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The Truth About Sexual Assault

Blog Header - Guest PostApril is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In this guest post, Justin Holcomb shares some important statistics related to sexual assault in our country and around the world. He and his wife, Lindsey, are the authors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault, which is currently on sale via Crossway Impact (paperback - $5.00; e-book – $0.99).

It’s More Prevalent Than You Think . . .

Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, it’s clear that at any given time, hundreds of assaults are happening around the world.

The number of occurrences of sexual assault is staggering. It affects millions of women, men, and children worldwide. Unfortunately, the prevalence of sexual assault in the United States is difficult to determine because the crime is greatly under-reported. However, the statistics are still overwhelmingly high: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

These statistics are probably underestimates

Some victims have been sexually assaulted from when they are a few days old, and some are in their 90s. People can be assaulted regardless of their color, race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, sexual preference, education, class, occupation, ability, or disability. Sexual assault is a frequent phenomenon and is a common experience for many women and men.

Startling Statistics

Approximately 80% of victims are assaulted by someone they know (relative, spouse, dating partner, friend, pastor, teacher, boss, coach, therapist, doctor, etc.).

Most victims of sexual assault are female. African-American women are assaulted at a higher rate than white women and are much less likely to report it and get help.
According to the Bureau of Justice, women 16 to 19 years old have the highest rate of sexual victimization of any age group.

The National Center for Juvenile Justice reports that one out of every seven victims of sexual assault (or 14% of all victims) reported to law enforcement agencies was under the age of 6 and that approximately 70% of the victims knew their offender.

Sexual assault can occur in marriage and between dates and friends. Researchers have estimated that sexual assault occurs in 10-14% of all marriages. Studies estimate that incest is experienced by 10-20% percent of children in the general population.

15% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 12, 29% are ages 12-17, and 80% are under the age of 30. The highest risk years are ages 12-34, with girls ages 16-19 four times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault.

Most victims of child sexual assault knew their attacker: 34.2% of assailants were family members, 58.7% were acquaintances, and only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. Of child sexual abuse victims, approximately 10% of victims are 3 and under, 28% are between ages 4-7, 26% are between ages 8-11, and 36% are 12 and older.

Childhood and Adult Sexual Assault

There is a high association between sexual abuse as a child and sexual assault occurring to the same individual in the future. Adults who experienced childhood abuse are at an increased risk of adult re-victimization. Childhood sexual assault is especially common among sexually assaulted men and women (61% and 59% respectively).

Women who were sexually assaulted as children were at least twice as likely to be assaulted in adulthood. The statistics regarding male victims are even more dramatic. Men who were sexually assaulted as children are five times more likely to be assaulted in adulthood.

Unreliable Reporting

With regard to the reporting of sexual assault, there are two major issues to consider—false-reporting and under-reporting. While under-reporting is a major concern, false-reporting is not. In reality, false reports are quite rare. The figure often used by sexual violence experts for estimating falsified reports is 2%, which is a slightly lower rate than when looking at other types of crimes.

Given the horrific nature of sexual assault and the shame it brings to victims, it is not shocking that it is one of the most underreported crimes. The fear of intrusive and re-victimizing court procedures prevents many sexual assault survivors from reporting their assaults. Most sexual assault victims choose not to report their assaults. According to the FBI, sexual assault is “one of the most under-reported crimes due primarily to fear and/or embarrassment on the part of the victim.”

Why It Matters

Despite our inability to paint a complete picture of the prevalence of sexual assault, statistics can help us better understand just how many people are suffering from the trauma and distress following an assault. These statistics also show us who the victims are. The need for care is great.

Pastors and ministry leaders need to know about the disgrace many people are experiencing. Sadly, the odds are high that you or a few people in your life are victims of sexual assault.

The good news is that assault does not have to have the last word on victims’ lives. Yes, abuse is part of the story. But it need not be the end of the story.

The message of the gospel redeems what has been destroyed and works grace out of disgrace.

Justin S. Holcomb (PhD, Emory University) is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology, philosophy, and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife are the coauthors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault and Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence.

Midweek Roundup – 4/23/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.

1. Darrell Bock reviews Joy for the World by Greg Forster

By living a life that reflects human flourishing, the church witnesses to her God and to life. The challenge is to live like the exiles we are, citizens of heaven who contribute to the good of the society in which we live. So we are to incarnate the presence of God within or society and help to build a city in how we engage and serve those around us through our job and our involvement with our neighbors. This assumes an approach that does not withdraw from society but engages in it.

2. Wayne Grudem highlights 5 wrong questions to ask when drawing doctrinal boundaries

It is important to add that there are some questions that should not be part of our consideration in deciding which doctrinal matters to exclude with new boundaries. These are questions such as the following:

1. Are the advocates my friends?
2. Are they nice people?

3. Stephen Altrogge interviews Kevin DeYoung

Did you go through a period of mourning when MSU was eliminated from the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

You don’t even want to know. I was so frustrated. It really felt like our worst game of the year. I don’t know why we kept doing the weave up top and never drove the ball or fed the rock to Payne. This was our year to win the tournament. But hats off to the Huskies. They were the best team over the last six games. I’m just glad we could go to church after the Spartans lost on Sunday afternoon. That put things in perspective.

4. Jen Wilkin warns of the assumption we cannot afford

Church leaders, I fear we have made a costly and erroneous assumption about those we lead. I fear that in our enthusiasm to teach about finances, gender roles, healthy relationships, purity, culture wars, and even theology we have neglected to build foundational understanding of the Scriptures among our people. We have assumed that the time they spend in personal interaction with their Bible is accumulating for them a basic firsthand knowledge of what it says, what it means, and how it should change them. Or perhaps we have assumed that kind of knowledge isn’t really that important.

5. Aaron Armstrong reviews Evangelism by J. Mack Stiles

If there’s one thing Stiles wants you to understand, it’s this: evangelism is not about programs or events. It’s not a technique or a specific kind of response. Many of our problems creating a healthy culture of evangelism stem from a lack of a biblical foundation. We count declarations of faith, hands raised, cards put in a bag, people walking down aisles… but do these things really mean anything? Maybe, but maybe not.

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Books,Midweek Roundup,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

An Interview with Vern Poythress

Blog Header - Interview

In this interview, we talk with Vern Poythress, professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His newest book is Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events.

Why write a book about probability and chance?

I had several reasons. First, everyone has to face unpredictable events in life. We talk about “chance” events. These include both happy events and disasters. Where is God in such things? I wrote the book partly to respond to this practical question, and to give people a biblical basis for dealing with what they find inexplicable. God does not give human beings all the answers. Much remains mysterious. But the Bible does provide a path that deeply ministers to people who have to deal with disasters.

In writing the book I had in mind other questions as well. In an earlier book, Redeeming Science, I focused on the area of scientific law, which concerns the regularities in God’s providential government of the world. I realized in looking back at that book that I had not addressed at any length what we are to think about the unpredictable aspects of the world. I believe we need to think through a distinctively Christian approach to what is not predictable or “irregular.”

Additionally, the idea of chance plays a key role in mainstream thinking about Darwinian evolution. In many people’s thinking, chance becomes a substitute for God. So the issue of what chance is needs addressing. The issue of chance also has broader relevance to science as a whole. Experimental science relies on repeated experiments. But when an experiment is repeated, the results are never exactly the same. Experiments contain what are called “statistical variations,” variations in the details of the data. In analyzing these variations, scientists rely on the theory of probability. So assumptions about chance and probability underly all of science, not just the mainstream account of Darwinism.

Finally, a lot of wonderful insights can be found in the scientific and mathematical treatment of probability. These insights reveal God’s glory, and we can learn to praise God for what he has given us in this area.

How should Christians talk about seemingly “chance” events in light of God’s sovereignty?

The Bible indicates that God is in charge not merely of general patterns in history, but all the details. Jesus says that “even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30). When we study the Bible carefully, we find that God controls all things, including what seems to be “chance” or “random” events.

However, we must humbly acknowledge that we often do not know God’s purposes. Even at the end of the Book of Job, Job did not receive a detailed explanation about why all the disasters had happened to him. God calls us to trust in him: he can bring good out of evil, just as he did in Joseph’s life (Gen. 50:20) and in the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:23; 4:25-28).

In the introduction to your book, you recount a story in which your family was nearly involved in a serious car accident during a road trip. This leads you to pose a challenging question: “If I am ready to acknowledge God’s control when my family escapes an accident, should I also acknowledge that God is in control when someone else suffers from an unpredictable tragedy?” How would you answer?

On the basis of the Bible, we should say that God is in control of all things, even disasters. This is a hard truth for many people. Certainly we should acknowledge the depth of human suffering. The suffering is real and the human struggles are real. We should “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). Jesus wept when he came to Mary at the time of Lazarus’s death (John 11:35).

A time of tragedy is typically a time to grieve and sympathize with the grieving (Eccles. 3:4), not offer a doctrinal lesson that may sound unfeeling or detached. At the same time, God’s control gives us hope that he can bring good out of evil. In his faithfulness, God sustains people who cannot see ahead.

You maintain that evolutionary naturalism is a philosophy because “it is a speculation that goes far beyond normal science and scientific evidence.” Can you elaborate on this point?

Evolutionary naturalism is the view that all forms of life came about through merely material processes, with no guiding purpose at any point. But the narrow study of material causes can never legitimately make a pronouncement about God’s involvement or God’s purposes in the processes. And scientific study ought not say that there can be no exceptions, that is, events in which God acts in surprising ways.

Many pronouncements made these days in the name of science use the successes of science and the prestige of science as a platform from which to advocate the principle that there are no purposes and that God is absent. But such pronouncements represent a form of philosophy; the advocates of materialistic philosophy are importing their own assumptions into their interpretation of the scientific data.

I’ve heard that you’re a fan of American football. How should the doctrine of God’s sovereignty impact the way Christians watch football (or any sport)?

Sports and individual games take place according to the sovereign will and plan of God. Because of this, I believe that our enjoyment of them should also take the form of thanksgiving to God. We should also thank him for the details of particular games. We can admire the particular athletic gifts and dedication that God has given to individual athletes and teams.

As in many other areas of life, God’s control does not undermine human activity or the excitement of a game whose outcome we do not know and whose outcome depends on many individual events that we cannot predict. Additionally, God’s sovereignty does not imply that he morally approves everything that happens (e.g., bad sportsmanship or cheating).

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing a book entitled, The Miracles of Jesus: Signs of Redemption, and shepherding through to publication A Handbook for Biblical Interpretation.

Vern S. Poythress (PhD, Harvard University; ThD, Stellenbosch University) is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he has taught for over 30 years. In addition to earning six academic degrees, he has written numerous books on biblical interpretation, language, and science, including Redeeming Science, Redeeming Sociology, Logic, and Chance and the Sovereignty of God (excerpt).


April 22, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Books,Life & Doctrine,News & Announcements,Q&A,Theology | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Taking God At His Word Giveaway


The Book

Can we trust the Bible completely? Is it sufficient for our complicated lives?

These are important questions that we all wrestle with at some point in our walk with Christ. That’s why Kevin DeYoung wrote Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me.

After reading DeYoung’s new book, David Platt had this to say: “My trust in God’s Word is greater, my submission to God’s Word is deeper, and my love for God’s Word is sweeter as a result of reading this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

Learn more about the book, read an excerpt, and download the free study guide!

The Prizes

As we launch this important new book, we’re giving away some great prizes to encourage you in your reading of God’s Word.

We’ll pick 17 random winners who will each receive one of the following three prize packages:

1. A Kindle Fire HD + 5 Kevin DeYoung e-books: Taking God At His WordCrazy BusyThe Hole in Our HolinessWhy Our Church Switched to the ESV, and What Is the Mission of the Church? (2 winners)

2. A premium goatskin ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible (brown or black) + a print copy of Taking God At His Word (5 winners)

3. The ESVBible.org Gospel Transformation Bible Web App (10 winners)

How to Enter

To enter the drawing, simply tell us what book of the Bible has meant the most to you over the past 6 months in this brief survey by May 4th.

That’s it!

IMPORTANT DETAILS: Only one entry per person. Entry must be received by midnight on May 4, 2014. Must have a valid U. S. mailing address to win.

April 21, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Books,Giveaways & Contests,News & Announcements | Author: Matt Tully @ 8:45 am | Comments Off »

Christ in All of Scripture – Isaiah 11:1-5



Isaiah 11:1-5

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”

God never abandoned Israel, promising that amid the apparently destitute land there remained “the holy seed” found in a stump (Isa. 6:13). Coming forth from the line of David (Isa. 11:1), this “root of Jesse” would signal to the nations a new reality (Isa. 11:10).

At Jesus’ baptism, as he rose out of the water, the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the Gospel writers appear to connect this event with the messianic expectations of Isaiah (see Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; cf. Isa. 11:2, 61:1). Here is the true fulfillment of this expectation, as the one conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) grows in wisdom, understanding, and counsel, so that “his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:3; cf. Heb. 5:7–9). These words provide one of the most profound definitions of “the fear of the Lord” in the Old Testament. We hardly have a modern word equivalent to this Hebrew word for “fear.” The word cannot simply mean “terror,” because God’s people are called to love their Lord—impossible if they only live in terror of him. Many theologians, therefore, substitute words such as “awe” or “reverence” for this Old Testament use of “fear.” Such words help our understanding, but this passage (Isa. 11:2–3) reminds us that Christ will “delight” in the fear of the Lord. So, we are made to understand that the loving regard that the eternal Son has for his Father is the fear of the Lord. This is not merely reverence for divine power but is proper regard for all that God is: just, holy, powerful, wise, loving, compassionate, and merciful.

Contributing to this “proper regard” are Isaiah’s prophecies of the new world order. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, all who believe in him become a part of this promised new creation. With the coming of this “stump of Jesse” a radical shift in the way of the world is expected: chaos will turn to harmony, fear to laughter, death to life (Isa. 11:6–9). We who are new creatures in Christ joyfully participate in the work of the kingdom that we anticipate (Isa. 11:4–10), seeking reconciliation in Jesus’ name by pursuing peace, justice, creation care, and life-promoting goodness (cf. Deut. 26:13). In part we do this by putting on the full armor of God, first truly worn by Christ (cf. Isa. 11:5) but now given to us by his Spirit. In so doing we wage the battle not against foreign political powers but against “the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). Echoing the words of Isaiah, we are encouraged to stand, to put on the “belt of truth, and . . . the breastplate of righteousness,” being ready “by the gospel of peace” to hold up “the shield of faith” and the “helmet of salvation,” fighting back with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:13–17).

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.


| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Books,ESV,GTB | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:36 am | 0 Comments »