The beating heart of the Scriptures is the good news of salvation bound up in Jesus Christ, something Peter has summarized (1 Pet. 1:20-21), characterized (1 Pet. 1:24-25), and actualized (1 Pet. 1:23) in the accomplishment of God’s saving purposes. All this serves as a reminder for us of what we possess in the holy Scriptures. Through them the Spirit nourishes us with the truth and invigorates us for our journey as aliens and sojourners.
But the word of the LORD endures forever. (1 Peter 1:25, NKJV)
Peter held a high view of the Bible. He regarded it for what it is, the word of God Himself. In his second epistle Peter explains to us the nature of Scripture: “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20–21).
In this affirmation, Peter recognizes that the written Word does not ultimately originate with man but with God. He particularly identifies the Holy Spirit as the One who brings truth to light. The Spirit inspires, illuminates, and accomplishes His purposes through the Bible. Those Scriptures relate to the Old Testament and also to the New (cf. 2 Pet. 3:15-16).
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By Rachel K. Alexander — 3 months ago
Written by Rachel K. Alexander |
Monday, October 31, 2022
Given Disney’s overt willingness to undermine parental authority, it’s no wonder parents are looking for alternatives. But rather than simply look for a “conservative” version of Disney’s overstimulating escapism, it might be time for families to reconsider the Disney model altogether.
As Disney World continues to celebrate its COVID-19-delayed 50th anniversary, criticism of the media and entertainment giant abounds.
In addition to lamenting its new price-gouging strategy, Disney detractors cry that it’s gone woke, removing all “gendered greetings” from parks and vowing to dramatically increase LGBTQ characters.
After the Florida Legislature earlier this year passed what the Left mischaracterized as a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which protects a parent’s right to determine when his or her children learn about sexual orientation and gender identity, Disney responded with a swift rebuke.
Determined to save younger generations from “backwards” thinking, Disney promises to combat similar parental rights legislation in other states.
Strange to hear, coming from what’s supposed to be a family company, is it not?
That’s what Disney’s critics argue, denouncing its hypocrisy and, in some cases, going so far as to lay out plans for the creation of an “alternative” Disney, one that will maintain its original innocent and wholesome vision.
But just how much has Disney actually departed from its original vision? Before turning to alternatives or replacements, it would behoove parents, critics, and media executives alike to recall, on this 51st anniversary of Disney World, what it is, what it’s for, and how it shapes the children—and adults—who visit.
The idea behind Disneyland and especially Disney World was not simply to build a theme park for kids, but to create an immersive world where visitors could escape reality and make all their dreams come true.
“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the park,” Walt Disney once remarked. “I want them to feel they’re in another world.”
Central to the vision of the “happiest place on earth” is the enjoyment of sensorial pleasure. Upon arriving, one’s senses are stimulated in constantly changing and exciting ways, through thrilling rides, musical parades, and wafting aromas of Dole Whip and Mickey Mouse pretzels. Cutting-edge technology keeps the pleasures novel, allowing for increasingly more realistic levels of simulation and intensity every time you return.
Disney wanted the parks to provide this experience equally to both children and adults, whom he called “kids grown up.” Disneyland would “give meaning to the pleasure of children,” as he put it, “and pleasure to the experience of adults.” The takeaway from a trip to the parks is Peter Pan clear: Never grow up.
By Al Taglieri — 9 months ago
I noticed you feel great compassion for women in crisis. While this is commendable, I am concerned by the lack of similar concern for babies. You mentioned a woman’s right to abortion eight times and a child’s right to life once. And that your prescription for limiting the number of abortions is based on government welfare programs for the mother. I did not see any provisions for making adoption easier and faster. Nor did I see any provisions for the church to provide more support through pregnancy centers.
I read your article “As a Christian, I Want to Reduce Abortion, Not Overturn Roe.” I noticed you used the phrase “As a Christian” three times to buttress your moral authority in this area as you pled for both abortion availability and yet fewer abortions. As a brother in Christ, I have concerns over unbalanced compassion, exegetical acumen, and a surrendering of God’s Law to modern culture.
I noticed you feel great compassion for women in crisis. While this is commendable, I am concerned by the lack of similar concern for babies. You mentioned a woman’s right to abortion eight times and a child’s right to life once. And that your prescription for limiting the number of abortions is based on government welfare programs for the mother. I did not see any provisions for making adoption easier and faster. Nor did I see any provisions for the church to provide more support through pregnancy centers. It’s almost as if supporting government welfare policies is a key component of a compassionate character.
God has made each person as a free, moral being. Joshua commanded the people to make a choice about who they would serve: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Jos 24:15, NASB-95).
Each of us makes choices, Adam. Unfortunately, those choices often end with tragedy for ourselves and others. The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 17 asks:
Q. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
You pointed out cases of rape and incest. These are terrible tragedies brought about by sin that cause great misery, but why is the most innocent victim, the child, the one who bears the brunt of the tragedy? Abortion advocates often claim that every child should be a wanted child. So, is it compassionate to impose the death penalty on a child because the mom chooses not to love? We are told a child should not suffer from poverty. But that’s how we choose to treat suffering animals; we put them out of their misery because they cannot understand what is happening. Not so human beings. And God’s Word affirms that babies, even in the womb, are people:
“Surely I was sinful at birth,sinful from the time my mother conceived me.6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;you taught me wisdom in that secret place.” (Psalm 51, NASB-95)
People can choose to learn from suffering and can choose to rise above it, given the opportunity, unless that opportunity is pre-empted by another’s choice. Consider the story of Lazarus; a poor beggar covered in sores. He had a terrible life, and no one looked at him with compassion. In the end, for all eternity, Lazarus found compassion and comfort (Luke 16: 19-31).
I commend you on the compassion you have toward women in crisis but I implore you to extend that same compassion to the babies in the womb.
As a brother in Christ, I was glad to see that you are meditating on Rom 12:12, and I hope you continue to mediate on this verse. By applying proper exegetical methods, you will discover that the word conformed in Greek is suschématizó and means to assume “a similar outward form (expression) by following the same pattern” (Strong’s). The word transform in the Greek is metamorphoó, which means “changing form in keeping with inner reality” (Strong’s). Paul is calling on each of not to copy the current godless culture, but to be transformed, truly, from the inside by God’s Word (properly interpreted). So, respectfully, I disagree with your conclusion that this is a call to be counter cultural. This is a call to be a genuine Christian, one who knows and lives by God’s law, regardless of the personal cost that might entail.
I found it ironic that you used Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees to make a point that by placing the health of babies in the womb in extreme jeopardy, i.e., death, we can avoid policies that place expecting mom’s health in jeopardy. A closer look at Luke 13:10-17 reveals that the Pharisees are hypocrites because they exult in manmade standards of righteousness that even they cannot keep. Has not support for abortion become the same litmus test for a righteous character in secular society?
As a brother in Christ, I plead with you to consider God’s law as opposed to man’s law. In Psalm 19, God tells us He has given us supernatural revelation:
“The law of the Lord is perfect,refreshing the soul.The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,making wise the simple.8 The precepts of the Lord are right,giving joy to the heart.The commands of the Lord are radiant,giving light to the eyes.” (NASB-95)
The more a society’s laws reflect God’s laws, the better, kinder, more compassionate that society is. I wonder if you ever researched how Greek and Roman cultures practiced their respective laws? There was a marked difference in culture as Christianity grew in influence and the moral authority of God’s Word was practiced. Here’s how Aristotle framed it:
“As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared; but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practiced on it (the child)” (Aristotle, Politics 7.1335b ).
Or Cicero: “Deformed infants shall be killed” (On the Laws, 3.8). Cicero considered an unwanted child to be deformed.
God gave Moses this commandment: “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13, NASB). I’d rather live in a society that respects life, protects its most vulnerable members, and has laws that reflect those values.
Al Taglieri is a Ruling Elder in the Providence Presbyterian Church in York, Penn.
By Michael G. Brown — 6 months ago
Written by Michael G. Brown |
Friday, August 19, 2022
A plurality of elders provides the flock of Christ with greater pastoral care. In the Old Testament, a multitude of elders were appointed to assist Moses in caring for the people of God. The Lord gave a portion of the Spirit that was on Moses to seventy elders so that they would help carry this burden (Num. 11:16–17). Likewise, in the new covenant church, elders share the responsibility of pastoral care with the minister. Peter writes: “So I exhort the elders . . . shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight” (1 Peter 5:1–2). Elders do this in a variety of practical ways.
Living in Milan, I enjoy taking walks around the perimeter of Sforza Castle. Built in the fifteenth century, this structure was one of the largest citadels in Europe for hundreds of years. Its massive walls, more than a hundred feet high, loom over the outer moat like a towering tsunami of brick, making the castle practically impenetrable. There was a time when these walls extended around the entire city, protecting its inhabitants from invasions and providing them with a sense of security. In the medieval world, a city without walls was almost unimaginable. It would have been defenseless and unlikely to survive.
The vast walls of an ancient city illustrate the church’s need for a plurality of elders. Just as ramparts and fortified gates helped safeguard a city so that civic life could prosper, so too a plurality of faithful overseers in the church helps preserve life in the kingdom of God. A church in which the senior pastor is the sole elder or possesses the most authority among its leaders is in a very vulnerable position, exposed to the perils of power, personality, and conflict. One need only observe the course of many influential evangelical churches in recent years to see how true this is. In most cases, the eventual collapse resulted in part from a lack of shared authority among a group of elders.
There are at least four biblical and practical reasons that a plurality of elders is necessary. First, it provides the church with greater accountability. According to the Bible, believers are accountable for their doctrine and life. What they believe and how they live are to be in line with Scripture. The elders of the local church have the weighty responsibility of holding the members of the congregation accountable. “Obey your leaders and submit to them,” says the writer to the Hebrews, “for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb. 13:17). Notice that this verse speaks of leaders in the plural. Christians are not accountable to one leader alone. Instead, Christ cares for His church through a plurality of elders. This shared accountability helps protect the flock from the spiritual abuse and bullying that could more easily occur in a church where everyone is accountable to one man.
Moreover, the pastor himself is also accountable to the elders. The biblical model for church government is not a hierarchical system in which the senior pastor is a bishop over the elders of the church. In the New Testament, “bishops” (also translated “overseers”) and “elders” (also translated “presbyters”) are synonymous. For example, when Paul instructs Titus to “appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5), he describes the qualifications for these elders, calling them overseers: “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach” (Titus 1:7). He uses the two terms to describe the same office. Likewise, in his farewell address to the leaders of the church in Ephesus, Paul “called the elders of the church to come to him” (Acts 20:17). He then addressed them as “overseers” or “bishops” of the church of God (Acts 20:28). These terms are never used in Scripture to describe differing ranks of authority or a single leader governing the church alone. This means that the pastor serves the congregation alongside the ruling elders but not over them. He himself is an elder who labors “in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Even though he has biblical training and spiritual gifts for rightly dividing the Word of God, his vote is not more important than the votes of other elders; nor does he possess veto power over the consensus of the group.