Friday, June 24, 2005

Resources on Stem Cell Research

This is a topic I'm looking at a bit just now, as important as it is and as controversial just now. I thought I would go ahead and share the good resources I've found so far, on nop particular order"

Embryonic Stem Cell Misconceptions by R. Henry Williams

The Real Promise of Stem Cell Research by Dr. David Prentice

Yes, for Adult Stem Cell Research by Barbara Quigley

"Ethical" Embryonic Stem Cell Research? by Daniel McConchie

Stem Cell News That Isn't Fit For Print: The mainstream media is ignoring promising news about adult stem cell research By Wesley J. Smith

The Wrong Tree: Embryonic stem cells are not all that by Wesley J. Smith

Of Stem Cells and Fairy Tales: Scientists who have been telling Nancy Reagan that embryonic stem cell research could cure Alzheimer's now admit that it isn't true by Wesley J. SMith

A Stem Cell Tale: Why one type of stem-cell research gets fawning media coverage by Wesley J. Smith

Stem-Cell Sleight of Hand: Mario Cuomo Accuses President Bush Of Letting Religion Run His Stem-Cell Policy, But Bush Isn't The One Ignoring Actual Science by Wesley J. Smith

The “Wrong” Cure: Adult stem cells get the shaft
by Wesley J. Smith

The Continuing Controversy over Stem Cells by Dr. Ray Bohlin

Is Embryonic Stem Cell Research Morally Complex? by Scott Klusendorf

Embryo Stem Cell Research Help by Scott Klusendorf (scroll down the page to find the link - requires a free subscripion)

Harvesting the Unborn: The Ethics of Embryo Stem Cell Research by Scott Klusendorf

The Confusing Moral Logic of Embryonic Stem Cell Research by Greg Koukl (requires free subscription)

Are You Against Stem Cell Research and Cloning? by Steve Wagner

Cure Me Even If You Kill - A Response to Michael Kinley by Steve Wagner

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Means and Ends by Greg Koukl

Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity Stem Cell Articles
by various authors (a lot here!)

Do No Harm (lots of resources on Stem Cell Resaerch here too!)

As always, I'll add more as I find them.

Book Review - "Hell Under Fire" by Christopher Morgan and Robert Petersen (eds.)

My first book review

This is the third book in what seems to be an "under fire" series from Zondervan. (The two previously published books being God Under Fire (which I read with profit) and Jesus Under Fire (which I intend to read soon)). Having read other works by most of the contributors to the present volume under review, I expected to gain from reading Hell Under Fire. I was not disappointed, and the essays contained in the book were all of a consistently high standard.

The first essay was by Albert Mohler, and outlined the modern demise of the doctrine of hell from the 17th century onwards. His article outlines how hell began to be questioned in mainline denominations, gradually moving to a doctrine repellent to many in the church by the Victorian Era, and eventually being regarded as nothing more than a myth in the 20th century. Mohler then outlines how these attitudes have recently been entering even evangelical circles, with annihilationist leanings in the writings of such prominent theologians as John Wenham, John Stott, and of course, Clark Pinnock.

Following Mohler's historical review are four essays on the teaching of certain parts of the Scripture: Daniel Block on the Old Testament, Robert Yarborough on the teaching of Jesus, Douglas Moo on Paul's teaching and Gregory Beale on Revelation. Block's essay is an interesting read for those who are unacquainted with the way in which the Old Testament lays the backdrop for the teaching of Christ and the apostles on hell in terms of imagery, and I especially appreciated his discussion of the Netherworld in the OT and Daniel 12:1-3. The essays by Yarborough and Moo met the high expectations I had of them from reading some of their previous works. Yarborough summarized the large amount of Gospel teaching on Hell very well, as well as including an interesting section refuting the charge that His teaching came from Plato, and concluding with a reflection on the teaching in light of September 11th, while Moo excelled in his discussion of Paul's teaching on the issue of eternal punishment and the justice of God (Paul never uses the term `hell'). Beale's essay was good, but was the most disappointing to the reviewer (all things are relative!), but still argued powerfully against the annihilationist teaching that is becoming ever more prevalent in evangelical circles.

The next two essays covered hell in Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology. Christopher Morgan (the only author the reviewer had not come across before, but whose two essays were not out of place in the book) commented briefly on the doctrine from each of the New Testament authors, concluding with a discussion of hell pictured as punishment, destruction and banishment. Robert Petersen (who has written on thee subject more fully elsewhere) presented a very interesting and rewarding paper on the theology from three vantage points: those of the trinity, human responsibility and divine sovereignty, and the `no' and `not yet' tension on the Bible.

Two essays followed on universalism (by J. I. Packer) and annihilationism (by Morgan again). Both essays were useful, and showed the flaws in these approaches according to the clear teaching of the Bible, though Morgan's is most useful in the context of modern evangelicalism as universalism is not really proposed by many serious theologians who label themselves as evangelicals. The final essay was, in this reviewer's opinion, the finest, with Sinclair Ferguson discussing the pastoral implications of the Biblical doctrine of hell. Ferguson's pastoral heart was obvious throughout as he wrestled with the reality of hell in preaching and evangelism, and his essay is the most important contribution of the volume I would say, as the other material is covered in other volumes elsewhere, though the reviewer has not come across another essay quite like Ferguson's.

Overall, a fine volume on a difficult topic, and perhaps the best summary the reviewer has read on the topic (though find also Robert Petersen's other books, and John Blanchard's Whatever Happened to Hell). I hope Zondervan will continue to release more books in this suggestion for the next volume would be Justification Under Fire, edited by Don Carson!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wesley Smith on Terri Schaivo

This is my last post on Terri Schiavo I expect, and is simply a couple of excellent links. The reason I started this blog was to vent when everything was still happening in the courts regarding the situation, but there is no real profit in keeping posting, for no minds will be changed, as Smith says, from continuing to sift through her ashes.

His final paragraph hits the mark of where it all leaves us:

We are in danger as a society of accepting the odious notion that there is such a thing as a life unworthy of life. True, the advocacy pushing us toward this end isn't generally steeped in the language of hate as it was when we ventured down this path before. But just because the lexicon of the culture of death and bioethics are often steeped in "compassion" and a supposed regard for individual autonomy, doesn't make these emerging attitudes less dangerous or insidious. Or to put it another way, actions speak louder than words.

also read: John Leo, An Autopsy Won't Change It

Monday, June 20, 2005

Resources on the Emergent Church

I've just been reading Sam Storms series reviewing (positively) Carson's recent book on the topic. Well worth dipping into, and here's the links:

D. A. Carson Critiques the Emerging Church by Sam Storms
Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7

There are a lot of resources out there, but some of the most useful are:

Albert Mohler - "A Generous Orthodoxy" - Is It Orthodox? A review of Brian McLaren's book.

R. Scott Smith - Ch. 3 Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and The Emerging Church, Ch. 6 Critiquing McLaren & the Emerging Church. Two draft chapters from a forthcoming book

Tim Challies - Emergent Church Archive. A few blog posts by Tim Challies on the subject

Justin Taylor - Introduction to Reclaiming the Center

Thomas Howe - Book Reviews of A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy and The Church on the Other Side (all by Brian McLaren)

Ron Gleason - The Dangers of the Emergent Church

Bob DeWaay - A Critique of Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy

Mark Dever - Review of "A New Kind of Christian"

Greg Gilbert - Review of "The Church on the Other Side"

Doug Groothuis - A New Kind of Postmodernist - Review of "A New Kind of Christian"

Mike Horton - Conversation on the Emergent Church Part 1, Part 2

Juston Taylor - Critique of Andrew Jones' Critique of Carson

Albert Mohler - Three art series on the Emergent Church (NEW!!!)
Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

Albert Mohler - Review of Chalke's The Lost Message of Jesus (New!!!)

Donald MacLeod - Review of Steve Chalke's The Lost Message of Jesus (New!!!)

D. A. Carson - The Emerging Church (adapted excerpt from his book)

For regular updates on materials and issues, the blog Emergent NO is the place to go. A with the other resource lists, I'll add as I find more materials (feel free to let me know of any!)

Online Bible Study Resources

Removed this post...resources were not posted with permission of the publishers

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Michelle Malkin Brings Balance to the Terri Schiavo Autopsy

The link is here (HT: Powerline)

Unlike most of the journalists, it would seem, who have commented on the autopsy, Malkin has read it all, and noticed that the comments do not quite tally with the reporting in the MSM. Some would say commenting on this issue again is excessive, and we should let it rest, but as the final comments by Malkin well sum it up:

Terri Schiavo, a profoundly disabled woman who was not terminally ill and who had an army of family members ready to care for her for the rest of her natural life, succumbed to forced dehydration at the hands of her spouse-in-name-only.

This is something to gloat about?

Not something to gloat about indeed - something to mourn about. And a precedent to worry profoundly about.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Mohler Series on Cloning

An excellent series of articles by Albert Mohler on Cloning, from Dolly the Sheep, to the present day, and the dangers of eugenics. Must reading:

Part 1: Cloning Animals and the Ethics of Dominion
Part 2: Cloning Humans and Reproductive Issues
Part 3: Genetic Manipulation and Eugenic Temptation
Part 4: Artificial Reproduction and the Destruction of the Family

Christian Counterculture Confusion

I loved Christian Counterculture when it started. It was a wonderful resource, as was it's sister site, The Discerning Reader. It's been well documented that in recent times, the sites have drifted from their strong Reformed base to more dangerous waters, and that all doesn't need repeating. However. when I go to the site today, I see the most recent issue simply seems to reveal the confusion that is lying with the folks around Christian Counterculture.

On the plus side, the new issue has an article by D.A.Carson, adapted form his article in Telling the Truth, on the issue of worldviews and evangelism. Indeed, at the sister site, there is even a pretty positive review of Becoming Conversant with the Emergent, Carson's recent book stonrgly critiquing the Emergent Church movement. The review states:

Don Carson does an outstanding job highlighting the relative strengths and weaknesses of this burgeoning movement, taking note of its varied forms. Those who consider themselves “emerging” would do well to listen to these concerns from a wise older statesmen — particularly his concern that "emergents" strive to be rooted in Scripture and avoid becoming easily enamored with a popular, truncated version of Postmodernism.

All very good. However, the review can't leave it goes on:

At the same time, those already critical of the movement would do well to consider its strengths, especially the desire it has to see the Gospel freed from its cultural accommodation within the conservative establishment — lest we put an unnecessary stumbling-block before younger unbelievers. Conservative (and "Reformed") fellowships need to clean up their own "backyard" before pointing the finger at others' . . . Must reading.

Oh. Things haven't quite changed then at Christian Counterculture. Indeed, as we go to another article, we see they haven't changed much at all.

In the same edition as Carson's article, and the review of his book, another essay leads the bill - Now for Some Good News, by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann. Now, for those who have read Carson's book, they wrecognizenise the name Steve Chalke as someone Carson is highly critical of, and the essay at the site is adapted from his book, The Lost Message of Jesus, the book in which he denies the substitutionary atonement (I've blogged on this before, for those who want to follow up on the issue). While the particular excepert from the book here does not include the denial of the substitutionary atonement, it sets the stage for it. In the article, Chalke and Mann write:

The fact is, however else God may have revealed himself, and in whatever way he interacts with the world he has created, everything is to be tempered, interpreted, understood and seen through the one, primary lens of God's love.

Now I don't deny the importance of God's love - far from it. I am saved as a result of his love, a love greater and more vast than I can ever comprehend though given eternity to try, and from which I can never be separated! But to call it the one, primary lens through which to see God is surely mistaken. As good a case could be made, I would say, to choose God's holiness, for example, as the primary lens, but in reality, we must strive to comprehend God in fullnessness of His Person, and all His attributes, as far as we can in our limited capacity.

Chalke is reacting to what he sees in the preaching of the likes of Jonathan Edwards in his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. He writes:

Preaching like Edwards' has been all too representative of the portrayal of the gospel by the Church over the last few hundred years, and, by implication, of any popular understanding of the message of Jesus. And though today, for the most part, the worst of this ferocious rhetoric is a thing of the past, the residue of such portrayals of the gospel still echo across the world. People still believe that the Christian God is primarily a God of power, law, judgment, hell-fire and damnation. A God whose strapline is probably, "Get in line fast or I'll squash you!"

It's here that the Christian Counterculture editor can't help but jump in. Immediately after that paragraph, we find:

[Editor's Note: Could this be why so much "Reformed" and "Fundamentalist" Christianity exhibits a spiritjudgmentment and harshness, as opposed to a spirit of grace, love, and kindess? I think so.]

So things, it seems, haven't changed at all at Christian Counterculture. ANy opportunity is still taken to bash those of a Reformed persuasion, generally by buildincaricatureture of what Reformed people really believe (or by picking the extreme examples of those calling themselves Reformed). The editorial note is truly telling.

Back to the article, though. Towards the conclusion, we read:

Too often we fall to look at others through the eyes of Jesus. While we have spent centuries arguing over the doctrine of original sin, pouring over the Bible and huge theological tomes to prove the inherent sinfulness of all humankind, we have missed a startling point:

Jesus believed in original goodness!

God declared that all his creation, including humankind, was very good. And it's this original goodness that Jesus seeks out in us. That's not to suggest that Jesus is denying that our relationship with God is in need of reconciliation, but that he is rejecting any idea that we are, somehow, beyond the pale.

To see humanity as inherently evil and steeped in original sin instead of inherently made in God's image and so bathed in original goodness, however hidden it may have become, is a serious mistake. It is this grave error that has dogged the Church in the West for centuries. In the fourth century Augustine developed his influential theology that the material world and everything in it was inherently evil and corrupt. This "fallenness" he said, was like a virus, and in humans was passed on through the act of sexual intercourse and conception. So from the seeds of Augustine's thinking, the doctrine of original sin was born. However, the Eastern Church instead followed the teaching of Irenaeus, who believed that all people were God's imagebearers and though flawed were, as he put it, like flowers in bud — slowly coaxed into full bloom by God's love.

It's hard to know where to start with that. First, no Reformed person denies original goodness in terms of the fact creation of "very good". And no Reformed person believes that anyone is "beyond the pale". The paragraphs are unnecessary, and seem to be painting a picture of those believing in original sin as somehow denying the opportunity of the Gospel to some, which folks like Chalke and Mann are the embrassive, open ones. Further, the doctrine of original sin is not an error, but is testified to clearly in Scripture: I was born and conceived in sin (Ps 51:5); we are "sons of disobedience", by nature "children of wrath" (Eph 2:2,3); the heart is deceitful above all (Jer 17:9); and our sin brings both physical and spiritual death (Rom 5:12; 6:23). And when we look beyond Scripture, experience, of our world and our own lives and hearts, testifies eloquently to the reality of our sinfulness. The denial, however, of original sin, lais the groundwork for Chalke to deny the necessity of a substitutionary atonement.

The article then concludes:

In the words of John Stott, perhaps we in the West "have been dogmatic about what we should be agnostic about and agnostic about what we should be dogmatic over." Jesus could not have been clearer:

What we should be dogmatic about is God's outrageous grace,
his boundless forgiveness and his limitless love.

It is time to get dogmatic about the lost message of Jesus!

Remarkable. Again, of course, noe one would deny we should be dogmatic about God's grace, forgiveness and love. But to imply, as the article leans towards doing, that this is all we should be dogmatic about is ridiculous, not honoring to God's revelation of Himself in His Word, and dismissive of centuries of Christian history. What I find most ironic about the closing paragraphs, however, is that Chalke brings Stott to his cause, and while I have my disagreements with the late theologian (his flirtation with annihilationism was very troubling), if Chalke had read, understood and embraced what Stott clearly wrote of Christ's substitutionary death in his The Cross of Christ, he may have been kept from denying the true Gospel. In reality, however, Chalke has Lost the Message of Jesus.

Anyway, as for Christian Counterculture, they seem as confused as ever, and presenting an inconsistent message at best, with continued digs and misrepresentations of mainstream Reformed thought wherever possible. I hope they change - they started so well, and it's sad to see.

Liberal Bias in Commencement Addresses

This article points out the extreme bias towards liberal speakers at university commencements. Smething I'm sure we all knew, but interesting to read nonetheless (HT: Ardel Caneday)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Terri Schiavo's Autopsy finished...

...and to be released Wednesday according to Fox News. I'm not holding my breath. I can't understand why it has taken so long...

Putin Your Foot In It!

In Britain we could always rely on the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, for a little light relief in his ridiculous comments and remarks (my favourite, this being a Scottish blog, was his comment to a Scottish driving instructor: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?" It seems that Russia has their own Prince Philip in Vlademir Putin. I've noticed some remarks by him in the past being less than, well, politically correct, but this story in The Sun, is hilarious:

He lashed out at the [Africa's] past after being challenged about his human rights’ record.

In an astonishing outburst, Mr Putin said: “We all know that African countries used to have a tradition of eating their own adversaries.

“We don’t have such a tradition or process or culture and I believe the comparison between Africa and Russia is not quite just.”

I burst out laughing reading that. Tony Blair, who was with him at the time, was left squirming with embarrassment. Scary thing is this man is in charge of a country with a huge nucler stock-pile. At least Prince Philip is powerless!!

Abortion Resources

This is as much for me as anything else, so as with the Da Vinci Code Resources, I'm going to list resources on other issues of the day that concern Christians so that I have a handy links page to things I've found useful. The List is by noe means exhuastive, but if you read through the resources here, you will be pretty well prepared to discuss abortion with others in a cogent, biblical manner:

General Sites

Pro Life Training from Scott Klusendorf

Abortion Resources from Stands to Reason

Center for Bio-Ethical Reform


Arguments Against and Responses to Abortion

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights: Part One: The Appeal to Pity Francis J. Beckwith

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights Part Two: Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem Francis J. Beckwith

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights: Part Three: Is the Unborn Human Less Than Human? Francis J. Beckwith

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights: Part Four: When Does a Human Become a Person? Francis J. Beckwith

How To Defend Your Pro Life Views in Five Minutes Scott Klusendorf

Toddler Tactics Scott Klusendorf

Abortion Debate: A Short Defense of the Pro Life Position Scott Klusendorf

Five Bad Ways to Argue About Abortion Scott Klusendorf

An Argument Against Abortion Paul Cox

The Pro-Life High Ground: Effective Arguments to Pro-Choice Arguments Richard Land

Fifteen Pro-Life Truths to Speak John Piper

10 Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Take the Life of an Unborn Child John Piper

Life and Abortion: A Pro Life Defense in Dialogue Form John Crandall

A Back to School Survival Guide Scott Klusendorf

Why Pro Life Advocates Should Not Link Abortion to Contraception Scott Klusendorf

What can the Average Person do to Stop Abortion Scott Klusendorf

Abortion : A Failure to Communicate Paul Swope

One Issue Politics, One Issue Marriage and the Humane Society John Piper

Standing for Life Tom Schreiner

Abortion and Human Rights by Greg Koukl

Pro Life: The Epitome of Bologna by Greg Koukl

Problem of Heaps by Greg Koukl

I’m Pro Choice by Greg Koukl

Abortion and Brunch by Greg Koukl

The Moral Logic of Being Pro Choice by Greg Koukl

Babies and Begonias by Greg Koukl

Trespassing in the Womb by Greg Koukl

Unstringing the Violinsit by Greg Koukl

Abortion Sue Bohlin

Arguments Against Abortion Kerby Anderson

Abortion Facts and Counter Arguments Massimo Lorenzini

The Bible and Abortion

Why is the New Testament Silent on Abortion by Micael Gorman

Abortion: Biblical Consideration Donal P O’Mathuna

Argument for the Silent: A Biblical Case Against Abortion by Robert Bowman

Answering the Theological Case for Abortion by Scott Klusendorf

Dead Silence: Must The Bible Say Abortion is Wrong Before We Know It Is? By Scott Klusendorf

Exodus 21 and Abortion John Piper

The Biblical View on Abortion John MacArthur

What Exodus 21:22 Says About Abortion by Greg Koukl

Is Violence a Response?

Killing Abortionists: A Symopsium

Killing Abortionists by Greg Koukl

Does Pro Life Rhetoric Lead to Violence Scott Klusendorf

A Pro Life Loss of Nerve James F Fitzpatrick

Pro Lifers in the Horms of a False Dilemma by Greg Koukl

Complicated Circumstances

What if She Was Raped? Steve Wagner

What of Mother’s Life In Danger Steve Wagner

Rape and Abortion by Greg Koukl

Life Before Birth

How Should Pro Lifers Feel About Fetal Pain? Steve Wagner

No One Knows When Life Begins Steve Wagner

Facing up to Infanticide J Bottum

Infanticide for Beginners James Neuchterlein

Are All Human Persons? A New Assault on Human Dignity Albert Mohler

A Smile from the Womb David Koyzis

Fetal Development : From Conception to Birth

Does a Fetus have a Soul? by Greg Koukl

Murder is OK for the Unborn? by Greg Koukl

Fetal Personhood,: It’s Simple by Greg Koukl

The Murder of a Fetus by Greg Koukl

Abortion Bioethics and Personhood: A Reflection Beckwith

An Open Letter to the Star Tribune John Piper

Life: Defining the Beginning by the End by Maureen Condic

When Do Human Beings Begin? Dianne Irving

Neonaticide by Greg Koukl

Partial Birth Abortion

Partial Birth Abortion Kerby Anderson

Partial Birth Abortion Transcripts

Partial Birth Abortions: Misunderstandings and Objections by Greg Koukl

Partial Birth Abortion is not About Abortion by Greg Koukl

Nothing Hidden in the D&X by Greg Koukl

Stepping Over the Line by Greg Koukl

Roe v. Wade

The Women of Roe Vs Wade Mary Ann Glendon

Roe vs McCorvey Norma McCorvey

Roe: 25 Years Later (First Things)

Harvesting Human Parts

The Sanctity of Human Life: Harvesting Human Fetal Parts Ray Bohlin

Baby Parts for Profit by Greg Koukl

Uncategorized/General Aricles

Abortion Information Sarah Jane Head

The Gospel According to Jane Roe: Abortion Rights and the Reshaping of Evangelical Theology Russell Moore

Pictures and the Use of Visuals (be aware these are graphic)

Why Pro Life Advocates Should Use Visual Aids Scott Klusendorf

Abortion Photos Center for Bio-Ethical Reform

Prolife America 3D/4D Ultrasound Photos

100 Abortion Pictures

Legal Issues

Is Abortion Legal All 9 Months? by Steve Wagner

On This Day In Scottish History- June 14th (Death of John Logie Baird)

On June 14th, 1946, John Logie Baird, widely regarded as the inventor of the television, died. For an interesting bio covering his struggles to get television off the ground, see here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

On This Day in Scottish History - June 12th (Birth of James Gilmour - Apostle to Mongolia)

In my occasional posts on important events in Scottish history, I want to focus where I can on Christian themes - things that may not be important to many out there, but in the eternal scheme of things are perhaps more important than we may think. So today I note the borth in 1843 on June 12th of James Gilmour, often called the Apostle to Mongolia.

James Gilmour trusted Christ as a child in a home of godly parents, and excelled at school. While he loved his home of Scotland (he was born near Glasgow), God put a burden for Mongolia on his heart, and in 1870, he sailed to spend the rest of his life seeking to share the Gospel with the Mongolians. In his first 14 years, learning the language, culture, and living on an average of 6 cenets a day, Gilmour saw only one person converted. Things never got much better, and writing in his diary of a later 8 month period, he noted "preached to 24,000 people, treated 7,500 patients, distributed 10,000 books and tracts...and out of all this there are only two men who have openly confessed Christ." Yet he continued on, dying at the age of 47 from Typhus continuing the task that God had burdened him with. On reviewing his famous book, Among the Mongols, one critic wrote of Gilmour: "If ever on earth there lived a man who kept the law of Christ, and could give proof of it, and be absolutely unconscious that he was giving it to them, it is this man whom the Mongols called 'our Gilmour."

I'd encourage reading the materials about Gilmour I list below, but for me the most remarkable thing his life speaks to me is of persistence and commitment. We live in a results-driven society, and numbers are the big thing. Who can get the most converts, whose got the biggest church, and so on. Over twenty years work, and Gilmour saw very few commit to his Master - 1 in the first 14 years would perhaps be enough to have all support withdrawn from him in these days, sad to say. Yet his life, and his example speak to us of determinism and faithfulness that is seldom seen in our day, certainly in our "advanced" western countries.

May it be that God would turn our hearts back to him, that we may know the faithfulness and devotion of James Gilmour and others, and that we may look through the lens of eternity at our lives and world.

For more go to: James Gilmour: Online Biographies

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Da Vinci Code Resources

I went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith today with my wife (who, to my surprise, enjoyed it thoroughly!) While there, I saw the poster out for the film version of the bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It's going to do very well, I'm sure, and mirror the book's success, and thus the whole thing becomes a big issue for Christians, and we need to know the details to defend our faith. The book is a ripping yarn, as they say, exciting and full of twists and turns. But as a historical novel (as it purports to be), it is severely lacking - actually, it's pretty much hogwash. Sadly, while easy refutation can be made of many of the books errors, and its fundamental thesis, most Christians know they believe its not true while not knowing how to explain why. To help overcome this, I thought I would create a list of resources for the few interested readers of this blog! First, for those unfamiliar with the book, here's a good summary of some of the major theses:

1. Early Christianity entailed "the cult of the Great Mother" and Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the Holy Grail of traditional lore
2. She was also Jesus' wife and the mother of his children
3. Magdalene womb, carrying Jesus offspring, was the legendary Holy Grail (as seen in Da Vinci's encoded paining, The Last Supper)
4. Jesus was not seen as divine (God) by His followers until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own purposes
5. The Nicean Council of the 3rd Century was the context for Constantine's power grab and the relationship of Magdalene as paramour of Christ was quashed there
6. "Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents that tell the real story were found on the Temple Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First Crusade.”
7. Brown sees a connection between the Nag Hammadi documents (a.k.a., Gnostic Gospels) discovered in 1945 and this storyline
8. The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci
(source: The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnostic, the Goddess and the Grail)

A quick perusal of these points will show the absurdity of the book to anyone with a decent understanding of early Christianity and the Biblical record. However, many resources are available to help to combat Brown's ridiculous and baseless assertions - in no particular order:

The Da Vinci Code - Seriously? by Jim Lapp. Lists 30 historical innacuracies in Brown's book.

Mary, Mary, Extraordinary by Ben Witherington III. Explains why the proposed idea of an intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is in error.

The Good News of Da Vinci by Darrell Bock. Arguing the Book is actually a good opportunity for witness, and it's success shows a deep interest in its themes.

Review of the Da Vinci Code - part I, Part II by Carl E. Olsen. Extensive refutation of many of the main errors.

Dismantling the Da Vinci Code by Sandra Miesel. Good medium length article on Brown's errors.

The Da Vinci Code Corrected by Craig Keener. Refutes the idea of a suppression by Constantine of a large number of "lost gospels".

The Da Vinci Code Breaker. Has some fact sheets, and a large number of links to relevant material.

Breaking the Da Vinci Code by Collin Hansen. Deals with the fallacy that the Council of Nicea instituted the doctrines of the divinity of Christ and the infallibility of the Bible.

Deciphering the Da Vinci Code by Albert Mohler. The always reliable Dr. Mohler chips in.

The Bible vs. The Da Vinci Code by Chip Ingram. Covers succinctly many of the main issues.

Newsletter 1 and Newsletter 2 on the Davinci Code by Peter Jones. Argue the book can be an impediment to faith among unbelievers, but also an opportunity to witness for the informed Christian.

Decoding the Da Vinci Code by Michael Gleghorn.. ANother good medium length article dealing with the main issues.

Was Jesus Married? by Mark D. Roberts. A five part series covering the evidence well.

Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code by Doug Beaumont (NEW !!!). A good article summarising the main errors and brief responses.

Book Review of the Da Vinci Code by Craig Blomberg (NEW!!!)

Davinci Code Workshop by the faculty of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A 10 part audio series on the book.

For those who want to spend money, or prefer the feel of paper to a computer screen, a number of good books have been written. Four of the best are:

Breaking the Da Vinci Code by Derell Bock

The Gospel Code by Ben WItherington III

Cracking Da Vinci's Code by James Garlow and Peter Jones

The Da Vinci Deception by Erwin Lutzer

The Da Vinci Code is a ripping yarn, but a poor work of history, and easily refuted. With the film coming out soon, we need to be prepared, so get reading!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Do I Really Deserve to be Happy?

Just reading the most recent issue of World Magazine, and an article on unfaithfulness among Christian women had an excellent quote on the whole "right to be happy issue". Often we put our sin down to our right to be happy, in areas such as affairs (my husband/wife isn't satisfying me, but I have a right to happiness, so it's fine to seek it with someone else) and many others. The counselor in the article comments this way, and puts the issue very clearly:

Their number-one excuse is the 'Don't I deserve to be happy?' lie. I'm tough on them. I tell them pretty much what my dad told me: 'You deserve to be happy' is not in the Bible. They actually think it is. I tell them, we're all sinners. You don't want what you really deserve.

That's the reality - we should never cling to our rights, because if we truly wnat justice, then we'll all face the wrath of a pure and hloy God against sin. I, for one, am very happy and thankful that I don't get what I deserve, and that I often get belssings I don't - thank God for mercy and grace.

Mohler and McHugh Refelect on the Death of Terri Schiavo

Dr. Mohler's most recent commentary reflects on the death of Terri Schiavo and the culture of death in the U.S. In the commentary, Mohler discusses the the recent article bu Paul McHugh, Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, Annihilating Terri Schiavo.

While I recommend the whole article, McHugh's conclusions were:

In Terri Schiavo’s case, [the culture of death] is what won out over the hospice’s culture of life, overwhelming by legal means, and by the force of advanced social opinion, the moral and medical command to choose life, to comfort the afflicted, and to teach others how to do the same. The more this culture continues to influence our thinking, the deeper are likely to become the divisions within our society and within our families, the more hardened our hatreds, and the more manifold our fears. More of us will die prematurely; some of us will even be persuaded that we want to.

Not happy conclusions, but sadly realistic.

Tory Leadership Contest

The place to go for info on the leadership race for the Conservative Party in the UK is the Conservative Home Leadership Blog. An intersting poll they point to gave the following results:

Ken Clarke - 26% (24%)
David Davis - 11% (20%)
Sir Malcolm Rifkind - 5% (6%)
John Redwood - 4% (5%)
Liam Fox - 3% (6%)
David Cameron - 2% (3%)

Ken Clarke does very well (the bracketed figures are just tory voters, the other figure the general population), and was, they say, ecouraged by the results. Hard to believe the party ould pick him, but it would be a more intersting race if he joined. The pundits say Davies is almost certain, but it is often pointed out, the favourite never wins the Tory leadership race...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Comments on the Texas Abotion Decision from STR

Steve Wagner makes good comment on the recent decision in Texas to imprison a man for stomping on his girlfriend's stomach to abort her twin babies, while not prosecuting her due to the right to abortion. He responds to the "Mystery Passage" in Planned Parenthood Vs. Casey, noting that is basically says what a person believes about the fetus makes it what it is. However, he notes that the case in Texas only goes to illustrate that this only really applies to what a woman thinks about the fetus, writing, " the highfalutin language of the Mystery Passage applies only to the woman’s beliefs and not to the man’s."

Wagner goes on to comment:

What makes a woman’s perceptions of reality so much more durable and far-reaching than a man’s? The woman is physically connected to the fetus. So a woman’s metaphysics are superior to a man’s, but not because her reasons are better or her view is more accurate. Rather, her physical proximity to the being in question makes her view true! Under this rule, a pregnant woman who thinks she is carrying Swiss cheese is correct and her embryologist husband, who believes she’s carrying a living whole human organism, is mistaken.

The inconsistency in applyinf the law regarding fetuses (or rather, the inconsistency of the law) is quite astounding, and the idea that proximity makes one a better judge is astonishing. Proximity, in my experience, more often than not only goes to cloud rational and clear judgement. The decision in Texas is logically absurd, and morally reprehensible. Two babies are dead at the hands of their parents, and while I can applaud the incarceration of their father, the fact the their mother, the one whom God created to nurture and care for them most of all, gets off scot-free, is unjust beyond words.

Scots are the most neighbourly people in Scotland (not surprising!)

The story is at the BBC here.

The Scots scored highest of the eleven regions in Britain measured by the Halifax Insurance company, scoring 100 out of a possible 121 (the lowest were the North East of England, scoring 41, and London, scoring 46 - 100 seems pretty impressive!). Here's a description of the theory:

We looked at factors such as strength of friendship with neighbours, the extent to which we would seek advice from neighbours, the sense of safety and security within neighbourhoods and a variety of other measures. What the results reflect is the enduring human need for a sense of belonging with others around them.

We then rated each region based on the responses and from this were able to create a map of British neighbourliness which represents a fascinating insight into community relations in Britain today.

A quick WAHEY for us Scots, I would say!!!

On This Day In Scottish History - June 9th (First U.S. Troops Arrive in Europe)

An interesting, if short post. On June 9th, 1942, the first U.S. troops arrived in Europe, coming on the Queen Mary. Around 10,000 men were on board, and the ship arrived at the Clyde in Scotland, a fact I had been entirely unaware of until this point. Of course, the arrival of the U.S. in the war was a major turning point (the major turning point, I'd say), and it's interesting now writing from my new home in the States to note that the land of my birth was the place of arrival for the first U.S troops into Europe.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Double Standards in Abortion Laws made clear

An amazing article from the AP here (HT: Worldmag Blog)

In the article, the story is told of a Texas man who stomped on his girlfriends stomach to bring about the death of her twin unborn babies. This was done at her request. The result? He gets life for the murder of the children, she gets off with nothing because of her legal right to abortion. I've not seen much that reveals the deep, deep wrong in the abortion laws quite so clearly.

Christian Scholar's Links

Afriad that I simply have not the time to get the site I had hoped to up and running, however, I will be adding some more links to the Blog on this topic I've started, and try to continue this. If people have recommendations, then please let me know - it seems to me still a useful venture in it's present form.

Here's the link:

Christian Scholars

On This Day In Scottish History - June 7th (Death of Robert the Bruce)

Been a while since any posts, but here's a new one, continuing the Scottish history theme. On this day in 1329, King Robert the Bruce died at his monr in Cardross, Dumbartonshire, Scotland. The reason for his death is not known with certainty, though speculation is that he had long battled with leprosy (though is this is quite strongly refuted by an article by the Society for the History of Dentistry, of all places!).

While not going into an extended history of the Bruce (for that see the links below), a couple of interesting comments can be made. I remember being impressed with a story (possibly/probably? legend) that after many a lsos to the English, Brce was hidden away in depression in a cave. In the cave he watched a spider try to get a web cast from one side to the other, and after several failures, the spider eventually made it (some say it failed the same number of times as Bruce had lost major battles). At any rate, from this episode, Bruce resolved that "If at first you don't succeed, try, try try again". The year was 1314, and the next battle (the next try!) would be Bannockburn, perhaps the most famous Scottish victory ever. It's a nice story, and whether or not true, the sentiment leading to the victory (continuing on despite loss) is a good one.

The second episode came on Bruce's deathbed. Turning to his friend James Douglas, the dying King spoke these words:

Sir James, my dear and gallant friend, you know well the many troubles and severe hardships I have undergone in recovering and defending the rights of my crown and people, for you have participated in them all. When I was hardest beset of all, I made a vow, that if I ever overcame my difficulties, I would assume the cross, and devote the remainder of my days to warring against the enemies of our Lord and Saviour. But it has pleased providence, by this heavy malady, to take from me all hope of accomplishing, what, in my heart and soul, I have earnestly desired. Therefore, my dear and faithful companion, knowing no knight more valiant, or better fitted than yourself for such a service, my earnest desire is, that when I am dead, you take my heart with you to Jerusalem, and deposit it in the holy sepulchre, that my soul may be so acquitted from the vow which my body is unable to fulfil

I don't know what Bruce's personal walk with Christ was, and the reality of his faith, but I like to think it was true, and that he dwells wth the Saviour. As it was, Douglas was killed, andf Bruce's heart never made it to the Holy Land, but was instead buried in Melrose Abbey in the South of Scotland.

For those looking for more on Robert the Bruce, see the following links:

  • Robert Bruce, King of Scots (seven part series)

  • Called King of Scots (on his post-Bannockburn (1314) reign)

  • Robert I, 'the Bruce' (1274-1329) (a brief history)

  • Robert Bruce (A short summary of his life, as well as book reviews)

  • Also, for those who want to read Robert Burn's stirring poem on Freedom written as a fictional address by Robert Bruce on the eve of the Battle of Bannockburn, see my inaugural post