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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Nabeel Qureshi: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Sep 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

Last week, evangelist Nabeel Qureshi, a dear friend of the Colson Center, went home to the Lord. Today we present an interview John Stonestreet conducted back in 2014 with Nabeel on “BreakPoint This Week.” Nabeel talks about his conversion from Islam to Christianity and how difficult it is for Muslims to leave everything behind to follow Christ.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Many Atheists Aren’t So Sure

Sep 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

Sometimes, holding on to faith in God can be hard. But then again, so can holding on to faith in no God. One of the most persistent challenges of the Christian life is doubt. The most faithful, and spiritually mature believers experience it, especially in the midst of trials, temptations, or hard questions. Every one of us occasionally wonders whether God is really there, whether Christ really rose from the dead, or whether we really are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That’s natural. None other than John the Baptist, alone in Herod’s prison, sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus responded, “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” But Christians aren’t the only ones who suffer from doubt. It turns out that unbelievers, atheists, and agnostics all experience nagging uncertainties as well. A recent poll from Newman University and YouGov found that one in five British atheists and over a third of Canadian atheists agreed with the statement: “Evolutionary processes cannot explain the existence of human consciousness.” Of the non-religious—those who aren’t explicitly atheists but don’t identify with any faith—34 percent in Britain and 37 percent in Canada agreed that evolution cannot explain the mind. Twelve percent of British atheists and an astonishing 31 percent of Canadian atheists even agreed with the statement, “Animals evolve over time but evolutionary science cannot explain the origins of human beings.” Remember that atheists traditionally hold a naturalistic worldview. They believe that, as the late Carl Sagan put it, “the cosmos is all that is, all that was, and all that ever will be.” In other words, matter and energy are ultimate reality. These respondents are also living in some of the world’s most secular societies. The famed “new atheists,” like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, have hailed from the U.K., where polls now show a majority of citizens identify as non-religious. Yet nearly a third of them suffer from a persistent sense that unguided natural processes alone cannot explain the miracle of human beings, who are profoundly different from everything else in creation. In his book, “The Reason for God,” Tim Keller invites skeptics to explore these suspicions. These folks, he writes, should “doubt their doubts,” reexamining their objections to Christianity and looking for the hidden beliefs underneath each. For example, those who reject belief in spirits, angels, and God should ask themselves: If only matter exists, where does morality come from? Or what about our sense of self? If the mind is merely the byproduct of chemical reactions inside our skulls, how can it be trusted to accurately understand the natural world? These kinds of doubts, argues Keller, can undermine doubt, itself, and lead skeptics to a new open-mindedness about God and the claims of Christianity. As C. S. Lewis might say, atheists really can’t be too careful. He argues in “Mere Christianity” that it’s normal for believers to sense that the Christian faith looks “very improbable.” But these moods aren’t unique to believers. “When I was an atheist,” he confesses, “I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.” That’s why Lewis defined faith as “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” It’s also why Christians shouldn’t be afraid of reason or evidence. We should engage our doubts with confidence that our worldview—unlike the secular one—has the resources to explain both the natural and the supernatural aspects of the human experience. In both cases, doubt—counterintuitively—can lead to faith.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: "God Didn't Give Us an Answer: He Gave Us Himself"

Sep 22, 2017 - 00:00:00

How do Christians explain suffering? From natural disasters (like hurricanes Irma and Harvey) to the loss of loved ones (like the young and untimely death of Muslim-convert and evangelist Nabeel Qureshi). Ed and John also address an opinion piece in Christianity Today by radical pro-choice Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Genocide in Burma

Sep 22, 2017 - 00:00:00

When we think of religious persecution, the Middle East usually comes to mind. But things have also gotten nasty in Southeast Asia. According to a report issued by the International State Crime Initiative, the Rohingya ethnic group in Burma is facing “the final stages of genocide.” Whether what’s happening in Burma meets the exact definition of genocide, it’s undoubtedly a horrific violation of human rights and a humanitarian catastrophe. It’s also part of a larger and very troubling pattern: religious-based persecution in South and Southeastern Asia. Until a few months ago, most of us had never heard of the Rohingya. So here’s some overly simplified background: To speak of Burma as if it were a nation-state like, for instance, the Netherlands, is a misnomer. There are actually eight officially-recognized “major national ethnic races” in Burma. They speak languages belonging to four different, mutually unintelligible major language families. While the overwhelming majority of Burmese citizens are at least nominally Buddhist, some of these “national ethnic races” are predominately Christian. That brings us back to the Rohingya. The Rohingya, who are Muslims, are not one of the recognized “major ethnic races.” Since 1982, they haven’t even been Burmese citizens. It’s impossible to understand what’s going on with the Rohingya without taking into account the Burmese government’s abysmal treatment of religious minorities. Open Doors USA characterizes the level of religious persecution in Burma as “very high.” It wasn’t only Open Doors who took notice of the treatment of Burmese religious minorities. Persecution of Burmese Christians was the subject of, believe it or not, the 2008 movie “Rambo” starring Sylvester Stallone. While Rambo was able to save one group of fictional Burmese Christians, for our brethren in the real world what the United States Conference on International Religious Freedom calls the “Hidden Plight [of] Christian Minorities in Burma,” continues largely unabated. That plight includes “discrimination, forced conversions, violence and desecration of churches and Christian communities.” While Burma’s persecuted Christian minority are, on paper at least, citizens, and, thus, entitled to reside in the country, the Rohingya are not. So, the Burmese government is taking drastic measures to make them leave. They’ve seized on the actions of a handful of Rohingya militants to collectively punish more than two million people. And prior to the recent crackdown by the Burmese government, nearly one million Rohingya had already fled Burma in the past few decades. And as if to confirm that there’s no depth to which human depravity will not sink, some refugees who reached places like Thailand have been held for ransom, caught in sex trafficking, or even murdered. Father Thomas Reese, the Chairman of the Commission on International Religious Freedom, articulated one of the many reasons that Christians should be concerned and moved to action. “The plight of both Rohingya Muslims and Christians results from successive governments that have both perpetuated and supported religious violation . . . It’s time for Burma to defend religious freedom.” Furthermore, the persecution of these groups is part of a troubling rise in religious nationalism throughout the region. In Burma, the government’s biggest cheerleaders are militant Buddhist monks. It isn’t only Burma. In countries such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, and, India, Christianity—and also Islam—is increasingly seen as an “alien” religion which must be repressed so that Buddhism and Hinduism can assume their “rightful” place. We need to stand firm against the forces of what Open Doors calls “religious nationalism,” even if the victims aren’t Christians. Because tomorrow they probably will be.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Are Truth and Love in Conflict?

Sep 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

For many Americans, the most crucial factor in their Thanksgiving plans is who they’ll have to talk to across the table. More on being Christian in a divided nation. . . . In the wake of last year’s election, many Americans decided to spend Thanksgiving with friends instead of family. This year, I suspect it will be even worse. After all, once Uncle Bill starts talking about President Trump, or Aunt Sally weighs in on transgenders in the military, or Cousin Phil announces why a Christian baker should or shouldn’t decorate a cake for a gay wedding . . . well, who knows what might happen. I’m not that old—not nearly as old as Eric Metaxas, in fact—but I can’t remember a time when our country, our communities, and even our families have been so ideologically divided. Not only do we disagree but we tend to see others not only as wrong, but as our enemies. On news outlets, college campuses—certainly on Twitter—civility is out the window. It’s one thing to say “I disagree with you.” It’s another thing to say “I can’t even share a meal or stand the sight of you.” But it’s exactly here that Christians have something unique to offer. This is what I and a few other presenters will be exploring next month on the Q Commons simulcast. It will be an amazing, one-night event to educate, inspire, and offer people of faith creative ways to respond to the difficult challenges facing our communities. Hundreds of churches and thousands of participants will join in. I hope your church will as well. More on that in just a minute. In my travels around the country, I see more and more that people—especially Christians—feel they have only one of two choices: to avoid important topics altogether, or to err on the side of not offending by compromising or burying the truth. But that’s a false choice. The stakes of our cultural debates right now are too high. Too many today, including within the Church, seem to believe that truth and love are somehow incompatible: that if we speak the truth, we’re somehow being unloving. But truth and love are not mutually exclusive concepts. Why? Because both are fully embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6). And, He is love incarnate (1 Jn 4:8). Christians must ground our arguments, in both substance and in style, on the firm foundation of Scriptural truth. First, Scripture is clear that each and every human being is made in the image of God and therefore has eternal dignity and value. As C. S. Lewis put it in “The Weight of Glory,” “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . .” And of course, we must treat every person with that kind of respect. Second, we know that God’s established laws include the moral law as well. Though our capacity to fully comprehend and live out what is true and good is bent by the fall, what is true and good remains. As Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a recent issue of First Things, “Truth exists, whether we like it or not. We don’t create truth; we find it, and we have no power to change it to our tastes. The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free.” Exactly. And that is what we want for every human being—to be free to become all that God created them to be. This is what should motivate us in our interactions with everyone—even those who will hate what we stand for. This doesn’t mean our approach will always “work” in the sense of avoiding conflict or convincing those who see us as their enemies. But it’s the right thing to do. And so we must engage this moment with courage and conviction. I, along with a few others, will wrestle with this at the Q Commons simulcast event next month. Please, come to BreakPoint.org for more information on how your church can host the event. There’s even a special BreakPoint discount for churches.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jeff Myers: "The Secret Battle of Ideas about God" (part 2)

Sep 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 2 of Warren Cole Smith's interview with Summit Ministries President Jeff Myers about his new book, “Secret Battle of Ideas About God.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
They Give Us Hope

Sep 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

The world needs hope. Which is why I’m glad WORLD Magazine has announced the winner of its Hope Awards! During the summer, I told you about the finalists for WORLD Magazine’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion—Christian organizations that make a positive difference in their communities without receiving government funds. We now have a winner, so let’s end the suspense—the envelope, please! And the winner is … all of us! Well, actually, after tallying the record number of votes from readers, WORLD selected Delta Streets Academy in Greenwood, Mississippi. DSA, which began just five years ago, has 55 students, all black and all male, in grades 7 through 11. The school aims “to equip the young men who walk through our doors daily with the gospel of Christ, and the skills needed to live a life that honors God.” In 2008, Thomas McMillin Howard, 32, known as T. Mac, moved to the Mississippi Delta and taught math at the local public high school. T Mac found the students floundering academically. A third were dropping out; the ones who remained treated their school responsibilities as a joke. Eventually, he decided the at-risk young men needed a disciplined approach grounded in the Christian faith. So in 2012, T Mac left the public school and opened Delta Streets Academy, which began as an after-school and summer program for young men from at-risk neighborhoods. The discipline is obvious. According to WORLD, “[Students] must tuck in their shirts, complete homework, and act respectfully toward adults and each other. They have a mandatory study hall period during the day and access to tutors after hours. And DSA is reluctantly willing to lose students who refuse discipline.” The Christian element is more subtle, but no less real. DSA, which for now is housed in the downtown First Baptist Church, seeks to “weave the Gospel of Jesus Christ into all areas of the school believing that glorifying God and enjoying Him forever is the foundation upon which all else is built.” Imagine that. A minister from another Greenwood church tells The Christian Science Monitor that T Mac wants white churches and civic groups to help heal the community’s racial tensions “in a society still recovering from segregation…. He’s a window into a world that many [white] Christians in Greenwood didn’t know existed.” Says Marvin Olasky, the editor-in-chief of the WORLD News Group, “I’ve visited DSA twice and been hugely impressed by the way this Christian school educates African-American young men intellectually and spiritually. It’s our 100th national or regional winner over the past 12 years, so Christian compassion is alive and well.” And that is just the tip of the compassion iceberg, according to journalist Warren Cole Smith. “Those of us involved in ministry or in our local churches know that if the great work of Christian ministries and local churches went away, there would be a giant sucking sound in civil society,” Warren says. “However, most churches and Christian ministries do their work quietly, with little fanfare, so—according to a Pew study—many Americans don’t understand that . . . Christians are more generous with both time and money than their secular neighbors, and that without this generosity, America would be in deep trouble.” But not if the other Hope Awards regional winners—and countless other organizations offering compassionate ministry—have anything to say about it. These are Navajo Ministries in New Mexico, Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Montana, Village of Hope in Zambia, and New Life Home in New Hampshire. In their great book, Restoring All Things, my friends Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet ask a great question: “What is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?” It’s safe to say that WORLD’s Hope Awards are a small but significant answer—and we are all winners because of them.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Where Is God in the Storms?

Sep 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

With so much devastation in the news, it’s hard not to ask God, “Why?” Here’s some help for responding to questions about natural disasters and God. Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, a massive earthquake in Mexico, wildfires across the western United States. The string of natural disasters in the last few weeks has left many wondering: Where is God in the midst of all this suffering, loss of life, and destruction? It’s a question nearly as old as time. As the Greek philosopher, Epicurus asked, Is God able to stop suffering but not willing? Then He isn’t all-good. Is He willing, but not able? Then He isn’t all-powerful. In both cases, He’s not really God. And Voltaire, the French philosopher, famously argued in a poem that the All Saints Day Earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 made believing in an all-good, all-powerful God untenable. Thankfully, many Christians have tackled this tough question. In fact, Colson Center Senior Fellow, J. Warner Wallace offers a few of his thoughts in an upcoming column at BreakPoint.org. First, Wallace points out that “natural disasters” aren’t always entirely, well, natural. Human freedom and planning leads to homes and cities being built in places susceptible to earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Sometimes corners are cut on building materials or construction in order to save money. These choices can put people in harm’s way when nature turns dangerous. And second, calamity often reveals the very best of human character, as opportunities abound to love those in need. In the early centuries of Christianity, pagan hearts were softened toward the Gospel when Christians ran toward great plagues and disasters, rather than away. In the same way, as we’ve told you on BreakPoint, Christians today provide the bulk of relief in the wake of the recent hurricanes. These disasters are terrible, but the displays of neighborly love are beautiful. And finally, our visceral reaction to the tragedy and suffering caused by natural disasters, far from disproving an all-powerful, all-loving God, is actually strong evidence for His existence. C. S. Lewis admitted in “Mere Christianity” that as an atheist, he thought the injustice in the world was an airtight argument against Christianity. But then he wondered: “How had I gotten this idea of just and unjust?” His argument depended on evil and suffering being objectively bad, not just inconvenient. But if we’re merely subatomic particles, then no arrangement of those particles can be morally better or worse than any other. Our hearts cry out that this world is not the way it’s supposed to be. And atheism can only reply, “Sure it is.” But we know better. The world is broken. It’s not functioning according to God’s original design, and Christianity places the blame on humanity’s rebellion against the Creator. But the Christian message doesn’t end there. God assures us that He’s with us in the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires. In Jesus Christ, He entered the world’s brokenness and joined our suffering, crying out with a very human heart as He Himself tasted death on our behalf: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The question that Jesus asked here points to the only answer to Epicurus’ question, because Jesus is the only God Who is all-good, all-loving, and knows what it means to feel the brunt of evil and suffering. As Edward Shillito wrote in his poem, “Jesus of the Scars”: The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak; They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone. Remember that the Suffering Savior is now the enthroned King. Suffering and death do not have the last word. Sin is a defeated foe. All will be made new again. And so, in light of that Truth, or better yet because of the One who is Truth, we can give our best answer to the question of suffering by following the example of our Savior, and His Church throughout history, by running toward the disasters with love, with help, with grace, and with the Gospel.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jeff Myers: "The Secret Battles of Ideas About God" (Part 1)

Sep 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 1 of Warren Cole Smith's interview with Summit Ministries President Jeff Myers about his new book, “Secret Battle of Ideas About God.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Making Colleges Safe for Libertinism

Sep 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

These days, colleges expect their students to drink like fish and hook up frequently. And they’re just trying to keep a lid on it. Sort of. A few months ago, a colleague of mine spoke with a young man about life at one of most prestigious colleges in the country—the kind that’s difficult to get into and even more difficult to pay for. What he heard was shocking: levels of substance abuse—both alcohol and drugs—that could only be called debauched. The debauchery is hardly a secret, both on and off campus. The school’s response? A shuttle bus to transport students—at least for those who hadn’t simply passed out—from one bacchanalia to another and finally back to their dorms. Welcome to the jungle that is the typical college campus where little, if anything, stands between our kids and their appetite for destruction. This story came to my mind when reading Ross Douthat’s column in a September 13th article in the New York Times. The subject was the recent decision by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to revisit the Obama administration’s “guidelines for how colleges and universities adjudicate accusations of sexual assault.” Given the fierce opposition to just about anything DeVos does, the response to the announcement was muted, even measured. Liberals as well as conservatives agree that “The legal and administrative response to campus rape over the past five years has been a kind of judicial and bureaucratic madness.” The combination of “moral outrage and political pressure,” and “bias and bad science” helped “create an unshakable presumption of guilt for the accused.” None of this is to deny that sexual assaults on campus do happen and that schools have been, in Douthat’s words, “shamefully loathe to deal with the problem.” But, as Douthat reminds us, there’s something else at work: the culture on most campuses. As he writes, “For ideological reasons, the modern liberal campus rejects all the old ways in which a large population of hormonal young people once would have had their impulses channeled and restrained—such as single-sex dorms, ‘parietal’ rules for male-female contact late at night, a general code emphasizing sexual restraint.” Instead, “many colleges compete for students . . . by winkingly promising them not just a lack of adult supervision but a culture of constant partying.” The “old ways” Douthat refers to were a function of schools taking the idea of acting in loco parentis, “in place of a parent,” seriously. Schools had a responsibility to act in the students’ best interests, including protecting them from their folly. While the idea still holds sway in elementary and secondary schools for the most part, the concept has gone the way of the dinosaur at the vast majority of our nation’s universities. Instead, they operate shuttle buses and wrestle with what to do in response to the readily foreseeable consequences of, in Douthat’s words, an “entire social scene [that] is organized around drinking your way to the loss of inhibitions required for hooking up.” In other words, they seek to make “libertinism safe for consenting semi-adults.” And they fail. Alcohol and drug abuse is rampant on American campuses, and even if the Obama administration’s guidelines had met the requirements of due process and fairness, they only affect what happens after the alleged assault is reported. They make no one safer. Schools’ abandonment of the “old ways” produced what C.S. Lewis called “men without chests,” people, who for all their intelligence, at least as measured by grades and test scores, have no control over their appetites. It could hardly be otherwise if all you demand of them is being able to get on a bus.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: Christians in the Midst of the Storm

Sep 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the phenomenal efforts by Christian relief organizations in the wake of the recent hurricanes--and how even the government recognizes that they are indispensable. Also: The Justice Department sides with Masterpiece Cake Shop owner Jack Phillips, plus the importance of Dads.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Invisible Christians of North Korea

Sep 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

If you think North Korea’s dictators are bad for the world, just imagine what it’s like to be a Christian there. Anyone who knows anything about world missions and the global church knows about the Christians of South Korea. According to the Operation World prayer guide, “From the first Protestant church planted in 1884, South Korea now has possibly 50,000 Protestant congregations,” and 15 million Christians of all kinds. It’s also a missionary powerhouse, currently sending more than 21,000 missionaries to about 175 countries. Amazing! But the Christians of North Korea? They’re virtually invisible—though of course not in the eyes of the Lord Jesus! Operation World says that although no one really knows their true number, there could be as many as 350,000 underground Christians living in the slave state of 24 million people. When you consider that the government there—whether run by the Japanese occupiers during World War II, or the current cult-like, totalitarian leadership—has been trying to stamp out all vestiges of Christianity for about 70 years, that’s also amazing. Tragically, and infuriatingly, up to 100,000 of these brothers and sisters in Christ are locked up in harsh prisons or work camps. Where did they all come from, and how do they survive? Well, in answer to the first part, it’s a fascinating story. Did you know that from the late 19th century until 1942, Pyongyang, North Korea’s Orwellian capital city today, was known as the “Jerusalem of the East”? According to Providence journal, “a Presbyterian medical doctor named Horace Allen … became physician to the king of Korea and received royal permission to proselytize after saving the life of a royal family member severely wounded during an attempted coup. Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries from the United States followed, and along with Catholic and other Protestant missionaries from other countries, they found Koreans to be receptive to their message in large numbers. A quarter of a century later in 1910, Korean Christians numbered over 200,000, two thirds of them Presbyterians and Methodists, in a country of approximately 13 million people.” If the city of Seoul was receptive to the gospel, and it was, Pyongyang was even more so. Following a series of revivals in and around the “Jerusalem of the East,” by 1910 the region was the most heavily Christian in all of Korea. Of course, most of us know what happened next. After World War II, the communist regime of Kim Il-sung attempted to stamp out all foreign religions, especially Christianity, which was branded a tool of “Western imperialism.” Missionaries were thrown out, churches closed, and many Christians executed for their faith, with many more pouring into democratic South Korea at the end of the Korean War. So how do those who remain survive? As with all of us, by God’s grace. Today, Open Doors USA reports, North Korea is the most oppressive place in the world for Christians. “Due to ever-present surveillance,” the agency says, “many pray with eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed. Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps.” It’s no wonder that one North Korean Christian lady who escaped continues to pray a simple prayer she learned from her mother: “Lord, Lord, please help!” And the Lord, through agencies such as Open Doors, is answering that prayer, providing Bibles and emergency relief inside the country as well as to fleeing North Korean Christians. They’re not invisible to Him—and now, I hope, not to us, either.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Loud Faith in Irma’s Wake

Sep 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

“Florida Staggers Towards Long Recovery.” That was among the headlines describing the impact Hurricane Irma had on the Sunshine State. Much the same thing has been said about areas afflicted by Hurricane Harvey. Though our national attention has been riveted on South Texas and Florida these past few weeks, soon the television crews will pack up and leave and will take our attention with them. So what will be left—or should we say, who will be left? Only those who are committed to the long, difficult, and mostly anonymous work of helping and rebuilding. In other words, people of faith. And not just a few. The headline of a recent story in USA Today reads “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA.” The paper’s Washington correspondent, Paul Singer, begins by telling readers something they may not know: “If you donate bottles of water, diapers, clothing or any other materials to hurricane victims in Texas or Florida, your donation will likely pass through the hands of the Seventh Day Adventists before it gets to a storm victim.” Who knew? And Singer continues, “the Adventists, over several decades, have established a unique expertise in disaster ‘warehousing,’ collecting, logging, organizing and distributing relief supplies, in cooperation with government disaster response agencies.” As Singer tells readers, “In a disaster, churches don’t just hold bake sales to raise money or collect clothes to send to victims; faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each other’s way.” Singer went on to mention The Convoy of Hope and Samaritan’s Purse, while clarifying that these groups don’t “merely” supplement government relief efforts. In many instances, they are the government response. Not in the sense that their actions are directed by government but, instead, that government recognizes their integral role and seeks to facilitate their actions. Federal agencies such as FEMA and their state counterparts rely on these groups. So much so that, as Singer tell us, FEMA ran interference for Samaritan’s Purse with other agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And there’s a lot more where that came from. According to the CEO of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, an umbrella group, “About 80% of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based.” Let the implications of that number sink in. And yet, as I have told you several times, an increasing percentage of Americans—nearly half—think “that the government could replace religious organizations and the charitable services they offer with no problems and nothing lost.” To see just how wrong this is, we only need to look at South Texas and Florida. But just as important as the efforts offered by people of faith is the reason why they do what they do. The answer of course is, if I may paraphrase Senator Diane Feinstein’s anti-religious questioning of a judicial nominee last week, that the “dogma lives loudly in them.” They believe deeply in God, and that people are made in His image. That God has been very kind and generous to them, and asks of His people, if I might use the summary of all Christian dogma offered by Jesus Christ Himself, that they love God with all they have and love their neighbors as themselves. If such dogma were at the volume that Feinstein and others found more acceptable, i.e., only hearable in the privacy of our own thoughts and houses of worship, well, Florida’s road to recovery would be a lot longer. But thank God that His people are everywhere, and for their deeply held dogmas that drive them to offer their time, their money, their talent and their treasure to those in need around them.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Colson and Kuyper, part 2

Sep 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 2 of John Stonestreet’s lecture at Acton university entitled “Colson and Kuyper,” examining how the theology of Abraham Kuyper influenced Chuck Colson and modern Christian worldview teaching.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Only in the Lord

Sep 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

When the people of Israel entered the Promised Land, they were given many commands from God. One in particular is repeated over and over: “Do not intermarry with [the pagan peoples around you]. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.” God spells out His reason for this command in Deuteronomy 7:3: “They will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods.” This played out tragically in the life of King Solomon, whose pagan wives led him into idolatry, and ultimately contributed to the fracture of the kingdom. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” Paul reiterates in 2 Corinthians. Christian widows, he continues, are free to remarry, but “only in the Lord.” Now why am I talking about all this? Because sex has the power to shape our beliefs, and participating in the romantic and sexual practices of unbelievers can eventually wear down even the strongest faith. And if University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus is right, the pattern that ruined Solomon is repeating itself in the American church today. Regnerus has spent years studying this topic and has just released a new book entitled, “Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy.” Writing in the Washington Post, he summarizes one of his key findings: “Cheap sex…has a way of deadening religious impulses.” In the recent hubbub over millennials leaving the church and identifying as “spiritual but not religious,” Regnerus thinks we haven’t paid enough attention to how secular sexual practices “erode religious belief.” “It’s not science that’s secularizing Americans,” he concludes. “[I]t’s sex.” One of the main problems is that many young Christians aren’t following the rules that Moses and Paul taught. They’re dating extensively outside of the faith, which means they’re susceptible to trends in the wider “mating market.” And arguably the trend that’s most impacted how Americans find love in the 21st century is cohabitation. Regnerus describes the romantic life typical of many Christian young people: “They want love, like everybody else. They couple. Sex often follows, though sometimes after a longer period of time.” The Christian belief in saving sex for marriage erodes away due to the pounding cultural message “As long as we love each other, it’s okay.” Regnerus previously found that ninety percent of American young people will have sex before getting married, including a majority of Christian young people. Compromise here correlates with relaxed standards on other issues. Of Americans who regularly attend religious services, 23 percent say they’re unsure whether living together outside of marriage is immoral; 21 percent say they don’t know what they think of no-strings attached sex. One in four aren’t willing to condemn pornography. In fact, that last trend is especially severe. According to Yale sociologist Justin Farrell, evangelicals under thirty are consistently more permissive of pornography than their parents were. In light of all these numbers, is it any wonder that fewer and fewer young people are tying the knot, and are doing so later and later? Only 56 percent of never-married religious adults say they would prefer to be married. Demographer Steven Ruggles predicts that an unprecedented one in three 20-somethings will never say “I do.” And even more significant, many who don’t marry will cohabit or practice serial monogamy instead, both of which—unsurprisingly—predict a drop-off in church attendance. What emerges from Regnerus’ new research is a strong case that beliefs about God don’t just shape our behavior. Quite often, it’s our behavior shaping our beliefs about God. And as it turns out, that’s especially true of with whom we choose to be yoked.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Dogma of Sens. Feinstein and Franken

Sep 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

On May 8, 2017, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. By any reasonable measure, Barrett is beyond qualified. After graduating with highest honors from Notre Dame Law School, she clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia at the Supreme Court. And a few years later, she returned to Notre Dame. There, she “teaches and researches in the areas of federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation.” She is exactly the kind of person you want serving on the Court of Appeals, if we lived in more reasonable times. As her Notre Dame affiliation suggests, Barrett is a Catholic, which wouldn’t be an issue if she were the kind of Catholic whose faith is so private, as the old joke goes, that she wouldn’t impose it on herself. But she’s the kind of Catholic who lives as if her faith is actually true. At her confirmation hearings, Senator Diane Feinstein, channeling Darth Vader in Star Wars, told Barrett that “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” An example of what Feinstein considers “loudly living dogma” is Barrett’s address to the Law School’s 2006 graduating class. Barrett said that “Your legal career is but a means to an end, and . . . that end is building the kingdom of God. . . . [I]f you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love, and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.” Feinstein and other Democratic senators also pointed to a 1998 article on the death penalty, which the Catholic Church opposes in all but a few, highly improbable, instances. Barrett wrote that “Judges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge. They should, however, conform their own behavior to the Church’s standard. Perhaps their good example will have some effect.” What Barrett had in mind was recusal, which is done to insure impartiality. But to hear Feinstein and others discuss it, you would have thought that Barrett was talking about an auto-da-fé, the burning of heretics. But by far the most ridiculous moment came when senator Al Franken compared Barrett’s speaking before the Alliance Defending Freedom to giving a speech to Pol Pot, the genocidal Cambodian dictator. I am not making this up. Coming on the heels of Bernie Sanders’ mistreatment of Russell Vought, a Wheaton College grad, over his belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father, it’s clear that some Democrats seem intent on imposing a de facto religious test for government office, notwithstanding the Constitution’s explicit prohibition of such a test. Of course, they deny they’re doing any such thing. Instead, in the case of Barrett, they’re recycling one of the oldest prejudices in American life: “The notion that Catholics are so beholden to Rome as to be incapable of rendering independent judgment in public office.” The modern version, as the late Richard John Neuhaus used to say, goes “the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic,” someone who doesn’t live as if his faith were actually true. As Russell Vought learned, the same is also true for Evangelicals. For some people, even the gentlest, most winsome faith is simply beyond the pale.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonesteet: Colson and Kuyper, part 1

Sep 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

Phttp://www.breakpoint.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2017-9-11StonestreetActon1.mp3art 1 of John Stonestreet’s lecture at Acton university entitled “Colson and Kuyper,” examining how the theology of Abraham Kuyper influenced Chuck Colson and modern Christian worldview teaching.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
No Compassion for the Mentally Ill

Sep 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

Canadians, or at least Canadian media elites, seem intent on creating a real-life version of what novelist P.D. James, in her novel “The Children of Men,” called “quietus”: that is, state-sanctioned mass suicide of the those deemed to be a burden to the rest of society. John Stonestreet told you about a recent article in Maclean’s magazine (think Time or Newsweek for our friends north of the border), that asked “Should doctors be paid a premium (for) assisting deaths?” The answer was a resounding “Yes!” Without such a “premium,” what Canada calls “medical assistance in dying,” “will exist in theory only, and not in practice.” That was just the beginning for Maclean’s. The August 15, 2017 issue told the story of a palliative care doctor who decided that, in addition to providing end-of-life care to dying patients, he would assist them with the actual dying. Not surprisingly, the story was wrapped in gauzy haze that made everyone involved appear noble beyond words: think noted humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, instead of Jack Kevorkian. There was no hint of where this ersatz brand of “compassion” could lead. For that, you only had to look back a few months in the magazine’s archives. A few months earlier, an article in the magazine argued that, although “It may make some people understandably uncomfortable… extending the right to assisted dying to the mentally ill is a compassionate solution.” I told you about the move to extend the so-called “right to die” to mentally ill people back in May. I told you back then that it was a terrible idea, and now that I’ve seen the rationale fully set forth, I’m looking for a word that’s stronger than “terrible.” The piece was written by Daniel Munro of the Conference Board of Canada whose stated goal is to—and I’m not making this up—build “a better future for Canadians by making our economy and society more dynamic and competitive.” According to Munro, it’s “not clear why” the principle that justifies euthanasia for the terminally ill “should apply any less to people with mental illness.” That “principle” isn’t compassion, which comes from the Latin for “to suffer with.” No, the principle Munro and others cite is autonomy—“allowing individuals to choose the time and manner of their deaths, just as we allow people to choose how they will lead their lives.” The New Testament Greek word for compassion is “splagchnizomai.” It means being moved in our guts, our bowels, in response to the suffering of others. But today, according to Macleans anyway, compassion means being careful not to violate someone’s autonomy. This enshrinement of autonomy goes a long way toward explaining why the “right to die” will not and cannot be limited to the terminally ill. If you begin with the assumption that people have a right to live and die as they please, then there’s no good reason to limit lethal medical assistance to only one group of suffering people. So we need to remember, as I told you in my earlier broadcast, that when a mentally-ill person says “please let me die,” you can never be certain whether it’s the person speaking or the mental illness speaking. What matters to Macleans is not interfering with how a person chooses to end their life. And that, my friends, is the exact opposite of a Christian worldview. In James’ novel, state-sanctioned quietus was the product of a society literally without a future. In Canada’s case, it’s being championed by people who claim to be working for a better future. Whatever the setting, compassion is the last thing we should call it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: Ill Winds--Hurricanes and Senatorial Bigotry

Sep 8, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the outrageous anti-Christian bigotry on display in the Senate Judiciary Committee, thanks to Senators Al Franken and Diane Feinstein's attacks on judicial nominee (and practicing Roman Catholic) Amy Coney Barrett.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Human Sexuality and the Spirit of the Age

Sep 8, 2017 - 00:00:00

More than 125 years ago, The Chautauquan, a scientific journal, first posed a question that we’re all familiar with: “If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings, would there be any sound?” People have debated the answer to that question ever since. Today I want to raise a different question: If a group puts out a statement on an important subject and very few people take notice, and those who do are all virtually disagreeing, was anything really said? Usually, the answer is “no.” But in the case of a recent statement, the opportunities for teaching and clarification are enough to warrant an exception. The statement was put out by a group calling itself “Christians United in Support of LGBT+ Inclusion in the Church.” The statement’s animating conviction is that “A new day is dawning in the Church, and all Christians are being called to step out boldly and unapologetically in affirmation and celebration of our LGBT+ siblings as equal participants in the Kingdom of God.” What follows are a series of affirmations and denials. What’s being affirmed is the new sexual orthodoxy expressed in theological language that’s completely untethered from either Scripture or two millennia of Christian teaching. Not surprisingly then, what’s being denied is the teaching of Scripture, tradition, and even nature itself. This denial is present in the very name of the group—specifically, the term “LGBT+, which prompts an obvious question “Plus what?” The polyamorous? What about the “Otherkin,” people “who socially and spiritually identify as partially or entirely non-human?” The “+” is a reminder that, to a large extent, the selling of the new sexual orthodoxy from the very beginning has been a case of “bait and switch.” Americans, including many Christians, have been swayed by sentiments such as “you can’t help who you love,” and Lady Gaga’s “born this way.” What they don’t understand is that this was only the tip of an ideological iceberg whose goal was about a lot more than “civil rights, tolerance,” or even “legitimacy.” It was, as a 1993 (!) cover story in the Nation put it, the possibility of “changing America forever” by “altering the way we all live, form families . . . and understand the very meaning of identity.” Remember that scene in Star Wars where Han Solo is told that the reward for returning Leia and Luke to the Rebel Alliance would be “more than you can imagine.” He replied, “I don’t know. I can imagine quite a lot.” In a world where “the very meaning of identity” is up for grabs, what the statement calls the “wide spectrum of unique sexualities and gender identities” seems limitless. Lately, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that for Christians, biblically-shaped Christian teaching about human sexuality, and therefore identity, isn’t something we can agree to disagree on. The Bible and two thousand years of Christian tradition are unequivocal on this matter. In 1 Thessalonians 4, for example, the Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians, “This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God.” He adds “Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who [also] gives his holy Spirit to you.” First Thessalonians is widely regarded as the oldest book in the New Testament. From the start, traditional Christian teaching on sexual ethics has been a part of the apostolic proclamation. People who disregard this teaching are not, as the statement insists, following the “calling” of the Holy Spirit to “return to the Scriptures and our traditions.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’re abandoning the Scriptures and tradition altogether, at the prompting of a very different spirit, the spirit of the age. An age in which truth and even reality itself is up for grabs.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Importance of Good News

Sep 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

It’s been a summer of rough news for America. Racism, riots, and political violence. Communities on the Gulf Coast continue wading through the devastation of hurricane Harvey, and now another storm is bearing down on Florida. We have plenty of reasons to be praying and doing all we can to alleviate suffering. There’s cause for grief about the news—but not for pessimism. Writing at The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman suggests that despite a dragging civil war in Syria, heart-rending photos of drowned refugees, North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling, disasters, terrorist attacks, and racial violence, the world is objectively better now than it’s ever been. Hard to believe? Well, here are the facts: Swedish historian Mark Norberg breaks down global indicators of human flourishing into nine categories: food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the state of the environment, literacy, freedom, equality, and the conditions of childhood. And in nearly all of these categories, we’ve seen vast improvement in my lifetime. Despite the fact that nine out of ten Americans say worldwide poverty is holding steady or worsening, the percentage of people on this planet who live on less than two dollars a day—what the United Nation’s defines as “extreme poverty”—has fallen below ten percent, which is the lowest it’s ever been. The scourge of child mortality is also at a record low. Fifty percent fewer children under five die today than did thirty years ago. Worldwide, 300,000 more people gain access to electricity every day. In 1900, global life expectancy was just 31 years. Today, it’s an impressive 71 years. And violent crime rates in the United States are the lowest they’ve been in half a century. Nicholas Kristof wasn’t too far afield when he called 2016 “the best year in the history of humanity.” This year may see even more progress. So why do these cheery pronouncements strike us as inaccurate—even outrageous? Why—according to a recent poll by YouGov—do a vanishingly small six percent of Americans think the world as a whole is becoming a better place? Burkeman lays much of the blame on the press. Thanks to a 24-hour news cycle that actively seeks out and overplays the worst stories, our perception of the world is skewed. “We are not merely ignorant of the facts,” he writes. “We are actively convinced of depressing ‘facts’ that aren’t true.” And no wonder! It’s hard to sell papers and get Web traffic with good news. No one reports when a plane take off. They only report when they crash. But a great deal of the blame for our unjustifiably gloomy view of the world also falls on our shoulders. Quite simply, we often enjoy being angry about the state of the world, especially when it allows us to blame someone else. We are addicted to news-induced anger. That’s why it’s so important—while acknowledging the desperate evil and suffering around us—to appreciate the good news, the progress, and the things we have to celebrate. After all, how can we truly comprehend what’s wrong with the world if we don’t recognize when something is going right? War, famine, disease, and hatred should all remind us that God’s world, which He created and pronounced “very good,” is broken, and it’s our fault. But here’s the real comfort: It’s still—as the hymn says—our Father’s world. Let us therefore never forget that “though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the ruler yet.” As Christians, we know where history is headed, and we know how the story ends—with the redemption and restoration of all things. We who have the good news should be the first to recognize all good news, not in spite of, but in the midst of the bad.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Special Interview with Michael Cromartie (part 2)

Sep 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

part 2 of Warren Cole Smith’s 2015 interview with Michael Cromartie. Today Michael tells us about his early years working for his mentor Chuck Colson and how that experience shaped his Christian journey.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Antifa vs Free Speech

Sep 6, 2017 - 00:00:00

Protesting is as American as apple pie. But if you’re wearing a ski mask and holding a baseball bat, protester isn’t the right word for you. America’s founders believed that freedom of speech, the ability to express political and religious opinions, even unpopular ones, is central to self-government. Of course, this freedom, like all freedoms, has limits, particularly when it comes to putting others in actual danger. We can’t shout, “Fire!” for example, in a crowded theatre. However, an emerging group of radicals on the left has embraced a new belief: that just about any ideas, other than theirs, are not only wrong, but dangerous. And so instead of arguing or debating, they’ve committed to shut down expression by, and I quote, “any means necessary.” We saw this on full display two weekends ago in Berkeley, where so called “anti-fascist protesters” clad in black and wielding baseball bats and homemade riot shields attacked members of a cancelled right-wing rally. “Antifa,” as these anarchists and leftists call themselves, reportedly broke through police lines and soon turned things violent. Video shows vigilantes in ski masks and hoodies chasing down and pummeling Trump supporters with signs that read, “No hate.” The irony, evidently, was lost on them. In the end, police intervened with tear gas and made fourteen arrests. “There is a complete mob mentality here,” James Queally of the LA Times summarized. “People are…accusing random people of being Nazis.” And therein lies the problem. Because although Antifa members style themselves as a citizen resistance movement against fascists, there’s no evidence there were any actual fascists at Berkeley. At least not of the right-wing variety. The only way to understand this behavior is to realize that, despite their names, Antifa is not just driven by their opposition to fascism. What they consider to be fascism is fully informed by their far-left worldview, and their embrace of far-left ideologies like socialism, communism, and anarchy—ideologies which tend to see their opponents not only as wrong, but as obstacles to a utopian fantasy that must be removed. The Berkeley blowup was just the latest in a long string of riots with Antifa at their center. During the inauguration in January, 230 so-called “protesters” were arrested for smashing windows and starting fires. In February at Berkeley, Antifa demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails to halt a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos. The same month, the Portland city council was forced to shut down a public forum after Antifa threatened violence. In March, conservative political scientist Charles Murray was manhandled at Middlebury College, and more recently, Antifa members trying to disrupt a free speech rally in Boston, threw urine-filled projectiles at police. The Department of Homeland Security, in fact, has designated Antifa’s actions as “domestic terrorist activities” and has warned that more Antifa violence is on the way. But until this second riot at Berkeley, the mainstream media have mostly refused to condemn Antifa’s violence, with some even comparing them to the allied troops storming the beaches at Normandy. But as David French points out at National Review, unlike Charlottesville, there weren’t any Nazis in California, Oregon, Massachusetts, or Washington, D.C., and still Antifa led with violence. Thankfully, the latest dustup in Berkeley appears to have awakened some common sense. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called Antifa out for “using violence to shut down free speech.” Slate and Vox also put the blame for the Berkeley riot on Antifa. And the editorial board of the Washington Post unequivocally condemned left-wing thugs and called for a renewal of “democratic norms and the rule of law.” Despite my opinions about MSNBC, Slate, and the Washington Post as news sources, this is a step in the right direction. People of good will on both sides must agree that the right to peacefully assemble, debate and even protest is a foundation of our Republic. And if left and right don’t speak out against political violence while we still can, the price of speech will become higher than any of us can afford to pay.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Michael Cromartie (1950-2017)

Sep 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

After a brave battle with cancer, Michael Cromartie went home to be with the Lord last week, a loss that all of us here at the Colson Center felt keenly. Cromartie was a leader who set an example of Christian faith in the public square for the rest of us to follow. He was a vice-president at the Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. He directed the Evangelicals in Civic Life program, and the Faith Angle Forum. And, he was a member and, eventually, chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom during the George W. Bush administration. Plenty of people who have impressive resumes like that are rarely cited as examples for the rest of us to follow. However, I cite Michael without hesitation, because of the way that he lived at the intersections of faith, culture, and politics. He was rightly called an “Apostle to the Fourth Estate,” meaning, the media. In a moving appreciation of Cromartie, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker noted how he “felt strongly that the public’s perception of journalists as unfriendly toward religion and especially evangelical Christians… was a reflection of the media’s lack of exposure to and understanding of America’s faithful rather than willful animus.” Case in point: In the late 1990s, while the Southern Baptist Convention was debating the relationship between men and women, a New York Times reporter called Cromartie for an explanation of what was going on. When he pointed to Ephesians 5, the reporter interrupted him, “‘Who’s the author of that? Who wrote it? Who published it?’” As Cromartie told Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, “I realized I’d have to start at the beginning.” And that’s what he did. The result was the “Faith Angle Forum,” whose goal is to “strengthen reporting and commentary on how religious believers, religious convictions, and religiously grounded moral arguments affect American politics and public life.” Of course, this is far easier said than done, and how Cromartie pulled it off is yet another example of his worth following. For starters, the Forum’s events were held “miles removed from Washington’s ideological battlefields.” Second, according to the Christian Post, he created “a space in which you could share and listen in an atmosphere of mutual respect,” where you could “disagree without being disagreeable.” And he understood that knowing about Christians and Christianity was impossible if you don’t actually know any flesh-and-blood Christians, as opposed to those outliers and caricatures you read about in the media. So socializing played as important a role as lectures and formal discussions. Of course, this only helps if those flesh-and-blood Christians are the kind of people worth knowing. As the Christian Post put it, Cromartie, “along with his mentor Chuck Colson,” modeled a “political style that was thoughtful and winsome . . . building bridges with an eye toward the public good, rather than an accumulation of political power.” None of this is possible, of course, without confidence in the truth of Christianity, a confidence that Abraham Kuyper was correct when he said that every square inch of creation was under Christ’s sovereign rule. Michael Cromartie had that confidence, in his work, in his life, and in his battle with cancer. And so should we, even in the midst of cultural chaos. Ultimately, that the restoration of all things is God’s work, not ours. We cooperate, but it’s still His work. So we have no need to worry, or fret, or to be angry when things don’t go as we would like. Including in the untimely passing of someone as important to that work as Michael Cromartie.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Special Interview with Michael Cromartie

Sep 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

Last week a true Christian giant went home to the Lord: Michael Cromartie—a man of deep faith, great love, and a true bridge between the Christian world and the secular media. In memory of Michael, today we present part 1 of Warren Cole Smith’s 2015 interview with him about his work to familiarize the media with Christianity and Christians—especially evangelical Christians.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Happy Labor Day!

Sep 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

Happy Labor Day! As you enjoy your day off from work, let’s hear what Chuck Colson had to think about the dignity of work. Eric Metaxas: Do we work to live, or live to work? I’d imagine that most of us would say we work to live: to pay the bills and support ourselves and our families. Many of us would admit that we work for the weekend—so we can do the things we really like to do, like take vacations, enjoy our hobbies and spend time with friends and family. But I can almost hear Chuck Colson saying, “Hold on a minute, work is a gift from God.” For Chuck Colson work was as much a part of life as breathing. From the Marine Corps to his law practice, from Capitol Hill to the Nixon White House, and especially ministering in the prisons and teaching Christian worldview, Chuck was a tireless, passionate worker for God and the causes he believed in so deeply. In fact, although he was a few decades older than most of us on his staff, there were times we simply couldn’t keep up. This was a man, after all, who would show up at the office after the weekend and say, “Thank God it’s Monday!” And long after many men his age had retired, Chuck vowed he would work til the day he died. And for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what he did. So this Labor Day, I thought it would be good to hear from Chuck on his view of work itself. Here he is now, from a BreakPoint commentary called “Working Class Heroes,” which aired back in 2002. Chuck: I for one am happy to join the celebration of working-class heroes, especially today. Christians have a special reason to celebrate Labor Day, which honors the fundamental dignity of workers, for we worship a God Who labored to make the world, and Who created human beings in His image to be workers. When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them work to do: cultivating and caring for the earth. In the ancient world, the Greeks and Romans looked upon manual work as a curse, something for lower classes and slaves. But Christianity changed all that. Christians viewed work as a high calling, a calling to be co-workers with God in unfolding the rich potential of His creation. This high view of work can be traced throughout the history of the Church. In the Middle Ages, the guild movement grew out of the Church. It set standards for good workmanship and encouraged members to take satisfaction in the results of their labor. The guilds became the forerunner of the modern labor movement. Later, during the Reformation, Martin Luther preached that all work should be done to the glory of God. Whether ministering the gospel or scrubbing floors, any honest work is pleasing to the Lord. And out of this conviction grew the Protestant work ethic. Christians were also active on behalf of workers in the early days of the industrial revolution, when factories were “dark satanic mills,” to borrow a phrase from Sir William Blake. Work in factories and coal mines in those days was hard and dangerous. Children were practically slaves, sometimes even chained to the machines. Then John Wesley came preaching and teaching the gospel throughout England. He came not to the upper classes, but to the laboring classes—to men whose faces were black with coal dust and women whose dresses were patched and faded. John Wesley preached to them, and in the process, he pricked the conscience of the whole nation. Two of Wesley’s disciples, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury, were inspired to work for legislation that would clean up abuses in the workplace. At their urging, the British parliament passed child-labor laws, safety laws, and minimum-wage laws. Here in America we’ve lost the Christian connection with the labor movement. But in many countries that tradition still remains. But this Labor Day, remember that all labor derives its true dignity as a reflection of the Creator. And that whatever we do, in word or deed, we should do all to the glory of God. Eric: It’s always great to hear from Chuck. Now before I leave you today I want to ask you to please pray for the residents of Houston. And do what you can to support Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse that are providing aid and relief. Happy Labor Day: Work as a Reflection of the Creator Enjoy your Labor Day, and enjoy your labor since, as Chuck has reminded us, work is a gift from God. Honest work and good workmanship bring dignity to our lives, glory to God, and reflect our Creator.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: The Church and Hurricane Harvey

Sep 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the response of faith based organizations to the devastation wrought by Harvey. Plus, the death of Christian leader Michael Cromartie and the celebration of Labor Day.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Reliability of Scripture

Aug 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

What do a Greek-speaking Egyptian rebel and an ancient king of the Nabateans have in common? They both point to the reliability of the Bible. One of the most popular topics we cover at BreakPoint is the way that archaeology and related disciplines are continually confirming the biblical narrative. It’s easy to see why so many Christians respond to this topic: unlike other faiths, Christianity is rooted in real human history. It tells the story of God’s actions in the same world that you and I occupy, as opposed to some mythical “once upon a time.” The only problem, at least from my perspective, is that it’s nearly always Eric Metaxas telling you on BreakPoint the good news about archaeology and the Bible. He loves those stories. But so do I, and so today, it’s my turn. The September/October issue of Biblical Archaeology Review presents the latest entry in a series of articles listing biblical figures whose existence have been confirmed in extra-biblical historical sources and/or archaeology. The editors of BAR have told the author, Lawrence Mykytiuk of Purdue University, that his previous entries are among the most popular articles ever published in the magazine, whose readership is a combination of scholars and very well-read laymen. In his last entry, Mykytiuk focuses on political figures named in the New Testament. Some of them, like the four Roman emperors named in the New Testament, are obviously well-attested. Something similar can be said about the plague of the Herodians that feature prominently in the Gospels and the book of Acts. But the New Testament writers don’t stop at the obvious. They, especially Luke and Paul, provide details that only someone who lived through the events or spoke to an eye-witness could provide. One confirmed example is found in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul tells the Corinthians that “At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me.” Aretas, “a contemporary of Herod Antipas,” was a real person whose existence has been documented by both extra-biblical sources and archaeology. Coins and other artifacts bearing his name have been found from what’s now Jordan to Italy. What we know of his life and reign outside of the Bible argues for the historicity of Paul’s account. A more obscure example is found in Acts 21. Paul has returned to Jerusalem, where he knows that imprisonment and possibly death await him. He is attacked by a mob at the Temple and only survives because he is rescued by Roman soldiers. The commander, upon hearing Paul speak Greek, says “Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied that no, he was a Jew from Tarsus, which he called “no mean city.” This exchange was a reference to a rebellion chronicled by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. There was an Egyptian, who would have spoken Greek, who lead a violent uprising involving thousands of men in the wilderness at around the same time as the events in Acts. While the Romans put down the insurrection, the Egyptian escaped and was believed to be in or near Jerusalem. Thus, what Luke records in Acts is exactly the kind of exchange that would have taken place at that time between Roman troops and suspicious Greek-speaking strangers. These are just two examples of many, written in both parchments and in the very ground of the Holy Land, that attest to the reliability of Scripture and the historical nature of Christian revelation. You see, instead of being myths and fables or even disembodied ideals, Christian proclamation is about, as 1 John says, that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched . . .” So it shouldn’t surprise us that the list of biblical figures and places confirmed by archaeologists and other scholars continues to grow. It’s exactly what we should expect—and I’m happy to be the one who reminds us this time.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Guinness and Manning: Interviews from the Western Conservative Summit

Aug 30, 2017 - 00:00:00

Two interviews by Warren Cole Smith recorded at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver. First is author Os Guinness talking about the roots of freedom and constitutionalism in the Old Testament covenant. In his second interview, Warren talks with Hadley Manning of the Independent Women’s Forum about women in the workplace, equal pay, and family leave.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Altering Images, Altering Speech, Altering the Imago Dei

Aug 30, 2017 - 00:00:00

What outrages and worries us says a lot about us, and our worldview. It says a lot about the media also. Most of us are familiar with Photoshop, a program that enables users to edit photographs in such a way that the average person cannot tell what the camera originally captured as opposed to the digitally-created lie that results from our editing. Image editing is so common these days, from air brushing to full-on altering, that the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is no longer as true as it once was. And it’s not just still images, of course. Through video editing, we can be made to believe in amazing trick shots with basketballs and Frisbees that—spoiler alert—never happened. Now, as the public radio podcast RadioLab recently told listeners, new technologies promise—or, “threaten” may be a better word—to do for the spoken word what’s been done to the image. The technologies vary, but the results are that with various degrees of success, a person can appear to say almost anything. Some of these technologies can even use existing sound clips to create entirely new statements and speeches that were never given. Some of these technologies are so convincing that they’re prompting the adoption of digital “watermarks” that will enable listeners to tell whether what they heard was real or fake. The most ambitious of these technologies don’t stop at audio: their goal is to literally put their words into someone’s else’s mouth, using video editing to project non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, onto other people’s faces. So, a company in China hoping to use Jennifer Anniston to promote their product, could use this technology to make it appear as if she’s speaking Mandarin, even though she can’t. In our age of “fake news,” one can quickly imagine the potential geo-political and cultural chaos that this technology could quickly create if the wrong words were put in the wrong mouths. Even in light of this danger, I was struck by the tone of this RadioLab podcast, especially when the reporter asked the creators of this technology if they felt “no responsibility as to how people might use this? Especially in a day of fake news?” What struck me wasn’t his concern. That’s justified. But the failure to put other technological advances, and their creators, under the same sort of scrutiny. When RadioLab reported a few months ago on the gene-editing technology known as CRSPR, they weren’t freaked out at all. Instead, they acknowledged the potential for abuse while at the same time downplaying the problem. The message seemed to be “it makes us cringe at first, but that ship has already sailed.” They told the audience “things are happening very fast,” and talked about potential cures. And, by “potential” they meant the results of lab mice with muscular dystrophy who weren’t exactly cured but at least seemed to get stronger. Not once in the entire podcast was a gene-editing scientist asked if they felt responsibility for the potential abuse of what the former Director of National Intelligence once called a possible “weapon of mass destruction.” The selective worry between these two broadcasts was remarkable to me. As it turns out, what we worry about says a lot about our worldview. A technology that threatens the media’s control of the cultural stories warrants handwringing. A technology that strikes at the sanctity of humanity merits an “Oh well, you know, progress…” In Matthew 23, Jesus called his opponents “blind guides” because they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” In other words, they were concerned about lesser matters but disregarded the weightier ones. That pretty much sums it up. People have conniptions about transient or even trivial matters but gloss over and even embrace real threats to human life and flourishing. All of which goes to show that there’s no substitute for discernment, and there’s no discernment without a proper worldview. Without it, we’ll be swallowing some pretty nasty stuff.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Biblical Case against Racism

Aug 29, 2017 - 00:00:00

We’re called to speak the good news into every area of human life, including the dark corners of racism. Despite the tremendous strides America has made in pursuing racial reconciliation and equality in recent decades, once again overt racism has reared its ugly head. This is a stain on our nation’s character and an obscenity in God’s world—therefore we Christians must redouble our efforts to speak His truth about race. While some have twisted the Scriptures on this issue, particularly in the time surrounding the Civil War, here is a biblical case against racism. Right at creation, Genesis chapter one states that we are all created in God’s image. As Paul told the philosophers in Athens, “And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth. . .” When you get right down to it, there really is only one race—it’s called the human race. In that sense, we’re all brothers, equal in dignity and intrinsic value. From God’s plan of redemption, we see that all human beings, though created in His image, “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The good news is that, as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Just as we’re all equally shattered vessels, we are all equally candidates for the Lord’s mercy and grace. Indeed, despite our outward differences, the Church is to be a spiritual and visual display of our essential unity in Christ. Let’s not forget that the early church was multiethnic, with Jews and Gentiles. Just take a look at the list of those present at Pentecost in Acts 2! Remember that Africans such as Simon and Lucius of Cyrene, and the Ethiopian eunuch, played prominent roles in the body. And as Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That’s no accident. God’s unshakeable and irresistible goal is for people of every tongue, tribe, and nation to worship His Son, Jesus Christ. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” That verse alone ought to be the death knell of racism! God is glorified when people of all races worship His Son. It is a picture of the coming heavenly kingdom that we can glimpse right now. From church history, we see a growing recognition that the universal human dignity taught by a Christian worldview is totally incompatible with slavery. Historian Rodney Stark has documented a long history of anti-slavery sentiment in the Church from the seventh century onward, culminating in Papal bulls against slavery and the slave trade in the 1400s and 1500s. Now of course we all know of the monstrous evil of race-based slavery, which grew like a cancer in the West. Greed, prejudice, and misguided interpretations of the Bible paved the way for many Christians to join in, or just to look the other way. What a shame. But the redoubtable William Wilberforce led the movement to abolish the slave trade across the British Empire. Christian abolitionists in the United States bravely made the case against racism and slavery, although the latter was settled only by civil war. In more recent times, others—Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement; Jackie Robinson, who took the heat in professional sports; Billy Graham, who integrated his crusades; and Rosa Parks, who refused to go to the back of the bus—all these heroes and more condemned and fought against racism in word and deed. Sadly but clearly, that task is not over. Especially for the Church.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ken Turner: How Not to Read the Bible

Aug 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

Warren Cole Smith’s interview with Biblical scholar Dr. Ken Turner of Toccoa Falls College about how NOT to read the Bible.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jack Phillips and the Freedom to Be Christian

Aug 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

We were told the new sexual orthodoxy wouldn’t impact anyone who didn’t want to endorse it. Well, that was false. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who declined to design a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding reception. To understand this case in the midst of all of the misreporting and, shall I say it, fake news, please read Ryan Anderson’s recent article on the topic in National Review. Anderson noted that the Court announced its decision to hear Phillips’ case on the second anniversary of its decision in Obergefell, which made so-called same-sex “marriage” the law of the land. While the timing of the announcement may have been serendipitous, the connection between the cases isn’t. In his dissent in Obergefell, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the decision “creates serious questions about religious liberty.” Even before the Chief Justice wrote those words, the clash between religious liberty and the new sexual orthodoxy, including, but not limited to, LGBT rights, was well underway, and Phillips was among the earliest examples. Why this clash? Well, as Anderson tells readers, “liberal advocacy groups [have] decided that civil liberties aren’t for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution.” Twenty-five years ago, the ACLU played a role in securing the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Today, the same ACLU opposed the application of that Act to the Little Sisters of the Poor in their battle against the HHS contraceptive mandate. And the current threat to religious liberty and freedom of conscience isn’t limited to the usual suspects such as government or the ACLU. As Anderson reminds us, “As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents.” For instance, Anderson describes, “The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to ‘discriminate’ on the ‘basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,’ including in ‘social activities,’ which . . . would include ‘church membership and worship activities.’” At the heart of this challenge to religious freedom is what Anderson calls “the never-ending expansion of anti-discrimination statutes. What started out as well-justified efforts to combat racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism have morphed into laws protecting against the [harm to dignity] allegedly inflicted by anyone who disagrees with progressives about human sexuality.” This alleged “harm to dignity” is the rationale behind Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack Phillips, whose “offense” was that he was unwilling to completely affirm the current sexual orthodoxy, a refusal that somehow “diminished” someone. This is of course silly, and underscores Anderson’s argument that “Ultimately, our goal should be to convince our neighbors that what we believe about sex is true,” and, “In the meantime we need to convince them that what we believe is at least reasonable and poses no harm to others.” Part of that convincing includes standing up for everyone’s religious liberty, not just our own. “Provided they don’t harm the common good, violate human rights, or otherwise offend justice,” Anderson writes, “Muslims should be free to be authentically Muslim, just as Jews should be free to be authentically Jewish and Christians should be free to be authentically Christian.” A lot is at stake in this Phillips case. But the battle for religious freedom isn’t limited to the courts. It’s also being waged, as Chuck Colson liked to say, over the backyard fence and in the public square. We’ll have much more to say about the case of Jack Phillips. In the meantime, please, come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary for a link to Ryan Anderson’s excellent article. And be sure to share it with folks you know.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: Eliminating Down Syndrome . . . Or Down Syndrome Babies?

Aug 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the CBS News story that Iceland has all but eliminated Down Syndrome. More accurate would be to say that Iceland has eliminated in utero virtually every child with Down Syndrome. John and Ed also discuss CNN's uses of the Southern Poverty Law Center's "hate group" map and the California school that

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Psychiatrist Who Opposed the Transgender Movement

Aug 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

John Stonestreet: Two months ago, I introduced you to a leading psychiatrist who opposes the transgender movement. Chuck Colson told us about him 12 years ago. Stay tuned to BreakPoint. Back in June I told you about renowned psychiatrist Paul McHugh. He’s won numerous international awards for his work, but he’s recently been labelled a hack by the transgender movement. Why? Because he once banned sex reassignment surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He’s also publicized a study that shows a suicide rate 20 times higher than the general population for those who have undergone such surgery. And another that showed that up to 80 percent of children with transgender feelings simply outgrow them. Well, Chuck told us about Dr. McHugh years ago on BreakPoint. Here’s Chuck. Chuck Colson: You see them at night in big cities: men dressed up as women, complete with makeup, jewelry, and high heels. Despite their best efforts, it’s not a pretty sight. Nor is the sight of men who take a more drastic step: undergoing so-called sex-re-assignment surgery. When these surgeries were first performed at Johns Hopkins University in the early seventies, one psychiatrist—Paul McHugh—started asking questions about the wisdom of this. After all, the outcomes were not women, but grotesque caricatures of them. When McHugh became psychiatrist-in-chief in 1975, he decided to test the claim that men who underwent sex-change surgery were psychologically better off. He also wanted to study the outcomes of sex-reassignment surgeries performed on baby boys with ambiguous genitals. So McHugh encouraged the research of a colleague, psychiatrist Jon Meyer, who was following up men who received sex-change operations. Meyer found that most of the patients he located did not regret their surgery. But in every other respect, McHugh writes, “they were little changed in their psychological condition. They had much the same problems with relationships, work, and emotions as before [the surgery].” “I concluded,” he wrote, “that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.” Wouldn’t it be better, he thought, to concentrate on fixing their minds instead of taking the far more drastic step of re-arranging their genitals? Thanks to the research of Meyer and others, it became possible to do just that—to make sense of the mental disorders that were driving the request for the surgeries. McHugh then turned to the practice of sex-reassignment surgery for baby boys with ambiguous genitals. For years doctors had told parents that their child’s sexual identity would conform to environmental conditioning: They would happily grow up as girls. But a study found exactly the opposite. These re-engineered boys endured “prolonged distress and misery.” When they discovered their true genetic heritage, most of them began to live as males. Given that there’s no evidence that sex reassignment surgery helps either adults or children, why did doctors recommend it in the first place? The answer is that psychiatrists were enamored of the feminist theory that sexual identity was determined, not by biology, but by cultural conditioning. Psychiatrists went along with this despite the fact that animal research had long shown that male sexual behavior is directly derived from exposure to testosterone in utero. And so today, the transgendered movement is firmly protected by rigid codes of political correctness. You’re a bigot if you say that a person is made a certain way and can’t change his gender. Well, thanks to this research Johns Hopkins no longer performs sex-reassignment surgeries. But trendy ideologies are being used to argue for a host of feminist causes—like women in combat. When you hear them, tell people about the psychiatrist who took on the ideologies and proved gender isn’t a preference or a choice. These psychiatrists found out indeed that human nature can’t be manipulated, that the Bible was right all along—we are made, male and female, in His image. Editor’s note: This commentary first aired on June 5, 2005. Johns Hopkins University has recently, and tragically, resumed sex-reassignment surgeries.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Light of William Wilberforce

Aug 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

In dark times like this, it’s great to celebrate the birthday of a man who brought the light of Christ into his world. I want to re-acquaint you with him. Back when I was a lad, a certain breakfast cereal company attempted to stir up enthusiasm for its corn flakes by stating, “Taste them again for the first time.” Well, in this time of cultural darkness and tumult, I’d like for you to reacquaint yourself with my personal hero—a man whose faith and persistence are sorely needed today, whose 258th birthday we celebrate today. Can you guess? I wrote a book about him called “Amazing Grace”. Yes, you got it, it’s the English parliamentarian William Wilberforce, a true giant of the faith, who lived from 1759 to 1833. After his dramatic conversion to Jesus in 1785, Wilberforce made two consequential decisions that changed the world—actually, make that three: first, stay in politics, at a time when the conventional wisdom held that politics was too dirty a business for Christians; and second and third, work for the abolition of the slave trade in Britain and for what he called “the reformation of manners” in a society that was scraping bottom morally. So, how bad was it? Well, besides the dehumanizing brutality of the slave trade, British society in the late 1700s and early 1800s was reeling from rampant alcoholism, horrible child labor abuses, prostitution, and even mistreatment of animals through “pastimes” such as bear-baiting. So if you think today’s American degradation sets some kind of record, look at the pre-Victorian era in England again for the first time. Wilberforce had his work cut out for him—and, work he did. Tirelessly. As another one of my heroes, Chuck Colson, said, “He could not stand idly by and see the imago Dei of each person, the image of God, abused. His fiercely unpopular crusade against the slave trade ravaged his health and cost him politically. He endured verbal assaults and was even challenged to a duel by an angry slave-ship captain.” But Wilberforce didn’t stop there. He fought for prison reform and founded or supported over 60 charities. Did you know, by the way, that he founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? And he championed the British and Foreign Bible Society. I think it’s patently obvious that Western culture needs men and women like William Wilberforce, whose faith was translated into persistent action. Certainly we need to be reminded that all of us, no matter our race or religion, are equal in dignity, and that racism and other forms of bigotry are an obscenity in God’s world. Wilberforce never wavered on this point and was a brave and sometimes lonely voice that fought against the spiral of silence in a corrupted culture. Yes, Wilberforce was a fighter, but he had the faith to fight differently. He even treated his enemies with decency and respect. And he often worked with those who disagreed with him on other issues. For him, politics wasn’t simply about “winning.” It was about seeing what others could not see and standing up for the glory of God and the good of his neighbors—even those who were bound in chains and carried away from home in the dank bowels of a slave ship. William Wilberforce, though born 258 years ago today, remains a man for our time: a time when racism slithers back into our national discourse, political polarization takes over, and when the culture seems headed for the abyss. While we can’t bring Wilberforce back, we can celebrate and emulate him. To help you look at this model Christian statesman again for the first time, may I suggest you read my book “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.” You can get more information at our online book store at BreakPoint.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Does Marriage Matter?

Aug 23, 2017 - 00:00:00

John Stonestreet addresses students at Summit Ministries on the topic of marriage: God's plan for it, the societal and personal benefits of marriage, and the holy task of raising children.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Iceland ‘Close to Eradicating Down Syndrome Births’

Aug 23, 2017 - 00:00:00

One Scandinavian country’s treatment of the vulnerable is a barometer for where the rest of the world is headed. While the nation was cringing last week and every media outlet buzzing about the neo-Nazi imagery from Charlottesville, another story reminiscent of the Third Reich emerged from, of all places, Iceland. CBS tweeted out the story with the tagline: “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.” “With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States,” read the report, “the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” More than a few people found the tone of the article and its headline…celebratory. Among them was actress Patricia Heaton, whom you may remember as Deborah from “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Heaton blasted CBS for the headline and the story, pointing out that “Iceland isn’t actually eliminating Down syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.” Amen. Of course, as CBS goes on to admit, “Many people born with Down syndrome can live full, healthy lives, with an average lifespan of around 60 years.” That’s not the half of it, actually. Research published in 2011 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found that 99 percent of individuals with Down syndrome report being happy, 94 percent of their siblings express pride in their brother or sister with Down syndrome, and just 4 percent of parents regretted their decision to keep their child. This is important for one simple reason: The entire argument for aborting children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is based on quality of life. It’s not a medical concern. Such children, goes the argument, are an unwelcome burden on their parents or on society, and in the end, will live unhappy lives. So, “it will be better for them,” we are told. But if you or a friend has someone with Down syndrome in the family, you know nothing could be further from the truth! Those with “Downs” are often the most joyful and loving people you meet. Even more horrifying, Iceland is a small country, but other larger nations aren’t lagging far behind in this eugenics experiment. In Denmark, 98 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are killed. In France, it’s 77 percent. And in the U. S. it’s a shameful 67 percent. When asked why such high percentages of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, Icelandic geneticist Kari Stefansson admitted it wasn’t for medical reasons. Rather, it’s due to “heavy-handed genetic counseling,” or pressure by authority figures to abort. One pregnancy counselor in Iceland told CBS, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder…We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication…preventing suffering for the child and for the family.” Or in other words, trust us, “it’s for your own good…” Tell that to Thordis Ingadottir and her beautiful seven-year-old daughter, Augusta, one of the few people in Iceland with Down syndrome who hasn’t been killed. The pair have become crusaders for those with disabilities, so that they will be “fully integrated on [their] own terms” into society. After all, asks her mom, “What kind of society do you want to live in?” That’s a good question, as prenatal screening becomes more widely available, and much of the world grapples with this new breed of eugenics. Make no mistake—what we’re witnessing here is the systematic extermination of children who are, by society’s standards, less than perfect. It’s worth remembering that the first groups killed by the Nazis in their quest for perfection by eugenics were those with disabilities. Will ours be a similar society, in which we claim to eliminate disabilities by eliminating those who have them? It’s up to you and me to decide.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Rescuing iGen

Aug 22, 2017 - 00:00:00

Imagine the best memories of your youth. Now imagine all of them replaced by a screen. Unless we can outsmart phones, this will be reality for a generation. It seems like millennials are always texting, swiping, browsing, Snapchatting, Instagramming, or wasting time in some other way on a device, and dinosaurs like me have been quick to complain about it. But it turns out millennials, most of whom remember cassette tapes and graduated high school with flip phones, were old enough to ride the technological wave of the 2010s without getting sucked under. Writing at The Atlantic, Jean Twenge points out that there’s another, younger generation that got pummeled by the smartphone revolution. Those born after 1995, typically called “generation Z,” were just entering their teen years when Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone. Appropriately, Twenge dubs these young people, “iGen.” Unlike millennials, these kids cannot remember a time before the Internet. Like laboratory mice, they’ve been the unwitting subjects of a historic experiment. What effect has this had on them? Twenge paints a bleak picture, and it goes far deeper than the typical concerns about diminished attention spans. Smartphones and other devices have shaped these teens’ worlds, from their social lives to their mental health. Teen suicide has skyrocketed since 2011. One survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that teens who spent ten hours or more a week on social media were 56 percent more likely to experience symptoms of depression. According to two national surveys, those glued to screens at least three hours a day were 28 percent more likely to suffer sleep deprivation. It doesn’t end there. The younger generation is spending less time outside than any other crop of kids—ever. Twelfth-graders in 2015 spent fewer hours out of the house than eighth-graders did in 2009! They don’t get their driver’s licenses as early as their parents did, they’re more than twenty percent less likely to have jobs, and they aren’t even interested in spending time with friends, at least not in person. The number of teens who regularly get together socially has dropped by an astonishing forty percent since 2000. Where are they spending all their time? Well, mostly at home, in their rooms, staring at screens. One teenager described the crater she’d left on her bed from spending all summer Snapchatting. Another admitted, “I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.” “iGen,” Twenge concludes, “[is] on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.” And overuse of technology and social media is the most obvious culprit. Well, here’s the good news, and I know you’re ready for it: Research indicates that much of this is reversible. Kids and teens who spend an above average amount of time with friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy. Fewer hours spent staring at a screen correlates with better sleep. And as blogger, Andrew Sullivan, put it recently, cutting back on online time just makes you feel human again. “If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence…” writes Twenge, “it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen.” Restricting your kids’ smartphone use may not sound like the best way to stay on their good side. And if they’re older, you’ll need to explain yourself, and reach agreements as a family about technology, not simply lay down the law. Why not show them this commentary? You may find that your teens are more open to setting boundaries around screen time than you think. After all, their devices are not fulfilling them. Members of iGen may be in a better position than anyone to understand that there’s nothing smart about being enslaved to a phone.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Faith in the Real World (Part 4)

Aug 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

The fourth and final part of “Faith in the Real World,” John Stonestreet’s devotional series at the Alliance Defending Freedom. Today John urges us to distinguish the cultural moment we find ourselves in from “The Story”—that is, the great story of God’s redemptive work in the history. How do we do that? We ground ourselves in the Scriptures

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Are Sex and Marriage Issues of Orthodoxy?

Aug 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

Can Christians agree to disagree about same-sex “marriage”? Or is accepting homosexuality heresy? These are big questions, and I’ll venture answers. Most of us are familiar with the Nicene Creed, the statement of faith adopted in 325 A.D. to unite Christians against the Arian heresy. It is, to this day, the most widely-used summary of Christian orthodoxy. Lately, “orthodoxy” has become stickier to define. In the wake of the sexual revolution, some who call themselves Christians and would affirm the Nicene Creed, also accept unions between members of the same sex. Here at the Colson Center, we believe, as the Christian Church has taught for two millennia, that any sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman runs contrary to God’s design. It is serious sin, condemned in no uncertain terms in both the Old and New Testaments. So to justify homosexual behavior, or any other expression of sexual deviance, one must do imaginative hermeneutic gymnastics. Recently, Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith, whose work I’ve benefitted from immensely, wrote that while he cannot question the historic stance of the church on homosexual behavior and understands it to be sinful, he disagrees with elevating this issue to the level of the o-word. “Orthodoxy,” he writes, refers only to the creed and the doctrines it affirms, like the creatorhood of God, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, and the Trinity. Adding traditional marriage to the Nicene list of non-negotiable Christian doctrines, he worries, distracts from the life and work of Jesus and reduces Christianity to a set of morals. Evangelicals and Catholics who use the categories of orthodoxy and heresy to talk about sex, he suggests, are being selective and maybe even a little obsessive. After all, there’s never been a marriage council in church history, right? Now, Smith isn’t saying that he agrees with so called same-sex “marriage” or that it’s no big deal. He’s simply worried that we’re muddying the meaning of “orthodoxy.” And that is a valid concern. But as theologian Alastair Roberts points out, Smith has forgotten that the very first council in church history, the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15, did take up the issue of sexuality. Gentile Christians were told to “abstain from sexual immorality,” which for the Jewish apostles would mean the list of practices condemned in Leviticus 18, including homosexual behavior. Second, the Nicene Creed was never meant to be the exhaustive description of the Christian faith. Rather, the creed functions as a summary of God’s full revelation—one specifically tailored to address a destructive heresy. All the councils and creeds were, in fact, responses to particular heresies. I’d suggest it’s quite telling that sex and marriage were never considered “up in the air” for the Church since the Jerusalem Council until now. And when the Nicene Creed uses words like “almighty,” “judge,” “holy,” and “sins,” we’re not free, writes Roberts, to plug in our preferred definitions. The creed’s words are defined by God in Scripture. And that’s ultimately why theology that accepts homosexuality is outside of Christian orthodoxy. When the writers of the creed spoke of “sin,” they assumed God’s definition. In the same way, when they spoke of God as Creator, they assumed His design for the world, including the creation of male and female, which Jesus Himself considered authoritative when He talked about marriage. By responding to the homosexual error some Christians have embraced, evangelicals and Catholics aren’t being selective or obsessive at all. We’re doing precisely what the authors of the church’s creeds were doing when they defended truth against the popular errors of their day. The Church of today must stand firm on sex and marriage, just as the Church of yesterday stood firm on the deity of Christ at the Council of Nicaea. After all, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: Charlottesville and "What-About?-Ism"

Aug 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

Ed and guest host Warren Cole Smith discuss the need for Christians to speak out with moral clarity about the evils of racism and white supremacy--and to avoid what they call "What-about?-ism." They also discuss the terrorist attack in Barcelona and the upcoming solar eclipse.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Eichmann in All of Us

Aug 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

Eric Metaxas: What is going on in our country? Why all the anger and hatred? As Chuck Colson reminds us, the answer is as old as humanity. In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, a national argument is underway. I’d like to say it’s a national debate, but no one seems to be listening to each other. So, who’s to blame for the racism, identity politics, and escalating violence and on and on? Well, earlier this week on this program, speaking about Charlottesville, John Stonestreet got to the root of the problem. It’s called the Fall. “Understanding the biblical concept of the Fall,” John said, “keeps us from finding the enemy only in the other, as if the problem is always outside of ourselves. No, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, ‘the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.’” John is absolutely right. And what he said reminded me of a brilliant BreakPoint commentary delivered by Chuck Colson way back in 1994 about Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. Why do human beings perpetrate evil? It’s the Eichmann in all of us. Here’s Chuck Colson: For you and me, the answer to that question is as close as our faith, as close as our own hearts. Christians, of all people, should never be surprised at the evil that infects every human being—even the most ordinary of people. A dramatic illustration of this truth took place thirty years ago, when Israeli agents captured Adolph Eichmann, one of the masterminds of the Nazi holocaust, and brought him to Israel to stand trial for his crimes. Among the witnesses called to testify against Eichmann was a small, haggard man named Yehiel Dinur. He had survived brutal torture in the death camp at Auschwitz. Dinur entered the courtroom and he stared at the man who had presided over the slaughter of millions— including many of Dinur's own friends. As the eyes of the victim met those of the mass murderer, the courtroom fell silent. Then, suddenly, Dinur literally collapsed to the floor, sobbing violently. Was he overcome by hatred? By memories of the stark evil that Eichmann had committed? No. As Dinur explained later in a riveting interview on "60 Minutes," what struck him was that Eichmann did not look like an evil monster at all; he looked like an ordinary person. Just like anyone else. In that moment, Dinur said, “I realized that evil is endemic to the human condition—that any one of us could commit the same atrocities.” In a remarkable conclusion, Dinur said: "Eichmann is in all of us." This is what the Bible means when it talks about sin. In our therapeutic culture, people cringe when they hear words like evil and sin. We'd prefer to talk about people as victims of dysfunctional backgrounds. But there are times when it becomes obvious that those categories are simply insufficient—times when the evil in the human heart breaks through the veneer of polite society and shows us its terrifying face. Eric Metaxas: Folks, what happened in Charlottesville will be the focus of a lot of talk for the foreseeable future—especially as protests and counter protests pop up around the country. So, as Chuck went on to say, why not use these events “as an opportunity to press home to your family and your friends the profound truth of the biblical teaching on sin.” That the events unfolding on our TV screens and newsfeeds “ought to remind us that all of us are in revolt against God,” and that the “only salvation for any of us is repentance and grace.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Whoa, Bethsaida!

Aug 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

Archaeologists may have found a place that Jesus—as well as Peter, Andrew, and Philip—knew very well. In Matthew 11, Jesus expresses his frustration with the people in his native region who, despite witnessing his mighty works, refused to repent and believe the Gospel. One of the groups he singled out were the residents of Bethsaida, the home town of Peter, Andrew and Philip. “Woe to you, Bethsaida!” he declared. “For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” Other mentions of Bethsaida in the Gospels refer to those mighty works: Jesus healing a blind man in Mark 8, and in Luke 9, feeding the 5,000. As I never get tired of saying, Christianity is an historical faith. It tells the story of God’s actions in human history, not some mythical “once upon a time.” Thus, as I also never get tired of telling you, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when archaeologists discover evidence that confirms this fact. That is exactly what happened recently on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. There, archaeologists from Israel and from the United States found a “multi-layered site” that included “an advanced Roman-style bathhouse.” This and other artifacts, including pottery and Roman coins dating from about 65 A.D., led them to conclude that they had discovered the ancient city of Julias. According to the historian Flavius Josephus, King Philip Herod, the first husband of the Herodias who told her daughter to ask for head of John the Baptist on a platter, turned a sleepy fishing village into a full-fledged Roman city. Then, in a brazen attempt to curry favor, he changed the name to Julias in honor of the Emperor’s mother. That village, a you’ve probably guessed, was Bethsaida. In addition to the Roman bathhouse, excavators also found what may be the remains of a “major missing church.” They “found walls with gilded glass tesserae [that is, small blocks] for a mosaic, an indication of a wealthy and important church.” The significance of this find lies in the writings of Willibald, an eighth-century bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria. He traveled to the Holy Land around 725 A.D. and later wrote about visiting a church in Bethsaida that “was built over the house of Peter and Andrew.” Until recently, these kinds of stories were dismissed as pious legends. That is, until archaeologists working in Capernaum, digging on the site of a Byzantine Church “supposedly” built over the remains of Peter’s home, discovered the remains of “a Roman-era home that had already evolved into a communal center of veneration by the end of the first century.” Something similar might be happening in this latest discovery. As archaeologist Steven Notley told National Geographic, “[What Willibard’s account] tells us is that in the Byzantine period we have living memory of the site of Bethsaida and he identifies it with the Gospel tradition.” Even if this possible connection to Peter does not pan out, what’s going on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is yet another example of something else that I never tire of telling you, the Bible is the best-attested book of antiquity. This is true whether you’re talking about manuscripts or archaeological evidence. It could hardly be otherwise since biblical revelation is, at its heart, a narrative about what God did in human history, culminating in the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The same Jesus of Nazareth who walked in the city being excavated today near the Sea of Galilee.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jay Richards: The Eclipse and God's Glorious Design

Aug 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

Dr. Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute discusses Monday's upcoming eclipse and how it points to a universe designed not only to support life, but also designed to support science and discovery.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Suicide and the Logic of Utility

Aug 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

What gives us our worth? How we answer that question will shape how we live. And maybe how we die. Monday we discussed Aaron Kheriaty’s alarming article in First Things about America’s suicide epidemic—and how the Church can counteract one of its leading causes: Loneliness. The kind of loneliness that leads to depression and self-destruction. But Kheriaty zeroes in on other causes as well, cultural factors that I want to address today. Kheriaty begins his article with a chilling story, about a straight-A California high school student jumped in front of a commuter train. “His suicide note provided no clear reason for his act,” Kheriaty wrote. “There were no apparent signs of mental illness, and he was not a bullied misfit. His death followed two other student suicides just three weeks prior, one from the same school, and one from a nearby private high.” It’s heartbreaking. And I’ve seen a similar cluster of teen suicides even here in Colorado Springs. But it’s part of a national trend. “Let these numbers sink in,” Kheriaty writes: “Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults.” As I mentioned Monday, social isolation is certainly a factor. But Kheriaty sees another factor—one I think is critically important. “In a meritocratic age, we are valued for our usefulness,” Kheriaty says. Rich kids and poor kids alike “are increasingly told that they are valuable only insofar as they contribute to a productive society.” And so, parenthood, belonging to a church, civic involvement, “have receded in significance before the SAT and earning power.” And here’s where Kheriaty nails it. “When the useful replaces the good and efficiency becomes the highest value, human beings are instrumentalized.” People become “subject to a logic of utility.” So what happens to students when they don’t nail that SAT or make the varsity team? What happens when they don’t see themselves as useful? Or when they reach their lofty goals only to find that they’re exhausted and empty? That they did not find meaning in their achievements? While this utilitarian view of the universe can sap the individual soul, on a societal level it has grave consequences—from the Gulag to Auschwitz to Planned Parenthood clinics to so-called “right-to-die laws.” As Kheriaty reminds us, the law is a teacher. And right-to-die laws send a clear and satanic message: When life becomes too painful, or when you no longer feel useful, well, kill yourself. Small wonder, as Kheriaty notes, “two British scholars [have] published a study showing that laws permitting assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington have led to a rise in overall suicide rates in those states.” Part of the reason, no doubt, is that “publicized cases of suicide tend to produce copycat cases.” Just a few weeks ago, for example, the Washington Post reported that web searches for how to kill yourself shot up dramatically when Netflix began airing its suicide drama “Thirteen Reasons Why.” Folks, this is another example of why worldview matters—and why we devote our ministry here at the Colson Center to helping believers understand, defend, and proclaim the Christian worldview. A worldview that asserts that each and every human has value not because of what he or she can produce or do, but because we’re made in God’s image. As Chuck Colson said years ago on this program: “Human beings are of such inconceivable worth that God sacrificed His own Son to save us from sin—not only the sin of underestimating each other’s worth but also of ‘fall[ing] short of the glory of God.’ “That is an estimation of human worth beyond our comprehension. … Each of us is destined to live for eternity. As C. S. Lewis put it, no one has ever met ‘mere mortal.’” That’s a message every despairing soul needs to hear—and experience.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Charlottesville, Racism, and the Gospel

Aug 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

The nation is reeling from Saturday’s chaos in Charlottesville. The Church cannot sit this one out. The book of Revelation, chapter 7, gives us an extraordinary vision from God of the Kingdom of Heaven in its fullness: “a great multitude … from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God/who sits on the throne/and to the Lamb.’” What we saw this past weekend in Charlottesville was the exact, fiendish opposite. Crowds filled with hate, bent on violence. We saw not dazzling robes of white washed in the blood of the lamb, but the stains of red from human blood spilled in demonic anger. I learned of what happened Saturday afternoon after landing in the Dominican Republic, where I’ll be teaching this week. Yesterday on BreakPoint, we promised part two of our series on the American suicide epidemic, and we will pick that up tomorrow. But today, facing the specter of racism in our country, it’s time for moral clarity. And here it is: As my BreakPoint co-host Eric Metaxas tweeted over the weekend, racism is the very antithesis of the love of Jesus for all. I’ll expand on that thought: every racist ideology, including the white nationalism and neo-Nazi rhetoric and images displayed by the so-called alt-right in Charlottesville, is rooted in the pit of hell. There’s no defending it. It’s not Christian. It’s not American. And it ought not even be associated with conservatism. And as My BreakPoint this Week co-host Ed Stetzer wrote at Christianity Today, it’s easy to say that there are “many sides” involved in violence and hatred. In fact, we Christians do well to call out the left-wing extremists like Antifa, who parade through downtowns smashing things. But Christ followers must also condemn this act, this protest, this violence in the strongest possible terms, and I’m grateful for those political and religious leaders who claim the name of Christ who wasted no time in doing so. The world needs to hear that clear Christian witness. And still, these events make it painfully obvious that, while we need deft and courageous political leadership, it’s the Church that’s most needed now. Politics will not save us from ourselves. As one evangelical adviser to President Trump, Johnnie Moore, told CNN, “The right remains too passive and the left remains too political when it comes to ethnic divisions in this country. One side underestimates the issue and the other side provokes further conflict. Both sides distrust each other. This must end if we are to find national healing.” I’m glad President Trump finally identified the alt-right by name, but his delay, especially in light of his long history of Twitter specificity, is an example of the passivity Moore described. As Senator Orrin Hatch tweeted, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t die fighting Hitler for Nazis to go unchallenged today.” Look, America has a race problem. Political parties, special-interest groups, and the media aren’t helping. In fact, too often, they make things worse. Ours is a culture that loudly pays lip service to ideas like “human dignity,” “value,” and “human rights,” but renders them meaningless by tethering them to made-up identity politics or disgruntled, angry appeals to “heritage.” Only the biblical vision of the image of God can ground universal dignity, value, and establish human rights. Understanding the biblical concept of the fall keeps us from finding the enemy only in the other, as if the problem is always outside of ourselves. No, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” And only the restoration Christ brings offers any way forward past the hate, the hurt, and the history still threatening to tear our nation apart. Only the Church has that message—to proclaim and embody—in the midst of the brokenness all around us.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Faith in the Real World (Part 3)

Aug 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 3 of “Faith in the Real World,” John Stonestreet’s devotional series at the Alliance Defending Freedom. Today John focuses on the truth that God has placed each of us in precisely the right place at the right time—and what it means to be a citizens of the United States and a citizen of the Kingdom

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
America’s Suicide Crisis

Aug 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

America’s suicide rate is out of control. And the Church has a solution. But will we employ it? How bad is America’s suicide problem? Well, it’s so bad that Americans’ overall life expectancy has declined for the first time since the 1930s. As Aaron Kheriaty writes in First Things, the suicide crisis in America has reached epidemic proportions. Rates are growing coast to coast, in rural and urban areas, among the poor and the rich, the young and the old. What in the world is going on, and what do we do about it? In his article, Kheriaty, director of the Medical Ethics Program at Cal-Irvine, describes a witch’s brew of factors behind this epidemic of death—ones we’ve talked about for years on BreakPoint: social fragmentation, an overall decrease in religious involvement, utilitarianism, and—yes—the growth of assisted suicide laws. But in the end, Kheriaty boils the problem down to one word: Despair. Despair, as in the utter lack of hope. In 1995, Robert Putnam first raised a red flag in an essay and subsequent book, “Bowling Alone.” He noticed that while more Americans than ever before were bowling, the number of bowling leagues was declining. Folks were bowling alone. Similarly, fewer Americans were attending school board or town meetings, volunteering, or even getting together with their neighbors. And this was long before the isolating effects of internet, social media and cell phones. I doubt that back then Putnam could have imagined a family of 4—mom, dad, sister, and brother—out to dinner together but each one staring into their own mobile devices. But you’ve seen it, and so have I. This isolation breeds loneliness. And loneliness can be a major factor behind depression, which in turn can set people on the road to self-annihilation. Now, Kheriaty notes that clinical depression can and does have chemical causes as well, but, as he writes, “Your serotonin and dopamine levels may be out of kilter, but you may still have a problem with your Tinder compulsion and dinners alone in front of the television.” So while depression can be a serious mental illness that needs medical and psychological treatment, aloneness is curable. And that’s exactly where the Church should be jumping up and down, waving its arms saying, “Come here! Come here! Join us!” “We now have a sizeable body of medical research,” Kheriaty continues, “which suggests that prayer, religious faith, participation in a religious community, and practices like cultivating gratitude, forgiveness, and other virtues can reduce the risk of depression [and], lower the risk of suicide.” One study of 89,000 people showed that those “who attend any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide” than those who don’t. And “of the 6,999 Catholic women who attended Mass more than once a week, none committed suicide.” And it’s not just identifying as religious that matters—participation does! “Self-identified Catholics who did not attend Mass had suicide rates comparable to those of other women who were not active worshippers.” Obviously, church—or for that matter, synagogue or mosque—attendance reduces isolation. And of course, all three Abrahamic faiths “have strong moral prohibitions against suicide.” But in the end, what religious faith provides is meaning, belonging, and ultimately hope for something beyond us or our circumstances and our self-isolation. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest.” We, my friends, need to bring people to Jesus. Chuck Colson liked to say that Christianity offers the world a great proposal—a better way to live and flourish—an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb. We have the invitations . . . are we passing them out? We’ll talk more tomorrow on BreakPoint about the suicide epidemic and Kheriaty’s excellent article, specifically, utilitarianism and the pernicious growth of assisted suicide laws.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
N. Korea, Gay Seat Belts, and Legalized Weed

Aug 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

U.S. intelligence now believes that North Korea—currently under the rule of a despicable, evil, irrational dictatorship—has capability to mount a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. One of President Trump's evangelical advisers made headlines when he said that the president had been anointed by God to “take out” Kim Jong Un by “by any means possible.” Our hosts explain that, while the threat from North Korea is real and serious, “any means possible” is not a Christian response. Dutch airline KLM tweeted a picture of three pairs of rainbow colored seatbelts with the caption, “It doesn’t matter whom you click with.” One of the pairs had two mail ends of the seatbelts, another had two female ends, and the final pair had a male and a female end. The company evidently missed the irony, but their ad is a surprisingly accurate commentary on the delusion at the heart of the LGBT movement. Finally, Jeff Hunt, Vice President of Public Policy at Colorado Christian University wrote an op-ed at USA Today warning Americans not to legalize marijuana nationally. He cites the drug's “devastating” effects in his home estate, and warns “this is nothing we wish upon the nation.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: N. Korea, Gay Seatbelts, and Legalizing Weed

Aug 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Warren Cole Smith (who's sitting in for Ed Stetzer) discuss the prospect of war with North Korea from a Christian worldview perspective. Also, how did KLM Royal Dutch Airlines miss the irony with their "It doesn't matter who you click with" ad depicting rainbow colored seatbelts? And John and Warren discuss the problems with legalized pot in Colorado.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Joni Eareckson Tada

Aug 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

Fifty years ago, Joni Eareckson Tada’s life changed forever. And since then, God has used her transform the lives of countless others. Five decades have come and gone since 17-year-old Joni Eareckson—now Tada—dove from a pier jutting into the Chesapeake Bay and snapped her spine in the unexpectedly shallow waters, emerging as a quadriplegic. But of course you probably know that this accident wasn’t the end of Joni’s story. No, it was the beginning … of a beautiful but arduous life of service that has blessed millions around the world. As Joni says, “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” And, oh, what He has accomplished through this one imperfect but beautiful life. Joni, of course, leads the international ministry Joni and Friends, which provides prayer, support, resources, and even camps to serve and encourage families touched by disability, takes wheelchairs to people around the world, and offers books, curriculum, and services too numerous to mention. She’s written dozens of books herself, including “When God Weeps,” “Glorious Intruder,” and “A Place of Healing.” She’s also an incredible artist, a radio host, and even the star of a movie about her own life. But what I truly appreciate and love about Joni is her tireless work to protect and expand the rights of people with disability everywhere. She served on the National Council on Disability when the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted. She also served on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department and continues her advocacy on issues that touch on the value of life, including health care reform, adult stem cell research, and fighting euthanasia. Part of that advocacy was founding the Christian Institute on Disability to train people and churches everywhere to be advocates too. In a recent Christianity Today interview, Joni said, in reference to the Charlie Gard case and the culture that produced it, “In an economy where healthcare dollars are very scarce, the triaging of healthcare resources will be skewed in favor of the strong and not the weak. I see this even now in some of my friends who are quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent. They’re having a harder time getting the kind of healthcare that they need.” In 2012 the Colson Center presented Joni with the William Wilberforce Award for her life and efforts. Her friend and admirer Chuck Colson said, “She is a defiant, inspirational, joy-filled rebuttal to those who would assault the sanctity of human life.” Indeed. Despite all she’s accomplished and learned in the school of suffering, Joni’s physical and spiritual challenges remain—and in some ways, even increased. On top of her paralysis, about 15 years ago she began experiencing chronic pain in her hips and back, which was caused by scoliosis from a weakened spine as a result of sitting in her wheelchair for so many years. The doctors told Joni that her bones were too porous for surgery. Then, in 2010, they discovered that she had stage-3 breast cancer—from which she has been pronounced cancer-free, thank God. “Every single morning when I wake up I need Jesus so badly,” she told CBN News. “I just can’t tolerate the thought of another day as a quadriplegic with someone else giving me a bed bath and exercising my legs and toileting routines. It all just seems too overwhelming.” And yet Joni perseveres, still crying out to the Lord for help. The suffering she experiences brings humility and a new perspective. As she told The Gospel Coalition, “It sounds incredible, but I really would rather be in this wheelchair knowing Jesus as I do than be on my feet without him.” Joni’s unquenchable desire for God is expressed by the prophet Habakkuk, who said in the face of calamity, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, / nor fruit be on the vines, … / yet I will rejoice in the Lord; / I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” I praise God for you, Joni my friend, and for your tenacious, time-tested witness to Jesus. Now, may we all go and do likewise.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
North Korea, Nukes, and President Trump

Aug 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

The war rhetoric between North Korea and the U.S. turned nuclear this week, literally. Thankfully, Christians have thought about these things before. U.S. intelligence now believes that North Korea—currently under the rule of a despicable, evil, irrational dictatorship—has capability to mount a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Kim Jong Un has said he’ll never give up his pursuit of nuclear weapons, and just this week, he threatened attacks on the U.S. mainland and the U. S. territory of Guam. In response, President Trump warned that if these threats continue, North Korea will face “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Rhetoric aside, the President does face a very grave dilemma: how to prevent North Korea from following through on its threats. The prudential and moral considerations here are colossal. He and our entire national security team need our prayers. What he doesn’t need is bad advice. One evangelical advisor made headlines saying that the president had been anointed by God to “take out” Kim Jong Un by “by any means possible.” “By any means possible” is a Machiavellian response, not a Christian one. And I know Chuck Colson would have said so too. Chuck, a former Marine Captain and advisor to President Nixon, was no pacifist. But he was a disciplined Christian thinker who talked frequently about “just war theory.” He knew the rich wisdom about war from those who had gone before was an antidote to hyper-emotional reactionism. To give you a taste, here’s Chuck, from 2009: Chuck Colson: For nearly two millennia, Christian thinkers starting with Augustine… have developed what is known as the just war theory. For a war to be seen as just, it must meet several conditions. It must be waged by legitimate authority. The cause itself must be just, as well as the intention behind going to war. War must be a last resort, waged by means proportional to the threat. We must not target non-combatants, and we must have a reasonable chance of success. John: Let’s unpack this criteria. First, the intent of the war has to be just. Is preventing an irrational dictatorship from using nuclear weapons a just cause? Yes, but it raises other questions. Is a preemptive strike morally just? Chuck felt so in certain cases and he cited Christian precedent. But in the years after the preemptive invasion of Iraq, he admitted that hindsight showed the intelligence leading to the attack was faulty. So U. S. intelligence must be correct about the status of North Korea’s capabilities. Second, for a war to be just, there must be a reasonable chance of success. That means success must be achievable, and it must be defined. In this case, is it the toppling of Kim Jong Un, or just removing his capability of producing and delivering nuclear weapons? Third, is war a last resort? Are all other avenues closed? This is almost always the final hinge on which a just decision swings. Fourth, we must not target non-combatants. A U. S. attack on North Korea should focus on their leadership and nuclear facilities. But we must also consider civilian cost to our allies. If North Korea has time to retaliate against an attack, experts warn of hundreds of thousands if not millions of South Korean, perhaps even Japanese, civilian casualties. Fifth, is our response proportional to the threat? “Fire and fury like the world has never seen” is a vague answer to that question. Are we talking cruise missiles here, or tactical nuclear weapons? As Chuck said back in 2009, these are tough questions for any leader. And he knew, having served in the White House at the side of a president. So Christian, we must pray to the God of history and nations for wisdom for our leaders and for a just end to the evil regime in North Korea. And, in our words, whether we’re advising the President or own children about this situation, we must be thoughtful and morally considerate, not emotionally reactive.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Faith in the Real World (Part 2)

Aug 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

The second of the devotional series “Faith in the Real World,” presented by John Stonestreet at the Alliance Defending Freedom. Today John discusses the events of Holy Week--Jesus’ triumphal entry, the Last Supper, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—and what they have to say about the state of the Church and the culture today.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Western Baby Bust

Aug 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

European leaders are begging their fellow citizens to have children. But it seems like a “Do as we say, not as we do,” kind of message. A recurring topic here at BreakPoint is the demographic challenge—“crisis” isn’t too strong a word—facing the industrialized world. From Tokyo to London, people are having fewer and fewer children: In some cases, they’re having barely half as many kids as are needed to maintain a stable population without relying on mass immigration. This “birth dearth,” as it’s called, poses economic and social challenges to much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, and even China. The impact of this “birth dearth” is not lost on European leaders and their counterparts in Asia. They’ve gone to extreme, and even comical lengths, to reverse the trend. Last year, we told you about the Danish government’s “Do it for Denmark” ad campaign. Russia offered women who had a second child not only money but also “cars, refrigerators, and other prizes.” Singapore even went so far as to establish a government-run dating service in a bid to increase one of the lowest fertility rates in the developed world. Not surprisingly, few, if any, of these measures met with much success. It could scarcely be otherwise since, especially in Europe, the message from leaders seems to be, “do as we say, not as we do.” As George Weigel noted in First Things magazine, the leaders of four of Europe’s five largest economies are childless: Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni. The sole exception is Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has an increasingly un-European two children. This childlessness isn’t limited to Europe’s “Big 5.” The leaders of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Luxemburg are also childless, as is the President of the European Union. This spate of childlessness among European leaders brings to mind something Oscar Wilde’s character Lady Bracknell once said: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” Similarly, while it’s not unheard of for a political leader to be childless—for instance, George Washington—when an entire generation of leaders is childless, something else is probably going on. As Weigel tells us, the “childlessness in this elite cohort certainly has different causes, given the diverse personalities involved.” For some of them, their “their childlessness [is] a sorrow—although none seems to have taken the option of adopting children.” But for the other leaders, their childlessness is a “stark illustration” of what Weigel calls “Europe’s demographic suicide.” According to the historian Niall Ferguson, Europe’s low birth rates have put it on track for “the greatest sustained reduction in European population since the Black Death in the fourteenth century.” Yet not even Europe’s leaders seem concerned enough about the looming catastrophe to have children themselves. Weigel, taking his cue from Pope John Paul II, draws a line between Europe’s “self-chosen sterility” and its “rapidly accelerating embrace of euthanasia.” Both manifestations of what John Paul II called the “culture of death” represent what Weigel calls a “a colossal evangelical failure.” By “evangelical failure,” Weigel, a Catholic, means a failure to preach the Gospel and unapologetically proclaim what Christianity has to say about what human beings should aspire to: self-giving, not self-aggrandizement. Only this proclamation stands any chance of inspiring Europeans “to reject demographic suicide and rediscover the joy of creating the future through having children.” Without it, all the future holds is leaders with no one to follow them.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Genetic Arms Race

Aug 8, 2017 - 00:00:00

A new genetic technology is being called a weapon of mass destruction. I’ll tell you why that may not be hyperbole. In late July, the MIT Technology Review published news many of us have been dreading: A team of scientists at Oregon Health and Sciences University have successfully created genetically-modified human embryos. This is an early step, to borrow a headline from the Technology Review, toward “engineering the perfect baby.” It’s an early step in creating a parental arms race in which people with resources scramble to create their vision of the “perfect baby,” with, potentially, the eye color, intelligence, and other traits they desire. And it’s an early step in playing God with human genetics, one that could very well place humanity on intimate terms with the Devil. Using a technology known as CRISPR, which enables scientists to edit the genome of anything from bacteria to humans, the researchers “[changed] the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos” in a way that demonstrated “that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.” Now that last part about “genes that cause inherited diseases” should sound familiar. Because every step down the modern biotechnology slippery slope has been justified in similar terms: as a way to alleviate human suffering. Thus, anyone who objects or even expresses misgivings about proposed innovations is forced to defend himself against charges of indifference to human suffering. The problem is, of course, that the slide down the slope never stops at alleviating suffering. At the very least, the definition of “suffering” is changed to include whole classes of people who were not even envisioned when the justification was first offered. The classic example of this is euthanasia which has spread from the terminally ill to the hopelessly ill to those who are merely tired of living. Likewise, no one should believe for a moment that this technology, if perfected, will be limited to, as the National Academy of Sciences has recommended, the “elimination of serious diseases.” Only someone who hasn’t been paying attention would expect the NAS’s “red line” against “genetic enhancements” to be honored. All it takes is one scientist who decides, as the saying goes, that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, and the parental arms race will be on, if not in the U. S. then somewhere else. And mind you, it’s not only us culturally-nervous Christians who are disturbed by what CRISPR and germ-line editing portend. In early 2016, the Obama administration’s Director of National Intelligence, Lt. General James Clapper, listed gene-editing technologies like CRISPR as a potential “weapon of mass destruction.” In his report, Clapper warned that the technology’s “deliberate or unintentional misuse might lead to far-reaching economic and national security implications.” And the report continued, “Research in genome editing conducted by countries with different regulatory or ethical standards than those of Western countries probably increases the risk of the creation of potentially harmful biological agents or products.” But as Robert Gebelhoff of the Washington Post has pointed out, there really isn’t much difference between the kind of genetic engineering that took place in Oregon and the eugenics that Clapper warned us about. For starters, both involve a distinction between “desirable” and “undesirable” traits. While in some cases “undesirable” will seem obvious, in most cases the criteria will “be determined by a worldview that prizes physical perfection above all, only considers temporal criteria of value, and uses some image bearers as tools while eliminating others.” Christians can neither be indifferent to human suffering, nor to the lessons of history. Even if this technology isn’t a national security threat, it’s still a threat to something even more important: human dignity.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Faith in the Real World

Aug 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

The first of a series of devotions on "Faith in the Real World," presented by John Stonestreet at the Alliance Defending Freedom. Our faith, John says, says, is based on three rock-solid and very public facts: Jesus is risen, Jesus is Lord, and God has called us to this particular place and time.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Missing the Canaanites in Plain Sight

Aug 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

“New archaeological discovery contradicts the Bible.” I’ll tell you why headlines like this are worth double-checking, next on BreakPoint. We’ve heard a lot about “fake news” this year, and last week we were treated to a flurry of fake news aimed at the reliability of the Bible. A study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics reported that DNA from 3,700-year-old Canaanite remains closely matches that of the modern Lebanese. In other words, a major biblical people are alive and well, still living in the region! It was an exciting confirmation of the Bible’s history. But for a dozen or so major media outlets, it was precisely the opposite. “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out,” trumpeted the UK Telegraph. The Independent declared, “The Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon.” And ABC Online reported: “Canaanites survived Biblical ‘slaughter,’ ancient DNA shows.” Even the journal, Science, joined the debacle with the headline, “Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites.” Science soon issued a casual correction, saying, “The story and its headline have been updated to reflect that in the Bible, God ordered the destruction of the Canaanites, but that some cities and people may have survived.” “May have?” Uh, these reporters might want to re-read their Bibles. Or maybe read them for the first time. Because far from claiming the Canaanites were wiped out, Scripture records in numerous places that large Canaanite populations survived and thrived in the region. As David Klinghoffer at Evolution News points out, “The first chapter in Judges lists all the places in Israel where the Canaanites persisted…‘for they [the Israelites] did not drive them out.’” And in the next chapter, God rebukes Israel for not driving the Canaanites out, saying “They shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” Much of the remainder of the Old Testament is the sad fulfillment of this prophecy. Some Canaanites, like Rahab, who hid the spies at Jericho, converted to the Hebrew religion and were incorporated into Israel. And in Joshua 9, we learn that the entire Canaanite city of Gibeon tricked Israel into a peace treaty, and its people were allowed to stay. Even in the New Testament, in Matthew 15, we read of a Canaanite woman who begged Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. He famously rebuffs her twice before seeing her “great faith” and granting the request. And according to the genealogies of Matthew and Luke, Jesus Himself had Canaanite DNA, as he was descended from David through Jesse, Obed, and Boaz whose mother was…Rahab. All of this goes to show how biased much of the news media are against Judeo-Christianity. But it also shows that we’re living in a time of startling biblical illiteracy. The fate of the Canaanites sets the stage for much of the biblical drama. In other words, knowing it isn’t a matter of being religious, but of having a basic acquaintance with the most influential book in Western civilization. So there are two takeaways here. First, archaeology continues to reinforce key elements of biblical history. I say this having just read another report on ancient jug handles in Jerusalem that confirm the Babylonian destruction and exile. Our faith is based on a real God Who worked through real events in history, not some dreamtime legend. The Canaanites were as real as their descendants are today. Second, you can’t always believe what you read in the press, particularly when it comes to the Bible. Open it up, and do your own fact-check. Reporters miss things, but the story of our faith was authored by a perfect God Who, unsurprisingly, never has to retract a word.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: Celebrating Joni, Defending Homeschoolers, Exposing Fake Gender News

Aug 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

It was 50 years ago that Joni Eareckson suffered her catastrophic diving injury. John and Ed discuss her extraordinary life and ministry. They also respond to a ridiculous New York Times op ed characterizing home school parents as "theocrats" and "racists." Finally, they take on the modern version of the "man bites dog" story: the "Man has baby" myth.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Dunkirk--"And If Not"

Aug 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

John: Christopher Nolan’s epic film “Dunkirk” tells the amazing story of the rescue of the British Army in WWII. Today on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson tells the story behind the story. Stay tuned. You probably know the basic story line of the movie, “Dunkirk”—thousands of British civilians sailing across the channel to rescue the besieged British Army from certain annihilation at the hands of the Nazis. But what the film left out, and it’s a shame it did, is the amazing miracle behind the story. Chuck Colson talked about it back in 1996. And we want to share it with you now. Here’s Chuck. Chuck: It turned out to be one of England’s finest hours–and oddly enough, a telling illustration of the urgent need for Christian apologetics in our day. The time was June 1940 and the place was Dunkirk. The British Expeditionary Force, sent to stem the Nazi advance into Belgium and France, had been pushed steadily back to the sea. A pall fell over England. Hitler’s armies were poised to destroy the cornered Allied army. But as the British people waited anxiously, a three-word message was transmitted from the army at Dunkirk: “And if not.” The British people instantly recognized what the message meant: “Even if we are not rescued from Hitler’s army, we will stand strong.” “And if not” was found in the Book of Daniel, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego defied Nebuchadnezzar, putting their trust in God. The message galvanized the British people. Thousands of boats set out across the Channel in a gallant bid to rescue their army. And they succeeded. Nearly 350,000 troops were saved. The British people were so steeped in Christian understanding that they immediately grasped the meaning of a cryptic biblical allusion. But can you imagine the response in 1990s America to such a message? According to pollster George Barna, most wouldn’t have a clue what it meant. Recent surveys indicate only a small percentage of Americans can name the Ten Commandments–and only 42 percent can identify who preached the Sermon on the Mount. Most people think it was someone on horseback. Equally alarming is another trend: Americans are abandoning the belief that absolute truth–like that revealed in the Bible–even exists. In 1991 Barna found that 67 percent answered no when asked: “Is there any such thing as absolute truth?” And two years later the percentage of people saying no had risen to 72 percent. How then can we evangelize a society that no longer thinks in Christian terms or even believes there is such a thing as truth? That is where apologetics comes in. The Greek word apologia literally means “to give a reason for believing something.” Professor Alister McGrath at Oxford explains why apologetics is pre-evangelistic. “In an increasingly secular culture,” McGrath writes, “fewer and fewer people outside the Christian community have any real understanding of what Christians believe. Half-truths, misconceptions, and caricatures abound.” Our job is to help remove what McGrath calls “barriers on the road to faith”–like the rejection of absolute truth or some distortion of the Gospel message. Whatever the obstacle, Christians need to be, in the words of the apostle Peter, “prepared to give an answer . . . for the hope that you have.” Today is the first in a series of commentaries designed to help you engage your neighbors with hard-hitting evidence as to why society cannot survive without Christian truth, and why it is indeed true. It is vital that believers be equipped in the battle to defend Christian truth. (This commentary originally aired August 19, 1996.)

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Killer Bonus

Aug 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

Faced with doctors’ growing resistance to assisted suicide, some Canadian advocates are asking, “What if we just pay them more?” Thirteen months ago, Canada legalized doctor-assisted suicide, or as Canada calls it, “medical assistance in dying.” From the start, Eric Metaxas and I have said that our northern neighbors have placed their entire society on a slippery slope on which the “right to die” will eventually become the “duty to die”—just as it’s happened everywhere else. Nothing in the past thirteen months suggests Canada will be an exception. Elderly patients diagnosed with cancer are immediately asked if they wish to be euthanized; “ethicists” strongly urge that the organs of the euthanized not go to waste; and policy proposals to extend the “right to die” to “the mentally ill” are now being advanced. Notwithstanding this parade of horribles, there’s one bit of good news: Many doctors who initially expressed a willingness to lend deadly so-called “medical assistance” have changed their minds. Unfortunately, the growing reticence of early practitioners to continue offering this lethal service is not because they now take the moral qualms seriously. No, the problem is that they’re not being paid enough to kill their patients. I wish I were making this up but, sadly, I’m not. An article in the July 12th issue of the Canadian magazine MacLean’s asked “Should doctors be paid a premium (for) assisting deaths?” The author tells us that as “staunch supporters of physician-assisted dying are avoiding taking up the work … advocates of the service worry it will exist in theory only, and not in practice.” The solution, according to the author, is to pay doctors more. While she acknowledges that “medically assisted dying is still controversial in Canada,” and that “paying someone a premium to do this work can be construed as ethically compromising,” she still thinks the problem is one of incentives. This notwithstanding a 2015 survey by the Canadian Medical Association, which found that “only 29 per cent of doctors would consider providing the service, and that was before they knew doing so could be financially detrimental.” (Emphasis added.) Who knows whether the proposal to pay doctors extra for killing their patients will go anywhere. What is clear though, is the fanaticism and moral obtuseness of assisted suicide advocates. For them, the problem isn’t that the vast majority of Canadian doctors have moral qualms about killing their patients—it’s the pay is too low. This reminds me of something Ben Mitchell of Union University said: “Whenever you put a price tag on something that is priceless, you cheapen it.” In this case two priceless things—the sanctity of human life and the duty of care doctors owe their patients—have been cheapened in the service of a false idea of what it means to be compassionate. No, real compassion towards the sick and dying is on display in countless hospices, yet another gift of Christianity to the modern world. There, palliative care is combined with concern for the person’s spiritual and emotional needs. The result, as my friend from New Zealand, John Fox, has written, is a powerful witness to the fact that pain and death are “a team sport.” The Christian alternative to bribing doctors to kill patients is, in Fox’s words, to surround them with “solidarity, the love of caring families, and the competence of medical professionals.” In doing so, “we can carry together the experience of suffering, find meaning and stillness inside it, say the things that should be said, and make and receive the peace we need.” As what Pope John Paul II called the “culture of death” spreads through the culture, it’s imperative that Christians model and dramatically expand the sort of palliative care that Fox writes about. In his words in an email to me, “we must be the people who care for our sick and elderly—we must be the people who don’t kill their children or throw away grandma.” In other words, we must show the world real compassion so that it can reject the cheap substitute currently being peddled.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Mark Hendrickson: The Market and the Gospel, part II

Aug 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 2 of Warren Cole Smith’s interview with free-market economist Mark Hendrickson of Grove City College. Hendrickson discusses his own journey from socialism to supporting the free market—as well as his concerns about the Fed, gridlock in Washington, and the path towards what he calls “an economic cataclysm.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Brownback Tapped as Religious Freedom Ambassador

Aug 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

Worldwide religious freedom should be a priority of American foreign policy, and the White House just gave a hopeful sign that it will be. Open Doors USA reports that last year was the worst year on record for global religious persecution. Before that, the worst year was 2015, and before that, 2014. One report by the Center for Studies on New Religions put the range of Christians killed for their faith last year in the tens of thousands, and concluded that as many as 600 million were prevented from practicing their faith through “intimidation, forced conversions, bodily harm or even death.” In other words, persecution is at historic levels and getting worse. Despite North Korea topping the list of offenders for several years running now, Islamic countries still account for nearly all major persecution of Christians. With the continuing Syrian civil war, the aggression of ISIS throughout much of the Middle East, and growing suspicion toward refugees in Europe and the United States, some of the world’s oldest Christian communities are simply going extinct. So, given U.S. influence in the region over the past decade and a half, having someone in Washington to speak for persecuted religious minorities isn’t just a nice gesture. It’s our duty. That’s why I was thrilled last week to hear that President Trump had tapped Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to head the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department. This post has been vacant for far too long, and filling it with the right person was crucial. And I agree with President Trump that Governor Brownback is the man for the job. His deep personal faith has shown up in concern for the persecuted for quite some time. When he was on Capitol Hill, he helped craft legislation that created the Office of International Religious Freedom back in 1998. And as a consistent ally of religious freedom here in the states, he’s a strong choice to help safeguard it abroad. This is also an encouraging signal from the White House, where attitudes on religious freedom have been mixed. I’ll be honest: When I, along with a roomful of other Christian leaders, met with then-candidate Trump during last year’s campaign to talk about religious liberty, I didn’t get the sense that this was his issue. Governor Brownback’s nomination is a confidence booster for those of us who see the lives and welfare of Christians and other religious minorities as a top-tier issue. I hope the senate will quickly confirm him to this position—a vital one that’s spent more time vacant than filled in the last few years. Let me give one more reason the U.S. needs to be a voice on this issue: because no other government is speaking up for the victims of religious persecution, internationally. No other country has an ambassador for religious freedom, and frankly, a lot of majority secular countries don’t seem to care. Religious freedom is a unique part of the U. S.’s national heritage—it’s at the core of who we are and always have been as a nation, all the way back to our founding. From William Penn and Roger Williams, to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, religious freedom has always been important to Americans, even when we haven’t upheld it perfectly. If we aren’t speaking for those persecuted for their faith, who will? As Governor Brownback tweeted upon accepting the nomination, “Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your soul.” Persecuted minorities, especially Christians, need the space to live out their convictions, not just in private, but in public. They shouldn’t have to worship or live in fear because of the Name they profess. It’s what our Constitution guarantees for us, and it’s what we should want for those facing persecution around the world. Protecting religious minorities isn’t a partisan issue. So please, write your senators and urge them to quickly confirm Governor Brownback.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Witness of Forgiveness

Aug 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

The opioid epidemic is delivering tragedy and pain to families across the country. Here’s how one such family has responded in Christ. On January 30, 2016, Ashlynn Bailey, a twenty-year-old from Pelham, Alabama, died from a drug overdose. As John and I have said on BreakPoint many times, America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic—one that kills more people every year than the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. This means that thousands of families endure the kind of anguish and pain that Bailey’s parents have gone through. Yet, in the midst of their pain, Bailey’s family reminded us of the difference faith can make, even when the world has ceased making sense. In the aftermath of her death, her parents established the Ashlynn Bailey Foundation, whose mission is to help addicts and their families. Part of that assistance is sharing their own story. Ashlynn Bailey grew up in a Christian home. She “grew up in the church, learned about God, and became a Christian at an early age.” Sadly, as many Christian parents know from painful experience, this isn’t always enough. Bailey began experimenting with drugs in high school and within a few years was using heroin. On January 30, 2016, she bought what she believed was heroin from a dealer in Birmingham. Instead it was fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and which is often mixed with heroin. It is so potent that a policeman in East Liverpool, Ohio, accidentally overdosed after brushing fentanyl residue off his uniform following a drug bust. Federal prosecutors charged the dealer who sold Bailey the drugs that killed her, Rodrigus Lee Pearson, with a series of drug-related offenses, and were able to increase his sentence because of the link between his actions and Bailey’s death. At Pearson’s sentencing hearing, Mike Bailey, Ashlynn’s father, approached Pearson, and offered him his hand. He told Pearson “We extend forgiveness to you for the wrongs against our family in the same way that Christ has forgiven our wrongs, even without asking for that forgiveness.” Afterwards, he told reporters that “I think [Pearson] needs to be held accountable . . . But I don’t want him to feel any less of a person in God’s eyes.” He added, “I hate drugs, I hate the effects of drugs, I hate the pain that they bring, I hate how it affects families . . . It’s one of the largest demonic forces in our nation right now, just sent to break a family apart. I hate all that, but I don’t hate the individuals.” The pain that Mike Bailey and his family are feeling is unimaginable for nearly all of us. But the grace they have demonstrated should no t be. It is what is expected of those who have experienced grace in their own lives. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” Jesus taught us to pray. The Apostle Paul urged us in Ephesians chapter 4 to “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” This forgiveness is not optional. That’s not to say it’s easy. It’s a work of the Holy Spirit. It’s also the most powerful Christian witness imaginable. While there are many counter-arguments, some better than others, against specific Christian ideas, there is no argument against the kind of grace and mercy Mike Bailey displayed. It’s a reminder of what sets Christianity apart. As I said, I can’t imagine the pain the Bailey family is feeling. But I can thank them for reminding us that the light of grace shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Mark Hendrickson: The Market and the Gospel

Jul 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 1 of Warren Cole Smith’s interview free-market economist Mark Hendrickson of Grove City College. Hendrickson discusses economics from a biblical perspective, the role of government and the free market, crony capitalism, and more.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Religious Freedom’s Roe v Wade?

Jul 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

We’ll be talking a lot on BreakPoint about the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips. Why? Because religious freedom hangs in the balance. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The stakes could not be higher. In fact, as Ed Stetzer and I said recently on “BreakPoint This Week,” this may be the religious freedom equivalent of Roe v Wade. What the media and LGBT activists are telling the world is that this case is about a baker who uses his religious beliefs as a cover to discriminate against people. But that, my friends, is baloney. Here are the facts. For 23 years, Jack Phillips, a Christian and owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, gladly served all people—young and old, black and white, gay and straight. But in 2012, two men entered the shop and asked Phillips to make a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. Phillips declined, because his faith would not allow him to send the message through his art that he approved of same-sex “weddings.” So he offered the men any pre-made cake in the shop or even any other baked good in his shop. But the men got angry and left. Soon Jack was receiving hate mail and threatening phone calls. He was hauled before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and fined. Taking a page out of the Chinese Communist playbook, the commission “ordered Jack and his staff to design cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations, go through a ‘re-education’ program, implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and file quarterly ‘compliance’ reports for two years to show that Jack has completely eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.” And so in the fall, the Supreme Court will hear the case. It will either find a balance between the rights of religious believers and the public-accommodation rights of gays, or, heaven forbid, it will rule that the price of citizenship is the forfeiture of faith. Now all of this sounds apocalyptic, but note this. Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely be the swing vote in this case. While he has ruled on the side of religious institutions recently, for nearly 30 years now, he has ruled that anti-sodomy laws, anti-discrimination laws that exclude gays, denying gays the right to marry—all of these things amount to “animus” against homosexuals and deprive them of dignity. So, in other words, if you disapprove of gay marriage, that means you aren’t voicing a neutral opinion—you’re being hostile to gay people. You, then, to use the left’s favorite label, are a hater. So what can we do now that it’s in the hands of the Supreme Court? Can we actually do anything to influence the outcome of this case? Here’s what Chuck Colson had to say about this back in 2012: The textbook answer, of course, is no: The Court consists of judges who’ve been appointed for life, who are not subject to public opinion; their supreme obligation is to the Constitution of the United States. That’s the way it is supposed to be. In practice, it doesn’t work that way. The Supreme Court justices do read the newspapers; they know what the public will and won’t accept. What this means is that you and I have to be heard. Hit Facebook, get your pastor to speak out about the Jack Phillips case. Get the facts out there. Here’s Chuck Colson again, referring to yet another case years ago before the Court, with another suggestion: Will you join in a fast and prayer about this issue? Will you pray for the members of the Court? And will you also let your voices be heard? Letters to the editor and to congressmen can create a public debate that does make a difference. We need to raise a groundswell of protest that will sweep across this country and will be felt right here—in the court chambers in Washington, D.C. Amen. Please join us at BreakPoint. We’ll keep talking about the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, because it’s really that important.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BP This Week: Transgenders Banned from the Military

Jul 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss President Trump tweeting the news that he will bar transgenders from serving in the military. While the President cited cost factors, Ed and John discuss the need for clarity not only in the military but in all of society on the binary nature of sex--the reality of male and female. They also discuss the importance of President Trump's nominating Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as ambassador at large for religious freedom.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Digging Up History

Jul 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

John Stonestreet: Jugs, broken pieces of pottery, and the remains of an old building. Chuck Colson tells us how these point to the trustworthiness of the Bible. Stay tuned to BreakPoint. In the modern age, scholars have repeatedly discounted the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, as just a collection of folk myths and fabrications. Many doubted the historical existence of biblical figures such as Abraham, Moses, Samson, even King David. But a funny thing happened—modern archaeology began digging up concrete evidence that the Old Testament stories were indeed rooted in history. Not only rooted in history, but historically accurate. And our old friend Chuck Colson never tired of talking about archaeological discoveries that back up the scriptural narrative. So today, let’s listen to Chuck as he describes what archaeologists found at the Philistine city of Gath. Here’s Chuck. Chuck Colson: Perhaps the most distinguishing fact about Christianity is that our faith is rooted in history. Our faith is revealed to us on the basis of events that actually took place in space and time and in the region we call the Holy Land. The apostle John highlights this in his first letter. “That which was from the beginning,” he writes, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. …We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard….” John is referring specifically to the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But what he says applies equally to Samson, David and Goliath, Solomon, and the rest of the Old Testament. This was brought into focus by a recent Associated Press article about an archaeological dig at Tel El-Safi in Israel. It’s the site of the ancient Philistine city of Gath. Gath, in about 1200 BC, was a border town on the frontier between Philistia and Israel. The Philistines, newly arrived settlers from modern-day Greece, controlled the coastal plains while Israel lived in the hill country beyond. The conflict between Israel and Philistia is recorded in Judges and 1 Samuel, and the Tel El-Safi dig sheds new light on the historicity of those texts. For example, the book of Judges tells us that Samson, blinded and abused by the Philistines, knocked down the two pillars in the temple of the god Dagon, causing it to collapse and kill everyone in it. According to the AP article, at Gath archaeologists uncovered ruins that chief archaeologist Dr. Aren Maeir referred to as a match to that design described in the book of Judges. Similarly, pottery shards have been found with names similar to Goliath written on them. Goliath in the Bible was from Gath and his name is not Semitic, but rather Indo-European and consistent with Philistine origins in Greece. Dr. Maeir told AP that such a find “doesn’t mean that we’re going to find a skull with a hole in its head from the stone David slung at him, but it nevertheless establishes that this reflects the cultural milieu that was actually there at the time.” Well, what they will or will not find is uncertain. But this much is certain: the biblical narratives about life during the time of Samson, Saul, David, and Solomon are clearly rooted in the history of that era. And while the AP article hems and haws about whether or not the biblical narratives are true, it strikes me as a hyper-critical approach to history and to the Bible to doubt them in the light of the mounting evidence. As I’ve said before about archaeology that seems to support the veracity of the Bible: our primary faith is not in what we discover, but in the Bible itself. Nonetheless, as historian Paul Johnson has written, recent archaeological discoveries make it possible “to see much of the historical writings contained in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles as constituting the finest and most dependable history in all the ancient world, on a level with the best work of the Greeks, such as Thucydides.” Which puts the burden of proof squarely on those skeptics who endlessly seek to cast doubt on the truth of the Word of God. (This commentary originally aired July 15, 2011).

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
One by One

Jul 27, 2017 - 00:00:00

Are singles integrated into the life of your church? My BreakPoint colleague Gina Dalfonzo has written a new book to help churches do better with single adults. My BreakPoint colleague, Gina Dalfonzo, was chatting with a pleasant woman in the ladies’ room at her church. The woman asked Gina, “Do you have any children?” “No,” Gina replied. “I’m not married.” There was, Gina says, “a sudden, awkward silence.” It’s a scenario familiar to many single Christians, as Gina writes in her terrific new book, “One By One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church.” Many churches today “don’t know what to do with the single and childless,” Gina notes. “While churches offer couples’ weekends to strengthen marriages, and Ultimate Frisbee games for families, many are not able to offer much help, or opportunities for service for the singles in their congregation.” And sadly, fellow Christians, sometimes unknowingly, make singles feel as if they themselves are to blame for their unmarried state. That somehow if they haven’t tied the knot yet, they must be too self-centered, or too picky, or too focused on their career. The truth is many singles deeply desire and pray for marriage. The list of reasons for why they haven’t married are many. Many churches have far more single women than men, and relationship fads have dramatically shifted in the past decade, even resulting in Christian singles being afraid to talk to each other. At the end of the day, Gina says, “so many of us who desire marriage and children simply don’t manage to get there.” Of course, there are those who have been married, but through death or divorce find themselves single again, against their wishes. So, what should the church do to ensure that singles are every bit as much a part of the life of the church as married folks? First, we should stop thinking about singles as projects to be “fixed;” but rather as “fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, making the journey through life alongside the rest of the congregation. They’re dealing with a set of circumstances (too). . .” even if different than our own. Second, we must embrace the fact that not everyone in our congregations is going to marry—and that the New Testament has a high view of the state of singleness. Some of the greatest saints in Heaven never tied the knot, or lived most of their days as singles. Here are a few suggestions for serving the singles in your congregation: find ways to celebrate career achievements or athletic accomplishments—just as we throw showers for women expecting babies, or for couples marking their 50th anniversary. Invite singles for an after-church meal, even if—Heaven forbid!–it means you’ll have an unequal number of guests. Another great idea is to make sure singles have resources to get the help they need when the car is in the shop (offer a ride), or when they need a handyman, or help with taxes—things couples usually help each other with. And here is a crucial point Gina raises: Marrieds and singles need each other. At a book signing party for Gina recently, one attendee remarked that the most loving and supportive small group she’d ever been in had young people, old people, singles, marrieds, folks with kids and no kids. Christ knitted different people with their different gifts and perspectives into a loving community. And the growing number of singles occupying the pews means an infusion of talent: Invite singles to ministry and leadership roles—teaching, search committees, care committees, etc. I urge you to grab a copy of “One by One.” Better yet, get one for yourself and another copy for a leader in your church. You’ll gain a better understanding of how unmarried Christians feel when they sit down beside a pew-full of married couples and their kids. Let’s make sure they don’t feel singled out.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Good News about Sharing the Good News

Jul 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

I want to share with you some very good news about sharing the Good News. The great journalist Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote of an Englishman who set out in a yacht, thought he had landed on a new island in the South Seas, and realized at last that he had discovered … England. Chesterton, you see, was that man. In seeking to sail away from God, Chesterton, like countless others before and since, found himself inexorably drawn to the God who alone could satisfy his deepest longings. As Augustine prayed, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” That sense of longing for God is good news indeed for Christians, who are called to point people to its Source. Jerry Root, who is Assistant Professor of Evangelism and Associate Director of the Institute for Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College, talks about this good news in a great new article. It’s called “A Broken, Dying World: Why Spiritual Hunger Is Real and How We Can Begin to Meet People Where They Are,” and it’s available on our colleague Ed Stetzer’s blog. Come to BreakPoint.org for the link. Jerry, you may recall, is the co-author, with our own Stan Guthrie, of a great book, “The Sacrament of Evangelism.” We’ll link you to that, too. Jerry reminds us that human beings, who are made in God’s image, “should expect to find something within us that longs to be connected to Him.” Very true. And we can use that longing in evangelism. In “The Sacrament of Evangelism,” Jerry and Stan show how in John chapter 4, Jesus established a point of connection with the woman at the well, asking her for water. This common ground quickly awakened in her a curiosity about and eventually a longing for the “living water” He offered—and still offers us today. In the article, Jerry also says that “if we feel disconnected from God, we can assume that something has gone awry and we feel the estrangement sorely.” I know that’s true. Have you ever noticed that those who run from God because they want to pursue happiness apart from Him and His plan for their lives are actually some of the angriest, most unhappy people around? I know that suffering is a normal part of human existence, and Christians are in no way exempt. But it’s also true, according to Gallup, that religious Americans generally have a higher sense of wellbeing—happiness—than the nonreligious do. Why? Christians are at home in a broken world, and in our own brokenness, because we know that one day it will all be mended by our Father in heaven. As Chesterton said, “The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I had still felt depressed…. But I had heard [through the Christian faith] that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring.” In such a broken world, Jerry says, “an honest awareness of our own futility in managing our lives and relationships finds respite in the message that this loving, and forgiving God also longs to be Lord of our lives and help us to set broken things to mending. The restlessness can find respite.” Whether we know it or not, Jerry says, more people than we realize, in a culture where all the standards are falling, long to be mended and to do better—and they are frequently very interested in talking about it. Such longing confirms the Bible’s diagnosis that we are sinners and need a Savior. It’s a longing that won’t go away. That’s why the gospel is such good news!

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Greg Forster: Work and God's Economy

Jul 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

Warren Cole Smith interviews Greg Forster, director of the Oikonomia Network. Greg discusses the importance of seeing our work as not only our own vocation, but as a service to the larger community and the Church, which God then weaves into the economy and culture.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
French President Macron and African Babies

Jul 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

Well, according to the French President, it’s no use pouring money into Africa because Africans have too many babies. Yes, he really said that. Since his election in May, French President Emmanuel Macron has enjoyed the political equivalent of rock-star status. In June, the cover of the Economist depicted Macron walking on water with the caption “Europe’s Savior?” But as the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down,” and recently Macron’s reputation has taken quite a hit. The reason? He publicly recycled one of the worst and most destructive ideas of recent history. At the latest G-20 summit in Germany, a journalist from the Ivory Coast asked the French president why there was no African equivalent of the Marshall Plan, the U.S. aid program that helped to rebuild western Europe after World War II. Macron’s reply was what Vox.com called a “three-and-a-half-minute soliloquy,” in which he spoke about the differences between post-war Europe and modern Africa. He also referred to what he dubbed “civilizational problems” in Africa. Having already jumped into the hot water, Macron then decided to turn up the temperature himself. Among those “civilizational problems,” he said, was that there were countries where women had 7 or 8 children, adding that you can pour billions of Euros into these places, and they would remain unstable. Not surprisingly, the internet exploded in indignation. Chris Hayes of MSNBC called Macron’s speech “repugnant.” Laura Seay of Colby College wrote that it was “rich of a French President to criticize Africa this way.” Now Seay’s reference, of course, was in light of France’s colonial past, and what the French called its “civilizing mission.” If she had stopped her critique there, she would have been fine. But she didn’t stop there. Seay went on to blame, of all things, “the continuing influence of the Catholic Church.” She opined that “If contraception were widely available and the Catholic Church didn’t preach against it . . . we would likely see birth rates fall dramatically in Christianized parts of Francophone Africa.” The problem with this is two-fold: First, the only African country with birth rates as high as Macron cited is Niger, an Islamic, not Catholic, country. The second highest is Somalia, another Islamic country. The second problem is that Seay’s comments revealed that, at the end of the day, she and other liberal critics of Macron share his core conviction that high birthrates are a “civilizational problem.” This conviction was at the heart of the 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” by Paul Ehrlich, which began with the statement that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over” and predicted “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.” Ehrlich’s predictions were proven wrong in every way imaginable, but it didn’t matter. In much of the world outside of Africa, the response was an aggressive attempt to reduce birthrates around the world that wound up working too well, especially in Europe. The problem, as liberals like Phillip Longman and conservatives like Nicholas Eberstadt tell us, is not too many people but too few. Especially working-age, people. As the liberal Guardian newspaper put it, “Europe needs many more babies to avert a population disaster.” That’s why the Danish government ran that ad campaign that we told you about last year on BreakPoint, urging its citizens to “do it for Denmark.” Obviously, Macron didn’t get the memo, or if he did, he chose instead to recycle a fifty-year-old bad idea that, in its most notorious implementation, China’s “one child policy,” “affected more people in a more intimate and brutal way” than any other government policy in history. It’s an idea that threatens to leave countless people in the West “childless and alone” in their old age. An idea to which all of Africa, not just the French-speaking part, should reply, “non, merci.”

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Brian Fikkert: "When Helping Hurts"

Jul 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

Warren Cole Smith’s interviews Brian Fikkert, co-author of the enormously influential book, “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Continental Suicide

Jul 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

What happens when a civilization forgets—or rejects—its roots? We’re seeing it right now. “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least it leaders have decided to commit suicide.” Those are the opening words of Douglas Murray’s controversial best-seller, “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.” What Murray means when he says that Europe is “committing suicide” is that “the civilization we know as Europe is in the process of committing suicide.” It’s a fate that neither his native “Britain nor any other Western European country can avoid . . . because [they] all appear to suffer from the same symptoms and maladies.” It’s Murray’s diagnosis of these “symptoms and maladies” that should interest Christians. As the subtitle suggests, Murray’s book covers much of the same ground as other recent books by authors such as Mark Steyn, Bruce Bawer, and the French novelist Michelle Houellebecq. These books seek to warn readers about the threat to European institutions and values posed by mass Islamic immigration. While Murray is, to put it mildly, skeptical about the possibility of successfully assimilating millions of Muslim immigrants and their children, this mass migration alone wasn’t enough to cause the “strange death” alluded to in his title. As Murray tells readers, “even the mass movement of millions of people into Europe would not sound such a final note for the continent were it not for the fact that (coincidentally or otherwise) at the same time Europe lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy.” In other words, it is mass Islamic immigration plus Europe’s spiritual exhaustion—my words not his—that threaten to put an end to European civilization. And at the heart of the loss of faith Murray cites is Europe’s turning its back on Christianity. In one chapter he writes about a sense shared by many European intellectuals, including himself, that “life in modern liberal democracies is to some extent thin or shallow and that life in modern Western Europe in particular has lost its sense of purpose.” According to Murray, “Here is an inheritance of thought and culture and philosophy and religion which has nurtured people for thousands of years and may well fulfill you too.” The “religion” Murray refers to is, of course, Christianity, which he calls the “source” of European ideas about rights, laws, and the institutions that protect them. He tells his secularized readers that “There is no reason why the inheritor of a Judeo-Christian civilization and Enlightenment Europe should spend much, if any, of their time warring with those who still hold the faith from which so many of those beliefs and rights spring.” He also derides the varieties of “European Christianity [that] have lost the confidence to proselytize or even believe in their own message.” This lack of confidence, in Murray’s estimation, is why some young Europeans turn to Islam, which doesn’t suffer from the sense that “the story has run out.” What makes Murray’s account especially interesting is that he is a self-described atheist. His reasons for disbelief aren’t particularly persuasive, but that doesn’t negate his much-needed reminder of Europe’s debt to Christianity and how its rejection of its Christian past threatens its future. The same, of course, could be said about America. As Murry writes, “If being ‘European’ is not about race—as we hope it is not—then it is even more imperative that it is about ‘values.’ This is what makes the question ‘What are European values?’ so important.” It’s a question that can’t be answered without first acknowledging the source of those values.

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BreakPoint This Week: Religious Freedom's Roe v Wade

Jul 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case of Jack Phillips, a Christian Colorado baker who refused to decorate a cake for a gay "wedding" and was fined by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. John and Ed talk about the facts of the case--which the media are not reporting accurately--the enormous importance of the case for the future of religious freedom, and how Justice Anthony Kennedy might vote.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Beauty and Faith

Jul 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

Eric Metaxas: The power of beauty can lift our eyes to God. So says one new study—and our old friend Chuck Colson. The UK Telegraph recently ran an amazing headline: “One in six young people are Christian as visits to church buildings inspire them to convert.” In fact, the beauty of the church played a larger role in their conversion than attending a youth group or talking with Christians about their beliefs. And if you’ve ever visited one of England’s magnificent cathedrals, you’d understand why. This news would not have surprised Chuck Colson. Back in 2008 he talked about the importance of beauty and art as it relates to our worship–and the places in which we worship. Here’s Chuck. Chuck Colson: The neighbors watched the new church building go up in just one month—and what a sight it was! The church was a squat, square building made of unrelieved concrete. On the inside was garish red carpeting. A massive parking lot surrounded the church. Nothing could possibly have been uglier—and the fact that so many Christians build church structures like this reveals how far Christians have strayed from the place beauty and art are meant to have in our lives. As the late Francis Schaeffer notes in his book, Art and the Bible, we evangelicals tend to relegate art to the fringes of life. Despite our talk about the lordship of God in every aspect of life, we have narrowed its scope to a very small part of reality. But the arts are also supposed to be under the lordship of Christ, Schaeffer reminds us. Christians ought to use the arts “as things of beauty to the praise of God.” This is exactly what God commanded regarding the building of His Tabernacle. As Schaeffer says, “God commanded Moses to fashion a tabernacle in a way [that] would involve almost every form of representational art that men have ever known.” In Exodus 25, for example, God instructs Moses to make for the Holy of Holies “two cherubim of gold; of beaten work shalt thou make them.” In other words, God was commanding that works of art be made: a statuary representation of angels. Outside the Holy of Holies, lampstands were to be placed—that is, candlesticks of pure gold, decorated with representations of nature: almond blossoms and flowers. And then we have the descriptions of the priestly garments. Upon their skirts were to be designed pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet. Does God value beauty for beauty’s sake? It seems He does. Consider the two columns Solomon set up before the Temple. He decorated them with a hundred pomegranates fastened upon chains, as God commanded. These two free-standing columns supported no architectural weight and had no engineering significance, Schaeffer writes. “They were there only because God said they should be there as a thing of beauty.” And this brings us back to those ugly church buildings we often build. No wonder non-Christians often remark on the ugliness of our churches—an ugliness that is off-putting to anyone sensitive to beauty. We have forgotten that beauty is not achieved, as some argue, just to draw people into the church, but because it is a form of praise to the God who designed and created magnificent mountains, delicate flowers, and our beautiful children. No doubt you have seen churches that have crossed the line from beautiful to garish, where opulence is more valued than true beauty. Indeed, historically, the Protestant reaction to opulent church furnishings was to seek beauty in simplicity. And that is fine too. But every congregation, no matter how small its budget, should ensure that its facilities, humble though they may be—and in some parts of the world, they are very, very primitive—nonetheless, are tasteful and reflect the beauty of the Creator. The God we worship glories in beauty. (This commentary originally aired January 31, 2008.)

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Most Republican Book of the Bible?

Jul 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

Solomonic wisdom or partisan politics? Here’s a word to the wise about Proverbs. If the books of the Bible could vote, which would be most likely to cast a Republican ballot? According to one professor at Yale Divinity School, the book of Proverbs would be a card-carrying member of the GOP. Joel S. Baden, a professor of Hebrew Bible, calls the Old Testament’s largest collection of wise sayings “the most Republican book of the entire Bible.” Writing at Politico, he rakes Florida senator Marco Rubio over the coals for tweeting verses from Proverbs. Rubio’s tweets include verses like Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed,” and Proverbs 26:11: “As dogs return to their vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Of course, anyone who’s read Proverbs knows that it’s more than a collection of pithy sayings under 140 characters. It’s a treasure trove of inspired wisdom on trusting God over our own understanding, of raising godly children, and even finding a spouse, of avoiding the devastation of sins like anger and promiscuity. It’s part of the biblical genre called wisdom literature, which contains maxims for shrewd and righteous living. This is why they’re called “proverbs,” not “promises.” The point of a proverb is to communicate a general truth about God’s world, and how it typically works. You would think a professor of Hebrew Scripture would understand this. But Baden treats the teaching of Proverbs as a kind of right-wing, alternative worldview, divorced from the rest of the Bible: In Proverbs, explains Baden, “the righteous are rewarded, and the wicked are punished…everyone gets what is coming to them…[and those] who succeed in life must be more righteous than those who struggle.” He contrasts this with passages about caring for the poor in Ecclesiastes, Amos, and the gospels, implying (though never saying) that the Bible as a whole leans left. Pointing to past presidents like Gerald Ford and candidates like Ben Carson, he concludes that Republicans have a long-term love affair with Proverbs, and that they ought to “read, and tweet, more widely.” First of all, no one who has ever heard Senator Rubio talk about his Christian faith could suggest with a straight face that he doesn’t know the Bible beyond Proverbs. I’m thinking in particular of a meeting with pastors in Iowa during caucus season, where Rubio gave one of the most eloquent explanations of the Gospel I’ve ever heard from a politician. I do wonder, though, why in his article Professor Baden ignored those New Testament passages that sound every bit as “right-wing” as Proverbs. I think of Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, in which servants who invested their master’s money wisely were commended, or 2 Thessalonians 3:10, in which Paul writes, “If anyone will not work, neither should he eat.” This Old Testament scholar even insists that Jesus “repudiated” a portion of the Mosaic Law when He instructed His followers to “turn the other cheek.” Never mind that Moses was talking about civil justice while Christ was talking about personal revenge. Isn’t it worth noting that earlier in the very same chapter of Matthew, Jesus says that “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law…”? Now, I’m not going to pretend either major party is a model of biblical faithfulness. I’m also not going to pretend they’re identical, nor am I suggesting that proof-texting is a responsible way of living out your faith in the political sphere. But perhaps Professor Baden is doing precisely what he is suggesting the Republicans do: that is, “concentrating exclusively on the parts of [The Bible] that affirm one’s own perspective.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Chuck Colson: Why Harvard Can't Teach Ethics, part 2

Jul 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today we have part 2 of Chuck Colson’s lecture at the Harvard Business school on why Harvard can’t teach ethics. We pick up where we left off, as Chuck reveals the greatest myth of the 20th century.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The African Famine

Jul 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

When Jesus said, “In this world you’ll have tribulation,” He might have had Africa in mind. Imagine, if you can, that you hear rumors of Muslim terrorists coming to take over your hometown. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. You don’t even know whether to stay or flee. Finally, someone you trust tells you they have started burning down churches. Frantically, you gather up your family and a few meager possessions and run as fast as you can in the other direction—praying they won’t catch you. After days of exhausting, harrowing effort, you and your children finally arrive at a relief camp for the displaced and you get in a food line. But when you come to the front, the man in charge says coldly, “This relief is not for Christians.” To the Muslims running this camp, you’re a mere pagan. To add insult to injury, you find out that Christians here are not even allowed to gather for worship. Christians in Nigeria’s Borno state have been living this scenario since 2009, when Boko Haram began wreaking havoc. Africa’s tribulation seems never-ending. From the Ethiopian famine decades ago to the more recent chaos in Sudan, the headlines we receive here in the West are nearly always grim. In fact, Africa is facing yet another seemingly unprecedented crisis—a famine stretching from Somalia, to South Sudan, to Nigeria, in which 20 million people are at risk of starvation. That’s right, 20 million. According to our friends over at Open Doors USA, an average of 184 children die each day in Nigeria from malnutrition. The saddest fact of all is that this famine is caused by people, not the weather. It’s caused by instability, war, economic collapse, and discrimination. Here’s another fact—Africa is heavily Christian. Its share of Christians has exploded from about 9 percent in 1900 to almost 50 percent today, including two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa. These are our brothers and sisters facing this tribulation, and we owe them more than a quick shake of the head before moving on to the next news story. Whatever our differences, those who follow Jesus Christ are members of the same body. When one hurts, we all hurt—and compassion fatigue is no excuse for looking away. As Jesus said, when we serve the “least of these,” we serve Him. And it must go beyond helping fellow Christians, as important as that is. Christians aren’t the only ones starving—or watching what those of us in the wealthy Western countries do. Muslims, animists, and secular people—they also need our help, and we need to do our best, as a matter of gospel witness, even biblical justice. Maybe we can’t do everything, but surely we can do something, for such a time as this. And of course the African continent is on the frontlines of a long spiritual contest being played out daily between the followers of Jesus Christ and the followers of Muhammad. It’s a battle waged in the heavenlies but also in cities, villages, and country sides of Africa. The eternal destinies of millions hang in the balance—to say nothing of their acute physical needs. That’s why prayer—the kind that drives us to our knees and makes us cry out to God for mercy—is so vital right now. Will you pray with me for the starving men, women, and children of Africa, who need not only physical food and drink, but spiritual food and living water that only Jesus can provide? Once you’ve done that, would you please give as much as you possibly can? Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to organizations that are organizing targeted relief efforts for the African famine. One of them is Open Doors, which works with partner churches on the ground. Their goal is to save the lives of 3,000 families. For perhaps the cost of cable or internet service for a month—you can provide a Food Survival Kit to feed a starving family of five for two months—very possibly one that can’t get help any other way. Again, come to BreakPoint.org to learn more. You know it’s the right thing to do. Thank you for doing it!

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Eugene Peterson and Same-Sex ‘Marriage’

Jul 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

Last week, the well-known evangelical author Eugene Peterson appeared to embrace so-called same-sex “marriage,” and then, he backtracked. There’s a lot to talk about. Last week Eugene Peterson, the author of “The Message” as well as several other pastoral books, said in an interview with Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service that he didn’t consider homosexuality wrong and would, if asked, officiate a same-sex “marriage.” “I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian,” Peterson said, “and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do.” The reaction was swift and immediate. After all, Peterson is no minor figure. His work has influenced the faith of millions, and predictably, liberal circles hailed him as the most prominent evangelical figure yet to “evolve” on same-sex relationships. But then on Thursday, Peterson released a statement retracting his earlier comments, saying, “To clarify, I affirm the biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.” I’m glad for this retraction, though his statements are still puzzling. Even more, they’re revealing. First, they reveal the crisis of authority among evangelicals. So much of this conversation, and many others within the evangelical church, is driven by celebrities instead of doctrine. That’s not helpful at all. Second, they reveal the need for clarity on another oft-repeated point: that there’s a massive shift among Christians on this issue. As my “BreakPoint This Week” co-host Ed Stetzer wrote last year in “Christianity Today,” rumors of the evangelical church caving to gay theology are greatly exaggerated. While some high-profile figures have “evolved,” most denominations and groups have staked out clear positions on the orthodox, biblical view of sexuality and marriage. Third, Peterson’s original statement appealed, not to biblical teaching or theological argument, but to people and experiences. He echoed others like David Gushee, Senator Rob Portman, and Reverend Stan Mitchell, all of whom say relationships with gay friends or family changed their views. Now, it would be one thing if people pointed to a new understanding of the Greek or Hebrew language, or the discovery of a some hidden, robust theological tradition. But it’s never that sort of thick argument cited by those who evolve—no, it’s always based on subjective experience. As Tim Keller wrote, if you change your mind about homosexuality because you meet a friendly and intelligent gay person, your views probably weren’t based on a biblical theology of marriage to begin with. Feelings are no substitute for an informed Christian worldview. As Samuel James pointed out at First Things, every single one of our Christian convictions—whether on sexuality, being kind to our enemies, abortion, God, hate, lust, or the meaning of life—will eventually collide with real life after the fall. “There is no safe corner of the Christian story that is completely intuitive or unfailingly neighborly,” he writes. Every claim of the Gospel can and will place us in conflict with unbelievers, especially in this cultural moment. The attempt to avoid all offense only leaves us in doctrinal no-man’s land. And finally, this isn’t, as some have claimed, a side issue or something Christians can just “agree to disagree” on. From God creating us male and female and ordering marriage toward procreation, to Jesus’ reaffirmation of natural marriage in Matthew 19, to Paul’s clear language in his epistles, to the marriage supper of the Lamb, not to mention the way the Old Testament dealt with sexuality and sexual sin, the Bible consistently and unambiguously teaches one view of human sexuality. Marriage is so thoroughly woven into the story of redemption, any attempt to alter it distorts the Gospel. Please join me in praying that Peterson would continue to reaffirm the biblical teaching for the right reasons, and let’s continue to pray for and call for renewed determination in the Church to stand on the solid rock of God’s word.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Chuck Colson: Why Harvard Can't Teach Ethics, part 1

Jul 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today we present part 1 of Chuck Colson's 1991 lecture at the Harvard Business School: "Why Harvard Can’t Teach Ethics." The answer, Chuck argues, lies in the rejection of a transcendent moral order.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Clutter Gone Wild

Jul 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

According to the experts, millions of us have made a real mess of our lives—literally. One of the biggest bestsellers in recent years is the little book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo. Over six million copies have been sold—which means an awful lot of us seem to have trouble dealing with our junk. But did you ever consider that piles of clutter may affect your spiritual life? Americans, it seems, are overwhelmed by their stuff. For instance, their garages are so full of junk there’s no room for a car. Papers pile up on counter tops. Clothing—much of it unworn for years—explodes out of our closets. And you become absolutely certain that the kids’ toys are somehow secretly breeding—especially when you stab your bare foot on a Lego or trip over a Batman action figure. Many parents, having spent good money on books, Barbies, and Beanie Babies, hesitate to throw them out—even when their children are fully grown—because they cost so much money. After all, their as-yet-unconceived grandchildren might like them! This hoarding can even damage our health. The authors of a book titled “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” warn that trying to manage all the stuff we collect causes the levels of stress hormones to shoot up in mothers. And of course, even Christians are being influenced by their consumerist culture. Jesus tells us that if we have two coats, we should give one to someone who has none. So why do so many of us have 25 coats in our over-stuffed closets? Not to mention dozens of pairs of shoes, pants, and shirts. You name it, and we have way too much of it. TV and Internet ads turn our kids into consumers, too. But do they really play with their toys? Or do the toys gather dust while your children watch TV? Even our spiritual lives can be damaged by clutter. After all, how can we properly focus on God during our devotions if we can’t find our Bibles under the rubble, or if we’re so distracted by the mess all around us that we can’t focus on our prayers? The real problem is not that we can’t figure out how to store all this stuff, or that our children don’t pick up their stuff; the problem is that we bring home too much of it. Buying more containers or a bigger house to store our stuff in is not really the solution. It’s to stop buying so much in the first place. A Christian writer named Susan Vogt came up with a terrific solution to our culture’s pressure to buy, buy, buy. In her book, “Blessed by Less,” Vogt writes that she decided to give away something every day during Lent. It felt so good she kept it up for a whole year. “I became addicted to identifying things I no longer needed”—but which others did, she writes. She now thinks twice about what she really needs to buy. “Living lightly,” she adds, “reminds me that my existence is about more than accumulating possessions and status … Letting go of stuff also changed my attitude toward my possessions and helped me clarify my true priorities.” Are you too attached to your stuff? Are we like the rich young man who got upset when Jesus told him to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor? Sadly, this man chose his possessions over eternal life. While we don’t have to give everything away, we do need to remember that we have a moral obligation to share our blessings with the needy—including, perhaps, those jeans you can no longer zip yourself into, or that Chop-O-Matic food slicer you never use. So the next time you trip over a pile of DVDs—assuming you can find them under the pile of Ikea catalogs—remember that God loves a cheerful giver, and that He expects us to donate both our lives and our superfluous stuff to His service.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Eugene Peterson and the Media and "Hate Groups"

Jul 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss Eugene Peterson's statement--and retraction--about his position on same-sex 'marriage.' Also: Why would the media call the Alliance Defending Freedom a "Hate Group?"

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Who Lives, Who Dies?

Jul 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

John Stonestreet: We’ve talked recently about who should make life and death decisions when it comes to medical care. What would Chuck Colson have said about the case of little Charlie Gard? Who should decide who lives and who dies? Back in 2009, Chuck prophetically warned that with nationalized healthcare comes increased government control over these decisions—especially when it comes to “quality of life” issues. If all that matters is what an individual can contribute to society as opposed to the fact that we’re made in the image of God, we are all in danger. So please listen today to Chuck Colson. Chuck Colson: Maybe the biggest single issue in the debate over healthcare reform is cost. And by “cost” most people mean how are we going to pay for the president’s and Congress’s proposals. But there’s a more important question of cost when it comes to healthcare reform: that is, the price paid by the most vulnerable among us. In a recent New York Times magazine article, ethicist Peter Singer explains “why we must ration health care.” Singer, a brilliant writer and a master logician, begins by pooh-poohing the idea that “it’s immoral to apply monetary considerations to saving lives.” Well, Singer is right when he says that “we already put a dollar value on human life.” Mattresses aren’t as fire-resistant, he says, as they could be because government officials have decided it would be too expensive to save those additional lives. Still, Singer couldn’t resist the temptation to play God. He rejects the idea that the “good achieved by health care is the number of lives saved.” In his utilitarian calculus, the “death of a teenager is a greater tragedy than the death of an 85-year-old, and this should be reflected in our priorities.” How? Through the use of a “quality-adjusted-life-year,” or QALY. Say, for example, people prefer living five years disability free to living ten years with quadriplegia. Then, Singer reasons, when it comes to rationing health care, we ought to treat “life with quadriplegia as half as good as non-disabled life.” Believe me, he’s not kidding. What’s even more telling are the considerations Singer says we should not take into account: for instance, whether a patient is a mom or a dad. Thinking about a patient’s children, he says, “increases the scope for subjective—and prejudiced—judgments.” As abhorrent as Singer’s ideas are, they’re coldly consistent with utilitarian thinking that now dominates medical ethics. As early as the 1990s, Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the president’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, envisioned “not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” Why? Because, he claimed, they’re “prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.” I’m sorry, but this is the precise same logic the Nazis used to exterminate the physically and mentally handicapped. The only viable alternative to this horrific utilitarian, materialistic vision is the Imago Dei: the Christian belief that man is created in the image of God. Being created in the Imago Dei endows every person with dignity—a dignity that is not derived from the majority’s opinion (or a government definition) about the quality of their life or their contribution to society. In the absence of this belief, every decision about the allocation of healthcare—and indeed about any area of life—becomes an occasion for the young and strong to impose their will on the old and weak. The word for this is “tyranny.” And all the hand-wringing and rationalizations about the need to overhaul the healthcare system shouldn’t distract us from the very real danger of nationalizing health care and granting government the power to decide whose life is worth living. I say leave it to the family and the doctors, as it is today. (This commentary originally aired on July 27, 2009).

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“Hopecasting” in the Midst of Crisis

Jul 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

No matter the crisis, when Christians take the love of Jesus to the hurting and suffering, hope and transformation are sure to follow. In his new book “A Practical Guide to Culture,” my colleague John Stonestreet ends several chapters with what he and co-author Brett Kunkle call “hopecasting,”—a reminder that no matter what the issue or crisis, “God’s story continues to play out all around us.” And when it comes to the nation’s growing opioid crisis, we could use a lot of hopecasting. We’ve talked about this before on BreakPoint: The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that an average of 78 people die of an opiate overdose every day in the United States. Annually, opiate overdoses kill more than 28,000 people, with heroin taking the lives of more than 10,500 of them. More than 20 million Americans have some kind of substance-abuse problem, but just 10 percent are receiving any treatment. And as John has said, the problem isn’t primarily chemical, in the composition of the drugs themselves. It’s a manifestation of a “terrible hopelessness settling over a large part of America.” So what can we do about it … and begin to restore hope? Well, rather than tell you, I’d like to show you. In its annual “Hope Awards” issue, WORLD magazine has provided some great examples of what Christians are doing in their communities to provide hope in Jesus Christ—to help “those who labor and are heavy laden” to find “rest for their souls.” Exhibit A can be found at the New Life Home. For the last four decades, this Christian residential program in Manchester, New Hampshire, supported by 50 churches, has offered primarily opioid-addicted women an 18- to 24-month recovery program. And it has an amazing 89 percent graduation rate. Clients don’t have to be Christians—and often aren’t—but they are asked whether they’re open to God working in their lives, and they agree to go to church every week. At New Life they acquire life skills, learn about the Bible, study for their GED or a college degree, and help out with assigned chores. Here’s something else that’s different at New Life—the women are allowed to bring their children to live with them. Today 15 women and 20 children live at this warm and welcoming home. Here’s a vignette about one resident, named Rachel, from WORLD reporter Emily Belz: “Rachel, who escaped a violent gang situation and has been in the program for 22 months, now has her three children with her. Rachel’s parents found her living homeless on the street and pushed her to enter New Life and be a mom again—at that point she hadn’t seen her kids in 18 months. ‘God gave [my kids] to me for a reason, and He knew everything that was going to happen,’ Rachel said. ‘I need to restore my life with my kids, that’s why I’m here. I’m not here just for myself.’” Another resident, Shauna, was sexually assaulted as a teenager, and then again while serving in the military. In the aftermath, she became hooked on opioids and alcohol and lost custody of her 2-year-old, who was scheduled for adoption. But Shauna entered the New Life program and experienced a 180. After seeing Shauna’s turnaround at New Life, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families reversed its adoption decision and recommended reunification. And she’s now living with her son. So what’s the cure for hopelessness? Only Jesus Christ and His love, carefully and consistently applied by His people into the lives of those who so desperately need it—maybe even somebody you know. So hats off to the New Life Home in Manchester, and hats off to WORLD Magazine for the 2017 Hope Awards. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to these inspiring stories and the other nominees for the WORLD Hope Awards.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Darrell Bock on Evangelicals and Evangelicalism

Jul 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

Warren Cole Smith interviews eminent scholar and former President of the Evangelical Theological Society Darrell Bock on the state of evangelicals and evangelicalism

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Genderless Child?

Jul 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

There are many stories these days of government trampling parental rights, but what happens when parents are the ones doing the trampling? Recently on BreakPoint we talked about the tough case of Charlie Gard—the terminally ill baby whom British courts decided should die in the hospital rather than travel to America with his parents to seek experimental treatment for his rare condition. In that commentary, I said that the government had overstepped its authority, taking away the right of Charlie’s parents to make decisions for their son. But another story shows that there’s another side to this coin. The parent of a Canadian newborn not only wants to make a crucial life decision for him or her, but also force the government to recognize that decision. Now I say “him or her” because it has been hidden whether little Searyl Doty of British Columbia is a boy or a girl. Only the child’s mother, who identifies as a “non-binary trans person” and is taking male hormones, knows the truth. Searyl made international news when this baby received what his or her mother is calling the first ever “genderless” document issued by any government. The Gender Free I.D. Coalition, an activist group Searyl’s mother participates in, seeks to “remove all gender/sex designations from identity documents,” and in this case, they appear to have gotten their wish. The card issued by British Columbia lists Searyl’s sex as “U,” presumably for “unknown” or “unclassified.” Searyl’s mother (who, again, would prefer I call her a “parent,”) said in a statement that “It is up to Searyl to decide how they identify, when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity.” Doty believes so deeply in liberating children from biological sex that she’s a complainant in a case currently before the province’s Human Rights Tribunal, arguing for genderless government I.D. She’s also applied for judicial review of her child’s birth certificate, which British Columbia still says must list either male or female. Doty’s lawyer says requiring such a designation violates the baby’s rights “as a Canadian citizen to life, liberty and security of the person.” And by the way—folks, I promise I’m not making this up—this lawyer refuses to use capital letters in her name because it’s oppressive. Now why am I telling you all of this? Because in contrast to the Charlie Gard case in which the government overstepped its sphere of sovereignty, this is a case of a parent overstepping her sphere of sovereignty as well as crossing the line into abuse. And no, I don’t think “abuse” is too strong a word for a mother who refuses to acknowledge the biological reality of her child’s sex, and to raise him or her in denial of such reality. The potential for harm here is great, and not only should government officials refuse to accommodate it, they should stop such practices, even if necessary, removing the child from that home. Of course, I don’t expect for a moment the Canadian authorities will actually do this. But they should. And Christians shouldn’t be afraid to say so. And just as there are limits to the state’s authority over the family, there are limits of the family’s authority over the state. A parent doesn’t have the right to force the government to violate its responsibility to recognize reality either. God designed the family before all other institutions to produce, nurture, and protect children. The state isn’t competent to do this, and neither is the market, the academy, or even the church. But when the family fails to fulfill its God-ordained role—when parents try to deny a fundamental and biological truth about who their children are, they’ve failed. It’s awful to watch governments steamroll one family to end Charlie Gard’s life, while failing to intervene in Searyl Doty’s life. Because children are helpless against our social experimentations, Christians can’t simply retreat from the public square or concede the clash of worldviews. The bad ideas of adults in any sphere of authority often have small victims.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Christian Worldview and “The View”

Jul 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

Here’s a hard saying for some: Just because you think Jesus would do something doesn’t mean He would. Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cake Shop, is a brave man. Because he refused to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony, he was hauled before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. He was fined, and faces financial ruin. But he’s still standing fast. And the Supreme Court has agreed to take up his case. Perhaps even braver than appearing before the Supreme Court was agreeing to appear before another august panel about his Christian beliefs: I’m speaking of the daytime TV show “The View.” Paula Faris got the ball rolling. “Did you ever ask yourself what Jesus would do in this particular situation?” she asked, and then added knowingly, “Do you think Jesus would have said, ‘I don’t accept this, but I’m going to love you anyway.’” Of course, the audience applauded, knowing that nothing says “I love you” like baking a cake. Phillips’s reply was pretty straight-forward: “I don’t believe He would have because that would have contradicted the rest of the biblical teaching.” “Oh c’mon,” one hostess interrupted to more applause, “Jesus would have made the cake. Jesus can turn water into wine. He can do whatever He wants.” And then resident theologian Joy Behar jumped in, “You’re supposed to believe the Bible and everything but … that’s a deal breaker. Jesus is gonna make the cake,” then she tosses her palms up like, “what’s the matta’w’you?” Look, I have no insider information about the faith or theological training of the cast of “The View,” but I’m struck by their certainty that they know exactly what Jesus would do. But then again, that’s not at all unusual these days, is it? How often do we hear atheists, agnostics, or members of other faiths pronounce confidently exactly what Jesus would do in any given situation? And almost always it’s, “Jesus is all about love.” And by “love” they mean accepting and affirming whatever someone says, wants or does. It’s called “radical inclusion.” Now of course, what’s missed in all of this is that God’s love for us is inseparable from God’s sovereign purposes in the world He made. As Abraham Kuyper so helpfully clarified, Jesus is not doing something new or different than God the father. Redemption doesn’t reject creation, it fulfills it—it completes it. In Christ, God hasn’t changed His plan, He’s fulfilling it, which includes bringing us into full communion with Him and into conformity with His grand story of all that is, all under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our personal opinions about God’s love and God’s plan don’t change that reality one bit. But sadly, even many believers miss this point. They get upset when you say that a belief they hold contradicts Scripture, or that an idea they embrace contradicts or is inconsistent with a Christian worldview. Look, Christians disagree on many things, and there is room on many issues for disagreement within the bounds of orthodox belief. But not all. Here’s the point, one that Doug Wilson made at his blog recently: “A Christian worldview is not the sum total of what all the people who are going to Heaven think. It is the system of truth and life that is revealed to us in the Bible. We find out what that is by careful and submissive study, and not by counting available extant interpretations.” He’s right. We can debate all we want the reliability of Scripture, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the existence of hell, and the biological fact of the difference between men and women as created by God. Fine. But our debates and opinions don’t change revealed Truth. When we lose sight of that, what we get is not a Christian worldview at all, but more of a circus like “The View.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: What it Means to be Christian and Americann

Jul 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today we present John Stonestreet’s sermon delivered at St. George’s Anglican Church in Colorado Springs on what it means to be a Christian and an American.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Waving the Rainbow Flag on the Field of Play

Jul 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

The pressure on Christians to wave the rainbow flag may be new, but the issue is as old as the church. Imagine for the moment that you’re a world-class soccer star. You’ve worked for this all your life. Day after day and year after year you get up early, run, work on drills to hone your God-given talent. You’ve sacrificed many other things to rank among the best in the world. And now you may have to choose between your career or your faith. Why? Because you refuse to sell out to the crowd. This is not make-believe. This is the plight of Jaelene Hinkle, a Christian athlete with the U.S. national soccer team. Jaelene, you see, has suddenly been thrust into a harsh spotlight—not for anything she’s done on the pitch, as they say, but for her decision not to play in games in which her team must wear rainbow jerseys in support of “LGBT Pride” month in June. Now, Jaelene is not trying to make waves but simply says she’s bowing out for “personal reasons.” But her views on the matter are pretty clear. When the Supreme Court legalized what is called “same-sex marriage” in 2015, Jaelene stated on Instagram, “I believe with every fiber in my body that what was written 2,000 years ago in the Bible is undoubtedly true …. This world may change, but Christ and His Word NEVER will.” After calling on Christians to become more loving, she added, “The rainbow was a [covenant] made between God and all his creation that never again would the world be flooded as it was when He destroyed the world during Noah’s time. It’s a constant reminder that no matter how corrupt this world becomes, He will never leave us or forsake us.” Good, strong words! The rainbow, in case you haven’t noticed, has been appropriated by the LGBT rights crowd. The response to Jaelene’s latest stand has been mostly vitriol. One of the few printable reactions in opposition was, “It’s so nice when the trash takes itself out.” To this point however, Jaelene’s decision hasn’t cost her a spot on the national team. And one fair-minded gay sports blog said, “Hinkle has a right to her personal beliefs and if that means skipping a chance to play, that is also her right.” It’s been clear for a while now that sport, like many other realms in our culture, is under siege from the forces of political correctness, sexual license, and marriage redefinition. A few years ago, the NFL threatened to take the Super Bowl away from the state of Arizona because of a religious freedom bill that the LGBT activists opposed—so Arizona’s governor vetoed the bill. North Carolina was threatened by the NCAA with economic blackmail over its so-called “bathroom bill”—and changed the law. And now the Seattle WNBA team is donating a portion of ticket sales to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. I wonder what any Christians on the team think of this. But it isn’t just about sports. The pressure to conform is being ratcheted up everywhere—in business, politics, even religion. On a recent episode of “The Point,” my colleague John Stonestreet bemoaned that the LGBT “rainbows” have even turned up everywhere—even on bags of French fries! And I can sympathize. Yet all this isn’t really a surprise, is it? Christians have always faced a choice between following God or the world, Christ or Caesar. In the early church, Christians such as Polycarp, who was bishop of the church in Smyrna, also had to choose. Polycarp, who was an old man, simply had to say “Caesar is lord” and offer a pinch of incense before Caesar’s image—or face torture and death. He refused to give in, saying, “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” The pressure to go along with the world on human sexuality is probably only going to intensify. For the sake of God’s honor, the truth of His Word, and our neighbors’ flourishing, we simply cannot wave the rainbow flag. Thank God, Jaelene Hinkle hasn’t.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Sphere Sovereignty--Charlie Gard, Genderless Children, and Assisted Suicide

Jul 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

Who decides? Who decides whether Charlie Gard gets treatment, or whether Canada must issue genderless birth certificates, or whether to actively terminate a life? John and Ed discuss these issues using the framework of "sphere sovereignty."

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Embracing Courtesy

Jul 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

John Stonestreet: Why should we be civil with our political or religious opponents, especially if they’re not civil with us? Just a couple of weeks ago on BreakPoint, we talked about why civility and civil discourse are necessary for the future of our democracy. When comediennes hold up fake presidential heads, when college students shout down and threaten those who see the world differently than they do, our republic is in trouble. In fact, I ended that commentary by saying that “if we continue losing our minds like this, eventually someone’s going to lose their head—but this time, maybe for real.” Only two days after that BreakPoint, a gunmen tragically opened fire on Republican congressmen at a baseball practice in Virginia. So today, let’s hear from Chuck Colson, who on this program gave us yet another reason why civil discourse is so very important—and that is, the image of God. Here’s Chuck. Chuck Colson: Have you ever heard someone say something like “I’m sick of political correctness.” And then, as if to prove the point, that same person uses hurtful epithets to describe other people? Or maybe you’ve noticed that those who often decry hate speech are the first to label someone else a bigot? Whatever happened to courtesy—or I would say civility—in public discourse? Well, that’s the question my colleague Gina Dalfonzo explores in her article “The Lost Virtue of Courtesy” at Christianity Today Online. She notes that in Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis described courtesy as the idea “that no one give any kind of preference to himself.” Courtesy, he wrote, is one of the hallmarks of a “fully Christian society.” But as Gina explains, in a post-Christian society like ours, “me first” means “everybody else second.” When people become their own gods, they naturally end up giving all the preference to themselves and none to others. They place a higher value on self-expression than on kindness to others, because they believe their own opinions and feelings matter more. And today’s political correctness has become a sort of secular alternative to the old Christian virtue of courtesy. But this political correctness is being promoted and practiced for the most part by the same people who desire to expel Christian values from the public square. So we end up with a strange dichotomy: a society full of folks who condemn hatred in one breath, and spew hatred with the next. Take for instance, as Gina notes, columnist Dan Savage, who first proposed a project to help bullied teenagers. But in that very same column, he made crude sexual remarks about a conservative female politician. Or take the “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall—a rally that was supposed to be all about moderation and reason. But one of the featured performers, Cat Stevens, a convert to Islam, once supported Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for the murder of novelist Salman Rushdie. People behave this way with straight faces, never even recognizing their own hypocrisy. That’s because they’ve forgotten what true courtesy is and what it requires of us—and that’s because they have forgotten, or rejected, a Christian worldview. You see, the virtue of courtesy is rooted in the idea of the imago Dei, the concept that each of us was created in the image of a loving God. That is what gives each person—every person—dignity and makes each of us worthy of respect. That’s why in the epistle of James we read, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness . . . My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” Sadly, in the toxic culture we live in, we Christians too often forget that and end up behaving just like the rest of the world. By God’s grace, we must do better. To recover the lost virtue of courtesy, we who understand that every human being is made in the image of God need to set the example—and pray that others might follow our lead.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Charlie Gard’s Death Sentence

Jul 6, 2017 - 00:00:00

Can the government tell you when and where your child will die? For one couple in the U.K., the answer is “yes.” This is a chilling precedent. An incredibly complicated and heartbreaking life-and-death medical case has sparked an international debate: It’s the case of little Charlie Gard. Charlie suffers from an extremely rare and deadly genetic disorder called Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome. Mitochondria “are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use.” Because of his depletion of mitochondrial DNA, Charlie’s muscles and organs are failing. He’s unconscious and cannot breathe on his own. From all reports, he’s in the terminal stages of a disease for which there is no known cure. Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have raised a million and a half dollars in private donations to take him to America for an experimental treatment. They appear under no illusion that the treatment will work, but they do want to exhaust every possibility. But doctors at Britain’s Great Ormond Street Hospital have decided that Charlie’s condition is hopeless, and that he should be left to die. Britain’s High Court agreed, and the European Court of Human rights refused to intervene after Charlie’s parents appealed. The doctors now have the legal go-ahead to take Charlie off life support. Now world reaction has been decidedly on the side of Charlie’s parents. After some initial confusion within the Vatican, the Vatican’s pediatric hospital offered to take care of Charlie, as has at least one American hospital. Even President Trump tweeted over the weekend, “If we can help little #CharlieGard, … we would be delighted to do so.” As I record this broadcast, these offers have all fallen on deaf ears. The hospital refuses to let Charlie travel or even die at home with his parents. They’ve kept him on life support to give Charlie and his parents just a little more time together. Those are the facts as I understand them. But now here’s why this case is so important, both for the sake of Charlie and his family, and for our civilization. First, the government should have no role in dictating when and where a baby should die, and whether his parents can seek additional treatment options. The decision by the British High Court is an appalling overreach, and it sets a very dangerous precedent. In worldview terms, the government is well beyond its sphere of sovereignty, gobbling up authority that rightfully belongs to the family and to the church. Second Peter clarifies that the civil authorities are ordained by God to reward good and punish evil. Great Ormond Street Hospital and the British and international courts have determined it’s time for little Charlie to die, regardless of how many people around the world want to help him by paying for transportation and additional treatment. They won’t even allow him to die at home. They’ve effectively asserted ownership over this little boy and his life. This is unambiguously wrong. And the facts don’t support the European Court of Human Rights’ claim that undergoing experimental treatment would expose Charlie to “continued pain, suffering and distress.” As one official at the hospital where he’s being cared for admitted, doctors “don’t know whether he suffers pain.” And, we should note, the British government is in this position of superseded authority largely because of the breakdown of the family. Courts and officials there are accustomed to playing mom, dad, even sometimes God. And we’re not that far behind here in the United States. But that doesn’t mean the government has the right to make the kinds of life-and-death decisions that Charlie’s parents and others are called to make, nor is it best equipped to navigate the unique challenges of such a difficult case. When it comes to this little life, by overstepping, hospital officials and judges have handed down a death sentence that isn’t theirs to render.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jim Daly: When Parenting Isn't Perfect

Jul 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

Colson Center President John Stonestreet interviews Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, about Daly's new book, "When Parenting Isn't Perfect."

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Time to Thicken up the Church

Jul 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

Are our churches truly leaving a mark on people? Or another way to think about it: Are our churches thick or thin? What’s the difference between a job and a vocation? Or a collection of people and a team? Well, according to New York Times columnist David Brooks, the difference is thickness. “A thick institution,” Brooks writes, “becomes part of a person’s identity and engages the whole person: head, hands, heart and soul.” Brooks tells of the Incarnation summer camp in Connecticut where he worked as a young man. When a former Incarnation co-worker died recently, the camp community came together, reaching out to his relatives in their grief and to one another in theirs. One posted a camp reunion photo with the caption, “My Family.” As Brooks writes, “Some organizations are thick, and some are thin. Some leave a mark on you, and some you pass through with scarcely a memory. I haven’t worked at Incarnation for 30 years,” he said, “but it remains one of the four or five thick institutions in my life.” According to Brooks, thick organizations—whether schools, employers, or something else—often share a physical location, where people meet regularly, face to face, and frequently, for a meal. Thick institutions often have and practice shared rituals—such as fasting or reciting a song or a theme. There’s often what might be called a “sacred origin story,” and many members can tell of personal rescue or redemption, and usually can quickly articulate a common ideal—just think about Semper Fi for the Marine Corps. Membership is not a means to get something for themselves, but a way to be part of something bigger than themselves, for the greater good. Now I find it interesting, telling in fact, that throughout this terrific description of “thick” institutions, Brooks never once uses the word “church” in his column. Isn’t this exactly what churches should be? Think of the first-century church in Jerusalem as described in Acts 2 or the persecuted house church communities in China. The church was established by Christ to be the place of our primary relationships and loyalty, where individuals and families both invest of themselves and receive help, encouragement, rebuke and blessing. But in the age of “dating the church,” it’s too often a consumerist experience, in which leadership is forced to outdo itself each week to attract parishioners who are more shaped by consumerism than the Gospel itself. Some churches, so afraid of losing attendees, have embraced a consumer model that offers all kinds of life advice and programming, but little that is distinct from the culture. A recent study revealed that growing churches are the theologically conservative ones: with leaders who believe that Jesus really rose from the dead, that salvation is only available in Christ, and following Christ calls us to culturally unpopular commitments. But it’s more than just the right beliefs; it has to be the right practices, too—inviting believers to embrace the faith once delivered through shared worship, repentance, and calling. And of course, by caring for one another. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said recently that Facebook can provide community and a sense of belonging like churches do. But Facebook is a thin community at best, an illusion of true community. As one online commenter quipped, Facebook won’t show up at your door with 50 casseroles after you have a baby or lose a loved one. Being connected is not the same as being in relationship. And we ought to remember this, in an age of thin connections masquerading as thick, strong mediating institutions are the secret sauce of a strong civil society. They not only provide meaning for individuals, they’re necessary for a healthy citizenry. They do what government cannot: cultivate virtue and care for others, both of which are necessary for self-governance. Please come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll link you to David Brooks column. But more than that, this is something we should discuss in our families, and share with our pastors and friends.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Why We Must Love Our Country

Jul 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

As I wrote recently in USA Today, if we ever want America great again, it’s time we re-embrace patriotism. Remember when Mark Twain and Matthew Brady did that daguerreotype with the fake bloody head of Honest Abe? What about after Pearl Harbor when Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna mugged for the newsreel cameras holding FDR’s noggin? You don’t remember these stunts? That’s because they didn’t happen. Lincoln and Roosevelt were despised by millions. And yet, the comedians of their day would not have dreamed of pulling so-called ”funny” stunts involving severed heads. Why not? Well, it has to do with patriotism. There was a time when patriotism was the norm. So were generally-accepted limits regarding how we express civic disapproval. The main form of dissent was yanking down that lever in the voting booth against the candidate we disapproved of. So when did a normal and healthy patriotism begin to fall out of favor? Many believe it began during the flag-burning Vietnam War era. (Sadly, these acts were countered with an unthinking hyper-patriotism typified in the slogan: “America, Love it or Leave It!”) Thus, an atmosphere of enshrined adolescent rebellion took over. The flag burners quickly moved from academia and found a home among our cultural elites, especially those in the news media and in Hollywood, where it has thrived ever since. Now this is bad news, because a unifying spirit of patriotism is vital for the United States to continue to exist. America is not based on ethnicity, but on the unprecedented idea of liberty and self-government. This means we are incapable of truly being America unless we understand and appreciate our country. During the 1950s, my dad came here from Greece and my mom from Germany. They met in New York City and raised me to love their adopted country. However, in the public school education I received during the 1970s, we pretty much skipped learning the greatness of America. And when I got to college in the 1980s, professors taught against patriotism. A narrative had taken hold that America was not the strong, heroic country protecting the weak; instead, it was the abusive stepdad who needed to be kicked out and arrested. I drank this anti-American Kool-Aid and became deeply skeptical of anyone who wrapped himself in the red, white and blue. But not long after the 9/11 attacks, I was on a ferry ride with my family and I saw the Statue of Liberty against the deep blue sky, nobly holding out her golden torch to the world. My proximity to the recently vanished Twin Towers gave the statue poignant context. It was then that I knew I loved my country, and I felt shame for ever taking her for granted. There’s a Greek proverb that says, “If a man does not boast about his house, it will fall on him.” If we do not begin to understand and appreciate what made us great—including the flawed heroes of our history, who risked life and limb so that we could enjoy liberties unlike any before in the history of the world—we can never again be great. And as Chuck Colson once said on this very program, “we’re to love our country just because it’s our own. Not because it’s the best and most democratic country in the world-which it may not be at times—but because it’s the place God has put us.” The thing we must now rebel against is rebellion for its own sake. We must resist resistance for its own sake. We must dare to express our love of this country and its promises if we ever hope to solve our problems. Now if some of us happen to be too proud or too angry to do that, then we need to have the maturity to let them stew in their rebellion, loving and praying for them all the while, hoping that they might at last come to their senses and then come down to supper with us again.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Dr. Bill Brown: The Christ-Centered Life and Cultural Engagement

Jul 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today on the BreakPoint Podcast we present a talk given by Dr. Bill Brown, the National Director of our Colson Fellows Program. Speaking at a Cedarville University chapel, Bill asks how Christians should engage the culture. As evangelizers, culture warriors, or as insiders? Perhaps there is another way.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Being Pro-Life at Google

Jul 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

Is it possible to argue effectively for the rights of the unborn to a secular audience? Just Google it! Many were surprised when Tim Keller was invited to give a Google Talk back in 2008 about his book, “The Reason for God.” The tech giant, like most denizens of Silicon Valley, has a reputation for being socially progressive and devoted to a set of values that are, shall we say, different than those of conservative Christians. By inviting him to talk to its staff, Google signaled an openness, not only to Christian ideas, but to real and healthy dialogue. Keller was even invited to speak a second time at Google. But recently, an even more surprising Google Talk speaker than Keller visited their headquarters. Stephanie Gray is a Canadian pro-life apologist. She travels the world making the case for the humanity and personhood of the unborn. She’s co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and now leads a ministry called Love Unleashes Life. Her talk at Google just a few days ago wasn’t just unprecedented, it was amazing. In fact, within 24 hours, it surpassed the popularity of another talk by Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards. Stephanie opened by comparing the story of Captain Sully Sullenberger, the man who successfully landed a disabled airliner on the Hudson River in 2009, refusing to evacuate until all his passengers were safe, with the captain of the Italian Costa Concordia ship who quickly jumped ship after it wrecked. We rightly admire people like “Sully,” Stephanie said, because of three qualities. First, their willingness to sacrifice for others, their perspective when faced with hardship, and their commitment to do the right thing, even when it means being the last one out of a sinking airplane. But abortion flies in the face of these admirable and heroic qualities. It promises an easy way out—erasing the consequences of sex as if nothing—or no one—ever happened. Stephanie thinks we all know better at a deep level. And she challenged her audience with story after story of women who chose life, even in the toughest of circumstances, and who don’t regret it. Like my friend, Scott Klusendorf at the Life Training Institute, Stephanie knows that the arguments about choice, bodily autonomy, financial hardship, or special cases are just distractions from the central question that matters the most: Is the unborn human? At Google, she marshaled scientific evidence to show that our humanity and individuality are fully present from the earliest stages of gestation. She showed that an unborn baby’s moral value is determined solely by the type of thing it is, not its size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency. And most importantly, she appealed to her audience’s moral imagination, demonstrating why the others-centered love required to choose life is the kind of thing we admire, the kind of thing we know is right, and the kind of choice no one regrets. We can learn a thing or two from Stephanie. First, the case for life is strong. Her message was one that even an overwhelmingly secular and progressive audience could understand. She made non-religious arguments—what Chuck Colson would call prudential arguments—for the rights of the unborn. And then she employed an arsenal of stories that reinforce life in a way philosophical reasoning by itself never could. She even appealed to Google’s corporate motto, “Do the right thing,” adding: “even when it’s hard.” And the second thing we can learn is that the moral realities that Christians believe aren’t just true and defensible. They’re better! So many in our culture these days are wondering not only if Christian truth claims are true, but if they’re good. We can and should know how to make the case for life just like Stephanie. Come to BreakPoint.org for a link to her outstanding talk, and to find the book that taught me to make the case for life by Scott Klusendorf, called The Case for Life.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Religious Freedom at the Court, Celebrating Independence Day

Jul 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a victory for religious liberty this week. In a 7-2 decision, the justices ruled that the government cannot deny general services to churches and other religious organizations on the basis of their viewpoint. The Court also decided to take up the case of Masterpiece Cake Shop, whose owners were sued for not designing a cake for a same-sex wedding. It’s another important case to watch. This weekend as we celebrate Independence Day, John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer urge listeners to think deeply about what it means to be a Christian in America. Our identity is first in Christ’s kingdom. But God has placed us in this land, surrounded by the blessings of liberty, which were guaranteed by founders who recognized where our rights come from: God, not government. Why not take the time this summer to learn more about the Christian thought that influenced our country’s founding, and why our Constitution places such a priority on the free exercise of religion?

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Religious Freedom Wins at the Supreme Court, What It Means to Be a Christian Citizen

Jun 30, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the major victories for religious freedom at the Supreme Court in the Trinity Lutheran decision and the court's deciding to hear the case of Masterpiece Cake Shop. John and Ed also look forward to Independence Day and talk about what it means to be a citizen of the United States and, more importantly, a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: "A Practical Guide to Culture" (part 2)

Jun 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 2 of Warren Cole Smith's interview with John Stonestreet about John's new book, "A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World."

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THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE
#606 - Randall Carlson

Feb 4, 2015 - 3:09:16

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