Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Da Vinci Code Comments III: Symbol Theft

One of the things that Christians believe is that there is not only personal spiritual good in the universe, but personal spiritual evil as well. As Augustine of Hippo argued in his famous book, The City of God, in 413 A.D., demonic spirits are often behind the spiritual phenomena experienced in pagan and idolatrous religions. As Don Richardson has argued in his book, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence in the Belief of the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, the God of the Bible has placed cultural keys—hints about truth about Himself in His plan for salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection—in cultures around the world. Sometimes these keys are even in a culture’s own pagan religion. They are ideas that help them understand and contextualize the gospel when they finally hear it. When you combine these two facts, God’s use of pagan religions to set people up for the revelation of biblical truth and the use of pagan religions by spiritual evil, you end up with a strange mixture of components in false religions. Some of this complexity is tied up with the entire world of symbols.

There are a finite number of geometric and representational symbols available for use in human art and architecture. We are familiar with only so many familiar geometric shapes such as the square, the triangle, the spiral, the star, etc. We know the plants that we are familiar with—the rose, the lily, the acorn. It is only natural since human beings enjoy the use of symbols and codes in communicating (a propensity which may come indirectly from humanity being made in the image of God since He too seems to enjoy symbolism and hidden meaning), human beings would appropriate whatever natural and geometric symbols exist. When they do so, these symbols often take on different meanings. For example, the swastika or hooked cross appears not only as a symbol for the Nazi party, but with quite different meanings in the artifacts of American Indians and ancient China. Many symbols have been charged with an entire host of meanings. These meanings are often contrary to the impression given by the Da Vinci Code. The meanings are not always expressions of the divine feminine. Or the masculine for that matter. Symbols can be given different kinds of meanings and sometimes no real meaning at all. As Freud is reported to have said “sometimes a cigar if just a cigar.”

Another phenomenon enters into the problem of symbols in religion. Since God is genuinely at work trying to prepare humanity for the revelation of the good news about Jesus Christ in the Bible, He sometimes lays symbolic keys in other cultures that will help people understand the Bible when they hear it. At the same time, evil is at work in the world attempting to co-opt, pollute and dilute the symbols that it very well knows God has or will appropriate.

The danger of symbol dilution is probably why God gave strict instructions from the time of Noah onward that human beings were not to drink or eat the blood of animals. This not only prevented cruelty to animals—eating them while they were still alive—but it also meant that human beings would not dilute the powerful symbol of blood as an atoning sacrifice and God’s planned ceremony of Christian communion in which wine is a symbol of the blood of Christ. This is also why another creation of evil, the legend of the vampire, is blasphemous. The idea of an evil supernatural creature that lives by consuming human blood is a dilution of the communion symbol.

Because God’s plans have been laid out well from ancient times, and because the devil is very clever, there is sometimes an apparent question as to who appropriated which symbol for what first. Yet this should not prevent the Christian use of symbols that have at one time or another been used for pagan purposes. Nor should it automatically then be assumed that when Christians use a rose or fleur-de-lis or a trefoil that they are referring to the pagan image rather than to the Christian meaning. Yet this is exactly what the Da Vinci Code does. It would assume that the millions of roses appearing in churches and cathedrals throughout the world are references to Mary Magdalene. In fact, this is not so. In the Song of Solomon, an ancient Old Testament book rejoicing in romantic love between a husband and wife, there is a famous verse in chapter 2, verse 1, “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” Because Christians have understood the relationship between a husband and wife as a symbol of the relationship between Christ and the Church, they have taken these references to the rose and the lily as symbols to refer to Christ Himself or possibly to the Church. There is a famous Christmas carol, “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming,” that refers to Jesus as a rose. There is a famous hymn that describes Jesus as the lily of the valley. It is worth remembering too that flowers are not inherently feminine. They have both pistols and stamen. So the belief that the appearance of roses or lilies or the representational versions of them, the five-petal rose and the fleur-de-lis, are somehow representational of Mary Magdalene or of goddess worship is simply not true.

Symbols can be influential and fun. But one has to be careful about mistaking things in this area. And one needs to be careful not to take it all too seriously. Medieval stone carvers were creative men who enjoyed their craft and took great joy in the solemnity, the fun and the humor they could express through carved stone. It is a grave disservice to their legacy to claim that they were pagan goddess worshippers.

Da Vinci code comments II - Christ and the female

One of the issues of which the Da Vinci Code makes a great deal is the idea of goddess worship. Classical paganism is centered around fertility and the uniting of male and female to create “new life.” Christianity teaches that life ultimately comes from God. There is a mystical role for the unity of male and female however. The New Testament identifies the unity of one man and one woman in marriage as a symbol representing the unity and love between Christ and the Church. In this role, Christ is the masculine element and the Church the feminine. C.S. Lewis has said that it is difficult for us to understand how spirit can be masculine or feminine, but that while it may be difficult to understand, God is in some way masculine in a way that makes everything else in the universe feminine by comparison. This is true, even though God in the Bible sometimes uses feminine metaphors to describe Himself, as well as numerous masculine metaphors. The essential role of sexual union is in marriage and as an example of the union between Christ and the Church. When we attempt to glorify sex itself as a kind of magic or altered state that allows us to see God and thereby give special mystical significance to the woman as the vessel that makes such ecstasy possible, what we really end up doing is creating another kind of regime in which we simply worship ourselves. Goddess worship is simply another kind of worship of mankind, making ourselves our own god in our own image. Like worshipping the Church instead of worshipping Christ. Masculine and feminine are important in God’s order, and God has ordained sex within marriage as a holy and good thing. But sex is not the meaning of the universe and God does not choose to be worshipped as a goddess. Instead, He approaches His people as a bridegroom eager to show His love for His bride. And it is in this—in illustrating the love of the bridegroom for the bride as a symbol of the mystery of Christ and the Church—that all the romantic stories about knights rescuing damsels in distress and lovers finding their beloved find their resonance. They are glorious not because they reflect some kind of divine feminine principle, but rather because true romance illustrates the love that Christ has for His Church, for the people of God. It is that that the medieval and Renaissance poets sought to reflect in their romantic poetry and stories. Not a revival of paganism.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On The Da Vinci Code I

Trinity Law School and Trinity Graduate School are putting on an event where the Da Vinci Code will be discussed by two of our faculty members, Craig Hawkins and Jim Hirsen, on April 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Orange County Worship Center. The Orange County Worship Center is around the corner from Trinity Law School, which is located at 2200 N. Grand Avenue, Santa Ana, California. That is on Grand between the 22 Fwy. and the 5 Fwy.

In preparation for this event, I have been reading Dan Brown’s horrible book. Full of lies, half-truths and wishful thinking, the book packages them in an effective way that delivers a subtle message to readers hooked in by the book’s suspenseful plot and treasure hunt genre. While entire books have and can be written about Brown’s work, I thought I needed to do a few small posts in order to express some of the things that really leapt out at me about this new cultural phenomena that seeks to entangle people in error and darkness. Of course the major thing that leaps out immediately is that the book encourages people not to take the Bible seriously. It claims that the Bible is a set of evolving documents written by man. While it is true that the Bible did not fall out of heaven and that God used human writers to compose it, the Bible itself and theological, philosophical and historical evidence support the idea that the Bible really is a revelation from God and that it really does express His communication to mankind. The text of the Bible has not changed over the centuries, but has remained remarkably consistent. You can read about the actual history of the biblical text in many places. Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, is certainly one of the most popular.

The Bible is best attested to than any other ancient manuscript. Most of the so-called Gnostic gospels that make heretical claims about Jesus like those in Dan Brown’s work were clearly written over a hundred years after Jesus’ ministry on earth, and there are only a handful of ancient manuscript copies of each one. With the Bible, by contrast, there are over 24,000 manuscript copies of all or some of the New Testament. Some of the earliest fragments of part of the New Testament date back to 90 A.D. or perhaps even earlier. In addition, there are writings of the early church fathers that quote the Bible. Nearly the entire New Testament could be reassembled from these quotes. Ignatius, for example, writing between A.D. 70 and 110, quotes accurately from Matthew to John and thirteen other books of the New Testament. Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 150 to 212 A.D., has 2,400 quotes from the New Testament including all but three of the books of the New Testament. Tertulian, who lived from 160 to 220, quotes the New Testament over 7,000 times in his writings, of which 3,800 of the quotes are from the Gospels. Origen, writing between 185 and 254 A.D., lists more than 18,000 New Testament quotes. McDowell calculates that in the 37 of the early church fathers taken alone, there are over 36,289 quotations from the New Testament including 19,368 from the Gospels. All of these quotations support the accuracy of the text and do not substantially differ from the text as we know it. They clearly support the divinity of Christ and the inclusion of the current books of the Bible in the Bible and the exclusion of the so-called Gnostic gospels from the Bible. There is every reason to take Christianity seriously.

The Da Vinci Code makes the bias of its writer clear, however. I suspect Brown’s philosophy is reflected in this quote from his book: “Every faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith—acceptance of that which we imagined to be true, that we cannot prove. Every religion describes God through metaphor, allegory and exaggeration, from the early Egyptians through modern Sunday School.” While it is true that throughout the centuries God has sought to reveal and explain the infinite and to provide keys to understanding Himself through metaphors, symbols and allegories, it is through the person of Jesus Christ and in time and space that He revealed Himself, first to the Hebrew prophets and then through Jesus Himself, God Himself incarnate in the flesh. As C.S. Lewis has noted, this is what makes Christianity different from every mythic religion. The mythic religions seek to express ideas about the divine based upon “once upon a time,” “just so” stories that seek to portray realities about the cycle of life or about man’s struggle against the supernatural world in stories. Christianity alone is not like that. It is not about stories. It is about truth, about the God who created the universe actually invading time and space and revealing Himself to us in person. It is about His witnesses who saw Him, who heard Him, who touched Him, and who wrote down exactly what God through His Spirit moved them to write.

God’s revelation, the Bible, reveals the time/space events through which God exposed Himself to mankind and openly spoke to mankind. The ideals embodied in those scriptures alone are sufficient to explain to man how he can be reconciled with God and deal with the problems of sin and death. Thousands of people in their anger at God and alienation from Him have tried to distort and misunderstand the things that are clearly spoken of in the Bible. If you have questions about what is true, and whether or not the things spoken in the Da Vinci Code or in other books are accurate, what you need to do is read the Bible extensively for yourself. Especially read the New Testament, the Gospels, the book of Acts, the book of Romans, Ephesians and Colossians. Ask yourself what does this tell me about God, and what does it tell me that I should do? The entire New Testament speaks to the divinity of Jesus Christ, to His sacrifice on the cross to atone for our sins, and to His resurrection from the dead, the proof that He was who He said He was. God then sends His Holy Spirit upon those who believe in Him, the down payment for all that is yet to come—life eternal and resurrection from the dead.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Harper Majority

Here is the majority oppinion in Harper at the link.

Harper Case Dissent

The dissenting opinion in the Harper case appears at the link.

Free Speech and Tee Shirts

On April 20th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a case entitled Harper v Poway Unified School Distinct et al. This case involved a high school student named Harper who sought an injunction against the school to allow him to wear a tee shirt that said “Be ashamed, our school embraced what God has condemned” on one side, and “Homosexuality is shameful” on the other side. In an opinion by left wing Ninth Circuit Court Justice Reinhardt, the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision not to grant an injunction in Harper’s favor.

The case arose out of a context. In 2003 and 2004, Harper’s high school had allowed the Gay-Straight Alliance to hold a “day of silence” protesting in favor of homosexuality and against those who believe homosexuality is wrong. Harper wore the tee shirt in response to the school’s apparent effort to condone homosexuality through the sanctioned demonstrations.

Somewhat to his credit, the principal of the school did have an extended discussion with Harper about the tee shirt rather than immediately throwing him off campus or suspending him. Nevertheless, the school district refused to back Harper’s free speech rights and the court likewise has denied Harper the opportunity to express his views about homosexuality and his school’s apparent choice to favor what was once thought unspeakable.

In justifying its opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals relies upon the standards laid out by the Supreme Court of the United States for student speech issues in Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District 393 U.S. 503 (1969). Here it basically says that students don’t leave their free speech rights at the door when they enter school, but that there may be some reasons why a school may regulate student speech. “First, a school may regulate student speech that would impinge upon the rights of other students, Tinker, 393 U.S. at 509. Second, a school may prohibit student speech that would result in substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities. Ibid at 514.” Harper at page 17 of the slip opinion. Specific facts in Tinker involve students wearing black armbands in protest of the Viet Nam War at their school. The Supreme Court held that the school could not prevent the students wearing the armbands. That this is what Tinker is about is somewhat ironic when we look at the Ninth Circuit Court opinion in Harper. Certainly the wearing of black armbands in the 1960’s would have been highly offensive to a large portion of the students, especially those with parents in the Military or serving in Viet Nam. In addition, the kind of speech protected in Tinker was clearly political. Arguably, Harper’s speech was also part of a debate about public policy in the schools. The school’s sponsorship of the prior events in favor of the homosexual lifestyle certainly would create a forum for discussion unless it was legal for the school to discriminate between various speech based upon point of view. But what you must know is that the Supreme Court’s philosophy of free speech in the last 20 years or so specifically rejects viewpoint discrimination. Normally, that is the one thing a government entity must not do. Yet what did the Ninth Circuit decide in the Harper case?

The Ninth Circuit opinion might have been uncontroversial if it had simply said that debates over issues like homosexuality in the high school can be disruptive and that the school had a right to ban all speech about things like homosexuality provided that it did so without reference to content. However, the Ninth Circuit did not do that. Instead, the Ninth Circuit has created a new synthetic right: the right to be free from attacks while on school campuses that relate to characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation. The court stated, “Being secure involves not only freedom from physical assaults, but from psychological attacks that cause young people to question their self worth and their rightful place in society. The right to be let alone has been recognized by the Supreme Court of course as the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. Hill v Colorado 503 U.S. 703, 716-717 (2000) quoting Olmstead v United States 277 U.S. 438, 478, (1928) (Brandeis Jay dissenting).” Ironically, of course, the days with protests in favor of the homosexual lifestyle were undoubtedly a psychological assault on the self worth and rightful place in society of those students from evangelical Christian backgrounds that believe that homosexual acts are sinful.

In the area of discrimination based on race, we have come to a social decision based upon moral principle. Because we are all human beings, it is wrong to disparage those people because of their genetic characteristics or heritage. All human beings are made in the image of God and entitled to dignity and worth. We have also decided that in the area of religion, even though there may be true and false religions, we will generally exercise civilized tolerance of one another in public places and not criticize or disparage religions with epitaphs, etc. However, this is not to say that we do not allow civilized speech or discourse about religion or proselytizing. Indeed, is the next step going to be that the Ninth Circuit will seek to allow the banning of any Christian jewelry, tee shirts, books, etc. on campuses because they “offend” people from other religions and people who engage in immoral conduct? But sexual orientation is also different from race and religion. Homosexuality is a form of conduct that is to be regarded as immoral and undesirable not only according to Christianity, but according to Orthodox Judaism, the natural law, and the most pure and orthodox forms of all the other major religions. Even the Dali Lama has made statements condemning homosexuality. By equating sexual orientation with race and religion, and by stating that comments about the morality of homosexual conduct are “attacks” on other students, the court is clearly making a substantive choice about the content of speech and is siding with the immoral side of the equation. What if the tee shirt had read “Stealing is shameful” or “Lying is shameful” or “Gossiping is shameful” or “Taking illegal drugs is shameful”? All of these statements would have undoubtedly been offensive engaged in those immoral activities. The school probably supports anti-drug tee shirts. Here the court argues that a moral judgment is actually abuse and intimidation of other students. It would have been an easier argument if the tee shirt actually was inflammatory and abusive. Instead, that statement made is rather mild. It would be difficult to come up with a kinder and gentler way to express the same information. Dissent in the Harper case by Justice Kozinski agrees that the court has entered into the dangerous area of endorsing viewpoint discrimination against certain types of speech.
The basic purposes of government identified in the scripture and validated by reason and common sense are to reward good and punish evil. Because of the inability of post-modern man to admit the existence of good and evil or to give an accurate account of which is which, the courts have attempted to maintain an approach toward free speech which remains neutral with respect to the content of speech neither rewarding good nor punishing evil, but declining to do either. But the Ninth Circuit opinion has now crossed over the line to punishing good just as the school’s action in supporting the days of silence effectively rewarded evil.

Columbine anniversary

April 20th was the anniversary of the Columbine School shootings. In Willerton, Kansas, a number of teenagers have been arrested for allegedly planning a shooting spree at their high school on the anniversary of the Columbine shootings. Why is this sort of thing happening? I think the answer is simple. The post-modern relativism that was the attitude of philosophers 150 years ago has finally worked its way into the fabric of everyday life so that our schools no longer teach or acknowledge the existence of objective moral principles. Parents are afraid to teach their children objective moral principles and are unable to argue with their children as to why the principles are genuinely objective as opposed to mere biases or authoritarian claims. The media and music industry reinforce the idea that morality is completely relative and may be ignored in conflict with strong desires or uncomfortable situations. If you continue to teach children that there is no such thing as right and wrong, and if you are incapable of explaining to them why what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong, sooner or later they are going to take you seriously. Sooner or later they are going to think that they really can “create their own metanarritive” and that it will be as good as anybody else’s.

Everyone desires a sense of belonging, inclusion and identity. The post-modern world is quick to acknowledge and validate a variety of aberrant lifestyles. It is completely alienating to people who are commonplace. Post-modern education teaches that there is no objective right or wrong, but merely an unending set of communities. When students feel alienated from their own community and have been taught this sort of thing, it is only natural for them to decide to undertake events or lifestyles that will give them a definitive name for themselves. They make their own subculture, their own metanarritive, their own place in the world. That such a place could just as easily be a violent place hostile to others should not be surprising to students of human nature and history.

Students should be taught to be kind and loving toward others. They should be taught that it is correct to exercise the Golden Rule with respect to people with whom they disagree or who they do not like. They should be taught that all human beings are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve who are inherently equal before the law and before God because they are all the same kind of thing. They should be taught that human beings have an inherent dignity because they are created in the image of God. The basic principles of objective right and wrong should be taught to them and reinforced. Education should not only reinforce the natural law already in their consciences, but should enhance their entire consciences and make sure that they have appropriate sentiments and responses to certain situations. C.S. Lewis addressed all of this more thoroughly than I could ever do here in his book The Abolition of Man. Good education should help students to become Christians. It should help them to find their inclusiveness and membership in the kingdom of God. In this way they can feel secure and have a sense of belonging that does not require anti-social or violent acts against other groups. Naturally, such an education is incompatible with our current system of state-run schools that must remain utterly neutral as to matters of religion. It is for this reason that home schooling, private schooling and a public voucher system would have superior results to the current system in which public education cannot address the moral and religious needs of students. Nor can parents hope to compete with the combined time and force of both schools and media that are constantly giving students the relativistic message.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Iran Crisis

While there are all sorts of things in the news right now, one of the major questions coming to a head is the question of what the United States should do about Iran. There has been an excellent discussion by Hugh Hewitt both on his radio show and on his blog about the various arguments for and against military intervention.

I believe that Hewitt may be right in comparing the current situation to the historical dilemma faced by the rise of Nazi Germany. People did not take the Nazis’ rhetoric seriously. They believed that they could be contained through international diplomacy. As a result, when a variety of thresholds were crossed, such as the militarization of the Ruhr, Europe stood by and did nothing. Had the British and the French attacked the Nazis and forced them to abide by the Versailles Treaty at the time when Hitler marched troops into the Ruhr in violation of Versailles, it would have been costly to subdue Germany, but far less costly than it was years later after the Nazis had multiplied their weaponry and their military. Tens of thousands might have died, but the lives of millions would have been saved. The same thing may be true of Iran today.

Certainly we need to be careful. God loves the people of Iran too. It will be horrible if thousands of them die in attacks on military targets placed near civilian populations by an Iranian government unconcerned about the lives of their own people. I pray daily that the current government will be overthrown by a group of more reasonable people who will put peace and prosperity ahead of pride and terror. But if no revolution occurs time is running out.

Iran is constantly sending out mixed messages. On the one hand, they formally deny that they are planning on developing nuclear weapons. On the other hand, they continually threaten Israel with annihilation and threaten the West with potential nuclear terrorism through their back channels and speeches for in-house consumption. People are reluctant to believe the worst.

Much of the American public currently believes that we were mistaken in taking Sadam Hussein seriously about his rhetoric and in using force to remove him. Ultimately, I believe that the removal of Hussein was a good thing because he was killing hundreds of thousands of people. The few thousand that have died in eliminating him and temporarily occupying Iraq are a high cost, but not compared to the damage Hussein was actually doing prior to his removal.

If we take Iran’s internal rhetoric seriously, we must conclude that they propose a grave risk to humanity and world stability. They apparently not only intend to develop nuclear weapons, but are quite willing and able to use them for genocide and blackmail. Under those circumstances, it is worth paying a high cost to prevent that development of nuclear weapons from occurring.

Undoubtedly the cost will be high. Even if we make the decision not to attempt the occupation of Iran—something that is not really conceivable considering the size, population and rugged terrain of Iran—the war itself would consume a high proportion of any of the Pentagon’s remaining stores and would risk the loss of thousands of additional lives. Nevertheless, the cost of two thousand aerial sorties against Iran is far smaller than the cost of an incinerated Tel Aviv or New York.

Some people would say that we should simply attempt to use diplomacy to limit Iran, but this would seem to be wishful thinking. There is no rational reason why Iran should respond to the kind of diplomatic pressures the world is capable of or willing to create. The Iranians know that the vast majority of the world prefers low oil prices to the safety of Israel and the US. In addition, much of the world considers it good when any enemy of the United States prospers and becomes more powerful. Judging by the acts of the United States and other nations, this may be a foolish set of preferences, but there is no question that to a certain degree it exists.

It is also certainly true that a war with Iran would polarize additional elements of the Middle East and cause people to become more active in pro-Islamofascist violence. However we already have pro-Iranian violence going on throughout Iraq and attempts by Iranian agents to foment violence in other parts of the world. We already have Islamofascism doing its best to organize opposition to the United States, England and the rest of the West. Ignoring the struggle between Islamofascism and the United States will not make that struggle any easier in the future. If our enemies gather in strength and weaponry, we are not going to have an easier time dealing with them. The belief that Islam will pacify itself is also wishful thinking. Islam has had radical and violent expansionist adherence since the life of Mohammad. While at times these people have been impoverished or lived in remote areas, it is unlikely that that will be the case in the future. Radical Islam is going to be in our backyard unless its adherents are deterred, moderated or converted to a religion that believes that the Golden Rule applies to bar religious persecution and religious expansion through violence.

In fact, the only way that Islamofascism can be permanently defeated is probably through an explosion of conversions to Christianity throughout the Muslim world. This puts us in a perilous and paradoxical position. On the one hand, the efforts necessary for strategic victory in this war of ideas will be precisely those actions that will most alienate people in the Muslim world. On the other hand, while war may be a necessary exigency to prevent the immediate threats proposed by Islamofascism, war will also present short-term obstacles to conversion of Muslims. On the other hand, Islamic military success is one of the classic reasons given by Muslims for their belief in their religion. While attacking Iran may alienate people from Christianity, allowing Iran to grow in power will also strengthen Islam. In addition, there is the whole problem that we do not think it appropriate to wage war for the furtherance of Christianity. But it may be necessary to wage war for the defense of the lives of our neighbors and to prevent the harm done by Islamiofascist regimes.

Clearly, a war with Iran is not a simple issue. But as Christians who believe in the depravity of man, we cannot expect that human beings will somehow evolve into pacifistic non-violent people who no longer threaten us. Nor can we afford the cynicism of our culture and our age. We live in a time in which major media and academic leads teach the idea that there is nothing worth fighting or dying for. They seem to believe that defending others is the cause of war and violence rather than the covetousness that is the actual cause of original aggression. In addition, they seem to believe that the use of force is in some way inherently bad regardless of the reason for its use or the relative moral attributes of those on either side. They also tend to believe in moral equivalence, that the West’s insistence that people buy Coca Cola and hamburgers, even though they are not good for them, makes us as evil as regimes that murder millions of people. While there are some issues here, I think it is worthwhile for Christians to maintain a larger view of the world. There are differences in the morality of various nations, states and regimes, despite the fact that we are all sinners. There are just wars even though human sinfulness will always arise and create sinful acts within the context of any war. There are things worth fighting and dying for including protecting the lives of our neighbors. And even if there are bad results such as war profiteering that occur as the result of war, there are worse things that can occur when good people do nothing in the face of aggressive state-sponsored evil. And indeed, evil is not a word to avoid. There really is such a thing as good and evil. And even though people engaging in evil don’t like to have it pointed out, it is not improper to do so. This is true whether the evil is the evil among us in our own hearts, or across oceans and continents. The media and academic elites have tried to claim that the problems of the last centuries have been caused by too much judgmentalism about good and evil. I would say that the reverse is the case. Most of the evils of the last several centuries have arisen because of an unwillingness to recognize evil as evil and to do something about it at an early stage. I do not believe there is any real question that the terror in France, the demagoguery of Napoleon, or chatteled slavery in the United States, Jim Crow in the United States, the rise of Fascism, the rise of Marxism, the eugenics movement in the United States and around the world, the abortion movement in the United States and around the world, and the rise of Islamofascism were and are all evils that would have been better dealt with swiftly and early on rather than allowed to blossom into powerful realities intertwined with the lives of millions and the power of large nation states. It has been our unwillingness to act on simple and easy moral judgments rather than the existence of moral judgments that has resulted in the deaths of ten of millions and the misery of many millions more. It is the relativism of Nietzsche, Hobbs, Hume, Machiavelli, Heidegger, Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas that has been the problem, not the civic morality of Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

All this is not to say that we can always succeed in controlling the world. There are problems and events beyond the human ability to deal with them or sort them out. Our efforts may ultimately fail because their success requires human beings to choose the better even if they are not willing to choose the best. This is difficult when human beings are fallen and sinful and live in cultures that reinforce and rationalize their sinfulness. Nevertheless, the United States was largely successful in getting rid of slavery and ending Hitler’s Fascism and the Fascism of Tojo, all despite the cultural shortcomings of the peoples and regimes dealt with in those conflicts. Undoubtedly, we cannot turn Iraq or Iran into western countries that act morally and wholesomely, because they are not Christian. And even if they were, they would need centuries to absorb the lessons of Christianity, just as Western Europe and the United States have taken centuries to begin to change their culture in various ways in response to the teachings of Christianity. We may succeed in making them less of a threat and less of a danger than they would have been had their course continued without our interference.

Friday, April 07, 2006

BreakPoint | Deadly Exports

BreakPoint Deadly Exports

The link is to a good breakpoint article on eugenics. While the charge of acting like Nazis has been devalued by over use and inappropriate use, it is true that the very ideas cherished by the Nazis are flourishing in the world today under other labels. Ironically, as Chuck Colson points out, the evil practices of eugenics had their start here years before Hitler came into any power at all. And the eugenics movement lives. Much of the support for abortion is from closet eugenisists who dare not express their racist beliefs openly, but hope they will be served by the push for abortion.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More Good News on Abortion Front

Liberty counsel has announced another victory in the fight against abortion. From the Liberty announcement:

"The Florida Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Women's Right to Know Act, a statute prohibiting abortion without the informed and voluntary consent of the patient. Liberty Counsel filed an Amicus Brief in the case on behalf of the Catholic Medical Association and the Christian Medical Association. . . . The Florida Supreme Court construed the statute as an informed consent statute and stated, "The doctrine of informed consent is well recognized, has a long history, and is grounded in the common law and based in the concepts of bodily integrity and patient autonomy." The Court stated, "The termination of pregnancy is unquestionably a medical procedure and we conclude that, as with any other medical procedure, the State may require physicians to obtain informed consent from a patient prior to terminating pregnancy."The brief filed at the Supreme Court by Liberty Counsel argued that women make better choices when they are fully informed of the consequences and, like any other medical procedure, women simply have the right to be fully informed. The brief also argued that "a right exercised in ignorance is not freedom. It's just tyranny once removed."" (emphasis added)

Since Roe v. Wade abortion has had special treatment in which it was sheltered from the normal requirements of the law. As we have noted before, that seems to be changing. this new Florida case, allowing the law to require the same informed consentnt for abortion as for other medical procedures, is another sign of the shift toward the rule of law beginning to apply even to that most unlawful activity - the killing of the unborn.