Category: Christianity and Culture

Congregations and their Facilities and Love

hat I did dwell on there but would like to spend just a moment speaking to here is this premise: “Congregational facilities should reflect the mission of the church. Where you put your money says something about what you value. You can tell a lot about a church and the Church by looking at its buildings and where it puts its money.”

Now, I don’t think this is a controversial premise. Moreover, I don’t think it applies only to the Church. I think this is just a general truism about money and people. But I ask: if true, what message is being communicated about what the Church values in view of the property usage by many, if not most, churches in America?

I think clearly the emphasis is in three places: 1. Church services. 2. Fellowship. 3. Classroom instruction.

The standard configuration of most congregations in America is Sanctuary+Fellowship Hall+Classroom Instruction+Office space for pastor and program administers.

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2010 Christian Writing Contest Taking Submissions

Athanatos Christian Ministry’s 2010 Christian writing contest is taking submissions. Over $2,000 in awards will be disbursed in two different age categories in short story fiction and a poetry category that is new this year.

Last year’s winning stories were published in an anthology which is available on Amazon.com, here. You can also read them online at the writing contest home page.

The purpose of the contest is to encourage Christians to promote their beliefs through fiction.

Short story fiction requirements:

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Number One Thing Killing the Church: Lovelessness

Below is a 20 minute clip from a presentation I delivered in Michigan this last October titled “Five Things Killing Christianity.” This is the segment describing the number one reason I believe is harming the church and the main reason it is in decline in America.

Direct Link: http://www.apologeticsvideos.net/videos/62/killing-christianity-lovelessness

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Strongly Recommended: Maafa 21- Evolution, Eugenics, and Abortion

I recently viewed Life Dynamics’s documentary, Maafa 21. I wrote a review and posted it to the Christian Post.com. Below is an excerpt. Read the whole review here. I strongly recommend purchasing and viewing this documentary, especially if you want the truth behind the modern abortion ‘pro-choice’ movement and its connections to eugenics philosophies that led to the Holocaust.

Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that organizations like Planned Parenthood have their origins in eugenics movements which in turn were formed to deal with the ‘problem’ created to society by the end of slavery. Using primary source material throughout the 2 hour documentary, Maafa 21 details how birth control measures such as abortion and sterilization were originally presented in the context of eliminating ‘undesirables’ from society. Highest on that list for the original eugenicists: black people.

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Another V Reaction as a Christian apologist

The beginning of the episode starts off with a Catholic priest taking confession from one person after another that has been knocked around a bit by the implications of the arrival of Visitors from space. Their faith has been rattled, for example. Or, they are impressed by the ‘miracle cures’ that the Visitors are able to perform. I have already touched on this in my two previous posts but I’d like to approach it again from a different angle.

Is it really the case that space Visitors will serve as a stumbling block to faith in God? I contend that we cannot actually know that until they arrive (if they exist and if they come) and that our speculations in the meantime are inferences from what we already believe about reality.

In light of the Visitor’s ability to perform miracle cures, I would like to reflect on a quote common in atheistic thought (If I recall correctly, even Dawkins cites it in his Delusion). Arthur Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

This sort of feeds into chronological snobbery of our modern age (and perhaps some past ages) which tries to dismiss the views and experiences of those in the past as being from an “ignorant gaggle of Bronze age fishermen and peripatetic, militant, marauding, murdering, genocidal goat-herders.”

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Should Christian Non-profits Consider Giving up their Tax Exempt 501(c)3 Status?

It is true that this is very rare, but that is only because many churches try to abide by the law on this point. The Government helps by keeping the financial carrot close by; the stick is rarely necessary.

The main question we need to ask is whether or not, and to what degree, should the Christian Church ever adjust its message for anything, let alone the Government.

But surely it will be pointed out that Jesus said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Yes, there is no question that God has appointed the government to handle certain duties (Romans 13) and there is no warrant anywhere for the Church to take those on. Indeed, we Christians are to submit to these authorities. It does not follow, however, that the Church can ever subvert its mission and message, even if the authorities say you must. Moreover, Matthew 22 (the passage alluded to above) explicitly states that people of faith ought to pay taxes if Caesar so requires it.

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It is not about health care insurance coverage, it is about health care COSTS

But, besides all this, there is something which is not seen. The fifty millions expended by the State cannot be spent, as they otherwise would have been, by the tax-payers. It is necessary to deduct, from all the good attributed to the public expenditure which has been effected, all the harm caused by the prevention of private expense, unless we say that James B. would have done nothing with the crown that he had gained, and of which the tax had deprived him; an absurd assertion, for if he took the trouble to earn it, it was because he expected the satisfaction of using it, He would have repaired the palings in his garden, which he cannot now do, and this is that which is not seen. [… etc] He would have become a member of the Mutual Assistance Society, but now he cannot; this is what is not seen. (Frederic Bastiat, 1850)

Mr. Bastiat does a terrific job in showing how taxes put to the socialist’s ends only serves to diminish freedom but what I want the reader to note the connection he draws here between taxation and ‘mutual assistance.’ It is agreed by all that we should like to help our fellow man. Liberals and socialists believe they can do that better by collective administration of coerced funds than individuals can do through churches, charities, and the like.

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A Christian Reaction to ABC’s “V” Visitors

I am hoping that ABC’s “V” takes the place that Heroes formerly occupied before it jumped dozens of sharks. It is too soon to be sure, but there is certainly promise.

While “V” does not appear to break this kind of innovative ground, it was a breath of fresh air to have one of the main characters be a Christian priest who is… wait for it… skeptical. Christians are often portrayed as gullible or extremist whackos (see again, “Contact”) and your hard core evolutionary atheistic types are veritable bastions of cool headed logic and reason (see the TV show, “Bones.”) (Yes, it’s true that one Christian in “Contact” was more reasonable, but he wasn’t exactly definitive about his beliefs, either).

The Christian priest in “V” issues forth a sermon that makes quite a bit of sense: “Before you jump on the bandwagon, make sure it is sturdy enough to hold you.” There is no atheistic foil in “V.” Nonetheless, I am pretty sure that your hard core secular humanist would accept without question a message presented to them by aliens like those we see in “V.” I know this because they already have.

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Fall 2009 Online Academy Offerings

The Fall 2009 session of Athanatos Online Apologetics Academy is set to begin Nov. 2. This session includes several new courses and several new instructors. Two courses are available for free. All are listed below:

http://www.academyofapologetics.com/fall2009/

Nov 2nd – Basic New Testament Greek Part 1
Nov 2nd – Reliability of the New Testament Documents
Nov 2nd – Origins: A Survey [Creationism/Evolution/Intelligent Design]
Nov 4th – Jesus According to… [Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, etc…]
Nov 4th – Studies in Atheism
Nov 9th – The Death of Christianity [FREE!]
Nov.16th – Christ Promised in the Old Testament
Nov 23rd – Hitler and Christianity [FREE!]
Nov 30th – Study in Alleged Bible Contradictions
Nov 30th – Basic New Testament Greek Part 2

www.academyofapologetics.com

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Five Things Killing Christianity: Is the End of Christianity At Hand?

The number one thing killing Christianity in America today:

Lovelessness.

All the rest of the things on the list tie back to this. The Christian Church exhibits constant lovelessness in much of what it does. Many readers will jump to the idea that Christians are very loving, and to an extent, I agree. Many readers will find the assertion nauseous because they think of ‘love’ as some wishy washy sentiment. Both sets of readers misunderstand me. One of my contentions is that Love itself is misunderstood, because unlike other doctrines, this one has not been systematically explored from the Scriptures. We all act as though we intuitively know what ‘love’ is. In fact, we have culturally driven notions that are derived from hundreds of years of romanticism. The Bible- the New Testament in particular- portrays a love that is much different. It is earth shattering, and embodied in the activities of the early Christian Church.

None of this should be construed (though it will be, to my chagrin) as a repudiation of all the things we currently do to ‘show’ we love God. It isn’t. If we were doing those things AND loving our fellow Christians… to the death… there would be no problem.

But, I contend, we aren’t doing that. God tells us that if we love him, we’ll love the brothers. We have it stuck in our head that if we love him, we’ll love him.

But that’s not what he said, and that is why outsiders, ultimately, do not find Christianity credible. Indeed, it is why Christians themselves are dubious, and in fact, sometimes falling away altogether.

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Church Bulletin Inserts and Apologetics

A while back I began a church bulletin insert series. I have noted continued demand for these inserts so there is currently a plan to develop a whole series, in particular a 160 insert series reflecting the three year liturgical calendar, for churches to use.

Because of this demand and in order to better satisfy it, the bulletin inserts currently hosted on sntjohnny.com are being migrated to a church bulletin insert site specifically for it: www.churchbulletininserts.com.

Better organization is on the ‘to do’ list along with, naturally, adding more content.

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Second Column Published on WND.com on Malthus

Today Worldnetdaily.com published a second column of mine. Title: Christians Beware the Malthusian Mind!

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Thomas Robert Malthus would have disagreed. The philosophical forerunner to Darwin, Malthus argued that there are limited resources, and competition for them is intense. When there are too many people competing for those resources, you have war, famine and a continual threat to civilization itself.

For Malthus, the pie is only so big: We must reduce the number of people who want a share of it.

Christianity embodies another solution: Make a bigger pie.

In Christianity, God takes a few loaves and feeds thousands with them. Entrance to heaven is not contingent on space available. Jesus came that we would have life, and life to the fullest. Not just for some, but all.

None of what follows is an argument for Christian indifference to the plight of other people. However, Christians should not advocate “solutions” that repress human liberty, dignity and freedom. For some reason, all of the Malthusian’s solutions do just that.

Read the whole column on Malthus and Malthusians.

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A theological basis for rank individualism in society and elsewhere

In short, dear Christian, I contend that we already have in front of us all the ‘higher level organisms’ we need: the community of the family and the community of the faithful. Here and only here are individuals respected, welcomed, and free. Here only are individuals understood to be forever, and here only do we see the context in which they will be forever- in community through Christ.

It is therefore with great caution that we must approach the efforts of the Statists. True, very often they propose programs that we can in good conscience get behind. However, even then they do not share our views about the individual, and so, they can, quite unexpectedly, change things. They would only be acting on their own values, and so we should not be shocked. Thus it should be evident that the more power we give them to help us the more power we give to them to hurt us.

As such, it is worth positing that we should give them no power at all, and the power that we do give them come with very robust checks and balances. Our trust in their sincere intentions seems, increasingly, to be poised to do us all great harm- or at least, the weakest among us, and those who are the heaviest burden on society. In the name of the “Most good for the most people” great evil is being inflicted, and history tells us a great deal more is possible.

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Generous with other people’s money

My challenge is this: on what basis can we possibly justify taking money from other people by taxation (ie, through coercion, threat of punishment, etc), to achieve that which we think is a worthy charitable end? [More…]

If you see a beggar on the street, it is perfectly right and proper to want to help him. If you proceed to go over and help him, you’ve done what pleases God. If instead you go across the street, stick a gun in a rich man’s rib, and take the rich man’s money and go over and help the beggar, I am not so sure that is what God had in mind.

Using the government to do our good deeds is essentially being generous with someone else’s money.

I see no basis in the Scriptures for Christians to condone or participate in such a methodology.

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