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Saving the Christian church from ‘near defeat’…

I recently asserted that the Christian church is ‘near defeat.’

What would ‘near defeat’ look like? God will always preserve a remnant, but a look at Europe gives a good idea. There is quite a bit of Christian heritage in Europe, but at present it is completely de-fanged. Or, we can look at China and Japan, both areas where there was a time in history when the Church was growing but then was faced with violent oppression and nearly wiped out. I think the ‘Europe’ route is more likely then the ‘Asian’ route, but the results are near the same. I say this so that it is understood that in the course of time, what I’m claiming can actually take place, even here in the United States.

What is to be done about it? This is the critical question.

1. Establish a group of concerned individuals in your local congregation. Evaluate weaknesses and strengths and brainstorm ways to deal with the weaknesses and ways to play to your strengths where apologetics is concerned.

2. Build a library of apologetics materials. Don’t just include Christian material, but also anti-Christian material. The point is to prepare oneself and one’s youth for the threats that are really out there. Take the time to have people master this material.

3. Bring in outside speakers on apologetic topics. Don’t focus so much on whether they are ‘entertaining.’ You don’t want motivational speakers, here. You want people who know their stuff.

4. Re-prioritize the use of money. I’m sorry, but many of the things churches spend their money don’t even begin to reflect the nature of the situation we’re really in. Pay for member’s classes at local colleges. Buy books of substance for young people and give them away freely. That’s right, don’t even make them pay for it or perform a million fund raisers for it. Spend time thinking about how priorities are reflected in the spending of money. A church may say that they are interested in apologetics as a high priority, but if they only spend $100 on it when they pay $10,000 for a new organ, one really knows where the priorities are.

5. Add staff positions. Again, you put money where your heart is. Apologetics is such a large area that it is not plausible for any one person to master it all, and even though I encourage pastors to bone up on their apologetics, too, aren’t pastors already doing too much as it is? The staff would work in a complementary fashion to existing youth directors and education directors.
Secular humanism has practically declared war on the Christian church. It’s about time we realized that and acted accordingly.

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Responses to my Assertions are Starting

I recently made the claim that it is the Christian church itself producing atheists. I thought this guy did a good job of nailing the high points:

http://cuanas.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-christian-church-producing-atheists.html

He also mentions the situation in Europe, which I think is a foreshadowing of what America may look like in a few decades if we’re not acting urgently.

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Not just any time. The right time.

When I was a religion teacher I was often asked why God didn’t perform miracles today as often as he did in the Christian Scriptures. The question is a natural one. As one starts from Genesis and proceeds through Revelation, there are a litany of miraculous events happening one after the other. However, it is easy to forget that the Scriptures aren’t a history of the entire human race. They skip around- after the miraculous events surrounding Daniel there was a 400 year silence before Jesus was born. And even in a single book, there could be dozens and hundreds of years spanned, even though only a few passages have gone by. If we were to chart out when and where God revealed himself, it wouldn’t seem as often as we perceive.

This is where atheists often pick up the question, wondering why he doesn’t reveal himself specifically to them, because after all, that would remove all doubt. Right? I don’t actually believe that. I know an atheist who confided in me that he had an experience which seemed awfully supernatural to him at the time but after a few months and the years went by he found it easier to dismiss. One could only detect a miracle against the backdrop of regularities which we call the ‘natural order’ and that means that in order for God to perform the miraculous in a way for us to know that it is him, his interventions have got to be rare.

This raises an interesting set of questions. Continue reading

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Podcasts to come…

Podcasts (aka, sntjohnny radio show) has had many incarnations.  There is yet another one on its way.

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It’s true, that’s why. Not because it’s useful.

I’ve been plugging away on this thread here on my forum and the conversation has turned towards the question of objective morality and atheism. As happens so often, the atheists in question seem to think my point is that they would not be moral apart from God when in fact my point is that they are moral without their belief in God- but why should they be? That they insist that they are moral demands an explanation. And again, as so often happens, the question arises- don’t you think that you need religion to be moral?

I was painting my stairs and screwing in light fixtures when it hit me: they don’t really understand that I am a Christian not because it serves some utilitarian purpose but because I actually think it’s true. I have no interest in converting atheists to Christianity out of fear that they’ll become seriel killers otherwise. I want them to come to Christianity because they believe that in it is the truest description of reality and so that they can meet what lies at the center- Christ himself. Continue reading

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Education and atheistic propoganda…

This is in response to this article here, which discusses teachers’ opposition to sending out promotional material for an atheistic camp that was given to them- presumably without school endorsement- to distribute to students.

I will pass over the unspoken irony and more obvious and tired objection that if it had been a Christian camp or activity the ACLU would have been all blood and fangs.  That almost goes without saying.  But my general disgust with the thin skinned and easily offended atheist ‘minority’ dictating to the majority can be expressed against the Christian teachers in this story- provided that the school district also distributed Christian materials.  Doubtful, I know. 

I understand the problem of the conscience involved for these teachers and even the overly-sensitive ‘free-thinker,’ desperately and bravely seeking society’s approval for his position.  One does not like to further causes they don’t merely not support but positively rejects.  But it’s a school for goodness sake, and by most estimates, in the abstract, schools are supposed to be about learning new things and being exposed to new ideas- all, I suppose, in the context of excercising critical thinking skills. 

But that is not really what are schools are, anymore.  Continue reading

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Is religion dangerous? Continued thoughts…

This particular question has been coming up fairly often of late and has even been treated on my forum (www.sntjohnny.com/smf) and in an audio debate (hosted somewhere on this domain). When the question is carefully phrased we are helped greatly in answering it because there are some senses in which we could agree that yes, religion is dangerous, but disagree with the implicit charge that this fact is bad on its face. In the course of a single conversation you can usually expect definitions of ‘danger’ to change on you (logical fallacy of equivocation) over and over again.

For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to just take the one straight forward view that there are elements within religion that make it ‘dangerous,’ meaning that to act on the principles may result in consequences that some would find undesirable- and these may include other religious people as well. It is on the basis of there being truth to this that more and more atheists have taken to snidely ridiculing and dismissing religions everywhere, and of course Christianity included. It is here that I find myself scratching my head because as atheists marshal their examples the whole exercise appears disjointed.

The argument usually begins with the easy one- Islam. The dangerous ideology of Islam is considered exposed by events like 9-11 and many other bombings, beheadings, beatings, etc. I can get behind the notion that Islam is dangerous. From there the atheists take an interesting turn, lumping Christianity in with Islam as though the ‘dangers’ are comparative and equal on their face. Richard Dawkins’s “God Delusion” is a wonderful case in point as he moves from recounting Islamic atrocities to recounting Christian… uh… atrocities… like, for example, some Christians in Dover, PA, that used their rightfully earned positions as members of the school board to make a curriculum decision in support of Intelligent Design. Continue reading

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In Conformance to Reality: What does Virginia Tech ‘show’ us?

I’ve had quite a few things on my plate this last week so I didn’t have much of an opportunity to comment on the V-tech massacre, even if I had wanted to.  Having listened to some of the media coverage, I’m frankly glad that I wasn’t able to hear more.  The run to make political hay out of the event was atrocious in my view but I noticed that my own comments could have been percieved as more of the same.  I spent some time reflecting on what was different in my reaction and commentary and this post is part of the fruit of that reflection.

In brief, the critical distinction between my views and the views of many I heard is that in the first place, my views are actually in line with reality.  In the second place, insofar as everyone has compassion for the victims and their families, it is not the case that everyone has a ‘solution’ that is just as compassionate.  My response actually would lead to fewer mass shootings.  My compassion extends to the ones who live because their shooter was stopped earlier on.  I do not consider comments merely reflecting reality to be making ‘political hay’ because they are grounded in reality- it would not be political (per se) if I pointed out the laws of gravity, nor our best response to those laws when those laws are truly perceived.  If any of the rival viewpoints come in from that perspective, I will suspend my charge that they are politicizing the event.  I think I shall have to suspend it for very few.  I ought to probably share my comments now.  It will take a little explaining. Continue reading

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What? Something in a movie is historically distorted?

http://www.thestar.com/article/190493

The historian in this article lays out the implication that movie goers won’t know that the real history of the event is different than what is in the movie.  From the bits that I’ve seen of the movie, you’d have to be a real idiot to not know that the movie had blended history and myth.  That seemed to be the goal of the movie, and the historian’s essay cited above seems to not quite grasp that.

But the true irony is that nearly every person that sees the movie the “300” will know that the producers have played fast and loose with the facts but most of these same people think ‘there is something to’ Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.  In my years as an apologist I’ve fielded dozens upon dozens of questions about claims made in movies.  Stigmata was another one… people seem to be ready to believe anything that smacks of a conspiracy.

What amazes me is how one movie after another can come out spinning various conspiracies about Christianity and few historians wade out and straight forwardly say, “Well, that’s a historical distortion, actually…” and furthermore that people adopt what they see in the movies as their positions!

I guess you need to be wildly mythic like the “300” is to arouse the skepticism of our citizens, today.  How long will that last?  Perhaps in a generation movie goers will come back and watch the “300” and say, “You know, I think there is something to it…”

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According to Plan Means trusting the Planner

Naturally, when you get through Dawkins’s attempt to create a universal moral code apart from religion, he wants to add his private view that a little more flexibility about sexuality would be nice… so he adds that into his preferred new ’10 commandments.’  C.S. Lewis speculated that it is “Thou shalt not commit adultery” that burns people the most.  They can live with the ones against murder and theft. 

On another note, Dr. Dean Udell just took offense on his radio program to arguments that marriage is meant for procreation… “What about the infertile?!?” referring to a program in some state to require hetereosexuals who get married to have children within three years or else have their marriage annulled- “For after all,” he snidely jabs at social conservatives, “Isn’t that what marriage is for?”  Continue reading

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Blood on our Hands

The conversation in the US of late is whether or not we should pull out of Iraq or some other scenario.  It may seem that this is an issue segregated from religion and Christianity but I refuse to believe that one’s ideas- religious or otherwise- have no bearing on real life… indeed, if they did, they’d be fundamentally pointless.

Parallels to Vietnam have been made and in some respects I think they are accurate.  The problem is that the parallels are not extended far enough.  If we take a fairly common Liberal notion that our people in our own particular nation are not more valuable than the people of another nation, you see this principle extended in support of a withdrawal… “Who are we to impose our views on another?”  In fact, the principle, if it means anything, means that when we see people in another nation being ruthlessly oppressed it is not enough to hide behind our own particular flag and refuse to risk the lives of our own citizens to help them.  After all, our particular nation’s citizens are no more valuable than citizens in other nations… Continue reading

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Study Christian Apologetics in France

Some who know me know that I spent four weeks out of this last summer out of the country.  I spent the bulk of of that time in Strasbourg at the event listed below.  As I understand it, there are still openings available.  I recommend it for those seeking to expand their base of knowledge.  Dr. Menuge, who is presenting this year, is excellent.

The 11th International Academy of
Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights
July 10-21, 2007, Strasbourg France.
The academy offers a thorough, up-to-date training in the defense of the faith in the delightful, historic town of Strasbourg, France.
Topics in the 2007 program include:

  • The Apologetic Task Today
  • Philosophical Apologetics
  • Scientific Apologetics & Medical Issues
  • Historical Apologetics
  • Legal Apologetics & Human Rights
  • Literacy and Cultural Apologetics
  • The Apologetic of C.S. Lewis
  • Cults, Sects, and the World’s Religions
  • Biblical Authority Today
  • Open Discussion

The program is ideal for students, professors, pastors and professionals who seek to sharpen their skills in applying and defending the Christian faith in their vocation.
Deadline for Registration, February 1st.
For full information, see: http://www.surfoutsider.net/monty/
For brochures, contact: Dr. Angus Menuge (Angus.Menuge@cuw.edu)

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Trump vs Rosie

Is anyone else so disgusted by the media play on this that they just see the little blurbs and turn the channel, and leave the channel off for an hour just out of principle?

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Authority and Transcendence

Right now on TV they are having a special on the infamous Milgram experiment (link) which reminded me of a post I had in mind to write a couple of days ago.  The Milgram’s experiment puts to shame and disgrace the asinine, arrogant, and smug assertions of atheists that, “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”  (Cogito quoting Weinberg). 

No, you really don’t.  And actually, since when do atheists possess an objective measure of ‘evil’?  What the Milgram experiment shows is that all you really need is an authority figure and participants that are used to deferring to the judgement and orders of that figure.  The Milgram experiment did not have ‘scientists’ justifying themselves based on religious scriptures or authorities.  In fact, apart from being a cautionary tale about the danger in general of deferring to authority, it is actually a very telling warning sign to my secular humanist friends that the deference to scientists in particular may be even more vulnerable to exploitation- and really, can we be so certain that they won’t exploit their positions of ‘authority’?

Secular Humanists try to paint themselves as free-thinkers who would never do something evil because they are enlightened, but what the Milgram experiment shows is that they absolutely would.  Having devoted nearly three paragraphs on this you might think that this is my point, but it’s not.  It’s related, but actually I want to build on it. Continue reading

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