Therefore you have no excuse, O man… for not protecting the unborn

Romans 2:1-2 – Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things…. For God shows no partiality.

What exactly is an excuse and why would we need one? explains, an excuse is “an explanation offered as a reason for being excused.” Even though they commit the error of using the word in the definition, the point is still clear. We need an excuse when we are guilty and we want someone to overlook our offense. When a student is guilty of not bringing their assignment to class, they hope that the excuse, “the dog ate my homework,” will convince the teacher not to impose the normal penalty for the crime.

Since the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, there has been an estimated 53 million abortions in the United States. That means that 53 million children have been murdered in their mother’s wombs. The crime is outrageous. What will be our excuse? What reason will we offer in hopes of pardoning these 53 million murders? Let me suggest two reasons that we can’t claim that we didn’t know abortion is murder as our excuse.

We Punish People For Murdering A Fetus
38 of the 50 states currently have laws preventing Fetal Homicide. This means in 38 states it is illegal to kill an unborn child. Certainly abortion is the glaring exception. In the case of abortion, it is okay to kill the unborn child if the mother wants to. However, if the mother wants the baby it has all the rights of any other person. In America, to kill a wanted unborn baby is a crime equivalent to any other form of murder.

While we do allow doctors to kill unborn children if their mothers want them dead, many states still require some sort of “humane killing.” Many states do not allow partial-birth abortions or late term abortions. While the very idea of humane killing strikes me as wildly inhumane, the fact still stands that we recognize the person-hood of these unborn babies. The video below shows that just this week two doctors have been arrested for failing to recognize the person-hood of the babies they were murdering.

When we consider this fact it is almost impossible not to immediately think of the words of Romans 2. Paul could have easily included abortion in his list of hypocrisies.

You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who say that one should not kill babies, do you, actively or passively, support abortion? Romans 2:21-22 (plus my own added ending)

The point is that we cannot claim ignorance as an excuse for abortion. We cannot say that we did not know that abortion was murder.
2 Abortion Doctors Tried for Murder.

We Treat the Fetus as a Patient 
In addition to Fetal Homicide laws, we lose our excuse for ignorance when we consider the way we treat the fetus in the hospital. If a mother wants her child, the baby in the womb is treated just like any other patient. In some cases surgeons can even perform complicated surgeries on unborn children. The video below shows a graphic example of how doctors can treat a child with spinal bifida even before the child is born. While the video may be difficult to watch for those with weak stomachs, it stands as evidence to the person-hood of the child even before it is born.

I believe Paul would consider this a strong argument as well. We don’t only learn about right and wrong from watching people do wrong but also from watching people do right. He condemned the Jews for doing wrong by saying, look at the Gentiles, they don’t even have Bibles and they still do good.

For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law unto themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hears, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. Romans 2:14-15

There is One Good Excuse
When we stand before God in judgement “I didn’t know” won’t cut it. As Romans 2:2 pointed out, we know that the judgment of God will rightly fall on us. As a nation we have allowed 53 million murders of innocent babies in less than 40 years. We have no excuse.

This is really bad news because the penalty for our crime is stiff. The penalty for being a murderer, encouraging another to commit murder, or simply living in a murderous society without taking a active role in protecting the lives of the innocent, is death. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of that sin is death. It is terribly important that we find an excuse.

While there is no excuse that we can come up with on our own to justify this sin, God has offered a way to excuse all our sins, including the sin of murder. Using some of the biggest, and most important words in the Bible, Romans 3:24-25 explains how God does this. It explains that we can be,”justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

What this basically means, without the big words, is that Jesus is our excuse. Jesus is the reason that I can escape the judgment that I deserve. He has already paid the death penalty that we deserve for our murderous ways. All that we need do is receive him by faith.
If you enjoyed this post let me recommend a sermon by John Piper that inspired this line of thinking in me. The sermon was titled “Father Forgive, For We Know What We Are Doing.” Rather than give only two reasons we are without excuse, he lists 10.


Week in Review – 12/18 – 12/24

I’ll start with 3 Christmas posts…

  • Last year I posted a link to a flash mob experience that I thought was completely awesome. Though it doesn’t exactly fit into the week in review category, I still like it a whole year later so I am including it anyway. – Nathaniel Simmons – Hallelujah 

And here are some others, not specifically about Christmas, that I particularly enjoyed.

  • Perhaps part of the problem with Christian ethics is that we allow the culture to establish the terminology. A.B. Caneday explains why the shift from virtues to values undermines our ability to discuss ethics with our culture. – A.B. Caneday – Of Graces, Virtues, and Values

Why is the Bible so Hard to Understand?

Have you ever wondered why there are parts of the Bible that are so difficult to understand. One might wonder why God wouldn’t have wanted everything to be easier to understand. On the other hand, Augstine reminds us that we should be thankful for the hard parts:

Some of the expressions [in the Bible] are so obscure as to shroud the meaning in the thickest darkness. And I do not doubt that all this was divinely arranged for the purpose of subduing pride by toil, and of preventing a feeling of satiety in the intellect, which generally holds in small esteem what is discovered without difficulty… Nobody, however, has any doubt about the facts, both that it is a pleasanter in some cases to have knowledge communicated through figures, and that what is attended with difficulty in the seeking gives greater pleasure in the finding… Accordingly the Holy Spirit has, with admirable wisdom and care for our welfare, so arranged the Holy Scriptures as by the plainer passages to satisfy our hunger, and by the more obscure to stimulate our appetite. For almost nothing is dug out of those obscure passages which may not be found set forth in the plainest language elsewhere.

On Christian Doctrine (Book 2, Chapter 6)

Week in Review – 12/11 – 12/17

I thought it might be helpful to start passing along 4 or 5 of the best articles that I read in the previous week. I hope you enjoy them too!

  • And I can’t leave out at least one review of the death of one of the world’s most famous atheists. While I will include a full length article, I also found John Piper’s tweet helpful. He wrote, “Think Christopher, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – Doug Wilson – Christopher Hitchens has Died…

Freshly Minted Calvinists: Some Advice

Credo Magazine has just interviewed the authors of For Calvinism and Against Calvinism. The interviews were interesting and you might enjoy taking a look at them. The “For Calvinism” interview is with Michael Horton from Westminster Seminary in California. The “Against Calvinism” interview is with Roger Olson from Baylor University.

I wanted to pass along what I thought to be an important point made by Michael Horton, the author of For Calvinism. I’ll repost the question and his answer below:

You comment in For Calvinism about the negative reputation Calvinists gain from those in the “cage phase.” What wisdom can you offer in order to help steer newly convinced Calvinists away from this tendency? 

It’s not just freshly minted Calvinists. Some of the most irascible folks I’ve met are people who have switched from Calvinism to Arminianism or something else. Ordinarily. you don’t want someone who has just converted from Roman Catholicism to evangelical Christianity to be your church’s evangelistic liaison to Roman Catholics. What makes it especially ugly with Calvinists, though, is that spiritual pride and self-righteousness are the antithesis of what we profess. To proclaim the doctrines of grace ungraciously, God’s electing and redeeming love without loving others, and God’s patient preservation of sinful believers while lopping off the heads of our brothers and sisters is particularly offensive to God. But we are all growing in these areas and we will fail.

The Ultimate Experiencer

I was looking through some old files on my computer and found this article. I originally wrote it for an online journal called Deeper Devotion. They published it back in 2006, but I thought it was time to shake the dust off and let it breath again. ____________________________

I recently saw the Exorcism of Emily Rose, a somewhat creepy movie about a girl who died from being demon possessed. The plot of the movie was that the state was suing a priest for homicide because he tried to solve the problem through exorcism instead of approaching the problem through conventional medical and psychological means. At the very end of the movie the prosecuting attorney makes an interesting claim that got me thinking. In his closing argument he says, “I am a man of faith, but I am also a man of facts.” Then he goes on to explain that the facts are that demons don’t exist.

This makes me wonder, do I consider myself a person of faith or a person of facts? This is a pretty important question for Christians because we say that salvation is by faith, so of course I want to say that I am a man of faith. At the same time I don’t want to sound stupid. I want to be rational. I want to be a man of facts too. Believe it or not, this tension is at the heart of understanding how Christians are to handle the Bible.

Let’s start with what the world would say a man of facts would look like. A good modernist might insist that the only certain data is data that can be scientifically repeated in a lab. To them, they need facts that can be verified by experience, and not just one experience. In science, the more experiences we have, the more tests we run, the more confident we become in our facts. The problem, technically speaking, is that ancient stories found in the Bible can’t be proven scientifically and therefore can’t be considered certain knowledge. These ancient stories, in the mind of a modernist, lie well outside of the bounds of fact. For these people, we can’t know the Bible through scientific testing, so the Bible cannot be factually verified, and therefore the Bible is unreliable.

There is another group of people, the postmodernists, who believe that even science is unable to provide us with any facts. They recognize that observations are coming from people with limited perspectives. I can only experience things for myself; therefore anything I know is ultimately only true for me. For instance, I may feel that running three miles is really far. To know this I could try to run it and if I got really tired and my body hurt, then I would know that running three miles is really far. However, for somebody else, someone who is used to running marathons, their experience will tell them that three miles is just a short jog. To a “postmodern” thinker this is evidence that reality can only be experienced, not known. Because there can be many different experiences there can be many different truths. To the postmodernist the Bible gives a perspective, but it is impossible to have every perspective, so ultimately, the Bible cannot be reliable.

Christians, however, can challenge that notion. While it may be true that we do not have an infinite amount of experience, we believe there is someone who does. We believe there is a God so powerful that he sees every side of an issue every time. He can know every fact from every vantage point. His knowledge is infinite, his experience is infinite, and his perspective is infinite.

Even more impressive is that this God has shared some of his infinite knowledge and experience with us. So what happens when a God with infinite experience shares his knowledge for all the world to see? The knowledge shared by the infinite experiencer would be infinitely reliable. This is exactly what the Bible claims to be. The Bible claims to be a revelation from God. In other words, the One who has infinite experience, infinite perspective, and infinite knowledge has told us certain things that are infinitely reliable. The Bible is the infinitely reliable message told to us from an infinitely reliable God.

In 2 Peter 1:16-21, we see Peter making this exact claim. He is talking about the transfiguration (which is when Jesus Christ was made bright and glorious and was spoken to by God the Father in Mark 9:2-8), and he claims to be an eyewitness of this event. Because of this, it would seem that Peter would be an authority on this subject. But then Peter goes on to say that he now has a prophetic word that is even more sure than what he saw with his own eyes. This is because what Peter saw with his own eyes still had to be interpreted by himself and he had to trust that his eyes had not messed up. But when the Bible records the story it is the result of the Holy Spirit seeing the event and interpreting it from the infinite perspective of God and recording it through the pens of men. So in the end Peter says he can trust what he reads in the Bible even more than what he sees with his own eyes.

Paul talks about the Bible as being “God-breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16. By this he means that the words of the Bible are the actual words that God choose to get the authors to write. And because the Bible is the word of God, Paul goes on to say that it is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Many Christians summarize this by saying that the Bible is man’s authority for life and practice. Because the Bible is God’s Word I can trust it to be the authority for all I do. So with this in mind, am I a man of faith or a man of reason? Well, I have faith that God is more trustworthy than myself. So it is reasonable for me to believe his words over my own feelings and ideas (just like Peter did). So faith and reason compel me to set the Bible as the primary authority in my life. Whenever my experience or my reason contradicts the Bible, I must believe that God’s infinite perspective is greater than my own. Its the only reasonable response.