No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: apologetics

Something new? How about an Android App?


Pocket Apologetics...now available in the marketplace

As some of you have noticed I have been noticeably absent from making posts since spring.  I wanted to assure you that I haven’t melted away, nor have I been dragged away by the mighty MO river.  I have been working on
a top secret project.  Until now only a few people have known what I have been working on, and now it is time to let the cat out of the bag.  I have developed
the first ALL apologetics Android application. It is now available in the Android Marketplace under “Pocket Apologetics”.

Pocket Apologetics is an on the go apologetics guide.  Designed to help you answer the tough questions in the midst of conversation, Pocket Apologetics offers researched answers with biblical and online references. Basically, it is everything that you have come to expect from No Apologizing in your pocket.  The app is
complete to various links on the web, and to our blog.

As I mentioned, this is the first app that I have seen in Android that is completely dedicated to apologetics. This was my summer project in lieu of summer seminary courses.  I am hoping to see this app grow in content as you provide me with feedback, and additional questions that you struggle with.

Please go out there and download this app.

Let me know what you think.

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Does Mere Christianity really represent Christianity?


Mere Christianity or Mere bunk?

In our 2011 Challenge we encouraged our readers to try their hand at reading and digesting a Christian book.  I recently read and reviewed C. S Lewis’  Mere Christianity (San Francisco:  Harper Collins, 1952, 1980. Pp. 227) for a class I took at Luther Rice Seminary and thought I’d share my thoughts with you here:

Sociologists have observed that the United States has lagged behind, or followed, the socio-political and cultural trends of Europe.  At times, in terms of things like fashion, for example, the lag-time is rather short, whereas in more foundational issues such as cultural and political trends, the time gap between progressive Europe and the more conservative America is quite broad.  This helps explain why a book that was written from radio-broadcasts given in Great Brittan during the 1940’s is still relevant in America today.  C. S. Lewis agreed to give the radio-talks, which were later edited and compiled as the book Mere Christianity (Click Here for a link to this book on Amazon.com), to explain and defend the Christian faith to a war-torn country “which had come to consider itself part of a ‘post-Christian’ world” (p. XIX).  Following that European trend, America is becoming increasingly post-Christian as well.  Mere Christianity has become a foundational classic in the field of apologetics. It has helped shape the way both apologists and Christians in general think and speak and set the standard for defending Christianity to a “post-Modern” or “post-Christian” world.  It is oft quoted by other apologists in their works; it has been used by others as a tool for thoughtful dialog with atheists and has served to strengthen the faith of Christians who have been confronted with their own doubts or by questions raised by atheistic family, friends and acquaintances.  Though it is not without its imperfections and some of the language, examples and illustrations given by Lewis are a bit out-dated, it is still useful for these purposes today.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) taught at Oxford then later at Cambridge, where he was the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English.  He was a prolific writer, credited with authoring more than thirty books including:  The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screw-tape Letters, and works such as Reflections on the Psalms.  Lewis’ understanding of literature, language and popular culture, as well as his high intellect and background as a staunch atheist, uniquely qualify him to produce this pioneering work.  He wanted to tell his country “in basic terms what the religion [Christianity] was all about” (p. XIX) not to “convert anyone to [his] own position” (p. VIII) but to help them understand Christianity’s reasonableness over other belief systems, including atheism.  Indeed, because he was formerly an atheist, Lewis was able to articulate and answer many of their common objections to Christianity in a gentle, respectful and convincing manner.  Additionally, Lewis felt being a layman helped him to better relay the basic tenants of Christianity to unbelievers in a more commonly understood way than a highly trained theologian (who may be tempted to expound upon issues that divide various Christian sects).

Lewis originally organized this book into three parts that reflected the formatting of the radio broadcasts.  In fact, the original work included contractions and italics designed to reproduce the conversational feel of the radio programs as much as possible.  The current revised and amplified edition still tries to maintain a “‘popular’ or ‘familiar’ tone” (p. VII) which allows Lewis’ logical case to shine through without the cumbrance of highly technical language. 

The book is now arranged into four sections that progressively take the reader on a journey of faith opening with the contention that there is such a thing as an absolute Moral Law that must originate from something outside this universe.  Lewis goes on to make the case that it is most reasonable to identify the origin of that Moral Law as the Trinitarian God of the Bible.  He used this foundation to demonstrate the need for man’s redemption to God through Jesus Christ.  Building off these notions, Lewis explains morality from a Christian perspective in the next “book”, and concludes that section with a description of what it means to truly have faith.  Lewis closes with a theological section that attempts to describe “what God is and what He has done” (p. 187) and how Christians should respond to that by becoming new creatures – something Lewis describes as being beyond human. The progression of his arguments throughout is logical and convincing and probably to the truly open inquirer, quite convicting.  It is likely that God has used this work to bring a great multitude of souls into His kingdom. 

This work is first and foremost an apologetic treatise.  Even though the final “book” seems more designed for one who has already made a decision to believe, the entire work contains a good amount of apologetic material.  It seems as though Lewis was doing his best to gently and respectfully walk people through a journey from ignorant unbelief to a reasoned understanding of Christianity that culminates in one placing their faith in Jesus and then living for Him – to put it in his terms, he is hoping that people will move from Bios (Biological life) to Zoe (Spiritual life) (p. 159, 177).  He goes about this by presenting a progressive, comprehensive and “common” view of Christianity.

In the preface Lewis stated that he wished “to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times” (p. VIII), but he strays from that goal as there are a few ideas that are expressly stated and others that are merely alluded to which many evangelicals would say at least partially depart from orthodox evangelical Christianity.  Some of these departures are perhaps caused by Lewis’ desire to present a universal or non-sectarian picture of Christianity while others are undoubtedly due to Lewis’ personal convictions. Either way, however, these notions that may even be viewed by some as heresy certainly do not represent the “common” Christian faith Lewis professed to be aiming to present.

One area where Lewis deviates from traditional-orthodox Christianity is that he betrays a belief in Darwinian evolution throughout.  Because Darwin proposed his theories in the 1800’s that cannot be a view held by Christians “at all times” (p. VIII).  Additionally, this view of creation undercuts a trust in biblical inerrancy, which is a core value shared by conservative-evangelical Christians.  It also seems that Lewis alludes to the doctrine of purgatory when he speaks of an “inconceivable purification… after death” (p. 202). This doctrine, of course, has been rejected by most protestant denominations and is a key point in one’s soteriology.  Lewis also seems to err in his soteriology by implying that one must clean themselves up prior to coming to faith in Christ when he said, “it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong direction” (p164).  The final doctrinal error Lewis apparently held to is that he seemed to be at least partially an inclusionist. He said, “There are people in other religions who… belong to Christ without knowing it” (p. 209) – This is untenable from a “common” Christian perspective.

In spite of the teachings that are not common to all Christianity and/or are incompatible with traditional orthodoxy, there are several subjects where Lewis’ arguments are matchless.  Possibly the most useful of these from an apologetic sense is Lewis’ defense of Jesus’ deity (either He is a liar, a lunatic or Lord) (p. 52).  This is followed closely in importance by his convincing argument that our common sense of morality is strong evidence for the existence of the God revealed in the Bible.  Mere Christianity also begins a good preliminary discussion on the problem of evil (as Lewis presents the similarities between Christianity and classic dualism), and it contains an excellent response to atheistic objections that are rooted in the perceived hypocrisy of Christians.  These philosophical gems make wading through the theological problems and the difficulties created by the difference in time and culture well worth the effort.

The brilliance and impact of Mere Christianity cannot be denied; it is indeed a classic which has helped shape the standard for apologetics to post-Modern non-Christians, particularly with the issues listed above.  However, this work is far from the inerrant and inspired Word of God.  In fact, there are several significant topics in which Lewis does not hold to conservative evangelical Christianity.  If one just scans the table of contents they may be tempted to rely upon this book as a layman’s systematic theological handbook, but because of these issues, those wishing to fully understand orthodox Christianity should avoid employing Mere Christianity for that purpose.  Instead, one should learn to utilize the theologically sound arguments contained in this work as part of a more comprehensive apologetics repertoire, so that they may gently and respectfully “give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have” (1 Peter 3:15).

The Challenger 25 Years Later: Responding to Tragedy


I was reminded that the Challenger exploded 25 years ago today… That means that 25 years ago I was a naïve and immature 10 year old trying to deal with the shock and awe of the tragedy by sitting around cracking stupid and insensitive “Challenger Jokes” in Mrs. Hoblitzel’s 5th grade class (no I won’t be repeating them here). It’s sobering and frankly quite embarrassing to think of how I behaved back then… but as is usual for me; “current” events have gotten me thinking theologically. Specifically today I’ve been thinking about how I’ve progressed throughout the years in responding to catastrophe.

Here’s the progression I’ve observed in myself – and I by no means want to claim I’ve cornered the market on how to appropriately respond to all tragedies – However, I’m hoping that as you read how I have in the past and am now currently responding to troublesome or “evil” events it will cause you to pause and consider what IS the proper response in light of who God is and our relationship to Him (throughout history, currently and in the future).  So, here goes (please keep in mind I’m not at all proud of these responses, but I think they will be helpful to our discussion):

Like I said above, when I was a kid I would respond to tragic events (and really pretty much most adversity I experienced) by either lashing out in anger and/or trying to defuse the impact by making light or making fun of the situation and/or the people involved.  So what if the nation was rocked by an unexpected and seemingly needless loss of life??? I was gonna have my laugh and try to get others to join along… The problem with this is that it was incredibly insensitive – it didn’t acknowledge the genuine pain people felt over the situation and it in no way considered God (and how HE felt about what happened).

As I grew into adolescence and young adulthood I slipped into a very jaded indifference… Sure, I’d put on a mask of concern and maybe even feign a little contrived and controlled outrage and sometimes I’d even revert back to the joke making… but inside, I really didn’t care. The two biggest examples I remember responding in this way were the Oklahoma City bombing and the OJ trial… Now, again, I have grown to deeply care about what happened in these (especially the OKC bombing), but back then my heart was very hard toward God and that translated in it being hard toward what He most cares about: people… My heart breaks in sorrow in how I used to think and feel, and now I am particularly grieved over the loss of life, especially when that life is one or more people who have not placed their faith and trust in Jesus.

As God got a hold of my attention and my heart I quickly transitioned into another and radically different response to personal, national and even global tragedy – I wanted to discover (and then proclaim) some “greater good” had and/or would come from it all. I was quick to fire out Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good…” in an attempt to make sense of it all and out of a sincere motivation to comfort and build up those affected by various tragedies.

This is a view and a practice I’ve held to until just very recently… The three basic problems with this: 1) Verses such as Genesis 50:20, Job 1:21 and Romans 8:28 seem to be blanket statements promising some greater good, but when looked at carefully they are NOT actually blanket promises (we don’t have time to go into all the hermeneutics here, but read them for yourself in context and I think you will find me to be right); 2) If there is a “greater good” for a very visible tragedy for things to balance out wouldn’t the good also need to be visible and noticeably better than the evil event? (What is the visible “greater good” for the holocaust, the tsunami a few years back, Katrina, children being raped and brutally murdered, the OKC bombing, and 9/11?)  3) If God NEEDS these evil events in order for some greater scheme of His to come about, would that not make God guilty of and/or dependent upon evil? (I cannot in good conscience and will not charge God with evil – that is a theologically indefensible position and it would be plainly sinful (cf. Job 1:22 & 2:10).

So, how do I respond now? Well, first, I recognize that we live in a broken world – one that has been broken since Adam and Eve sinned. Because this world (including nature and culture) is broken and people’s relationships with one another, with themselves and with God are all broken bad stuff is bound to happen… This brokenness is the REASON for all the garbage that goes on, however, there doesn’t HAVE to be a PURPOSE for the evil (i.e. a “greater good” to be made out of it). Sometimes, out of His goodness, God will take a bad situation and make it better and/or bring some sort of good out of it – but He is under no obligation to do that 100% of the time (and He doesn’t) – sometimes, often even, bad stuff just happens and that’s it, period – no greater good occurs.

The second thing that I recognize is that sin and the evil it produces and has produced grieves God greatly.  The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we are to Cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for us (1 Peter  5:7). He sympathizes with us in our pain and He ready willing and able to comfort us in our sorrow and affliction. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1: “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

The last thing that I remember (and this personally brings me the most comfort) is that we know with 100% certainty that God will one day make all things right – The curse will be reversed:  Evil and agents of evil will be dealt with, the perfection of the Garden of Eden will be restored, those who have accepted Him through faith will be able to have continual fellowship with God in His presence, the world will be made new, our bodies will be glorified, there will be no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no death and no tears. He has already taken steps to make this future reality possible.  The story of how He has done that and is continuing to do so is the central theme of the Bible.

So, I guess what I’m driving at is the next time something shockingly bad (like Challenger, 9/11, the tsunami, OKC bombing, or something more personal) occurs, don’t joke about it, don’t blow it off as insignificant and don’t try to placate people with promises of some greater good… Instead, I would challenge you to point them to Christ, who wants to have a relationship with them, will one day make all things right and who can comfort them beyond measure with peace that passes understanding (cf. Philippians 4:5-9) in the here and now.

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HOLY WAR (but NOT Jihad)!!!


God’s Word makes it very clear that all Christians are in a very dangerous and deadly battle – we are called to MAKE WAR!  That is why we are given instructions on how and who and with which weapons we are expected to fight. Check out what Eph 6:10-18 has to say about it:

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Not only are we expected to fight, but we are expected to WIN – BIG TIME (cf. Romans 8:37).

Over the coming days we are going to look at the various aspects of the Armor of God… and see how each to be used to increase our effectiveness for our Supreme Commander-in-Chief. But before we strap on the Armor and go out Rambo-style to kick tail and take names I think it’s important for us to examine just exactly who who or what is/are the enemy.

Far too often I see Christians assuming that we need to fight against people and their messed up thinking… their ideologies (aka their politics), but it seems to me that verse 12 above makes it pretty clear that this is not the case. Let’s take a peek at what God says about it elsewhere (Ephesians 2:1-3):

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

One can derive from this passage, and the one from chapter 6 above, that Christians have three basic enemies: the World (culture), Satan/the Devil, and our own wicked Flesh… NOT other people!!! Nowhere does it talk about political entities… Hmmm…

Now for those of you who know me you know that I personally have a massive disdain for certain political views and that most of these views are held dear by a certain political party here in our country. This, of course, leads me to have VERY strong negative feelings about that party. But I have to stop and ask myself are rage… frustration… outrage… disgust… against a political party (and thus many of the people in it) a good use of my time and energy?

If our enemies are the World, our own flesh and Satan, aren’t we already fighting on 3 fronts? No military expert would tell you that is a winning battle plan… So why on earth would we want to add a 4th? It is a losing strategy, it is harmful to other people, the reputation of Christ and when you get down to the bottom of it, in almost every instance, fighting against other people it is downright sinful…

When I studied this out to teach it on our recent youth retreat I think I found that, we can reduce this fight to a two front battle. I deeply believe that if we will rightly focus our efforts it will make us more effective for the cause of Christ – I welcome your comments on whether or not the following makes sense.

In spiritual warfare we often (rightly?) begin by focusing on Satan as the primary enemy. Let’s look at some of his names (characteristics) to understand him better and fight him better. As I studied out his names I saw a pattern or progression unfold that made a lot of sense to me and helped me focus my battle efforts – hope it does the same for you.

In simplest terms the Devil is God’s enemy… Satan HATES God and would love nothing more than to replace Him. We see this in these names: Satan (which means Adversary) 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:15; Enemy/Opponent – Matthew 13:28; Evil One – John 17:15…

He is not powerful enough to oppose/fight God directly so he employs a round-about attack by going after God’s people and doing everything in his power to keep others from becoming God’s people… To do this Satan has masterfully influenced the culture toward greater and greater depravity and evil. God recognizes this ploy and has warned us in other names that have been given to Satan: Prince of the Power of the Air (which means he controls unbelievers) – Ephesians 2:2; Ruler of Demons – Mark 3:22; Ruler of this World (which means he rules the world system/culture) – John 12:31; God of this Age (which means he influences the thinking of this world) – 2 Cor. 4:4; Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies) – Matthew 12:24; Belial (which means that he is worthless – just like the corruption he has brought to the world) – 2 Cor. 6:15

Satan then uses the Culture/World to provide temptation for our flesh (the second enemy listed above). We see this in his names: Tempter – 1 Thes. 3:5; Serpent of Old – Deceiver in Garden – Rev. 12:9, 20:2

God warns us from falling to these schemes in 1 John 2:15-17 when He says:

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

However, Satan is stubborn and will not give up… through the World/Culture will try to tell you that certain sins are OKAY… he’ll try to convince you that they are not that bad… He’ll provide you with every kind of justification from “I’m just wired/born this way” to “God wants me to be happy and this will do it” to “I/they deserve this”… But I’m here to tell you IT’s NOT OKAY…

Satan is a masterful liar (cf. John 8:34) – Though he tries to make it look good, pleasing and harmless, sin is an affront to God and His Holiness and it is harmful to our soul and damaging to our lives and relationships! Sinning is telling your heavenly father that you know best – it’s basically giving God the finger… and though God is loving and forgiving that is a dangerous game to play…

Once Satan has trapped you in one of his schemes and he has hooked you with some type of addictive sin, he then capitalizes upon our temptations and failures. God calls him the Accuser  (Rev 12:10) because Satan bad-mouths you to God, in your mind and to other people. He is called the Dragon/Destroyer (Rev. 9:11; 12:3, 7, 9) because he uses your sinful mistakes to ruin your life. He is called a Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8) because he wants to swallow you up in the consequences of sin and keep you from experiencing fellowship with God. He is a Murderer (John 8:34) because he leads people to eternal death (aka Hell). The term “Devil” actually means “slanderer” ( Matt. 4:1) because If he can’t get to you any other way, he’ll try to destroy your/God’s reputation.

So, what I see from all this is that if Satan is the deceiving force that is corrupting the culture we only truly have to fight the battle on two fronts… We need to Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8).  And we need to MAKE WAR against our sinful nature (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27, Galatians 5:16-26). John Piper would say that the war against our own flesh is the most important aspect of this… but I’d have to respectfully disagree… I think both prongs of our counter-attack are equally important… If we fight directly against Satan (and we’ll see how to do that in coming posts) then the culture will be effected which will minimize temptations as much as possible, making it easier to fight against our sinful desires…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen sin’s painful effects on a lot of people’s lives and I’m hopping mad about it… I’m ready to strap the armor on and get it on with Satan in God’s mighty power… Will you join me?

That’s it….I QUIT!


My wife was perusing the internet tonight and found an interesting article.  Anne Rice has quit her religion, and is moving on, on her own.  To quote the LA times article… “she announced she had quit Christianity “in the name of Christ” because she’d seen too much hypocrisy”.  The article goes on to talk about religion in a  generic sense, and how people are leaving church because they have become disillusioned with the religion in general.  Now, if you know me…you know that I am not a big fan of the LA Times, but I have to admit, with this article…they have hit the nail on the head.  There are a number of great points to take from this article.

25% of people between the ages of 18-29 do not associate with any particular faith. 

This is a startling statistic.  Having seen firsthand the impact of what a secular college can do to a kid with a mind full of mush…I would have thought this number to be much higher.  And perhaps, in reality, it is.  Especially taking into consideration the second point…

Every day, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change.

It is hard being a Christian, isn’t it?  You have to stand out in the crowd, you are an alien in this world, and as a result an outcast.  Just for believing in Christ.  Now take this into combination with the fact that everyone has a natural desire to be liked (well not me, but I love being the alien) and you have a recipe for disaster.  It is easier to blend in, to follow the crowd, and to do what feels good than it is to be ridiculed for your actions, and mocked for your faith.  So what do people do who are not grounded in their faith… go with the flow.  Which leads me to the more controversial point…

Many people who call themselves Christian don’t really believe, deep down, in the tenets of their faith. In other words, their actions reveal their true beliefs.

This I believe is closer to the truth.  It gets to a really tough question…can a Christian truly backslide…or are they (were they) ever truly a Christian?  I do have a personal example to draw from in this sense.  Someone I know, attended church until the age of 18.  Went to college, and began to live a life that was contrary to the Word of God.  So the question becomes… was this person ever a Christian?  This topic alone deserves it’s own post, and possibly it’s own debate.  What is clear is that all three of these points are a call for concern to church leadership from all denominations.

The primary question for me…are we preparing our youth to enter a world bent on getting them to deviate from the Word of God?  The statistics will tell you no!  The world will tell you no, and the actions of these “Christian” youths will tell you no! 

I have decided to throw my hat into the ring of education by helping out with the Sunday School at my church.  I am not sure if I can make a difference with these kids, but if I can help prevent one or two kids from following this path….wouldn’t it be worth it? (BTW…my wife hates this cliché)  I think so.  So then the question becomes…what are you doing to help?

Back to the basics


Open air preaching is absolutely fascinating to me.  It is a back to the basic’s approach to evangelism.  Think about it…this is how the apostles did it.  They stood out in public and preached.  They made their argument under the most intense scrutiny.  It is incredible to watch the reaction of the world to those who preach in the open.  You when I wrote The No Shame + No Fear series it was geared towards evangelism.  So clear is the call for evangelism that many forget how to evangelize.  Open air preaching is one way to do it.  Keep in mind it is not for everyone.  But there are a number of ways to this.  Everyone has opportunities to witness.  It could be on facebook, Myspace, with your friends or wherever!

Here are links to some open air preaching:

Huntington Beach 1

Moral Relativism

Here is another one

These video’s were put up by a group called The Way of the Master.  This is Ray Comfort, and Kirk Cameron.

Unhappy with the Government?


I’m going to be out of pocket tomorrow, so I’m doing my G90X update a little early this week… Thought I’d take the Holiday as a good opportunity to remind us of a passage that isn’t always very comfortable. 1 Peter 2:13-17:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Of course, in America we have no king… but we do have a Congress and a President and a Supreme Court… Regardless of your political leanings there are probably several men or women in Washington that you are not a big fan of… In posting this passage, I’ve got another confession to make… I need to do a much better job of praying for the men and women in our government… I spend a whole lot of time complaining about them (not always out loud, but often in my heart), and only a fraction of that time praying for them… which I think, is probably the best way to honor and submit to them.

When we are dissatisfied with certain things that our government is doing or not doing how should we respond? Robert touched on this in a previous post after he was very upset over the passing of the Health Care bill. I think 1 Peter 2:15 sheds a lot of light on what we can and should do… It’s easy to complain (believe me I know from 1st hand experience), but I think that our first obligation is to stop and pray and silence useless/foolish talk…

What do I mean by that? Here’s a question… What can actually (legally) be done to change the government? Vote them out, right? Of course you can write your elected officials and let them know how you feel about certain issues and how you will vote based on those issues… If you are dissatisfied with what they are doing/not doing – go to it… but the opportunity to actually make a change (by voting) only comes around every couple of years, right?! And there’s no guarantees that someone more worthy will be running against them. Our complaints in the meantime are futile and do more to rile us up and make us discontent and take our focus off what’s more important (i.e. the Kingdom of God, lost souls and hurting people around us)…

If our complaints are largely futile could they then be considered “ignorant talk of foolish men” in light of verse 15 and Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”? Not convinced? Check it out in context (Ephesians 4:25-32).

Thanks to the sacrifice of countless men and women throughout America’s history we have the freedom of speech… We have the freedom to complain… But 1 Peter 2:16 reminds us, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” Do our complaints build others up… do they mark us as servants of God? Am I saying folks on Fox or MSNBC are evil in being political pundants? Not really… However, as Christians we should think about how WE need to respond to our discontentment on a daily basis.

So what can be done DAILY to change the government? The Answer is Prayer.

God has the ability to change hearts and minds… I truly trust in His power and sovereignty… If He has that power and ability, then let us lean on Him to do so… Let’s pray for our government officials that God would give them supernatural wisdom and that they would make God-honoring choices… Let us “cast all our anxiety upon Him because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7) – It can make a difference in our nation, in our lives and our attitudes… I certainly want to do the will of God and definitely do not want to be considered by Him to be a fool who’s engaging in “ignorant talk.”

Maybe I should pray more…

Have you been Eclipsed? A Quick Commentary on the Twilight Series


Much has been said or written about the Twilight series that is sweeping the nation, both in book form and also on the big screen… The latest movie installment, Eclipse, released earlier this week.  So, I know that what I have to say about this phenomenon is probably not earth-shattering or anything close to that, but I feel it’s important to weigh in a little from a Christian perspective, but even more specifically from a youth minister’s perspective, a father’s perspective and a former romantic’s perspective…

To be fair, let me disclose my familiarity with the series… My wife and I have read the first 2 books and watched the first 2 movies and are in the process of reading the 3rd book… I say this not neither to endorse the works – nor really to blast them… but instead to offer some cautions for anyone thinking about engaging with Stephanie Myers’ works…

First of all, the books are very well written… Ms. Myers is a masterful story teller… the books are an easy read and the story is compelling… the books and the movies are entertaining… no doubt about that.

However, it is in this mastery that the first caution needs to be raised… I have observed in many that these characters and the story are all so compelling that one can lose themselves in the story… quite literally… this is especially true for young ladies (teens and tweens) – it’s as if their own life becomes “Eclipsed” by the Twilight stories and characters.

This leads to the second caution… While many Christian writers have focused on the elements of the movies and books that at least border on the occult, these, to me, are FAR less dangerous than the portrait of “love” that is painted by the series… and girls are buying it hook, line and sinker. The relationships between Edward and Bella and Jacob are dysfunctional, at best… they are not a true picture of biblical love or a healthy dating/marriage relationship, but could and should be labeled as obsessive and co-dependent.  This is particularly dangerous because the destructive way to approach romantic relationships presented in the books, especially New Moon, is shaping the expectations of young women as their bodies and minds and emotions are going through their own sort of Breaking Dawn (i.e. puberty)… Teenagers (both boys and girls) need no help in forming unhealthy ideas of “love”) – but these movies and books pushes them strongly in that direction. I shudder to think of how many multi-month long catatonic–like depressed funks that young ladies are going to slide into when their first (or second, or third…) puppy love breaks their heart? What’s more scary is I wonder how much that destructive behavior may be applauded by their friends…  Then, to what extremes will they take this display of broken-heartedness (keep in mind that Edward attempted suicide in New Moon after he thought that he had lost Bella)? The logical conclusion to this is nothing short of horrifying.

Consider what God has to say in Philippians 4:6-9: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Is this the world view presented by the Twilight series?

As a father, I want my daughter and my sons to experience God’s best in their relationships – for them to be healthy, focused on Him, selfless, edifying… I want them to find their identity in Jesus, not in a fallible human being who will undoubtedly let them down (frequently)…

As a Youth minister, I want the same for the young men and women that are affected by the ministry God has graciously given me… I don’t want to have to see them hurt and holding on to hurts that have been at least partially caused by unrealistic expectations… I don’t want to see them obsess over anything other than their relationship with the Lord…. My message to the young ladies in my youth group (and others) would be very similar to an open letter Nikki from the WayFM’s morning show wrote to some of her female friends:

“I was thinking about you this weekend. It was while I was watching a movie. It was probably the most anticipated movie of 2009. Females all over the country, possibly the world, chose a team, put on the t-shirt, and maybe even camped out overnight in exhilarated excitement to take in the next chapter of this supposedly timeless love story. I was a little late in getting around to it, but as I finally sat down to watch New Moon, you were on my mind. And here’s why: ITS RIDICULOUS.

 Look, I know it’s just a movie, and it’s meant for entertainment. I am a movie buff myself, and I love escaping into another place and time and diving into a world of imagined intrigue. It’s awesome. But with this one, I couldn’t even take that journey because it was just so RIDICULOUS.

 Bella’s pain, relentless agony, and perpetual longing may seem romantic on a big screen, but please know this is NOT what love looks like. Please know it is NOT normal or healthy to be this obsessed with a guy, to feel as if life is over or not worth living because he isn’t a part of it anymore. Or to think this other guy might do the trick if guy number one leaves. Please know your whole life and self-worth will never be wrapped up in any man. God completes you. End of story. I know this because I’ve let myself buy into that way of thinking before. I thought there would be no life for me if it didn’t work out. And guess what? I’m still here. And God is still awesome, and life is still rolling.

 Sure, I get it. It’s a movie and it’s fun. Go ahead, watch, enjoy, be entertained. But it’s just a story. Please don’t get too caught up in the picture of love Edward and Bella paint for you. Please don’t buy into it, or you may miss out on how big and life-changing love can really be. I was thinking about you as I watched this, and I just had to tell you.”

Yes, these are “just movies/books”, and some people can probably approach them this way… If you can, great… however, we have seen in the craze that has swept the nation, that this is often not the case… people are taking this series much more seriously than that… I also want to gravely caution parents that MOST young people are not mature enough to make those types of determinations (like whether they can refrain from getting sucked into the hype or not) on their own… and I would encourage you if you are going to allow your sons and daughters watch and read Twilight stuff that you watch and/or read it with them and have some very open discussions about the themes and messages in the books… For more help with this and for a more comprehensive review of the series, CLICK HERE.  It is the best analysis I’ve seen on the Twilight series BY FAR.

The Bible… Is it Historically Reliable?


For years and years skeptics have desperately attempted to disprove the Bible. Their attempts, however, have been just that: desperate… And when a person gets desperate they start throwing out a bunch of garbage hoping that something will stick… Some examples of what they claim:  The New Testament was written hundreds of years after the death of Jesus based on corrupted oral traditions and not by any eyewitnesses of the crucifixion/resurrection, there are Discrepancies in the text…from one book to another… On and on they go, but they are far from the truth.  They have so many outlandish claims against the Word of God there is no way anyone could cover them all in just one blog… so we won’t even attempt… However, from time to time we will try to give a high level response to some of the more common “claims” against the Bible.

A while back Robert posted our first piece on this topic. In this post he briefly mentioned verses where the biblical authors affirmed the authority of and usefulness of scripture… Granted, that piece necessarily contained a large amount of what could rightly be called circular logic (using what the Bible says to claim that the Bible is accurate) – we did that on purpose – If the Bible claims to be perfect and then is proven to be false, then you can chuck the whole thing out the window and every Christian should disavow their faith.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that if the Bible is definitively proven false, I will be the first in line to bail on Christianity – I am not willing to live or die for a lie!

Before any of you skeptics get all twitterpated thinking I’m fixing to have to eat my words, rest assured that I am 100% confident that I will never have to recant my faith in Jesus or the Bible that has told me about Him.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of the things that have me so securely certain of the Bible.

One of the miracles Christians point to in the confirmation of the scripture is the consistency/preservation of the message of the original texts… The Bible goes far beyond being just a theological book, it is a historical document (i.e. it is a history book)… And it is absolutely the most reliable historical document in every way that historicity of ancient documents are measured.  In other words, there is better support for the accuracy of the Bible than there is for any other ancient historical document upon which modern history books rely to inform us of antiquity.

The reliability of manuscripts are evaluated by the abundance, dating and accuracy – so let’s look at how the Bible stacks up against other ancient writings and histories!

Number of ancient manuscripts: Compare the NT and the OT manuscripts in terms of their number of surviving ancient manuscripts to other ancient works… Plato has 7, 10 copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, 643 copies of Homer’s works have survived… Comparatively, over 10,000 manuscripts of various OT books have been preserved… over 5,700 full ancient copies of the NT…  

Date of the manuscripts: The Dead Sea Scrolls (OT) have been dated from the 3rd century BC to the end of the 1st Century AD… the earliest NT manuscripts are dated at about 117 to 138 AD. These dates (especially for the NT) are VERY close to the events they have recorded – and the original texts from which these manuscripts were copied were first written between 50 A.D. and 90 A.D. at the latest. Specifically, the Gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which recount the historical story of Jesus) were written within 15 to 40 years of the crucifixion.  It would be no different than a veteran of WWII writing a letter or book about his experience in the war, or of a personal friend or assistant  of Ronald Reagan writing a biography about him today…  Simply put, there is reliability because the manuscripts and the actual letters themselves were written and widely circulated within one generation of Christ – had the claims been false they would have been disproven and rejected by eyewitnesses who were still living then.

How do other ancient writings compare? Other notable documents accepted as historically reliable, in comparison to the NT, have a much wider gap between their origin and the earliest surviving manuscript (i.e. there is a 734 year gap for Tacitus; 900-1100 year gap for various copies of Josephus’ histories; 1000+ year gap for Caesar’s Gallic wars; Aristotle’s works have a 1,434 year difference between their originals and the earliest manuscripts). Again, the evidence for the accuracy of the biblical texts far exceeds that of other ancient documents which are widely accepted as accurate and reliable by scholars world-wide.

Reliability of the manuscripts: For the OT manuscripts (whose extremity of ages span over nearly 1000 years) the texts compare exactly (word for word) in 95% of the verbiage… the only changes can be accounted for as spelling errors and/or pen slips. Of all the variants between the manuscripts there were only a few changes in actual words, but absolutely no changes in meaning. For the NT there is 99.9% agreement between the various manuscripts (again, this is between the thousands of various manuscripts). By way of comparison, the Iliad and the Mahbarata each have 90-95% of agreement between their small number surviving ancient transcripts (The question of textual criticism – i.e. the so-called redactions and/or changes over time to the text will be more fully explored in a later post).

In light of the overwhelming evidence in support of the accuracy and unadulterated transmissions of the original Biblical texts, I don’t plan on abandoning or doubting the biblical record any more than I plan on rejecting the majority of information I learned in my High School and Collegiate history courses (and I had A LOT of them since my second degree was a BA in secondary ed. with an emphasis in Social Studies).

Note:  For more details on the reliability of the Biblical texts, check out Josh and Sean McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter (specifically chapter 6). For one honestly trying to find answers to their general skepticism about God another good place to look is Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God.

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