CL Discussion – Abortion

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well. Let me know what you think.

(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)

C: What do you think of this political campaign. It’s really something, isn’t it.

L: Yeh, I’ve never seen anything like it. But I agree with Hillary. It’s not right to tell women what they should do about their own body when it comes to pregnancy.

C: You think it’s wrong then to pass laws that would prevent a woman from having an abortion?

L: That’s right! Legislators have no right infringing on a person’s right to choose whether to terminate their pregnancy or to go ahead and have the baby.

  1. So you’re saying that it is wrong to pass such laws.

L: Yes, it’s wrong.

C: Do you mean wrong as in personal opinion “wrong”? Or do you mean it’s wrong like it’s wrong to steal or murder someone?

L: Well, obviously your examples are way extreme, but yes, it’s wrong in that sense. It shouldn’t be done.

C: So other countries where they pass laws supported by a majority  of their people blocking abortion, those people are wrong. Right? Or do you mean it’s wrong here because a majority support women’s right to choose, but it’s ok there because those people see it differently?

L: No, they’re wrong too and eventually they will understand and make their law match what is right.

C: So how do we know your opinion is the right one?

L: It’s common sense. Anybody can see that you shouldn’t tell a woman what she should do regarding her pregnancy.

C: It can’t be that common sense because for most of the history of our country and in many other countries, the laws prohibited abortion. So it can’t be because of common sense.

L: Well, no. People who are sort of uneducated and sort of backward in their thinking can’t see it.

C: So there is a certain group of people who are able to see it, but not everyone can?

L: that’s right.

C: How are we able to tell who are the people who have it together enough to know the truth and which ones don’t. By seeing if they agree with you? That’s not the proof of anything. If you’re claiming that some position you are taking is absolutely right and not just an opinion of some people at some particular time in history, then we need to look outside of ourselves somehow to determine what is absolutely right.

L: There’s nothing outside of ourselves. We just have to work it out from within ourselves as a people. You’re trying to get me to admit that there is some absolute standard of right and wrong outside of ourselves. That list of truth doesn’t exist.

  1. If that’s the case, you can’t say it’s wrong to prevent a woman from having an abortion if she wants one. All you can say is, “There are a lot of us who want it to be this way and we’re in the majority.” And you can do that, but it doesn’t make it right or wrong. What if we all agreed it was right for people below the poverty line to go into other people’s homes and take what they want. Would it be right then?

L: I can see what you’re saying, but in this country we base our laws on the constitution and how the supreme court interprets the constitution.

C: Do you agree with all of the supreme court’s decisions?

L: No.

C: When you disagree with them, do believe it’s just a difference of opinion, or do you believe they were wrong?

L: Usually that they were wrong.

C: But they’re not wrong if there’s no list somewhere to tell you what is right or wrong.

L: We’ve already been around this circle. They are interpreting the constitution. It’s the constitution that is what is right and wrong.

C: But you said you don’t always agree they are right. And besides that, it only applies to our country and I would bet that there are things that you think are right or wrong everywhere and not just  because some judges in the U.S. say so.

L: That’s true.

C: So why do we think there are some things that are absolutely true or right or wrong?

L: I don’t know, but I do know that there is nothing that is absolutely right or absolutely wrong at all times and in all places.

C: Was that last statement absolutely true at all times?

Check next Friday for another exciting CL discussion.

Christian Worldview 5 – Made in the Image of God

(For Part 1 click here)

In the Bible class I teach we are discussing how to develop and defend our Christian worldview. This week we are investigating the creation narrative and what it tells us about being made in the image of God. Along with that we are discussing the position God has given mankind in subduing and having dominion over the creation.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? We know that God does not have a physical body like we have. He is a spirit being. So that can’t be what the Bible means. There are certain characteristics that God has given us that he also possesses. For example, he is able to think and we are able to think. God is creative and he has given us the ability to create. God can communicate and we have the ability to communicate. I’m sure you can think of others. Internally we are a spirit as well. God says that his spirit bears witness with our spirit. So we are spirit beings inside of a physical body.

God has given us the dominion over his creation and has told us we are to subdue it. To subdue means to bring it under control. We are God’s representatives to be the stewards or care-takers of his creation. One of the first things that Adam did was to name the animals. Naming things is one way we make sense of and gain control over our environment. After Adam’s fall, this stewardship responsibility became much more difficult. Work was harder and more laborious.

As God’s managers we have the responsibility to take good care of the created world, the environment we live in. But we are to remember that God has created this world with resources for us to use. Some of the creation has been given to us for food and so we should not be afraid to take plants from the ground or kill animals for our nourishment. On the other hand, having dominion doesn’t mean we should wantonly waste resources or pollute them so that they are unusable by others. There’s an important balance that we must maintain as we serve God by managing his creation.

(Part 6)

Thoughts on Psalm 104

Take some time and read Psalm 104 thoroughly and carefully. It will help you in your appreciation of God and his might power and creative design. I’m not going to discuss every verse but just reflect on some of the things that stood out to me.

Verse 1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Take time to talk to yourself. Encourage yourself to be focused on the praise that God deserves. Acknowledge God’s greatness to him. Don’t just rest on the fact that you know it in your mind. Tell him, “O Lord, you are very great!”

Verse 5 “You laid the foundations of the earth…” We realize that the Bible is not a science book per se. We recognize that the earth does not have foundations or pillars to rest on. But its stability is amazing when we think about the fact that it is just floating in space obeying the laws of gravity which God designed for it.

Verses 6-9 speak of God’s control over the waters. This could be a description of creative action at the beginning or of the great flood of Noah’s day. All of this is attributed to God’s active involvement.

Verses 10 and 11 give evidence of God’s active involvement and design and planning to give water and nourishment to the animals. God is not just far away in some corner of heaven. He is involved and aware and observant of all of his creation. Jesus encouraged us not to worry but to trust God because he takes care of the birds and clothes the field with splendor,  Matthew 6:28-31.

Verses 13 and 14: He waters the hills and causes the grass to grow. The earth is satisfied with God’s provision and care. His provision for mankind is included since man is able to bring forth food from the earth with which he can provide himself with bread and wine for his sustenance.

Verse 18 : God provided specific habitats for the creatures he had made.

Verse 19: He uses the sun and moon to mark off the days and seasons and to allow the various animals to follow their instincts for hunting and sleeping. Some sleep during the day and hunt at night. God has created, designed and provided for all of these differences.

Verse 23 shows us that his provision includes man and the provision for him to go out to work and return for a night’s rest. Psalm 127:2 tells us that God provides his beloved sleep.

Verses 24-26: How manifold are God’s works. He created innumerable creatures for the sea as well as the earth. Many of these man has never seen. And yet they are there, playing. I believe God enjoys watching what he has made, even when we can’t see it.

Verses 27-30 explain how all creation waits upon God for their food. Just as in Jesus’ parable, God provides for every sparrow and every other creature as well. We need to learn to trust him. I’m also impressed to see God’s continuous creative process at work. He takes away their breath and they return to dust. He sends his spirit and new ones are born renewing the face of the earth.

Verse 33: The response is one of rejoicing and praise demonstrated by the outburst of song.

 

Do we pay enough attention to all that God s created? Do we meditate on the amazing wonder of his works displayed throughout the earth and sky? Perhaps if we did, we would be more prone to praise and magnify his name and be thankful for all he is and does.

Christian Worldview 4

All of the things we have looked at picture what things were like before time began. It seems to me that if we take a look at what things will be like after time is over, we might get a better idea of The Point. In the whole scheme of things from the biblical point of view, the period of time from the beginning until the end is very short compared to all of eternity before and after. So if we can see what is taking place at the end, we will be able to see what God accomplished during time. That will give us insight into the purpose of it all.

If we could “visit” the end, what would we “see”? First we would find that the Triune God was still there. But we would notice that God the Son now has a glorified human body and further we would notice that that body has been wounded. What Christianity pictures for us at this point is astounding! The Spirit-God of the universe has somehow taken on a human body that had lived a life on earth, died a gruesome death and is now back in heaven with a wounded human, but glorified, body.

Along with the trinity we will see countless other glorified human beings. As we watch and listen we learn that these are one spirit with the Son and of His flesh and bones. We learn that they share in the divine nature, are variously called brothers or the bride of the Son. They are called joint-heirs with the Son putting them basically into the family of God. And furthermore we see that they share in ruling and reigning along with the Son of God. (see Hebrews 2:11; Eph 5:30-33; 1 Cor 6:16-17; Romans 8:17;2 Peter 1:4; Rev 20:4)

We hear countless groups giving praise to God with sayings such as these:

 

Holy, holy holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!

You are worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.

 

You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.

 

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

 

Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!

 

In addition to these glorified human beings we see other created beings that we would call angels who are serving and ministering. But the sad thing we see is that there is a terrible place of torment where both humans and demons are being punished eternally for crimes they have committed against God.

 

What do we learn from this picture of what is taking place at the end?  1) God created all things for His pleasure, glory and honor. 2) We learn that God is just and must punish evil and rebellion. He doesn’t just sweep everybody in and wink at sin. 3) We learn that God was willing to sacrifice Himself to redeem a people for Himself. 4) We learn that there will be people of every tribe and nation participating. God does not discriminate. 5) His people will rule and reign with Him. 6) Finally, we learn that there will be enduring praise forever and ever for God and the glory He demonstrates in all His ways.

 

So what this tells us is the same thing all of the Bible is telling us. God created and then sent Jesus to redeem a people for Himself for the eternal praise of His glory. That’s why we’re here! As John Piper puts it, “The purpose of God is the ingathering of the nations to worship His Son. The magnifying of Christ in the white-hot worship of all nations is the reason the world exists.”

(Part 5)

Worldview Thoughts 1

Sometimes when I contemplate the Christian faith I like to step back and try to get a grasp of the big picture. In philosophy and even in our own personal lives we ask the big questions: “Why I am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?”  I’ve been thinking about these things recently as I a write a book and as I teach a series on the Christian World View in my church. I thought I would take some of these ideas and condense them for my readers. So let’s begin at the beginning.

In the beginning, before time began and before anything had been created, what was there? The Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). In the beginning nothing existed except God. We learn from Scripture that is Trinity, that is, He is three persons in one Godhead.  There is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that this is not just a religious teaching but it is the truth about the way things actually are.

We also know from Scripture that there was love, fellowship and communication among the persons of the Godhead. This is important because the question often comes up among modern thinkers about where love comes from, or why we enjoy fellowship with one another as human beings. The Christian answer is that these traits don’t come from evolution nor are they just figments of our imagination or neural responses to stimuli. According to the Bible, we were made in the image of God and since God has love, He communicates and is a fellowshipping being, it makes sense that we would also have those traits.

(Part 2)

Bible Study – Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Here in the second verse of the Bible we read some interesting things. The first thing we notice is that the earth was without form and void and it was dark. Why is this the case? Is this just the first stage of creation or did something happen between verse 1 and 2? The truth is that we don’t know the answer to those questions. We do know what we read in Isaiah 45:18. “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.'”

This passage tells us very clearly that God did not make create the earth in vain. He made it to be inhabited. As of verse 2 of Genesis, it is not inhabited and therefore there is work to be done.

Some people quote Jeremiah 4:23 which says, “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; And the heavens, they had no light.” Jeremiah goes on to describe the reason for giving this description of the earth. There has apparently been some form of judgment which has caused massive destruction.

In my opinion there is no reason to attribute this description of events to the period between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It could be, but I don’t think there is any reason that it must be. Jeremiah’s description in its entirety sounds like a future judgment on God’s people Israel. He sees the destruction as so devastating that he uses the same description as the condition of the world was during its creation.

Most of the time when people attempt to explain Genesis 1:2 as a judgment, the reason is often in order to provide more time for fossils to form and other events that presumably have taken place over extremely long periods of time. The problem is that even if we were to grant the long ages needed for geologic and evolutionary events to take place, it is evident from the rest of the description of creation that the order of events does not remotely match the order posited by those who believe in evolution.

So let’s just take this description for what it is, a statement of the condition of the earth right after God created it.

Let the Light Shine in the Darkness

Genesis 1:3-4 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

So, the heavens and earth were created and the earth had no form and was void. And it was dark! The form of energy we call light did not exist. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And what happened?  Light came into existence. Words are very important to God and they have power. In this case, as we looked at several articles ago, we discover in John 1 that this Word was none other than Jesus Christ. At that time he didn’t have that name, but was what we call the Second Person of the Trinity. He was the Word of God and he was with God and he was God. All things were made by him. Every atom and molecule, every authority and power in heaven and on earth was created by him and for his use and pleasure. God’s word is powerful.

This situation reminds me of another darkness that exists in the world. It is the darkness of our souls when we are born into this world. Because of Adam’s rebellion, humanity lost its light, it’s spiritual life. Speaking of Jesus, John says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).  “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life'” (John 8:12).

How is that darkness remedied? There is only way. It is the same method that was used in the original creation. Light can’t generate itself. Paul writes, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

God must say, “Let there be light” in any heart and soul if there is to be any hope of spiritual sight. This is what Jesus meant  when he told a Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, that in order to see the kingdom of God he needed to be born again. There is a natural human birth and there is a spiritual birth. Just as we cannot design and arrange for our natural birth, we cannot design and arrange for our spiritual birth. It is accomplished by the working of the Spirit of God according to his unique work in the hearts of men. Just as the Spirit of God was brooding over the dark waters of that primitive earth and brought light to the earth, the Spirit of God must bring light into the darkness that is the human condition by nature. This comes about through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul sums it up this way, “[God] who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9,10).

Bible Study – Genesis 1:1-3

When and how did God create the universe? The Bible tells us that he created the heavens and the earth “in the beginning.” We discussed that truth last time. But how did he create? Remember there was nothing to create with. There was no material in existence to make something out of. And “God said, ‘Let there be light'” (Genesis 1:3). “Then God said, ‘Let there be a firmament'” (Genesis 1:6). God’s method of creation was to speak. Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

God spoke and the universe and all it contained came into existence. He continued to speak and various parts were separated from other parts. For example water on the earth was separated from water above the earth and an expanse was created between them. Light and darkness were separated from one another. Water was gathered together into one place to allow the dry land to appear. All of these things occurred because God spoke. God created through the spoken word.

When we look at John 1, we find that the Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God. But the Word became flesh and lived among us. This Word is the second person of the trinity. He is the Word of God and he is God. And that Word took on a human body and his name is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Messiah. All through the description of Jesus’ ministry here on earth he says things like, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). And, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49).

Jesus is God’s Word to man and it is through him that all things were created.

Hebrews 1:1,2 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

The answer then to how God created the universe is that God spoke the word and everything came into existence and that Word ultimately took on bodily form and came here to dwell with us – Jesus Christ.

Bible Study – Genesis 1:1

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Bible begins with this amazing assertion. Whenever the beginning was, God was there. What was there moments before God created? Of course, there weren’t moments, because there was no such thing as time, but you know what I mean. Who or what was there? When God created, he created all matter, time and energy and all of the “natural” laws that govern all of these things. But before this, all there was was God — the triune God.

The Bible teaches us that God exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of these persons is fully God and has all of the characteristics that God has. So before anything was created, these three persons of the Godhead existed together and had existed together for all eternity. Since God is a personal being, he has the characteristics of personhood. He is able to communicate, love, rejoice and so forth. So for all of eternity past, the persons of the Godhead had fellowship and communication with one another.

In John 1 we read: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The passage goes on to tell us that everything was made through him. So who is/was this Word? Here is what we read in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” From this we can figure out that the Bible is talking about Jesus Christ. So Jesus is God and was with God in the beginning and everything that exists was created through him.

Other passages confirm this picture. Here is what we read in Colossians 1:16

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Here’s another example: Hebrews 1:10 And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

We get a little snapshot of what was going on before the world was created from Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17. “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Verse 5). And in verse 24, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, we know that he is eternal (Heb 9:14) and that he was present “hovering over the face of the waters” at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2).

Let’s summarize what we know about things prior to the beginning of creation. We know that God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit were present in a loving, communicating relationship throughout eternity past. Nothing else was existent. There was no time, space or matter. God is totally self-sufficient and has no needs. There was no need for fellowship or companionship. There nothing lacking within the totally self-existing Godhead. And then God created!