What Hath Nature to do with Grace? An Exploration of the Bible’s Place in Higher Education.

Dr. Bruce Ashford (Provost and Professor of Theology and Culture at SEBTS) recently delivered this outstanding lecture in chapel at Southeastern. Dr. Ashford begins by surveying five views of the relationship between nature and grace, and concludes by giving a Kuyperian vision of the role of Christians in the world. You will want to take 30 minutes and watch this.


In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week, Dr. Bruce Ashford published an article at Desiring God discussing a renewing support for God-glorifying rap. Dr. Ashford writes:

Many people have recognized the corrosive and subversive nature of gangsta rap. Unfortunately, many also have neglected to recognize rap as a legitimate art form. But it is a legitimate form of artistic expression. Perhaps the best way to describe rap is to say, as Adam Bradley has, that it is poetic meter rendered audible. It is both music and literary verse, both word and song.

It is not merely speech or precisely song, but a mixture of both. “Simply put,” Bradley writes, “a rap verse is the product of one type of rhythm (that of language) being fitted to another (that of music)” (Poetics of American Song Lyrics, 37). The rapper’s toolbox includes rhythm, rhyme, and wordplay, and is often characterized by an emphasis on the rapper’s unique life story. So rap is an art form with potential to glorify Christ and serve humanity.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a retired pastor from New Orleans and was on the front lines during the destruction of Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago. In this recent article published on the Louisiana Baptist Message, he discusses how the recent Ashley Madison information leak is “a different kind of Katrina.” Dr. McKeever writes:

I got caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal and did something really horrendous for which I need to confess and apologize:
I became prideful because my name is not on that notorious list.
Those who have been ‘outed’ are worse sinners than me, I thought. My prayers became disturbingly similar to the boastful confession of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 – “God, I thank you that I am not as other men…”
And I was wrong. So embarrassingly wrong.

Ed Stetzer recently sat down with Thabiti Anyabwile to discuss leading the diverse body of Christ. Ed writes the following about Thabiti:

In case you don’t know Thabiti, he is one of the pastors for Anacostia River Church in Washington DC, he served as an elder and pastor in churches in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and the Cayman Islands, and he is the author of several books.

Earlier this week, Art Rainer posted this article on his personal blog on the importance of goals. Art writes:

Goals are powerful, but often overlooked, tools. Imagine you piled your family into your car for a weeklong vacation. Your spouse is excited. Your kids are excited. And about two minutes into the trip, your spouse asks, “So where are we going?”

You respond, “I don’t know. I had not thought about it.” I imagine what follows is not pretty.

There is no way you would embark on a weeklong vacation without knowing the destination. You would not waste your vacation driving aimlessly. And yet, we do this all the time with other areas of our lives. We embark on journeys without identified destinations, without goals.

In a recent post on the Christianity Today Her-menutics blog, Liuan Huska reminds us that Moses and Jesus didn’t have their dream jobs by 30, either, and that calling may look more like a wandering journey than a singular career path. Liuan writes:

People start asking the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” when kids are in preschool. I’ve had many responses along the way—a stock broker, a doctor, a journalist, to name a few. When I graduated high school ten years ago, I assumed that by now I would finally be living the answer to that question. Instead, I’ve given up on finding one.


Why Let All These Freshly Killed Babies Go To Waste?

By: Bruce Riley Ashford

It seems a pity to let all these freshly killed babies go to waste when we could creatively recycle them by selling them, or at least parts of them. So appears to be the logic of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), as revealed in video footage of top PPFA officials, released by the Center for Medical Progress. So far, four videos have been released.

The first video captures Dr. Deborah Nucatola, PPFA’s Senior Director of Medical Services, discussing over lunch PPFA’s sale of body parts of unborn babies. In the video, Nucatola is talking with actors who were posing as fetal tissue buyers from a human biologics company. She states that PPFA uses partial-birth abortions to supply body parts to researchers, says that PPFA will pay per-item for the harvested parts, and understands the need to cover up these practices in order to avoid legal liability.

At one point over her lunch and in between sips of wine, Nucatola explains how PPFA has honed the partial-birth abortion procedure so that it will produce intact baby parts. “We’ve been very good,” says Nucatola, “at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

In the fourth video, another PPFA employee, Savita Ginde, discusses a potential contract for fetal parts. Her responses make it seem that PPFA not only profits from a mother’s donation of the baby’s fetal parts, but may alter their procedures to provide more sales-worthy parts. The latter puts them in violation of ethical standards and potentially federal law for fetal parts collection. Later in the video, a medical tech exclaims “another boy!” as she crushes the baby boy’s skull and then “five star!” as she rates the baby’s kidneys.

In response to these videos, what should we do? We should find ways, as Richard John Neuhaus put it, to seek an America in which every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We must work for legal reform and cultural renewal. The debate over abortion and embryonic stem-cell research is not nearly as morally complex as pro-choice advocates make it to be. Hopefully, a generation or two from now, Americans will have as much moral clarity as they do now about slavery, genocide, and other evils.

These babies are persons. It doesn’t make sense when people deny that an unborn baby in the first trimester isn’t a baby and doesn’t even look like a baby. Of course it is and of course it does. It looks just like you and I looked when we were unborn baby humans.

We know this, even if we deny it. That is why some states have feticide laws that make it a crime to kill a fetus. If a drunk driver crashes into the car of a pregnant woman and accidentally causes the death of the unborn baby, he is charged. The baby is a person. Under the same logic, it should be argued that a fetus is a person when an abortionist intentionally takes its life.

Similarly, in the Planned Parenthood scandal, we see operative the recognition that the fetus is a human person already. If livers and kidneys and brains can be harvested and used to produce vaccines and therapies that fight sicknesses in (already-born) human persons, then it follows that those organs were harvested from (unborn) patients who are human persons.

Years ago, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals (ASPCA) pushed a vision of “no-kill cities.” They wished to put a stop to the euthanizing of diseased animals. Instead of euthanizing, they declared it best to put those animals up for adoption. Their commitment to this vision extended even to the payment of the animal’s long-term medical care. If we Americans care for animals, can we not also care for our own? One wishes Americans would have the same zeal for unborn babies that the ASPCA and many Americans have for animals.

These babies are created in the image and likeness of God. They are precious to him, and should be precious to us. Let us not lose this moment in American history, when many Americans might be experiencing an awakening of their consciences toward the horror of abortion. One way we can make the most of this moment is to speak up both in private and in public, and to do so not merely by denouncing the actions of PPFA, but also by speaking gospel words about our Lord’s love for his creatures.