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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 Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Showing posts with label college. Show all posts
Showing posts with label college. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We Need More Christian Kids Hearing from Atheists

A Barna Group Study released earlier this year reports some dramatic shifts in how American youth approach the Bible. Today's youth read the Bible much less than young people have even fifteen years ago and fewer Millennials see the Bible as a Holy book, let alone one inspired by God. 1 Of course, the rise of skepticism has only added to young people's disillusionment about God's word. As the Barna researchers noted, the culture has seen a steady rise of skepticism "creating a cultural atmosphere that is becoming unfriendly to claims of faith."2

The skepticism and danger of losing their kids to skepticism and atheism has caused many Christian parents and pastors to try and shield them from non-believing influences. They dismiss any biblical difficulty as something not worthy of consideration or as a sign of faithlessness.

Reactions like this are not new. In 1874, when John W. Haley compiled almost every single biblical discrepancy or troubling passage into a single volume, he answered similar concerns:
Some persons may, perchance, question the wisdom of publishing a work in which the difficulties of scripture are brought together and set forth so plainly. They may think it better to suppress, as far as may be, the knowledge of these things. The author does not sympathize with any such timid policy. He counts it the duty of the Christian scholar to look difficulties and objections squarely in the face. Nothing is to be gained by overlooking, evading, or shrinking from them. Truth has no cause to fear scrutiny, however rigid and searching. Besides, the enemies of the Bible will not be silent, even if its friends should hold their peace. It should be remembered that the following "discrepancies"are not now published for the first time. They are gathered from books and pamphlets which are already extensively circulated. The poison demands an antidote. The remedy should be carried wherever the disease has made its blighting way.3
I think that's well said. While a Christian parent's gut reaction may be to steer their child away from objections or controversies of the faith, it is far better to take them on, take them apart and see how well they stand up in the light of truth. That means your youth group needs to integrate some kind of apologetics teaching into its regular curriculum. Invite an apologist to speak at a mid-week service. Make defending the faith the theme of your next youth retreat. Perhaps even find out how you can participate in one of our Apologetics Missions Trips, where students are trained then taken to a secular environment where they get to interact with atheists and skeptics directly.

We need to prepare our young people for the objections they will face once they head off to college. Kids will her these objections; there's no way to shelter them from the rising cultural animosity toward the Christian worldview. To try and do so may even backfire and produce the very result you had hoped to avoid. However, when you engage the arguments and objections, you may be amazed at how poor they really are. As Haley noted, if Christianity is true, then it has no cause to fear scrutiny. The poison demands an antidote.


1. Barna Group. "The Bible in America: 6-Year Trends - Barna Group." Barna Group. Barna Group Inc., 15 June 2016. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. .
2. Barna Group, 2016.
3. Haley, John W. Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible. Grand Rapids,: Baker Book House, 1977. Print. (preface)

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Logical Incoherence of Arguing God is a Social Construct

Yesterday, I received a message from a Christian student who was frustrated at his professor's dismissal of religious belief as socially constructed. He writes:
Today in my Sociology class, we covered a very controversial topic--Religion. My professor explained to us that his goal was to be as objective as possible, but still, implemented his ideas into the lecture.

Some notable points he brought up, which are straight from the Sociology textbook, is that all religion is "socially constructed" and that faith is "belief without scientific evidence." He then brought up the Council of Nicea, concerning the nature of Christ, which reconciled the two ideas that Christ was both fully man and fully God, but attributed it to maintaining unity in the church. In short, we made this up in order to keep peace.

He stated that religion is constantly evolving and falsely asserted that Christianity was the first to develop monotheism. His final statement was made near the end of the lecture that "we all need to exercise some level of spirituality in order to survive" since religion provides comfort in the case of tragedy.

How does one, especially as a student, respond to such claims? It's apparent the professor has already chosen where he stands concerning religion. When another spoke up during the lecture, it was clear all he wants to do is debate. As Christians, should we speak up or not cast our pearls before swine?
There are really a couple of questions here. On Monday, I'll tackle how Christians should respond when placed in these difficult situations, but first I want to talk about some of the professor's claims, many of which are demonstrably false. The easiest one to dismiss is the one the student already recognized: that Christianity was the first to develop monotheism. Simply put, no one believes this! Judaism had monotheism down well before Jesus ministered on earth, a fact that is widely accepted by sociologists of all stripes. Either the prof misspoke, was misunderstood, or chose to ignore an accepted point of history on this.

Dealing with the "Socially-Constructed Religion" Charge

What about the larger point that religion is "socially constructed?" The charge isn't new. It was probably most famously made by the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach in his The Essence of Christianity in 1841. There, Feuerbach lays out the argument that human beings will see and interpret their world to reflect their own nature. In other words, God doesn't really exist; he is an expression of understanding the world in human terms and is a super-human projected onto the world.1 Freud taught a similar concept, that the belief in God, salvation, and the resurrection was simply forms of wish-fulfillment to satiate the desires of humanity's frailty.2

Feuerbach's charge has been offered over the years as the trump card to explain the universality of belief in the divine. There's only one problem; it doesn't follow. Another philosopher named Eduard von Hartmann spotted the logical flaw in Feuerbach's argument and clearly dismantled it. Alister McGrath explains:
At the heart of Feuerbach's atheism is his belief that God is only a projected longing. Now it is certainly true that things do not exist because we desire them. But it does not follow from this that, because we desire something, it does not exist. Yet this is the logical structure of Feuerbach's analysis. Eduard von Hartmann pointed this out nearly a century ago, when he wrote: ‘it is perfectly true that nothing exists merely because we wish it, but it is not true that something cannot exist if we wish it. Feuerbach's entire critique of religion and the proof of his atheism, however, rest upon this single argument – a logical fallacy.'3
The thing von Hartmann realized is that people wish for all kinds of things. Snowboarders in California have been wishing for the drought to end so they can go snowboarding, for example. However, just because people wish for something doesn't mean the thing they wish for is untrue. If the meteorologists are right, California is in for a very wet winter this year! Similarly, whether or not people wish that God exists has no bearing on whether or not he does in fact exist. Those are two separate issues and von Hartmann rightly notes that Feuerbach, and Freud by extension, have staked their dismissal of God on fallacious reasoning. They're being illogical to hold to their position.

Nicaea Was Not About Making Nice

On the idea that Nicaea was held to reconcile the divinity and humanity of Jesus so that everyone could, to quote Rodney King, "just get along" is simply untrue. The concept of the Trinity predated Nicaea by some time. In fact, Tertullian used the word to describe God at least a century earlier. By 325, there were the Trinitarians who held to Jesus's equality with the Father and the Arians, who held that Jesus was divine but not in the same way as the Father. Both sides held to their views adamantly and Nicaea was called to discuss which view was correct.

The Council at Nicaea clarified the orthodox stance that most Christians already held, but it certainly didn't make everyone get along. The fight continued for another fifty years and got so heated that Pope Liberius who had supported the Nicaean Creed was exiled by the Arian Emperor Constantius II. He was then pressured to excommunicate the Trinitarian champion Saint Athanasius and ultimately even signed off on a creed that espoused Arianism and rejected Trinitiarianism!4 It wasn't until the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD that Arianism was definitively defeated and Trinitarianism was solidified as the orthodox position of the church. So, if the Trinity was invented at Nicaea to maintain unity in the church, it was an incredible failure!

As you can see, when one studies the history and the background of these claims, a much different picture of them emerges. I will address the thorny issue of how to engage in class discussion on these topics next time, but one thing you should consider is that the more you know about the history of your faith, the better prepared you can be when such discussions arise.


1. Feuerbach writes, "Religion is that conception of the nature of the world and of man which is essential to, i.e., identical with; a man's nature. But man does not stand above this his necessary conception; on the contrary, it stands above him; it animates, determines, governs him. The necessity of a proof, of a middle term to unite qualities with existence, the possibility of a doubt, is abolished. Only that which is apart from my own being is capable of being doubted by me. How then can I doubt of God, who is my being? To doubt of God is to doubt of myself." Feuerbach, Ludwig. The Essence of Christianity. London: Trubner, 1881. Print. 20.
2. Holt, Tim. "Sigmund Freud Religion as WishFulfilment." Philosophy of Religion.  Philosophy of Religion. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
3. McGrath, Alister. "God as Wish Fulfilment?" UCCF: The Christian Unions, 12 May 2005. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
4. Pavao, Paul F. "Pope Liberius." Christian History for Everyman. Greatest Stories Ever Told. Paul Pavao, 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.
Image courtesy Maciej Chojnacki and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Christian Morals Make Us More Free

What is true freedom? Does having fewer restrictions make one more free? That's the message advertisers would foist on our kids. From the No Rules skateboard apparel to yesterday's MTV Video Music Awards where Miley Cyrus was given "pretty free reign… no rules,"1 to Ashley Madison's come-on slogan of "Life is short… have an affair, " the message is unmistakable: freedom means shedding the moral restrictions of the past.

It's part of people's nature to bristle against rules, especially those rules that would force one to curb his or her predilections. Children would rather eat candy than vegetables for dinner. Students would rather play video games than study. Most adults in society today look upon those desires as childish. They understand there are real consequences to taking the easy road. Ignoring the nutritional needs of one's body or educational opportunities that color one's future isn't a freeing experience; they have real and significant consequences.

Given the serious consequences of childish actions, people have come to realize that it is actually more freeing to live within these rules. The person who studied hard in school and has earned a degree has many more opportunities in front of him than one who didn't. The person who eats well has the freedom to perform better in sports. Freedom isn't about the next few hours or the next few days, but what happens over a lifetime.

Christian Morality is Freeing

While people generally agree on the obvious examples I offered above, this principle of freedom applies within the moral realm as well. Marvin Olasky recently interviewed University of Texas philosophy professor J. Budziszewski on the changes in attitude college students display today as opposed to years past. Budziszewski has been a keen observer of the difficulties Christian students face when entering college, and given our sex-saturated culture, the temptations for easy sexual hook-ups is everywhere. When asked about what the church can do about all the young people leaving their faith in college, Budziszewski answered:
We haven't a chance of getting people to live a Christian way of life if they think it is just a collection of joy-killing rules. What we should explain is that Christian morality is a prerequisite for happiness, and that it makes us more free, not less—free to do what is good rather than being jerked around by desires. People need to have the vision of the good that temptation is pulling them away from.2
This is a crucial message that the church hasn't communicated very well at all. We've turned sex into a series of "thou shalt not's" instead of emphasizing the holiness of sex. We've warned against the ways of the world in ominous tones instead of talking with kids about just how much freedom one gains when one works at developing the good in one's life. Gratification delayed does not mean gratification denied, it simply means you will have the freedom to experience the full joys of what God has intended for you without the nasty consequences. There will be more choices afforded to you and you will have more control over your life's path.


1. Boardman, Madeline. "VMAs Producer: Miley Cyrus Has 'free Rein,' No Rules for Sunday's Show." Entertainment Weekly Inc, 27 Aug. 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.
2. Olasky, Marvin. "J. Budziszewski: Generation Disordered" WORLD. WORLD News Group, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Liberal Philosophy is Backfiring on Its Champions

There aren't many people championing Marx and Lenin anymore. The New York Times reported that the Socialist party has only about 1,000 registered members, the Communist Party U.S.A. has about 2,000 members, and the Democratic Socialists, 6,000. Compare that to their heyday; in the 1932 presidential election, their combined votes numbered nearly one million. 1

Why are these parties so unsuccessful today? One reason is Communism as an idea has proven to simply not work in the real world. It was tried across many countries of Eastern Europe, most notably within the Soviet Union. The Communist experiment ran some 70 years, but it didn't improve the lives of the citizens, it worsened them. In fact, in every country where communism was attempted, it became an utter failure. Even today, citizens of Communist countries like Cuba are still suffering in third-world conditions. Once Communist China adopted Western/capitalist economic models (while using communism to hold onto political control) it began to thrive.

I use this example to highlight a fairly simple point: there are a lot of theories that sound good on paper, but when applied in the real world, they simply don't work. In fact, that's one way to identify if your worldview makes sense—see how it matches up with reality.

Political Correctness Eating Its Own

I've been watching with interest how liberal advocates are now suffering the consequences of their own dictums. Universities have been beating the drum on non-offensive speech, relative morality, and political correctness for decades, but now those who have promoted such views have been finding themselves subject to condemnation by the very students they instructed.

One example is Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University and a self-described feminist and cultural critic recently wrote an article decrying the "sexual paranoia" happening at college campuses. She didn't name any names nor did she point to a specific example, yet according to the Fiscal Times, two students filed harassment charges against her claiming that her essay had "'a chilling effect' on students' ability to report sexual misconduct ."2 Since in Title IX cases, the university basically treats the accused as guilty until proven innocent, Kipnis had to undergo an arduous ordeal trying to show how the feelings of the students who felt victimized didn't count.

Edward Schlosser, a professor at "a midsize state school" admits in an article on Vox that "my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones."3 He recounts how a class discussion on the housing crash where a student challenged a film presentation on the underlying cause of the crash because the video did not talk about race as a factor. The student filed a complaint with his director.

Schlosser said the new feelings-based standard has him modifying his teaching style. He reports:
I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We've seen bad things happen to too many good teachers — adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.4
I believe Schlosser is scared. In fact, he was so scared he chose a pseudonym to write the article.

There seems to be no one who is safe from the rebid demand to not hurt feelings by students today. Even Dan Savage, the sex columnist and homosexual advocate was caught the double-edged sword of hurt feelings. You may remember Savage from his castigation of Christian students at a student journalism conference last year. He was hoisted on his own petard when speaking at the University of Chicago. Savage was explaining that he used to use the word "tranny" to talk of transgenders, but even using the word in his explanation caused students to accuse him of committing a hate crime and set up a petition on providing guidelines for future speakers so they will not offend anyone. 5

Tolerance Crumbling Under Its Own Weight

There are many more stories such as these coming out of universities. Christina Hoff Sommers experienced this many times when she speaks, eliciting charges of triggering students and faculty alike. Sommers is also a self-identified feminist, although she likes to present the facts as they pertain to things like wage differences or biases against women in vocations. Those facts are enough to make her an enemy of those who simply want to believe the narrative rather than the truth.

I've written before about living in the age of feeling. I've recognized that by abandoning the traditional moral understanding of sex, colleges have opened themselves up to more sexual miscreancy.. Now, we can see the fruition of the "tolerance" and "do not offend" ideology. Liberal professors, who have taught such poorly defined  concepts are now beginning to reap the consequences of that position. All I can hope is that like communism, the culture abandons those failed ideas and returns to search for the truth, for that's the only thing that will withstand the test of time.


1. Berger, Joseph. "Workers of the World, Please See Our Web Site." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 May 2011. Web. 08 June 2015.
2. Morrissey, Edward. "Why College Professors Are Afraid to Teach Millennials." The Fiscal Times. The Fiscal Times, 4 June 2015. Web. 08 June 2015.
3. Schlosser, Edward. "I'm a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me." Vox. Vox Media, Inc., 03 June 2015. Web. 08 June 2015.
4. Schlosser, 2015.
5. "Univ. of Chicago Students Offended by Gay Activist's." Illinois Review. Illinois Review, 4 June 2015. Web. 08 June 2015.

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's Imperative that Christians Train for Their Faith!

Mischa Elman was a celebrated violinist who emigrated from Russia to New York and spent many years providing captivating music. His wife tells this great story of Elman's quip after the orchestra was making too many mistakes:
One day, after a rehearsal that hadn't pleased Elman, the couple was leaving Carnegie Hall by the backstage entrance when they were approached by two tourists looking for the hall's entrance. Seeing his violin case, they asked, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Without looking up and continuing on his way, Elman simply replied, "Practice."1
Of course this is an old joke that has many iterations, but there is something that we can learn from this old canard. We value practice as one of the primary ways to develop skill and prepare for important occasions.  One would never imagine putting a musician on stage in front of a packed house at Carnegie Hall without them first practicing. No one plays as a major league baseball player without spending many hours in the batting cages.

However, how do we help our kids practice and strengthen their faith before we send them out to face college professors or others who would seek to tear down their beliefs? College is a crucial time for young Christians as they are establishing themselves and their beliefs away from their parents and the comfort of familiar surroundings. This is when young people will begin to examine much of what they've accepted as true. Yet, if the church has never taught them to think critically or how to respond to difficult questions or objections, how will they be prepared to face highly educated opponents? It would be like asking them to pinch hit for the World Series without ever playing in the minor leagues.

Steven Kozak recently wrote a prescient article asking "Are Christian Students Living Within A Christian Worldview?" He states:
The Church has done an excellent job of providing an assurance of salvation, but had not provided her with any intellectual resources to help her defend the impending onslaught of alternative theories and ideologies that are taught in college classrooms. Personal worship? Check. Pretty good moral compass? Check. Hopes of going to heaven someday? Check. A clear understanding of why the gospel is needed in our world, and how to engage our world for the Kingdom of God, hmmmmmm?2
Kozak notes that "Colleges all over the world are content on teaching every system of philosophy and morality possible, and yet excluding the most influential and dominate system of beliefs in the history of the world."3 Without proper preparation and instruction, many young people will never know the incredibly strong intellectual and rational history that undergirds their faith. They will never know that those seemingly convincing objections to God's existence pale in comparison to the Christian evidence of the universe's need for a Creator, its incredible design, the reliability of reason, the need for a moral lawgiver, and many others.

Tomorrow I will lead a group of Christians in a trip to U.C. Berkeley where they will become immersed in a climate completely unchristian. They will engage with atheists, visit a Unitarian Universalist church, visit a Hare Krishna Temple, and interact with secular students on the UC Berkeley campus. Throughout these five days, they may be challenged and stretched, but they will also better understand the reasons people have both for and against Christianity. They will get trained to talk about issues of faith in a loving, intelligent way. And they will know what it's like to engage others without being tongue-tied.

If your church, school, or youth group would like to find out more about these Apologetics Missions Trips, please get in touch with me here. Come Reason Ministries will work with you to plan an event that will be as transformative as it is faith-building. Just click here and we will send you more information.


1. Carnegie Hall. "History FAQ." Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall Corporation, 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
2. Kozak, Steven. "Are Christian Students Living Within A Christian Worldview?" Steven Kozak, 1 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
3. Kozak, 2014.
Photo courtesy Josh Hallett and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Danger of Colleges and Faux Virtue

One of the more interesting trends today is the widespread acceptance of the imitation to function as the original. What began with Hollywood stars donning faux furs to show their animal rights cred, it seems that the faux style has taken on a life if its own. If you don't want to commit to shaving the sides of your head to show hipness and rebellion, you can get a faux-hawk. Faux leather fashions are big business and you can paint your walls with several faux techniques.

The word faux is borrowed from the French, where it means "false." If you are making a movie you may use faux money, faux rocks, or even faux cocaine. If one were to make a faux pas (pronounced fō ˈpä) it means you've taken a false step. A false step is what I think is happening in our culture today as more and more I see people touting modern concepts of tolerance and non-confrontation as virtuous. In reality, these things are faux virtues.

Virtues – What Are They?

Although we don't use the word as much today, the concept of virtue plays a vital role in our society. The concept of virtue contains the idea that there are certain qualities or character traits in the moral life of an individual that should be valued and promoted. For example, temperance is a virtue of self-restraint. While we all hunger, to over-indulge in a meal would be considered gluttonous and unvirtuous. However, an anorexic would be looked upon a similarly unvirtuous because she is not properly responding to her God-given need for food. Similarly, sexual drives may be abused in one way or another. The ancient Greeks identified qualities like courage, temperance, sincerity, and right ambition as virtues.1

Christian thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas saw virtues as doing those things that separate us from animals and act more in accordance with God's character.2There is, then, a balance in virtuous living. One may hold truth as a virtue; one should tell the truth because God would not lie. However, it doesn't mean someone is unvirtuous in telling his wife that they are going home for a quiet evening when a surprise party is waiting for her there. Virtue makes a distinction between lies, which are self-serving and deceptions that are simply temporary devices to arrive at a virtuous end, such as the pleasure of being surprised.

The False Virtues of Tolerance and Inoffensiveness

Today, though, real virtues are being swapped out with cheap, fake versions. The shocking thing is that this is happening most prominently on college campuses across the country, such as the recent decision of the California State university system to derecognize all Intervarsity campus clubs because they won't allow non-Christians into leadership positions.3 The Universities' administrators have claimed the move is to uphold nondiscrimination principles.4 But nondiscrimination of this type is not a virtue; it's a faux-virtue. Prudence is a virtue of right conduct. It recognizes that all men are created equal. It recognizes the freedom to put forth one's ideas is important. However, that doesn't mean that all ideas should be accepted by all people. Such an extrapolation is akin to saying anorexia is a legitimate answer to gluttony. It's tortured logic and it violates the virtue of truth. It forces you to accept what you believe isn't the case.

That's also why the idea of non-offense is also a non-virtue. The concept of justice demands that the virtuous person confront what he or she sees as wrong. Of course, one must measure their response to the level of injustice being promoted and the appropriate avenues available. If it's an intellectual question, then discussion or debate is appropriate. If someone is beating another person, then a physical response is required. But to think that one should never criticize another because the other person may feel poorly due to the criticism is cowardice pretending to be concern. Bad ideas have real consequences, like the significantly higher rates of terminal illnesses for practicing homosexual men. To keep silent would be akin to watching a mugging and choosing not to get involved. Yet our kids hear over and over how not offending anyone is the "right" thing to do.

Faux virtues are rampant in our society today, especially among our young people. College campuses are, I think, complicit in setting a moral code that is hopelessly confused. They seek to free individual expression, but stifle clubs wishing to be consistent in representing their beliefs. They offer shiny gems of faux virtues that turn out to be worth nothing more than paste when applied to the costly complications of real life. We need to train our Christian kids to beware of such baubles; such are too easily crushed under pressure.


1. "Aristotle." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The IEP, 2005. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
2. "If virtue is taken as aiming toward a naturally attainable human end, it can be said to be acquired by human effort which can exist without charity. Only by virtues can man conduce to the highest human end, and that end is supernatural." Kretzman, Norman; Stump, Eleonore. The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print. 240-241.
3. Setzer, Ed. "InterVarsity "Derecognized" at California State University's 23 Campuses: Some Analysis and Reflections." Christianity Today. Christianity Today, 6 Sept. 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
4. Reed, Charles B. "Memorandum, Subject: Student Activities - Executive Order 1068." THE CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY Office of the Chancellor. 21 Dec 2011. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Taking a Chance that There is No God

A few years ago, I was invited to address several hundred college students at the University of Northern Colorado. It was a great time. I had invited Dr. Paul Copan to join me and the two of us were able to meet with the Christian clubs on campus first and give them instruction on how to argue convincingly for the Christian faith.

The main event was held in the evening, where Paul first gave an address to the student body as a whole, comparing the Christian worldview to the naturalist's worldview and demonstrating how Christianity is the more coherent belief system. I then joined Paul for about an hour of Q & A with the students.

The questions were powerful and interesting. Many students were very intrigued with the idea of Jesus providing an atoning sacrifice for us. The concept that there were moral absolutes and individuals would be held accountable for violating those moral standards seemed to spur on a lot of activity.

One student who we talked with classified herself as an "agnostic humanist". She had several objections to the Christian concept of eternal punishment from a God who hasn't given us enough proof to believe in Him. This is a classic objection – one that Bertrand Russell used. However, Paul and I repeatedly discussed the real evidence that's available to demonstrate the existence of God. If one chooses to ignore that evidence, you cannot blame God for not providing it.

One point we talked on repeatedly was the creation of the universe and the creation of life. We discussed the English scientist Sir Fred Hoyle's calculations about the improbability of life being formed spontaneously. In his 1981 book Evolution from Space (co-authored with Chandra Wickramasinghe), he calculated that the chance of forming the required set of enzymes in sequence for even the simplest living cell was one in 10 to the 40,000th power. Since mathematicians generally agree that anything above one in 10 to the 50th power is classified as impossible, that's a pretty powerful number. However, she kept holding onto her doubt, saying "but there's still that one chance."

I found such a statement silly. It's like saying if you're broke, you shouldn't look for a job but buy lottery tickets instead since there's still a chance you may win the lottery and never have to work again. That's not thinking rationally, that's just being childish. It's saying "I'm not going to believe this no matter what you say!" Now, you can hold that position. However, you cannot still maintain that there isn't enough evidence to believe in God or that God would be cruel for punishing you for your false beliefs.

I will say that everyone there was very polite and appreciative that we didn't talk down to them or preach at them, but we were treating them as thinking individuals who could be reasoned with. They enjoyed the exchange and as we answered questions; we had the opportunity to lay out the Christian plan of salvation clearly for all to hear. The most exciting time came when one questioner asked, "O.K., so suppose I believe what you said, that the resurrection is true. What do I do next?"

Once the Q & A time ended, Paul and I spent the next two hours answering questions with a group of about fifteen kids who followed us down to the Starbucks cafe that was set up downstairs from the meeting hall. It just reinforced to me how hungry these kids are for real interaction, for being treated as adults and for real answers to be provided for their questions.

I have been very blessed to be a part of this opportunity and I pray God will continue to open the doors for Come Reason to reach more kids for Christ. I ask that you can help us as well, by praying for outreaches such as these and by supporting our ministry financially. For those who wish to contact me about an event for their church, youth group, or school, click here. And for all my friends in the U.S., have a happy Labor Day holiday.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
—Galatians 6:9-10


Image courtesy Robert S. Donovan and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seeing Jesus as an Intellect

Who is Jesus? The question has been around as long as Jesus has! From the time that Jesus began ministering; people have been asking "Who is this man?" Jesus is portrayed many ways in the Bible. Some of His titles in the Bible include:
  • Savior
  • Messiah
  • The Lamb of God
  • The Light of the World
  • The Second Adam
  • The Son of God
  • The Word made flesh
  • Lord of Lords
  • King of kings
Of course, people continue to try and add dimensions to Jesus that they find relevant. Recent book titles that invoke Jesus include Jesus: CEO, Jesus is my Superhero, Jesus the Prophet of Allah, Jesus the Rebel, Jesus the Outlaw, and The Good Man Jesus & the Scoundrel Christ. These are simply examples of people trying to see Jesus as a reflection of their highest ideals; even the former head of the Soviet Union,Mikhail Gorbachev, called Jesus "the first socialist"![1] Obviously, people view Jesus through the lens of their assumptions and what they want Him to be.

Do Christians miss aspects of who Jesus is by our assumptions?

Even Christians who seek to properly understand Jesus can overlook aspects of who Jesus is because of their preconceptions. If I gave 100 people a blank sheet of paper and asked them to write their top ten attributes of Jesus, I would get many answers. I'm sure several would repeat some of the titles I've listed above. But I doubt that I would get one "Jesus is an intellectual" or Jesus is a master logician". The concept of Jesus as a logician is not any stranger than Jesus as a master carpenter, Jesus as teacher, Jesus as CEO, yet we never seem to equate Jesus with intelligence.

Why not?

Jesus relates to the Intellectual

Simply put, the modern church has not placed a sufficient value on intelligence as a necessary means for worshiping God. We tend to divorce concepts of faith and rational thought. Faith is seen as "spiritual" while knowledge is seen as "worldly." We believe Jesus was sinless and a champion of the downtrodden and we seek to do likewise. But Jesus also commanded us to love our God with all our minds (Luke 10:27) and He modeled this when He engaged with those who would question His actions.

USC professor of Philosophy Dallas Willard captures the idea of this concept well when he says:
"In our culture and among Christians as well, Jesus Christ is automatically disassociated from brilliance or intellectual capacity. Not one in a thousand will spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as "well-informed," "brilliant," or "smart."[2]
Dallas Willard goes on to write:
"Often, it seems to me, we see and hear his deeds and words, but we don't think of him as one who knew how to do what he did or who really had logical insight into the things he said. We don't automatically think of him as a very competent person. He multiplied the loaves and fishes and walked on water, for example--but, perhaps, he didn't know how to do it, he just used mindless incantations or prayers. Or he taught on how to be a really good person, but he did not have moral insight and understanding. He just mindlessly rattled off words that were piped in to him and through him. Really?"[3]
But can we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if He were not smart? If He were divine, would He be dumb? Or uninformed?  Once you stop to think about it, how could Jesus be what Christians take Him to be in other respects and not be the best informed and most intelligent person of all: the smartest person who ever lived, bringing us the best information on the most important subjects.

In fact, John's gospel starts by identifying Jesus as the "Logos." Many Bibles translate that a "word" but the implication of Logos is not merely a word but an intelligent, rational thought. Logos is the root of our word logic and Jesus as the Logos is the embodiment of logic.  He used is throughout His ministry. His aim in utilizing logic was not to win battles, but to achieve understanding or insight in His audience, so He'd challenge the woman at the well or have the twelve disciples pick up twelve baskets of leftovers after He fed 5,000, trying to help them draw conclusions from His actions. (He even chided the disciples for not doing so.)

The church today needs to begin seeing this missing aspect of Jesus' nature. We complain and lament that our institutions of higher learning have kicked God out of the classroom, but has the church kicked the professor out of the pew? Do we never offer any kind of vigorous intellectual message so a PhD could look forward to church as a time of intellectual stimulation? Do we water down our messages so much that we never seek to stretch our congregations even just a bit, to make them a little bit smarter? Do we believe that Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived? And will we seek to love God with all of our minds as well as with our hearts, all our souls and all our strength?

For more on this topic, see: Jesus: The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived.


1. Haberman, Clive. "Israel Welcomes Gorbachev as a Hero". The New York Times. June 16, 1992. <> Accessed 7/22/2013.

2. Willard, Dallas. "Jesus the Logician". <> Accessed: 7/22/2013

3. Ibid.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Apologetics in the Military (audio)

How is moral relativism affecting our young men and women in the armed services?  It affects them quite a bit, actually. In this interview, I talk with Ratio Christi's Keith Kendrex and Dr. Enuel Hernandez, a US Navy chaplain who works with active duty marines, about the problem of relativism as it's found in our churches and universities, and especially within the military. As reported by NBC among others, the military suicide rate hit a record high in 2012. Moral relativism is one of the crises that help propel this number ever higher.

Click here to listen to the full interview.
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