Category: Christianity and Culture

Is there such a thing as ‘Christian’ music, writing, art, etc?

I try mightily to keep myself from having unexamined beliefs. I turned one up, though, in the last month or so, no doubt because of the writing contest and online apologetics conference I was working on. The writing contest, for example, is labeled as a Christian writing contest. I began to think about how an endeavor like writing, or any endeavor at all, could justify being termed ‘Christian’ and realized I had never really thought about it much before, and had rather accepted the presumptions that had been handed down to me. I hate it when I do that! Even if the presumptions are right!

However, what I turned up when I began my examination may surprise the reader. In Evangelical circles, the Christian sub-culture is a constant temptation and Christianese the prevailing language, which I myself attack in this post warning about Christianese and shibboleths. There is a silly sense within Christendom that you can slap the label ‘Christian’ on front of something and you’ve sanctified it. The truth usually is that it’s merely been rendered more marketable within the Church.

The reader would be wrong if he thought that the presumption handed down to me was the one I just described, however.

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They Hyper-Defense of God: Reprise

God has chosen to operate through people and tangible, physical stuff like sound waves (the Word), water (baptism), and bread and wine (the Eucharist). (Some will object to baptism and the Eucharist, but at least people and the Word should be conceded). To attack such things in the name of spirituality is to attack that which the Spirit is actually using. In fact, this line of attack sounds an awful lot like Gnosticism, which considers matter inherently corrupted and only the spiritual things pure.

As a quick, pointed example, the accusation that the Christian community abhors all things concerning sex isn’t an entirely fabricated. There are indeed Christians who will talk about sex as though it were some base, physical act that only serves to get in the way of spiritual pursuits. But God made us as sexual beings, and marriage was God’s way of creating godly children (Mal. 2). One gets the idea for some Christians that God permits people to have sex, but only reluctantly- so we should try very hard not to enjoy it and participate in it only as duty requires. Yea, compare and contrast that with the Song of Solomon, why don’t you!

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Love and the Incarnation and the Hyper-Defense of God

But sometimes they just get all in a fit all the same if you include people as agents carrying out God’s mission. That is when you see the ‘hyper-defense’ on display, as if by acknowledging the fact that God uses people to carry out his will, that takes away from the credit that God rightly deserves.

The simple fact is that the Biblical witness is pretty clear: God does tend to use people to carry out his plans on earth. He could have delivered the Israelites from Egypt without involving Moses at all. Sure enough, it was by God’s power that the people were delivered, but he still brought Moses in. Then of course Jesus appointed disciples to go out after his death and resurrection to spread the word. God certainly could have just personally appeared to each and every person on the planet and delivered his message directly. For that matter, he could speak into our minds and be done with it. But he doesn’t do that. Not only does he work through ‘means,’ but he works through people- that is, people themselves are means.

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C.S. Lewis on Universal Health Care and the Love of Some

I was reading CS Lewis’s The Four Loves and came across the quote below. Obviously, Lewis is not specifically addressing universal health care or liberalism or the question of using the government to administer love. Even Christians can be found thinking that it is a noble expression of a loving society to have the government do the loving… and this with no apparent thought to the actual effect that this ‘loving’ will have on the people ‘loved’ and the attitude it fuels in the people-government doing the ‘loving.’ The most important thing seems to be that, well, people’s intentions are good, and it’s better to do something rather than nothing. Here is the quote:

This [is] Gift-love, but one that needs to give; therefore needs to be needed. But the proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication. We must aim at making ourselves superfluous. The hour when we can say “They need me no longer” shall be our reward. But the instinct, simply in its own nature, has no power to fulfil this law. The instinct desires the good of its object, but not simply; only the good it can itself give. A much higher love- a love which desires the good of the object as such, from whatever source that good comes- must step in and help or tame the instinct before it can make the abdication. And of course it often does. But where it does not, the ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs. It will do this all the more ruthlessly because it thinks (in one sense truly) that it is a Gift-love and therefore regards itself as “unselfish.” (pgs 50-51)

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Presentation: Abortion is Just Politics and Pro-Life is Just Religion; and Apologetics

Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. CST I will be presenting on this topic:

Just Politics? Religion and Abortion and Apologetics: Examining the idea that supporting abortion is merely a political view but opposing it is a religious view and the role of world view in the question.

Summary: Pro-choicers often frame their argument by casting their position as a civil rights issue and the pro-life position as a religious issue- and people should not impose their religion on others. Common sense would suggest that as two sides of the exact same coin, if one position is a religious issue so too is the other. Lying beneath the issue is this question: “Is there any belief that is merely political? What separates a ‘religious’ ‘belief’ from any other?” This leads into a conversation about apologetics, and whether or not the Christian faith is grounded in reality- and the consequences whether one answers in the affirmative or the negative.

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Video of pro-life presentation in Sparta Topic: Be a Hero

This is the video of the presentation I delivered in Jan, 2010. The pro-life topic title was: “Be a hero.”

Direct link to video.

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A Call to Churches to Create Careers in Apologetics

This article discussing emerging church staff positions crossed my desk and caught my attention. According to the article, prevailing trends in society and in the Church (Institutional) we can see these positions being developed or created:

The Network Administrator
The Multicultural Children’s Director
The Chief of Staff
The Operations Pastor
The Creative Arts Director
The Boomer Director
The Spiritual Growth Pastor

I think this list, though not portrayed as comprehensive, is probably pretty accurate. Given my background, I noticed that one position is not mentioned: Apologetics Director. I think that is pretty accurate, too.

I find this to be pretty interesting and indicative of the state of the Church, Inc. today. Not to take away anything from the positions mentioned above or positions that may already exist, but we live in a society where Christianity is being deliberately attacked at a number of levels. At the same time, the culture itself represents challenges to Christianity less intentionally, in the form of hundreds and even thousands of new world views for Christians to encounter and have to deal with.

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Upcoming online apologetics conference

Just a reminder that my ministry is hosting an online apologetics conference that is coming up in May. May 7th-8th, actually.

Speakers include Robert Bowman Jr, Corey Olsen, Angus Menuge, Robert Velarde, Bernard Bull, Mary Jo Sharp, Jamie Greening, Anthony Horvath and one more to be announced.

Topics are many and varied and include broad vision casting presentations and more narrower applications.

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post on apologetics careers made public

A few years ago I published a post contending that the Church needs to create apologetics positions within congregations, but kept the post private and pass word protected.  It was originally intended to be read by a narrow audience, so keep that in mind as you read it.  You can read it here.

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Dorothy Sayers on class and category warfare

From Dorothy Sayer’s lecture titled, “Are Women Human?” 1938.

To oppose one class perpetually to another- young against old, manual labour against brain-worker, rich against poor, woman against man- is to split the foundations of the State; and if the cleavage runs too deep, there remains no remedy but force and dictatorship. If you wish to preserve a free democracy, you must base it- not on classes and categories, for this will land you in the totalitarian State, where no one may act or think except as the member of a category. You must base it upon the individual Tom, Dick and Harry, and the individual Jack and Jill- in fact, upon you and me.

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I am my child’s advocate; you aren’t.

I am my child’s advocate.

He cannot speak for himself. She cannot understand the issues. Yet the choices we make today will impact them forever. I know my children. I know the issues. You are not my child’s advocate. I am.

You are quite certain my child should be socialized according to your dictates.

For thousands of years civilization got along just great without your professional opinion.

If I choose to make use of your services, it is as my instrument exerting my authority as my child’s advocate. My family is not the arbitrary tool of the state to achieve the state’s ends. My family uses the state- or doesn’t- as its tool. I dispense with it as I determine.

Turn your own family into a machination of the state. Leave mine alone.

I am my child’s advocate.

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Do Christians Oppose Universal Health Care Because They Think People are Lazy?

Someone directed me to this gentlemen here who labels himself a conservative, the feral conservative, in fact. I’m not impressed. One of the articles is called “The Ten Things You Must Believe in order to Oppose Universal Health Care.” It is filled with nonsense. This notion that the only way you can care for people is by supporting and implementing universal health care is positively ridiculous. I’m seeing it so much lately that I wonder if there are talking points somewhere. My blog (which you are reading now) is just one example of a place where it is affirmed that we should like to take care of those who need help and proposes other mechanisms to do it.

You may contend that these mechanisms would not be effective, but it cannot be said- as people are insisting- that Christian conservatives don’t care. Of course, people are saying it. It is up to the reasonable person to challenge insinuations to the contrary. Good intentions employing bad arguments that are essentially sentimental propaganda should not be tolerated.

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Why don’t Christians care about people who need health care?

The Christian Church has a PR problem.

In the first place, any regular reader of this blog knows that I take the Church to task like the best of them. The Church could, and should, do much more. But let’s be honest: they actually are doing quite a lot.

Historically, it has been the Church at the forefront in doing good works. For example, Julian the Apostate in the fourth century realized that if he didn’t enact government programs to take care of the poor he’d never be able to make the claim that Christians were pernicious. Slavery was ended by Christians standing up against other Christians. Institutions of higher learning like Harvard and Yale (and hordes of others) were all founded by Christians. Hospitals and medical clinics were founded first by Christians with Christian charity in mind. What tends to happen, though, is all of the good things that Christians have done end up getting secularized. You cannot call Harvard and Yale ‘Christian,’ any more. Nor can you call the local Lutheran-in-the-name hospital in my area, ‘Lutheran.’

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Apologetics Radio Interview KFUO St. Louis

Below is the mp3 of the interview I gave yesterday with KFUO in St. Louis, a radio station owned by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The topic was apologetics, reaching out to people in our particular culture, the decline of the church, relativism, etc. I’m in the first half.

I hear I did good. 🙂

One of the things that led to the interview was my website at http://www.lutheranapologetics.com which unfortunately I have not maintained as well as I would have liked.

Hint, it is not an apologetics for Lutheranism. 🙂

Anyway, here is the file:

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