Category Archives: Babblings (Acts 17:18)

Historical Evidence

Evangelicals are trained to be highly suspicious of historical criticism. No wonder given how this critical tool has been used to undermine the truth of the Christian faith. Like most things, the problem wasn’t taking a critical view of historical evidence per se, rather the difficulty was the deistic and athiestic assumptions frequently grounding historical criticism.

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Are Children an Environmental Curse?

Doomsday environmentalists and various futurists regularly link environmental problems to population numbers. The argument goes, such and such country is having trouble because its birth rate is too high. If the West hopes to help these countries we must fund various forms of the euphemism “family planning.” The question for Christians is simply this? How do we harmonize Scripture’s positive view of children (i.e. be fruitful and multiply, Gen 1) with the apparently common sense notion that more people means more environmental and economic problems?

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Nuance or Black and White?

I recently read the interview of bioethicist John Wyatt by Andy Cheung. I am thankful that Dr. Wyatt is working for the cause Christian values. But I must admit at being a little irked at his comment regarding American Evangelical opposition to abortion-on-demand as lacking nuance and leading to harsh and polarizing rhetoric.

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Criminalization of Food

A December 7, 2010 Metro Reporter sub-headline reads “Gino D’Acampo, the winner of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, and fellow contestant Stuart Manning are facing criminal charges for animal cruelty after cooking and eating a rat on the TV programme.”  I have noted for sometime that the end result of animal rights legislation would be the criminalization of all kinds of human activities. It appears the slide toward moral devolution is occurring faster than I anticipated.

According to the story, these two contestants were hungry and decided to kill a rat and eat it. It seems the idea of the show is to put celebrities into difficult situations and see how they behave and interact with other contestants. For killing the rat, the two contestants have been charged with animal cruelty, which in Australia (where the filming occurred) can be a few years in prison (according to a Dec 7, 2009 AP article, Sydney).

I suspect the officials charge is over the killing of the rat was unnecessary and being recorded could be a kind of animal snuff-film. At the very least, we must commend the officials for not being biased against rats as animal rights protest industry activists wish. But I am concerned with the direction this kind of prosecution can go, in addition to being concerned that charges were brought up in the first place.

I believe these types of prosecutions will become more frequent in the years ahead. Animal rights protest industry activists will use them to test how far they can implement the elements of their religion. Let’s just say that sometimes the slippery slope argument (i.e. if this happens this result is inevitable) is a fallacy. But I must say that the predictions of those, like myself, regarding the end desires of the animal rights protest industry are beginning to become true. Thus the slippery slope argument isn’t always a fallacy.

Stephen Vantassel is a tutor of Theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School. He specializes in ethics (particularly environmental ethics and political commentary).

Copyright 2009. Stephen M. Vantassel.

Happy Hannukah

With the Festival of Lights upon us, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Hannukah. I think this is a celebration that Christians can enjoy too as it occurred after the victory over the Selucids that gave the Jews the freedom to worship the Lord in freedom.

Stephen Vantassel is tutor of theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School

Copyright 2009.

Indebtedness and Sin?

n the United States, several Christian ministries that focus on financial stewardship teach that Christians should strive to eliminate debt. Broadly speaking, they assert that the Biblical record strongly discourages indebtedness because it limits the freedom of the Christian to fulfill God’s plan. These ministries suggest Christians should strive to pay cash for purchases (avoid credit cards), live below one’s means, and pay down debt as quickly as possible. Additionally, they strongly encourage tithing arguing that it is an important part of our service to Christ. So what could be wrong with these ministries?

In one sense, absolutely nothing. These ministries have helped thousands of people put their financial house in order. The fact is, indebtedness can be a reflection of greed of needing to consume more than can be sustained by the means God has provided. But there is another side, perhaps an unintended side effect of these ministries. Sometimes adherents to their doctrine of debt-free-living, begin to think of debt as a form of sin and therefore radically change their lives to pay down debt and/alternatively establish a nest egg.

Let me be clear, debt is not a blessing. If Christians can reasonably avoid it, great. But I should point out that debt in Biblical times was not the same kind of burden as debt is today. The economy in the ancient world was agriculturally based. One couldn’t count on next  years crop being good enough to pay off this year’s debt as bad weather can destroy the entire crop. In addition, protections for bankruptcy didn’t exist. When you were broke, you lost everything; even your children could be sold into slavery.

I recently heard a sermon where the minister commented on the get rid of debt idea. He said something that I found quite thought provoking. He said, we need to be careful that our desire to eliminate debt is not a cover for our own greed. Where we accumulate and accumulate so as to protect ourselves from ever having to go into debt. Also sometimes the desire to be debt free eliminates our ability to spend money to help the weak now.  He argued that if we really believed in getting debt free then we should be able to do so in about two months. All we have to do is sell the house and downsize, sell the car and downsize etc. etc.

I think his point is well put. As in all things, we should strive for balance which is why we must pray for wisdom (cf. James 1). Ask yourself, is your debt crushing you? weakening you? or is it completely manageable with a reasonable review of your life situation? If changes are in order, change them. Then proceed to live accordingly as you serve God.

Stephen M. Vantassel is a tutor at Theology at Kings Evangelical Divinity School

Copyright 2009 Stephen M. Vantassel