Archive for April, 2011

Is your faith a matter of taste or truth? [quote]

22 Apr


As American Christians, we celebrate the idea that “all men are created equal.” This statement from our Declaration of Independence is grounded in the biblical teaching that every person in the world has been formed in the image of God and therefore has intrinsic worth. It’s a beautiful idea.

Subtly however this equality of persons shifts into an equality of ideas. Just as every person is equally valued, so every idea is equally valid. Applied to faith, this means that in a world where different people have different religious views, all such views should be treated as fundamentally equal.

In this system of thinking, faith is a matter of taste, not of truth. The cardinal sin, therefore, is to claim that one person’s belief is true and another person’s belief is false. The honorable route is to rest quietly in what you believe and resist the urge to share your beliefs with someone else.

– David Platt, Radical. Chapter 7.


Good Earth FriDay: Religions in Conflict

22 Apr

Today is the observance two observances.

Christians today commemorate “Good Friday” – the day in which we remember the crucifixion of Jesus (regardless of what day of the week he was originally killed).

Today is also the annual observance of “Earth Day.”

Both focus on commitment to an entity bigger than ourselves, both focus on personal action and commitment.

Yet only one is religious. Right?

Strangely some very religious-sounding language is used by environmentalists and specifically the EPA’s website.  Here’s a few examples:

  1. Belief.Faith is not believing something without evidence, but is believing in something that you can’t see or prove. People can have faith, for example, in the reliability of a friend – this is not to say there’s no evidence, but it cannot be proven that the friend will come through, even if they say they will. Christian faith is strongly based on evidence of the authors of the Bible.  Environmental faith, as Al Gore explains in this video, is based on the beliefs of Al Gore and certain holy writings which consist of select research that Al Gore canonized based on whether they agree with his opinion:
    YouTube Preview Image
  2. Repentance.Repentance speaks to the change of one’s mind that is reflected in a change of behavior. When Christians talk about repentance, they typically mean stopping harmful behavior and committing to healthier, holy, behavior. Here’s where the EPA falls with repentance:

    Earth Day Repentence: Choose at least 5 actions you'll commit to. Use less water and electricity, commute without polluting, reuse and recycle, and more.

    Repent! Repent! Then participate in the 5 sacraments of environmentalism!

  3. Personal Commitment.The Bible speaks to the need not just for one time of belief or a period of repentance upon belief,  but personal, daily commitment to wrap your life around Jesus. The EPA uses the very same language encouraging all to “Make a personal commitment to make environmental protection a part of your daily life.”

    Make a personal commitment to make environmental protection a part of your daily life

    Read your Bible, pray every day? No! replace that commitment with making environmental protection a part of your daily life.

  4. Daily devotions. Many church kids grew up singing songs like “Read your Bible, pray every day!” There’s a general encouragement to be exposed to and affected by the Bible every day. There’s even daily text message services to get you a daily Bible verse, which is similar to what President Obama says is the extent of his worship. The EPA has an equivalent, and you can sign up to be notified every day with new instructions of how to be sanctified in their eyes.They’ve even got an alternative podcast to keep sermons in your ears!

    Learn a green tip every day: Sign up to get a daily email tip during Earth Month in April.

    Daily devotions in text and podcast from the EPA

  5. Community. Christianity cannot be practiced alone. The Bible  speaks of groups of Christians as a body, both connected to and supporting each other, and urges Christians to meet together. The first thing on the Earth Day web page of the EPA is a link to find a church.. er… environmentalist events in your area to keep you involved in the faith.

    Make every day Earth Day and help protect health and the environment throughout the year.

    Get plugged into a community of those who share your beliefs and live them out every day, all year. Christianity? Nope. Environmentalism.

  6. Evangelism. Even if a person has believed in Jesus, repented, committed, exercised daily disciplines, and is involved in community, they aren’t really a disciple of Christ unless they are also a disciple maker, spreading the word to others. The alternative is true as well – once you’ve committed your life to environmentalism, you must be an environmental evangelist to “spread the word” to get others to believe, repent, etc. Here’s my final clip from the EPA website:

    Teach others about the Environment: One of the best ways to spread the word on environmental protection is to teach a class at your local school

    Curiously, they've even capitalized "Environment" in the title but not the other words, similar to how Christians capitalize "God."


The EPA isn’t all. says you need to pledge, volunteer, evangelize, and even tithe… er… donate to the cause.

My purpose in highlighting the religious nature of environmentalism this Good Earth FriDay is not to say we should abuse the earth. That idea seems so absurd I’m not sure who thinks we ought to destroy our home, and normally when that claim is made, it’s simply to end the discussion by name-calling.

We ought to be responsible stewards of the earth. We should also recognize that environmentalism as it is being pushed by our government and others today is structured in a way to be opposed to other systems of truth claims, such as Christianity.


Jason Gray: Falling in Love

14 Apr

If you’ve reached the SecondJon blog looking for my comments about the Jason Gray song “Falling in Love,” I created this sticky post to link to it.


How to Fail at Arguing Revisited

14 Apr
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Some time ago I wrote a series of posts about how people fail at arguing. I’m not saying that I never fail at arguing, but I try not to. There is an objective truth. Through study, thought, and dialog, we ought to be moving closer to that truth. Failing at arguing is usually disrespectful to others and works toward destroying the movement toward truth.

In “How to Fail at Arguing #4” I wrote about the argument “That just doesn’t make sense.” Today there was another sighting of this argument right here on the SecondJon blog!

Evidently not a long time reader of my blog, Thad left a comment last night failing in this way on my post about Jason Gray’s song that re-defines what it means to love God away from it’s biblical meaning. Thad wrote:

This comment thread blows my mind. The song could scarcely be more clear. The fact that it’s causing this sort of non-sensical dissension is going a long way toward proving his point I think. Some of these comments make it seem like folks are going out of their way to deliberately misunderstand the song. Wow. Just wow.

I’ve never seen the benefit of this style of argument: You disagree with me, therefore you’re nonsensical. You’re so dumb and I’m so brilliant, I can’t bear to bring myself to lower my mind to try to understand you.

It reminds me of an early scene of a movie I walked out of because of the crass humor – Anchor Man. Various characters are arguing about something and Steve Carell’s character yells “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!” In the end, it just makes him look like an idiot for yelling about not understanding what the other guys are saying.

For the benefit of others you are interacting, and for the benefit of firming up or refining what you think, it is worth the effort to figure out where someone else is coming from. How could you ever convince someone else that they’re wrong when you refuse to put any work into understanding what they think?

In addition to subverting any constructive conversation, it’s intellectually lazy.

If I say something that doesn’t make sense to you, think about it, ask for clarification. If you simply respond “you’re being non-sensical,” all you’re saying is that you’re lazy and it’s not worth continuing the conversation with you because you’ll pretend to or try to not understand. It’s the equivalent of plugging your ears and shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU, LA LA LA!”


Keep the Democrats in my uterus?

13 Apr
Protest Sign: Keep your Boehner out of my uterus!

Protest Sign: Keep your Boehner out of my uterus!

The signs are back. Boehner, speaker of the house, wanted to remove federal funding of abortion from the budget as one of the cuts. The thinking goes something like this:

If someone wants to stop spending tax-payer dollars on killing an unborn yet scientifically distinct human life, it’s an invasion of someone else’s rights. They should not only have the right to take this human life, but you should pay for it through your taxes.

Where was the outburst of anger when Obama, Pelosi, and Reid rammed through the Obama health care mandate? This gave more government control over every aspect of health, where was the liberal outcry that government should stay out of our bodies?

Evidently, these protesters want Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi in their uterus and John Boehner out. They want legislation out of their uterus, but they want government-paid medical equipment in there scrubbing it. The signs seem like it’s a charge against big government intervention but the argument is the opposite. The sign would more accurately read: “Big government needs to be encouraging and funding abortion.” Statistically Planned Parenthood targets the poor, and a higher percentage of minorities are persuaded to abortion than whites. If the goal was to rid America of poor an brown folks, abortion would be the way to go. In fact, that’s why Planned Parenthood was started – to “to create a race of thoroughbreds” by rectifying “the unbalance between the birth rate of the ‘unfit’ and the ‘fit.’” Perhaps the sign should more accurately read:

Big government needs to be encouraging and funding abortion for the lower class and people with brown skin.

I’ve likely severely offended many readers, particularly if they found this article from a web search. Abortion is a highly charged issue for a few reasons:

  1. For lack of measurable results, the feminist movement pinned their success to the legalization and subsequently federal funding of abortion. The entire feminist push in our culture became focused not on celebrating and valuing what women do, but in promoting abortion because it was a situation unique to women (making it a woman’s issue) and along with more freely available contraceptives, claimed to free up women to have consequence-free sex just like men.
  2. Abortion is highly personal and highly emotional. Women who find themselves considering the option are in a huge crisis where the options seem like death of the child or suicide of self. If they keep the child their life feels like it will be destroyed, and they may not feel much more hope for the baby. With the political and cultural push for and funding of abortion, it’s not surprising that women make this choice. We’re paying their doctors to do it!


Frederica Mathewes-Green wrote an article about pregnancy centers a few years ago. Most disturbing to me are the statistics that it’s overwhelmingly those with wealth that want funding for Planned Parenthood to be used for providing abortions for poorer Americans. The rich are paying for abortion to be promoted for the poor who don’t want it. Here’s an exerpt:

Those who provide alternatives to abortion believe that pregnancy is just one facet of the woman’s larger and more complex life. They believe she is not best served by treating her as merely a polluted uterus in need of a good scrubbing. Her life is tangled with the life of her child growing within, woven with the lives of the child’s father, with her own parents, friends and co-workers in a tapestry of lives. To remove the child is to cut a hole in the tapestry, by literally cutting into human flesh, tearing the child apart and tearing the mother’s heart. Unplanned pregnancy is not one problem, but a host of problems, great and small; pregnancy care providers try to solve them, one at a time.

Problem pregnancy is associated frequently with poverty, and Planned Parenthood selects the poorer neighborhoods; it is popularly believed that abortion is the best solution for the poor. At any rate, this belief is popular with those who are not poor. Polls regularly show that those with higher income levels are the most likely to endorse public funding of abortion, a gift that the recipients are not eager to accept. David Gergen, in an editorial written before he joined the Clinton administration, pointed out that a 1992 Reader’s Digest poll discovered “poorer Americans are the most opposed to federal funding [for abortion]. Among those earning less than $15,000 per year, opposition ran 63 to 32 percent against funding, while those making over $60,000 favored it by 57 to 41 percent.” Gergen asks, “Is Clinton listening to the people he wants to help?”

When people offer to help you by giving you money to eliminate your children, there’s an implied message that’s hard to miss. A friend who worked in an abortion referral center stocked a flier which explained how we could reduce our tax burden by helping poor women have abortions; one day a Hispanic client came in, slapped the flier on the counter, and hissed, “This is what you really think of us.” Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was an enthusiastic eugenicist who wanted “to create a race of thoroughbreds” by rectifying “the unbalance between the birth rate of the ‘unfit’ and the ‘fit.’” Planned Parenthood still has great admiration for Sanger, and president Faye Wattleton said a few years ago that the organization is “just following in the footsteps” of its founder.

Two brands of compassion, each offering what they think is best, but one gets the lion’s share of funding. While pregnancy care centers are a woman-to-woman operation, with funds raised in batches through bake sales and small grants, abortion is more lavishly supported from above. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the recipient of impressive grants from a long list of foundations and corporations, from Helena Rubenstein to the Pew Charitable Trusts to the New York Times Company. In a typical year, $125 million was received via Government grants and contracts. Planned Parenthood has fought for federal funding of abortion, and with the expanded provisions of the Hyde Amendment will now be able to charge more abortions to the public purse. Some states, as well, use taxpayer funds to underwrite abortions: in Maryland the bill totals $3 million per year. There is plenty of money from above to eliminate the children of the poor, and little need for bake-sale fundraising from below. The director of Planned Parenthood in Maryland is a well-mannered, sober Bostonian in a dark suit; it is hard to imagine him raising funds by poking his head in an office door, like Gloria’s volunteers, and asking how many want a pastrami sub.


Bugs or babies?

12 Apr

Bugs or the babies: which deserve more rights?

According to the United Nations, led by Bolivia, bugs and beetles out value our babies.

Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving “Mother Earth” the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.

Bolivia recently passed the legislation on the basis of religious worship of the earth deity, “Pachamama.”

Ought wasps have the same rights as women?

This legislation is immoral. When there’s a total moral equivalence between a baby girl and an earwig, how can there be real respect for life? At minimum the conclusion is that it’s a toss up as to which life is worth compassion. Choosing between the life of a mother and her birthing baby is a moral dilemma. This legislation makes killing the mother the moral equivalent of stepping on a spider. In fact, killing a spider and it’s eggs would be a greater moral crime than killing a human mother and her unborn child.

The Judeo-Christian world view argues in the contrary that humans are unique and have both unity and distinction with nature. According to the biblical narrative, humans are created from the dust of the earth and as he breathes his breath, or spirit, into them, they are created in the image of God. Human life is sacred. Our responsibility to both dominate and care for the earth is also a sacred responsibility.

Yet there is a repulsive reaction to Judeo-Christian values in world government, this animistic theology is welcomed. This should bring clarity – religious values are shunned if the United Nations is opposed to the ideas, and embraced if the ideas help the UN achieve its goals. The problem for those seeking greater centralized government power is not religion – it’s certain values that they will reject whether religious or not.

Two Bolivian women. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America

The values pushed by giving the earth spirits rights is simply another way to push for stripping people of their rights. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. The land is rich in natural resources, so business has been clamoring to come into the country. This legislation will stop work, stop jobs, and increase poverty. This is what the legislation is doing in Bolivia; this is what the UN is pushing for.

The UN isn’t interested in the planet, and they aren’t interested in Pachamama worship. This is, in the end, simply a power grab by governments. The legislation “establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature’s complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.”

That’s right – the whole idea is that what the state says now becomes a matter of rights. To go against the government is a rights-violation issue. This turns the idea of rights on it’s head, taking rights away from people and giving them to the state in the name of ‘mother earth.’

Even in Bolivia it’s clear that this is primarily about governments accruing more power over the people, as the Bolivian president has been declaring for years that the first step to save the planet is “to end capitalism.”

The environmentalist movement is being used in an effort to strip you of your basic human rights and freedom. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon that provides the opportunity to escape from freedom, there’s a better approach.

Rather than basing our ideas on fear (that the earth is about to die) or hatred (of those evil capitalists), we should be basing our ideas on facts. Christians ought to be taking care of the planet in ways that are effective because it is a sacred responsibility; because it is God’s creation; because it is our origin. Much of the specific ways to be “environmental” are agenda-based to gain votes or reward certain companies and industries for political support. A healthier and more effective approach requires better self-education and less readily adopting political and cultural trends.