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As I close this series I want to ask one more question.

So why does all this matter?

The doctrine of the Trinity helps us understand and better appreciate the roles each member on the Triune God played in our salvation.  The Father provides us forgiveness of our sins.  The Son lives a perfect life, one that we were supposed to live and then provides the payment for our sins on the cross.  Jesus bore the penalty for sins so that we can be forgiven by the Father.  1 Peter 2:22-24 [Talking about Jesus] WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him [The Father] who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”  The son pays the price and the Father forgives.  The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of our sins and move us towards belief.  Upon belief in Jesus the Holy Spirit comes into our life so we can grow to be more like Him.  We are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

If the Trinity wasn’t true I have no idea how all these salvation roles could be accomplished.  God has to act to make salvation possible.  If He was a distant God who sat back and watched me suffer and wallow in my sins, I’d have trouble loving that sort of God.  However, knowing that God descended to earth as a man, to die on a Roman cross to pay for my sins, and came to live in me, I cannot help but love that God.  He took the penalty and pain for me.  This is the God I worship; this is the God I can love and more importantly this is the God that loves me!

This is why I share Jesus with anyone who will listen, even those who hate Him.  Jesus warned about false beliefs:  Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’  Jesus says the key to entering the kingdom of heaven is to do the will of the Father.  What does that mean?  It cannot mean good works, and why?  The individuals, who Jesus was speaking to, said to Him, look at all the things we have done in your name.  Jesus then says depart from me I never knew you.  Their works accomplished nothing.  We have to come to know him, so that He can say he knows us.  It is not good works that saves us, it is faith in Jesus.  Jesus shares this message of faith and not works in John 6:28-29.  He had just fed them bread and they want to know what they can do to be saved.  “They said therefore to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ [29] Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’”  We can only receive the forgiveness from the Father, payment for sins from the Son, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through right belief.  Doing good works saves no one!

God reaching out to us so we can be saved is a message of good news which is UNBELIEVABLE!  This is what Jesus wants us to share.

Trinity Series Summary Points:

  • The doctrine of the Trinity was supported from the beginning; by the apostles, through the early church fathers, and on up to today.  God has always been a Triune being. The early church utilized language to define the doctrine of the Trinity and did not invent the teaching as some contend.
  • Yet, we don’t believe in the Trinity because of the work of the early church fathers but because the doctrine is Biblical.
  • The Trinity can be defined as: One God subsists in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal.
  • The Bible teaches:
  1. There is only 1 God
  2. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are separate persons.
  3. Each person is fully God.

My Jehovah Witness student who handed me the booklet actually did a great thing by embarrassing me in front of all the students that day.  Due to that incident I put in hundreds of hours studying the great truths of the Bible.  I have equipped thousands of individuals on the Biblical basis for the doctrine of the Trinity.

If anyone denies the Trinity, when that individual dies he or she will spend eternity separated from God.  This is the fate of all Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons.  Both groups worship a false Jesus and when they die He is going to say to them “I never knew you.”  Without true belief they will not receive the free gift of forgiveness.  Our task is to share the truth with them.

My next series will deal with Jesus as the God/man.  I will attempt to answer, how can Jesus have two natures and yet be one person.

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Part 13 Understanding difficult passages

I established a criterion to show the Trinity is Biblical.  In part 7 and part 8 I provided Biblical evidence for each of the following criteria.

  1. There is only one God
  2. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, they communicate, love & have rationality.
  3. Each person is fully God.

In part 2 I presented two problem passages John 1:1 & Matt. 26:39 that I struggled with before I understood the doctrine of the Trinity.  Equipped with the information from this series we should be able resolve these issues.

  1. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In this verse we know the Word is Jesus (John 1:14).  How can Jesus be with God and be God at the same time?  It sounds like a contradiction.  The solution is the first instance of the word “God” is speaking of God the Father, the first person of the Trinity.  How do we know this?  As we have seen previously the Bible teaches Jesus is God.  Since there cannot be contradictions, then whenever the word God and Jesus are used in the same sentence the first instance is speaking of God the Father; as is assumed in this passage.  Additional support can be found in 1 John 1:1-2, What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”  Jesus was with the Father from the beginning. They are two persons of the one God.  Plus the writers of the New Testament gave different labels to the Father and Son to help keep them distinct.  When we see the word “God” most of the time it refers to the Father.  They used Lord to refer to the deity of Jesus (see part 12).  At times the Bible simply calls Jesus God, such as John 1:1, John 20:28, and Titus 2:13.  Here in John 1:1 we have the persons of the Father and Son together from the beginning (eternity past).  The apparent contradiction is solved.
  1. The scripture my junior high student pointed to, Matthew 26:39 “Going a little farther, he [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’”  If Jesus is God who is he praying to?  Is he praying to himself?  If we understand the doctrine of the Trinity teaches one God subsists in three persons, Jesus the person is praying to the Father person.  This is normal activity between two persons of the Trinity.  From all eternity past, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been in communication and have eternally loved each other.  Remember Jesus as a man did things a human would do.  As a man he grew in knowledge, got hungry, tired, and prayed to the Father.  On the other hand His divine nature has all knowledge, is all powerful, and is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.  The Father and the Son take on different roles within the one Godhead.  Remember different roles do not equal inferior natures.

Through study of the doctrine of the Trinity I have become much more effective at sharing with Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.  I can answer Biblical passages that used to give me trouble.  My challenge to you is to memorize much of the information in this series and then begin to share with those who disagree.  Supported with your understanding of the Trinity you will discover it is so much easier to defend truth than error.  These experiences will sharpen your knowledge and enrich your walk with Jesus.  Plus you may move someone towards faith in the Biblical Jesus Christ.  Your confidence in the truth of the Scriptures will be enhanced and your spiritual life will be blessed.

Go to part 14 here

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Part 4 What is a Life-Giving Spirit? 1 Corinthians 15:45

Jehovah’s Witnesses love to use 1 Corinthians 15:45 to make their case Jesus resurrected spiritually because He is a “life-giving spirit.”  Let’s read the passage in context: 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 So also it is written, ‘The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

In parts two and three I made a strong case Jesus rose from the dead bodily.  Verses 15:42-44 I argued the Greek word for body (soma) when referencing a person was always a physical body.  Greek scholar Robert Gundry in his authoritative book Soma in Biblical Theology[1] affirms this conclusion.  In 1 Corinthians 15:44 I showed when Paul used natural versus spiritual he was not setting into opposition the physical versus an immaterial body.  The two adjectives are not what something is composed of, but what it is animated by.  Both our earthly and future heavenly bodies are animated by the soul/spirit.

As we try to understand the words “life-giving spirit,” verses 42-44 clearly support that the Apostle Paul did not mean Jesus rose as a spirit.  Jesus eliminated that possibility when He said in Luke 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  Jesus said He did not rise as a spirit.

What is a life-giving spirit?  Paul is teaching that Jesus gives spiritual life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who is inside us.  We read in Romans 8:9-11 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  Christ’s spirit that dwells in us is a life-giving spirit.

The spiritual life of a believer is a result of Christ living in him.  Paul writes Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 4:6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  All believers have the spirit of Christ.

The Apostle Paul eliminated the possibility of a “life-giving spirit” referring to an immaterial body.  In Genesis 1-2:7 God created the universe and humanity.  We read in Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  God gave life to Adam the first human.  Paul then calls Jesus the last Adam and Jesus brings life to all who are born again.  Jesus’ spirit gives new life to believers; hence He is a life-giving spirit.  Jesus lived on earth as truly God and truly man, which explains how He can reside in heaven today in His resurrected body and as God be a life-giving spirit (see above Rom. 8:9-11).

When Paul says in verse 50 flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, he is referring to our mortal bodies, not our immortal bodies.  Flesh and blood is simply an idiom for earthly.  Remember in Luke 24:39 Jesus said See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  Notice he didn’t say his body was composed of flesh and blood.  The resurrected body is not a spirit but is physical and is composed of flesh and bones.



[1] Gundry, Robert, Soma in Biblical Theology, Cambridge University Press, 2005 p.50

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Part 12 How the New Testament uses the words Lord and God

Once we grasp the equality of the three persons in the one God, one wonders why the New Testament seems to call the Father God much more than the Holy Spirit or Jesus.  The issue the writers faced was to how to communicate the three persons each fully God without losing the distinctions.   Especially, the many times we see the Father and the Son interacting throughout the New Testament.  What the inspired writers did was primarily use God when referring to the Father and Lord when talking about the Son.  The word Lord in many cases when referring to the Son would be equal to calling Jesus God.

Understanding how the New Testament uses Lord and God

Wayne Grudem writes: When we realize that the New Testament authors generally use the name “God” (Gk. theos) to refer to God the Father and the name “Lord” (Gk. kyrios) to refer to God the Son, then it is clear that there is another Trinitarian expression in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.” Similarly, the last verse of 2 Corinthians is Trinitarian in its expression: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14). We see the three persons mentioned separately in Ephesians 4:4–6 as well: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned together in the opening sentence of 1 Peter: “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2 NASB). And in Jude 20–21, we read: “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.[1]

 

An example of where the Father and God are interchangeable (synonymous) can be found in Matthew and Mark.  I have underlined the key words.

Matthew 12:48-50 (NASB)But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50 “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3:33-35 (NASB)Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34 Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 35 “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

A second example comes from John 20:17 (NASB)“Jesus *said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'” Jesus is calling the Father his God, submitting himself to the Father.  The Son took the role of taking on a human nature and giving up certain divine prerogatives.  Jesus was still fully God but chose not to utilize his divine abilities (Phil. 2:5-8).  As Paul writes in Philippians 2, Jesus as a human submitted himself to death, something the Father cannot do.  A difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature.

Again generally when we see the word “God” in the scriptures we can think of the Father.  However, sometimes the writers used “God” when referencing Jesus or the Holy Spirit or the Triune God.

Jesus is called God in John 20:28Thomas answered and said to Him [Jesus], ‘My Lord and my God!’” Jesus then commends Thomas for calling him Lord and God.  This is a very straightforward passage identifying Jesus as God.

The Holy Spirit is called God in Acts 5:3-4 But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’” Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God because the Holy Spirit is God.

The major problem for some people is grasping the fact that Jesus was fully God and fully man.  This is a huge stumbling block for Jehovah Witnesses.  They cannot understand how one person can have two natures, divine and human.  I will soon deal with this issue as I begin a series on Jesus as the God/man.

When we read the scriptures in context and recognize the word “God” is primarily the Father, we will clear up the passages that seem to be contradictions.  The infrequent times the Son or Holy Spirit[2] are called “God” are easily recognized by the context.  We can thus acknowledge we worship one God subsisting in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal.

Go to part 13 here


[1] Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publ., 1994, p. 230.

[2] There are times when the word “God” means the Trinity.  Passages declaring the existence of only one God are not identifying one of the three persons but the entire Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  James says the demons recognize the one God in James 2:19, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”  Remember the Trinity teaches one God subsists in three persons.

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Revealing the Truth through Christmas Songs

This article post on The Gospel Coalition web site reveals why I love the teachings of certain Christmas songs. Truth in society is sometimes hard to find. If you listen carefully truth is being articulated on the radio, in malls, and in churches worldwide. Christ the Lord has been born!

The article was written by Luke Stamps, a theology student from Louisville Kentucky.  It is called, “The Best Christmas Songs Tell the Truth.”  Enjoy…Merry Christmas, Steve

I love Christmas music. I confess that I started listening to my favorite Christmas albums in October . . . okay, late September. I love all kinds of Christmas music, both sacred and secular. My conscience is not offended to hear songs about Santa Claus or reindeer or snowmen or chestnuts roasting on an open fire. To be sure, my favorite Christmas songs capture, in some small measure, the wonder of the Incarnation—that the eternal Son of God became a man “for us men and for our salvation,” as the creed says (recently, I’ve been enjoying this one and this one). But I admit that I love the festivity of the entire Christmas season, including some of its secular trappings.

But according to the Bible, the Christmas story is not set in a context of innocence. The drama of Bethlehem’s manger is set on the dark stage of sin, death, demonic oppression, and aching anticipation. A cursory reading of the New Testament’s birth narratives (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2) makes this dark context abundantly clear. And the best Christmas carols also draw out these shadowy aspects of the Christmas story. Consider these well-known lyrics:

No more let sins and sorrows grow

nor thorns infest the ground:

he comes to make his blessings flow

far as the curse is found.

*****

God rest ye merry, gentlemen.

Let nothing you dismay.

Remember, Christ, our Savior

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

*****

Mild he lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Sins, sorrows, curse, Satan, alienation, death. Doesn’t sound much like holiday cheer, does it? But this is the context of the comfort and joy of the Christmas announcement. Bethlehem’s star is only visible against the black sky of sin and death.

Perhaps this Christmas, many of us are experiencing a darkness all our own. Perhaps it is a prolonged struggle with some besetting sin. Perhaps it is the pain of a strained or severed relationship. Perhaps it is the cold reality of unemployment or cancer or death. In these circumstances, if all we had were the cheery, nostalgic Christmas songs, we might be tempted to despise the holiday. Each time we heard those lyrics describing some serene Christmas setting, sheltered from the pains of life, we would be acutely aware that this song does not match our experience.

Thankfully, some songs are more honest. Thankfully, some Christmas songs recognize the depths of our pain and, therefore, the depths of our joy when we hear the announcement of Christ’s advent. And thankfully, Scripture itself is also transparent about our world’s darkness. One of the original Christmas songs, Zechariah’s Benedictus, recognized this darkness, as well as the great light of God’s promised redemption nascent in Mary womb. Zechariah’s prophetic words over his son John, who would be the first herald of this good news, are worth remembering as we prepare room for the light of Christ in our darkened hearts this Christmas:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:76-79).

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Understanding Good Friday with an Illustration

Today Christians worldwide will celebrate God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  Here is an excellent illustration to help capture what Jesus does for us.

A Great Debt.  Who Can Pay? By: Gregory Koukl

Harry Ironside used to tell about a young Russian soldier. Because his father was a friend of Czar Nicholas I, the young man had been made paymaster in one of the barracks.

The young man meant well, but his character was not up to his responsibility.  He took to gambling and eventually gambled away a great deal of the government’s money as well as all of his own.

In due course the young man received notice that a representative of the czar was coming to check accounts, and he knew he was in trouble.

That evening he got out the books and totaled up the funds he owed.  Then he went to the safe and got out his own pitifully small amount of money.  As he sat and looked at the two he was overwhelmed at the astronomical debt versus his own small change.  He was ruined!  He knew he would be disgraced.

At last the young soldier determined to take his life.  He pulled out his revolver, placed it on the table before him, and wrote a summation of his misdeeds.  At the bottom of the ledger where he had totaled up his illegal borrowings, he wrote:  “A great debt!  Who can pay?”  He decided that at the stroke of midnight he would die.

As the evening wore on the young soldier grew drowsy and eventually fell asleep.  That night Czar Nicholas I, as was sometimes his custom, made the rounds of the barracks.  Seeing a light, he stopped, looked in, and saw the young man asleep.  He recognized him immediately and, looking over his shoulder, saw the ledger and realized all that had taken place.

He was about to awaken him and put him under arrest when his eye fastened on the young man’s message:  “A great debt!  Who can pay?”

Suddenly, with a surge of magnanimity, he reached over, wrote one word at the bottom of the ledger, and slipped out.

When the young man awoke, he glanced at the clock and saw that it was long after midnight.  He reached for his revolver to shoot himself.  But his eye fell upon the ledger and he saw something that he had not seen before.  There beneath his writing:  “A great debt!  Who can pay?” was written, “Nicholas.”

He was dumbfounded.  It was the Czar’s signature.  He said to himself, “The czar must have come by when I was asleep.  He has seen the book.  He knows all.  Still he is willing to forgive me.”

The young soldier then rested on the word of the czar, and the next morning a messenger came from the palace with exactly the amount needed to meet the deficit.  Only the czar could pay, and the czar did pay.

We compare [God’s righteousness] with our own tawdry performance, and we ask the question: “A great debt to God!  Who can pay?”  But then the Lord Jesus Christ steps forward and signs His name to our ledger:  “Jesus Christ.”  Only Jesus can pay, and He did.

Thanks Greg Koukl for sharing this illustration of God’s grace on your Stand to Reason web site.  Who can be saved?  Only those individuals who place their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.  Today would be a great day to do just that.

Romans 5:6-11 (NASB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

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Part 15 Answering Exodus 21:22, 23

Bible verses that “support” abortion

 

The following verses are used by opponents to say the Bible supports abortion.  I am going to show they actually do the opposite.

New American Standard Bible: Exodus 21:22, 23 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,”

The Living Bible: Exodus 21:22 “If two men are fighting, and in the process hurt a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage, but she lives, then the man who injured her shall be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband shall demand, and as the judges approve.”

Pro-abortion advocates point out that in the case of an injury to the mother, which causes a miscarriage and the baby comes out dead, there is only a fine unless the mother dies.  The penalty in that case is the perpetrator’s life for the mother’s life.  They say according to this passage the baby is not considered fully human because instead of life for life for killing the baby the intruder is only fined.

The key to answering this objection is answering the question, what is being communicated about the child?  Is miscarriage the best English word?  The Hebrew verb yasa [which some English translations call a miscarriage] means “to come forth.”  Whenever yasa is used in the Old Testament it refers to something “coming forth” alive unless otherwise indicated.  In Numbers 12:12 “Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!” Here the baby “comes from” the womb dead but the passage itself says the baby was dead.  Without stating the baby is dead yasa always means alive.  Interesting is the fact that yasa is used 1,061 times and is only translated by some as miscarriage in this one passage.  Why should this Exodus passage be different?

Moses had at his disposal Hebrew words that could have meant miscarriage, nepel and sakal, but he didn’t use them.  These words are used elsewhere in the Bible but not in this Exodus passage.

Let’s read the Exodus passage with what the verb yasa means.  Exodus 21:22, 23 “And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that the baby comes out, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life.” The passage seems to indicate that if either the mother or the baby is injured there is a penalty and if death occurs to either party it is life for life.

So why require a fine?  The person is fined because a premature baby requires special care.  The fine is levied for punitive damages and for the expense of an early birth.  Plus, even if the fine was for a miscarriage, this wouldn’t prove the baby isn’t human because a few verses later (v. 32) Moses says there will be a fine for the death of a slave.  We wouldn’t take that to mean the slave is somehow subhuman.

To summarize the case 3 points have been established:

  1. Yasa never means the baby is dead.  The English word miscarriage is simply a bad translation.  Verse 22 should say come forth or come out.
  2. Is there anything in the context of the passage that we should take Yasa to mean the baby comes out dead?  The obvious answer is no.
  3. If Moses had wanted to convey the baby came out dead why didn’t he use Hebrew words he had at his disposal that would have conveyed that message?  Obviously, he never intended the readers to interpret the passage to mean a dead baby.

Bottom line is the Exodus 21:22, 23 is actually a strong pro-life passage supporting the full rights and humanity of the unborn[1].

Go to part 16 here


[1] Information for this post comes from a Stand to Reason article by Greg Koukl called, “What Exodus 21:22 says about abortion.”  http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5700

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I am continuing my discussion on how to answer the person who asks, “If the Trinity is such an important doctrine, why isn’t it taught in the Old Testament?”

Here is another passage where one person is called “God” and is distinguished from another person who is also called “God.”  We read Psalm 45:6-7 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.” This king is called God and his throne will last “forever and ever.” Then the psalmist says to the king, “Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.” Two separate and distinct persons are called God (Elohim); one in verse 6 and a second one in verse 7.  Previously, I presented multiple passages showing the Bible teaches there is only one God (minimum 28 verses).  Based on this fact we can conclude we are looking at two persons and not two gods.  In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews applies this passage to Jesus Christ:  Hebrews 1:8-9 But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’” In verse 8 Jesus is called God and in verse 9 we see where God (the Father) has set him above all.

I have given three examples (two in part 9) where the Old Testament indirectly points to the doctrine of the Trinity.  Remember one of the main reasons we don’t see a more developed presentation of the Triune God is the second person of the Trinity has not come to earth as Jesus.  Once we have the New Covenant, ushered in by Jesus and launched at Pentecost with the power of the Holy Spirit, we see the scriptures directly teaching all three foundational truths of the Trinity; 1) only one God, 2) subsisting in 3 persons, and 3) each person is God.

The Bible teaches progressive truth.  Over time we see certain key realities being more fully revealed.  The Trinity is one of those doctrines progressively revealed and only hinted at through the Old Testament.  The doctrine of salvation is another progressive truth.  The Apostle Paul writes, Romans 16:25-27 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” Paul speaks of revealing a mystery that was kept secret long ago.  This mystery is Jesus came to earth to die on a cross and pay the penalty for sins for both Jews and gentiles.  When Abraham believed God (Genesis 15:6) he became a follower of God, even though he didn’t know by who or how his sins would be paid. The full payment for the sins of the Old Testament saints wouldn’t be revealed until the time of Jesus.  It was a progressive revelation.  They were still saved by grace through faith but would never see the fulfillment of God’s promise of full forgiveness.  Yet, they experienced the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.  The New Testament reveals additional mysteries that were kept secret in the past.

Go to part 11 here

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Part 9 Doctrine of the Trinity progressively revealed

I am going to provide some additional information to help in your understanding of this Biblical doctrine.  This also will equip you to answer the Jehovah Witness who asks, “If the Trinity is such an important doctrine, why isn’t it taught in the Old Testament?”

 

The Doctrine of the Trinity is progressively revealed

New Testament

As we have seen the New Testament clearly teaches there is 1 God that subsists in 3 persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Some critics point out the doctrine of the Trinity can only be found in the New Testament.  Even if this is true the doctrine is still Biblical.  However, we will see how a case for the Trinity can be made from the Old Testament.

Old Testament

We need to realize that God most likely chose not to fully reveal his Triune nature in the Old Testament due to the fact that one of the major problems for the nation of Israel was fighting off polytheism.  Polytheism is the belief in more than one true God; believing in multiple false gods.  Throughout the Old Testament we see God reviling the nation of Israel for their worship of false gods.  These Israelites would not have been ready to wrestle with one God subsisting in three persons.  Especially, since the 2nd person of the Trinity had yet to take on a human body.  It was only after God manifested Himself in human flesh as Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit from Pentecost on, that we see the Trinity fully revealed in the New Testament.  This demonstrates the progressive nature of Biblical revelation.  When the time was right, more information about the nature of God was revealed.

However, if God has eternally existed in three persons, it would seem surprising not see indications of the Trinity in the Old Testament.  Even though the doctrine of the Trinity is not explicitly taught in the Old Testament, several passages imply that God eternally existed in more than one person.

I will begin with Genesis 1:26, 27 “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

In verse 26, it reads, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” Who is the “Us” or “Our” that God is talking about?  Who is equal to God, so that we are created in their image?  Additional verses that hint at this apparent plurality within the one God are Genesis 3:22 and 11:7.  Genesis 1:27 helps solve this problem as it states, “God created man in His (singular) own image, in the image of God He (singular) created him.” How can God talk about Himself as plural verse 26 and in the next verse singular?  The doctrine of the Trinity, one God subsists in three persons helps us best understand these verses.  The “us and our” implicitly refer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit creating us in the image of God.

Another interesting verse is found in Psalm 110:1 (A Psalm of David) “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’”

 

Jesus is going to quote this verse to give his listeners understanding about who he is in Matthew 22:41-46. Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42 ‘What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’ They *said to Him, ‘The son of David.’ 43 He *said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, 44 ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET’? 45 ‘If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?’ 46 No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.”

When Jesus quoted this Psalm in Matthew 22, He knew David was referring to two separate persons as “Lord”.  Who is David’s Lord (my Lord) other than God Himself?  Who could say “sit at my right hand” other than someone who is fully God?  From a New Testament perspective this verse could be paraphrased, “God the Father said to God the Son, ‘Sit at my right hand[1].’”  It would seem, that even without the help of the New Testament, David clearly understood the plurality of persons within the one God.  Here In Matthew 22 Jesus clearly understood this and when He asked the Pharisees for an answer, how could David’s Lord be his son, no one was able to answer Him, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.  They couldn’t answer him because these Pharisees knew Jesus was identifying himself as the second Lord in the Psalm 110:1 passage.  And as such Jesus was calling himself God.  Just as the religious Jews during the time of Jesus struggled answering this passage, unless the Jews today are willing to admit one God and plurality of persons, they have no good explanation for this Psalm or Genesis 1:26, 27.

Go to part 10 here


[1] Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994, p. 228

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Part 8 Bible teaches each person of the Trinity is God

I have established the Bible teaches 1) there is only one God and 2) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate persons (can communicate, think rationally, love, etc.).  Now if I can show the third premise to be Biblical, I will have provided justification for believing in the doctrine of the Trinity.

3.  Each Person is Fully God

Father is God

Demonstrating from the Bible the Father is God is not a problem.  This truth can be shown in multiple passages.

Gal. 1:1 Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by men, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments God the Father is viewed as sovereign Lord over all.  Jesus prayed to the Father in the garden prior to his crucifixion (Matt. 26:36-46).  I have never met a person or any Bible believing religious group that denies the Father is God.

Holy Spirit is God

Once the Father and the Son are established to be fully God then the Trinitarian expression found in Matthew 28:19 (“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”) is significant in showing how the Holy Spirit is classified on an equal level with the Father and the Son.  It would have been unthinkable to baptize believers “in the name of the Father and the Son and the archangel Michael.”  An angel could never be equated to the level of God.  This equality is best explained by stating the Holy Spirit is God.

A set of verses that show the Holy Spirit as God can be found in the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5: 1-5.  They tried to deceive the Apostles, acting as if they gave all the money they received for selling their land.

Acts 5:3, 4 Then Peter said,  “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?  Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” We see in verse 3 Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and then in verse 4 Peter says you lied to God, establishing the fact that the Holy Spirit is God.

In addition a powerful case for the deity of the Holy Spirit can be made by listing His Godlike powers, abilities, and actions.  Many passages can be sited to demonstrate these powers.  An example can be found in Acts 13:2, where the Holy Spirit gives ministry commands to Barnabas and Paul that would only be given by God.  Acts 13:2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

In 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 we see more Godlike characteristics attributed to the Holy Spirit.  “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Here we see the divine characteristic of omniscience (all knowing) ascribed to the Holy Spirit.  Additional verses could be sited to establish the Holy Spirit is God.

Jesus is God

Many passages teach this truth.  I will begin my case by showing the Apostles believed Jesus was God.

  • Matthew believed Jesus was God

Writing about the birth of Jesus, Matthew 1:23 “. . . and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us.” Matthew called the baby Jesus God.

  • John believed Jesus was God

We read in John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” v14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The “Word” here is Jesus.  No question John believed Jesus was God.

  • Thomas believed Jesus was God

Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus but now upon seeing Him we see a change of mind.  John 20:28 Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” Thomas actually says, “Lord of me and the God of me.”  Calling Jesus “the God” in the Greek (ho theos) leaves no question he is calling Jesus God.  Plus in the verses that follow Jesus commends him for calling Him God.

  • Paul believed Jesus was God

Titus 2:13 the Apostle Paul writes to Titus, “. . . the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Paul believed Jesus was both God and savior.

  • Even the Jewish religious leaders believed Jesus claimed to be God.

Once while I was talking with a Jehovah Witness at my door and he asked me, “Where in the Bible did Jesus claim to be God?”  Have you ever been asked a question where your mind draws a blank?  Well I was in that situation.  I began looking through my Bible frantically trying to get out this mess.  I knew he wouldn’t accept certain passages that would make my case because their organization had changed the wording of those verses in their Bible.  As I was praying for God’s help he said turn in your Bible to John 10:30.  As I was turning to the passage he began reading.  John 10:30-33 (NIV) [Jesus speaking] “I and the Father are one.” 31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” He then said, “Oh no these are the wrong verses!”  I told him thank-you for making my case.  God answered my prayer of desperation.  Even the enemies of Jesus knew He claimed to be God!

Much more could be said to support Jesus as God.  Premise three has been established; each person (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is fully God.

Go to part 9 here

 

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Part 7 Bible teaches one God subsists in 3 persons

A working definition of the Trinity is one God subsists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, co-equal and co-eternal.  My contention is the Bible supports the following three premises to establish the Trinity: 1) there is only one God, 2) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate persons, and 3) each person is fully God.  If all three of these premises are true then the only rational conclusion is the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.

 

1.  The Bible teaches there only one God.

This is actually a very easy task because many verses support this premise.  There are minimally 28 verses in the New and Old Testaments that clearly teach there is only one God.  I will provide a few straightforward examples.

Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear (Shema) O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Isaiah 44:6, 8 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. [8] ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?  and you are My witnesses.  Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock?  I know of none.’

Isaiah 45:5a, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.”

Mark 12:29-34 “Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ [31] ‘The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’ [32] And the scribe said to Him, ‘Right, Teacher, You have truly stated that He is One; and there is no one else besides Him; [33] and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ [34] And when Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.”

Here are some additional verses from the Bible that teach there is only 1 God.  Deut. 4:35, 4:39, Is. 45:14, 45:21, 45:22, 46:9, Joel 2:27, James 2:19, and John 17:3.  Christianity historically has always been considered a monotheistic religion and condemns polytheism. Premise one is established, the Bible teaches there is only one God.

2. The Bible Teaches the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate persons.

A person is a living being who is non-physical, hence immaterial. A person can love, be rational, communicate, and have emotions.  It is easy to use the Bible to establish the personhood of the Father and the Son.  The scriptures record how the Son walked the earth as a human person.  John 3:16 states the Father loved the world when He gave His one and only Son.  Only a person can choose to love.  Many other Biblical examples could be supplied to demonstrate the Father as a personal being.

It is a little more difficult to show the Holy Spirit as a person.  A passage that demonstrates the personhood of the Holy Spirit can be found in John 14.  Here we see Jesus speaking to his disciples during the last supper.  John 14:25-26, “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

These verses support the Holy Spirit as a person.  Only a person can be a counselor, teach people, and remind others.  In John chapters 14-16 we see actions performed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that clearly shows how each is a person.

Another example can be found in Acts 13:2.  “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Here the Holy Spirit speaks and commands Barnabas and Saul to be set apart for the work that the Holy Spirit has called them.  Speaking, commanding, and setting forth a plan can only be done by a person.  Many more scriptures give evidence for the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

The third and final premise is all three are God.  The Bible teaches this truth while at the same time maintaining the first premise there is only one God.  For most critics of the Trinity this is where the real battle begins.

Go to part 8 here

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Describing the Biblical Trinity

The following is a typical dialogue I have had multiple times with Jehovah Witnesses at my door.

My doorbell rings and two men dressed in suits and ties are standing at my door with their briefcases.  After they ask me if I have any spiritual interests, our conversation continues like this:

Steve:  Thanks for stopping by.  Who is Jesus?

JW:  He is the Son of God

Steve:  What does Son of God mean?

JW:  Oh I see, you believe in the Trinity don’t you?

Steve:  Yes I do.

JW:  Do you know the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible?

Steve:  Does that mean, if a word is not found in the Bible that it can’t be true?

JW:  Well, ah, no.

Steve:  Then what’s your point.

JW:  Well ah, ah … Let’s change subjects[1].

There a many words we accept as true that are not found in the Bible.  The word “Bible” is not found in the Bible.  Jehovah Witnesses call themselves a Theocratic Organization and the word “theocratic” is not found in the Bible (Theocratic means governed by God).  Omnipresent (everywhere), omnipotent (all powerful), and omniscience (all knowing) are common theological words not found in the Bible.  What is the big deal if a word is not found in the Bible?  The doctrine of the Trinity can be a Biblical doctrine even if the word is not found in the Scriptures.

As I established previously, Christians believe in the Trinity, not because the church invented it, but because it is taught in the Bible.  In fact if you deny the Trinity, you will find the scriptures difficult to understand and loaded with contradictions.  Biblical doctrines are like dominoes lined up in a straight line; once you knock over the first one they all fall down.  Theology is systematic and like a line of dominoes, a person with one erroneous belief will discover it crashes into other doctrines causing multiple problems and contradictions.  What we find as we study the Bible is the doctrine of the Trinity is a solution and not a problem.  Multiple issues are solved when we understand how the Scriptures teach the Trinity.

In order to prove the Trinity three important facts have to be established by the Bible.

  1. There is only one God
  2. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, they communicate, love & have rationality.
  3. Each person is fully God.

If all 3 of these key facts can be established by the Bible then the only conclusion an honest person can make, is that the Scriptures teaches the Trinity.

Go to part 7 here


[1] This line of reasoning comes from Greg Koukl on a Stand to Reason radio broadcast   http://www.str.org/site/PageServer

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Part 5 Defining the Trinity

Defining the Trinity

The task of defining the doctrine of the Trinity can be tricky.  It is difficult to define because we don’t have anything in the universe like the Triune God.  If someone was to ask you to describe God and give two examples, what would you say?  Please don’t say that task would be easy; it would betray your depth of knowledge of God.  The process of utilizing words, you are left with a task of describing the one God, creator and sustainer of the entire universe; an all-powerful, all knowing, immaterial being without beginning or end; omnipresent throughout the universe, perfect in every way and designer of all living creatures including our complex human bodies.  The truth is all definitions of God will fall short.  Fortunately, we have the Bible to give us some clues to describing this God.

Doctrines like the Trinity are not directly spelled out in the Bible.  However, that doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t teach the Trinity, it just means the Bible doesn’t use word Trinity to describe God.  This forced the early church to come up with language that accurately described what the Bible taught about the Trinity.  For over a hundred years they struggled to find key words to explain how you can have one God and yet the Bible teaches the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all divine.  Eventually, in the 2nd and 3rd century, Tertullian provided some terms that would help in the work of defining the Trinity.  The key words in his writings were Trinitas, substantia, and persona, all Latin terms for the English words Trinity, substance, and person.  These provided theologians the key words needed to define the Trinity.  The following are basic definitions needed for understanding the doctrine.

Person – When we hear the word “person” we must set aside any physical limitations attached to the term.  The definition of a person is the non-physical or immaterial traits such as will, knowledge, love, and the ability to communicate.

Nature – Essential attributes or characteristics of a living being or thing.  Another word for nature can be substance (Latin substantia).  Examples can include a human nature or divine nature.  While Jesus was physically with his disciples he had two natures, fully God and fully man, two natures in one person.  All of us on the other hand only have one nature a human nature.

Polytheism – A belief in more than one god.

Monotheism – A belief in only one God.

Tritheism – A belief in 3 gods.  For example Mormons believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are 3 separate and unique gods.  This is not taught in the Bible.

Four definitions of the doctrine of the Trinity: All of them are based on what the Bible teaches.

1.  One God subsists in 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  (This definition was passed down from the early church)

2.  Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. – Dr. James White

3.  One what (Being or essence of God) and three who’s (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) – Hank Hanagraaff President of the Christian Research Institute

4.  One God with three (personal) centers of consciousness – Dr. Frank Beckwith

As I have outlined, the early church fathers in their response to false teachings, began the process of using words to demonstrate the Trinity was Biblical.  Next I will show you how various scriptures form the foundation for the Trinity.

Go to part 6 here

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Part 6 Leading Edge of Tyranny by Church Colson

This is an excellent article by Chuck Colson[1] (prison ministries and Breakpoint) explaining how the recent Senate vote on religious employers violates the Bill of Rights.

The Leading Edge of Tyranny March 05, 2012

Last Thursday, the Senate rejected by a 51-48 vote a bill that would have permitted religious employers to refuse to cover medical services that violated their moral and religious convictions.  Have they even read the Bill of Rights?

Now strange things happen when issues are politicized, I know that. That’s not shocking. What is shocking — and downright shameful — is the deceitful way supporters of the Administration’s mandate have framed the issue.

They say this is all about protecting women’s access to contraception. This is, folks, the biggest red herring I’ve seen in politics. It’s garbage, and they know it. Shame on them. Nobody is saying they shouldn’t have access to contraceptives. Any woman can go to virtually any drug store and purchase them. Even drugs that induce abortion. As I told you last week, these things are even available in vending machines now!

How dare Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington say that this is about “curtailing rights to access that women already have”! That’s a bold-faced misrepresentation of what’s going on here, and she and her colleagues know it.

The media is no better. The New York Times opined that the measure would have “crippled the expansion of preventive health care in America.”  What hogwash!  And the Times is even furthering the lie that pregnancy is akin to tuberculosis: a disease that needs to be prevented. Then the Times went on to accuse the Republicans of a relentless effort to “deny women access to essential health services.”  Give me a break!

Even worse, this intentional and vicious misinformation campaign is working. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that 63% of Americans support requiring insurers to cover contraception, while 33% oppose.  How sad is it the American public is so easily duped.

Folks, women’s access to contraception is not the issue here. They have it. In spades. What’s really going on is that the Obama Administration wants women to have access to FREE contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. It’s an ideological imperative for them. And such niceties as the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom just don’t matter in comparison.

Where does this end? I’m an 80-year-old man who has to take aspirin for his heart. Should the government pay for the aspirin I need? If they don’t pay for it, would they be denying my access to aspirin?  Come on.

If the Obama Administration has the votes to mandate free contraception, well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. But the Administration and its allies do not have the right to violate the First Amendment — to force religious organizations to pay for procedures or drugs that violate the tenets of their faith.

That’s why we have the Bill of Rights: to protect our fundamental freedoms. As Senator Orrin Hatch said, “When we start going down this road, beware. . . That’s when tyranny really begins. Those of you who vote against this amendment are playing with fire.”  He’s right.

Folks, tell your friends, your neighbors, and your legislators that women already have complete access to contraception — and to say otherwise nothing is a deliberate misrepresentation of what’s going on.

Make no mistake: What we are witnessing is indeed the leading edge of tyranny.


[1] http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/18896

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Part 3 Refuting both modalistic and arian heresies

Heresies sprung up early in church history and the church needed to meet the challenge. Two of the most serious and dangerous false teachings were Modalism and Arianism.  Both of these heresies were Biblical distortions of the triune nature of God.  A basic definition of the doctrine of the Trinity is one God subsists in three persons the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  All three persons are co-equal and co-eternal (always in existence).

Errors inside the Early Church

The modalistic heresy tried to maintain the oneness of God while at the same time explaining the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to this one God.  Modalism taught the one God manifests himself in different “modes” at different times.  During the Old Testament we see God the Father as the only person of the one God; Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not in existence.  Then Jesus is born and the Father is gone, along with the Holy Spirit.  Finally, during the church age we now have the Holy Spirit and the Father and Son are not in existence.  God exists in one mode or person at a single period of time.

A key religious leader who holds this view is TD Jakes.  His popular books can be found at most Christian bookstores.  If he is a true modalist then he is not a Christian, he believes in a false Jesus.  Currently, a religious group that holds this view is the United Pentecostal Church International or “Oneness Pentecostals.”  I heard one of their scholars debate an evangelical Christian on this topic and try to Biblically show that today we are under the power of God the Holy Spirit and God the Father and Son are nowhere to be found.

I had an opportunity to share with a group of Oneness Pentecostals at Promise Keepers in Los Angeles.  They were outside the Coliseum with their signs stating the Trinity is from Satan.  I shared with one of the individuals holding a picket sign.  I tried to show him the Biblical errors of his beliefs but he was too busy yelling at me to listen.  I find people who yell or raise their voices during a discussion do so when their arguments are weak.  He couldn’t answer me and was frustrated.  Finally, a police officer asked me to go back to my seat because he felt if we ignored these picketers they would disappear. I returned to my seat in the Coliseum.

A scripture to share with a modalist is found in Luke 22:42. [Jesus praying] “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Whom is Jesus praying to if only the son mode exists at that moment?  How many wills do we see here?  In the passage we see two, the Father’s will and the Son’s.  If you have 2 wills you have 2 persons.  Jesus was not a ventriloquist, talking to himself.

In the baptism of Jesus we see the greatest modalist magic trick of all time.  We read in Matthew 3:16-17, After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” Here we see all three persons of the Trinity in action at the same time.  Jesus is being baptized, the Holy Spirit is present in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father speaking from heaven.  According to modalism this isn’t possible.  Only the person of Jesus is present at this moment.

All Biblical verses where you see two persons of the Triune God interacting with each other are great verses to share with a modalist.  Modalism in order to maintain the oneness of God, sacrifices the co-eternal nature of the 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   Their belief in one God and only one person at a time is a false view of the nature of God.  Therefore, the early church rejected modalism.

The second major heresy that influenced the development of the doctrine of the Trinity was Arianism.  Arius held that the Son was a second God, inferior to the Father, and that the Holy Spirit was a third God, inferior to both the Father and the Son.   Arius believed that there was a time when Jesus and the Holy Spirit were not in existence; both were created beings.  Jehovah Witnesses have similar beliefs about Jesus and the Father.

Again we see a person developing a doctrine that tries to maintain there is only one God, the Father, by contending Jesus and the Holy Spirit are lesser gods, not the one true God.  Multiple Bible passages show that Arianism is false.  All verses that support monotheism refute Arianism; a lesser god is still a second god.  One passage that shows that there is only one God is Isaiah 45:5, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” Clearly, God says in Isaiah there is no other God, no lesser god, no 3 gods, just one true God.  To maintain there are two lesser gods is to promote polytheism (belief in more than one god).  There are at least 28 clear Biblical passages that teach there is only one God.  Later in my series I will use additional one God verses to support the Trinity.  The early church fought hard to maintain monotheism because of the strong Biblical support.  The church battled Arianism during the 3rd – 5th centuries and eventually rejected this false teaching as heretical.

Go to part 4 here

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Part 2 Early Church Fathers believed in the Triune God

The key theme I want you to remember is, “The Trinity is Biblical.”   The reason for the emphasis on the Bible is that many groups believe the Trinity was invented by the early church and as they developed this doctrine, were influenced by pagan deities and beliefs.  This accusation I will later show to be false.  Instead it was the Bible that formed the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity.

However, there are some difficult passages, especially when it comes to the nature of God.  Let me share a couple that Jehovah Witnesses use to show that Jesus is not fully God but a created being; a lesser god.  Later I will discuss more.

  1. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  They would begin by saying we know the Word is Jesus.  How can Jesus be with God and be God at the same time?  It sounds like a contradiction.  This is how they justify their New World Translation of John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” By adding this “a” Jesus can be with God (Jehovah) because he is a different god.
  2. Here is the scripture my junior high student shared: “Going a little farther, he [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39)If Jesus is God who is he praying to?  Is he praying to himself?

How do we solve these problems?  Do we believe in a contradiction?  It is my contention once we have a correct understanding of the Biblical Trinity we will be able to make sense of these verses and more.

However, before we examine the Biblical foundations of the Trinity and solve these problems, I would like to look back at the early church fathers and see how they developed the wording for describing the Triune nature of God.

The Early Church Fathers Describe the Triune God

Following the resurrection the early church begins with a bang.  Thousands of new believers were now following Jesus and the Book of Acts gives us a picture of incredible expansion.  However, one of the problems with great growth and new churches coming into existence, bad teaching begins to happen almost immediately.  In Acts 20 the Apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders about savage wolves or false teachers who would distort the truth.  The early church needed protection against error, especially false teachings concerning the Biblical truth about God.

However, doctrinal writings were difficult to produce because the early church was under intense persecution.  The lack of early writings reflects the fact that when you are on the run for your life you do not spend long periods of time reflecting on in-depth theological ideas, studies, and writings.   It wasn’t until the persecution slowed greatly by the early 4th century do we see more attention paid to doctrines like the Trinity.

Even without written support the early church was Trinitarian.  Jesus was honored in their worship as equal to the Father.  What the Apostles taught, right from the beginning, was later recorded in the New Testament; Jesus was fully God and fully man.  When I speak of discovering the Trinity, the early church fathers found words to express a Biblical teaching and to correct errors that were already causing havoc.  God has been a Triune God for all eternity.

It is important to note that all early doctrines that were developed over a period of time are like a computer program; nobody buys the 1.0 version of any program.  The reason is because the bugs have not been worked out.  Each new software version solves one problem while creating others.  In similar fashion it took nearly 400 years to complete the doctrine of the Trinity.  The problem was early church writers had to use words to describe the nature of the God and the eternal relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This was not easy an easy task.

Critics, like the Jehovah Witnesses, say the early Christian church invented the doctrine of the Trinity.  Their booklet “Should You Believe in the Trinity” makes this claim.  The truth is the early church fathers revealed a truth that was always there.  It just took time to develop a clear and concise wording to express that truth.

Go to part 3 here

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Why Does Government Support Marriage?

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, February 7, 2012, that California’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage in California to one man and one woman, violated the equal protection rights of gays and lesbians. Now, a forthcoming appeal could pave the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage as early as next year.  The following was written by Archbishop Jose’ H. Gomez to bring some clarity to this issue.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision on Proposition 8

FEBRUARY 7, 2012

 

The court’s decision reflects a basic confusion about what marriage is and what marriage is for, and about why the government has an interest in promoting and strengthening marriage.

Marriage, in every culture and every age, has been recognized as the lifelong union of a man and woman for their own well-being and for the creation and nurturing of children.

Our government has a vital interest in promoting marriage for two reasons. First, because marriage is the foundation of society. Second, because government has a duty to promote the well-being of children, who have the right to be born and raised in a family with both their mother and their father.

This debate over marriage is not about equality or about the needs of individuals. It is much bigger than that. It is about the nature of the human person and the nature of society.

The government has no competence and no authority to “redefine” marriage or “expand” its definition to include other kinds of relationships. To do that is to say that marriage no longer exists. And this would have grave consequences for children and for the common good of our society.

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Part 5 Unconstitutional Birth-control mandate

This is an excellent article explaining how and why the birth-control mandate Obama is attempting to force upon religious organizations is illegal.

Birth-Control Mandate: Unconstitutional and Illegal[1]

By David B. Rivkin Jr. & Edward Whelan   February 15th, 2012             The Wall Street Journal

Last Friday, the White House announced that it would revise the controversial ObamaCare birth-control mandate to address religious-liberty concerns. Its proposed modifications are a farce.

The Department of Health and Human Services would still require employers with religious objections to select an insurance company to provide contraceptives and drugs that induce abortions to its employees. The employers would pay for the drugs through higher premiums. For those employers that self-insure, like the Archdiocese of Washington, the farce is even more blatant.

The birth-control coverage mandate violates the First Amendment’s bar against the “free exercise” of religion. But it also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That statute, passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It was enacted in response to a 1990 Supreme Court opinion, Employment Division v. Smith.

That case limited the protections available under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion to those government actions that explicitly targeted religious practices, by subjecting them to difficult-to-satisfy strict judicial scrutiny. Other governmental actions, even if burdening religious activities, were held subject to a more deferential test.

The 1993 law restored the same protections of religious freedom that had been understood to exist pre-Smith. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act states that the federal government may “substantially burden” a person’s “exercise of religion” only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person “is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means of furthering” that interest.

The law also provides that any later statutory override of its protections must be explicit. But there is nothing in the ObamaCare legislation that explicitly or even implicitly overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The birth-control mandate proposed by Health and Human Services is thus illegal.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Obama in a press conference on the contraception mandate on Friday.

The refusal, for religious reasons, to provide birth-control coverage is clearly an exercise of religious freedom under the Constitution. The “exercise of religion” extends to performing, or refusing to perform, actions on religious grounds—and it is definitely not confined to religious institutions or acts of worship. Leading Supreme Court cases in this area, for example, involve a worker who refused to work on the Sabbath (Sherbert v. Verner, 1963) and parents who refused to send their teenage children to a public high school (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972).

In the high-school case, the Supreme Court found that even a $5 fine on the parents substantially burdened the free exercise of their religion. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers who fail to comply with the birth-control mandate will incur an annual penalty of roughly $2,000 per employee. So it is clearly a substantial burden.

Objecting employers could, of course, avoid the fine by choosing to go out of business. But as the Supreme Court noted in Sherbert v. Verner, “governmental imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against” noncompliant parties.

The birth-control mandate also fails the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s “compelling governmental interest” and “least restrictive means” tests.

Does the mandate further the governmental interest in increasing cost-free access to contraceptives by means that are least restrictive of the employer’s religious freedom? Plainly, the answer is no. There are plenty of other ways to increase access to contraceptives that intrude far less on the free exercise of religion.

Health and Human Services itself touts community health centers, public clinics and hospitals as some of the available alternatives; doctors and pharmacies are others. Many of the entities, with Planned Parenthood being the most prominent, already furnish free contraceptives. The government could have the rest of these providers make contraceptive services available free and then compensate them directly. A mandate on employers who object for religious reasons is among the most restrictive means the government could have chosen to increase access.

The mandate also fails the “compelling government interest” test. Given the widespread availability of contraceptive services, and the far less restrictive other ways to increase their availability, the government can hardly claim it has a “compelling” interest in marginally increasing access to birth control by requiring objecting employers to join in this effort.

The “compelling interest” claim is further undercut by the mandate’s exclusion, for purely secular reasons, of employers who offer “grandfathered” plans. These are employer-provided plans that existed at the time ObamaCare was enacted and can continue to operate so long as they do not make major changes. They cover tens of millions of enrollees, according to a recent estimate by Health and Human Services.

In an effort to rally its base in the upcoming November election, the Obama administration seems more interested in punishing religiously based opposition to contraception and abortion than in marginally increasing access to contraception services. It is the combination of the political motive, together with the exclusion of so many employers from the mandate, that has profound constitutional implications. It transforms the mandate into a non-neutral and not generally applicable law that violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.

In short, the birth-control mandate violates both statutory law and the Constitution. The fact that the administration promulgated it so flippantly, without seriously engaging on these issues, underscores how little it cares about either.

Mr. Rivkin, who served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, represented the 26 states in their challenge to ObamaCare before the trial and appellate courts. Mr. Whelan served in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush and is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Go to part 6 here


[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204795304577223003824714664.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

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Part 4 The First and Foremost Freedom by Chuch Colson

I am continuing to post articles by various religious leaders weighing in on this issue of our government’s current policies limiting our religious liberties.  The following was a Breakpoint article[1] by Chuck Colson.

The First and Foremost Freedom

I’ve been talking a lot lately about the Obama Administration’s relentless attempts to restrict religious freedom.  You know by now that the Catholic bishops have strongly rejected the president’s so-called “accommodation” to exempt religious organizations from paying for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.  Good for the bishops. What the president outlined changed nothing: religious organizations will still have to provide insurance that covers services that violate their religious beliefs, even if they don’t have to pay for them directly.

Now why does this matter? Why is it really such a big deal? The Administration is hoping you will think this is all about contraception, which not many people, even the majority of Catholics, care that much about. But this is not about contraception. This battle is all about religious freedom—the first and most important of all our freedoms.

As Christians, we know that freedom is the natural condition of human beings because we were created in God’s image. God, who enjoys perfect freedom, respected Adam and Eve’s freedom in the garden.  Even the Deist Thomas Jefferson, author of Virginia’s statute of religious freedom, wrote that “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” Jefferson rejected “all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations.” And he recognized that although “the Holy Author of our religion” had the power to constrain freedom, He chose not to. And to restrict religious freedom was a “departure from” God’s plan.

Our founding fathers—even those who weren’t Christians—believed, as I do, that without freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, all of our other freedoms aren’t worth the paper they are written on. If government can dictate what we may or may not believe, or how we may or may not live out our beliefs, then we are no longer a free people.  I say this not just because I am a Christian: I say it as a student of the American founding. I can plainly read what the founders said. James Madison, the fourth president and “father of the Constitution,” believed “that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence”—and not by the “dictates of other men” or by “Civil Society.”

It’s shocking that the leaders of our nation so callously disregard our history, our heritage, and our rights. We must not remain silent. We must speak out—reintroduce our neighbors and our leaders to the foundational beliefs of the American Experiment.  Okay, governments do restrict and do deny freedom of religion. But those that do are not called free democracies. They are called authoritarian dictatorships, which is exactly what we will be living under if we lose this fight.

Go to part 5 here


[1] http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/18766

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The following was written by Francis Cardinal George, the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago. In this letter is an opportunity to send an email to your state representatives opposing this action.  I did this and encourage others to follow suit.  This letter was addressed to the Catholics of his diocese:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: I write to you concerning a most serious matter that negatively impacts the church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Jan. 20 that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the administration has seemingly ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. As a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens because of their religious beliefs. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. All that has been built up over so many years in our Catholic institutions should not be taken away by the stroke of an administrator’s pen.

This order reduces the church to a private club, destroying her public mission in society. In generations past, the church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.

Therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.

Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the administration’s decision.

A letter similar to this is being sent to their people by diocesan bishops around the country. I thank you for your consideration of this unprecedented challenge to religious liberty. You and your families are in my prayers; please keep me in yours.

Sincerely yours in Christ, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago

Go to part 4 here

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Part 15 Successfully debating two Jehovah’s Witnesses

While I was working as a pastor for Mission Hills Church a man had an urgent need to speak with me.  His wife had become close friends with some Jehovah’s Witness co-workers and was now considering joining their religion.  He was desperate and wanted help in showing his wife the truth of Christianity.  I told him I was comfortable doing that and it would be my pleasure to meet his wife.

The following Friday I got a call from him that his wife wanted me to meet at their house with them and with a Jehovah Witness to present to other side.  I told him this would not be a good situation.  I knew this debate would only bring contentious dialogue.  He then said these were her terms and either the Jehovah’s Witness came by himself or I joined in on the conversation.  So I told him I would do it.

I have to tell you this is outside my comfort zone.  I spent the whole weekend getting ready for our Monday evening debate.  I especially spent time on John 1:1 because she specifically wanted answers to this scriptural problem of whether Jesus was “God” or “a god.”  Fortunately for me I had just finished my second semester of a doctrinal class at Biola University (working on my MA in apologetics) and we had spent a couple days discussing John 1:1.  God’s timing was incredible!  Armed with lots of prayer and preparation I felt ready.

Monday 6pm came and I entered the house.  To my surprise there were two Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Both were dressed in their normal coat and tie attire and their books were on the table ready to put my answers to the test.  Yet, I felt confident armed with prayer from the husband and others.

After introductions we began the debate.  I volunteered to go first.  This was a big mistake for the two Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I have read and listened to many debates and some debate tactics.  One the strongest strategies is to go first.  You set the table for what is about to follow.  You make them play by your rules and you can decide the direction of the debate.

I began by showing how the Trinity is Biblical.  I defined the Trinity as one God subsists in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal.  I then established three following key Biblical truths with scriptures: 1) there is only 1 God, 2) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons, and finally, 3) each person is God.  If the Bible teaches these truths then the Doctrine of the Trinity is established.

Knowing the Jehovah’s Witnesses favorite anti-Trinitarian scriptures, I then used them to explain how the Trinity solves some difficult passages.   Once you understand the doctrine you can grasp how the Son in human Flesh could say the Father is greater.  The Father is greater in position because Jesus humbled himself to become a man.  It was also acceptable for Jesus to call the Father “My Father and My God,” because of His equal relationship with the Father.  Jesus in human flesh was not an atheist and submitted himself to the Father.  Plus in John 5:17-18, when Jesus used the words “my Father,” the Jews interpreted that to making himself equal with God the Father.   I continued through all their best arguments against the Trinity.

After I finished my opening remarks they began to make their case.  Each time they brought up a scripture against my position, I simply said, “Don’t you remember, I dealt with that passage in my opening statement.  That verse is consistent with a correct understanding of the Trinity.”  They soon became frustrated.

We debated for 2 hours spending 30 minutes on John 1:1 alone.  Finally, the wife called the debate to an end and had these words to say; “I would like to thank all of you for coming here to express your views.  I now know what I believe to be true and I am comfortable with these words, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and THE WORD WAS GOD!”  Hallelujah truth had won out.  God had used me as an ambassador to communicate His Word.  Her husband had tears of joy.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses left the house graciously but dejected.

I did not succeed because I was smarter than these individuals.  Bottom line it is easier to defend truth than it is error.   Christianity is a systematic belief system; everything has to work together.  A straight line of dominoes could be thought of as key doctrines.  They all Biblically stand together because our beliefs build off one another.  However, if you make an error on one of these beliefs then they all fall down, like dominoes.  This is why I was successful.  These men had to defend doctrines that crash into each other and fall down because they have the wrong Jesus.

Most of you will never be asked to be in a situation like this debate.  God used my gifts and talents in a special way.  Each of us has been shaped and equipped in a unique manner to be an ambassador for Christ in your sphere of influence.  I will reach some people you will never reach and you will reach people for Christ that I could never reach.  This is why God has Christians come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, personalities, and intellectual capabilities.  Non-Christians come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and God wants to use each of us in our unique way.  However, He still wants us to be able to give an answer to everyone who asks for the reason for the hope, doing this with gentleness and respect.

I will end this series here.  I have so much more to say about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their organization and will do so in another series.  I feel I have provided enough information to assist you in sharing with the Witness at your door.  For additional study the following web sites and books I have found helpful.

Books:

Web Sites:

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The following public letter was issued Feb. 10th, 2012 by Mary Anne Glendon (former United States Ambassador to the Vatican), John Garvey (President, Catholic University of America), Princeton scholar Robert P. George, Notre Dame law professor Carter Sneed, and Yuval Levin of the Ethics & Public Policy Center. Currently, this letter is being circulated and in the process of acquiring many more signatories. It is a strong rebuttal to the HHS regulation “compromise” recently offered by President Obama. The letter reads:

Today the Obama administration has offered what it has styled as an “accommodation” for religious institutions in the dispute over the HHS mandate for coverage (without cost sharing) of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. The administration will now require that all insurance plans cover (“cost free”) these same products and services.  Once a religiously-affiliated (or believing individual) employer purchases insurance (as it must, by law), the insurance company will then contact the insured employees to advise them that the terms of the policy include coverage for these objectionable things.

This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy.  It is certainly no compromise.  The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust.  Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.

It is no answer to respond that the religious employers are not “paying” for this aspect of the insurance coverage.  For one thing, it is unrealistic to suggest that insurance companies will not pass the costs of these additional services on to the purchasers.  More importantly, abortion-drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives are a necessary feature of the policy purchased by the religious institution or believing individual.  They will only be made available to those who are insured under such policy, by virtue of the terms of the policy.

It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer.  It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer.  What matters is what services the policy covers.

The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.  This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.  It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept as assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.

Finally, it bears noting that by sustaining the original narrow exemptions for churches, auxiliaries, and religious orders, the administration has effectively admitted that the new policy (like the old one) amounts to a grave infringement on religious liberty.  The administration still fails to understand that institutions that employ and serve others of different or no faith are still engaged in a religious mission and, as such, enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.

Signed:

John Garvey, President, The Catholic University of America

Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

O. Carter Snead, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Yuval Levin, Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Go to part 3 here

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The recent ruling, concerning the Catholic Church and contraception, reinforces the evidence that President Obama is attacking religious liberties.  Prior to this ruling the administration adopted a new phrase that is supposed to sum up our constitutional religious freedoms by saying the people of the United States have the freedom to worship.This is not what the constitution says.  Freedom to worship is an effort to privatize all religious practice and remove all vestiges of religious symbols and practice from the public square.  The first amendment of the constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Notice this amendment only limits government from forcing their will upon the people.  It supports our personal freedom of religious expression public and private.  This political move by the current administration, to frame it as freedom to worship, is an attempt to limit our religious liberties, without violating our first amendment rights.  It is a veiled attack on all religious expressions.

Currently, we are witnessing an attack against the Catholic Church by the Obama Administration.  I believe this ruling on contraception and insurance is just one example of what is going to happen to any and all religious beliefs in the future if we reelect President Obama.  The following are highlights of a recent post by Chuck Colson concerning this ruling.

The Time is Now[1]by Chuck Colson

As you know by now, Obama Administration has refused to grant religious organizations an exemption from purchasing health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, surgical sterilization, and contraception.

The Catholic bishops responded quickly, decrying the Administration’s decision for what it is — an egregious, dangerous violation of religious liberty.  And folks, we evangelicals must stand with them. While all of us may not share the Catholic view of contraception, all true Christians believe that the taking of human life in utero, whether surgically or by abortifacient drugs, violates the basic human right to life.

Many bishops have already declared that they will not obey this unjust law. The penalty for such a move would be severe. Catholic hospitals, universities, and other organizations would be forced to pay punitive fines ($2,000 per employee) for refusing to purchase insurance that violates the teachings of their church.

But Catholic institutions aren’t the only ones affected by this mandate. Prison Fellowship, for example, which employs 180 people, could not morally purchase insurance for its employees that covers abortifacients. Nor could we afford the fines we would incur.

For some faith-based institutions, it would spell the end of their existence — and their far-reaching service to the public and to the needy. As Mike Gerson pointed out in his excellent Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, it’s crazy that the government would drive charities like the Salvation Army and other Christian groups out of business. The government simply can’t afford to replace the services they provide — such as “homeless shelters, food banks, health care, welfare-to-work, prisoner re-entry programs” and much more.

I am not a member of the Catholic Church.  However, this issue is one of religious freedom and not about one particular church.  Decisions like this are a great threat to all religious liberty.   German pastor Martin Niemoeller, reflecting on the Nazi terror, said this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.

We must stand in support of our Catholic brothers and sisters on this issue.  I encourage you to read and sign the petition prepared by the Becket Fund.  I am open to other ways to fight this injustice.  Please email me your suggestions by your comments.

Go to part 2 here


[1] http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/18710

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I thought I’d end my series with an article by Scott Klusendorf teaching pro-life advocates how to defend the life of the unborn.  It may even change the stance of an open minded abortion supporter.

How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less

By Scott Klusendorf www.prolifetraining.com

Suppose that you have just five minutes to graciously defend your pro-life beliefs with friends or classmates.  Can you do it with rational arguments?  What should you say? And how can you simplify the abortion issue for those who think it’s hopelessly complex?

Here’s how to succeed in three easy steps:

1) Clarify the issue. Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: Is the unborn a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, killing them for any reason requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.

In other words, arguments based on “choice” or “privacy” miss the point entirely. Would anyone that you know support a mother killing her toddler in the name of “choice and who decides?” Clearly, if the unborn are human, like toddlers, we shouldn’t kill them in the name of choice anymore than we would a toddler. Again, this debate is about just one question: What is the unborn? At this point, some may object that your comparisons are not fair—that killing a fetus is morally different than killing a toddler. Ah, but that’s the issue, isn’t it? Are the unborn, like toddlers, members of the human family? That is the one issue that matters. (See the “Toddler Tactics” article for more on this.)

Remind your critics that you are vigorously “pro-choice” when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. You support a woman’s right to choose her own doctor, to choose her own husband, to choose her own job, and to choose her own religion, to name a few. These are among the many choices that you fully support for women. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves.1 No, we shouldn’t be allowed to choose that.

2) Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy. Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

3) Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest. Ask the tough questions. When critics say that birth makes the unborn human, ask, “How does a mere change of location from inside the womb to outside the womb change the essential nature of the unborn?” If they say that brain development or self-awareness makes us human, ask if they would agree with Joseph Fletcher that those with an IQ below 20 or perhaps 40 should be declared non-persons? If not, why not? True, some people will ignore the scientific and philosophic case you present for the pro-life view and argue for abortion based on self-interest. That is the lazy way out. Remind your critics that if we care about truth, we will courageously follow the facts wherever they lead, no matter what the cost to our own self-interests.

Notes:
1. Gregory Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons (Lomita: STR Press, 1999) p. 11.
2. See also, T.W. Sadler, Langman’s Embryology, 5th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1993) p. 3; Ronand O’Rahilly & Pabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.
3. Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998) p.2.
4. A. Guttmacher, Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation (New York: Viking Press, 1933) p. 3.
5. Stephen Schwarz, The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990) p. 18.

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Part 21 Why embryonic stem cell research is morally wrong

Currently, there is a controversy raging over embryonic stem cell research.  In this article Scott Klusendorf conveys clarity and shows the issue can be simplified.

Is Embryonic Stem Cell Research Morally Complex?

By Scott Klusendorf www.prolifetraining.com

Case closed: Research that destroys one human being so that another may benefit is immoral.

When advocates of embryonic stem cell research say that we have a moral obligation to save lives and promote cures, what they really mean is that human embryos should be cloned and killed for medical research. But you would never know it by listening to their rhetoric. Now I’m all for saving lives. I’m also for stem cell research.  But I’m opposed to one kind of stem cell research that requires killing defenseless human beings so that others may (allegedly) benefit. That’s immoral.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are fast growing, unspecialized cells that can reproduce themselves and grow new organs for the body. All 210 different types of human tissue originate from these primitive cells. Because they have the potential to grow into almost any kind of tissue including nerves, bones, and muscle, scientists believe that the introduction of healthy stem cells into a patient may restore lost function to damaged organs, especially the brain. Human embryos have an abundant supply of stem cells which scientists are eager to harvest in hopes of treating Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses. There’s only one problem: You must kill the embryo to get its stem cells. Advocates of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) often reply that the embryos in question are not human organisms, but stem cells with the potential to become human beings. This is an unabashed lie. Embryos don’t come from stem cells; they are living human beings that have stem cells.  And extracting these cells is lethal for the tiny human subject.

Closely related to ESCR is the cloning process known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, which involves creating an embryo that is a genetic clone of the patient and then using that embryo as a source for stem cells. Advocates of ESCR euphemistically called this “therapeutic” cloning which they sought to distinguish from “reproductive” cloning. But the distinction is totally misleading because all cloning is reproductive. So-called “reproductive” cloning means allowing the cloned human to live. “Therapeutic” cloning means creating him for research and then killing him before birth. In either case, the act of cloning is exactly the same and results in a living human embryo. The only question is how we will treat the newly cloned human being.

Is ESCR complex?

Regrettably, moral concerns with ESCR are often dismissed as anti-science and anti-progress. “Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role of science in discovering the truth,” Prime Minister Tony Blair told critics of Britain’s plan to clone human embryos for research.1 Echoing these same sentiments, U.S. Senator Orin Hatch remarked, “It would be terrible to say because of an ethical concept, we can’t do anything for patients.”2 However, if Blair and Hatch are correct that scientific progress trumps morality, one can hardly condemn Hitler for grisly medical experiments on Jews. Nor can one criticize the Tuskegee experiments of the 1940s in which black men suffering from syphilis were promised treatment, only to have it denied so scientists could study the disease.

Despite claims to the contrary, ESCR is not morally complex. It comes down to just one question: Is the embryo a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the embryos in question are not human, killing them to extract stem cells requires no more justification than pulling a tooth.

The science of embryology is clear that from the earliest stages of development, embryos (whether produced through normal reproduction or cloning) are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless.3

Pro-cloning advocates like Ronald Bailey insist that we gain no real knowledge from these scientific facts. Bailey argues that embryonic human beings are biologically human only in the sense that every cell in the body carries the full genetic code, meaning that each of our somatic (bodily) cells has as much potential for development as any human embryo. Put simply, Bailey would have us believe that there is no difference in kind between a human embryo and each of our cells.4 This is bad biology. Bailey is making the rather elementary mistake of confusing parts with wholes. The difference in kind between each of our cells and a human embryo is clear: An individual cell’s functions are subordinated to the survival of the larger organism of which it is merely a part. The human embryo, however, is already a whole human entity. It makes no sense to say that you were once a sperm or somatic cell. However, the facts of science make clear that you were once a human embryo. Robert George and Patrick Lee say it well. “Somatic cells are not, and embryonic human beings are, distinct, self-integrating organisms capable of directing their own maturation as members of the human species.”5

What makes humans valuable?

Some ESCR advocates concede that zygotes (early embryos) are biologically human but deny that they are complex or developed enough to qualify as valuable human beings with a right to life. The argument goes that humans have value not in virtue of the kind of thing they are (members of a natural kind or species), but only because of an acquired property, usually the immediate capacity for self-awareness. Embryos do not have this immediate capacity and therefore fail to qualify as subjects with rights. There are two problems that underscore the arbitrary and counterintuitive nature of this claim. First, the self-awareness argument proves too much. Newborns lack meaningful self-awareness until several months after birth, so what’s wrong with infanticide? Second, George and Lee point out that if humans have value only because of some acquired property like self-awareness or sentience and not in virtue of the kind of thing they are, then it follows that since these acquired properties come in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees.6 Do we really want to say that those with more self-awareness are more human (and more valuable) than those with less? Philosophically, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

The crux of the matter

Here’s the question to ask your critics at work, school, or church: Given a choice between a therapy that happens to be lethal for human subjects and one that is not, wouldn’t we be inclined to favor the therapy that is not lethal? Wouldn’t that be even more the case if that non-lethal therapy turns out to be vastly more promising, and far less speculative, than the lethal therapy?7 Stem cells drawn from adults have already yielded some striking achievements, and they do not require the killing of the human being from whom they are drawn.8 The extraction of stem cells from human embryos does, however, result in the destruction of defenseless human beings. Therefore, it is morally wrong. There’s nothing complex about it.

Notes:
1. “Don’t turn Against Science, Blair Warns Protesters,” London Daily Telegraph, November 18, 2000
2. Cited in “Clone Wars,” National Review On-Line, July 1, 2002
3. See, for example, Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Toronto: B.C. Decker, 1988) p. 2; Ronand O’Rahilly and Pabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.
4 Ronald Bailey, “Are Stem Cells Babies?”  Reason, July 11, 2001.
5. Robert George and Patrick Lee, “Reason, Science, and Stem Cells,” National Review Online, 7-20-01.
6. Robert George, “Cloning Addendum,” National Review Online, 7-15-02; Patrick Lee, “The Pro-Life Argument from Substantial Identity,” Tollefsen Lecture, St. Anselm’s College, 11-14-02.
7. I owe this question to Hadley Arkes, “Senseless on Stem Cells,” National Review Online, 8-23-04.
8. For a complete summary of these adult stem cell treatments, go to www.stemcellresearch.org.

Go to part 22 here

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Pro-abortion advocates want to hide the fact that abortion can be harmful to the mental health of women.  Here are two articles that look at studies that demonstrate the psychological damage done due to having an abortion.

Abortion tied to sharp decline in women’s mental health[1]

By Ryan Jaslow

(CBS) Do women who have an abortion risk their mental health?

A provocative new study shows that women who have an abortion face an increased risk for mental health problems including substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.  “Results indicate quite consistently that abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure,” the authors wrote in the study, published in the September 1 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 877,000 women, including 164,000 who had an abortion. They found women who had an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk for mental problems.

Women who had an abortion were 34 percent more likely to develop an anxiety disorder, 37 percent more likely to experience depression, 110 percent more likely to abuse alcohol, 155 percent more likely to commit suicide, and 220 percent more likely to use marijuana.  Nearly 10 percent of the problems could be attributed to abortion, the authors concluded.

“There are in fact some real risks associated with abortion that should be shared with women as they are counseled prior to an abortion,” Dr. Priscilla Coleman, professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green State University, told the Daily Telegraph.   About 827,000 women have an abortion in the U.S. each year.

Abortion & Depression[1]

 

Christchurch, New Zealand (LifeNews.com) 1/4/06A new study conducted in New Zealand finds women who have abortions are more likely to become severely depressed. The report confirms the results of a comprehensive study in 2004 in the U.S. showing abortion leads to a host of mental health problems.

The New Zealand study found that having an abortion as a young woman raises the risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.  The findings come from the Christchurch Health and Development Study of 1265 children tracked since their birth in the 1970s.

Some 41 percent of the more than 500 women in the study became pregnant by the age of 25 and 90 women had abortions.  Some 42 percent of the women who had abortions had experienced major depression within the last four years. That’s almost double the rate of women who never became pregnant. The risk of anxiety disorders also doubled.  According to the study, women who have abortions were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be addicted to illegal drugs.

David Fergusson, who led the study, said the results show access to legal abortions is not necessarily good for women. He also said the study confirms abortions cause women mental health issue — rather than alleviating them as abortion advocates claim.

Meanwhile, researchers at Bowling Green State University in 2004 examined data on nearly 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 34 who had experienced an unintended pregnancy.   Their survey found that women who have abortions of unexpected pregnancies were 30 percent more likely to experience subsequent problems with anxiety than those who don’t have one.  Women in the study who had abortions and suffered from general anxiety disorder experienced irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a pounding or racing heart, or feelings of unreality.

Go to part 21 here


[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20100587-10391704.html

[2] http://www.abortiontv.com/Glitch/AbortionAndDepression.htm

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Part 19 Answering the objection the unborn is not a person

Some pro-abortion advocates admit the unborn is human but say the fetus is not a person and therefore can be killed. In the following article pro-life president of the Life Training Institute Scott Klusendorf will provide some clarity to this issue.  For additional arguments on the person-hood of the unborn I suggest reading my answer to my atheist friend Tom on January 18th in the comment section of “Defending the Life of the Unborn part 5.”

Confusing human value with human function[1]

Abortion advocates like Mary Anne Warren claim that a “person” is a living entity with feelings, self-awareness, consciousness, and the ability to interact with his or her environment.  Because a human fetus has none of these capabilities, it’s not a person. Warren makes two assumptions here, neither of which she defends.  First, she doesn’t say why should anyone accept the idea that there can be such a thing as a human being that is not a human person.  What’s the difference?  I’ve never met a human that wasn’t a person, have you?  Second, even if Warren is correct about the distinction between human being and human person, she fails to tell us why a person must possess self-awareness and consciousness in order to qualify as fully human.  In other words, she merely asserts that these traits are necessary for personhood but never says why these alleged value-giving properties are value-giving in the first place.

In his article “Why Libertarians Should be Pro-Choice Regarding Abortion,” Libertarian philosopher Jan Narveson makes points similar to Warren.  His larger purpose is to tell us who is and is not a subject of libertarian rights.  He argues that humans have value (and hence, rights) not in virtue of the kind of thing they are (members of a natural kind or species), but only because of an acquired property, in this case, the immediate capacity to make conscious, deliberate choices.  Because fetuses lack this acquired property, they have no rights.  A woman’s choice to abort, then, does not negatively affect the fetus or deny it any fundamental liberties.

But this can’t be right.  Newborns, like fetuses, lack the immediate capacity to make conscious, deliberate choices, so what’s wrong with infanticide?  What principled reason can Narveson give for saying, “No, you can’t do that?”

Peter Singer in Practical Ethics bites the bullet and says there is none, that arguments used to justify abortion work equally well to justify infanticide.38 Abortion-advocates Michael Tooley and Mary Anne Warren agree.  For example, if the immediate capacity for self-consciousness makes one valuable as a subject of rights, and newborns like fetuses lack that immediate capacity, it follows that fetuses and newborns are both disqualified.  You can’t draw an arbitrary line at birth and spare newborns.  Hence, infanticide, like abortion, is morally permissible.

Lincoln raised a similar point with slavery, noting that any argument used to disqualify blacks as subjects of rights works equally well to disqualify many whites.

You say ‘A’ is white and ‘B’ is black.  It is color, then: the lighter having the right to enslave the darker?  Take care.  By this rule, you are a slave to the first man you meet with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly—You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again: By this rule you are to be a slave to the first man you meet with an intellect superior to your own.

But you say it is a question of interest, and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another.  Very well.  And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.

In short, if humans have value only because of some acquired property like skin color or self-consciousness and not in virtue of the kind of thing they are, then it follows that since these acquired properties come in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees.  Do we really want to say that those with more self-consciousness are more human (and valuable) than those with less?  As Lee and George point out, this relegates the proposition that all men are created equal to the ash heap of history.

Philosophically, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.  Humans have value simply because they are human, not because of some acquired property that they may gain or lose during their lifetimes.  If you deny this, it’s difficult to say why objective human rights apply to anyone.

Go to part 20 here


[1] Klusendorf, Scott, “Five Bad Ways to Argue about Abortion,”   http://www.prolifetraining.com/Five-Bad-Ways.asp

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Part 18 What if the mother’s life is in danger?

The pro-life position is both the mother and the child are worthy of protection.  However, there are rare circumstances when the life of the mother and child are in mortal danger.  This time I will use an article by Steve Wagner, from Stand to Reason, to answer this question.

What if the Mother’s Life is in Danger[1]?” Is abortion always wrong?

Key Tactical Point

Just as there is an underlying test of your compassion when people bring up abortion in the case of rape, when someone asks “Would you say that abortion is wrong when used to save the mother’s life?” they are testing whether you are a reasonable, compassionate human being. It’s critical that you pass this test in order to maintain credibility and have further opportunity to make the case for the unborn. But it’s also critical that you use this opportunity to clarify the moral logic of the pro-life position.

My First Response

”What life threatening conditions are you referring to?”

(They will likely not have any idea; you can then offer them the following helpful information.)

A Thorough Response

Note: This response clarifies the moral logic of the pro-life position and explains how that position should be applied to ectopic pregnancy.

“When the motherʹs life is truly in danger, we must treat both the mother and child as human beings worthy of protection, for that is what they are. I’m aware of only one medical circumstance when abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life: ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, the newly conceived human being implants on the wall of the fallopian tube (or some other tissue) instead of on the wall of the uterus. As the embryonic human being grows, the fallopian tube will rupture causing severe blood loss and probably death. In these cases, there is no way to save the child’s life. If we do nothing, both human beings will die. Because we believe it is better to save one life than to lose two, we remove the child (causing his death) and save the mother. The death of the child is an unintended, although foreseen, consequence. So abortion in this instance is the killing of an innocent human being WITH proper justification. Notice though, this is not because the child is not human, but rather because the child is going to die no matter what. The childʹs death is unavoidable, so protecting the mother becomes our primary concern.”

Pass the Test of Compassion

The response above also passes the test of compassion that is involved with this objection. You are not more concerned about the fetus than the mother. You are equally concerned with both. To further show your views on the value of the mother are no different than the average person’s, you may want to make reference to other life threats (see below) and the dystocia case (also below).

One Key Distinction: Life Versus Health

See the article entitled, Is Abortion Legal Through All Nine Months for Any Reason? for a review of the legal importance of distinguishing between life and health threats.

Should we allow abortion for a threat to the health of the mother? If so, we are placing the health of one human being (the mother) over the life of another (the child). This seems clearly wrong. There is no other circumstance in which we would allow someone to kill an innocent person to protect herself from a health threat. We don’t allow those who are exposed to disease to kill those who exposed them, do we? No. When someone’s health is threatened by the existence of another, we attempt to remove the one threatening and treat the one threatened. We can do this in the case of the pregnant woman whose health is affected by her child. We can remove the child (as soon as possible for him to live) and treat the mother of her condition.

Threats That Are Not Threats

We agree that there are a number of conditions that threaten the pregnant woman’s life. But with many of these threats, we can treat the mother and save the child:

  • Preeclampsia (Toxemia): Occurs in 1 in approximately every 12 pregnancies (5% – 8%). This is a condition of swelling, elevated blood pressure, and protein in the urine. This condition can be effectively treated either by delivery (after 36 weeks) or by bed rest (prior to 36 weeks). Delivery can also be attempted after 24 weeks with reasonable assurance the fetus will live. In some cases delivery prior to 24 weeks may be necessary although the likelihood of the child’s survival is reduced.
  • Eclampsia (Toxemia with Seizures): Occurs in 1 in approximately 2000 pregnancies (.05%). This condition is marked by seizures that are caused by pregnancy (as opposed to some other known factor). Treatment is the same as for Preeclampsia, but this condition is more severe, usually requiring delivery either naturally or by C-section.
  • Placenta Previa: Occurs in 1 in 200 pregnancies (.5%). The placenta covers all or part of the cervix. Although this condition has the potential to be life-threatening, with proper medical management (usually bed rest, but sometimes hospitalization), both mother and child can be protected from harm. In the case of an early placenta previa, sometimes the baby does not survive. There is no moral wrong here; this is simply a specific case of miscarriage, in which no person causes or intends the child’s death. Click on babycenter.com. Helpful information on placenta previa, including drawings, can be found on this page as well as the March of Dimes page linked under Placental Abruption, below.
  • Placental Abruption: Occurs in 1 in 100 pregnancies (1%). The placenta detaches from the uterine wall. If not treated, this can harm both mother and child.  See marchofdimes.com

For more information about pregnancy risks, see Medline Plus: Health Problems in Pregnancy

One Other Threat Worth Mentioning: Dystocia

Prior to the turn of the twentieth century, one type of dystocia (any case of abnormal or difficult labor) – when the baby’s head is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvis – presented pregnant women in developed countries with an agonizing choice to save her child (by undergoing a dangerous and probably lethal Caesarean Section) or to save her own life (by undergoing a craniotomy operation that crushed the baby’s skull). Even today, this choice may still be presented to some women in developing countries where C-sections are not routine. Although some dispute whether craniotomy is truly necessary, let’s assume it is for the sake of the argument. What if there truly was a case where we could save either mother or child, but where one must die to save the other.

Are There Other Threats to the Mother’s Life that Warrant Abortion?

In most other cases of life endangerment, we can treat both mother and child. For example, a pregnant woman with cancer can be treated while the baby tolerates the chemotherapy given to the mother. See Thomas Murphy Goodwinʹs excellent article on high-risk pregnancy management.

Go to part 19 here


[1] “What if the mother’s life is in danger?” © 2005 Steve Wagner www.str.org

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Part 16 Why abortion is wrong even in the case of rape

I will finish my series by posting a few good articles on various issues dealing with the unborn.  The first one comes from Alan Shlemon, a friend who is on staff at Stand to Reason.  He is the author of The Ambassador’s Guide to Islam and speaks on a wide variety of topics.   In this article he helps give some clarity to this difficult issue of rape and abortion.

Rape and Abortion by Alan Shlemon

My friend, Susan, chose the easy route when she found she was pregnant. Susan was raped. She thought about going to the local abortion clinic. Except the head of the pro-life club – the one Susan had joined at her Christian university – was a frequent protester outside. How could Susan walk past her friend and then into the clinic? But without an abortion, she’d feel guilty, shameful, and embarrassed once her Christian friends and family found out. Given the option of a quick abortion or enduring a nine month pregnancy with the rapist’s child, Susan chose the easy route. She chose life.

“Easy” was the word she used. It caught me off guard. How can she call that easy? The physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth are difficult. There’s morning sickness, backaches, the pains of childbirth, and all the possible complications. Then there’s the psychological component: the stigma of being an unwed mother, the humiliation of rape, feelings of guilt, and the anger at the man who hurt her.

And after giving birth, you either endure the gut-wrenching turmoil of handing over your child to an adoption agency or begin the arduous task of parenting a newborn – as a single mom.

So, why did my friend refer to her decision as the “easy” route?  Two reasons. The first was her understanding of the logical reasoning and arguments against abortion. She believed that, despite being raped, having an abortion was the wrong choice.

I remember being challenged with this question by a student during my debate against a women’s studies professor at California State University in San Marcos, CA. I explained that rape doesn’t justify abortion. Here’s how I knew. I asked the audience, rhetorically, if a mother can kill her three-year-old girl who is conceived through rape. No, because rape doesn’t justify killing a three-year-old. If you can’t kill a three-year-old girl because she was conceived through rape, then you can’t kill that same girl because of rape if she’s still inside her mother’s womb. It’s the same girl; it’s just she’s not born yet in one case.

Some abortion-choice advocates protest this reasoning by pointing out that I’m talking about two different things. The three-year-old is a born girl and the one inside is not. That’s a big difference. But notice now that they’re changing the distinction. It’s no longer a matter of being raped or not, but whether the child is born or not. This proves that rape is not the real issue. Abortion-choice advocates think that the unborn is not a human being like the three-year-old girl. They just use rape as an extreme example because of its powerful rhetorical effect.

Here’s another way I look at this question. Imagine a woman is raped, gets pregnant, and the rapist is caught. Would we allow the woman to shoot and kill the rapist? No. If we don’t allow the woman to shoot the rapist who’s guilty, then why would we allow the woman to kill the child who’s innocent? Why should the child pay for the crime of her father?

Yes, my friend was victimized. But she realized that it would be wrong to then turn around and victimize another completely innocent person – her own daughter.

Susan knew this. She decided that to carry her child to term was easier because these apologetic arguments simplified the logic of her predicament. They provided a powerful moral compass during a tumultuous time.

But there was a second reason that Susan felt her decision was the easy route. She avoided the heartache of abortion. Rape creates a long-term, painful memory of a past event. And the child may be a reminder of that for years to come. But an abortion adds a second painful memory – that of killing your own child. It often leaves a woman broken and guilty. It neither un-rapes her nor erases the memory of that event.

Instead, women who abort often remember what the birthdate would have been had their child survived. Each year that day reminds them of not one crime, but two: the rape and now the abortion. That leads many women into anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Susan didn’t want that. It would only make her situation more difficult.

So my friend chose life to avoid the heartache of abortion. Now, her daughter, Mandy, is a beautiful, six-year-old girl. Although Susan wasn’t ready to be mother, she found loving Christian parents who were. Susan still gets to see Mandy and they’ve developed a loving relationship.

It is often thought that a woman who has become pregnant through rape only needs emotional support. Logical arguments are said to be largely irrelevant. But it turns out that Susan was able to work out her dilemma through moral reasoning. Apologetic arguments she learned at her pro-life club, combined with her friend’s emotional support, gave her a foundation to make the right choice.

But Susan knew it was also the easier choice. If Susan chose abortion, she’d be consumed with guilt and shame for untold years. Instead, her choice to give Mandy life also gave herself life. Not only was her daughter able to live, but Susan was able to live – live with herself for making the right and easy choice.

This is why I do what I do. The pro-life skills I teach around the country are designed to help people like Susan. It gives them the logical tools to ground their thinking when emotions are blowing them in every direction. And your partnership helps me do that. Not only are you equipping the Susan’s of this world, you’re also helping to save the Mandy’s.

Go to part 17 here

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Bible speaks out against killing an innocent unborn human being

The Bible does not use the word abortion, therefore, there a no verses that state “Thou shalt not abort an unborn fetus.”  However, if the unborn is human, the Bible speaks out against murder.

The following verses establish the fact the Bible teaches the unborn is human:

  • Luke 1:41 “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Only a living human baby can leap in a mother’s womb.
  • Luke 1:44 “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” The NASB Greek New Testament Dictionary says the transliterated word brephos (baby) means an unborn or newborn child.  The Bible teaches the unborn is human.

The 6th commandment deals with murder.

  • Exodus 20:13 (NASB) “You shall not murder.” This moral law is one of the Ten Commandments.  Author Moses used a Hebrew word (ratsach) that in context refers to taking an innocent life with premeditation (English translation murder).  The KJV version of the Bible reads, “You shall not kill.” Using the word “kill” instead of “murder” can be misleading.  During the 17th century the word “kill” carried a connotation more closely resembling today’s use of the word murder.  This Biblical commandment teaches it is wrong to take the life of an innocent human; therefore in Exodus 20:13 “murder” is the more likely English word.

Murder is a universal or objective moral wrong.  The verses in Luke establish the unborn baby is human.  Therefore, according to the Bible to abort a baby in the womb is murder.  This constitutes a clear violation of the 6th commandment, “You shall not murder.”

Go to part 15 here

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