Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do Americans Regard Children as a Blessing?

Frankly, no. Thomas White is right on the money. Our culture regards money as a blessing—the more you have, the more blessed you are. Our culture regards sex as a blessing—the more you have, the more blessed you are. Not so with children. And those who criticize Thomas are, to put it bluntly, people defending the American worldview against the biblical worldview.

I could write more. Oh…I could write much more. But rather than explain, I'll merely illustrate. Is the following the product of a culture that regards children as a blessing? Would it even be funny if it were not lampooning an anti-parenting bias in our culture?

56 comments:

volfan007 said...

Bart,

Funny. Very funny!

Hey, Bart. I wish that you would have called me while you were at your Mom's house. I would have loved to have met you in Dyersburg, or something. Next time, call me. I know a few good restaurants in the area. :)

David

volfan007 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peter lumpkins said...

Bart,

Amazing how we allow subtle cultural nuances to fasten themselves to our biblical worldview like so many sticky beggar-lice.

Dr. White's sermon--passionately and biblically lifting up the glory of parenthood and the gift of children--most recently was brutally pillaged. as you know, by not only an unfriendly news-media, from whom we have come to expect such treatment, but also by one of our own, from whom, though happening before, we nevertheless hope they shall gain some moral sense. It is tragic such moral sense remains absent still.

Grace, Bart. With that, I am...

Peter

Tim G said...

Peter and Bart,
Maybe those who disagree with Dr. White should remember that children they were and still are and thus... thank ought to get it!

Bill said...

Two questions. Don't you think it is unwise to make a blanket statement that Americans don't regard children as a blessing without some type of proof?

Second, has someone in the SBC or God-blogosphere stated that children are not a blessing?

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

Answer to Question 1: Americans have murdered 4.5 million babies since 1973. I think that counts as evidence enough.

Answer to Question 2: No. Nor has anyone alleged that they have made any statement to that effect.

Bart Barber said...

Dwight,

I understand that you were on WFAA Channel 8 last night. We tend to watch Channel 11, so I must confess that I missed it. I'm sure you looked great. I'm glad you have your old vigor back.

I see that you have removed your comment. I was at Parkland Hospital visiting someone when my phone notified me of your comment. Unfortunately, I was unable to respond at that time. I am willing to do so now, but do not know whether you removed your comment as an indication that you do not desire an answer. Is that the case? If so, I'm willing to let the matter lie. If you do still await a response, I'm content to supply one. Please let me know your wishes.

Bart Barber said...

David,

Regretfully, I was having the transmission replaced in my vehicle. This rendered me unable to visit you, but not unable to call (although VERY distracted). We left Arkansas later and poorer than we had planned, and my desired visit with you was the victim of this fiasco.

Bill said...

Bart: Obviously some Americans don't see children as a blessing, but also obviously a lot of them do. I know I'm being picky, but it's a little like saying Americans are racist, or Americans are greedy, or Americans hate the environment. Some are, some aren't. Some do, some don't.

The crux of the issue, is it possible to believe what the bible says about children and still practice birth control? Is it possible to believe children are a blessing, and still not want children for yourself?

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

It is possible to speak of a "culture" or a "worldview" without purporting to speak of every individual citizen. I, after all, am an American. But I realize that I am, at some points, at odds with our broader culture. So, didn't I make my statements regarding the "culture" and the "worldview" rather than purporting to generalize the viewpoint of every individual American?

Finally, with regard to your "crux," blessings are, by definition, not things that people avoid. I will agree that some are called not to have children. God does not have the same plan for every individual. But Dr. White, it seems to me, was taking aim at the fact that our point of view is out of step with the biblical worldview.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find an example of sexually active people being commended for trying to avoid conception.

Many places in the Bible do we find God granting conception as His explicit blessing.

Nowhere in the Bible do we encounter the idea of people having "too many" children as a bad thing.

This idea of "planning" my family to make sure that it isn't "too big" is simply foreign to the Bible. So, at that point, I would indicate that we're out of step with the biblical worldview.

Dr. White's sermon made that point.

Dr. White's sermon then went further to point out that some methods of birth control work after conception to prevent implantation. Knowing that conception produces a human being, Dr. White expressed his conviction that SUCH FORMS OF BIRTH CONTROL could operate in an abortifacient manner. Ipso facto for those who acknowledge that human life begins at conception, for them to engage in deliberate processes to prevent conceived life from surviving is a sin.

Now, they may not realize that their method of "birth control" operates in that way, in which case I don't think that Dr. White is suggesting that they are committing a willful and deliberate sin.

Or, they may be practicing birth control by some method that actually prevents conception and does not interfere with the implantation of conceived life. In which case, if I understand Dr. White, he's not putting that into the same category—not ratcheting it up to the same level as abortifacient birth control, but merely pointing out the first point listed above, that the regarding of conception as an ill to be avoided is out of step with the view of conception that fills the pages of the Bible.

Dwight said...

Bart,

Do you consider the view that taking birth control pills is “sin,” “wrong” and “murder” a “biblical worldview”? On the other hand, did I and hundreds of others misunderstand Dr. White’s message? Are Thomas White’s views on birth control the BI position? Do you categorically embrace Dr. White’s entire message without any reservations? Would using birth control pills in marriage be tantamount to practicing “the American worldview against the biblical worldview”? Is this the BI position? I await your response.


Dwight

Bart Barber said...

Dwight,

I'm quite persuadable on the matter. Would you care to advance for us those passages of the Bible that argue for limiting the size of family and using abortifacient birth control?

If I am weighing in prematurely on Dr. White's side of the issues, perhaps it is because he is the only one in the discussion who is citing the Bible.

Bill said...

Bart: Like Dwight, I'm trying to get a clear picture of what you are saying. I haven't listened to Dr. White's sermon, so I'm not talking about his views.

When we start talking about a biblical worldview, as opposed to the black and white of sin, then the conversation becomes unclear.

Do you think that deliberately taking measures to limit the number of children you have is a sin? Let's assume that such measures are not in fact some form of abortion.

Most, if not all of the parents that I know would certainly and heartily affirm that their children are a blessing. Most, if not all, have also made a deliberate decision to limit the number of such blessings that they were willing to be responsible for. Is that sin?

If not, then I have another question. How can something that is not a sin simultaneously be contrary to a biblical worldview?

volfan007 said...

Bill and Dwight,

Do yall conider me a BI guy? Well, I imagine that you do. I see nothing wrong with birth control. And, I see nothing wrong with Dr. White saying that he doesn't believe in it. I dont have to accept everything that he teaches.

David

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

Is it wrong to use genuinely contraceptive birth control? I'm not prepared to say that it is. But I am prepared to say that we ought to examine our hearts to ask why we would do so.

Suppose, for example, that one's wife's doctor had warned her that another pregnancy could pose a grave threat to her life. I think that the employ of birth control in a non abortifacient mannner might be something, if it were me, that I would adjudge to be ethically necessary.

When we have come to regard cable TV, a new car, a bigger house, and our other materialistic pursuits as a greater blessing than children, however, then I believe that we have a spiritual problem. And at that point our way of thinking is markedly different from the ways of thinking presented to us in the Bible.

Am I prepared to stand on a stump and declare that all who limit the size of their families even by non-abortifacient methods are sinning? Well, would you extend the grace for me to say that I'm not sure? Dr. White has pointed us to material in the Bible that we ought to consider and consider carefully.

It is when people (some of them self-appointed champions of free thinking and free speaking) beat a guy to a pulp in public media for daring to articulate his convictions—at that very point—that we reveal an unwillingness even to listen carefully to what the Bible says on the topic.

Bill said...

David: Yes, but I didn't say anything about BI. As I said, I haven't listened to the sermon. If he says that birth control isn't right for his family, good for him. If he is saying Christians who practice birth control are sinning, then I would say what he is teaching is wrong.

Bill said...

Bart: Fair enough. My problem is making "children are a blessing" synonymous with "have as many children as you can." We rely upon God to give us wisdom to make a great many decisions in our lives, and apart from a unequivocal biblical mandate to reproduce as much as our wife's body will tolerate, I would suggest that we have the freedom to use that wisdom to determine the size of our families. Additionally, I've never heard anyone express the desire to not have any more children because they wouldn't be able to afford cable. But there are certainly financial considerations to having children and taking them into consideration is not unwise or unfaithful.

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

At the "wife's body will tolerate" point, I'm with you. Health is a genuine concern, and we are commanded to cherish, nourish, and protect our wives.

The "financial considerations" do not move me much. Neither have I heard anyone express the desire not to have any more children because they wouldn't be able to afford cable. But would anyone actually say it? Sometimes our actions speak louder than our words. If I say that I can't afford another child, but I can afford all of those other things, how else ought we to evaluate the state of our hearts?

Bill said...

Bart: With respect, the "state of our hearts" only means something if having another child is a biblical imperative. I have yet to see a biblical argument advanced that instructs me and my wife to have another child.

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

In dialogue with you, I find the topic going places I would not have taken it on my own. But God did command us to be fruitful and multiply, did He not. Might that not constitute a biblical argument?

Certainly, the soil of the Bible is inordinately more fertile to make the argument that we ought to have more children than to make the argument that we ought artificially to limit our childbearing in order to prop up a decadent lifestyle, since the Bible would be entirely barren for that position.

fishformen said...

Thanks for the fairness you posted here.

Bill said...

Bart: I would say that the command to be fruitful and multiply was given to either A) Adam and Eve, in which case it does not apply to every couple, or B) mankind as a whole, in which case it not only does not apply to every couple, but has certainly been fulfilled. In either case, my wife and I have two children. Therefore I submit that we have indeed been fruitful and multiplied. It again goes to the point that the command to be fruitful and multiply is not necessarily a command for maximum reproduction.

That Americans (Christians included) live lives of excess is undeniable. But I would argue that bearing more children is neither an alternative or necessarily a corrective. A selfish, greedy, or worldly person is not necessarily any less selfish, greedy, or worldly if they have 8 children instead of 3.

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

Let's hope that people do not apply the same hermeneutic to the Great Commission that you apply to the command to be fruitful and multiply!

And just to be clear, I have no great conviction to push for maximum reproduction. I think there are any number of good reasons why people might avoid conception. I've mentioned a few in this forum. My goals are actually quite restrained:

1. Folks need to acknowledge that Dr. White's sermon was hermeneutically sound, while there is absolutely no hermeneutical basis whatsoever for the arguments of his detractors. Or at least nobody has come close to offering such a thing. Certainly nobody in these comments on this post has even made the attempt.

2. So, for personal reasons entirely disconnected from the Bible and their faith, people choose to limit the size of their families. Fair enough. That does not necessarily make the practice wrong. Physical reproduction is no grand categorial imperative in the Bible.

3. But the precipitous (and it is precipitous) decline in the number of children per household in the United States in the past century…shoot...the past fifty years!…is indeed connected to a cultural pursuit of higher materialistic standards of living. It is also connected to a new ethos of sexuality that arose concomitantly with the arrival of "the pill." Entire books of sociology have been penned about these phenomena. They are undeniable.

4. Materialism and deviant sexuality are indeed matters worthy of our concern. These concepts are related to the decline in our birth rate. They simply are. And we ought to find the capacity to be a bit introspective on the matter.

5. So when a guy like Dr. White comes along and preaches a legitimate sermon arising straight out of a biblical text and it makes us all a bit uncomfortable, perhaps we all ought to pay a bit more attention to James 1:19-25.

Bill said...

Bart: Unless you share the Gospel with every person with whom you come in contact, I would say that you are employing the same hermeneutic I am. I do not share the Gospel with everyone I come in contact with. Rather, I try to discern the situation and context to see if I am in an appropriate situation to do so. Likewise reproduction.

I think we're fairly close. My questions to you are not in response to Dr. White's sermon since I haven't heard it. If someone wishes to warn people about the excess of American Christianity, then I'm on board. If someone wishes to point out the potential abortifacient qualities of some forms of birth control, sign me up. If someone is telling people they should have more children, then I think they are stretching a biblical principle past the breaking point.

Bart Barber said...

Bill,

Well enough.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t it interesting that couples making 75 and 100 thousand a year can’t afford another child; and those making 15 or 20 thousand dollars a year have six or eight kids? I’m referring to middle to lower income class couples that love and take good care of their kids.

I don’t expect or require married couples to have a lot of kids, but I sure admire those who do. It also helps church attendance.

By the way, two kids are not enough. To stay even you have to have two point something, I think it may be 2.3. So, until you have had 2.3 kids, you are behind in keeping the world’s population stable :).

David R. Brumbelow

Debbie Kaufman said...

I have never seen this commercial as a anti-baby message. In fact I thought it was hilarious.

We limited our family, and I am now helping to raise three grandchildren who have no father due to his death. Am I now anti-children or do not consider children a blessing? I enjoyed every minute of raising my children, but for me personally,the thought of six or more children would have been too difficult both in work and financially. How's that for being transparent? :)

Bart Barber said...

Debbie,

The floor is now open for you to show the biblical basis of your sentiments.

Bill said...

OK. I listened to the message with what I hope is an unbiased ear. I started at about the 20 minute mark. I have a few observations. At about minute 22 he states that the founder of planned parenthood also invented the birth control pill. This is at least partially incorrect. Margaret Sanger didn't invent the pill but did helped finance the research.

A rather significant error is his assertion that birth control pills are designed to prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted into the womb . There are oral contraceptives that do such a thing but my research indicates that the most widely used birth control pills prevent ovulation and therefore conception. He made no such distinction but clearly stated that birth control pills are abortive in nature. This was at 22:53. This one is rather frightening because he has just unjustly accused millions of people of abortion.

I know some have disputed this but at minute 24 he very clearly and unequivocally states that people who try to plan their families are sinning. I don't honestly see how a reasonable hearing can conclude otherwise. Likewise at 35:15 he states that it is not for us to plan our parenthood.

Having heard the sermon, I don't think it is at all unfair to conclude that he has preached that birth control is a sin. He did so with a tiny amount of scripture and factually incorrect data.

Like David (vol) said, anyone is free to disagree with him and I most certainly do. But it is what he said.

David B: Do we have any type of imperative to stabilize the world's population levels?

Anonymous said...

Bill,

My research on orthotricyclen (used by millions according to their website) indicates that it, like many other birth control pills, DO indeed prevent implantation of the fertilized egg. However, that is fine print that many doctors don't tell you, because that is not the primary mode of action. The primary mode of contraception for orthotricyclen is to prevent ovulation, but they also can be abortive should an "egg" get released and fertilized.

So, maybe he is not as far off as you think. Some people say that all pills can be abortive, but I'm not so sure on that. And whether or not we can make generalized statements such as the one you quoted him as making...the fact remains that many people are duped into believing their pill doesn't allow ovulation and fertilization when it very well could; and if it did, then the fetus would likely be aborted at that point.

This is an important personal issue for many of us & it must be considered.

sm

Bill said...

sm: That's a fair point. I think a warning of the potential actions of BC pills isn't out of line. e.g. "These are what some BC pills can do. Please consult your physician"

debbiekaufman said...

Bart: I do not interpret the verses you gave as you do. It's not fair to either the mother or the child to just say keep going until you can no longer have children if that is not what the mother or father wants. It also says in the Bible when I grow faint and weary that my strength is in the Lord, but that does not mean that I just keep going until there is no more of me left. This is another hot button issue that has been debated among Christians as often as the Harry Potter books, gender issues, and Halloween, along with the Christmas tree in churches. It's a matter of choice. It's a matter of privacy between a husband and a wife.

Are you telling me that I hate children, do not consider them a blessing because I am human and limited to how much I can deal with? That this is selfish and I should have just kept having children until well into my thirties or forties? That was not for me or my husband. We both agreed. For us it was about financial means and simply not wanting anymore. I have stated that I personally could not handle more than three. My conscience is clear before God and I have had a fruitful life with some sanctifying bad thrown in like all of us have.

I see nothing in scripture that says one cannot use birth control, now if it goes against a couples conscience, I have no problem with that. They should have a large family. I also think that one should beware of certain forms of birth control. To condemn someone who in the privacy of their marriage chooses birth control is more wrong I think than simply saying that for you and your wife you do not feel right about it.

Do I have scripture? No, but neither do you. Are large families a blessing, yes, to those couples who choose to have large families I respect their decision which is not for me to make either way. This would fall under MYOB.

debbiekaufman said...

By the way I agree with Bill'sf( I believe it was Bill) interpretation of Genesis 1:28 as do other theologians.

Ron P. said...

Bart,

Thank you for posting this. In the three blogs that I have read regarding Dr. White's message (including this one) and the news story on WFAA TV, the following is very clear:

No one has shown that Dr. White's exegesis of the text is in error or faulty. Coming from the media, that does not matter. Coming from two pastors who publicly ridiculed and roasted Dr. White, I would like to see their exegetical reasoning behind their attacks on Dr. White's hermeneutics.

Bart, as you pointed out, no one has shown any text or example in the entire Bible that is the antithesis of his statement i.e. that commends anyone for limiting the size of family. This would seem to be a necessary and logical argument if one is to "condemn" Dr. White's statements.

Finally, what is most painfully obvious, is the incessant desire to attack and be divisive. I wonder if Wade and Dwight followed their own "rules of engagement" and spoke with Dr. White before their public diatribes?

The points of attack are:

"Fundamentalist indoctrination camp"; "BI position"; "Dr. White received his education... while under the tutelage of Paige Patterson". There are more, but these three sum it up: It's still all about Paige Patterson.

Captain Ahab would be envious of Enid's tenacity in it's pursuit of Paige Patterson. It makes his obsession with Moby Dick seem like a curious interest.

Blessings,

Ron P.

CB Scott said...

I am so glad to see so many of you so very concerned about the welfare of children.

Therefore, I wait with great anticipation knowing that several homeless children will soon be welcomed into you homes and you will begin parenting them in the admonition of the Lord.

cb

Dwight said...

The burden of proof is on Dr. White, you and all those supporting the view that taking birth control pills designed to prevent conception would be “murder,” “sinful” “wrong” and a “biblical worldview.” Moreover, the necessity here is for you and supporters of Dr.White’s belief to provide the biblical basis or proof text for those viewpoints.

To answer your question specifically, I do not know of a passage that advocates limiting the size of a family, nor do I know of a passage that commands believers to maximize the size of their families while not practicing any form of birth control. Therefore, again, the burden of proof would be upon Dr. White and perhaps you to provide scripture that clearly supports your position. It is a stretch almost beyond measure to read into Psalm 127 the extremist views Dr. White articulated in his message regarding birth control pills.

I too would disagree and discourage Christians in using an abortifacient birth control pill or resorting to the morning after pill as a form of birth control. I share Dr. White’s views where abortifacient pills are concerned.

If a birth control pill is designed to prevent conception but at some point, it becomes abortifacient, I find this a terrible out come. Conversely, is that any different from any other medicine that is intended for one purpose, but unintentionally does harm including contributing or causing sickness unto death.

The problem with Dr. White’s message is not that he spoke his convictions, but that he spoke his convictions as if he was proclaiming absolutely the will, way and word of God that was binding upon all believers. Finally, Dr. White did cite the Bible but he did not cite one verse in support of his views that taking pills is sinful wrong and murder. I am still astounded that you are seemingly sympathetic and supportive of Dr. White’s viewpoints on this subject matter.

peter lumpkins said...

Bill,

If I may, first, starting after half a message has been preached hardly qualifies as "listen[ing] to the message with what I hope is an unbiased ear." How do you know Dr. White did not make biblically significant contributions rooted in the text itself during the first 20 minutes that substantially grounded the points he made in the latter 18+ minutes? This will haunt you later on.

Secondly, the apparent rush to the "birth control" section, a section with which our Brother Wade was so locked upon, that he falsely labeled Dr. White's biblical exposition of Psalm 127 "a sermon on birth control" could very well explain the lack of teeth in the observations you offer.

For example, insisting Dr. White was at least "partially incorrect" about Margaret Sanger "inventing" the BC pill is supposed to prove what? He is no scholar? He is a liar? He doesn't know history? He is incompetent? Who knows.

I am unsure myself how far Sanger's total involvement went with the pill, or whether or not the pill was her original idea that spawned her twisted mind to begin the process of developing it and raising capital to fund its research. But, for me, to mention such solicits no more than a "O.K. What else ya got?"

Your second point admittedly possesses a wee bit of bite when you note Dr. White's lack of an explicit, finely tuned distinction between moral means and immoral means to birth control: "He made no such distinction but clearly stated that birth control pills are abortive in nature."

Interestingly, I repeatedly made a point of such a fine moral distinction bioethicists make on Wade's site, only to be further mocked and scorned.

But, just because Dr. White did not slice the distinction crisp and clean as you just did, Bill--and that, even if he was not as clear as he could have been--it does not follow that he made no distinction at all.

If you will recall, Dr. White made much of abortion mills, and the culture of preventing babies to be born (unless, that was right before you picked up the sermon), and the immoral atrocity of such--murdering of human life.

He goes on to speak of birth control and the pill, specifically the "third function" of the pill that destroys human life because it, in effect, destroys an embryo infused with human life.

It is the use of that pill that is a sin against God, not because it is a birth control pill per se, rather because it is the destruction of human life directly resulting from taking it.

Only an 'in-out' listener on the one hand or an 'agenda-driven' listener on the other would either miss--in the case of the former--or ignore--in the case of the latter--the moral presupposition driving Dr. White's statement about the immoral use of birth control pills was definitively the sanctity of human life.

One may whine all they wish that it was not as clear as it should have been. My simple response is, what preacher has ever preached any sermon which, listening over again, would not like to say something--at times, at least in my own case, something fairly significant--over again, because after listening to it yourself, it did not sound quite like you thought it did when you said it?

Consequently, Bill, for you to conclude that the "error" Dr. White allegedly made "is rather frightening because he has just unjustly accused millions of people of abortion" is, I am sad to say, nonsense. While Dr. White did, at minimum, imply millions of people have acquiesced in abortion because of using the pill, he did no such thing unjustly. The pill he rightly judged harshly, he did so because it, in effect, forced an abortion.

Furthermore, in your final point, Bill, that Dr. White "very clearly and unequivocally states that people who try to plan their families are sinning" and "that it is not for us to plan our parenthood" about which you conclude that you "don't honestly see how a reasonable hearing can conclude otherwise" stands as a concern unfounded, in my view.

I'm afraid that this is where your short-cut has pushed you up a dead-end alley, my friend. By avoiding the meticulous connection from Scripture that Dr. White hard-wired through out the sermon--including the entire 20 minutes you unfortunately skipped--that to leave God out of any sphere of our humanness, whether it's society at large in building a city or a business man launching a company or a seminary student working on a PHd (part of his story), it is unequivocally sin to leave God out.

Or, putting in his pithy, little thesis--"God is God and we are not!"

Do you think, Bill, it is pleasing to God for you to leave Him out of the equation about the number of children you should have? My guess is, you answer is the same as mine as well as Dr. White's: it is no more right for me to leave God out of my family planning than it is for me to leave God out of my financial planning.

Moreover, when Dr. White used himself as an example, he never so much as hinted, as I recall, that he and his wife were on the 'abortion' bc pill and such was the immoral atrocity he warned the students against.

Instead, he mentioned the selfish desires into which he had been swallowed up--the freedom to work on a Phd child-free, the extra monies he would save, minus the financial burden the child would inevitably bring, his ministry, his career, etc etc--appealing to the student body to not make the same mistake as he for he sinned against God. How?

By listening carefully to his repeatedly proclaimed theme echoed throughout his entire message--God is God and we are not

Measure that stated theme by my paraphrase of his tearful failures:
-God was not God in my life
-God was not God in my family
-God was not God in my studies
-God was not God in my finances
-God was not God is my career
-God was not God in my ministry


Indeed, it was not God is God and he is not. It was he was god, and God was not!

Putting personal preference, personal goals, personal comfort all ahead of God--including 'planning' children when he darn well pleased and planned.

This candid, personal confession should solicit from us a humble identity between our humanity and his. Instead Dr. White gets a pan of dish water splashed in his face.

And for what? Charging it a sin against God when we leave Him out of our lives--including, but not limited to--planning our family.

That this simple but powerful message has provoked hostile criticism from some is not at all mysterious to me. Some are out for blood toward any SBC leader (no implications to you, Bill).

What stands more curious is the hollow criticism that is brought. From my perspective, there is just not much substance to any single criticism I've thus far read (unfortunately, this does apply in part to the criticisms you've brought, my brother).

With that, I am...

Peter

Dwight said...

David Worley and Bart,


I do consider you a BI guy. If Dr. White had distinguished between his personal opinion and convictions from the perception that he was proclaiming biblical truth, I would have no problem with his message. However, to label Christians with a different viewpoint or practice as rebelling against God, engaging in sin or murder goes far beyond expressing a personal conviction. You are right; none of us has to accept what he taught. Will the 24 year old gullible seminary student without the benefit of many years of life, marriage, bible study, preaching and pastoring as you and I have engaged in, will they be as confident and capable as you and I are to process and reject Dr. White’s teaching as simply his opinion and conviction, but not the word of God?
By the way, if Dr. Jerry Rankin spoke of his convictions regarding praying in tongues in private and based his conviction and practice on I Corinthians 14:2-18, would you be in favor of allowing him to express his convictions in chapel and allow the students and all Baptist simply to decide to accept or reject his testimony or convictional teaching? If your answer is no, please explain why not? In light of your willingness to allow or accept, Dr. White’s convictional teaching on birth control.

Bart Barber said...

Dwight,

I'm on the way out to Chuck E Cheese to enjoy the blessing of the children whom we have adopted, so I do not have the time at present to address your first questions.

But I am more than willing to give a brief reply to your question for David Worley. I am more than happy to admit that my response to Jerry Rankin would be quite similar to your response to Thomas White.

The difference is that I have not proclaimed to God and all mankind that I am an "irenic" conservative while branding you as intolerant. If you are now willing to admit that we are both simply men of conviction who operate quite similarly, then I will be glad to leave that question at that.

CB Scott said...

I would be in favor of Jerry Rankin looking for a new job.

As to his speaking in chapel I would not care one bit. That would be fine.

cb

Bill said...

Peter: As fascinating as your blogwar with Wade Burleson is, I'm not willing to address it here. I followed the link to the video of Dr. White's message (and my starting point) from a non-SBC related blog.

My "conclusion" about Dr. White being partially incorrect, is just that. He is partially incorrect. That's why I wrote it.

I believe you are incorrect when you say that Dr. White addressed the third function of the pill. I believe he addressed the third function of birth control, and then said that birth control pills fulfilled the third function. I listened to that particular part at least twice to make sure I had the right sense of it.

I can only stand by my statement that Dr. White is preaching that birth control, and not just abortion, is sin. That seems to me to be the clearest sense of what he is saying. Dr. White did not suggest that we should include God in our family planning, he stated that it was not for us to plan our family. The book of James makes it pretty clear that we need to acknowledge God's sovereignty when making plans, but that planning itself is not wrong.

However you do have a point about starting the sermon halfway through. I will go back and listen to the first half tomorrow, and the whole sermon if need be. If my conclusions change I will certainly post them. Fair is fair.

peter lumpkins said...

Dwight,

It's been much too long, my brother.

I am be missing something, but as I read your last comment I must ask some questions, if I may.

In your first assertion, you mention the "burden of proof" is on all "supporting the view" that "taking birth control pills designed to prevent conception would be murder." I agree. Who has argued such?

Secondly, since I am not among those who deny the moral distinction between hindering conception and blocking implantation--nor is Dr. White, by the way--what Scripture is necessary beyond our very solid case for the biblical sanctity of human life?

Thirdly, you assert it a "stretch almost beyond measure to read into Psalm 127 the extremist views Dr. White articulated in his message regarding birth control pills." I did not find the "extremist views" to which you're referring. Could you be specific?

This statement is confusing, my brother: "I share Dr. White’s views where abortifacient pills are concerned." Not by itself alone. It is confusing because of what you spoke later:

"...Dr. White...did not cite one verse in support of his views that taking pills is sinful wrong and murder.

For me, I find this confusing, my brother. On the one hand, you offer your support to Dr. White in his view on "abortifacient pills." But then, on the other, you lament his lack of biblical citation that "taking pills is sinful wrong and murder."

Dwight, the reason for one is precisely the reason for the other--the biblical doctrine of the sanctity of human life. There is no strictly moral reason to question the pill's use unless it threatens the embryo which is infused with human life. Nor did Dr. White.

Thus, the conclusion you make that he read into Psalm 127 his "extreme views" of birth control simply is mistaken. Unfortunately, our brother Wade made the identical mistake you seem to be making.

Nor does it do to lament that Dr. White should have been clearer. If he was not clear to you and others, why not give him a buzz and simply inquire:

"Dr. White, please help me. I heard from your message in chapel an application from Psalm 127 on birth control. I am unsure what you were implying. For my part, it was really a strong statement and may be totally at odds with what I believe the Bible teaches. Here is my question:

Did you or did you not imply that all birth control means are immoral and therefore a sin against God? Thank you."

Now, it can easily be asserted that it was "public" and therefore perfectly open to public critique. O.K. That's fair.

What is not fair, however, is to whip up an internet chatter by assuming more than what was revealed--in this case, what Dr. White revealed--and filling in the blanks by what one absolutely insists he implied but definitively did not state.

That, my brother is unfair. And neither you nor anyone else would desire for their words to be treated in such a way.

With that, I am...

Peter

Dwight said...

Ron P,

It was not my desire or intention (I assume the same would be true for Bro. Wade) to show where Dr. White’s exegesis of the text is in error or faulty. Ron P., if you accept Dr.White’s exposition of Psalms 127 as “exegetical reasoning,” to support the view that taking birth control pills is “sinful,” “wrong” “murder” and rebellion against God, be my guest. However, please forgive me, if I do not accept Psalms 127 and his exposition as sound exegetical reasoning to draw such extreme conclusion. If Dr. White cites Psalms 127 for his biblical basis for his aberrant viewpoints, that would be a classic example of isegesis-not exegesis.

Ron P., Dr. White’s statements were public statements. Channel 8 contacted me and asked me to respond publicly having no idea what my position would be on this subject matter. There have been controversial statements spoken in classrooms at SWBTS that I vehemently disagreed with. However, I did not address them publicly, but rather privately, because they were statements not spoken to the public. Therein, lies the difference as to why I addressed Dr. White’s public sermon, publicly.

I do not view my comments or Wade’s in response to Dr. White’s message as an “attack” or “public diatribes.” However, I certainly respect your right to do so.

SWBTS use to allow for diversity of thought even during Hemphill’s administration on issues like the four I cited in my public statement. They no longer allow for diversity of thought on these issues. Therefore, the appellation “fundamentalist indoctrination camp” is justified from my vantage point. Again, I respect your right to differ. This is not about Paige Patterson. This is about a radical shift in the philosophy of education at what once was the world’s largest seminary. Shouldn’t those of us who love the SBC and SWBTS lovingly and respectfully address concerns they have about an institution we own and love?

Finally, to make the analogy that aligns Captain Ahab and Wade Burleson is to be insensitive, unkind, unfair, un-Christ like, and inaccurate. Wade is not “in pursuit of Paige Patterson.” Wade is interested in protecting the witness of Southern Baptist throughout the world and quite frankly, the portion of Dr.White’s sermon that addressed birth control pills is not a good witness of Southern Baptist from my perspective. Again, I respect your right to differ. Wade has an “obsession” to be a good steward of his church’s cooperative program dollars and to enhance the witness of Christ and the SBC “in all the world” It is unfortunate that you would mislabel Wade’s pure prophetic and missionary motives as being and “obsession with Moby Dick.” One Last time, I respect your right to differ.

Dwight

peter lumpkins said...

Bill,

Thanks for the response. I think, however, about the some of it is "I still disagree." And, that's fine.

As for your comment about my duel with Wade, I'm unsure whatever you mean. It sounds like you thought I was simply regurgitating my exchange with him. I was not. What I was doing, I suppose, is assuring you that your moral distinction is not at all unique to this conversation and has argued from the beginning. That's. all.

Good evening. With that, I am...

Peter

Bob Cleveland said...

Bart,

I got a pretty clear message from Dr. White's statement that indicates "..we're sinning when we say "I'm going to control every single aspect of my life .. "", as a follow-on statement that he and his wife felt compelled to stop using birth control methods. The reference was clear, that planning when to have kids is a sin. That seems not to apply to one particular method, either.

He also said the founder of Planned Parenthood invented the birth control pill. That's Margaret Sanger, who did raise $150k to fund the research that led Frank Colton to invent Enovid.

He also made blanket statements about our "pushing (our kids) off" .. to Day Care, School, and Church to train them up. Had I been there I would have stood and interrupted him for making such a statement under the guise of preaching.

Fine preacher; I just have to disagree on those points, is all.

debbiekaufman said...

According to WFAA today, Richard Land issued this statement.

"The Southern Baptist Convention is not opposed to the use of birth control within marriage as long as the methods used do not cause the fertilized egg to abort and as long as the methods used do not bar having children altogether unless there's a medical reason the couple should not have children," he said.

peter lumpkins said...

Bob,

The conclusion you draw "The reference was clear, that planning when to have kids is a sin." simply does not follow from Dr. White's premise: "we're sinning when we say "I'm going to control every single aspect of my life .."

In both cases you completely ignore Dr. White's stated theme and its repeated application--God cannot be left out of any part or sphere of our lives.

Consequently, when you, Wade and company continue to ignore such a clearly intrinsic part of what Dr. White both explicitly said and obviously meant, and instead "connect the dots" the way you think the dots fit best, it remains hard not to conclude there is definitely an alternate agenda at work.

Even more, your statement is dead wrong that "[Dr. White] seems not to apply to one particular method, either." Before I even knew Dr. White's full position, it was fairly obvious to me, from the words in his sermon, what drove his connection of the immoral means of BC was his stated view of the sanctity of human life.

Hence, that in itself should have been enough to, at minimum, require extreme caution before condemning.

What it certainly did not do is affirm those who thought it their duty to merely guess that he meant "not to apply to one particular method, either", which later was slanderously summarized as "what's wrong in the SBC."

With that, I am...

Peter

Ron P. said...

Dwight,

I sincerely hope that you are doing well. Thank you for your response. Let me see if I can address your issues.

Peter gave an excellent synopsis of Dr. White's entire message, which clearly has been taken completely out of context from the whole of his message that God is God, we are not. I am curious as to how much of his message did you actually listen to. Did you listen to the whole message? Without it's context, it would be easy to draw the wrong conclusion. I, like Peter, am not going to guess what Dr. White's view of all bc pills are. But I suspect, that since he stated such in his email that WFAA only partially read, that he is not opposed to all forms of bc. As Bart pointed out to Bill:

Dr. White's sermon then went further to point out that some methods of birth control work after conception to prevent implantation. Knowing that conception produces a human being, Dr. White expressed his conviction that SUCH FORMS OF BIRTH CONTROL could operate in an abortifacient manner. Ipso facto for those who acknowledge that human life begins at conception, for them to engage in deliberate processes to prevent conceived life from surviving is a sin.

This is conspiculously absent from all the criticisms of Dr. White. Obviously, he could have been clearer. As Peter said, there is not one of us who have ever stepped into the pulpit that would not change something we have said to make it more clear. But that does not justify the rhetoric against Dr. White. Personally, I would like to hear more from him on this before making a decision on whether I agree with him. His main point regarding the exegesis of the passage is that we should not plan anything (family or other) apart from God, which is most certainly exegetically sound.

I agree that his statements were public and open to public scrutiny. However, I would hold that it is Biblical to address this within the Kingdom and not with the lost. Paul seems clear on that in Romans. My criticism, especially of Wade, is that he once again has failed to hold himself to a standard that he expects of others.

I would note that your statement that WFAA contacted you not knowing your view seems to be in conflict with Gloria Campos (anchor who introduced the story and the reporter). She stated: A Southern Baptist leader and teacher has a message: Taking birth control pills is "murder" and a "sin... and causing at least one Tarrant County pastor to publicly disagree." The clear implication by Campos is that you were publicly disagreeing and they were just reporting on your public disagreement. I do not doubt you on this, but it is in conflict of what she stated.

I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of Wade's actions. He is obsessed with Dr. Patterson. He tries to tie almost everything he sees wrong with the SBC back to him. It is not insensitive, unkind, unfair, or un-Christ like, or inaccurate to point out something that is so plain and obvious. The analogy of Captain Ahab comes from reading his blog. Granted, he is no Ben Cole... But why the need to tie Dr. White's education to Dr. Patterson? I am quite certain that Dr. White took classes from other professors besides Dr. Patterson. I would venture to guess that less that 5% of any student's total number of classes for their degree have Dr. Patterson as the professor.

I would also respectfully disagree and say that where you call Wade prophetic, I would find him to be divisive and contentious and un-biblical in how he conducts his disagreements with fellow believers.



CB,

We have one. Almost 8 months ago we took in a baby boy that would have been sent to state foster care. We are in the process of adopting him. He has truly been a great blessing!



Debbie,

Dr. Land, also, according to WFAA today, (which had this story as their lead news story Tuesday at 10:00 PM) added to what you posted above:

"I don't believe prudent planning is rebellion against God's will as long as couples accept God may cause them to have unplanned pregnancies anyway," said Richard Land. But, Land said he ultimately agrees with Dr. White on the subject of the birth control pill. Emphasis mine.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Ron P. said...

Bart,

Apologies for double posting. But I just went over to SBC Today where Dr. White has clarified his statements.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Wade Phillips said...

This really has nothing to do with this controversy; I frankly don't want to get involved in that.

But does anyone else have a problem with Richard Land speaking for the entire SBC? Who appointed him spokesman, and who gave him his talking points?

I don't have a problem with him giving his opinion, or speaking for the ELRC. But to say, "The Southern Baptist Convention believes"? Sounds a little Papal to me.

Bill said...

Bart's original post didn't mention Wade. I do wish we could have discussed this issue without invoking him all the time.

I listened to the whole sermon and read Dr. White's clarification. I appreciate him taking the time to do this. I am glad he doesn't believe all birth control is murder. I think he could have been clearer but as Peter said, we all say things in sermons that we could have said better.

I still come away with the impression that this was a sermon against family planning however. Like Wade Phillips, I don't know why Dr. Land speaks for Southern Baptists, but his statement is somewhat helpful. There is always a caveat though. According to Dr. Land, birth control is fine if you want to limit your family to one child but not ok if you want to have no children. Evidently SBC couples must have children unless providentially hindered. For myself I cannot imagine not wanting children, but I can imagine others not wanting children for a variety of reasons (from good to bad). I just think the SBC ought to stick to preaching the Gospel and stay out of family planning altogether if abortion isn't the issue.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Speaking generically, but not for all Americans, I think regarding your topic question -- there is a strong American current that regards children as an interference rather than a blessing.

Bart Barber said...

R. L. Vaughn...a man who actually read the original post. Thank you, my brother!

For the rest of you, I'm back online. But I see more of you talking among yourselves than anyone talking to me. Dwight, you had an open question to me, but it seems to me either that Peter and Ron P have already answered it to my satisfaction, or I have already addressed it in my earlier discussion with Bill. I think that all of your material has been covered. Do we agree? If not, please reiterate to me what you need for me to address.

Thanks to all of you.

BTW, so much of this hangs upon the "abortifacient" question regarding oral contraceptives, that I'm planning a post on that question alone. It is fascinating (the subject...not necessarily the post).

From the Middle East said...

Brother Bart,

A few disclaimers:

1. Our family has refused to use any form of birth control that prevents implantation since we were educated on the topic several years ago.
2. We love large families and plan on adding to our two children (and are even considering adopting).
3. Having been to some of the most poverty-stricken areas of the world, I am not hesitant at all to call the American Church back to simplicity of heart and life. IMHO, the corporate and individual materialism in the American Church is one of the biggest issues (maybe the biggest) we face at this time and in this place.
4. I just got back in town and have not had time to read all of the comments. Apologies if my ideas have already been discussed.

Now, to the challenge of a biblical argument for limiting the size of a family. First, I would say that we are commanded to be stewards of the Creator's handiwork. While this is given little attention in conservative, evangelical, dispensational circles these days, it is nevertheless a command. Second, due to medical advances prolonging the average age, the continued exponential (normal) population growth of the world, limited resources (food and otherwise), etc, etc, it would seem to me if we were to convince everyone on Earth to cease using birth control, we would not be long for overpopulation, mass poverty and starvation.

I suppose we could interpret this to mean all those who desire to be godly should cease having children. But that is silly. And I would argue that the other extreme is just as silly. We must consider the things you, and others, have presented in addition to our mandate to steward God's creation. We must ask whether or not God's community is willing to provide for a family whose income is low, but refuses to use birth control, whether we are willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of others (adopting orphans), whether we pay as much attention to the global effects of our decisions as the Scriptures would have us, whether we are willing to forgo birth control that may be more convenient, but destroys human life, etc, etc. And in asking these questions we may need to consider that God may call different people to different decisions for their families.

Glad to see your increase in posting once again brother.

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

R. L. Vaughn said...

I don't know how widespread it is, but evidence of the growth of the "childfree" movement can be seen at online sites like childfree.com and the "No Kidding" adult social club.

"Childfree" and "childless-by-choice" are chosen terms for this mindset -- to denote people who have made a "childfree" choice rather than simply being childless. Some people who are childless do not have children but nevertheless would like to.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I don't know how widespread it is, but evidence of the growth of the "childfree" movement can be seen at online sites like childfree.com and the "No Kidding" adult social club.

"Childfree" and "childless-by-choice" are chosen terms for this mindset -- to denote people who have made a "childfree" choice rather than simply being childless. Some people who are childless do not have children but nevertheless would like to.