Newbigin writing in the 70’s saw the growing pluralistic trends and how they were going to affect the missionary enterprise. “Today,” he wrote, “the affirmation of the final authority of Jesus must be made amid the clash of rival claims to religious truth and in a society which has become saturated with the idea that all truths are relative and partial.”
Originally published at Kuyperian Commentary
Response to Comments: I am pleased with the enormous response. As of now there have been over 500 views. The vast majority of responses were very supportive and expressed in one way or another the sadness, but also the hope that a new generation will turn this evil tide in our country.
As I expected there were a couple of negative responses. The response can be summarized in the following manner: “Abortion is such a difficult issue, and to expose a four year old to such an issue can be unhealthy.” One comment referred to the topic of abortion as “intense.” I do not wish to spend too much time with a lengthy response, except to say the following:
First, we have largely sanitized abortion in our evangelical culture. We looked at the Gosnell case with absolute horror, but then treated it as something completely different than what happens every single day in the abortion clinics of America. Approximately, 4,000 babies are suffering the same fate every day. Instead of sanitizing, we need to call it for what it is: barbarism.
Secondly, we have also minimized the ability of our little children to understand big issues. My four year old has been raised in a covenant home where the gospel is brought to her attention every day through singing, Bible reading, discipline, and conversations that vary from the Trinity to tying shoes. Children can grasp more than we can imagine. During our lunch time today, my daughter called my wife to tell her something. She whispered to my wife: “Thank you for loving life.” Yes, there were some tears, but ultimately it was a confirmation that the covenant promises of God are yes and amen.
Third, one comment addressed the fact that we need to show more love to these mothers. I agree. And I think that pregnancy centers like Safe Harbor in Pensacola do a marvelous job. Last year alone they–through their counsel–prevented over 150 women from taking the life of their unborn children. At the same time, when these women are walking into these abortion centers, they are mostly making a conscientious choice to take the life of their unborn child. This is tragic, and my daughter’s response was far more mature and pure than my own at times. Death is death. Death is a reality. We cannot keep our children from it, and when we see it we need to despise those who work iniquity (Psalm 5:5).
May God grant this new generation courage and a fresh passion for the glory of God and the purity and value of human life.
It was a morning like any other, except my daughter was wide awake at 4:45 AM. I work hard at not being a morning person, but for her it came rather easily. I got dressed and made the quick decision to take my vivacious four-year old with me. It was an ordinary morning, but at the last abortion clinic in Pensacola it was a morbid morning. Young ladies full of life were entering the house of death.
I am an ordained minister. I have sat through a presbytery oral examination. After having studied for six months, I felt fairly confident as I sat before six other pastors. The Bible verses and the theology flowed from my lips with tremendous ease. This morning, however, I was examined by my four year old. Suddenly I found my rhetorical abilities being challenged as I tried to explain to this beautiful little girl just how un-beautiful this place was. “We are going to a place where mommies don’t want their babies,” I said. “Why do they not want their babies,” she asked. “Well, they simply don’t love life.” She paused and looked outside in silent wonder.
We arrived at the clinic and the signs were beautiful. The faces of lovely little children brought a temporary sanity to some of us. Another sign pictured a bloody and shattered body of an aborted image-bearer. She saw the image.
We joined the other saints. We read a psalm, prayed, and sang Psalm 92. They may not have heard us inside, but God did, and God acts through the prayers of his people. We sang of how the enemies of Yahweh grow like weed, but they are caught in their own evil schemes. Lord, hear our prayer.
We saw the vehicles as they drove by us. They reminded me of young college students flying through the college campus to get to class on time. In this case, they were young college students flying by in their expensive cars to terminate the life of their unborn children. It was a devastating sight to behold.
My daughter asked me to lower myself and quietly asked me: “Are the mommies going to kill their babies?” “They are, baby girl! That is why we are here. We don’t want them to make this horrible decision.” “But daddy, I don’t want them to kill their babies.” “We don’t either. We need to let them know that God loves life, and that He loves babies.” She was visibly shocked. In her world, mommies treasure babies, and daddies are not cowards. But in this world, mommies are bad characters in this unending movie, and daddies are participants in one of the most cowardly acts of history. “Daddy, I want to go home.” I excused myself and took my four year old to the car knowing that I was going to be examined again. “Are they really going to kill their babies?” Now she asked with greater conviction. Once again I said yes. We need to let them know that babies are gifts from God and that we cannot refuse his gifts. We then talked about how precious her baby brothers were. She told me she wanted to go home and kiss her 9 month old brother. Once again, she silently looked out the window in a contemplative manner. Then she burst into righteous anger: “I don’t like those mommies! They will never be able to kiss the babies! I don’t want to come back here.” I didn’t respond. She then pondered for a minute or two. “Maybe I will come back,” she said. “Just let daddy know, and I will bring you with me,” I said.
It was a morning like all others, but this morning my daughter learned that not everyone treasures life. And her heart was broken, and so was her father’s.
Uri Brito is a husband, and a father of three lovely children.
Why am I angry? Why do I lose control so often? How can I change?
These are all questions we have considered. We don’t have to ponder too long before we realize that anger has made a home in our hearts many times.
The first instance of anger in the Bible is in Genesis 4. Cain was angry because his offering was not accepted (Gen. 4:5). We can offer some theological insight into the nature of this offering, but for our purposes, the result of this offering/worship rejection was the murder of Abel. We can then conclude that unrighteous anger ( I argue that there is righteous anger, but that anger is rarely righteous) is a result of unacceptable worship. The first recorded sinful act in the fallen world was the result of anger. Uncontrolled anger is a result of false worship. The one who is angry and sins has made his desires and agenda the center of the universe. Anger is the definition of self-worship. It is the manifestation that one’s world is not where it should be and so everyone–or someone close– must conform his world to theirs.
If a person has a history of angry outbursts, then it might take more than a few sermons and counseling sessions to see change. Ultimately, Jesus is the model we are to follow. He was insulted, abused, and falsely accused, but yet he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly (I Pet. 2:23). Changing and conforming to the image of our Lord must be a priority. Anger cannot be moderated through self-determination, but through the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the comforter of the afflicted and the One who calms the angry heart.
Changing then requires an initial affirmation that anger and its consequences is inconsistent with the Christian testimony. It elevates our agenda above others. It does not seek the kingdom of God first and his righteousness. But changing from angry outbursts to a soft answer demands constant accountability with people who know you best. Your pastor or close friend may be wise choices in confronting you in this process. Anger destroys those closest to us and it can affect jobs, relationships, and our communion with the Triune God.
We need to be confronted by the peace of God daily. Jesus Christ is the shalom of God to the world. He disarms anger with love and grace. In this sense, a grateful heart is the most fundamental response to anger. The one who worships rightly is most grateful. Gratitude is anger’s worst enemy. Unrighteous anger is a denial of God’s gifts to his children.
If you are angry and your family has been on the receiving side of that anger for a long time, then it is time to change. The angry heart never takes a break. Seek Christ. Seek help from your community, and worship rightly.
We have come a long way from those early centuries of the Church. Our society no doubt has fallen for the pluralistic trap. Those things which the Church fought so hard to maintain are things that the churches fear to talk about today. This is Trinity Sunday, so we are discussing a subject that is rarely talked about in churches across this country, unless it is in the context of arguing against a cultist at your front door. Even then, most people, to quote Flannery O’Connor find the Trinity so incomprehensible that it is not worth their time. But in a few moments when I call you to rise and worship God in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit, you will realize that the Trinity extends to you an invitation that is not incomprehensible to you. It is actually the only thing that makes sense.
The right question is not only what is the Trinity, but who is the Trinity. The Trinity is not just something to be explained, but someone to be adored. And when this Tri-unity calls us into worship, we are not being called by an abstract Being, but by a Personal God who reveals Himself in Father, Son, and Spirit.
On this Trinity Sunday, we are considering what it means to move, live, and have our Being in God himself. We are Trinitarians, and everything about being a Trinitarian matters to us this morning.
No matter what direction our society might take us, no matter how many gods they may offer us, we know that there is no other God, but the God revealed in the Scriptures: Father, Son, and Spirit. Apart from this God, our existence and our worship are meaningless. The Trinity is the only way the world contains any meaning, because the Trinity created the world with meaning, and to deny the Godhead is to deny meaning.
This is the God we worship; the God who gave our lives meaning, and the One who calls us into His presence on this Lord’s Day.
The God who is Three and One gives us Bread and Wine in the midst of the congregation. The Oneness of this local body is joined with the Many bodies worldwide forming the glorious body of Christ. We eat and drink as the one and the many.
As we eat and drink, remember our oneness in Christ, but also remember our diversity. We are not robots made the same way with the same personalities, rather we are image-bearers, or better, worshiping humanity, made differently, but one purpose: exalting the God who is One and Three and Three and One.
Leslie Newbigin, the remarkable missiologist and theologian, writes in his delightful little book Trinitarian Doctrine for Today’s Mission that there was a time when religions were observed from afar in the Western world as “objects of compassion and curiosity.” But now (writing in the 70’s), students have the opportunity to discuss them openly in universities.
Critics of the Christian missionary movement argue that humanity “is now in a new situation where it must learn to live as one community or perish… All parts of the human race are increasingly involved with one another in all phases of human activity.” But Newbigin argues that the greatest need of mankind is not some form of unity founded on pluralistic ideals, but rather mankind is dependent upon the sufficiency and finality of Jesus Christ as the one Lord and Savior of the world.
In his excellent introduction to M.F. Sadler’s The Second Adam & The New Birth, Rich Lusk tackles the unnecessary division within the modern Reformed movement, especially affirmed by B.B. Warfield that a view of sacramental efficacy contradicts a proper view of God’s sovereignty in salvation. Lusk observes that a healthy Reformed faith should be more Augustinian in orientation. The theological “combination of sovereign grace with a high view of sacramental efficacy” do not need to be divorced. They are fully compatible. We do not need to undermine one to rescue the other. We may not grasp how God uses the means to accomplish His sovereign purposes, but they are not to be at odds.
The Church is both the instrument and agent of applying Christ’s salvation, as well as the form that salvation takes in the world. –Rich Lusk, An Introduction to M.F. Sadler’s The Second Adam & The New Birth