Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Deteriorating Moral Foundation

I just saw a story on the news that can only make you say, "What on earth is going on in this world?" The story was about an armed robbery at a Chinese take-out restaurant. Two men with bandannas over their faces came into the restaurant. They held a customer at gun point, robbed him, then shot him in the knee. Believe it or not, that isn't even the most appalling part.

You see, all of this was caught by the security camera. In the background, leaning against a wall, were two teenage girls. This crime was happening right in front of their eyes, no more than 7 or 8 feet away. I know what you're thinking. This must have been terrifying for them. What did they do? Were they screaming? Crying? Perhaps just paralyzed with fear? Maybe they ran out of the store to get help. Perhaps they even exhibited extraordinary bravery and tried to help the victim. Any one of these would have been an expectable reaction. If I were to tell you that any of these happened on that surveillance video, none of you would probably be surprised.

I am sorry to say, however, that I just made all of those potential reactions up. So how did these two teenage girls really react to the violence before them? What did they do?

They laughed.

That's right. They laughed. While this man had two firearms in his face, likely with his life flashing before his eyes, these two girls thought this was one of the most hilarious scenes they've ever witnessed. Not until he was shot in the knee did they finally leave the room.

What is wrong with the youth of our world when two teenage girls can become so desensitized to violence that they react as if they are watching the latest stand-up routine? We should properly have a sense of disgust when we see such images. Even when we see them on the television or movie screens, these acts should inspire emotions in us that (at a minimum) make us uncomfortable.

But today violence is depicted graphically and realistically in the media, all under the umbrella of purported entertainment. As a society, we add fuel to the fire by patronizing this type of programming, giving it a larger and larger audience. The result is that we reap what we sow. When Bing Crosby becomes Quentin Tarantino and tap shoes become hand guns, why are we surprised that revulsion turns to laughter?

Christianity teaches us that the human heart is fundamentally depraved. Modern society lives in denial of this truth. What is the result of our failure to acknowledge our degenerate cravings and continuing to feed our corrupt desires?

They laughed.

Amendment to the PCUSA Ordination Requirements

On July 3, 2008, I wrote a blog entry titled "PCUSA opts for human authority instead of Biblical authority." Part of that entry discussed my disagreement with the proposed changes to the PCUSA ordination requirements and how I feared they could open the door to relativism within the church. This amendment would remove the requirement that candidates for ordained office live within the covenant of marriage or in chastity in singleness. In its place the new standard would allow the ordination of a candidate if they sincerely believed that the scriptures led them to their theological conclusions. Missing, however, were any fundamental beliefs that defined Presbyterianism. In other words, if a candidate felt sincerely led to the conclusion that Christ was not divine, then he or she could still be ordained. The ordaining body is never called to evaluate whether or not those professed beliefs are actually true. See the earlier post for more details.

I mentioned at the time that the proposed amendment needed to be approved by a majority of the Presbyteries in order to take effect. I thought I would give you all a quick update on how the votes are going.

As of December 4, 2008, 13 out of the 173 Presbyteries have held their votes. Of those, 12 have voted against the amendment.

Presbyteries voting against the amendment have been:
Central Florida (48 to 164)
Central Washington (7 to 55)
Eastern Oklahoma (49 to 56)
Florida (41 to 46)
Los Ranchos (35 to 143)
Mississippi (2 to 49)
Palo Duro (29 to 47)
San Diego (17 to 74)
San Joaquin (8 to 74)
Stockton (11 to 39)
Upper Ohio Valley (12 to 72)
Western Kentucky (17 to 42)

The only Presbytery voting in favor of the amendment was Monmouth. It appears to have been simply a vocal vote (i.e., aye versus nay) because at least on the site I checked the precise vote county for and against was not available.

The early trend is promising, but there are still 160 Presbyteries that have yet to vote (including my own, Baltimore, but it is probably safe to assume that Baltimore will vote in favor of the amendment).

I will try to include more updates on this issue as more results come in.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Podcasts on Hebrews

Under the "Biblical/Discipleship podcasts" on our website, we have started an exciting new series on the book of Hebrews. We are taking our time, going topic by topic to get the most out of this incredibly intricate book of the Bible. The overall theme for the author of Hebrews is to respond to Jewish converts to Christianity who were feeling tempted to return to their old lives. But in the context of making that argument, the author intertwines so many powerful theological themes that this book simply must have received divine inspiration.

The first six podcasts in the series are up already. Feel free to visit the website ( to download them to your computer for free. Of course, if you would like to join us live, the classes are held every Sunday morning at 9:15 am at Grove Presbyterian Church, 50 East Bel Air Avenue, Aberdeen, Maryland. The classes are in the Monroe Building (the large brick building separate from the main sanctuary bulding) on the second floor. We would love to see you.

By way of reminder, we also have podcasts on a wide variety of other topics including:

- An argument for Christianity
- Lessons from the book of Ephesians (including wives submitting to husbands)
- How God can order the genocide of entire societies in the Old Testament
- Postmodernism and its effect on society and the church
- And many more!

Please visit the "Podcasts/Other Resources" page on our site to find what you are looking for. God bless. Merry Christmas.