God Is Calling You to “Do the Next Thing” (in Faith)

Sep 08, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Ray Van Neste asks:

Do you find yourself on Monday feeling your soul is scorched, terribly aware of your inadequacies, fearful of what is to come?

Since God is still in heaven and His steadfast Word declares His love for you, just carry on and do the next thing. Take the next step of obedience.

Do you worry how your children will turn out, what the future will hold for your church, how the finances will look at the end of the month?

Resist the allure of self pity, and just take the next step of obedience. We are typically given enough grace just for the next step. Fret not about what lies around the bend. Perform faithfully the next step, and we will make it home safely in the end.

This poem is a balm to my soul.

He quotes an anonymous poem popularized by Elisabeth Elliot entitled “Doe the Nexte Thynge.” I’ve reprinted it below with spelling modernized:

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

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An In-Depth Interview with Vern Poythress on Biblical Theology and Christ in the Old Testament

Sep 04, 2015 | Justin Taylor

VPVern Poythress is a polymath.

At the age of 20 he graduated from California Institute of Technology with a BS in mathematics, and went from there to Harvard University where he earned a PhD in mathematics.

After studying linguistics and Bible translation at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (University of Oklahoma), he enrolled at Westminster Theological Seminary, earning an MDiv and a ThM in apologetics. From there he went to the University of Cambridge, receiving an MLitt in New Testament, and then finally completed his second doctorate with a ThD in New Testament from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Over the last several years Poythress has engaged in a remarkable publishing program of Kuyperian retrieval, seeking to show how various disciplines can be “redeemed” in a God-centered way. See, for example:

9781433543241In addition to these, he has also returned to his vocational expertise of biblical interpretation, with books on:

In particular, I’m looking forward to his big book on biblical interpretation, Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God: A Handbook for Biblical Interpretation (March 2016).

When the ESV Study Bible was first published in 2008, the editors asked Dr. Poythress to write an essay providing an “Overview of the Bible: A Survey of the History of Salvation“—sort of a biblical theology 101. In addition, they asked him to write biblical-theology notes on every major chapter of the OT, showing how the people, places, and things of the OT found their fulfilmment in Christ. (If you have an ESV Study Bible, you can find this section in the back under “History of Salvation in the Old Testament.”)

When this was published, we arranged for the guys at the website Beginning with Moses to do an interview with Dr. Poythress, allowing him to answer questions in depth on the Bible’s unity, the best strategies for understanding God’s Word, the nature of the covenants (conditional or unconditional? how do they relate to the theme of covenant?), the relationship between biblical theology and systematic theology, and how we can make sure our Christocentric interpretations are responsible and not arbitrary. With permission I’m reprinting the entire interview below.

1. In your essay you raise the issue of the Bible’s unifying thread. You suggest that one unifying thread is the divine authorship of each book. What would you say are the other main unifying threads, and do you think there is any one main category or concept which stands out as more foundational than the others?

In one way the divine authorship of each book is the most basic unifying thread, because it is what produces all the others.

In addition, the comprehensive unity to the Bible derives from the unity of God’s mind and his plan.

But there are many subordinate unifying threads:

  • salvation through Christ, foreshadowed in the OT;
  • promise and fulfillment;
  • the consistency of God’s character, including his love, mercy, justice, omniscience, sovereignty, and truthfulness;
  • the presence of sin and the struggle against it;
  • judgment on wickedness and reward for righteousness;
  • the theme of deliverance;
  • covenant;
  • mediators;
  • God’s presence, especially in theophany, tabernacle, and temple;
  • sacrifice;
  • communion with God;
  • the word of God;
  • death and resurrection;
  • wisdom from God;
  • faith, love, and hope;
  • justification and sanctification.

The editors of the ESV Study Bible asked me to write about the history of salvation, not only because it is an important unity, but because it is sometimes neglected or misunderstood. We now have before us the complete Bible, but God caused the books within it to be written over a period of centuries, during which he was speaking and working in preparation for the coming of Christ. We need to take into account how God works out his plan of salvation in successive stages. The theme of promise and fulfillment, and especially of fulfillment in Christ, is very important for enriching our understanding of what God is saying and doing in the OT.

We could also mention the themes of

  • covenant,
  • mediators (prophets, kings, and priests), and
  • type and antitype.

These themes help us both to understand the theological and Christocentric unity of the whole Bible and to understand in what ways God unfolds his work gradually. OT readers could grasp the fundamental meaning of animal sacrifice, and how it looked forward to a final sacrifice for sins. But they did not understand all the details of Christ’s work. We look back on his completed work, and from this later vantage point, aided by explicit teaching in the NT, we have the privilege of understanding more deeply than OT saints did.

2. Two leading contenders for keys to the Bible’s unity are covenant and the kingdom of God. Do you think either of these is more dominant, and how would you express the relationship between covenant and kingdom?

The Bible is so rich that we can begin to uncover riches no matter where we start. Covenant and kingdom of God are both fruitful starting points. But people have used these two expressions in more than one way, because they can discover within the Bible riches at more than one level.


For example, “covenant” can be used for the specific agreements or verbal compacts that God makes with particular people, like Noah, Abraham, and David.

The same term “covenant” can also be used in modern discussion in a generalizing way, to talk about the unifying patterns that characterize all God’s relations with human beings, not simply those that the Bible happens to call a “covenant.”

I think these two viewpoints can be treated as perspectives on one another. The particularities of God’s care for Abraham, and his promises to Abraham, are pertinent to us who through Christ have become Abraham’s sons (Gal. 3:7, 29). The particularities become a window or perspective through which God enables us to see the general pattern of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3) and what has been called “the covenant of grace.” The “covenant of grace” is a label for the one way of salvation through faith in Christ, as that one way is worked out through the whole of history, and it designates the consistent pattern of relationship between God and man that this one way of salvation includes.

Kingdom of God

“Kingdom of God” can also be used in more than one way.

It may describe God’s universal rule over the whole world, from beginning to end: “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19).

Or, more narrowly, it may focus on Jesus’ announcement of the coming of the kingdom of God such as was promised in the OT.

The expression may then describe the climactic acts that the OT predicts, when God acts in power to bring salvation, especially through the death, resurrection, ascension, and on-going rule of Christ at God’s right hand (Eph. 1:21-22).

These different meanings can become perspectives on one another. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is one particular instance of God’s sovereignty, a sovereignty that he displays everywhere and through all time. But it is a climactic instance that throws light on all the rest. God always exercises his sovereignty through the Son, and on behalf of the Son (Heb. 1:3; John 13:31-32). The whole of history is moving forward to a time of glorification when Christ will be seen in his central role (Rev. 21:22-22:5).

Covenant and Kingdom

When we think of either “covenant” or “kingdom of God” in its broadest sense, the concept is broad enough to include nearly everything within its scope. The word “covenant” typically focuses on God’s relation to human beings. But if we desire we can expand our idea of “covenant” to include God’s relation with the whole of his creation (Jer. 33:20), as long as we remember that mankind plays a central role with the created order.

Covenant is the means through which God works out his kingly purposes and establishes the climactic phase of his rule. So covenant is part of kingdom.

Conversely, God exerts his rule on behalf of his people, for the glory of Christ who is head of his people. So kingdom exists for the sake of Christ, who is the heart of the covenant (Isa. 42:6; 49:8). Either one of these can be viewed as “dominant,” if we enrich its meaning sufficiently.

3. How would you describe the relationship between the unconditionality / conditionality of the covenants in the Bible, and what difference should this understanding make to our Bible reading as we come across the various covenants in the text?

One of the challenges with respect to understanding covenants is that there is more than one particular covenant in the Bible. We must be careful to study the particularities of each covenant, as well as to see lessons with respect to the general pattern (an overall covenant of grace).

For example, God makes a covenant with Noah after the flood, in Gen. 9:1-17. It includes Noah’s descendants (9:9). God makes a promise not to bring another flood to destroy the earth, and gives the rainbow as a sign. The promise is valid for all Noah’s descendants. In the ordinary sense, this is an “unconditional” covenant. There is no extra condition, no “if” clause. God does not say, “I promise this only if your descendants obey me.”

Similarly, we can find no obvious added conditions when God promises to Abraham that he will bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Gen. 15:13-16).

On the other hand, in the covenant of circumcision in Genesis 17, there is a kind of “condition”: someone who is uncircumcised “shall be cut off from his people” (17:14). So circumcision is a kind of “condition” for Abraham’s descendants.

In Deuteronomy, as part of the covenantal relation between God and Israel, God requires that Israel remain faithful to him, and threatens to put them into exile if they persistently disobey (Deuteronomy 28). Their obedience is a “condition” for remaining in the land.

Many people are most interested in what to think about God’s promises of final salvation through Christ. These promises are most fully articulated in the NT, and are associated with the new covenant. The promises always come in relation to Christ, who is both God and man (Heb. 1:3; 2:11, 14). As man, Christ was required to trust in God the Father and to obey the Father’s will. These requirements for Christ were, in a sense, “conditions.” Apart from his trust and his obedience, no one would have been saved. At the same time, because Christ is God, and because God promised in the OT that he would infallibly accomplish salvation (Isa. 42:3-4), Christ’s obedience was guaranteed. That does not make his obedience easy or trivial. Remember how he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hebrews comments on the deep reality of his obedient suffering: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb. 5:7-8). Salvation involved a “condition,” that is, Christ’s suffering and obedience. These had to take place if we were to be saved. At the same time, God through his prophetic word unconditionally guaranteed that Christ would meet the conditions!

Since Christ is fully man, God as God had a relationship to Christ the man, and this relationship between God and the man was, in the general sense, “covenantal.” God on his part made commitments to Christ in his OT promises. Christ, in his earthly life, committed himself to following the Father’s way. This covenant between God and Christ was both “conditional”—involving the necessity of Christ’s obedience—and “unconditional”—guaranteed by God. So the words “conditional” and “unconditional” must be used with care. We have to ask ourselves not only which covenantal relation we are discussing, but what aspect of that relation.

When we turn to God’s promises of final salvation to us, they are based on Christ. These promises are secure, because Christ has accomplished full salvation, not merely the possibility of salvation:

  • “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:54).
  • “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:39-40).
  • “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

Thus, we can say that when we believe in Christ, we are “unconditionally” saved. But then is belief in Christ a kind of condition? Clearly it is. And belief means really trusting in Christ, not merely mouthing words in which we verbally say that we are trusting. Belief is itself a product of God’s prior purpose for us: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).

Some people have postulated that God’s initiative in choosing us and “drawing” us goes back ultimately to his foreseeing our future faith. But this order reverses the order of the Bible. This reversal says, in effect, “as many as believed were appointed by God to eternal life.” But the Bible says the opposite: “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). God’s appointment, that is, his choosing us to be saved, is unconditional. It does not depend on our belief or on anything in us. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). But when God draws us to Christ, he provides everything that we need, both faith and the power for new living in fellowship with Christ. Faith and new, holy living are both indispensable parts of the Christian life. They are “conditions” in this sense. But God undertakes through Christ to work in us; Christ’s own power is the guarantee that we will continue: “. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

We should also say that joining the church brings a person into a kind of covenantal relationship with God, since the person makes promises to God at the time of his baptism. But being baptized does not guarantee that a person is eternally saved. The Bible frankly described the possibility and the reality of apostasy—some people fall away from a faith that they earlier professed: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” (1 John 2:19). The “going out” describes apostasy, falling away from the Christian community, the church. Apostasy is like a negative condition. If you are to be saved, you must not apostasize. But this teaching is not inconsistent with the security of salvation for those who trust in Christ. First John says, “They were not of us.” Apostasy reveals openly what was true even beforehand: that the apostate heart was never set on genuinely trusting in Christ in the first place.

A short summary might say that

The instances of unconditional promises in the OT anticipate the security that God gives us when he guarantees eternal salvation in Christ.

The instances of conditions in the OT anticipate both the necessity of Christ’s own obedience, and the reality that when God works salvation in us, he brings about obedience in us. This working in us is part of the total process of salvation.

4. Your essay provides a very helpful explanation of one aspect of the covenant promises—the promise of offspring to Abraham. There are also specific promises to Abraham about land, and concerning God’s rule or blessing. Could you tease out the biblical theology of these two facets just as you have done for the ‘offspring’ theme?

Galatians 3:7 indicates that those who believe in Christ are “the sons of Abraham.” That is an instance of the theme of offspring. Christ is the principal offspring of Abraham, according to Gal. 3:16. And then when we trust in Christ, we are united with him, and we receive what he has accomplished for us. Since he is Abraham’s offspring, we are too. Since he receives “the blessing of Abraham” (Gal. 3:8, 14), we do too. Since he is an heir of Abraham, we are too: “And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29).

The language of inheritance in Galatians has a close relation to God’s giving of the land of Palestine to Abraham. The land was inherited by his descendants, and passed down from father to son. The passing down goes all the way down the genealogical lines until it comes to Christ, who inherits everything: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20). Christ inherits not only Palestine, but the whole earth, of which Palestine was a type or shadow: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). Therefore, we who belong to Christ inherit the earth: “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s (1 Cor. 3:21-23). Thus, those who belong to Christ inherit with him—both the status of being sons, inheritance of the land, and fullness of blessings.

Are these blessings only “spiritual”? Abraham himself came to understand that the blessings of fellowship with God were eternal, and were not exhausted by merely temporary material blessings:

“These [including Abraham] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb. 11:13-16)

We too look forward to the same city, the heavenly Jerusalem, which comes down to the earth and so includes the dimension of physicality, and includes a physical resurrection in a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1-2). While we are in this life, we will have tribulation—as did Abraham (Acts 14:22).

In sum, we can say that

Through Christ the Israelite we inherit the land and all its blessings, which are ultimately tokens of God’s favor.

But we must wait patiently and suffer in this life, looking forward to possessing that full inheritance and the fullness of blessings in the new earth.

5. You also have some excellent material on Christ in the OT, and Christ as Mediator. What practical difference should a passage like Luke 24:25-27 have on our reading of the OT? For instance, does it mean that we should try to discern in every single OT passage lines of connection to Christ? Can you give some guidance here on when, where and why Christological connections are valid?

The theme of mediation in the OT is one of the most important aids to seeing how Christ is there in the OT. In the OT, God was holy and the people were sinful. A major difficulty! How can God meet sinful people without destroying them? (The question is pointedly exemplified in Ex. 33:20.) Only through Christ. So all God’s relations to people after the Fall depend on Christ. We know that the principle of Christ’s mediation is true theologically, even when the text does not explicitly mention the difficulty created by sin. The necessity for Christ’s mediation in God’s relations in the OT gives us a good start in understanding the OT Christologically. And then there are specific persons and institutions that function in a mediatorial role, such as prophets, kings, the tabernacle, the temple, the altar, and the sacrifices.

In addition to this principle of mediation, I think there are several other helps to guide our understanding of the OT. (Our ultimate help is of course the Holy Spirit.)

First, what we find in any one passage of the Bible should be consistent with what the Bible teaches elsewhere.

The most important check on our ideas is Scripture itself. Whenever the NT quotes from the OT to show a connection to Christ, we have an important starting point for our own reading of the OT. Something that we think may be hinted at in one passage should be checked out by what Scripture teaches clearly in other places. The Bible alone has infallible authority. Both our own ideas and the ideas of others have to be sifted by the Bible as our standard.

Second, the Bible shows the progressive character of revelation.

What was promised in the OT is spoken of more fully and openly in the NT (Eph. 3:4-6; Heb. 1:1-3). So we should not be finding in the OT any fundamentally new teaching that is not found in the NT.

Third, we need to pay attention to the immediate context of a passage, as well as the context of the whole Bible.

Do not just look at a single word, or a single verse, but ask how what is said at one point fits into the context of God’s relation to Israel, and into his whole plan.

As a negative example, consider the proposal that any time we find a tree or wood in the OT, it points to the cross. Is that right? We do believe that Christ died on a cross, and the truth about the cross must be connected with the OT. But we can also feel a certain arbitrariness in just drawing a line directly from the cross to wood. Why? Because we should be asking what role wood plays in its context.

The beams of the tabernacle were made of acacia wood (Ex. 26:15-30). That is not wood in the role of execution (the cross), but wood in the role of holding things up and giving them firm structure. I believe that the tabernacle is related symbolically to the OT picture in which God the Creator builds the whole world as his large-scale house (Ps. 104:2; Amos 9:6). It points then to God’s wisdom as builder, and to his own firmness and faithfulness, which is behind the stability of our world order. At the same time, the tabernacle offers us that same wisdom and faithfulness and stability when we approach God for forgiveness and fellowship, in the context of our need for redemption. The stable structure of the tabernacle points to Christ as the wisdom of God (Col. 2:3), who is faithful and who gives us stable forgiveness. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he alwayslives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). And of course the tabernacle points forward to Christ’s body, which is the final tabernacle (John 2:19), which God “built up” again in the resurrection.

Fourth, we should be open for God to teach us in ways that surprise us and convict us.

If you are just finding the same thing in the Bible every time that you read about wood, you are not really learning anything new, and you are not open to the transforming things you will find when you really listen carefully, paying attention to the context and asking God to teach you.

Fifth, we should pay attention to the body of Christ.

Suppose that you see some new idea as you are thinking about the acacia wood in the tabernacle. Can you share your new idea with other members of the body, so that they can profit? For them to profit, you have to be able to some extent to “connect the dots.” With acacia wood and the cross, other people are not going to be able to see the connection, because you can’t produce a step-by-step path. It seems arbitrary (other than the fact that both are wood). If, on the other hand, you go from the tabernacle to Christ’s body, or from the tabernacle to Christ’s wisdom, you have a way of showing others that your ideas come from the Bible itself. Other people’s confirmation of your ideas is important, because none of us is infallible. In this connection, humility is important. Do not get enamored with your own cleverness!

It is not fashionable nowadays, but I confess that I do believe that every passage, and even every word, of the OT reflects Christ. At a minimum, we expect it to be so because Christ is God. God is three Persons, and all three Persons are present whenever God speaks in the OT. So Christ is present. Moreover, God’s speaking in the OT is mediated speaking. It must be, or else we as sinners would die as a result of hearing him. In addition, John 1:1 identifies Christ as the eternal Word, by whom all things were made. The Word is the source of order for the whole of creation, including the order of language, even down to its details. But I hope that these observations of mine are the opposite of arbitrariness. I am intending to suggest paths that the Bible itself opens for us for our meditation.

6. Calvin says in Institutes II.x.2 that the Jews “had and knew Christ as Mediator, through whom they were joined to God and share in his promises.” You suggest that “The instances of salvation in the OT all depend on Christ.” Could you explain how Christ was Savior of the OT saints, and whether you understand this in the same sense as Calvin, i.e. the Jews actually knowing Christ?

I agree with what Calvin said. Christ was presented to OT saints both through God’s promises of future salvation and through types (shadows) that prefigured his work, such as animal sacrifices, priests, the exodus, and other instances of deliverance. And even when Christ is not directly mentioned, God reckoned with Christ’s work when he forgave OT saints and when he blessed them in spite of their failings. The benefits of Christ’s mediation were already being made available.

The saints in the OT had faith in Christ as the coming climactic deliverer. But they knew less about him that we can know now when we look back on his completed redemption.

7. For someone coming to biblical theology from a world strongly oriented to systematic theology, how would you explain the differences and the relationship between the two disciplines?

Different people have had different conceptions of both biblical theology and systematic theology, so it is wise to ask what people mean in both areas, as well as to look at the relation between the two areas.

I would myself describe systematic theology as study of the Bible’s teaching in which we try to synthesize and then summarize what the Bible as a whole teaches about all kinds of topics—God, man, Christ, sin, salvation, and so on.

In some contexts the expression “biblical theology” simply means theology built on the Bible; that is, it is systematic theology done in the right way. But there is also another possible meaning. Biblical theology, as described by Geerhardus Vos, studies the Bible with a focus on its history, the history of revelation and of redemption. Whereas systematic theology is topically organized, biblical theology ishistorically organized. It looks at the progress of God’s work and his revelation through time. In addition, biblical theology more broadly conceived can study the themes that are distinctive to a particular book of the Bible, or to books written by a single human author (for example, Paul’s letters).

At their best, biblical theology and systematic theology interact and help to deepen one another.

Systematic theology provides doctrines of God’s sovereignty, of revelation, of God’s purposes, and of the meaning of history that supply a sound framework of assumptions for the work of biblical theology.

Biblical theology at its best deepens the appreciation that systematic theology should have for the way in which, in interpreting individual texts and in uncovering their relation to a whole topic, the context of texts within the history of redemption colors the interpretation.

Biblical theology may also bring to light new themes that can be the starting point for systematic-theological explorations into new topics that can receive fuller attention. For instance, the theme of life and death as it develops in the course of the history of revelation can become the starting point for discussing ethical questions about modern medicine and the issue of euthanasia.

8. Can you comment on what you think the main dangers are in reading the Bible without a grasp of its big picture?

If we do not think deeply about the big picture that the Bible provides, we are likely in practice either not to think about big pictures at all, or to take our big picture directly from some modern worldview like evolutionary naturalism. And then that corrupts our understanding of the Bible.

Even if we do not think about big pictures at all, it does leave us vulnerable to being influenced in a “subterranean” way by modern worldviews. For example, the knowledge industry (media, education, advertising) in modern America is in some ways very materialistic. According to one dominant view, life is about wealth and power and pleasure. God and angels and demons are irrelevant. You don’t have to think explicitly about philosophy in order to be influenced by this atmosphere. Then, without knowing it, you come to the Bible with expectations that are colored by your modern environment. You misread the significance of some of what you read, or you are prejudiced without knowing it about some of the Bible’s claims about the spirit world and about what really matters.

The same goes for the “big picture” that we use with respect to the meaning of history. Does history go on and on until the human race simply dies out or is evolutionarily transmuted into some higher form of animal, as evolutionary naturalism would claim? Or does it culminate in the Second Coming of Christ? It makes a difference as to what kind of world you think you live in. And can a single event in history, namely the resurrection of Christ, have redemptive effects on people who are far separated from it in time? The Bible says yes, but modern rationalistic thinking about history says no.

9. Can you tell us about the biggest influences on your own grasp of Scripture’s coherence? What would feature on your essential reading list here, and why?

My outstanding mentor in understanding the history of salvation was Edmund P. Clowney. He has now gone to be with the Lord, but his books are still a great help, because they articulate the Christocentric character of all of the Bible. I think of

  • Preaching and Biblical Theology (Eerdmans, 1961),
  • The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (NavPress, 1988);
  • Preaching Christ in All of Scripture (Crossway, 2003), and
  • The Church (InterVarsity Press, 1995).

Then there are major works in biblical theology:

  • Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology (Eerdmans, 1948);
  • O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Baker, 1980);
  • Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962);
  • Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987).

I think that systematic theology, as well as biblical theology, contributes to our appreciation of the unity of the Bible. Even before going to seminary, I was influenced by John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, and by systematic thinkers like J.I. Packer (Knowing God, Fundamentalism and the Word of God, and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God). My whole time studying at Westminster Theological Seminary further deepened my understanding of Scripture’s coherence.

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(Almost) The Whole Continuous Story of the Old Testament in Just 11 Books

Sep 03, 2015 | Justin Taylor


David Talley—Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, and Chair of the Biblical & Theological Studies Old Testament Department at Biola University—has written a very helpful introduction to The Story of the Old Testament.

He points out that the majority of the OT story or narrative is found in the following 11 books:

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Numbers
  4. Joshua
  5. Judges
  6. 1 Samuel
  7. 2 Samuel
  8. 1 Kings
  9. 2 Kings
  10. Ezra
  11. Nehemiah

He writes:

If you were to read these eleven books, beginning with Genesis and reading them in succession to Nehemiah, you would read through almost the entire story of the Old Testament. The reason it must be stated that it is “almost the entire story” is because there are some additional stories isolated in parts of other books.

This is a really helpful pedagogical move, as it allows readers to distinguish between the main ongoing narrative and then to examine the way the other 28 books of the OT interpret, reinforce, and supplement this storyline.

Below is his summary of the story through these 11 books.


Genesis begins THE STORY by providing the narrative of the beginning of the world in the first eleven chapters. In these chapters, the story progresses through 20+ generations of people. The goal is to get the story to Abram (Abraham).  So these chapters cover a very long time period . . .  and, as a result, can obviously focus on very few details.   The remaining chapters of the book provide the narrative for the early beginnings of the nation of Israel through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and concluding with the family of Jacob in Egypt. Then THE STORY slows down, focusing on only four generations of people. The purpose is to provide a “skeleton” of information about the background of everything that leads up to Israel being in Egypt, awaiting the redemption of the Lord.


Exodus picks up THE STORY from Genesis as evidenced by an overlapping connection with Joseph going to down to Egypt, being used by God to preserve Jacob’s family. After Joseph dies, Exodus continues the narrative by 1) recounting the nation’s hardships in Egypt, 2) demonstrating God’s miraculous work of judgment against Egypt and redemption of Israel in the exodus from Egypt to Mt Sinai, 3) providing the establishment of his covenant with Israel, and 4) explaining the building of the Tabernacle so that God can dwell in their midst. Whereas Genesis covers 24-plus generations, Exodus concerns only the life of Moses (his life actually continues to the end of Deuteronomy, the remainder of the Pentateuch). The family of Jacob grows into a nation with whom God makes a covenant. All of this is preparation for taking the nation to the Promised Land.


Numbers continues THE STORY for us, narrating the developments taking place as Israel prepares to take the land. All of the contents occur in Moses’ generation. After the completion of the Tabernacle, this book conveys the story of the organization of the nation, their departure from Mt. Sinai, and the subsequent disobedience of this first generation when they refuse to take the land. The resulting judgment is 40 years of wilderness wanderings, which is also found in this book though not in much detail. We do not have a lot of information about this 40-year time period because the focus of the book is to get us to the border of the Promised Land. The book closes with the preparation of the second generation (after the exodus) in taking the land of Canaan.


The book of Joshua connects to the previous books by beginning with a reference to Moses’ death. (Recall, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of his sin when he struck the rock rather than spoke to it.) The leadership of the people for the task of entering the Promised Land is transferred and entrusted to Joshua. The narrative in this book continues THE STORY by providing the events of Israel entering the land by focusing on the conquest, division, and initial settling of the land of Canaan during the life of Joshua.


Judges continues THE STORY by overlapping with the end of the book of Joshua with its focus on the details of Joshua’s death. Since the land has already been settled, this book provides a glimpse of the early years in the land when Israel was led by judges. This period marked by the rule of the judges is summarized by utilizing a similar cycle evidenced by each generation. The cycle is simple, yet disturbing. Each generation is characterized by eventual rebellion, followed by God’s judgment, their crying out to the Lord, the Lord raising up of a deliverer, the actual deliverance, and a subsequent return to obedience for a period of time until the cycle repeats itself. Consequently, many generations are covered as the author seeks to make it clear what this time period was like for Israel. When they are disobedient, there are consequences, but, when they walk in faithfulness, the Lord in his mercy restores them to a place of blessing.

1-2 Samuel

The era of the judges continues into the books of Samuel. Samuel is a judge, but he moves THE STORY from the period of the judges into the period of the kingdom. These two books include the transition from the leadership of the last judge (Samuel) to the beginning of (under King Saul’s leadership) and establishment of (under King David’s leadership) the kingdom. It is also the necessary foundation to the books that follow.

1-2 Kings

The books of Kings naturally flow out of the books that introduce the kingdom, especially with the overlap of the end of King David’s life. Connecting to the end of the books of Samuel, the books of Kings begin with the latter years of King David’s life, culminating in the transfer of leadership to Solomon as the new king and the story of King David’s death. King Solomon is the focus immediately after King David’s death, and, after his unfaithfulness and the subsequent division of the kingdom, the remaining pages summarize the lives of the kings of the divided (northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah) and the solitary kingdom (southern kingdom of Judah alone). THE STORY points to the “glory” of the kingdom (under King Solomon’s leadership) and the division of the kingdom into the northern kingdom, until this kingdom goes into exile, and southern kingdom, until this kingdom goes into exile, which is the seeming end of the nation as a whole.


At this point we have the exile. The nation is taken out of the land. There are many events that happen during this time, which are part of the growth and formation of the nation. The land is the focus in the Old Testament, so in many ways, and for our purposes, THE STORY takes a 70-year hiatus. But God is not done. His story continues.

Ezra and Nehemiah

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah continue THE STORY by reversing the removal of the people from the land. They now return. After the 70 years of exile are over, these books record the three returns to the land under the leadership of Zerrubabel (to rebuild the Temple), Ezra, and Nehemiah (to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem). The purpose of these returns is ultimately concerned with preparing for the coming Messiah and the restoration of the kingdom. However, each return also includes the many reforms that the people must make along the way. God is continuing his work.

So note very clearly that THE STORY of the Old Testament ends with the book of Nehemiah. Yes, Nehemiah. It is not that God is done with his people. It is just that God will resume his story with the coming of the Messiah, which occurs in the gospels in the New Testament. The end of the Old Testament is one of anticipation, the anticipation of the good news of the gospel in the coming Messiah.

The prophets add to this anticipation as these books begin to fill in certain details about what God is up to, what he is going to do, and when it is going to happen.

The Old Testament is actually the “first testament” or the prelude to the New Testament. Both testaments contain God’s story.

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The 9th Planned Parenthood Video

Sep 01, 2015 | Justin Taylor

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 1-The ninth video in the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal focuses on Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR), the small and secretive company that has harvested and sold fetal body parts at Planned Parenthood clinics longer than any other entity.

The video features undercover conversations with Dr. Katharine Sheehan, the long-time medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest until 2013; Perrin Larton, the Procurement Manager for ABR; and Cate Dyer, the CEO of rival fetal tissue procurement company StemExpress.

Sheehan tells actors posing as a new human biologics company that at Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest, “We have already a relationship with ABR.” Sheehan explains, “We’ve been using them for over 10 years, really a long time, just kind of renegotiated the contract. They’re doing the big collections for government-level collections and things like that.” When one of the actors negotiates, “We return a portion of our fees to the clinics,” Sheehan responds eagerly, “Right, get a toe in and make it, make a pro-alright.”

In an August 27 letter to Congress, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards referenced a California Planned Parenthood affiliate that currently receives $60 “per tissue specimen” from a tissue procurement organization. The Center for Medical Progress, the group producing the videos, identified Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest and ABR as the affiliate and TPO referred to in Richards’ letter, based on process of elimination.

“We now know from Cecile Richards’ letter that $60 per collected tissue specimen is what will ‘get a toe in’ to harvest baby parts at Planned Parenthood Pacific Southwest,” wrote CMP Project Lead David Daleiden. As multiple tissue specimens often come from a single fetus, $60/specimen can quickly add up to hundreds of extra dollars in revenue per abortion. The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2).

Perrin Larton, the Procurement Manager at ABR, is shown describing ABR’s fetal tissue harvesting practice to a prospective buyer. “I literally have had women come in and they’ll go in the O.R. and they’re back out in 3 minutes, and I’m going, ‘What’s going on?’ Oh yeah, the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out,” she explains of situations where there has been a great enough degree of cervical dilation to procure an intact fetus.

ABR, founded in 1989 by CEO Linda Tracy, charges $340 per second-trimester fetal tissue specimen, yet seems less concerned about tissue quality than other harvesting companies: “Whenever we have a smooth portion of liver, we think that’s good!” says Larton.

Cate Dyer, who used to work as a procurement technician for ABR before founding her own company StemExpress, shares some of the financial details of ABR: “They were funding places in Hawaii for themselves,” she divulges. “Some staff-not that I know so much on the Planned Parenthood side, but I wouldn’t be surprised-there are some staff in the past that have been on the payroll with ABR.” According to Dyer, ABR would pay an “advisor fee” to a clinic manager or director in order to preserve their exclusive right to harvest fetal tissue at that location. “There’s like, well enough known,” says Dyer, that “for a long time there were certain clinics that because they had paid advisors that were sitting on boards for these clinics, that were also an advisor to ABR, you were just never going to go anywhere with them, you know what I mean?”

“In the twisted world of baby parts trafficking from Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, there are few unbroken rules,” notes CMP’s Daleiden. “After the serious admissions in Planned Parenthood’s letter to Congress last week, it is imperative for lawmakers and law enforcement to act decisively to determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood and their proxies’ lawbreaking, hold them accountable, and stop the taxpayer funding of these barbaric atrocities against humanity.”


You can read online CMP’s Open Letter to Congress in Reply to Planned Parenthood’s Aug. 27 Letter.

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center(August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)
  7. Human Capital, Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product (August 19, 2015)
  8. Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Buyer StemExpress Wants “Another 50 Livers/Week” (August 25, 2015)
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Gospel + Safety + Time

Aug 26, 2015 | Justin Taylor

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John Calvin’s Beautiful Description of the Gospel-Centered Life

Aug 25, 2015 | Justin Taylor

From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament (1534):


Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,

all wisdom folly before God;

strength is weakness, and

all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ,

fellow townsmen with the saints,

citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom

the poor are made rich,

the weak strong,

the fools wise,

the sinner justified,

the desolate comforted,

the doubting sure, and

slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was

sold, to buy us back;

captive, to deliver us;

condemned, to absolve us;

he was

made a curse for our blessing,

[a] sin offering for our righteousness;

marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him

fury is made gentle,

wrath appeased,

darkness turned into light,

fear reassured,

despisal despised,

debt canceled,

labor lightened,

sadness made merry,

misfortune made fortunate,

difficulty easy,

disorder ordered,

division united,

ignominy ennobled,

rebellion subjected,

intimidation intimidated,

ambush uncovered,

assaults assailed,

force forced back,

combat combated,

war warred against,

vengeance avenged,

torment tormented,

damnation damned,

the abyss sunk into the abyss,

hell transfixed,

death dead,

mortality made immortal.

In short,

mercy has swallowed up all misery, and

goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying,

O hell, where is thy victory?

O death, where is thy sting?

it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us;

and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it;

but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are

comforted in tribulation,

joyful in sorrow,

glorying under vituperation,

abounding in poverty,

warmed in our nakedness,

patient amongst evils,

living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

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The 8th Planned Parenthood Video + A Prayer at the Protest, and Counsel for Healing from an Abortion

Aug 25, 2015 | Justin Taylor

C. S. Lewis once wrote in the preface to the Screwtape Letters,

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result.

But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

He could have been writing about Planned Parenthood and StemExpress.

Today (August 25, 2015), The Center for Medical Progress released its eighth video using undercover footage exposing the reality of what goes on behind these closed clinical doors.

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25-The eighth video in the ongoing controversy over Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal body parts shows the CEO of StemExpress, LLC, a major buyer of fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, admitting the company gets “a lot” of intact fetuses, suggesting “another 50 livers a week” would not be enough, and agreeing abortion clinics should profit from the sale:http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o…

StemExpress is a for-profit biotech supply company that has been partnered with Planned Parenthood clinics across the country to purchase human fetal parts since its founding in 2010. StemExpress’ Medical Director, Dr. Ronald Berman, is an abortion doctor for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

In the video, actors posing as another human biologics company meet with StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer, plus Vice President of Corporate Development and Legal Affairs Kevin Cooksy, and Procurement Manager Megan Barr. StemExpress and the actors are discussing a potential partnership to supply extra fetal body parts to each other.

“So many physicians are like, ‘Oh I can totally procure tissue,’ and they can’t,” expresses Dyer, seeming to indicate that abortion doctors must do the procedure in a special way to obtain useable fetal parts. Federal law requires that no alteration in the timing or method of abortion be done for the purposes of fetal tissue collection (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

“What about intact specimens?” asks one of the actors. “Oh yeah, I mean if you have intact cases, which we’ve done a lot, we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” replies Dyer. “Case” is the clinical term for an abortion procedure. An “intact case” refers to an intact abortion with a whole fetus. “The entire case?” asks an actor. “Yeah, yeah,” says Dyer. “The procurement for us, I mean it can go really sideways, depending on the facility, and then our samples are destroyed,” she explains past botched fetal dissections, “so we started bringing them back even to manage it from a procurement expert standpoint.”

Feticidal chemicals like digoxin cannot be used to kill the fetus in a tissue procurement case, so a fetus delivered intact for organ harvesting is likely to be a born-alive infant.

“What would make your lab happy?” asks one of the actors. “Another 50 livers a week,” says Dyer. “We’re working with almost like triple digit number clinics,” Dyer explains, “and we still need more.” She later notes, “Planned Parenthood has volume, because they are a volume institution.”

Dyer also agrees that payments to abortion clinics for fetal body parts should be financially beneficial to them. “Do you feel like there are clinics out there that have been burned, that feel like they’re doing all this work for research and it hasn’t been profitable for them?” she asks. “I haven’t seen that.” StemExpress publishes a flyer for Planned Parenthood clinics that promises “Financial Profits” and “fiscal rewards” for clinics that supply aborted fetal tissue. It is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dorothy Furgerson: http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o…

The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2). The Sacramento Business Journal reported in June that StemExpress has an annual revenue of $4.5 million.

The video is the eighth released by The Center for Medical Progress in its investigative journalism study of Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts. “StemExpress is the ‘weakest link’ that unravels Planned Parenthood’s baby parts chain-they readily admit the profit-motive that Planned Parenthood and their proxies have in supplying aborted baby parts,” notes David Daleiden, Project Lead for CMP. “Congress and law enforcement should immediately seize all fetal tissue files from StemExpress and all communications and contracts with Planned Parenthood. The evidence that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of aborted baby parts is now overwhelming, and not one more dime of taxpayer money should go to their corrupt and fraudulent criminal enterprise.”

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)
  7. Human Capital, Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product (August 19, 2015)

1. Protesting Planned Parenthood

John Piper’s recent engagement on this issue is worth noting and emulating.

First, read his piece, “Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation,” narrating why he has publicly protested against abortion in the past (including a night in jail for non-violent civil disobedience) and why the time is right to protest again. He was inviting readers to the Protest Planned Parenthood demonstrations across the country on Saturday, August 22. Over 65,000 peaceful protesters showed up this weekend at 320 Planned Parenthood clinics across the US, making it the single largest coordinated day of planned protest against abortion.

Second, listen to Piper’s  five-minute prayer at the protest (transcript here):

Finally, read his Saturday evening reflections about the protest that morning, where he offered seven short observations under the following heading:

  1. Christian and ecumenical
  2. Relatively sober
  3. Freedom on public property
  4. Legislators and pro-life leaders
  5. Counter-slogans
  6. Planned Parenthood responds
  7. First timers

I have traced and summarized the development of Piper’s preaching and activism in the essay “‘Abortion is About God: Piper’s Passionate, Prophetic Pro-Life Preaching,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), 328-50. The link will take you to the essay available for free (courtesy of Crossway).


2. Healing from an Abortion

I’m aware that it’s possible that some are seeing the energy and momentum and passion and anger against Planned Parenthood and are not seeing much public effort right now to those in bondage to guilt over their complicity in the act of abortion.

David Powlison (executive director of CCEF) talks through how to heal from guilt and shame after an abortion:

You can read online the Personal Liturgy of Confession. Powlison begins:

When I counsel with people who struggle with deep feelings of shame, guilt, and regret, I sometimes suggest that they design a personalized liturgy. In what follows, I walk through the example of a woman who has had an abortion, and all that led up to that choice, and all that follows in someone whose conscience is alive. . . .

Designing your own liturgy of confession will help you to think through exactly what you need to bring to God, and what you need from God. It will give you serious words to express your sorrow, regret, guilt and pain over your abortion. It will lead you by the hand to God’s mercy and to his washing away of your sin and guilt. The parts of this liturgy in italics are taken and adapted from the General Confession of Sin inThe Book of Common Prayer. Even when your thoughts and feelings are chaotic, these words can serve as your guide. They are a channel for honesty. Instead of wallowing in misery and failure, these words help you to plan how you will walk in the direction of honesty, mercy, gratitude, and freedom.

I suggest that you pray out loud. It helps you to remember that you are talking with someone who is listening. You aren’t just thinking things inside your head. Use this prayer to express the gravity of what happened. Use it to remind yourself out loud that God’s mercies are deeper than what you did or failed to do. Read through this prayer and meditation first. Then go back through it, writing out your own words to personalize it. Express your honest story to God in response to hearing what he says to you.

You can print and read the whole thing here.

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3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology

Aug 21, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Critique—done well—is a gift to the one being criticized. (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Prov. 27:6a). We should welcome the opportunity to have our thinking corrected and clarified. We see see in a mirror dimly and we know only in part (1 Cor. 13:12), but God has gifted the church with teachers who often see things more clearly than we do at present. In God’s providence and through the gift of common grace he may also use unbelievers to critique our views, showing our logical mistakes or lack of clarity.

Critique done poorly—whether through overstatement, misunderstanding, caricature—is a losing proposition for all. It undermines the credibility of the critic and deprives the one being criticized from the opportunity to improve his or her position.

It’s impossible in a blog post to set forth a comprehensive methodology of critique—if such a thing can even be done. But there are at least three exhortations worth remembering about criticism: (1) understand before you critique; (2) be self-critical in how you critique; (3) consider the alternatives of what you are critiquing.

1. Understand Before You Critique

Mortimer Adler makes the important point in  How to Read a Book:

Every author has had the experience of suffering book reviews by critic who did not feel obligated to do the work of the first two stages first. The critic too often thinks he does not have to be a reader as well as a judge. Every lecturer has also had the experience of having critical questions asked that were not based on any understanding of what he had said. You yourself may remember an occasion where someone said to a speaker, in one breath or at most two, “I don’t know what you mean, but I think you’re wrong.”

There is actually no point in answering critics of this sort. The only polite thing to do is to ask them to state your position for you, the position they claim to be challenging. If they cannot do it satisfactorily, if they cannot repeat what you have said in their own words, you know that they do not understand, and you are entirely justified in ignoring their criticisms. They are irrelevant, as all criticism must be that is not based on understanding. When you find the rare person who shows that he understands what you are saying as well as you do, then you can delight in his agreement or be seriously disturbed by his dissent. (pp. 144-145)

I do think we have to add at least one caveat to Adler’s perspective here. He is assuming goodwill upon the part of the one being criticized. In the last decade or so I’ve noticed theologians with novel interpretations or positions who perpetually protest that they are being misunderstood. At some point, we might judge that the theologian doth protest too much. If not even the most careful and considerate critiques can understand one’s point, it may be that there is some incoherence to the point itself. The idea that understanding and critiquing the theology of some folks is “like trying to nail jello to a wall” has now become a cliche—but the metaphor is apt and exists for a reason.

Nevertheless, Alder’s perspective is one we need to hear and to heed in so far as it depends on us. Viewed from a biblical perspective, there are moral imperatives bound up with the act of reading and critiquing. Jesus tells me to do unto others as I would have done unto me, and he tells me to love my neighbor as I love myself—and this includes how I interact and critique.

2. Be Self-Critical

John Frame, in a piece on “How to Write a Theological Paper,” makes the second point:

Be self-critical.

Before and during your writing, anticipate objections. If you are criticizing Barth, imagine Barth looking over your shoulder, reading your manuscript, giving his reactions. This point is crucial. A truly self-critical attitude can save you from unclarity and unsound arguments. It will also keep you from arrogance and unwarranted dogmatism—faults common to all theology (liberal as well as conservative).

Don’t hesitate to say “probably” or even “I don’t know” when the circumstances warrant. Self-criticism will also make you more “profound.” For often—perhaps usually—it is objections that force us to rethink our positions, to get beyond our superficial ideas, to wrestle with the really deep theological issues.

As you anticipate objections to your replies to objections to your replies, and so forth, you will find yourself being pushed irresistibly into the realm of the “difficult questions,” the theological profundities.

In self-criticism the creative use of the theological imagination is tremendously important. Keep asking such questions as these.

(a) Can I take my source’s idea in a more favorable sense? A less favorable one?

(b) Does my idea provide the only escape from the difficulty, or are there others?

(c) In trying to escape from one bad extreme, am I in danger of falling into a different evil on the other side?

(d) Can I think of some counter-examples to my generalizations?

(e) Must I clarify my concepts, lest they be misunderstood?

(f) Will my conclusion be controversial and thus require more argument than I had planned?

3. Offer Your Alternative

Millard Erickson, in an earlier edition of his Christian Theology (p. 61 in the 2nd edition) emphasizes an additional point:

In criticism it is not sufficient to find flaws in a given view. One must always ask, “What is the alternative?” and, “Does the alternative have fewer difficulties?” John Baillie tells of writing a paper in which he severely criticized a particular view. His professor commented, “Every theory has its difficulties, but you have not considered whether any other theory has less difficulties than the one you have criticized.”

Good criticism is hard work, and it’s necessary work until Christ returns. The above three points won’t prevent us from making every mistake, but they will help us be better critics and therefore better servants of God and truth.

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D. A. Carson: “Damn All False False Antitheses to Hell”

Aug 20, 2015 | Justin Taylor

FCD. A. Carson:

So which shall we choose?

Experience or truth?

The left wing of the airplane, or the right?

Love or integrity?

Study or service?

Evangelism or discipleship?

The front wheels of a car, or the rear?

Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge?

Faith or obedience?

Damn all false antitheses to hell, for

  • they generate false gods,
  • they perpetuate idols,
  • they twist and distort our souls,
  • they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ.

—D.A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 234.

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Perhaps My Favorite Interview: An Hourlong Conversation with John Piper and John MacArthur

Aug 20, 2015 | Justin Taylor

I think my favorite sit-down conversation was with two men I deeply admire: John Piper and John MacArthur. The interview took place on September 28, 2007, at the Desiring God 2007 National Conference in Minneapolis. (You can listen to the audio or read an edited transcript here.)

The conversation was noteworthy to me in how, despite some similarities, God calls and uses very different people to accomplish his purposes. Whether God has wired you more like Piper or more like MacArthur, I hope this encourages you.

Here are the 10 questions I asked them:

  1. Do you remember when you met each other for the first time or when you became aware of each other’s ministries?
  2. I was looking this morning at the dates for both of your fathers: Dr. Jack MacArthur, 1914-2005; Dr. Bill Piper, 1919-2007 — almost the exact same lifespan. They both had honorary doctorates from Bob Jones. They were both Baptists, and both traveling evangelists. Tell us about their examples, the lessons that you both remember from your dads on faithfulness and endurance, or particular things that stick out to you that have impacted your ministry and life.
  3. Did your fathers both want or expect you to be pastors? If so, did they ever express that desire to you?
  4. Dr. MacArthur, do you remember the conversation you had when you told him you felt called to gospel ministry?
  5. Dr. Piper, can you tell us about the time when you wrote a letter to your father telling him about your decision to go into pastoral ministry?
  6. If you could go back now to when you started pastoral ministry and talk to the thirty-four-year-old John Piper and the twenty-nine-year-old John MacArthur, knowing what you know now, what do you think would be the most important thing to tell them on the front end of their ministries?
  7. You both receive a tremendous amount of praise — and a tremendous amount of criticism. How do you personally handle both the reception of praise and the reception of criticism? How do you keep from being prideful on the one hand, and overly discouraged on the other hand? How do you process that when a high praise comes in or a harsh criticism so that you’re responding biblically?
  8. So many young pastors and missionaries look up to both of you and read your books. As you counsel young men and women on the mission field, it seems like one of the truisms is that circumstances often confirm our calling. And if you’re good at something, fruit often comes with that. You’ve both had incredibly fruitful ministries. How do you think through the issues of faithfulness and fruitlessness? Take someone out there is who is in a small church, or on the mission field, and a year goes by, two years go by with no converts, no apparent fruit. How should they think through the possibility that this might not be their gifting, they need to pull back from that, there’s no fruit being produced, versus the perspective that they need to stick it out for another ten years, twenty years, thirty years?
  9. When you personally get discouraged and want to throw in the towel, where do you go biblically? Is there a particular passage or book that you find yourself returning to over and over again? And where do you go outside the Bible? Is there a particular author or book that you return to over and over again when you’re discouraged or downcast?
  10. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you when you die? What do you want to be known for?
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The 7th Planned Parenthood Video + 4 FAQs

Aug 19, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Today (August 19, 2015), saw the release of the seventh Planned Parenthood video: Human Capital—Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product.

Here is the summary:

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 19–The third episode in a new documentary web series and 7th video on Planned Parenthood’s supply of aborted fetal tissue tells a former procurement technician’s harrowing story of harvesting an intact brain from a late-term male fetus whose heart was still beating after the abortion.

The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore different themes within Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 3, “Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product,” launches today. . . .

The series focuses on the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and Tissue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a biotech start-up that until last week was partnered with two large northern California Planned Parenthood affiliates to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation.

O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘I want to see something kind of cool,'” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”

The San Jose Planned Parenthood does abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Referring to the beating heart of the aborted fetus, O’Donnell remarks, “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive.”

State and federal law require that the same treatment be given to an infant born-alive after an abortion as to a normally delivered baby (1 U.S.C. 8, CA Health and Safety Code 123435). California law also prohibits any kind of experimentation on a fetus with a discernible heartbeat (CA Health and Safety Code 123440). StemExpress has been cited in published scientific literature as a source of fetal hearts used for Langendorff perfusion, which keeps a heart beating after it is excised from the body:…

O’Donnell also tells how her StemExpress supervisor instructed her to cut through the face of the fetus in order to get the brain. “”She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. I can’t even describe what that feels like,” she says.

The video also features recordings of Dr. Ben Van Handel, the Executive Director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC, and also of Perrin Larton, Procurement Manager of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR). Novogenix is the company that has harvested fetal organs from abortions done by Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, in Los Angeles, while ABR is the oldest fetal tissue procurement company and works with Planned Parenthood in San Diego and other clinics around the country. Van Handel admits, “There are times when after the procedure is done that the heart actually is still beating,” and Larton describes abortions she has seen where “the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out.”

CMP’s Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Today’s video contains heartrending admissions about the absolute barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and baby parts sales in which fetuses are sometimes delivered intact and alive. Planned Parenthood is a criminal organization from the top down and should be immediately stripped of taxpayer funding and prosecuted for their atrocities against humanity.”

1. If I Haven’t Seen the Other Videos Yet, What Do I Need to Know?

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)

The following is a very helpful summary of what has happened thus far—both in terms of the undercover investigation and its effects so far:

2. Scientifically, Does Human Life Really Begin at Conception Or Is It Merely Potential Human Life?

BirthSpiral14 (1)

Three distinguished and brilliant professors:

  • Patrick Lee, the McAleer Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville (author of Abortion and Unborn Human Life)
  • Christopher O. Tollefsen, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina,
  • Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University (co-author with Tollefsen of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life)

recently responded to the idea that there is no scientific consensus regarding the beginning of human life.

They point out that “there have been countless scientific monographs and scholarly articles—in embryology, developmental biology, and genetics—explicitly affirming that a human being at the earliest stage of development comes to be at fertilization.”

They cite three among many possible examples:

“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

“Fertilization is the process by which male and female haploid gametes (sperm and egg) unite to produce a genetically distinct individual.” Signorelli et al., Kinases, phosphatases and proteases during sperm capacitation, CELL TISSUE RES. 349(3):765 (Mar. 20, 2012)

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte” (emphasis added; Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Mueller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000, p. 8). (Many other examples could be cited, some of which may be found here.)

Lee, Tollefsen, and George write:

That is the authority of science. On request, we can cite dozens more examples. The authorities all agree because the underlying science is clear. At fertilization a sperm (a male sex cell) unites with an oocyte (a female sex cell), each of them ceases to be, and a new entity is generated. This new entity, initially a single totipotent cell, then divides into two cells, then (asynchronously) three, then four, eight and so on, enclosed all the while by a membrane inherited from the oocyte (the zona pellucida). Together, these cells and membrane function as parts of a whole that regularly and predictably develops itself to the more mature stages of a complex human body.

From the zygote stage onward

this new organism is distinct, for it grows in its own direction;

it is human—obviously, given the genetic structure found in the nuclei of its cells;

and it is a whole human organism—as opposed to what is functionally a part of a larger whole, such as a cell, tissue, or organ—since this organism has all of the internal resources and active disposition needed to develop itself (himself or herself) to the mature stage of a human organism.

Given its genetic constitution and epigenetic structure, all this organism needs to develop to the mature stage is what human beings at any stage need, namely, a suitable environment, nutrition, and the absence of injury or disease. So it is a whole human organism—a new human individual—at the earliest stage of his or her development.

This is why it is correct to say that the developing human embryo is not “a potential human being” (whatever that might mean) but a human being with potential—the potential to develop himself or herself (sex is established from the beginning in the human) through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages and into adulthood with his or her identity intact.

You can read the whole thing here.

3. What Questions Are Lawmakers Asking the CEO of Planned Parenthood and the Secretary of US Health and Human Services?

Represenatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently sent letters to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards about Planned Parenthood’s “potentially unlawful transactions involving fetal tissue.”

They wrote:

According to its 2013-14 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood received more than $500 million in government funding in the last fiscal last year alone, accounting for more than 40 percent of the organization’s total revenue. The Department of Health and Human Services provided a significant portion of the federal funds that Planned Parenthood received. It is not clear whether Planned Parenthood used any federal funds to support transactions involving fetal tissue.

They requested that Burwell:

1. Identify each agency within HHS that provides funding and/or support to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates, and the programs that each agency administers that provide such funding and/or support.
2. For each year 2010 through present, identify the total amount of federal funding that HHS provided to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates, broken down by agency, group, and program.
3. Identify what restrictions or regulations apply to the use of funding provided by HHS to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates.
4. Identify, specifically, what procedures, services, or other medical treatments are available only or exclusively at a Planned Parenthood affiliate or health center that are covered by either a state’s Medicaid program or a health plan sold via a state exchange or under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Do not include services or procedures that could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.

And they asked that Richards:

1. For each year from 2010 through present, provide the cumulative amount of funding that Planned Parenthood received from the federal government, and identify all program(s), grant(s), and other sources of the federal funds.
2. For each year from 2010 through present, provide all financial statements and annual reports, including but not limited to Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.
3. For each year from 2010 through present, identify and provide an accounting of all Planned Parenthood activities that were financed with federal funds, to include the specific amount of federal funds used for each expenditure.
4. For each year from 2010 through present, provide the cumulative amount of funding that Planned Parenthood received from Medicaid programs by state.
5. For each year from 2010 through present, provide a list of the 50 highest-paid Planned Parenthood employees. Include the individual’s title, annual salary, bonuses and any other compensation.
6. According to the 2013-2014 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood ‘supports 66 independently incorporated affiliates, operating approximately 700 health centers across the U.S.’ Provide a list of these affiliates and health centers including a contact with phone number or email for each.
7. Identify, specifically, what procedures, services, or other medical treatments are available only or exclusively at a Planned Parenthood affiliate or health center that are covered by either a state’s Medicaid program or a health plan sold via a state exchange or under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Do not include services or procedures that could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.

Both Richards and Burwell have until August 28 to provide this information to the committee.

4. If Planned Parenthood Were Ever to Be Shut Down, Where Would Women Go for Contraception, Mammograms, and Health Care?

Here’s a helpful graphic to pass along to others, showing that there are 20 comprehensive care clinics for every Planned Parenthood:

plannedparenthood177 (1)

For more information on this, go here.

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On Misunderstanding the Bible: “Parts of Any Complex Story Will Seem Absurd If You Don’t Know How to Interpret It”

Aug 18, 2015 | Justin Taylor

This is under two minutes and is worth watching from Dr. John Stackhouse, the Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Faculty Development at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick:

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The Bible Project: Free, Animated Biblical Theology

Aug 14, 2015 | Justin Taylor

The Bible Project is producing some great, free resources for the church. Because the medium they use is animation, you might assume (without watching it) that this is only for kids. But it’s really something that could profit all of us.

(To find out more about how to provide donor support for this free resource, go here.)

The First Five Books

So far, they have covered the first four (Genesis-Numbers):

Biblical Themes through the Entire Narrative of the Bible

They have done four of these so far:

Book Overviews (Literary Structure and Flow of Thought for Each Bible Book)
They have covered four books so far:

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A Conversation with Don Whitney on “Praying the Bible”

Aug 13, 2015 | Justin Taylor

I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Don Whitney about his new book on Praying the Bible.

Here are Crossway’s timestamps for the conversation:

  • 00:00 – What is your ministry background?
  • 00:54 – As you travel around the country, what are some of the common complaints you hear from Christians related to their prayer lives?
  • 02:19 – What would you say to someone who feels like a failure in prayer?
  • 04:40 – What areas of Scripture are particularly conducive for prayer?
  • 05:47 – What are the Psalms of the Day?
  • 07:55 – Can you illustrate praying through Psalm 23?
  • 11:51 – How will praying the Bible help us remain focused in prayer?
  • 13:37 – What are the sorts of testimonies you hear from people who have started praying the Bible?
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The 6th Planned Parenthood Video

Aug 12, 2015 | Justin Taylor


Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015)
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage]

And here are the complete transcripts:

  1. Lunch meeting with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods
  3. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen
  4. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” at Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center

Today (August 12, 2015), the sixth video has posted:

Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site

Here is their summary:

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12-The second episode in a new documentary web series highlights a young woman’s eyewitness narrative of the daily practice of fetal body parts harvesting in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, describing tissue procurement workers’ coordination with abortion providers, the pressure placed on patients, and disregard for patient consent.

The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore various themes connected to Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 1, “Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts,” premiered last month. Episode 2, “Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site,” launches today at:

The series follows the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and TIssue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a start-up biotech company from northern California that partners with Planned Parenthood clinics to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation. As a procurement tech, O’Donnell’s job was to identify pregnant patients matching the specifications of StemExpress customers and to harvest the fetal body parts from their abortions.

It’s not an option, it’s a demand,” StemExpress supervisors instructed O’Donnell about approaching pregnant women at Planned Parenthood for fetal tissue “donations.” O’Donnell says the StemExpress techs working in Planned Parenthood clinics sometimes harvested fetal parts without obtaining consent from the patients: “If there was a higher gestation, and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.

Federal laws on the procurement and use of human fetal tissue require that patients consent to the tissue donation subsequent to consenting to the abortion procedure (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

According to O’Donnell, Planned Parenthood gave StemExpress workers access to patient records and schedules so that the harvesting company could plan for the days when patient “supply” would be greatest. “They give you a sheet, and it’s everybody for that day, who’s coming in for an ultrasound, who’s coming in for an abortion, medical or a late-term abortion,” O’Donnell explains. Even patients just seeking a pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood were considered part of the supply: “Pregnancy tests are potential pregnancies, therefore potential specimens. So it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities.

Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Experiences like Holly O’Donnell’s show that Planned Parenthood’s abortion and baby parts business is not a safe place where vulnerable women can be cared for, but a harvesting ground for saleable human ‘product.’ Taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood’s barbaric abortion business should be revoked immediately, and law enforcement and other elected officials must act decisively to determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s offensive practices and hold them accountable to the law.”

Russell Moore’s thoughts on the Planned Parenthood videos:

“What I hope happens out of [these videos] is not just that we act in public justice and defund Planned Parenthood but also that we start to shape and form consciences to do away with the violence of abortion.”

Here are two websites to be aware of if you want to make your voice heard:

  1. is planning a peaceful protest at Planned Parenthood facilities across America on August 22, 2015 from 9:00am-11:00am
  2. unites prolife consumers in protest against corporate support of Planned Parenthood.

And here are a few resources that may be helpful or of interest for you:

  • Reuben Navarrette Jr.’s candid article, “I Don’t Know if Im Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos
  • Francis Beckwith’s reading list of some books that make a sophisticated philosophical case for the pro-life position (see his follow-up on female pro-life scholars)
  • Ross Douthat’s bracing and brilliant piece, “There Is No Pro-Life Case for Planned Parenthood“; see also his first of two posts answering questions from a pro-abortion-choice advocate
  • Michael Krueger’s brief responses to four bad arguments to defend Planned Parenthood: (1) they do other good things; (2) the videos have been heavily edited; (3) Planned Parenthood is not making any money; (4) Fetal tissue is being used for important scientific research.
  • In a 2013 article from the liberal online magazine Slate, senior editor Rachael Larimore looked at the idea that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion and called it ”meaningless—to the point of being downright silly.” Rich Lowry has a very helpful explanation of how they abuse this statistic: “By Planned Parenthood’s math, a woman who gets an abortion but also a pregnancy test, an STD test, and some contraceptives has received four services, and only 25 percent of them are abortion. This is a little like performing an abortion and giving a woman an aspirin, and saying only half of what you do is abortion. Such cracked reasoning could be used to obscure the purpose of any organization. The sponsors of the New York City Marathon could count each small cup of water they hand out (some 2 million cups, compared with 45,000 runners) and say they are mainly in the hydration business. Or Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only .012 percent of what they do.”
  • Peter Kreeft argues that there are only four possible positions you can hold regarding the nature of a fetus, and he looks at the logical implications of each position:



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