Category Archives: Christ and Culture

HHS Mandate and Civil Liberties

Obama’s HHS Mandate

On January 20th, 2012, President Obama and the Department of  Health and Human Services (HHS) informed the Roman Catholic church that they would be forced to provide sterilization, contraception, and various abortifacient drugs as part of their state-mandated insurance to their employees (Obamacare).  The problem is that this requires a religious institution (the church) to violate it’s conscience thus ceasing the religious liberties it is granted by God.

The Catholic church’s response was clear and firm.  They will not cave in and act contrary to their own conscience.  The response of Bishops has been rapid and well organized.  As as of Saturday morning https://www.stophhs.com/ has already garnered 41,000 petitions to send to the President.

An Inadequate Response

Under the pressure from the public outcry of concerned citizens, faithful believers and even Republican candidates President Obama attempted to quell the fury by holding a press conference on Friday.  There he announced that he has found a solution whereby the employees of the church could be guaranteed health care that includes sterilization, contraception and abortifacient drugs and church based employers would be off the hook.  In his words, “religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.”

Well, Mr. President not exactly.  This still has many problems and complexities that cannot be removed with pleasant platitudes.  A few points should be considered.

As Al Kresta writes, “It is important to remember that a press conference is not a policy. The best that we can say is that the President is now reopening the discussion and he seems to show a willingness to make some accommodations. Nevertheless, again, a press conference is not policy. He shows no awareness of the conscience problems faced by Catholic businessmen, religious organizations that self-insure, or American citizens who, for reasons of conscience, do not want to participate in insurance plans that offer contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.”

Jesus said “wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:19). Consider the fact that President Obama at his speech at Notre Dame said, “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause.” – Barack Obama May 17, 2009.  He has not kept his word at a public address in 2009, we should only believe it when enacted with real policy change.

Civil Liberties and Civil Disobedience

This is more than partisan warfare, what we are upset about is that this is undermining civil liberties.  America was founded on the self-evident principles that “all men are endowned by their creator with certain unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  That a religious institution should receive a mandate from the state is not just an over-reach of public policy it is contrary to religious liberty entirely.  The view of the church is that the church is an institution ordained by God through Christ who does not answer to the state but to the only head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Al Kresta emphasizes,

“The most distressing aspect of this debate is that we are having it at all. Religious liberty is not a gift of the state that is graciously bestowed on us by our political leaders. Religious liberty is what we posses by virtue of our creation in the image and likeness of God.  We will persevere in this fight until everybody’s freedom of conscience is protected.”

Chuck Colson agrees.  His Two-Minute warning this week is worth viewing in totality.  He says that when he and other Christians penned the Manhattan Declaration, he thought that Civil Disobedience was a possible reality on the distant horizon.  Amazingly, through the HHS Mandate, such statist over-reach into the church is already upon our doorstep.  There may be a time (sooner that expected) where Christians must obey God rather than men.  A threat to liberty anywhere is a threat to liberty everywhere.  You should be prepared by having a biblical view of church and state (e.g. Kuyper’s Sphere Sovereignty) and clear convictions ready to speak the truth in love to others and even disobey man if obedience to God requires.

Hypocrites and Hippocrates

Dr. Nigel Cameron, author of The New Medicine, demonstrates that the original creed of medicine, the Hippocratic Oath included the very important phrases,

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

Our modern medicine would do well to return to the principles of Hippocrates.  DO NO HARM!  We have not advanced beyond pagan fore-fathers of medicine.  Unfortunately we have regressed.

You can take action by learning more from the links in this blog post and by signing a petition at

www.stophhs.com or

http://manhattandeclaration.org/

God bless you for learning, taking action, and for praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Tim

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The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson

The issue of “tolerance” is a key term in our society today.  It is used to reframe the debate in countless areas.  Somehow, claiming that some one is intolerant has become the unpardonable sin of any conversation or issue.

Dr. D.A. Carson’s new book, The Intolerance of Tolerance, evaluates the inconsistency and incoherence of this view.

This short 5 minute excerpt of of audio on YouTube is worth your undivided attention if you would like to be relevant in dialogue in our society.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9PVJlnvVeSM

Also, Monergism is having a sale on this hardcover book that is a terrific deal.  Click here to check it out.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this issue.  Listen to the audio first and then add your comments.

Tim

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38 years and counting

This weekend marks the 38th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

I encourage you to read Al Mohler’s excellent blog post on this subject.

To those who are supportive of abortion on demand, may God “open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in (Jesus).”

Acts 26:18

Tim

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My family is on a virtual tour of Europe!!!

Tonight we began a very cool quest.  We joined the Vision Forum Faith and Freedom Tour of Western Civilization.  Doug Philips and three other associates are doing a daily video blog which users can subscribe to.  Our family gathered around our computer tonight to learn about Roman Gladiators, Circus Maximus, and how Christianity eventually won the day in Rome.

If you’d like to check out a preview video, check this one.

The cost is $60 for two weeks of videos but also includes a full lecture mp3 of all that was done each day (mailed later.)

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Support Missional-Ecumenism

One of my friends in ministry is Dr. John Armstrong.  His organization, ACT3, stands for Advancing the Christian Tradition in the Third Millennium.

I’m excited about the vision I see John ardently pursuing.  I have watched it gradually clarify and intensify in the 8 plus years I have known him.

In a sentence, John is committed to seeing Jesus’ prayer in John 17 be fulfilled in our generation.  Jesus prayed that all believers would be one that the world may know that the Father has sent the Son.  The most important apologetic, according to John Armstrong, is the unity of the Christian church.  We can have all the right arguments about the truth of the faith, but the world will disregard us if we keep distancing ourselves from other Christians.

There are two typical errors which we must avoid in ecumenical goals:

1)  Believing that “spiritual unity” is satisfying to Jesus.  That is to say, “we are truly one,” even though we are formally divided and out of communion with one another.  We may say, “we are one,” be we do not look like it through our fighting and separation.  The world isn’t fooled friends!

2)  Avoid watering down our differences which leads to a “Kum by ya” gathering amounting to nothing but irrelevant dribble.  John stands firmly in the Christian tradition using great articles of the faith like the Nicene Creed to be the basis of Christian truth and unity.  Furthermore, that unity is vital to mission to proclaim Christ (hence the term “missional-ecumenism.”)

Pursuing true Christian unity requires faith (that God can move mountains), hope (unsatisfied with the status quo), and love (to combat fear “there’s no fear in love”).  John is a mature guide to lead God’s people to glorify Christ in Christian unity.

I hope you’ll enjoy this link to see his video and get involved as God has enabled you.

Grace and peace,

Tim

Also, check out John’s new book, Your Church is Too Small, scheduled to be released next month.

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The Cultural Captivity of the Church

Today in staff chapel we watched an excellent video about living out the whole gospel by reaching out to the poor and influencing the world.   The pastor on the video pointed out that 200 years ago his church in England led the way in developing hospitals, feeding the poor and many other works of following Jesus.

Unfortunately, the church lost it’s way and by the mid 20th C. it was only concerned with Sunday worship, bible lessons, and singing as it fullest (yet relatively pathetic) expression of Christianity—sound familiar?

So what happened?  Why did the church get so myopic?  It dawned on me that there was a whole constellation of factors that led to an anemic church.   Let me name the top four that come to mind.

Platonic Dualism

First, it was pointed out that we have a rather Greek way of looking at the world.  Following Plato, we have adopted a world view that names heaven/unseen as good, and eartly/visible as bad.  This is light years away from the Hebraic (even Biblical way of thinking), but it leads us to value “getting into heaven” and not value “the body, the world, etc.”  The God of scripture gives commandments
about loving God and not making idols and then also talks about mildew (Lev. 14)

The solution to this problem is to choose not to rend the seemless garment of all of God’s creation—earth and heaven.  To pray with Jesus, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Revivalism

While the first great awakening (1730s – 40s) was clearly a sovereign work of God which resulted in great evangelism and moral change, the second great awakening (1800-1840s) was much more centered around using human means to save souls.  As a result the sawdust trails, and worrying benches led men to answer the question of their soul, it did not challenge them to work on their lives in the same way.  While it’s leaders probably meant well, they were subtly shifting the game toward saving the invisible heart and blind to the greater issues of the gospel of the kingdom.

The solution to this is to teach the whole counsel of God  (Acts 20:27).  Yes we preach that men might be saved, but salvation is much more holistic that getting your soul past the pearly gates.

Dispensationalism

On top of this, dispensationalism taught that the Kingdom of God had been postponed.  That we were in a season between God ruling Israel through theocracy (OT) and Jesus ruling the world (the millenium).  This period, the church age (aka, the age of grace) would be marked by the free gospel going to the gentiles, but ending in failure culturally as the gross majority of men (and women) would not receive it.  It is actually believed by some that the world has to get worse and worse before Jesus will return.  The to engage in culture is to polish brass on a sinking ship!

The solution to this error is to adopt an
optimistic eschatology.  Acknowledge that Jesus is king right now!  (Acts 2:36)  That he rules and reigns over all and is sovereignly causing his kingdom to march forward even in the midst the “already/not-yet.”

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.   Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,   because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.  Hebrews 10:12-14

Fundamentalist/Liberal Controversy

Lastly, the gospel was sadly bifurcated when the fundamentalist controversy raged.  There’s nothing like division to cause us to walk home with only part of the story.  Sadly while the fundamentalists (the predecessors to the evangelicals stressing the five fundamentals: virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, authority of scripture, etc) kept some key doctrines of the bible, they threw the baby out with the bathwater.  Over the past 100 years we watches as the conservative church has withdrawn, realized it was wrong to do so, over compensated by reengaging, and driving madly through culture like Jehu son of Nimshi.  Not long ago we saw the year of the Evangelical, and now it’s more of a curse word!  Yikes…

The solution here is to stand at the crossroads and consider where we’ve been and where we need to go as a church.

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

It took about a hundred years to get this messed up.  It will take decades and decades to regain the ground that was lost.  But let’s look up and be hopeful.  Let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds…let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:24-25).

What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Let’s get back to work.  We’ve got kingdom business to be about.

Grace and peace,

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Tim

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