Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration--and it has nothing to do with an Atomic Bomb:

A number of leaders from the various branches of Christendom gathered in Manhattan to issue a clear statement about a number of cultural/social/ethical issues that threaten the ethical fabric of our world today.
The Manhattan Declaration begins with a summary of the impact of Christianity on nations where the shadow of the cross has fallen. From the rescue of abandoned children in Rome, to the preservation of learning in the middle ages, to the opposition to slavery, to the civil rights movement of the last century, the church has, in spite of its "imperfections and shortcomings," been a blessing in this world.
Continuing this tradition of standing for righteousness, the declaration speaks to issues related to
  • Life: The declaration speaks against a "culture of death [that] inevitably cheapens life in all its stages and conditions by promoting the belief that lives that are imperfect, immature or inconvenient are discardable."
  • Marriage: The signatories endorse the view that marriage is a unique institution. "Marriage then, is the first institution of human society - indeed it is the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation. In the Christian tradition we refer to marriage as "holy matrimony" to signal the fact that it is an institution ordained by God, and blessed by Christ."
    With compassionate firmness Christians must resist the various attempts to redefine, or diminish the respect for marriage.
  • Religious Liberty: "religious liberty is grounded in the character of God Himself . . . the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the example of Christ Himself and in the very dignity of the human person created in the image of God. . . . No one should be compelled to embrace any religion against his will, nor should persons of faith be forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. . . .

Perhaps most significant is the commitment to resist the erosion of ethical standards in our culture. Commenting on the dual-citizen-status of God's people the declaration says, ". . . we take seriously the Biblical admonition to respect and obey those in authority. . . . The biblical purpose of law is to preserve order and serve justice and the common good; yet laws that are unjust - and especially laws that purport to compel citizens to do what is unjust - undermine the common good, rather than serve it. . . ." The declaration goes on to promise noncompliance to government edicts that compel actions that violate these Biblical standards.

"We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

You can read the Manhattan Declaration in its entirety at

The leaders who put the Manhattan Declaration together didn't ask me to sign it, but I do agree with it, at least enough so that I would. I'll have more to say in days to come. The guys who signed the MD, as well as the rest of you, are welcome to comment.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Helping People Do Right, or Helping Them to Feel Better About Doing Wrong?

In doing some research for Sunday's message I ran across an excellent article related to idolatry and psychological health,

Here is a sample:

The solution, without exception, is to offer different and
presumably more workable idols, rather than repentance unto
the Bible’s Christ! Secularistic therapies teach people
eufunctional idols, idols which do “work” for people and
“bless” them with temporarily happy lives (Psalm 73).
So, for example, self-esteem is nurtured as the replacement
for trying to please unpleasable others, rather than esteem for
the Lamb who was slain for me, a sinner. Acceptance and love
from new significant others, starting with the therapist, create
successful versions of the fear of man and trust in man rather
than teaching essential trust in God. Self-trust and self-confidence
are boosted as I am taught to set expectations for myself
to which I can attain. The fruit looks good but is fundamentally
counterfeit. Believers in false gospels are sometimes allowed
to flourish temporarily.
Therapy systems without repentance at their core leave the
idol system intact. They simply rehabilitate and rebuild fundamental
godlessness to function more successfully.
The Bible’s idolatry motif diagnoses the ultimately selfdestructive
basis on which happy, healthy, and confident
people build their lives (eufunctional idols), just as perceptively
as it diagnoses unhappy people, who are more obviously
and immediately self-destructive (dysfunctional idols).

I have observed, in my time as a pastor, a shift in the counselling community--a trend that is present in Christian as well as secular counseling--from helping people to do what is right to helping them to feel good about the way they are.
Read the article.