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Where Does the Journey End?

In April, when Indiana Governor Mike Pence and legislators called for a “fix” to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to exempt discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Scott McCorkle, a LGBT activist said, “Today is a positive first step, but it is a first step in a larger discussion [to] acknowledge the importance of equal rights for all, and I am excited about what will come in the next step of our journey.”

Indiana seems poised to consider the next step in providing protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Both democrats and republicans claim to be hard at work crafting legislation for the next legislative session which begins in January. The discussion of an anti-discrimination law is heating up at a federal level. But the Hoosier State may well be first in the spotlight this coming winter, and the media which profited greatly from the RFRA debate will eagerly cover the ensuing discussion. In other words, Hoosiers can expect the issue to dominate headlines again with everyone talking about it.

If this is the next step in the journey, then all Hoosiers ought to be asking where the journey leads and […]

No Nest on 73rd Street

The release of video footage of Dr. Deborah Nucatola speaking of harvesting and selling body parts of aborted babies is horrendous. Yet, the yawn in response on the part of many is unsurprising. The video exposure caused me to think, “We’ve shown these kinds of things before. Yet, people have not been shaken.”

The event caused me to dig through my files for a speech I delivered in the 1995 Right to Life Oratory Contest. That speech which was delivered twenty years ago is copied below. It invoked the horror of a particular abortion incident twenty years before that. But, our culture was desensitized in 1975. It was desensitized in 1995. It remains desensitized in 2015. Sadly, bare knowledge of murderous practices and realities does not convict the heart of sin or move the soul to pursue justice.

That is not to say that we should cease from exposing the evil deeds of darkness; we must not cease. But, only the powerful work of the Holy Spirit will turn hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. To this end we must pray until we say as a nation with David of old, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, […]

A Fresh Approach to Political Involvement

It is Independence Day in these United States. Many are questioning the way forward in light of recent political upheaval. The following is a guest post by Matthew Barnes charting at least one part of the way forward for Christians. He is a good friend and fellow servant of Christ. He minsters with Capital Commission Indiana and Public Servants’ Prayer. Though he writes for an Indiana audience, the principles can be applied across these United States.

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I have been ministering in the Indiana Statehouse for more than 10 years. God has opened more doors than I would have ever imagined, and it all started with God impressing on my heart to pray for leaders. I found that it is impossible to hate someone for whom you earnestly pray. I can honestly say that I love politicians! Politicians are simply people who hurt, feel and bleed the same as you and I.  Some of them know Christ, others do not. The political arena has a vacuum of pastoral care.

Many people want to influence politics and politicians. Every time there is a perceived political loss for people of faith, there are passionate calls for pastors and churches to engage. This is true of churches […]

Rainbow Theology

Rainbows seem to be popping up everywhere in our area. Some have been resulted from storms that have produced record June rainfall and flooding in Midwestern communities. Others have been displayed in celebrations over the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The prevalence of the rainbow makes us ask afresh, “what does the rainbow mean?” God established the rainbow as the sign of his covenant with Noah after the global flood in Genesis 9. God’s promise gives us great hope in the midst of trouble. His promise to Noah and to us is posted below followed the words of four theologians who apply these truths to our hearts:

Genesis 9:11-17 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  14 When I bring clouds over the […]

ECHOing Across Generations

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison said. But not by John Hanson. John is a ruling elder at Southside Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis and has worked as an educator. For over two decades, he has hauled teams of young people from our presbytery each summer to North Fort Myers, Florida to serve at ECHO.

ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a Christian organization with a vision to “Honor God through sustainable hunger solutions.” From the farm in Florida, it equips people, most often missionaries, with “agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.” They serve workers in more than 165 countries and are being used to change the lives of millions of people.

In 1989, Rich Johnston, another elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, took the first team of young people from our presbytery to serve at ECHO. He and others had known ECHO’s director, Dr. Martin Price, and his wife Bonnie from their years in Indianapolis, at Geneva College, and at Purdue University. The Prices had begun their work at ECHO in 1981, and the work was still […]

The RP & ARP Synods; A Family Reunion of Churches

This week, the highest courts of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church met concurrently in Flat Rock, North Carolina at the Bonclarken Conference Center. The RP and ARP courts are both called “synod” – distinct from the term “general assembly” used by most other Presbyterian denominations. A general assembly is historically seen as the highest court, with a synod being lesser. In seminary, I was taught that our denominations have chosen to keep synods, in part, as a reminder that the visible church is yet fractured due to sin. Until there is biblical union, a general assembly cannot truly be convened.

The essential difference between our two cousin denominations involves christology. We understand Christ’s office as king slightly differently which is evidenced more visibly in areas such as the content and manner of song and music in worship. Our differences are such that merger or formal union was not the purpose of this concurrent meeting, though we do pray with Jesus that we might be one ecclesiastically.

This meeting served as something of a family reunion of churches that have been separated as they are since 1782. We have rich theological similarities, a shared history […]

How do I know what is morally wrong?

In two different Bible studies in different settings that I have led in the last month, the question has been asked, “How do I know what is wrong?” – as in morally wrong. In one case, the inquirer was an atheist, and in the other case, the question came from a life-long church attendee of various churches that never encouraged substantial study of the Bible. It is a wonderful question – especially since it flowed from genuine, personal interest as we studied God’s word.

The succinct answer of Westminster Shorter Catechism question and answer 14 helps greatly in such discussions. It asks and answers, “What is sin?” “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”  The context of our Bible study called for the language to be modernized, and it was – sin is not doing what God commands or doing what he forbids (James 4:17 & Leviticus 5:17).

“But how would I know what those things are?” came one reply. Where in the Bible do we find guidance so that we will know what we ought to do – or when we need to ask forgiveness? Sin is of course more than simply doing the wrong […]

The Chickens of Postmodernism

The chickens of postmodernism and the social construct theory of truth are coming home to roost. They have been for a while, but it is helpful to consider the implications from time to time.

The social construct theory essentially asserts that truth is what the society agrees upon as being the truth; the one absolute is that there are no absolutes. Thus, murder is wrong because everyone agrees that it is wrong, not because it is objectively wrong. When I talk to people in our republic about the nature of truth and probe for their understanding of it, the social construct theory is by far the most frequent explanation people give – especially young people.

What are the implications when we abandon the objective truth of divine revelation? There are many, for sure. Here are five implications that have struck me recently from various events in our culture. Of course, not everyone who believes in the absence of revealed or objective truth would express these five perspectives in belief or action; many are blessedly inconsistent. However, these are consistent with the position and are increasingly evident:

Might makes right. The truth is established by the 51%. Thus, political and judicial processes must establish […]

The Tender Heart of the Mother

For your encouragement in anticipation of Mothers’ Day, the following are the reflections of D. S. Faris on his mother Nancy Faris (1806-1881) upon her death. Earlier this week, this article highlighted her husband. In a biographical sketch, her son wrote of her life, including her industrious nature and business savvy; these selected paragraphs sample his praise for her motherly virtue. She raised seven sons and one daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord. May the Lord continue to raise up such mothers:

Her talk to the children was from the heart to the heart. Besides teaching them the catechisms she gave them practical lessons about heaven, hell, God and Christ, justification and good works. From her lips I first learned the sinfulness of sin, and that self-righteousness will not justify.

It is the mother that makes the coming man. Her husband may be the pattern, but she does the molding and finishing. So long as there are sterling mothers, we can be sure of the coming generation. But the decay of womanly virtue brings the wreck of morality and manhood. It may be that woman did her best when she contented herself with giving to the world sons and daughters brought […]

Faris Way, Bloomington, IN 47408

In April 2015, the trustees of Indiana University named a road within its athletic complex on the Bloomington campus “Faris Way.” The land on which Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall sit is that of the historic Faris family farm. James Faris (1791-1855), my great-great-great grandfather, originally owned the land. More than sixty years ago, the trustees’ minutes instructed that “in view of the fact that this land has been the Faris homestead since the original entry, the name ‘Faris’ be preserved by so designating a street or other part of the proposed development” (October 23, 1954). The street name was promised in negotiations when the state condemned the farm through eminent domain against the will of the family to construct the stadiums.

When I was five years old in 1982, my father took me to a Syracuse versus Indiana football game at Memorial Stadium. From the stands, he pointed at the land all around the stadium and told me that this land had belonged to my namesake but had been taken. That night, I was instructed to remember this injustice and the abuse of governmental power against God-given liberty.

Today, the street name Faris Way seems fitting and will serve as poignant reminder […]