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For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matt.12:37).

Pronouns.  They don’t look like much.  Small words, one or two syllables.  In general, they’re not very noticeable.  Most of us don’t think twice about the pronouns we use.  And yet despite their generally unimpressive appearance, the pronouns we use are freighted with meaning.

Take one example from the New Testament.  In the Greek text, the masculine pronoun “he” is consistently used to refer to the Holy Spirit.  This is surprising, for in Greek, the word for spirit, “pneuma, ” is grammatically neuter.  This would lead us to expect the Greek to use a neuter pronoun when referring to spirit.  But the fact that the New Testament writers never refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it” but always as a “he” is strong evidence that the Holy Spirit is a person, not a force.

A more modern example is the current battle over the third person English pronoun.  Historically, English has used “he” to refer to a generic individual in the third person.  But in recent times this has changed.

Take for instance the following sentence found in a training manual I’m reading for work,

In a 401(k) arrangement, an employees election to defer compensation into the plan has a direct effect on his or her current compensation:  the employee is giving up a right to receive a portion of his or her current cash compensation in exchange for a plan contribution to be made for his or her benefit in the form of an elective deferral (emphasis added).

The manual from which this quote is taken is has about 800 pages, and nearly every single one of them contains a clunker of a sentence like the one above.  Every single time the text requires a singular generic pronoun, the author and editor have elected to use him or her.  It is painful to read.

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In the early morning hours of December 28, 2014, 17 year old Joshua Alcorn stepped in front of an oncoming semi on I-71, ending his life. In general, suicides do not receive extensive news coverage. But this suicide has received significant media attention, not only locally here in Cincinnati where the suicide took place, but also nationally and even internationally. This suicide is newsworthy in a way others are not due to the reason the young man gave for taking his own life. In a suicide note published on his Tumblr account, Joshua Alcorn indicated his suicide was the result of the rejection he felt from being a transgender. In his words, “I felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body.”

In watching the news coverage of this story over the past week, it has become clear that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community intends to use the sad death of this confused young man to further their political agenda. And the media is obediently doing its part to help them out. From the reports this author has watched and read, the media narrative has coalesced around four main ideas,

  • To identify as transgender is perfectly normal and should be regarded as such be all.
  • As a result of its failure to unconditionally accept the transgendered lifestyle, society bears a general responsibility for Joshua Alcorn’s death.
  • Particular responsibility for Joshua’s death attaches to his parents and to their narrow minded brand of Christianity.
  • No responsibility whatsoever can properly be assigned to Joshua for his depression and suicide.

In the light of Scripture, all four propositions are false. But given the full-court press put on by the gay rights community over the past 40 years to normalize LGBT lifestyles, and given the success they have had at enacting that agenda, many who may not agree with their program have been shamed or intimidated into silence. A Biblical response is needed.

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A glance at the website of Knoxt Theological Seminary (hereafter, Knox) reveals that the Fort Lauderdale based school, founded in 1989, is celebrating its first 25 years by “Honoring the Legacy.” The school certainly seems to be doing well. The website is attractive and up to date. According to one of the banner headlines on the website, Knox was named as one of the “Top 20 Theological Seminaries in the U.S.” by Sharefaith Magazine. This, or course, may very well be true. But it leaves open the question whether Knox actually teaches the truth in its classrooms, which is the only real test of whether the seminary is, in fact, actually honoring its legacy.

Princeton Theological Seminary was, until taken over by the liberals in the first few decasdes of the 20th centry, long the foremost bastion of reformed teaciing in the United States. When he founded Knox in 1989, Dr. D. James Kennedy envisioned that the school would serve as a New Princeton. A school that combined both the Biblical faith and rigorous scholarship that were the hallmarks of the Old Princeton. This was the original vision and true legacy of Knox.

Coming back to that “Top 20″ ranking by Sharefaith, a qucik glance at the complete Top 20 list raises the question whether the Knox of 2014 is truly honoring its legacy or simply living off its reputation . For listed right along side Knox on the Top 20 list are such bastions of Biblical truth as Fuller Theological Seminary, The University of Chicago Divinity School and the University of Notre Dame. Does anyone familiar with original vision for Knox really think that the school’s legacy is honored by comparing it to Fuller, the University of Chicago or Notre Dame? If not, why does the Knox administration think so? The answer is simple, the current vision for Knox is not the original vision, but those who run the school hope you won’t notice the difference.

I’ve written at some lenght about Knox in the past (see, here, here, here, here, here, and here). For those unfamiliar with Knox, the history of the school falls into two distinct periods: 1989 through September 2007, post-September 2007. I use this framework, for it was in September 2007 that the original vision for Knox as a New Princeton was supplanted by a new, decidedly different vision. Those intersted in the details may follow the links at the top of this paragraph. But for an apples to apples comparison that makes manifiest the radical difference between the true legacy of Knox and the current school, one could hardly do better than comparing the Academic catalogs of the old and new Knox.

Having attended Knox in the Fall of 2006, I will let my copy of the 2006 Academic catalog stand for the Old Knox. For the new Knox, please reference the electronic version available on the Knox website.

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Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? (Jer. 5:3)

It’s long been popular to compare the obvious decline of American society over the past 100 years to that of the Roman empire. Perhaps some of this owes to the influence of Edward Gibbon’s famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Some purport to draw lessons from the Roman experience that can be applied in our day. Some will spot similarities between events in the Roman empire and those of contemporary times, and drawing from these likenesses the idea that America is in terminal, inevitable decline. Others of a more optimistic point of view hope to drawn lessons from the Roman example on how to stop or even reverse the decline.

But long before Rome famously declined and fell, for that matter, long before the city of Rome was even founded, two other kingdoms passed through experienced their own decline and fall. I speak of Israel and Judah. The books of Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and the prophets could rightfully be called The History of the Decline and Fall of the Hebrew Republic. In them, we read how a nation originally founded as a constitutional republic, first devolved into a monarchy, next split into two separate kingdoms, and then following independent, centuries long glide paths of decline finally met their ruin.

If we want to examine the decline of American society, it is to these examples, rather than that of Rome, to which we should turn our attention. The experience of Israel and Judah are much more helpful in assessing out current condition as a nation than Rome ever could be, chiefly because we do not have to speculate as to why things happened as they did. Unlike even the best histories of Rome, the Scriptural record provides us not only a perfectly accurate account of the key events in the history of Israel, but also an infallible commentary on why these events occurred as they did. Let us now turn to God’s inspired history to see what lessons we may draw about the condition of the United States at the beginning of the 21st century.

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Mary: Ever Virgin?

Teachings about Mary, the so-called Marian doctrines, are prominent dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church-State. Even those not from a Roman Catholic background are aware of this. But even though Evangelicals have a general sense of the importance of Mary in Romanist teaching, most are uncertain about the specifics. As a result, they become easy prey for ecumenists, both of Protestant and Roman Catholic variety, who never cease from their common goal of overthrowing the Reformation.

One such recent example is Rick Warren, who recently has gone on record as saying, “We [Roman Catholics and Protestants] have more in common than what divides us.” If by this statement Warren is referring to Protestant ecumenists such as himself, then his statement undoubtedly is true. As John Robbins once commented, about the only thing today’s Protestants protest is Biblical Christianity. But if by his statement Warren intends to suggest that the historic Protestant faith has a broad base of agreement with Rome, he is merely putting on display his ignorance of both the teachings of Scripture and of the Roman Catholic Church-State.

In light of the efforts of Warren and others of his ilk, it is worth taking a more detailed look at the afore mentioned Marian doctrines. According to Rome, there are four Marian dogmas – 1) Divine Motherhood (Mary is the Mother of God), 2) Perpetual Virginity (Mary remained a virgin her whole life, even after the birth of Christ), 3) Immaculate Conception (Mary was born without original sin), and 4) The Assumption (Mary did not die, but was bodily taken into heaven) – all which are false. The focus of this short essay is on the second of these dogmas, Mary’s perpetual virginity.

For Protestants unfamiliar with Rome’s Marian doctrines, it may seem incredible that anyone could seriously argue that Mary spent her whole life as a virgin. After all, does not Scripture plainly tell us that Jesus had brothers and sisters (Mark 6:1-3, Matt. 13:55)? In Matthew 1:25 we read, “And [Joseph] knew her [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” But for these and other arguments from Scripture, the Romanists have ready answers. Let’s look at them.

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The study of ethics, what we ought to do, is one of the principle fields of philosophic inquiry. And many are they who presume to speak with authority on this subject. But as with all statements of all men, the Christian ought to compare all ethical claims by the standard of Scripture.

And what is the basis of Christian ethics? The law of God. A thing is right, for no other reason that God says it is right. A thing is wring, for no other reason than God condemns it Peter summarized this idea when explaining to the Sanhedrin why he disobeyed their order not to speak in the name of Christ. He told them, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:9). Understanding this one principle greatly simplifies the Christian’s task of judging the ethical merits of any proposed course of action.

For example, during the 2008 financial crisis, the powers that be so frightened Congress and the American people with visions of financial Armageddon, that TARP, a taxpayer financed $700 billion bailout package aimed at saving the so-called too-big-to-fail banks on Wall Street, was passed. It was just obviously the right thing to do. So much so, that one of my business school professors said it was boring even to question the decision.

But was this decision to rescue failing financial firms with taxpayer money self-evidently ethical? Where, for instance, in the Constitution is Congress ever given the authority to bail out anyone? More to the point of this essay, where does the Bible ever grant the civil magistrate the power to take from one person to give to another? The law of God calls this theft, and we are commanded not to do it. In short, the Bible condemns TARP and all those who planned, advocated, voted for, and benefitted from it. Guilty too are those who continue to defend it.


 

“I believe things happen for a reason,” or so the saying goes. It’s remarkable how often people give voice to this pop-culture proverb. But unlike most of the world’s supposed wise sayings, this one happens to be a true. In fact, one suspects it is far more true than most people realize.

Things do happen for a reason. But it’s not because of karma, or fate, or the alignment of the stars. The reason is this: God planned it that way from all eternity and inexorably brings his plans to fruition in his works of providence. Not just some things. Not just the big things. Not even just the pleasant things. But all things.

And he does it for his own glory.

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