Worth Reading - 1/26

1. Could you preach the gospel to someone who had assaulted you and violated your trust? Rachel Denhollander did just that in the recent sentencing hearing of the former US Gymnastics doctor:

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

2. G. K. Chesterton once engaged on the topic of evolution and his thought on this, like many things, is engaging and thought provoking.

It’s not just that gorillas have never made the tiniest step in this direction; neither have any other creatures. Moreover, none of us really expects that they ever will. “Common sense,” observes Chesterton, “must long ago have told us that the animals are not to all appearances evolving in that sense.”

“In that sense.” In a very real sense, man is the only animal that has evolved. In comparison, the other animals remain mired in the mud. The history of the human race is a history of spectacular accomplishment piled upon spectacular accomplishment. Moreover, from an evolutionary perspective, these forward thrusts occurred in the blink of an eye. Human progress is not measured in ages and ages of geological time but in mere decades. Things that were thought impossible forty years ago are now routine.

“We talk of wild animals,” wrote Chesterton, “but man is the only wild animal. It is man that has broken out.” Animals may be plodding along under the rule of some natural evolutionary scheme, but man seems to be progressing by a different set of rules. In some ways human beings fit into the natural scheme of things, but in other ways they decidedly do not.

3. Last week, I posted a link to a Jordan Peterson interview and noted that someone should do an point by point analysis. This week, someone did exactly that at The Atlantic:

For one, those who credulously accept the interviewer’s characterizations will emerge with the impression that a prominent academic holds troubling views that, in fact, he does not actually believe or advocate. Some will feel needlessly troubled. And distorted impressions of what figures like Peterson mean by the words that they speak can only exacerbate overall polarization between their followers and others, and sap their critics of credibility to push back where they are wrong.

Lots of culture-war fights are unavoidable––that is, they are rooted in earnest, strongly felt disagreements over the best values or way forward or method of prioritizing goods. The best we can do is have those fights, with rules against eye-gouging.

But there is a way to reduce needless division over the countless disagreements that are inevitable in a pluralistic democracy: get better at accurately characterizing the views of folks with differing opinions, rather than egging them on to offer more extreme statements in interviews; or even worse, distorting their words so that existing divisions seem more intractable or impossible to tolerate than they are. That sort of exaggeration or hyperbolic misrepresentation is epidemic—and addressing it for everyone’s sake is long overdue.

4. A helpful podcast from Christianity Today dealing with the reality of poverty:

5. The so-called Billy Graham rule has been controversial in recent months because someone found a 20 year old rule that Mike Pence followed a version of it. Tim Challies has some interesting thoughts on the topic that seems much more divisive than it ought.

I have often wondered how Billy Graham feels about having a rule named after him. And it’s not just any rule either, but one that has generated all kinds of controversy both within the church and outside of it. Having a name synonymous with marital faithfulness must be a joy; having a name synonymous with charges of puritanical prudishness must be a burden. I wonder if he’s been happy enough to hand it off to Mike Pence and let him carry the load for a while. (Definition: The Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rule establishes that a man will not put himself in situations in which he is alone with a woman who is not his wife.)

The Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rule bubbles up on a regular basis as a discussion that usually seems to generate considerably more heat than light. To be frank, I don’t much care how unbelievers feel about it, but do care quite a lot about how Christians feel about it. Even more so, I care how they feel about those who do or do not hold to it. What follows are some of my thoughts on the Rule.