Worth Reading - 3/10

1. Tim Challies published an excellent, common sense call to stop calling everything that you don't agree with hate. The word is becoming meaningless because it is being used to stifle disagreement rather than indicate actual malice.

In so many ways, what is now described as hate is actually love. We guard against error not because we hate people, but because we love the truth and mean to defend sound doctrine. We enforce church discipline not because we hate sinners, but because we love the church and mean to protect her integrity. We proceed cautiously when evaluating current issues not because we hate homosexuals or transgendered individuals, but because we love purity and mean to live according to Scripture. We must be willing to love, even when we are told it is hate. We owe it to God and man to continue to love, no matter how it is perceived, no matter how it is described.

2. Karen Swallow Prior penned an important, well-considered, personal reflection on childlessness as a calling. She walks through her own infertility and shows how the church has sometimes made that calling more difficult than necessary.

Sometimes God’s calling is not one we want. Yet, obeying that call is the only thing that will bring us true and lasting joy. Recognizing my childlessness as a call of God has transformed the way I see my whole life and the work of the Lord in it. For many years, my desire was to be a mother. My desire now is to be the woman that God calls me to be. No more. And no less.

If the church has made an idol out of a certain mold, then we are hindering each other from finding and following—confidently and contentedly—God’s calling on our lives even when, or especially when, that calling doesn’t fit the mold.

We know that in heaven there will be no more marriage or giving in marriage; our earthly unions are but temporal signposts of the eternal union of Christ and his bride. If, for now, we are poor or broken, childless or spouseless, waiting or wanting—yet obedient—we are not failures. We are called his children.

3. A very good post by Anne Kennedy at her blog, Preventing Grace, wherein she tackles the common problem (for all of us) of dehumanizing those who espouse beliefs with which we disagree.

The first is that the problem of dehumanizing other people is both so deep and so broad that, I would say, it has become the cornerstone of our political and cultural discourse. In order that the world may see my goodness, I have to signal my proper rejection of the evil one, whoever it is at the moment I happen to scroll through Facebook.

At the same time, though, demonizing disguised as virtue signaling is not the least bit new or unusual in human terms. To be human is to deny the humanity of other humans. When Adam looked over at Eve and stuck his young as the world was new finger in her direction, and said, ‘she made me do it,’ he was laying the way for us all to be ‘better than her’ which is to qualify one’s own humanity as better and more worthy than that of the other. What is new for Christians is that we thought we were better than this. We never were but we thought we were, and so now we have to bash social media, which is just the newest expression of our truest humanity.

4. Roger Scruton, an excellent conservative philosopher, contributed to the NY Times recently. He offers an argument that humans are not just animals, but that "science" seems bent on stripping any sense of the uniqueness of humans away from us.

Much 20th-century philosophy is addressed to the question of how to define this fact in secular terms, without drawing on religious ideas. When Sartre and Merleau-Ponty write of “le regard” — the look — and Emmanuel Levinas of the face, they are describing the way in which human beings stand out from their surroundings and address one another with absolute demands of which no mere thing could be an object. Wittgenstein makes a similar point by describing the face as the soul of the body, as does Elizabeth Anscombe in describing the mark of intentional action as the applicability of a certain sense of the question “Why?”

Human beings live in mutual accountability, each answerable to the other and each the object of judgment. The eyes of others address us with an unavoidable question, the question “why?” On this fact is built the edifice of rights and duties. And this, in the end, is what our freedom consists in — the responsibility to account for what we do.

5. A recent Washington Post article takes aim at homeschooling. Basically the idea of that article is that public schools are terrible, but homeschoolers aren't monitored, so lets try to ruin the homeschool process by making them more like the public schools. The Weekly Standard deconstructs the weasel words in the Washington Post and points out the unfounded assertions of the authors of the Washington Post hit piece.

So what Hunt’s campaign for government “monitoring” of the educational activities of home-schooling parents boils down to is an attack on the faith and cultural ways of the Mennonites or any Christians, adherents of other traditional religions, and perhaps people of no religion at all who wish to shield their children from school cultures that oblige students to learn how to put a condom onto a cucumber, force girls to shower with biological males, or even just plain skip the three R’s in favor of lessons in trendy political correctness.

Fortunately for the Amish and the Mennonites, the Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the First Amendment’s religious-freedom guarantee allows them to educate their children as their faith demands. Other “fundamentalist” Christians may not be so lucky. Lednicer’s story includes some digs at President Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos and her support of home schooling and other alternatives to public schools. Trump and the current Republican-dominated Congress want to “roll back regulations,” Lednicer warns. Regulations that could undermine any notion that parents ought to be able to transmit their religious faith to their children.

6. Tim Keller recently announced he will be stepping down as senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. This is sad for those of us who have appreciated his regular sermons. His former associate pastor, Scott Sauls, penned a lovely tribute.

A week ago Sunday, my phone started blowing up with messages from friends living in NYC. The occasion was that my friend, former boss, and long-time pastoral and thought mentor, Dr. Timothy Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, announced his retirement from pastoral ministry effective July 1 of this year. This announcement from Tim is especially significant to me because more than any other person…and by a landslide…Tim’s influence has shaped me into the pastor, communicator and leader that I am today.

I first met Tim eleven years ago. I believed it then, and I still believe it now…that he is the best English-speaking Christian preacher, thinker, and visionary of our time. I am not alone in this. And yet, having also gotten to serve “up close” under his leadership, there are other things about Tim that endear me to him even more than these things. I suppose that now is as good a time as any to tell about them, because that’s what you do when one of your mentors announces such a significant transition. So here are a few important things that Tim’s example has taught me…