We in America love our ideologies, and we gravitate toward others who affirm our preconceived notions. If you already dislike a certain politician, then find a blog or article that affirms the worst about him or her. If you really like a politician, then discredit a negative news story by claiming “fake news” or calling people names. So why not just create our own theology in the same way? Well, we American Christians do this as well, so I thought I would help all of us out and develop a 10 point plan on how to do this effectively. By following this plan, you will be able to convince everyone else of the legitimacy of your theological view by making it look biblical. In addition, people will think you’re smart! Continue reading
What if Ken Ham’s criticisms of belief in an old earth were applied to a position he held to be true, let’s say, heliocentrism (the idea that the sun is the center and the earth rotates around it)? What would it look like? In this blog, I take Ken Ham’s response (found HERE) to Matt Walsh’s video explanation of why he doesn’t believe in a young earth and re-formulate it to show what it would look like if “the shoe were on the other foot.” As you will see, Ken Ham could be criticized in the exact same way that he criticizes those who believe in an old earth. There was a time when Christians interpreted numerous biblical passages as teaching geocentrism, that the earth was the center of the universe and did not move. It was not until “secular” science came along that Christians reinterpreted such passages to no longer teach geocentrism. Continue reading
Historically, the Christian tradition I have been a part of (the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ) has believed and taught that baptism is the time a penitent believer in Jesus Christ receives salvation. Thus, it has become common nomenclature to say that “baptism is ‘essential’ for salvation.” This phrase has become so common and standard that it has often been used as a litmus test for biblical fidelity. If you do not believe that baptism is essential for salvation, then you are, by definition, a defector of the faith–someone who no longer believes in Scripture and authority of God’s Word.
But is this phrase a good way to state the view of baptism that the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ have historically held? I contend that it probably is not, and we ought to reformulate the statement, particularly jettisoning the term “essential.” Continue reading
A student of mine once commented, “We don’t know which religion is true, so we might as well just believe in what we want and be happy!” This statement captures well a very popular idea today. It basically says that there really is no such thing as truth, and even if there is, no one can really know it. This idea calls into question the very foundation of being able to talk about God and knowing things about him, or doing what we call “theology.” Continue reading
A popular idea today is that we have the “right” to believe whatever we want or choose as we wish when it comes to religious and moral beliefs. This concept probably comes from a sense of self-autonomy and the American sociopolitical context in which we live. In large part, it comes from the popular notion that there is no objective truth when it comes to religion and morality–it’s the old Schaefferian upper and lower story split when it comes to what we can and cannot know. Whatever the reasons, the pressing question is, “Do we really have a right to choose to believe whatever we want, especially religious and moral beliefs?” Continue reading
The 31st of this month will mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and the celebration has already begun in many quarters of the evangelical world. As part of this celebration, many are reminiscing and re-telling the important event that began it all: Martin Luther posting his 95 theses in Wittenburg. Interestingly, as evangelicals are celebrating the boldness of Luther, some unwittingly make him out to be a heretic and spreading a false gospel.
This may sound a bit outrageous, but consider the popular 9Marks ministry. Several weeks ago a good friend of mine sent me a 9Marks link that dealt with a question about the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (CC/CoC). (If you are unfamiliar with the ministry of 9Marks, check out their website HERE.) An inquisitor (a “Steven” from “Virginia”) remarked that he was rather confused about what exactly these churches believe. He commented that many of the churches have ambiguous statements of faith or none at all, so how should he interact and relate to this group of churches?
As interesting (and troubling) as this question was, the 9Marks answer and interaction with it revealed a theological inconsistency that is all too common in evangelicalism in general: an acceptance of Martin Luther’s view of justification by faith while leaving out his view of baptism. The result? In this case, the great founder of the Protestant Reformation would not be allowed to be a member of a 9Marks church. In fact, Luther would have to repent for perpetuating a false Gospel! Continue reading
Like with most Midwesterners, my world as a young lad was small. I grew up in a small town where you could run into every school teacher at the movies or the bowling alley. It’s what kept us children in our place and sometimes thinking of new ways to be sneaky. No one ever wanted his parents to run into a teacher on a Friday night who would expound upon the misdeeds of their secretive, yet innocent child.
The smallness of the town made my Christian world even smaller. The church was small. The building was small. For my childhood, the smallness was great, wonderful, and comfortable. I knew my Christian friends well and they knew me, probably more than I knew myself. The church camp I attended was small, but again, the people there knew me and cared for my spiritual growth. There was just something about the smallness that was endearing and comfortable. It provided stability, and everything about the environment made me who I am today. Although I no longer reside in that small town (and that small town no longer exists!), the influences will never entirely fade away. Continue reading
This is a guest post written by Rich Hoyer, director of The Reveal Conference
There is an irony afoot that many people don’t recognize. It is the incongruence of the moral “truths” that our secular society is foisting upon the populace and the lack of a basis for those “truths.”
We live in a secular society in the US and Canada. In many ways, it’s post-Christian, one which has been and is shedding traditional Judeo-Christian values. Secularism started out as the belief that religion shouldn’t be controlling government. The church and state should be separate. One religious group should not be running government to the exclusion of others. Yet today, secularism has morphed into a full-fledged worldview that has, even unwittingly, taken up religious status among its adherents.
Secularism is now a practical atheistic belief system that, while it may allow for spirituality of some kind, certainly views all religion as akin to being folklore. There is no such thing as religious “truth.” Religious claims are matters of preference. Moral claims are matters of pragmatic necessity in that they keep society functioning. Continue reading
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
If teaching in higher education for the past thirteen years has taught me anything, it is that moral relativism (the idea that what is right and wrong is simply a cultural construct) is the accepted ethical framework of the current American culture. What is more startling is that it is not just the secularist or atheist who believes that objective moral right and wrong do not exist; self-proclaimed Christians also believe in moral relativism.
It is common place in many of my courses for students to claim that actions such as rape, murder, and torturing babies for fun is not absolutely wrong for everyone. Just recently, a female student, as shocking as it may seem, told me that rape is only evil because that is what our society has decided. If it had decided that it was morally right, then it would be o.k. to rape.
This is not just anecdotal evidence. More dramatically, it wasn’t but two years ago that a colleague of mine lectured my ethics class during my absence in which about forty students could not discern whether rape is morally wrong for all people at all times. When my colleague recounted the incident, he said that he asked the class twice whether rape is absolutely wrong morally, and he received nothing but blank stares and “I-don’t-knows.” He finally called out the females in the class, asking them what they thought. The response was chilling: only a handful commented, “Yeah, I guess. Maybe.” When I returned to my class the following week, I put them on the spot again: “Is rape morally wrong for everyone at all times?” I received the same response: blank stares. Continue reading
Image taken from the Huffington Post
By now most people have become familiar with the idea of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” “Fake news” are stories contrived by news outlets, either legitimate or illegitimate, that are not real, i.e., make-believe. Akin to fake news, “alternative facts” is a newly coined phrase (used specifically by President Trump’s Counselor, Kellyanne Conway) used to describe a different understanding of a particular issue. As now understood, “alternative facts” is a euphemism for falsehoods. Continue reading