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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: June 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Religion Is Not The Problem...People Are

Throughout history, power has been used in disturbing ways and religious beliefs have been co-opted for personal or political gain. Philosopher Keith Ward’s comments are helpful:
"No one would deny that there have been religious wars in human history. Catholics have fought Protestants, Sunni Muslims have fought Shi’a Muslims, and Hindus have fought Muslims. However, no one who has studied history could deny that most wars in human history have not been religious. And in the case of those that have been religious, the religious component has usually been associated with some non-religious, social, ethnic, or political component that has exerted a powerful influence on the conflicts."
This observation about the history of warfare reinforces the critical point that all ideals, religious or irreligious, are capable of being abused. Upon reflection, most would agree that people are the problem, not religion. There are deeper issues at work. The human heart is corrupt.

The prophet Jeremiah's words are as true today as when they were penned: "The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). Sean McDowell and I go into more detail on this and other issues in our book:

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

But It's Still Eugenics...

"Having left behind pseudoscientific racial theories, it’s easy for us to look back and pass judgment on yesterday’s eugenicists. It’s harder to acknowledge what we have in common with them. First, a relentless desire for mastery and control, not only over our own lives but over the very marrow and sinew of generations yet unborn. And second, a belief in our own fundamental goodness, no matter to what ends our mastery is turned."

This is the commentary of Ross Douthat (op-ed writer for the New York Times) as he reflects on the incredible technology available to us today and danger of our good intentions ending in Eugenics (read the rest his article here). This power will give our society the ability to create genetic 2nd class citizens if they are not careful.

Bioengineering and bioethics are areas where the Christian worldview offers some significant moral reasoning...if our culture will listen.

Here are two questions and principle from a group of bioethicists that must become common knowledge in our churches. They will help guide us as we face an ever-expanding buffet of biotechnologies.

The first question: “Does the technology facilitate healing or restoration from disease or disability, or is it for reengineering (so-called enhancement)?”* Christians need to say clearly that we are for therapeutic uses of biotechnology.

The second question: “Does the technology require or promote the commodification or destruction of human life? Does the technology demean, debase, or degrade individuals?”* Christians must stand up for all of humanity — especially the weak, impoverished, and defenseless.

Finally, as technological progress is made at a dizzying pace, we must not forget that the “fundamental human problem of humankind is not physical or mental inadequacy, but sin.”* Whether it is in economics or genetics, we are tempted to seek a Utopia where technology can save us. It can’t. It can alleviate much suffering, but it cannot save us. We are broken, and only God can heal our deepest wounds through Jesus Christ. The pride that exists as we develop biotechnologies will be expressed in the way these technologies are used in the future.

God is not surprised. He knows the end from the beginning and will be with us in the midst of the unknown challenges and opportunities (Isaiah 46:10). May God give us the grace and wisdom to be good stewards of the technology we have been entrusted with for the good of humanity.

I go in to more detail and offer more resources in my book Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture.

*For more on these quotations, see Biotechnology and the Human Good

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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Projection Theory Cuts Both Ways

If it can be argued that humans created God out of a need for security or a father figure (cf. Freud), then it can just as easily be argued that atheism is a response to the human desire for the freedom to do whatever one wants without moral constraints or obligations. Perhaps atheists don’t want a God to exist because they would then be morally accountable to a deity. Or maybe atheists had particularly tragic relationships with their own fathers growing up, projected that on God, and then spent most of their adult lives trying to kill a “Divine Father Figure" (for more on this point, see the chapter by Dr. Paul Vitz here).

Moreover, perhaps the idea that humans invented God to meet their desires is precisely backward. Perhaps the reason humans have a desire for the divine is because something or someone exists that will satisfy them. C. S. Lewis powerfully 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…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."

But is there good, positive evidence for God? Yes. I write about that here with Sean McDowell:

I recently released a new podcast about preparing students for college, you can subscribe to the latest Think Christianly podcast here (iTunes / RSS).

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Differences Are Worth Debating

"The differences between religions are worth debating. Theology has consequences: It shapes lives, families, nations, cultures, wars; it can change people, save them from themselves, and sometimes warp or even destroy them. If we tiptoe politely around this reality, then we betray every teacher, guru and philosopher—including Jesus of Nazareth and the Buddha both—who ever sought to resolve the most human of all problems: How then should we live?"--Ross Douthat

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is America A Christian Nation?

This is a question that shows up whenever Christianity and politics are discussed. Here is a thoughtful answer to this often heated question:
“It’s easy to get bogged down in a debate about whether the United States is a “Christian nation.” The problem is that the phrase means different things to different people. If we’re talking about the views of most Americans, then certainly we are a Christian nation. About 78 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians of some sort. All other religions combined make up less than 5 percent, and about 16 percent are unaffiliated (though not necessarily atheist). So just as we talk about “Muslim countries,” where most of the citizens are Muslims, we could refer to the United States as a “Christian nation.” The phrase also makes sense if you’re talking about American history. The original American colonies were overwhelmingly Christian. In fact, most started as Christian charters. Moreover, our laws and political traditions come largely from the Judeo-Christian culture of Europe, and especially Great Britain. But when some people hear talk of America as a “Christian nation,” they envision a country where Christianity is mandated, or where non-Christians are viewed as second-class citizens, or where atheists are herded out of the political process. So unless you explain what you mean by the phrase, talking about the United States as a Christian nation is liable to create more heat than light.”—Jay Richards and James Robison
That is fair and sound analysis of the facts. However, in a culture governed by soundbites and slogans, facts and qualifications are often hard to inject into the conversation. Also, perception is often reality. So if someone hears a negative, exclusionary tone when "Christian Nation" is brought up, then it ceases to be helpful (even if accurate).

For more on a sober view of Christianity and politics, see Indivisible:

I also discuss how Christianity ought to interface with politics here.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Will the Faith of Your Kids Survive College?

As I shared in a previous post, I am passionate about preparing students for the challenges and opportunities facing them on campus. This past week I was honored to be on Breakpoint and Breakpoint this week talking about Welcome to College. Chuck Colson, the founder of Breakpoint, was one of my heroes and an example to all Christians everywhere. I felt a significant sense of responsibility to carry on his passion for worldview training in the kind words he used to endorse my book Think Christianly. John Stonestreet and Eric Metaxes are doing a phenomenal job picking up the torch of Breakpoint and I would highly encourage you to tune in daily and listen.

In the conversation I had on Breakpoint this week with John Stonestreet we talked about how to help students not only survive college but thrive there. We also talked about the crisis of knowledge that Christians are facing today.

"...contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" - Jude 3

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What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today? Please share your perspective below.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Test a Worldview in 3 Easy Steps

There are so many different worldviews and belief systems out can we make a wise choice? In this video, I share 3 tests you can apply to any worldview.

I just released a new podcast about preparing students for college, you can subscribe to the latest Think Christianly podcast here (iTunes / RSS).

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I'd love to hear what you think. For you, what is the most compelling thing about the Christian worldview? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Prepare Teenagers for College and Beyond - New Podcast

Click Here to Order Welcome to College
There's a lot of confusion among teenagers today...
  • 72% of 18-29 year olds self identify as “Spiritual but not religious”
  • 54% of “conservative protestant” teenagers affirmed that there was more than one way to God
  • 32% of 13-17 year olds left their faith behind because of “intellectual skepticism”
  • Less than “one-half of one percent of adults in the Mosaic generation – i.e., those aged 18 to 23 – have a biblical worldview.”
  • 60% percent of young people who went to church as teens drop out or disengage after high school.
In light of these challenges, what can you do as a parent to prepare your teenager to flourish in college? To not just see them survive the challenges of college life, but to see them influence others for Jesus Christ? I talk about this and more in the latest Think Christianly podcast (iTunes / RSS).

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What do you think is the greatest challenge that today's students face in college?

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