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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.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Last week I was invited to give a talk about the problems with Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code at a church up in Visalia. Now, many Christians have been awash in these discussions for a while. There have been so many books published on this one work of fiction that it is dizzying keeping up with the titles – and it has caused many people to ask whether we as Christians are overreacting. I don’t think we are, and I wanted to mention two reasons why this is so.
First, whenever someone of influence makes accusations against Christianity to a wide audience, I believe we have an obligation to offer a counter argument. As Darrel Bock said in his blog, engagement works. If we don’t offer a counter argument, then we’ve effectively allowed the nonbelievers to win unopposed. This hurts our witness and our evangelism efforts both now and in the future.
Secondly, I see these opportunities to demonstrate just how intelligent and justified belief in Christianity really is. In my visit to Visalia, I had the opportunity afterward to speak with a Mormon woman who came out to the event. She told me she had been speaking with Christians (including church pastors) for about eight years and had never received a good answer to how God could be three in one. I talked with her about how those things are not incompatible (see http://www.comereason.org/cmp_rlgn/cmp021.asp for my explanation) and she was grateful. She was looking for an explanation that went beyond “we just can’t understand all the things of God”.
My point in all this is to say that sometimes, these popular issues give Christians an open door. By having intelligent answers on something like The Da Vinci Code people are more willing to engage us on other issues – and allow us opportunity to spread the Gospel.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Below is an editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle concerning the recent backlash of a "Christian Youth Rally" that took place within the city of SF.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
THE IRONY was obviously lost on the clueless San Francisco supervisors when they passed a resolution warning that a Christian youth gathering could "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city."
Spare us the doomsday hyperbole, supervisors.
We can safely report that the politics of San Francisco suffered no discernible shift in ideological alignment from the convergence of 25,000 Christian teenagers listening to rock 'n' roll music and words of inspiration. There was no evidence of any surge in support for the Iraq war, affection for President Bush or oil drilling off the California coast. The medical-marijuana clubs were still doing business as usual, public dancing was still legal, the petition gatherers were still working Market Street for the latest save-the-planet cause.
The supervisors' reaction to the evangelical Christians was so boorishly over the top that only one word could describe it:
Intolerant.Page B - 6
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was quoted telling counterprotesters Friday that the gathering Christians were "loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco." On Monday, however, Leno struck a more reasoned tone, acknowledging that his rally cry was "not one of my prouder moments." He said the youth group was "welcome in San Francisco," even though he does worry that its religious rhetoric could "under a cloak of love" feed a "fearful world's appetite for hate."
In fact, concern about heterosexual sex by unmarried youth gets equal treatment from the Battle Cry campaign. Its goal is to spread Christianity and to help young people recognize and resist the cultural influences of a "stealthy enemy" that includes "corporations, media conglomerates and purveyors of popular culture." Its Web site (http://www.battlecry.com/) speaks of "casualties of war" that include drinking, drug use, teen sex, pornography, abortion, suicide and violence.
We may disagree with certain aspects of the Battle Cry agenda -- on issues such as abortion rights, religion in schools or acceptance of an individual's sexual orientation -- but the attempt by counterprotesters and some of the city's elected officials to call them "fascist" and "hateful" was totally at odds with the tone of the ballpark event and the approach of the Web site.
The gathering was not an "act of provocation," as the supervisors claimed. It was a get-together of young evangelicals whose lifestyles and religious views just happen to be in the minority here -- apparently making them open season for politicians to chastise.
The young people who came to San Francisco to affirm their faith and enjoy a day of rock music deserved better. They deserved to be welcomed by a city that was as tolerant and progressive as its sanctimonious supervisors like to profess.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
The interview is telling. When asked how she responds to people with a strong belief in God, she replies "If somebody has credible evidence that there is a supernatural power that knows what I think and cares about me and offers me a life after death, I would look at that evidence with an open mind. On the other hand, I can't imagine there would be that evidence." She also states, "I'm adding up the evidence on either side, and I'm seeing the evidence of there not being a God is overwhelming compared to the evidence for there being a God."
Now, all this sounds as if Sweeney is trying to be fair, until you see some specific examples of just how far she has actually dug for this evidence. Here is one:
"To me, the Iliad offers more insight into human character and lessons than the Bible. You know, like Jesus was angry a lot. When he turned all those people into pigs and made them run off a mountain, it was so hateful, not just to people but to pigs. I felt upset for the pigs!"Sweeney is trying to object to the story in Mark 5:2-13. However, her woeful misunderstanding shows that she hasn't even done a thoughtful reading of the text.
Sweeney's blog gives us a bit more honest reason for her objection to the Bible. In her June 5, 2005 post she answers the Christians who've offered interpretations of various biblical passages and says
"Yes, I know that the passages I site have all kinds of theories and complicated layers of meaning. I know the theories. I know the ways that people explain those passages. I looked into it. But now, it doesn't really matter because when I, after a long learning curve, really understood how the Bible was put together, which stories were kept and which weren't, what political situations were in place and what was useful to emphasise and so forth, then the Bible became a really interesting historical religious document to me -- inspiring but not sacred. Very much the work of ancient man and not the inspired word of God. So, you see, telling me all about the meanings behind those stories is sort of beside the point at this point."For anyone who has been following our articles, you can see where that argument falls apart.
I hope that Sweeney will continue to try and approach the subject of God with an open mind. Like many atheists, though, what she thinks is a non-biased look at the evidence may in fact turn out to be one-sided from the very start. Let her react to the Kalam cosmological argument or to some of the best Christian thinkers out there. Only then can she say with confidence that she is earnestly seeking to find the truth.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Morgan Spurlock had aired a television show looking at trying to understand different types of people in the U.S., but don't expect any objectivity from the show. 30 Days , Spurlock's series on Fox cable channel F/X sought to document the changing views of individuals who are placed in a radically different environment for thirty days. The show was entitled "Muslims in America" and looked to see what happens when a "fundamentalist Christian" is asked to live and worship as a Muslim. BBC News reported this as one of Spurlock's favorites:
"We took a fundamentalist Christian from my home state of West Virginia, somebody who is very pro-war, pro-'us versus them,' that when you hear Muslim the only thing he thinks of is a guy standing on a mountain with an AK-47," Spurlock said.This all sounds interesting, but the main problem comes in when you find out that the "documentary" is nothing of the sort. The show's producers had the outcome determined even before they started shooting, according to Debbie Schlussel, a reporter and commentator who specializes in fundamentalist Islam.
The man leaves his wife and children at home and goes to live with a Muslim family in Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States.
"He dresses as a Muslim, eats as a Muslim, he prays five time a day, he studies the Koran daily, he learns to speak Arabic, he works with an imam, a Muslim cleric, to learn the history of Islam, what are the five pillars, why are they important." And the transformation this guy goes through in 30 days is "miraculous, it's incredible," Spurlock said.
In her blog Schlussel writes, "When I met David Stacy, I was amazed at how ignorant and uninformed he was. This newly-inducted 'expert' on Islam never heard of Wahhabism--the extremist Sunni strain of Islam that now dominates the religion. He was unfamiliar with terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. He did not believe me that Hezbollah murdered hundreds of U.S. Marines and civilians in Beirut and elsewhere. He seemed mystified to learn that President Bush shut down American Islamic charities, like the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, for funding Hamas and Al Qaeda. He hadn't a clue about taqiyyah, the Koranic principle allowing deception of non-Muslims."
Schlussel then writes, "Spurlock planned the outcome of this 'immersion' show and he found the perfect tabula rasa in Stacy. Spurlock also found the perfect 'experts' and 'key members' of Detroit's Islamic community to propagandize their easily swayed dupe.
"Paul Findley is listed as an 'expert' consultant for the show. A non-Muslim with no special knowledge of Islam, Findley's real expertise is having been an anti-Israel congressman who was defeated when he was targeted by Jewish groups. Another 'expert' is Muqtedar Khan, a faux moderate professor with close ties to Muslim extremist group, Al Muhajiroun, as documented by Militant Islam Monitor."
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Previous topics have included “Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?” “Do All Roads Lead to God?” “Is the Supernatural Real?” and “Is Hollywood Anti-Faith?”
I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see people such as J.P. Moreland, Craig Hazen, Frank Beckwith, and William Lane Craig on national television presenting their views. Given the show’s format, I would love to see each topic explored more slowly and more fully, but I also understand that the quick exchange makes better television. It also will give the careful listener much to chew on. Although these are no longer on the air, you can grab the DVDs of the series or download episodes here.
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