Antithesis Magazine

July/August 1990 - Volume I, Number 4

ANTITHESIS (Back to Main Page)
July/August 1990 – Volume I, Number 4

I cannot understand how any realization of the democratic ideal as a vital moral and spiritual ideal in human affairs is possible without surrender of the conception of the basic division – the saved and the lost – to which supernatural Christianity is committed.
John Dewey

The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought.
J. Gresham Machen


  • Douglas M. Jones III

Senior Editors

  • L. Anthony Curto
  • David G. Hagopian
  • Timothy J. Harris
  • Ellery C. Stowell
  • Greg L. Bahnsen

Feature Articles

    Samuel Adams: Re-evaluating a Journalistic Calvinist by Marvin Olasky
    Contrary to the conventional caricature, Samuel Adams stands out as a Biblical thinker whose journalism moved a generation.

    The National Covenant: Lifeblood of Scotland: An Overview of Scottish Presbyterian History – pt. 4 by L. Anthony Curto
    Following Mary’s abdication, Scotland again struggled against an absolutism which, according to Knox’s sucessor Andrew Melville, sought “to pull the crown from Christ’s head”.

    Population Growth as Blessing or Blight? by E. Calvin Beisner
    Contemporary doomsayers continue to spread dangerous overpopulation mythology, but where is the crisis?

    The Rhetoric of Rescue by David Hagopian
    Operation Rescue apologists zealously defend their methods, but do they dishonor the name of Christ?

    Limited Atonement and its World-Wide Impact by GI Williamson

    Issue and Interchange: Two Protestants debate the question of birth control.
    ADVOCATE 1: Some Forms of Contraception Are Morally Permissible
    ADVOCATE 2: All Forms of Contraception Within the Bounds of Marriage are Forbidden
    ADVOCATE 1 Response
    ADVOCATE 2 Response
    ADVOCATE 1 Concluding Remarks


    World Events and Weak Stomachs

    The day had been far too hot anyway. I think I overheard CNN declare that this had been the hottest day in the history of everything everywhere. Our twin girls had stuck to each other all day like moist Zest soap bars. They thought I was playing another cruel joke on them, though they couldn’t tell me because they don’t speak any human language. I also knew that something was amiss when the local electricity monopoly actually called us to find out how we were doing.

    My stomach was already queasy when I sat down to worry about world events. Then it began. I read that the Soviet paper Izvestia reported that “an unknown person, going behind the barrier, threw two fire bombs at the parapet of the Lenin Mausoleum.” Not to worry, the flames were quickly extinguished an the rebel was taken in by guards of the Department of Safe-Guarding Public Order on Red Square — these guards are apparently something like our Forest Rangers with nice uniforms.

    My head started spinning as I worried about how such an incident might lead to a change in the Soviet Constitution. These worries grew when I read that the perpetrator “explained the reasons for his act to the police as follows: `My action speaks for itself.'”

    “Shut up,” explained V. Kirsanov, the interrogator.

    I had to read something else. I learned that Taiwanese officials were seriously determined to make their future capital Peking (not Beijing to them). They even have Chiang Kai-Shek’s body ready and waiting to be transported back to the mainland. Such a crazy long-shot is hard to believe. I would find it easier to believe, say, that Mandela would some day be hailed as a democrat or that Bush would endorse a tax hike.

    My stomach couldn’t take much more. Then my copy of New Realities arrived and I popped a button when I read Milton Friedman reflecting on the works of Krishnamurti. Friedman reports that his hero, the well-known Krish, for short, was sixteen when the New Age Theosophical Society proclaimed him to be the reincarnation of both Christ and Buddha. Those wild teenagers; what will they think of next?

    I finally picked myself off the floor when I discovered that the author was just some crazy with Milton Friedman’s name. The real Friedman doesn’t even like to say words with “murti” in them.

    I had just about had enough of world events, when I glanced over and read that Malaysia had hanged seven men and women for trafficking 28lbs. of heroin, “enough to spoil the lives of a lot people,” according to the report. Finally some sanity in the world. At last a country that isn’t hounded by such things as the tyranny of Biblical political constraints.

    I unstuck my twins again and tried to sleep.


    The “Hour of Power” is Running Out of Time
    Due to the escalating costs of television broadcasting, competition from “info-mercials,” and continuing repercussions from the televangelist scandals of recent years, Robert Schuller’s nationally syndicated “Hour of Power” program has hit some hard times as of late. The situation is so dire that Schuller reportedly told the Orange County Register that he will shut down the “Hour of Power” in all or some of the 179 U.S. broadcast markets unless viewers donate $3.2 million to cover the debt of the program.

    Despite the fact that Schuller’s empire consists of the $20 million Crystal Cathedral, a $23 million Family Life Center, and untold millions in prime real estate holdings, Schuller refuses to sell off assets to help defray the programming costs of the “Hour of Power.” “We could sell a chunk,” Schuller noted, “but that would be like the government subsidizing something that should be paid for by the private sector.”

    Before we jump on the no-government-subsidy bandwagon inherent in Schuller’s analogy, consider the following blip in Schuller’s reasoning: while “Hour of Power” viewers contributed $17 million of the $20 million needed to build the Crystal Cathedral (and another $14.7 million to Schuller’s local congregation), Schuller now refuses to sell off some of his empire’s viewer-funded assets in order to assist the “Hour of Power” in its time of need.

    On his own analogy, who subsidizes whom? Didn’t the “private sector” already contribute its fair share? Predictably, Schuller now touts that good business dictates that he not co-mingle funds. In essence, what Schuller’s position reduces to is the following: as long as benefits continued to flow in, it was good business to co-mingle, but now that benefits need to flow out, its good business not to co-mingle.

    True, Schuller may not resort to sensationalistic antics such as climbing to the top of a tower and refusing to come down. And he may not implore people to put their hand on the television so they can “feel the warmth of the Lord.” But like such faith healers, he has told people what they wanted to hear, tickling their ears and pandering to their man-centered worldview.

    Perhaps his present difficulties are due at least in part to the fact that his theology — or rather anthropology — has left viewers spiritually malnourished. And maybe, just maybe, after a steady diet of this pap, his viewers are beginning to discover that they could find the same nutritional value in Psychology Today, albeit without the baptized vocabulary. After all, at least Psychology Today doesn’t ask for donations.


    Ode to “Pro-Choice”
    Can anything good come out of the Los Angeles Times?

    True, the Los Angeles Times has long been a bastion of modern liberalism, often touting that political line on various issues — including abortion. And this liberalism doesn’t stop with ideas. It has even extended to names, subtle names which put a spin on issues from the outset of any serious inquiry.

    Take the abortion debate, for example. While the Times has long donned the pro-death movement with the laudatory appellation “pro-choice,” it has dubbed the pro-life movement as “anti-abortion.” In fact, the Times, just last year, defended this policy tooth-and-nail, against strong opposition, a swarm of letters, and several pickets. Like a bad magician who didn’t fool anybody, the Times continued its all-too-obvious sleight of hand which simultaneously sweetened the wells in favor of the pro-death camp, while poisoning the wells against the pro-life camp. The Times, as Thomas Campbell once wrote, became enamored with “the magic of a name.”

    Recently, however, the title “Pro-Choice” has vanished. That’s right, the Times no longer uses the term. In its place, the Times now uses terms such as “abortion rights advocates,” “supporters of legal abortion,” and “those who favor abortion rights.”

    Why the sudden change? According to Managing Editor George Cotliar, the name-change is an attempt to “bring greater precision and fairness” to its coverage of the abortion debate. And the Los Angeles Times is not alone. While the New York Times and Washington Post have long-avoided the “pro-choice” label, the Chicago Tribune dropped it about a year ago.

    While boding farewell to “pro-choice” is a move toward “greater precision and fairness,” the new labels are still far from accurate since they do not remove the subtle hint that those in the “abortion rights” camp are for certain rights while we in the “anti-abortion” camp are against them. It is much easier, you know, to be a friend as opposed to being a foe, to take the affirmative side of a debate rather than the negative, to say “yes” as opposed to saying “no.”

    Of course, one could just as easily characterize the pro-life community as those who are “human rights advocates” (or “supporters of human rights” or “those who favor human rights”) and characterize the pro-death camp as those who are “anti-human rights.” Talk about sending Planned Parenthood into orbit! How quickly we would hear of “unfair bias” and lack of “journalistic integrity.” Maybe PP would even take out a full page add to put the Times to shame (just ask AT&T!).

    The moral of this story is that no matter what label “abortion rights advocates” wish to use, we in the pro-life camp should still be wary, since abortion is not, in the words of Shakespeare, “a deed without a name.” For just as a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, even so abortion is murder by any other name.


    The Coming National Youth Service
    Desperate times seek desperate measures. The President and Congress are actively proposing numerous national service programs aimed to resolve desperate challenges, such as drug abuse, poverty, illiteracy, and pollution by “reestablishing,” according to Senator Sam Nunn, “this country’s tradition of civic obligation.” He and others are “calling for a new basis of citizenship in which citizens are once again asked to give something back to their Nation.”

    Though numerous forms of national service, such as the Peace Corps, have been instituted, none of them has had the national scope envisioned by recent proposals. The more comprehensive national service program would compensate “volunteers” with educational and competitive grants, stipends, and loans to work in a natural resource or human service settings. The stated aim of the programs is to provide work experience, education, and basic skills while serving in government agencies, hospitals, parks, schools, social service organizations, and public lands. The final Senate version of the national service plan was slated to cost around $125 million.

    The Senate bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Edward Kennedy, claims that “the goal is to make such programs…available to every student in America from kindergarten to college,” and hopefully lead students to make “volunteerism a lifetime commitment.” Supporter Sen. Barbara Mikulski adds, “This is a good program for our kids…. It is a way to help us build better citizens.”

    Therein lies the greatest danger. A “citizen” is an exclusively political manner of viewing a person, and a national youth service program will only serve to further politicize our culture from kindergarten to college. We politicize a culture by inculcating the destructive idea that all of life is somehow dependent and intertwined with civil power. A politicized culture falsely imagines that wealth, education, jobs, community service, social change, etc., are all and only products of politics. A people committed to this outlook is trapped in a mentality that the only way to achieve genuine progress is to lobby, vote, and gain government-coerced privileges at the expense of others. The result is an ever-growing cultural atrophy.

    Government service programs not only politicize and thus damage a culture, such programs also assume a twisted understanding of “volunteerism.” First, the government attempts to instill habits of altruism by paying people off. I’m all for paying people for their labor, but don’t call it altruism. Moreover, our government is the last institution qualified to teach altruistic service. Secondly, this “volunteerism” is especially perverse since it will pay persons to be altruistic with money that was not voluntarily given by other persons.

    Finally, the church has only itself to blame for the political popularity of such potentially destructive policies. Civil expansion will naturally fill the vacuum left by weak families and churches. The proposed program is just one symptom of a humanistic culture gasping for some vain form of communal unity.


    A Dollar a Day Keeps the Baby Away
    “Our Final Jeopardy answer is: `The best way to prevent an unwed teenage pregnancy.’ We turn first to our third place contestant, Mr. Christian, whose Final Jeopardy question is…”

    “What is total abstinence?”

    “Oh, I’m sorry Mr. Christian, but that approach is way out of tune with our modern era.”

    “Next we turn to Ms. Educator who was in second place at the end of Double Jeopardy. Ms. Educator’s Final Jeopardy question is…”

    “What is birth control distributed at taxpayers’ expense to students at campus family planning clinics?”

    “While that was a good answer Ms. Educator, unfortunately it wasn’t quite what we were looking for.”

    “Finally, we turn to our returning champ, Mr. Pragmatist (sometimes known as Mr. Statist), whose Final Jeopardy question is …”

    “What is pay teenage girls not to get pregnant?”

    “You’re absolutely right, Mr. Pragmatist….”

    Sound like a Hollywood game show? Not quite. About five hundred miles north of Hollywood, the real Mr. Pragmatist, California Assemblyman Bruce Bonzan, recently authored legislation which will create three pilot programs designed to stem the tide of unwed teenage pregnancies. How? By paying girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen who have already had one unwed pregnancy a dollar a day not to get pregnant. But wait! There’s more: in order to collect from the state money tree, and in order to convince the rest of us that there’s no such thing as a free government handout, the girls must also attend mandatory support groups.

    And Bronzan was laughed right out of the capitol building, right? Not exactly. The California Assembly overwhelmingly approved the measure (55-19), and sent it to an uncertain fate in the California Senate. Sad to say, California is not alone. Other state governments have either already passed, or, like California, are in the process of passing similar measures.

    Why? According to proponents, the California measure would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in welfare and medical costs, motivate teenage girls to stay in school, and reduce unwed teenage pregnancies.

    Aside from the fact that there is no hardfast data to substantiate such wishful thinking, this measure is based on wholesale pragmatism (i.e., the greed factor is justified because it produces a desired social end). But the measure is flawed for other reasons, too. Why, for example, would an unwed girl opt for only a dollar a day when– if she has a child — she can take several dollars a day out of the cash register of current welfare programs? If money is the motivating factor (which the measure assumes), then such girls have no reason not to play the game to win by opting for the bigger payoff.

    What of the support groups? Do they provide sound moral teaching and solid principles to prevent unwed pregnancies? Not really. According to a California Assembly “analysis,” the classes are designed “to stimulate feelings of camaraderie, commitment, and self-esteem and to help them avoid getting pregnant again.” Hmmm. That sure sounds like the kind of ammunition teenagers need on prom night!

    In light of this legislative wisdom, why stop with unwed pregnancies? Why not pay thieves not to steal? Drug pushers not to sell their stuff? Deadbeat spouses not to skip child support payments? Lead-footed drivers not to speed?

    In fact, why don’t we cough up a dollar a day to prevent legislators from drafting and approving such ludicrous legislation? Only one problem though: we already pay them far more. And that’s our real jeopardy.



    Covenanting Collectivists
    Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine — the evangelical baptizer of contemporary collectivist ideology — recently gushed over the Justice, Peace, and The Integrity of Creation World Convocation, a program of the World Council of Churches. Wallis declared that the “life, energy, and spiritual power of the gathered global church [at the convocation] are something to behold. This is the great contribution of the World Council of Churches” (Sojourners, May 1990).

    The goal of those convening was to “integrate biblically the most pressing questions facing the world.” Wallis rehearses tiresome collectivist rhetoric common to such guilt-ins, “The urgency of justice [read redistributionism], the longing for peace, and the cry of creation [read Luddite environmentalism], are no longer fragmented agendas, but rather have become the unified and common struggle of our many faith communities.”

    The most important work of the convocation, according to Wallis, was the “covenanting together.” The participants “covenanted” in response to the debt crisis, the environment, world militarization, and racism. Other participants apparently couldn’t control their excitement and enthusiastically made “covenants” between member Israelis and Palestinians, between Northern Nations to reduce “greenhouse gases,” between “liberation” groups, between Europeans and Koreans for a re-unification of Korea, between youth delegates everywhere “to act together in the future,” between Europeans and Asians to “fight the exploitation of women worldwide,” between delegates from the East, West, and South “in the face of the moral collapse of the two major world systems,” and many others.

    What makes all this gushing so nauseous is not its utopian naiveté, common to all collectivists, but its commitment to political solutions. On the face of it, Christians should be averse to abject hope in political solutions. Political solutions are, in the nature of the case, short term, coercive, and destructive. We’ve choked heavily on such collectivist political prescriptions for over a century, to no avail. Yet the alternative to collectivism is not some form of nihilistic-individualism, but the comprehensive gospel of Christ applied to all areas of life.

    In one sense, however, I am glad that evangelical collectivists enjoy spending their time on naive political “solutions.” By focusing on grandiose plans, they leave the rest of us alone to work on real change. Long-lasting change, such as that which was empowered in first-century Jerusalem, builds step-by-step, little-by-little. We attempt to Biblically train ourselves, our churches, our local communities, and most importantly our children, so that they will faithfully train their children and so on. This is one way genuine covenantal living operates. Nations and faddish collectivist ideologies will rise and fall, but God’s covenant is sure.


    An Act of Compassion by James Sauer
    Things were looking up for Carol Johnson. After taking off four months for her maternity leave, she was going back to work at her old job as Assistant Office Manager at Firmwell Industries. Her daughter Melissa would be dropped at the Jolly Family Day Care Center each day on Carol’s way to work. Sure, it cost some, but how else is a single mother going to live? Carol depended on this job, and it was a tight budget. Looking over the coming year’s personal economic situation, however, brought some confidence to Carol. Things were looking brighter. Then tragedy struck:

    * Her car brakes need replacing — $497.45.

    * Her company took a bad turn in the profits for the quarter. No promotion, no raise. And there was rumor that middle management positions like hers might have to give back 5%.

    * One worker in her department was laid off: Carol would have to fill in for half those duties plus her own.

    * John — the significant other in her life — was cheating on her. That would have been bad enough, but it was with another man. For all she knew, she might have AIDS.

    * Her friend Nicole called and cancelled their planned trip to Bermuda in July.

    * Her rent went up $65 a month.

    * Her aerobics instructor became a born again Christian.

    * They cancelled her two favorite soap operas. No more after work evenings with the VCR.

    * The price of Brie cheese doubled.

    Carol was at wits end. Her whole life was collapsing. The stress was incredible. “Something had to give, I was falling apart,” said Carol to a friend. She felt alone, no one to turn to. Her emotions were a wreck. She just had to work things out for herself.

    The worst thing of all was that Carol began to have negative feelings about Melissa. “I began to resent her. My time. My freedom. My rights as a human being. She would cry. There were diapers. I was not feeling good about myself. I began to have negative feelings about everything. My sleep was off. I didn’t even want sex. And all this seemed to come to Melissa’s door. I even had guilt feelings about my resentment. I knew I wasn’t giving Melissa the quality time she needed; yet I just didn’t have that time. I had things to worry about.”

    “Finally, I realized that my love for Melissa transcended the present situation. If things continued as they were, my negative feelings would grow worse. Melissa would be unloved. She would suffer. That wasn’t fair for either her or me. Little girls need love; and Mommies need their freedom. It was a difficult decision, but I struggled with it. The answer was obvious, but I didn’t want to admit it. Melissa had become a financial and emotional drain on me.

    I loved her too much to let her have a mother who couldn’t live to give her the things she needed in this life — the things the other children had: children’s designer jeans, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and an education in the best prep schools. I knew what I had to do. I called friends and shared my decision. They all supported me, acknowledging that it was my choice. One must go on living. That afternoon I made arrangements to have Melissa quietly put to sleep. Cremation would follow.”

    “When I went to Rev. Charolette Forting-Wordsworth at the New Ecumenical Church of Personal Development, she gave me just the words and comfort I needed.” The Left Reverend Forting-Wordsworth said: “God wants you to do what is best for you and Melissa; she doesn’t want either of you to suffer. It isn’t right to burden Melissa with your life problems. Perhaps later on in life you will have found yourself, and gotten your life together; perhaps then you’ll be ready for a child again. Until then, you’ve got to make these difficult decisions. God understands, believe me, she loves you dearly.”

    Carol is now readjusting to life without Melissa. “What I had to do was painful. Some people don’t understand that. It took bravery and a special kind of courage that I didn’t know I had. I had to recognize that sometimes infanticide is the most compassionate thing a mother can do. It was for Melissa. It was for me. It was for everyone involved. I loved Melissa so much — the thought of her being unhappy broke my heart. I had to put her down.”

    James Sauer is Director of Library at Eastern College, author of over one hundred published articles, reviews, and poems, and an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.

    The Growing Move Toward “Life Chains”
    As more Pro-life advocates recoil from the unbiblical Ghandianisms of “Operation Rescue,” a fresh form of protest is making headway.

    A “Life Chain” protest is an extended line of hopefully tens of thousands of committed Pro-Lifers who stand arms length apart along a designated route for a set period of time. They each hold a placard with the same message: “Abortion Kills Children.”

    Such peaceful protests have already received tremendous support. Citizen (June 18, 1990) reports that “28,000 came out March 18 for the second San Diego Life Chain, which stretched 15 miles. 20,000 people had turned out one month earlier for the first one.” Other California Life Chains received similar outpourings of support: Orange County (17,000), Riverside (6,000), Bakersfield (7,500), Fresno (10,000), and Los Angeles (10,000).

    Organizers report that, following a Life Chain demonstration, participants regularly show enthusiastic support for further action. Rebecca Hagelin, communications director of Concerned Women for America claims that, “This project has potential for nationwide attention. It’s peaceful, it’s creative, and it emphasizes prayer” (Cited Ibid.). The brilliance and potential power of such a protest deserves praise. We should expect to see a re-energizing of the entire Pro-Life community through such efforts.

    Life Chains require relatively little preparation and money, but they do require a dedicated organizing committee. For information on organizing a Life Chain, write to:

    Royce Dunn c/o
    Please Let Me Live
    3209 Colusa Highway
    Yuba City, CA 95993
    (916) 671-5500




    Reformed Theology and Apologetics
    Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our ring of reformed sites.

    Keep up to date on new articles, new reformed and puritan books, and coupons for purchasing some of the best reformed literature in print!

    You have Successfully Subscribed!