43,800,000*

Even before I was a Christian, I wasn’t dense enough to think of the object in this photo to be anything other then a unborn human baby.  It’s not a parasite or a potential human.  It’s an actual living, capable of pain, human.  And it’s perfectly legal to destroy its life.

These last two weeks have really energized the pro-life crowd.  Between the three videos showing planned parenthood haggling over prices of harvested baby parts and the moral outrage shown against someone who killed a lion in africa, it’s made talking about the sanctity of life that much more common.  I’ve gotten in to it a few times on my facebook with pro-abortionists, including one who seemed to make the argument that I couldn’t be against baby slaughtering because I have my own flaws?  Someone else called him out on how illogical his argument was, and he stopped posting.  And that makes sense, because it’s completely illogical to support the mass murder of babies.  In retrospect though, it is also completely illogical to standby as your country commits genocide against the jewish population or enslaves those of a different skin color.  All things that we have let happen in the last 150 years.  The arguments used for abortion is eerily similar to the arguments for the holocaust and slavery.  “They aren’t human”, “It’s my life or theirs”, “The government says it’s okay”.

Maybe it’s because  I’m only 4 weeks away from being a dad to a beautiful baby girl that is reignited my love for the pro-life movement.  I know nothing magical happens in these next 4 weeks to magically transform Lily from a fetus into a baby.  Yet, if Lisa wanted, she could go kill our child and it would legally be okay and it would just be her exercising her right as a woman.  What about Lillian’s right to grow into a woman?  I’m so thankful and blessed that I married a wonderful woman who respects life from its earliest moments.  Lisa and I have talked about how baffling it is that a woman can carry her baby for 9 months, give birth, hold her crying baby in her arms and still reaffirm how it’s alright to kill the pre-born if that’s your choice.

Cecil the Lion gives us an opportunity to really sit back and see how messed up our culture is.  A dentist illegally kills a lion and it’s a national story and is forced to close his business and take his family into hiding.  Arguments against how immoral it is to kill a innocent life that was living in a habitat made to keep the lion safe.  Meanwhile Planned Parenthood  alone is slaughtering over 1,000 babies every single day.  And when you argue against that, you are a misogynistic extremist.

*Approximately 43.8 million babies are aborted every year worldwide.
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Breaking Bad and The Bible

I think if Dutch theologian Hendrik Berkhof were still alive, he might say that AMC’s big hit, Breaking Bad, just may be the perfect parable on the powers. His little book, ,Christ and the Powers, was translated into English by John Howard Yoder and serves as a foundational work for Yoder’s theology as well as the unique work of Walter Wink. I think it would be fascinating to reflect on this drama with the three of these great thinkers – now all dead (which, considering the tone of the show – seems kind of fitting).

Berkhof was one of the first (maybe the first?) to take a critical look at just what the Apostle Paul was talking about in the New Testament when he referred to “powers, principalities, and authorities.” Essentially, he goes on to suggest, they are the unseen forces that are at work in our world. This particular realm of discussion always makes me think of this scene from School of Rock – you may not understand the language of Powers – but everyone knows who “The Man” is:

I’ve never seen a more vivid commentary on the Powers than in the storyline of Breaking Bad. Hollywood has long wrestled with the dark realities and crises of sin through the genre of horror (a personal favorite!). Coming to terms with the reality of sin through the over-the-top nature of the the likes of Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers is less threatening to our personal faith than what we encounter through Breaking Bad. It just doesn’t seem that threatening to talk about what we would do if a mass murderer ever broke into our homes or dreams.

Maybe it began with the Saw movies – or maybe it was Se7en – but somewhere along the line the audience wasn’t allowed to simply watch idly by as a terrible tale unfolds and project ourselves into impossible scenarios. Instead, these new movies invite us into more realistic moral quandaries – what do we do when our only choices are between two evils? To what extent are we willing to participate in the fallen state in order to maintain our self-preservation? Just how entangled are we in the sinful work of the Powers?

In the beginning, of Breaking Bad we meet Walter White – an under-achieving chemistry genius who teaches high school science. Providing the plot lines to the program, Walter faces the Powers up close and personal through disease (cancer) which plunges him to face other realities that we all face: economic Powers, the Power of health care, the illegal drug world, and on and on the story goes delving more and more deeply into the interconnected world of the Powers.

What begins as a somewhat light-hearted traipse to the dark side of the law, continues to grow darker with each episode. It’s as if we the viewer are invited to witness the degree to which Walter becomes entrapped by the Powers in order to reflect upon our own life and the degree that the Powers have entangled us. As the story develops, the audience is forced to wrestle with the reality that the chief “hero” of the story, is slowly becoming baptized by the Powers and turning into the nemesis. This couldn’t resonate more directly with Berkhof’s teaching on the Powers: created as good, but fallen with all of creation and now ruling instead of serving.

I Am Troy Davis and I Am Free

I never heard of Troy Davis until this week, I saw a bunch of people post about the mysterious guy on facebook one day and decided to Google him.  And I was mourned, yet not surprised to see that another man was being put to death for a crime in which his involvement with seemed questionable at best.  I’m obviously not a lawyer and I was in no way involved with the court case, so really my opinion on whether or not Troy Davis was guilty is irrelevant.  When asked Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show if he thought the state had executed an innocent man, civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton said: “I believe that they did, but even beyond my belief, they clearly executed a man who had established much, much reasonable doubt.”

Strapped to a gurney in Georgia’s death chamber, Troy Davis lifted his head and declared one last time that he did not kill police officer Mark MacPhail. Just a few feet away behind a glass window, MacPhail’s son and brother watched in silence.

As sad as it is, I am not surprised that we see a lower class black man sentence to die for a crime he may not have committed (in the south, no less).  I’m even more sad (yet still not surprised), that the Christian community has failed to really acknowledge or even take a stand on the issue.  The majority of Christians love the death penalty, and are usually years behind most domestic civil rights movements.  Let’s face it, American Christians have some major priority flaws.  A poor black man is executed for a crime he may not have committed, and nobody really says anything.  Yet, we will spend $80 on a pair of terrible shoes so a child in less developed world will also have a pair of terrible shoes.

Does the Bible allow the death penalty?  It would seem so.  Does that mean we have to use it?  No.  Should we use it when our criminal justice system is plagued with racism, sexism, and classism?  Absolutely not.

The “T” Word

Theology: the·ol·o·gy (thē-ˈä-lə-jē) the study of religious faith, practice, and experience;especially : the study of God and of God’s relation to the world

How in the world do we live in a country where we are blessed to be able to read our bibles and worship our God without persecution, and we shun away from studying God’s word.  If I had a dollar for every time a Christian told me “theology isn’t my thing” or “I’m no theologian”, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams.  I think most people think that theology (and theologians) is when people sit around a table in some castle off on the shores of Great Britain and discuss rather or not this verse actually means what it says and involves big words like propitiation and expiation.  While that does play a role, it is not solely what it consists of, the bulk of theology is studying Gods word.

If you have ever read scripture and thought how this applies to you or what you can learn from it, I hate to break it to you but you just participated in theology (boo! hiss!).  The scripture itself tells us to always be ready to answer questions, rebuke those with bad doctrine, and to encourage the studying of Gods word (2 Tim 4:2).  Yet we act as if God just wants us to know that “God is love” and we can leave it at that and discuss it no more.  If I said there is no hell, most would probably point me to scripture that says something else; that would be an instance of theological discussion.  However if someone brings up a topic that may be more meat then milk (1 Cor. 3:1-3) a lot of people will try to avoid discussing it by saying they aren’t into theology and they aren’t no theologian.  Well, that doesn’t cut it, that is willful ignorance of the faith you claim to have.  Christ was asked many tough theological questions and he didn’t take the cowards way out, he answered them.  He didn’t reply with “it doesn’t matter, just love me!”.  Of course we will never have Christs knowledge, but God has given us everything we need to answer almost any question, and the answers are found in the bible.

The bible is amazing, it holds the answers to every question we may ever have.  Thankfully, God has blessed us with great teachers in modern times to help us read the bible accurately and with clear eyes and a glorifying heart.  It is rather arrogant to say that you don’t need to read other books or listen to other teachers.  Could you imagine if the Corinthian church wrote back to Paul and said “Hey thanks for the letter, but we don’t need it.  We’ve got the Torah and we know what Jesus said.  So thanks, but no thanks”.  Paul would travel to Corin and start crushin’ skulls!  We have been blessed to have so many resources, and yet we rather remain willingly ignorant of the truth.

There are some questions that will require you to look outside the scripture to find what the scripture says on the subject.  (Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying that the scripture isn’t sufficient.  It’s us we are not sufficient and we tend to twist the holy words to fit what we believe instead of twisting our beliefs to fit the holy words).  If I ask you how God finds me guilty in Adam when I never chose to have Adam represent me and how in the world is that fair?  You will have to do some serious studying to find the answer.  Same with if I asked why God hardened Pharaohs heart and still found him guilty of sin.  There are thousands of years of great Christian teachings to look to for help finding the answer.  And it’s when we rely on our own sinful minds and sinful hearts to interpret scripture that heresy begins to form.  And when we refuse to listen to our brothers and teachers of our faith, it does not glorify God.  I would say that it angers God.

Theology is amazing, it allows us to know more about the holy and perfect God that we are suppose to dedicate our lives too.  If you know more about Football then you do about God, something is wrong.

God’s Will

I am confronted a lot by people telling me that God has a will for us, and it is a great will that will never hurt us and only benefit us.  And it’s only when we don’t follow his will is when bad things happen.  I ask these people if it is then possible to thwart God’s plan, and they tell me yes and I am caught off guard.  We can thwart God’s plan and will??  I don’t know how you guys view God, but this is now the God I worship.  The God I worship is not bound by humans, he is not limited by us.  My God does not act in reaction to our actions.  The Lord’s decreed will cannot be thwarted.  Just look at Ephesians 1:11 to see God’s decreed will.  It states he works all things according to his will.  To quote Augustine, “The will of God is the necessity of all things.”  Or to put in more understandable terms, “What God wills, will happen, and what happens is according to God’s will.”

So right now you’re probably thinking, “So if I sin, God has decreed it?  So God is the author of sin then!”  Not at all.  Yes, God is sovereign, but he is not the author of sin.  While we are under his sovereignty, we are not free from responsibility for our actions.  God sent babylon to punish Judah, but God also punished Babylon for acting wickedly against God’s people. (Jeremiah 25) Is God then unjust for decreeing something to happen then punishing for it? By no means! The Lord God is not subject to our fallen notions of fairness.

This isn’t theological nit-picking, this is about giving God the most amount of glory.