behavioral and psychological problems, and to not graduate from high school. Another study found that children in single-parent homes were more likely to experience health problems, such as accidents, injuries, and poisonings. Other research found that children living with single mothers were five times as likely to be poor.
Importantly, not all types of single-parent households fare the same. Children of widowed parents, for example, do better than children in families with divorced or cohabiting parents. Children of divorce are two-and-a-half times as likely to have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems as children from intact families. Likewise, children in cohabiting families are at a higher risk of poor outcomes in a host of economic and emotional categories. Critically, these poor outcomes are not erased when the single-parent family is better off financially. Marriage is the issue, not economics. In short,
By Kevin White — 12 months ago
As surely as we know that we will die, by faith in Christ we know that we will rise again in glory. Christ is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-21) Just as was the case with Christ and his body, our bodies will be restored, never to die again. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) We will stand before God on the Last Day, made perfect in body and in soul, and justified by the merits of the Son through whom we gained all of these blessings.
December can be a hard month. It does not lack for jolly opportunities. People hang cheerful lights to brighten the early nights. Families gather together. We are surrounded by reminders of Christ’s birth and the blessing that he brings. We might sing special songs in church. We listen to Handel’s Messiah.
But as the years pass, those happy occasions can also bring memories of loss. I know this personally, having lost my dad in December several years ago.
My favorite part of Messiah is Part Three. After the triumphant chorus of Hallelujahs at the end of Part Two, the music slows and we hear:
“I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God.
For now is Christ risen from the dead,
the first-fruits of them that sleep.”
Christ’s person and work are the root of all Christian hopes. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. The eternal Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, was born as the son of Mary. He shares our entire nature, body and soul, sin alone excepted. The eternal, fully divine Son now has a human mind, a human will, and a human’s experience of time. As we read in Hebrews, “in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 NKJV) How this all works together has not been fully revealed to us.
What has been revealed to us is that Jesus shared in every part of human life. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) Our great High Priest learned obedience as a man. (Hebrews 5:8) Indeed, it is only as a man that Christ possesses a will distinct from the Father’s. We know he celebrated at one wedding at least, even providing the wine. We also know that he wept at a funeral for a friend. Jesus labored. He traveled across the land during his ministry. He rejoiced when he saw faith, and he was angry when he saw hardness of heart. He taught, he debated, he admonished, and he prayed. He died at the hands of sinners, but death could not keep him. He rose from the dead in triumph, the shame of cross and grave transformed
By George Sayour — 3 months ago
While the line may not be obvious to some for how Christians can serve and witness in the world, it should be clear that hosting an event on church property in “The Chapel” with a “Dragon” and “Celestial Bodies” with the face of Christ in the backdrop, and where Romans 1 anti-Worship is celebrated should be off limits to PCA Churches, Pastors, and Members.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.—Ephesians 5:11
When has idol worship in Israel ever been permitted? How about encouraged? How about for “Missional” Purposes?
If an explicitly blasphemous event is held on property owned, managed, serviced by a church should Christians be concerned? What if the justification is that “we are trying to reach the culture and love people in the culture and win a hearing with them?”
How about if the Event on PCA Church Property is:
called “Celestial Bodies,” (and here)
held in a ministry and building called “The Chapel,”
the headline act is a man named “Eldraco” (the Dragon)
who is advertised in front of a stained glass Image of Christ (not in the venue)
The other acts are all celebrating aberrant Gender & Sexual Identities
Event Culminates in a simulated worship experience called “a Euphoric Dance Party”
served by elders/members of the Church including providing free alcohol for the event
No, you’re not reading the Book of Revelation, nor Exodus 32, nor Mark 14’s “abomination that brings desolation.” Or are we?
For most Christians for most of history the answer to this question has not been complicated. We cannot control what happens in the culture but we certainly can protect what happens on our property. Yet for some in the PCA with a heart to reach the lost this is not the case. And the PCA is undecided as a denomination as to what is ok with regard to property usage and church involvement and what isn’t.
2 years ago “The Chapel,” a ministry run on the Church Property of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis (And featured in the PCA’s magazine), hosted the Transluminate event which was advertised as “A celebration of transgender, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid artists.” Due to complaints about this event throughout the denomination, the Missouri Presbytery investigated Memorial PCA and issued this statement. It is unclear, however, if this statement says events like Transluminate (or Celestial Bodies for that matter) are off limits for Church Property. The statement would suggest or imply that the issue is not that Christians facilitate these events but rather the issue is that the Church was publicly associated with the event. It seems Memorial PCA has since distanced itself from public promotion of “The Chapel” ministry which is made up of elders and members from Memorial, even as it still occurs on their property and facilities and is on their website.
Is that all that is required? From conversations around the PCA it seems the pastors in the denomination don’t have a unified position. It seems most would agree such events shouldn’t be endorsed by a PCA Church but that doesn’t preclude Churches from doing ministry and outreach at such events. However, isn’t it different when its on Church Property and only exists because the Church attracted such an event?