Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Lydia McGrew: we need an army of tentmakers

Lydia McGrew has a post up at What’s Wrong With the World blog that is just excellent. (H/T Apologetics315)

Excerpt:

Apologetics is wonderful and incredibly important. It’s a wonderful thing that a revival of specifically evidentialist apologetics is happening in the United States and even, to some extent, in the Anglophone world at large.

Unfortunately, this revival of interest in apologetics and in being Christian philosophers is coming at a very bad time, economically. Even if you are a genius, your chances in 2013 and following of getting a stable job by the route of going to graduate school in philosophy (or almost any area of the humanities) are pretty darned slim. If you’re not a genius, fuhgetaboutit. Nor were there ever all that many jobs in philosophy. It was always an iffy proposition, but it’s much worse now than it was even twenty years ago.

As for starting ministries, a poor economy makes it extremely hard to do that, too, because people don’t have as much disposable income to donate. Moreover, even in a more robust economy, if all the eager young apologists were to flock to start apologetics and/or campus ministries, they would be competing among themselves for a finite number of available dollars from donors. So that’s not the best idea either.

Let me speak very bluntly here: In my opinion, God doesn’t need a whole raft of impractical idealists out there getting themselves into debt or half starving (or really starving) with no idea of how in the world they are ever going to support even themselves, much less a family, out at the other end of their education. That just burdens the church with a large number of able-bodied but needy Christians who are in a seemingly unending stage of transition, “getting an education for the kingdom” or “hoping to do work for the kingdom” without a viable plan in mind or any fiscal light at the end of the tunnel.

Instead, I believe that we need an army of tentmakers. If you have a job or a marketable skill, for heaven’s sake (literally), don’t quit that job and join the ranks of starving students. Keep your day job, but enrich your mind and prepare yourself to answer people’s questions about Christianity by studying on your own time. If you have entrepreneurial abilities and the capital, start a business. That will support not only yourself but others you employ, and if successful, you will have more money to give to Christian ministries.

But even if you aren’t the entrepreneurial type or don’t have that opportunity, at least make sure (to the extent that one can in today’s world) that you can pay the rent and put food on your own table as well as supporting whatever number of additional people you plan to take on. (In other words, if you are a guy who would like to get married and have children, bear that in mind.) This will inevitably mean spending time at all that distasteful stuff like networking and making a resume. Bookish types don’t enjoy that stuff, because it seems bogus, but it can’t be helped. It will undoubtedly mean, for most people, not being full-time students beyond the undergraduate level, especially not in the humanities, not trying to become full-time academics as a life work, and not going into full-time ministry, even if you would ideally like to do one or more of those three things.

In the end, if we can have this army of tentmakers, there will be (Lord willing) money to allow some people to work in full-time ministry. But it’s going to be quite a small proportion of those who are interested or would ideally like to do so.

[...]Inevitably, the course of action I am suggesting will mean a bifurcation for many between their day job and what they are most passionately interested in. So be it. Indeed, so it has ever been in the world. What proportion of people at any moment in human history have been blessed enough to spend most of their time working on what they are most passionately interested in? The question answers itself. So I think that bifurcation has to be accepted by a great many people and that doing so will lead to what I might call a healthier “Christian economy” among committed Christians than what we could otherwise end up with.

So let’s see her advice in bullet-point form:

  • The job market for philosophers is very bad
  • A bad economy means less support money is available
  • It’s important to have a plan to fund your  ministry
  • Leverage your full-time job to fund your ministry

I often find that when I talk to Christians, there is this sort of hyper-spiritualized way of deciding what to do. People read the Bible, which is good, but then they don’t tend to also look at things like economics, science and public policy. The Bible doesn’t say much about what to study or what job to get, but there is an example of Paul working at tent-making in order to fund his ministry. So there is precedent for the idea of learning a trade and working to earn enough money to support our families, our ministry and even other people’s ministries. I think we have an obligation to take the Bible seriously when it tells us what we can do to please God, but coming up with a plan to please God most effectively is our job. We have to make the plans to serve God. Our plans must be within the bounds of Biblical morality, but they should also reflect our knowledge of how the world really works, too. We’ll be more successful with a good plan and some hard work.

Be sure and listen to the podcast by J. Warner Wallace on this issue, and read my comments too (same post).

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

J. Warner Wallace: practical advice on becoming an effective one-dollar apologist

As promised, below is my summary of J. Warner Wallace’s most recent Please Convince Me podcast, and my comments.

Details:

J. Warner continues examining the Christian life in light of God’s desire for all of us to become Christian Case Makers. Jim reads listener email highlighting some of the typical frustrations involved in starting an apologetics ministry and then provides a template to help you become the Case Maker you’ve always wanted to be. Jim also answers the question: Why Didn’t Jesus Reveal Scientific Facts to Demonstrate His Deity?

You can grab the MP3 file here.

This episode is probably one of the best episodes of the Please Convince Me podcast I’ve ever heard, because it’s practical. I like listening to the cold-case detective talk about practical things.

Summary:

  • e-mail from someone trying to start an apologetics ministry for college students and facing difficulties
  • the challenge of getting Christians to take an evidential approach to their faith
  • tips for getting Christians exposed to apologetics materials
  • there are a lot of Christians who are making a daily contribution to apologetics even with a full-time job
  • Wallace himself started his apologetics ministry while working full-time
  • Wallace, as an atheist, was initially skeptical of religion because he thought it was too focused on money
  • His plan as an apologist was to take money right out of it – do it for free, and  be self-funded
  • 1 Cor 9: “But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision.”
  • People in ministry deserve to be supported, but Paul dispensed with that right to raise support for his ministry
  • Paul self-financed his ministry in order to avoid all appearance of doing his ministry for financial gain
  • Similarly, Wallace’s goal of being self-financed was to avoid the appearance of doing ministry for money
  • If you plan your life carefully enough in the first half, you’ll have the money you need to do ministry in the second half
  • Wallace wanted the liberty to pursue things without any financial need, and he achieved this by working full-time
  • The problem with money is that it often causes us to not cooperate well with other people
  • Ministries and churches sometimes avoid working with other people, like scholars and apologists
  • They do this because they are afraid of losing their own people to these scholars and apologists
  • Wallace wants to get the money out of it and be able to serve anyone with a need
  • Wallace: you need to work hard in the first half of life, in order to have freedom to serve in the second half
  • First area: financial preparation – you need to escape financial needs so that it doesn’t restrict your passion
  • Wallace married well, to a woman who was a good saver, very frugal, and not materialistic – he saved 30% of his income
  • Second area: need to prepare yourself educationally for being able to teach apologetics materially
  • That doesn’t always mean doing the MA in apologetics, but you do have master the material – continuous learning
  • Third area: try to focus on the parts of your career that might have some connection to apologetics
  • You want to have experiences in your work where you learn something that can be used in your ministry
  • Wallace actually made career choices to focus on evidence, case-making and teaching
  • It’s hard because men are naturally competitive – we focus on promotions, money and consumer goods
  • It’s not always the right move in your career to get promoted if it takes you away from skills related to apologetics
  • Christian apologists need to not neglect to develop leadership skills and to develop influence
  • He recommends a book called “Platform” by Michael Hyatt, which Doug Groothuis also recommended to me
  • If you are financially independent, then if an unpaid opportunity arises, you have the freedom to take it
  • You can volunteer for positions that you want to have, instead having to take what pays
  • Wallace writes for Breakpoint, and he is able to dispense with the 1000-word limit that gets a fee
  • Money opens up the danger of corruption, so it’s another reason to just take it out of the picture
  • You can be very effective in your apologetics ministry while still working full-time
  • The second half is a good time to have even more freedom because your kids are grown up
  • A good wife can really help you if she is picking up the slack so that you can work on your ministry
  • Jane Pantig works for Ratio Christi, an organization that promotes apologetics on campus
  • Jane’s model: she is in full-time ministry, with a BS in biology and an MA in apologetics (Biola)
  • Jane is able to get many high-quality speakers to speak for free/cheap at San Jose State University

The rest of the podcast deals a question that was asked at the San Jose State University event that Wallace did for Ratio Christi. I blogged about it this morning. I  laughed my butt off while listening to that podcast, starting at around 62:50 and on. It’s pretty funny when he does the role-pay between Jesus and the people listening to him.

My comments:

The reason I wanted to post this is because I think that a lot of people feel obligated to quit their jobs and raise support because they think that you have to do apologetics full time. It’s not true. Wallace explains that he worked as a cold-case detective until just recently when he took his pension. His pension is now underwriting his ministry. Similarly with me, I work a full-time job and run the blog out of my income. In addition, I probably donate a few thousand dollars each year to people who are organizing apologetics lectures, debates and conferences – events featuring speakers I like best.

This blog gets about 1 million page views per year, depending on the year (election years are better), so that’s not an insignificant impact. In addition, I meet a lot of young Christians in university in different countries who want advice or mentoring, so I spend a few hours here and there mentoring them, and sometimes sending them rewards (books) for doing difficult degrees at good universities and getting good grades. My full-time job helps me to do all of these things. And before I could have a full-time job in information technology, I had to put in the time and effort to get the Bachelor and Masters degree in computer science.

So I think that Christian men especially need to be thinking about how much the apologetics enterprise of a one-dollar apologist relies on money. We really need to be thinking about that early on, in high school, and choosing to study hard things and to do well in those hard subjects. The higher-paying jobs that are more secure tend to be in fields like science, math, technology and engineering. We need to be thinking of doing these courses in high school – especially the men, but also the women – in order to be able to pay for our apologetics ministry. In addition, my decision to not marry (unless I meet a woman who can support me in my plan) gives me even more freedom to work on my ministry while working full time.

I fully approve of what Wallace said about self-financing your apologetics ministry – and supporting other apologetics ministries – in order to avoid all appearance of self-interest. In fact, I have long admired Wallace for his intentional, practical way of doing his ministry. He doesn’t take donations, and he gives away tons of materials for free. I like that.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Economist Walter Williams blames school violence on secularism and moral relativism

Economist Walter Williams

Economist Walter Williams

My two favorite economists are Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell. Both are conservative or libertarian. Both of them happen to be black. But neither is especially outspoken about religion. But imagine my surprise when I read this CNS News column on gun violence in schools by Walter Williams, who I always thought was the more libertarian of the two.

Look:

When I attended primary and secondary school — during the 1940s and ’50s — one didn’t hear of the kind of shooting mayhem that’s become routine today. Why? It surely wasn’t because of strict firearm laws. My replica of the 1902 Sears mail-order catalog shows 35 pages of firearm advertisements. People just sent in their money, and a firearm was shipped.

Dr. John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” reports that until the 1960s, some New York City public high schools had shooting clubs where students competed in citywide shooting contests for university scholarships. They carried their rifles to school on the subways and, upon arrival, turned them over to their homeroom teacher or the gym coach and retrieved their rifles after school for target practice. Virginia’s rural areas had a long tradition of high-school students going hunting in the morning before school and sometimes storing their rifles in the trunks of their cars that were parked on school grounds. Often a youngster’s 12th or 14th birthday present was a shiny new .22-caliber rifle, given to him by his father.

Fathers? Children don’t grow up with fathers any more, 42% of the time. And why not? The feminists told us that men are evil, and that marriage is sexist. And the socialists told us that rewarding single motherhood was a good idea, because it makes women who don’t bother to get married before having sex more equal to those who do bother to get married first. But fatherlessness is a huge factor in criminal behavior, as I showed before.

Dr. Williams continues:

What explains today’s behavior versus yesteryear’s? For well over a half-century, the nation’s liberals and progressives — along with the education establishment, pseudo-intellectuals and the courts — have waged war on traditions, customs and moral values. These people taught their vision, that there are no moral absolutes, to our young people. To them, what’s moral or immoral is a matter of convenience, personal opinion or a consensus.

During the ’50s and ’60s, the education establishment launched its agenda to undermine lessons children learned from their parents and the church with fads such as “values clarification.” So-called sex education classes are simply indoctrination that sought to undermine family and church strictures against premarital sex.
Lessons of abstinence were ridiculed and considered passé and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills and abortions. Further undermining of parental authority came with legal and extralegal measures to assist teenage abortions with neither parental knowledge nor consent.

Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette, not laws and government regulations, are what make for a civilized society. These behavioral norms — transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings — represent a body of wisdom distilled through ages of experience, trial and error, and looking at what works.

The importance of customs, traditions and moral values as a means of regulating behavior is that people behave themselves even if nobody’s watching. Police and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct so as to produce a civilized society. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. The more uncivilized we become the more laws that are needed to regulate behavior.

Many customs, traditions and moral values have been discarded without an appreciation for the role they played in creating a civilized society, and now we’re paying the price. What’s worse is that instead of a return to what worked, people want to replace what worked with what sounds good, such as zero-tolerance policies in which bringing a water pistol, drawing a picture of a pistol, or pointing a finger and shouting “bang-bang” produces a school suspension or arrest.

See, now that’s a smart libertarian. Smart libertarians understand that liberty depends on people being aware of the design of the universe, and the objective moral obligations imposed by that design. If we don’t promote institutions and people that help us to explore the design of the universe, then we are going to have to rely on big government to regulate us instead of regulating ourselves. What we’ve done instead is make impossible to speak about the reality of God and the reality of objective morality in schools, or in any other public place, for that matter. Hearing about God and morality is just too offensive to people who want to put their own selfishness above the moral law.

Similarly, libertarians should not be pushing for promiscuity, abortion and same-sex marriage, either. Intact families are necessary for raising the next generation of citizens to be well-adjusted, law-abiding and productive. Marriages are more stable when the participants are chaste and/or abstinent for a period of time early in the relationship. And children do better when raised by a mother and a father, and less well in other arrangements. Either we feel an obligation to control our own desires and make a plan for marriage success, so that we can provide children with a stable nurturing environment, or the government will have to control the anti-social behavior of fatherless children.

Thomas Sowell has posted a more traditional argument against gun control, in the extremist left-wing UK Guardian, of all places.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What North Korea teaches Christians about the importance of politics and economics

Christian apologist Frank Turek writes about it at Townhall.

Excerpt:

When I hear Christians saying we ought not get involved in politics but just “preach the Gospel,” I show them this satellite picture of the Korean peninsula. Here we see a homogenous population of mostly Koreans separated by a well-fortified border. South Korea is full of freedom, food and productivity—it’s one of the most Christianized countries in the world. North Korea is a concentration camp. They have no freedom, no food, and very little Christianity.

What’s the primary reason for the stark difference between these two countries? Politics. The South politically allows freedom, while the North does not.

Ironically, Christians who shun politics to supposedly advance the Gospel are actually allowing others to stop the Gospel. How so? Because politics and law affects one’s ability to preach the Gospel! If you think otherwise, visit some of the countries I have visited—Iran, Saudi Arabia and China. You cannot legally “preach the Gospel” in those countries—or practice other aspects of your religion freely—because politically they’ve ruled it out as they have in North Korea.

In fact, politics affects virtually every area of your life through the laws made by government. So if you care about your family, business, church, school, children, money, property, home, security, healthcare, safety, freedom, and your ability to “preach the Gospel,” then you should care about politics.

Politics affects everything, which is why leaders throughout the Bible—including Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, John the Baptist, and Paul— “went political” to influence civil governments to govern morally. Even Jesus himself got involved in politics when he publically chastised the Pharisees—the religious and political leaders of Israel—for neglecting “the more important matters of the law.”

[...]But what can Christians do? After all, we can’t legislate morality, can we? News flash: All laws legislate morality! Morality is about right and wrong and all laws declare one behavior right and the opposite behavior wrong. So the question is not whether we can legislate morality, but “Whose morality will we legislate?”

[...]When we fail to legislate morally, others impose immorality. For example, totalitarian political correctness is already imposed in states such as Massachusetts where the implications of same-sex marriage override the religious liberties of businesses, charities and even parents. As documented here and illustrated here, same sex marriage prevents you from running your business, educating your children, or practicing your religion in accord with your Conscience. And soon, as is the case in Canada, you may not be able to merely speak Biblically about homosexual behavior. That is because those who say they are fighting for “tolerance” are often the most intolerant.

Unless Christians begin to influence politics and the culture more significantly, we will continue to lose the very freedoms that enable us to live according to our beliefs and spread the Gospel all over the world. That’s why you should not vote for candidates because of their race or religion, but because they will govern morally on the more important matters of the law—life, marriage and religious freedom.

Dr. Turek says that some societies make it easier for us to carry out our responsibilities as Christians, such as evangelism. That’s true. But I want to make a different point from Dr. Turek related to the point that he made.

I get a lot of e-mails from people complaining that I spend too much time on fiscal issues, and especially on foreign policy. But I really think that Christians need to branch out and read widely about these issues, too. The more we know about everything, the better we will be able to connect what the Bible says to every area, and the smarter we will be at laying out plans for our lives and achieving the good goals we set for ourselves as part of our relationship with God.

It’s always better to know how things work. What good is it to say that you want to achieve some aim like helping the poor or making the world more peaceful unless you first study economics and foreign policy so that you will know how to achieve it? Many people try to achieve these goals by embracing policies that sound good, but they actually achieve the exact opposite ends that you set out to achieve.  If you want to drive a car to get somewhere, you must first learn how to drive a car. Why should faith be any different than anything else? Don’t take positions based on feelings or peer pressure, get informed and make a right judgment.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Would Ted Strickland or John Kasich be a better governor of Ohio?

Here’s a clip of Ted Strickland giving a speech to his Democrat supporters.

Here’s the transcript of Ted Strickland’s speech from the Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

“The Republican party has been overtaken by the zealots, by the extremists, by the radicals … and they don’t seem to like Ohio very much… And quite frankly they act like they don’t like America very much. They want to change our Constitution. They want to change Medicare. They want to change labor rights. They want to change this country in fundamental ways.”

Does Ted Strickland encourage businesses to remain in Ohio and hire workers in Ohio?

Let’s see:

Wow. 400,000 jobs lost in Ohio while Strickland was governor? He sounds as competent at encouraging job creation as his fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

Ted Strickland raised taxes on citizens of Ohio by 840 million dollars. He thinks he knows how to spend your money better than you do.

Social Issues

I wonder how Ted Strickland is on social issues?

Life News says:

In June of last year, Strickland upset pro-life Ohio residents by using his line-item veto to axe the section of the $1.3 billion funding bill banning state funds for cloning human beings.

Mike Gonidakis, the director of Ohio Right to Life, told LifeNews.com at the time, “By vetoing a ban on using taxpayer funds for human cloning, Ted Strickland has demonstrated that he supports treating human life as a commodity.”

“Most Ohioans don’t share Governor Strickland’s cavalier disregard for the value of human life and they should not be forced to pay for its creation, exploitation and destruction in cloning research,” Gonidakis said.

In March 2007, Strickland feuded with pro-life advocates over his budget proposal that eliminated the $500,000 the state normally spends annually on encouraging kids to practice abstinence.

The governor said he would not apply for any more federal funds for abstinence education for future budgets.

In February 2007, Strickland would not fight to save an Ohio law that protects women from the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug which has killed seven women in the United States and injured more than a thousand more. With little fanfare, Strickland quietly dropped a legal effort to salvage a law that puts safety limits on the drug.

The Ohio state legislature previously approved a bill to bring the use of the abortion pill in Ohio in line with Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

During his tenure in Congress, Strickland had a strong pro-abortion voting record while Kasich compiled a strongly pro-life record.

Ohio Right to Life says:

Ohio Right to Life today announced its endorsement of a slate of pro-life candidates seeking elected office statewide. The pro-life organization picked Rob Portman as its endorsed candidate for the U.S. Senate and named John Kasich as its endorsed candidate for governor.

[...]Marshal Pitchford, the chairman of the Ohio Right to Life Society Board of Trustees said the pro-life movement in Ohio “is fortunate to have experienced and highly qualified pro-life candidates seeking the state’s executive offices.”

“John Kasich had an outstanding pro-life voting record during his career in Congress,” he said. “His running mate, Mary Taylor, is an articulate advocate of the right to life movement. As Governor and Lt. Governor, they will reflect the common sense and common decency of the people of Ohio.”

And he’s also lousy on traditional marriage and the rights of children to be raised by a mother and a father. He was opposed to the Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, and opposed to banning gay adoption in D.C. He’s a left-wing radical on social issues. Just like Barack Obama.

Right now, the Ohio governor race is a toss-up. I recommend that all my Ohio readers get out and vote for Kasich on election day.

 

n June of last year, Strickland upset pro-life Ohio residents by using his line-item veto to axe the section of the $1.3 billion funding bill banning state funds for cloning human beings.

Mike Gonidakis, the director of Ohio Right to Life, told LifeNews.com at the time, “By vetoing a ban on using taxpayer funds for human cloning, Ted Strickland has demonstrated that he supports treating human life as a commodity.”

“Most Ohioans don’t share Governor Strickland’s cavalier disregard for the value of human life and they should not be forced to pay for its creation, exploitation and destruction in cloning research,” Gonidakis said.

In March 2007, Strickland feuded with pro-life advocates over his budget proposal that eliminated the $500,000 the state normally spends annually on encouraging kids to practice abstinence.

The governor said he would not apply for any more federal funds for abstinence education for future budgets.

In February 2007, Strickland would not fight to save an Ohio law that protects women from the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug which has killed seven women in the United States and injured more than a thousand more. With little fanfare, Strickland quietly dropped a legal effort to salvage a law that puts safety limits on the drug.

The Ohio state legislature previously approved a bill to bring the use of the abortion pill in Ohio in line with Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

During his tenure in Congress, Strickland had a strong pro-abortion voting record while Kasich compiled a strongly pro-life record.

 

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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