Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Other Transgender Objections

The reason biblical, clear-headed ministers of the gospel have so badly erred on the homosexual and transgender issues of today is because the world has increased the heat on the sexual revolution without the church realizing it has come to a boil.

How could so many Presbyterians and Baptists of the previous century—men who would have gone to the gallows to protect the inerrancy of Scripture—support slavery? How could those with down-the-line orthodoxy reinforce Jim Crow laws? It is because these were the socially acceptable sins of the day and they were too timid to stand against the tide of popular sentiment. So too is homosexuality and transgenderism in our modern world. What was needed most then is what is needed now. Courage. Continue reading

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The Not-So-Difficult Transgender Debate

Recently I spoke with a military chaplain who has a transgender soldier in his unit who identifies as a woman. The serviceman has gone through the hormonal and surgical procedures. Should the chaplain use the male or female name? What is the loving thing to do?

My purpose here is not to argue men are made men and women, women. Scripture is unmistakable and even in our crazy modern world, most evangelicals still agree. The confusion seems to rest on how Christians should address the transgender. In fact, many pastors in the chaplain’s conservative denomination were split on what to do.

Some Straw Men

Before we begin, let me give a few disclaimers. First, we’re not talking about scenarios of ignorance. If Mrs. Smith asks for the cereal and I say “in aisle three, ma’am”, I’m not complicit in the lie when I learn later it was actually Mr. Smith to whom I was talking. Because Scripture considers motive in moral acts, the scenario in paragraph one does not fit this description. Continue reading

Hacking Abortion to Pieces

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-9-09-43-amThe US President recently decided America would no longer fund Africans to kill their babies. With so many Marie Stopes clinics around the continent, it’s not surprising many have cried foul.

An article in a South African newspaper this week contends this will only cause more unsafe abortions and death. They imply the serene and safe confines of abortion clinics will now give way to abortions with clothes hangers in back alleys.

Christians must take these old, tired arguments, drag them into the light and—like Samuel did to Agag—cut them to pieces. If this is what abortion doctors do to the unborn, Pro-lifers should do the same toward such paltry reasoning.

So here are a couple of brief ways to answer. First, this argument only stands if babies in the womb are blobs of tissue. The central issue of the abortion debate is this: are the unborn human beings? Pro-Life and Pro-Choice sit on each side of the seesaw that rests on this Great Fulcrum. If the answer is yes, the unborn are humans, then every argument for abortion falls away. What about abortion due to incest? No, because we don’t kill 10 year-olds born from incest. What about rape? No, because we don’t kill senior citizens born from rape. What about personally Pro-Life but politically Pro-Choice? This was the argument of Pontius Pilate, but no one is politically pro-murder. We don’t kill humans, period.

Second, it is illogical to legalize a wicked procedure just to make it safer. Armed robbery is dangerous, but we don’t remove the security guards so thieves can take the money unarmed. We don’t legalize rape to make it less dangerous.

Abortion is a terror. Making it legal doesn’t change that.

South Africa and the Insanity of Abortion

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-5-21-55-pmThe words of Job’s friend millennia ago are just as relevant for today’s South Africa.

A stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man! (Job 11:12)

This statement was an ancient absurdity—akin to our modern-day “that’ll happen when hell freezes over.” A dimwit won’t become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear a human child. Donkeys are lowly beasts. Humans are image-bearers. Only a cretin could miss that, right? Continue reading

A Call for Biracial Banquets

thumb_image-10-20-16-at-5-25-pm_1024The wall of animosity between South African whites and blacks has shrunk since the formal fall of apartheid in 1994. Government has tried to mandate equality, but only the gospel of Christ can bring true unity.

My experience in Africa has taught me that among the last dominoes to fall in unifying Christians of different races is not church membership but table fellowship. In the pews, the votes may count the same, but around the dinner table, we are more like Joseph’s court:

They served him by himself…because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians”(Gn. 43:32).

For many white believers, it is a bridge too far to have blacks equally, joyfully, and freely join them at table. We coddle our conscience: “But the foods, manners, tastes are too different.” Maybe. Maybe not. But even if we grant the former, is not a change in menu or method but a small price for unity? As John Flavel said, “If you take away union, there can be no communion.” And if there is no communion outside the church walls, can we really argue for unity within them? Continue reading

Carnage in South Africa

* A column I wrote in last week’s Zoutpansberger newspaper in Makhado, South Africa.

The greatness of a culture is determined by what it loves and hates most. If the sordid abortion advertisements that litter our town are any indication, our culture isn’t worth much.

The newspapers this past week spoke of the carnage on the road due to Easter weekend. We mourn the dozens who passed away. But what of the carnage in today’s abortion mills, where hundreds and thousands of children in South Africa are killed each year? Where is the public outrage on behalf of the unborn from a town where the majority claims to be Christian and Muslim?

What is worse, such killings are advertised in bright colors—papers by the thousands slapped on every stop sign and light post. Sleazy advertising for a sleazy profession.

The promise is that the procedure will be “pain free”, but being pain free doesn’t change the fact that abortion kills children. We don’t admire a man who chooses not to torture his wife, but instead kills her painlessly in her sleep. The tragedy remains.

These young girls are guaranteed “body cleaning”, as though what is vacuumed out is just tissue. She’s told she has the right to do this because the blob is only a part of her body, as though a loaf of bread is a part of the oven since it is baked inside.

I respect the doctors in this town who refuse to perform abortions, who swear by the Hippocratic Oath, and who refuse to hide behind aliases like “Dr. Vicky” and “Dr. Eddie.”

We ease our conscious by calling it a fetus, for the B-word (baby) would make us cringe. But the child inside is a baby no matter what we call it. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, the poet said. A baby by any other name is still a baby. Everyone knows that to break a chicken egg before it hatches is to kill the chick. What is it, then, to perform an abortion?

Some may argue: “It is the law of the land, get over it.” But I challenge you to think differently.

(1) Unjust laws should be overturned. We learned this with apartheid. Or did we?

(2) Speak compassionately with those considering an abortion. There are alternatives.

(3) When you see such an advertisement, throw it in the trash, and let your children see you do it.

(4) For the pastors and community leaders among us, you must not hold back the truth on this matter, regardless if there is not consensus in your assembly. Teach in such a way to create a consensus.

The Magisterium of Catholics, Muslims, and Presbyterians

I recently heard a debate between two Catholics on the topic: “The Only Good Muslim is a Bad Muslim.” Peter Kreeft argues that Protestants and Muslims are the same in the sense that neither has a central magisterium as Catholics do.
I beg to differ.
I have found in my studies of Islam that Hadith literature is very similar in its breadth and authority over the Muslim as the pope and papal bulls have authority over the Catholic. And my formal studies at a Reformed seminary has made me wonder once or twice if Presbyterians view Calvin as Catholics view John Paul. I admit, there is slight tongue in cheek here, but just a little. To really substantiate a point, a quote from Calvin will always do.
Here’s an example. In a book I read recently on four views of the Lord’s Supper, the Reformed chapter quotes Calvin at least 36 times, only references Scripture twice and doesn’t quote a single word of Scripture until the very last sentence.
I love the doctrines of grace. I also love the Protestant’s historic embrace of sola scriptura, in which an authoritative tradition and an authoritative passage of God’s Word have as much in common as rhapsody and rap. But if Catholics like to quote the Vatican and Protestants the Bible, why so much Calvin from Presbyterians?
Don’t say I’m hatin’, I’m just debatin’,
If peeps at home, like popes in Rome
See Calvin’s dogma, like ex cathedra.
I say all of this because I’ve just finished reading the first couple chapters of To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy and have wondered if this will be another Praise Fest of John Calvin. The author paints him as a universally maligned man, like the Protestant version of George Zimmerman, but I’m not so sure that Calvin isn’t more chided these days as he is lauded. As one writer recently said, if you’re not a Calvinist these days, you’re inconsequential. Haykin’s grudge against Calvin’s bad press sounds like the athlete who received one comment of negativity and proceeded on his “no one respects me, it’s me against the world’ rant.
I’m not saying Calvin these days is yoga pants. But he’s not bell bottoms either.