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Too Scared to Have Kids Because of Climate Change

While many liberals say no to having kids as a “pro-choice” decision, a group of about 60 British women and men have banded together and vowed not to have children as an environmental response.

The movement, called BirthStrike, founded by 33-year-old Blythe Pepino, has decided “not to bear children due to the severity of the ecological crisis and the current inaction of governing forces in the face of this existential threat.”

Group member Alice Brown says, “I am depressed every day because of the ecological crisis and I’m terrified of passing this burden on to a child . . . I’m 24 and instead of dreaming about my career and family, I’m burdened with the disease we’ve created. My decision not to have a child I truly feel is a necessity not a choice.”

This hopelessness brought on by the fear of an overwhelming impending extinction-level event is what can happen when humanism as the basis of one’s belief system fails. But when our hope is in the providence of a sovereign God who loves the world He created, denying His creational mandate to be fruitful and multiply cannot be the answer.

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Barna Study Shows Almost Half of Millennials Don’t Believe in Evangelism

Although a large percentage of Millennials (73 percent) claim they are prepared to give answers about their faith, almost half of them (47 percent) believe that sharing one’s beliefs with someone of a different faith in an evangelistic method is wrong, according to a new “Reviving Evangelism” study by Barna Group.

That could be partially because young people are more prone to think that if someone disagrees with them it means that person is judging them, a perspective that older generations don’t hold.

“Cultivating deep, steady, resilient Christian conviction is difficult in a world of ‘you do you’ and ‘don’t criticize anyone’s life choices’ and emotivism, the feelings-first priority that our culture makes a way of life,” says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “As much as ever, evangelism isn’t just about saving the unsaved, but reminding ourselves that this stuff matters, that the Bible is trustworthy and that Jesus changes everything.”

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Indian Man Plans to Sue in Strange Birth-Without-Consent Case

Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel, 27, plans to bring a lawsuit against his parents, who are both lawyers, claiming that he never gave them consent to be born and asking to be paid for the rest of his life for the trouble of dealing with life’s “suffering.”

Though he admits consent cannot be determined with an unborn child, he says he owes his parents nothing because it wasn’t his decision to be born.

Sound crazy? Well, not to an anti-natalist, who believes life is so miserable that procreation should stop. Says Samuel, who can be seen on YouTube with fake beard and sunglasses, “There’s no point to humanity. So many people are suffering. If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also, no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”

Even stranger, his mother admires her son for the lawsuit. In her statement, Kavita Karnad Samuel says, “I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers . . . I’m very happy that my son has grown up into a fearless, independent-thinking young man. He is sure to find his path to happiness.”

So far Samuel has not found a lawyer to take up his case.

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The Cure Humanism and Humanistic Evangelicalism Can’t Provide

This week I end my series on whether America is dying—and it is—and the cure for its death—the Church again proclaiming the sovereignty of God over all things and the depth of humanity’s depravity. Of course, that answer is an anathema to Enlightenment thinkers who espouse human autonomy and the sufficiency of human reason to solve our problems. However, why it’s the solution may also be unintelligible to many evangelicals. So for both camps, let me explain why I believe it’s the cure.

The other week I spoke of the sovereignty of God as applied during the Reformation from the sociological or anthropological side of life, us looking up vertically toward God from the muck.’ But the sovereignty of God over His creation also changes the way we see things horizontally, the world around us.

How Does God ‘Relate’ to Society?

Here is where another break came in Christendom and even among Protestants: Do we relate to God directly or indirectly?

The former came to mean that all spheres of society—the individual, the family, private associations, and civil government—relate to and are directly accountable to God for how they function.

The latter meant those same spheres relate to God indirectly, either through the Church or through a king claiming “divine rights.” This is what gave birth to the struggle over who is in charge on earth—an ecclesiastical establishment or its titular head or the state.1

But when we understand the breadth of God’s sovereignty—that it applies to all things—and we believe that there is only one mediator between God and His creation—the incarnated second Person of the Triune God, Jesus the Messiah—then we don’t bifurcate the world into sacred and secular spheres, and the original and historic tension between “church and state” dissolves.2 Neither is “in charge” of mediating the relationship between God and the rest of the world; only the sovereign God is in charge and both church and state, along with the other spheres, are directly accountable to Him for how they carry out their respective God-given responsibilities.

How God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Interactions With Others

It is in this comprehensive, direct application of the sovereignty of God that we find what I last week called the most democratizing idea in history when it comes to how human beings understand and relate to one another. To me, it is beautiful. Abraham Kuyper, theologian and Prime Minister of the Netherlands in the early 1900s, put it more beautifully than I ever could:

[When] our entire human life [is placed] immediately before God, then it follows that all men or women, rich or poor, weak or strong, dull or talented, as creatures of God, and as lost sinners, have no claim whatsoever to lord over one another, and that we stand as equals before God, and consequently equal as man to man. Hence we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talents than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. Hence [it] condemns not merely all open slavery and systems of caste, but also all covert slavery of woman and of the poor; it is opposed to all hierarchy among men; it tolerates no aristocracy save such as is able, either in person or in family, by the grace of God, to exhibit superiority of character or talent, and to show that it does not claim this superiority for self-aggrandizement or ambitious pride, but for the sake of spending it in the service of God. (emphasis mine)

Why We Reject the Harmony God Intended

There are probably few who would denounce such a beautiful picture of human understanding and interaction.

However, it describes a life that finds its focus and meaning in God, not in one’s circumstances, position, or power, and that God, because He is the Creator of and Sovereign over all things, insists for our own good that our lives and everything that our human lives produce—civil laws and policies, educational institutions, arts, entertainments, marriages, families, private associations—be as in accord with His creational and moral laws as possible on this side of eternity in order that this beautiful harmony can come to pass.

That, of course, is the rub. From the beginning, we have not wanted to bow the knee and submit to God in all things. We want to live, individually and corporately, by our own laws, at least in certain areas of our lives. We want the laws that we think will bring about the dignity and harmony for which our hearts long. That’s at the heart of the Enlightenment, but that’s not in accord with the true light of the world.

The true Light has come into the world, and the problem is that “men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). All I can say is “Sovereign God, would You give us a new love, one by which we want to embrace the Light that will get the muck out of our eyes?”3

 


NOTES:

  1. “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment.” Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833). (emphasis mine)
  2. As I told a new friend of mine the other day, we do not have a church-state issue in America anymore as it was that kind of “establishment” issue to which the First Amendment was directed. Our Founders never intended to prohibit religious beliefs from informing the value judgments by which we would frame our laws, and that’s why we also have the First Amendment’s free exercise clause and the ban on religious tests.
  3. While Jonah Goldberg in Suicide of the West submits that the principles of the Enlightenment led us out of the muck, the growing embrace of identity politics and socialism that he laments comes from the same poisonous root. “Radical egalitarianism,” a product of the individualism that grows out of human autonomy, “necessarily presses us toward collectivism because a powerful state is required to suppress the differences that freedom produces. That raises the sinister and seemingly paradoxical possibility that radical individualism is the handmaiden of collectivist tyranny. This individualism . . . attacks the authority of family, church, and private association. . . . The upshot is that these institutions, which stand between the state and the individual, are progressively weakened and their functions increasingly dictated or taken over by the state. The individual becomes less of a member of powerful private institutions and more a member of an unstructured mass that is vulnerable to the collectivist coercion of the state. Thus does radical individualism prepare the way for its opposite.” Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. That’s another reason why Enlightenment thinking is a dead end—it always vacillated between chaotic individualism and tyranny. (emphasis mine)

Read the series of commentaries responding to Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West:


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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Why ‘Returning’ to ‘Christianity’ Isn’t Stupid

Today’s conservative-thinking adherents of the Enlightenment’s emphasis on human autonomy and the sufficiency of human wisdom are trying to figure out how to reverse what they perceive to be America’s slow march toward death, at least as the nation we have known. I’ve suggested that we give up Enlightenment thinking and return to a belief in the sovereignty of God. Here’s what that means and why it’s not ‘stupid’ to return to it.

Enlightenment Principles Are a Dead End

What conservative Enlightenment thinkers have failed to recognize is that political liberals hold to the same fundamental principles as they.

The only difference between the two groups is that conservative Enlightenment thinkers like those applications of human autonomy and reason that lead to outcomes they prefer, while liberal Enlightenment thinkers like the applications that lead to the outcomes they prefer. But they have no reason to think that their outcomes are actually better than those of liberals. The whole point of human autonomy is that each person gets to pick the interpretation of human autonomy that leads to the outcome (values) he or she likes best.

Thus, it’s ironic that humanistic thinkers have a hard time finding common ground, because they stand on the same fundamental ground! But absent an absolute to which all should adhere, social order collapses into millions of “sovereign” selves. Human autonomy is a social-order dead end.

The Only Alternative

The only alternative to human autonomy is the autonomy of God, or what Christians would call the sovereignty of God. But probably most Enlightenment thinkers would think this is simply a call to the kind of Christianity with which they (and many Christians) are most familiar.

However, the Christianity of which I speak was born of the Reformation, which preceded the Enlightenment. It helped produce the core values upon which Enlightenment thinking feasted. At the core of the Reformation was the sovereignty of God.

At that time, the sovereignty of God was asserted in connection with the issue of justification—how one is put back in good standing with God—and it was the line of demarcation in the Christendom of Europe between Catholic and Protestant theology.

Both Catholics and Protestants believed that, as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s rejection of God, their descendants were born with a disposition by which they would exercise their free will only in a manner that was hostile to God. That is what Luther called the bondage of the will. This is the “muck” about which I spoke last week.

The question was how to get out of the muck, be free of that bondage. Luther and then Calvin and the Protestants who followed in their train said there was nothing we could do to “save” ourselves and that God alone could set our wills free so that we would actually desire and choose the things of God.

That God would actually choose to provide a means of salvation even though such was not incumbent on Him or deserved by us was the gospel, the “evangelon” from which we get our word “evangelical.” As I’ll explain next week, these twin pillars of Protestantism also constitute the most democratizing idea in the history of the world.

Which Christianity?

Unfortunately, many modern evangelical churches don’t seem to say much anymore about these Reformation-articulated doctrines of God’s sovereignty and man’s “depravity.” It makes too much of God and not enough of man for people steeped in Enlightenment thinking, and when that happens, the gospel’s good news succumbs to the humanistic thinking of the Enlightenment.

One evidence of this is that many church leaders, if they are honest, are concerned that someone might not get “saved” if the quality or style of the music isn’t in keeping with what people want to hear or the experience they want to have. Preachers’ sermons need to have a sufficient amount of charisma or polish if they are going to “work.” While those things aren’t bad, per se, it’s humanistic to the core if it creeps into our minds that salvation depends on something other than God—the right “environment.”

One popular mega-church preacher was pretty straightforward about it: “When they come to my church, or our meetings, I want them to be lifted up. I want them to know that God’s good, that they can move forward, that they can break an addiction, that they can become who God’s created them to be.”1 Perhaps his words were just poorly chosen, but it sure sounds like what God wants and lifting up Christ is secondary. It sure sounds like, to be changed, you just have to get “pumped up” on Sunday.

But such deviations from the Christianity of the Reformation explain why it’s not “stupid” to return to Christianity, because, I’m not talking about a Christianity that’s just humanism wrapped in Bible words and that I think is seen for what it is by both conservative and liberal Enlightenment thinkers.

Don’t Christianity’s ‘Warts’ Militate Against it?

The answer to that question is no.

Christianity, like all other belief systems, had to mature and develop as Christians came to better understand the Scriptures on which they rely for their understanding of the world and the human condition. Then they had to mature in their understanding of the implications of that worldview and how it applies to the constantly changing world in which we live. I, for one, still have a long way to go in this department.

No doubt, Christians have zigged and zagged during this process of maturation, as I believe we’ve now done with our modern versions of the “Christian” humanism with which the Church has always struggled. We’ve even made some horrible mistakes.

However, in this regard, we are no different from Enlightenment thinkers as they have tried to work out and apply their belief system. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that belief in human autonomy and human reason has a history, too. Enlightenment principles produced Stalin and Mao Zedong, both of whom did some pretty awful things working out and applying their god-less philosophies.

So, Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it’s been found difficult and often corrupted. So many just gave up on it. And many Christians, not seeing the results they envisioned in a timeframe suitable to them, like the Israelites waiting on Moses to come down from the mountain, tried to help God along a bit, this time by trying to tone down the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man to appeal to “enlightened” thinker. But that doesn’t mean that those doctrines—that understanding of Christianity—isn’t the answer. Next week I’ll speak to how that is so.

NOTES:

  1. https://www.christianpost.com/news/joel-osteen-talks-preaching-sin-materialism-and-coming-out-in-support-of-gay-marriage-111212/

Read the series of commentaries responding to Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West:


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.