John Piper’s Bloodlines: Chapters 3 and 4

While Piper includes chapter 3 in part 1, it could just as easily fit into part 2. He outlines the shifting demographics of both the church and the world. This change necessarily means the church must get the issue of race firmly settled on the cross of Christ.

In chapter 4, Piper gives three reasons, and then expounds on those reasons, why he focuses on black-white issues when there are so many other racial tensions in the world. One, it’s his story. Two, the uniqueness of slavery in the U.S. makes black-white issues more profound (though, if we take this reason alone, he would be amiss to neglect the Indian issue on similar grounds, though certainly different). Three, the post-civil-rights era has made so few improvements and, in fact, appears to be digressing in race relations and opportunities afforded to blacks, especially black males.

He then spends the the majority of the rest of the chapter dealing with how blacks, particularly prominent blacks, have looked at the issue. He quotes, at length, Bill Cosby, Juan Williams, and Michael Dyson.

In the middle of this overview, he also talks about white guilt and how whites continue to hold blacks in slavery through the entertainment industry—though, I’m not sure that is the best analogy he—or Juan Williams—could use here. In talking about this issue of white sin versus black sin, Piper says, “Since majority people don’t think of themselves in terms of race, none of our dysfunctions is viewed as a racial dysfunction. When you are the majority ethnicity, nothing you do is ethnic. It’s just the way it’s done. When you are a minority, everything you do has color.” An interesting take on the stereotypical way we view the sins of others.


Delaware: Another First

Not only was Delaware the first state of the union, they appear to be the first state to possibly outlaw spanking. Senate Bill 234, which has been signed by the governor states in § 1103A

Child Abuse in the second degree; class G felony
A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree when:
(1) The person intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury to a child who is 3 years of age or younger;

In and of itself that doesn’t seem to say anything about spanking, but in the definition section, we read these words:

“Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or pain.

This certainly would include spanking.

What is interesting is that in § 1103 we read these words:
Child Abuse in the third degree; class A misdemeanor.
(a) A person is guilty of child abuse in the third degree when:
(1) The person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to a child through an act of abuse and/or neglect of such child

While both could include spanking, if one wanted to push the envelope a little, couldn’t this second section include all kinds of things if the state got out of control. A silly example: when I taught all three of my children to ride their bikes, I knew without a doubt that they would fall. I was putting them, intentionally in a situation where pain would ensue. And it did. At some point in time, all of my children fell once the training wheels were off. And I did this on purpose!

As I said, a silly example. Nevertheless, when a nanny state takes over, all kinds of ludicrous interpretations ensue. While the state claims that easier prosecution of legitimate abuse cases is what they are after, not parental corporal punishment, couldn’t the difference hinge on who is interpreting the statute? And because of this, the law needs to be amended to allow an exception for parental corporal punishment. But of course, then the state will need to start defining more terms and more terms.

And thus the age old problem continues: in trying to protect some, whose rights do we trample on to do so.

John Piper’s Bloodlines: Chapters 1 and 2

A multi-part review of John Piper’s Bloodlines. Part 1 is here.

Piper takes chapter one and briefly tells his story of growing up in the segregated south. He talks, deliberately, about how segregation was bad for both races: obviously it demeaned African-Americans, but it also “had a deadening and defiling effect on the conscience of the white community.”

Piper talks about his own racist heart, despite his mother’s more Christian views. But what overrides chapter one is his dependence upon the gospel, not only for the cure for how he grew up and how the whole south grew up, but even for the present day. He confesses that he is not the multi-ethnic pastor that he could be, and for his short-fallings he depends completely on the grace of Christ.

Chapter two deals with the tension between our responsibility and the grace of God. He begins by talking about the debt he owes for his racist past, but he makes sure we understand that he is not talking about penance. In the same way that someone who breaks a window is responsible to pay for it—even if he has been forgiven—Piper feels the responsibility to show the world how the glory of God through the gospel of Christ is the only way to heal the damage between the races. “I must tell you the gospel or I will deny the grace reigning in me,” he says.

The second topic in this chapter is just an extension of the first: the church must represent Christ well in this area. The world looks at the church with its claims of a reconciling God and our credibility is at stake as we live out this truth or not—especially when it comes to how we do this with other races.

These first two chapters lay a foundation for the gospel to be the driving force behind the book as the answer for both individuals and the church to love those who are different than ourselves.

John Piper’s Bloodlines Part I

I had started John Piper’s Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian several months back but got derailed with other things. I am starting over and writing about it as I go.

Piper begins his book by defining some terms, which has to be done in today’s pluralistic, relativistic society. He would prefer to avoid the term race and spends an entire appendix on why it is a term that does not hold clear meaning. I would encourage anyone who starts this book to read this appendix first and not just the “A Note to the Reader on Race and Racism” section at the beginning. That was a little confusing to me without the larger context of the appendix, for Piper seemed to contradict himself—though, when I read the appendix, his meaning became clear—as he was distinguishing between race and ethnicity. The confusing line was “…ethnicity with a physical component and race with a cultural component.” Piper means with as alongside of, not with as containing.

Nevertheless, he continues to use race and racism in the book because “…they are too embedded in our language and in the thousands of books and articles and sermons and lectures and conversations that make up the world we must relate to.”

Finally, Piper’s definition of racism is taken from the PCA’s 2004 definition: “Racism is an explicit or implicit belief or practice that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races.”

With that, I will go forward and continue reading and writing about Piper’s views on how we treat and should treat one another in this world.

The U.N. and the Muslim Uprising

A couple of days ago, I posted about the White House’s attempt to get the video pulled from google to help stem the violence in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

Now the U.N. has jumped into the fray as well. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave his opinion on what constituted free speech. Here are a sampling of quote. Note, these quotes were taken from the article on Reuters. I have been unable to find the source or the actual text of what Ki-moon stated. It is possible that in the past he has condemned hateful rhetoric toward Christians as well, but I have searched some of his speeches and have been unable to find a statement toward that effect either.

“Freedoms of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose.”

“When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.”

“My position is that freedom of expression, while it is a fundamental right and privilege, should not be abused by such people, by such a disgraceful and shameful act.”

So again, where is the outrage against the humiliation of Christian values and beliefs? No one that I have read seems appalled at this blatant double standard. Could it be that the world is still too afraid of the terrorists to call out this hypocrisy. Have the terrorists already won?

The Slippery Slope

Conservatives like to use the slippery slope argument to point out why things they disagree with shouldn’t be allowed. If you allow x, it will eventually lead to allowing y.

“That would never happen,” cry others.

Abortion is one of those areas. We already see the horrific consequences of so called “partial-birth” abortion. And though the idea of infanticide is not new, it now has a new name: “after-birth abortion.”

The abstract of an article by Dr. Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini from The Journal of Medical Ethics:

“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

and in the conclusion:

“First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible, and we do not think that in fact more than a few days would be necessary for doctors to detect any abnormality in the child. In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold, as it depends on the neurological development of newborns, which is something neurologists and psychologists would be able to assess.”

The whole article can be accessed here.

Right, no slippery slope exists.

Abortion and infanticide are human rights issues. The left, which never had a leg to stand on in this debate to begin with, is coming closer and closer to losing all credibility in their worship of the god of selfishness.

Google, The White House, and the Arab Uprising

The White House asked google to take down the video that has caused the uprising and death in the Middle East. The request was couched in the belief that it violated google’s terms of service. Google has already taken it down in certain countries because “…it is illegal…” in those countries according to Google. The article does not say what terms of service the video violated.

But the whole article raises my curiosity: if the video insulting Mohammed supposedly violates Google’s terms of service, why don’t videos insulting Jesus violate Google’s terms of service? And don’t think there aren’t any. You might try a Google search.

Of course if we took down videos insulting Jesus, then we might be violating someone’s free speech rights. And we can’t have that, now can we—well as long as people don’t riot and kill folks. And since true Christians are peace loving people, enduring persecution and insult as our Savior did, well, then it’s ok, now isn’t it. The double standard is appalling.