Friday, December 18, 2009
I received a fundraising letter from CBHD in my snail mail today. Submitted for your consideration an exerpt from that letter:
"Although some bioethicists might wish it otherwise, the voice of Christian bioethics cannot be silenced. CBHD is rapidly cementing its reputation as a center of "scholarship with a purpose." Our purpose is to make sure that bioethics worldwide attends to human dignity. Our scholarship analyzes developing trends and identifies both threats to our human future and opportunities that guard our common humanity.
Why does this matter?
The White House recently disbanded the President's Council on Bioethics for being overly philosophical and not providing enough practical guidance (as if practical recommendations should ever come without substantive reflection!). CHBD advocates healthcare for the common good. However, some alarming trends in the current debates appear to support funding of abortion and erode rights of conscience."
The misnomer that is "bioethics" in the realm of the practical (shall we say pragmatic instead?) only serves to confuse the public as to what is really taking place across conference tables in so many medical facilities and university meeting rooms. The function of bioethicists in these institutions is to convince themselves, politicians, and the public that what is commonly considered immoral treatment of a human being is otherwise perfectly acceptable once you erase the humanity of that person (an increasingly common practice in decisions involving medical ethics). So much for the 'ethics' part in the word "bioethics." The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity is one that stands for real ethics and limitations on the abuse of humankind through pragmatic rationalizations. Simply put, you really can't live without them. Think about it.
Friday, November 27, 2009
"He maintained that there is a certain Dyad (two-fold being), who is inexpressible by any name, of whom one part should be called Arrhetus (unspeakable), and the other Sige (silence). But of this Dyad a second was produced one part of whom he names Pater, and the other Aletheia. From this Tretrad, again, arose Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia. These constitute the primary Ogdoad .... There is another, who is a renowned teacher among them, and who, struggling to reach something more sublime, and to attain to a kind of higher knowledge, has explained the primary Tetrad as follows: There is [he says] a certain Proarche who existed before all things, surpassing all thought, speech, and nomenclature, whom I call Monotes (unity). Together with this Monotes, being one, produced, yet not so much as to bring forth ... the beginning of all things, an intelligent, unbegotten, and invisible being, which beginning language terms "Monad." With this Monad there co-exists a power of the same essence, which again I term Hen (one). These powers then--Monotes, and Henotes, and Monas, and Hen--produced the remaining company of Aeon."
Irenaeus--why I love him:
"Iu, Iu! Pheu, Pheu!--for well may we utter these tragic exclamations at such a pitch of audacity in the coining of names as he has diplayed without a blush, in devising a nomenclature for his own system of falsehood. For when he declares: There is a certain Proarche before all things, surpassing all thought, whom I call Monotes; and again, with this Monotes there co-exists a power which I also call Henotes,--it is most manifest that he confesses the things which have been said to be his own invention, and that he himself has given names to this scheme of things, which had never been previously suggested by any other. It is manifest also, that he himself is the one who has had sufficient audacity to coin these names; so that, unless he had appeared in the world, the truth would still have been destitute of a name. But in that case, nothing hinders any other, in dealing with the same subject, to affix names after such a fashion as the following: There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all though, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd; and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart of themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These Powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus .... If any one may assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?"
--Against All Heresies 1.11
It's the "Iu, Iu! Pheu, Pheu!" that did it for me. Booyah.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
For whatever reason, the following YouTube video caught my
This video, made by James (a.k.a. DasAmericanAtheist), is a response to William Lane Craig's response to Richard Dawkins' response to the philosophy of the Causal Principle as used by many Christian theists to argue for the existence of God. Dawkins asks 'Well, if the universe was designed, then who designed the designer?' which is the same as asking "Then who made God?" Watch the video below:
(relevant portion begins at :53)
James leads with Dr. Craig's statement, "In order to recognize an explanation as the best, you don't need to have an explanation of the explanation," to which he flashes the question "Why not?" At this point, asking 'why not?' betrays a key misunderstanding of what Dr. Craig is saying. By asking 'why not?' I think James is suggesting that Dr. Craig is saying 'The Christian theist is not obligated to his audience to give a defense of the explanation that God is the designer of the universe.' In other words, "don't need to" is equated with "not obligated to his audience." This is not Dr. Craig's position.
Dr. Craig is stating a rule in the philosophy of science; the statement above is about in part the procedural requirements for identifying a cause. Now read this slowly: what he is saying is that an explanation of an explanation of a cause is itself not part of the explanation of the cause. That is why it is 'not needed' in the philosophical treatment of the issue at hand and is not necessary to conclude that a certain explanation of a cause is the best explanation. What this means for Richard Dawkins is that his question "Then who designed the designer?" is completely beside the point.
This is evident, as Dr. Craig elaborates in the following example (paraphrased): "If archaeologists were digging in the earth and came across objects shaped like arrowheads, pottery shards, and tomahawks, can you imagine one of them saying "Look how the processes of metamorphosis and sedimentation have formed these uncanny objects!" Of course not. They would recognize that these were products of intelligent design by some unknown people group in the past. Now, in order to recognize that this explanation is the best explanation for these artifacts, the archaeologists don't need to explain the origins or details of the people group in question."
So, specifically to Dawkins' question, the theist does not need to answer 'then who designed the designer?' or, in other words explain the origin of God, in order to legitimize the statement that God is the best explanation for the cause of the universe's design.
James says that he doesn't recognize an argument here, which is exactly my point. Dr. Craig has simply stated the parameters of the philosophy of science on the question of the causal principle in order to refute Dawkins' mistaken notion about causes and origins (an irrelevant question that demonstratively leads to a [potentially] infinite regression of irrelevant questions of causes and origins). This is why Dr. Craig says that such a mode of inquiry is the end of science.
James asks: "How is it, that from among competing hypotheses, you can establish that a given explanation is the best explanation?" [Let me interject a minor aside here by suggesting that perhaps he doesn't like the word "best," as it might erroneously connote that some explanation is "best" as in "best by subjective determination." Perhaps, then, we should use the term "most plausible" rather than "best," if that makes the atheist more comfortable. I have no problem with that.] Back to his question: This sounds like a misdirection, given the context in which he is asking. Going back to Dr. Craig's example of the archaeologists, how applicable would James' question be toward identifying a cause of the artifacts in the ground? What kind of competing hypotheses should we consider to the idea that the artifacts are products of intelligent design? While one could invent a variety of hypotheses, we would easily establish that most, if not all, other hypotheses would lack adequate explanatory power and explanatory scope compared to the explanatory power and scope of intelligent design as the most plausible explanation. But we don't even need to ask such a question in the first place, because it is evident that it doesn't apply to our example. Likewise, neither does it apply to identifying God as the designer of the universe. Now, I do not mean to say that James' question is wrong in and of itself. It is a perfectly fine question to ask in general when beginning a deductive inquiry to establish one's parameters (hey look, we just reaffirmed the scientific method). In the issue at hand, however, the deduction that God is the most plausible explanation of the design of the universe is the conclusion drawn at the end of the Design Argument.
So while James can ask his question at the beginning of the Design Argument (which is then answered in the argument), he cannot ask the conclusion to the argument why it is considered the "best"/most plausible explanation as if it is part of the argument itself. That would be the beginning of a separate inquiry.
James reiterates: "Wouldn't supporting a given hypothesis with evidence or argument be explaining an explanation?" Well, so far James has been using the terms "hypothesis/es"and "explanation" somewhat interchangeably, and it hasn't been a problem until this latest equivocation. A hypothesis is NOT an explanation, even though in the previous context the terms were related enough to let it go. Here in the next question, a hypothesis is a proposition to which the evidence or arguments must either support or disprove. An explanation is a conclusion arrived at through an argument. If we apply this question to the core topic here, then he would be demanding in effect, 'Give an argument for the argument that concludes that God is the designer of the universe.' Well, the Design Argument is the argument that leads to the conclusion 'God is the designer of the universe' as the most plausible explanation of the facts. So, the answer is "no," because his question doesn't make sense.
The last few statements invoking gremlins, I think, is gratuitous...and ad hoc. The possibility of gremlins isn't even worth discussing, except for this: if James is willing to define 'gremlin' as a timeless, immaterial, powerful, and transcendent personal being who created the universe from nothing, then perhaps there could be a future dialogue somewhere in that.
I'll conclude this post with another clip that shows Dr. Craig's explanation of why philosophically we don't need an explanation to explain who designed the designer (well looky there, we found what Dawkins asked for afterall!). And, James, if you're reading this, I hope this straightens things out for you on this point. And, please stop eating your webcam.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Not just any pro-life, pro-family, pro-ethics statement, the Manhattan Declaration is a call to civil disobedience if (when) the government legislates that people of conscience support abortion, eugenics, and same-sex marriages in their professions and with their tax dollars.
The last paragraph of the declaration states:
"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s." (emphasis mine)
The question is, where will liberty lie when the leftist elites are drafting the laws of the land? The shoe has been on the other foot for almost a year; let us see what becomes of civil disobedience now. Any thoughts?
Sunday, November 1, 2009
2. And the Messianic references just keep coming, only it's not who you think it is. Hint: he might walk on water, but he ain't gonna make me drink it.
3. What's in that new miracle skin cream? YOU'D BETTER CHECK THE INGREDIENTS, NO JOKE. Neocutis, a cosmetics company, is now marketing an anti-aging cosmetic made from tissues derived from an aborted fetus. Apalling and sick.
4. You don't have to convert away from Islam for your father to go all 'honor-killing' on you anymore. UPDATE: The daughter of this man is reported to have now died from her injuries. Just as an observation, I notice that the AP called the murder an Iraqi honor-killing, instead of an Islamic honor-killing. How one can really avoid the obvious Islamic etiology of the "honor-kill" is baffling. I'd like to know: the next time a Catholic priest is reported to have molested a boy, will journalists scrub that story out of all references to "Catholic" and "priest?" Fat chance.
5. This one just leaves me with more questions than answers, like "What happens to the girl who 'type' is the girly-man?"
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Hi this is Brianman...I am on my gap year before I study medicine, here on a spiritual journey to find my true religion.
I have some questions:
When people say Jesus is the Lord, in what way do they mean that? Do they mean he is one of the trinity when they say he is the Lord?
So, where did this belief come from that Jesus is the Lord (as God)? Where was this philosophy derived from? i.e one of the disciples? Paul? Jesus' authentic words?
Wow, there is a lot of ground to cover as far as your questions go! I am glad, though, that you feel comfortable enough to ask.
To give context to my answer, you must understand a little about early Christianity. The first Christians were Jews. That is, Jesus was an observant Jew, and all of His followers were observant Jews. Jesus lived and taught everything according to the Jewish understanding of God, the Law, and the Prophets. Now, given that every observant Jew is a monotheist, to call someone “Lord” is a very significant thing indeed, because “Lord” is a title that people reserve for exceptional people, like nobility, heads of state, and perhaps high religious authority. Given that Jesus was not nobility, a head of state, or even an ordained Jewish rabbi, and that no rabbi was ordinarily called “Lord,” that the Gospels would refer to Jesus as “Lord” signifies that they gave Him some exceptional amount of authority. Why did they do this?
From the outset, the Jewish public ascribed authority to Him. “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matt. 7:29) He was set apart from teachers and religious leaders of the Law.
Next, He went further by teaching as one who could change the Law of Moses. Read my points here (start where you see the numeral 1). At this juncture, Jesus begins to offend Jewish monotheism. Not only did Jesus lead and teach, He claimed authority to add to and change the Law, something no one can do except God alone. Jesus treads on Jewish sensibilities and blasphemes according to the Law, and it ultimately leads Him to His crucifixion.
Now, what are the options? The only thing observant Jews can do is write Jesus off as a blasphemer cursed by God. So His disciples abandoned Him, ran, and hid for their lives; however, just 50 days later, they came out boldly proclaiming that Jesus was the long-prophecied Messiah and preached worship of Him, the Lord! They claimed they and 500 others had seen Jesus alive and resurrected and began spreading this news all over Israel, Judea, and beyond. Now, there are details in the runup to these events that I have not mentioned, but the practice of worshiping Jesus began with Jesus’ own disciples, who later became the Apostles to the Christian church. The disciple Thomas is famous for his confession (after doubting the resurrection) to Jesus “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28)
What details I have not mentioned are all the ways in which the New Testament speaks of Jesus as God’s Son and the Divine Judge that determines the eternal destiny of all of humanity. In keeping to the vein of Jewish monotheism, no one can do that except God alone. A good study of the self-understanding of Jesus from the Bible should help you fill in those details.
You mentioned the Trinity. The theology of the Trinity was not formulated in the language we have today at the time of Christ or in the early church. However, the Bible makes certain these three propositions: God the Father is God. God the Son (Jesus) is God. The Holy Spirit is God. From these ideas in the New Testament, Christians had to articulate a doctrine that is both faithful to monotheism and the fact that God has revealed Himself as three persons. So that is what we have: one God who manifests as three persons. Do not be troubled if you find this hard to understand!
My best advice to you to start off, Brianman, is simply to read the New Testament. Ask a Christian to explain parts that you find you need clarification. You seem relatively unfamiliar with the content of Christianity, so I recommend that you read the book More Than a Carpenter (Josh McDowell) too, as a good introduction.
I hope I have answered some of your questions here. It’s been a pleasure!
FREEDOM OF RELIGION:
"(Say to the unbelievers) To you be your Way, and to me mine." (The Noble Quran, 109:6)
"Say, 'The truth is from your Lord': Let him who will believe, and let him who will reject it:.." (Noble Quran, 18:29)
"Let there be no compulsion in religion..." (Noble Quran 2:256)
ISLAM IS AGAINST VIOLENCE:
"But if the enemy incline towards peace, thou shall also incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all there is)." (Noble Quran, 8:61)
"Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. (The Noble Quran, 2:190)"
"God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers. (The Noble Quran, 60:8)
i cannot believe, thant you want to do this!
can you not see that very many people these days convert to islam?
people realise it is the only right religion, you should be happy about what you are.
and to be honest i would blame your parents because they have not brought you up as a proper muslim.
and if you think that everything you are doing is a sin, then you should try to see what you should do about it...read the qur'an! go to the mosque. and stop doing all the foolish things like showing bits of your body, not praying, "thinking you are christian"....
i am ashamed for you.
you should ask for forgiveness because Allah will never forgive you if you convert! you will go to hell!
i do not know what to do with people like you, i just dont understand how i can help you, because you are mentallly disabled.
and yes allah will not be happy with you but no-one know hwta he will do to you, but you will pay for it if you convert.
Anyone care to shed some light on this?
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Original question posted on Yahoo! Answers:
I'm coming up with a huge final project for my speech class on why God doesn't exist, and there has to be 3 main points. I'm really SERIOUS about this, and I REALLY want to get everybody thinking.So far my first point is the PROBLEM OF EVIL, my second point is the PROBLEM OF CONTRADICTION, and I need one more. What's another REALLY good point that can get these fable believing kids to re-think their patterns?
D, I’d like to know why you think the problem of evil and suffering is such a problem for theism. In the absence of God and knowledge of good, how would you know what is evil in the first place? Right now, you assume that evil takes place and object to it (i.e. slavery is evil). You wouldn’t know that unless you have an objective standard of moral conduct by which you think all human beings should live, and that can only be the case if God exists. If God does not exist, there is no way to judge anything to be really evil. If God does not exist, evil is a point of view, and suffering is just happenstance. If the problem of evil is a problem for theism, then it is more of a problem for atheism.
Second, I’d like to know more about this “contradiction” you talk about.
Rebuttal from another person answering the question (abbreviated for length):
Evil - Research shows that the reason humans struggle with emotion to find equitable solutions is pinpointed the region of the brain called the insular cortex, or insula, which is also the seat of emotional reactions.The fact that the brain has such a robust response to unfairness shows that sensing unfairness is a basic evolved capacity. The emotional response to unfairness pushes people from extreme inequity and drives them to be fair. This observation shows our basic impulse to be fair isn't a complicated thing that we learn.It therefore fully illustrates that all humans have morals controlled by the brain and that Christians are entirely wrong to try and claim morals as their own!!!!
But Christians found a way round it!! Government statistics show that christians are vastly over represented in prisons for sexual, violent and fraudulent crime!!The Catholic church is paying millions in compensation for the sex/pedophile crimes of their priests alone!! Christians are vastly over represented in the divorce courts!!
Atheists have the intellect to see through the conditioning and escape into the real world!!Agnostics have the intellect to see through the conditioning but lack the courage to throw of the conditioning entirely.
Unfortunately, Yahoo! Answers only allows one-time replies, so here is my reply to the above commenter's statements:
The conclusions drawn here don’t follow from anything stated as premises at all. Your arguments don’t SHOW anything except that you have made an ad hoc conclusion to the fact that human beings do believe in objective morality. The atheist still cannot explain how he knows some things are objectively evil (i.e. slavery), only that he feels that it is somehow.
Reducing the problem of evil/suffering to a problem of unfairness doesn’t help the atheist argument, because basing a sense of morality on emotions and feelings in no way makes anything objectively evil. In fact, thinking like that only argues for the opposite, that morals are relative, and then the atheist has the problem of explaining why he thinks that slavery is really wrong and therefore God doesn’t exist.
Fraud, sex crimes, pedophilia –the only way you could say that these things are evil is if you know that they are evil (even divorce?), not say that you have some evolved capacity to feel that such actions are “inequitable.” Be that as it may, some people feel differently and think it is perfectly fine to commit pedophilia (NAMBLA, anyone?). I see that you think there is some kind of evil perpetuated on the gay community by Christians. If you really think that this is unjust (not simply “inequitable”), then you are appealing to some objective standard that exists apart from anyone’s feelings in the brain. On what basis would you judge those who oppose your particular sense of morality?
Atheists have the intellect to see through the conditioning and escape into the real world!!
How can this be if everything about an atheist is evolved only to survive and perpetuate genes? As it is, there is no advantage in survivability to believing that God does not exist, so how could anyone evolve out of religious belief? How could anyone evolve into it? Ultimately, if naturalistic evolution is the game of life, there is no “real world” that anyone needs to concern himself with, only survivability.
The problem still remains for the atheist who wishes to appeal to the problem of evil/suffering as an argument against the existence of God. In identifying moral injustices in the world to which he accuses God of not being there to rectify, he places himself in the position of actually making an objective moral judgment, something he cannot do without the the objective standard that only God can give. Therefore, God must exist in order for an atheist to make this kind of judgment! As C.S. Lewis says,
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The obvious denial of the circumstances by outspoken celebrities in support of movie director Roman Polanski cannot be starker than Whoopi Goldberg’s televised “rape-rape” statement on The View a few weeks back. Apparently, many Hollywood celebs say that the judicial system should overlook his physical, emotional, and psychological assault on a little girl (a crime) just because he happened to successfully run away from his trial sentencing (another crime) for 30 years.
But what can anyone say in defense of the obviously indefensible? Redefine harm? Make lame excuses? Indeed, like marrying a rich ailing widow for her fortune, there is no cliché that gets more repeat performances than the classic movie star wave-off after being caught in sexual immorality.
Just in case anyone is wondering, "pleading guilty to having sex with a minor" equals statutory rape EQUALS rape-rape-rape-rape.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
According to others, I must be awesome, because I let my child be taught and influenced by others for 6 hours a day, five days a week instead of homeschooling her. Because if I homeschooled her, it would be much more likely that she'd be playing XBox or sleeping her life away in abject ignorance just like all homeschooled kids. I bet they grow their own food too. Despicable.According to others, I must be awesome, because I have never discussed Barack Obama's race, not even once to anyone, especially to my kids, although every other critic has: Jeremiah Wright, Janeane Garofolo, and Fr. Pfleger. Oh wait--did I say "critic?"
But you know that's what I live for and how I evaluate my parenting skills. The adulation and approval of others, especially those who dip daily into the vast pool of knowledge and fairmindedness of the Daily Kos and HuffPo, affirm me, affirm me, affirm me. That's what self-esteem is all about--being affirmed by the really cool people, something else I'm going to teach my child.
But I'll tell you what makes me a great parent in my own opinion. I did MY homework and approved of the President's speech before I allowed my kid to hear it. I took the time to watch Pres. Obama deliver his speech at my child's school and stayed with her as the teacher asked the students to write their opinions about his speech in their journals. Then I sat with a bunch of 8 year olds and broke bread with them under fluorescent lights and over asbestos tiles. That's what a parent who loves her children does. Neither suspicion nor fawning at the President should have changed a parent's action one way or another.
As it turns out, I happen to agree with everything that Pres. Obama said: stay in school, work hard, overcome your bad circumstances. This is as good a speech as any conservative Republican president would have delivered, a far cry from blaming racism and poverty for failing to achieve academic success. A far cry from excusing drug use and sexual promiscuity as a reason to drop out of school. A far cry from blaming a culture of hopelessness as the cause of personal apathy. Indeed, for every young person out there: you have two hands, two feet, one brain. You are responsible for what you do with them, so do well.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Most critics of private health insurance (especially the President) have tried to make the case that government-controlled health insurance will avoid the drawbacks of denied and/or limited coverage, exemptions, and well, corporate greed. But will it? Reality says no.
Just take a look at this video of the chairman of the Oregon health plan as he explains why the state-run "public option" can deny life-saving medication to cancer patients yet approve the cost of receiving doctor-assisted suicide.
Credit YouTube user AlreadyKnownAsX2
His answer to the question "is it cheaper?" to pay for ($$$) end-of-life care rather than pay for ($$$) cancer treatment is astounding. He ultimately affirms that the issue is about ($$$) money while denying that it is about money. Ohhhh. Heads up, people, the bottom line is still the bottom line whether it be public or private insurance no matter what the motivation.
If it be not corporate greed, it will be some other rationalization. Brilliant.
(Many thanks to Frank Beckwith at WWWTW for the heads up on this one.)
When private health insurances deny a patient some medical procedure, it's called corporate greed. When govt health insurance (socialized medicine) does it, it's called "saving money." At the end of the day, if you're that patient, do you care WHY you're being denied or BY WHOM? Tell your politicians not to implement the 'public option' that screws the public's options.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Mikhail Gorbechev (by the Americans)
Ronald Reagan (by the Russians)
Osama bin Laden
The Pope (pick any pope)
George W. Bush!
Well, someone has just added another famous name to this list. Congratulations, Pres. Barack Obama, you just made ANTICHRIST! Just consult this incredibly boring, but popular vid:
I guess it's not too surprising. He's been everything else: Messiah, The One, whatever...
But seriously, who makes up this horse manure? Any such tortured reading of the Bible will make my neighbor the Antichrist, for crying out loud. The doctrine of the Antichrist, I've found, is really quite accomodating to anyone of notoriety. Why hasn't the community of prophecy enthusiasts applied Antichrist criteria to the great deceivers within Christendom? Benny Hinn is a wonderful example. I estimate that Hinn might be closer to being the Antichrist than even Hitler. Until those in the Name-That-Antichrist crowd first denounce the deceivers and the heretics among Christian airwaves and popular gatherings meant to bilk the unsuspecting masses, any finger-pointing will have to be ridiculed and proponents stripped of their credibility (if ever they had any).
Prophecy nutcases and faith-healing heretics--two freakshow camps under the label of Christianity that haven't received enough due criticism from within. I think it's about time that changed.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
In childhood, I was a typical church kid steeped in Asian Southern Baptist subculture. I became a believer at age 8 and was baptized at 11. I can say with confidence that, though I was a child, I became a believer and was baptized with the full conviction of the Holy Spirit.
At age 13, my spiritual journey toward God quickened while most of my church peers' journeys were away from God. In His providence, God gave me high school friends who were emotionally troubled, spiritually wounded, and highly skeptical (if not downright angry) at the Christian faith and the Church. Other friends were Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Jewish of all varieties. I consider this environment the fire that lit my passion for knowing my God, my faith, and for knowing how to communicate the truth of Christianity to others.
I've since had a trail of personal experiences that have fed my passion for teaching apologetics and theology, especially to college students. Presently, I am a full-time wife and mother, but the passion has not decreased. In fact, I have become more interested in teaching theology to women.
Several incidents in my life have brought about my passion for learning and teaching apologetics and theology. My first time considering the truth of any religious belief came when two Jehovah’s Witnesses visited my home when I was a child (perhaps at age six or seven), and my father diligently spent what seemed like an hour or more debating them on whether God could exist as a Trinity. Of course, my dad knew little actual theology and spent the time espousing modalism, but in retrospect, that was a pretty good attempt on his part to defend the Christian concept of God. I realized then that Christianity was not a given, that there exist faiths that seek to undermine Christian truths, and that there should be a defense of the Christian faith.
A second memorable incident came when I was in sixth grade. For some unknown reason, my homeroom teacher decided to challenge the class about what God is like. Now, I’m 11 years old and have never talked to anyone outside of church and family about God, but I answered what I had learned in my short lifetime of Sunday School. He was asking questions in a hostile tone such as “Where is God?” “Has anyone ever seen God?” In the midst of other kids offering up suggestions, I answered, “God is everywhere,” the simplest childhood definition of omnipresence that I knew. Well, in response, my teacher started punching the air with his fists, asking, “Did I just hit God? If God is everywhere, am I punching God?” I can’t remember how this discourse ended, but I do remember feeling offended. I could not express then what I can today that God is also immaterial, but that was certainly an aspect I knew my teacher had not understood in the context of what took place that day.
Right before high school, a family friend gave me a subscription to a teen devotional magazine, and one week was devoted to talking about groups that believe contrary to orthodox Christianity, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. About the same time, I discovered that my sister owned a few books about cults and doctrine. I simply devoured all the information I could find in the house. Church Sunday School had never taught me the content of my faith in with such clarity as I learned by reading what the Christian response is to heresy. From then on, I often asked my mom to take me to the big library downtown (because the local one was too small for me), where I checked out and read as many books on cults and apologetics that I could find.
At the time, I didn’t ask why I was learning all of this information. I just knew I was hungry for knowledge and was becoming more aware that people need to know Christ and the truth—the burden of evangelism became apparent to me.
When I started high school, God’s providence really came through (in hindsight of course). The friends I made were not the typical teens of that day, and honestly, I didn’t search them out on purpose. A good portion of them was in non-Christian faiths (Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons!); another portion was openly hostile toward Christianity, preferring to call themselves agnostic or skeptical. Yet another portion was the ones that favored the mod/”maud”, rebellious lifestyle and worldview (dressed all in black, etc.). In this environment, I had to listen to their grievances against Christianity and defend my faith and witness to them. I felt for them. I wanted each one to know the salvation of Jesus Christ, and I prayed for God to use me somehow to bring them to faith.
I look back on my teen years and think of them as the refining fire days of my faith. I had to know my faith in order to defend it. I learned compassion and humility. And all of this taking place before I was 18 years old.
My freshman year in college, I chose to defend the Resurrection for my oral presentation in English 102. As a part of Christian college ministry, I have spent time talking to skeptics in the commonplaces on campus. Along with that, I have had to deal with people trying to sabotage Christian events with heretical teachings of their own. I have taught other students how to speak about Christianity and handle hostile people at table ministry. I have dialogued with people who thought my interest in theology was irrational given my study in science. As an immature youth, I once helped ambush Mormon elders by calling the 800 number on TV for a free Book of Mormon (yes, that was wrong; but they met with us for about 4 weeks and even brought a bishop along to help them). I minored in religious studies with an emphasis in Philosophy. My professor of Western Religions (who was also a pastor) was so theologically to the left that I was glad she didn’t actually grade homework or else she might have flunked me for taking orthodoxy seriously. I attended guest lectures from both Christian and non-Christian speakers at my university (Phillip Johnson, John Polkinghorn, Arthur Peacock). I once drove two hours in a car I wasn’t legally old enough to rent in order to listen to William Lane Craig! In church camp, I taught adults, teens, and children alike the evidences for the Resurrection. I really found out my main spiritual gift when Bob Seigel from Missions Door described the prophet as the one at the table who says, “that’s what happens when you’re not careful,” to dinnertime accidents. In my mind, I blurted out, “Oh God, that’s me.” Bob said the person with the gift of prophecy is the one who is gifted at speaking the truth.
In 2000, I married the one boy who had a bigger apologetics book collection than I and could hold up his end of a theological conversation. We now have two little apologists in the making.
Since then, though motherhood is my full-time job, the drive to teach others and defend the faith has always remained strong and incessant. Thanks to technology, I blog my theological and apologetic musings. I sometimes lead community discussions through my church’s outreach ministry, called Midrash. I am always on the lookout for opportunities to lead and teach, especially to other women and also students (both high school and college).
Friday, July 10, 2009
The mission of Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries is to glorify God by defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the ground up. We present evidence for the existence and attributes of God, the inspiration and historical reliability of the Scriptures, and the death, resurrection, and deity of Jesus Christ. We also refute the arguments of those who oppose the True Gospel, most commonly the arguments of Muslims and atheists.
The website shows a full calendar of debates and events that put them on the front lines of dialogue with Muslims and atheists. They also have a blog, Answering Muslims, on which they post their latest ministry updates.
Acts 17 is certainly in the vein of a new generation of Christian apologetics ministries. I look forward to learning more about the work God has given to them in the upcoming months and years.
ADDENDUM: After writing this initally, I perused through Answering Muslims and decided to post their video encounter with Muslims titled “Sharia Comes to Dearborn, Michigan”. Powerful and disturbing, please give thought and prayers for the Acts 17 crew for their ongoing ministry. View it below.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
1. Closet Christian Alice (Vince) Cooper talks about the changes to his life, music, and career. That dude is my homeboy. ;)
2. The God Who Wasn't There, slated to be the next top-selling movie on DVD, next to Bloodsport.
3. The media attention over Sarah Palin's resignation proves that she is more famous than Jacko.
4. A review of the movie, The Stoning of Soraya M, ends with a jab at Pres. Obama's nonexistent support for Iranian democracy.
5. Billy Mays dies the same day as Farrah and Jacko. Who knew?
Thursday, July 2, 2009
It is a fact that Driscoll offends conservative Christian sensibilities concerning sex talk with non-PG language. Now here’s a question that I have: Since when is sex ever rated PG? Sex is for the married. You can be married only if you are 18 (in most states). And, if you are over 18, what about talking about sex should really offend? Why should the fact that he says “sex” out loud and not “s-e-x” give adults with mature attitudes trouble, except if they are not so mature after all?
After reviewing several blog rants and even a four-part article dedicated to criticizing Driscoll’s sermons on the Song of Solomon (which quickly boil down to criticisms about his person and faith), I cannot help but become aware of the river of problems under the church running far deeper than the issue of Mark Driscoll’s mouth. For example, sex is almost always discussed negatively. Driscoll himself observes that the primary message sent to most church youth is that “sex is gross…it’s dirty, nasty, vile, and wrong, so save it for the one you love.” How many Christian couples suffer in silence over sexual issues because they’ve been conditioned to think that sex is too taboo to discuss at church and among believers? In response, some believers might consider the wisdom of the secular world and then struggle over appealing to a source that is so maligned within the church as well. Church, which should be the safest place on earth to talk about healthy sexuality, is sadly the most unsafe and the last place anyone dares talk about it.
I listened to a fair share of Driscoll’s sermons, especially the ones that relate to this topic. There could be the rare occasion that he gets graphic in such a way that might offend (but in listening to three+ hours--and counting--of sermons, I have yet to hear anything even close). I’ve come to the opinion that the messages he delivers are far more important to the listener than the concerns of his critics. He is neither vulgar nor treats sex in marriage as a joke. Vulgarity demeans and degrades people or actions. Driscoll is doing the opposite. He is trying to save marriages and relationships. Not only that, he is trying to save wedded bliss from being the stuff of fairytales and/or the first two weeks of marriage.
Marriage is sacred, which is exactly why Driscoll’s sex talk is badly needed in the evangelical world. Our churchgoers no longer know what the body is used for and how to enjoy it in the way we were created. We have allowed the ungodly secular world determine what is impermissible and "dirty" for believers instead of believers charging the world with its perversion and taking back sexual pleasure under the dominion of the kingdom of God.
Mark Driscoll in general makes people with conservative sensibilities uneasy and takes the fun out of being a liberal. I gotta say that I kind of like that.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
So I’m watching YouTube episodes of the show and note the faint resemblance of their opening sequence to The Brady Bunch. From unemployment to $70,000 per episode, their reality show (thanks to the sextuplets) has vastly improved the Gosselins’ financial state. After four seasons, I’m guessing that adds up to quite a mound of cash. So what if this fifth season is like watching the Titanic break in two? They need the money to care for their eight children’s futures and a new house and two puppies and Kate’s unique hairdo and, and, and…if they don’t have a show, will Emeril ever come back to visit them?
And here is the vicious cycle that I hope Jon and Kate recognize and make a decision to end: the TV show will go on as long as their marriage is in danger. Their marriage is in danger, because they have allowed fame and the pressures of childrearing to take precedence over their relationship. Because their marriage is in danger, fame, fortune, and childrearing will substitute for the apparent neglect of their marriage.
This situation might be a little redeeming if I could hear Jon and Kate say, “We always wanted a huge family with multiples in particular. We wanted our children to be the same ages so they’ll always have this extra special relationship with their brothers and sisters throughout life. We only want to celebrate birthdays twice a year for the birthdays for the convenience of not having to remember 10 different birth dates. And it will be easier for all of them to remember their birthdays too. We want for them to grow up together and leave the house all at once. Having so many siblings helps them intellectually and socially, because they’ll always have to remember each other and not leave anyone out, and they’ve been able to count to ten since the sextuplets were born!”
Of course, neither of them has said anything of the sort, because (unless you really are Octomom) no one ever intends to have six children simultaneously. Neither have they gone the other way and said, “Oops. We made a mistake fighting childlessness in this fashion. Now we have the huge pressure of raising all of them, plus the added dimension of having to entertain a TV audience. It’s tearing our marriage apart. That is ironic, because our marriage is the beginning to why any of this exists in the first place.”
The part I find starkly missing is the appeal to God and church to find a solution to their current marriage woes. Jon and Kate are not superhuman; neither are they doorknobs. In fact, everything in the show tells me that the Gosselins are the most normal people on the face of the earth. And maybe, just maybe, being normal is their biggest flaw. How many marriages similarly dissolve? Why, after the statistics on divorce within churchgoing couples are higher than the national average, do Christians still prefer to treat divorce as a taboo subject and refuse to combat it? Do we not know how? Are we lazy?
In conclusion, that (1) fertility is a god, and (2) marriage is expendable are two lessons from the world that we can find exhibited clearly in the life of a Christian couple named Jon and Kate Gosselin. There are more that I had planned on teasing out, but my better judgment tells me that I should save it for the comment box. That Christians in general don’t stop and consider the ethics of our actions by virtue of our being Christians is a dismal sign that the church has not overcome the world in the more significant ways.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. I get it. If Geri Haliwell were still in the group, they'd have Heart too, and then they could conjure up Captain Planet. Now how cool would that be!
Friday, May 29, 2009
I have never watched the reality show J&K+8 nor given the show a moment's thought in the last five years. Yet, now I think something's changed at the moment of their critical mass. Coincidence? Hardly. At just the right juncture, I’m interested and perhaps providentially so. At least, that is how it seems to me.
Jon and Kate Gosselin, the parents and main "characters" of the show, set themselves up as a Christian couple trying to raise a big family on TV. Their verbal commitment to God and faith linger somewhere above their heads throughout the show’s current four-plus seasons. Kate regularly goes on speaking engagements to mostly Christian audiences, and her name is splashed on many Christian magazine covers announcing interviews inside. A family photo graces the cover of a new book, titled Multiple Bles8ings. But right here, right now, Jon and Kate’s marriage is imploding on national television.
And I'm thinking, ‘Is there anything about this family situation that is healthy at all?’
Fertility is a god
I wrote about the idea of fertility treatment on a previous blogpost, particularly as it concerns Christian couples struggling with infertility. The Gosselins’ situation, unknown to me at the time, perfectly mirrors the situation I talk about right down to the issue of suddenly having many more babies than expected. Their first success using technology gave them twins. Kate wanted a third child, but they cancelled a potential adoption midway through the process in favor of returning to fertility treatments. This time, the sextuplets that caught the attention of a cable TV network were born. Nowhere online did I read that they questioned whether their choices and consequences were aligned with God’s wisdom, yet Kate claims “It’s what God wants for us.*” Even Amazon.com’s editorial review (from Publishers Weekly) of their book states that “she and Jon…decided to accept the extreme challenge God had handed them.”
What God handed them? I believe the conventional understanding of providence involves considerable less control and knowledge over an outcome than what the Gosselins have experienced. Knowing the risks and potential consequences, they circumvented infertility (infertility being a circumstance uncaused by them) to have multiples by artificial means (a circumstance caused by them). How else does an infertile couple go from zero to twins to sextuplets in such short order when they only wanted just one more baby?
The answer is that fertility is a god. Today, instead of erecting physical idols that might grant the next generation of children, livestock, and crops, many go to a clinic where its practices often result in too much of what was wanted (along with consequent “reductions”--ahem, abortions--as remedies). For couples that find themselves unable to have children naturally, the quest to change that through any means necessary can be all consuming, driving even the most well intentioned wannabe parents to take measures beyond godly limits. As Christians, we are most often sensitive to the pro-life position regarding the end of life, but rarely have we thought carefully about the pro-life side of the creation of life. Kate acknowledged the probability of multiples the second time around. “We were told that there was a possibility of four, but we were truly unaware that there were seven on the day that our procedure was done, or we would not have gone through with it,**" she states in an interview. With the potential for a minimum of four more children, did they stop to ask themselves if they were crossing into recklessness by creating more lives than was their intent? If human life is as precious as we say, then we do harm to the children conceived in numbers beyond parents’ normal ability to handle. One thing is true about the use of infertility treatments: many couples may be stamping Jesus’ approval of decisions made without Him retroactively based on the results rather than on principle and responsibility.
Even in the one of the cheesiest near-foreign movies ever made (Bruce Lee’s The Game of Death), the plea to respect life stands out as a universal, objective good; in particular, it is a good that is found within the whole counsel of God. It is about time we apply the whole counsel of God to the subject of infertility and its treatments and realize the bioethical limitations that must exist. To want children is blessed. To avoid ethical pitfalls surrounding the issue of fulfilling this want is equally blessed, if not more.
(Next: The Morals of Jon and Kate Plus 8 Story, Part 2)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Many, many thanks to Bonnie Lindblom and Sarah Flashing for making this happen.
After "OMG, am I PREGNANT...AGAIN?!" it was like "whoa, family of four, here we come."
To make a long story short, I determined to have this child drug-free, which was the single biggest change from having my first baby. We got out the baby stuff and ordered some new diapers. I made my OB visits and counted down to D-Day. I delivered him on the day I was supposed to have the shower. Two days later, my daughter went to preschool and announced "He's out!" Then it was mounds of paperwork (wills, life insurance, college savings plan, employee benefits adjustments, etc. etc. etc...).
Ever since, my little boy blessing has been the Tasmanian Devil for the past three years. My husband and I both think that if he came first, and not our daughter, he would be an only child now and forever more. Hah!
Now, before anyone goes off thinking that I hate my son, I couldn't love him more if he were covered in chocolate (oh wait, he is). He's so cute when he's defiant, and he's cute a lot. :)
If you are a parent, how did preparing for a second (or third or fourth...) child differ from the first?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Orignially posted on 5/24/09:
From The Washington Times, the Hot Button article last week is about Sweden's public approval of gender abortion. In Sweden, women may legally use abortion as a method of sex selection. Yep--kill the unborn baby because the she is the wrong gender. Just to make things clear, Sweden has never had a law prohibiting abortion for sex selection. It's just now the issue has become public, and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare has decided that it will not be made illegal.
According to the article, the difficulty started with a woman who aborted twice, because she wanted a boy but conceived girls instead, citing that she already had daughters. This is eerily similar to a reasoning exercised in India and China and current purveyors of biotechnology, that of "too many girls." Gendercide.
I'm skipping the whole discussion about Sweden's philosophical consistency to the pro-abortion stance. Sorry--too callous; too disturbing.
Instead, I want to know what so-called pro-choice people think about this. I want to know why abortion rights are more important than nondiscrimination based on race, faith or gender. I want to know why having the baby you want is more important than just having a baby. I want to know how dehumanizing the unborn doesn't undermine the basic humanity of the born. I want to know at what point pro-abortion feminists will realize that an unfettered right to abortion is a key to feminism's own implosion.
Feminism implodes when feminists approve of gendercide, because gendercide can only be used to hurt women. Historically and globally, females are the undervalued and easily discarded. Feminism argues for the intrinsic worth of women--it only makes sense if it means irrespective of age--and equality of the sexes. How unfortunate that gendercide undermines intrinsic worth and equality in the human community. Metaphysically, gender is a second-tier property, essential to the individual identity, but not foundational to being human. In other words, gender is an accidental property. What does it say about feminists if they choose to support such consumerized death based on the metaphysically nonessential? Oh yes, if you haven't realized it already, abortion is a retail consumer service.
Again and again, the pro-abortion rights movement and its defenses of abortion on-demand shows that the movement rests on nothing other than the exercise of power over the powerless; no other rationale supporting abortion is ever stated without it having been said about another group for the exact same purpose and reasoning. If gendercide is a future reality that we must endure, I hope abortion rights supporters who are women realize that they can never justifiably fight for equality in any arena (equal rights, equal moral standing, equal pay, etc.) outside of the womb if they are willing to deny equality to females who are in the womb.
Ouroboros, the art of self-destruction.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Credit YouTube user boomaga.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Here is what tipped the scales for me:
"I am personally opposed to killing abortionists. However, inasmuch as my personal opposition to this practice is rooted in a sectarian (Catholic) religious belief in the sanctity of human life, I am unwilling to impose it on others who may, as a matter of conscience, take a different view. Of course, I am entirely in favor of policies aimed at removing the root causes of violence against abortionists. Indeed, I would go so far as to support mandatory one-week waiting periods, and even nonjudgmental counseling, for people who are contemplating the choice of killing an abortionist. I believe in policies that reduce the urgent need some people feel to kill abortionists while, at the same time, respecting the rights of conscience of my fellow citizens who believe that the killing of abortionists is sometimes a tragic necessity-not a good, but a lesser evil. In short, I am moderately pro-choice."
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The United States Congress was in a rare joint session. All 435 representatives and 100 senators were in attendance, and the C-SPAN-TV cameras were rolling. The members were gathered together to hear a speech by a descendant of George Washington. But what they thought would be a polite speech of patriotic historical reflections quickly turned into a televised tongue-lashing. With a wagging finger and stern looks, Washington's seventh-generation grandson declared,
"Woe to you, egotistical hypocrites! You are full of greed and self-indulgence. Everything you do is done for appearances: You make pompous speeches and grandstand before these TV cameras. You demand the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats wherever you go. You love to be greeted in your districts and have everyone call you "Senator" or "Congressman." On the outside, you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness! You say you want to clean up Washington, but as soon as you get here you become twice as much a son of hell as the one you replaced!Of course such an address never really took place (if it had, you certainly would have heard about it!). Who would be so blunt and rude to address the nation's leaders that way? Certainly no one claiming to be a Christian! Are you sure?
"Woe to you, makers of the law, you hypocrites! You do not practice what you preach. You put heavy burdens on the citizens, but then opt out of your own laws!
"Woe to you, federal fools! You take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but then you nullify the Constitution by allowing judges to make up their own laws.
"Woe to you, blind hypocrites! You say that if you had lived in the days of the Founding Fathers, you never would have taken part with them in slavery. You say you never would have agreed that slaves were the property of their masters but would have insisted that they were human beings with unalienable rights. But you testify against yourselves because today you say that unborn children are the property of their mothers and have no rights at all! Upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed in this country. You snakes! You brood of vipers! You have left this great chamber desolate! How will you escape being condemned to hell!"
Monday, May 11, 2009
Credit: YouTube user Oceanic890
There's something innate in every woman that allows us to understand this commercial perfectly. No, not the sandwiches--the jealousy, of course! In the average female mind, that some other woman is jealous of her (for any of a variety of reasons) is something of a compliment.
Yes, the spot is an amusing and witty celebration of two halves of the breaking of the 10th Commandment. Sadly, women live in the spirit of this commercial everyday, and there's nothing healthy about it. Particularly for women, "thou shall not covet" doesn't exist simply to show us that coveting/envy/jealousy are bad. It exists to show us that we have no need to be jealous of another for anything. Christian women have a secure and liberated identity in Jesus Christ, free from the race for material matters and comparative identity (the constant comparison of yourself with others in order to dwell on what's missing in your own life). In a world that over-glorifies supermodels and trendy handbags and sunglasses, we are saved from living in this skin-deep insignificance.
"I hate you" is sometimes a compliment, but it shouldn't be.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
The blogosphere in particular, as big and wide as it is, has made it possible for many bright people to contribute to the intellectual life of the thoughtful Christian. A few months ago, my friend Matthew Lee Anderson, organizer of the original GodBlogCon, graciously gave me a few precious moments of his time to let me peek into his literary forays. Amongst his online on goings are his blog, Mere Orthodoxy, a smattering of articles on popular Christian websites, and a chapter in the book, The New Media Frontier. So what is up with this guy, certainly a young man at 26, having so much to say?
LW: Blogging, particularly Christian blogging, has, as far as I have seen, really taken off in the last five years. There are numerous apologetics, commentary, and devotional-style blogs out there right now (including mine!). Tell me about the blog you contribute to, Mere Orthodoxy, and what role it plays in the blogosphere.
MA: Mere Orthodoxy, or just Mere-O, started as a joint venture with college friends. We wanted it to be a haven for reasonable conversations about faith and culture from the standpoint of mere orthodoxy, the classical, conservative Christian tradition.
LW: What role does your blog play in the blogosphere?
MA: It’s a small role; I wouldn’t say that it is a major stopping point in the Christian blogging community. We at Mere-O try to aim at more substantive analysis about events happening in church and culture, and sometimes that doesn’t play well online. Politics are what always draws traffic, and there were so many issues were related to faith and politics in the last election cycle.
LW: What are the issues that you personally like to emphasize?
MA: I don’t really have a specific area. It depends on what I’m reading at the time. Life and death issues are always an interest for me; so are theological issues particularly from a historical angle. Of particular interest is the state of the church in North America and how we can make it thrive, specifically with young people.
LW: The book, The New Media Frontier, contains a chapter by you. Briefly tell me about the purpose of the book and what your thoughts are in it.
MA: [Jokingly] That was a mistake by the publisher. They should not have had me in there. The purpose of the book is to equip those who are unfamiliar with new media (particularly blogging). For Christians, it is a valuable resource. I was at a Family Research Council meeting recently and the room was full of laypeople who were aware enough to come to a blogging conference, but they didn’t understand how to blog, how to comment, or what to write about. Those who do blog seem to be culturally aware Christians. The book seeks to provide laypeople with a greater cultural awareness on a practical level. It contains chapters on using the new media within church settings, apologetics, and bioethics. The day-to-day Christian life has to be carried over to your online neighbor with the goal of being a winsome witness for the Gospel.
LW: Now, you've also written a couple of other things that have gotten some attention lately. The first is your article, titled The New Evangelical Scandal, in which you point out that political allegiances in younger evangelicals have shifted because of shifting priorities. It has drawn some criticism but a lot of agreement as well. I perceive that those who disagree that they ought to be thought of negatively in this way. Rather, they see it as a positive. How do you respond to that?
MA: I understand the rationale behind the leftward shift in thinking (having a greater affection for social justice, big government accommodation, and repudiation of the religious right). However, I have a difficult time sympathizing with a lot of it, because much of it is a failure of them to understand the issues well. For younger evangelicals to say there are other things that Republicans need to address is correct. But to then say that we should campaign for and support someone who misses the abortion issue but supports others is misguided. Abortion and marriage are still among the most important issues that come to my mind.
LW: How serious is this situation, in your opinion?
MA: Well, I’ve taken a lot of grief for the article, being pigeonholed as the typical right-wing nut. My tone towards the younger evangelical liberalization was critical, but a lot of their conclusions I’m okay with. I employ many of the things they emphasize, like [open dialogue and] conversation, which is always desirable. My criticisms are primarily about their reasons for using them. I don’t think the situation is all that serious, because most people who really love Jesus can also be persuaded to think more clearly about Jesus as well.
LW: The criticism I see from "younger evangelicals" against, to make a contrast, "older evangelicals" is a lack of cultural engagement and anti-intellectualism. Yet, I can see that younger evangelicals are also guilty of those same things, only in different ways. For example, I don't see much sympathy for poor, disenfranchised Southern white people. I also don't see any more interest in pursuing Christianity intellectually than in previous decades proportionally to the available information out there. How do you view the criticism?
MA: The second criticism is spot on. We should persuade Christian evangelicals that reading hard books is something we should be doing with our time. It is true that there is as much anti-intellectualism with the younger crowd as with the older. Most younger, white evangelicals tend to be more intellectual in part because their parents put them through college. We're using what our parents provided and berating them for what most of them had no opportunity to have at the same level. Let’s check the criticisms we are making and the plank in our own eyes first.
Regarding cultural engagement, our parents’ generation did engage in culture but differently. Beating up on the evangelical ghetto is an easy thing to do. [But let’s consider that] the Jewish people preserved their culture in a hostile world by living in a ghetto. Sometimes that is a good cultural strategy to have. Our parents saw their world as hostile, so that may have been a good strategy. For us, the new engagement may end up being consumption. A lot of the mantra of cultural engagement may be an excuse to consume the culture without asking, “is this antithetical [to Christianity]?” We don’t need to consume culture in order to witness to it.
LW: So, you're twenty-six years of age and fit into the age group that typically encompasses "younger evangelical," as do I. Why do you think differently than the evangelicals you describe?
MA: I’m not sure that I do think differently; I do, after all, identify with the ethos of the young evangelical. If I do think differently, it is due to my own education and adherence to [the ideas of] G.K. Chesterton. We need to cultivate Chestertonian patriotism with respect to evangelicalism, which loves it while working to reform it. That’s what I’d like to do.
LW: You also wrote an online series about dating and marriage. A lot of people are going to wonder how does a twenty-something young man who's still technically a newlywed himself know anything about marriage! Tell me what this book does.
MA: People forget that Josh Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye when he was 18. I think there is something to be said for saying what needs to be said. I think I am writing as one who has made a lot of mistakes, all the mistakes (though I’m not making a comparison between me and Josh Harris). The insights into marriage and dating are fundamentally from my own experiences in dating, both painful and joyful. I came to realize that no one in the Christian world has any idea how young people are supposed to navigate dating. The confusion and the decay of the social fabric place an immense responsibility on the individual to make good decisions themselves, because no institution is helping them along the way. My writing tries to address how thoughts about God and relationships affect their romantic life. Then I move into the practical as to how they should behave. I really want to push off the “what should I do?” questions and ask instead “what do I think about marriage and God?” If you’re on your own, you are going to do well or do badly based on who you are. [It’s a call] to make sure you’re a good person and understand the Gospel.
LW: Please share an example of what you’ve learned.
MA: I’ve learned that we talk a very good game about marriage in the evangelical world, but few people actually commit to the principles [of Christian marriage]. Personally, I was getting the emotional benefits of marriage without being married, which is a common occurrence, both in the evangelical world as well as the world in general. Ask 90% of evangelicals about marriage [and they’ll say] “yes, I believe in marriage,” but in reality that belief doesn’t affect their day-to-day romantic life. That’s really a problem. I reached a point where I realized that even though I affirmed marriage in some abstract way, I didn’t really have any reasons why it was better than any of the alternatives. People don’t have a robust vision of why they should get married.
LW: What can the church do to correct this perception?
MA: The misperception of marriage is that whatever it is, it is in the eye of the beholder. We do funny things at weddings, and we don’t know why. Helping young evangelicals to understand the traditions surrounding weddings and marriage would be a good start--for example, cutting the cake and serving each other—the idea behind it is that this is the first act of mutual service, which is at the heart of Christian marriage. The [joke of] shoving of cake [into the face] is a perversion of that. We need to recover the [meaning of] traditions and grasp the deeper ideas of marriage. These are fundamentally Chesterton’s views; he says it a lot better than I.
We spent the last few minutes talking about church and moving to St. Louis. I am thankful that we have both found The Journey the church we call home. Matt is a great interviewee; I found his prefacing every answer to my questions with “That’s a great question” to be flatteringly complimentary.
As to what I think, I feel particularly refreshed to hear a young Christian articulate the way he does about how he thinks faith should be lived out in everyday life. Our pastor often says we are “living in the tension,” which, in this case, would be the tension between expressing Christian truth to an often unreceptive audience and reserving it for the sake of interpersonal diplomacy, both of which are crucial to the advancement of the Gospel. Christians in every generation should keep this tension in mind and ask for the godly wisdom that determines when and how liberally we should express both.