Unplanned the Movie Review

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In no way am I reviewer of movies, but I’m offering my thoughts on this movie from a Christian perspective and the importance of maintaining or even developing our worldview as Christians.

I had heard a few things about the movie.  Some positive, some negative.  I have friends with strong opinions about the lack of gospel clarity and choose not to support the film.  I have no problem with that.  It is a conscience issue that should be respected.

I’ll say at the outset that I believe abortion should be outlawed and completely abolished but yet that may not happen in my lifetime and if it doesn’t would fewer abortions be better?  I say yes, and so sometimes incrementalism is a reality of life and where I find value in the movie if this can help sway the minds of a generation to the evils that are clearly shown in this film.

Abby Johnson worked for Planned Parenthood, and she defected from the organization, and this movie is the story of her time with Planned Parenthood, primarily focusing on her realization that the babies being murdered in the womb were actual human lives.  There is a powerful element as her convictions grew through markers along the way.  There are portrayals of abortions that will have you squirming in your seat.  In one scene Abby says to her husband “abortion is not pretty.”  It is a baby being evacuated from the mother’s womb.  It’s gritty and powerful and disturbing.

There is a lot of Christian cliche’s and what I call the “cheesy-ness” of the religious themed movies.  You know, how everything turns out good in the end and even though there are some problems along the way, all ends well.  For Abby Johnson, she came to see that the end of her time at Planned Parenthood also meant that she was complicit in the death of over 20,000 unborn children.  This is real, and it’s a powerful scene that could have led to a perfect opportunity for a gospel presentation.  While Abby is coming to the realization of her sins against God her husband says, “you need to apologize.”  He goes on to say that God forgives and God loves her.  While it is true God forgives, God’s love is not to love without conditions.  It’s more than telling God, “I’m sorry.”  While Abby appears to grieve does she grieve unto repentance and faith?

I also found myself troubled by the behavior of Abby’s husband, Doug.  He is unapologetically pro-life in the movie, but from a Christian perspective, he really does nothing other than disagree with Abby about her work at Planned Parenthood.  Here we see this weird toggling between opinions about Christian religion, as the Johnson’s are shown in one scene attending a church service.  True Christianity draws clear lines of distinction between tolerating willful sin and sinful behaviors.  While Doug clearly shows love for Abby, is he really loving her by not confronting her with the reality that she is against what God has clearly declared sin?

I found another, somewhat cheesy, a portrayal of those that stand on the front lines against abortion.  The movie shows two types of groups at first but focuses it’s energies on the 40 Days of Life group that is there to offer support, prayer, resources and actually try to engage those going into getting abortions in a kind and loving way.  The other group is portrayed as, let’s say, “wacko.”

Having worked on the front lines of abortion ministry, it’s a hard balance to strike.  Some women go in with hard hearts, as one woman is shown bringing her young daughter with her as her mother pleads for her not to go through with it.  Then others are crushed under their guilt and the decision they face.

Gentleness, love, and respect should always be the demeanor of Christians on the front line of abortion ministry, and my thinking has changed over the years as to the best approaches.  In the end, I side with pleading for the life of the child along with offering other choices, care, and compassion for those that are about to end the life of their children through the act of abortion.

My biggest disappointment with the movie was the blown opportunities.  I mentioned it above where Abby has come to see her sin, and her husband gives her an unbiblical response to how she should deal with her realization of sin.

Clearly, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  We’ve all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  A simple acknowledgement of this reality is not a gospel message nor does it indicate saving faith.

Going to God is not an act of apologizing for our wrong doings, Abby’s husband tells her that she should beg God for mercy.  Seeking mercy from God is a biblical response to the horror of our sin, but in Abby’s case, the message of the cross was never presented.  She was not told that yes, your sins are heinous in the eyes of a Holy God and the murder of 20,000 children is especially grievous to God, but we don’t just say, “hey, sorry about that God, pleeeeeeese, forgive me…”

God can, and does forgive all that come to Him with a desire to turn from their sins, and I believe that is availalbe for Abby Johnson or the most heinous of all Planned Parenthood employees, directors, doctors, and patients.  We all need Christ’s forgiveness.  We are all invited to freely drink from the water of life, but there is a biblical way to define coming to Christ that we are humbled under the reality of our sin, understanding we have no hope in and of ourselves and looking to the cross as the solution to pay the penalty and the guilt of our sins.

I have great hope that the horror of abortion and the lying and manipulative techniques of Planned Parenthood can be exposed through this movie through under cover videos and any other vehicle that can be used.  But unless someone comes to the gospel of Christ, their sin will never be paid for.  No matter how much good they’ve done on this earth, only the blood of Jesus can wash away your sin.  It is in that missed opportunity that I grieve over this film.  There are some good Christian elements in the movie but leaves off presenting a clear explanation of the gopsel of Jesus Christ.

By all means, see this movie if you are so inclined.  Cry over the loss of innocent lives, and be humbled at the reality of God that still saves sinners.  Use this as an opportunity to have discussions with friends or your children about the sinful behavior that leads to abortion.  In this respect, there is value in Unplanned.

 

Kevin

 

 

 

The Church Universal

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Not to be confused with Universalism, the concept where everyone is saved in the end an understanding of the universal church is often relegated to the dark corners of theology in Orthodox circles because of the focus on the local church.

Don’t misunderstand, this is not to reduce or deflect from the local church. It is the pillar and ground of the truth locally and universally. People must attend a local church, and I agree almost entirely they should be members of a local church. I think there is a time and place when that is not always possible for some time.

What I love about the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith is the clarity it applies to the church. It heavily focuses on the local church but does not fail to address the universal or “catholic” church.

Chapter 26: paragraph 1: The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.1

Heb. 12:23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:10,22–23, 5:23,27,32

These writers used tremendous wisdom in how they articulated the truth about the church. Yes, it is visible, yes it is local, yes it consists of certain assemblies and gatherings of people, but the church consists of the “whole” number of the elect.

“That has been,” that means they are no longer with us, they have passed into eternity. “Are.” This group is currently alive. They are with us today but may not be in the same church as you or me. This is important and the crux of my argument. Lastly, “they shall be,” in short they haven’t been saved just yet. But they will be someday.

Why am I concerned about a universal church that exists around the globe (yes, I’m a round-earther) and meets in different buildings? I’ve encountered groups that don’t believe you can ever leave a church once you are a member or committed to it. It is here we need to be careful. I think this can be abused. There are church-hoppers, and zero commitment Christians out there. That is probably a more significant problem but pinning people to a church where they can only get out if they die is not healthy either.

There are legitimate reasons for leaving that are not sinful, there are other churches that are capable of preaching a gospel message that saves. There are controlling churches that believe they are the center of this universe but they are not and in effect it causes them to be isolationists. They exist only inside their bubble.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 18:1

“This man seeks selfish gratification and accepts advice from no one.” – John MacArthur

While most will apply this passage to individuals, it also applies corporately. Insert the church or the leaders into this verse and do you see the problem? A church that isolates itself seeks its own desire. It breaks out against all sound judgment.

When churches believe they are the only game in town and nobody does it the way they do it they create an attitude of spiritual elitism. They won’t allow people to leave which is a product of control-oriented leadership and then leadership becomes everyone else’s conscience. They determine what is best for an individual. Not the individual. They reject the personal element of faith, and it produces a group-think attitude.

These churches are dangerous indeed because they dismiss the individual priest-hood of the believer. They reject the church universal and assume families and fathers are incapable of making sound decisions for themselves and for their loved ones. They reject the teaching of conscience as a viable source of the Holy Spirit working individually in the life of a Christian.

The way to best love this church is to leave. Tell them the truth in love and trust the Spirit of God to deal with them in time, rather than trying to be like them, reject their thinking and believe that the counsel of many will eventually break through.

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Kevin

Why?

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Why do they not believe?

It seems so logical to believe, but for most that don’t believe it seems logical to “not” believe and so it only seemed logical for me to explore “belief”.  What is the Christian belief?

We all believe certain things.  Sometimes we believe falsely.  How do we know what is true and what is false?  Is it always and only by our own senses?  Because those can’t always be trusted.

Do we have assurance the sun will rise tomorrow?  Do I know my wife will love me tomorrow the same way she loves me today?  This creates madness in the human mind.  Think of the complexity of the human mind and where did it all come from?  But I digress…

I can’t make you believe anything and you probably can’t make me believe in anything.  We all come to conclusions based on presuppositions mostly.  In a Christian World-view, I presuppose the Bible is true.  In a Secular or Natural World-view, those believe the Bible is not true but whose to say who is right, especially in their view?

Is all truth relative?  What’s true for you is true for you but not for me?  Can truth be relative?  Well, that’s an easy answer for me but is it so easy for you?

There is a distinct clash of views at this point in the argument.

For there to be “truth” there must be a source of absolute truth.  That is the Christian argument.  That true truth is God Himself.  The Beginning and the End.  The One True Constant.  The Law-Giver.  Without this element then there can be no standard by which to live, except what you invent.  Your standard becomes your standard but not mine.

But… If there is a constant, then there is a standard by which all must function and exist.  That standard is the same for you and it is the same for me.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Matthew 5:17-18

That sure does complicate things, doesn’t it?

Jesus believes the Law and Prophets were given by God that a standard which is to be for all must fully be accomplished.  And this is where it gets tricky for those that don’t believe.  They are accountable to the Law.

And they can’t keep the Law.  Only Christ kept the Law.

Here is where I might upset somebody.

It’s not about believing or un-believing, it’s about rejecting the Law.  Paul said in Romans 1 that truth is suppressed or held down in an attempt to justify unrighteousness.  If I say “there is no god…” then who are you to say I’m wrong?  If there is no god, there is no law, there is no accountability, there is no judgment and there is no eternal reward or eternal punishment.

It’s actually quite convenient.  I get to live like I want and who are you to say I’m wrong?

Is it okay if I steal your wallet?

Philosopher Richard Taylor said:

To say that something is wrong because… it is forbidden by God is… perfectly understandable to anyone who believes in a law-giving God.  But to say that something is wrong… even though no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable… the concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God.  The words remain but their meaning is gone.

For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  Romans 3:20

Here is the truth.  Today, truth can be received and believed or rejected and denied.  But you don’t get to have it both ways.  You may be a “good” person by the world’s standards, and you are probably a better person than me but Christ was the only one that was perfect and that is the standard by which we will be judged.

Believe on him.  He will never fail you.

Kevin

A Matter of Conscience

a 1689

“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Rupertus Meldenius

The church life can be complex. It can be joyful and downright difficult all at the same time. There are few things that can challenge those in the church much more than matters of conscience. It can seem hard to put your finger on it because what is it actually?

The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) says this about the Scriptures.

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation.

This is clear. It’s easy to understand where the conscience leaves room for someone else “feelings” right? I can say, “well my conscience is bothering me about what I’m hearing, seeing or feeling so, therefore, my feelings are validating and I’m now free to do as I please…”

1689 continues:

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

Through His word, the Lord reveals Himself and declares His will unto His church. This preserves, propogates, establishes and comforts the church. It protects the church against the corruption of the flesh, the malice of Satan and the world.

In short, the word of God is all-sufficient. And yet, the conscience works in concert with the word of God to reveal the truth. Further on in the 1689 we deal specifically with matters of liberty and conscience:

Chapter 21 paragraph 2:

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to his word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.

J.I. Packer writes about the Puritan understanding of “the conscience in action” as we try to draw these ideas of the word of God and personal conscience together.

Then, second, this ethical teaching was all given (again, just as in the New Testament) not as a code of routine motions to go through with mechanical exactness, but in the form of attitudes to be maintained and principles to be applied, so that however much teaching and advice a man received, he was always left to make the final decisions and determinations (whether to follow his pastor’s advice; how to apply the given principles in this or that case; etc.) on his own initiative, as spontaneous, responsible acts of his own conscience in the sight of God.

Packer explains that it was important that all things be measured against the word of God, through proper biblical exegesis. This can create problems left unchecked by leaders that desire to control others, so having biblical discernment is paramount to avoid the authoritarian leader.

Puritan ethical teaching was not authoritarian; it was offered as exposition and application of Scripture, and was to be checked against Scripture by those who received it, according to the Protestant principle of the duty of private judgment. The Puritans did not wish men’s consciences to be bound to their own teaching, as such, but to the Word of God only, and to Puritan teaching only so far as it was demonstrably in accord with the Word of God.

What does all this really mean to us today? The Puritan’s view of conscience was traced immediately back to Popery. Coming out of the teaching of Rome, that men should exclusively look to their leaders. While leaders are God given, they are not infallible. Looking back to the quote by Meldenius we can see the goal of the local church and the concerned shepherd.

“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

A Christian’s great desire is to honor the Lord in the essentials of the faith, we must be united. If you do not believe God is triune, we have a problem. We cannot be unified in the faith. This is clear and easy to grasp.

However, as we jump to the non-essentials things tend to get stickier. This is where we need to have balance and grace. Or as Meldenius said… “Liberty”. Liberty or freedom of conscience frees us from the teachings of men. It allows unity without uniformity. It allows for grace and not oppression. When leaders drive home certain biblical texts that place them on the throne we need to beware. The Puritans understood this and it was of great concern for them.

If freedom of conscience is not treasured, is not fought for in and by a local church this should be a concern for you and for me. Christ died not only that we be free from the penalty and condemnation of sin but we also be free from the penalties and condemnation of men. Liberty is never a license to freely sin but it is a priceless element of the gospel of Christ.

While the Lord has given gifts to the church of pastors and teachers their authority is limited and we should allow no-man to take us captive. This is crucial to true Christianity.

Lastly, of course… charity in all things, even in disagreement. Without love we are clanging gongs and tinkling cymbals. We are obnoxious noise makers void of love. But often times true love comes with conflict. Conflict can be and is sometimes necessary. We cannot roll-over, be intimidated or bullied.

May the Lord endow us with wisdom from on-high, and grace to love His church.

Kevin

A Sure Thing

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Back in my younger days, BC (before Christ) I had my hand at the stock market a time or two with pretty mixed results.  Well, let’s be painfully transparent here, it wasn’t good.  I’ve learned some hard lessons.

I can’t honestly ever remember hearing the words, “I’ve got a sure thing for you to invest in…”  but if I had I probably would have given it a try.  Thankfully I’ve abandoned those bad ideas and invest in a slow and steady way.

Remeber the quote that “nothing in this world is certain except for death and taxes”?

There is one sure thing I was reminded of today.  Christ lives.  He is a sure thing.  He is THE sure thing, and more importantly, we have evidence of that surety.  Look at the amazing claim made here and see if you find the evidence as compelling as I do.

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.  Luke 1:1–4

When we want to know about things what do we do?  We dig in, we research it, we seek it out by talking with people, search the internet.  This is what Luke has done, well except search the web.

He did his due-dilligence in the matter because this was important.  The claims made by and about Jesus are hard to believe, but if you had a chance to sit and talk with those that saw them would it be compelling to you?  Luke says you can have “certainty” about these things.

Think about that.  Prophecies from the Old Testament came true before them.  Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. Jesus was resurrected and seen by over 500 eye witnesses.  The testimonies of changed lives.  These are just a quick few mentions.  There are countless reasons to believe and have certainty.

So I’ll ask you…  do you?  Do you believe?  Nothing is stopping you, it’s not the evidence.  It’s your unwillingness to surrender; to give in and believe Christ.  This is what faith is all about.  It’s not blind faith, it’s educated faith and it’s a life changing faith.

Believe the good news today.  It’s a sure thing.

 

Kevin