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Why We Are Against Abortion

Why We Are Against Abortion

On Friday, June 24, at 10:10 AM the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Row vs. Wade, reversing the legalization of abortion on demand across the United States. The issue of abortion is now the legal responsibility of our state legislatures. If you were alive on September 11, 2001, you remember where you were when the planes struck the towers. That was a bad day. The striking down of Roe marks a good day and a one to remember.

While this topic has our attention, I want to spend that attention in a particular way. Others have done a good job celebrating this legal victory and I heartily concur. As one friend put it, this decision may not lead to an unmitigatedly good world, nevertheless the overturning of Roe vs. Wade is an unmitigatedly good decision and a reason to celebrate. Hats off to those who have labored in the trenches of counseling, picketing, campaigning, persuading, and praying for this day.

While I have your attention, though, I want to write something evergreen for our church that we need both now and down the road. I want to answer the question, “why are we against abortion?”

Isn’t that obvious for a church that confesses that all humans are made in God’s image? Yes. Still, I’m convinced that if we do not self-consciously rehearse the deepest reasons for our opposition to abortion, we will grow vulnerable to bad arguments, unimpassioned indifference, and even quieted embarrassment for our position. In fact, because of how pervasive worldly philosophies are, some of us may have already adopted these bad arguments. (1Tim. 6:20, Col. 2:8). Without working hard to think in clear ethical and strategic terms rooted in Scripture, we may even fall to “nuanced” false moral equivalencies between the legal protection of the unborn and affordable healthcare or criminal justice reform. There is a term coined to describe those with pro-life convictions who have grown weary of speaking and acting for the unborn: “fetus fatigue.”

One leg of the marathon is over with the reversal of Roe. Another leg begins with our work at the state level. Lest we get tired or buy the trope popular among some in the Christian leadership class that abolishing abortion is a pipe dream, let us answer the question “Why are we against abortion?”

There are at least four reasons.

First, abortion is the murder of a human being.

Abortion is a legally complicated topic. Yet abortion is frequently pitched as a morally complicated topic. What is the point of viability? What were the circumstances of the conception? It’s true that we care about all the people involved, including the mother and father. Two questions, however, make the ethics of abortion surprisingly simple.

The first question is this: when do human beings begin? The answer is straightforward from the Bible, and it is clear in nature. In Psalm 139, David reflected on God’s intimate knowledge of every part of his life, even his life in the womb. With David each of us can say, God “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (139:13). Biology teaches us that Homo sapiens begin at the meeting of egg and sperm with the creation of an entirely new organism, unique with its own DNA. Given a proper environment and time, that organism contains within itself all that is needed to direct its own growth from that moment until death. In other words, embryos are not a part of the woman’s body or a parasite. Rather, an embryo is a distinct human being. Standard biology textbooks agree. Many in the pro-choice community are happy to grant this view of human life, though we don’t hear that position much in popular media.

But if many in the pro-choice community are happy to grant the basic humanity of unborn life, then how can they also be for abortion?

For this reason, we need to answer a second question: what makes human beings special? We step on ants, and we eat cows. Why not human beings? One view says that human beings are valuable for the kind of thing we are as human beings. This is what Christians hold, and we believe it to be so because, as Genesis 1:27 reads, “God created man in his own image.” A two-year-old girl, a handicapped boy, and an accomplished violinist share the same humanity and, thus, the same human dignity.

To understand the alternative view, the acronym, “SLED,” comes in handy. This view holds that human beings are more or less valuable depending on their size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. When an argument for abortion is made based on viability, the logic of dependence is at work. An argument for partial birth abortion assumes an argument from environment. Where the human being is determines whether the human being is worthy of life. Princeton Professor of Bioethics, Peter Singer, recognizes the superficial difference that environment makes and so he advocates for infanticide, the killing young children. Humans, in this view, are not valuable for the kind of thing they are but for the kind of human they are.

But not only is abortion the murder of an infinitely valuable human being, abortion is the violent murder of a defenseless human being. Differences in size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are reasons for a special measure of care.

We are against abortion because we are for human life, and especially human life in its most vulnerable stage.

Second, we fear God and praise his life-knitting glory revealed in the womb.

Listen to how David felt about the scope of God’s sovereignty over his life:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
—Psalm 138:14-18

Meditation on God’s pervasive knowledge and care for us is a reason for wonder and praise. For that reason, it should be no surprise that our Bibles are filled with the violent death of children, for God’s enemy, the Devil. We can’t help but think of Pharaoh’s order for the Hebrew sons to be thrown into the Nile (Ex. 1:22). Yet, as the story goes, “the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them” (Ex. 1:17).

What happens in the womb of a woman is not really about what happens in the womb but in heaven. It’s about a woman and her baby and the life-knitting hand of God. When our hearts are in the right place, we revel at God’s masterpiece in humanity and revile the assault of abortion on his handiwork.

We are against abortion because we fear God, and we are for the display of his life-knitting glory.

Third, we believe in the societal good of male and female bodies, of marriage, of sex, and of children.

These things are good, they are good for society, and they are integral. They go together and they are designed to go in that order. That’s what we learn from the first two chapters of the Bible.

Here’s my favorite tweet after the fall of Roe: “Women will begin making pre-sex demands. Legally binding agreements with economic safeguards built in. Probably even expecting expensive jewelry and diamonds!”

Abortion has occupied an essential place in the moral matrix of American life for many years. Advocates for abortion speak about abortion as a “choice.” Human autonomy is one principle driving the ideology of abortion. Yet, an even stronger driver is equality. That is, the equality of the sexes. Bracketing for a moment the present confusion over what constitutes a woman, there are real life consequences to the biological fact that women have a uterus and men do not. When a man and a woman come together, a man impregnates, and a woman gets pregnant.

Abortion has been a way for men and women to engage in marital or extramarital sex without the natural consequence of bearing a human life. Abortion, with its denial of the goodness of the female body has been bad for all of us, but especially for women and children. Abortion has contributed to the pulling apart of children from sex, of sex from marriage, and of children from their parents.

We are against abortion because we are for the blessings that flow from the proper enjoyment of God’s good gifts.

Finally, we love our neighbors and long for sinners to come to repentance.

This reason is not peripheral.

Heaven will be populated with abortionists, with those who aborted their children, and every other kind of sinner who looked to Christ for forgiveness and for righteousness. But no one will be there who did not first see and confess the reality their sin and guilt before God. Feelings of guilt are good, a sign that our consciences are sensitive to eternity. Telling the truth about abortion is telling the truth about God and humanity and sin. Telling the truth about sin is one hard step on the way to the blessing of repentance and faith and eternal life.

We do not love our unbelieving neighbors by speaking only of sins most decent people are comfortable denouncing: lying, cheating, spousal abuse, and child trafficking, for example. Just read some of the stories of 26 women who committed abortions, published a few years back in New York Magazine. Some of these women have been hardened. Many of them are haunted. All of them, we know, need the grace of God—grace which is greater than all of our sin. Satan assaults the glory of God through abortion. He manipulates and uncritically affirms our felt needs and tortures those whom he has enslaved. Being honest about the evil of abortion is an important first step toward knowing the love of Christ for those who would commit an abortion.

Yes, speaking against abortion and acting on behalf of the unborn means that some—even many—harden in their opposition to our cause for the unborn, and even our Savior. But such is the case with any sin, no matter how gracious our presentation. Jesus’ own preaching blinded some while it gave sight to others. That’s how the Word works.

We are against abortion because we are for babies, we are for the glory of God, we are for the good of our neighbors, and we are for the salvation of sinners.

Keep up the good works

The expression, “Keep up the good work,” is a way of doing two things: celebrating good work and cheering on more of the same.

Brothers and sisters, good work. You have prayed. You have counseled in crisis pregnancy centers and campaigned for laws and leaders that advanced this cause. You have read and studied and taught one another about life. You have promoted marriage. You have adopted children. You have persuaded mothers to keep their children with tenderness, truth, and practical help. You have done the good work of caring for the vulnerable, just as Christians have always done. You have advocated for life in many ways over many years. In all of this, you have walked in the good works prepared beforehand by our Father.

Good work. Praise the Lord! Keep it up.

Social Justice, Pride Month, and The Two Parent Home

Social Justice, Pride Month, and The Two Parent Home

Social justice is something we’ve discussed in our preaching over the years. I’ve proposed that it’s not a helpful descriptor if we want to think and communicate in clear biblical terms. It’s overloaded with conflicting meanings. It’s also associated almost entirely in our public discourse with governmental redistributive programs aimed at resolving disparities of one kind or another.

In the last number of weeks we have heard sermons from two of the Bible’s famous chapters as it concerns human sexuality and sin, one sermon from Leviticus 18 and another from Leviticus 20. These chapters dealt with adultery, men laying with men, siblings with siblings, and on and on. In an age when the only moral principle directing sexual behavior is that of consent, these chapters stun. They were given to Israel not as a comprehensive theology and ethic of human sexuality but to protect her on entry into the land of Canaan where these practices were the norm.

Yet standing behind these prohibitions and punishments is the precious gift of our bodies, of marriage, and of human society. Basic to God’s plan for our flourishing and his glory is our behavior in bed. If we we’re going to use the terminology of social justice, then we need to speak about sexual sins, about marriage, and about children and family.

With this as background, I want to commend two articles to you.

Article 1: “Welcome to Pride Month, Christian”

In this piece, “Welcome to Pride Month, Christian,” Carl Truman helps us see that “social justice demands our opposition to [pride month’s] celebration and symbols.” He is calling out a contradiction here, as you may pick up. Some of this is tongue in cheek, a rhetorical calling out of those who have given themselves over to a new Phariseeism on one topic or another who are nevertheless quiet on this one. Even if you’re not privy to that discussion, you may be shocked in a good way at Trueman’s plainspokenness. It seems we have gotten used to frank moral demands on some topics but overly couch or avoid them on others. It’s important to ask ourselves, “why do I feel like I should say this?” or “why do I feel like I can’t say that?.” Carl’s piece is a kind of tune up for your justice sensibilities.

Here’s an excerpt:

If anybody wants to understand what is happening to the public square in America—indeed, if anyone wants to know how America, or at least her ruling class, wishes to understand itself, they need look no further than Pride Month. If the arrival of the Pilgrims, the founding of the nation, and even the contribution of Martin Luther King Jr. receive no more than 24 hours on the national calendar, the LGBTQ+ alliance has an entire month to party in the streets. And this street party is enabled by the countless commercial ventures that post rainbow flags in their windows and on their websites.

. . . But there is a silver lining here. Pride Month does offer those Christians who are passionate about social justice a chance to reassure those of us who fear their commitment to such is always tailored to appeal to the broader tastes of the day. For if Confederate flags and statues are deemed social justice issues by many (a point with which I am sympathetic), how much more so is the rainbow flag? The use of the rainbow symbol should be particularly egregious to Christians. It is the primary instrument by which the LGBTQ+ movement asserts its ownership of the culture. And it is the means of telling those of us who dare to dissent that we should have no place in the public square anymore. It tears at God’s creation order and design for family relations and social stability. And it is also a blasphemous desecration of a sacred symbol, taking that which was intended as a sign of God’s love and faithfulness and of our dependence upon Him and turning it into an aggressive symbol of human autonomy and sexual decadence.

Read the full piece. Read more from Trueman at World Opinions and First Things. For Trueman’s book-length work on the present cultural confusion, pick up, Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution.

Article 2: “The Power of The Two-Parent Home”

If Trueman’s piece gets its force from its rhetoric, this next piece gets its force from its research. On a different but related topic, Kevin DeYoung has written an important journal article: “The Power of The Two-Parent Home.” Less critique in this case and more construcive. We need both.

He offers his own caveats, which any pastor will want to do. We love and support single mothers and fathers and recognize the diverse ways in which those circumstances come about. But the reason we need to acknowledge them is precisely because the single-parent home is an exception to the good norm the Lord established at creation. The two-parent home is one of the most needful and yet neglected topics in the public conversation about social good. Thomas Sowell has written for years on this topic in his work, for example, on Discrimination and Disparities. Kevin’s piece includes his own footnotes to recent studies along with a good example of theological and ethical reasoning. 

Here’s how DeYoung begins:

Humanly speaking, there is nothing more important for personal well-being, positive social behavior, and general success in life than being raised by one’s biological parents committed to each other in a stable marriage. Over the past forty years, a vast body of research has demonstrated conclusively that children are deeply affected by family structure and that married parents are best for children. Any efforts — whether governmental, educational, or ecclesiastical — that mean to encourage human flourishing must take this reality into account as both an explanation for many societal ills and as a means to the end of hoped-for societal health and vitality.

Family life in America has changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. In 1960, 73% of children lived with two parents in their first marriage. By 2014, less than half (46%) of children were living in this type of family. Conversely, the percentage of children living with a single parent rose from 9% in 1960 to 26% in 2014. An additional 7% of children now live with cohabiting parents. Moreover, the increase in non-traditional family arrangements has coincided with the decoupling of marriage and childbearing. In 1960, just 5% of all births occurred outside of marriage. By 2000, around 40% of all births occurred outside of marriage (a percentage that has held steady over the last twenty years). As of 2014, 29% of births to white women, 53% of births to Hispanic women, and 71% of births to black women were out-of-wedlock. In the span of only 60 years, what were once considered exceptional family circumstances have become the norm.

Kevin traces the social implications of these trends and ends by expanding on four suggestions:

  • First, pastors, Christian educators, parents, and church leaders need to do more to teach on this subject.
  • Second, we ought to encourage public policies that make pro-child marriages more attractive and less healthy family arrangements more difficult.
  • Third, we should consider how we have normalized behavior that harms children and does not lead to human flourishing.
  • Fourth, unless called to singleness for kingdom purposes, we must encourage Christians to get married, have children, stay married, and raise those children in a stable two-parent family. 

Read the full piece, or listen Kevin read it at his podcast, Life and Books and Everything.

Are God’s Wrath and God’s Love Compatible?

Are God’s Wrath and God’s Love Compatible?

D.A. Carson has written a helpful book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. Kristi gave me this book when we were dating, actually. It was our six month anniversary. Now, twenty years and about two weeks later, I commend it to you.

The occasion for this recommendation is, of course, Sunday’s sermon from Leviticus 20, “What can we learn from the Bible’s shocking judgments?” This chapter brought us up close and personal with some of the Bible’s most shocking judgments. For example, stoning for child sacrifice (which perhaps sounds reasonable) but also the death penalty for adultery (which may give us pause). There is an important biblical theological context for these commands. Remember that Adam was banished from the garden for his sin. These laws concern Israel’s life when she enters the land of promise, a new Eden. In short, the comfort we can take in Leviticus 20 is that there won’t be any such sin in the new creation. Where does that leave us, sinners that we are? Trusting only and wholly in the perfect advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, our propitiation for sin (1Jn. 2:1–3).

Chapters like this raise tensions not only in the question of how any of us can be saved, but a tension in the question of who God is in himself. Is he wrathful or is he loving? Aren’t these descriptors mutually exclusive? Is this just one of those mysteries we have to accept? Yes, we must accept it if that’s the Bible’s portrait of our God, a God beyond all comprehension. But that doesn’t mean we are left without any sense of coherence in our picture of God. 

For help with that question, Don Carson has served us well on pages 67–70 in his chapter, “God’s Love and God’s Wrath.”

Carson on the difference between wrath and love:

“Wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God. Rather, it is a function of God’s holiness against sin. Where there is no sin, there is no wrath-but there will always be love in God. Where God in His holiness confronts His image-bearers in their rebellion, there must be wrath, or God is not the jealous God He claims to be, and His holiness is impugned. The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness.”

He continues, on the compatibility of God’s wrath and his love focused on the same person:

“God’s wrath is not an implacable, blind rage. However emotional it may be, it is an entirely reasonable and willed response to offenses against His holiness. But His love…wells up amidst His perfections and is not generated by the loveliness of the loved. Thus there is nothing intrinsically impossible about wrath and love being directed toward the same individual or people at the same time. God in His perfections must be wrathful against His rebel image-breakers, for they have offended Him; God in His perfections must be loving toward His rebel image-bearers, for He is that kind of God.”

How God’s love redirects God’s wrath to save sinners:

“Both God’s love and God’s wrath are ratcheted up in the move from the old covenant to the new, from the Old Testament to the New. These themes barrel along through redemptive history, unresolved, until they come to a resounding climax – in the cross.”

As Carson has asked elsewhere, “Do you wish to see God’s love? Look at the cross. Do you wish to see God’s wrath? Look at the cross.”As with so many other doctrines, the theological tension leads to and finds resolution in the person and work of Christ.

Meet Our Spring Intern: Timothy Martin

Meet Our Spring Intern: Timothy Martin

We’re committed to investing in the gospel’s advance by investing in men who aspire to serve as vocational preachers and pastors. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). That’s our biblical strategy for finding and appointing elders here at Heritage, and for propagating the gospel beyond our walls.

With this in mind, meet our spring intern, Timothy Martin. Timothy is involved in a good bit of reading and writing, he’s joining our elders meetings, and he and I are meeting weekly over twelve weeks to discuss what he’s learning. You can read about the shape of the internship here

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Timothy would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

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Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this spring?

I’ve read a handful of books on what are commonly called “means of grace.” The “means” on the lists that puzzled for the longest time was when authors would mention “fellowship.” I had thought: “I talk and think out loud with fellow believers all the time and I don’t necessarily feel like it has contributed all that much to my growth. Is socializing something God really uses to mature Christians into Christlikeness?” Then I began to get a taste for it at my local church. Likeminded conversations with a single focus: on our Savior and His Word. I knew this internship—which is mostly about watching and listening—would allow me to be the fly on the wall for countless hours of fellowship with good and godly men. Men I could model myself after in every aspect of life. There’s an adage that no one man can ever supplement the work of your father, but the fellowship of many men can. Speaking of the church in Corinth, Paul bemoaned that while there were many teachers there were few fathers. I’m not Paul (I’m Timothy!) but I feel like the same cannot be said of Heritage Bible Church. I have many fathers in the faith here and spending more time with them and “catching” a bit of the grace that God has bestowed upon them has been my favorite part of the internship.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

That’s an exciting one. Because I’ve learned to view the “ordinary” and “normal” and “boring” process of growing up in a Christian home to be an incredibly exciting blessing. I grew up as a missionary kid. My parents had just concluded 15+ years in the country of Haiti. I was born right before they moved to Ireland. They were directly involved in two different church planting works while I was there. I can never think of a time where I wasn’t aware that there was a God or knew the vocabulary of the gospel as a consequence of that. There are very few Bible stories that I can recall hearing “for the first time” because on any given day of the week my parents were 1) holding family devotions, 2) using the Scripture to share the gospel with a stranger or neighbor, or 3) preaching and teaching in church. What took me a while was to see how this vocabulary of the gospel applied personally to me. I distinctly remember a time when I took the Lord’s name in vain and felt the crushing weight of the law. I didn’t know how to resolve it. I had this sin and this condemnation. And this condemnation had my name on it. Now, at the exact same time, I wanted to be a policeman. A few weeks later when we were on furlough in Florida, a police chaplain was speaking at one of our supporting churches. You better believe I was all ears. He used the judicial system as a metaphor for our condemnation before God and explained the gospel of grace in a way that made perfect sense to me. The Spirit stirred. I was drawn and given new life. I responded in faith.

Now I’m not even sure if I was four at this time. I was definitely younger than five. And this caused a lot of adults to whom I jabbered my testimony to doubt the validity of my faith. So, doubt set in. The church culture that I grew up in put a lot of emphasis on the choice of words and how much you “truly” meant it. And I didn’t really understand if God really accepted me. It got to the point where the doubt and anxiety was all consuming. I prayed for God to save me hundreds of times a day. Assurance came and went. At twelve years old I heard Dr. Steve Pettit—at the time a traveling evangelist—at our local church. He commanded the attention of any young people in the audience who struggled with assurance. He explained how faith was not a work. The work was done on the cross. It was in fact the work of Jesus that accomplished and secured salvation for me and no effort of my own. My salvation had been desired by God in eternity past and purchased at the cross. Faith was the response; God did the work. From that moment forth I felt liberated with confidence before God.

You’re a college student. You’re a member. You’ve made home at Heritage. Encourage our church with the story of how you came here and got involved. We want to be a church that welcomes college students and gives them a taste of heaven on earth, just what church should be.

Coming to Greenville was very disorienting when it came to church life. I knew that I wanted to have full membership in a church here because I would be here nine months out of the year at the minimum. A bunch of cogs all started moving at once to get me to Heritage. I visited the college group a few times my freshman year but had intentions to join another church at the time and eventually stopped attending. That situation didn’t work out. I came to know the Fraley family and they invited me to visit with them. They extended sincere friendship and hospitality to me, and it stuck with me after I left for the summer to work in Philadelphia. I emailed Dan Cruver to inquire more about the church and started attending in the Fall of 2019. Nicole Steinmetz (a fellow college student at the time) handed me the membership packet and told me to look through it and see if I was on the same page with Heritage. If I was, I should consider joining. Jared Jenkins (now a member of Heritage and a previous intern) challenged me to do the same thing. I was thrilled reading the Heritage Confession of Faith to see clear gospel centrality and the presence of Scripture on every page. The Confession was a breath of fresh air. It became clear to me that Heritage lived up the “Bible” in Bible Church. They wanted to be ambassadors of Scripture and not fill a particular niche or artificially uphold a certain church culture. I quickly became friends with Craig Olsen, the Deangs, Caleb Greene, Steve Hall, and a number of others. Long story short: Word-centered doctrinal standards got me in the door and warm fellowship kept me in the church.

And there have been so many good things since. The rhythm of weekly expository preaching has enriched my life deeply. A church atmosphere that is friendly to both purity of doctrine and expression of emotion has also deepened my love for the church. My teenage cynicism died at Heritage and a love for the church was born there. That love has also matured into loving the church back as best as I can. I have since taught in an adult elective class, worked as a sponsor in SIGMA for the past two years, babysat for members in the church, been a part of the preaching cohort, and irregularly filled in for Dan Cruver for the college class. Most recently I am interning. I’d love to continue deepening this fellowship with the church for years to come.

Now, what is the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

I hate choosing favorites so I’m going to cheat on both of these.

I want to give passing reference to Desiring God and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper because those are the two books that kept me in the Word and on the right path during a time of deep depression and confusion in high school. But the most influential book by far has been Roger Scruton’s The Soul of the World. My deepest questions have always been existential and philosophical in nature. I listened to this book soon after its release. I bicycled miles and walked many more miles listening to the audiobook in early high school. Scruton argues very persuasively for how our sacred communion with God is the fountain from which all other things which are true, good, and beautiful derive their meaning. Nothing else can satisfy. Nothing else can create civilizations that last. Either God is at the center or both individual and communal life devolves into meaninglessness. It was this philosophical treatise that “primed the pump” and allowed me to enjoy the deep devotional writings of Piper.

My friend Armen Thomassian is the pastor of Faith Free Presbyterian Church here in Greenville. I try to drop by and visit him a few times a year when I don’t have any evening obligations at Heritage. A sermon he preached entitled “Christ is All-Together Lovely” lit a flame in my imagination that hasn’t died since. I already knew all the ways that Jesus spoke truth. And I already knew all the ways that Jesus was good. But it helped me to see Jesus as beautiful in Who He is and all He does. That sermon changed the way I think and changed the way I feel. A sermon that changed the way I acted was our very own Dan Cruver’s exposition of Hebrews 4:14-16. It helped me figure out a theology of confession and how to ‘deal with’ sins that were already forgiven on the cross but are committed after salvation. Take them to the throne of grace! We have confident access to Jesus.

You’re in the middle of reading twelve books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

What is the Mission of the Church? by Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung. Why? Because it’s a homerun on every front. Tremendously clear and thorough exegetical work that proves in scenario after scenario how the church doesn’t need a savior complex but instead should spend its resources proclaiming the message of the Savior.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few weeks now. What have you observed and learned so far?

Biggest lesson? What an incredible elder team we have. Each personality and each life experience is knit together through prayer and love for the Word. I’ve had the unique blessing of sitting in on three doctrinal examinations for elder candidates. It was really fun to watch the entire room come together to lovingly challenge the candidates and keep them on their toes while also demonstrating great care and love for them. I’ve also learned that having a system for due process and Robert’s Rules of Order are useful for keeping everyone on the same page.

The laughter is loud, serious matters are handled with absolute delicacy and care, and the prayers are sincere. These men really care for and love every member of the church.

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

My long term goal (for the time being) is inner-city/urban church planting and pastoral training. I would love to do this either state side or internationally. Mark Vowels sold me on the importance of self-reproducing churches years ago and it has never left me since. So, long-term, I want to put my hand to the plough at helping work to establish churches that plant churches. My dream would be to spend twelve to fifteen years of my life in one such church in America, twelve to fifteen in Europe, and twelve to fifteen in the Middle East. Pray that God would continue to create in me the character and integrity required to serve as an elder in his church. Pray that God would give me the boldness to live out what I learn and that none of the Word’s indicatives would grow dull to me and that none of the Word’s imperatives would go unobeyed. As a vocation of equal importance, I also would really love to be a husband and father one day! I would love have children of my own and also participate in adoption or foster-to-adopt programs. So, pray that God provides a wife for me and that he would kindly grant me that particular wish of mine.

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I’ve been a loyal F.C. Milan fan for years and years and I am really sad that I miss most of their games at college. I have a forlorn love for Detroit sports.

I’m a soft-sciences/humanities guy through and through. I love linguistics, cartography (I like maps way too much), vexillology (I like flags way too much), literature, sociology, economics philosophy, poetry, and history. I’m the weird dude that finds reading Systematic Theology books and commentaries from cover-to-cover to be compelling reads. I hold a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do and would like to get back into it after I graduate. Mountain biking and road biking were my two main outlets for exercise in high school.

Welcome Keith and Kristyn Getty, Deep Songwriters for Deep Churches

Welcome Keith and Kristyn Getty, Deep Songwriters for Deep Churches

Deep. Happy. Faithful.

Those are three words that come to mind when I think about Keith and Kristyn Getty. 

I remember where I was when I first heard, “In Christ Alone.” This song takes the deepest truths to the deepest places. There’s something about the combination of text and tune that struck me. Keith and Kristyn are students of song writing. They try their hand at hundreds of melodies before committing an album of a dozen songs. Not me. I was just a Christian with a spiritual longing for Christ’s riches. I was also a youth pastor in St. Louis who was curating the best of old and new songs I could find for our youth group. That required some finesse back in 2003, pulling songs from albums recorded by collegiate song writers, such as Indelible Grace, and updating older hymns slightly since we weren’t piano led.

I wouldn’t have put it this way at the time, but we needed some people who were alive to write some new old songs—deep songs that would stand up for generations. We also needed some song writers who would devote their craft for the church’s singing. Americans mostly listen to music and that had become what we were doing in church. The American church also had an unhappy Hatfield-McCoy problem with “traditional” and “contemporary” music, poisoning some against guitars and drums and others against the piano and strings. The beauty of sung truth was getting lost in all that noise.

Then I went to a recital for one of my students at a neighboring church. Two teenage girls sang solos. One young lady sang a sensual rendition of a Top-40 praise song. It was weird but I think that’s just what she knew to do. Then a twelve year old middle schooler approached the stage. She was unassuming and simple. The piano started in and she sang “In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song.” This song was old and new, deep and accessible, solid and sweet. I chased down the authors on the recital order. They were indeed alive. The rest is history. Today at Heritage we sing some twenty-five of songs written by this couple, songs for every part of our service that magnify every facet of Christ’s work.

Keith and Kristyn are happy. How else could they so comfortably barge into our feeds with Family Hymn Sings from their living room during the pandemic each week? By God’s grace, they are also faithful to Christ and to his church. Their goal is not a musical career, or notoriety, or institution building. Their goal is to see the church sing her faith. It’s as if the American church needed a couple from Ireland–a singing people—to come help us sing. Singing is trending again, as it has from creation and as it will in the new creation. Churches have also warmed up on the role of music. As it turns out, when we prioritize the congregation’s voice, questions of genre and instrumentation become more fun and fruitful. There are lots of reasons for this, but one reason is the gift of new songs that work in different settings and which prioritize the congregation’s voice. The Gettys have helped us here.

We welcomed the Gettys to Heritage in 2018. The photo above is from the concert that ended a day of investment in area pastors and even our children.

They’ve got a beautiful new album of old songs and new in an artful mingling of Irish folk and American bluegrass. These songs tell our story and the music tells theirs. It’s called, Confessio. They’re with us tonight as part of their St. Patrick’s Tour for this album. Just like old times, we’ll sing “In Christ Alone.”

Join us in welcoming Keith and Kristyn Getty and their faithful team of musicians to Heritage.

Trent, for the elders