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Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Dr. Jim Denison engages contemporary culture with biblical truth
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House Republicans are set to vote this morning on legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They hoped to vote on their bill yesterday, but too many conservatives and moderates opposed it. Even if they prevail, their legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Why is this issue so complicated and divisive?

As one medical ethicist explains, we insist on four values that are difficult to reconcile: high quality of care, freedom of choice, affordability, and a system in which everyone shares both costs and benefits.

Contrast our social values with those of other countries. Nearly all the world’s highly industrialized nations—including Canada, Japan, Australia, and western European countries—have health care systems that provide universal access at significantly less cost than in the US. However, to pay for their health care, these societies typically limit insurance options. The UK also restricts the adoption of high-cost medical innovations. And these nations generally impose limits on fees providers can charge and on pharmaceutical prices.

For many Americans, the system prior to the ACA worked well. It offered a wide range of medical options and excellent care at a price they considered affordable. However, this system was too expensive for many others. As costs escalated, the gap between those with coverage and those without health care continued to grow.

The ACA sought to balance our four priorities, ostensibly providing choice and care while driving down costs and expanding coverage. However, opponents claim that it restricted choice, limited care options, and expanded coverage by imposing a financial model that was unfair and untenable. Now critics of Republicans’ attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare are making similar allegations against their legislation.

This debate will continue because our democratic culture especially values freedom of choice. We are consumers in a consumption-based economy. Yet we believe that “all men are created equal” with equal rights to effective health care. As medical costs grow, balancing our cultural priorities is a true Gordian knot.

Three biblical priorities will help.

One: God values our health.

God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26–27) and has made our bodies the temple of his Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Jesus healed “every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23). Medical care, when practiced within biblical guidelines, is an extension of Jesus’ healing ministry today. Efforts to provide medical care to all Americans are biblical.

Two: We must care for the poor.

We should meet our own needs if we can: “Each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5). However, God told us how to treat our “poor brother”: “You shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need” (Deuteronomy 15:7,8).

Three: What is good for one of us is good for all of us.

Describing Christians as the “body of Christ,” Paul noted: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Ethicist Bruce Jennings: “No individual, no matter how wealthy or powerful, can really be free except in a context of social justice and the common good.”

John prayed for his people “that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2). Let’s join him.

NOTE: I invite you to join me for a seminar I am teaching on how to engage the culture for Christ. You can register here for the four-week course. The class meets from March 30 to April 20, 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Thursday nights at Dallas Baptist University. We will develop a Christian worldview, understand trends in the culture, and learn how to speak the truth in love on topics from medical ethics to the LGBTQ community. The class is almost full, so sign up today.

 

Publication date: March 24, 2017

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

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The world has witnessed what British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling “a sick and depraved terrorist attack.” CNN reports this morning that authorities have now arrested seven people in connection with the deadliest terror attack in central London in twelve years.

Just before 2:45 PM GMT yesterday, while the House of Commons was debating a proposal regarding Scottish independence, a silver Hyundai 4×4 veered from the roadway of Westminster Bridge. The narrow sidewalk where the Thames flows under the “Big Ben” clock tower was crowded with tourists and office workers. The terrorist drove into the crowd; witnesses reported that the impact threw two bodies into the Thames.

The driver then smashed into the iron railings near the base of the clock tower and got out of the vehicle carrying a large knife. He repeatedly stabbed police officer Keith Palmer, killing him. An armed policeman then shot and killed the attacker.

A woman from Spain and a man in his mid-fifties were killed. Twenty-nine people were hospitalized; seven are in critical condition. Among the injured was a group of French schoolchildren.

The attack came on the one-year anniversary of the Brussels bombings that killed thirty-two people. Police say they know the assailant but have not released information about him as of this morning. They believe, however, that he was “inspired by international terrorism.”

We can now add London to the recent list of vehicular attacks, along with Nice, France; Berlin, Germany; Ohio State University; and Jerusalem. ISIS and al Qaeda have called on their followers to use trucks and weapons to “mow down the enemies of Allah.”

Why do jihadists see tourists on a London sidewalk as their enemies?

Radical Muslims are convinced that the Qur’an requires them to defend Islam by attacking the West. Since our citizens elect our leaders, jihadists believe there are no innocent victims in our culture. In their view, each of us is an infidel worthy of death.

We should expect such attacks to continue. Even as ISIS’s so-called caliphate crumbles, the organization’s leaders are preparing for a stateless Islamic State and sending fighters into the West and beyond. ISIS has formal affiliates in nine countries and promotes its poisonous rhetoric through very sophisticated media strategies. CNN quotes one terrorism expert: “Even if ISIS loses Mosul and Raqqa, the ideology will live on.” It is virtually impossible to stop all “lone wolf” attacks. Each of us is a potential victim.

The London attack proves the brevity and uncertainty of life. That’s why “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We have only this day to be ready for eternity. What if it were today for you?

And the attack calls us once again to prayer. This is ultimately a spiritual battle against an enemy that seeks nothing less than the world conquest of its radical religious ideology. In this global conflict “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against . . . the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

We must fight a spiritual conflict with spiritual weapons. As Christians pray for spiritual awakening in the Islamic world, Muslims are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus in unprecedented numbers and turning to him as their Lord.

Have you prayed for jihadists to meet Jesus yet today?

 

Photo: A police officer stands guard as floral tributes lay on Whitehall following yesterday's attack in which one police officer was killed on March 23, 2017 in London, England. Four people have been killed and around 40 people injured following yesterday's attack by the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

Photo courtesy: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Publication date: March 23, 2017

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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Today’s headlines are dominated by Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination hearings and the ongoing debate over health care. Meanwhile, an unusual high school wrestler interests me so much that I’d like to focus on his story this morning.

“He’s been very vocal about his goals: wrestling in a national championship, becoming an NCAA champ, not just a state champ.” That’s how Kobey Pritchard’s wrestling coach describes his protégé’s motivation in the Iowa state wrestling tournament. What makes Pritchard different from his competitors? He wrestles without a left leg.

Kobey was five years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in his left femur. Doctors removed the leg when he was six. Now he’s ranked number four in the state in his weight class. His drive and determination are inspiring his teammates and his fellow competitors.

In other news, Norway has taken over the top spot in the World Happiness Report. This despite the fact that oil, a key part of its economy, has plummeted. What accounts for Norway’s happiness? The report’s lead author explains: “It’s the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it? The material can stand in the way of the human.”

Martin E. P. Seligman is a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the bestseller, Authentic Happiness. Dr. Seligman describes three kinds of “work orientation”: a job, a career, and a calling.

A job earns you a paycheck and nothing more. A career entails a deeper personal investment in your work. But a calling is a passionate commitment to work for its own sake. According to Dr. Seligman, finding your “calling” is the key to authentic happiness.

Whatever your physical or financial challenges, you can choose to live a life that matters. You can chase the fickle applause of our culture or live for the eternal affirmation of your Father.

I hope Judge Gorsuch is confirmed by the Senate. I hope effective health care legislation is passed by Congress. But if neither takes place, eternity will still beckon. What we do today for Jesus will matter forever. Ten thousand millennia after the last Supreme Court ruling is handed down, the Judge of the universe will still be on his throne. And health care will be the last thing we’ll be thinking about in heaven.

My point is not that the Supreme Court, health care, or other pressing issues of our day are insignificant. I’m not advocating for a Christ-against-culture mindset that keeps our salt in the saltshaker and our light under a basket (Matthew 5:13–16).

But I am suggesting that taking the long view is the pathway to peace in the short view. While the Bible never says, “This too shall pass,” the sentiment is biblical: “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24–25). The old chorus is still true: “Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away, but there’s something about that Name.”

Paul testified, “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Why do you need to join him today?

 

Publication date: March 22, 2017

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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