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IF IT’S NATURAL IT’S GOOD, RIGHT?

The Global Environmental Movement has undoubtedly done some great good. Visit cities such as Los Angeles, New Delhi, Shanghai, and you’ll soon realise that water and air pollution is a very serious matter. Anyone who has seen the devastation of massive unregenerated deforestation will readily acknowledge that managing trees in the ground is more critical than many must have realised. Yet, undergirding the Environmental Movement, and its ensuing social policies, is that: natural is best. Many people justly concerned about our ecology have started to notice a large wooden horse on wheels has been pushed into the town square by Environmentalists. And just like the fabled Trojan Horse, this neo-Trojan horse has smuggled something more powerful than an army into our culture: If It’s Natural – It’s Morally Right.

KONY YouTube Clip

The recent “Stop Kony” campaign YouTube video opens with the profound notion that the most powerful thing in the world is not actually a “thing” it is an idea. This was also the premise for the blockbuster movie: INCEPTION.

INCEPTION The Movie

IDEAS SHAPE SOCIETY

Ideas shape people, societies, and civilisations. Jesus Christ used an astounding term to describe the place where human thinking takes place: the heart (such as Matthew 9:4). To the ancient Hebrew, the heart was the core of a person. Jesus said that this was where ideas were processed- in the very core of a person. The heart is the place where we most naturally think of as being the engine room of our feelings. The is link between what we think and what we feel. Jesus said that some ideas in human hearts might be evil and that the result would be spiritual defiling (which is why God offers to cleanse the defiled but repentant sinner because of Jesus’ death and resurrection).

For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are the things that defile a person; it is not eating with unwashed hands that defiles a person.”
Matthew 15:19-20

The Bible continues to place tremendous value on the importance of getting our ideas right. In a world that often celebrates different thinking, it sounds almost out of step with culture for someone to say an idea can be “wrong”. While it’s true that all people are equal, it is not true that all the ideas are equal. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans about people who refuse to acknowledge their Creator (Who has the right to command His creation) as having become darkened in their thinking.

¶ Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused.
Romans 1:21

AN IDEA HAS BEEN SMUGGLED INTO WESTERN THINKING

smogBut in an almost Inception-like implanting, Western Society has had an idea smuggled in via the neo-Trojan Horse of Environmentalism where “natural” is no longer simply about trees, water, forests, soil, farming – it’s now about moral choices: If it feels ‘natural’, it must be morally right. This is an idea that needs to be challenged.

My wife and I enjoy the natural beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness. For the past few years we have hiked much of Tasmania’s wilderness and forests. We deeply appreciate natural beauty. We recognise the high value of conservation efforts in these World Heritage areas.

The Port Davey Track, Tasmania

THE MISUSE OF NATURAL

But even the natural beauty of the bush can sometimes benefit from being tamed. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it is perfect. We all have certain natural desires, urges, and motivations. Just because they feel natural – or even if they can be shown to actually be natural – is hardly the grounds for any moral justification of the resultant behaviour of these natural desires, urges or motivations. This is an important point. We are not denying that we actually have natural orientations. Some well meaning Christians have erred by suggesting that people with same-gender attraction can simply choose not to feel this way. Sexual attraction is rarely that simplistic. Yet, similarly, advocates for same-gender sexual attraction have equally erred by adamantly claiming that such attraction is an irreversible orientation. This is simply not the case. Thousands of men, once convinced that they were irreversibly orientated toward same-gender attraction, have found this not to be the case. Two very public examples of this are Joe Dallas (www.genesiscounseling.org), and Sy Rogers (www.syrogers.com).

Port Davey Track, South West Tasmanian Wilderness

This unfounded idea is now used repeatedly by those seeking to justify their varied sexual proclivities (which have always been regarded by civil society as immoral). Despite the unchallenged promotion of the idea that homosexuality is “hard-wired” in some – there is no chromosomal, genetic, bio-chemical, brain-wave pattern, cause for same-gender attraction. Without this scientific support for same-gender attraction it is difficult for them to morally justify it. This is where they borrow a largely unchallenged idea from the Environmentalist Movement: natural is right … it feels natural to me, therefore I must be hard-wired this way and that means I can’t help it – thus, it must be morally acceptable.

This type of reasoning is hardly tolerated for other kinds of moral justifications made by murderers, rapists, and thieves. After all, they could similarly claim that they too had overwhelming naturalinclinations to behave how they do. But any such claim would be instantly and reasonably dismissed.

 

NOT ALL NATURAL URGES ARE GOOD

The idea that because a person claims to have a natural, and therefore a pre-determined, sexual attraction orientation, whether it be for an animal, a child, a person of the same gender, or even another man’s wife, that this natural orientation then justifies them acting out this desire is an extremely illogical one and not morally justifiable. This illogical claim (that if someone has a natural urge it must be moral for them to act it out) can be highlighted as such by posing other, obviously immoral acts, such as “Gay-bashing”, as being the natural urge of a homophobe. Simply because a homophobe might have a natural urge to act out his desire to “Gay-bash”, does not make this natural urge morally justifiable.

At the outset of this article I asserted that the idea of “natural” equating to “moral” has largely been advanced by those usually identified with the Environmental Movement. I believe this assertion is easily sustained. Tasmania, where I live, is the birthplace of the “Greens” Political movement. Elected on a platform of protecting native forests, once elected though, Greens Party members have consistently promoted “non-life” policies such as abortion, euthanasia, and same-gender marriage. Perhaps the electorate concerned about the environmental issues of air and water pollution, sustainable forestry, yet not in favour of these non-life policies, should not settle merely for environmental sustainability at the expense of arguably even more important life sustaining issues.

 

HOW CAN WE DETERMINE ‘MORAL’

While it is unreasonable to argue that what is natural must automatically be regarded as moral, it is not unreasonable to argue that there is a “Natural Law”. Professor J. Budziszewski (pronounced: ‘Boo-joo-shev-ski’), from the University of Texas (Government & Philosophy) has done a masterful job in showing that there must be a Natural Law, and then proceeds to identify this Law, in his book- What We Can’t Not Know (Ignatius Press, 2011). He contrasts the arguments that what is natural must be considered moral with the Natural Law (which reveals what constitutes morality). I recommend this book for a fuller treatment of this subject. Suffice to say that those who advocate that what comes naturally must be moral, such as Professor Peter Singer, undergird their definitions of morality on the foundation of pleasure. Professor Budziszewski points out that this hardly the basis for identifying a universal moral code (the “Natural Law”) because ‘pleasure’ is so subjective.

 

AN OFFER

But what about those who genuinely feel orientated toward desires that have generally been considered immoral? What we might request is: that “naturalism” no longer be used as a moral justification. But what we might offer is loving support and compassion. This requires greater understanding on the part of those extending such an offer. Perhaps this often unnatural response, by those who understand the Natural Law, toward those who feel compelled to break it, might go a long way to helping those battling with their sexual attraction proclivities to feel the respect they so desperately crave and ache for.

Dr. Andrew Corbett
23rd March 2012

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Impossible Faith

Some people find faith in God to be impossible. These people have reasons for their impossible faith. Their objections may be intellectual, moral, or emotional. There are three well-known figures who each exemplify each of these objections to faith in God. Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy and Bob Hawke each respectively held these particular objections to Christianity.

The Reliability of The Bible and How Best To Interpret It

The Bible is the most influential book of all time. It’s contents have changed the course of history. It’s story has formed the pattern for all the great literary classics. It also makes the astounding claim that it is the uniquely authoritative revelation from God and therefore has the authority to command our moral behaviour. But if the Bible is not reliable, then its claims are indefensible and Christianity is without foundation! Yet despite this glaring vulnerability, the Bible has withstood rigorous scrutiny and repeated attempts to refute it. Here’s why it is indeed reliable.

What Is Heaven Like?

I honestly used to think that Christianity was all about having the assurance of going to Heaven. But as I learned more about the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth I became curious about the relative scarcity of references to Heaven in the Bible. Yet, while my understanding of the place of Heaven in my Gospel proclamation has been refined, some God-Channel evangelists have headed in the other direction and made Heaven central to their Gospel. Some of these evangelists now even claim to have the spiritual power to make repeated visits there!

Presumably God, the Supreme Being, has a supremely beautiful home, in a supremely magnificent neighbourhood. Amazingly, God invites mankind to move into His neighbourhood- for eternity! But what is Heaven like? Is it possible, as some are now claiming, that we can visit Heaven? While I am going to lead readers to conclude that Heaven is not the Gospel’s focus, if it is the only reason someone is motivated to convert to Christ, then we should rejoice!

The Tragedy of Suicide – And How We Can Help

Suicide hurts. It is motivated by pain, but causes much greater pain. For those affected by suicide the guilt and anguish it produces is almost unbearable. But since suicide is in the Bible, how can we know that it is wrong? How should we regard the sinfulness of suicide? Is it unforgiveable? How can we help avoid suicide? What should those affected by it know after its happened?

The funeral celebrant rang me to warn me. He was used to dealing with sensitive situations but this one had a few extra layers of complexity. He decided to get me involved. He outlined the story to me and then told me the purpose of his call. When a loved one dies there is often a measure of guilt for those left behind. But when the death is caused by suicide that guilt is compounded. Suicide hurts. The funeral celebrant told me that a young man with a diagnosed mental illness, who had professed Christianity, had taken his own life and his devout mother (who we will call “Betty”) was devastated. The celebrant told me that Betty would ring because her guilt was beyond his expertise due to her Biblical understanding of suicide.

True For You But Not True For Me

Have you ever heard someone say, “That may be true for you but it’s not true for me!” It’s the kind of sentiment which might be appropriately limited to our experiences and our emotional responses to them, but it can not be true about those issues which effect us all, known as universals. These include what we consider to be morally right or wrong, whether a fact is true or false,  or whether we should regard something as either good or bad. For example, one of the universal laws that is not subject to personal opinion is gravity. Someone may disagree with it, but their disagreement doesn’t change its reality.

The kind of judgment needed to distinguish right from wrong, true from false, or good from bad, must allow for those things which are universal and thus common to all. This kind of truth, what Francis Schaeffer called ‘true truth’ is also not subject to context, circumstances, popularity, or fashion (Beckworth & Koukl 1998, 20). Neither is it restricted to a time or place. Thus, what can be known as true has generally been acknowledged as such down through the ages by various peoples located in different parts of the world. Philosophers refer to this kind of truth as…

How To Handle A Crisis

The definition of a crisis is a calamity or event which disrupts a person’s sense of well- being and lifestyle. It is generally short term and requires immediate action in order to restore balance and control in the person’s life.  The results of crisis are: anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, desperation, anger, helplessness and even apathy. There is an increased sense of dependency upon others, a sense of urgency, and decreased efficiency in decision making and performance. The account of Judah being sieged by the Assyrians in Second Chronicles 32, involves all the aspects of a crisis. The major distinctive is that it involves a nation of people rather than just one person. The “helper” in this instance was their leader – King Hezekiah.

Roman Catholicism Compared With Christianity

Any discussion about religious wars, clergy violations, or child abuse, and it won’t be long before the The Roman Catholic Church unfortunately features. But I want to have a different discussion. And unlike most of the ‘discussions’ of this nature, I’m not on a mission to attack, ridicule, or mock anyone. Rather, I want to look at what the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches and asserts and compare it with the Bible’s teaching.

I’ve been a denominational minister for over two decades, so I know that it is possible to be a part of an organisation with which you disagree on some points.  I understand that this is certainly the case with the Roman Catholic Church as there are many priests who do agree with all that their Church asserts. For the purposes of this discussion, I have chosen to take the official Catholic positions on the matters I am comparing with the Biblical data. It is my hope that my Roman Catholic audience will acknowledge that I have represented their views fairly – but it is also my hope that I can appropriately demonstrate how these core views compare with the Biblical prescriptions.

Soli Deo Gloria

The final statement in The Five Pillars of Biblical Christianity is Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone! The reason we are saved is so that we can glorify God. In one sense it is true that reason Christ died for us was to save us from our sins and the just wrath of God for our sin. But the main reason Christ died to redeem us was for the glory of God.

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

The glory that comes from God is when we give God glory. One of Christ’s last prayers was that His disciples would see His glory (John 17:24). Therefore God’s glory, His radiant magnificence, is visible and apprehendable. God’s glory is described several times in Scripture. In this sense, God’s glory is a visible reality (a noun). God’s glory is variously described as being like a cloud (Exodus 16:10), a devouring and consuming fire (Exodus 24:17), fire and smoke-like cloud (2Chronicles 7:1), and a brightly glowing cloud (Ezekiel 10:4).

Where Are The Dead?

Sitting across from me in my office was an older middle-aged man who had just read my draft commentary on the Book of Revelation. He had come from Queensland to visit friends in Tasmania and while in the neighbourhood, dropped in to see me to have chat and get a later edition of my book. He asked a lot of theoretical questions and we discussed the implications of what we discussed. Not until he returned to Queensland did I get an email regarding the chapter on the Resurrection. It was at this point that he confided in me that he was in the advanced stages of cancer and that his query was far more than theoretical.
The ancients believed that death was merely a change of location for the soul of a person. The place of the dead was called “Sheol”. When Jacob thought his son Joseph was dead: “All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.” (Gen. 37:35 ). When the judgment of God came upon Korah and his rebellion.

TULIP, The Essence of The Reformation

Jesus Christ taught that following Him was only possible through the miracle of conversion. He taught that for someone to authentically claim to be a Christian they needed a spiritual encounter that changed their heart and mind. Without such a miracle, known Biblically as ‘regeneration’, no one could merely decide to be a Christian.
It’s important to appreciate the geo-socio-politico conditions at the time of the Reformation. This was the time when John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and others dared to defend the Biblical revelation against a militant Papal Church which had previously executed similar voices (Wyclif, Tyndale, Savonarola, to name a few) for daring to defy the teaching of the Papacy. One of the central claims of the Papacy was “Universalism”, the doctrine which taught that Christ’s sacrificial death was repeated over and over through the celebration of the Mass and was effective in saving all those in communion with the Roman Catholic Church (thus, universal salvation was activated by works). Since Salvation was universal (everyone is automatically saved), the Papal Church was more concerned about administering this salvation through having people in communion with it, or alternatively, disfellowshipping (or, ex-communicating) those who it disliked. Calvin on the other hand saw that Scripture did not teach universalism, but conversely- that not everyone would be saved.

Dr. Andrew Corbett

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