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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Supreme Court on the Ballot this November

While talking heads are saying that gas prices will be the main issue in this November's presidential election (and who isn't being hit hard by this???), others are right to bring up the balance of power in the supreme court.

In a recent Washington Post article, this point was discussed:

"A victory by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, would probably mean preserving the uneasy but roughly balanced status quo, since the justices who are considered most likely to retire are liberal. A win for his Republican counterpart, John McCain, could mean a fundamental shift to a consistently conservative majority ready to take on past court rulings on abortion rights, affirmative action and other issues important to the right."

Considering that Supreme Court Justice appointments are for life (and the president picks these), this election has implications for far more than 4 years. Something to think about as we weigh the issues in this election.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Academic Freedom Prevails - Governor Jindal Signs Historic Science Education Act

This is an important victory for critical thinking and academic freedom. May other states be as courageous as Louisiana!

Read about it here...

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Reasonable Faith?

One of the most wonderful discoveries I made soon after becoming a Christ-follower during my junior year of high school was that Christianity makes sense. I didn't have to hide behind "blind faith" or stop thinking to be a Christian (Luke 10:27). On the contrary, some of the brightest people I knew were Christians.

Today I want to highlight a ministry, Reasonable Faith. This is the ministry of Dr. William Lane Craig (one of my professors in graduate school at Talbot). He is one of the smartest people I have ever met; yet he also deeply loves Jesus. It isn't about cold, logical arguments with no life or passion or heart. Craig embodies what it means to be a good ambassador for Christ and I commend his ministry to you. (there are Q&A weekly, Podcasts, blogs, forums, and free articles and audio/video to download).

Reasonable Faith is "providing an articulate, intelligent voice in defense of biblical Christianity in the public square."

You can also check out his new book coming out, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics . This will help ground you in the "why" questions of the Christian faith. A truly important work.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

92% of Americans believe in God or a universal this good?

Is belief in God alive and well in the US? Maybe. How's that for an answer? (and, according to the LA times, in CA not so much ;). The good thing is, people are talking about God and "the spiritual." So getting into a "spiritual conversation" is much easier today and provides us some opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The problem is that it is not clear which God, or if people are talking about anyone outside of themselves, or one that can be experienced by someone else. For example, is it possible for me to experience your God? Pluralism meets the privatization of religion.

(from LA Times article) "Americans overwhelmingly believe in God and consider religion an important part of their lives, even as many shun weekly worship services, according to a national survey released today that also found great diversity in religious beliefs and practices. Ninety-two percent of those interviewed for the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey said they believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, and 58% said they pray privately every day.

But California, like other states along the country's two coasts, resisted the prevailing national tendencies. Californians are less likely than other Americans to consider religion "very important" in their lives or to be "absolutely certain" in their belief in God.
Californians pray less than others in many parts of the country. They are less inclined to take the word of God literally. And they are ready to embrace "more than one true way" of interpreting their religious teachings."
(read more).

This article provides plenty of food for thought...though I just want to highlight one phrase, because it sounds so 'tolerant' and 'inclusive'. It's just too bad its incoherent and self-contradictory. Look at this phrase:

"And they are ready to embrace "more than one true way" of interpreting their religious teachings."

This boils down to "true for you but not for me." But is this statement true for both of us? Either Jesus is not the Messiah (Judaism), is the Messiah (Christianity), or was a prophet, but not the last prophet (Islam). But all three of these can't be 'true' at the same time.

I think people are ready to move beyond simplistic slogans and engage their doubts and honest questions. I think that is why Timothy Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism is so popular right now (#87 on Amazon). It is a thoughtful book written by a thoughtful Christian (BTW - that isn't an oxymoron), and if you want to explore God and the possibility of one true God - this may be a good place to start. Or you may be a Christian with doubts you are too afriad to make known, this may be a safe place for you to question as well. You can visit his website at
Just wanted to add a link to this article too...can an atheist be certian about belief in God? ;), Some U.S. atheists seem to be confused, Pew survey shows

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Did We Invent God to Make Ourselves Feel Better?

A conversation stopper we often encoutner when talking with more militant atheists is that humans invented God out of an intense need for a “father figure” or to console themselves. Alister McGrath cleverly summarizes the gist of this argument, “religion offers succor for suckers and losers, but not for serious and sophisticated people.” This argument finds its roots in writings of Ludwig Feuerback and Sigmund Freud. First of all, this argument cuts both ways. If Christians created God out of a need for a father figure, then atheists can be said to have rejected God out of a desire to kill a father figure. Paul Vitz, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at New York University, has documented a connection between fatherlessness and atheism in his intriguing book Faith of the Fatherless: the Psychology of Atheism.

As for inventing God to meet our desires, maybe this is precisely backwards. Perhaps the reason humans have desires is because something / someone exists that will satisfy them? C.S. Lewis beautifully articulates this point, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

For more on this, see Paul Copan's That's Just Your Interpretation

Check out Welcome to College

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life to the Limit

One of my favorite authors is Dallas Willard. He has an uncommon ability to articulate concepts in a way that helps you connect with them. In his book The Divine Conspiracy, he reflects on what it means when Jesus says I have come so that you might have life (John 10:10):

Jesus offers himself as God's doorway into life that is truly life. Confidence in him leads us today, as in other times, to become his apprentices in eternal living. "Those who come through me will be safe," he said. "They will go in and out and find all they need. I have come into their world that they might have life, and life to the limit."

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Busy vs. Hurried

John Ortberg writes, in The Life You've Always Wanted, "Following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. if we want to follow someone, we can't go faster than the one who is leading."

I find myself in a hurry most of the time. But I am finding there is a difference between being in a hurry and being busy. We can be busy at times (though this state of affairs shouldn't be constant), but being hurried is something we never find Jesus doing. Busy yes. Hurried no. I am praying for wisdom and discipline to live an unhurried life.

Check out Welcome to College

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Louisiana Science Education Act Ruffles Feathers for the Wrong Reason...

Here is the latest blog from evolution news:

(from the blog) An attorney friend e-mailed me to say:

It's so much easier to write scary stories when the legislation itself is NOT ever quoted. Isn't there some sort of journalistic standard that should at least urge a reporter to quote the primary source?You would think that with passage of a law like the Louisiana Science Education Act, now headed to the governor's office for signing, that the law itself would be quoted in response to bogus charges by malcontents. As we've learned, that just doesn't happen much. A slew of articles have been running in which activists like Barbara Forrest make the false claim that the LSEA opens the door to religion in the classroom. Not so.

Section 1D of the bill clearly states that it:

"shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion."

Today's Baton Rouge Advocate carries a story that repeats these claims, and while it quotes the bill's sponsor saying that isn't the case, it never bothers to tell readers what the bill says. If people are concerned they should read the bill for themselves and make up their own mind. (end of blog)

Now the idea of freedom of inquiry is making people of the Darwinist camp nervous, because until now, all ideas are good ones so long as they have them. But if there is SCIENTIFIC evidence (note: I did not say biblical or religious) that needs to be considered, people should be allowed to do so with out say...being fired or called a narrow minded creationist.

One of the best, and most accessible books I have read about sorting out religious and scientific issues is written by Oxford Philosopher of Science, John Lennox - "God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?" I commend it to you.

Check out Welcome to College

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Is Obama an enlightened being?

'Give me something to believe in'....these are the words of those 80's prophets - Poison (glam band, big hair, tight pants, long electric guitar solo's etc.). People want to believe something...someone...

But the object is an unlikely one today...Barack Obama. Now I am not getting political in this post--it isn't about whether you are going to vote for Obama or McCain and I am not ridiculing Obama here...I am more interested in the phenomena surrounding the question itself today.

In a recent article, Is Obama an enlightened being?, there are some pretty interesting observations--that tell us about our country, what 'spirituality' is perceived to be, and whether any man can sustain the hopes of all....

Read this article or check out the provocatively titled blog -

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Louisiana House Passes Academic Freedom Bill

Score one for academic freedom in Louisiana. It is about good education, not a hidden religious agenda:

"By a vote of 94-3, Louisiana’s House of Representatives today passed an academic freedom bill that would protect teachers and school districts who wish to promote critical thinking and objective discussion about evolution and other scientific topics. There was no vocal opposition, and the floor speech by Rep. Frank Hoffman made clear that the bill was about science, not religion."

“This bill promotes good science education by protecting the academic freedom of science teachers,” said Dr. John West, Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute. “Critics who claim the bill promotes religion instead of science either haven’t read the bill or are putting up a smokescreen to divert attention from the censorship that has been going on.”

About this bill.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rise of the Rebel Virgins

That is quite a headline! Now that they have your attention, the article gives an encouraging glimpse into a college trend concerning sexuality.

"That the "hookup"—a random sexual encounter often fueled by drunkenness—is the dominant way of relating to the opposite sex on many college campuses is no longer news. Neither is the announcement that the hookup culture has negative repercussions for its participants. Its pervasiveness has gotten the attention of sociologists, feminists, parents, and even novelist Tom Wolfe. (more)....

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

International Justice Mission - Spotlight

The Christian God is a God of compassion and justice. Few ministries embody these virtues more than IJM. Here is a little about them and their important work:

"International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems."

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Internet companies legislating morality?

An article came out today "Internet companies to block child porn sites," that raises a good question and illustrates an even better point. (for the record I think it is great that they are doing what they can to protect kids from porn and exploitation, and more of it needs to happen). Are they "pushing their morality" on the rest of us???

First, the point. Legislating morality is impossible to avoid. Often when people talk about faith and values in the public square, it quickly goes to "Christians shouldn't legislate their morality on the rest of us." The fact is government can't help but legislate morality---which leads us to the question....which morality should we legislate.

For as Michael Bauman explains, “All laws, whether prescriptive or prohibitive, legislate morality. All laws, regardless of their content or their intent, arise from a system of values, from a belief that some things are right and others wrong, that some things are good and others bad, that some things are better and worse. In the formulation and enforcement of law, the question is never whether or not morality will be legislated but which one.” (for more on this, see his chapter in To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview ).

The above article didn't include the moral reasoning behind this decision. Should we do it because everyone (at least right now and around this table) agrees that it is wrong or because there is something intrinsically and inherently harmful here (if the latter how do we know this?)? A very different question indeed.

Issues like this help remove the myth that "we shouldn't legislate our morality on others." How we go about choosing which ones is a much better conversation to have. Now obviously everything shouldn't be legislated against, but it is unavoidable that many things will be for the good and flourishing of a society.

Post Script: Porn is addictive and dangerous for individuals and societies--Here is one person's journey Porn Nation: Conquering America's #1 Addiction. Most people are unaware that Pornography and sex-related sites make up nearly 60 percent of daily web traffic.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

The New Tolerance

Are Christians Intolerant? A recent study found in the book Unchristian, has discovered that “Nearly nine out of ten young outsiders (87 percent) said that the term judgmental accurately describes present-day Christianity.” An outsider is just that, not a Christian and outside the church (of another faith tradition or no faith tradition at all). This group goes from late teens to about thirty. Now what is obvious is that Christianity has an image problem….but are we intolerant? Is it a good thing if we are?

Depends on what you mean by intolerant. There is some confusion and equivocation on the terms today—though intolerance is "public sin number 1." Here is an observation by Dallas Willard that will bring this confusion into sharp relief:

“Tolerance has suffered a great deal recently in our religious and political and educational areas. And tolerance, because truth has been pulled away from it, has slipped over into the idea that everything is equally right. No longer is tolerance a matter of saying, “I disagree with you and I believe you’re wrong, but I accept you and I extend to you the right to be wrong.” That’s not enough. We’re now in the situation where everyone must be equally right, where you cannot claim that people are wrong and still love them.”

The new tolerance is that everything must be equally right or true.

The classical view of tolerance means, I disagree with you, here is why, and I treat you with dignity respect (i.e., lovingly communicating truth).

As Christians we can’t help but make truth claims (because God has and revealed them to humanity in His word), but if we are obnoxious, hateful, arrogant, condescending, etc. then shame on us!!! But claiming that everything can’t be true at the same time is not intolerant. We are Christ’s ambassadors and we need to remember that (2 Cor. 5:20).

Check out these resources to learn more:
  1. The Case for Civility by Os Guinness
  2. The Truth about Tolerance by Stetson and Conti
  3. True for You but not for Me by Paul Copan

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Medical marvel: Baby Macie Hope was born twice (thinking about personhood)

I love feel good stories, don't you? This story is definitely one of them. But I want to go beyond the feeling good part for just a moment and think Christianly about this event by asking a couple of questions.

(from article) "When Chad and Keri McCartney say their infant daughter, Macie Hope, is born again, they aren’t referring to religion — the month-old miracle baby really was born twice. The first “birth” was about six months into Keri McCartney’s pregnancy, when surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital took the tiny fetus from Keri’s womb to remove a tumor that would have killed Macie before she was born. The second time was on May 3, when the McCartneys welcomed their surgically repaired — and perfectly healthy — baby girl into the world."

Read this story, and then ask yourself:
  1. At what point does a fetus become a baby? (was Macie hope only a baby for while she was outside the womb?)
  2. Was she a person all along or only as long as she was wanted?
  3. As the article points out, and maybe it is the way we use language (but why do we use the language of "killing" and "alive"?), the baby / fetus was going to be "killed" by the tumor if it was not removed. So is the baby not "killed" when decisions are made to terminate a pregnancy?

I am not for a moment trying to be insensitive to the excruciatingly difficult choices that must sometimes be made by women / families, but this is important because little lives are at stake. My intention is to focus on the heart of the issue: is what is growing in the womb a person or not? This miraculous story helps us see what we already know intuitively--this baby was a born twice and was a person worthy of protection and the right to life whether inside the womb or out. Location has nothing to do with personhood.

How to defend your pro-life views in 5 minutes or less...

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is the Gospel about avoiding Hell?

When we share Christ with others, what do we say? What do we say is the point of the good news, the goal? Heaven when you die? Avoiding Hell? What about now? Darrell Bock is the research professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and I think he has some good things to say about the "good news" and how we emphasize the heart of the message:

"...So the gospel is not about avoiding hell or getting to heaven; it is about coming back into a healthy relationship with the living God, on His initiative and grace. It is not about going or not going somewhere; it is about someone. Frankly, when we share the gospel, we often leave out this personal dimension that involves God directly. Rather we tell it so that it is about us and where we go. When we do this we suggest the gospel is about a single moment and where we stand. However, the gospel is about what God does to bring us to Himself. He is the subject of the action and we respond to His kind initiative as the beneficiaries of His grace. The good news is about what God has done for us. So when we discuss it or present it, we should make the ongoing relationship the key topic. Otherwise people think a decision is all there is to the gospel, when it is far more."--Darrell Bock

For more of this blog, click here.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Another Reason I'm Not a Naturalist - "Free Will"

Are people free to act or not act in a given situation? Or is everything determined because humans are nothing more than bags of chemicals governed by the laws of physics? This is the question of free will. And most people think we have it. Either I can choose strawberry or chocolate ice cream -it is up to me. Love seems to required freedom. Freedom of the will is at home in a Christian worldview, it is not in the worldview of naturalism. It seems far more obvious to me that I have free will than that naturalism is true. Thus free will is an argument against Naturalism.

For example, Cornell University professor William Provine flatly asserts that, "Free will as traditionally conceived … simply does not exist. There is no way the evolutionary process as currently conceived can produce a being that is truly free to make choices." Check out Naturalism, Postmodernism and Free Will that discusses this important topic in an understandable way.

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Think Christianly Website Re-launched!!!

Well, Think Christianly has been redesigned and relaunched! Go visit and enjoy the new features (like the Card Catalog). tC exists to "encourage and equip Christ-follower's to think Christianly about all of life." Read the welcome page to find out more and please pass this along to your friends and post on blogs.

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