“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.”
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 →
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 →
“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 →
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 →
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 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 →
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 →
Some 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 →
Canadian 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 →
“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 →
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.
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 →
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?”
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 →
In 2000 years, the fundamental conflict between those who follow Jesus (i.e. the church), and the rest of the world can be summed up in the brief exchange between Jesus and Pilate found in John 18:36-38: Continue reading →