Thursday, April 28, 2011

Man Pleads Guilty in Ohio Gunpoint Abortion Case

From news:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to charges that he tried to force his pregnant girlfriend at gunpoint to get an abortion.

Dominic Holt-Reid entered his pleas in a Columbus courtroom Thursday to attempted murder, weapons and abduction charges.
He was charged under a 1996 fetal homicide law.
Police say Holt-Reid pulled a gun Oct. 6 on his girlfriend, Yolanda Burgess, who was three months pregnant, and forced her to drive to an abortion clinic.
Burgess did not go through with the procedure but slipped a note to a clinic employee, who called police.
I can't wait to hear Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and NOW say that the worst wrong and most dangerous thing this man did was have a gun.  Legalized abortions with the kind of privacy demands that abortion supporters make end up tying them into ethical knots; the abortion clinic technically did not have to call the police or acknowledge the woman's note, and that is a problem.  How many other incidents of coerced abortions take place, shielded from the authorities because someone didn't use a gun to force a woman to the abortionist?  No one will ever know.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dearborn Moves to California?

This video ignited a firestorm on my facebook. Take a look:

The complete story about this incident can be found here.

The controversy surrounds not with the behavior of law enforcement, which I think should be the focus this incident, but the behavior of the man reading the Bible. Much was said about how this man was an "obnoxious idiot," a "Bible-thumper," and a detriment to the Church. I really don't see that in the video, but let me grant it for the sake of the argument. Even if the man were to behave 100x's worse, would that justify an arrest? Even if he were Terry Jones can anyone justify an arrest--oh wait, that happened too!

As Lydia McGrew pointed out, this incident happened on public property on which no laws were broken. The video shows that the men were peaceful and stood at a distance away from others. Had this man been a Muslim, I think this point would have hit home, for political correctness would have seen to his protection, and no one would have dared lay a hand on him.

As believers, we should be just as compassionate for these brothers in Christ as we would have for the nonbelieving public. To reserve from them that which we would give to others is duplicitous. The man has been called an "obnoxious idiot," but not one said that the security guard or the patrolman were "obnoxious idiots," even though they were. I cannot in good conscience shame fellow Christians in public for what they were trying to do and for which they were unjustly arrested. I have even had one individual tell me that the man got what he deserved even though the patrolman was wrong--hello, contradiction? The three fellow believers in the video have been unjustly treated; I don't know why as a matter of principle we don't defend their legal rights first instead of savaging someone's character. We don't do this to nonbelievers, but we find it somehow acceptable to eat our own.

Having said that, I can now address the separate issue of the wisdom of standing at a DMV and reading aloud from the Bible to people who clearly don't appreciate the effort. First of all, that's weird. Out of context and out of place, it is a gratuitous intrusion on the sensibilities of the general public, especially to read Bible passages without an explanation of the reader's intentions. Christians and non-Christians alike readily attribute a negative character to anyone who would do so, as shown by the comments on my facebook thread.

Second, this type of "cold" preaching is, as people have accused, detrimental to the mission of the Church. By creating a situation in which the people associate the Gospel with weird, intrusive, and annoying Christians, one may taint the impression of the Gospel itself. This, of course, is not how real missionaries operate. In a strikingly similar case, believers who traveled to Dearborn, MI were unjustly arrested for trying to preach the Gospel to Muslims. But in that case, the Christians had a context, a clear limited scope, and brought people willingly into a dialogue about Jesus Christ.

I think we all agree that maybe these men should have behaved more wisely leading up to being falsely arrested, but if we justify the arrest in any way, shape, or form over and against the Constitution, we have all taken a step toward losing our own First Amendment rights. Hey, it's your freedom (and mine).  It takes surprisingly few cases to set off unconstitutional limitations if they aren't constantly being defended.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are There Unicorns in the Bible?

Yes, there are, but it's not what you think!  :) 
Please watch:

Another lesson about why we don't read backwards in the Bible.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Denied Valedictorian Receives Her Honor, 75 Years Late

For totally inarticulate-able reasons, this story just struck me right there.  A long overdue rectification of an injustice toward a more-than-deserving individual just has the right ring of sorrow and satisfaction.  Please watch:

The story reports that “it’s believed that school leaders did not want two black valedictorians so close together.”  Fanetta’s Gordon’s sister claims that the principal of the school especially did not want two black students from the same family to graduate with valedictorian honors.   As a result, the principal ordered the music teacher to lower one of Fanetta’s grades in the class. 

Most of us would quickly judge this a case of discrimination and robbery, and I believe that it was.  But I believe it was more sinister than even that.  You see, the principal denied Fanetta not what she was entitled to as a human being (because not all human beings are valedictorians).  Far worse, he denied a title and an honor that Fanetta earned and deserved.  The principal took something away from Fanetta that she had already possessed by ordering the music teacher to change her grade.  The way I understand it, the principal did not simply discriminate, he made her the victim of affirmative action to a position that traditionally has a quota of one.  So instead of one black young woman who earned her way to the top, a most likely white student received the valedictorian honors that he or she did not deserve just because of race. 

I hope that those who support affirmative action in the contemporary debate realize that affirmative action almost always victimizes someone.  Some colleges have quotas; almost all colleges have limits on the number of acceptances per school year based on race and ethnicity, which means someone will inevitably be rejected for belonging to the wrong race.  Employers cannot legally discriminate in hiring, yet they must fill out surveys on the racial makeup of their employees (by percentages!) that can be used to accuse them of doing the very thing they try to avoid, usually at the bark of some malcontent civil rights attorney.  In affirmative action, the dividing line between acceptance and hiring vs. rejection is race-based.  As a society, we should know that what is used to allow one race to gain a certain benefit almost always means that another race must face an undeserved loss, just as Fanetta Gordon did so long ago.  Certain races have always been favored over others for whatever reasons in any civilization.  As much as I’d like to change it and would encourage change on this, I have to admit that this is the way of the world.
It is thankfully not the way of the Kingdom of Christ, however. Galatians 3:27-29 says, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Every believer is a favored person under the merits of Jesus Christ. We are all spiritual paupers who have been given lavish suites in the mansion of Christ. How then can we deny another something that he/she deserves in this world? It is with the understanding that each human being is unworthy of God’s favor, yet we have it through Jesus, that we can act with justice toward each other.

I am so glad Fanetta Gordon finally received her honor, albeit a sorrowful 75 years denied. Kudos to the school for doing the right thing after all these years.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is Faith Blind?

This is my Q&A response article up on the Smart Faith Conference website: 

Faith has become one of those terms that has come to be popularly defined as knowingly or unknowingly having positive belief in something that is not true. Even well-meaning Christians have spoken of faith as “a statement of trust in what we do not know for sure.*” With the idea of a necessary uncertainty built into the common understanding of faith, it is no surprise that many people have come to equate having faith with the opposite of having knowledge, evidence, and certitude. In other words, “faith” is the same as “blind faith.” Therefore, all faith must be blind, right?

Is faith really blind? Blind faith is certainly blind, but is this how faith should be defined? Both the Bible and our experiences tell us otherwise.

The Apostles of Jesus taught that their belief in Christ is an informed, evidenced faith. The Apostle John’s opening paragraph in 1 John is an emphatic statement of the reality of Jesus Christ in history. He states,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:1-5).
Redundantly, John assures the reader that the Disciples’ experiences of Jesus in this life are rooted in tangible reality. 

 The Apostle Peter says similarly. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18). Peter writes that the message he preaches came not from conjecture but through actual observance of God’s proclamation about Jesus not once but twice.

Likewise, Luke the historian says that the resurrected Jesus “presented himself to [the disciples] and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Certainly the Gospel writers considered their faith an evidenced faith; this high value on reason and evidence is a surviving legacy that continues to lead Christians today. The legacy has produced many Christian thinkers who have contributed multiple lines of reasoning, arguing not only for God’s existence but for the essential truths regarding the identity and claims of Jesus Christ.

In our own experiences, most rational people understand that blind faith is ultimately an uncomfortable faith. We demand a reality to our lives that is minimally verifiable. Even the atheist who questions the veracity of the Christian faith does so with the assumption that an objective reality exists to support his objections, though he often fails to apply his own criteria to inquire about his own views. In fact, we could ask the skeptic what his evidence is for his belief that all faith is unfounded.

Of course, people can believe things that are untrue. In a strict Christian sense that may be belief, but that isn’t necessarily faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” To the person who thinks that faith is necessarily uncertain, the writer of Hebrews equates faith with having confidence placed in what Christians hope for, which is actually a “Who” in the person of Jesus Christ. Christians then have the assurance of the living Jesus to see us through all of life’s uncertainties. Christian faith, therefore, is not about belief statements which may or may not be true, but it is about trusting and depending on Jesus and His promises.

Is Christian faith blind? In light of the evidence and the object of faith, certainly not.

*D'Souza, Dinesh. What's So Great About Christianity. p. 195.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Eve of Village Atheism?

While reflecting on his debate with Sam Harris and the audience questions that came after, Dr. William Lane Craig wrote the following about the makeup of the audience that night:
I wonder is something culturally significant is going on here. Several years ago, I asked the Warden at Tyndale House in Cambridge why it is that British society is so secular when Britain has such a rich legacy of great Christian scholars. He replied, "Oh, Christianity is not underrepresented among the intelligentsia. It's the working classes which are so secular." He explained that these folks are never exposed to Christian scholarship because of their lack of education. As a result there is a sort of pervasive, uninformed, village atheism among them. I wonder if something like this could be happening in the States. I was surprised to see the number of blue collar folks from the community buying Harris' book and thanking him for all he has done. They didn't seem to have any inkling that his views had just been systematically exposed as logically incoherent. The intelligentsia have almost universally panned Harris' recent book (read the reviews!). Yet it is lapped up in popular culture. Wouldn't it be amazing if unbelief became the possession mainly of the uneducated?
This comment causes my heart to sink. Personally, I like to think that I am fairly observant of the religious cultural shifts here in the U.S. and their bearing on what Christians should do to respond to them. However, I have to admit that Dr. Craig’s note above catches me a little off guard, even alarming to a degree as I realize what his observation, if truly symptomatic of an eve of a significant change, means for Christian apologists in this day and age. An inculcation of “New Atheism” among the blue collar/working class here would be a dramatic reversal of the religious landscape of America. I cannot help but feel that such a situation might be more “dismaying” than “amazing.”

Christianity is a piece of Americana (whether anyone thinks that is a good thing or not). One of our hallmark cultural contours is the common family of common means participating on a minimum level in a Christian expression of some type. Classically, I think of church attendance on Sundays, respect for the Bible, and a basic familiarity with Christian beliefs. So far, that the common man believes he has a faith is the experience of American life. New Atheists seek to change that through a campaign of popularizing atheism.

I have no doubt that the inculcation is taking place. It is being impressed upon the public through books by New Atheists like Sam Harris that are aimed on the popular level, both to adults and youth (e.g. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials). In the public classroom, atheism is the default worldview in the disciplines of both the hard and social sciences. Atheism is marketed as the new neutral position in almost all of public literature, television, and many commercial media outlets. Atheists pronounce that atheism is the only viable alternative for fair-minded people once they have shed the evil “superstition” of theism and Christianity that has existed here since the Pilgrims brought their Bibles off the Mayflower. Pair the New Atheists’ media blitz of book tours and public appearances and the fruits of declining Christian influence over American culture, I suppose we should expect an eventual ‘atheism-of-the-masses’ to emerge.

As I ponder on the observation that we are Great Britain’s cultural apple that has until now not fallen far from the tree, I wonder how should we take a leap of faith to escape repeating history rather than march in lock step behind a country that has untethered its Christian moorings. The Gospel of Jesus Christ exists for us (for our divinely ordered fulfillment) as much as humanity exists ultimately to encounter the Gospel and the Savior it heralds. Clearly we cannot remain satisfied with an apologetic approach that centers too heavily on the academy and not enough on the daily court of public opinion. Apologetics must be used more frequently in the day-to-day, not less. Our churches must become robust again in faith and orthopraxis and apologetics. The wisdom of Augustine’s “faith seeking understanding” presupposes that we should seek to understand our faith, contrary to frequent contemporary church preaching that faith with no attempt at understanding (blind faith) can be a superior virtue to serious theological reflection. And finally, we must take the Gospel and the defense of it to the gates of hell themselves (so to speak). We must not be afraid to engage the skeptics in their own backyard, which may include aiming for more exposure in the public eye through old and new media outlets and accessing more public venues receptive enough to an airing of a Christian worldview.

Here, I propose a few audacious plans of action. The following suggestions include, but are not limited to, the following acts of sedition against the prevailing cultural push toward total secularism:

• Appearances on television shows like The Colbert Report, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, and anything opposite Bill Maher. If Bart Ehrman can get an interview with Stephen Colbert, I reason that surely someone on the less apostate side can also.

• Opinion columns with as many newspapers as apologists are humanly capable of contributing to.

• Participation in public discussions on worldview-reflective topics. [For an example, see The Journey’s (St. Louis) pre-evangelistic ministry called “Theology at the Bottleworks” at]

As with anything, I cannot presume to predict the outcome of any of these efforts by Christians to make a positive impact on our culture for the cause of Christ. I do know, however, that neglecting the cultural shifts that take America farther away from a competent general understanding of theism and Christianity result in the kind of baseline secularism that is found in our neighbors across the pond. I stake an effort in the spirit of the words of the Apostle Paul, “May it never be!”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

British Muslim convert preaches against the very government that props him up

A former BBC security guard, now unemployed, converted to Islam and currently campaigns for a Sharia takeover of Britain, all the while living rent-free and collecting £1,256 per month in state welfare benefits.  Check it--that's over $2,048 USD. 

In the article, Mr. Dart/Salahuddin actually complains about his silver spoon living conditions in what are considered upscale flats:  "'It's quite luxurious compared with other ones, but you're crammed in like sardines and I can hear my neighbour coming and going. I don't enjoy living among non-Muslims,' he told the Sun. 'Under Islam things would be much better. You could have a detached bungalow for each wife, maybe four bungalows if you had four wives. I have to live here - and it's very hard to have four wives.'"

Wow, Mr. Dart wants to live the Islama-vida with four wives and separate bungalows, eh?   My, but he's such an elegible out-of-work welfare junkie and so dedicated to spending his days biting the hand that feeds him (someone tell me if he's good husband-material by Islamic standards, please).  According to the article, "he regularly takes to the streets of Whitechapel, East London, where he now lives, to conjure support for the fight to create a global Islamic state."  There's a word for this type of sponging--parasitism.

Well!  A la Charlie Sheen:  WINNING!

(HT: Answering Muslims)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Smart Faith Conference

I am pleased to announce that the first Smart Faith Conference on apologetics will be taking place in my hometown of Phoenix this summer!  Shawn White and I have organized a slate of phenomenal speakers to teach and assist youth and college students to understand how the Christian faith is a reasonable faith.

Conference dates:  June 10-11, 2011

Speakers include:
Mary Jo Sharp (Confident Christianity)
Brett Kunkle (Stand to Reason)
Neil Mammen (No Blind Faith)
Shawn White (Living Dead Man)
and yours truly, Letitia Wong

If you know a teenager or college student searching for ultimate answers regarding faith, science, and spirituality, consider signing them up.  Registration is ONLY $30 per student.  Early-bird registration is an insane $20 from now until May 13th, so do not delay if you want to attend!