The Telephone Game and the Bible

phone.jpgMany people are familiar with the telephone game often used with kids to show the challenges and importance of clear communication.  It usually works with a message being given to one person, who has one chance to pass it along to another person, who does the same for the next person, and so on.  By the time it gets to the end the message is usually hilariously (?) garbled.

Sometimes skeptics will use the telephone game analogy to criticize the writings of the Bible, and of the Gospels in particular.  Their premise is that the message was transmitted orally for at least a couple decades (and, by their often convoluted reasoning, many decades), so of course it got changed many times before it was put to paper.

But that game is different from how the oral transmissions that make up the Bible in many key ways:

  1. The Bible wasn’t translated just one-on-one.  There were many witnesses and many people who heard and recounted the events.  People would catch errors instantly.
  2. They didn’t get just one try.  In the telephone game you only get one chance, but in real life – and especially with the New Testament – Jesus probably gave the same message many times, and people repeated it many times with overlapping audiences.  Again, errors would be caught quickly.
  3. Transmitters were well trained in memorizing stories.  People in that culture – especially Jewish men – were trained to memorize things well.  Many Muslims memorize the whole Koran even in our times.
  4. The message being transmitted wasn’t insignificant.  These people thought they had the words of life, and they worked hard to communicate it carefully.  And they often risked their lives to communicate this message. A good analogy I heard was that if a group of cancer patients went to hear someone describe how they could be cured, they would be inclined to pay close attention and to collectively document the information accurately.
  5. The New Testament writers had the benefit of the Holy Spirit to guide them.  I don’t think the Holy Spirit is actively involved in too many instances of the regular telephone game.
  6. Paul’s letters and others were firsthand accounts of events, so no oral tradition was involved.  And we can be highly confident that the original writings were accurately transmitted to us.

A more detailed perspective is available here.

I was surprised to see an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies note that he actually uses this game to teach college students about the Gospels (a link came to my site from his blog via the “related posts” section).  I didn’t realize his background before my first comment, then read more after he responded.  Here’s one of my replies (his words are in italics):

—–

I’ve used the telephone game to teach the gospels a number of times, but it troubles me.

A college prof thinks that is a good way to teach anything? Sad.

On the one hand, of course teaching the gospels by playing the telephone game makes perfect sense: what we have in the New Testament today does not reflect what actually happened in 0 to 35 C.E.

Hmmm . . . if you know what “really” happened perhaps you could enlighten us as to what that was and how you “know” it.

Second, even after they were written down, the stories were copied by scribes who altered the text—textual transmission is just as subject to changes as oral transmission.

False. Even pagan skeptics like Bart Ehrman concede that we know with > 99% confidence what the originals said. The system works, that’s why most Bibles footnote that the ending of Mark and the story of the woman at the well were not in the earliest manuscripts.

Ehrman just makes up a new rule that says that if every copy wasn’t perfect then the originals couldn’t have been inspired (we call that “making God in your own image”).

If you take the two most divergent manuscript streams you still get the same thing: Orthodox Christianity.

However, it is worth nothing that textual transmission may leave alternate editions that permit comparison—to my knowledge historians won’t be able to compare existing texts to oral tellings until they have time machines.

Of course. That’s why you should always assume the opposite of anything ever recorded by anyone.

One can illustrate this point by playing the telephone game: read just a single verse from one of the gospels and have the students pass the message up and down the rows by whispering it to one other.

As noted in my first comment, that is not how the Gospels were transmitted. In theory, you could go to a professor of religious studies and they’d enlighten you as to how it really worked.

So, for instance, we shouldn’t read the gospel of Matthew with an eye to the extent to which it preserves the original message of Jesus, but with an eye to the problems his community was facing some 40 to 60 years after Jesus died, and how he hoped to resolve those problems by writing up some new propaganda.

First, that dating is all wrong. It is easy to demonstrate that the most logical case for the NT datings has the Gospels being written before 70 A.D.

Second, it is hard to imagine someone actually reading the Gospels and coming to that conclusion. Over 25% of the Gospels focus on the Passion Week. How does that represent some solution to an unrelated problem?

The problem is that we are sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is that Savior. His death on the cross paid the price for us.

You might want to trade in the religious studies gig for fiction writing.

The UK has a great idea — I hope they follow through

Via BBC News – Online pornography to be blocked by default, PM announces. What a great idea.  Of course the Leftists will hate it, but this isn’t censorship — that is, unless you think it is censorship that porn providers aren’t allowed to send unsolicited porn to your mailbox.  Think about it.

Yeah, it may make some people uncomfortable to have to opt-in, but I don’t really care.  This will help keep poison away from children — and adults.  This is at the root of so many societal problems.  If government should have a role in our leaves, this should be one of them.

Online pornography to be blocked by default, PM announces

 

David Cameron: “In the balance between freedom and responsibility we have neglected our responsibility to children”

Q&A: UK filters on legal pornography

PM urges firms to block abuse images

Minister hails ‘web porn’ progress

Most households in the UK will have pornography blocked by their internet provider unless they choose to receive it, David Cameron has announced.

In addition, the prime minister said possessing online pornography depicting rape would become illegal in England and Wales – in line with Scotland.

Mr Cameron warned in a speech that access to online pornography was “corroding childhood”.

The new measures will apply to both existing and new customers.

Analysis

Seven years ago David Cameron told a Google conference that politicians should encourage companies to change, not over-regulate them.

Today, he announced he had reached agreement with the four biggest ISPs on pornography filters, after some behind the scenes tussling.

But he hinted that if search engines like Google didn’t agree to a blacklist of search terms, he would legislate.

From Downing St, he can supplement the art of persuasion with the smack of firm government.

Back in his opposition days, Cameron made waves presenting himself as a man on the side of parents against firms that sold chocolates at checkouts and children’s bikinis.

If he can mould a similar image in Downing St, as a PM doing battle with big business on behalf of fellow parents, he will be more than happy.

Mr Cameron also called for some “horrific” internet search terms to be “blacklisted”, meaning they would automatically bring up no results on websites such as Google or Bing.

He told the BBC he expected a “row” with service providers who, he said in his speech, were “not doing enough to take responsibility” despite having a “moral duty” to do so.

Service providers make money off porn.  Of course they will hate this.  Too bad the U.S. won’t have the guts to do it.  It would be a great campaign strategy for a conservative.

Even unions are learning to hate Obamacare

Even those that blindly supported Obamacare, such as unions and religious organizations, are learning how destructive it is.  Unions think it will destroy the 40 hour workweek.  Those that passed it wouldn’t dream of being covered by it.  Sarah Palin was obviously right about the “death panels.”  And so on.

Mark Steyn does a great takedown of it in Obamacare’s Hierarchy of Privilege:

 It requires a perverse genius to construct a “health” “care” “reform” that destroys everything from religious liberty to full-time employment, while requiring multitudes of new tax collectors and other bureaucrats and ever fewer doctors and nurses. The parallel public/private systems of Continental Europe cost about 10 percent of GDP. The Obamacare monstrosity blends all the worst aspects of a private system (bureaucracy, restricted access, co-pays) with all the worst aspects of a government system (bureaucracy, restricted access, IRS agents) and sucks up twice as much GDP, ever less of which is spent on “health care” and ever more on the intervening layers of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parties.

I don’t know, but I’ll find out

question-mark.gifA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

The title contains seven really important words for evangelism and apologetics (defending the Christian faith).

1 Peter 3:15-16 gives the following command to Christians:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

So we must be ready to graciously explain why we believe in Christ. But there will always be questions we don’t have the answers to. Sometimes when we get stumped we resort to poorly made arguments such as “Because the Bible says so!”  Or worse yet, we avoid conversations completely because we are afraid of looking bad.

But when we don’t have well reasoned answers to share we should not make them up. This is a corollary to the advice about the first thing to do when you have dug yourself into a hole (Stop digging).

Consider the following benefits of being willing to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

  • It is a humble response. You burst the stereotype that Christians are smug know-it-alls who aren’t willing to listen.
  • It takes pressure off of you, and most importantly, gives you the confidence to engage in conversations without thinking you must know everything.
  • It keeps you from giving bad answers. Remember that one bad argument can undermine ten good arguments. Skeptics will seize on it and use it to justify their position.
  • It gives you time to prepare better answers.
  • It lets you make an appointment to come back later to talk about God. This is invaluable, as you can approach the person later and say, “Remember when you had that question about ______”
  • You will build your own confidence when you research the issues and realize that we’ve been answering tough questions with intellectually satisfying answers for thousands of years.
  • By taking the objection off the table temporarily, you can shift back to the Gospel, as in “While I can’t answer that right now, here is what I do know . . .”

Of course, you may use different words to convey this. You might say, “That’s a good question. Let me think about it and get back with you. Thanks for giving me something to think about,” or something similar. The main thing is to humbly convey that you listened to what the other person said, that you don’t have a ready answer and that you care enough to do some research and get back to them.

Keep in mind that just because you don’t have an answer right then doesn’t mean that Christianity isn’t true. If the essentials of Christianity are true (e.g., Jesus is God, He is the only way to salvation, the Bible is authoritative and accurate, etc.), then they are true regardless of whether someone can explain them or not or whether someone wants them to be true. All you need to know is where to go find the answers to the tough questions. You can maintain your confidence in what you do know to be true. In fact, when we respond graciously to critics we come across more confident than if we get overly excited and emotional.

This works on other topics as well, such as pro-life reasoning.

Hat tip for parts of this: Stand to Reason

Roundup

Women’s morphing need for male investment — a interesting analysis of women and men, how they are behaving and why.  Sadly, so many women are opting for sleeping around now with no intentions of marrying, thinking they can still marry a great guy years later on their terms.  Bad idea.

This is a terrific and free online resource — An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments.  They should teach these to everyone in school.  Hat tip: Apologetics315.com.

Family Terrorized as Michigan Teachers Support Colleague Who Molested Boy —  the guy is lucky to be alive.  He molested him for three years!  One time should be enough for life in prison.  Any guesses as to the political party of teachers from Michigan who support a child molester?

Oberlin College Hate Hoax Exposed — Uh, if there is so much real racism like this why do these spoiled Obama supporters have to make things up?  These things are more common than you’d think.  Click the link to see a long list of them.  And consider how malicious and hypocritical the perpetrators are.  They make minorities think the situation is much worse than it is. And for what gain?

Arab Spring: Worst Soap Ever — A terrific summary of how (deliberately?) badly Obama has handled foreign affairs.  Where are the protesters?

If Obama Had A Son He Would Not Look Like Christopher Lane — Nothing from the White House.  Jesse grudgingly said it should be “frowned upon.”  This was obviously the worst kind of racism, yet the media is virtually silent.

Last Friday a young Australian was gunned down in Duncan, Oklahoma.

The facts are terrifyingly banal. Lane, who was in the United States on a baseball scholarship to East Central University in Ada, OK, was visiting his girlfriend in Duncan, OK, and decided to go for a jog. At some point he passed a house containing three young men: James Edwards, 15, Chancey “Baby Drake” Luna, 16, and Michael Jones, 17. They were bored – bored is what they told police — and decided to kill him. With Jones at the wheel they followed Lane in a car and, police charge, Edwards shot him in the back with a .22-caliber revolver. Edwards and Luna have been charged with murder, Jones as an accessory.

The critical part of this story involves the race of the killers. At least two of the killers, Edwards and Luna, are described as black.

This event has an interesting parallel to the Trayvon Martin case. The primary killer in this case as identified by police, James Edwards, has an internet presence eerily similar to that of Martin. He created a ganster-wannabe image, brandished weapons, etc. And like Martin, all three are “children.”

There the similarity ends. When George Zimmerman was attacked by Martin he was fortunate enough to be armed. Lane was not that lucky. And when Martin was shot, President Obama nearly injured himself getting in front of television cameras to proclaim his solidarity with Martin supporters. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” he emoted. (As an aside, I think that is probably true as Obama has treated the nation exactly the way Trayvon Martin treated George Zimmerman, he’s sitting on its chest and bashing its head against the metaphorical sidewalk.)

It was committed purely because of race. The blood is on the hands of the race-baiting people who are milking Trayvon’s death for profit and to foster division.

“On July 15, days after the George Zimmerman verdict, Edwards tweeted “Ayeee I knocced out 5 woods since Zimmerman court!:) lol shit ima keep sleepin shit! #ayeeee.”

“Woods” is a derogatory term for white people.”

George Zimmerman was not racist. This crime clearly was, and in the killer’s own words he was attacking whites because of what he “knew” about the Trayvon case. So Sojo should run about 10 times the stories on it as they did for Trayvon, right? Or do they think blacks aren’t capable of self-control?

More here.

And three days before what police call the indiscriminate shooting, the suspect, 15-year-old James Edwards Jr., tweeted, “With my n****s when it’s time to start taken life’s” — a line from the Chief Keef rap song, “I Don’t Like.”Back in April, he tweeted, “90% of white ppl (people) are nasty. #HATE THEM.”

Russia defends anti-gay law in letter to IOC — Good for them!  The law is about not letting people push pro-LGBTQ lies on children and about adoptions.  It is tragic that we haven’t done the same.

Teens and Unrestricted Access: Time to Repent — Do you give your kids unrestricted Internet access? If so, you need to stop.

How Do Mother Butterflies Avoid the Poison? — As if the caterpillar ==> butterfly thing wasn’t enough, they do many other things to mock Darwinian evolution.

A great response to the case where Christians are punished for not providing services to gays:

My friends, the case of Elane Photography v. Willock has been decided. As I tell you regularly, you will be made to care.

The case centered around Elaine Huguenin, a Christian in New Mexico who owned a photography business. She was asked to provide services to a gay commitment ceremony between two lesbians, Vanessa Willock and her partner. Ms. Huguenin and her husband declined to provide their services because they are Christians and the orthodox tenets of their faith tell them that marriage is between a man and a woman. See e.g. Matthew 19.

Vanessa Willock, in an act of spite and retribution, decided to file a discrimination claim and punish Mrs. Huguenin for adhering to her religious beliefs. In a very profound decision, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and others must surrender the faithful practice of their religion in the name of citizenship.

In fact, Justice Richard Bosson in a concurring opinion, wrote,

At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others…. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people…. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.

Note that the tolerance is one way. In the name of tolerance, Mrs. Huguenin can be compelled by state power on pain of punishment to provide her services to Ms. Willock against Mrs. Huguenin’s several thousand year old orthodox religious beliefs, but Ms. Willock is under no obligation to simply tolerate those who disagree with her and find someone who is happy to provide the service.

Ms. Willock proved herself vindictive. Imagine other angry gay rights activists willfully and consciously trying to seek out Christian photographer to either make them comply or drive them from business. Given Ms. Willock’s actions, and the actions of other gay rights activists in Oregon, Colorado, Kentucky, and elsewhere, this is not a hypothetical, but a reality.

. . .

That Christians should be allowed to refrain from providing goods and services to gay marriages they oppose is something supported by 85% of the American public. It unites men, women, blacks, whites, hispanics, conservatives, moderates, and a fair number of liberals. This battle may be lost, unless the United States Supreme Court steps in and reverses, but this decision gives Christians, Muslims, and orthodox Jews the ammunition to win the war for religious liberty. No longer is coercion of the religious by gay rights activists a hypothetical.

A small band of gay rights activists will not stop on the one way street of tolerance. My friends, whether you want to believe or not, you will be made to care. New Mexico shows again that gay marriage and religious freedom are incompatible. You will not be allowed to opt out.

There is one organization at the forefront of this. That is the Alliance Defending Freedom. They represented Mrs. Huguenin and are considering appealing to the United States Supreme Court. They need our financial help to keep this going. I’ve given them a financial contribution and I hope you will to. They are lone and brave warriors in this fight against the left. They need every penny they can get.

Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, then seeks to silence good. We must fund the fight for Truth and Light.

The blind men of Sodom are most persistent.  Shame on those who elected people who let this happen.

This is great!

Muslim

Toodledo: Silly name, great app

One of my most-used apps is Toodledo.  Yeah, the name is silly. But it works really well. And yes, you actually have to pay a whole $3 for it, but it is worth it.

One of the best things about apps like this is that you can access and share lists from multiple devices.  I mainly use it on my iPhone, but it is also a constantly open web page on my PC.  And my wife can share the app and the lists on it.  Little things like grocery lists are much easier now.  You can add things whenever you think of them, and put them in the rough order of how they are laid out in the store.  It seems like overkill at first but it is worth it.  And we can both use it at the same time.

I also have to-do lists for:

  • General things
  • Travel checklist — there are 40 possible things I might pack for a given trip.  No wonder I used to forget things!
  • Gift ideas
  • Target / Wal-mart / Lowe’s
  • Names  of people I meet (I try to type them in right away, and that alone helps me remember them)
  • Ballroom dance tips (things I think I’ll remember after a lesson but often forget)
  • Workout lists
  • Work tasks
  • Movies I want to see
  • More!

If you don’t use an app like this I encourage you to try it.  It will make your life much more organized with minimal cost and time requirements.

Who is a Christian? Who is a Muslim?

church.jpgIf I claimed to be a bacon-loving, Jew-loving, Koran-denying, Mohammad-denying Muslim, would you take me seriously?  I doubt it.

I have found that for many people the word “Christian” has lost or changed meaning.  It used to mean someone who was an authentic follower of Jesus.  Now it is often used as a synonym for “nice,” as in, “She’s a really Christian person,” or to describe someone who goes to church sometimes but rejects the essentials of the faith.

Theological liberals tend to get very wounded if you imply that they don’t hold Christian views.  They’ve been in theologically liberal churches so long and have such a low view of scripture that they think that is the way church is supposed to be.

Mind you, I don’t go around saying who is and isn’t an authentic Christian.  That’s God’s job.  I’m not qualified and wouldn’t want it even if I were.

Jesus did say that you will know them by their fruit, so it is fair to examine people’s lives to see if they have evidence for their faith.  But mistakes can be made during fruit inspection.  We would have probably thought that Judas was the real deal, and we probably would have thought that the criminal on the cross was not.

But it does seem fair to point out when self-described Christians don’t hold views that have historically applied to Christians, as evidenced in the Bible, countless creeds and denominational statements of faith.  That means that they are either “saved and confused” or not real Christians.

First, consider this conversation:

Me: I’m a Muslim.

Real Muslim: No, you’re not.

Me: Really, I am, and I’m offended that you say I’m not.

RM: Do you believe the Koran is the word of God?

Me: No, of course not.  It was written by a man, and has obvious historical errors like saying that Jesus didn’t die on the cross.  It was written hundreds of years after Christ, and even sources outside the Bible claim that Jesus himself died.  And don’t get me started about all the violence it encourages!  Why trust the Koran?

RM: Do you believe in Allah as the one true God?

Me: No.

RM: Do you like Jewish people?

Me: Yes.

RM: What do you think about pork?

Me: Mmmmmmm . . . bacon!

RM: You aren’t a Muslim.

Me: Yes I am!  How dare you question my faith!

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Now consider this:

Me: Are you a Christian?

Liberal theologian: Yes.

Me: Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

LT: No.  Even though it claims to speak for God roughly 3,000 times, I think those are all made up by people.

Me: Do you think Jesus is God?

LT: No.

Me: Do you believe any of the miracles as recorded in the Bible are true?

LT: No.  Miracles can’t happen.  Writers made those up.

Me: Do you think Jesus is the only way to salvation?

LT: No.
Me: But the Bible teaches that in over 100 passages!

LT: [Pause] Uh, so what?  The Bible was written by men . . . [trails off because he didn’t know that]

Me: Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?

LT: No.

Me: Do you look for opportunities to share the Gospel as outlined in the Bible?

LT: Of course not.  All religions (or no religions) are valid paths to God.

Me: Do you realize how radically different your basic views are compared to Christians throughout the last 2,000 years, especially to the countless Christians who died rather than recant their faith?

LT: Sort of . . . but we’re smarter than they were.

Me: Indeed.  But you say you are Christian?

LT: Yes.  How dare you question my faith?!

Is the first conversation that much different than the second?

I haven’t had that precise conversation with any liberal Christians, but it is a highly accurate composite.  Try it yourself.  I’m virtually certain that any of the “Jesus Seminar” members would answer the questions that way.  For example, I read a book co-authored by Marcus Borg (a member of the Jesus Seminar) and he held all the heretical views noted above, plus more.  Most of the theologically Liberal people at the Sojourners’ blog are just like that.

These people may be terrific citizens and friendly neighbors, but calling themselves Christians distorts the traditional and real meaning of the word.  Again, if I claimed to be a bacon-loving, Jew-loving, Koran-denying, Mohammad-denying Muslim, would you take me seriously?  So why take seriously those who claim the name of Christ yet mock the essentials of the faith?

A sure sign of a fake

As if we needed more evidence that the National Council of Churches was a political group full led by non-believing false teachers: Former Church Council Chief Urges Christianity to Abandon “Exclusivity”.

Former National Council of Churches chief Joan Brown Campbell, in her sermon at Chautauqua today, urged that Christians reject the “exclusivity” of their own faith. And in today’s published interview with the Chautauqua, NY newspaper, Campbell reiterated Christians should not aspire to win other people to Christianity.

Campbell is retiring after 14 years as director of religious life at the famed, originally Christian retreat center, which she celebrated has become more interfaith under her direction. Chautauqua originally began as a Sunday school training camp for Methodists.

 

Roundup

New study finds highest-ever risk of breast cancer from abortion — That should be front page news, but the radically pro-abortion media will buy it.

John MacArthur on Joel Osteen.  Yeah!

You know that these things are true because they work for you and your wife?  Sure, because you are at the top of the Ponzi scheme.

RINO Chris Christie signs bill banning gay ‘conversion therapy’— Apparently Christie is an anti-choice, anti-science zealot. Anti-choice because he thinks teens shouldn’t be able to choose to get help and anti-science because there is no evidence that they are “born that way.” And even if they were born that way, that wouldn’t make the behavior moral. Besides, who would want to change from a lifestyle that is 40+ times more likely to give you HIV or Syphilis? At least that’s what those gay-bashers at the CDC say the odds are. Here’s more on the scientific fact that they aren’t “born that way.”

What Happens When You Abolish Tipping — interesting article.

It is come this far, this fast: If you are a decent person who agrees with Jesus about what real marriage is, the government feels the need to rehabilitate you.  Hey, thanks to all the fools who bought the line that oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” wouldn’t impact us.

X3Watch is a free accountability software — Seems simple and effective.  Yes, people can try to find ways to cheat but this makes it harder.  I encourage all males (and females?) in accountability groups to use something like this.  And if you aren’t protecting and checking on your kids you need to start today.

X3watch is free accountability software program helping with online integrity. Whenever you browse the internet and access a site which may contain questionable material, the program will record the site name, time, and date the site was visited. A person of your choice (an accountability partner) will receive an email containing a list of all possible questionable sites you may have visited within the month.

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides — This is a sad problem.  One thing was about the increased risk of HIV/AIDS in polygamous countries.  And I had never heard of “pleasure marriage” or “traveler’s marriage” in Muslim countries.  That is convenient for them.

In some Muslim countries, marriage is used as a cover for the illegal child sex tourism trade. Some Muslims groups allow temporary marriages such as Nikāḥ al-Mutʿah (“pleasure marriage”) and Nikah al-Misyar (“traveller’s marriage”) as a way to get around Islam’s prohibition against premarital sex. By making the unions temporary, Egyptian child sex tourism manages to capture much of the worst of child marriage and child prostitution. “Some girls have been married 60 times by the time they turn 18,” an Egyptian government official who works on the issue told Inter Press Service. “Most ‘marriages’ last for just a couple of days or weeks.”

Graphic ‘Face the Children’ postcard campaign is opening Canadian abortion debate — good for them!  As usual, those who object think it is worse to show the pictures than to do what is in the pictures.  Yes, they don’t want kids to see them — perhaps because their kids will ask why they aren’t doing anything about it.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:9

Actor Proud of His Mother for Aborting His Sibling

Yep.  Like most pro-abortion reasoning, it sounds like it was written by a child — although most children would be reflexively pro-life if you described to them what an abortion does.  Via Actor Mark Ruffalo Proud of His Mother for Aborting His Sibling:

 “Ruffalo called his mother’s experience a “relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind””

But like nearly all pro-abortion arguments, he ignores that an innocent but unwanted human being is literally destroyed by abortion.  What is free, equal or kind about that?

“. . . his views about a woman’s legal right to decide if, when, and under what circumstances she will have a child.”

That’s more bad reasoning.  It is a scientific fact that the unborn are human beings from fertilization.  It is common sense and supported by any embryology book you pick up.  She already has a child, she is just in a unique location.

“she lived her life as a mother who chose when she would have children”

No, she killed one of her children.

“There is nothing to be ashamed of here except to allow a radical and recessive group of people to bully and intimidate our mothers and sisters and daughters for exercising their right of choice. ”

I think killing unwanted human beings is radical.  And I support a woman’s right to choose all sorts of things: Husband, career, own a gun, health insurance, to home school, etc.  But I don’t support the choice to kill her child inside or outside the womb.

“Or design legislation that would chip away at those rights disguised a reinforcing a woman’s health.”

That ignores the health of the unborn.  He might have had a sister.  Nearly all gender-selection abortions kill females for the sole reason that they are female, yet “feminists” support those as well.

“I invite you to find your voice and let it be known that you stand for abortion rights and the dignity of a woman to be the master of her own life and body.”

What if the female is in the womb?  What about her body?

“I invite you to search your soul and ask yourself if you actually stand for what you say you stand for. Thank you for being here today and thank you for standing up for the women in my life.”

What if his mom aborted a female?  She would have been a woman in his life.

What about the Crusades?! And the Inquisition?! Etc.?!

cross.jpg

When people try to dismiss Christianity or belief in God by asking, “What about the Crusades?!” (or some other bad thing), this is my first reaction:

  1. You don’t judge an ideology by those who violate its tenets.
  2. I make it a habit not to apologize for things that a) happened 1,000 years ago and b) I didn’t do.
  3. If there is no God then there is no moral grounding to criticize the Crusades or anything else.
  4. None of those things disprove the central claims of Christianity, such as the physical resurrection of Jesus, his divinity, etc.

Many critics try to use issues such as the Crusades, the Inquisition or just run of the mill hypocrisy as trump cards against Christianity. If people did the opposite of what the Bible teaches then at worst they were not Christians and at best they were, at least temporarily, bad ambassadors for Christ.  Those issues are serious, of course, but they have zero impact on whether the Bible is true and whether Jesus is the the only way to forgiveness of your sins, reconciliation with God and to eternal life.

The same goes for other religions and worldviews: We need to understand what they really teach to judge them properly.

Another possible response is to say that you’ll take responsibility for the thousands of people killed by “Christians” provided that the atheists take responsibility for the one-hundred million plus killed by Lenin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot and others.  The Salem Witch trials killed 18 people.  The Inquisition killed about 2,000.  That is 2,018 too many, to be sure, but keep in mind two things: The perpetrators did the opposite of what Jesus commanded and 2,018 murders was a slow afternoon for atheists like Stalin and Mao. And keep in mind that the Crusades were not what you see in the pro-Muslim politically correct version you hear about today.  They were largely a defensive maneuver.  Here are 4 myths about them:

  • Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  • Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  • Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  • Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Also, if someone wants to claim that Christianity isn’t true because of bad things done in Jesus’ name, then they would need to concede that the vast number of good things done in his name would be evidence for Christianity.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we should gloss over bad things done in Jesus’ name.  Those are serious issues and an embarrassment to Christianity.  We can respond to them and use them to express Biblical truths.

Was the Inquisition wrong?  Of course!  It is completely un-Biblical to think you can or should force someone to believe something.  When the rich young ruler walked away sadly after being told he must give up everything to follow Jesus (Matthew 19), Jesus didn’t run and tackle him.  He didn’t even offer to negotiate and take half.   The text says that Jesus loved the young man, but He didn’t force him to believe.  You come to him on his terms or not at all.

Mainline Christian denominations have caved on important Biblical concepts regarding sexuality – easy divorce, promiscuity, abortion and various perversions.  These false teachers abandoned essentials of the faith such as the deity, exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ as well.  They have grossly misinterpreted the Bible, but that doesn’t mean Christianity isn’t true.  It means people have drifted from or abandoned Biblical teachings.  Ideally, people wouldn’t judge Christianity based on what those people do and say.

Some “Christians” abused scriptures to justify slavery (maybe they were really Christians, and maybe not . . . that was between them and God).  But what critics typically forget is that Christians who properly interpreted scriptures, such as heroes like William Wilberforce, were the ones who helped end that type of slavery.

Yes, self-proclaimed Christians have done many bad things.  But what is the answer – that Christianity is false?  Of course not.  The answer is more Christianity, or more specifically, more authentic Christianity.

Biblical illiteracy is part of the problem.  The more people know about what the Bible really says, the more quickly they can stop heretical movements.

Are bad actions done in the name of Christ a problem for Christianity even if the perpetrators may not have been true Christians and the acts were un-Biblical?  In a moral sense, no.  Again, you don’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets.

But in a practical sense it is a problem for Christianity, because these issues can be a stumbling block for non-believers.  We need to be sensitive to those who were wounded by Christians (real and fake) and be prepared to explain the truth in love.

Spurgeon vs. false teachers on the crucifixion

When we preach Christ crucified, we have no reason to stammer, or stutter, or hesitate, or apologize; there is nothing in the gospel of which we have any cause to be ashamed.

Charles Spurgeon

 

False teachers typically avoid talking about the crucifixion, and they definitely avoid or explicitly deny the physical resurrection of Christ. Why?  Because they are non-Christians who are ashamed of the Gospel.

Missing the point on Matthew 25

I find several common themes of those who reflexively quote Matthew 25 (“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”).  It is a great passage that many sound teachers use properly, but false teachers abuse it regularly.  It is the pet verse of the Leftist writers and commenters at the Sojourners’ blog but they never get it right.

1. They don’t speak up for the 3,000+ of “least of these” who get killed in the womb every day because they are unwanted by their parents. They support the party whose platform calls for more abortions via taxpayer-funding. Who could be more vulnerable than those being killed for being unwanted?  If they applied this properly then they are killing Jesus in effigy by supporting abortions.

2. They don’t understand the context of Matthew 25: It is written to brothers and sisters — i.e., fellow believers — those in the church, not everyone else.

3. They think that lobbying Caesar to take from neighbor A by force to “give” to neighbor B qualifies as obeying Matthew 25. But take that to its logical conclusion: Would it qualify as obeying to lobby the government to make other people visit those in prison on your behalf, as also mentioned in that passage? Of course not. Jesus told you to do those things yourself.

4. They don’t read to the end of the chapter, because they typically deny this part:

41 “Then he will say to those on his left,‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  . . .45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Do all those quoting Matthew 25 to justify forced wealth redistribution as a Christian act also affirm the truth of eternal punishment?

5. Do they think He is the King of the universe who will really return and glory and make a final judgment of people?

Matthew 25:31–33 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

—–

If you want to argue it is good public policy to do certain things, then feel free. But that is not what Matthew 25 means.

Matthew 25:31–46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Fathers matter

Despite what the LGBTQX lobby and media conglomerate will tell you, gender matters and fathers matter.  Via From Father Knows Best to Father Doesn’t Matter:

In America, roughly 39,000 suicides take place each year – 30,000 of which are committed by men. Ironically, most suicide literature will usually have a woman depicted on front with little attention paid to the mental health and wellness of men. This is because women overwhelmingly attempt suicide (a cry for help) while men overwhelmingly follow-through (an act of frustration and despair). Such feelings of despair and frustration are now being felt elsewhere in our society as well.

The number of American males valuing marriage is plummeting. . . . Socially, men are looked down upon more than at any other time in history. . . .

Verily, the greatest impact on men boycotting society has involved the future well-being of our nation’s children.

Pay close attention to these statistics.

It is well known that fatherless children are more likely to grow up impoverished and victims of neglect, abuse, and sexual molestation at significantly higher rates. However, the true impact of fatherless homes isn’t understood until the data is reviewed in greater detail.

The U.S. Department of Health notes that 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes – five times the normal average. The Center for Disease Control notes that 85% of all children who have mental or behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the normal average. The Journal of Family and Culture once noted an over 100% increase in juvenile self-identification as “homosexual” once a father leaves the home. Pediatrics journal noted in 2011 that homosexual teens are five times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual teens. Fatherless teenage girls are 711% more likely to have children as a teen, 53% more likely to marry as a teen, and 92% more likely to get divorced. Over 50% of women in prison came from fatherless homes. Over two-thirds of teens in chemical dependence programs come from fatherless homes. And, according to the National Principals Association, some 71% of high school drop-outs come from fatherless homes.

As men become frustrated and full of despair, so does our society and the children of this nation. Despite a 93% chance of being killed on the streets, teens still decide it best to run away from home than to stay in their present living conditions – 90% of these teens are fatherless. The over 6% of the juvenile population is incarcerated each year – many tried as adults on felony and misdemeanor charges.

If this country is ever to change, our youth are ever to regain their hope, and the church is ever to grow, we must take a stance on the importance of men in society and their duty to society. Pastors and priests cannot, and should not, belittle man’s role in family and society anymore – even if done in jest. It cannot be suggested that man should take a passive role in society or in their families. Strong male role models should be used to help children more effectively cope and grow. And, most importantly, the church must start a public and male-centric dialogue on the problems facing men, fears of men, the needs of men in contemporary society, the importance of men in family and social structures, the Biblical role of men, and how America’s hatred of men is killing our youth and our nation’s future.

If the media/entertainment/political industries really want to reduce suicides, why not focus on fatherhood?  Why do more to damage children by mandating “same-sex marriage” recognition?

Roundup

Candid pastoral thoughts on depression and drugs — I highly recommend this piece by Dan Phillips.  It has wise advice and terrific balance on an important and complex subject.  Here is his closing advice, though I hope you read it all:

Ask your doctor:

  1. Do you think my problem is a sheerly-physical problem?
  2. Is there a test that has shown, or can show, whether my problem is a sheerly-physical problem?
  3. How long do you intend me to take these pills? That is, when will I stop?
  4. How will we know when I can stop taking these pills?
Even answers to just those four questions would be so helpful in a counseling situation.
After all, I hope we’re all agreed to hold three specific stances:
  1. Our goal in life is to glorify God to the greatest degree possible (1 Cor. 10:31).

  2. We don’t want to try to address physical issues spiritually,or vice-versa.

  3. While medicine is a gift from God, we don’t want to take either more or less personality-affecting medication than is necessary.

— A Darwinist referring to Christians: “I would like to cut off the heads of these fanatics and spit in it.”  How charming and tolerant!  What I would like to ask that atheist is why he is so angry with Darwinism.  After all, if his worldview is true then Darwinian evolution would be 100.000% responsible for my conversion from atheism to trusting in the facts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  What else could have caused it?  So if Darwinian evolution was the cause, why is he so upset? — 5 Common Objections to the Moral Argument — This is a powerful argument for God’s existence and a great way to advance conversations about him.  Go read them all!

The Moral Argument for the existence of God has been graced with a long tradition of defense from theistic (and atheistic!) philosophers and thinkers throughout the history of Western thought…and a long tradition of misunderstandings and objections by even some of the most brilliant minds. To be fair, the argument is not always as intuitive as theists like to think it is. Essentially, the moral argument seeks to infer God as the best explanation for the objective moral facts about the universe. One of the most popular formulations is as follows:

  1. Objective morality cannot exist unless God exists.
  2. Objective morality exists.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

There are a host of common objections that are usually blown in the direction of this argument, but for the sake of brevity, I will only deal with five. 1. “But I’m a moral person and I don’t believe in God. Are you saying that atheists can’t be moral?” The moral argument has nothing to do with belief in God. No proponent of the moral argument has ever argued that an individual cannot be moral unless they hold belief in God. Rather, the argument deals with grounding, or substantiating, objective morality. If God does not exist, then there can be no basis for objective morality. Sure, atheists can be moral. In fact, I know several atheists who are more moral than some theists! The issue of belief is not pertinent to the argument. The argument simply highlights the fact that there must be a basis– some kind of standard–that is outside of ourselves, in order for there to be objective morality. This objection makes a category error of confusing a question of moral ontology (Is there a moral reality?) with moral epistemology (How do we come to know or believe in the moral reality?). 2. “But what if you needed to lie in order to save someone’s life? It seems that morality is not absolute as you say it is.” 3. ‘Where’s your evidence for objective morality? I won’t believe in anything unless I have evidence for it.’ 4. ‘If morality is objective, then why do some cultures practice female genital mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and other atrocities which we, in the West, deem unacceptable?’ 5. ‘But God carried out many atrocities in the Old Testament. He ordered the genocide of the Canaanites.’

Why do Christians leave the faith? Dashed expectations of a “nice” God — careful Bible study and apologetics are make a big difference.

Randy Alcorn on the false but popular Heaven — Great points by Randy Alcorn. The popularity of these false “Heaven” books shows how discernment and biblical knowledge are lacking. If you want a fantastic book on Heaven read In Light of Eternity.

Wimps, Frauds, and Charlatans — I love how RedState will call out the RINOs.  We need real conservatives, not career Democrats-in-Republican-clothing.

Challenge: The Bible Only Mentions Homosexuality Six Times Various responses . . .

1. How many times does God have to say something before I should obey?

2. How many times does the Bible mention bestiality?

3. How many times does the Bible say not to beat up gays? (I think that is wrong, of course, but am taking her argument to its logical conclusions)

4. The Bible doesn’t just clearly say homosexual behavior is wrong — including the “exhibit A” example of rebellion in Romans 1 — there are countless passages showing God’s ideal. The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths: 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms. 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman. 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children). 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.

* The three general types of pro-gay theology people: 1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God” (obviously non-Christians) 2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling theological Liberals” (only about 10 things wrong with that) 3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Lost Weight? 5 Ways to Keep it Off for Good — good, basic tips from people who have succeeded.

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