already strikingly apparent

“Carl Sagan ridiculed abortion opponents by asking, ” Why isn’t it murder to destroy a sperm or an egg?” The answer, as every scientist should know, is that there is a fundamental difference between sperm and unfertilized eggs on the one hand, and fertilized eggs or zygotes on the other.

Like cells of one’s hair or heart, neither egg nor sperm has the capacity to become other than what is is. but when egg and sperm are joined, a new, dynamic, and genetically unique human life begins. That life is neither sperm nor egg, nor a simple combination of both. A fertilized egg is a newly conceived human being. It’s a person, with a life of its own, on a rapid pace of self-directed development. From the instant of fertilization, that first single cell contains the entire genetic blueprint in all its complexity. This accounts for every detail of human development, including the child’s sex, hair and eye color, height, and skin tone. Take that single cell of the just conceived zygote, put it next to a chimpanzee cell, and “a geneticist could easily identify the human. Its humanity is already that strikingly apparent.”” Randy Alcorn, Why Pro-Life?, pp. 33-34

Infinite Surplus

Ralph Smith on echo and allusion in the Bible stemming from the Trinity:

“In other words, the complexity of meaning in the biblical text is a special case within literature, because only the Bible is equally the word of God and the word of man. Behind the surplus of meaning in the God-inspired text is the reality of the triune God Himself. The Son is the exact image of the Father, a perfect and exact reproduction of all that the Father is as the Father. And yet, He is an exact image as Son, not as a clone of the Father or an attempted replacement for the Father. The Spirit, too, is ontologically one with Father and Son because the three are one God, sharing the same essence and attributes. Nevertheless, the Spirit is perfectly distinct as Spirit. In His person, there is something special that conditions all He is and does. The sameness within difference and difference  within sameness that characterizes the persons of the Trinity is the rich ontological background for God’s communication to man and man’s communication to God and other men. The interpersonal communion in God is  a fellowship of love in the which each person wholly gives Himself to the others–a communion of self-giving love that grounds all communication within the  triune God.

In the word that the triune God speaks to us, therefore, there must be an infinite surplus of meaning, for it is the Word of the Creator, who inspires the words of the prophets and controls all history, guiding the minds and hearts of every man to the end of the world.”  The Baptism of Jesus Christ, pp. 70-71.

Don’t Pack for Nineveh

Throughout Scripture we see periods of transition that are crucial for subsequent faithfulness. The book of Deuteronomy functions as a series of sermons to Israel on the brink of the Promise Land. This is how you have to think, act and trust if you want the Lord your God to bless you and your subsequent generations who are meant to inherit the land. Chapter 28 layouts out exactly what will follow either obedience or disobedience of the newly constituted nation, and later we see God making good on his promises by means of the Assyrians and Babylonians taking captive the northern and later the southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Paul says in a different context that these took place as examples for us (1 Cor. 10:6). We’re supposed to see the connection between compromise and idolatry at one time, and the consequences that later follow it, whether those consequences result immediately or a long way off. What did Jeroboam the son of Nebat have to do with Assyria, hundreds of years later? Everything, the Bible tells us (2 Kings 17:21). This is central to covenantal thinking, seeing the threads of history woven together. And this is directly challenging to any notion that separates faith and the historical results of faith. Sometimes the results of faith are wandering in the desert or being sawn in two (Heb. 11:37-38), so we can’t be simple like Job’s friends, but neither can we be faithless like Job’s wife, insisting that it doesn’t matter what we do (Job 1:9).

It does matter what we do, and particularly at the beginning of new seasons and transitions of life. They say the most important years of child’s life are the first five–about which he will remember virtually nothing. Teenagers, making the transition into adulthood, are learning to complain or take responsibility for the rest of their lives. And the habits that a person establishes when leaving the house usually during 18-22 years of age are likely to continue. These are only a few well known transition periods, and they are almost universally despised for their trouble. Terrible twos, impossible teenagers, and kids sent off to college to be drunk and naked for a few years and hopefully come out employable. Expectations are low, so results are low.

The biblical mind sees these times as the most full of potential. Why was Jesus so effective at casting out demons during his ministry? Because he cast out the Devil from his own presence at the beginning (Matt. 4). This is when he should have buckled and compromised like an Adam, but he didn’t. The second Adam did it different than every other son of Adam.

Transition periods are not time for looser standards, but higher ones. By higher, I don’t mean harsher, since discipline ought to always be gracious and loving (Gal. 6:1; Heb 12:5-6). But to have high standards at these times will certainly be labeled as harsh. Do you really expect a two year old to listen to you? Give them space; it’s normal for your teenager to sulk and despise. As for your college kid, they’re out of the house–don’t ask, don’t tell. Examples could be multiplied, but parents who refuse to invest and guide, to give and correct, to love and discipline at these crucial times are crippling their children and missing the some of best opportunities to serve them.  Of course, the opportunity for faith and obedience is never past, and we serve a God who raises the dead. But it’s easier to trust God and stay in the land than to pack our bags for Nineveh.

Postive Reviews of Negative Law

In his section on the third commandment in The Institutes of Biblical Law, Rushdoony has an excellent analysis of positive versus negative laws. He says that laws of negation seem oppressive and tyrannical to modern man. Thus the primitive and harsh prohibition “Thou shalt not steal.”

Thus the Black Panther leader, and Peace and Freedom presidential candidate, Eldredge Cleaver, declared in 1968, that, “if elected, he would do away with the property program, and substitute ‘public safety officials’ for police.” Public safety officials produced a reign of terror in the French Revolution, and not without reason, because a positive law can only lead to tyranny and totalitarianism.  (p. 101)

Negative laws, on the other hand, not only bind criminals who are exercising power unlawfully, they bind magistrates who have more power than any criminal and therefore more temptation to use it unlawfully. You don’t have to agree with Lord Acton that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely to see what is going on in our current justice system. Where power remains unchecked, it destroys liberty. Where negative laws are proclaimed and enforced, power is used appropriately. Tangentially, this is why pulpits that preach the hard edges of God’s law produce soft hearts, and those who go soft on Moses create people whose actions betray granite hearts.

Rushdoony says “a negative concept of law insures liberty: except for the prohibited areas, all of man’s life is beyond the law, and the law is of necessity indifferent to it. If the commandment says, “Thous shalt not steal,” it means that the law can only govern theft: it cannot govern or control honestly acquired property. When the law prohibits blasphemy and false witness, it guarantees that all other forms of speech have their liberty. The negativity of the law is the preservation of the positive life and freedom of man” (p. 102). But tell me, what does calling something a “hate crime” accomplish? It accomplishes the special agenda of those who want to penalize whoever disagrees with the opinion of the current state. Anything can be a hate crime because who determines what hate is besides an omnicompetent state? Negative laws are broken by objective definition of the act. I’ve never heard of a love crime, and regardless of why someone assaulted his neighbor, the law punishes the act. A hate crime is akin to Orwell’s thought crime, an attempt of the state to be all controlling. “Because the law is unlimited, the state is unlimited. It becomes the business of the state, not to control evil, but to control all men. Basic to every totalitarian regime is a positive concept of the function of the law” (p. 102).

Christians can agree that all sorts of things are sinfully hateful. It’s a sin to hate a homosexual, and good churches ought to discipline for it. But this is completely different from making it a crime, and turning the state into a god.

Prayer Warrior

“It is almost unbelievable how far we will go to avoid obeying God. We call Jesus “Lord” and beg him to rejuvenate our souls, but we are careful to do not the things He says. When faced with a sin, a confession or a moral alteration in our life, we find it much easier to pray half a night than to obey God.

Intensity of prayer is no criterion of its effectiveness. A man may throw himself on his face and sob out his troubles to the Lord and yet have no intention to obey the commandments of Christ. Strong emotion and tears maybe no more than the outcropping of a vexed spirit, evidence of stubborn resistance to God’s known will.”

A.W. Tozer,The Size of the Soul, pp. 19-20