“As an advocate of Birth Control, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the “unfit” and the “fit,” admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit though less fertile parents of the educated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.

“Birth Control is not advanced as a panacea by which past and present evils of dysgenic breeding can be magically eliminated. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism.

“But to prevent the repetition, to effect the salvation of the generations of the future–nay of the generations of today–our greatest need is first of all the ability to face the situation without flinching, and to cooperate in the formation of a code of sexual ethics based upon a thorough biological and psychological understanding of human nature; and then to answer the questions and the needs of the people with all the intelligence and honesty at our command. If we can summon the bravery to do this, we shall best be serving the true interests of Eugenics, because our work will then have a practical and pragmatic value.”

 

(Margaret Sanger, “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” Oct 1921)

Margaret Sanger on Birth Control and Eugenics

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK-Memorial

 

Few Americans have impacted our nation to the degree like that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This holiday is always an important one, especially in light of the recent, racial turmoil over several police shootings between 2014-2015. For me, it’s both a sober day and a hopeful one. One never knows how much good is possible until making the effort. There are other instances where very little headway is made at all. In the end, I live in the space between both poles. It is a place of tension. The same goes for my fellow Americans and the rest of humanity throughout the globe. Thank you, Lord, for Dr. King, Jr. and the gift of his life.

“Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset…, a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church; for others, occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for religious entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies, and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so somehow expand our otherwise humdrum lives. The religious life is defined as the newest and the latest: Zen, faith healing, human potential, parapsychology, successful living, choreography in the chancel, Armageddon. We’ll try anything — until something else comes along.”

 

(Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p 16, 2000)

 

The Tourist Mindset of Today’s Religion

“The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.”

 

(A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p 69, 1982 – Tozer Legacy Edition; original pub date, 1948)

Cultivating Faith vs Instant Faith

Reflecting on the Fall Season

I’m enjoying a much needed hiatus after a rigorous fall semester at Talbot School of Theology. The workload caught me by surprise even though I had been in graduate school twelve years ago. I thought that I’d take to the classroom like a duck to water. In one sense, I soared higher than I thought possible; however, in another sense, I found myself struggling to organize my time into a schedule that suited me. The demands of the private sector are quite different. I knew my schedule and adjusted things accordingly. In the academic environment, the class time is known, but not the hours needed to complete the work. It is this aspect that flayed me in the first half of the fall semester.

The more I connected with my peers, the more I realized that I was not alone in my struggle to create a schedule and stick to it. Of course, the upcoming spring semester only gets tougher. I feel like I’m in the early stages of a role-playing game in dire need of experience points. One big plus has been settling into a local church earlier this summer, which was a season of transition. In the month of August alone, I left my Hollywood job, started seminary, and began exploring several churches in the Pasadena area where my wife and I call home. Back in March, my wife and I sought the Lord together about this year and decided that he was leading us to set down roots in Pasadena.

When August rolled around, it was comforting to know that seminary, church, and life in general began to settle down ever so slightly. For me, the local church piece was significant because I wanted to find a solid place for my wife and future family. We really resonated with the blend of the Word and the Spirit at Sovereign Grace Church in Pasadena. The elders stand for God and his word with humility and conviction. Personally, this was a big one for me, especially since I’m responding to God’s call on my life. Sadly, we visited many churches where the leaders either equivocated on controversial topics, or downplayed the importance of Baptism.

After listening to a couple of Sovereign Grace podcasts, and reading over their statement of faith, I knew that the leaders had a solid grounding in God’s word. Their embrace of the spiritual gifts wound up being another plus. Interestingly enough,what sold us on Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena had to do with the maturity of the people and the leaders. It just seemed like these folks knew what it meant to walk with the Lord in all of life’s circumstances. They practiced what they preached. Is this our church for the next decade? I don’t know. It definitely seems like the place to be throughout my seminary education. The way I see it, one step at a time.

Given the intensity of the previous semester, it refreshed me quite a bit to have a solid home church. My wife and I have a place from which to draw strength and to give back. Like I alluded to earlier, the next semester only increases in difficulty. I’m taking slightly more units, the content level goes up, and I have a child on the way. The temptation for me is to power my way through seminary. In fact, I even began the previous semester with that mindset. It did not take long for the Lord’s discipline to exert its effect. His target was the pride in my heart. It remains a central focus of his, but there is grace and mercy, too. I have needed the Lord to remind me of the importance of acknowledging the good that he has done in and through me.

“Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God, that is precisely what we see. Twentieth Century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God’s free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.”

 

(A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, 1961)

The Self-Sufficient God