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Police in Finland are investigating the leader of an entire denomination for publishing a booklet that disapproves of homosexuality.  The author of that booklet, which sets forth the Biblical teachings about sexuality, is also under investigation for the crime of “agitation against an ethnic group,” a statute which added “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes.  The maximum punishment is two years in prison.


I have blogged about Christianity in Scandinavia and Finland in particular, based on what I learned during my speaking engagements in those regions.  See my posts on the subject, for example, Confessional Lutheranism in Finland, Scandinavia’s Two Tracks of Christianity, and Challenges for Conservative Churches in Scandinavia.

The police came for the Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.  This is a church body that broke away from the established state church.  It was started by members of independent mission organizations, which have become the home of evangelical, conservative Christianity in the nordic countries.  The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese is committed to confessional Lutheranism and is a member, along with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, of the International Lutheran Council.

The church published a 24-page booklet entitled in English Male and Female Created He Them.  (The link will take you to the English translation.)  There is nothing hateful in the booklet.  It simply lays out what the Bible says about sexuality, including the teaching that homosexuality is against God’s design.

To learn more about this story, click here.

Dr. Gene Veith is the author of some 25 books, a retired literature professor, provost emeritus at Patrick Henry College, and director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Be Informed

Have you heard the news? “As more states look to ban abortion during pandemic, legal battles erupt nationwide.” Click here to read more from the Washington Post.

Be Equipped

Did you know that “The Supreme Court has agreed to take a case that will clarify the role of faith-based agencies in the foster and adoption system”? Read more about this landmark case by clicking here.

Be Encouraged

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The divorce rate has dropped dramatically since its high point in the 1980s and, particularly, since the “Great Recession” of 2008.  But so has the marriage rate of the middle class.


First, the good news

In 1980, there were 22.6 divorces for every 1,000 marriages.  That number has been in a gradual decline, but after 2008, when there were 18.7 divorces per thousand, the rate has dropped rapidly, as of 2008, to 15.1.

Now divorce rates and statistics are notoriously problematic and difficult to define, for reasons explained in this article.  The above numbers are for a single year, though marriages typically last for a number of years.  Statistically, the possibility of divorce for any given marriage grows with the number of years.  But other factors are also involved in such calculations, such as the divorced-but-remarried.  It used to be said that half of all marriages will end in divorce.  That generalization was contested, but it had some validity.

Click here to read more from Dr. Gene Edward Veith.

Dr. Gene Veith is the author of some 25 books, a retired literature professor, provost emeritus at Patrick Henry College, and director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

 

Be Informed

Have you ever wondered why “Abortion-rights advocates often have an advantage in the public debate because, with the help of media allies, they disregard anti-abortion activists whose witness undercuts their narrative”? Learn why here.

Be Equipped

Civil rights law matter because some have asked “the Supreme Court to rewrite our nation’s civil rights laws in a way that would directly undermine one of their main purposes: protecting the equal rights of girls and women.” Dr. Ryan Anderson explains why this is problematic here.

Be Encouraged

“Silence among the tombs, but then loud rumbling and a rolling stone—the earthquake and the empty tomb. And so today: We await the new creation of the Lord, when our mortal bodies will be changed. We wait, we wait, we mortal men. Let us comfort one another with the news of this broken silence and final victory.” –James M. Kushiner

 

“Every day in every way, we’re getting better.” This mantra emerged in the first decades of the twentieth century, a hallmark of the optimistic mindset that prevailed in many circles of academia and government. New scientific discoveries and technological innovations seemed to promise a brighter future. However, two world wars, the Great Depression and the Holocaust shattered that positive view of humanity — at least for a time.


Now, with the advent of new biotechnologies, naïve optimism is re-emerging. Will the brave new world of genetic engineering be a utopia? As new technologies emerge, Christians need to be mindful of their implications, and the ideals that lurk behind them.

In 1859, Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species, in which he described his theory of natural selection as the mechanism which drives biological evolution. Not long after that, people began to apply this principle to human society. According to “social Darwinism,” society has natural processes for eliminating its weaker members and promoting those who are more fit or better equipped to survive. This laid the foundation for the eugenics movement.

Nowadays, the word “eugenics” has a largely negative connotation: images of Nazi death camps spring immediately to mind. The word, meaning “good genes” or “good birth,” refers to all guided attempts to control and improve heredity. Many Americans are unaware that the United States has a history with eugenics as well. Popular supporters of eugenics in the Anglo-American world included Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, H.G. Wells and Alexander Graham Bell. The presidents of Harvard and Yale were on board. Funding came from Rockefeller, Carnegie and Kellog. In 1913, Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a letter:

“Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind. It is really extraordinary that our people refuse to apply to human beings such elementary knowledge as every successful farmer is obliged to apply to his own stock breeding. Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum. Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stocks, physically and morally … We have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.”

There were over 60,000 forced sterilizations in the United States between 1905 and 1970. Prisoners, people in institutions and the poor were targeted. The U.S. Supreme Court even upheld the constitutionality of eugenic sterilization laws in 1927. Even though World War II and the Nuremberg trials cast a shadow upon the whole eugenics enterprise, compulsory sterilizations continued in the US up through the 1960s.

In today’s society, there is no support for forced sterilization or segregation. However, with the powerful new ability to edit the genes of organisms (a technology called CRISPR-CAS9) we can alter living things at their most basic level relatively easily and inexpensively. Changes that used to require generations of selective breeding can now be accomplished much more quickly and precisely. Many genetic therapies to cure disease are on the horizon. Observers are quick to point out, however, that if we can alter human genes to cure diseases, we can also do so for so-called enhancement purposes, creating “designer babies.”

Even if these genetic changes never become state-mandated, we should not overlook the social pressures that people will be under to modify their children if this practice ever becomes widespread. Keeping up with the Joneses will take on a whole new texture.

Christians are not anti-science, but they are opposed to using technology in ways that fight against God’s intent for human life. We know that fallen human nature will favor the strong over the weak, the rich over the poor. However, we choose not to evaluate our children according to their physical traits or abilities. Instead, we see their value as God’s children, created by Him, precious to Him and redeemed by Him.

Churches need to become educated about the relationship between science, technology and the historic faith, so that we can be witnesses for life and for Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The Rev. Professor Scott Stiegemeyer teaches bioethics and theology at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. This article is reprinted courtesy of The Lutheran Witness and can be found online here.

 

Be Informed

Need something to listen to while you’re spending more time than usual at home? Pastor Tom Baker talks temporal authority and the two kingdoms on KFUO radio.

Be Equipped

Need help making the case for life beginning at the moment of conception? Here are 41 quotes from medical professionals and textbooks to help you do just that.

Be Encouraged

“Moms embody grace. God gives each of us an immediate friend and automatic defender even before birth. This He does—and so does she—without our earning or deserving it. As much as daughters and sons bring His blessings to their parents, so much also do mothers mediate His mercies to their little ones.” –Rev. Michael W. Salemink, executive director of Lutherans For Life

Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) will go down in history as the landmark Supreme Court case which redefined marriage in this country, granting same-sex couples throughout the land the right to marry. Keen observers have noted, however, that nowhere in the opinion of the majority (written by Justice Kennedy) is marriage itself ever actually defined.


 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2020

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Colossians 3:1-4, where the Bible says,  

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Philippians 2:5-11, where the Bible says,   

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Our conference title is long and complex. We could have chosen a shorter, punchier title, like: Adiós Davos. But we have a specific proposition to lay before the house, and before the public.


 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 11:47-50, where the Bible says,   

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

 

 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Ephesians 5:8-9, where the Bible says,   

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth).

 

That's the line. But how would he know what it feels like to be a woman? Especially since he's not a woman. I might feel like I'm all sorts of things, but that doesn't change who I am. I might feel tall, which is less of a stretch than feeling like I'm a woman. I might feel like I'm Native American, and find out I'm only 1/1024. But the gender ideology is stranger still. Male and female is written into every single chromosome of our bodies. XX or XY. It's a binary.


She predicted the fall of Troy. Warned about the Trojan horse. Foretold the death of Agamemnon. Yet no one listened. Poor Cassandra. It’s no fun being a prophet.

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 4:10-14, where the Bible recounts Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well. 

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 3:16-18, where Jesus says,   

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Matthew 4:8-11, where the Bible says,   

Again, the devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

“This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live” (Acts 7:19). “So that they might not live.” That’s the first martyr, Stephen. Recounting the slaughter of Hebrew babies, Stephen uses an interesting expression. “So that they might not live.”