Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Can a person be a committed Christian while ignoring apologetics?

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, or check on the schedule for her local sports team, “the Vicariouses” (she has tickets for Thursday). Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cubicle. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research papers. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and teaches night classes for a well-known university. She earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives an expensive car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays every night, because it helps her to get sleepy before bed. She gives lots of money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to very small children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels five times! She even has a calendar filled with nature scenes and itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bible verses posted on her office wall at work! Judging from all of these facts, you might expect Eve to get in on that conversation with Alice and Bob, and set them straight.

But she won’t. Why not?

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

  1. God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of – she is a genius and has amazing entrepreneurial skills.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.
  2. Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.? She’s heard these questions about God’s existence and character all through high school and into university and then now in her career. Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to prepare a defense? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to acknowledge God before men? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says that all authentic believers in Jesus will suffer a little for their faith?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two good things would follow:

  1. Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.
  2. Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor?

Questions for my readers

Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this? Why is this not being addressed by churches?

Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics? Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above? My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?

I’m not saying we all have to be geniuses. I am just saying that we should put as much effort into learning apologetics as we put into learning school stuff and work stuff.

Note: I picked these names because there is a running gag in computer network security where these names are used to describe the actors. Eve is the eavesdropping hacker, get it?

I’m not the only one who is concerned

Christopher Copan Scott commiserates on Facebook:

On several occasions while bringing up the importance of apologetics for not only the individual believer, but the church as a whole, I am instantly responded with an improper definition of faith that somehow excludes reason, and thus apologetics should not be used.

Or, some may respond that the use of apologetics shows that we (those who advocate for the use of apologetics) value man’s word over God’s (that’s probably the funniest claim out of the bunch).

Few do express a spark of interest, yet seldom act upon it. These people respond enthusiastically initially, but never attempt to involve themselves in reading, listening to debates, or actually downloading the podcasts I recommend, etc.

Lastly, I do find myself enjoying dialogue, at times, with atheists more than Christians. This is especially true when it comes to philosophical matters, since most Christians I converse with simply don’t care for philosophy.

Now, why is this so?

The reasons are manifold.

For one, (as Moreland talks about) the church is filled with empty selves. Christians desire that which entertains them, and have difficulty being able to reflect deeply on abstract ideas. So they would readily delve into sensational books, then read something that challenges them and takes careful thought.

Also, I think Christians often equate disagreement with hostility. It’s almost as if once one disagrees about a certain proposition, then you are therefore cantankerous and want to break the unity. Thus, in order to preserve this (facade of) unity, Christians wont allow rational disagreement.

For these reasons and many more, I’m genuinely anxious about how the different bible studies at my future college will be. In spite of my attempts to kindly and respectfully disagree on certain points during dialogue with Christians, my motives are often misinterpreted and Im labeled as the argumentative kid who thinks too much.

Okay, Im done.

I’m not the only one who is suffering with these experience, it seems.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

J. Warner Wallace’s surprising advice to stop apostasy among young Christians

J. Warner Wallace has posted his recommended plan to halt the exodus of young Christians from Christianity during college.

It’s all up at Cold Case Christianity.

Excerpt:

In my last post, I summarized the studies and publications that describe the flight of young people from the Church. A compelling cumulative circumstantial case can be made to support the fact that young college aged Christians are walking away from Christianity in record numbers. What can we do about it? What can be done? Whenever people ask me this question, I always say the same thing. STOP TEACHING YOUNG CHRISTIANS. Just stop it. Whatever Christendom is doing in its effort to teach it’s young, the effort appears to largely be a failure. In fact, Ken Ham (in his book, Already Gone:Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It) found that young Christians who faithfully attended Bible classes were actually more likely to question the authority of Scripture, more likely to defend the legality of abortion, same-sex marriage, and premarital sex, and more likely to leave the church! What’s going on here? I think I know. It’s time to stop teaching our young people; it’s time to start training them.

There’s a difference between teaching and training. Training is teaching in preparation for a battle. Boxers train for upcoming fights. In fact, boxers are sometimes known to get fat and lazy until the next fight is scheduled. Once the date has been signed, fighters begin to train in earnest. Why? Because they know that they are going to eventually get in the ring and face an aggressive opponent. We train when we know we are about to encounter a battle. Imagine for a moment that you are enrolled in an algebra class. If the teacher assured you that you would never, ever be required to take a test, and that you would pass the class regardless of your level of understanding, how hard do you think you would study? How deeply do you think you would come to understand the material? How committed do you think you would be to the material?

[...]Years ago, as a youth pastor, I started taking annual trips to Salt Lake City and Berkeley. Why? I was scheduling theological and philosophical battles to help prepare my young Christians for the larger looming battle they would someday face on their own. If you want to teach your young people theology, there is no better method than to put them in direct contact with people who believe in a very sophisticated heresy. Mormons use the same terminology as Christians but deny the basic tenants of our faith. In order to dialogue with Mormons effectively, we first have to understand what we believe. When we train young people in preparation for an evangelism trip to Salt Lake City, we give meaning and purpose to the content of our teaching. In a similar way, our evangelistic trips to Berkeley (where we contact notable atheist speakers and atheist groups on campus) require us to prepare ourselves to answer the myriad of atheistic objections we will inevitably encounter. Once again, the content of our teaching in preparation for this trip takes on purpose and meaning when we know the level of our understanding will eventually be tested.

Read the whole thing. Wallace has experience working with young people, and lecturing on apologetics here at home and abroad. He understands young people because he has had to deal with them. Even if you don’t agree with them, it’s an interesting view. Would the church really turn away from being inward-focused and rooted in blind faith and emotional singing, and re-invent their approach so that it takes the other side seriously?

By the way, this is something I like to use in my mentoring of young people and in courting women as well. If I am trying to choose someone to work on, my first questions are always about what they do for a living, what they’ve studied, who in their lives is a non-Christian. I am always looking for people who have some opposition to Christianity in their lives, because it’s those people who have a motivation to learn. I am always surprised how naive pastors and worship leaders and youth pastors are about the opposition to Christianity in the world. They seem to be in their own little happy bubbles, never coming out to deal with people who disagree with them. I think the problem is that they often think that Christianity is not about truth but about feelings, and so no work needs to be done to defend any truth claims.

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

Christian valedictorian tears up censor-approved speech and recites the Lord’s Prayer

From WXII 12 local news, a story from South Carolina.

Full text:

A school district under pressure to keep prayer out of meetings and gatherings got an unexpected delivery from one high school valedictorian

Saturday, at Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum, Liberty High Valedictorian Roy Costner IV took his speech to the podium, and in front of the crowd, tore it up.

John Eby, Pickens County School District spokesman, said, “They write their speeches. They send them to someone on staff to have them approved.”

But Costner clearly had something else in mind.

After speaking for a few minutes, he thanked his parents for leading him to the Lord at a young age, and then he said, “I think most of you will understand when I say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…” as he began to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Much of the crowd broke into tentative applause that then grew into cheers that nearly drown out Costner’s voice as he continued the prayer.

Brian Hoover, who is from Liberty and attended the graduation, said, “You couldn’t even hear him doing the prayer anymore because everybody was clapping and cheering.”

Costner finished, pointing his finger in the air for emphasis, saying, “For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen,” followed by more cheers and applause.

Hoover said, “From the ACLU sending FOIA requests to every district in the state this year after the Chesterfield County case, then the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent us a complaint about religion at board meetings and some other issues as well. That is why the reaction to the prayer at graduation was loud.”

The district says there will be no repercussions because of the prayer.

Costner was out of town on Monday, but he said he added the prayer to the speech because God is the biggest part of his life.

According to a school publication, “Costner plans to head to Clemson University in the fall to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. He said he hopes to work as a computer programmer overseas, but has dreams of saving up enough to come back and start a chain of restaurants in the U.S. He said computer programming was an interest he picked up outside of school as he developed a local news website, “Liberty Speaks.”

In the publication Costner is quoted as saying: “I have big ideas for mobile applications, and even for starting a new social network, but I don’t have the knowledge to pull it off yet.”

It warms my heart to see a good, brave Christian man take up computer science, where he should be able to find work in spite of the politically correct censors he might find on campus.

Here’s the verse that should scare anyone about what exactly it is that Jesus expects from his followers:

Matthew 10:32-39:

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,

33 butwhoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 

35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 

36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 

39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

That’s why he did what he did. He had to do it to honor God instead of pleasing godless men.

In other news, the ACLU, which opposes free speech that secular leftists find offensive, is also in favor of sex-selection abortions and race-selection abortions. I wonder which is more offensive? Free speech or killing a baby because it is the wrong sex or the wrong race? That’s what the ACLU stands for: sexism and racism and fascism.

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

Was Hitler a Christian? Is Nazism similar to Christianity?

One of the strangest things I have heard from atheists is the assertion that Christianity is somehow connected to the fascism, such as the fascism that existed under Adolf Hitler. Two posts by Jewish author Jonah Goldberg from National Review supply us with the facts to set the record straight.

Let’s start with the first post.

Here are some of the points:

1) Hitler wanted Christianity removed from the public square

Like the engineers of that proverbial railway bridge, the Nazis worked relentlessly to replace the nuts and bolts of traditional Christianity with a new political religion. The shrewdest way to accomplish this was to co-opt Christianity via the Gleichschaltung while at the same time shrinking traditional religion’s role in civil society.

2) Hitler banned the giving of donations to churches

Hitler banned religious charity, crippling the churches’ role as a counterweight to the state. Clergy were put on government salary, hence subjected to state authority. “The parsons will be made to dig their own graves,” Hitler cackled. “They will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes.”

3) Hitler replaced Christian celebrations with celebrations of the state

Following the Jacobin example, the Nazis replaced the traditional Christian calendar. The new year began on January 30 with the Day of the Seizure of Power. Each November the streets of central Munich were dedicated to a Nazi Passion play depicting Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch. The martyrdom of Horst Wessel and his “old fighters” replaced Jesus and the apostles. Plays and official histories were rewritten to glorify pagan Aryans bravely fighting against Christianizing foreign armies. Anticipating some feminist pseudo history, witches became martyrs to the bloodthirsty oppression of Christianity.

4) Hitler favored the complete elimination of Christianity

When some Protestant bishops visited the Fuhrer to register complaints, Hitler’s rage got the better of him. “Christianity will disappear from Germany just as it has done in Russia . . . The Germanrace has existed without Christianity for thousands of years . . . and will continue after Christianity has disappeared . . . We must get used to the teachings of blood and race.”

5) Hitler favored the removal of mandatory prayers in schools

In 1935 mandatory prayer in school was abolished…

6) Hitler favored the banning of Christmas carols and nativity plays

…and in 1938 carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely.

7) Hitler abolished religious instruction for children

By 1941 religious instruction for children fourteen years and up had been abolished altogether….

And now the second post.

8) Hitler opposed the ideas of universal truth and objective moral absolutes

…Just as the Nazi attack on Christianity was part of a larger war on the idea of universal truth, whole postmodern cosmologies have been created to prove that traditional religious morality is a scam, that there are no fixed truths or “natural” categories, and that all knowledge is socially constructed.

Practically everything this man believed was 100% anti-Christian. But he fits in fine on the secular left.

Conclusion

Adolf Hitler was a man influenced by two big ideas: evolution and socialism. His party was the national SOCIALIST party. He favored a strong role for the state in interfering with the free market. He was in favor of regulating the family so that the state could have a bigger influence on children. And he favored the idea of survival of the fittest. His ideas are 100% incompatible with Christianity and with capitalism as well. Christians value individual rights and freedoms, small government and the autonomy of the family against the state. The differences are clear and significant.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Woman uses gun to defend herself and her children from home intruder

From WSB-TV in Georgia. (H/T Pro-Existence)

Excerpt:

A woman hiding in her attic with children shot an intruder multiple times before fleeing to safety Friday.

The incident happened at a home on Henderson Ridge Lane in Loganville around 1 p.m. The woman was working in an upstairs office when she spotted a strange man outside a window, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He said she took her 9-year-old twins to a crawlspace before the man broke in using a crowbar.

But the man eventually found the family.

“The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,” Chapman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. He said the woman ran out of bullets but threatened to shoot the intruder if he moved.

“She’s standing over him, and she realizes she’s fired all six rounds. And the guy’s telling her to quit shooting,” Chapman said.

[...]In February, Slater was arrested on simple battery charges, according to the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. He has been arrested six other times in the county since 2008.

And here’s what makes this story interesting to me:

Kavanaugh was the first reporter at the scene as deputies investigated. The victim’s husband told Kavanaugh he’s proud of his wife. He was on the phone with her as the intruder broke in.

“My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as responsible, prepared gun owner,” Donnie Herman said.

He said he’s thankful for his family’s safety.

“Her life is saved, and her kids’ life is saved, and that’s all I’d like to say,” Herman said.

I think that this last part is important. I have many reasons for being cautious about marriage in a time like this. Marriage is a particular thing and there are certain jobs that men and women need to perform in the marriage. Society can either support them or hinder them in those roles. Married men are supposed to be protectors, providers and moral/spiritual leaders in the home, but some laws and policies can hinder their ability to do those roles. For example, high tax rates prevent men from providing, by decreasing economic growth and decreasing take-home pay. Similarly, laws that regulate, ban and criminalize self-defense deter marriage-minded men from marrying. In the UK, homeowners are regularly arrested, tried and convicted for defending their property and family from criminals.

If I were to get married, I need to be able to defend my family. That means owning weapons and being legally protected to use them. Although gun regulations and bans are very popular with single women, I think that this is just another areas where single women need to change their view. Single women have to understand that marriage is a lot more complicated than “happily ever after”. There are specific tasks to perform in marriage. Each parent is suited to different tasks. Single women need to change their views to support policies that are marriage-friendly.

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