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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Homeschooled Girl Ordered to Attend Public School Over Her 'Rigid' Faith

Came across this article...very interesting

"Amanda Kurowski is a 10-year-old homeschooled girl who performs well academically and is socially well-adjusted. But her strong Christian beliefs were reason enough for a New Hampshire court to order her out of homeschooling and into a public school.

The daughter of divorced parents, Amanda has been homeschooled by her mother, Brenda Voydatch since first grade. Her father, Martin Kurowski, is opposed to homeschooling, arguing that it prevents "adequate socialization" for Amanda with other children. He requested that she be placed in a government school.

In the process of renegotiating the terms of a parenting plan for the girl, the Guardian ad Litem – who acts as a fact finder for the court – reported that Amanda was found to "lack some youthful characteristics," partly because "she appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith."

The GAL concluded that Amanda "would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs." (more)

I do wonder if a child of an atheist family--who thought they could do a better job homeschooling their children than sending them to public school--would be critiqued in the same manner if their child showed similar "rigidity" to people of faith? hmmm....

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Truth is Liberating

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."--John 8:31-32

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Is Christian Faith Blind and Irrational?

On the Christian worldview, faith is not opposed to reason. It cooperates with reason. “Faith is trusting in what we have reason to believe is true.” (synonyms for faith = trust, confidence, reliance, God-confidence).

Put another way, "Faith is a readiness to act as if something were so" (cf. Dallas Willard). It is important to notice that this is the same faith we employ when we get on airplane or decide that forgiveness is really better than bitterness and Jesus was right about that.

A challenging aspect of this understanding is also that "what we we believe is what we actually act as if it were true." (ouch)

Finally, it is important to recognize that faith doesn't make anything true or false...whether airplanes are safe, forgiveness really is better than bitterness, or that Jesus rose from the grave. Sincerity doesn't make something true or false. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

A Prayer for Guidance

A wonderful prayer in the Psalms that has been one of my favorites: (Psalm 25:4-5)

Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

N.T Wright Explains Gnosticism and the Gospels

N.T. Wright is one of the most prolific Christian scholars writing today in the area of historical Jesus studies. A very helpful explanation of gnosticism--which looks similar to our modern new age movement--and how it differs from the earliest biographies we have about Jesus--Matthew, mark, Luke, John. He critiques Bart Ehrman's and Elaine Pagels' view. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More on the Evolution of God, Wright, and Colbert...

Earlier this Spring I led a seminar called "Who Really Invented Christianity?" in which we explore the claims and time line concerning the origins of Christianity which Wright discusses in the Evolution of God. You can check out the audio here...

It is very important that our apologetic efforts concentrate where it matters most--the person and claims of Jesus.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colbert Report - Robert Wright on the Evolution of God is hard for me to resist posting the occasional clip from the Colbert Report because it is a humorous way of thinking about important religious and philosophical topics. That being said, Wright, who resists being classified as a new atheist, still is making some pretty big claims about the three largest monotheistic religions--Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Now I'm concerned with Christianity and think it stands up to scrutiny. But he makes some dubios claims about God being an illusion (cf. Freud, Marx, and Feuerbach) and that Jesus really claim to be the Son of God (both of these are common objections). I wonder if Wright is familiar with Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity by Larry Hurtado?

A quick word about worldview and explanatory resources. If naturalism is true, then all you have in your explanatory cubbard are physics and chemistry being acted on by (blind) natural selection. So Morality and Religion must have an evolutionary account. That is what Wright tries to offer. (more after you watch the interaction)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Robert Wright
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

For another perspective by a sociologist of religion, see:

Wright has been interviewed by Bill Moyers (PBS), reviewed by Dinesh D'Souza and blogged on by Cornelius Hunter.

Also he had a provocative and lively on-air debate / conversation on the Hugh Hewitt Show with Philosopher John Mark Reynolds. Audio available here. (HT / Uncommon Descent)

What is clear is that this book and the ideas it contains will be part of the cultural conversation about religion for a while.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

The A-Word: Does Our Generation Care about Apologetics?

On Tuesday, Aug. 25 @ 10 AM PT engage in a live-streamed interview with author/speaker, Sean McDowell, about his book Apologetics for a New Generation. We'll all have an opportunity to discuss the question of whether apologetics, which has recently gotten a bad rap for being too traditional and authoritative, is still relevant to culture. We'll also be giving away the digital copy of Sean's book for free for 24 hours beginning when the interview starts.

Click here to watch

It is very important that we learn to communicate truth in relationship for this generation. Join the conversation...Sean is an insightful thinker and can help us engage better...

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Got Wisdom?

I need wisdom, insight, and knowledge--in short...a lot of input. But God provides if we ask!

Proverbs 2:1-6

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Christianity Changed the World

This is a wonderful and important read. In my opinion every Christian ought to read through a copy. Yes there have been dark spots in the history of Christianity, but the rich heritage of a Christian worldview is often forgotten or denied.

From the Back Cover
Western civilization is becoming increasingly pluralistic, secularized, and biblically illiterate. Many people today have little sense of how their lives have benefited from Christianity’s influence, often viewing the church with hostility or resentment. How Christianity Changed the World is a topically arranged Christian history for Christians and non- Christians. Grounded in solid research and written in a popular style, this book is both a helpful apologetic tool in talking with unbelievers and a source of evidence for why Christianity deserves credit for many of the humane, social, scientific, and cultural advances in the Western world in the last two thousand years. Photographs, timelines, and charts enhance each chapter. This edition features questions for reflection and discussion for each chapter.

About the Author
Alvin J. Schmidt [Ph.D., University of Nebraska) retired in 1999 as professor of sociology at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he still lives. He is the author of several books, including The Great Divide: The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of he West, and served as a consulting editor for Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult.

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Still think social media is a fad with no lasting impact on culture?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Think Christianly On Twitter

Hey everyone...just wanted to let you all know you can follow the think Christianly on twitter. Because of the limited characters, it is actually "thnkchristianly" (no "i").

Click here to follow us on twitter.
Spread the word...

Tweet out,
Think Christianly

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Welcome to the Future

Brad Paisley has a new music video out (full disclosure: I am a fan) that I think captures a very important idea about the time and global culture in which we live. Change is always occurring. In a way, everyday is a revolution. The Gospel does not change. But connecting the Gospel to the world is unique for every generation. Check out the video.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is Christianity a Delusion?

It is not uncommon to hear the claim--most loudly by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion--that religious belief is a delusion. I came across a quote by Professor Keith Ward in Is Religion Dangerous?

"All that is needed to refute the claim that religious belief is a delusion is one clear example of someone who exhibits a high degree of rational ability, who functions well in the ordinary affairs of life, whose faith seems to enable them to live well and be happy, and who can produce a reasonable and coherent defense of their beliefs." (172)

Well there are lots of people who fit the bill (like Alvin Plantinga for example). But I will enter into evidence as exhibit A, Christian Philosopher J.P. Moreland, author of The God Question. In this book he shares both personal reasons from his experience and rational arguments for why it makes sense. I guess religion isn't a delusion after all.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Darwin's Dilemma and the Cambrian Explosion (DVD)

The final film in Illustra Media's long-planned Intelligent Design trilogy is Darwin’s Dilemma.

This documentary will examine what many consider to be the most powerful refutation of Darwinian evolution—the Cambrian fossil record. Charles Darwin realized that the fossil evidence did not support his theory of gradual, step-by-step evolutionary development. He hoped that future generations of scientists would make the discoveries necessary to validate his ideas. Today, after more than 150 years of exploration fossil evidence of slow, incremental biological change has yet to be excavated. Instead, we find a picture of the rapid appearance of fully developed, complex organisms during the outset of the Cambrian geological era. Organisms that embody almost all of the major animal body plans that exist today. This remarkable explosion of life is best explained by the existence of a transcendent intelligence. Darwin’s Dilemma will be released on September 15, 2009.

Click here to order.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Religion Dangerous? Latest think Christianly Podcast Now Available

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Teen Role Models

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" - 1 Timothy 4:12

Students have an opportunity to stand out (for the right reasons) in everyday life as they courageously follow God. You can set the pace. You never know who may be watching. The question we all need to ask - young or old - is what will they see?

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Does what we think about God really matter?

Theology is just that - thinking about God. And yes, it matters. It is about knowing and loving God; and there is no higher goal than that. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV):

23 This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,

24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD.

“Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder throughout life, blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you.”—J.I. Packer

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Friday, August 14, 2009

What is Scientific Naturalism?

Scientific naturalism is the view that “the physical cosmos science studies is all that exists” (cf. J.P. Moreland). This worldview assumes that only material stuff exists (e.g., physics and chemistry) and that science is the only source of knowledge concerning the world; everything else is mere conjecture. The implication of this view is that there can be no human soul or immaterial objects/persons like angels or God. The supernatural is excluded by definition. Plainly stated: there is no spiritual reality in this world or the next. The grave is all there is.

This is a major worldview in America today. In order to be a good ambassador for Jesus Christ, we must understand the worldviews that are vying for the hearts and minds of this generation.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 7

It's time for students to head back to school. Whether they are heading to high school or college, help them face the opportunities and challenges of following Jesus in today's world by giving them a copy of my book, Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey.

What people are saying:

"Wow! What a book! Quite frankly, this is the book I've been waiting for the last forty years to give to college students. It is the single best volume I have ever read for preparing students for how to follow Jesus and flourish as his disciple in college." -- J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Jonathan has both the intellectual resources as well as the practical experience to provide an effective students' survival guide to university life. I'm impressed with the wide array of issues he discusses, from intellectual challenges to financial problems to sexual snares to getting enough sleep! All this is done in easily digestible bits for the student on the run." -- William Lane Craig, Theologian and author, Reasonable Faith

"Reading this book is like having your own personal mentor and friend to guide you through the rough rapids of college life. College is a great experience, but it can also be faith-shattering if you are not adequately prepared. This book is perfect for the high school senior who is curious about what college life will be like. It is also helpful to the college student who is dealing with the day-to-day challenges and questions faced both in and out of the classroom. -- Mark Schmahl, Pastor of Student Ministries Believers' Chapel, Murfreesboro, TN

"This book will prepare anyone who is either enrolled in college or is planning to go to college for the daily challenges Christians deal with on campus. Jonathan Morrow is aware of the real college world and is dead-on with his excellent insight." -- Blake Smith, Junior, Texas Tech University

"Unpacking biblical truths, Welcome to College is a treasure book of wisdom that will literally save lives and help build a culture of life." -- Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Author, Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas

"Whether you are an incoming freshman or upperclassman, Jonathan provides straightforward, practical insight for dealing with current issues regarding living the Christian life on campuses everywhere. Not only is this a great read, but you will find a place to turn to when questions or struggles show their face." -- Taylor McCabe, Junior, Baylor University

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ethics has fallen on hard times these days...Moral Choices by Scott Rae can help us recover our moral foundation

How does a Christian think about ethics? How can we make thoughtful, biblically informed decisions about:
  • Abortion and Embryonic Stem Cell Research
  • Reproductive Technologies
  • Biotechnology, Genetics, and Human Cloning
  • Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
  • Capital Punishment
  • Sexual Ethics
  • The Morality of War
  • Ethics and Economics
  • The Environment
If you are not sure how to answer these questions or are not convinced that the Bible has / should have anything to say about, then you need to have this book on your shelf.

On a personal note, Dr. Scott Rae was one of my professors in graduate school and he is the real deal. I have huge respect for him. Also, this book is very accessible. There is no better introduction to Christian ethics out there.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Have you heard of Apologetics 315?

Want to here some of the best in Christian Apologetics online?

The Apologetics 315 blog has done a great service to Christians everywhere by helping people find lectures and audio by the leading thinkers of our day. Be sure to check them out and spread the word!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Should Christians be Capitalists? Jay Richards on Money, God, and Greed

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What is Success? (according to Jesus)

What is success? How do you know? When you get to the end of life, what will the measurement be? Jesus told a story once about the nature of success...
13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:13-21)

So, how did Jesus answer? "Being rich toward God."

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 7

Yesterday, I talked about Summit Ministries. Today I want to tell you about another Christian worldview summer camp that is extremely well done and worth the investment for your student at least once during their high school years - Wheatstone Academy.

Here is the promo video:

It is hard to overestimate how important and formative these camps will be in laying a foundation for your child to thoughtfully walk with Jesus Christ for a lifetime and influence others to do the same.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 6

Recently, I posted a story from CNN about atheist camps. But are there any good worldview summer camps for Christians? Absolutely! If thoughtful engagement is what you are looking for from a distinctively Christian, interdisciplinary perspective, then these 2 camps are for you (and I highly recommend them!!!)

The first is Summit.

"Summit Ministries® is an educational Christian ministry whose very existence is a response to our current post-Christian culture. Today, countless Christian youth have fallen victim to the popular ideas of our modern world. Most have adopted these ideas into their own worldview, while still others go on to renounce their Christian faith altogether.

Summit views its role in God's kingdom as a catalyst to counteract this alarming trend. However, our ultimate goal supersedes simply training. As Christians are challenged to stand strong in their faith and defend truth, they will also be equipped to have a positive influence on the society in which they live."

Tomorrow, I will blog about another outstanding summer camp to help ground your students in a Christian worldview.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Relativism is a Really Bad Idea (with a little help from the Colbert Report)

On October 17, 2005 a new word came into existence that really captures the spirit of our age – take a look at this clip:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Truthiness
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTasers

“It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything…Truthiness is “What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.” It’s not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true.” – Stephen Colbert

What Colbert is describing with "truthiness" goes by another alias = relativism. Now relativism is all over the place - out there and in here…young and old. I could bore you with statistics, but I don’t have time for that just now.

Relativism is everywhere…but what is it? Atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche succinctly defined it this way:

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Is good and evil, right and wrong, foolish and wise - really just a matter of personal preference? So, Letterman style, I want to count down the 5 biggest reasons relativism is a bad idea.

5. Relativism is self-refuting (self-contradictory). To see this, take the statement “there are no English sentences longer than 6 words.” (What’s wrong here? – 9 words). Now let’s take the statement “Everything is relative.” If it’s true, its false. What kind of statement is it? A relative statement or an absolute statement? Relativism at its core is self-refuting. (e.g., My brother is an only child).

4. Relativism eliminates the possibility of moral reform. If moral relativism is true, then what is “right” is determined by whatever the majority of the culture believes. But this leads to the absurd consequence that those seeking to reform the immoral practices of society (e.g., eliminating racism) are the immoral ones because they are acting against the cultural majority. This is a powerful reason to reject moral relativism. (cf. Martin Luther King)

3. Relativism eliminates the possibility of moral progress. If moral relativism is true, then moral progress becomes, by definition, impossible. According to a consistent moral relativist, not only was someone like Martin Luther King wrong for challenging the deeply held moral beliefs of his culture, but the change he affected did not technically “improve” the morals of society—it just changed them.

2. Relativism removes our ability praise good and condemn evil. Think about this – if relativism were true, then we would have to conclude that there is no moral difference between Hitler and Mother Theresa. We would not be able to universally condemn the holocaust, rape, or genocide as evil. And we would not be able to universally say that self-sacrifice is superior to self-centeredness.

1. It diminishes sin. As my friend Brett Kunkle puts it, “once sin disappears, grace disappears with it.” You see Relativism neutralizes the Gospel and removes (people’s perceived) need for a Savior. Relativism cannibalizes truth. But if there is no truth there is no Good News—just news.

What kind of world would it be if relativism were true?

“It would be a world in which nothing was wrong—nothing is considered evil or good, nothing worthy of praise or blame. It would be a world in which justice and fairness are meaningless concepts, in which there would be no accountability, no possibility of moral improvement, no moral discourse. And it would be a world in which there is no tolerance.” – Greg Koukl & Francis Beckwith

*This connection was made by Brett Kunkle (STR) in his chapter on Truth in Apologetics for a New Generation :

Technical Support:
Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air by Greg Koukl and Frank Beckwith
True for You, But Not for Me by Paul Copan
Ethix: Being Bold in A Whatever World by Sean McDowell

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Who Really Invented Christianity? (latest tC audio)

Every Christmas and Easter new releases hit the bookstores, provocative documentaries spring up on CNN and the Discovery channel, and special additions appear from Newsweek. The common theme? What else have “they” not been telling you about who Jesus really was or what Christianity really teaches?

* How do we know the Bible includes the right books?
* Did the early church invent Jesus’ divinity or did Jesus really claim to be divine?
* What did Christians believe before there was a Bible?
* Who got to decide what is ‘orthodox’ and what is ‘heresy’?
* Why didn’t Jesus write a book?

These are good questions. But contrary to the answers that show up in much of pop culture today about Jesus, a careful look at the historical evidence surrounding the origins of Christianity reveals that we can trust the writings of the New Testament and what they teach about the historical Jesus. Join Jonathan Morrow, as we embark on a journey back to the 1st century to discover the truth.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to Have Good Spiritual Conversations and Share Your Faith

I came across a 5 minute audio clip from Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason that was particularly fascinating and instructive. Most of us have had conversations with people who raise questions against a view we hold (like Christianity) but then keep "moving the goal line" as to what counts as a satisfying answer.

In this case, Greg is interacting with a lady who calls into the radio show. Give it a listen, and watch how he guides the conversation and most importantly does not get defensive (when he probably felt tempted to).

Click here to listen.

To learn more about how to navigate spiritual conversations, see Greg's book, Tactics.

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Summer Camp for Atheists (CNN)

Atheistic summer camps? Yep. Check out this short 2 minute video clip. One thing stuck out to me that I whole heartily agree with: "students should be taught how to think not just what to think." How do you think the students in your youth group would fare in a conversation with the next generation of atheists? Are they being prepared?

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 5

We are now to the next resource for helping the next generation think Christianly. You need to know that relativism is everywhere. Truth, Jesus, Sexuality, and Morality are all up for grabs and are now considered a "personal preference." Are you prepared to address this with your children? Your students?

You can be if you pick up a copy and study Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World by Sean McDowell. It is clear, concise, and does not require any prior knowledge of the topic. Also, your students can read it with you and you can talk about it. I highly recommend this resource. If you would like to hear 5 reasons relativism is a really bad idea (in 10 minutes), click here for my latest podcast.

(Product Description)
High school and college students are bombarded today with mixed media messages of moral relativism. ethiX: Being Bold in a Whatever World helps young adults better understand how to make Bible-informed ethical decisions on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, marriage and divorce, the morality of war, cloning, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexuality, and more.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Study the Bible?

Why Study the Bible? There are at least 3 reasons:

First, the Bible teaches us about God, about ourselves, and how to live.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

Next, the Bible gives us hope, encouragement, endurance, and instruction.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”—Romans 15:4

Finally, the Bible helps us grow and change.

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation…”—1 Peter 2:2

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”—1 Thess. 2:13

If we are to think Christianly in the day to day, the Word of God must saturate our hearts and minds. Here is a question we need to ask I in this book long enough and frequent enough to be shaped by it?

BTW - if you don't have your Bible with you, but can get online, visit Bible Gateway.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

What kind of world would it be if relativism were true?

“What kind of world would it be if relativism were true? It would be a world in which nothing was wrong—nothing is considered evil or good, nothing worthy of praise or blame. It would be a world in which justice and fairness are meaningless concepts, in which there would be no accountability, no possibility of moral improvement, no moral discourse. And it would be a world in which there is no tolerance.” – Greg Koukl & Frank Beckwith

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