Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

School chaplain fired for disagreeing with homosexuality

This is from ABC News Australia.

They write:

A Hobart school chaplain has been sacked for re-posting a comment on Facebook that described homosexuality as “not normal”.

Troy Williams was employed by the Scripture Union, Tasmania’s main provider of school chaplaincy services which appoints and trains state and private school chaplains.

Mr Williams was stood down from his role at the Hobart College over the post, which also makes the claim that “no-one is born gay”.

Mr Williams issued an apology after his Facebook post drew widespread condemnation earlier this month.

He told the ABC: “I’ve made a mistake and learnt from it. I’m deeply sorry for any offence I’ve caused. I was very careless in posting that image for discussion. I will work with my employers to ensure there is no repeat.”

Following a meeting with the Kingborough Council general manager this morning, Mr Williams was also stood down from his role as a youth outreach worker there.

The council said it acted based on comments he made on a post by a Melbourne-based blogger who used sarcasm to defend Mr Williams.

Here’s the comment:

“Please pray with me that this may become another opportunity for the Gospel to go out. I will probably be fired … for encouraging young people in that they have a choice in who they are and that they shouldn’t be bullied by someone telling their lot is predetermined (by someone other than God).”

Factually speaking, he is of course correct that homosexuality is not generically determined – that is what studies show. But he still had to recant in order to get his job back.

Was the tolerant, compassionate left appalled by this infringement of the man’s free speech?

Not so much:

Gay rights activist Rodney Croome welcomed Mr Williams’ dismissal.

“If this fellow had been running around saying that blue-eyed or left-handed people are flawed and should be changed, he’d be out on his ear,” he said.

“And it’s right that he’s out on his ear over his comments about same-sex attracted young people too, given the immense damage those comments would cause to those young people when he should, in fact, be supporting them as a chaplain.”

Mr Croome said more needed to be done.

“Kingborough Council and Scripture Union need to assure the public that this will never happen again by overhauling all their policies and their training to make sure that all their youth workers and their chaplains – anyone who comes in contact with young people – discharge their responsibilities in a professional way and do not perpetuate prejudice and stereotype,” he said.

This story shows why it is so important for Christians to go for STEM degrees in college, to save their money, and to write under an alias. It is a different world today, and you have to be ready when you get called on the carpet by the other team. I don’t condemn this chaplain for recanting. I might be tempted to do the same, even though I am prepared for it. But I do think it serves as a warning for those who think that God is waiting to save us when we have to stand up for what we believe. Don’t expect him to save you. The world is not a Disney movie, and Christians are not Disney princesses. Do not follow your heart. Do not listen to people who urge you to follow your heart. Especially when you and your advisors have made poor decisions in the past.

Your ability to be who you are in Christ is partially dependent on your ability to survive a financial crisis. Your ability to be who you are in Christ is partially dependent on your debt / savings balance. What you study in school matters. What jobs you take matters. How fast you pay off your debts matters. How well you save your money matters. Your ability to protect yourself, your family, and your friends in the face of challenges to your faith like this one is directly proportional to your past life decisions. If you are guided by your feelings in your decision-making, you are exposing yourself to dangers that could lead to apostasy. That is not a popular message, but it is a true one. The Bible gives no evidence that our lives will be free of confrontation and judgment.

Consider Luke 14:25-30:

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,

30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Here is a trustworthy saying from outside the Bible:

“Si vis pacem, para bellum”

– Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

That translates to “Let him who desires peace prepare for war.”

Make sure you keep up with what is happening in the world to Christians. Make sure you have lots of money ready to lawyer up when it’s your turn to go down fighting. You might even find that your opponents will pick on a weaker target if you can afford to defend yourself. That’s why the Human Rights Commissions went after a penniless and obscure pastor, but not a well-connected lawyer and journalist. And if you are strong enough, you can even protect that weaker target out of your strength. Make sure you having something to share with others when they are in distress.

I’m really not sure why Christians have been taught to think that recklessness is a virtue, while prudence is not. But they’re wrong.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

I saw that Triablogue quoted this passage from William Lane Craig’s April 2013 newsletter, which made me very excited and happy.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive.

Commenters on Triablogue think that Dr. Craig will draw flak for his comment, but he’s not going to draw flak from mature Christians. What he said is correct. Mature Christians are right behind him on this point. Christian men who have tried to act to defend God’s reputation in public know that there is something wrong in the churches. And eventually, men just tune out of church because we know that there is nothing there for us. If women want men to come back to church, then they have to change the church away from what it is now.

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

What happens if you ask 13 gay-owned bakeries to bake a pro-marriage cake?

Since Christian bakers are being forced by courts to bake cakes for gay weddings, wouldn’t it neat to see if gay bakeries will bake pro-marriage cakes for Christians?

Well, this blogger did just that:

Christian bakeries that refuse to make pro-homosexual marriage cakes are getting sued, they get fined, they get death threats, and they lose their businesses.

So Shoebat.com called some 13 prominent bakers who are pro-gay and requested that they make a pro-traditional marriage cake with the words “Gay marriage is wrong” placed on the cake. Each one denied us service, and even used deviant insults and obscenities against us. One baker even said that she would make me a cookie with a large phallus on it. We recorded all of this in a video that will stun the American people as to how militant and intolerant the homosexual agenda is.

If anyone who objects saying that our request for the cake was hateful, this is exactly the type of thing the homosexual activists do to Christian bakeries when they use the state to coerce them to make a cake with an explicitly anti traditional marriage slogans on it.

Here are the videos – WARNING: some have very vulgar language.

Video 1 of 2:

Video 2 of 2:

The videos contain very vulgar language, which is a stark contrast to the apologetic and humble language Christians employ when responding to the wedding-related requests gay activists. We don’t seek to offend, but they are totally OK with offending us.

I’ll just link to a few of previous stories on how gay activists forced Christian-owned businesses to service their gay marriages – through the courts.

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

Why are progressives so blithe about pressuring Christians to act like non-Christians?

A great post from Dr. George Yancey explains the worldview behind so many things we hear in the news these days. Here he is responding to the story about the Houston mayor who subpoena’d all the sermons from the Christian pastors in order to chill dissent to her LGBT agenda.

He writes:

I am a sociologist studying anti-Christian attitudes in our society. This brings me to my take that I am qualified to talk about – whether this legal strategy is tied to Christianophobia. There are reasons to believe that this attempt to obtain sermons and other information is part of a larger strategy to stigmatize Christians. Thus, I do not discount the possibility that Christianophobia plays some role in these actions.

However, it is work of another book I wrote a couple of years ago which I think is more relevant. That book is named What Motivates Cultural Progressives. In that book, I documented that cultural progressive activists tend to consider their political opponents to be irrational, religious individuals trying to move our culture backwards. They have little respect for their political opponents. They often express concerns about the ability of religious individuals to have influence on our political system. With this sort of mindset, it is easy to perceive a motivation from Houston officials, if they are cultural progressive activists, to gather sermons and other material in an effort to “expose” the irrationality and intolerance of their political opponents. Whether the documents are relevant to the current court case may be less important to these officials than stopping the efforts of those who would take our culture backwards.

My suggestion is that it is not as much a fear of Christians as it is the fear of the socially conservative culture linked to Christians driving these subpoenas. The lack of respect cultural progressive activists have for their political opponents allow them to rationalize using the legal system to “dig up dirt” on them. In my sample, I found several individuals who did not believe that religious individuals had the right to fully participate in our political progress. A good number of respondents also articulated a belief that religious individuals are brainwashed and cultural conservative political movements have developed due to the manipulation of ignorant Christians by evil leaders. Thus the political claims in this movement are not legitimate claims by people seeking to serve their own social and material interests, but are the result of manipulation whereby they have been persuaded to vote against their own economic and social interest. When we recognize that many cultural progressive activists do not see cultural conservatives as legitimate political players in our governmental system, then the overreaching request make a great deal of sense.

So how should we respond to this?

Well, the answer is that Christians need to take seriously the need to speak and act intelligently when dealing with non-Christians. We need to study apologetics, yes. But we also need to be good at knowing other things – practical things, academic things. We should be able to earn a living and share with others. We should be able to demonstrate sobriety, discipline and chastity. We should be able to explain rationally and evidentially all the moral beliefs that non-Christians find the most objectionable. We should have an interest in current events, economics, law, politics and foreign policy. Etc. We have to be able to out-think our rivals, and win their respect the same way that Joseph won the respect of Pharaoh, and Daniel won the respect of Nebuchadnezzar.

I think it’s interesting that Dr. George Yancey himself is an excellent example of what I am talking about. He is a full professor at the University of North Texas, and has published books with Oxford University Press. If people want to know if it is possible to be a Christian and be intelligent, this is exactly who we need to show them – and who we need to be. We should be working on this! And raising our kids to counteract these perceptions that the secular leftists have of us. Often, the secular leftists are raised in Christian homes, see the anti-intellectualism in popular Christianity firsthand, then head off to university to train as a persecutor. We have to shape up and stop this from happening. We are train our own executioners, because of our laziness, ignorance and cowardice.

Filed under: Commentary, , , ,

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