In the study of logic, there is a fallacy called the no true Scotsman fallacy, and my study of the teachings of Calvinism have lead me to the conclusion that Calvinists fall prey to this same fallacy.
Around this time of year, a lot of Christians try to explain the genealogies in Matthew and Luke by saying that Matthew gives Joseph's genealogy while Luke gives Mary's genealogy. While this is technically true, I think that it causes more confusion than necessary. The proper way to view the two genealogies is not as those of Joseph and Mary but rather as the genealogies of Joseph and Jesus.
One of the most significant debates separating Christians in America is the debate over how to fight against abortion in our nation. On the one hand, there are the mainstream pro-life leaders who argue that the best way to fight against abortion is to wage a war of attrition by passing incremental laws that make more and more abortions illegal until we finally eliminate all abortions entirely. On the other hand are the personhood and abolitionist leaders who argue that the incremental approach is immoral and that we must strive to pass laws which outlaw all abortions without exception. The two paths are irreconcilable. We must choose one or the other, but how do we know which one is right?
Last year, one of my friends posted a video on facebook excoriating everyone who did not wear a mask in public. I wrote this friend a letter explaining that his statements were very wrong and very hurtful. We never received a response from this friend, but he did soften his tone shortly thereafter. With the current rise in cases, I have seen several other friends make statements about masks that are similar to what this other friend said last year, and I have decided to share publicly the letter that I wrote to him. Here is the text of that letter:
From 1997 to 2002, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) forced children in the foster care system of New York to take experimental medication that made them severely ill and had potentially lethal side effects. In 1997, Pfizer conducted an illegal drug trial on two hundred children in Nigeria that left fifty children dead and many others with severe brain damage and paralysis. Between 1932 and 1972, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an illegal study of syphilis patients at the Tuskegee Institute, which resulted in the death of 128 of the study participants.
The history of medicine is replete with examples of people being ruthlessly subjected to unethical testing. The potential for amassing wealth from drug sales has often proven to be too great a temptation for those in the medical profession, and countless innocent lives have been lost as a result. When these practices are exposed, we are understandably outraged, and the demand for justice echoes around the globe. Unless, that is, the victims of this injustice were killed before they were even born.
Not too long ago, I taught a Sunday School series on Using the Law Lawfully. In that series, we analyzed all 613 of the laws in the Old Testament to determine which of them still applied to modern Gentile believers. One of the laws that we looked at was the prohibition against crossdressing found in Deuteronomy 22:5, and I think that we established a pretty good understanding of that law and how it applies to us today. Here is the outline from that lesson:
Sir William Blackstone is often praised for laying the groundwork for American jurisprudence with his Commentaries on the Laws of England. Blackstone's Commentaries were one of the most widely read books in the colonies, and his views of the laws of England were often incorporated into the laws of America. One portion of Blackstone's Commentaries that has largely been forgotten by modern legal scholars but which played a significant role in forming the thought of founding fathers like James Wilson was Blackstone's answer to the question of where laws come from. What follows is a condensed version of Blackstone's somewhat loquacious answer to that question.
A friend of mine told me that she was doing a show on her podcast discussing what Christians can learn about God from divorce. That’s certainly a great topic for Christians to think about, and there is a TON of information in the Bible about divorce. There's even an entire book of the Bible devoted to that topic. But I think that the most important thing any Christian can learn about divorce is how to avoid it, and that is found in I Cor 7.
Nearly 3,500 years ago, the nation of Israel faced a pandemic so deadly that it killed 23,000 men in a single day. That was 4% of the total population of Israel. All of those who contracted this disease did so by committing a capital crime, and the initial defeat of the disease was accomplished by sentencing all of the survivors to death. But that's not the end of the story.
One of the most fascinating things about the Old Testament is the fact that God established a republican government in ancient Israel. Most people today think that Israel had a standard monarchical form of government, but that was not the case. Israel (and Judah) never had a true monarchy. Throughout their history, they were always a republican nation characterized by popular elections of their rulers. (For more on this topic see my free eBook The Bible and the Constitution.)
When God established Israel’s government, He also taught the Jews how to choose the right kind of leaders. Those instructions can be found in Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 1:13, and Deuteronomy 17:15-20. The qualifications listed in these and other passages are not difficult. There were thousands of men in Israel who met them. God intentionally set the standard low so that the various offices could be filled. He gave the Jews a list of the barest minimum standards that would allow their government to function with good men in positions of leadership.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)