Monday, January 30, 2012

Francis Schaeffer, January 30, 1912-1984

My friend, Professor Timothy McGrew, selected these quotes on the occasion of Francis A. Schaeffer's centennial:

We as Bible-believing evangelical Christians are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly gentleman's discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ. It is a conflict on the level of ideas between two fundamentally opposed views of truth and reality. It is a conflict on the level of actions between a complete moral perversion and chaos and God's absolutes. But do we really believe that we are in a life and death battle? Do we really believe that the part we play in the battle has consequences for whether or not men and women will spend eternity in hell? Or whether or not in this life people will live with meaning or meaninglessness? Or whether or not those who do live will live in a climate of moral perversion and degradation? Sadly, we must say that very few in the evangelical world have acted as if these things are true. Rather than trumpet our accomplishments and revel in our growing numbers, it would be closer to the truth to admit that our response has been a disaster.

-Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1984), pp. 31-32

Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong. Just as what we may call holiness without love is not God's kind of holiness, so also what we may call love without holiness, including when necessary confrontation, is not God's kind of love.

-Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1984), pp. 64-65

Most people catch their presuppositions from their family and surrounding society the way a child catches measels. But people with more understanding realize that their presuppositions should be chosen after a careful consideration of what world view is true. When all is done, when all the alternatives have been explored, "not many men are in the room" -- that is, although world views have many variations, there are not many basic world views or basic presuppositions.

-Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), p. 20

Suppose we awoke tomorrow morning and we opened our Bibles and found two things had been taken out, not as the liberals would take them out, but really out. Suppose God had taken them out. The first item missing was the real empowering of the Holy Spirit, and the second item the reality of prayer. Consequently, following the dictates of Scripture, we would begin to live on the basis of this new Bible in which there was nothing about the power of the Holy Spirit and nothing about the power of prayer. Let me ask you something: what difference would there be from the way we acted yesterday? Do we really believe God is there? If we do, we live differently.
-Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, in The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, vol. 4, p. 40

Book of Common Prayer

Written prayers in The Book of Common Prayer are often my only way to pray. Pain and sorrow can bring out intercessory passion and even eloquence, but they can also silence it. These prayers, many of which are written for the trials of sickness, give a biblical voice to our yearnings, fears, and hopes. I commend them to you

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thirty-Nine Years after Roe v. Wade

Why I am Pro-life:

A Short, Nonsectarian Argument

Abortion is the intentional killing of a human fetus by chemical and/or surgical means. It should not be confused with miscarriage (which involves no human intention) or contraception (which uses various technologies to prohibit sperm and egg from producing a fertilized ovum after sexual intercourse). Miscarriages are natural (if sad) occurrences, which raise no deep moral issues regarding human conduct—unless the woman was careless in her pregnancy. Contraception is officially opposed by Roman Catholics and some other Christians, but I take it to be in a moral category entirely separate from abortion (since it does not involve the killing of a fetus); therefore, it will not be addressed here.[1]

Rather than taking up the legal reasoning and history of abortion in America (especially concerning Roe vs. Wade), this essay makes a simple, straightforward moral argument against abortion. Sadly, real arguments (reasoned defenses of a thesis or claim) are too rarely made on this issue. Instead, propaganda is exchanged. Given that the Obama administration is the most pro-abortion administration in the history of the United States, some clear moral reasoning is called for at this time.

The first premise of the argument is that human beings have unique and incomparable value in the world. Christians and Jews believe this is the case because we are made in God’s image and likeness. But anyone who holds that humans are special and worthy of unique moral consideration can grant this thesis (even if their worldview does not ultimately support it). Of course, those like Peter Singer who do not grant humans any special status will not be moved by this.[2] We cannot help that. Many true and justified beliefs (concerning human beings and other matters) are denied by otherwise intelligent people.

Second, the burden of proof should always be on the one taking a human life and the benefit of doubt should always be given to the human life. This is not to say that human life should never be taken. In an often cruel and unfair world, sometimes life-taking is necessary, as many people will grant. Cases include self-defense, the prosecution of a just war, and capital punishment. Yet all unnecessary and intentional life-taking is murder, a deeply evil and repugnant offense against human beings. (This would also be acknowledged by those, such as absolute pacifists, who believe that it is never justifiable to take a human life.)

Third, abortion nearly always takes a human life intentionally and gratuitously and is, therefore, morally unjustified, deeply evil, and repugnant—given what we have said about human beings. The fetus is, without question, a human being. Biologically, an entity joins its parents’ species at conception. Like produces like: apes procreate apes, rabbits procreate rabbits, and humans procreate humans. If the fetus is not human, what else could it possibly be? Could it be an ape or a rabbit? Of course not.

Some philosophers, such as Mary Anne Warren, have tried to drive a wedge between personhood and humanity. That is, there may be persons who are not human (such as God, angels, ETs—if they exist), and there may be humans that are not persons (fetuses or those who lose certain functions after having possessed them). While it is true that there may be persons who are not humans, it does not logically follow that there are humans who are not persons. The fetus is best regarded as a person with potential, not a potential person or nonperson.[3]

When we separate personhood from humanity, we make personhood an achievement based on the possession of certain qualities. But what are these person-constituting qualities? Some say a basic level of consciousness; others assert viability outside the womb; still others say a sense of self-interest (which probably does not obtain until after birth). All of these criteria would take away humanity from those in comas or other physically compromised situations.[4] Humans can lose levels of consciousness through injuries, and even infants are not viable without intense and sustained human support. Moreover, who are we to say just what qualities make for membership in the moral community of persons?[5] The stakes are very high in this question. If we are wrong in our identification of what qualities are sufficient for personhood and we allow a person to be killed, we have allowed the wrongful killing of nothing less than a person. Therefore, I argue that personhood should be viewed as a substance or essence that is given at conception. The fetus is not a lifeless mechanism that only becomes what it is after several parts are put together—as is the case with a watch or an automobile. Rather, the fetus is a living human organism, whose future unfolds from within itself according to internal principles. For example, the fertilized ovum contains a complete genetic code that is distinct from that of the mother or father. But this is not a mere inert blueprint (which is separable from the building it describes); this is a living blueprint that becomes what its human nature demands.

Yet even if one is not sure when personhood becomes a reality, one should err on the side of being conservative simply because so much is at stake. That is, if one aborts a fetus who is already a person, one commits a deep moral wrong by wrongfully killing an innocent human life. Just as we do not shoot target practice when we are told there may be children playing behind the targets, we should not abortion fetuses if they may be persons with the right not to be killed. As I have argued, it cannot be disputed that abortion kills a living, human being.

Many argue that outside considerations experienced by the mother should overrule the moral value of the human embryo. If a woman does not want a pregnancy, she may abort. But these quality of life considerations always involve issues of lesser moral weight than that of the conservation and protection of a unique human life (which considers the sanctity or innate and intrinsic value of a human life).[6] An unwanted pregnancy is difficult, but the answer is not to kill a human being in order to end that pregnancy. Moreover, a baby can be put up for adoption and bring joy to others. There are many others who do want the child and would give him or her great love and support. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for women to experience deep regrets after aborting their offspring.

The only exemption to giving priority to the life of the fetus would be if there were a real threat to the life of the mother were the pregnancy to continue. In this case, the fetus functions as a kind of intruder that threatens the woman’s life. To abort the pregnancy would be tragic but allowable in this imperfect world. Some mothers will nonetheless choose to continue the pregnancy to their own risk, but this is not morally required. It should be noted that these life-threatening situations are extremely rare.

This pro-life argument does not rely on any uniquely religious assumptions, although some religious people will find it compelling. I take it to be an item of natural law (what can be known about morality by virtue of being human) that human life has unique value. A case can be made against abortion by using the Bible (only the Hebrew Bible or both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament combined) as the main moral source, but I have not given that argument here.[7] Rather, this essay has given an argument on the basis of generally agreed upon moral principles. If the argument is to be refuted, one or more of those principles or the reasoning employed needs to be refuted.

Although at the beginning of this essay I claimed I would not take up the legal reasoning related to abortion, one simple point follows from my argument. In nearly every case, abortion should be illegal simply because the Constitution requires that innocent human life be protected from killing.[8] Anti-abortion laws are not an intrusion of the state into the family any more than laws against murdering one’s parents are an intrusion into the family.

[1] See Scott Rae, Moral Choices, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 288-291.

[2] For an exposition and critique of Singer’s thought, see Gordon R. Preece, ed., Rethinking Peter Singer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002).

[3] See Clifford Bajema, Abortion and the Meaning of Personhood (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1974). This book is on line at:

[4] On the dangerous implications of his perspective, see Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, revised ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1983).

[5] For a developed philosophical and legal case for including the unborn in the moral community of human beings, see Francis Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007); and Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (New York: Doubleday, 2008).

[6] On the distinction between a quality of life ethic and a sanctity of life ethic, see Ronald Reagan, “Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation,” available at: This was originally an article in the Spring, 1983 issue of The Human Life Review.

[7] See Rae, 129-133.

[8] See Beckwith, chapter two.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What if hope cannot extend beyond human endeavor itself and is never answered by anything beyond it? What if the millennia of human cries echo only into the empty sky and not further? That possibility must be faced if the quest itself is to have any meaning. In the end, hope without truth is pointless. Illusions and delusions, no matter how comforting or grandiose, are the enemies of those who strive for integrity in their knowing and being. Statements such as "I like to think of the universe as having a purpose" or "The thought of an afterlife gives me peace" reflect mere wishes. These notions do not address the truth or falsity of there being purpose in the world or of our postmortem survival, because there is no genuine claim to knowledge: a warranted awareness of reality as it is. A hearty, sturdy and insatiable appetite for reality--whatever it might be--is the only engine for testing and discerning truth. (D. Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, p.16)
The fall of humanity is admittedly difficult to fathom; however, once it is admitted into our worldview, the enigmas of the human condition are explained and the human landscape is illuminated as never before. Douglas Groothuis "Christian Apologetics"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Groothuis on Tebow

I am quoted in this Terry Mattingly piece on Tim Tebow.

Christian Apologetics in Boulder

Dr. Bradley Monton, an atheist, is using my book, Christian Apologetics, as the text in a philosophy class at the University of Colorado--Boulder called, "Theology Forum." I should be speaking to that class in late April or early May.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book of Common Prayer

In Pain

Lord Jesus Christ, by your patience in suffering you hallowed earthly pain and gave us the example of obedience to your Father's will: Be near me in my time of weakness and pain; sustain me by your grace, that my strength and courage may not fail; heal me according to your will; and help me always to believe that what happens to me here is of little account if you hold me in eternal life, my Lord and my God. Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Here is the sum of the matter. We must earnestly endeavor to know the truth of the biblical worldview and to make it known with integrity to as many people as possible with the best arguments available. To know God in Christ means that we desire to make Christian truth available to others in the most compelling form possible. To be created in God’s rational, moral and relational image means that our entire being should be aimed at the glorification of God in Christian witness. A significant part of that witness is Christian apologetics." - Douglas Groothuis (Christian Apologetics, p.44)
The Internet is a facsimile of sociality--Rebecca Merrill Groothuis.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Don't miss the Doug Groothuis interview on "Christian Apologetics" on the God Solution at 8:30 am MST Sunday, January, 15, on KDUR (91.9 and 93.9 FM in Durango and online). -- From the host of the program, Nate Herbst.

Book of Common Prayer

¶ A Litany for the Sick or Dying.

O God the Father,
Have mercy.
O God the Son,
Have mercy.
O God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy.
Remember not, Lord, our offences.
Spare us, Good Lord.
From all evil and sin,
Good Lord, deliver him.
From the assaults of the devil,
Good Lord, deliver hint
From thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver him.
In time hour of death,
Good Lord, deliver him.
In the day of judgement,
Good Lord, deliver him.
By the mystery of thine Incarnation,
Save him, O Lord.
By thy Cross and Passion,
Save him, O Lord.
thy thy Resurrection and final Triumph,
Save him, O Lord.
That it may please thee to grant him relief in pain
We beseech thee to hear us.
To give him such health as is agreeable to thy will
We beseech thee to hear us.
That it may please thee to deliver his soul
We beseech thee to hear us.
To cleanse him from his sin
We beseech thee to hear us.
That it may please thee to receive him to thyself;
We beseech thee to hear us.
To set him in a place of light and peace
We beseech thee to hear us.
To number him with thy saints and thine elect
We beseech thee to heat’ us.
Son of God;
We beseech thee to hear us.
O Lamb of God;
Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God;
Grant him thy peace.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mind, Brain, and You

The fact that consciousness is affected by the brain and by other physical objects, such as the probe, in no way reduces consciousness to a physical property any more than a wooden oar that troubles water turns the water into wood. Douglas Groothuis in Christian Apologetics.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


When eclectic
becomes eccentric
(and not concentric)
it gets hectic.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Christian Apologetics on Amazon

My book, Christian Apologetics has been reviewed 14 times on Amazon, with 13 five-star ratings and one four-star ratings. It has been liked "81" times. If you would like to contribute to this forum, please go to Amazon.