A healthy theology of death also embraces the fact that death is a normal part of life. Note I didn’t say a “natural” part of life. Our nature is not to die—it is not how God created us. But after the fall it became a normal part of everyone’s life. Only by accepting this will we be able to say goodbye well.
There are not only bad arguments against inerrancy; there are equally bad arguments for inerrancy. Today I look at three often-heard arguments in favor of inerrancy that I don’t think are good ones. I conclude by suggesting one argument I take to be adequate, and then outline what I take to be an even better argument in support of God’s Word being without error.
It remains to apply the reasoning of the morality of abortion to three other reproductive technologies: embryonic stem cell research, genetic testing, and human cloning. Are there ever morally appropriate uses of these technologies? I believe so in one case, and not in the other two cases. Let me explain why.
In vitro fertilization, embryonic stem research, genetic testing and human cloning are moral issues of our day closely related to the abortion debate. The underlying issues discussed in this series concerning the morality of abortion also apply to these important topics. Whether one takes and essentialist or functionalist view of personhood will also determine the morality of these practices and procedures.
The alternative to life beginning at conception due to a human soul being present is a “functional” definition of personhood. This is the view underlying all pro-choice arguments. If this definition of life is correct, the pro-choice conclusion is completely reasonable. Yet there are at least five problems with the functionalist definition of personhood.
Many object to my conclusion that life begins at conception. The central objection is that we can’t observe a soul, to know when it begins. However, we can observe when certain life-sustaining functions begin. Therefore only when the fetus functions in these ways can we say it is alive. Yet this is well past the point of conception. So life must not begin at conception.
There are at least three responses to this objection.
Before determining the morality of abortion, we must first reflect deeply on what a human person is, and when a human person begins. Last week I discussed the first issue. Secondly, when does human life begin? There are two ways to answer this question. They both come to the same conclusion, yet by different routes. Each has pros and cons, and we should use them in different contexts. Understanding this is essential in developing both our personal and our social ethic concerning this issue.
The first step in determining the morality of abortion is determining what the fetus is. Is it a part of the mother’s body, or is it a distinct human being? To answer this we first must answer two logically prior questions: (1) what is it to be a human person? and (2) when does a human person begin? I’ll tackle these questions in the next few weeks.
“Roe Isn’t Just About Women’s Rights. It’s About Everyone’s Personal Liberty.” was the title of an opinion piece in The Washington Post on July 8. It is one of many articles written about the possibility of a new member of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. How can Christians best think about and discuss this issue with others?
“Why do you believe God is a person?” asked the CEO sitting next to me on the plane. He was a convert to Tibetan Buddhism and thought it more reasonable to think of God as an impersonal force. Over the next two hours, I shared five reasons I believe God is a person—the same five I have been summarizing in this series. We now come to the third reason, which is that only a Person can be the cause of the moral values we all share (such as “Racism is wrong”).
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) In the spring of 1962 “Jean” was eighteen years old, pregnant, unmarried, and scared. Her boyfriend wasn’t interested in marriage or raising a child. Her whole world was changing before her eyes, but she never considered abortion. On December 5, 1962 she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. On September 7, 2017—almost 55 years later— I discovered I am that child. From this discovery I have reflected on three essential truths in new and deeper ways.
In the spring of 1962 “Jean” was eighteen years old, pregnant, unmarried, and scared. Her boyfriend wasn’t interested in marriage or raising a child. Her whole world was changing before her eyes, but she never considered abortion. On December 5, 1962 she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. On September 7, 2017—almost 55 years later— I discovered I am that child. From this discovery I have reflected on three essential truths in new and deeper ways.
We continue to search for a reason for the Las Vegas shootings. So far, no “traditional” reason has emerged. Last week I suggested that the reason may be no reason. I outlined a philosophy that is becoming increasingly popular in our culture: nihilism. Is this ringing any bells as we learn more and more about Stephen Paddock? Might it be that he had obtained all which he thought could bring him meaning “under the sun,” and found it was meaningless after all? Might he be someone who so thoroughly embraced the Enlightenment that he lived the nihilistic worldview consistently? And if so, what should we learn from this?
My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew and his friend were on their way to the Life is Beautiful concert in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1, 2017 when Stephen Paddock began shooting. Had they not been delayed while on their way by just a few minutes, they would have been in the line of fire. Though I am thankful they were running late, I continue to grieve over the 58 who were not so fortunate. In my grief, I ask the same question everyone else is asking: Why? The answer may be right in front of us, but it is not one we want to acknowledge.
What do talk shows, news reports, political debates and many conversations between two people who disagree have in common? Often people are not listening to but rather attacking one another. These are examples of a third way healthy conversations are derailed—though the ad hominem fallacy. In fact, this is so common that it may be the hardest of the three fallacies to spot. But we must learn to identify it and reject it if we want to have healthy conversations and come to agreement on the issues we care most about.
Good conversations can help us understand one another, find truth together, and flourish. Unfortunately, there are three ways healthy and profitable conversations can be derailed. The second wrong turn is the “Genetic Fallacy.” We hear it all the time and must avoid it at all costs. In this post I’ll define the genetic fallacy and illustrate ways it was used against Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement, how I hear it in conversations about the Gospel, and how it underlies the charge of “homophobia.”
Recently a major credit card processor refused to handle further transactions that were gifts directed to a non-profit group. They said the organization’s view of family breakdown and the impact such a view has on children made it a “hate group.” Similarly, a firm that provides information about non-profits labeled one association a “hate group” due to the group’s traditional position on marriage (though the information company quickly retracted this assessment when critics challenged their arbitrary action).