Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Wife to My Two-Year-Old Daughter

Mama: "So Corina, who do you think will win the primary, Clinton or Obama?"
Corina: "Clinton."
Mama: Then, who do you think will win the election, Clinton or McCain?"
Corina: "Clinton."
Mama: "Well, what do you think Clinton will do for our country?"
Corina: "Um...make it crunchy."


Friday, February 22, 2008

And Whom He Wills, He Hardens

It has been granted, in the course of previous discussions, that God sometimes hardens the hearts of certain men, sometimes even to the point of leaving them unable to believe (John 12:39-41). It has been asked why God would do such a thing, and it has been answered that God hardens those who first harden their own hearts. Those, it is said, who desire to do evil and have committed themselves to do it, God will harden. I’m fully willing to grant this notion as an independent truth—I don’t believe that God has ever hardened a soft-hearted person—but I do not see how it even begins to answer the question of why God hardens certain men and not others.

Many men have, at one time or another, hardened their hearts; many have desired to do evil; many (dare I say all?) have at some point fully committed themselves to do what is wrong. But certainly, God has not hardened all of these. Upon some—praise his name—upon some such hard-hearted sinners, God has had mercy. But if some who harden their hearts are further hardened, and others who harden their hearts are nevertheless shown mercy, how can man’s hardening his own heart be considered the determinative factor in God’s decision as to whom he will further harden? It cannot.

We could speculate as to other possibilities. Perhaps those upon whom God has mercy are the ones who have only hardened their hearts a little bit, and the ones whom God further hardens are those who have hardened their hearts a lot. Maybe God uses a kind of Mohs scale for measuring the hardness of one’s heart: 1-5 you get mercy, 6-10 you get further hardened. But surely, we can recognize this as unbiblical nonsense. The scriptures, not to mention our own personal experiences, are replete with examples of God saving the most despicable sinners and passing over otherwise “decent” people. Often it seems, in fact, that the harder man’s heart is in sin, the bigger is his fall into grace.

But if God’s decision to harden or to have mercy is not dependent upon the fact that some have hardened their hearts, if it is not dependent upon the degree to which some have hardened their hearts, what is it in man that determines his choice? I suggest that as long as we insist upon asking the question this way, we will never find the answer, at least not in scripture.

For when the scriptures address the question of why God further hardens one hard-hearted man and has mercy upon another hard-hearted man, they do not leave us to speculate; they tell us plainly: God’s decision has nothing to do with the men themselves. It does not depend upon anything men do—either good or bad (Rom. 9:11); it does not depend on anything they will; it does not depend upon any way in which they exert themselves; it depends upon God who has mercy (Rom 9:16). And upon whom does God have mercy? He has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills (Rom. 9:18). He makes his choice for one reason: that his purpose in election might stand (Rom. 9:11).

If we are in any sense human, a proper understanding of these verses cannot fail to disturb our senses of fairness. In fact, it might be said that if we aren’t outraged by Romans 9, we haven’t fully understood it. For if we have truly grasped Paul’s meaning, we will be inevitably led to the question he anticipates: Why does God still find fault? For who can resist his will? (Rom. 9:19). That is to say, if God's choice of whom to harden and upon whom to have mercy, has nothing to do with man, but everything to do with God's choice, how can he justify punishing those he hardens? But our answer to this unavoidable question cannot be based on our finite, feeble, futile conceptions of what we think God ought to have the right to do with his own lumps of clay. Our answer to the question must be the same as Paul’s: Who are we to answer back to God?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some Lovely Quotes from the Founder of Planned Parenthood

"The campaign for birth control is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical with the final aims of eugenics."
Margaret Sanger. "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda." Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5.

"Eugenics is … the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems.
Margaret Sanger. "The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda." Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5.

"Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."
Margaret Sanger's December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon's Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

More Questions for John and Pastor Eric

Was it a sin for Pharaoh to hold Israel captive?
Why did he do it? (Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34)
And why did he do that? (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4)

Was it a sin for the King of Heshbon to refuse Israel passage through his land?
Why did he do it? (Deuteronomy 2:30)

Was it a sin for Samson to take a wife from among the Philistines?
Why did he do it? (Judges 14:2-4)

Was it a sin for the Canaanites to go into battle against Israel?
Why did they do it? (Joshua 11:20)

Was it a sin for Eli’s sons to ignore his rebuke?
Why did they do it? (I Samuel 2:25)

Was it a sin for David to number the people? (II Samuel 24:10)
Why did he do it? (I Chronicles 21:1)
And why did he do that? (II Samuel 24:1)

Was it a sin for Ahab to listen to false prophets?
Why did he do it? (I Kings 22:20-23)

Was it a sin for the Jews to disbelieve Christ?
Why did they do it? (John 12:39-41)

Was it a sin for Pilate, Herod, the Gentiles and the Jews to crucify Christ?
Why did they do it? (Acts 4:27-28)