Archive for February, 2012

On Fasting and Lutheranism

February 17th, 2012 9 comments

Fasting is an ancient Christian discipline that has always been used as part and parcel of a life of prayer and meditation on God’s Word. Where it went wrong, and goes wrong, is when fasts are proscribed, commanded, ordered by the Church, where the Church makes “regulations” and, even worse, when fasting is said to provide some kind of grace and merit for the folks fasting. So, that’s the “bad news” about fasting.

Lutherans have done a very fine job pointing out the dangers, errors and problems with community fasting, and any view of fasting that would imply that we merit some special favor or grace from God by fasting. And such dangers abound, every bit as much as anyone who prays, thinking that by praying, they are winning points with God, or if somebody thinks that if they follow a daily pattern of prayer they are somehow “more spiritual” or “better” or that they somehow are making themselves more pleasing to God.

Yes, Lutherans have done, and do, a very job of warning against all the ways we can take a wrong turn in our lives of personal prayer and devotion to our Lord.

Have Lutherans however forgotten that fasting, in itself, is not harmful, wrong, bad or otherwise? Have we forgotten that there is a long history of fasting being used amongst Lutherans? I think we may have.

Our Lord Christ assumes His disciples fast. He says to us, “When you pray….” and “When you fast….” not: “If you pray….” or “If you fast….” So, then why do Christians fast? What is the value of fasting?

The Augsburg Confession puts matters nicely, in very proper and good balance, in Article 26 where we read:

Every Christian ought to train and
subdue himself with bodily restraints, or bodily exercises and
that neither satiety nor slothfulness tempt him to sin,
but not that we may merit grace or make satisfaction for sins
by such exercises. 34] And such external discipline ought
to be urged at all times, not only on a few and set days.
Christ commands, 35] Luke 21:34: Take heed lest your
hearts 36] be overcharged with surfeiting; also Matt.
: This kind goeth not out but 37] by prayer and
fasting. Paul also says, 1 Cor. 9:27: I keep under my body
and bring it into subjection. 38] Here he clearly shows
that he was keeping under his body, not to merit forgiveness
of sins by that discipline, but to have his body in subjection
and fitted for spiritual things, and for the discharge of duty
according 39] to his calling. Therefore, we do not condemn
fasting in itself
, but the traditions which prescribe certain
days and certain meats, with peril of conscience, as though
such works were a necessary service.

Here again we recognize that Lutheranism is wonderfully free from legalistic throwing out of the baby with the bathwater and it heartily embraces all that is good in the Church’s history and probably frustrates the living daylights out of both Protestants and Roman/Eastern Christians as well. Why? We praise and extol the virtues of the good aspects of the life of prayer and fasting, we condemn any attempt to make laws, regulations and rules about it.

It is however true that when it comes to fasting a certain “Romaphobia” has taken hold and we are often more quick to speak negatively about fasting and slow to speak of its value and benefits.

For instance, a Baptist blogger I’m aware of set out recently to find fault with fasting and got himself quite exercised over it, to the point he tried to assert that fasting is an Old Testament thing. Huh? Wrong. He corrected himself finally, but it was sad to see that he was quick to reject and condemn fasting’s errors, finally only paying faint lip service to it, but then went on to praise a book on spiritual discipline. What spiritual discipline? Journalling. Go figure.

My point, made recently to a good friend with whom I’ve been having a vigorous conversation about this, is that even as we must continue very clearly to reject and condemn anything that would give the impression fasting is a “requirement” for a “good Christian” and even as we make clear that the Church has no ability from her Lord to make commands about fasting, we should also take time to make clear that fasting is a good practice and one that is to be urged and encouraged as part of our prayer life.

How have Lutherans fasted historically and today? Many Lutherans have adopted a long-honored practice of consuming no food or drink until they partake of the Lord’s Supper, on Sunday. They let the pang of hunger remind them of the deprivations of their Lord and when their stomach reminds them they are hungry, they call to mind our Lord’s words, “Man does not live by bread alone, but from every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” They look forward in anticipation of breaking their fast on Sunday morning with their Lord’s body and blood given them under the bread and wine. They appreciate the chance to think on our Lord’s words about the fact that He is the bread of life.

During Lent it has been the common practice among Lutherans to fast in some way, or another. Perhaps they choose to reduce their food intake and go with smaller meals, perhaps they choose not to eat certain foods on certain days. It is all a matter of personal freedom or choice, not by way of Law.

What is the value of fasting as part our lives of prayer and devotion? Again, when we deprive our bodies of as much food as they are used to [and for most of us chubby/happy Americans that is *way* more food than we need], the pang of hunger sharpens the mind and we can use that experience to think and meditate on God’s Word and Christ’s sacrifice for us.

It’s not “rocket science” but it is beneficial, in this sense. So, even as we rightly reject, condemn and warn about the errors associated with wrong views and uses of fasting, let’s also remember that we Lutherans do understand the value of fasting as part of our lives of prayer and meditation on God’s Word.

I suspect, and of course I may be dead wrong, that folks who express the greatest discomfort about fasting among us, are those who have never really experienced fasting in a way that is praised and extolled in our Lutheran Confessions. Or perhaps they have been “burned” by false views and teachings about fasting and relect those negative experiences. Perhaps, for them, fasting is not appropriate, since it may only raise doubt, and whatever proceeds from doubt, is sin. So, for them, fasting may not be appropriate.

But, let’s not be shy about what we do believe, teach and confess about fasting and other spiritual exercises and disciplines:

“We do not condemn fasting in itself” and “Every Christian ought to train and
subdue himself with bodily restraints, or bodily exercises and


Paul also says, 1 Cor. 9:27: I keep under my body
and bring it into subjection. 38] Here he clearly shows
that he was keeping under his body, not to merit forgiveness
of sins by that discipline, but to have his body in subjection
and fitted for spiritual things, and for the discharge of duty
according 39] to his calling.
Categories: Lutheranism

What’s At Stake in the Obama Health Mandate?

February 16th, 2012 3 comments

Categories: Uncategorized

Shooting Historic American Military Firearms

February 15th, 2012 2 comments

I know some of you, maybe a lot of you, think I’m a bit of a weirdo for being so passionate about my hobby of the shooting sports. I find it hard to articulate why I enjoy it so much. I’ve had an intense interest in military history. I’ve always loved shooting. I spent countless hours as a kid roaming along the shore of the huge bayou where I lived, Warrington, Florida, plinking away with my air rifles. Back then you could actually do things like this. Believe it or not, kids, yes, you could spend all day long roaming around shooting at things with a high-power pellet rifle without anyone calling the police.

At any rate, I am finding much joy at age 50 recapturing the interests of my youth.

Here is a video my son and I made last Sunday, showing the historic American rifles I own, and shoot, the M1903 Springfield .30 Caliber Rifle, used throughout World War and into World War II. The M1 .30 caliber rifle, commonly referred to as the Garand, the rifle that won WW II, the M1A/M14 rifle, the main battle rifle for the United States for about ten years, until it was replaced by the AR-15 platform, which remains, to this day, the primary rifle for the military. In the video, I’m shooting the civilian version of the M4 Carbine.

Here is the video:

Categories: Shooting Sports

Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Response to President Obama

February 15th, 2012 Comments off

Categories: Sanctity of Life

“Christian Freedom” – The Book that Made Luther a Rock Star – Available in New Translation – For as Low as $8 Each and Free Shipping Available

February 15th, 2012 10 comments

We just received the first print run of a new translation of Martin Luther’s classic work explaining what freedom in Christ is all about. And, it’s a fantastic little book. Beautifully printed and illustrated, filled with great helpful notes and reading aids. Christian Freedom: Faith Working Through Love  A Reader’s Edition is available now for you and your congregation to order. We are offering special pricing on group orders. If you order ten or more copies you can get them for only $8 each. Quite a great bargain for this hardback, 268 page book. Click here to place your order and get the discount code. We have a bulletin insert for you to print out and share, and a sign up sheet. PLUS, if you place an order of $75 or more, you will receive free shipping. Read all about it here.

Here some views of the interior.

Special Introductory Offer: Purchase 10 or more copies for only $7.99 each. Enter promotional code LFR on the checkout screen after you “Add to Cart.”

In Luther’s day, the precious message of Christian freedom was readily misunderstood by those whose focus was on the things of this world rather than Christ and the cross. Luther was not a politician; he was a pastor who found real freedom in the Gospel. Christian Freedom: Faith Working through Love is the most comprehensive, well-rounded version of this classic writing. A new translation using the longer official version. In this book, Luther offers an understanding of Christian freedom based on the Bible. He connects the challenges of Christian life with Scripture, with salvation in Christ, with freedom in the Gospel, and with the way a Christian can make God-pleasing choices in life.

In the book, there is a a forty-day reading plan that will guide the reader through Luther’s teaching on Christian freedom. This schedule may be followed at any time or during the forty days of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, which makes an excellent plan for congregational reflection.

Introductory notes, illustrations, and glossaries help these classic writings become meaningful in today’s world.


Categories: CPH Resources

Book of Concord Sale – Only $20 Each – Free Shipping Available

February 14th, 2012 1 comment


Check out this great deal on copies of the Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord. With orders of $75 or more you will qualify for free shipping. Read all it here. And please pass/spread/share the news.

Categories: CPH Resources

Kudos and Thanks for Concordia Publishing House

February 14th, 2012 1 comment

Out of the blue today, I received this very kind e-mail from a Lutheran pastor, and I passed it along to the CPH team. Thought I’d share it here too:

Dear Paul McCain,

Kudos to you and to CPH!

I do not believe that we have ever met but I have written you an email or two in the past. I am a friend and classmate of Ed Engelbrecht, and Scot Kinnaman knows me from work on Lutheranism 101. I also really appreciate your blog–so few in our circles actually get sanctification but you do! Regardless, this is not a personal email per se anyway.

I am writing as a pastor in the field to express my extreme satisfaction with where CPH is these days and the products and services that you are providing. I am especially pleased with the products that Ed or Scot have had a hand in, and I have shared these thoughts with them directly. I figured it was high time to give you some thanks as well, as their supervisor and for other things happening at CPH.

I just finished doing an online survey from you regarding CPH’s possible “reward programs”; and it reminded me that I wanted to write you this email to say thanks. Yesterday, I went through a little CPH mailing entitled “Congregational Resources” with these words at the bottom: “Helping Pastors Help God’s People.” Indeed! As I thumbed through the pages I was thrilled to see the resources available–I quite literally either already had or I wanted just about everything in there! And I thought, “Wow, this is what CPH is putting out these days! I’ve GOT to write and say thanks!”

So, THANKS! You are doing a great job, and I appreciate it. I am 50 now, I have been using CPH products all my life, and I have never been so pleased with CPH as I am now.

One last thing for comment is the book that Ed recently put out through CPH: “Friends of the Law.” My doctoral work is closely related, so I have done quite a bit of research on this topic, and I have to say that he nailed it exactly! In fact, I am more thankful for that book than just about any other book, except for Scripture and the Book of Concord itself. It really is that good, and it has the potential to be a tide-turner against the latent and even overt antinomianism within contemporary Lutheranism, even in the LCMS. I wanted to personally thank you for allowing him to pursue this project.  I imagine that such a thing does not take place without your approval, so thanks for letting him do it… and, I’m sure, even your encouragement.

Grateful to you and to God for you,
Ernie Bernet

Pastor Ernest Bernet
St Mark Lutheran Church

Lutheran Church President Responds to Pres. Obama’s “Compromise” on HHS Regulations

February 14th, 2012 5 comments

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In response to President Obama’s announcement Friday concerning an “accommodation” to a previous mandate that health plans must cover all forms of birth control (even those that can kill the unborn), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) remains deeply concerned. We strongly object to the use of drugs and procedures that are used to take the lives of unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception. Drugs such as “Plan B” and “Ella,” which are still included in the mandate, can work post-conception to cause the death of the developing child, so don’t be fooled by statements to the contrary.

We see President Obama’s action Friday as significant, in that it appears to have been prompted by the many voices united in concern over an infringement of our religious liberties. But the “accommodation” did not expand the exemption for religious employers, nor did it restrict the mandate in any way. It simply described a temporary enforcement delay and a possible future change—a change that, unfortunately, would not adequately protect religious freedom or unborn lives.

We remain opposed to this mandate because it runs counter to the biblical truth of the sanctity of human life. We are committed to working to ensure that we remain free to practice the teachings of our faith, that our religious rights are not violated, and that our rights of conscience are retained. Freedom of religion extends beyond the practice of our faith in houses of worship. We must be free to put our faith into action in the public square, and, in response to Christ’s call, demonstrate His mercy through our love and compassion for all people according to the clear mandate of Holy Scripture.

The government has overstepped its bounds. This controversy is not merely about “birth control” and the Catholic Church’s views about it. It’s about mandating that we provide medications which kill life in the womb. And moreover, and perhaps even more ominous, it is about an overzealous government forcing coercive provisions that violate the consciences and rights of its citizens. We can no longer expect a favored position for Christianity in this country. But we can, as citizens of this great nation, fight for constitutional sanity against secularizing forces. As we have vividly experienced in discriminatory state legislation with respect to homosexual adoption, we, and our institutions (and those of other religious citizens of good will), are being robbed of the right to the free exercise of religion absent government intrusion or threat. The next assault will come upon church-related retirement facilities. How much longer will it be legal in this country to believe and act according to the dictates of biblical and creedal Christianity?

Jesus bids us, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). We will pray for and support our government where we can, but our consciences and lives belong to God.

In His peace,

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison

President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Categories: Uncategorized

The Snow is Coming Down So Hard I Saw This

February 13th, 2012 11 comments

Saw this driving home…took a quick pic and then headed the other way.


Categories: Uncategorized

The Greatest Doctrinal Text in the History of Lutheranism – Subscribe Now and Save

February 13th, 2012 4 comments

“Gerhard’s Loci is the greatest doctrinal text in the entire history of Lutheranism. By putting these splendid volumes in the English language, CPH ensures access to the solid teaching of the orthodox Lutheran Church in one of its greatest expressions ever penned. And CPH is virtually the only Lutheran publishing house in the world with the capacity, fidelity, and will to produce such gems!” -Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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About Johann Gerhard’s Theological Commonplaces

Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) was the premier Lutheran theologian of the baroque period. Never before translated, his Theological Commonplaces will appear in seventeen volumes. The Theological Commonplaces series is the most significant theological work of Lutheran orthodoxy after the Reformation and remains a classic of Lutheran theology. With skill and precision, Gerhard sets forth the Christian faith from Scripture in dialogue with the Church Fathers, medieval theology, Luther, and a multitude of contemporary theologians. Each hardback volume includes: the translation of Gerhard’s Loci (originally published from 1610 to 1625) a glossary of key theological, rhetorical, and philosophical terms a name index a Scripture index a carefully researched list of works cited, which presents guidance for deciphering the numerous abbreviations of the other titles from which Gerhard quotes. Call 1-800-325-3040 or fill out the information below to become a subscriber today!

Categories: CPH Resources

Fasting from Fasting?

February 13th, 2012 12 comments

I just read a blog site that was sarcastically observing that fasting is nothing but works-righteousness and has no spiritual benefit, at all.

Now, granted, fasting has been turned very much into a “brownie point with God” kind of thing among many who practice it. I was observing recently the horrendously complex regulations, rules, requirements and even food choices that some Eastern Orthodox folks are subjected to by way of fasting. Aside from being entirely ridiculous and absurd, it is downright heretical to lay such a legalistic burden on folks. Why take all the joy out of a blessing by creating codes of canon law about it?

Fasting is fasting. You choose not to eat a meal or two during the day or abstain from something else for a period of time. I’m not a big fan of “fasting” from non-food things. Fasting means not eating. But that’s another discussion. I mean, fine, if you want to “fast” from watching TV, ok, but…don’t think you are actually fasting, you are abstaining from something, not fasting. Here’s a hint. When you fast your stomach will let you know it. If you don’t feel hunger pangs, you aren’t fasting.

It strikes me there are two problems with fasting though.

First, what’s with all this talking about our fasting? When we fast, says Jesus, we are to do so in such a way that nobody can tell we are fasting! But I often read posts from people declaring that they are fasting and from what they are fasting. That’s not right. So, please, when you fast, we don’t have to know about it. It’s between you and God. Talk to Him about it, not us. So, when you fast, anoint your face and do not act like the hypocrites who disfigure their faces to be seen by others. Prayer and fasting have always gone together in the Bible and in historic Christian piety. It’s ok to fast, but just don’t talk a whole lot about your fasting, ok? Talking about fasting is fine, talk about *your* fasting, no-no. Blog posts about the subject of not talking about fasting are ok though. <g>

Secondly, there is another problem. When Lutherans rightly blasted Romanists for their legalistic views of fasting that was very well and very good. But…we have nearly lost sight of an important sentence in the Small Catechism. “Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training.” Read that again. “Certainly fine outward training.” And please note what the Blessed Apostle St. Paul said, But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” 1 Corinthians 9:27.

So, what about fasting? In our haste to avoid any problems with it because of mistaken practices, have we thrown out the baby with the bath water? I sure think so. Let’s get fasting under control, but not by fasting from fasting.

Kudos to What You Do for inspiring these thoughts on fasting.

Categories: Christian Life

What is a “Confessional” Lutheran?

February 11th, 2012 15 comments

This quotation explains what a confessional Lutheran is all about. To other Christians, we Lutherans appear to be a bit odd, clinging as we do to this old book called “The Book of Concord,” why is that?

“Why, beloved brothers, do we stand by one another? Why can’t we leave one another? It is because we cannot let go of the one truth that we, in fellowship with all the saints, have acknowledged, believe, and confess as it is in the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. These Confessions bear witness to the truth clearly, plainly, and powerfully on the basis of the Holy Scriptures, against all the desires of Satan, to the whole world. And why do we hold so firmly to our Confession such that we happily endure the hatred of the world and also of the rest of Christianity, which is difficult to bear? Why, with God’s help and grace, would we suffer persecution and death before we would give up even a small part of that Confession? We do so because we have come to make the truth set forth in that Confession our own, not in times of good leisure and rest, like we might appropriate other natural or historical truths. The Holy Spirit has revealed this truth to us in the midst of the burdens of troubled consciences as our only salvation. Through the Word, the Spirit has borne witness to the truth in broken and troubled hearts. Our consciences are bound to the Word and therefore to the Confession of the Church. As poor, forlorn, and condemned men, we have learned to believe in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The peace of conscience, the peace of our souls, the hope of eternal blessedness, our very being and life hang on this truth. To surrender it would be to surrender our salvation and ourselves for time and eternity. Therefore, neither can we let go of the most insignificant portion of the Confession because the entire series of the individual teachings of the faith are for us one chain. This chain not only binds our understanding in the truth, it binds our consciences and lives. The loss of an individual part of the same would break this chain, and we would be torn loose from Christ, tumbling again into the abyss of anxiety, doubt, and eternal death. Therefore we hold fast to our Confession, as to our very life’s life.”

Source: “Predigt zur Eroeffnung der Sitzungen der deutchen evang. Luth. Synode v. Missouri westl. Districts am 25. April 1855, in Chicago, Ills., gehalten von F. Wyneken, und auf Beschluss genannter Synode mitgetheilt,” Der Lutheraner 11, no. 22 (June 19, 1855): 169–173. Translation by Matthew C. Harrison.

Categories: Lutheranism

What Compromise? Obama Policy Leaves Religious Liberty in Peril and Planned Parenthood Smiling

February 10th, 2012 9 comments

Great column by Dr. Al Mohler:

President Obama walked into the White House Press Room today and attempted to pull a political rabbit out of a hat. Faced with an avalanche of mounting opposition to his administration’s mandate that religious employers provide birth control to all employees, the President announced what his staff characterized as a “compromise.” Was it?

After his opening comments, he President stated his new policy:

Today, we’ve reached a decision on how to move forward.  Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -– no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.

The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly.  Let me repeat:  These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services.  But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.

This means that certain employers who have “a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan” will not fund these services directly. Instead, the insurance plan will cover these services without charge to all women employees.

What does this resolve? Well, to state the matter bluntly, nothing. At the end of the day, this “compromise” will resolve the issue only for those whose conscience can be resolved by an accounting maneuver.

The qualified insurance plans do not print the monies required to cover the birth control services mandated by the Administration. They will obtain these funds through the premiums paid by employers — including those employers with “a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan.”

Will this resolve the issue politically? That remains to be seen. As is often the case, what is presented in Washington as a compromise is really not a compromise i any meaningful sense at all. The very fact that groups like Planned Parenthood celebrated the “compromise” indicates that it was not a compromise at all — just an accounting trick.

There were several very interesting aspects of the President’s remarks that should draw close attention.

First, President Obama said that he had earlier promised that “we would spend the next year working with institutions like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities to find an equitable solution that protects religious liberty and ensures that every woman has access to the care that she needs.”

Interestingly, that is not at all what Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. In her January 20 statement, she said this:

“Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule.”

The Secretary ended that portion of her remarks with a final sentence, in which she stated that her department would “continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns.” Secretary Sebelius left no door open for a change in the policy, only a listening ear and “more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule.” That is a far cry from what the President described today.

Second, the President steadfastly describes this controversy as a Catholic issue, and this is to his political advantage. He spoke of meeting with Catholic leaders and working with Catholic parishes and Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities. He never even mentioned any other church, denomination, or religious group.

The President wants to frame this as a Catholic issue, but it is not. The Roman Catholic church is the major religious body that maintains teaching against all forms of artificial birth control, but those moral concerns are not limited to the Catholic church. The mandated coverage would violate the conscience and deepest convictions of millions of American evangelical Christians and their hundreds of schools and institutions which, put together, outnumber the Catholic institutions

Third, the Obama Administration continues to frame the controversy as a concern about “contraception.” Millions of Americans naturally think of a contraceptive as a mechanism for preventing the fertilization of the woman’s egg. They are unaware that the word has been redefined in medical, pharmacological, and political contexts to refer to a mechanism for preventing either fertilization or the successful attachment of the fertilized egg to the uterine wall.

This is not merely a matter of semantics. Any intervention that prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine lining is an abortion. The Obama Administration has mandated the inclusion of the so-called “morning after pill” and other forms of “emergency contraception” in qualified plans.

Thus, only an accounting maneuver hides the fact that we will all be paying for chemical abortions under the President’s prized Affordable Care Act. Added to this coverage for sterilizations.

Fourth, the President’s remarks today do nothing in the least to save the health care plans governed by religious groups. These include those smaller groups that self-cover their employee medical expenses and massive denominational insurance plans that cover hundreds of thousands of ministers, religious workers, and employees of church-related institutions. The current mandates threaten to kill one of the most effective and efficient means of covering the health care needs of millions of Americans.

Fifth, the President’s remarks today betrayed a fundamental problem that lies at the heart of this controversy and his own thinking. He clearly sees the controversy as a matter of balancing a policy goal, on the one hand, and religious liberty, on the other. He even spoke of religious liberty as “an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution.”

But, just to state the obvious, a policy goal and an “inalienable right” are not to be “balanced.” A matter of policy, no matter how urgent or important, must be reconciled to an “inalienable right.” This does not mean that such reconciliations are easy nor that every claim of religious liberty is legitimate. Nevertheless, this controversy concerns the deepest convictions held by millions of Americans, and these convictions are rooted in over two thousand years of religious teaching.The President’s remarks today do nothing of substance to alleviate this crisis.

Lastly, this controversy exposes the most fundamental problem with the inclusion of birth control in the Affordable Care Act, and this problem is not limited to any single government policy. This problem is endemic to our culture. Clearly, the President and his Administration are not alone in defining birth control as a form of “preventive care,” putting the prevention of pregnancy on par with an inoculation against disease. That is the greatest outrage.

The President’s inclusion of birth control as a form of “preventive care” also explains why Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was so pleased with President Obama’s remarks today. She said: “Planned Parenthood’s priority is increasing access to preventive health care. This birth control coverage benefit does just that.”

So preventing the birth of a child is classified with the polio vaccine. As Cecile Richards declared, the Obama Administration’s policy “does just that.”

Anyone who celebrates this “compromise” as a victory is hiding behind an accounting trick. That accounting trick cannot hide the great moral tragedy at the heart of the President’s policy — a policy that leaves religious liberty in peril and Planned Parenthood smiling.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at Follow regular updates on Twitter at

President Obama’s remarks are available here:

Categories: Christian Life

I’m Standing With My Catholic Neighbors, and Why You Should Too

February 10th, 2012 1 comment

Categories: Uncategorized

John Bunyan Loved Martin Luther’s Galatian Commentary

February 10th, 2012 6 comments


I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians, excepting the Holy Bible, before all books that I have ever seen.”

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress

Categories: Uncategorized