Stan Lee wrote the stories of my youth

I just saw the news about the death of comic book mogul Stan Lee. I don’t know much about Stan Lee the man, but I do know something about the characters and worlds he created within Marvel comics. Lee’s stories and characters were a big part of my childhood. He didn’t create stereotypical superheroes. He humanized them in ways that a kid like me could relate to. The New York Times describes his work this way:

Under Mr. Lee, Marvel revolutionized the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.

In humanizing his heroes, giving them character flaws and insecurities that belied their supernatural strengths, Mr. Lee tried “to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality,” he told The Washington Post in 1992.

“That’s what any story should have, but comics didn’t have until that point,” he said. “They were all cardboard figures.”

This is absolutely correct, and it is why Lee’s signature character Spider-Man captured my imagination when I was in the fourth grade. Continue Reading →

A Hope Not on Offer in the Gnostic Gospels

Yesterday, I finished Elaine Pagels’ moving memoir Why Religion? A Personal Story (Ecco, 2018). If Pagels’ name is unfamiliar to the general reader, it is not to scholars of the Bible and early Christianity. Pagels has been writing provocative books about early Christianity and its interface with Gnosticism since the 1970’s. Her 1979 book The Gnostic Gospels was a popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi library that became a publishing sensation. Her work in this book caught the attention of a popular readership and garnered numerous awards.

She has written many other books since then, so her scholarly work has been well-known for decades now. And yet, this latest book, Why Religion?, seems different. It is a deeply personal narrative of her life, not just as a scholar but as a wife and a mother. Her account reveals that her work as an author has been deeply impacted by her own personal search for meaning in the midst of suffering. And her suffering has indeed been profound. Continue Reading →

If you accept transgender, then why not trans-aged?

The Washington Post reports that a man wishes to self-identify as twenty years younger than he actually is. Not only that, he wants the change reflected on his birth certificate. From the report:

Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old who feels like he’s in his 40s… is asking a court in his hometown of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, to change his birth certificate so that it says he took his first breath on March 11, 1969, rather than on March 11, 1949. The judges heard his case on Monday and promised they would render a verdict in the next several weeks.

Ratelband sees his request as no different from a petition to change his name or the gender he was assigned at birth — and isn’t bothered that this comparison might offend transgender people, whose medical needs have been recognized by the American Medical Association. It comes down to free will, he maintains.

“Because nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”

Folks are already dismissing Ratebland’s request as different from and offensive to transgender people. But the obvious question is why? In what way is this different from transgenderism? A closer look reveals that there isn’t very much of a difference at all.

According to transgender ideology, when a person feels himself to be something other than his biological sex, then his psychological identity trumps his biological reality. Ratebland is requesting the same consideration with respect to age. He feels himself to be younger than his chronological age. He’s simply asking for his psychological identity to be recognized over his chronological reality. If it is wrong and oppressive to refuse to recognize the gender identity of the transgender, then why is it any less wrong and oppressive to refuse to recognize the chronological identity of the trans-aged?

Of course, I am not at all supporting Ratebland’s claim. I’m simply pointing out that the identity claim that he is making is no different than the one being made by a transgender person. If you accept one, consistency demands that you accept the other. To accept the one while refusing the other is… well… inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. Either a person’s self-identification trumps all other objective indications or it does not. You can’t have it both ways.

But there will be some who will try. Just watch. They will embrace transgender claims while rejecting out-of-hand trans-aged claims, and they will embrace the inconsistency without acknowledging it as such. How do we know? Because that is how they responded to the transracial claims of Rachel Dolezal. I expect nothing different here.

Transgender ideology is a black hole of illogic, sucking toward it all manner of unreasonableness and contradiction. It is a testimony to the power of LGBT propaganda that so few people in our culture detect the contradictions. But the contradictions are no less salient simply because so many people refuse to see them. The inconsistency is a real and obvious, and it serves no one to pretend otherwise.

Pediatricians say spanking is bad. Are they right?

The American Academy of Pediatricians argues in a new policy statement that spanking is bad for children (see video above). NBC News describes the report this way:

Parents who hit their kids may believe that a swat “just gets their attention” or imposes old-fashioned discipline, but spanking in fact makes behavior worse than it was before and can cause long-term harm, pediatricians said Monday. Continue Reading →

John Piper on Pride, Social Media, and the Nashville Statement

Ten years ago, John Piper delivered an address at the founding of Bethlehem College and seminary. Today, he offers some reflections on the ten year anniversary of that address and expands and corrects some things from ten years ago. I think the whole thing is worth reading, but his comments about social media and pride are particularly pointed and needed. He writes: Continue Reading →

Why the “Equality Act” is a disaster for religious liberty, and why we may be facing the disaster very soon.

The Associated Press reports on what the Democrats intend to do if they take back the House of Representatives this November. In short, they plan to introduce legislation that would be the biggest assault on religious liberty in our nation’s history. From the report:

Just days ahead of a midterm election they hope will deliver them a majority, House Democrats are promising to prioritize anti-discrimination legislation that would for the first time establish widespread equal rights protections for LGBTQ individuals. Continue Reading →

Whatever My God Ordains Is Right

We’ve been singing “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right” at our church in recent weeks. I have to say that the words and music to this are really special. It is written as a song for saints who are suffering. Which means that it is written for all of us. Here are the words: Continue Reading →

Fact-checking the paper of record on its fabulist claims about transgenderism

I have marveled this week at the level of distortion in straight news reporting about transgenderism. It all started with a report in The New York Times about the Trump administration’s plans to reverse an Obama-era directive. The distortion starts in the very first sentence of the report:

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

Let’s just fact-check this one sentence. How many claims are in error here? All of them. Continue Reading →

Are prophecy and tongues still for today?

Yesterday at our church, I took a break from verse-by-verse exposition of 1 Corinthians in order to address an important question about prophecy and tongues. The sermon has three points:

  1. What Is the Gift of Prophecy?
  2. What Is the Gift of Tongues?
  3. Are Prophecy and Tongues for Today?

My answer to the last question is “no.” My contention is that prophecy and tongues are revelatory gifts that are foundational to the church but that are no longer operative within the church (Eph. 2:20). You can download the sermon here, subscribe to the podcast, or listen below.

For more reading on this, I recommend two books, both of which I rely on heavily in this message:

Transgender bathroom policy leads to sexual assault of 5-year old girl

From WORLD magazine:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last month it was investigating a parental complaint alleging a Georgia school district’s transgender policy led to the sexual assault of a kindergartener.

City Schools of Decatur parent Pascha Thomas claims her daughter, known by the initials N.T. in public documents, was sexually assaulted last year by a male classmate in an Oakhurst Elementary School girls’ restroom. Thomas said her 5-year-old daughter complained of vaginal pain the evening of Nov. 16, 2017. When Thomas asked more, the girl said she was leaving a restroom stall when a little boy in her class came in, pinned her against the stall, and groped her genitals with his hands. She said she tried to get away and called for help, but no one came.

When Thomas reported the assault to school officials the next morning, they responded with “deliberate indifference” toward the assault and the victim, according to the complaint. Despite Thomas’ efforts to ensure justice for her daughter over the following weeks, she said, the school failed to conduct a meaningful investigation, discipline the alleged assailant, remove the child from N.T.’s class or ensure he would not use the girl’s restroom again, or offer any assurance of protection or psychological counseling for N.T.

At a meeting in December, the school informed Thomas the boy identified as “gender fluid” and was allowed to use the girls’ restroom per a districtwide policy opening restrooms and locker rooms to students based on their gender identity.

Watch the video testimony from the child’s mother above.

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