Archive - October, 2009

New Ligonier Website Unveiled

A sleek new Ligonier Ministries website is apparently being unveiled today (on Reformation Day, at 15:17 Wittenberg time, no less). Now that’s careful planning!

A Shot Back on Feminism and Happiness

I previously posted on a study which seemed to suggest that while feminism’s professional triumphs are undeniable (and, for many, a correction to an unbiblical diminishing of talents and skills through a distorted perspective grounded in male oppression) it has not come without its ill consequences. Greater societal expectations for juggling work and family have, for many, caused greater stress (not to mention a greater sense of fatigue and failure for not being able to “do it all” and “do it all well”).
Writing for the Seattle Times, syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman shoots back on the conclusion that feminism’s progress has been coupled with a greater level of unhappiness. But oddly, while combative, she seems to accept the basic premise. Her conclusion:

Going forward to the past won’t bring a grin to our lips — excuse me, a self-reported sense of well-being to our database. Happiness is a pretty elusive state and an even more elusive research subject. We are, as they say, happy as our least happy child, worried as the idea of Iran with a nuclear weapon, and insecure as our retirement fund. As for linking happiness and social history, today’s flight attendant isn’t going to wake up every morning and assess her own well-being in comparison to her 1970s predecessor any more than I wake up grateful not to walk four miles in the snow to school. It doesn’t work that way.
Feminism made me happy? Not, I assure you in a permanent state of good cheer. It opened doors. It opened our eyes — to everything including what still needs to be done. The women’s movement never promised us a rose garden or a warm bath of contentment. It offered a new way to understand the world, a lens on injustice and a tool to use in the pursuit of happiness. It’s a work in progress.
That’s happiness? Close enough.

Huh? Perhaps I’m missing something, but she seems to be acknowledging the point, and instead redefining happiness as the willing, glad preference of the current status quo. What would she say to women who feel more of a burden to be breadwinners because their husbands are less committed to providing? What would she say to women who feel pressure to advance professionally, even though their deepest longings center around having and caring for a family? What would she say about today’s crass sexual objectifying and exploitation of women in the media and entertainment industry? Read it for yourself.

The Reality That God Casts Some Into Eternal Hell

John Piper offers a helpful, necessary correction for C.S. Lewis’ mistakenly truncated and distorted theology of hell. It is noteworthy that Lewis may have been heavily influenced in this regard by George MacDonald, an outstanding writer who penned gripping novels with stunningly authentic, righteousness-seeking lead characters, but who was sadly a universalist. An excerpt from Piper:

The misery of hell will be so great that no one will want to be there. They will be weeping and gnashing their teeth (Matthew 8:12). Between their sobs, they will not speak the words, “I want this.” They will not be able to say amid the flames of the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14), “I want this.” “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Revelation 14:11). No one wants this.
When there are only two choices, and you choose against one, it does not mean that you want the other, if you are ignorant of the outcome of both. Unbelieving people know neither God nor hell. This ignorance is not innocent. Apart from regenerating grace, all people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
The person who rejects God does not know the real horrors of hell. This may be because he does not believe hell exists, or it may be because he convinces himself that it would be tolerably preferable to heaven.

Read the whole thing.

What Christopher Hitchens Has Learned From Christians

Interesting piece by atheist intellectual Christopher Hitchens in Slate in which he discusses his many conversations and debates with Christians over the last few years. An encouraging observation:

I haven’t yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my mind. After all, a believing religious person, however brilliant or however good in debate, is compelled to stick fairly closely to a “script” that is known in advance, and known to me, too. However, I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe. I haven’t been asked to Bob Jones University yet, but I have been invited to Jerry Falwell’s old Liberty University campus in Virginia, even though we haven’t yet agreed on the terms.
Wilson isn’t one of those evasive Christians who mumble apologetically about how some of the Bible stories are really just “metaphors.” He is willing to maintain very staunchly that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and that his sacrifice redeems our state of sin, which in turn is the outcome of our rebellion against God. He doesn’t waffle when asked why God allows so much evil and suffering—of course he “allows” it since it is the inescapable state of rebellious sinners. I much prefer this sincerity to the vague and Python-esque witterings of the interfaith and ecumenical groups who barely respect their own traditions and who look upon faith as just another word for community organizing.

Read the rest.
HT: Michael McKinley

God is Sovereign, Wise, and Good

Justin Buzzard, a young adult pastor in the Bay Area of northern CA (who I enjoyed having lunch with a year ago when we were living in Berkeley), is back to blogging, with a solid post on God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness:

Forget your past. Forget how you used to operate, how you used to be a prisoner to your circumstances and feelings. Build your life on the truth. Preach more gospel to yourself. Tell yourself every hour that God is sovereign, wise, and good. The truth will set you free. Your emotions will begin to come in line with the truth.
Doubt your old doubts and saturate yourself in the Scriptures. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Read and meditate on and pray through your Bible with this threefold lens, always on the hunt for indications of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. Meditate on Romans 8 or Matthew 6 or Psalm 139. Soak in a book like Jerry Bridges’ Trusting God.

Read the whole thing.

Good Sermon On Work – Tim Keller

Keller makes an excellent contrast between our society’s view of work and the biblical model. We work not for money or for status or for ourselves (personal fulfillment). We work for God’s sake, for people’s sake, and for the work’s sake. The irony is that losing ourselves (working for God’s sake, not ours) is the path to true fulfillment (quietness, and true rest). Keller also explains how working to please God is very different from working to appease God. We don’t do things for God (i.e., to get things from him), but simply because we want to live in a way that is pleasing to Him (in response to the rest He has given us in Christ, and in the strength that He supplies). Check it out.
HT: Steve McCoy

A.J. Hamilton’s Story

A great story on how God can redeem terrible circumstances:

HT: Josh Harris

Dr. Mohler To Speak At Missions/Suffering Conference

To Every Tribe has announced that Dr. Albert Mohler will speak at the October 31, 9 AM session of their upcoming missions conference entitled The Privilege of Suffering: Jesus is Worth It. The conference will be held October 29-31 in the Northwest Georgia Trade & Convention Center in Dalton, Georgia. Registration is free.

The Triumphs and Tribulations of Feminism

The State of The American Woman.JPGNancy Gibbs writes an interesting cover story on feminism’s remarkable transformation of the workplace and the culture:

College campuses used to be almost 60-40 male; now the ratio has reversed, and close to half of law and medical degrees go to women, up from fewer than 10% in 1970. Half the Ivy League presidents are women, and two of the three network anchors soon will be; three of the four most recent Secretaries of State have been women. There are more than 145 foundations designed to empower women around the world, in the belief that this is the greatest possible weapon against poverty and disease; there was only one major foundation (the Ms. Foundation) for women in 1972. For the first time, five women have won Nobel Prizes in the same year (for Medicine, Chemistry, Economics and Literature). We just came through an election year in which Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Tina Fey and Katie Couric were lead players, not the supporting cast. And the President of the United States was raised by a single mother and married a lawyer who outranked and outearned him.

Gibbs also acknowledges the following:

Among the most confounding changes of all is the evidence, tracked by numerous surveys, that as women have gained more freedom, more education and more economic power, they have become less happy.

The cause of this trend is a subject of much disagreement. Feminist Susan Fauldi, for example, has observed that the feminism movement wasn’t really about making women happier.
It seems to me it was about making women more successful by means of academic, professional, and economic metrics, regardless of what impact such advances might have on women’s subjective sense of well-being. Maureen Dowd, in an op-ed piece in the New York times, writes:

When women stepped into male- dominated realms, they put more demands — and stress — on themselves. If they once judged themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens and dinner parties, now they judge themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens, dinner parties — and grad school, work, office deadlines and meshing a two-career marriage.

The sense that one must do all these things–and to all these things well–creates a mountain of stress. Dr. Albert Mohler sums up the matter this way:

In reality, feminism was never only about opening doors for women. In order to make the case for the vast social transformation that feminism has produced, the feminist movement aspired to nothing short of a total social, moral, and cultural revolution. Along the way, feminism redefined womanhood, marriage, motherhood, and the roles for both men and women.
Nevertheless, it appears that most women are uncomfortable with this total package. Instead of producing a vast expansion of happiness among women, the feminist movement must now answer for the fact that women, by their own evaluation, appear to be less happy than before the revolution.
The reason for this is probably quite simple. Women are in the best position to evaluate, not only what feminism has gained, but what it has lost. Maybe Susan Faludi is right — The women’s movement wasn’t about happiness.

Should Christians Aim To Convert Others?

John Piper reflects on the question: Should Christians Say That Their Aim Is to Convert Others to Faith in Christ? He raises this issue for three reasons:

1. Because in our delicate and dangerous setting of global religious pluralism, how we speak about our aims can get us kicked out of a country or worse.
2. Because we want to follow Paul’s pattern of honesty: “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
3. Because we need biblical clarity about our role in converting others to Christ, lest we shrink back from the aim of conversion for mistaken reasons.

Piper concludes that Christians should say that conversion is their aim, because although God solely grants the new birth (which alone gives rise to human faith in Christ), He ordains us to be His messengers (His means) to accomplish His supernatural ends. His main points are:

1. Christian conversion involves spiritually blind people being able to see the glory of Christ.
2. Christian conversion involves winning people from treasuring anything above Christ to full devotion to Christ.
3. Christian conversion involves bringing people back from the path of sin and destruction.
4. Christian conversion involves turning the heart toward the true God [and] away from wrong ideas about God and wrong affections for what is not God.
5. Christian conversion involves being born again.

Read the whole thing.

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