GeoScriptures — John 1:1,14 — God in a dot

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. — John 1:1,14 (NIV 1984)

Perhaps one of the most extraordinary claims of the Christian faith is not that God created the universe (many philosophers believe there must be something outside of the universe that created the universe), or that God can work miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea, but that Jesus Christ (the Word of John chapter one) was God in the flesh. In verse one, it states that “the Word was God,” and in verse fourteen John writes that “The Word became flesh.”

This means that the God who created the entire universe (with all of its laws, energy, and matter), who knows both the position and momentum of each subatomic particle in the universe, and without whom the universe would cease to exist in less than a nanosecond—this God of “all there is or was or ever will be,” became a human being. Not only did God become fully human (while retaining full deity), he became a zygote, a fertilized ovum, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Much of this is mysterious to us. How can someone be fully God and fully human? How can God, as the second person of the Trinity, be compressed into a single human cell? We don’t fully know, but we can be filled with wonder.

This tells us several important things about the God of the universe:

  1. God is not the God of the deists; a God who winds up the clock of the universe and then lets it run its course without intervention. God is not only involved in the day-to-day running of the universe, he actually has stepped into his creation to become a creature.
  2. God cares deeply about human beings. God does not look at the heart-wrenching suffering and injustices in this world with indifference, as some accuse him of doing. Instead, God entered into this mess in the person of Jesus Christ. He was born into poverty, saw and experienced great sorrow and suffering, was sentenced to death in a series of unjust trials, and was severely beaten before being nailed naked to a roughly-hewn piece of wood. This is not a God who ignores our pain, but who takes the sin of the world upon himself.
  3. Zygotes matter to God. Embryos matter. The Word became flesh at the point of conception. This tells us that a fertilized egg—a zygote—is fully human, which implies that to kill a zygote (i.e. abortion) is the moral equivalent of murdering any other human.

Grace and Peace

Around the web 12/23/2012

NewsweekCoverEhrmanUN-MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM NEWSWEEK — The print edition of Newsweek is being discontinued, but they had to take one last swipe at Biblical Christianity. One of the final cover stories was What Do We Really Know About Jesus? by the non-Christian Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman. Most of Ehrman’s attacks on the Biblical record have been answered by Christian scholars numerous times, and others fall into the “so what?” category.

In response, Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason writes, “Many times, questions about the Bible can be resolved simply by reading what the text actually says, rather than believing what we think it says.” As I’ve pointed out before, doing this in itself takes care of a great number of apparent “contradictions” that authors such as Ehrman are concerned about.

UN-MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE ATHEISTS — Dr. Ehrman is wrong, but the organization American Atheists goes beyond being wrong with their “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!” advertising campaign, complete with a billboard in New York City’s Times Square, which can be seen at Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion.

Jesus a myth? I’m quite skeptical.

From the CNN article:

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” [American Atheists’ president] Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

Isn’t that sort of like saying Canada Day (July 1st) doesn’t really have anything to do with Canada because it was predated by the Fourth of July?

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES — I tend to be skeptical whenever someone comes out with a “I went to heaven and saw a glorious light” story, while acknowledging that such things could happen. Most of my cynicism comes from the lack of the centrality of Christ in most of these stories.

Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, puts these near-death (or near-heaven) experiences in perspective in his article Incredible Journeys: What to Make of Visits to Heaven.

In this vein, the silliest claim made in the current wave of books is that because of such experiences, we now know, as some of the titles suggest, that Heaven Is for Real or that there is Proof of Heaven. Christians believe that “heaven is for real” not because of the testimony of a 4-year-old boy or even of a neurosurgeon, but because Jesus Christ testified to such and rose from the grave to vindicate his testimony. He tells the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43, ESV). His teachings not only assumed a tangible, bodily existence known as the kingdom of heaven, but also an intermediate glorious state of bodiless existence.

A MODEST PROPOSAL — From the Parchment & Pen Blog: Should William & Kate Get an Abortion? You know, they haven’t been married very long, its only a zygote, and so forth.

Grace and Peace

Fifty million little leaguers and pianists later

Almost twenty years ago I got into a discussion about abortion with a female coworker in the break room. I’m not sure how the topic came up; I don’t go around looking for controversial topics to debate with my coworkers.

She was in her mid- to late-twenties, and like me, was at the beginning of a rewarding career with good pay and benefits. I had overheard her before talking about abortion rights, and knew that she was rather outspoken on the topic. She knew that I was a Christian, so I assume she knew I was pro-life. She explained to me that she had had an abortion as a college student. She was pregnant by a man she didn’t really care about. She asked me, “Where would I be now if I hadn’t had an abortion?” She explained that she probably wouldn’t have finished her college education, and therefore wouldn’t have the good job she had now.

I don’t remember what I said, but I clearly remember what I was thinking. I remember thinking that things may have worked out just fine for her; she was intelligent and hard working and she may have found a way to get a start in a good career. Maybe, maybe not. But the thought that stood out most was another answer to the question “Where would I be now?”  She was thinking entirely in terms of career and economics. Now, these are important, but are they the only important things in one’s life? Are they the most important things? My answer to “Where would I be now?” —at least in my mind—was, “Perhaps you would be at a little league baseball game or at a piano recital.”

This frames the question in the right way, as a moral question—“What is it that is being done in an abortion?”—rather than “What’s it going to cost me to have a baby?” There is a cost to keeping a baby (and a cost to the moral decision to have sex in the first place), but the more significant question is “What is this thing inside of a mother’s womb?” What is inside the womb will grow up some day to be a little league baseball player, a pianist, a friend, a lover, a parent, someone who contributes to the world in unimaginable ways.

Or that life can be extinguished so someone can have a better career.

I didn’t say any of this. Perhaps I am too nice at times, not wanting to upset others. But I’m saying it now, and hope and pray that some other scared mother will choose to save her baby, and experience the blessings of parenting.

Grace and Peace

P.S. Today, January 22, is the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that legalized most abortions in the United States. Since that time over fifty million abortions have been performed in this country.

How to fight

A pro-life activist has shot an abortionist.

Gun-rights activists (many of whom are conservative Christians) are stockpiling ammunition. Why? What are they going to do with it?

The political and moral battles we are engaged in are of a spiritual nature, and will not be won with guns. The use of violence only links us to terrorism, which is not an effective evangelism technique. Our weapons as Christians are prayer and the Word:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV

Pray and preach.

Grace and Peace

Multiple evils

In Kansas, late-term abortionist George Tiller was murdered in church today.

From World Magazine (conservative, Christian):

Anti-abortion groups have denounced the killing. Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said in a statement, “We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning.”

I am strongly pro-life. Abortion is evil, and I would be in favor of banning it in almost all cases.

I view acts of violence against abortionists as evil as well.

It is also evil that Tiller’s denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), tolerates, or in some cases even advocates, the right to abortion. I grew up in the ELCA, and it grieves me to see it seriously compromising on a number of moral and theological issues.

If we Christians really wanted to end abortion in this country, it would be accomplished in two years, after the next major election. It would be over, and it would have been done completely peacefully. But it seems we really don’t want it that badly. This is evil as well.

God have mercy on us, for we have all sinned.

P.S. From Stand to Reason Blog: Killing Abortionists is Wrong. Period. This is a brief statement of why violence against the abortion industry is wrong even given the depth of evil they are involved in.

Also: Cruchy Con:

I condemn this murder, full stop. I think Tiller was an evil man. I really do. He was one of the few doctors who performed late-term abortions. He was an infanticide doctor, as far as I’m concerned. Nevertheless, his murder was wrong, wrong, wrong, in an of itself. And as a practical matter, it will do more harm to the cause of protecting unborn life than it will help. We already see that despite the plain fact that the overwhelming majority of pro-life activists are peaceful, and peace-loving, people, many on the other side demonize all pro-lifers as potential abortion-clinic murderers. Whoever committed this murder is not only guilty of a heinous crime and a moral outrage, but prudentially, he or she has also done tremendous harm to the noble cause of protecting unborn life.

That said, I would hate to be George Tiller facing judgment with those grave sins to explain.

And from Al Mohler — A Wicked Deed in Wichita — A Test for the Pro-Life Movement:

Proponents of abortion rights often charge that the rhetoric of the pro-life movement leads to violence.  After all, we describe abortion as murder and point to the business of abortion as the murder of the unborn.  We make clear that abortion is the taking of innocent human life and that what goes on in abortion clinics is the business of death.

We make these arguments because we know they are true.  Abortion is murder.  What goes on in those clinics is institutionalized homicide, often for financial profit.  Abortion is a moral scandal and a national tragedy and a blight upon the American conscience.

But violence in the name of protesting abortion is immoral, unjustified, and horribly harmful to the pro-life cause.  Now, the premeditated murder of Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his church is the headline scandal — not the abortions he performed and the cause he represented.

We have no right to take the law into our own hands in an act of criminal violence.  We are not given the right to take this power into our own hands, for God has granted this power to governing authorities.  The horror of abortion cannot be rightly confronted, much less corrected, by means of violence and acts outside the law and lawful means of remedy.  This is not merely a legal technicality — it is a vital test of the morality of the pro-life movement.

From Gene Edward Veith (Cranach):

So we have not only murder but sacrilege, the violation of a church at worship. A suspect has been captured. All we need is to be identified with terrorists. No, we will have to explain, we don’t believe in homicide. (We are against homicide, which is why we are against abortion. After the pro-life movement has made some significant progress, get ready for a pro-abortion backlash.

And Uwe Siemon-Netto — Killing the Killer was a Blow to Pro-Lifers (at Cyberbrethren):

The murder of abortionist Dr. George Tiller was a blow to American society in general, and to the pro-life movement in particular, for the following reasons:
  1. This crime turned one of the worst perpetrators of mass infanticide into a presumed martyr for abortion “rights” just at a time when its supporters were slipping dramatically in public esteem. While Tiller’s killer has done away with a physician who by his own admission took the lives of 100 babies every week, this crime might result in an increase of abortions in months to come. Simple minds will now see abortionists as victims, und not the innocent human babies they slaughter, innocents like the 60,000 Tiller has slaughtered just before their births. This must be a depressing thought for all those faithful Christians who peacefully pray and fast outside the Planned Parenthood slaughterhouses. In the long run, they stood a good chance of being victorious in the war against the culture of death. Let it be known that Tiller’s killer has become a soldier on the side of death in this conflict.
  2. The United States is still a democracy. In a free society, the voters are their nation’s sovereigns. They are empowered to fight evil, such as abortion, in the polling booths. This is their divine calling. On the other hand, nobody has a calling to kill except at the orders of duly instituted authorities. It is government alone that in a civilized society may instruct soldiers or policemen to use their firearms.
  3. The United States is a nation of law. The law is a gift from God to protect us against anarchy and subsequent chaos, a state that prevailed before God created the universe. Tiller’s killer has committed an act of anarchy and therefore not only violated the Fifth Commandment but also rebelled against the divine order of creation. Those who secretly cheer his dastardly act must be made aware that they are participating in a despicable revolt against the creator.