- Setting the Record Straight - YouTube Video Playlist (Originally tweeted on Sep 28)
- What's Wrong With "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"? (Originally tweeted on Jan 13)
- Why I Secretly Root For the Atheists in Debates… (Originally tweeted on Aug 23)
- Billy Graham, Mormonism, and the word "Cult" (Originally tweeted on Oct 23)
- Group sex is the latest 'trend' for teenage girls, disturbing report reveals (Originally tweeted on Dec 29)
- Why do they always ask about rape and incest? (Originally tweeted on Oct 24)
- Planned Parent Info for Teens: It’s great to be a slut (Originally tweeted on Nov 12)
- Come Reason's Free mp3s (Originally tweeted on June 5)
- Answering Bill Nye's Video on Creationism (Originally tweeted on Sept 7)
- Should a Christian Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils? (Originally tweeted on Nov 5)
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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Below are the top five topics downloaded in our 2012 releases. If you haven't yet subscribed to the podcast, you may do so via iTunes or by RSS.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Below are the top ten blog posts for 2012. My series on the "Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists" really resonated, making six of the ten spots on the list. But the most popular post by far was my response to Jefferson Bethke's viral video "Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus". It seems that everyone had an opinion on this, I only hope that my thoughts add to a better understanding of approaching Christianity as a thoughtful faith.
The other top posts dealt with the Billy Graham organization's purging the word "cult" from their web site during Mitt Romney's campaign as well as an internal contradiction within the Book of Mormon itself. All ten posts are linked below. Which was your favorite?
- What's Wrong With "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"?
- The Book of Mormon's Slip is Showing
- Billy Graham, Mormonism, and the word "Cult"
- Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists - #10 Theory of Knowledge
- Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists - #5 The Edge of Evolution
- Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists - #4 In Defense of Miracles
- Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists - #6 The Christians as the Romans Saw Them
- Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists - #7 Questions That Matter
- Top Ten Neglected Books for Apologists - #9… A Romance Story?
- Should the Gospel accounts be taken as history or as propaganda?
Monday, December 24, 2012
Important moments in life have been marked throughout the ages with ceremony and tradition. I recently told my just-married son that his wedding day is the one day in his life where more of his friends and family will gather together to celebrate his life-change than any other. We recognize that marriage changes you; you must abandon living for only yourself and put the needs of another above your own. You are no longer a child but a fully engaged member of society who will be expected to contribute to the community. And as parents, we want to see our progeny grow into mature adults. So we celebrate the event with a wedding… a ceremony filled with ritual, symbols, and festivities.
It is through celebration and tradition that we mark significance and pass our culture to future generations. Certainly we may write about the importance of certain occasions, but it is only when we vest them with our time and efforts that we most powerfully convey the depth of their magnitude. Think about it. Does a congratulatory card mean more than the presence of a loved one at your wedding?
Because purposeful celebration is important, we even mark our national heritage with nationally recognized holidays such as the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. But no holiday eclipses Christmas. It is simply the single largest celebrated event in humanity, with weeks of preparation and anticipation by Christian adherents and many others. There are vast amounts of time devoted not only to shopping and parties, but to preparing meals and treats ("the way our mothers made them for us"), reflection, attending church services, or traveling thousands of miles to simply be with friends and family. Our media is saturated with songs and movies that supposedly capture the "true spirit of Christmas." But what is the true spirit of Christmas? Since Christmas holds such a high place in human culture, it is important for us to correctly understand the message these ceremonies and traditions are trying to communicate.
Misunderstanding Christmas is easily done. Just this year, the group American Atheists placed a billboard in New York with the images of Santa and Jesus and a caption that read "Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!" Of course, it wasn't Santa but to Jesus that the myth reference referred. The group issued a press release saying "The true beauty of the season — family, friends, and love — have nothing to do with the gods of yesteryear. Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism." Much of the made for TV holiday fare also boils down the true meaning of Christmas to some similarly amorphous "be-kind-to-others" message. But these obviously do not convey the true spirit of Christmas when you consider how the holiday is celebrated and how it is held in such high regard. The traditions associated with the holiday simply speak to a different meaning. There must be something more, something bigger than a simplistic axiom we all learned in kindergarten.
No, Christmas captures so much attention because it celebrates a fundamental change in humanity. The coming of Jesus is a milestone in the history of mankind unlike any other. While Christians would argue (and I would agree) that the death and resurrection of Christ are more central to our salvation, the Incarnation marks a shift in the way God reaches out to His sinful creation. In the fullness of time God sent His Son to be born of a woman so that we could be freed from the curse of sin and adopted into God's own family. Paul doesn't say that such an action was for the Jewish people only, but that God did so for all of humanity. That's why the angels proclaim it as good news for all people, and we reflect that in our traditions. We adopt the German tradition of the Christmas tree, celebrating the life of Jesus among us. We give gifts to one another to recognize the importance they play in our lives mimicking the Magi who gave gifts to the Christ-child to signify His importance. We also deem Christmas significant enough to want to share it with those whom we cherish the most. We understand that it is difficult to spend Christmas apart from them. We know that this celebration unites not just family, but strangers in some way that is different from any other time of the year.
Christmas celebrates humanity because it recognizes that God offered the first gift in Jesus Christ, and began the process of reconciling us to Him. There can be peace on earth because the Prince of Peace has come; there can be joy to the world because Jesus, the Joy of Man's desiring is here. And even the fact that the atheists want to keep Christmas demonstrates its power within humanity. We have even marked all of time in reference to His birth.
Though the glory of our technical advancements and medical breakthroughs is trumpeted, we can find ourselves poorer than past generations. All the noise and wonder of the modern age can distract us and make us miss the message our traditions bring, offering the poor substitute of "be nice, love one another." Don't miss the message of Christmas this year. The real meaning of Christmas can only be found in Immanuel, God with Us. Jesus has come and He changes who we are and what our position with God can be: those in whom God finds favor. May you and those you love celebrate a very Merry Christmas and may your traditions speak more about the true meaning that Christmas brings.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
That's the word that people keep falling back upon. Insanity. Certainly, no one in their right mind would do such a thing to such precious children. Some discover that Lanza had Asperger's syndrome, which is a mental condition, and conclude that this must be the cause. I have a different word for Lanza's evil, a word that has lost much of its power in our modern discourse. Lanza's actions were sinful.
We don't like to label this tragedy as simply "sinful". It doesn't seem, well, extreme enough. But why is that? It is most likely because we recognize that we are sinful ourselves. There are enough remnants of the Christian worldview left in our society that we can remember phrases such as "He who is without sin cast the first stone" and we know that we have failed. We know that we have sinned.
Because Lanza had some type of mental condition, we try to separate his actions from our own. He's not like us, we say. Except that he is. Lanza's actions were driven by a selfish need. All sin is ultimately selfish, it seeks one's own feelings, one's own desires above God or another person. The base motivation is the same; it simply becomes a matter of degree afterwards.
Before Christianity was prevalent in the world, slaughtering innocents was a much more commonplace occurrence. Canaanites and Israelites would sacrifice their children to the fires of Molech. There is evidence of the Incas performing child sacrifice in ancient America. Romans would abandon unwanted infants so they would die of exposure. Modern Americans abort their children so it won't interfere with their personal plans and desires.
Because we live in a post-Christian society, sin is a word we wink at. Las Vegas is known as Sin City and whatever you do there better stay there. The City developed the idea as a marketing catchphrase. But why? Because the idea is that while in Vegas one should live for him or herself. To find out the things we did, the selfish pursuit of pleasure, we could damage our reputation. We could hurt someone with whom we have a relationship. We could hurt other people. Think about that. Selfishness damaging another. It happens every day.
Lanza's actions are horrific. But this is why God takes sin so seriously. He knows how sin damages lives and he cares about those lives. We see the immediate devastation of families in Connecticut and immediately recognize that the pain they experience will be with them for life. We look at a pornographic image and don't think about the life-inflicting pain on the girl who has to live with her objectification or how it encourages acts such as sexting by our young.
Sin is real. Sin is dangerous. We need to recognize that. We need to start thinking about the Christian concept that we are all sinners, capable of things that are horrific to a God who sees the end result.
Pray for the families in Newtown. Pray for their comfort and their loss. Then, pray for the rest of our society. For by seeking to dismiss Lanza's actions as insane instead of sinful; by trying to escape the fact that Lanza is not so different from the rest of us, we lull ourselves into a position where such incidents could happen again. May God have mercy on our souls.
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