Sebelius + HHS = Fewer Abortions

sebelius.jpgThis morning, I have signed a last-minute petition supporting the appointment of Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius, as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Some on the Right are raising a stink about Sebelius’s pro-choiciness, but if you take the time to read the statement below, you will see that she, like Obama, is committed to dramatically reducing abortions.  Let’s be honest, people, there is little political will to “end” abortions legislatively or judicially.  Right now, it’s up to the executive branch to work toward the systemic reduction of abortion.

As Christians dedicated to finding common ground solutions to reduce
the number of abortions in America, we welcome President Obama’s
nomination of Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and
Human Services.

Under Governor Sebelius’ leadership, abortions have decreased in Kansas
by 10 percent, adoption funding and incentives have increased,
healthcare access for women and families has expanded, prenatal care
has become more widely available, and legislation protecting the unborn
from crime has become law. Such a record demonstrates a commitment to
results rather than rhetoric on life issues.

She is a Democratic Governor who has been elected by wide margins in a
state where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one. Her
nomination has already won not only the support of Democrats, but also
praise from Republican pro-life Senators such as Sam Brownback and Pat
Roberts and Governors such as Sonny Perdue of Georgia. Her record and
her relationships with leaders in both parties are proof that
pro-choice and pro-life leaders can work together to advance a
pro-family agenda.

The governor, who is by all accounts a person of deep faith, deserves a
fair hearing in Congress and in the public square. Efforts to discredit
her will no doubt arise, but we hope that such tactics will not succeed
in taking focus off of her record of reducing abortions and supporting
women and families in Kansas – and the task that lies ahead of us all:
working together to improve health care and reduce the number of
abortions in America.

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Beck Defends Driscoll, While Knitting

The always thought-provoking Richard Beck defends Mark Driscoll’s attempt to masculinize the church.

Here’s my point. People tend to confuse gender role interest and agenic
personality motives. If “Joe Six Pack” shows up at church and gets the
vibe that he “can’t be a man” what, exactly, does this mean? That to be
a Christian you can’t drink beer or go to Ultimate Fighter matches? It
seems to me that the feminine/child metaphors of Christianity are
pushing back against agenic strivings rather then stereotypical gender
interests. But this is not at all clear to many male believers. The two
issues–gender role interests and agenic motives–are often conflated.
This leads to a great deal of confusion about if “real guys” have a
place at church.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

As a co-alumnus of Dartmouth College, I feel a special connection to the good Doctor.  In fact, he started signing his works “Seuss” while at Dartmouth.

In honor of his birthday, here’s a link to a free PDF compiled by Dartmouth called, “Who’s Who and What’s What in Dr. Seuss.”  It’s basically a Seussian concordance.

Comment of the Weekend

stormtrooper #274.52 objects to Brian’s apologia for Pelagius:

wow. I can’t express how strongly I disagree with Brian’s support
for Pelagius’ teachings. I find such theology to be soul-crushing,
gospel-destroying, and faith-squelching. In my eyes, it truly amount to
no less than a “different Gospel” – just as Paul calls the legalistic
tendencies of the Galatians.

Here’s a punch list of disagreements:

  1. I find no biblical support for “prevenient grace” – does Pelagius make this point from the Bible or simply experience?
  2. The Bible presents our sin-problem as a nature problem, not just a habit problem. (Eph 2:3)
  3. It seems to create a doctrine of works – like American
    individual-self-improvement of the worst ilk. For those who do well at
    this project, it would seem to necessarily lead to pride; and for those
    who feel they continually fail, it would seem to lead to great despair.
  4. It diminishes the work and power of God, and particularly the efficacy of Christ’s work on the cross.
  5. Augustine never claimed to “relinquish human responsibility.” He saw
    his theology clearly as affirming the completeness of God’s grace for
    sinners while also affirming man’s responsibility. One famous phrase
    was “Give me what you command, and command what you will” indicating
    his perceived compatibility between these two ideas of God’s
    sovereignty and human responsibility.
  6. Augustine clearly confronted the institutionalization of the Church as well – he wrote the classic work, “The City of God.”
  7. Pelagius was denounced as a heretic by his contemporaries and every
    orthodox theologian since. Sure, some folks in history were rail-roaded
    unjustly by those in power, but others are dismissed for good reason.
  8. Augustine’s theology clearly “demanded change” in the believer – and
    his life surely showed this. Do any of the Reformation folks NOT speak
    about the necessity of obedience in a believer’s life???
  9. One may think that the freeness of God’s grace would produce
    licentiousness (which Paul clearly confronts as a possible objection in
    both Romans and Galatians) but this potential misapplication doesn’t
    invalidate the message. In fact, in my experience, being daily amazed
    by God’s free grace to such a sinner as I provides the strongest,
    purest love for God and love for others that I have ever experienced
    and ever seen displayed by others.

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Youth Pastor Fight Club!

In Dallas, youth pastors are being trained in street fighting techniques in order to, um, “take care of their flock.” 

McKissack is spreading the Batman gospel to youth pastors in Dallas and
across the country. He hopes to convert them into followers of the
Keysi Fighting Method, the street fighting style used in recent
cinematic blockbusters.

McKissack figures that pastors
who know how to defend themselves against thugs can help protect the
children they lead at church – or on field trips to amusement parks or
on mission travels.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he said

Because, as the youth pastor says, “you never know what’s going to happen when you take the kids out of these four walls.” 

OK, first of all, I was a youth pastor for 20 years, taking kids to some pretty sketchy places like Lima, Peru and Juarez, Mexico.  And, while I occasionally felt that we were threatened, never once would the Keysi bob-and-weave have come in handy.

Secondly, I think we can safely say that teenagers are often just as threatened within the four walls as without.

The erstwhile youth pastor goes on to say, “I don’t think as Christians that we’re meant to be just stomped on.


(Jesus: “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.“)

Read the story and watch the video.

Quote of the Week

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began,

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many path and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.
-JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Comment of the Day

Brian does the unthinkable and defends Pelagius (against Augustine)!  Watch out, Brian, the NeoReformed stormtroopers went after Scot McKnight last week, and they’ll probably come after you here!

Pelagius brought up good points that are often ignored. First, he
argued that humanity has salvation through God’s “original grace.” This
prevenient grace is God’s free gift to humanity. Second, Pelagius
sugguested that humanity has a “grace of revelation” whereby God gives
us divine guidence to follow, if we so choose to follow it. Scripture
and Christ both point the way we are to follow. Third, he affirmed that
God gives the “grace of pardon” to those who freely change their lives
and attempt to live faithfully. So we have a morally neutral human
condition that is faced with the decision of choosing between faith and
sin, good and bad.

For Pelagius, our human condition isn’t defined by original sin, yet
he still understands that our lives are impacted by sin. He says, “By
force of habit, sin attains a power akin to that of nature – sin
becomes as it were ‘second nature’.” Therefore, he takes the reality of
sin seriously. But he also thinks that we have the power and
responsibility to overcome this “force of habit” through God’s grace
and guidence. And that is where Augustine departs from Pelagius.
Augustine relinquishes human responsibility.

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Ash Wednesday: Atonement Round-Up

durer_crucifixion.jpgAs we enter the season of Lent, here are some resources to get you thinking about alternatives to the penal substitutionary theory (yes, friends, it’s a theory!) of the atonement.

At Zoecarnate, Mike Morrell proposes that we look beyond liberal and conservative ideas of the atonement, then he proposes a revisioning of the entire issue.

Last year, Emergent Village sponsored a contest looking for new, preachable metaphors for the atonement.  I talked to Mark Baker about the contest on the EV podcast.  And last Good Friday, we announced the winners.

Finally, Mark has some great resources on his seminary website, as well as two books on the topic.

What to Give Up for Lent


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Comment of the Day

We’ve got a nice thread going on free will and determinism around these parts.  Albert the Abstainer chimes in:

Real free will: An ability to choose alternatives such that the
possibility of an alternative action is real and not the product of a
particular history of preceding events.

Free will: A state wherein a person experiences the sense of
choosing to act. The state itself is real, (i.e. existent/emergent),
but the action is the product of a particular history of preceding
events. (In other words the actor does not have any degree of freedom.
) That requires that an act, other than the one which results, was a
possible outcome. This form of free will is subjective not actual.

State: A state is a discrete condition. A mental state is a discrete
state of mind. A machine state is a discrete state, (i.e. the switch is
on or the switch is off.)

” a place in the unfolding tapestry which is necessary and
contingent” – the universe unfolds moment to moment changing with the
passing of time. I am a member of the set and process that is the
universe. My existence is necessary by the fact that I exist. My existence is contingent in that it requires a particular history, (i.e. another history could have occurred such that I do not exist.)