Leon Kass comments, “The change of Abram’s name, offered in conjunction with God’s abundant promise, is in fact deeply significant. ‘Abraham’s very identity is now inextricable from God’s promise of abundant offspring. His being depends on God’s speech. If God breaks his promise, Abraham ceases to be Abraham.’”1 Abraham cannot be Abraham unless God is faithful. It all depends on the promise.
Ninety-nine years is a long time to wait for a new name. Most men make a name for themselves well before. Through their work, they conquer their field and make their contribution. Through their family, they establish their progeny and expand their influence.
But for Abram, it was a different story. We meet him in Genesis 12, where God calls him to go to a land he will show him (Genesis 12:1). He was a foreigner in a strange land, unknown by the world, childless, landless. In a world that depended so much on one’s family line, he was as nameless as they come.
The irony is the name Abram carried meant “Exalted Father.” Would he ever live into his name? That question constantly nagged. In his seventy-fifth year he heard a word from God and followed him into a new land, chasing promises from a God previously unknown but one whom he deemed trustworthy, Abram put all his chips on God’s square. What had become of the gamble? So far nothing.
But the promised remained. Not only did it remain, but it was also constantly reinforced. God kept coming to Abram, bolstering his word with covenants and signs and everything else.
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By Adoring God — 4 months ago
Pilate would gladly be free from the blood of the innocent Christ, so not only does he wash his hands, but he says of himself, “I am free.” But a basin of water from the local spring can do nothing to free us from the stain of sin. The only effectual cleansing for a heart racked by sin is the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26). We must personally partake of the Water of Life if we desire to be thoroughly clean and truly free.
And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.(Luke 23:22).
How often are we backed into a position of choice between taking our stand alone with Christ or succumbing to the jeering crowd making a mockery of our God? At this mock trial of Christ before the people, with Pilate occupying the judge’s seat, he finds himself in a similar predicament. He must either condemn this Jew whom he believes to be innocent or identify himself as an enemy of Caesar. That is precisely the choice put to him by the religious leaders who initially brought Jesus to Pilate, “He that makes himself a king as this man does is an enemy to Caesar, and if you let him go, you are not Caesar’s friend,” (John 19:12).
Pilate is afraid of either choice and would happily spare both Jesus and Barabbas, but that choice is not an option. And so, he chooses to spare himself rather than Jesus. The religious leaders brought Christ to trial out of envy (Matt. 27:18), and Pilate delivers him over to the executioners out of fear. Pronouncing Christ’s innocence and publicly washing his hands of his blood guiltiness only serves to secure his own eternal condemnation, for innocence either absolves the prisoner or condemns the judge. To say, “Take him and crucify him,” and yet, “I find no fault in the man,” (John 19:6; Luke 23:14) turns the point of Pilate’s sword into his own heart and makes the bench the bar.
With his wife’s dream and our Savior’s confession on the one side (Matt. 27:19), and the people’s willful violence and the threat of being identified as Caesar’s enemy on the other, Pilate’s soul is bound for destruction. How soon does he discover that his own conscience is a worse enemy than Caesar? Guilt at once kindles in the heart both shame and horror (Matt. 27:24), and it is so fierce a fire that the basin of water before him cannot put it out. For what can a little water in a bowl or even Jordan’s floods do toward washing those stained hands that had the power to release innocence and yet chose not to (John 19:10)?
By James Norris — 4 months ago
The language of the Overture does not say that a man must no longer struggle with temptation or that he must be dishonest about his temptations. It states that officers may not “describe themselves as homosexual.” This is consistent with Paul’s affirmations that Christians are new creations, are to be unleavened, and are to consider themselves dead to sin. Genuine repentance does not mean perfection, but it does mean a complete break with sin, even in how Christians identify and describe themselves.
This year’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted to affirm an amended version of Overture 15, which is now being considered by the denomination’s presbyteries as Item 1. It seeks to add the following language to the Book of Church Order (BCO):
7-4. Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America.
I would like to give three reasons why I believe presbyteries should vote yes for Item 1 (i.e., PCAGA49’s Overture 15) this cycle, and then respond to a couple objections.
To describe oneself as a “Homosexual Christian,” “Gay Christian,” or “Same-Sex Attracted Christian” is itself a tacit approval of a Freudian worldview. Men who affirm this Freudian foundation are not qualified for office.
Sigmund Freud taught that what defines people is their sexuality, that who you are is ultimately determined by your sexual desires. Before the spread of this Freudian philosophy, homosexuality was viewed as something a person did. Now it is considered who a person is because he feels those desires, even if that person has never been sexually active.
For many in our day, to describe oneself as a “Gay Christian” does not sound as inappropriate as does to describe oneself as a “racist Christian” or “idolatrous Christian.” but this is only a reflection of the fact that we live in a Freudian culture which has convinced society at large that men and women are defined by their sexual desires (hence society’s broad acceptance of the LGBTQ movement that roots identity in sexuality). But this is not a Biblical worldview.
Racism and homosexuality are both sins, yet if one is considered an appropriate self-description for a Christian while the other is not, this only demonstrates that one’s worldview has accepted (at least in part) the world’s Freudian presuppositions. Scripture defines men and women in creation as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and then in redemption as being united to Jesus Christ. Officers in the PCA must be men who do not accept the world’s philosophies and definitions of men (Col. 2:8), but Scripture’s. A Christian who describes himself in terms of sexual desires is one who at least in part affirms a Freudian worldview that contradicts God’s Word, and is thus unqualified to hold office in Christ’s church.
PCA officers must embody and walk with the wisdom we teach others to live by.
The Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality  includes a section on language which states, “We affirm that those in our churches would be wise to avoid the term ‘gay Christian’…Churches should be gentle, patient, and intentional with believers who call themselves ‘gay Christians,’ encouraging them, as part of the process of sanctification, to leave behind identification language rooted in sinful desires, to live chaste lives, to refrain from entering into temptation, and to mortify their sinful desires” (p. 12).
As this is the wisdom that we are to teach all Christians, it ought to be the standard that officers – being above reproach – likewise pursue. To allow otherwise is to allow hypocrisy. We must walk in accordance with that wisdom we teach to others. It is a great hypocrisy to declare that we are to teach believers to leave behind this language when our officers themselves will not do the same. In such a scenario, the Report’s wisdom becomes “wisdom for thee, but not for me.” Permitting officers to continue to describe themselves with such language undermines our denomination’s exhortations to others that growth in sanctification means leaving behind identification language rooted in sinful desires. Men who will not abide by the wisdom with which we instruct others are not fit for office.
Scripture describes Christians in terms of union with Christ, which is the foundation of Christian ethics.
When Paul rebukes the Christians at Corinth for failing to exercise discipline, he uses the metaphor of the leaven and the lump, with the lump being the church and leaven representing sin. He writes, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened” (1 Cor. 5:7). Notice how he describes these Christians. They must cleanse out the leaven because they are unleavened. Paul grounds the church’s behavior in the church’s being, which he describes with the term unleavened. What Christians do is founded on what Christians are.
 For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to Overture 15 in the remainder of this article.
 Visit pcaga.org/aicreport for links both to the printed report and to the video footage of its presentation before the 48th Stated Meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
By Richard D. Kocur — 3 months ago
Written by Richard D. Kocur |
Monday, October 17, 2022
Disney faced pressure from gender equity activists and employees for not doing enough to oppose the bill. Then, after coming out in opposition, Disney faced blowback from parents who believed the company should simply focus on providing family entertainment. On that issue, Disney management spun around more than a rider on the theme park’s iconic Teacup ride. And why? Because of ill-conceived social activism on an issue that was irrelevant to the primary role of the business. Now Blackrock finds itself in a comparable position as a result of a similar activist pursuit.
With the stock market down nearly 20% year-to-date in 2022, investors are paying close attention to the financial performance of their portfolios: seeking to protect 401Ks, looking for safe havens, and trusting that their fiduciary asset managers are making the right decisions with ever-shrinking nest eggs. The last thing any investor would want now is for asset managers to be investing in companies for any reason other than to maximize financial return.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock Inc., is doing through an emphasis on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing. This mode of corporate social activism has placed Blackrock in a difficult position, however, as pressure from both sides of the ESG issue close in on the company. Blackrock has become the latest example of a company experiencing the consequences of corporate social activism.
The movement to emphasize ESG within corporate structures and as corporate objectives first emerged in the early 2000s. ESG-focused investing directs capital to companies with stated goals on issues like climate change and social justice. Financial returns are a secondary concern to those who want to support or pressure companies to commit to ESG standards and enact policies to reach those standards.
With approximately $10 trillion in assets under management, Blackrock wields substantial power over where their assets, and by extension the assets of anyone invested in Blackrock, are placed. An August 16 editorial in the Wall Street Journal noted how Blackrock pressured companies to “avoid investing in fossil-fuel assets … and reduce emissions to achieve net zero by 2050.” In essence, putting pressure on the companies in which Blackrock invests to adopt ESG standards. If Blackrock’s blackmail is resisted, proxy shares are voted against management. This approach puts activism above shareholders’ returns. But Blackrock is beginning to see a backlash.
In late summer 2022, attorneys general from 19 Republican states sent a letter to Blackrock CEO Larry Fink seeking answers about potential conflicts between the firm’s ESG investing practices and his company’s fiduciary duty. In addition, states such as Texas and Louisiana have begun to bar state investment in any Blackrock fund that pushes ESG standards. With billions in state pension dollars and the investments of individual citizens at stake, the AGs and state comptrollers are calling Blackrock on the carpet.
In addition to this political reaction, market forces have also stepped into the ESG fight. A new investment alternative to ESG funds was recently launched by Strive Asset Management. Strive created a fund that mirrors Blackrock’s U.S. Energy Index Fund (IYE) but with a commitment to pursue non-ESG policies.
If pressure from those in opposition to ESG was not enough, Blackrock is also facing pushback from ESG advocates. In late September 2022, officials responsible for the public pension funds in New York City sent a letter to Fink pressing Blackrock to recommit to achieving net-zero emissions across its investment portfolio and to vote more in line with climate-related shareholder initiatives. Blackrock manages approximately $43 billion in investments for three New York City pension funds, according to a September 2022 article in the Wall Street Journal.
Blackrock could take a lesson from the investment adage, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” In the case of corporate social activism, past performance is a guarantee of future results. One only needs to look back to the mess in which the Walt Disney Corporation found itself because of its stance on Florida’s Parental Rights bill.
First, Disney faced pressure from gender equity activists and employees for not doing enough to oppose the bill. Then, after coming out in opposition, Disney faced blowback from parents who believed the company should simply focus on providing family entertainment. On that issue, Disney management spun around more than a rider on the theme park’s iconic Teacup ride. And why? Because of ill-conceived social activism on an issue that was irrelevant to the primary role of the business. Now Blackrock finds itself in a comparable position as a result of a similar activist pursuit.
Pressured from both sides of the ESG issue, they have now put themselves between a Blackrock and a hard place.
The author thanks Alex Heisey for his help in gathering research for this article.
Dr. Richard D. Kocur is an assistant professor of business at Grove City College. This article is used with permission.