Wheaton challenges Governent policy

by Richard Rose 19. July 2012 01:03

Wheaton College today joined other religious institutions in filing lawsuits over the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services mandate. President Philip Ryken spoke with Christianity Today about the college’s decision.

How did you decide to pursue the lawsuit?

The Wheaton College Board of Trustees has been concerned about the Health and Human Services mandate from the very time that it was first delivered to us, back in September. The Wheaton College board has been keeping abreast of developments throughout the year. I have written on several occasions both to the secretary of Health and Human Services and to the President expressing our concerns on issues of religious liberty as it relates to the mandate. We’ve also been working in concert with other evangelical institutions here at the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities throughout the year on these issues. By May, the Wheaton College Board of Trustees decided that no remedy was yet forthcoming and therefore it was important for us to file a lawsuit. However, we decided we wanted to wait until the Supreme Court made its decision on the health insurance mandate generally, at the end of June, in case there would be some remedy forthcoming through the Supreme Court decision. When that proved not to be the case, we were ready to file a lawsuit.

Is there any danger in at least appearing political with this lawsuit?

Wheaton College is not a partisan institution and the effect of our filing on any political process has played no part at all in any of our board discussions on the issue. The timing of things is driven primarily by the mandate itself. Wheaton College stands to face punitive fines already on January 1, 2013, and I am welcoming incoming freshmen in two weeks. It’s already an issue for us in terms of our health insurance and what we provide for this coming academic year. Although we wanted to wait for the Supreme Court decision out of respect for the legal system, we do not believe that we can wait any longer.

Is there a particular angle you’re taking in this lawsuit that other Christian colleges aren’t taking?

The circumstances of each college or university will be unique, depending on the structure of the health insurance they provide or on specific ethical standards within their community. I probably can’t comment on any specific differences between Wheaton and Geneva, say, or Colorado Christian University. I see a strong similarity in that the issue for us is abortion-inducing drugs, as it is for them. But more broadly, because of our Christian convictions on that issue, we believe there’s a very important religious liberty issue at stake in all of this. I think the other institutions that have filed are also doing it primarily because of their concern to protect the freedom of religion in the United States.

You did a press conference this morning with the leader of a Catholic institution. Is there any danger of watering down theological differences between evangelicals and Catholics, or is it advantageous to work together on this issue?

Our board felt strongly that if the possibility presented itself, we had a strong interest in filing alongside a Roman Catholic institution. This is fully in keeping with Wheaton’s convictions. We’re clear on our Protestant identity and there are many areas of theological disagreement that we have with Roman Catholic colleges and universities. This filing is not a way of suggesting that those differences have in any way been erased. But here’s an issue where we have strong agreement, and that is the value of religious freedom for all people everywhere. We also believe that we have a stake in the success of Catholic institutions winning their religious freedom arguments. Even if [contraception] is not a universal point of conviction for Protestants the way that it is for Roman Catholics, we believe that Catholic institutions should have the freedom to carry out their mission without government coercion. That struggle for liberty is a struggle for our own liberty and, we would argue, a struggle for the liberty of all Americans.

Do you expect pushback or confusion from alumni or the outside community?

I expect very strong support from Wheaton College alumni for this filing. Almost anything that Wheaton does will engender opposition as well as support. It may be that there are alumni who no longer share the convictions of our community covenant about the sanctity of life. I’m not sure what other objections people might have. More generally in our culture people have ignored this issue—partly because they think it’s primarily a Catholic issue, partly because there’s an attitude that’s fairly pervasive in our culture that religious people or people of religious convictions should really get with the program on whatever issue it is. In this case, it’s providing abortion-inducing drugs along with other legitimate areas of concern for women’s health. I think most Americans have not considered seriously the religious liberty issue that’s at stake. So part of our interest in filing alongside a Roman Catholic institution is to help the American public see that this is a fundamental religious liberty issue and not, for example, merely an issue over contraception.

When you say abortion-inducing drugs, what are specific drugs you’re concerned about?

The definition of “contraception” in the HHS mandate includes morning-after and week-after drugs, which Protestants and Roman Catholics both recognize as abortifacient drugs and not merely contraceptive drugs. Furthermore, the Secretary of Health and Human Services in some of her public comments has made it clear that these are drugs that prevent in some cases or in many cases the implantation of a fertilized egg. So even though the government is using a definition of contraception that we think is morally misleading, in terms of the science of what these drugs do, there’s little public disagreement about their effect. The only difference of opinion is about the moral implications of that effect.

Does Wheaton provide contraception to its students? If an unmarried student goes to the health center for contraception, what happens?

Wheaton provides students insurance coverage, including contraception for married students who are covered by our college health plan. Our filing actually is not dealing directly with student healthcare; it’s dealing with faculty and staff healthcare. Many of our students receive insurance through their own family insurance—probably two-thirds of them. But we certainly provide coverage that relates to contraception for married faculty and staff.

Do you know if that includes the abortifacient pills?

It does not include abortifacient drugs. No.

You said you were concerned with students coming in and how to cover them. Can you explain how this applies to employee health plans and student health plans?

The status of student healthcare plans is more confusing—there’s been a lack of clarity coming from the government on what is or is not covered. So for the present, our focus is on faculty and staff healthcare coverage. That’s what our filing relates to.

Are there policies in place for if an unmarried student asks for contraception?

We do not provide contraception through our on-campus healthcare.

It seems like it’s fairly unusual for Wheaton to do something like this. Is it a big step? Does it feel out of your comfort zone?

We are reluctant filers. We’ve been appealing to the government all year to provide an exemption for religious institutions— not merely churches, but other religious institutions. It’s our conviction that institutions like Wheaton College have religious freedoms too that ought to be protected by the United States Constitution. It’s very distressing to have to come to a point of actually filing a lawsuit on these issues. It’s a matter of strong conviction and our board is unanimous that this is the right step to take for Wheaton College. It’s certainly unprecedented for us to file a lawsuit against the government, and we’re doing it only as a last resort.

Did you feel any pressure from evangelicals who felt this was an important battle to join or are you risking backlash from others?

Our decision has not been a matter primarily of conversation with the evangelical community. No one has been lobbying us on this issue. It’s just an issue we are concerned about as a board and also in conversation with other evangelical colleges and universities that have similar concerns.

Why do you think higher education groups are so involved with this?

First, the mandate does not apply to organizations that have fewer than 50 employees, so many smaller Christian ministries will not be affected by this. So that may be one reason—all the colleges and universities are much bigger than that. The other thing is because Christian colleges and universities are connected with Washington concerns on other issues, we’re probably more aware of what’s happening in Washington than many other ministries might be. But I think by the time all is said and done there will be non-educational institutions from the evangelical community that also will be filing suit on this issue if they have not done so already.



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The New Pro-Life

by Richard Rose 13. July 2012 02:49

Things keeps getting more interesting in our world. This from Break Point


The New Pro-Life
Time for an Upgrade

John Stonestreet - July 13, 2012

At a worldview seminar I led years ago, a man approached me and said, “I’m pretty interested in the biotechnology issues you mentioned in your talks, but they don’t have a lot to do with my line of work.”

“Well, what do you do?” I asked.

“I’m an economist,” he said. “I lead a non-profit group out of our university that advises third world governments about viable economic structures and issues. So we don’t deal with biotechnology.”

I was tempted to scream out loud, but instead I offered a few scenarios. “Well, what about the black market for organs?” I asked. “An estimated 20,000 kidneys are illegally marketed each year by folks in poverty who receive thousands of dollars to meet the demand of the over 100,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list. Does that impact your work?”

I then brought up the issue of medical tourism, where certain medical procedures that are much cheaper outside of the West create a new industry in countries that lack any framework for patients’ rights, regulations, or resolving malpractice disputes.

For example, in 2008 an older Indian couple with British citizenship decided to use a sex-selection process to have a son. But because they were deemed too old by British law for the procedure, they went to India for the procedure and then returned to the UK for the birth. Well, when the 59-year-old mom gave birth to twin girls instead of the boys they expected, reports say they abandoned the twins at the hospital.

New technologies provide the potential for made-to-order babies, diagnosing diseases in utero, living longer and more expensive lives, deeper integration with machines and computers, and replacing face-to-face friendships with virtual ones. And these technologies are not only far outpacing our ethics; they are even outpacing our awareness. This is bad news to those of us who are committed to defending the sacred dignity of all human life.

The speed, the depth and the breadth of biotechnology means the stakes are higher than ever before. Bioethicist John Kilner, who is editor of the book Why the Church Needs Bioethics, says, “Abortion and euthanasia are taking life; cloning and IVF are making life; and nanotechnology and cybernetics are faking life.”

Dr. Kilner is one of my guests this weekend on BreakPoint This Week. If you didn’t understand his quote, or if you’re not sure how it impacts your life, you’re not alone. Many Christians are in that same boat. But it’s time Christians catch up and become what Scott Rae – my other guest this weekend – calls, “Pro-Life 3.0.”

According to Dr. Rae, a professor of ethics at Talbot School of Divinity, most churches are Pro-life 1.0, in other words, we’re up to speed on the taking of life: we tend to stand against abortion and euthanasia.  And some of us are up to speed or at least getting up to speed on pro-life 2.0, or the making of life. This includes challenges surrounding fertility treatments like IVF and surrogacy. (But we still have a long way to go on this one. I mean, how many young married couples, even in our churches, utilize in vitro fertilization without realizing they’ve created excess embryos that will either be discarded, abandoned, or selectively aborted? And how many know which birth control pills are abortive and which are not?)

But we now face issues not only concerning the making and taking of life, but of remaking life. The astounding speed of technology allows us to use what was intended for healing diseases or sickness to enhance or improve people. And as we’ve mentioned before here on BreakPoint, this brings with it the threat of eugenics.

This weekend, BreakPoint This Week offers a crash course on upgrading to Pro-Life 3.0. I hope you’ll listen on your local radio station or by visiting BreakPoint.org and clicking on the “This Week” tab. Once informed, churches can begin to help their people make wise decisions about bioethical issues they’re confronted with every day. But ignoring these issues won’t make them go away.


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The Rock Solid Bible

by Richard Rose 12. July 2012 01:10

This is a very interesting video. It is actually an ad for "The Rock Solid Bible," but is very well done. It speaks of the value of reading the Bible and adapting it as your lamp for life. Type the link into your browser and enjoy.

 

http://youtu.be/5LKzKdxxsfs



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For the Sports Enthusiasts

by Richard Rose 11. July 2012 03:09

A Quest of His Own
A Knuckleball and Faith

Eric Metaxas - July 11, 2012

If the baseball season ended right now, Mets’ pitcher R. A. Dickey would probably win the National League Cy Young Award. Going by the numbers, he is having a season for the ages.

But Dickey’s story goes far beyond the numbers. It would be worth hearing even if he were an ordinary pitcher.

But he isn’t: Right now at the All Star break, Dickey has a 12-1 record. He leads the National League in wins and complete games and is second in strikeout and walk rate.

The last number is perhaps the most extraordinary of all. You see, Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher, the only one in the major leagues. I won’t explain how a knuckleball works — that’s like explaining how a bumblebee flies — but, suffice it to say, the knuckleball, unlike a fastball and a curveball, seems to have a mind of its own, which makes it notoriously hard to hit and even harder to control. Dickey’s command of the pitch is virtually unprecedented.

The arc of Dickey’s career is also unlikely: He didn’t make it to the big leagues until he was 28 years old. He is missing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow; that’s the ligament replaced in Tommy John surgery.  As he put it, “Doctors look at me and say I shouldn’t be able to turn a doorknob without feeling pain,” much less pitch in the major leagues.

Until this season, his record was mediocre at best; but considering his medical condition the fact that he’s playing baseball at all is amazing. This year he’s gone beyond amazing: He’s the biggest reason my hometown Mets, who were expected to finish last, are still in contention halfway through the season.

But the best part of this story is the one that he tells in his recent autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.”

As you may have guessed from the subtitle, Dickey is a Christian. Specifically, he is a thoughtful and articulate Christian. His locker doubles as a kind of clubhouse library, “filled,” as Sports Illustrated put it, “at any given moment with anything from C. S. Lewis to Tolkien to...F. Scott Fitzgerald.” As a result, “he is the rare ballplayer whose interviews are parsed on the vocabulary.com blog.”

I know whereof I speak; I got an email from Dickey recently in which he used the adjective “laggard.”  Not typical for a baseball pitcher.  What he has to say in the book is even more important than how he says it. Sports Illustrated calls his autobiography “a brutally honest account of family woes, childhood abuse and his failures as a husband and father,” adding that “it might be the finest piece of nonfiction baseball writing since [Jim Bouton’s] “Ball Four”.”

And at the heart of Dickey’s account is his faith. He became a Christian while in high school, partly in response to a traumatic childhood that included being sexually abused by two different people.

But that wasn’t the end of his struggles — far from it. In being so honest about his quest to find the peace that comes from authenticity and truth, Dickey provides hope to those of us who also struggle with our past and with ourselves.

It also provides a kind of witness to the Gospel that non-Christians usually do not hear. He’s a stereotype-buster in so many ways, and he’s busting the stereotypes in the country’s media capital.

And that’s why, even if you don’t follow baseball, the story of R. A. Dickey’s quest is worth knowing.

Of course, we have his book, “Wherever I Wind Up,” available for you at our online bookstore at BreakPoint.org. Stop by and get a copy for yourself or for that sports fan in your life.BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll have some articles — and even a free, downloadable study by one of Chuck Colson’s favorite theologians, T. M. Moore — that will give you some food for thought and help you fight the busyness trap.


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Eric Metaxas

by Richard Rose 10. July 2012 06:10

Eric Mataxas wrote a very interesting column on today's Breakpoint. Here it is. Let me know what you think. 

 

We Could Use Some Rest
Busyness and Angst

July 10, 2012

For the past few months, the New York Times has been running a series on anxiety at its “Opinionator” blog. According to the Times, “for many,” anxiety “is not a disorder, but a part of the human condition.” The series’ stated goal is to explore “how we navigate the worried mind, through essay, art and memoir.”

Reading the contributions, I’m struck by two things: first, the worries and anxieties being discussed are, for the most part, the epitome of what has been dubbed “first world problems.” What’s being explored isn’t the struggle to make ends meet, much less the hand-to-mouth existence that billions around the planet struggle with.

Nor is it the stuff of mood disorders that require medical help. Instead, it’s the stuff of “angst,” a kind of dread that comes from the suspicion that life, as we presently live it, doesn’t make sense.

Well, it doesn’t, which makes the conspicuous absence of faith in the discussion — my second observation — all the more, well, conspicuous.

A telling example is a recent entry entitled “The Busyness Trap” by Tim Kreider. Kreider points out that when most people say that they’re “busy,” they aren’t talking about working multiple jobs to put food on the table or “pulling back-to-back shifts in the ICU.”

No, the busyness being complained about is “almost always...self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve ‘encouraged’ their kids to participate in.” It’s the busyness of people who “feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.”

According to Kreider, what lies behind this busyness isn’t simply ambition and drive; it’s also a “dread [of] what they might have to face in its absence.” That’s because “busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, [and] a hedge against emptiness.”

It’s our way of telling ourselves that our lives “cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless” if we are “in demand every hour of the day.”

Reading Kreider’s words, Jesus’ invitation to the crowd in Matthew 11 came to mind, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” One of the reasons the Gospel is good news is that it says something we desperately need to hear: “You don’t have to try so hard. You are loved and valued beyond imagination. Nothing you do can possibly make that more true.”

The flipside of the good news is that the rejection of Jesus’ invitation to put on His yoke makes us vulnerable to the kind of ceaseless and pointless striving that Kreider describes. As St. Augustine famously wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

While it’s easy to find examples of this restlessness here in New York and in Washington where my BreakPoint colleagues live, it’s by no means limited to these places, and if we’re honest, not limited to non-Christians.

That raises the disturbing possibility that one of the reasons faith is conspicuously absent from the Times’ discussion of anxiety is that there aren’t enough examples of faith making a difference, that we Christians are as busy as everybody else. And that should leave all of us, if not anxious, at least a tad bit concerned.

Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll have some articles — and even a free, downloadable study by one of Chuck Colson’s favorite theologians, T. M. Moore — that will give you some food for thought and help you fight the busyness trap.


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Living Life

by Richard Rose 6. July 2012 01:27

I think at times, speaking for myself, I forget that I am God's and He is my Master. I plan ahead only to be reminded that He wants to direct my life if I will let Him. Listen to this.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.



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Sobering Thoughts from Oswald Chambers

by Richard Rose 5. July 2012 05:44

July 5th

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5.

Don’t calculate without God.

God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the things we have calculated on without taking Him into account. We get into circumstances which were not chosen by God, and suddenly we find we have been calculating without God; He has not entered in as a living factor. The one thing that keeps us from the possibility of worrying is bringing God in as the greatest factor in all our calculations.

In our religion it is customary to put God first, but we are apt to think it is an impertinence to put Him first in the practical issues of our lives. If we imagine we have to put on our Sunday moods before we come near to God, we will never come near Him. We must come as we are.

Don’t calculate with the evil in view.

Does God really mean us to take no account of the evil? “Love … taketh no account of the evil.” Love is not ignorant of the existence of the evil, but it does not take it in as a calculating factor. Apart from God, we do reckon with evil; we calculate with it in view and work all reasonings from that standpoint.

Don’t calculate with the rainy day in view.

You cannot lay up for a rainy day if you are trusting Jesus Christ. Jesus said—“Let not your heart be troubled.” God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command—“Let not …” Haul yourself up a hundred and one times a day in order to do it, until you get into the habit of putting God first and calculating with Him in view.

Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.



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Happy Independence Day

by Richard Rose 4. July 2012 00:36

May you experience the joy of true freedom  today through the love of Jesus Christ. Enjoy the holiday and keep Him in you heart and celebration. 

But we must remember that in celebrating our freedom, it came with a price. A.W. Tozer commenting on the church notes that God's blessing seems most present when the "Church" is wild about obeying Him. Listen to this thought: The only way to power for such a church is to come out of hiding and once more take the danger-encircled path of obedience. Its security is its deadliest foe. The church that fears the plow writes its own epitaph: the church that uses the plow walks in the way of revival.

Tozer, A. W. (2007). The Best of A.W. Tozer Book One (243). Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.



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Who rules?

by Richard Rose 3. July 2012 08:09

As I was in W.Va. Friday evening with my family, we experienced the severe weather that impacted the area. When the wind hit, we saw branches breaking off of trees and going straight up in the air. I had never seen that before. That storm knocked out power throughout the southern part of Ohio, much of W.Va., Va., and other areas. One minute it was sunny and 90+ degrees, within 10 minutes things changed for millions of people. We saw that again to a lesser degree Sunday evening when another storm came through and the wind ruined docks at Tappan Lake marina. We sometimes think that things are under control, but God steps in to remind us that He still is on His thrown and quite capable of changing our world without warning.



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News from Washington

by Richard Rose 29. June 2012 00:02

I found Joel Rosenberg's post very interested and wanted to share it with you in light of the Supreme Court Ruling yesterday. Let me know what you think.

 

SUPREME COURT DECISION MAKES IMPLOSION MORE LIKELY

Health law to add $1.15 trillion to national debt.

Joel C. Rosenberg

(Washington, D.C., June 28, 2012) -- A disastrous, appalling decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court today. The Court upheld the individual mandate and socialized medicine, saying both are constitutional, despite the fact that a recent poll found 68% of Americans want all or part of the law repealed.

The federal government can now force us to buy what we don't want. Washington politicians and bureaucrats will become the final arbiter of our most personal medical decisions, rationing care for many and denying care to some who are not deemed worthy of receiving it, especially if the care is expensive. The "Affordable Care Act" (nicknamed "Obamacare") nationalizes 1/7th of our economy, imposes one of the largest tax increases in American history on an economy already struggling, massively increases government spending, and will increase the national debt by $1.15 trillion, according to a recent study.

This, despite the fact that we already have a crushing federal debt of more than $15 trillion, and another $65 trillion in unfunded liabilities related to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid coming at us with breakneck speed. Our ship of state is hurtling towards massive debt icebergs, yet rather than slow down or change direction, we are accelerating our deficit spending.

Bottom line: the implosion of the American economy has just become more likely.

Consider the facts (links to all these facts are on the blog):

* Congressional Budget Office report says "Affordable Care Act" could cost 20 million private sector employees to lose their health care coverage

* Full CBO report (PDF)

* Study finds "Affordable Care Act" will impose more than $500 billion in tax increases on U.S. private sector

* Study finds "Affordable Care Act" will increase budget deficit by more than $1.15 trillion

* Full study (PDF)

* Top doctor's chilling claim: British National Health System kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year

* "Up to 20,000 people have died needlessly early after being denied cancer drugs on the NHS"

[To read these stories in full -- and/or to read excerpts from IMPLOSION, and/or to find links to the latest news and analysis of events and trends in the U.S., Israel, Russia, and the Middle East -- please go to: http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/.]



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