How Royalty Changes the Abortion Debate


3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
— Psalm 8:3–9 —

The “royals,” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are in the news again, making a splash about “de-throning” themselves, or at least trying to take a less prominent role among British royalty. That news, coupled with this month’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that opened the door to abortion on demand and led to more than 61 million unborn babies being killed in the womb—made me think of an article I wrote a few years ago.

When The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) revamped their website, this post was lost. So I’m posting it again. The argument still stands and we should consider the damaging effects of “de-throning” the image of God and treating babies as less than royal. By contrast, when we recognize that babies—unborn, born, and grown—as the image of God are “royal” by nature, it has massive implications for how we consider abortion in our day.  Let’s consider. Continue reading

For Your Edification (10.4.13): Caves, Co-Ed Football, and a Vision of Heaven

For Your Edification: Here are few things for you to read over, watch, pray, and think about this weekend.

God’s Creation Is Wonder-FullThis week researchers discovered a cave in China with its own weather system. Appropriately, The Weather Channel reports on this 12-acre cave that dwarfs our own Mammoth Cave. The name of the cave is called Er Wang Dong, and ‘impressive’ does not fully capture the beauty and grandeur of this cave. Check it out and give God praise for the world he has made: “For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy” (Ps 92:4).


Cave 2

Be True To God. A few months ago, Trevin Wax questioned a view commonly held by many in our culture—the idea that above all we must be true to ourselves. Pointing to the way that corporations market this view, Wax writes,

Disney movies (and most of the rip-offs) tell our kids again and again that the most important lesson in life is to discover yourself, be true to whatever it is you discover, and then follow your heart wherever it leads.

Now, I’m not a Disney hater, and I enjoy watching good movies with my kids and passing on these memorable stories. Still, there are two assumptions behind the Disney formula that we ought to be aware of: (1) You are what you feel; (2) Embrace what you feel no matter what others say.

Trevin’s insights are well-made and deserve consideration. From the couch to the counseling room, Christians are led astray by ‘following their hearts.’ We need to reconsider this counsel and be true to God.

Football, Football, Football. Owen Strachan touched off a firestorm, when he wrote in Christianity Today a piece about “our shaken faith in football.” David Prince and Jimmy Scroggins shot back—first on Twitter and then in a full article at the ERLC Blog—arguing that the NFL data is incompatible with the sport millions of young people play.  Prince and Scroggins point to other statistics related to the dangers of endurance running and cheerleading, to make the point that we should not be overly sensitive to safety. Ironically, a point that Owen affirms whole-heartedly—see his new book The Risky Gospel. 

In the end, I think both arguments have merit, and of course, I am torn because I know each of these men and consider them friends. Personally, my mind is not made up, either way. I didn’t play high school football because I valued my body for other things. Yet, I am not ready to ban the sport, and if my son wanted to play I would support it. Still of all the comments that have ensued,  I found Jason Allen’s article the most insightful, especially as it relates to football and gender roles: Three Reasons Why My Sons Are Not Playing Football (This Year)

Heaven, A World of Love . In September, I spent the month preaching on 1 Corinthians 13.  As I preached, I picked at Jonathan Edwards book on 1 Corinthians 13, Charity and Its Fruits. His final chapter speaks on the permanence of love in heaven. He rightly suggests that heaven is a world of love. Here is a sample:

Heaven is a part of creation that God has built for this end, to be the place of His glorious presence, and it is His abode forever; and here will He dwell, and gloriously manifest Himself to all eternity. And this renders heaven a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven, fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light. The apostle tells us that “God is love”; and therefore, seeing He is an infinite being, it follows that He is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing He is an all-sufficient being, it follows that He is a full and over-flowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love. And in that He is an unchangeable and eternal being, He is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love.

You can read the whole thing here: Heaven, A World of Love, or you can buy the book.

Kingdom, Culture, and MissionFinally, if you haven’t heard Dr. Russell Moore’s inauguration address from his installation as the new President of the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberties Committee), you should.

For Your Edification, dss

Defenders of Faith and Family: People You Need to Know

It has been four days since the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This landmark decision will have implications for decades to come, and consequently, there has been no end to the legal analysis, cultural commentary, and prophetic predictions since Wednesday’s decision. This dialogue is exhausting, but also necessary.

Christians (pastors and parishioners) need to be informed and equipped to handle this judicial decision and the implication it will have on state laws and America’s public perception of those defending traditional marriage. One of the most alarming aspects of the court’s decision was Justice Kennedy’s language that essentially described opponents of same sex marriage as “enemies of the human race” (language used by Justice Scalia in his dissenting remarks).

Due to the centrality of marriage for gospel witness, not to mention societal stability, this fight for marriage is going to continue for sometime. It should.

In this heated conversation, its worth asking, “Who is a helpful voice? A voice advocating biblical wisdom, not just partisan politics?”  Since, not every voice is equally helpful, it might be helpful to know the names of a few defenders of traditional marriage that you can continue to listen to.  Maybe you already have your luminaries, but if not, let me commend a few to you. Continue reading

Aesthetics 101: Learning to Look for the Beauty of Christ

Last week, I guest-posted (I guess that’s a word) on Trevin Wax’s blog, a meditation from Revelation 19 on “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.”  It was one of a couple meditations that came out of a series of sermons I preached last year on the subject of beauty–namely beauty as it is found in the Bible.

Today, I will begin to add to that post.  Looking at the subject of aesthetics, I will consider its place in the Bible, and in the days ahead I will post a few reflections on beauty and its essential place in the Christians’ life.  Then, after considering the need for aesthetics, I will offer a few reflections on how the beauty of the incarnation and hell (yes, the beauty of hell) can move us towards greater love and holiness.

Whether aesthetics is a subject that is familiar or foreign, I hope you will consider with me the idea of beauty as it relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ–who is indeed, the most beautiful one of all.

Aesthetics 101

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul concludes his six-fold admonition to right thinking by saying, “if there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things” (4:8).  As someone who had seen firsthand the glories of heaven (2 Cor 12:1-3), Paul spoke with a unique knowledge of beauty, truth, and goodness.  Indeed, as a herald of the gospel, he was at great pains to proclaim the beauty of Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2) and to see the beauty of Christ formed in the believers whom he betrothed to Christ (2 Cor 11:2).

In a way, Paul was an aesthete (i. e. a person who has a highly developed appreciation for beauty).  Now, that sounds really esoteric and unnecessary for the Christian life.  But I want to argue that seeing God’s beauty in the Word and the world is essential for Christian discipleship and spiritual growth.

Indeed, I am grateful to Trevin for letting me scribble some thoughts on the subject of aesthetics, and to share them with you.  For indeed, it was a book review on Erasing Hellthat Trevin wrote about a year ago that sowed the first seed in my thinking about the subject of beauty and its importance—make that, its necessity—in the Christian life.

A Journey into the Beautiful

I am a novice when it comes to art, literature, and most things that fall under the subject of aesthetics.  I have not taken a class on it.  I have read very little on the subject.  So, I am sure that in what I have to say on the subject will make plain my naïve understanding.  However, as a pastor, the subject of beauty is weekly occupation.  Here is what I mean.

Called to herald the sufferings and glories of Christ every Lord’s Day and every day in between, I have found that preaching the gospel means more than simply explaining concepts like justification, sanctification, and grace.  Of course, Christ-centered exposition must never divert from such biblical theology.  However, the call to preach and teach God’s word must go further. Indeed, stewards of the gospel must explain the whole counsel of Scripture, but they must also exalt beauty of these gospel truths.  This is why aesthetics is a necessary discipline for Christian preachers and parishioners.

And truly, I am grateful to Trevin for helping me see this.  Here is what he said a year ago, that grabbed my attention:

 What is needed is a response that takes into consideration the beauty of Truth. We’ve got the truth portion down when it comes to propositions. What is needed is a beautiful and compelling portrait of Truth – the Person. God is inherently beautiful, but many times, we don’t do well at drawing out the inherent beauty of Truth with a capital T.

Trevin makes the probing observation, “We struggle in the area of aesthetics, and I’m not sure why.”  Then, he comes back and challenges those who defend the truth by means of propositions to consider other artistic tools to depict the beauty of God’s capital T truth.

The problem with the responses to Love Wins is that, while we are experts at critiquing Bell’s vision of God, we aren’t stepping up with a more compelling portrait of God’s magnificence. We are scribbling down our thoughts under Bell’s chalk drawing instead of taking up the paint brush and creating something that reflects the beauty of biblical truth.

I am grateful for Trevin awakening me from my aesthetic slumber, and so as I have preached, blogged, and counseled in the last year, I have sought not only to diagram sentences but to communicate the beauties of God and his gospel.

One last attribution.  I was greatly helped in the months leading up to preaching on the beauty of God in creation and redemption  by the excellent little book on the subject of beauty by my friend Owen Strachan and his doctoral supervisor, Doug Sweeney.  Their book, Jonathan Edwards on Beauty, is full of Edwards own aesthetic reflections, and is well worth the read.

Over the next few posts, I will try to share a few biblical meditations on some of the things I found in Scripture that stirred my heart, and I hope they will stir your as well.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Male Maturity in an Age of Adolescence

I love Biblical Theology that informs daily living, and I love my son, so I have two great reasons to commend Owen Strachan’s three-part series on “A Biblical Blueprint for Manhood.”  Owen, a good friend who I greatly respect, traces out biblical wisdom for raising young men who are strong, on the alert, standing firm in the faith, acting like men, and doing all things in love (cf. 1 Cor. 16:13-14).  Considering age-graded aspects of biblical boyhood, adolescence, and manhood, these CBMW blogs esteem biblical wisdom over and above anything which the world has to offer.  Here is an excerpt:

Many young men about to graduate from college seem to realize that adolescence is getting a bit old. It’s slightly weird to dress and talk and look like a high-school boy while pushing into the twenties.  Yet such men have precious little sense about what to do with that realization.  So they lose themselves in a sea of self-indulgence, floating with a vague sense of shame and inadequacy.  In the past, American manhood was biblically informed and defined by certain events and experiences.  Now, many men do nothing but drift.  Though the Bible does not spell out in a single passage the way a boy becomes a man, it does include some poignant exchanges that provide clarity in the presence of confusion.

You can read them all here: 

A Blueprint for Manhood, Part 1: The Problem, a Solution, and the First Few Years of a Boy’s Life

A Blueprint for Manhood, Part 2: In Adolescence and Beyond, the Importance of Living for Others

A Blueprint for Manhood, Part 3:Maturity, Singleness, and the Legacy Every Man Can Leave

May we be biblically-reformed men, and for those who are bringing up boys, may we pray for and work towards shaping young men who walk wisely by fearing God, loving others, picking up the cross daily to follow Christ–the true man!!!

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

The Academy and the Church

Owen Strachan, friend and “Consumed” blogger has recently contemplated the tension raised between the priority of local church ministry and the allure of academic pursuits. A few weeks ago he referenced an article by Covenant Seminary professor and administrator,Sean Michael Lucas, which cogently articulated many of these notions with which seminarians–young and old–wrestle.

This struggle is not new, as illustrated by John Angell James comments in his book on the need for earnestness in ministry. The pastor emeritus does not dismiss the place of scholarship, but neither does he exalt it. In his day, he speaks of the commality of such degrees and reflects on how such ubiquity will temper pride and how attainment will eventually undo the all-consuming initial desire for learning. Consider his balanced sentiments and his emphatic call for earnestness–regardless of ones level of schooling:

In an age like the present, when so much is said about knowledge, and such high value is attached to it, there is a danger of our being seduced from every other qualification, and taken up with this. The establishment of the London University, and the incorporation of our Colleges with it, have give our students access to academic degrees and honours: and there is some danger in the new condition of our literary Institutions, lest our young men should have their minds in some measure drawn away from much more important matters, by the hope of having their names graced by the marks of Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree [or Doctor]. It is a foolish clamour that has been raised against all attention to such matters, and it is a vain and barbarous precaution that would fortify the ministerial devotedness of our students, by restraining them altogether from such distinctions. The studies necessary to enable them to attain this object of their ambition, are a part of the their professional education; while the vanity likely to be engendered by success will soon be annihilated by the commonness of the acquisition. When these degrees are so common that almost all ministers possess them, they will no longer be a snare to their possessors. Besides, like every other object of human desire, when once they are possessed, much of the charm that dazzled the eye of hope has vanished. Henry Martyn, when he came from the senate-house at Cambridge, where he had been declared Senior Wrangler of his year, and had thus won the richest honour the University had to confer, was struct with the vanity of human wishes, and expressed his surprise at the comparative worthlessness of the bauble he had gained, and the shadow he had grasped. It is not by closing the door against such distinctions that we can hope to raise the tone of devotedness in our ministry, but by fostering in the minds of our young men at College, and in the minds of our congregations, and our ministers in general, the conviction that earnestness is just that one thing, to which all other things must be, and can be, made subservient, and without which all otehr things which educaiton can impart are as nothing (John Angell James, An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times [Edinburg: Banner of Truth, 1993: Original 1847], 247-48).