The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “human-rights”

Down South: Southern Baptists convene amid declining overall numbers

By Thomas Kidd

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) held its annual meeting in Houston in June, and although the assembly did not witness any of the spectacular controversies that have marked previous SBC meetings, it nevertheless confronted some hotly debated topics.

The meeting’s most anticipated issue concerned the SBC and the Boy Scouts. Some had predicted that the SBC would endorse a full-fledged boycott of the Scouts for the group’s recent decision to admit openly gay boys as members. But the actual resolution stopped short of a boycott, expressing “opposition to and disappointment in the decision” and calling for the removal of Boy Scouts executive leaders who supported the change.

SBC representatives (called “messengers”) also passed a resolution exhorting member congregations about their “legal and moral responsibility to report any child abuse to authorities.” Its sponsor, Peter Lumpkins, crafted the statement in response to a lawsuit alleging abuse cover-ups by leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), including its founder, C.J. Mahaney. A judge dismissed the case against SGM pastors in May, citing statute of limitation requirements. Mahaney stepped down as president of SGM in April. Prominent Baptist leaders Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church expressed their individual support for Mahaney in a public statement in May. Read more…

A Note from the Founder: 700th Post

Greetings Kuyperians,

If you have been following the progress of this humble bunch you know that we enjoy life; more importantly, we enjoy the good life. We treasure angels, we despise angel-killers, we favor truth, and have an intense allergy for falsehood and hypocrisy. Above all, we like a good party! Part of this party-spirit stems from the inspiration to carry on our noble tasks as ambassadors of the Most High God. When we say we believe in God the Father Almighty, we are doing more than creedal recitation, we are challenging the world to a duel. This is why we are Christians. We refuse to give ground to unbelieving thought. Neutrality is one of those words we dare not utter unless we negate it.

Our purpose is to echo Kuyper’s words “Not Once Square Inch,” into every word and argument we make in this endeavor. I realize it’s a noble and difficult task to live so consistently with such a robust vision, but it’s what we aim for around here.

In this 700th post, we celebrate also over 50,000 hits. This may not seem much, but at the very least it says that our labors are not in vain, and that there is a legitimate need to discuss the issues we are discussing in this virtual lecture hall. So as we aim toward the next 50,000 hits, let me encourage you to spread the word! Share our posts on Facebook and Twitter. Leave comments and feedback on how we can better improve your reading experience. We really do believe what we say is worth listening to. And so on behalf of the 16 writers of Kuyperian Commentary, I would like to say thanks for your support and continual encouragement! Party on!

Rhetorical Hit, Theological Miss

A couple months ago, Mary Elizabeth Williams posted a column at Salon.com entitled, “So What If Abortion Ends Life?”  The vitriolic nature of the piece prevails from the title to the final phrase, designed to enflame the most seasoned of post-Roe veterans on both sides of the debate.  Her flippant handling of what’s often considered a sacred issue does its job.  The article was low on fact and high on accusation, but it is still able to accomplish its goal of engendering strife and perhaps, even a little bit of nausea.  However, as acerbic as the article is, Ms. Williams makes two salient points.  The first is about the use of language in public debate and the second about the arbitrary philosophical distinction in the “life-begins-somewhere-other-than-conception” camp.

Her immediate use of the phrase “diabolically clever” is diabolically clever, because it automatically brings to mind thoughts of a red-clad, pitchfork-wielding imp, mostly drawn from religious allusions.  Comparing the religious-right with the devil will certainly get folks stirred up in a hurry.  Then they’re not seeing straight when she gets to her arguments later. But her use of rhetoric is not as prominent as her analysis of how rhetoric is used.  Her opening paragraph begins,

Of all the diabolically clever moves the anti-choice lobby has ever pulled, surely one of the greatest has been its consistent co-opting of the word ‘life’.  Life!  Who wants to argue with that?  Who wants to be on the side of…not-life?

Then with all the hubris she can muster, she boasts, “that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me.  I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life.  And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.” Read more…

The Battle in Bear Country » Sullivan v Wilson: Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?

The University of Idaho hosted a public debate, to a crowd of over 800, on February 27, 2013. The debate was participated in by Andrew Sullivan, blogger and former senior editor of The Atlantic, and Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church of Moscow, ID, author and educator. The topic of the debate: Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?

Battle of the Beards

Battle of the Beards

Read more…

A Cup of Poison to the Lips of Liberalism

English Speaking Justice

Are you a liberal?  G. P. Grant thinks you’re insane if you’re not. In his 1974 book, English-Speaking Justice, he proposes,

“Liberalism in its generic form is surely something that all decent men accept as good—‘conservatives’ included.  In so far as the word ‘liberalism’ is used to describe the belief that political liberty is a central human good, it is difficult for me to consider as sane those who would deny that they are liberals.”

Is this merely semantic quibbling? Without any more being said, I suppose, yes, it would be nothing more than a violation of Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “not quarrel about words” (2 Tim 2:14), but what if in the end it isn’t?  To quarrel about words would be like quarrelling about anything else—fruitless. To be succinct with our words would be to be like God, who has revealed Himself using words that mean one thing, therefore not meaning something else.

In his 1955 work, The Defense of the Faith, Cornelius Van Til states, “the ‘what’ must precede the ‘that’; the connotation must precede the denotation; at least the latter cannot be discussed intelligently without at once considering the former.”  In other words, how can we know what we’re talking about unless the words representing the ideas we’re discussing mean one thing instead of another?  Van Til asks how we can discuss the existence of a god, if the god in question has no definite attributes.  The ‘what’ must precede the ‘that’.

In our current political landscape, ‘liberal’ has become synonymous with ‘Democrat’, while ‘conservative’ equals ‘Republican’.  G. P. Grant argues that perhaps the Republican relationship with conservatism is accurate, but the Democratic comparison should be with ‘progressivism’ instead of with ‘liberalism’.  For the Democrat, liberty is not the goal as much as progress is, and if progress is the goal, then it is one that can never be reached.  A traveler can never arrive at their destination, if the only reason to go on the trip is to be in a state of perpetual motion.

100 years ago, G. K. Chesterton summed-up progressivism in his work, “Heretics”.   He wrote,

“It is not merely true that the age which has settled least what is progress is this ‘progressive’ age. It is, moreover, true that the people who have settled least what is progress are the most ‘progressive’ people in it. The ordinary mass, the men who have never troubled about progress, might be trusted perhaps to progress.”

So when Barak Obama ran on the monoplankular platform of “Change” in 2008, the election’s outcome showed that Americans were indeed progressivists and not liberals at all.  “We don’t care where you take us, Mr. Obama, as long as you get us out of here.”  As his two terms have progressed, we’ve found President Obama to be quite the conservative as he maintains many of Bush’s policies that he pledged to “change”, and quite the opposite of a true liberal as he’s sought to repossess American liberties granted by America’s Fathers in her Constitution.  While admitting that the word ‘liberal’ has come to mean only ‘secular liberal’, Grant stresses that this does not change the fact that the underlying foundations of liberty and freedom remain constant.   Since liberty is still the opposite of tyranny, the word ’liberal’ is has become a misnomer– a glaring misnomer that we’re now stuck with.

In Part IV of English-Speaking Justice, Grant gets to his most salient point by describing Roe v. Wade as the “cup of poison to the lips of liberalism”.  He elegantly shows that between two members of the same species, the “right” of the one to exist should outweigh the “right” of the other to enjoy privacy and comfort.  However, the high court’s decision to refuse the term ‘person’ to one still in utero, reveals that modern liberalism is not about human rights at all.  Humans in the womb and humans outside of the womb are still both humans by scientific definition, but the modern liberal agenda set this empirically verifiable fact aside and replaced it with an abstraction of ‘personhood’ that allowed them to cater to a constituency that furthered their political agendas instead of one that didn’t.

Dr. Roberta Bayer, at Patrick Henry College, has summarized Grant’s analysis this way:

“Although the court claimed to be confining its decision to the categories given by the American Constitution, interpreted within a liberal world view, it still found a basis ‘for denying the most elementary right of traditional justice to members of our own species.”  Thus, the justices must have held certain philosophical assumptions about being (nature) that were genealogically connected to some other philosophical tradition, a tradition neither guided by the Constitution, nor by what might be known scientifically about the development of the fetus in utero.  In fact, the evidence of science would have made it more, rather than less, reasonable to hold that the fetus is a distinct individual with a given nature.”

Whereas American liberalism had been fighting for ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ for nearly 200 years, Roe stands in a stark contrast to those noble concepts.  All that had been gained for equal human rights might as well be trampled underfoot, for the salt has lost it’s savor. All of the arguments for equal rights between slaves and free men;  all of the arguments for equal rights between women and men;  all of the arguments for equal rights between blacks and whites are totally eclipsed by the court-sanctioned murder of the most vulnerable members of our species.  The 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, has to be the most inegalitarian U. S. document ever written, and it was the product of the liberal left–the ‘champions’ of equal rights.

Based on Grant’s definition of a ‘liberal’ as “someone who believes political liberty is a central human good”, the pro-life movement has out-liberalled the liberals by mammoth proportions.  How can a so-called liberal deny the weakest members of its species the right to exist and still lay any legitimate claim to be a defender of liberty and equality?  They can’t.  They have placed the poisoned cup to their lips and drunk deeply.  Liberalism is dead, and the death has been ruled a suicide.

Abortion and Rights, by George Parkin Grant

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“Behind the conflict of rights (between the mother and the fetus MH), there is unveiled in the debate about abortion an even more fundamental question about rights themselves.  What is it about human beings that makes it proper that we should have any rights at all?  Because of this the abortion issue involves all modern societies in basic questions of political principle.

These questions of principle were brought out into the open for Americans, when the Supreme Court of that country made it law that no legislation can be passed which prevents women from receiving abortions during the first six months of pregnancy.  In laying down the reasons for that decision, the judges speak as if they were basing it on the supremacy of rights in a democratic society.  But to settle the case in terms of rights, the judges say that the mother has all the rights, and that the foetus has none.  Because they make this distinction, the very principle of rights is made dubious in the following way. In negating all rights to the foetuses, the court says something negative about what they are, namely that they are such as to warrant no right to continued existence.  And because the foetus is of the same species as the mother, we are inevitably turned back onto the fundamental question of principle: what is it about the mother (or any human being) that makes it proper that she should have rights?  Because in the laws about abortion one is forced back to the stark comparison between the rights of members of the same species (our own), the foundations of the principles behind rights are unveiled inescapably.  What is it about our species that gives us rights beyond those of dogs or cattle?

The legal and political system, which was the noblest achievement of the English-speaking societies, came forth from our long tradition of free institutions and Common Law, which was itself produced and sustained by centuries of Christian belief.   Ruthlessness in law and politics was limited by a system of legal and political rights which guarded the individual from  the abuses of arbitrary power, both by the state and other individuals.  The building of this system has depended on the struggle and courage of many, and was fundamentally founded on the Biblical assumption that human beings are the children of God.  For this reason, everybody should be properly protected by carefully defined rights.  Those who advocate easy abortions in the name of rights are at the same time unwittingly undermining the very basis of rights.  Their complete disregard for the unborn weakens the very idea of rights itself. This weakening does not portend well for the continuing health of our system.” —George Parkin Grant, Technology & Justice 1986

“George Parkin Grant, 1918-1988, has been acknowledged as Canada’s leading political philosopher since the publication of Philosophy in the Mass Age 1959.  He was the author of Lament for a Nation, Technology & Empire, and English-Speaking Justice.  He taught religion and philosophy at McMaster University and Dalhousie University.” (from the back cover of Technology & Justice)

The Role of Heretical Christianity in the Rise of Islam

Although North Africa enjoyed the blessing of the presence of Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage and Augustine of Hippo, the impact of these great Catholic leaders was unable to maintain a long-lasting effect. The influence of Vandal Arianism supplanted Trinitarian Catholicism to the point that when the Muslims invaded from the East, there was no sufficient, theological base in the North Africans to resist the new Islamic heresies. Through a series of events, over a couple of centuries, the Byzantine people, and their Catholic culture, had become undesirable to the North Africans. When Vandal Arianism arrived on the scene, the North Africans were emotionally and psychologically prepared to have their Catholic dogma replaced. They did not specifically seek it out, but they were unprepared to repel the Vandal Arian heresy. Upon the acceptance of Vandal Arianism, the North Africans rejected Chalcedonian Christology and therefore, had no problem with the Islamic idea that Jesus was only a great prophet and that Mohammed had come as an even greater, and final, prophet. It was this religious difference between North Africa and the rest of Europe and southwest Asia, rather than any economic or socio-political differences, that opened the door for Islam to nearly eradicate Christianity from northern Africa.

Vandal Arianism developed in the Teutonic regions of northern Europe where Christ was viewed as a step above the average man, rather than a “second degree” God as he was viewed in Hellenic Arianism.  Jesus was a hero, a commander, or king, but not God like the divine All-Father.  This is as clearly heresy as the Hellenic version, albeit distinctive in the details.

In the early 430’s, the Teutonic general, Geiseric moved down through the Iberian Peninsula across the Straits of Gibraltar into North Africa.  By 439 he had conquered North Africa from present-day Mauritania to Tripoli in Libya.  He had become “master of North Africa”.  As surely as modern politicians show favors to those who will be favorable to advance their campaign, Geiseric, a Vandal Arian, promoted his religion in all the cities of his dominion.  Things were much easier for adherents to Vandal Arianism than for those who maintained the Trinitarian Catholic faith. Many clerics were exiled to Italy and the treasures of the local churches confiscated for Arian use.  To portray Geseric and his successors as merely religious zealots would be to oversimplify the matter, for politics played an important role in establishing their rule over the Berber people of North Africa.  With little to no religious allegiance to Rome or Constantinople, a North African ruler could count on that much more fidelity from his constituency. These anti-Catholic moves by the North African leaders, as well as some dumb moves by the Byzantines and Catholics themselves, solidified the shift from Trinitarian Christianity to Vandal Arianism.

Mohammed crafted his vision in 610 A.D., and within 80 years of his death in 632 A.D., his followers had spread the Muslim religion and kingdom throughout the Middle East, Egypt, North Africa and Spain.  Although the Byzantine generals and troops put up a fight every step of the way, the Arian predisposition of the Berber peoples in North Africa made them prime candidates for conversion to the Muslim faith.  This predisposition to a subordinate Christology aligned them more closely with an Islamic view of Jesus than a Catholic one.  The Quran refers to Jesus as a Prophet and the son of the virgin Mary but also says that Mohammed was a greater servant of God than Jesus. The Vandal Arian heresy had primed the pump for the next greater one than Jesus to come along.  As C.J. Speel surmises,

“Conversion from Teutonic Arianism, the faith of the bulk of North Africa’s population from ca. 450 to ca. 670 A.D., to Islam was an easy step.  In Teutonic Arianism Jesus was not God; neither was He the “Second degree” God of Arius, a philosophical logos.  He was a great tribal leader, or healer, or commander, an historical figure, a man who was manifested as the Son of God. Islam did not seriously alter this picture of Jesus; it simply added another and even more distinguished figure—the Prophet of Mecca to whom was revealed in most recent times the will of God.”

By 698 A.D. Carthage had fallen to Muslim invaders and has not yet risen from the ashes.  This is not simply an accounting of things that happened a long time ago on a continent far, far away.  We are not only concerned for the conversion of North Africans to Christianity, but we must take note of the current state of Christianity in our own land.  If a shift from the Trinitarian Catholic Faith of the historic creeds of the church is a tell-tale sign of what is coming, then we need to hang on tight.  This ride is about to get a lot bumpier.

For example, we are not too far removed from the Republican Mormon that was offered to us for consideration last November.  He was weighed in balances and found wanting, but the sobering thing is that he accomplished being the last “conservative” on the scale.  What are conservative Americans attempting to accomplish if a Mormon is the man for the job?  Trinitarian Christianity cannot be anywhere but on the fringes of American culture if Mitt Romney made it as far as he did.  Not to mention the support he received from overtly Christian organizations like Billy Graham’s, who removed Mormonism from its list of cults on their website a few months before the election.  “Christian” leaders like Joel Osteen, the pastor of a Houston church, with about a million members, says that “Mitt Romney is a believer in Christ like me.”  If Osteen was the exception rather than the rule, it would be different, but American Christians bought it hook, line and sinker, and sent Romney up against Obama.  As least the Vandal Arians imposed the rule on the North Africans as their conquerors, as opposed to the GOP, who has willingly traded Nicaea and Chalcedon for some golden plates found buried on a hill in New York.

This is not meant to be a harsh judgment of folks who view the General Election as a zero-sum game, and therefore felt compelled to vote for one of the two options, however abhorrent the choices were.  It’s not the individual’s vote in November that is as disconcerting as the fact that Romney was ever considered viable by the conservative populace.

I did not intend for this to end up being a rant about last November as much as a recognition that America is following in the footsteps of the North African culture, which has not known Christendom for over 1300 years.  She walked away from orthodoxy and God let her keep walking.  America is just a flash in the pan compared to many cultures, and we’ve already walked away.

Speel II, C.J. “The Disappearance of Christianity from North Africa in the Wake of the Rise of Islam.” Church History 29, no. 4 (1960): 379-397. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3161925. Accessed February 1, 2013.

The Poor and Defenseless

The good news to the poor Jesus came to preach (Luke 4) is the good news to the defenseless in the womb by implication. The poor is usually swallowed by those who take his life by force. The good news of Jesus is the news that those oppressed from without have an advocate within. The God who sees all things and who does all things well (Ps. 139) delivers His good news and men and women despise it (Luke 4:29).

The recent attempt to celebrate the 40 years of Roe V. Wade by sexualizing an ad is not just “creepy” as so many have observed, but also a strategic move. Secularists and pro-death advocates know that the only way to make a position attractive is by desensitizing  us to the ugliness and horrors of its practice.

But God is not mocked (Ps. 2).

The devil wants Jesus to turn a stone into bread. He wants the final Adam to eat of the fruit before it is time. He wants to make power and authority sexy. But our blessed Lord knows that cross comes before crown. Authority is God’s to give (Ps. 72) not Satan’s to distribute. Similarly, the pro-death movement offers satanic bread to young women. “If only you bow down to the culture of death, then you will be free. If only you go through with this abortion you will live happily with no burden.” These are all lies, and as my fundamentalist brothers like to say, “they are straight from the pit of hell.”

The Edenic temptation did not fail in the garden, and it will continue to succeed unless young women, by the power of the Spirit enlivening the Church in her message and charity, change their attitudes and worldview about the nature and meaning of life.

At the heart of the Lucan reading in 4:16-30 is Jesus’ reading of Isaiah 58 & 61. Isaiah 58 concludes with a promise of Sabbath rest to the people. This is a fitting picture of Jesus’ promise for deliverance and liberation of the oppressed. Indeed the Church’s prayer is that life would find its Sabbath rest from the death grip of Roe v. Wade and the culture of death. The good news of the Gospel Jesus proclaimed that caused so much fury among the Nazareth crowd is the same message preached today. The Herods of old are alive and well. They still seek to imprison and kill little infants. But by God’s grace, the year of the Lord’s favor will stop the crying of Rachel, and console her and many others with life, and life more abundantly.

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