Tag Archives: religion

Never Tell a Child They Are Personally Worth the Sacrifice Jesus Made

True, I’m a curmudgeon. But this is a gospel-backed rant.

Most contemporary Christian songs make God out to be a supernatural soccer mom. It’s the kind of stuff you hear at high school rallies.

Why this slant in the  modern church? Because everything else in our culture makes much of us.

Advertisements. Movies. Psychology. Self esteem is a dog that can hunt.

Just the other day someone asked me how I expected children who have experienced abuse and depression to deal with feelings of worthlessness if we don’t bolster their self-esteem?

Could we really expect them to live the abundant life in Jesus Christ if they didn’t know they were personally worth the sacrifice Jesus made?

Great questions. Here’s my reply.

The Gospel Is about God Loving a Worthless People

I’d start with . “We love him because he first loved us.”

Then I would tell them that we are all corrupt. Sinners. Liars. Thieves. Adulterers–emotionally, physically and spiritually.

So by our very natures we can not love God. Because we don’t want God. So God loves us, which sows the seed of love for him in us.

I would also tell them that God is patient–long-suffering.

He endures with “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (), and wishes none would perish.

Yet, there is a point in which his mercy will end. It may be his unsurpassable attribute, but it is not his inexhaustible one.

For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

So I would tell my children not to drag their feet. Never put off repentance and surrender to another day.

Hell is a reality that you should never hide from your child.

The Gospel Transforms Worthless People

Futhermore, I would never tell a child that they were personally worth the sacrifice that Jesus made for them. That is to take the prerogative away from God, and to suggest that there is something in us worth saving.

and squashes that idea.

Think about it: God didn’t choose the Israelites to possess the land for their inherent worth. In fact, he chose them in spite of their stiff-necked ways.

He could have chose any nation. For some reason he chose the Israelites.

Think about what who had five husbands. Normal people don’t have five husbands. We can speculate she grew up in abuse. We can speculate she loathed herself.

But he didn’t tell her she was loved by God or a special person. He pointed her to the truth about her sin and about her savior.

And think about what he said to the woman caught in adultery. “Go, and sin no more.” Nothing about her shame or lack of self-worth. Just repent because God does not condemn you.

The Gospel Is Superior to Any Counselling Method

Sure, raising children and caring for those abused or depressed involves practical means like encouraging them and teaching them how to overcome depression…but NEVER at the expense of the gospel.

To do otherwise would only treat the symptom while ignoring the disease.

Besides, first century saints didn’t have our sophisticated counselling methods.

They didn’t need them.

Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” ().

So, in the end, I would expect children who have experienced abuse or depression to enjoy the abundant life in Jesus Christ in the same way that we all enjoy it. Through the gospel.

Here’s What I’m Not Saying

Using strong language will obviously provoke some people to believe that I think humans are no different from animals.

That’s far from the truth.

Humans are distinct from animals in at least 10 ways–but the most important differentiation is that we bear the mark of God.

We are creatures created to bring glory to God through our grace-affirming subjugation of the earth by the gospel. But that worth is an alien worth–imputed to us from our Creator.

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The Sublime Definition of Beauty That Leo Tolstoy Pooh-Poohed

In which I encounter one of the most sublime definitions of beauty–because God cares about art.

In the last two decades of the 19th Century Leo Tolstoy went on a philosophical and polemical tear, attacking the Russian church, landowners and even the Gospels. It culminated in a book called  

To say this book is intense is a gross understatement. He condemns Pushkin, Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bach and Beethoven. As well as his own novels.

He considers What Is Art? a challenge “hurled at all educated men.” He wants to strip art of mystery, irrationality and ambiguity.

What does he suggest as a substitute? China dolls, door knobs, chickens. Peasant women singing to the clanging of scythes. Sentimental genre paintings–like ?

If he lived half a century later he might have been chums with who penned “the red wheelbarrow”:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Or who wrote “The Snowman”:

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Or even Marcel Duchamp who submitted a porcelain urinal to the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibition and called it “.”

That may be pushing it.

The Beauty Definition in Question

The third chapter of the book, after a compelling narrative of a disgruntled visit to see the rehearsal of an opera that spans the first two chapters, he runs through the philosophical definitions of beauty.

He skips the ancients and medieval philosophers and starts with Enlightenment thinkers like Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten.

What follows is a catalog of these thinkers views. Most of these views are abstract and confusing. You can ignore them. Until you reach a fellow named .

Hemsterhuis is Dutch and a follower of German aestheticians like Goethe. His thoughts on art fascinate me to know end. I quote Tolstoy:

According to his teaching, beauty is that which gives us the greatest pleasure, and that which gives us the greatest pleasure is that which gives us the greatest number of ideas within the shortest amount of time.

This is pragmatism. This is efficiency. And the stuff of .

Hemsterhuis may have enjoyed living in our generation where . He may have been just as comfortable in Athens during the :

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.’ Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

Naturally Tolstoy dismisses Hemsterhuis’ definition, as well as the dozens of others he provides. He prefers art to be religious in the same way that Charles Murray described it in his New Criterion article :

By “religiosity” I do not mean going to church every Sunday. Even belief in God is not essential. Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism are not religions in the conventional sense of that word—none postulates a God—but they partake of religiosity as I am using the word, in that that they articulate a human place in the cosmos, lay out understandings of the ends toward which human life aims, and set standards for seeking those ends.

I think it would be safe to say that Tolstoy believed that God cared about art.

But Tolstoy was not an orthodox Christian. Neither was he evangelical. He was a moralist and an anarchist. And a tormented soul striving to balance wealth, fame, family and asceticism.

What Is Art? is a product of that torment.

For grins, here is one of the , a movie about the end of Tolstoy’s life in which he abandoned his wife and family.

The Blind Men and a Queer Animal


In the Buddhist version of the , a young man approaches Buddha with a dilemma…. Part of a series on truth.

Dozens of hermits and wandering scholars are making contradictory claims about reality.

Some claim everything is infinite.

Others claim all is finite.

Then some claim just certain artifacts are infinite while other artifacts are merely finite.

Who’s right?

In response Buddha tells a story:

Once upon time a great king told a servant to round up all the blind men in their province and let them feel an elephant.

The servant does so. And each blind man inspects the elephant.

One reports an elephant is like a pot–he inspected the head.

Another reports an elephant is like a winnowing basket–he touched the ear.

Another suggests an elephant is a plowshare–he felt the tusk.

Yet another reported the animal was a plow–he ran his hand along the tusk.

And another said it was a grainery–he made his way over the side of the elephant.

Some held the foot and said an elephant was a pillar. Some climbed on the back and decided it was an overturned mortar.

Others messed with the tail and pronounced the animal a pestle. Then others ran their fingers through the tuft of the tail and asserted the beast was a brush.

It wasn’t long before the blind men fell to blows with each other.

At this point, the king explained to his servant that the preachers and scholars who fight and argue for their limited view of reality are simply blind and unseeing.

And, in typical Buddha fashion the story ends. The student is required to figure out the conclusion on his own.

Not a bad educational strategy. In fact, it’s an exceptional strategy.

The only problem with Buddha’s conclusion is that he doesn’t interact with the original problem: Men argue, yes. But is what any of them saying true?

Just because they are bigoted, blind and quarrelsome doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Buddha’s answer amounts to an attack on character. But not a reply to any of the truth claims presented.

Blind Men and a Queer Animal [Indian Version]

In the Indian version of the Blind Men and the Elephant parable, the conclusion makes another bald assertion: All religions lead to the same God.

You’ve more than likely heard this parable before.

The argument goes like this: each blind man is feeling the same part of the same elephant. All are partly right. But in their limited view, all are wrong.

Another way to say it is like this: All paths lead to the same mountain. Or like this: Religion is a wheel whose varied disciplines are spokes that ultimately lead to the same peace and harmony at the core.

In other words, no one has a superior view of religion.

Here’s my point: This assertion is leveled at Christianity all the time. [Frankly, it’s leveled at pretty much all religions, but since I’m a Christian, I’ll interact with the Christian side.]

It’s meant to convey that we have no right to claim an exclusive hold on truth: Who dares anyone say they have a superior view of religion?

To suggest they do would be inflammatory and offensive.

First off, why should I believe that all religions lead to the same God? Second, isn’t that a superior view of religion–in itself inflammatory and offensive?

While such an assertion is clothed in humility, it demonstrates an undercurrent of arrogance and imperialism.

It says “I have the superior view of religion. Not you.”

It’s an appearance of truth. But that’s all. It’s nothing more than an arrogant claim that needs to be backed up.

In fact, any close inspection of world religions will reveal that all religions DO NOT lead to the same God.

Spelling Out the Uniqueness of Christianity

For instance, in the monotheistic three alone you have vast disagreements about who God is. Judaism and Islam reject Christ as God who Christians embrace as the one part of the Trinity.

While the prevailing slogan might be “Unite or perish!” by those committed to a religious consensus in the name of tolerance, to do so means watering down Christianity [all religions, in fact].

But in the end, it indicates a refusal to interact with the veracity of Christianity’s truth claims.

So, if you are sincerely interested in an introduction to the unique nature of Christianity, read Erwin Lutzer’s . Leslie Newbigin’s . Or Ravi Zacharias’ .

And listen, spelling out how Christianity fundamentally differs from other religions is not an invitation to fight. Rather, it’s an invitation to explore who we feel–based on the evidence–is our only messiah, Jesus Christ.

Your Turn

What other versions of the blind men and the elephant parable have you heard? Can you suggest any other books on comparative religion? On the uniqueness of Christianity?

Truth (A Quick and Dirty Guide)


In which we try not to argue over our differences about the truth on truth.

What is truth?

And does anybody have a lock on it?

The preacher? The scientist? The scholar? The engineer? The psychologist? The shaman?

Furthermore, can you trust them?

Not easy questions to answer.

There are so many competing claims and different approaches.

Can we REALLY know the truth? I think we can. And to help me answer that question, a while back I asked my friend Rob Powell to help.

He agreed and knocked out three posts on truth: Absolutism, Pluralism and Scientism. [See below.]

I then pulled together some more posts dealing with the question “what is truth?”

Perhaps you’ve seen them before. If so, skim through each for a little refresher course on truth.

If you haven’t seen these posts before, walk through them slowly and then let me know what  you think.

In the end, we might disagree. My hope is that I at least get you to think. And I promise to do the same for you.

Enjoy the list!

Absolutism (What You Need to Know–and Why)

Is truth absolute? Or is it relative and merely based on personal preferences? There has to be a right answer, right? There is.

Pluralism (What You Need to Know–and Why)

On the surface pluralism seems like a reasonable explanation for the diversity of faiths we see. Look below the surface and it’s not.

Scientism (When You Shouldn’t Trust a Scientist)

Science is awesome. It provides us with great party tricks and is the most predictable way to study the world. But what is it? And can it ever go wrong?

Pragmatism (Where It Breaks Down and Why You Should Care)

Pragmatist argue that it’s necessary to check our religious beliefs at the door when we debate issues. Unfortunately, that can’t work.

The Blind Men and a Queer Animal

In an ancient parable, dozens of hermits and scholars are making conflicting claims about reality. Who was right? D. None of the above.

The Blissfully Plastic Moral Base of Humanism

What does the meaningless, value-absent creed of humanism have to offer? It might surprise you.

How to Answer “That’s Just Your Interpretation

What are we to do when people say, “Well, that’s just your interpretation?” when we present them with moral or biblical truths? Here’s what you say.

How to Deal with Religious Conflict

What beliefs create peaceful behavior and deal with the discord of religion? Here’s the answer.

Hard Questions: How to Make Sense of the World

Answer these seven questions and you’ll discover what’s at the bottom of all your thoughts about God, yourself and the world.

What Camus and Frankl Can Teach You about the Meaning of Life

Is it possible to find meaning in life without God? Albert Camus and Victor Frankl think so.

Russel’s Tea Post, Snuggies and Talking Frogs

What’s the difference between God and an imaginary teapot–and where does this cute little analogy ultimately break down? Take a look.

Pluralism (What You Need to Know–and Why)

Guest post by Rob Powell. Part of a series on truth.

In continuing our discussion about truth and absolutism let’s move to how that idea intersects with the wide diversity of faiths represented in our world, specifically in the concept called “pluralism.”

We’ve all heard the allegory of the blind men feeling different parts of an elephant.

Each man describes a completely different animal based on what part they are feeling.

The moral of the story is that each is relating just a small but true part of a larger truth.

This parable is a feel good way to reconcile the differences between the thousands of different religions in society.

In fact, somebody should make a song out of it so they can add a verse to It’s a Small World.

Pluralism: The Good and the Bad

On the surface pluralism seems like a reasonable explanation for the diversity of faiths we see.

Nobody gets their feelings hurt by being told they are wrong and everybody gets to do what they think is true.

A little deeper inspection though shows that just like relativism this view falls apart under it’s own weight.

To allow all these discordant faiths to agree the pluralist has to do a few things, but first let’s take a look where faiths disagree.

Do All Religions [Basically] Agree? Eh, No.

To make that less than a 2 year doctoral thesis we’ll limit our discussion to the most populous religions.

Not that numbers equals truth but even the most PC pluralist isn’t going to say that the Heaven’s Gate Cult or the Branch Davidians has a truth claim equally as valid as Buddhism or Islam.

Bottom line: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism all have a diagnosis for what is wrong with humanity and a cure to fix it.

It’s past the scope of this article to delve into all the differences but they are not insignificant. Here are a few:

The number of gods. Some religions believe there is no God while others believe in only one and still others embracing many.

The problem of sin. All religions describe a very different program to curing sin.

The body and mortality. Each religion seeks to explain the purpose behind our bodies and solve the riddle of death.

In all these examples, the cures range from faith in Christ, to an esoteric experience where we see we are immaterial self aware beings with all knowledge or to realizing that all we are is fleeting conscious states.

The pattern here is clear.

There are a diversity of perceived spiritual problems–and a myriad of just as diverse solutions.

What We Must Avoid

To try and boil all this down and just say that people are broken and need a cure would be as silly as saying a person has “sick” and needs “better”.

If your appendix has ruptured you will not find a doctor that recommends in vitro fertilization.

Each specific diagnosis needs a specific remedy.

Maybe the pluralist believes that God will save those not of a certain tradition based on how they responded to what knowledge they had accessible to them. For example, the Christian God might save Buddhists because they were sincere in their belief.

Unfortunately this is not what ANY of these individual faiths teach. Also, past just the general diagnosis, religions disagree on what makes up a human.

What the Pluralist Must Do to Make Religions “Agree”

Do we have an enduring soul or are we merely a collection of momentary states? Either people come in two (or more) distinct flavors or you have to believe these both of these self contradicting things to be true at the same time.

So how does the pluralist make all of this work for them?

For example, there is no mechanism in the Christian worldview where the Buddhist’s sin problem is resolved outside of faith in Christ. Nor is there is no mechanism in the Buddhist tradition whereby the Christian becomes enlightened.

So the pluralist must create their own system whereby the two are compatible and neither can hold the other as incorrect.

This involves either treating all religious exclusive claims as either being non-literal (mythical) or having limited importance.

This would include any claims to miracle which would seem to add credence to one faith over another. What really matters to the pluralist is harmony, love, justice and unity.

In other words, how you live your faith (orthopraxy) is more important than what how your faith says you should live (orthodoxy).

The Pluralist’s Sleight of Hand

But did you see what just happened there? The pluralist in attempting to negate all the exclusive claims of different religions created an exclusive claim of their own.

The pluralist denies the Muslim a chance to define his or her own religion with exclusive claims but is completely free to do so themselves.

Pluralism fails pluralistically. Which brings us back to the elephant.

A pluralist takes each person describing their religious truth and enlightenment and says “Yes but what you don’t know is that you are blind and only see in part.”

That’s perfectly laughable because the implication is that the pluralist can see just fine and in whole–and you can’t.

In the end, he’s more than happy to make a claim to exceptional knowledge that he won’t let any single faith make own their own.

The Pluralist Is Just as Blind

As you can see, pluralism isn’t an overarching view that combines all faiths in one big bubble bath of goodness. It’s just one more view claiming special enlightenment and truth–which isn’t very pluralistic, don’t you think?

So when someone says “What matters is that it makes sense to me and enables me to grow spiritually,” it’s easy to see the benefit to this claim even taken at face value and not applying it to itself.

It allows everyone to do what they want how they want to do it.

But if there is no objective truth to be found outside of one’s belief then you can never be wrong in what you believe.

In essence you’ve created a Stepford God that is made in your own image–he’s a robotic butler who will never contradict you but always please you.

Unfortunately this approach destroys the distinction between the terms “truth” and “belief” and implies that something is true because “I believe it.”

Where Pluralism Threatens the Christian Church

So where does pluralism affect the Christ follower and it’s church. Here’s a quote from JP Moreland’s book  that I think says it well:

[Such] a church . . . will become . . . impotent to stand against the powerful forces of secularism that threaten to bury Christian ideas under a veneer of soulless pluralism and misguided scientism. In such a context, the church will be tempted to measure her success largely in terms of numbers—numbers achieved by cultural accommodation to empty selves. In this way, . . . the church will become her own grave digger; her means of short-term “success” will turn out to be the very thing that marginalizes her in the long run.

The call is clear to preach the obnoxious and offensive gospel to a world and church that most of the time doesn’t want to hear it.

Religious Divisions [A Quick-and-Dirty Guide]

There’s certainly no shortage of divisions when it comes to Christianity–or religions in general.

So what’s the difference between Christianity and Islam?

Where does Mormonism fit into our faith?

What about the Amish?

And what makes a Presbyterian different than a Methodist?

All good questions. This little guide will help you hash the answers out.


Movements that differ on doctrinal issues but hold to a common core of beliefs about God, Christ and the Bible.

A multiplicity of denominations doesn’t imply a problem. It simply suggests agreement on the essentials and disagreements on non-essentials.


Movements that agree with denominations on these matters but often place emphasis on certain topics that move them to the fringe of Christianity. Think the Amish’s radical separatism.

Sects only become a problem if the emphasis conflicts with core tenets.


Movements connected to Christianity in that they use Christian Scripture and appeal to Jesus but they also differ from the traditional faith in core areas–denial of the Trinity, rejection of part or all of the Bible or novel views about Christ.

Cults typically reveal a perversion of the core of a religion due to self-indulgent embellishments. Think Mormons or World Wide Church of God.

World Religions

Historic traditions that include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism and share very little in common, especially when it comes to core tenets of the faith.

World religions suggest the existence of a native sense of the holy in man. And then we move to explain it. Christianity is the story of the source of that holiness redeeming, adopting and glorifying man.

So, how do you decide whether a religion is compatible with Christianity? Whether it’s a cult, sect or denomination?

Simple. It needs to pass two tests–doctrinal and experiential.

Doctrinal: Is it orthodox on the key issues?

Experiential: Does it see a faith encounter with Christ alone as the pathway to being right with God?

How a religion answers these questions will determine whether it falls inside or outside orthodox Christianity.

Let me know what you think.

Purgatory: How Catholics Prove It Exists


The history of purgatory in ab0ut 805 words.

Ever wonder how Roman Catholics prove the doctrine of purgatory?

Yeah, me too.

That’s why I did a little digging recently.

Here’s what I found.

Purgatory: The Essentials

First, let’s define purgatory.

In a nutshell, purgatory is a place where redeemed souls go to purge their load of venial [forgivable] sins.

It’s a process of purification before they enter heaven.

Here’s what the :

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

How long does a redeemed soul spend in purgatory? From what I can find, as long as it takes to purge those  sins.

Two days. Two millions years. Just depends.

See, your success in purgatory depends on you. That means you can fail purgatory. No one guarantees you’ll persevere.

Not even God.

However, the good news is that the living can affect your duration. They can pray for you. [See point below.]

So how does one get purged? Fire. It’s a good guess this is a metaphorical fire, but the point is purification–and pain.

Much of what we understand about purgatory originates from Dante’s –depicted as a mountain in the southern hemisphere with Jerusalem at the top, for instance [image above]–is sheer imagination.

Beautiful, but make believe. Which brings us back to our original question.

Purgatory: The Catholic Proofs

So, how do Catholics prove purgatory exists?

Well, for starters, it’s good to know that purgatory is inextricably wedded to the doctrine of . That means you can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

This is how it works.

Both doctrines have their seeds far back in certain pagan religions.

After that, a prayer for the dead can be found in the Old Testament. The catholic Old Testament. The  to be exact. In the context of Maccabeus leaders praying for the dead.

Then, early Christian church catacomb inscriptions bear witness to prayers for the dead.

Next, Catholics find proof in the New Testament. The two main texts used occur in  and .

After that, the doctrine gets it traction in the early church fathers–think Augustine, Bede, Jerome. This is the argument from tradition.

Protestants Reject Purgatory

The doctrine wasn’t seriously challenged until 1,000 years later–early 1500s–when the Reformers rolled up on the scene.

What was at stake? Justification by faith alone–Luther’s pivotal beef with the Catholic church.

The Catholics defended that justification was a life long process as demonstrated by the long history–from pagan to early church to present–of the doctrine.

But the Reformers disagreed.


Not to be rebuffed, the  affirmed that purgatory is necessary to blot out the full debt of venial sins.

What Luther and Co. argued was purgatory amounted to justification mingled with sanctification. Basically justification equals prayer and fasting in this life…fire in the next.

Purgatory: The Protestant Objection

With a formidable case for purgatory, why would any Protestant in his right mind reject it? Several reasons.

First, sola scriptura.

Affirming purgatory–with it’s rich, deep roots in tradition– otherwise compromises the very  as the Protestants rule of faith.

And what does that rule of faith teach? You guessed it: Justification by faith alone.

Take Paul’s defense in  as an example:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

Then there’s Jesus’ parable of the . Jesus states that the tax collector is “justified” before God.

Or what about the ? Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Instant justification by faith alone. There was no more work to be done. That’s why Jesus, on the cross, said, “It is finished.”

What was finished? The work of atonement and propitiation.

In essence, sanctification is a result of justification. Not a prerequisite. And justification is an event that occurs at the moment of faith:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Our justification is an accomplished fact. Not an unfinished project. That’s the Protestant stand. What’s your stand? And did I miss anything? Look forward to your thoughts.

This post was inspired by a reader question. Got a question? Email me.

The Enemy [It’s Not Who You Think]

In view of this growing, hostile reaction to Christianity, you need to keep these three things in mind as you hash out your plan of attack–or retreat.

Books supporting evolution are not in short supply.

Stand just inside my local Barnes and Noble and you’ll see what I mean.

Lining a shelf of the new and notable science publications and you’ll see books like .


And .

Nothing unusual.

But it’s that last one–by none other than Richard Dawkins–that did it…

That got the gears going.

An Abundance of Books Easily Amuses Me

What surprised me most about this book was not that he wrote a book on the evidence of evolution…

But that he keeps on doing it. Systematically. Deliberately.

Naturally, his other books are just variations on the theme. The Blind WatchmakerThe God DelusionThe Selfish Gene.

Then there’s the hundreds more published by other authors. It’s a veritable cottage industry breaking into the big time.

But it’s also indicative of a sense of alarm about the future of evolution and the threat of superstition.

So, in the face of this sleepless opposition, what are Christians to do? Enter the Christian apologists.

Soon We Will Resort to Cage Matches

To be fair, neither is there a shortage of books AGAINST evolution.

For example, a month or two down the road Alistair McGrath, Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, David Aikman–someone in the camp–will write a book called Evidence Against Evolution.

Or The REAL Greatest Show on the Earth: Evidence for Design.


Well, I’m banking on history here, because this is nothing more than the thrust, counter-thrust, counter-counter-thrust, counter-counter-counter thrust of our current scientific-spiritual climate.

A climate brewing for the last forty years.

My observation boils down to this: We get our underwear in a wad, convinced our privileged nation is going to hell in a hand basket, and so we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and single handedly stop the steamroller called evolution.

Or atheism. Or pagan spirituality. Whatever you want to call it.

I’m Guilty, Too

Believe me, I hear that same voice every time a new book opposing Christianity is published.

Whether it’s by Ehrman, Dawkins, Young or Tolle.

I want to write the book that saws off the branch that evolution sits on. That pulls out the rug from under higher criticism. That drowns false prophets.

Vicious, I know.

And don’t get me wrong: This competition is healthy.

Yet in view of this growing, hostile reaction to Christianity, you need to keep these three things in mind as you hash out your plan of attack–or retreat.

Three Reasons Why You Should Chill

One, this shouldn’t surprise one thoughtful Christian at all. .

Second, evolution,  like all scientific views, has a shelf life.

In fact, it may surprise many to learn that most biologists at the start of the 20th Century .

Darwinism revived when a handful of scientists merged his theory with Mendelian genetics.

This is not an isolated event. The history of science is full of such turnabouts.

Whatever Happened to These Scientific Theories?

Ever heard of the geosynclinal theory? Of course not. It was buried alive by plate tetonics.

Geocentric view of the universe? Shoved aside by Copernicus and his trusty heliocentric view.

That phlogiston caused heat?  Well, oxidation burned this one at the stake.

Yes, Darwinism remains the consensus. [As do the others.] How long? A lot longer, I believe, than most because it is truly a great idea.

But that’s where it remains. As an idea.

Didn’t See This Coming

My final and third point is this: the –the region that covers South America, Africa and China.

What’s so special about it? It’s a region of the world that’s experiencing unprecedented growth in Christianity.

And here’s the kicker: This is occurring in the face of rigid anti-religious cultures.

It’s really quite astonishing if you think about what’s going on in China, for example.

 in a nation very unkind to Christianity.

And while not the poverty and persecution of the extremely repressive Cultural Revolution in 3 decades China’s gone from 3 million Christians to anywhere from 54 million to 130 million.

Conservately, that’s 18-fold jump in Christians. Go with the liberal number and we’re talking a 43-fold leap.

And get this.

This wave of Christianity is not led by foreign missionaries: Christianity in China spreads from person to person.

Government crackdowns and public scrutiny. Christians beaten, arrested and church leaders jailed. Converts remaining anonymous for fear of persecution.

As much as changed in China, much has remained the same. But Christianity spreads.

So, while we fight for legislation to protect our freedom of speech or prayer or our right to insist marriage should remain between a man and woman, our .

What Gives?

Quite frankly, we could use a little persecution. And not only of the academic sort.

In the West, we have lots of bandwidth to do much with. No surprise that Christianity comes in 356 colors.

And then some.

And neither is it a surprise that most Christians affirm the view that as long as people leave them alone they’ll leave them alone.

We are comfortable and want to stay that way.

Perhaps it would do us well be stripped of our freedoms. To be limited in our movement.

Perhaps creating laws that decreed publishing a book opposing evolution could lead to death. To make a stand against abortion punishable by torture.

I predict that much of what we know as the church today would run for the woods if this ever occurred…

Or commit outright treason against Christ. [I’m sounding rather alarmist myself, aren’t I?]

A Conclusion

In a nutshell, rather than wring our hands over the fear that the sky is falling in, our time would be better spent if we simply rejoiced and made discipleship of the nations a singular and solitary pursuit.

If we first sharpened our sense of sound doctrine and gospel truth.

And that we started with our own people.

Once we get back on that horse, then we can get on with the business of trampling evolution. Whacha think?

How to Deal with Religious Conflict

What beliefs create peaceful behavior and deal with the discord of religion? Here’s the answer. Part of a series on truth.

There’s no getting around it: Everybody has an exclusive set of beliefs.

Moralists look down their noses at unbelievers as filthy, undisciplined misfits.

Secularists snub religious people as psychopathic nut jobs.

And pragmatists demand we shed our religious beliefs when we debate matters of life.

All privileged–but partial–views we hold over others.

Which View Is Right?

What we need to do [and what really matters in the long run] is to discover which set of beliefs create peaceful, inclusive and loving behavior…

…will radically change you into agents of reconciliation for the world…

…and deal with the discord of religion.

I know this sounds counter intuitive, but the set of beliefs that will do that are found in Christianity–and the uniqueness of the Christian gospel.

Here are three major ways Christianity is unique to other religious views.

1. Origin of Salvation

The founder of Christianity is not a human–he is God. God who came in the flesh. All other religious founders are human.

2. Purpose of Salvation

 That God came in the flesh is important. Most Eastern religions tend to teach liberation from the flesh. And most Western religions tend to condemn the flesh.

However, through the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity teaches that the flesh will be redeemed and renewed.

3. Method of Salvation

All other religions teach you to perform the truth to be saved. They put salvation in the hands of humans. Christianity, in contrast, puts salvation squarely in the hands of God:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

Jesus lived the life that we should have lived and died the death we deserved. He suffered for people who didn’t love him. And this is the highest act of love.

Is There One True Religion?

I believe so.

How can I say that in a flat, pluralistic world where every religious flower can bloom? And how does that deal with religious conflict?

In the next post I’ll explain how holding these unique truths of Christianity seals people off from religious superiority, transforms them into agents of peace and produces humble, patient and compassionate behavior…behavior that ultimately shuts down religious animosity.

13 Quick Facts about Theosophy

“When one sees eternity in things that pass away and infinity in finite things, then one has pure knowledge.” Bhagavad Gita

That’s the quote that greets you on the home page of The …

A society founded by one  and one  in 1875.

The original purpose behind the society was to investigate, study and explain mediums and their claims.

After several developmental stages, however, including a dive into Eastern religions, the nuts and bolts of the society came down to :

1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.

2. To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, and science.

3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.

Here are ten more quick facts on the religion of theosophy:

4. Blavatsky said, “Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom reflecting its radiance upon earth. . . . The Theosophical Society was formed to show mankind that it exists.”

5. Theosophists believe One Life pervades and sustains the universe.

6.  The universe is the manifestation of an eternal, boundless and immutable Reality beyond the range of human understanding.

7 Matter and consciousness are the two polar aspects of ultimate Reality.

8. An intelligence that is both immanent and transcendent is the basis of all laws of nature. “Deity is Law,” said H. P. Blavatsky.

9. The visible universe is only its densest part. The entire universe is made up of invisible worlds that dictate the physical.

10. Both the visible and invisible universe are evolving to greater expression, awareness and unified consciousness–including you.

11. The human consciousness (spirit or soul) is in essence identical with the one supreme Reality. Our consciousness also connects you and I.

12. The gradual unfolding of this latent divine Reality within us takes place through . This is the law of karma, by which we weave our own destiny through the ages.

13. The human pilgrimage takes us from the One through experience of the many back to the One. When you reach that place, you are enlightened and can make sense of the Gita’s statement that kicked off this discussion.

Legend has it that Blavatsky told some Theosophical students that the real purpose of the Society was to prepare mankind for the World Teacher…

A statement like that brings into into the realm of fringe Christianity. In other words, a cult. I don’t know. Any theosophists out there who can identify the truth of that statement?

Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.