Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why do atheists like Dan Barker abandon their faith?

Unbelievable’s latest radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex. They dump Christianity in order to feel better about seeking happiness in this life, apart from God and his moral duties.
  2. They want to pursue happiness in irresponsible ways. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly while pursuing happiness. When God disappoints them by not giving them what they want in order to be happy, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with atheists, liberal Christians and other religions. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely and focus on making everyone feel good about whatever they believe.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true and to prepare to defend it in public, they dump it so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. (These are not his exact views)

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

I think he abandoned his faith because he wanted people to like him and because he needed to be invited to liberal churches in order to make money to pay for the “real life” needs of his family.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. He hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so that he would have been able to demonstrate to other people whether what he was saying was true. It’s hard to offend people when you don’t really know whether your claims are true or not, and when you don’t know how to demonstrate whether they are true or not.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would probably have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science so that I can refuse donations. I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

Barker didn’t seem to make any effort to deal intellectually with typical challenges like the existence of Hell and religious pluralism. He just wanted to be liked by people instead of being liked by God. He seemed to have thought that being a Christian would make him happy and that other people would all respond to him and like him without having to do any work to explain why Christianity is true. But that’s not Biblical. When the singing and preaching is over, you still have to know how to give an answer to non-Christians. But Barker couldn’t give an answer – not one that allowed him to retain his beliefs. He had not prepared a defense.

What does Dan Barker think about Christianity today?

Many atheists today are interested in eradicating public expressions of Christian beliefs in the public square, because they hate Christianity and believe that Christians should not be allowed to make them feel bad by exercising their rights of free speech. Is Dan Barker one of these militant atheists?

Well, take a look at this video, in which he objects to a nativity scene and demands that an atheistic denunciation of theism be posted alongside it. In the video, Barker explains that the nativity scene is hate speech, and that the baby Jesus is a dictator. He seems to be totally oblivious to the the idea that if Christianity is true, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s mean and exclusive. And this seems to me to have been his problem all along, from the day of his “conversion”.

So the real question is this: is it true? Barker seems to be much more interested in asking “is it nice?” and “will it make me happy?”.

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

Can prayer, Bible reading, church-singing and charismatic preaching stop Katy Perry’s apostasy?

I received an e-mail from a woman who was telling me to drop my list of 10 worldview questions and just look for a wife who reads the Bible and has feelings about Jesus.

She wrote:

My suggestion to you is to consider a top-down approach.  Just pray for God to send you your wife and pray that you recognize her immediately.  You don’t seem like you really want to remain single…and your children are missing out on having you as their dad.  Marriage is for children, remember?  I know several young ladies who know their Scripture and who love Jesus but who, I don’t think, would pass your test because, in my perception, they aren’t cerebral enough.

I get this e-mail a lot, especially from women who have married non-Christians or who are divorced. Now the whole point of the list of 10 questions is to detect women who are not going to help me to produce effective, influential Christian children. If I am going to spend north of $100,000 per child + tuition, then I expect to get some sort of return on that investment for God. That money doesn’t earn itself, and it needs to be well-spent serving God.

It’s my wife’s job to help me to do that. My goal in choosing a wife is to find a helper to make the relationship serve God. Otherwise, it’s better for God if I give that money that I worked very hard to earn directly to effective Christian scholars. I don’t have money to burn “playing house” with someone who is guided by her feelings. I can just give the money to Reasonable Faith or Discovery Institute instead.

Let’s take a look at two parents who aimed at nothing and hit it with their daughter. The two parents run a ministry that is based around passionate preaching, prayer and Bible verses.

Excerpt:

The Lord spoke to Arise International Conference host Mary Hudson to encourage women to reach their full destiny in Jesus Christ. He wants women to rise up as trailblazers, to think outside the box and be bold in Him, of course putting God first, your husband second and then your family!

Mary’s ministry of Arise! International holds annual women’s empowerment and leadership conferences in Hawaii, Belgium, Colombia, France, Switzerland, Denmark and the USA. The river of glory is rising and we must flow with it.

2012 promises to be a break-through year to Arise! in who you are in Christ. Lean on Him for direction, don’t look to man. Knowing the signs of the times and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit will be vital to being at the right place at the right time to reap the harvest of souls coming into the Kingdom.

Pray about being a part of Arise! this coming year. It just may be the meeting that propels you into the next level for your life. Remember, you are equipped with everything you need to fulfill your purpose. God’s assignments reveal your abilities and your capabilities, and He will provide both the potential and the provision to meet every assignment.

We call you blessed and highly favored!

I noticed that their “book store” offers nonsense books like this:

Keith Hudson “Looking and Seeing”:

Like this disciplined athlete, you need to learn how to look beyond your present situation and keep your eye on His Presence. God is ready to display His glory in your life as well in these last days, but it is going to take boldness for you to take the mask off and look at people and situations the way God sees them, not how man looks at them. What may stand in front of you may look too big for you to grasp; that what you see now is the way it’s always going to be. Or you look at the dream God has given you and think, “there is no way I can ever accomplish this with my resources at my age…” That is the moment you have to flip the switch from looking to seeing.

Mary Hudson “Smart Bombs”:

Smart Bombs is a book which will show you practically and with true life examples how to take God’s Word and let it explode strongholds in your life. When you read the Bible, He quickens particular passages or verses to your heart. You know it is God talking to you about your situation. Or when you receive a prophetic word, you sense in your heart this is speaking to you. But what do you do with these words when they bear witness with you? Let them fade away and disappear off of your memory? No, Smart Bombs shows you how to go on the offense with the anointed word of God, how to demolish strongholds and take back everything the enemy has stolen from you.

This easy read is a must for anyone who is looking for clarity on their destiny.

Keith Hudson “The Cry”:

The Cry will reignite you with new fire. Christians lose their passion when they let go of their zeal for God. We come into prayer meetings and we are so polished and perfected. But the Lord wants to hear the cry of your heart. The church has lost its cry: God is about to restore it. Why did the thirty people gathered for the Azusa Street revival have such a move of the spirit of God in their day? Because they had a cry in their hearts and in their prayers. The Cry will release a desperate longing in you for Gods intervention in your life. It goes way beyond your natural thinking into a spiritual hunger from your innermost being. When everything else has failed, a desperate cry touches the heart of God.

Now do you think that someone who reads books like that will produce the same kind of children as parents who read William Lane Craig, Stephen C. Meyer, Jay Richards, Michael Licona and Nancy Pearcey? Of course not. Because the Hudson books are fluff and the books by real Christian scholars are not fluff.

Now let’s read an article from Christian Post about what sort of child the fluff approach produces. (H/T Mysterious Chris S.)

Excerpt:

Katy Perry, the 29-year-old singer and songwriter, is revealing that while she prays she no longer identifies with Christianity.

“I don’t believe in a heaven or a hell, or an old man sitting on a throne. I believe in a higher power bigger than me because that keeps me accountable,” she told Marie Claire magazine recently. “Accountability is rare to find, especially with people like myself, because nobody wants to tell you something you don’t want to hear.”

Perry, who took the Billboard charts by storm with her hit song “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, told Marie Claire that she no longer considers herself a Christian despite being raised by Christian ministers.

“I’m not Buddhist, I’m not Hindu, I’m not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God. I pray all the time – for self-control, for humility,” she told Marie Claire. “There’s a lot of gratitude in it. Just saying ‘thank you’ sometimes is better than asking for things.”

Despite her decision to perform music that may seem controversial to the Christian community, the chart-topping singer has never shied away from crediting the Christian church for giving her a start as a performer.

“The atmosphere I grew up in was 100 percent Christian,” Perry said her “Part of Me: 3D” movie which was released last year. “I started singing in the church, I never really had another plan.”

Their daughter is writing songs to promote homosexuality to young people. That’s their legacy. The legacy of spiritual gifts, God opening doors of mysticism and charismatic anti-intellectualism. That’s what they are going to present to God as their spiritual legacy. I noticed that Mary Hudson is now calling her daughter’s celebrity divorce after one year of marriage a “gift from God”. Her daughter married a heroin-addicted leftist non-Christian – but he was hawt. Tall, dark, handsome and a famous comedian, too.

The list of questions I use when courting helps me to avoid marrying a woman like Katy Perry’s mother. She could not answer any of my questions. None of them. And what’s more, she doesn’t want to answer them. She wants to live her whole life without learning how to answer them. She wants to stick with her Bible, her singing, her feelings, her passionate oratory and her crowds of gullible people. I will not marry a woman like that. It produces disaster and failure. It produces anti-Christian children.

In fact, you can’t succeed at anything worthwhile in life using the Keith and Mary Hudson approach to parenting. You can’t do a thing with that approach. Not writing software, not fixing cars, not making investments, not sending a rocket to the moon, not even evangelizing an apostate daughter. You do not want to be a Christian man who pumps 30 years of hard labor into a family that produces apostate children. If you are going to spend the money, then make sure you get the results.

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

Why do atheists like Dan Barker abandon their faith?

Unbelievable’s latest radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex. They dump Christianity in order to feel better about seeking happiness in this life, apart from God and his moral duties.
  2. They want to pursue happiness in irresponsible ways. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly while pursuing happiness. When God disappoints them by not giving them what they want in order to be happy, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with atheists, liberal Christians and other religions. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely and focus on making everyone feel good about whatever they believe.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true and to prepare to defend it in public, they dump it so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. (These are not his exact views)

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

I think he abandoned his faith because he wanted people to like him and because he needed to be invited to liberal churches in order to make money to pay for the “real life” needs of his family.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. He hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so that he would have been able to demonstrate to other people whether what he was saying was true. It’s hard to offend people when you don’t really know whether your claims are true or not, and when you don’t know how to demonstrate whether they are true or not.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would probably have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science so that I can refuse donations. I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

Barker didn’t seem to make any effort to deal intellectually with typical challenges like the existence of Hell and religious pluralism. He just wanted to be liked by people instead of being liked by God. He seemed to have thought that being a Christian would make him happy and that other people would all respond to him and like him without having to do any work to explain why Christianity is true. But that’s not Biblical. When the singing and preaching is over, you still have to know how to give an answer to non-Christians. But Barker couldn’t give an answer – not one that allowed him to retain his beliefs. He had not prepared a defense.

What does Dan Barker think about Christianity today?

Many atheists today are interested in eradicating public expressions of Christian beliefs in the public square, because they hate Christianity and believe that Christians should not be allowed to make them feel bad by exercising their rights of free speech. Is Dan Barker one of these militant atheists?

Well, take a look at this video, in which he objects to a nativity scene and demands that an atheistic denunciation of theism be posted alongside it. In the video, Barker explains that the nativity scene is hate speech, and that the baby Jesus is a dictator. He seems to be totally oblivious to the the idea that if Christianity is true, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s mean and exclusive. And this seems to me to have been his problem all along, from the day of his “conversion”.

So the real question is this: is it true? Barker seems to be much more interested in asking “is it nice?” and “will it make me happy?”.

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

Why would God want us to praise him?

From Amy K. Hall, staff apologist at Stand to Reason. (H/T The Poached Egg)

Excerpt:

I was recently asked why God would want us to praise and worship Him. This is a question I hear every so often since we immediately assume that a person who demands praise is a pompous big-head. I think there are many Christians out there who secretly wonder about this—afraid to ask the question (lest they be thought unspiritual), but bothered all the same.

God is completely self-sufficient and doesn’t need our praise and worship. However, He does deserve it. Would you agree that it is right and good to praise someone who is worthy of praise? We instinctively know this and praise people for all sorts of achievements. We praise the people we love and admire, and it’s not right or good for us to withhold praise from them.

We all understand the concept of praise being due certain people. Imagine that you crafted an incredibly beautiful sculpture and won a prestigious award for your creation; but when the time came for the award ceremony, they gave the prize for your sculpture to the wrong artist! That would not be just, right, or good. In the same way, God—as the only being perfect in goodness, justice, love, etc.—is worthy of our praise. We do, in fact, owe Him that praise. He wants us to praise Him because it is right and good for us to do so. Since God wants us to do right and good things, of course he wants us to praise and worship Him.

Beyond the praise being right and good (and because of its being right and good), worshiping God also brings us joy and enhances our relationship with Him. We see this in human relationships as well—think of a man with his wife. Doesn’t it bring him great joy to praise her?

I think it it’s interesting to note that very often, non-theists try to explain things like the creation of the universe and the fine-tuning of the universe and the origin of life as being the result of blind forces. That is the opposite of praise – that is speculating about nature to avoid giving credit to nature’s Creator and Designer. They are trying to escape the obligation to worship by attributing the great miracles of God to no one, so they can be accountable to no one. This is not the kind of thought life that God looks kindly on.

One important result of studying the world, including science, is to be able to understand what God has done in the world and to give him appropriate recognition for it. It is part of being in a relationship with him that we know him and respond appropriately to his real character. The refusal to acknowledge God is one of the symptoms of rebellion against him.

Matthew 10:32-33:

 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

And this also appears in Luke 12:8-10:

8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

This passage is an early passage from Q, because it’s shared by Matthew and Luke, and Q is a source for those two early gospels. To get on the right side of this verse, it’s important to study what God has done, so you can give him the praise that he has earned. He wants to be acknowledged, and we want to hold up our end of the relationship and give him that acknowledgement. He did the deeds, and that means he should get the recognition for it.

One more thing I want to say about this. I see a lot of people singing songs about God in church, expressing praise for things they have no reason to believe that God has done. I think a good way to have authentic praise for God is to tone down the singing in groups and the emotional highs and the pretty buildings for a while, and focus on apologetics. Focus on learning the real stuff that God has actually done that we can know about – by studying science and history. In fact, it really scares me when I see young people singing and raising their hands and closing their eyes at church when I know good and well they have no intellectual grounding for these activities – it makes me feel like I am in some cult or something, surrounded by self-serving, fun-seeking weirdos.

You know that brings up an interesting question. What do you suppose would happen if I gathered together all the pastors and singing church people into a room and told them that we were going to do a scientific study of what God has done in nature, and a historical study of what God has done in history? My guess is that they would attack me, drive me out of the church, and go back to singing songs in groups with big musical bands and colorful lights in the ceiling. I think we need to guard against making Christianity about feelings and experiences and group gatherings, and make it more about knowledge. What has God really done that we can know about?

Let’s lay down a base of knowledge about God from nature and history, and then once we know he is real and he is good, we can talk about theology, and praising him for all of that. We don’t want what we do in church to be in anyway comparable to what non-Christians do in night clubs and concerts – gathering in groups and dancing around ecstatically. Blech! Christianity is about truth, not feelings.

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

Why do some Christians think that government should provide free meals to children?

First, read this story from the Korea Herald.

Excerpt:

After months of political dispute, Seoul citizens will decide on free school meals in a vote on Wednesday. The referendum will ask voters to choose between providing free meals to all school students regardless of income straight away, as favored by Seoul City Council, or gradually covering students from the poorest 50 percent of households, as backed by Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon. At least one third of the electorate must vote for the result to be valid.

The road to this point has been fraught with controversy and division. In protest of Seoul City Council’s decision to implement a universal meals program, Oh earlier this year boycotted council meetings for six months, prompting the council to accuse Oh of a “dereliction of duty.” On Tuesday, Oh put his political career on the line, promising to step down as mayor should his proposal fail. For Oh and many conservatives, the vote is a last bid to safeguard the city’s finances from welfare populism. To many liberals, the referendum demonstrates more about Oh’s political ambitions than his principles. Where their conservative peers see waste in a universal program, they see inclusiveness that avoids stigmatizing poorer children. But in the end, the voters’ voice will be the one that matters.

The article features two opinions, pro and con.

Here is the pro excerpt:

We cannot stand by and watch classmates be divided between the well-off and the less well-off, nor can we stand idly by as some children feel ever more left out, branded “poor” by their own peers, and all because of school meals. The constitution of Korea is very clear in its declaration that compulsory education ought to be free as well.

And here is the con excerpt:

Kwak begins: “If we harbor the idea of universal welfare …”

This justifies suspicions that the goal is to establish a universal welfare program, not just to help poor kids. “Welfare populism” has defined the current election cycle, with Korean politicians pushing and shoving each other out of the way to announce the latest “free” or “half-free” proposal: “Free” school lunches, “free” medical services, “half-tuition,” “free” childcare.

I obviously agree with the second opinion. These hard-cases are regularly used as a way to push through full-blown socialism. Even many Christians fall for this, and have been tricked into voting for left-wing activists who went on to enact many objectionable things like taxpayer-funded abortion, taxpayer-funded sex changes, taxpayer-funded day care, taxpayer-funded IVF, etc.

Why would Christians support government-provided meals?

Recently I was listening to an interview with an apostate on the Unbelievable radio show. She is a pastor’s kid, listened to Christian music, went on short-term mission trips to Haiti to help the poor, (but no apologetics conferences – eww, yucky!), and did all kinds of Christian activities that would not help her to pass my screening questions at all . I don’t think she was ever a Christian, because I don’t think this happy-clappy pastor’s-kid sing-in-church stuff is any indication of having a Christian worldview.

Anyway, her stated reasons for her apostasy were as follows:

  • I don’t like that people aren’t equal financially (she said she annoyed her father by wearing a pin that said “Jesus was a socialist”, which, of course, he isn’t – unless you decide these questions based on feelings not facts)
  • I don’t like that people are not happy (she talked about the problem of suffering, and was annoyed that God was failing to give people happiness, which she assumed was his job because of her impressions of God from her happy-clappy worship music view of Christianity)
  • I don’t like the idea of a God who could punish people in Hell for disrespecting his existence and character (because knowing God as a real person and caring about his character when you make decisions is such a drag on her autonomy and her need for peer approval)
  • I don’t like some things that Jesus says that are mean (her examples were all misinterpretations of the text that a preschooler could solve)
  • I don’t like where the Bible says that men and women have different roles (she claimed to be a feminist in the interview, which provides a clue about what really happened)

This reminds me of when Lewis Wolpert said in his debate with William Lane Craig that God didn’t help him find his cricket bat so he became an atheist. What sort of investigation of the truth of Christian theism is possible for people who became atheists in their teens? None. They do it because they don’t like rules, and don’t like how the real world doesn’t fit with their emotions and intuitions about what God should be like. They don’t want answers, they want emotions and intuitions.

Often, when people say “God doesn’t prevent suffering”, what they really mean is that God didn’t meet their personal expectations for making them happy. And when they say , “God doesn’t prevent poverty”, what they really mean is that God didn’t give me lots of money for acting irresponsibly. They believed that they could act recklessly and that God would make their  emotional flights of fancy work out somehow. Just read my post on Dan Barker: this is not at all out of the ordinary.The air of intellectualism and critical thinking that atheists put on come much later after the wounded narcissism.

Atheism starts with wanting to be popular or a missing cricket bat. Dan Barker sang songs for most of his life – he was an uneducated man. He was in no position to become an atheist for intellectual reasons. As a young man, he invented a God in keeping with his fundamentalist praise and worship songs, and then he expected his golem-God to make him happy – which it didn’t. He rejected his caricature of God because it didn’t produce the expected benefits. If God can’t be what they want – happiness provider, money provider – then they quit. They are not in it to serve – but to be served.

I see this a lot where people choose to have romantic relationships with non-Christians, and it doesn’t work out. Instead of taking responsibility for breaking the rules while trying to get happiness, and realizing that Christianity isn’t there to make them happy, they blame their Santa Claus caricature of God for not giving them what they want.

And that’s why Christians support government-funded meals. They have this idea that God ought to be in the business of providing for our needs. Many of them fall away from the faith and become socialists when those expectations about God fail to prove out. So they look to government to change the world into something it isn’t. They have an intuition that the world should conform to their happy expectations. When God fails to deliver, they become atheists and turn to government as the solution to their problem. But is happiness really the goal of life?

Do Christian socialists really understand what Christianity is about?

But back to the government-provided school meals. Undoubtedly, this apostate socialist feminist from the radio show would favor the government taking over the duties of parents to feed their children.

But she isn’t alone. I would think that many Christian women also express delight at the idea of the government using family money to “help the poor”. I’ve heard opinions like this from a number of Christian women. They just think that Christianity is consistent with a secular government confiscating wealth and redistributing for secular purposes. Because Christianity isn’t about things like evangelism and private charity – it’s about people of all religions feeling good regardless of what they think about God. It’s also about people who make reckless and/or immoral decisions getting money from the government to make the consequences go away.

Christian socialists think that it’s better for a Christian family to give up their money and lose their ability to share the gospel as they meet the needs of others. Let government do it instead, and let government get the credit for helping the poor. The main point of Christianity, they think, is making people feel good regardless of what they believe and how they act – by means of wealth redistribution by a secular state.

Christianity is not about the equalization of wealth by government, or the elimination of suffering, or allowing people to be reckless and immoral and then feeling happy about what they’ve done. Christianity finds meaning in suffering – look at the example of Jesus – and Christianity is concerned with knowing God and making him known to others, and respected by others. Many Christians reject the real goals of Christianity and substitute alternative goals – and that’s why they are so open to socialism.

Christianity is about loving God and loving your neighbor. To love God you have to know him, integrate his values with your decision making and priorities. Loving your neighbor doesn’t mean shoveling money at them regardless of what they know about God or how bad their decisions are. Giving to your neighbor in the Bible is a private matter – not a government-run redistribution operation. You give SO THAT the recipient gets the better of your input and judgment.

The government in Canada hands out drug needles, and pays for abortions. Is that what Christianity is about? If it isn’t, then stop being suckered by extreme case sob stories and voting to hand more and more money to the government. They will never spend it as well as you will – so long as you think that how you spend money is ALSO under the authority of God. Many Christians don’t.

Are Christian socialist women ready for marriage and family?

To me, I take socialist convictions as if the woman is saying that she doesn’t want her husband to be the leader in the home, she wants to diminish his purchasing power, increase the uncertainty of his job, add to the national debt her children will pay, and to empower the government to get into the business of making more and more citizens dependent on the government instead of being dependent on parents or independent as adults. Many of these women also favor welfare for single mothers, and a whole host of other social programs.

Money that husbands earn is family money, not government money

One of my friends on Facebook who is a pro-life capitalist feminist (not a Christian) wrote this to me as a summary of how to understand what a woman means when she expresses support for government to provide meals to children so that they will be equal:

How about, “I want my husband to give his money to women who didn’t marry the fathers of their babies, rather than keeping it in our family.”

I, for one, am tired of children being used as bludgeons and shields by the Left to argue against any actual repercussions for their actions. While I don’t think that children should go hungry, and I can’t work up much anger at a state-funded (not federal-funded) school lunch for poor kids, but… reality is that parents work their butts off to give their kids advantages. My father didn’t work 80 hour weeks for someone else’s kid (well, he gives away a lot of time and money, but that’s his choice); he did it so that his four kids could have a stable life, food on the table, and college educations. Not so that some other brat he’s never met could have all of that.

Isn’t it amazing that non-Christian women actually acknowledge the importance of the male roles of father and husband more than the many Christian women? I find that amazing. Women who oppose socialism think that the results of my hard work are not better spent by Harriet Harman than by families. If families want to help the poor and to give God honor by being known to be Christians by those they help, good. If families want to share the gospel and answer questions with those they help, good. If families want to choose who to help based on their Christian worldview, good. But government does none of that, so they should not get family money.

And this is why I warn you Christian young men. Money is the fuel that you use to run your lives. It is the flour that you use to bake the bread that you will offer to God as a gift. A woman who thinks that the Christian life is about giving money to a secular government is not ready to marry. A Christian family can always spend their money better for Christ than a secular government.

Men: Do not assume that just because a woman likes baby pictures and weddings that she is qualified for marriage. Marriage is a very particular thing. Wanting it is not the same as being ready for it. Men are not sperm-donors, and they are not bank accounts. They do not exist to cater to the whims of women who want to feel good about themselves and the world. Men are there to execute their own plans to serve God, with help from women. My role is not to make a woman feel better by creating utopia here and now. I am a Christian man. I have Christian goals. Giving money that I earned to a secular government does not help me to achieve those goals. And a woman who thinks that the secular government should spend my money does not help me to achieve those goals.

Christian women especially ought to know this, but many don’t. They have completely given up on the Christian message of sin and forgiveness and reduced it to 1) being liked, 2) feeling good. Abandoning Christian particularism makes them feel liked by people in other religions, and redistributing the money of hard workers, including their own husbands, makes them feel good because government is helping the poor… to a taxpayer-funded abortion at Planned Parenthood. But that’s not Christianity.

Many, many women want this feeling of putting the world right. And since they don’t read about things like education vouchers and consumer-driven health care, they settle on the obvious, but incorrect, solution – reduce “inequality” by redistributing wealth through a secular government. They know nothing at all about the free market, and less still about how the free market works to solve social problems. They don’t read – they just feel. And then they are shocked when a bloated government starts to encroach on religious liberty, right to life, homeschooling, etc.

Christian men, listen. Just because a woman can sing hymns, prayer, dance, read the Bible, and attend church, it doesn’t mean that she has a Christian worldview. She can just be like that apostate on the Unbelievable show, having the form of Christianity, but without any real faith in God or knowledge of his character. She may not support God’s purposes of being known by all and honored by all. She may not support private charity instead of public social programs.

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

Wintery Tweets

RSS Intelligent Design podcast

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Evolution News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 4,612,916 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,226 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,226 other followers

%d bloggers like this: