Why left and right (should) mourn the decline of marriage and the traditional family.

17 Nov

All they need is love, right?

From the Right:


Today, Brad Wilcox and Robert Lerman have a must-read piece at NRO on “what’s happening to the American family and why it matters for the health of the American Dream.” Here are four charts from their article that show that young men and women “who grow up in an intact, two-parent family have a leg up in today’s competitive economy.”

1.)  Children raised in intact families are more likely to acquire the human capital they need to live the American Dream: “Having two parents in the picture typically increases the amount of time, attention, encouragement, and money that can be devoted to a child’s education.” This also “protects children from the household moves and emotional stress associated with family instability” – two factors “that seem to hurt children’s odds of educational success in high school and beyond.” [See feature chart. Note: The "0" baseline on the graph represents single-parent families; these changes are all relative to single-parent families.]

2.)  Children raised in intact families are less likely to fall afoul of detours on the road to the American Dream: “A nonmarital birth, for instance, puts a real economic strain on both women and men. That’s partly because such births can derail schooling and decrease adults’ future chances of getting and staying married. And a stable family protects them against these kinds of detours.”



3.)  Young men raised in intact families make more money: Note that “one reason that these young women and men enjoy higher family incomes is that they are more likely to be married compared with their peers from non-intact families.” 



4.)  Young women raised in intact families earn more: In addition, young adults raised in intact families work more hours. “On average, the more hours you work, the more experience you gain in the labor force and the more money you make.”



From the Left (Robert Samuelson) on the massive social cost of all that freedom of self-fulfillment, expression, permissiveness, etc.

We Americans believe in progress, and yet progress is often a double-edged sword. “New choices for adults,” Sawhill writes, “have not generally been helpful to the well-being of children.”

The Family Deficit from the Washington Post

Belgic Confession: The Providence of God

17 Nov


We believe that this good God, after He had created all things, did not abandon them or give them up to fortune or chance,1 but that according to His holy will He so rules and governs them that in this world nothing happens without His direction.2 Yet God is not the Author of the sins which are committed nor can He be charged with them.3 For His power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that He ordains and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even when devils and wicked men act unjustly.4 And as to His actions surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire farther than our capacity allows us. But with the greatest humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us,5 and we content ourselves that we are pupils of Christ, who have only to learn those things which He teaches us in His Word, without transgressing these limits.6

This doctrine gives us unspeakable consolation, for we learn thereby that nothing can happen to us by chance, but only by the direction of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures so under His power that not one hair of our head – for they are all numbered – nor one sparrow can fall to the ground without the will of our Father (Mat 10:29-30). In this we trust, because we know that He holds in check the devil and all our enemies so that they cannot hurt us without His permission and will.7

We therefore reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God does not concern Himself with anything but leaves all things to chance.

1. John 5:17; Heb 1:3. 2. Psalm 115:3; Prov 16:1, Prov 16:9, Prov 16:33; Prov 21:1; Eph 1:11-12; James 4:13-15. 3. James 1:13; 1 John 2:16. 4. Job 1:21; Isa 10:5; Isa 15:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28. 5. 1 Kings 22:19-23; Rom 1:28; 2 Thes 2:11. 6. Deut 29:29; 1 Cor 4:6. 7. Gen 45:8; Gen 50:20; 2 Sam 16:10; Rom 8:28, Rom 8:38-39.

- See more at: http://www.scripturezealot.com/belgic-confession/#sthash.sQS3FGb7.dpuf

Let the Calvinist be accursed. How the Council of Trent made Reformed Theology anathema

11 Nov

From the great hymnologist, Augustus Toplady (original link from Monergism.com):

Luther died in the year 1546. The first session of the council of Trent had been held in the year preceding. After many and long adjournments, infinite wrangling, chicanery and intrigue, the council broke up for good, A. D. 1563. During these eighteen years, five pontiffs, successively, occupied the Roman chair; viz. Paul III. Julius III. Marcellus II. Paul IV. and Pius IV. The acts passed by this council, in the course of their five and twenty sessions, most glaringly demonstrate that church’s unabated abhorrence of the Calvinistic doctrines. Nay, if Petavius is to be believed (and, on a subject of this sort, there is no reason to question the testimony of that learned Jesuit), the council of Trent was called together, as much on Calvin’s account as on Luther’s: the condemnation of those [1] two reformers (whose doctrine concerning predestination, was one and the same) being, according to that historian, one of the main objects in view. I slightly touched on the tridentine decisions, in my former vindication [[244]] of the church of England. I shall, here, consider them more diffusively. The decrees of the council of Trent are the genuine, avowed, indisputable standard of popery. From them I extract the ensuing passages. Whoever reads them, will at once see, that Arminianism is the central point wherein popery and pelagianism meet.

“If any one shall affirm, that man’s free-will, moved and excited of God, docs not, by consenting, co-operate with God the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification; if, moreover, any one shall say, that the human will cannot refuse complying, if it pleases; but that it is unactive, and merely passive; let such an one be accursed[2].

[[245]] “If any one shall affirm, that, since the fall of Adam, man’s free-will is lost and extinguished; or that it is a thing merely titular, yea, a name without a thing, and a fiction introduced by satan into the church; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that all works done before justification, in what way soever they are done, [[246]] are properly sins, or deserve the displeasure of God, &e. let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall say, that the ungodly is justified by faith only, and that it is by no means necessary that be should prepare and dispose himself by the motion of his own will; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that men are justified, either by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone, or by a mere” [i. c. gratuitous] “remission of sins, to the exclusion of inherent grace and charity shed abroad in their hearts by the holy Spirit; or shall say, that the alone bounty of God is the grace by which we arc justified; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that justifying faith is no more than a reliance on the mercy of God as forgiving our sins for the sake of Christ; or that we are justified by such a reliance only; let such an one he accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that a regenerate and justified man is bound to believe that-be is certainly in the number of the elect; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, with positive and absolute certainty, that he shall surely have the great gift of perseverance to the end; let him be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the grace of justification does not accrue to any, but to those who are predestinated unto life; and that all the rest” [viz. all who are not predestinated to life] “are called, indeed, but do not receive grace, on account of their being predestinated to evil; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the laws of God are impossible to be kept even by such as are justified and in a state of grace; let him he accursed.” [By keeping the laws of God, the church of Rome evidently means a sinless obedience.]

[[247]] “If any one shall affirm, that the man who is once justified, cannot thenceforth sin” [i.e. so sin, as to perish finally], “nor lose grace; and, consequently, that he who falls and sins” [viz. unto death] “was never really justified; let such an one he accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that good works do not preserve and increase justification; but that good works themselves are only the fruits and evidence of justification already had; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the righteous, if they endure to the end by well doing and keeping God’s precepts, ought not, through God’s mercy and Christ’s merits, to expect and look for an eternal recompence for those good works which they have wrought in God; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the good works of a justified man are so the gifts of God, as not to be at the same time, the merits of the justified person himself; or that the justified person does not himself merit increase of grace, eternal life, and an increase of glory, by those good works which he performs through God’s grace and Christ’s merits, that is to say, if he die in a state of grace; let such an one be accursed.”

And now, what opinion can the reader form of Mr. Sellon’s veracity? Must not he, who dares to insinuate that “predestination is held by ten papists out of eleven,” be either a man of no reading, or a man of no truth? Admit the first, and he is too mean for contempt. Admit the last, and he is too bad for correction.

“But, it may be, the church of Rome, in the present century, differs from the church of Rome in the year 1503.” By no means. The members of that church are, for the most part, true and steady to her principles. Would to God I could say as much concerning the members of our own. By [[248]] continuing the historical chain, we shall quickly and clearly see, that popery and Arminianism have been ever since, as good friends as they were in the days of Wickliff, or at the breaking up of the council of Trent. I shall give two famous instances. The conduct of the Romish church toward Jansenius; and, more recently, toward father Quesnell, will plainly show, that popery and Calvinism are as far from shaking hands as ever.

He “never made me feel like a project.” The unlikely conversion of Rosaria Butterfield

11 Nov

Former lesbian, feminist scholar, turned PCA pastor’s wife sits down with Russell Moore to talk about her unlikely conversion.

Belgic Confession: The Creation of All Things

10 Nov


We believe that the Father through the Word, that is, through His Son, has created out of nothing heaven and earth and all creatures, when it seemed good to Him,1 and that He has given to every creature its being, shape, and form, and to each its specific task and function to serve its Creator. We believe that He also continues to sustain and govern them according to His eternal providence and by His infinite power in order to serve man, to the end that man may serve his God.

He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect.2 Some of these have fallen from the exalted position in which God created them into everlasting perdition,3 but the others have by the grace of God remained steadfast and continued in their first state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved that they are enemies of God and of all that is good.4 With all their might, they lie in wait like murderers to ruin the church and all its members and to destroy everything by their wicked devices.5 They are therefore by their own wickedness sentenced to eternal damnation and daily expect their horrible torments.6

Therefore we detest and reject the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are any spirits and angels;7 and also the error of the Manichees, who say that the devils were not created, but have their origin of themselves, and that without having become corrupted, they are wicked by their own nature.

1. Gen 1:1; Gen 2:3; Isa 10:26; Jer 32:17; Col 1:15-16; 1 Tim 4:3; Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11. 2. Psalm 103:20-21; Mat 4:11; Heb 1:14. 3. John 8:44; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6. 4. Gen 3:1-5; 1 Pet 5:8. 5. Eph 6:12; Rev 12:4, Rev 12:13-17; Rev 20:7-9. 6. Mat 8:29; Mat 25:41; Rev 20:10. 7. Acts 23:8.

- See more at: http://www.scripturezealot.com/belgic-confession/#sthash.NMiGjS4F.dpuf

What keeps teens in the faith (new study)

7 Nov

From Huffington Post:

The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: parents.

Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.

Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid-to-late 20s.

In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.

The connection is “nearly deterministic,” said University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the study.

Other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison.

“No other conceivable causal influence … comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth,” Smith said in a recent talk sharing the findings at Yale Divinity School. “Parents just dominate.”

Parent power

Several studies have shown that the religious behaviors and attitudes of parents are related to those of their children.

In research using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, sociologists Christopher Bader and Scott Desmond found that children of parents who believe that religion is very important and display their commitment by attending services are most likely to transmit religiosity to their children.

This is the fourth wave of the NSYR, a comprehensive national study first conducted in 2002-2003 among teens ages 13 to 17 and their parents. These early findings add powerful evidence of the importance of mothers and fathers as the study traces the path of young respondents, who are now ages 24 to 29.

One of the strongest factors associated with older teens keeping their faith as young adults was having parents who talked about religion and spirituality at home, Smith said.

Read the rest

Should the church be involved in politics? Well, what is meant by politics?

7 Nov

From Greg Forster:

Growing numbers of Americans want pastors to talk about politics. A generation ago, we learned the hard way that when churches take sides in partisan and ideological disputes, the result is disaster. But there is a legitimate reason public demand for political theology is rising, and there are ways to meet that need without having pastors endorse candidates.

The Pew Foundation reports that the number of Americans who want pastors to talk about politics has risen to 49%, rising six points in the last four years. A full 32% want pastors to endorse specific candidates. It’s not clear how many of them are aware that churches are (rightly) forbidden to do this as long as they are tax-exempt entities.

There are a lot of reasons for churches to be wary of getting involved in elections and public policy. It discredits the gospel; 6003555815_f4a2434100_zwhen the stewards of the gospel message advocate political programs, people naturally get the idea that the gospel message is a political program. Pastors often compromise moral standards in order to forge alliances with the least-imperfect of the very imperfect candidates available. And it prevents the church from being the “church universal,” the place where everyone meets on equal terms.

Moreover, politics is simply not an area of giftedness for religious leaders. Unscruplous politicians are very skillful at manipulating well-meaning pastors. That seems to be their area of giftedness.

We saw all these lessons in the debacle of the Religious Right movement. However, that was not just a one-time event. Throughout the last century, American churches became the dupes of cynical politicians time and again. Richard Nixon was caught on the Watergate tapes discussing how to manipulate evangelicals, saying things like “you have to give the nuts 20% of what they want.” Billy Graham, who had done a great deal for Nixon, wept when he heard those tapes.

Does that mean churches should steer clear of anything political? Actually, it depends on what you mean by “political.”

The hunger for churches to speak into politics is perennial for a good reason. Every area of life needs a moral purpose and clear ethical boundaries, and no area of life needs it more desperately than this one. Where no one is casting a profound vision for the transcendent meaning and purpose of an activity, that activity quickly descends into shallow narcissism and brutal exploitation. And because politics involves the use of coercive power, it descends into brutality more quickly than most activities.

For the last century, we’ve been caught in a vicious circle. Churches keep getting drawn into politics because people are desperate for a moral vision that can humanize politics and point it toward its proper end: justice. Then, churches take sides in elections and ideological disputes, resulting in disaster. So churches withdraw from politics, and the cycle begins anew.

I think we might break out of this cycle if we rethink what we mean by “politics.” This word comes from the Greek polis, which simply means “city” – that is, the civil community. The deepest level of politics concerns the way the public business of the civil community is structured. As the editors of the journal First Thingsonce put it, politics in the profoundest sense is “free persons deliberating the question, How ought we to order our life together?”

The “politics” that really count in America is not who wins the election. It’s whether we will remain a nation dedicated to what have been our central political commitments: religious freedom, constitutional democracy, the rule of law, recognition of the household as the central social building block, equal dignity for women, an entrepreneurial economy based on opportunity and hard work, and a special concern to extend opportunity to the poor and the marginalized. Are these commitments just? Do we even remember what they mean? Those are the real political questions of our day.

If you think these commitments are just platitudes – so obviously right that they can be taken for granted and don’t need strong champions to speak out for them – you aren’t paying attention. I don’t think we need pastors to pick candidates or debate the tax rate. I do think we need pastors to remind us that the purpose of politics is justice, and to remind us of what justice requires.

This is exactly what the pastor is supposed to be doing anyway: helping people interpret the meaning of their lives and understand what God requires of them in all areas of life. Human beings are political creatures, and a gospel that has nothing to say about politics (in the sense of the polis) is a gospel that doesn’t renew the whole human person for Christ. If pastors learned to preach about public justice effectively, there would be more public justice – and, therefore, less demand for pastors to pick candidates.

TPC_GregForster_bioGreg Forster  has participated in previous Public Squares on capitalism and religious trends.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/missionwork/2014/11/politics-in-the-pulpit-yes-and-no/#ixzz3IOZXDEjv

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/missionwork/2014/11/politics-in-the-pulpit-yes-and-no/#ixzz3IOZICijc

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