The Evil in Nigeria
What should Christians do if the Government turned against homosexuals and started rounding them up to torture and kill them? Rod Dreher, an Eastern Orthodox Christian journalist, says that Nigerian Christians who are in that position should hide and protect homosexuals.

Just to be perfectly clear, I hold to the Christian orthodox position on the morality of same-sex relations, and I am against gay marriage. But I also hold to the Christian orthodox position on human decency and dignity. What is going on in Nigeria is an abomination.

He then goes on to describe what’s happening to homosexuals in Nigeria and finishes up with this:

I hope there are Christians in Nigeria who have the courage to hide gay men and women when the police come for them. I wouldn’t presume to speak for Islam, of course (Nigeria has a large Muslim population, in case you didn’t know), but to fellow Christians in Nigeria: Is this really how you witness to orthodox Christian truth? Really?

Even although the persecution in the West is increasingly done by homosexuals against Christians, I agree with Dreher that in moral and spiritual matters, torture and death should not be used as a substitute for the power of the Gospel. In fact, what a powerful caricature-smashing witness it would be for Christians to take the side of homosexuals in this situation.

No Moms and Dads Needed to Make a Family
Denny Burk reflects on Breeders, a new documentary that critically examines surrogacy and it’s contribution to the redefinition of the family.

Pressure to Have Fantasy Weddings Threatening Marriage
Former Archbishop of Canterbury , Rowan Williams, says marketing push to turn weddings into an “experience” to be marketed, rather than simply a public declaration of commitment. He went on to want that “the growing pressure on couples to have a perfect wedding has become one of the biggest threats to marriage itself.” His main points:

  • Young people are now faced with an immense offensive by advertisers and others driven by profit to have a showy and expensive day – often to the detriment of their relationship itself.
  • It has turned weddings into massively fantastical events, which leave the day-to-day reality of married life looking decidedly dull by comparison.
  • The obsession with glitzy, celebrity-style weddings is a symptom of the short-term, unimaginative, emotionally unintelligent culture of modern Britain.
  • Speaking against the trend to sign pre-nuptial agreements he said, “If we begin with a sense of relationships needing to be governed by contract because we need to establish precisely what our claims are then we may find we have problems in a relational and ethical register arriving from that.
  • He spoke of “The real challenge posed in some sections of society by the marginalising, the weakening, the making impotent – I chose my words – of young males; the fact that in many parts of our society you men particularly have dysfunctional networks, small chances of employment, insecurity internal and external.”

The BBC say his comments echo a warning last year by the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith that a culture of “fairytale weddings” promoted by magazine articles featuring celebrities had driven up the average cost of a wedding far beyond the means of some young couples.

Modern Medical Challenges for Christians in 2014
Dr. Christopher Bogosh says the two major challenges are modern medicine’s redefining life into evolutionary categories and redefining hope into modern medical advances.

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A Letter to the Family of my ICU Patient
A nurse’s perspective on the stress of working in ICU and her easily misunderstood coping mechanisms.

Proverbial Maturity
Rebecca Vandoodewaard plunders Proverbs for the marks of Christian maturity: “Even as we see our own immaturity, God gives us a desire for maturity and the Spirit’s power to make progress in it as we live in this world, so that we can live as mature Christians in a profoundly immature age.”

Mortifying the Fear of Academic Books
Jared Oliphant trues to persuade us to read bigger books: “If you can clear the fog of fear and hesitation hovering over academic books, you might find an unexpected depth and richness between the pages. Heavy theological reading will never take the place of a heart-gripping novel or a devotional full of soaring words of worship. But a rich read can often add color, dimension, and vibrancy to your Christian walk and give those devotionals a few more volts.”

One Small Change: Sunday Rest
One Christian’s long struggle to maintain a weekly day of rest through school and motherhood.

Losing the Horror of Hell
Despite working in a hospice, Christopher Bogosh fears he has lost a sense of the horror of hell. Searching his heart, he’s come up with two explanations.

Four Characteristics of Control Freaks
Written by a recovering control freak

Remembering Sam Berns
One word – Kleenex.

The Christian name no Christian will give to their daughter

Christians love to name their children after biblical characters, especially those of outstanding spiritual strength, beauty, or fruitfulness.

Go through any church and you’ll find lots of Davids, Peters, Pauls, Matthews, Marks, Johns, etc. And among the ladies, multiple Sarahs, Rachels, Marys, Ruths, Rebeccas, Leahs, Lydias, etc.

But there’s one woman’s name you won’t find anywhere. Which is passing strange because she’s the only woman in the Bible who:

  • Is named in the Messiah’s genealogy (Matt. 1:5), and
  • Is praised for her faith (Heb. 11:31), and
  • Is praised for her works (James 2:25).

She also had the most incredible conversion story, being saved from a totally pagan community and a completely immoral life, she performed some of the bravest actions in the Bible, and she raised one of the godliest sons in Israel’s history (Boaz).

What’s her name?


Probably the most commended woman in the whole Bible.

But few if any want to name a daughter after her.

Why not?

Is there too much grace in her story?

Or too little faith in our hearts?


America’s Dwindling Economic Freedom
“World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.”

“But as the U.S. economy languishes, many countries are leaping ahead, thanks to policies that enhance economic freedom—the same ones that made the U.S. economy the most powerful in the world. Governments in 114 countries have taken steps in the past year to increase the economic freedom of their citizens. Forty-three countries, from every part of the world, have now reached their highest economic freedom ranking in the index’s history.”

“Hong Kong continues to dominate the list, followed by Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada. These are the only countries to earn the index’s “economically free” designation. Mauritius earned top honors among African countries and Chile excelled in Latin America. Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, several Gulf states, led by Bahrain, earned designation as mostly free.

Why Atheists Are Angry at God
Joe Carter’s series series on apologetics and worldview analysis looks at the strange phenomena of why so many atheists are so angry with the God they don’t believe exists.

Many claim to believe that God does not exist and yet, according to empirical studies, they tend to be the people most angry at him.

The most striking finding was that when Exline looked only at subjects who reported a drop in religious belief, their faith was least likely to recover if anger toward God was the cause of their loss of belief. In other words, anger toward God may not only lead people to atheism but also give them a reason to cling to their disbelief.

Joe’s ends  his survey of recent research with an appeal for a new apologetic:

I’m beginning to suspect that emotional atheism is far more common than many Christians realize. We need a new apologetic approach that takes into account that the ordinary pain and sufferings of life leads more people away from God than a library full of anti-theist books. Focusing solely on the irate sputterings of the imperfectly intellectual New Atheists may blind us to the anger and suffering that is adding new nonbelievers to their ranks.

Masculinity is More than a Mask
A popular new documentary, The Mask You Live In, argues that a harmful social code of masculinity is the cause of male aggression and depression. There’s a great response here from Christina Hoff Summers. She says of the film-maker Jennifer Newsom:

I admire Newsom for using her considerable talent to advocate for boys. But I worry that she is less concerned with helping boys than with re-engineering their masculinity according to specifications from some out-of-date gender-studies textbook. The trailer is suffused with males-are-toxic ideology but shows little appreciation for how boys’ nature can be distinctively good.

Sommers says that Newsom should go back to the drawing board and craft a new film with the following emphases (summarized):

1. Recognize that masculinity is more than a “mask”
“The title and content of the film suggest that masculinity is a cultural creation. That is only marginally true. A lot of typical boy behavior, such as rough-and-tumble play, risk taking and fascination with gadgets rather than dolls, appears to have a basis in biology….We do not yet fully understand the biological underpinnings of these universal tendencies, but that is no reason to deny they exist.”

2. Appreciate the difference between healthy and pathological masculinity
“Most boys evince healthy masculinity. They may enjoy mayhem in games and sports, but in life they like to build, not destroy. Their instinct is not to exploit vulnerable people but to protect and defend them.”

3. Acknowledge the virtue of male reserve
The driving message of Newsom’s film is that we must free our young men to become emotionally expressive. Of course, parents should do all they can to improve their sons’ emotional literacy. But parents (as well as wives and girlfriends) should keep in mind that male reticence has its advantages….Male stoicism may be adaptive and protective. If you want a boy to be more forthcoming, Rose has good advice for parents and counselors: “You will have to persuade him that it serves a practical purpose.” Engage his male instinct for problem solving.

4. Make clear that most boys are psychologically sound and resilient
The Mask You Live In gives the impression that the average adolescent boy is severely depressed. In fact, clinical depression is rare among boys….Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) does appear to be an epidemic among boys, but the implications of that are ambiguous. It could be that as a society, we are pathologizing age-old male rambunctiousness. Some experts have suggested that ADHD would be significantly reduced if we allowed boys more unstructured recess and occasions for spirited rough-and-tumble play.

The energy, competitiveness and corporal daring of normal males are responsible for much good in the world. No one denies that boys’ aggressive and risk-taking tendencies must be socialized and channeled toward constructive ends. But the de–Tom Sawyering of the American boy should not be anyone’s agenda. I am sure it is not Newsom’s. Yet her film in progress suggests otherwise.

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An Interview About Ethnic/Race Issues in the Church
This is one of the best interviews on this important subject that I’ve come across.  Leon Brown says: “I am convinced we need each other. God did not save us to be spiritual nomads. Besides saving us for his glory, for love and good deeds, he also saved us to be together. Addressing ethnic/race issues is my small way to highlight the pink elephant in the room, which very few people discuss, but needs to be addressed in order to draw us all closer together. Our intimacy will not result simply by pointing out the issues, however, but by emphasizing the one thing that changes hearts and brings us together – the gospel.”

What’s Beauty Worth to You? (HT: Zach Neilsen)
Christine Jeske talks about the need to seek out, value, and enjoy beauty in our daily lives, even in waffle-makers! On the same subject Carl Truman asked Dr. Diane Langberg, a specialist in abuse counseling, “how she manages to maintain a healthy outlook on life when she is faced every day with dealing with ugliness and depravity.  Among other things, she mentioned filling her life with as much beauty as possible, and mentioned Bach in particular.

Losing Privileges
In the face of the rapid “de-Christianizing” of American, R.C. Sproul Jr. challenges the church to maintain her witness and even rejoice in her pariah status: “It will not be long, I suspect, before those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman will have all the cultural respect as a member of the KKK.  Will the church be telling us to soften on this issue, to not talk about it, so accommodate the broader world for the sake of soul-winning? If so, we will have sold our own soul.  Jesus was rather clear — if we were of the world, the world would love its own. But we have been bought with a price (John 15:19). Pray that we don’t sell our birthright of persecution for the pottage of respectability.”

Trends Among Evangelicals Entering Ministry
Three Christian higher education presidents—Michael Lindsay, Albert Mohler, and Phil Ryken—discuss in this new roundtable video what they observe among the rising generation. Meanwhile, President Mez has other ideas for the coalface.

Holy Love Wins: David Wells on the Story of the Bible and the Meaning of Life
David Wells turns from critic to creator, from deconstructor to reconstructor in his capstone book that shows the church a way forward in the post-modern world.

Tweeting as @DailyKeller, Painting as Tim Clark
Another great interview in the TGC vocations series.

The Biggest “Contradiction” in the Bible

When people criticize the Bible, they often point to contradictions. “The Bible says this here, but says the opposite over here!” This proves, they say, that this cannot be God’s book, it’s no different from any other human book with the usual errors and mistakes.

Usually it’s quite easy to show that these are only “seeming” contradictions. If we interpret God’s Word correctly, we will usually be able to show how both verses or passages are true.

However, sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes it’s very hard. Sometimes it looks almost impossible. One of these “impossible” passages is James 2:24, probably the biggest “contradiction” in the Bible.  Let me state this problem as clearly as I can.

In at least three places in Romans alone the Apostle Paul says that we are saved by faith alone without works (Romans 3:20, 28; 5:1).

But when we turn to James 2:25 we read: A man is justified by works, and not by faith only (James 2:24).

The problem is obvious, isn’t it? Many verses in the Bible teach that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. But James says that faith alone without works is not enough.

High Stakes
The stakes are very high here, because it’s not just a minor matter about the number of soldiers in Israel’s army; it’s about the most important matter of all – how sinners are saved.

Can these opposing statements be reconciled? I believe they can, and the key is to understand that although Paul and James both speak of justification, they are speaking about two different kinds of justification.

This isn’t some kind of verbal trickery, making words mean just what we want them to mean depending on what we want to believe. No, words only have meaning in relation to other words. We need to look at the surrounding words to figure out what each word means. The surroundings make all the difference.

For example, if you’re fishing in a boat and someone says, “Will you get off the net?” you look around your feet to see if you are standing on the landing net. But if you’re sitting at a computer and Dad says to you, “Will you get off the net?” you’re looking for the “Close Browser” button. Same word, but different surroundings make the word mean something completely different.

So what are the surroundings of “justification” in Romans and James?

In Romans, the context is our standing before God, God’s view and verdict upon us.  In that sense, God justifies us by our faith, He counts us as righteous because of the faith that He alone can see.

In James, the context is our standing before people, their view and verdict upon us. In that sense, people justify us by works, they conclude we are righteous because of the good works they see in our lives (being unable to see if faith is in our hearts).

The whole letter of James is about practical Christianity – how we are to live out our faith. Chapter 1 covers doing the Word not just hearing it (v. 22), care for orphans and widows (v. 27), and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world (v. 27). Chapter 2 says, “Stop being snobs and start treating rich and poor alike” (vv. 1-13). Chapter 3 is about the way we use our tongues, chapter 4 addresses relational conflict, and chapter 5 calls us to deal fairly with our employees and pay our bills on time. It’s all about the visible practice of Christianity.

No Surprise
No surprise then when we come to the latter part of chapter 2, James is utterly focused on the need for faith to produce works, fruit, public profit, evidence of spiritual life, etc. It’s not about our relationship to God but our relationship to other people. It’s not about how God sees us but how people see us. It’s not about how we get spiritual life, but how we demonstrate that we have it.

The biggest contradiction is not Romans v James. The biggest contradiction, says James, is a Christian without good works.