Saturday, April 13, 2024

Abortion - I am Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

 

                                             (Crossing Lake Michigan on The Badger)

When it comes to abortion, I am Pro-Life.

I believe that the conceptus/embryo/fetus is human life. It's human life that is innocent. It's human life that is defenseless. I believe it is morally wrong to kill an innocent, defenseless, human life. I am Pro-Life. 

When it comes to abortion, I am Pro-Choice.

The abortionist movement believes the mother has the moral right to choose to kill an innocent, defenseless human being. But this ignores the inborn human life, and their freedom to choose.

I believe the inborn human life has a right to choose. If anyone has the right to choose, it ought to be the human that is about to be executed.  Therefore, I am Pro-Choice.

But isn't a conceptus/embryo/fetus cognitively incapable of making any choice? Correct. But a newborn baby is also cognitively incapable of making any choice. The inability to make a choice for life, or for death, is not cognitively accessible to a human life until they are...  how old? 

I believe the following reasoning fails.

1. The conceptus/embryo/fetus is incapable of making choices.

2. Therefore, it is not immoral to make the choice for them, and terminate them. 

This argument morally fails because it would include infanticide. (*See, e.g., the debates surrounding atheist Peter Singer's beliefs about the morality of involuntary euthanasia, where Singer makes an arguably false distinction between "person" and "human life.") 

I believe it is morally right to wait until a human life can exercise its own right to choose between life or death. Why not give them the choice of whether they want to live or not? Upon meeting a person struggling with this choice, a vast majority of counselors and pastors will help the person choose life. But once more, that will be their choice.

I am bringing the word 'choice' back into the Pro-Life camp. The life-or-death choice belongs to the inborn human life. That's how it should be.

I would counsel them to choose life, and walk with them on the road that leads to life

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you 

that I have set before you life and death, 

blessings and curses. 

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Deut, 30:19

In this regard, I am Pro-Choice as well as Pro-Life.


***

*See HERE, e.g.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Wisdom Is Beyond Information and Knowledge

(Gull Lake, Michigan)

In the biblical books of Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs, the pinnacle of humanity's search for meaning is wisdom. Not information. Not knowledge. Wisdom. 

Many use the Internet to access information. Beyond that, few matriculate to knowledge. Precious few beyond that graduate to wisdom.

"For all its resources, the digital humanities makes a rookie mistake: It confuses more information for more knowledge. DH [The digital humanities] doesn’t know why it thinks it knows what it does not know. And that is an odd place for a science to be." (Timothy Brennan, "The Digital-Humanities Bust," The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 2017)

Brennan, a professor of cultural studies at the University of Minnesota, goes on to say that the Digital-Humanities promotes ""digitization, classification, description and metadata, organization, and navigation." An amazing list, which leaves out that contradictory and negating quality of what is normally called "thinking." It would be a mistake to see this banishment of the concept as the passive by-product of a technical constraint. It is the aim of the entire operation." (Emphasis mine.)

It leaves out....   thinking. Few are the thinkers; fewer yet are the wise. Information is not knowledge, and is further yet from wisdom. (See The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters, by Tom Nichols.)

Wisdom is a deep well, requiring a lifetime spent in focus and discipline. Wisdom is a mile deep and an inch wide. Information is shallow, an inch deep and a mile wide. (See Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains.)

Information says "X is."

Knowledge says "This is how X is."

Wisdom says "This is why X is."

Information grows like mushrooms. Knowledge grows like an oak tree. Wisdom grows like a sequoia. 

Ecclesiastes says,


There's nothing better than being wise,
Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. 
Wisdom puts light in the eyes, 
And gives gentleness to words and manners.

Peterson, Eugene H.. The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In Contemporary Language (p. 941). 


***
Two of my books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Forgiving Others - Three Stages

(Chicago)

What is forgiveness? Lewis Smedes, in his paradigm-changing book Forgive and Forget, stages the process of forgiveness this way.

1) You surrender the right to get even with the person who wronged you.

You will no longer engage in ways of making them pay for how they wounded you.

You give whatever justice should be exacted over to God.

You let it go.

2) You reinterpret the person who wronged you in a larger format.

You begin to see the person as God sees them. 

This helps us avoid creating a "caricature" of the person who wounded us. "In the act of forgiving, we get a new picture of a needy, weak, complicated, fallible human being like ourselves."

We begin to see that we are "that kind of people" too, not in the details, but in the heart.

As you begin to view the person who hurt you this way, forgiveness is taking root in you.

Forgiveness will be securely planted in you when you experience stage three, as a matter of your heart.

3) You develop a gradual desire for the welfare of the person who wounded you.

At this stage you are like Jesus, who loved us even as we were his enemies and wounded him on the cross.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Consciousness Presents a Problem for Scientific Naturalism

(The River Raisin, in our backyard)

























A "recalcitrant fact," writes J.P. Moreland, is a stubborn fact that doggedly resists explanation by a theory. "No matter what a theory's advocate does, the recalcitrant fact just sits there and is not easily incorprated into the theory. In this case, the recalcitrant fact provides falsifying evidence for the theory and some degree of confirmation for its rivals." (J.P. Moreland, "The Image of God and the Failure of Scientific Atheism," in God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible, 33)

A stubborn fact that keeps holding on, for scientific naturalism, is the nature of human persons. In this regard Berkeley philosopher John Searle writes:

"There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy... How do we fit in?... How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?" (In Ib., 34)

Moreland answers: "For the scientific naturalist, the answer is "Not very well." (Ib.)

In fact, it was this recalcitrant fact, among other things, that led the famous philosopher-atheist Antony Flew to turn to theism. Flew writes:

"The rationality [consciousness, freedom of the will and unified self] that we unmistakably experience - ranging from the laws of nature to our capacity for rational thought - cannot be explained if it does not have an ultimate ground, which can be nothing less than an infinite mind." (In Ib.)

Consciousness presents a problem for scientific naturalism.

***
See Moreland's two books on this for more detailed reasoning:

The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism

Consciousness and the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument

***
Other blog posts on consciousness I have made...

Stop Finding Fault with Others


                                                                         (Monroe, MI)

How far do I want to follow Jesus?

This morning I read Matthew 7:1-2:


“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 
For in the same way you judge others, 
you will be judged, 
and with the measure you use, 
it will be measured to you.

Jesus is talking about people. My problem is that I make too many judgments about people without understanding. I know that judging without understanding is ignorant and foolish. When I do this, I am often wrong.

Sometimes, I speculate. Speculation is a form of non-understanding and, as such, usually a waste of time. I've expended a lot of time guessing about the actions of other people, sometimes forming judgments based on my predictions. 

Jesus; words are not about making judgments, but about judgmentalism. We make countless judgments every day. The lights in my room are on. Or, It's going to br cloudy today. I judge that those two statements are true. Linda and I are tired of winter. That's true, too. And, If X keeps using heroin, he could die. That's true. All these judgments involving states of affairs can be made with a good heart.

Judgmentalism, however, is about a different heart attitude. A judgmental person is a critic of others. A judgmental person is someone who condemns others.

New Testament scholar R. T. France writes: "Judge (krino) often carries the connotation of "condemn," and it is in that sense that it is used here." (France, The Gospel According to Matthew, p. 142)

France continues:

"This passage is concerned with the fault-finding, condemnatory attitude which is too often combined with a blindness to one's own failings. The least such an attitude can expect is to be judged with equal harshness by other men. But the passive [tense], as often in Matthew, probably conceals God himself as the agent. Just as he will forgive those who forgive (6:14-15), he will condemn those who condemn." (Ib.)

John Stott writes that Jesus' command "is not a requirement to be blind, but a plea to be generous." (In Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, p. 165)

Commenting on these verses, Morris writes:

"Jesus' words surely refer to the divine tribunal. To be quick to call others to account is to invite God to call us to account. That judgment of some form is required of his followers is clear from the demand that they cast not what is holy to dogs (Mt. 7:6); what is forbidden is censoriousness, the readiness to find fault." (Ib.)

Craig Keener writes that "Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit." (Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, p. 240)

Judging others while being blind to my own faults is toxic.

Condemning others is not my responsibility.

Judging without understanding is foolish, bringing pain not only to others but to myself as well.

I agree.

"But Jesus demands more than agreement from disciples: he demands obedience." (Keener, Ib., p. 241)

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Understanding and Responding to Sexuality Issues: A Brief Bibliography

(University of Michigan)



I am against the legalization of same-sex marriage for two reasons, one religious, the other non-religious (sociological and legal).

As regards the religious reason, I do not expect non-religious people to agree with me. Of course not. Just as I don't turn to their irreligious worldview to make sense of anything, neither do I expect them to partner with me. That's the way worldviews work. Everyone has one. They do not, at significant points, overlap.

If the non-religious person objects to my religious views, they question my worldview, not my reasoning. The irreligious person is a non-player in the intra-religious and intra-Christian dialogue.

Regarding non-religious reasons, here is where the irreligious and religious can join in principled (we would hope) dialogue, rather than ad hominem stereotyping (sadly, some on both sides do this.). We can dialogue without name-calling, right?

These are a few of the resources I have read and found helpful in understanding the issues.

The Intra-Worldview Discussion

Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, by Dan O. Via and Robert Gagnon

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, by Robert Gagnon. This is probably the book to read, within this worldview, and from this perspective.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, by Wesley Hill.

Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by Gpd's Grand Story, by Christopher Yuan.

God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, by Matthew Vines.

Changing Our Mind, by David Gushee.

Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding with Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality, by Michael Brown.


Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church’s Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality, by Greg Johnson.









Sexual Identity and Faith: Helping Clients Find Congruence, by Yarhouse

See my friend Phillip Lee's website, His Way Out Ministries

See Justin Brierley's "Unbelievable" podcast - "God, Gay Christians and the Church," a dialogue between David Bennett and Brandan Robinson.

See my sermon "The Meaning of Marriage."



Legal and Philosophical Reasoning on Same-Sex Marriage

Why Marriage Matters, Third Edition: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, by Bradford Wilcox. 

Debating Same-Sex Marriage, by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher.

The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, and Morals, eds. Robert P. George and Jean Bethke Elshtain.  

What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, by Sherif Gergis, Robert P. George, and Ran T. Anderson (forthcoming Oct. 16, 2012) 

When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement (Famously banned by Amazon [see here]; while Amazon sells Hitler's Mein Kampf.)

I contacted Robert George re. this issue, and he graciously sent me the following links. He also graciously offered to field questions I have.

From Prof. George:

For a fuller account of my own views, here is the link to a more recent paper I wrote with two of my former students. (It is a free one-click download.)
“What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, and Ryan T. Anderson, in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:   http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155

Kenji Yoshino of NYU published a critique on Slate, to which there is a link in our reply, available here:  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2217

Andrew Koppelman of Northwestern published a critique on Balkinization, to which there is a link in our reply, available here:  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2263

Barry Deutsch published a critique on the Family Scholars Blog, to which there is a link in our reply, available here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/12/2277

Kenji Yoshino published a response to our reply, to which there is a link in our reply to that response, available here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/01/2295

Andrew Koppelman published a response to our reply, to which there is a link in our reply to that response, available here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/01/2350

Also, here is an essay in two parts (written with Patrick Lee and Gerard V. Bradley) on the link between procreation and marriage – a link we believe is badly misunderstood by many on both sides of the debate. Here are the links:

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/03/2638 “Marriage and Procreation: The Intrinsic Link”

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/03/2637 “Marriage and Procreation: Avoiding Bad Arguments”

Prof. George also sent me:

The Good of Marriage and the Morality of Sexual Relations: some Philosophical and Historical Observations, by John Finnis.

Marriage: A Basic and Exigent Good, John Finnis.

Christianity, Culture, and Politics - A Select Bibliography

 




SOME RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME 

(These are resources I have read and studied, and have helped me better understand the relationship between religion, culture, and politics. Surely there are more. What books have helped you?)

This color highlight means: read these books first.



And, of course, keep saturating yourself in Scripture.

Study the ethics of Jesus. Read the Gospels. Check this out - The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics. 

Do I agree with everything written in these books? 

Of course not. I don't even agree with everything you say.