Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Can Cubans Be Evangelicals?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know how frequently faith and politics intersect. Partly, that is because of my training and interests. However, it is also because they simply do. Donald Trump provided another example of that yesterday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Can a Christian Woman Wear a Muslim Hijab?

Update 12/16/15:

According to this report, Wheaton College has suspended Hawkins.

Original Post:

Last week, Prof. Larycia Hawkins of Wheaton College in Chicago posted this call to action on her Facebook page. Read it yourself, it is fairly brief. A few things leap out at me, which you may have noticed, as well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Christmastime is a season of contrasts, is it not? It is a celebration of peace, surrounded by hectic bustle. It is a time devoted to joy, but is so often accompanied by feelings of depression. The purpose of the holiday is to commemorate the birth of the Savior of the world, and yet more energy is devoted to service at the altar of consumerism. It can be a real struggle to make sense of this time of the year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Is Prayer Worthless?

This question of whether prayers are worthless is, unfortunately, a major news item as a result of the attack in San Bernardino, CA, yesterday. Before moving into a discussion of it, however, the first thing to do is to offer a prayer in spite of those who doubt its efficacy.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Should We Give Thanks?

This is the last article in the Thanksgiving miniseries, and it feels like an appropriate place to stop. The whole month, I have essentially been answering this question. But I want to take just a little while today to bring to the forefront the reasons why we ought to offer our thanks to God.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Did The Ancient Israelites Have Thanksgiving?

I hope everyone has been getting into the Thanksgiving mood. Or more appropriately, the Thanksgiving mode. It is an attitude, the ability to turn to God and acknowledge His providence for us. As we discussed last week, it has a long and important history in this country. Sadly, it is being lost, and we need to stand up for it if it is not to go to the wayside.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Should We Think About the Syrian Refugee Crisis?

Updated 11/17/2015:

I initially posted this article on September 25th, but I am returning to this subject as a result of the attack on Paris carried out by Islamic terrorists on November 13th, and because I was asked to comment on it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Do We Know About Thanksgiving?

In week two of the November Thanksgiving series, we are going to consider a few questions in rapid-fire succession. What is the history of Thanksgiving in America? What is its purpose, and its implications for the separation of church and state? And why is it so underappreciated in our society? I am looking at them all together because I believe the answers are interconnected.

Do Creationists Deserve Abuse?

I saw an interesting article today, and even though I am writing to criticize it, I actually want to recommend it, too. By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, “The Errors of the Militant Atheist” is a good look at some of the basic flaws in the secularist worldview. It is worth the time to read it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How Often Do You Think About Thanksgiving?

Now that October is over, I need to find a new topic. I liked doing the miniseries thing, so I am going to do it again. For the next few weeks leading up to it, I am going to run another series. This one will be on the importance of Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Why Was My Heart Broken?"

What do you do when you are asked an implicit question? We all face them at times, often when we’re talking to a friend and they are struggling with something. They want to understand it, they want to feel like life has a purpose and this current cloud will clear. They want you to offer some form of comfort or explanation. But they cannot quite come to the point of asking outright what they should be doing or feeling. What do you do then?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Do Demons Exist?

For the final entry in this month’s monster miniseries, we will take a look at the creatures of darkness which inspire all others, and to which all others aspire. And this may be the most important question in the list. Do demons exist?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Do Witches Exist?

We’ve come to the fourth post in the monster miniseries, as we near the end of October. Today, I want to take a look at the idea of witchcraft. This is actually a pretty broad topic in my understanding of it, but I will not be going into too much detail. The main point is to understand what witchcraft is generally, and what Christians should make of it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do Vampires Exist?

Welcome to the third entry in our October monster-themed miniseries! Today, we are looking at the question of whether vampires exist. Actually, this question is perhaps a bit behind the times. The vampire trend, after all, seems to be mostly over. Still, you hear about it occasionally and it never completely goes away, so it is worth taking a look.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Do Ghosts Exist?

Welcome to the second entry in our October mini-series on supernatural creatures. Seeing as it is almost Halloween, the timing seems appropriate. In this post, we will consider another question many teenagers and young adults have been asking recently. Do ghosts exist?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Can Zombies Exist?

This question comes from a mother of teenage children, whose friends tend to wonder about these things. I am going to split it up, making this the first entry in a mini-series of posts on the existence of supernatural or paranormal creatures. Even though I will be covering quite a bit of ground, this cannot be comprehensive. But feel free to keep the conversation going here, on Facebook, or on Twitter. That is why I set them up.

So, here was the first part of her question. Can zombies exist?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What Will We Remember in Heaven?

I had an interesting conversation earlier this week, during the course of which I was asked a very difficult question. I cannot give it the full treatment, since that would take hundreds of pages. But it was interesting enough that I want to cover it briefly here.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Why Will There be a "Judgment Seat of Christ?"

Someone recently sent me an interesting question. If Christians are saved by the work of Jesus Christ, then why will we face a judgment? After all, we are not going to be condemned (Romans 8:1). So what should we make of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Is There Anything Wrong with Homosexuality?

I saw this article yesterday, and it raises a point Christians really need to be paying attention to. No, not the claim that the Bible tells us to sell our daughters as slaves. That is known as “eisegesis,” taking a piece of Scripture out of its context and forcing it to say what you want it to. The point of the group that put up this billboard was to create a strawman argument by giving a novel meaning to a passage of the Bible, accusing Kim Davis of not living up to their new definition, and then accusing her of hypocrisy for not doing so. At its base, it is a misunderstanding of what we as Christians believe, purposeful or not. I covered the general concept here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Whom Should We Mourn on 9/11?

You may have seen some stories this past weekend dealing with what seems to be becoming a trend around 9/11. Many people are commenting that they will grieve the lives lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks, but only if they can also grieve the Iraqi deaths suffered during the American occupation.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What Do We Need to Remember on 9/11?

Today, we remember what evil looks like, and it can raise many questions in our minds. I believe those questions have answers, though they are hardly ever satisfying emotionally. But it is even more important to remember what came out of it. In the face of such monstrous hatred, we gathered around one another to stand for life, liberty, and love. The questions of why it happened, or why it was allowed to happen, did not matter as much as whether we could persevere.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Does Kim Davis Hate Gays?

When I read about the Kim Davis story, it is hard not to think about the prophet Daniel. I know the situations do not compare in scale, but there is something similar at work. A government official refuses to obey the law because his or her commitment to God is a higher obligation.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Could Kim Davis Change?

One of the biggest stories in the news right now is the saga of Kim Davis. Davis is the clerk of Rowan County, KY. After the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling granting legal status to gay marriage nationally, numerous states and local governments have been scrambling to determine how to best handle this newly created and unprecedented civil right.

Update and Prayer Request

As you may know, this website and its associated social media accounts are not my goal in and of themselves. They are an extension of, and a bridge to, face-to-face forums. Eventually, I hope they will lead to a church I am working to start.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Should Babies Get Pierced Ears?

I heard a story on the radio yesterday (less a story than a blurb, really) that really got me thinking. Apparently it is becoming trendy for parents to have their infants’ ears pierced.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What is the Unforgivable Sin?

I recently received another question, and this one on the “unforgivable sin.” Before I go into my comments, I think I need to use this as an opportunity to remind everyone of this ministry’s motto. It is that the Bible has answers, and we are here to seek them together. The important point is that I am not the one with all the answers. Many things, I don’t know and can barely try to explain. I think this is an example of that, but it is still something worth grappling with.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What About the Sinner's Prayer?

Someone asked on the Facebook page recently, “What is your opinion on the sinner’s prayer? One of my favorite preachers Paul Washer hates it, and says it is not Biblical.” He also sent me a link to a sermon where Washer talks about it, which you can find here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What Do We Make of the Frailty of Life?

Life is so short, so fragile. We can pretend it isn’t, but then some tragedy strikes to confront us with how little control we really have. Then you can start to think about how vast the universe is, and how long it has been, and how long it will go on without you, and you feel overwhelmed. Broken. Worthless.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Should We Follow Our Feelings?

I saw this article, and it saddened me deeply. Not only because I have to talk about this issue again, but because it represents such a disconnect from the truth. There is a dreadful lack of understanding about the nature of sin, and it is growing widespread even among Christians. We need to return to the clarity of Scripture. Homosexuality seems to be the place where we have to focus right now, but it is true for everything. Just because you feel something, doesn’t make it right.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Do We Do When There Are No Answers?

We are facing evil days. There could hardly be anything more terrible than living in a world where people can murder children to use them for their parts. Unless perhaps it is living in a world that turns a blind eye to it, and attacks the people who exposed this infamy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Should Form Us?

I was having a discussion recently in which I brought up a phrase I developed in college and that has since become my motto: “I will be informed by anyone, but only formed by the Bible.” In essence, it is the basis of this ministry. Scripture is central to me not because it is God, worshipful in its own right, but because it is from God, a reliable representation of His will.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Is Pope Francis Right About What It Takes to be Happy?

Someone recently sent me a list of suggestions by Pope Francis I on what it takes to be a happier person. Most of them are fairly straightforward and make good sense, such as being calm and working for peace. There were two, however, which were closely related and also somewhat suspect (depending on how you take them). While I think they can be read generously, I feel it is still worth offering some clarifying remarks from an evangelical perspective.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Can We Eat Meat?

I saw a meme recently that criticized the livestock industry for animal cruelty, and it got me thinking. When you look at the Bible, you can see both sides of the argument for vegetarianism and understand the reason in each.

Friday, July 10, 2015

How Can Someone's Flesh Cry Out for God?

Most of my writing is for the benefit of those who are already Christians. And that makes sense, since part of the purpose of this ministry is assist them in answering questions and learning about what we believe. But I also want this to be a place where people who are not Christians can come and learn something about the Bible, too.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Can We Pray for Justice and Mercy?

When we think of God, we can tend to set up a strict line between His judgment and His mercy. But this is not a biblical distinction. In Scripture, they go together.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Is "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" Biblical?

I saw an article yesterday that argued Christians need to stop saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.” The author commented on the fact that this phrase does not appear in the Bible, which is true. And certainly, that is a good starting point for a review of what we should say we believe. But she misses the point when she claims this idea is not present in the teachings of Jesus.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

How Should Leaders Behave?

Psalm 82 is a warning to leaders who fail to do what is right. The psalmist, Asaph, imparts a rhythm to verses 2-4 that brings his point full circle. The mighty uphold the wicked, while they should protect the weak. The strong must defend the weak, by punishing the wicked.

Is Marriage Still Honorable?

In the light, or rather, the darkness of recent events, I was drawn to consider the words of Hebrews 13:4. In that verse, the author of the epistle says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” Sadly, this no longer seems true. The opinions of men have been elevated over the purposes of God, and our society not only condones, but commends and commands the celebration of the irrational concept of homosexual “marriage.” We are in a sorry condition, and for Christians, it is a doubtful one.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What Do We Do About Scandal?

I shared this article from Breitbart a few days ago, but it has still been on my mind and I want to discuss it a bit further. It has not been easy for me to know what to make of the Duggar Scandal since it broke, and John Nolte, the author of the article, really helped to clarify my thinking. He puts a spotlight on the fact that a terrible crime was committed, and there need to be consequences. So what do we do when scandal breaks out among Christians? We start by making sure we keep in mind the difference between person, and persona.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Who Holds the Future of Christianity?

I came across this article the other day, and I think it forces us to ask an important question. The author is liberal Catholic Damon Linker, and he has a perspective that I find intriguing. His article comes with a question, and though it is an implicit one, he provides his own answer. Does the future of Christianity belong to its liberal or conservative iterations? Linker suggests that it more fully belongs to liberal Christians like him, and he uses as evidence the recent decision of the people of Ireland to vote overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing homosexual “marriage.” The vote has been something of a shock, considering Ireland’s historic ties to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). However, there are growing numbers of liberal Catholics like Linker (and liberal members of other traditions) who are bucking old forms and calling for changes to the doctrines and practices of their religion.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why Does God Keep Making Mosquitoes?

Last week, I got what might be the hardest question I have ever had to try to answer. Part of the difficulty was context, of course. It was asked by a young child, and in such a trusting and matter-of-fact way that it was difficult to know how to answer. But even when a similar question is asked by an adult, it is not easy to know what to say. The question was, “Why does God keep making mosquitoes?”

Monday, April 20, 2015

How Does Someone Become a Christian?

Recently, a friend gave me two pamphlets and asked for my opinion of them. Both focus on what it means to become a Christian, and I would classify both as Evangelical Protestant documents. But they still have a good deal of difference between them, representing disagreement that exists between a number of churches (and even members of the same churches) under the wide banner of Evangelical Christianity. As is so often the case when it comes to my relations to other Christians, I do not completely agree or disagree with either of the positions presented by them. I also know I cannot present my own opinion in such a way that it will be completely satisfying to everyone else. Nevertheless, I intend to give my best attempt. I am going to go over each of these documents, specifically pointing out the areas I would criticize, and then I will conclude by presenting my own synthesis of what I consider to be their best ideas and my own ideas for what it means to become a Christian.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why In Fact Did Jesus Die?

 This article shared by one of the members of the Facebook group is interesting enough, so far as it goes, and I hope everyone will take a few moments to read it. Unfortunately, it does not actually mention an answer to its own question. Why did Jesus die on a cross? It holds a theory known to me as the "New Perspective on Paul," which holds that the death of Jesus Christ was not substitutionary (ironically, the author of the piece calls the older view "relatively recent"). The New Perspective is an example of eisegesis, reading the right answer into the text. A number of verses in the Bible, such as Matthew 20:28, Romans 5:1-11, and Colossians 2:11-16 as a very limited sample, go to show that Christ's death actually accomplished something. The book of Hebrews even goes to great lengths to explain this, particularly in Chapters 9 and 10. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are Saturday Night Services Biblical?

I received this question last week and felt it made for a good entry on the blog:

“Today many churches have a Saturday night service. Some have added such a service because they are at capacity and need room for more people to attend. Others may do it to ‘attract a different group of people.’ Where does the Bible stand on this? My background has always led me to be anti-Saturday night service. However, I'm having trouble knowing if my position is merely because ‘that's how it is’ or because it's based on the Bible. What do you think?”

 It definitely is something we are seeing more and more. I think the question of the Bible's words on Sunday services is really just the first half of the question (though obviously a pretty important half!). I would suggest that Sunday-only worship is an example of common practice being codified into law over time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is the Vaccine Resistance Related to the Sexual Revolution?

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about vaccination. It began with an outbreak of the measles in California during last year’s holiday season, and has extended into this year. If you look at this fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you will see that 2014 was actually the worst year for measles in more than a decade, and by a considerable margin. However, if 2015 maintains its pace, it will be even worse.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Is Barack Obama a Christian?

This was a question asked of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican and one of the frontrunners for the Presidential nomination in 2016. Oddly enough, Walker’s answer was to say, “I don’t know.” I say his answer was odd because it has been used to create some political theater by his opponents. Media outlets like the LA Times  have expressed righteous indignation at the governor’s unwillingness to call the President a Christian without qualification. Given the propensity of many in media to be dismissive of religious faith, this is rather ironic. As David Burge put it on Twitter, “Media: How dare Scott Walker doubt Barack Obama's faith in Scott Walker's ridiculous invisible sky beard man.” This reaction was fairly predictable, so it is surprising that Walker answered as he did. One would expect a politician to take the safer road and say something like, “I do not question the President’s faith. The problem is his ideas on governing.”

I have to give Walker credit, though, for answering honestly and shedding light on the misconceptions of Christianity current in secular culture. There is a world of difference between identifying as a Christian and being one. My hope today is to point out some of those differences in an effort to clear up the confusion and help people understand what it really means to belong to the church.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Should Women Want?

First off, let me say that I love the title for this post. It is just the sort of thing that should be aggravating enough to generate a response. But I actually intend to be careful in how I come across. On the one hand, I do want to share my opinion and I think I have that right. Wisdom is wisdom, whether it is stated by a man or a woman, because it ultimately comes from God. Women have taught me a lot about what a man should be. There is nothing wrong in returning the favor, if I have something helpful to say. On the other hand, I want to do everything I can to avoid the appearance of being chauvinistic, and of suggesting that I know better than women by the mere virtue of being a man. What I really hope to do here is share something out of the Bible, not lord it over anyone. I may not be able to keep it from being perceived in a bad light by some, but I certainly do not mean it that way, and I hope I can be given the benefit of the doubt.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is the Church Becoming Irrelevant?

This is the question being brought to mind by Rob Bell, author and former mega-church pastor famous (or infamous) for his unorthodox views about Christianity. And in this case, he is speaking specifically about the approach of many churches to homosexuality.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What Does the Bible Have to Say About War Play?

I work in childcare, and recently the teachers in my department have been discussing “war play” and what we ought to do about it. My department head asked for my perspective as a minister, and I thought it would be a good idea to share it here as part of the Forum. What does the Bible have to say about war play?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Is This Star Trek Episode Anti-Christian?

I was watching TV last night and came across an episode of the original Star Trek. This particular episode, “The Return of the Archons,” can be a bit troubling to view. It seems to be a brutal criticism of the concept of religion. And I don’t know. Maybe that is what it was meant to be. But when I thought about it a bit, a subtler message emerged for me.