Sometimes we Christians can buy into the idea that the Bible only has so much to say to us about any given matter it addresses. That with enough time, we’ll have it all figured out. But that’s not what God wants for us. Yes, we are to know the truth and to know it to the best of our ability. But we won’t ever come to the end of what we can learn. It is too inexhaustibly interesting for that.
Before I was a Christian, I didn’t really know much about the Bible. Which makes sense, since I didn’t read it. But I had a lot of assumptions about it, the same assumptions many non-Christians have about it. I assumed it was endlessly contradictory, outdated, and irrelevant. That nothing it said really mattered to life in the modern world. Most importantly, because I saw the few people I knew whose parents made them go to some kind of class at their church were bored to tears, I assumed the Bible was boring.
Then I read it, and I discovered a book that fascinated me. One that made me ask questions, and has kept me asking questions for nearly 19 years. A book that challenges me to dig a little deeper every time I think I’ve got something figured out.
There is always more to say (and to learn).
While working on a still-semi-secret project, I’ve been revisiting topics that I’ve written about in the past. The nature and trustworthiness of Scripture. The Trinity and the nature of God. What it means to be human. And the problem I find isn’t that I don’t have enough “new” to say, or that I’m repeating myself.
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By Kit Swartz — 1 year ago
“It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). He provides everything for our bodies; therefore, we are His. “They all wait for You to give them their food in due season” (Psalm 104:27). Above all, He has redeemed us – including our bodies in the resurrection – out of our sin & death into Christ’s righteousness & life. Therefore, we – including our bodies – are His.
Since the Supreme Court’s Dobb decision overturned Roe, abortion is front and center in state and national politics. Abortion advocates forcefully assert that women are now denied a civil right as well as essential health care. The reasoning behind this assertion is that the fetus is part of a woman’s body and under her exclusive jurisdiction. “My body, my choice” is the refrain. I am aware of the insistence that we speak of “pregnant person” instead of “woman”. This is irrational and I will not do it.
A fetus in a woman’s body is not like a kidney or other organ that has always been part of her. Her well-being does not depend on the fetus. She can live with the fetus or without it. The fetus is something new that will be in her body for a time but then will naturally depart from her. The fetus is not like a tumor or other growth that may threaten the health and even the life of a woman and needs to be destroyed. In the vast majority of cases, the fetus does not threaten the health or life of a woman. It does put significant demands on her, but she ordinarily can continue with her activities much as before the fetus showed up. The fetus is unlike both a kidney and a tumor in that it is the result of the arrival of an element from a body that is not hers joining an element of a body that is hers and becoming a body that is neither of theirs with its own distinctive human DNA and its own form and function very early on. The fetus is not part of a woman’s body. It is in her body but it is the body of a distinctly personal human being and therefore has its own rights that must be defended along with the woman’s. The fetus is not her body and therefore it is not her choice.
By Kevin Carson — 4 months ago
We both are the Lord’s and, as such, should live to the glory of Christ. Once again, notice how Paul makes his emphasis on both groups. The strong and the weak both live under Christ and are responsible to Christ. Regardless then of which category you belong, you are responsible for your own decisions before God as an in-Christ person living under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
To say that we need to demonstrate grace toward those around us seems like a gross understatement. The world around us desperately needs grace extended to them. They need to know about God’s grace, God’s refuge, and God’s love. Further, the church needs it in equal measure. At times, Christians are no more kinder, no more thoughtful, or no more compassionate than many in the world. However, there should be no greater grace extended toward each other than in both the family of God and the biological family unit. These two places should exude the grace of God from each other to each other. Instead, what we sometimes find is judgement, impatience, and insensitivity. Yet if we hope to do this God’s way, we need to manifest outward grace with inward humility; these two provide a great combination of experiencing God’s grace in your life and passing it on to others as well.
Here is where we begin:
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions (Romans 14:1).
Welcome the Weak, but do not Quarrel over Opinions
The idea of welcoming the weak is our key to grace. If you happen to be the strong, then you welcome – or show grace toward – the weak. The Apostle Paul is very clear here. Will the weaker person have the maturity of the strong? No. In absence of the spiritual maturity of the strong, the temptation for the stronger person will be twofold. First, there is potential for the strong to judge the weak. Second, in hope of helping the weaker person, the strong will desire to share opinions with the weak. The Apostle Paul continues.
Here are Two Early Church Examples: Food and Holy Days
The Apostle provides us two different examples. However, upon further examination, we see that although the examples are different, the principles are the same. Notice how they parallel each other.
The Subject of Division: Food (vv. 2-4) and Holy Days (vv. 5-6)
Food: One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
Holy Days: One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.
The Principle: Pay attention to your own heart before God, not the other person’s
Food: Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats,…
Holy Days: Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
The Motivation: The issue is a matter between the person and God
Food: …for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Holy Days: The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
In today’s culture, there are many more than just the two examples that Paul mentions. Today, one could add various forms of entertainment, tattoos, alcohol, tobacco, music, dress, sports, politics, and more. These principles apply in all of these areas as well.
By Timon Cline — 1 month ago
The majority of Americans remains Christians, even at this late hour. It is depressing and demoralizing to realize that a state once founded on the “Natural right, to worship Almighty God” according to conscience now weaponizes the law against those who would raise children in the fear and admonition of that same God.
William Blackstone called the relationship between parent and child the “most universal relation in nature.” It encompasses everyone and occurs everywhere. It is the natural end of marriage. Like any relation, rights and duties are present. Children must obey and honor their parents; parents are obliged to provide for and protect. In turn, children are dutybound to care for their elderly parents. But the mutual duties and bonds of this universal relation extend beyond mere maintenance. Education is usually recognized as well. Indeed, under our current law educational neglect is actionable. We can go further still, however. Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 6:7, and Ephesians 6:4 all situate religion, knowledge of God, true doctrine, even redemptive history, as the pedagogical duty of fathers. The general principle and supposition in play here is not unique to Biblical revelation. It has been ingrained in western culture since its inception.
As Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges describes in his study of the pre-Caesarian classical world, The Ancient City, the family was not only the most basic, primordial social unit, but also the force that conditioned all subsequent organization.
More essentially, it was almost synonymous with the perpetuation of religion. The ancient family was defined by its shared worship and shared (ancestral) gods more than it was by blood. For induction to the family via either adoption or clientship was possible through sacramental initiation to the sacred fire of the familial hearth. Familial longevity was dependent on the priestly line of the father—religion established his authority for religion. So long as worship continued, the family continued. Marriage marked the conversion of the wife to the husband’s hearth family-cult.
Indeed, religion created marriage, says Fustel, just as it established property and inheritance (“I am the Lord, that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land, to inherit it; and to Moses”). That is a way of saying that in the ancient world, domestic religion was the basis of law which, in turn, was the basis of municipal law, and so on.
“Private law existed before the city. When the city began to write its laws, it found this law already established, living, rooted in the customs, strong by universal observance, The city accepted it because it could not do otherwise, and dared not modify it expect by degrees. Ancient law was not the work of a legislator; it was, on the contrary, imposed upon the legislator. It had its birth in the family.”
Extended families, clans (gens), were united by shared gods, and the mixing of tribal gods for the sake of political convenience was inconceivable. Not even natural affection (or generation) was permitted to trump religious ties. Blood did not suffice, albeit blood was expected to correlate. For the family literally died if its religion lapsed. Plato defined family as a community of shared gods.
Of course, the first thing the reader realizes when entering the world Fustel reconstructs is how utterly foreign it is. It was an isolated, parochial existence of preeminent familial allegiance and secret ancestor worship (the eternal flame), however romantic, that cannot be reproduced with any exactitude absent cataclysmic intervention. There is likely no return to that bronze age… and those that claim the bronze age ethos today usually neglect its constituting, unifying, indispensable socio-political element—even the basic, innate desire for hearth and home in Odysseus.
The point, for us, is that even in early Greece and Rome, religion and family were intertwined, and pedagogy was a parental prerogative. No, a necessity. It has always been thus in western civilization, even in its embryonic state.
The right to instruct children in rites and more besides, is not an aberration concocted of twentieth century culture warring, the advent of the “nuclear family,” nor by post-war liberalism.