Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

When speaking to non-Christians, do you use any of these Christianese terms?

I found this article by J. Warner Wallace and thought it was appropriate because it’s Easter, and there are always questions.

First, the list of Christianese: (not his term)

  • #1. “God has put you (or something) on my heart. / God told me.”
  • #2. “Be ‘born again.’ / Have a spiritual rebirth.”
  • #3. “You need to come to repentance. / Experience a conversion.”
  • #4. “Deal with your sin.”
  • #5. “Invite Jesus into your heart.”
  • #6. “Make Jesus the Lord of your life.”
  • #7. “Have faith.”
  • #8. “Be saved.”
  • #9. “Be washed by the blood of the Lamb.”
  • #10. “Be Sanctified.”
  • Bonus Expression #11. “Enjoy fellowship.”

This article is pretty funny, but it ought to be because I think we really need to shame church Christians when they talk like this.

Here’s the one I liked best:

#5. “Invite Jesus into your heart.”
You mean like a boyfriend? What exactly does that mean to have “Jesus in my heart?” I’m not an emotional kind of guy, so please don’t ask me to sing songs or hold hands with Jesus, especially in public. Do I have to emasculate myself to become a Christian? If so, thanks for reminding me why I’m not a Christian.

Try this instead: “When we admit our imperfections, believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our mistakes, and accept His sacrifice, we can start a new relationship with God.”

Indeed. It’s a wonder that any rough and tough men become Christians after what they find in church.

I think that a lot of Christians struggle with explaining “sin” to non-Christians, but I have an approach that works for me. I just ask them how much effort they have put into looking for the evidence for and against God. How much effort into cosmology, especially. How much into the origin of life. How much into the fine-tuning. Usually, the answer is “I watched every episode of Star Trek” or “I watched a documentary on the Pyramids on the Discovery Channel”. I try to show them that God has left fingerprints in the natural world, and by avoiding that evidence they are, in fact, avoiding God. Keeping him at arm’s length by dancing away from the evidence and focusing instead on having good feelings. Collecting stuff. Having thrills and adventures. Making people like them. Etc. I call this refusal to try to seek God and adjust to him “sin”. It’s rebellion against the obligation to know God. And to know God is to love God. And to love God is to make decisions that reflect his character, even when it’s difficult.

Wallace concludes:

I understand the importance of our theologically rich Christian language, and as a Christian I often use similar words when talking with Christians. But when I’m talking with unbelievers, I try to think about how I used to hear and interpret these words before I became a Christian. How do I share what I believe? I take the time to translate important Christian concepts for those who might be willing to entertain the ideas if only I was willing to speak their language.

I think that there is a real need for churches to train Christians in how to bring up topics that are of interest to Christians in public. The approach I’ve always taken is to have a broad worldview, including areas like economics and policy, so that I wouldn’t just sit there silent while other people are talking. I can ease into discussing spiritual things much more easily because I can start the conversation from politics, economics and current events. You have to show that you have knowledge in real-world areas before anyone will listen to you about other things. That’s my approach anyway. You really have to establish your credentials before you start to speak about spiritual things.

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

Is marriage boring? Why are some women bored by marriage?

In this post, when I refer to women, I am referring to young, unmarried women under the age of 35 who have been influenced by feminism to reject goal-directed marriage.

My pastor gave a sermon recently where he talked about 2 Tim 2:3, and he emphasized that in order to be useful for God, you have to be willing to “flee from youthful lusts”.

2 Tim 2:20-23:

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.

21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

The pastor asked everyone to consider what they were like when they were young, but not to yell it out for everyone to hear. Then he listed out some of the characteristics of youth. They are impractical. They are thrill-seekers. They are self-centered. They want to pursue selfish pleasures. They want to be the center of attention.

My marriage plan is boring

As I was listening to the sermon, it reminded me of my experiences dealing with Christian women in campus clubs and churches. My approach with Christian women was always to lay out my plans, and then explain what I had already done to prepare for those plans, and then ask them to build skills in a mentoring relationship with me, while deciding whether we were compatible for marriage. It’s understood that I am presenting a complementarian plan here, that I would be the leader of the marriage and family. The customer of the marriage would of course be God, and not my wife or I, nor the children.

Let’s just quickly review what I would tell them and see if it’s boring or not.

So here’s the plan:

  1. Influence the church with apologetics (teach apologetics classes, bring in speakers, organize conferences, etc.)
  2. Influence the university with apologetics (support campus clubs, bring in speakers, organize conferences, open house to students, etc.)
  3. Influence the public square (advocate for pro-family policies, lower taxes, smaller government, religious liberty, peace through strength, etc.)
  4. Raise effective and influential children who are excellent students and who are motivated to enter fields that matter and earn PhDs.

And here are some things I learned over the years from presenting this plan to marriage candidates.

Red flags when choosing a candidate

I really recommend that if you are looking for a wife, you should prefer to interview women who did not have a “wild” period of drinking, hooking up and cohabitation with atheists. Chastity really does matter – even if the woman became unchaste as a non-Christian before returning to Christianity, it will affect her ability to trust you, be vulnerable to you, let you lead her, be content with marriage and family, and in some cases to even remain faithful to you. In my experience the damage done from recreational premarital sex is still detectable after the conversion, and the women involved are unable to articulate why what they did was wrong, and what has been lost. In short, they are not remorseful.

Make sure she has done hard things in her life that have taught her that objective reality trumps her feelings and intuitions. You should prefer a woman with a STEM degree or a trade certification, no student loans, a job related to her degree, savings of her own – and someone who is not still living at home at age 30. If you want to put God first in the marriage, then you want to avoid someone who wants to redirect your time and money to fun and thrill-seeking.

You need to find a woman who is not “bored” by the duties and challenges of being a wife and mother. And you need to make sure to stress her with challenges during the courtship to make sure that she understands that marriage is about serving God, not about serving herself. When a woman has made all of her decisions using her emotions, and has achieved nothing, it does not bode well for her ability to make plans, stick to plans and achieve goals. It also does not help her to respect your plans and achievements. She will look at all your strengths (education, profession, savings, Christian influence) and think it is nothing impressive unless she has experienced sacrifice to achieve goals herself.

The main point is that a woman who has never had to do anything hard and achieve goals over the long-term has NO RESPECT for men who have done these things. Respect is what you need in order to lead. And you need to be in the lead in order for the marriage to work.

You want to avoid a woman who complains that home life is boring, that predictability and routine and safety are boring. You want to avoid a woman who disdains the humdrum of day-to-day earning money in an office building and saving money rather than blowing it on expensive things and one-shot thrills. You want to avoid women who rebels just for the sake of rebelling. You want to avoid women who resent anyone who tells them to be prudent, cautious, modest, etc. You want to avoid women who don’t get along with their fathers, who don’t see the value of benevolent authority. You want to avoid women who don’t have a track record of doing the hard work needed to achieve goals (e.g. – women who avoid STEM degrees). You want to prefer a woman who has the desire for achievement in the service of God more than the desire for pleasure or attention. You want to pick someone with a demonstrated ability to care for and nurture others in a goal-directed way, not someone whose relationships are more about getting her needs met.

The perception of “spiritual maturity”

Many Christian women who have been raised in a Christian home, who have prayed, done Bible studies, read A.W. Tozer, listened to sermons, and gone to AWANA and Sunday school have a very warped view of spiritual maturity. What the Christian home and the church teaches young women is that religion should be about their feelings. Private devotional reading and Bible study are much better (in their eyes) than preparing for public debates or sponsoring public lectures at a university. This is the feminized view of spiritual maturity that you find in the church, and this is how many Christian women judge the spiritual maturity of men.

I recommend that you find a woman who has an outward-focused practical view of Christianity and who respects action and results, not private piety and feelings. A great test for “outward-focusedness” in a woman is whether she has ability in evidential apologetics, especially science and to a lesser degree, history. Apologetics has value in Christianity because it is the thing that makes you resistant to suffering and disappointment with God. And the more evidence-based it is, the better. Reading “Signature in the Cell” is millions of times more effective than anything written by people like C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.

Is marriage primarily about the woman’s happiness?

Here is my list of courting questions that I use to detect women who will be bored by marriage. If you suspect that a woman is more focused on her own happiness than making the marriage count for God, then you just have to ask her these questions. If she gets angry and refuses to answer or learn how to answer them, then she’s self-centered and wants fun and thrills. Move on to the next one.

Understand that some young, unmarried women today who identify as Christian have these fun-seeking, thrill-seeking skeletons in their closets and that it seriously undermines their ability to perform “boring” marriage and parenting roles. Do not listen to them when they say they want to be married “some day” when all they are doing now is seeking pleasure apart from marriage and family as their fertility clock ticks away. Then they don’t really want it. Women say “some day” because they want to present themselves to others a certain way, but some women say that while really just wanting to indulge their emotions, have a good time, and never sacrifice for the future.

Many Christian women tend to draw their their standards for what will make them happy from the culture and from their peers. Whatever they claim to believe on Sunday, their actions the rest of the time are going to be inline with the culture and their peers. So pay attention to their actions, not their words. The words are designed to paint a picture for others to think well of them, but the actions show what their priorities really are.

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

Are Latter Day Saints (LDS) doctrines supported by philosophy, science and history?

This post presents evidence against Mormonism/LDS in three main areas. The first is in the area of science. The second is in the area of philosophy. And the third is in the area of history.

The scientific evidence

First, let’s take a look at what the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, believes about the origin of the universe:

“The elements are eternal. That which had a beggining will surely have an end; take a ring, it is without beggining or end – cut it for a beggining place and at the same time you have an ending place.” (“Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p. 205)

“Now, the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos – chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existance from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beggining, and can have no end.”
(“Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p. 395)

A Mormon scholar named Blake Ostler summarizes the Mormon view in a Mormon theological journal:

“In contrast to the self-sufficient and solitary absolute who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing), the Mormon God did not bring into being the ultimate constituents of the cosmos — neither its fundamental matter nor the space/time matrix which defines it. Hence, unlike the Necessary Being of classical theology who alone could not not exist and on which all else is contingent for existence, the personal God of Mormonism confronts uncreated realities which exist of metaphysical necessity. Such realities include inherently self-directing selves (intelligences), primordial elements (mass/energy), the natural laws which structure reality, and moral principles grounded in the intrinsic value of selves and the requirements for growth and happiness.” (Blake Ostler, “The Mormon Concept of God,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Summer 1984):65-93)

So, Mormons believe in an eternally existing universe, such that matter was never created out of nothing, and will never be destroyed. But this is at odds with modern cosmology.

The Big Bang cosmology is the most widely accepted cosmology of the day. It is based on several lines of evidence, and is broadly compatible with Genesis. It denies the past eternality of the universe. This peer-reviewed paper in an astrophysics journal explains. (full text here)

Excerpt:

The standard Big Bang model thus describes a universe which is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a finite time ago. Moreover,–and this deserves underscoring–the origin it posits is an absolute origin ex nihilo. For not only all matter and energy, but space and time themselves come into being at the initial cosmological singularity. As Barrow and Tipler emphasize, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.

[…]On such a model the universe originates ex nihilo in the sense that at the initial singularity it is true that There is no earlier space-time point or it is false that Something existed prior to the singularity.

Christian cosmology requires such a creation out of nothing, but this is clearly incompatible with what Mormons believe about the universe. The claims about the universe made by the two religions are in disagreement, and we can test empirically to see who is right, using science.

Philosophical problems

Always Have a Reason contrasts two concepts of God in Mormonism: Monarchotheism and Polytheism. It turns out that although Mormonism is actually a polytheistic religion, like Hinduism. In Mormonism, humans can become God and then be God of their own planet. So there are many Gods in Mormonism, not just one.

Excerpt:

[T]he notion that there are innumerable contingent “primal intelligences” is central to this Mormon concept of god (P+M, 201; Beckwith and Parrish, 101). That there is more than one god is attested in the Pearl of Great Price, particularly Abraham 4-5. This Mormon concept has the gods positioned to move “primal intelligences along the path to godhood” (Beckwith and Parrish, 114). Among these gods are other gods which were once humans, including God the Father. Brigham Young wrote, “our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father, and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so on…” (Brigham Young, The Seer, 132, quoted in Beckwith and Parrish, 106).

[…]The logic of the Mormon polytheistic concept of God entails that there is an infinite number of gods. To see this, it must be noted that each god him/herself was helped on the path to godhood by another god. There is, therefore, an infinite regress of gods, each aided on his/her path to godhood by a previous god. There is no termination in this series. Now because this entails an actually infinite collection of gods, the Mormon polytheistic concept of deity must deal with all the paradoxes which come with actually existing infinities…

The idea of counting up to an actual infinite number of things by addition (it doesn’t matter what kind of thing it is) is problematic. See here.

More:

Finally, it seems polytheistic Mormonism has a difficulty at its heart–namely the infinite regress of deity.

[…]Each god relies upon a former god, which itself relies upon a former god, forever. Certainly, this is an incoherence at the core of this concept of deity, for it provides no explanation for the existence of the gods, nor does it explain the existence of the universe.

Now let’s see the historical evidence against Mormonism.

The historical evidence

J. Warner Wallace explains how the “Book of Abraham”, a part of the Mormon Scriptures, faces historical difficulties.

The Book of Abraham papyri are not as old as claimed:

Mormon prophets and teachers have always maintained that the papyri that was purchased by Joseph Smith was the actual papyri that was created and written by Abraham. In fact, early believers were told that the papyri were the writings of Abraham.

[…]There is little doubt that the earliest of leaders and witnesses believed and maintained that these papyri were, in fact the very scrolls upon which Abraham and Joseph wrote. These papyri were considered to be the original scrolls until they were later recovered in 1966. After discovering the original papyri, scientists, linguists, archeologists and investigators (both Mormon and non-Mormon) examined them and came to agree that the papyri are far too young to have been written by Abraham. They are approximately 1500 to 2000 years too late, dating from anywhere between 500 B.C. (John A. Wilson, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 70.) and 60 A.D. If they papyri had never been discovered, this truth would never have come to light. Today, however, we know the truth, and the truth contradicts the statements of the earliest Mormon leaders and witnesses.

The Book of Abraham papyri do not claim what Joseph Smith said:

In addition to this, the existing papyri simply don’t say anything that would place them in the era related to 2000BC in ancient Egypt. The content of the papyri would at least help verify the dating of the document, even if the content had been transcribed or copied from an earlier document. But the papyri simply tell us about an ancient burial ritual and prayers that are consistent with Egyptian culture in 500BC. Nothing in the papyri hints specifically or exclusively to a time in history in which Abraham would have lived.

So there is a clear difference hear between the Bible and Mormonism, when it comes to historical verification.

Further study

There is a very good podcast featuring J. Warner Wallace that summarizes some other theological problems with Mormonism that I blogged about before. And if you want a nice long PDF to print out and read at lunch (which is what I did with it) you can grab this PDF by Michael Licona, entitled “Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock“.

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

Paul Copan explains some responses to postmodernism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

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

David Axelrod: Obama lied about gay marriage in 2008 in order to get elected

This is from Life Site News.

Excerpt:

A former senior adviser to President Obama has confirmed what his most strident critics have said all along: Barack Obama lied to the American people about opposing gay “marriage” to boost his chances of winning the 2008 presidential elections.

David Axelrod, a veteran of Chicago left-wing politics who advised Obama during the campaign, makes the admission in a new book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, which hits book shelves today.

Obama first indicated his support for redefining marriage while running for state office in Illinois in 1996, filling out a questionnaire that said, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

Candidate Obama wanted to publicly broadcast his views during his campaigns for national office but was afraid the position – then radically unpopular – would end his chances of becoming president. Axelrod writes that campaign manager Jim Messina warned Obama that backing same-sex “marriage” could cost him the electoral votes of North Carolina.

Instead, both he and Hillary Clinton said they held to the traditional definition of marriage, although they supported “civil unions” for homosexuals.

During a 2008 debate, Obama told Saddleback Church megapastor Rick Warren, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

But Axelrod reveals in his new book that, after proclaiming his support for marriage at one campaign event, Obama dismissed his rhetoric as nothing more than a bout of “bullsh—ing.”

Axelrod said that the candidate agreed to conceal his views, but “Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position. He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews.”

When others asked about Obama’s 1996 campaign statement, his supporters played it off as a campaign snafu. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in 2011, “That questionnaire was actually filled out by someone else.”

As a candidate, he walked a thin line, stating his support for traditional marriage – but opposing any efforts that would legally codify that belief and backing government policies that would grant greater acceptance (and benefits) to homosexuals. In 2008, he dismissed opposition to homosexuality as based on “an obscure passage in Romans.”

Obama did, in fact, carry North Carolina in 2008 on his way to the White House, where he chose to bide his time until he could come out in favor of gay “marriage.”

I can remember like yesterday talking to two black Christians in the parking lot outside my office after work about Obama, just before the 2008 elections. Both of them went to church, and both claimed to be evangelical Christians. One in particular loved the writing of Alistair Begg and read lots of Reformed theology. I asked them who they were voting for, and they said “we are voting for Obama”. I told them both about his votes on the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act in Illinois (he voted in favor of infanticide multiple times), his 1996 position in support of gay marriage, his support for cap and trade carbon taxes, his weak stance on national security, and more. I told them that if we ever hoped to repeal Roe v. Wade, that we could not elect this man President. I told him he would pick two pro-abortion Supreme Court judges, at least (and he already has picked two, and will get more in all likelihood). They told me I was wrong about everything and that Obama was pro-life, pro-marriage and really tough on Islamic terrorism.

I also spoke to a black Christian woman in my office. She loved to read books on Bible Study and theology so that she could teach in the church. She even knew some basic apologists, something that the two black guys did not know. She was a much more avid reader than the two guys, who seemed to be more focused on sports, movies and music. She also voted for Obama. I remember her saying she would vote for him, and I could not believe my ears. She was very strong on being pro-life and pro-marriage.

Should Christians have voted for Obama?

Should Christians have voted for Obama?

I was one of the 5 percent who did not vote for Obama in 2008, despite having dark skin just like my 3 co-workers who voted for him. Those conversations with those three people will stay with me till the day I die. I don’t think I have ever really understand how much people could suppress evidence in order to keep their beliefs before, until I spoke to those people. When I asked them if they were conservative Christians, they told me that they were. I went to a barbecue at one of their houses and saw bookshelves filled with Christian books. And yet they voted for a radical on abortion and a supporter of gay marriage, even when I told them about Obama’s voting record.

Skin color doesn’t matter to me when I am picking a candidate, but to some people it mattered more than facts.

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

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 5,034,488 hits

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

Join 1,689 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,689 other followers

%d bloggers like this: