Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

If you accept Jesus and become a Christian, will God make you happy?

Navy SEAL Matthew "Axe" Axelson

Navy SEAL Matthew “Axe” Axelson

This is a wonderful, wonderful post from Amy Hall, who writes for the Stand to Reason blog.

She writes:

I had a brief interaction with an atheist on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that unexpectedly turned to the issue of suffering when she said:

You clearly never had a time you were hurt. I don’t mean sick. I don’t mean heart broken. I mean literally a near death experience or rape or abusive relationship…. You can keep floating on a [expletive] cloud thinking Jesus will do everything for you but it’s a lie. What makes you so special?

That surprised me at first because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with the tweet she was responding to, and I was confused as to why she would assume I’d never been through anything traumatic. But then in subsequent tweets, when she revealed she had been raped, it became clear that her trauma had played a central role in her becoming an outspoken, obviously angry “antitheist.” She’s a self-described antitheist now because she thinks Christianity teaches Jesus “will do everything for you” to give you a perfect life, and now she knows that’s a lie. The rape proved her understanding of Christianity false.

So it made sense for her to reason that since I believe Christianity is true, I must still be under the delusion that Jesus is making my life special, which means I obviously never encountered any evil or suffering to shake that delusion.

All right, readers. I don’t want any of you to be thinking that if you become a Christian that these things should be expected to happen:

  • you will feel happy all the time
  • you will be able to sense God’s secret plan for your life through your feelings
  • God’s secret plan for your life will automatically work, even though it’s crazy
  • God will give you a perfect spouse and lots of money without you having to do any work
  • you get permission to do things that that make you happy, even if they are expressly forbidden by the Bible
  • you don’t have to do anything that makes you feel bad (e.g. – go to work), because God wants you to be happy

No! Where do people get this idea that if they convert to Christianity, then God will become their cosmic butler?

Amy has the answer: (emphasis mine)

Hear me, everyone: This is a failure of the church.

A friend of mine who was deeply suffering once said to me that many Christians are in for “an epic letdown” when they realize their preconceived notions about what God is expected to do for us are false. Pastors who preach a life-improvement Jesus are leading people down this precarious path to disillusionment.

If suffering disproves your Christianity, you’ve missed Christianity. The Bible is filled with the suffering of those whom God loves. The central event of the Bible is one of suffering. Love involves suffering. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” That means suffering.

It’s the church. It’s all the singing about happy things and having of happy feelings and happy preaching designed to make us feel good. I would say the comforting devotional reading doesn’t help to make us any tougher or more practical, either. People seem to use Bible study and devotion as a way to artificially create good feelings of happiness, peace and comfort, instead of just doing hard things to serve God. I don’t think it’s a “spiritual” Christian thing to read A. W. Tozer, etc. just so that you can feel comforted and spiritual. That stuff just gives you a false sense of safety about your precarious situation. God’s job is not to prevent you from suffering. In fact, even if you make really smart, practical decisions, you can expect to get creamed anyway.

Please take 15 minutes and read the book of 1 Peter in the New Testament.

Here’s a summary from GotQuestions.org:

Purpose of Writing: 1 Peter is a letter from Peter to the believers who had been dispersed throughout the ancient world and were under intense persecution. If anyone understood persecution, it was Peter. He was beaten, threatened, punished and jailed for preaching the Word of God. He knew what it took to endure without bitterness, without losing hope and in great faith living an obedient, victorious life. This knowledge of living hope in Jesus was the message and Christ’s example was the one to follow.

Brief Summary: Though this time of persecution was desperate, Peter reveals that it was actually a time to rejoice. He says to count it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ, as their Savior suffered for them. This letter makes reference to Peter’s personal experiences with Jesus and his sermons from the book of Acts. Peter confirms Satan as the great enemy of every Christian but the assurance of Christ’s future return gives the incentive of hope.

Practical Application: The assurance of eternal life is given to all Christians. One way to identify with Christ is to share in His suffering. To us that would be to endure insults and slurs from those who call us “goodie two shoes” or “holier than thou.” This is so minor compared to what Christ suffered for us on the Cross. Stand up for what you know and believe is right and rejoice when the world and Satan aim to hurt you.

Recently, I blogged about how suffering is compatible with an all-powerful God, so you might want to read that too if you missed it.

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

New study: homeschooled children less likely to leave their faith

Lindsay, a super-mom who homeschools her kids with her super-husband Doug, sent me this article from Christian News.

Quick blurb:

The recently-released findings from an in-depth study of nearly 10,000 young adults show that Millennials who were homeschooled are less likely to leave the faith than individuals who attended private or public schools.

Late last month, Generations with Vision and the National Home Education Research Institute published the results of their Gen2 Survey. The study explores the correlations between different educational methods and the spiritual decisions of Millennials who were raised in the church.

“The purpose of the study is to examine these adults who were churched growing up and to understand the key influences which either encouraged or deterred them from believing and practicing the faith of their parents,” said the survey’s director and lead researcher, Dr. Brian Ray.

Using a sample size of 9,369 18-to 38-year-olds who were churched while growing up, the Gen2 Survey collected data on Millennials’ educational backgrounds, worldviews, and religious beliefs. The study found that individuals who were homeschooled, attended church regularly, and had good relationships with their parents were most likely to remain involved in the Christian faith.

“Having a strong relationship with the child’s mother and father, attending church as a child, and years homeschooled were all clearly positively associated with Millennials’ basic Christian orthodoxy, broader biblical beliefs, Christian behaviors (e.g., attending church, keeping sex in marriage, prayer, not using pornography), satisfaction in life, civic and community involvement, and having beliefs similar to one’s parents,” Ray stated.

87% of study participants who were homeschooled said they have strong Christian beliefs. Conversely, Millennials who were enrolled in public schools or private Christian schools were more likely to walk away from the faith later in life.

“Number of years in Christian school and number of years in public school were negatively associated with most of the adult beliefs and behaviors just mentioned,” Ray explained.

Statistically, homeschooled young adults were six times as likely to be believers and seven times as likely to be stronger in their Christian beliefs as Millennials attending private schools. Homeschooled Millennials were also two times as likely to be stronger in Christian beliefs as those who attended Christian schools or public schools.

I find that when I court Christian women, they pretty much have the idea that kids are like skydiving, ziplining or surfing. They are fun, and if you make a plan to make them achieve anything, then that is bad because it’s less fun. Sometimes they try to dress it up in emotional or religious language when they are explaining it to others, but under cross-examination, it really turns out to be “marriage and parenting are better when we do whatever I feel like moment by moment”. If the man does not step up during the courtship with the research and get agreement on issues like homeschooling, then he needs to shut it down and move on. Women who are guided by their feelings instead of studies in decisions about how to parent are not safe to marry. Either they accept the the best practices from research, or they are out of the running.

So if a couple determines that they are going to have no strict approach to how to parent the kids and no goals and no information about what works, then they should not be surprised their children fall away from the faith. Either you are aware of who is teaching your kids, and what they are teaching them, or you are not. It is no coincidence that the secular left pushes for earlier and earlier starts to schooling and more and more free college. They know that the more they get the kids away from their parents and in with peers of the same age and secular leftist professors and teaches, the more those kids are likely to adopt their values – not the values of their parents.

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

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, , , , , , , ,

William Lane Craig discusses reason and faith with university students

This is an interview of Dr. William Lane Craig before college students at the University of Central Florida. (95 minutes)

You can get an MP3 of the lecture here. (33 MB)

Questions from the interviewer: (40 minutes)

  • What started you on his journey of studying faith and reason?
  • How would you define the word “faith”?
  • Are faith and reason compatible? How are they related?
  • How can reasonable faith help us to avoid the two extremes of superstition and nihilism?
  • Who makes the best arguments against the Christian faith?
  • Why are angry atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens more well known than better-informed academic atheists?
  • Does the Bible require Christians to give the unbeliever reasons for their faith?
  • How does faith spur Christians to think carefully about the big questions in life?
  • Should the American church prod churchgoers to develop their minds so they can engage the secular culture?
  • When talking about Christianity intellectually, is there a risk of neglecting the experience of being a Christian?
  • Which Christian apologist has shaped your thinking the most?
  • Which Christian philosopher has shaped your thinking the most?
  • Does the confidence that comes from apologetics undermine humility and reverence?
  • If you had to sketch out a 5 minute case for Christianity, what would you present?
  • Can non-Christians use their reason to arrive at truth?
  • Are there cases where atheists must affirm irrational things in order to remain atheists?
  • Can the universe have existed eternal, so that there is no need to explain who created it?
  • Even if you persuade someone that Christianity is true, does that mean they will live it out?

There is also a long period of questions, many of them hostile, from the audience of students (55 minutes).

  • Haven’t you said nasty things about some atheists? Aren’t you a meany?
  • What do you make of the presuppositional approach to apologetics?
  • Can a person stop being a Christian because of the chances that happen to them as they age?
  • Why did God wait so long after humans appeared to reveal himself to people through Jesus?
  • Can a person be saved by faith without have any intellectual assent to truth?
  • How do you find time for regular things like marriage when you have to study and speak so much?
  • How would you respond to Zeitgeist and parallels to Christianity in Greek/Roman mythology?
  • Do Christians have to assume that the Bible is inerrant and inspired in order to evangelize?
  • If the universe has a beginning, then why doesn’t God have a beginning?
  • Can you name some philosophical resources on abstract objects, Platonism and nominalism?
  • How can you know that Christianity more right than other religions?
  • Should we respond to the problem of evil by saying that our moral notions are different from God’s?
  • Define the A and B theories of time. Explain how they relate to the kalam cosmological argument.
  • How can Christians claim that their view is true in the face of so many world religions?
  • What is the role of emotions in Christian belief and thought?
  • Can evolution be reconciled with Christian beliefs and the Bible?
  • When witnessing person-to-person, should you balance apologetics with personal testimony?
  • Is there a good analogy for the trinity that can help people to understand it? [Note: HE HAS ONE!]
  • How can Christians reconcile God’s omniscience, God’s sovereignty and human free will?

This is a nice introductory lecture that is sure to get Christians to become interested in apologetics. As you watch or listen to it, imagine what the world would be like if every Christian could answer the questions of skeptical college students and professors like Dr. Craig. What would non-Christians think about Christianity if every Christian had studied these issues like Dr. Craig? Why aren’t we making an effort to study these things so that we can answer these questions?

It is really fun to see him fielding the questions from the skeptical university students. My favorite question was from the physics student who sounds really foreign, (at 1:19:00), then you realize that he is a Christian. I do think that Dr. Craig went a little far in accommodating evolution, but I put that down to the venue, and not wanting to get into a peripheral issue. I’m also surprised that no one asked him why God allows humans to suffer and commit acts of evil.

If you are looking for a good basic book on apologetics, then I would choose “Is God Just a Human Invention?” by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow.

Who is William Lane Craig?

About William Lane Craig:

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity… In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.

He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentAssessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of JesusDivine Foreknowledge and Human FreedomTheism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of PhilosophyNew Testament StudiesJournal for the Study of the New TestamentAmerican Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophical StudiesPhilosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Craig’s CV is here.

Craig’s list of publications is here.

William Lane Craig is, without a doubt, the top living defender of Christianity. He has debated all of the most famous atheists, including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. as well as academic atheists like Quentin Smith, Peter Millican, etc. if you search this blog, you’ll find many debates posted here, sometimes even with snarky summaries.

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

Cold Case Christianity podcast on the lack of authenticity in the church

On Saturday, I got a chance to listen to the latest episode of the Cold Case Christianity podcast, and the whole thing was solid. This is one you definitely do not want to miss. I wanted to summarize the first topic of three because it’s something that’s been coming up a lot lately, but topics 2 and 3 are worth listening to, as well.

You can grab the MP3 file here.

Topic #1: Why are young people leaving church?

  • problem: not convinced Christianity is true
  • problem: apparent conflict with science
  • problem: unanswered questions
  • problem: difficulties inside the church
  • problem: the church’s (correct) position on same-sex marriage

Jim’s claim: if people do not think that the Bible is accurate and divinely inspired, then they are going to be tempted to pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe

Jim reads a blog post from a young lady who attends church, and here are her top problems with the church:

  1. you can’t ask questions
  2. you can’t voice your doubts
  3. you can’t explain your struggles
  4. you can’t confess your sins
  5. you can’t confide your fears

And she wants the leadership to be real and open about these things as well.

Wallace says that there here are two main problems that teens run into at college:

  1. intellectual skepticism
  2. selfish desires, especially in sexual areas

It’s aggravated by the hostile university setting (skeptical professors), and a culture of drinking and sex.

The university culture is offering you a worldview that makes your selfish desires more permissible and normal. Unless people have a compelling reason not to reject that, they won’t reject it. It’s the path of least resistance to conform to the expectations of your peers and professors. Our aim should be to provide young people with evidence before they face the skepticism in college.

Another major problem facing young people is the Christian position on homosexuality and gay marriage. Christian teachings on sexuality in general are viewed with suspicion, and these things are not discussed or debated in the church. One way to respond to this is to defend the reliability of Scripture. (Note: I think another way to respond is to give secular reasons for what the Bible teaches, and to help young people link their decisions about sexuality with their larger life plan).

Topic 2 was about objective vs cultural moral standards, and topic 3 was about whether different denominations differ in essentials or in peripheral issues.

My thoughts on topic #1

If you are dealing with young people, it might be a good idea to not gloss over these problems and keep everything at the surface level. Talk to them about what a Christian life should look like and the struggles you had trying to live it out. Talk to them about their plans, and how different decisions are going to affect those plans. Talk to them about their grades. Talk to them about their future profession. Talk to them about apologetics. Talk to them about politics and economics, so they know how to vote for their futures. Basically, they should have the idea that you are interested in whether Christianity is true or not, and that you are interested in them make some sort of plan to serve God and making the decisions they need to get there. You should tell young people your plan and how you are funding it and working on it, in order to prod them to make their own plan.

So if the problem is perceived lack of authenticity, then the solution is to talk to young people like grown ups and give them insight. This is my plan to serve God. This is my plan for my marriage. This is why I think Christianity is true. This is what I want my kids to end up like. This is what I want my wife to do. This is how I intend to fund all this. These are the laws/public policies that help/hurt my plan. These are the problems and struggles I’ve had implementing my plan. Here is an area where my sinfulness is really messing up my plan. When I talk to other Christians, we talk about these issues relevant to my plan.

Speaking frankly about what you are trying to do and the challenges you are facing trying to do it that helps young people to get serious about their beliefs. Don’t reduce the whole religion to rituals and feelings – it’s a mistake.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , ,

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