I Have Moved!

As you will no doubt notice I have not been updating my blog. Instead I am now directing my attention to regular contributions to the Crosswalk.com weblog. Crosswalk.com receives more than 10 million visitors per month and their weblog is among the most read evangelical blogs on the Internet including such notable contributors as Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. Ray Pritchard, Dr. Warren Throckmorton and others.

It is indeed a priviledge to be invited to join such a distinguished list of regular contributors addressing so large an audience and therefore I want to do all that I can to produce the very best cultural commentary and content from a biblical worldview. With the growing time pressures and schedule demands I want to limit my blogging to the Crosswalk.com website. Please visit and read my weekly contributions there.

Thank you and God bless!



Homosexuality: Truth and Consequences

Several weeks ago, the Dallas Morning News published an essay by Larry Kramer, the founder of ACT UP; the radical homosexual advocacy group. The title of Mr. Kramer's essay, which was adapted from a speech delivered on Nov. 7, 2004 in New York City, "Where's the Rage?" reveals several astonishing admissions.

Mr. Kramer begins by stating that "...as of Election Day, gay rights are officially dead. This past week almost 60 million of our 'so-called' fellow Americans voted against us." He goes on to point out that every state ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly passed by the voters. He then says, "Almost 60 million people whom we live and work with every day think we are immoral. 'Moral values' was top of many lists of why people supported Mr. Bush. ... 'Moral values.' That means us. It is hard to stand up to so much hate."

I was struck by Mr. Kramer's immediate leap from the category of mere moral opposition to that of hatred. Of course, by labeling opposition to homosexual behavior as "hate" he is, in fact, making a moral distinction himself. However, the only moral condemnation he allows is applied to only that which opposes his particular view. Thus any moral conviction contrary to his is deemed immoral. The problem lies in the presumed source of the moral standards in question. In the case of Mr. Kramer and others who advocate on behalf of legitimizing homosexual behavior, their presumed source of moral standards are only those that are individually determined. This, in their minds, is the only acceptable source of morality.

There are only four sources from which society can derive its standards of morality and ethics...

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Abu Ghraib: Lessons in Sexual Morality

These past months the "left-leaning" media has reported on the prisoner abuse at Abu-Ghraib. In almost every instance this story has been postured as being both an example and natural by-product of right-wing militarism; a case of fundamentalist conservatism taken to its logical conclusion.

Don't misunderstand me; what these soldiers did was reprehensible and brought international shame and humiliation on the United States not to mention the thousands of men and women serving honorably in Iraq. However, these actions were not the result of conservatism taken to its logical conclusion nor the military establishment but rather the exact opposite: liberalism taken to its natural and logical conclusion; specifically liberal sexual ethics.

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Revolution or Reformation?

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of listening to and spending some time in conversation with George Barna, the notable pollster and social researcher.

I certainly agree with Mr. Barna's general assessment of the modern Church in America. There is no question that the Church, in general, is suffering from a dearth of biblical literacy, bad theology and a woefully inept view of life and the world that is biblical. This explains, in large part, why the Church seems so powerless in the face of today's overwhelming cultural challenges.

I also appreciate and share Mr. Barna's zeal for genuine renewal among the Body of Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that George Barna loves the Lord and desperately desires to see Him exalted in this generation.

However, there was one point with which I found myself troubled and that was his call for "revolution" NOT reformation. In our conversation I questioned his use of this particular term to which he replied, "if you look up the word 'revolution' in the dictionary it means to overthrow the existing establishment." Whoa! I pressed further in asking, "So you don't think that the institutional Church has ever experienced genuine reform?" His reply, "I don't want to argue with you and I frankly don't know enough about history nor do I care about the past; I care about the future!" During the course of his presentation earlier that morning Mr. Barna kept emphasizing the idea that institutions are incapable of reform. On this point, I would strongly disagree.

I think, and I may misunderstand, that Mr. Barna believes that the blame for our current spiritual condition with its accompanying reduction in adherents to Christianity is the fault of today's leaders within the institutionalized church. What he referred to as the "sticks and bricks" or the "congregational" church, which in his mind is a purely human invention apparently operating apart from God's providence.

There is no doubt that all who are called to leadership in the ministration of the Gospel bear a great responsibility but this is not the sole source of our problem. We have simply become an unfaithful people, both in our knowledge of God and of our communion with Him. Romans 1:28, "…since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done." Too many who profess Christ as Lord and Savior simply no longer think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge, an intimate relationship, of and with God.

I left this whole encounter with a sense that this worthwhile intention, albeit for the Glory of God, has the very real potential of producing spiritual anarchy, a "church" in which there is no governance, no overarching authority, and no theological standards.

Revolutions by their very nature divide and deconstruct whereas reformations seek to preserve the good and integrate more good for the improvement of the institution. I love the Church. I do not think the church is perfect nor do I think the authority of the church supersedes scripture but the institutional church does have a place in God's plan. It is a dangerous thing indeed to declare war on the "institution" which in fact was established by God as testified to in the New Testament.


EvangeCube: Evangelical Tool or Trivial Trinket?

For those of you unfamiliar with the "EvangeCube," it is a "Rubik's Cube" device that conveys pictorial depictions of the Gospel message. You can actually view an online demonstration here.

My friend, Nathan Sheets is the President of EvangeCube Global Ministries and co-inventor of this tool, distributing more than 1.5 million units around the globe to date. Suffice it to say that the EvangeCube has inspired its share of critics and naysayers. A quick google search will reveal that there are a number of Christians who believe the EvangeCube is "the cheesiest evangelistic tool in the entire world." One site states that "the EvangeCube is the LAST thing I would show my pagan friends down at the local, but it is actually a big hit in the Middle East, where thousands of people have heard and understood the story of Jesus." (That seems to be a self-refuting condemnation.)

Another site states, "The EvangeCube reduces the entire mystery of salvation to seven handy flip'n'fold pictures on a cube, enabling you to trigger a major life event in a non-believing friend in just three minutes, tops!" (Is that a bad thing?) The Dallas Morning News recently ran a story on the EvangeCube in which they quoted Simon Jenkins, editor of Ship of Fools, an online Christian magazine, saying; "Can you imagine ever sitting down with someone and they have this cube and start talking. It's like something out of another world. If someone whipped out a cube in an English pub, I'd be embarrassed if somebody was watching. It's like indecency."

While I might not be inclined to use this tool to share God's redemptive plan within academic circles or to patrons in an "English Pub" one cannot deny that this tool has proven successful in conveying the simple Gospel truth to millions of people. Is there really something wrong with this? While I certainly emphasize a deep intellectual understanding and scholarly inquiry into the doctrines of God and the development of a comprehensive theology; I also understand that we should do all we can to communicate the simple life-saving message of the Gospel.

I am thankful for Nathan's vision and pray that God continues to use him and EvangeCube Ministries to spread the message of hope and salvation. I also pray that the Church would be reminded that if God can use Balaam's donkey to share His truth then he can use a simple cube with pictures.


Gilligan's Island: Then and Now

For anyone who denies that America is racing toward sexual anarchy, The Real Gilligan's Island, which appears on TBS, offers irrefutable evidence that we are in a rapid state of moral descent. Not only is this program sex-obsessed it is frankly devoid of any real creativity.

As with every prior civilization that travels from absolute monogamy to libertine sexual ethics the process is usually first made manifest in its creative arts and entertainment. One only has to watch the commercials for this program (as well as many others) to understand that this is precisely and almost exclusively the emphasis in most of today's arts and entertainment. Even the tagline for the Real Gilligan's Island, "hold on to your coconuts" accompanied by a close-up of Mary Ann and Ginger's breasts emphasizes the sexualized theme.

I am not simply appealing to some puritanical view of sexuality rather I am pointing out the parallel to every prior culture that has followed the road to sexual anarchy and its ultimate demise. This is both a moral and sociological fact.

The noted British anthropologist, J.D. Unwin observed in his famous 1934 study, Sex and Culture that "the cultural condition of any society depends upon its social and mental energy, or creative energy." Furthermore he observed that, "those cultures which allowed sexual freedom do not display a high level of social energy - their energy is consumed with meeting their physical appetites - they do not think large thoughts about the physical world - they are not interested in metaphysical questions regarding life and its meaning. In these cultures, life is for now."

Pitirim Sorokin, founder of Harvard's Department of Sociological Studies, wrote in 1956 regarding historical societies that experienced decline, "their periods of social and creative growth have been almost uniformly marked by a very tempered sexual regime, while the periods of their decline have been stamped by sexual anarchy."

In every instance, those cultures that embraced a liberal sexual ethic, as we have now done, expressed this libertine ethic most clearly in its creative arts. This in turn worked to advance this liberal view throughout the society to the point that unless there rose a counterrevolution; these societies all lost their former glory or collapsed altogether. I would argue that with the modern mediums of television and cinema, which serve to disseminate these ideas more broadly and more quickly that the process of demise is only hastened.


Utopian Failure in America's Schools

According to a recent nationwide study by Yale researchers, "preschools are expelling youngsters at three times the rate of public schools."

The study identified a "broad range of antisocial behavior among preschoolers, from the child who cut computer cords as a way to 'liberate the mice' to the 4-year-old who had a bag of marijuana in his backpack. The most frequent grounds for expulsion, child-care experts say, are aggression toward other children in the form of kicking, biting and hair-pulling."

The study acknowledges the growing problem of behavioral disorders among American children. Dartmouth Medical School conducted an earlier study, Hardwired to Connect, which similarly recognized the growing "crisis among children and youth in America." Their conclusions however defined this as the result of "disconnectedness," meaning "a lack of connection to other people (parents, friends, etc.) and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning." The Dartmouth study claimed that these behavior problems, which they defined as a national crisis, were the direct result of these conditions going so far as to suggest that "society needed to pay considerably more attention to young people's moral, spiritual and religious needs."

In response to the Yale study, so-called "child-development" experts acknowledge the problem but offer a different explanation as to the cause. In their mind, these behavior problems are not necessarily related to neglectful or irresponsible parenting as much as they are the result of poor teacher training. "Child-care experts said that many expulsions could be avoided with better teacher training and greater support from psychologists and social workers." Notice the absence of parents in this list of proposed solutions.

This is the way with all utopians who believe that the state and not the family is the solution to societal problems. The problem, in their minds, could not possibly be the selfish desires and actions of parents who place their own needs ahead of their children thus producing this growing sense of disconnectedness, which in turn produces insecurity and emotional instability. Instead, the solution in the mind of the secular humanist to every problem is, "education." Ignorance is seen as the source of all "evil" in the world and not sin. Of course this is astonishing in light of the fact that the 20th century saw the spread of "education" across the world to an unprecedented degree and yet this was not successful in preventing the unparalleled atrocities of the last century. Recall that Nazi Germany was quite possibly the most educated society on earth.


Truth, Obedience, and Conversion

Francis Schaeffer said, "Truth stands before conversion. Before a man can come to Christ he must have a proper understanding of truth, otherwise the words, 'accepting Christ as savior can mean anything'"

Understanding truth as relative and not absolute results in a "relative" faith or conversion. A relativistic mind considers that there are many "truths," all of which are individually determined and purposed to give the individual life meaning and/or help them live in peace in a metaphysical sense.

When presented with the "Gospel" they may conclude that Christianity as a "belief system" might work for them, thus they "accept Christ" because that is so often all the presentation requires. Their faith however, is rooted in their choice to believe and not the horror of a reality in which man existing apart from God as a result of his rebellion lives in utter darkness, despair and bondage for a hopeless eternity! The latter compels men to humiliation and repentance, the first step in dying to ourselves and surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

It is this last aspect which seems so lost in contemporary Western Christianity: Lordship. This is where my friends, Dr. John Armstrong and P. Andrew Sandlin have been most helpful in challenging the current understanding of Justification, especially among ultra-Reformed circles. The current issue of Reformation and Revival Journal (Vol. 14, No. 1) carries a long, incisive exchange between Armstrong and Sandlin on the related issues of Gospel, Law, Justification, and Roman Catholicism. It also features excellent essays on these and other themes by John M. Frame, Don Garlington, John Hesselink, Gerald McDermott, and Norman Shepherd. Garlington's treatment of the so-called "New Perspective on Paul" is most informative, but all of the essays are outstanding. Andrew's essay "The Grace of Law and the Obligation of Gospel" also appears in this issue.

I highly recommend a subscription to the Reformation & Revival Journal; it is an essential resource for the thoughtful Christian who desires to grow in their theological and doctrinal understanding.



Best line I have heard in a movie all year: "Sometimes your low self-esteem is just good common sense!" Finally some truth coming out of Hollywood.


Hotel Rwanda: Relativism, Moral Anarchy & Genocide

I recently watched this film and was profoundly disturbed, moved, and horrified by the scale and tragedy of the genocide which unfolded in Rwanda between ethnic Hutu's and Tutsi's beginning in April 1994. In fact, more than 800,000 men, women, and children were murdered in Rwanda during this unbelievable reign of inhumanity lasting less than four months. This was among a population of less than 8 million!

There were several revelations about this event that struck me which I think are relevant to our examinations of religion and culture. The first is the fact that it was the French government who supplied the Hutu's with weapons and then they along with every other Western power refused to intervene in the prevention of this African holocaust.

What is interesting to me is that the French, who have been so vocal in their outrage toward America, and President Bush in particular over the U.S. initiative to liberate Iraq, seemed to have no moral indignation whatsoever over the abandonment of a whole nation to barbarism. I would argue that this is the inevitable result of postmodern relativism that characterizes so many Western European nations today, and France chief among them.

In the absence of any clear moral convictions these cultures have become indifferent to the oppression of others because they lack any absolute moral commitments. "Who are we to say that this or that is wrong?" Such cultures cannot even condemn the ideologies which lead to genocide. They certainly condemn genocide after the fact but then it is obviously too late. It is only when you are in possession of clear moral convictions rooted in a concept of absolute truth that you are compelled to intervene in order to enact justice.

Of course the French were not alone in their abandonment of the Rwandans; the U.S. under the Clinton administration was equally ambivalent in their response. In fact, recently declassified government documents show that this same lack of moral conviction and the resulting priority of politics over principal were dominating factors in the U.S. indifference.

What is so notable about the 20th century is that great physical power has been acquired by men who have no fear of God and who believe themselves unrestrained by any absolute code of conduct. I would add, if this "code of conduct" does not derive from God then who? History has demonstrated that there have always been many who are willing to author and impose their own moral categories and in every instance the results have been catastrophic. Will we continue to stray further from the truth or will we awaken to the inevitable disaster? Will we return to this one truth? - "I AM the Lord thy God, thou shall have no other gods before Me."