Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spiritual Personhood

In one of David's great prophetic Psalms, we read these words of faith:
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. (Psalm 22:9-10)
David declares not only that God formed him in the womb and had a purpose for his life, as he says in Psalm 139, but also that God is his God from the womb. It seems to indicate some form of spiritual relationship even in the womb. Perhaps this is merely an expression of David's lifelong dependence on God.

Let no one claim that the Bible says spiritual life (when the soul joins the body) begins with the first breath at birth. The inspired writers speak of a spiritual union with God before birth. "Thou art my God from my mother's belly."

To those preparing to denounce me as a heretic, I'm not implying anything about salvation before birth or denying the inheritance of the sin nature.

"Thou art my God from my mother's belly." What a beautiful statement of spiritual identity before birth.

Wesley Wilson is the President of Let Her Live, a nonprofit dedicated to saving babies by showing the beauty and value of life to women considering abortion. Please learn more about the Let Her Live pro-life billboard campaign. Donations are tax deductible.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: Just Courage, by Gary Haugen

Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian

By Gary A. Haugen

(InterVarsity Press: 978-0-8308-3494-5, HB, 150 pages)

Would you rather be safe or brave? Do you want to have a life that is successful or a life that is significant? Gary Haugen challenges Christians with these questions in Just Courage.

Gary Haugen is the founder of International Justice Mission, an organization that defends those who cannot defend themselves against injustice around the world—slaves, women and children imprisoned in brothels, the dispossessed, and the attacked.

Haugen sees a generation of Western Christians who are bored and dissatisfied with their Christian experience. Rejecting yesteryear’s pietism, they want something more. But they don’t know what that “more” is or how to reach it.

However, “more” is found in following Jesus, and that “is about loving people in need.” (page 116) Drawing on Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 58:10-11, and similar passages, Haugen defines justice from a biblical perspective, rejecting the popular Marxist redistributionist theory. Haugen notes that we can understand justice by looking at it its inverse, injustice, which is “the abuse of power—abusing power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life, liberty, dignity, or the fruits of their love or their labor.” (page 46)

Using examples of those who have followed Jesus in the fight for biblical justice in the past, those who are fighting injustice today, and the needs of victims, Haugen asserts that Christians can find significance in their lives as they join with Jesus in loving needy people.

Though he presents the philosophical and theological arguments for promoting justice, this is not a dry theological tome. Rather it is an engaging, lively discussion based on the teachings of Jesus to inspire readers to venture outside their spiritual cul-de-sac into a world of pain and to make a difference.

Some groups will reject Haugen’s argument. Those who reject the teachings of Jesus as irrelevant in this dispensation will dismiss it. Those who embrace pietism will turn their backs on it, and those who want to look good in the world’s eyes will disdain it.

For those seeking “more” Christ, more meaning, in their Christian walk, Just Courage may hold the key for which they are searching. His appendices offer ways to partner with International Justice Mission, a list of other organizations involved in the issues of justice, and serious questions for reflection.

Remember what Lucy said in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when she hears of Aslan for the first time? She asks, "Is he quite safe?" The answer, of course, is, "No, he’s not safe, but he’s good." Even so, as we follow such a lion into the world, it will not be safe. But it will be good. Very good. (page 109)

Reviewed by Debbie W. Wilson

This review was originally published at ChristianBookPreviews.com

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