The New Tolerance

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
– G.K. Chesterton

On June 19, 2012 the Ontario legislature passed Bill 13 (the “anti-bullying” bill) into law, giving legal protection to the teaching and promotion of homosexuality and the newly defined concepts of gender and gender identity in Ontario schools. During open debate on the bill Cabinet Minister Glen Murray, after reading the section of the Catholic Catechism describing homosexuality as sin previously taught in Catholic schools declared: “I say to
you Bishops: ‘You’re not allowed to do that anymore.’” With a single stroke of legislation, the government placed a gag order on Christian beliefs about human sexuality, and did so all in the name of ‘tolerance’.

Faye Sonier of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada observed the irony:

“It’s unfortunate that a bill declared to promote tolerance in schools has been turned into a club of intolerance with which to beat back the lawful and respectful expression of Catholic (i.e. Christian) beliefs.”[1]

How was such a feat accomplished? The short answer is by re-engineering social values through the careful redefinition of words. In this case it was through a redefinition of the word “tolerance”. Continue reading

Don’t Focus On The Manger

I’m glad to still see public displays of the Nativity here and there, even if mostly on church properties. Sometimes however the manger scene itself can become a distraction where it merely turns our attention to some serene ideal of personal peace or feelings of ‘goodwill toward men’. The manger after all only receives a passing mention in Luke’s gospel. Let’s face it, the picture that inhabits our carols and adorns our Christmas cards is pure conjecture. Really it is an ideal scene that we have made up, and that fact should give us pause given our propensity toward idolatry. Continue reading

“Love” May Have “No Labels”, But It Does Have Meaning.

The following video went viral just after Valentines day this year. It is undeniably well made, visually effective, and emotionally compelling, but utterly deceptive?

It’s hard to argue with a message that promotes love for all people; one that the Christian certainly affirms. Jesus priority command for us after all was to “love your neighbour as yourself”. (Matt. 22:39) But even in saying this the critical thinker should raise the question: “what kind of love was Jesus talking about?” Continue reading

Did Luke Invent Jesus’ Birth?

Jesus Birth Invented

“The story [of Jesus birth] is an invention because there was no empire-wide census and its seems highly unlikely that a Roman official would order people to be counted in cities their ancestors left years before.”
Bob Ripley, Life Beyond Belief, p. 52.

Was Jesus really born in a manger? Did his birth really take place as Matthew and Luke record? The popular skeptical reply is “of course not…everybody knows that!” And so writers like Ripley write Jesus’ birth off as myth, and the popular culture accepts this.

How does the Christian reply? Unfortunately and all too often we simply apply the resolution to continue believing it, no matter what anyone says. But shouldn’t we do better than that? Doesn’t our testimony go beyond just saying “I just believe” to saying “I know this is true”? Well, if Jesus’ birth is a fact of history, then there must necessarily be evidence we can point to to support that fact and counter claims to the contrary. And, there is. Continue reading

Christmas Means What?

CHRISTMAS MEANS WHAT?

In a radio interview, CNN’s Larry King was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could pick one figure from history. “Jesus Christ”, he said. When asked what he would most like to ask him, King replied, “I would like to ask him if he was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”1 Continue reading

Ripley’s “Life Beyond Belief”…Or Not!

Bob Ripley - Life Beyond Belief

The ‘blogosphere’ is buzzing after Bob Ripley’s recent announcement that he has officially moved from the ranks of Christian ministers to convinced atheists. The majority of comment is coming from atheist, secular humanist and free-thinking quarters who celebrate this as yet another example of what inevitably happens when Christians really start ‘thinking’ about their faith.

With the characteristic tone of the New Atheists, (minus the vitriolic edge) Ripley provides an eleven chapter catalogue of his reasons for rejecting God in favour of atheism. He characterizes his move as a “journey from faith to reason.” (p. 28, 120) Using borrowed arguments from his new mentors; Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, Ripley embraces their supposed intellectual oasis of rationalism which rejects belief in God as nothing more than irrational ‘humbug’.

The difference for Ripley however is that his story is one of deconversion; of someone who walked with Christian conviction most of his life only to now reject it as false. I respect Ripley for shunning the hypocrisy of being remembered as a very public Christian leader without making equally public his decision to renounce his Christian convictions. However, what troubles me is how Ripley frames his deconversion as a move from “faith to reason”. What his book actually demonstrates is that he has simply exchanged one set of faith commitments for another. Continue reading

The Trinity for Kids

Trinity for Kids - Small

Also see: The Trinity for Kids – Part 2

The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important teachings of the Christian faith, and yet admittedly one of the most difficult to understand, especially for kids. Nothing caused me more trepidation during nightly bible reading with my kids than beginning to explain to them how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all God yet different persons. My approach was prayerful, slow but steady. Continue reading

Thinking About Proof for God

Think Proof God

One of the most common objections from questioners about God is that belief seems irrational because there is no ‘proof’ that God exists.  Given the cultural influences on our children’s minds, this objection may eventually come to us.  How then as parents should we respond? Continue reading

Religion Is An Evolutionary Crutch

Jesus CrutchSome university students recently shared a challenge to their faith thrown at them by an atheist friend.  The challenge went something like this: “Religion is just a crutch that evolution gave to help people cope with life in the world so they could survive…nothing more.” Continue reading

Our Greatest Apologetic: Love

Medium Is Message smallCanadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan was made famous for coining the phrase “the medium is the message”.  By it he identified the seemingly indivisible relationship in human communications between ‘messages’ (that which is expressed)

and ‘mediums’ (that by which messages are expressed).  Perhaps a novel idea in the 1960’s as electronic mass media was emerging, his notion was long before passed down through the wisdom of God’s Word. Continue reading

God and Evil Series: A Biblical View of Evil

God and Evil

For most, it is the experience of evil that presents the greatest struggle in reconciling evil with God’s existence.  “A ‘good God’ would never allow ‘_______’ to happen”; and since ‘_______’ happened God gets reasoned away.  And why not, since it is nonsensical to assert a ‘good’ God who is at the same time responsible for evil…isn’t it? Continue reading

God and Evil Series: “There’s Too Much Evil in the World for God to Exist”

God and Evil

Few of us may ever engage in a purely logical discussion surrounding the problem of God and evil.  Most reactions against God flow from people’s experience or exposure to evil than from musings from logic.  Such is the case for Queen’s Professor of Bioethics, Dr. Udo Schuklenk when writing of his own departure from belief in God.

“The theodicy problem requires us to explain away why a nice, all-powerful, all-knowing God would subject his creation to such a massive amount of suffering.  It became obvious to me that there is no reasonable answer to this challenge.  There is no plausible answer that would make sense of, for instance, the Holocaust.  This historical event cured me for good of the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God.”1 Continue reading

Dealing with Objections to the Bible

Bible Objections

“Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Genesis 19:4)

“I’d like to hear you preach a sermon concerning the morality of this story and how we can apply it to modern life”, came the challenge from my anonymous online critic.  The gauntlet had been thrown down.  How could I uphold the Bible as God’s righteous word all the while knowing that it contains so much that is morally repugnant and revolting? Continue reading

God and Evil Series: A Key Objection to the Free Will Defence

God and Evil

The heart of the Free Will Defence is in denying any logical contradiction between the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and omni-benevolent God and the existence of evil in the world. Simply put the argument goes that a ‘good’ God would create a world containing evil if he had ‘good’ reasons for doing so. The Free Will Defence suggest that creating meaningfully free moral creatures can logically be defended as a possible ‘good’ that defeats any logical contradiction.

A key objection however comes from Anthony Flew and J. L. Mackie, Continue reading

God and Evil Series: The Free Will Defence

God and Evil

In this segment we continue dealing with the problem of God and Evil. Before we begin a quick reminder that we are still working with the logical argument. Since some questioners consider God’s existence in the face of evil to be a logical problem, we serve them best to offer a response at the level of logic. We must never forget, however, that nobody lives at the level of logic alone, (with the possible exception of Mr. Spock). We may reason about the problems of evil at the level of logic, but we live with them at the level of experience. That said we must always treat our questioner with compassion and gentleness because though they may present a logical objection, the issue is always personal. Even Jesus reasoned with people’s minds, but always in consideration of their hearts. Continue reading

God and Evil Series: “Evil Disproves God’s Existence”…Really?

God and Evil

Questioner: “I don’t know how you can believe in God with all the evil and suffering that happens in the world.  Where was God during 911?  Where was God during the Tsunami of 2004?  Where was God during the holocaust of WWII?  According to your Bible, God is loving and kind and all-powerful…so why didn’t he do something to stop it?  Why does he let anything evil happen for that matter?”

Christian: “Uhhhh….” Continue reading

God and Evil Series: Theodicy – A Word Christians Should Know

God and Evil

In the battleground of ideas, one of the greatest challenges Christians face surrounds the issue of evil and its apparent conflict with the existence of God.  Unfortunately, popular and vocal atheists like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have made their skeptical soundbites so accessible that many have adopted them without even considering the validity of the arguments that lie beneath.  This is unfortunate since their arguments are not new and already have a long history of thoughtful response from Christian thinkers.   Continue reading

The Christian and Old Testament Law

The Christian and the Old Testament

The world of the Old Testament seems foreign and strange what with the many fantastic stories, odd occurrences and strange rituals, and Christians often struggle with knowing how to relate to it. Even more they face questions or criticisms concerning the relevance or applicability of biblical commands that offend modern ears, and their own inconsistency in espousing biblical authority while failing themselves to obey them. While these issues warrant a much more lengthy discussion, in this brief article I would like to provide some explanation of how Christians relate to the Old Testament, in particular Old Testament Law. Continue reading

Kids Can Ask the Hardest Questions

Kids Can Ask The Hardest Questions

You never know where or when, but plan on it.  One night I got myself ready with my daughter for tuck in time that for us always includes Bible reading and prayer.  What I got was a question that I wasn’t expecting. Continue reading