Another Sign China May Be the Future of Christian Civilization

Studying and living in Europe for the past eight months, I have experienced what so many have reported in recent decades: the welcoming people, the great history and the many sights of the continent aside, it is for the most part spiritually dead. Christianity, the primary force for the creation of the greatness of Europe when it predominated, is now a relic mostly practiced by the oldest generation. Cathedrals and other religious buildings and monuments are preserved as part of history and for their beauty, but with little regard for their spiritual significance.

With the primary source of the eventual worldwide spread of Christianity lying in a spiritual coma, a vacuum exists for a successor. For some time, the United States has filled that space, but one wonders for how much longer. Looking across the political spectrum, one finds that left-leaning Christians are mostly made up of people who prefer Jesus to other religious figures, but do not grant him the exclusivity that is biblically prescribed. The Christian Right appears increasingly interested in elevating a political program over real relationship with Christ. Certainly, from the growing mass of disillusioned American Christians, a revival might arise, but if it doesn’t, where will be the next locus of Christian civilization?

Once again, there is evidence that it might be China. Faithwire reports that “100,000 new believers are coming to Christ every year in China…” The Bible, formerly banned there, is now a bestseller. This is happening despite an increase in human rights violations, among which is the suppression of freedom of expression.

It is ironic, though not unprecedented, that Christianity seems to be thriving in an atmosphere of persecution. In Europe it is legal, if treated with indifference, and in America it is the primary religion to which people self-identify, but in both places it is in decline in terms of sheer numbers. But in China, where it is most tested by fire, it is not only walking in the flames unscathed, but it is growing.

The U.K. Telegraph reported in 2014 that China is on pace to become the largest Christian nation in the world by 2030.

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this,” Prof Yang said. “It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”

China is not the only officially atheist Asian country seeing Christianity grow in spite of persecution. Faithwire also reported earlier this year that a North Korean defector named Kim Chung-Seong said he witnessed it in his own country. Faithwire goes on to detail the atmosphere in which the expansion is occurring.

The 2017 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors lists North Korea as the “most oppressive place in the world for Christians” due to the country’s totalitarian regime and surveillance state that forces Christians “to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors, and often, even their own spouses and children.” While most of North Korea’s 25 million citizens are considered atheists, Open Doors estimates the Christian population to stand at about 300,000.

If Christians are caught, they are imprisoned or sent to hard labor camps, even killed, but defectors like Kim Chung-Seong have found creative ways to penetrate the North Korean darkness with the light of the gospel; he hosts a radio program in Seoul, South Korea, which reaches some parts of the North. He reiterated the notion that North Korean Christians’ faith “is actually strengthened by the persecution.”

Perhaps Asia will be for the future what Christian Europe was for the past. In America, the Church must detach itself from the politics that has done its best to subordinate Christianity to itself, that made the label easy to hold, while distancing it from the unriviled following of Christ. Faith must be strengthened in order to thrive, and the case of China shows that once it is strong, oppression cannot destroy it. It is that sort of faith that American needs to recover widespread and that Christians everywhere must pray continues to grow under hostile regimes.

When You Graffiti Your Own Church, YOU Have the Hate Problem

So it turns out the “Trump-inspired slurs” that the USA Today fretted about back in November were actually “anti-Trump-inspired slurs.” Desperate to rally the troops to “resist hate,” openly gay church organist Nathan Stang spray painted his own church building to implicate people who don’t embrace the homosexual agenda, and those who dared vote for Donald Trump.

The subject of this week’s 414 Project video is this: if you’re spray painting your own church building at 2:00 in the morning just to smear the character of people you disagree with, you are the one with the hate problem. (Transcript below the video):

 

TRANSCRIPT:

According to news reports just after the election – and there were plenty of them – George “Nathan” Stang arrived at church early on Sunday morning. There, to his horror, were anti-gay, pro-Trump slurs spray-painted all over St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom, Indiana.

Social media was soon drowning in the graffiti images of “Heil Trump,” “F** Church,” and a swastika, all painted along the side of the gray brick church building. Commentators and reporters of the Democrat/Media Complex, still reeling from an electoral defeat they didn’t see coming, were quick to pounce on this as an example of the tidal wave of homophobic, xenophobic hate that was now “Trump’s America.”

The same Democrat/Media Complex that doesn’t think it appropriate to speculate as to potential motives for terror attacks perpetrated by someone opening fire or driving a vehicle into pedestrians while shouting “Allahu Akbar” – they had no problem buying Nathan Stang’s heart-wrenching story of Trump-inspired hate speech. The openly gay church organist Stang was the perfect victim; a hero for driving their conservative bigotry narrative.

Oh hey, by the way, Nathan Stang was just arrested for criminal mischief after admitting he did it himself. Yep, spray painted his own church that morning.

In another false flag hoax, pro-LGBT, anti-Trump liberals resort to pretty despicable efforts to impugn the character and demean the moral integrity of anyone who disagrees with them.

Thrilled to play the role of martyr, the church minister Kelsey Hutto had originally boasted,

“We’re proud of being targeted for the reason that we were targeted for, which is being inclusive.”

Actually your own organist targeted you because he hates people who voted for Trump and wanted to smear them. And Kelsey, that’s not a reflection on conservative people. It’s a reflection on your organist and the moral lessons either not being taught or not being heeded in your church.

In fact, his sorry episode doesn’t give the impression that your church is inclusive to those who think differently at all – the exact opposite in fact.

Not everyone who disagrees with the left’s agenda on immigration or sexuality are Nazis. Attempting to defame them as such by creating hoax hate crimes doesn’t end up helping your cause or America’s cause.

It embarrasses and undermines it. Let’s do better.

Want Tolerance? Get LGBT Groups Out of Schools

Going through my school mailbox in the office the other day I came across a letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The anti-Christian hate group regularly infiltrates schools with its propaganda magazine entitled “Teaching Tolerance.”

But this was a separate letter, apparently sent to teachers, equipped with poster sized maps that depicted the various white supremacist groups that had celebrated the election of Donald Trump. As with all correspondence from the SPLC, it was a fear-mongering fundraising drive. That’s par for the course I suppose.

But for those truly interested in ending bullying, teaching tolerance, and promoting civility in our schools these days, serious attention needs to be paid to the aggressively hostile pro-LGBT organizations now influencing everything from textbook curriculum to classroom management.

Recently a teacher affiliated with the perverse organization GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), known for promoting conferences that encourage young kids to engage in risky and unhealthy sexual experimentation, began openly discriminating against Christian students in her Riverview High School classroom. Lora Riedas, a teacher at the Tampa, Florida school, claimed that jewelry depicting the Christian cross were “gang symbols” and “disrespectful” to be worn.

The same teacher has also overstepped her authority by reportedly placing gay pride stickers on the classroom binders of every student without their consent.

Imagine for a second if a high school teacher gave every student a binder and placed a “WWJD” sticker or an emblazoned Christian cross on the front of it without their consent. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is convulsing just at the thought of it.

Yet apparently making political statements, imposing a clearly secular and sexually oriented agenda on impressionable young people passes constitutional muster, so long as the agenda is consistent with left wing orthodoxy.

In a statement to the school, the Liberty Counsel wrote,

School officials have no business in intentionally interfering with parent-approved religious jewelry, or in promoting their pet political ideologies during instructional time to a captive audience.

They’re right of course. But schools should expect nothing less from teachers affiliated with supposed gay rights groups like GLSEN that, “encourage teachers to require students ages K-12 to engage in numerous forms of coercive, group political activism, disregarding the parents’ desires or the students’ religious beliefs.”

Those are the groups that a real tolerance police would be warning about. Instead, they fundraise as the real bullies continue infecting our public schools.

A Real Jesus Actually Exists

We accept that Socrates existed, though Socrates did not leave writings behind. A few people so intent on believing Jesus is imaginary have decided Socrates was too. These are largely weak minded fools.

Socrates may have no writings on his own, but Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes — all of whom we know existed — wrote about Socrates. We derive knowledge of Socrates from those who did know him and wrote about him. The same is true of Jesus.

Though modern scholarship has spent a good bit of time trying to disprove Biblical writings — again, if you start from the premise that they are frauds, guess what you’ll probably conclude — we do largely know that Matthew was written by the Apostle Matthew, Mark written based on testimony from Peter, Luke written by a doctor who interviewed eyewitnesses and investigated their claims, and John by the Apostle John. Three of the four were based on eye witnesses and the fourth was based on interviews with eye witnesses by one who later became an eye witness to the works of the Apostles. Additionally, the separate books of Peter, John, James, and Jude were written by eye witnesses.

It goes beyond those books though. We know that a man named Irenaeus existed. He was born in 130 AD in Turkey and died in 202 AD in France. We have writings from Irenaeus and we have writings of others documenting his existence. We know from Irenaeus that he studied under another man named Polycarp.

We know Polycarp existed. We have writings from Polycarp and we have writings about Polycarp. He was born around 69 AD and was martyred in 155 AD. From the writings of others about Polycarp and from Polycarp himself we learned that he, along with a man named Ignatius, studied under an older man named John.

Ignatius, who wrote and was written about, with Polycarp, were two of the early second generation leaders of the church. Ignatius was born some time around 35 AD and was martyred by being fed to wild beasts around 107 AD. Ignatius and Polycarp both claim that they studied under a man named John who they both identified as the Apostle John. They attribute the Gospel of John to him and much of what they learned about Christ to his eye witness.

There was also a man named Clement who existed. We know he existed because of his writings and the writings of others. Paul referenced Clement in Philippians 4:3.

Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Clement, through his writings and the writings of others, came into contact with Peter, Paul, and possibly John. Clement, not an eye witness to Christ, was an eye witness to these other men.

Irenaeus claimed Polycarp and Ignatius studied under the Apostle John. Polycarp and Ignatius made the same claim, treating John as an eye witness to Christ. Clement, an eye witness to Peter and Paul for sure, documented their existence and their claims to be eye witnesses to Christ.

Peter, John, Matthew, James and Jude all wrote books of the Bible claiming to be eye witnesses to both Jesus and the events of his life. Then there is Paul, who we know persecuted the early church, then claimed a supernatural physical visit from Christ after his death. The other church leaders who he had sought to kill took him into the church and affirmed his ministry. But we do not even have to get to Paul to establish this — either Jesus existed or a great many people over a century collaborated in an elaborate conspiracy to create him.

To claim Jesus did not exist, we must also declare a bunch of other people — who we know existed by their own writings and the writings of others — did not exist.

So that all leads to the next question:

If Jesus existed, why did so many claim him to be God?

Here, I have to give a good bit of credit to Pastor Mark Driscoll and his sermon on James. Driscoll is getting a lot of criticism these days over plagiarism allegations. I am reading the book in question and will address that at some point. But for now, just know that Driscoll’s sermon is Biblically based and Biblically sound. Also, I do like Driscoll, would very much like to meet him, and think he is worth reading. I’ll add reservations and caveats about his book at a later date. Suffice it to say, I do not think the controversy disqualifying.

So, to get to Jesus’s claims about himself and others’ claims about him, we first need to broach an issue. The Bible claims he had brothers. At the Council of Constantinople in 553 AD, the early church declared that Mary was “ever virgin.” Many Christians believe this. It is not just a Catholic belief. Early Protestant leaders like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Zwingli, and others agreed. They interpreted the references to Jesus’s “brothers and sisters” as either (1) Joseph’s children from a prior marriage or (2) his closest cousins in an extended family.

Going into this, understand I think Jesus’s brothers and sisters were his half-brothers and sisters, all younger than him, from the marriage between Mary and Joseph. But for purposes here, we should all agree that, at least, his “brothers and sisters” were his closest family who knew him best — whether half siblings or closest cousins. There are a number of passages that reference them in the New Testament and the sense of the phrasing is that they were his closest relatives.

Mark 6:1-6 describes the family thusly:

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’

Matthew 13:53–57, in accordance, reads:

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?”

Jesus had four brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (later called Jude). He had at least two sisters. The tradition at the time was the oldest son typically received the grandfather’s name. We know that Joseph’s father’s name was Jacob. Matthew 1:16 tells us, “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”

James is the Greek derivative for Jacob. We can conclude that James was either Joseph’s oldest natural born son or the oldest son of Joseph’s own brother. If the second son was indeed Joseph’s son, it makes sense the first son is named for the grandfather and the second son for the father himself.

This also explains why there are so many Jacobs, James, and Judases in the Bible. Jacob, in particular, was very popular given Genesis.

Many people may not realize that, based on the eye witness accounts of Jesus’s friends, Jesus’s family thought he was a nutter. So much for the “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” framing. His family was all in for lunatic. See Mark 3:21, 31–35:

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’”

“. . . And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.’ And he answered them, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Today, as Mark Driscoll and others have noted, we would call this an intervention. Jesus’s “mother and his brothers came” trying “to seize him” because they thought he was a nutter claiming to be God. The most extraordinary thing about this is that Jesus’s own mother was involved. Luke 1 tells us the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”

Mary clearly knew he was special and from the Lord. John 2:1-5 — an eye witness account — tells us

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Despite what she had experienced and knew, Mary too went with Jesus’s brothers to seize him and carry him home. Note that Mary stuck with Jesus the whole way through his life, unlike his brothers and sisters — no doubt coming to a richer and richer understanding of her son over time.

John tells us Jesus’s brothers wanted him gone. John 7:2-5 notes

Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ For not even his brothers believed in him.

This is Jesus’s brothers confronting him telling him that if he really thinks he is a big deal — if he really thinks he is God — he needs to go to the big city and show everyone. He needs to tell the world, which he can’t do in a small town. They want him gone, with his friends, and given the implications of what they’re telling him to do, they may very well think he is going to get himself killed.

The brothers who had tried to stage an intervention had given up and wanted their brother gone. And Jesus goes. He winds up being arrested, tried, tortured, and crucified. The most striking thing here is that his brothers did not even show up at the execution. His mother was there. The mother, who with the brothers, had tried to save Jesus from himself — she was there. But the brothers were not.

From the account in Matthew 27:55,56

There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

From Mark 15:40,41:

There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

From Luke 23:49:

And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Lastly, from John 19:25-27:

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

From John we learn that Jesus, from the cross and about to die, told John that he had to look after Mary. We learn that “from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” Why? The brothers who had tried to stage an intervention would not show up at the execution. Mary was there with no immediate family. John, the Apostle, had to take her into “his own home.”

And Jesus died.

If that were all there were, lunatic he would be. The family would have been right. They tried to intervene to no avail. The brothers sent Jesus packing. He got himself arrested, tried, and killed. They wouldn’t even show up as he hung on the cross dying. Or at least we have a record of who was there and not one of those eye witness accounts documents his brothers being there. Jesus’s best friend is commanded to take care of Jesus’s mother as if they were son and mother.

That would be the end of it, except something extraordinary happened.

From Acts 1:14 we learn that “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”

It is clear from the text that these are not the Apostles. These are James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude — these are the family members who had tried to seize him, urged him to leave, and would not show up at his death. They were in the early church. So what happened? Seriously? These people thought he was crazy. They, his family, knew him best. Were he some sinner or a jerk they would not make up the early church after he, the lunatic jerk, had died. But there they were.

Look at James alone. James became a leader in the early church. Paul called him a pillar. Paul traveled to Jerusalem after his conversion to meet with the Apostles and with James. This is James the brother of Jesus, not James the Apostle. James the brother of Jesus, called James the Just, came to be referred to as “camel knees” because he was on his knees praying so much.

James the brother who had rejected Christ in life became a pillar of the early church vested with authority.

Paul, writing to the Galatians documents

“When they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles.” (Galatians 2:7–9)

From Acts 15:12-21:

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

“After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.’

Paul sought out James and Peter — Paul, the guy Jesus himself had told to go preach to the Gentiles, went to find Jesus’s brother who had rejected Jesus in life. He didn’t just seek him out, we learn from Paul and others that James had, in fact, become a well known and established authority figure in the early church. He considered himself a servant of Jesus, not his brother — a servant to a living God who had been crucified.

In 62 AD, early church history notes that the local Jews of Jerusalem went to James. They respected him. They told him they wanted him to tell all of Jesus’s followers that, being Jesus’s brother, he could testify Jesus was not God. Made sense, didn’t it? Here’s the guy who escorted Jesus out of town and wouldn’t show up to the funeral because his brother was an embarrassing nutter. Also, here is a guy, being Jesus’s brother, who could claim part of Jesus’s legacy and become the icon himself.

But by 62 AD, James was so invested in the idea that Jesus was the Risen Lord he told the Jews the crowd was right. Jesus was Lord. Enraged, the Jews carried him to the top of the temple and threw him off. When he did not die, they stoned him and beat him with clubs until he died.

Then, the early church tells us, Jesus’s brother Simon took James’s place.

Along the way, Jesus’s brother Jude also became a church leader. He too eventually was killed by the Roman state in a purge of Christians. Accounts are mixed as to whether it was his children or grandchildren, but it appears his grandchildren were called before the Emperor. They testified that that their relative Jesus had been talking about a return at the last day, not an imminent take over of the Empire — that he was King in Heaven. They were spared, became leaders within the church themselves, and were executed by a later Emperor.

Jesus’s family, who had rejected him in life, were willing to die proclaiming he had risen. Something had to have happened. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Jesus “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:5-7)

It is a silly thing to say that Jesus did not exist. There is an ample historic record to show, through eye witnesses, that Jesus and Socrates both existed. Many atheists concede Jesus existed, but, unlike with Socrates, they say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

One of Christ’s friends betrayed him, then committed suicide.

Eleven of the twelve who followed Jesus were willing to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim him God.

Ten of the twelve met terrible deaths because they would not recant that Jesus was God. The tenth, John, lived in exile. His students and others documented the numerous attempts to kill John.

Jesus’s brothers, who rejected him in life, embraced him as a risen, living God after his death. They too were willing to be put to death for refusing to recant after Christ’s crucifixion what they refused to believe when he walked and talked with them.

Others came claiming to be the messiah. Their claims did not last. The man named Jesus not only must have been a spectacularly charismatic person, who surrounded himself with spectacularly charismatic people — all of whom were willing to be tortured and killed — because Jesus and these men were able to recruit into faith a lot of others who, over two thousand years, grew into the world’s largest religion. Many of them were persecuted, tortured, and killed in horribly gruesome ways. Still they persisted in the faith.

So either these men were charismatic liars so invested in their lies they were willing to be tortured and killed or they were telling the truth.

Those who do not want to believe will not believe. As for the rest of us — Christ’s own family rejected him as a lunatic then, after his torture and crucifixion, picked up the cross claiming Christ had risen. And they too, the brothers who rejected him in life, were willing to die proclaiming him risen.

That’s pretty extraordinary to me.

On Holy Thursday, the New York Times Blames Christianity For Fake News

It was only fitting that the liberal editorialists at the New York Times saw fit on Holy Thursday to blame Christianity for the rise of fake news. In a column by Molly Worthen titled “The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society”, Worthen relies on former Christian turned Episcopalian Rachel Held Evans to attack Bible believing Christians.

Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.

Worthen characterizes Christians as anti-science and hostile to facts and reason. She disparages the idea of a Christian world view as close minded. But what is so interesting is that she believes Christians must accept scientific theories that are subject to change as fact, but distorts both what science and facts are to make that point.

Interestingly, what Worthen is really doing is claiming that her liberal, secular world view is the only world view of merit and anyone who holds to Biblical inerrancy cannot claim truth, fact, or science and so therefore should not be respected.

While she touches on Van Til, she only touches on him, choosing instead to let Rachel Held Evans, who is openly hostile to a Biblical world view, explain it instead of Van Til, who embraces a Biblical world view and is actually very highly regarded. As theologian Denny Burk noted on Twitter, “It’s not a good sign when Rachel Held Evans gets more attention than Van Til in explaining a Christian Worldview.”

It is very telling that a liberal, secular professor like Worthen cannot actually even engage facts and accuracy truthfully as she makes her case that Christians are to blame for the “post-truth” era.

The Left Loves Jesus Today

Rachel Held Evans, who spent a long time posing as an evangelical Christian working from within to sow distrust and discord among Christians before giving up the charade and joining the Episcopal Church, raises a funny point:

The reverse here is that Rachel Held Evans does not want Christian values reflected in government when it comes to sexuality. She’s in favor of same-sex marriage and has to creatively interpret the Bible to support her position. Likewise, she thinks Christian bakers can be compelled by government to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.

Her presumption is a fantastic fallacy of the left. If we do not support particular government programs we are somehow not Christian. Government programs become idols we cannot mess with, fix, or abolish because if we do so we are not helping the poor.

This argument is not only disingenuous, but shows a profound misunderstanding of conservatives’ views on government. As my friend Dan Darling noted, the left thinks the Bible is super vague on sexual ethics and highly specific on the government’s exact role in healthcare policy. Let’s add aid of the poor to that as well.

In fact, it is not a Christian value to saddle our children with $20 trillion in debt they will have to pay off.

It is also not a Christian value to create dependence on government programs.

It is also not a Christian value to substitute government for private charity and church help.

It is also not a Christian value to offload our responsibilities to a federal agency.

It is, again, worth reminding people that conservatives give more to non-profits than liberals, who instead would rather raise everyone’s taxes and saddle our children with mountains of debt to absolve them of their personal responsibility to take care of the poor and need.

I want a government social safety net because I am a Christian and American who believes there are those physically or mentally incapable of taking care of themselves. Because all life is precious, we have a responsibility to take care of them.

But I also do not want an expansive safety net. We will always have the poor, as Jesus himself noted. But the left thinks we will have the exact same people poor where I support government programs that elevate the existing poor out of poverty, while mindful there will always be other poor people to help.

The idea that government, however, needs a Meals on Wheels program funded by taxpayers instead of successful authors like Rachel Held Evans forking over her own money to help fund Meals on Wheels is a cop out hiding behind faith.

The good Samaritan did not offload the man in the ditch to a government shelter. He took care of him with his own money.

Making the government fund that program may absolve liberals like Evans of having to lift a finger, but it saddles her children and mine with an ever growing mountain of debt.

I think it is far more Christian to take care of my children and the poor than have the former burdened with debt and the latter placed in a situation of dependency on Uncle Sam’s teet.

The left is loving Jesus today. But they’d still trade him for Barabbas.

Make America Great Again: Teach Your Children Well

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” said Ronald Reagan. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

In 2013, the former Archbishop of Canterbury echoed Reagan’s words, saying that Christianity was “a generation away from extinction” in Britain. Lord Carey warned, “So many churches have no ministry to young people and that means they have no interest in the future. As I have repeated many times in the past we are one generation away from extinction. We have to give cogent reasons to young people why the Christian faith is relevant to them.”

The two men both understood that ideas such as the love of liberty and the love of God cannot be learned without being taught. But today, too many parents leave it up to others to teach the love of God and country to their children. We expect pastors and Sunday School teachers to educate our children about God, often on only a handful of Sundays out of the year. Love of country gets delegated to history teachers, politicians, activists and war movies.

The importance of the two institutions, America and the Christian church, cannot be absorbed by children if they aren’t breathed and experienced on a daily basis. God isn’t a very important part of your life if you only worship him and seek his guidance on Sunday morning. Likewise, if the Fourth of July is the only time you talk about patriotism, your kids probably aren’t getting the message.

People who are trying to subvert your beliefs are much more consistent in their message. Television, movies, books, magazines and politicians are spending a lot of time telling your kids that America was never great and that God, if he even exists, is not good. Modern media is replete with examples of popular culture that ridicules Christianity and patriotism and constantly tries to undermine the values that you want to teach your children.

Should we surrender pop culture and retreat to an off-the-grid existence? That isn’t necessary. The Bible says that we can be in the world, but not of it. The Bible also instructs us to the light the world, but notes that it makes no sense to light a candle and hide its flame. We cannot light the world if we run and hide.

What we should do is be discerning. We should monitor what our children watch, listen to and play. Much of the programming and video games aimed at children are filled with ideas and words that most of us don’t want our children exposed to.

If your child has a smartphone or tablet, monitor their activity with an app like Funamo. We don’t expect our children to live without limits in other aspects of their lives. Why should they have free reign over an internet filled with lies, pornography, perversion, violence, predators and general weirdness?

As someone pointed out in a modern parable, we wouldn’t allow a rude, profane, ill-mannered, violent guest who ridicules our beliefs in our homes. On the other hand, television does all these things and we give it a place of honor as the center of attention. Parents may have to make the decision to turn off their own favorite shows if they are not appropriate for children.

Take your children to church. Take them to museums and historic sites. But don’t let the lessons about Christ and America be limited to such outings.

In my house, we have had the tradition for years of bedtime stories. My children who are now 13 and eight still ask for a “Bible story and an American story” every night. We began when they were babies with age-appropriate Bible stories and have since graduated to reading devotional books and passages from the Bible.

For the “American story,” we like Bill Bennett’s “American Patriot’s Almanac.” This book gives short daily readings from American history and my kids love to hear the stories and trivia every night. Some of the stories they have heard in school and are often excited to add their own knowledge to the story. Others are new even to me.

The point is to live your faith and patriotism daily. If you want to teach your children to live according to Christ’s teachings, they must first know what those teachings are. Since children learn by example, you should be living according to Christ’s teaching as well. All of your lessons will be in vain if your kids see you react in anger and violence after preaching forgiveness.

Likewise, children don’t learn respect for America if they only see the federal government as either a source of handouts or an ogre that constantly threatens our freedoms. Both extremes are equally wrong and threatening to the real meaning of America.

As you raise your children, remember Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Teach your children constantly by example and by lessons and they will remember your values when they grow up. Hopefully, they will continue the cycle and pass them along to their own children.

 

New Jersey School System Promotes Islam in Curriculum, But Says that Bible Verses “Belong in Sunday School.”

Two New Jersey moms are under fire for pointing out a middle school curriculum that teaches students about Islam while ignoring Judaism and Christianity.

[Nancy] Gayer pointed out that her son is being taught about the intricacies of the religion in a seventh grade class at Chatham Middle School, including being shown a video explaining the Five Pillars of Islam that featured lines like “Allah is the creator of everything, the one true God.”:

“In my opinion, I call this proselytizing, for by definition of this word it means convert or attempt to convert from one religion, belief or opinion to another,” Gayers said.

Another mother, Libby Hilsenrath, echoed Gayers’ sentiments, pointing out that the seventh grade class went into detail about the various aspects of Islam, but did not teach Judaism and Christianity. She also brought forth further course material that could be seen as proselytizing for Islam, which included a video providing an introduction to Islam that quoted excerpts from the Koran such as “And they say: Be Jews and Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammed) Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolators” and “Lo, we have sent thee (O Muhammed) with the truth, a bringer of glad tidings and warner.”

Can you imagine a public school curriculum featuring Jesus’ words in John 14: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”? Certainly not in this school district, because Gayer pointed out that when her son referenced a Bible verse in a presentation, he was told that the “belongs in Sunday school, not in the classroom.” The superintendent also told Gayer at the time that the district’s policies prevent proselytizing.

After Gayer and Hilsenrath appeared before the school board, a resident wrote a letter to the editor of the local website Tap Into Chatham, labeling the moms’ concerns as “at worst veiled bigotry and at best sad and ignorant.”

Other residents tore into Gayer and Hilsenrath on the Tap Into Chatham Facebook page, according to a letter that the moms issued to the press:

  • “What’s on the agenda for next time I wonder. Book burning perhaps?” – Catherine O’Mara-Farrugia.

  • “This is the mindset that has challenged the USA from having been the greatest country to one where narrow minded, xenophobic bigots are now getting way to[sic] much coverage – on a national and local level” – Tony Britt

  • “Be careful Chatham, your xenophobia is showing.” – Lisa Cappabianca

  • “It is really sad that some people in our community seem to be not open to learning about other cultures, religions and people.” – Jessica Romeo

  • “What I’m seeing is that some people think this is a curriculum issue but to me this looks like xenophobia.” – Ursula von Rydingsvard

  • “There are kids being bullied over their non-Christian religious beliefs in Chatham schools.” – Melissa Cavallone (When Ms. Cavallone was pressed for the details on this, she responded, “It’s second hand/hearsay coming from me, though.”)

The moms feel that they’re not alone in this fight, however, as the support they have received proves:

Since the controversy, Hilsenrath and Gayer said they have received numerous phone calls and emails in support of their position, and they will continue to fight the good fight, and, if they find themselves shut out by the District, they will be forced to take their case to the next level.

Clearly the school system in Chatham has failed to understand that, though it is important to teach kids about the religions and belief systems of the world, to heavily emphasize one religion at the expense of other important faiths is the true bigotry on display here. And that’s sad.