Book Reviews From 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King On Abortion

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.In preparing for a recent book review, I re-read Dr. Martin Luther King’s amazing Letter From A Birmingham Jail. Dr. King was addressing some pastors who had advised him to slow down in his push to abolish segregation.

I believe there are some amazing parallels to what Dr. King wrote about abolishing segregation, and what many are writing and speaking about today in abolishing abortion.

Below are a few quotes from Dr. King’s Letter that I think are appropriate in the context of calling the church to not slow down in her push to abolish abortion. Just as Dr. King spoke up for the people whose voices were not being heard, we need to speak up for those children in the womb whose voices are not being heard.

I have taken the liberty to make a couple of changes in Dr. King’s original letter, to clarify how I believe he would have addressed the abortion issue. My changes are in brackets.

“You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since [many] so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of [1973 ‘legalizing’ abortion], at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ 

“Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades the human personality is unjust. All [abortion] statutes are unjust because [abortion kills an unborn] soul and [destroys a] personality. It gives the [abortionist and those who advocate for abortion] a false sense of superiority and the [aborted human baby] a false sense of inferiority. … 

“An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is a difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made it legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to [live], had no part in enacting or devising the law. …

“One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” 

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the [murder of innocent human beings] but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” 

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremist for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of [abortion laws] or for the [saving] of [life]?” 

“I have heard many ministers say: ‘Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.’ And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and secular.” 

“Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! how we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.” 

“There was a time when the church was very powerful—in that time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. 

“Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent—and often even the vocal—sanction of things as they are.

“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the [twenty-first] century.” 

“Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.”

10 Quotes From “Letters To A Birmingham Jail”

Letters To A Birmingham JailIn Letters To A Birmingham Jail, it was very eye-opening to read how modern-day clergy respond to Dr. Martin Luther King’s 50-year-old “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” What an innovative book! Check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy a few quotes.

“Our nation is losing a sense of gratitude for the abundance and great bounty that God has bestowed upon us. In America we have witnessed the god of materialism sink his teeth into the fabric of the human soul. He has unleashed a spirit of rugged individualism, fueled by selfish greed. This has become normalized behavior that discourages a care for the other, and especially for the poor. The hope for America is that we will see our responsibility to care for the least among us in recognition of the truth that every person is created in the very image of God.” —John Perkins

“God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated churches where the gospel is cherished—these are the birthplace of the kind of racial harmony that gives long-term glory to God and long-term gospel good to the world.” —John Piper

“Some may have quoted, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!’ (Psalm 27:14). But this call to wait for the Lord never meant stop doing what He commanded us to do in the pursuit of holy goals. Waiting for the Lord means our action is essential, but His is decisive. The farmer must wait for the harvest. But no one works harder than the farmer.” —John Piper

“Now, to be sure the Bible teaches that the government does exist for the well-being of the people; but too many Christians got lock-jaw, saying very little or nothing when in fact the country needed the engagement of the church and a word from God. Silence and business as usual did severe damage to our prophetic integrity. We’ve made progress but our efforts are still woefully inadequate.” —Crawford W. Loritts, Jr.

“I believe from Genesis to Revelation that God is the God of all nations and all peoples. He created all things, including all peoples, all people groups, all races, and all skin colors. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, you see God redeeming all people to Himself. John 3:16 tells us God sent Jesus because ‘God so loved the world.’ The Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the earliest church plants. The gospel-dominated people of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John spilled over into the launching of gospel communities, or church plants in Acts. Racial and cultural issues surfaced almost immediately. Jesus had actually been the One to begin stirring the pot in His ministry as He intentionally went to Samaria, and did all sorts of things with and for Gentiles that Jewish men were not supposed to do.” —John Bryson

“If the torrential force of the first church as found in the book of Acts is to become our twenty-first-century reality, then the faces of most of our churches must look like the faces of the first-century church: multiethnic.” —Bryan Loritts

“If folks feel that this kind of ‘affirmative action’ equals ‘reverse discrimination,’ we can gently lead them to the apostolic solution to the racial controversy in Acts 6:1-7, where the men appointed to resolve a serious ethnic crisis all appear to be from the minority Hellenistic population! It’s called Christian wisdom.” —Sandy Willson

“The mission of the church, the pursuit of the legacy of Christ, cannot simply be about business and culture as usual. If we allow it to be so simple, we will soon find ourselves in the trap the disciples are caught in as they begin to walk around Samaria out of habit, only to notice that Jesus is going a different way. How often this conflict arises when we attempt to follow Jesus! We set out with the best of intentions, and soon find ourselves not following Him but expecting Him to follow us. The sin in us longs to travel only the road that offers comfort and familiarity. Yet Jesus unapologetically walks the more challenging road, inviting us to witness what He will do if we choose to follow.” —Albert Tate

“Diversity is an implication and hope fueled by the gospel, but it is not the good news. Yet, while the gospel and diversity are not equal ideas, diversity is nevertheless an issue that we are weak in and need to grow in—an issue that requires much time, energy, and prayer.” —Matt Chandler

“Producing homogenous churches can be done with relative ease and a total lack of dependence on the Spirit.” —Matt Chandler

Letters To A Birmingham Jail (book review)

Letters To A Birmingham JailIt’s been fifty years since Dr. Martin Luther King wrote his amazing Letter From A Birmingham Jail. His letter was written in response to some clergy who had exhorted Dr. King to slow down a bit in his drive to abolish segregation. Now, fifty years later, some of our notable clergy members are responding to Dr. King in Letters To A Birmingham Jail.

Ten different clergymen—from different races, ages, and parts of the country—all responded to Dr. King’s seminal letter with gratitude, passion, and a unified voice for the twenty-first century church. Gratitude for Dr. King’s tireless trailblazing work, and for the indelible mark he made on each author’s life; passion for the church to rise up and fulfill its calling as a symbol of God’s picture of racial reconciliation in the world; and a united voice calling all Christians to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps, making the church look more like Heaven.

As a student of both history, leadership, and the church, Letters To A Birmingham Jail hit on multiple fronts for me. In the case of two of the authors, I got to witness Dr. King’s impact on both a father and son. In all the authors, I could see what a passionate, persuasive leader can do to change the attitudes and paradigm of an entire nation. Now, listening to these impactful church leaders calling us to fulfill the mandate of Jesus to evangelize “all nations,” I can see principles I can apply to my life, my community, and my church.

We owe a huge “thank you” to Bryan Loritts for dreaming up this book idea and pulling together such passionate and articulate voices from across our nation, to sound a unified and clear call to all Christians. I am confident that any one who desires to see the Church return to its apostolic roots will enjoy reading this book.

I am a Moody Press book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

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At age 38, after playing 20 years for the Detroit Tigers, Ty Cobb had an amazing performance in the 1925 season.

“Everything you do is either going to raise your average or lower it. The next hire. The quality of the chickpeas you serve. The service experience on register 4. Each interaction is a choice. A choice to raise your average or lower it. Progress is almost always a series of choices, an inexorable move toward mediocrity, or its opposite.” —Seth Godin

Fight The New Drug shares 3 things that pornography doesn’t show.

“If Margaret Sanger had her way, MLK and Rosa Parks would never have been born,” said [Bishop E.W.] Jackson. “It’s an outrage the national museum would honor such a person and add insult to injury by putting her in the Struggle for Justice exhibit.” Margaret Sanger’s bust should be removed from the Smithsonian.

Married couples, have more sex to help slash the chances of prostate cancer.

Murray Vassar finds a very appropriate connection between what Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and what is happening with Planned Parenthood.

So House Speaker John Boehner wants to build a coalition by calling a member of his own party this?!

Links & Quotes

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“Do not forget the close bond between the inner room and the outside world. The attitude of the inner prayer room must remain with us all day. The object of secret prayer is to unite us to God that we may know His abiding presence with us.” ―Andrew Murray

“There are two ways by which man might have been for ever blessed. The one was by works: ‘This do and thou shalt live; be obedient and receive the reward.’ The other plan was: ‘Receive grace and blessedness as the free gift of God; stand as a guilty sinner having no merit, and as a rebellious sinner deserving the very reverse of goodness, but stand there and receive all thy good things, simply, wholly, and alone of the free love and sovereign mercy of God.’ Now, the Lord has not chosen the system of works.” —Charles Spurgeon

It is appalling to me that people still try to defend abortion. This post talks about the pain that babies experience during the abortion procedure.

Interesting: 11 trends in American marriages and families.

[VIDEO] A very intriguing interview on Meet The Press with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965―

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Some interesting reading (and watching) from today:

The Center for Reproductive Rights is trying to force the U.N. to use anti-torture treaties to silence the Church, arguing that the pro-life message “tortures women”! Huh? Check out this post—UN To Criminalize The Pro-Life Movement?—and sign the ACLJ petition to stop this.

[VIDEO] Nick Vujicic and John Maxwell talk about making today bigger than yesterday.

A word to pastors: “The prophet must hear the message clearly and deliver it faithfully, and that is indeed a grave responsibility; but it is to God alone, not to men.” —A.W. Tozer

“If I am not today all that I hope to be, yet I see Jesus, and that assures me that I shall one day be like Him.” —Charles Spurgeon

A good reminder about Martin Luther King, Jr’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail in this post: When Waiting Doesn’t Work.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote that the answer to objectionable speech ’is more speech, not enforced silence.’ This seems a most reasonable proposition. If you are offended by someone’s position, you can counter it with your own arguments and expose their error for the world to see and reject. It is a concept that has served our Republic well in the fight for liberty and freedom.” Read more in We Need More First Amendment Freedom.

The so-called global warming “science” is becoming more and more philosophy and conjecture. The title of the article in the esteemed Nature is Key West Antarctic Glaciers Retreating Unstoppably, but the text of the article is very un-scientific and vague. Please read the article for yourself and note phrases like these (emphasis added):

  • Radar observations suggest
  • …would raise sea levels by 1.2 meters if they melted
  • …glaciers are likely to disappear
  • …melting over the next century will probably cause… 
  • And my favorite: “Global sea levels are currently rising about 3 millimetres per year. Most of that comes from the thermal expansion of the warming oceans; some also comes from melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica.” To which I ask: how do we know this isn’t a part of the normal warming and cooling cycle? 
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