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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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“America will be saved by an honest and good man who will work for all the people.” That’s what Jon Voight predicted yesterday in his address to a crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial.

Today Donald John Trump will be inaugurated as our nation’s forty-fifth president. Not everyone agrees with Voight: more than a quarter-million protesters are expected in Washington, DC this weekend. Thirty groups have received permits for rallies or marches before, during, and after the inauguration.

Why is our nation so divided over our new president?

Here’s an answer you may not have considered. Andrew Delbanco’s The Real American Dream claims that our culture has developed around three forces in which Americans have found hope: God, Nation, and Self.

During the colonial period, the central figure in the American story was God. The Puritan understanding of divine sovereignty infused colonists’ lives with purpose. Theirs was an abiding sense that God led them to build this nation as a “shining city upon a hill.”

Prior to the Civil War, the states largely saw themselves as independent members of a voluntary configuration. The bloodiest war in American history led to the cultural formation of a “United” States of America. From that point through two World Wars and the Great Depression, Americans increasingly looked to the nation as their source for justice, mercy, and hope.

In the 1960s, however, faith in the government declined dramatically. The Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal rocked our trust in our nation and her leaders. As Delbanco notes, our culture shifted to the self in “installing instant gratification as the hallmark of the good life, and in repudiating the interventionist state as a source of hope.”

Today, these three narratives are colliding as never before. On the spiritual level, some Christian leaders are strongly opposed to Donald Trump while others see his election as divine intervention for our nation. On the national level, some believe he will make America great again while others are certain he will undermine the institutions of our country. On the personal level, some think he will make us wealthier while others think he threatens our personal freedoms and core values.

Here’s the good news: our Founding Fathers created a nation with the astounding capacity to accommodate such conflicting views.

G. K. Chesterton observed that “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” Our creed is both simple and profound: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

As a result, we can accommodate opinions as conflicted as those we are now witnessing. We will mark another peaceful transfer of power today because our nation is founded on the freedom of ideas and those who embrace them.

However, these freedoms were first granted not by our Founding Fathers but by our Heavenly Father. The biblical declaration that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) is the foundation of our commitment to personal autonomy and freedom. Our trust in Nation and Self stands on our trust in God, or it will not stand at all.

At the end of today’s oath of office, President Trump will add the words first uttered by George Washington in 1789: “So help me God.” May we make his prayer ours as well.

NOTE: My latest booklet, How Does God See America?, is now available on our website.

 

Publication date: January 20, 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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The Women’s March on Washington is this Saturday, the day after the presidential inauguration. As many as 200,000 women are expected to march for “the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families.” Why aren’t pro-life women part of this event?

The March’s values include “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people.” The event’s sponsors include Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, and the National Abortion Federation. When news got out that some pro-life groups planned to participate, there was an immediate outcry from pro-choice supporters who claimed that feminism must include support for abortion.

Is this true?

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Louisa May Alcott were all pioneers of early feminism. All were opposed to abortion. Nonetheless, abortion advocates continue to denigrate the pro-life position as an anti-feminist “war on women.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Pro-life supporters want what is best for all women. They are convinced by the evidence that abortion not only ends the lives of unborn women, it also harms their mothers and the rest of society.

Consider the economic cost of abortion. Of the 58 million abortions in America since Roe v. Wade, more than 12 million were females who would now be of child-bearing age. Thus, we can add at least another 12 million second-generation lives aborted, for a total of 70 million who would be contributing to the American economy.

The US government calculates Gross Domestic Product as $53,000 per capita. This amount multiplied by 70 million leads to a loss to our economy of nearly $3.7 trillion, more than 20 percent of our total GDP.

What about rape, murder, or protecting the life of the mother? Since these constitute only 1 to 4 percent of all abortions, most pro-life supporters accept these exceptions.

What about a woman’s privacy? Opposing abortion does not intrude into a woman’s private life—it protects it. Parents, the father of the child, and peers can pressure a woman to abort her child at a time when she is most vulnerable.

Why shouldn’t the state let the woman choose? The government’s first obligation is to protect the rights of the individual, especially those who cannot defend themselves. This obligation extends to mothers as well as their unborn children.

Shouldn’t all children be wanted? Note that this argument would apply to infanticide and euthanasia as well as to abortion. Pro-life supporters want children to be wanted, which is why they advocate for adoption. And they believe that, as many abortion survivors have testified, an unwanted child would rather live than die.

Alice Paul wrote the original Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. She warned, “We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government.” She also called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women.”

Would she be welcome at the Women’s March on Washington this week?

NOTE: For a practical way to support life, consider Heroic Media. They place online ads for local pro-life pregnancy centers next to Planned Parenthood ads. Their ministry has helped save more than 13,000 lives from abortion. For information about their work and upcoming prayer luncheon, click here.

ALSO, I want to invite you to join the Dallas Baptist University Institute for Global Engagement and the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture for the Leadership Lecture Series featuring Matthew Dowd. Mr. Dowd is a political analyst for ABC News, a political consultant, founder of the ListenTo.Us political community, and co-author of the New York Times best-seller, Applebee’s America: How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community. He will reflect on the 2016 presidential election as well as the current state of American politics. I will then lead a time of discussion with him.

We will meet on Monday, February 6, at 7 PM in Pilgrim Chapel on the DBU campus. Tickets are $5.00 per person. For more information or to register for this event, please visit www.dbu.edu/ige.

 

Publication date: January 19, 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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A large man with white hair and a white beard visited Graceland last Sunday on the eighty-second birthday of Elvis Presley. Someone posted his photo on the Facebook page “Elvis is Alive.” Now conspiracy theorists claim that the man is Elvis himself.

They believe that Elvis faked his death in 1977 and has been living in seclusion ever since. They claim there were discrepancies with his death certificate, reports of a wax dummy in the original coffin, and several accounts of Presley planning a diversion so he could retire away from the public. Some followers have even formed the First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine. Presleyterians are required to face Las Vegas daily and make a pilgrimage to Graceland at least once in their lives.

If you were talking to Presleyterians today, how would you convince them that they’re wrong? You could cite medical evidence that Presley died on August 16, 1977, but they would claim that such evidence was falsified or misinterpreted. You could debunk every Elvis sighting so far, but they would claim that their hero remains in seclusion. At the end of the day, you’d have a hard time convincing them that they’re wrong. Of course, they’d have an even harder time convincing you that they’re right.

We live in a world of Presleyterian logic today.

Iranian officials unveiled a huge billboard in Tehran commemorating “Captured US Sailors” Day. A year ago, they seized ten American sailors and two US Navy boats they claimed entered their waters illegally. They held the sailors for fifteen hours before releasing them. In their view, this was a triumph for Iranian supremacy over the “Great Satan.” In our view, it was a brazen attempt to embarrass America and our leaders.

The inauguration of Donald Trump is this Friday. His critics point to his approval rating, the lowest of any president-elect in recent history. His supporters see such polls as another example of media bias infecting the public.

Philosopher Antony Flew observed that any valid truth claim must be capable of falsification. If supporters of a position will not accept any evidence contradicting their assertion, they are merely stating an opinion. Claiming Elvis is alive turns out to be like claiming Martians are living in your back yard—if no evidence can dissuade you, you cannot persuade us.

This is how many people view Christianity—a superstitious faith founded on wish fulfillment whose followers refuse to change their beliefs regardless of the evidence. But they’re wrong. According to Paul, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). The resurrection is the “rope from which we swing,” the historical fact that demonstrates the historicity of our faith.

Here’s the catch: people in the twenty-first century cannot witness a resurrection that occurred in the first century. Therefore, we must be the evidence they seek. We must be so yielded to God’s Spirit that God’s Son can live his resurrected life in us. This and nothing less is Jesus’ intention for your life and mine today.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John . . . they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). If I ask those you meet today if you have “been with Jesus,” what will they say?

NOTE: I invite you to join the Dallas Baptist University Institute for Global Engagement and the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture for the Leadership Lecture Series featuring Matthew Dowd. Mr. Dowd is a political analyst for ABC News, a political consultant, founder of the ListenTo.Us political community, and co-author of the New York Times best-seller, Applebee’s America: How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community. He will reflect on the 2016 presidential election as well as the current state of American politics. I will then lead a time of discussion with him.

We will meet on Monday, February 6, at 7 PM in Pilgrim Chapel on the DBU campus. Tickets are $5.00 per person. For more information or to register for this event, please visit www.dbu.edu/ige.

 

Publication date: January 18, 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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