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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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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
A Biblical Case for Defending Religious Freedom

Jun 30, 2017 - 00:00:00

Why should we actively and publicly defend religious freedom? We’ll look to the Apostle Paul for an answer. In late May, Alan Sears, the founder of the Alliance for Defending Freedom, was awarded the Wilberforce Award for his and the Alliance’s efforts on behalf of religious freedom. At the ceremony, several speakers testified about Sears’ commitment to securing this most basic of rights, and the example he sets for all Christians. But there’s another example of the importance of knowing and asserting our rights in matters of faith I’d like to tell you about. It’s an example that predates Sears’s efforts by nearly 2000 years. I’m talking about the Apostle Paul. On several occasions in the book of Acts, Paul asserts his rights as a Roman citizen to further the work of the Gospel. The first is related in Acts 16. Paul, Silas, and Luke arrive in Philippi in what is now Greece. While they were there, Paul casts out of a slave girl what Luke calls a “Python spirit,” a reference to the serpent that guarded the oracle at Delphi. The girl’s owners, angry at the loss of revenue from her fortune-telling, drag Paul and Silas before the local magistrates. The magistrates beat them with rods and throw them into jail. The next day, the magistrates sent lictors, Roman police, to the jail to tell Paul and Silas that they’re free to go. Paul refuses to leave. He tells them that he is a Roman citizen, and thus, had the right to a trial before being beaten and thrown in jail. He insists that the magistrates come to the jail and personally release them. Alarmed by Paul’s assertion of his rights as a Roman citizen, the magistrates do just that. As William Kurz of Marquette University writes in his commentary on Acts, Paul’s assertion of his rights was “important for the reputation of the incipient Christian community as well as for the missionaries’ prospects for returning to Philippi.” In other words, he invoked his rights to protect the Philippians’ religious freedom. Then there’s Acts 22. Following his return to Jerusalem, Paul’s opponents create a disturbance near the Temple. He is taken away by the Roman authorities to be “be interrogated under the lash.” Once again, Paul asserts his rights as a Roman citizen. This not only spares Paul the beating, it also ensures that he will be judged by Roman authorities and not the Jewish leaders who conspired to kill him. As Kurz tells readers, “Paul’s recourse to the legal rights available to him sets a useful example for contemporary Christians who encounter discrimination, persecution, or even court trials, imprisonment, and martyrdom . . . [Paul] used the rights of his Roman citizenship to ensure that witness to Jesus would reach as far as Rome, the center of the empire.” Similarly, Kurz tells us, “Citizens of democratic nations today also need to avail themselves of every political and legal remedy to fight for religious freedom and for the rights of those who cannot defend themselves: the unborn, disabled, sick, and elderly . . . As Paul did not hesitate to use Roman law to protect his Christian mission, neither should we be reluctant to use the laws of our country to protect our freedom to spread the gospel and to defend the human rights of all.” This is why defending our rights, especially our right to religious freedom, is so important. It’s a gift God has given us to ensure that the witness to Jesus continues, both at home and abroad.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
When Charity Is Labeled “Hate”

Jun 29, 2017 - 00:00:00

The culture war has a new front: philanthropic giving. That is, charity. And Christians, once again, are in the crosshairs. Even if you’ve never heard of Guidestar, trust me, philanthropists are very familiar with the organization. Guidestar’s stated mission is “To revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.” To that end, Guidestar gathers and provides information “about each nonprofit’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and so much more.” For two decades, Guidestar has provided a very valuable service to would-be donors. Recently, however that “so much more” part of their mission statement, temporarily turned the organization into a combatant in the culture wars. Earlier this year, in addition to their usual financial information, Guidestar also included a banner at the top of the webpage telling potential donors that certain groups had been designated as “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or the SPLC. Back in 1981 the SPLC started publishing a quarterly report listing groups that, in its words, “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” For most of the next 36 years, the groups singled out were obvious racists ones, like the KKK or Nazis, or more subtle ones that the SPLC believed promoted white supremacy. Then, as Ed Stetzer put it on “BreakPoint This Week,” the SPLC’s focus moved from civil rights to the sexual revolution. In 2010, it listed the Family Research Council as a hate group, and last year, added the Alliance Defending Freedom to the list. Now calling the FRC a “hate group” is absurd. It doesn’t attack or malign anyone, unless merely holding traditional Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality somehow constitutes “maligning” or “attacking.” And if FRC’s inclusion is absurd, ADF’s is, as Chuck Colson liked to say, outrageous. For starters, ADF isn’t even an advocacy group. It’s a legal defense group, the kind of mirror image of the ACLU. If ADF’s defense of Barronelle Stutzman constitutes attacking or maligning gays and lesbians, then why did the ACLU’s defense of Nazis who wished to march in Skokie, Illinois, not constitute a maligning of the town’s Jewish residents? So I agree with the group of forty-one conservatives who, in a letter to Guidestar protested its use of SPLC designations, saying that “The ‘hate group’ list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people [the SPLC] deems to be its political enemies.” And it isn’t only conservatives who are critical of the SPLC. In 2009, left-wing journalist Alexander Cockburn, writing in The Nation, called the “Hate Group” designation a fundraising tool, designed to “[scare] dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America.” Now, the good news is that the controversy over including the designation resulted in Guidestar removing the offending information, as Guidestar put it, “for the time being.” The bad news is that Guidestar will continue to make “this information available to any user on request.” In other words, it’s still chosen to be a co-belligerent in the culture wars. But this whole story makes clear that the belief that holding traditional Christian convictions about marriage and sexuality constitutes maligning or attacking others is still very much with us. What’s happened with Guidestar is a reminder that the battle for religious freedom won’t only, or even primarily, be waged in the courts. That’s not to say that the recent Supreme Court victory in the Trinity Lutheran case wasn’t hugely important. Of course it was. But as Chuck Colson liked to say, influencing the culture, securing our freedoms, will take place over the backyard fence and at barbecues, and maybe even less likely places, like financial websites.

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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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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Practical Guide to Culture

Jun 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

You know what would be great? If there were a practical guide to help the next generation navigate the culture… oh wait, here it is! Here on BreakPoint John Stonestreet and I talk about culture all the time. And we talk about it, we hope, in a way that’s challenging but still easy to understand. Because in these days of cultural upheaval, Christians need to be able to think clearly about what’s happening in the world, how it influences us, and how we are to live in it. I know Chuck Colson sought to bring that clarity to believers, and it is something John and I try to do every day on BreakPoint. And now, John is taking that effort to another level with his new book, “A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World.” John, along with his co-author, Brett Kunkle, have worked with thousands of students and their parents across the country. Parents, of all people, understand the rapid pace of change and moral decline in the culture: headlines about schools secretly giving children hormones to change genders without parental consent, same-sex “marriage,” the ubiquity of pornography, drug addiction, social media, and on and on. So John and Brett wrote “A Practical Guide to Culture” to help parents, as well as grandparents, teachers and mentors, help the students in their life survive and even flourish in this cultural moment. Now what makes “A Practical Guide to Culture” so valuable is that even beyond the obvious challenges facing young people today, which they talk about with a rare practical clarity, this book also identifies the unseen undercurrents in the culture that parents often miss—messages about wisdom and virtue, extended adolescence, consumerism, and identity in the midst of the ongoing sexual revolution. This book is ideal for anyone who cares about and is willing to invest in the next generation: teachers, youth pastors, mentors, folks who need a handbook to walk kids through the challenges they’re going to face. And “A Practical Guide to Culture” lives up to its billing. It really is practical. How do we talk to kids about LGBT issues? How can we steer them away from substance abuse and other addictions? And how do we ground them in the biblical story—the story of God’s grand work of redemption in Christ? “We didn’t want to stay in the clouds,” John said on the BreakPoint podcast. The book is worldview and theory applied—something you can pick up and start helping your kids right away. That’s why each chapter contains both specific strategies and discussion questions. And in part 3 of the book, where John and Brett deal with specific challenges young people face—technology, pornography, consumerism, etc.—each chapter also contains sections on exposing cultural lies, recapturing the wonder of God’s story, action steps parents can take with their children, and what John and Brett call “hopecasting,” pointing us to the truth that “God’s story continues to play out all around us.” Now, you may be thinking, “Sure, Eric, of course you like your BreakPoint buddy’s book.” But folks, you don’t have to take my word for it. I loved what Christian mom and blogger Alisa Childers had to say about it: “Every once in a while, a book comes along that makes me want to buy a whole case and give a copy to everyone I meet. “A Practical Guide to Culture” is that book . . . John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle pull no punches and shy away from no topics in their effort to help parents walk their kids through a secular culture that has become empty of meaning.” Then she goes on to say: “This is a perfect book to read and discuss with your teen or young adult. In fact, I would say it’s imperative.” Look, it’s tough being a Christian parent in these rough cultural waters. I know. That’s why I’m so glad John and Brett have produced this wonderful guide to help us. Please, check out “A Practical Guide to Culture” at BreakPoint.org. For yourself, and for your kids.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Numbed by Video Games

Jun 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

Are video games worthy of all the time and attention they get from young men these days? One writer thinks so. But he’s wrong. If there is a stereotype that lives up to reality these days, it’s the unemployed, disaffected, twenty-something American male who haunts his parent’s basement, addicted to World of Warcraft. In the year 2000, 35 percent of young men without bachelor’s degrees lived in their parents’ homes. Today a majority do, and among the unemployed, that number is a staggering 70 percent. According to University of Chicago economist Erik Hurst, these men are spending the overwhelming bulk of their time playing video games. Since 2000, writes Hurst, young men of prime employable age have increased their leisure time by an average of four hours a week. The vast majority of that time goes to video games. In total, the time these guys spend on computers and consoles has nearly doubled. Hurst admits of his own 12-year-old son, “If it were up to him, I have no doubt he would play video games 23 and a half hours per day…I am not sure he would ever eat.” The sheer scale of all this has led to an unprecedented social transition: millions of young men, unable or uninterested in finding employment, are simply choosing instead to unplug from society and immerse themselves in digital distraction. But in a recent piece at Reason magazine, Peter Suderman argues that it’s actually not bad news. “Video games, like work,” he writes, “are basically a series of quests comprised of mundane and repetitive tasks.” Playing them is like having a job, he assures us, one in which “the game is your boss.” Of course, games don’t provide paychecks, eye contact, a better world, relational security, or produce anything of lasting value. But, Suderman assures us, these young men are actually happy! Gaming offers a kind of psychological anesthetic—a job substitute that numbs the pain of unemployment and keeps young men from taking their frustration out in less socially acceptable ways. These digital opiates provide what he calls “a baseline level of daily happiness,” “serving as a buffer between the player and despair.” As one game designer put it, they fulfill a fantasy of “work, purpose, and social and professional success.” Video games, concludes Suderman, “offer a sort of universal basic income for the soul.” Suderman, himself an avid gamer, even goes further: “Should young men work more and play games less?” he asks. “What obligation do people have to work, raise families, or be conventionally productive in their lives? I won’t try to answer [those questions]. I’m not sure anyone can.” Well, Mr Suderman, I’ll give it a shot. As someone who’s worked with young men for years, it’s not okay. Habitual video game use is not a substitute for real work or, for the young wives I’ve spoken with who married video game addicts, neither is it a substitute for real relationships. We’re not created for distraction. As Russell Moore once observed, the “fake war” of video games parallels another epidemic: the “fake love” of Internet pornography. Both “simulate something for which men long,” Though games—unlike porn—are fine in moderation, they share a tendency to become addictive substitutes that sap users of their desire for the real thing. Young men today don’t just lack employment; more and more they lack vision—of the good life, of direction and purpose for being. That’s why my co-author Brett Kunkle and I dedicated more than one chapter in our new book A Practical Guide to Culture to this epidemic of distraction by the glowing rectangles all around us. One of the most important things parents can give their children, especially young men, are boundaries when it comes to games and distractions. But even more important, a sense of their God-given calling to actively engage the world around them. Pick up a copy of “A Practical Guide to Culture” by visiting our website, BreakPoint.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: "A Practical Guide to Culture"

Jun 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 1 of a 2-part interview Warren Cole Smith conducted with John Stonestreet about his new and well-received book, "A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World." John begins with "what is culture?" in the first place--and how does it shape us?

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Culture of Despair

Jun 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

The verdict in a chilling Massachusetts trial has implications far beyond the young woman who was convicted of manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. John Stonestreet points out that our culture’s embrace of “death with dignity” sends the same message to those in mental anguish: “You’re better off dead.” With an epidemic of opioid overdoses sweeping the country, particularly in rural areas, the kind of despair that drives people to take their own lives is rampant. Meanwhile, a charity watchdog has adopted the far-left criteria of the Southern Poverty Law Center, declaring organizations that advocate traditional marriage and sexual morality “hate groups.” It’s a move that will only further polarize our politics at a time when we desperately need civility.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Faith Grounded in History

Jun 23, 2017 - 00:00:00

If our church history begins with Billy Graham, we’ve probably forgotten something important. In his new book, “The American Spirit,” David McCullough observes, “We are raising a generation of young Americans who are by and large historically illiterate.” And in her Wall Street Journal review of the book, Peggy Noonan recounts McCullough’s description of “a bright Missouri college student who thanked him for coming to the campus, because, she said, ‘until now I never understood that the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast.’” While it’s tempting to laugh at the state of history education, and it is really abysmal among most Americans, we should first look in the mirror. And by we, I mean Christians, those of us who follow a historical figure, who actually lived in history, who was born as part of the story of a nation that played a central role in human history, and who lived and died and rose again, in obedience to God the Father who, from all indications in Scripture, is a God concerned with time and place. In particular, we evangelicals need to take history more seriously. As Mark Noll wrote in his book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” “American evangelicals display many virtues and do many things well,” he writes, “but built-in barriers to careful and constructive thinking remain substantial.” Now what barriers is he talking about? Some are obvious when we look carefully at our own history. As many, including Noll, have described, evangelicalism began as a tiny reform movement away from larger institutions such as the state-supported Catholic and Anglican churches. Early evangelical leaders stressed things like individual conversion, small groups, and the evangelizing of young people, Native Americans, and slaves. And Evangelicalism innovated means to grow in faith that were outside of established, traditional channels. “In general throughout the 18th and on to the 19th century,” Noll explained in an interview with Christian History, “the whole of the English-speaking world [was] moving away from traditional religion defined by respect for authority, respect for the past, respect for the tradition, and moving toward a more individualistic, pragmatic, and practical practice of Christianity.” What all this means is that the greatest strength of evangelicalism—the emphasis on the personal aspect of faith—may also have become a weakness. In our personal zeal for Jesus, Noll suggests that we’ve neglected deeper, more historically rooted education in the Christian faith and the development of a public theology that can speak broadly to the culture. Or as one of my history teaching friends often likes to say, some of us suffer from evangelical Alzheimer’s. All of this suggests that we do, in fact, have much to learn from our Christian forebears. A robust study of church history will not only ground us in the rich story of our faith, it will allow us to learn from those who have gone before. After all, we didn’t invent the gospel or the church. And the Bible is not a collection of moral maxims or principles isolated from history. No, it contains the overarching story of God’s interaction with humanity. And God’s concern with time and place means He has historically situated His people, while breaking into history in such a way as to bring about its conclusion and consummation. And though we find in Scripture saints and heroes, we shouldn’t stop at the end of the New Testament. Two-thousand years of church history has given us believers like Polycarp, Augustine, Francis, Teresa, Carey, Wilberforce, Chesterton, Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Ten Boom, and my friend and hero, Chuck Colson, all of whom modeled the Christian life and left records of their journey. So come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. I’ve asked my BreakPoint colleagues to suggest great history books that will better ground readers in the faith delivered once for all—by remembering those who have delivered the faith to us.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Michelle Carter, the Culture of Despair, and "Hate Groups"

Jun 23, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the opioid epidemic sweeping America, the Michelle Carter manslaughter verdict and assisted suicide, and one leading charity watchdog labeling groups like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom as "hate groups."

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Continuing Triumph of Faith

Jun 22, 2017 - 00:00:00

Ever hear the old saw that religious people are on the wrong side of history? It isn’t true. Turns out, we’re on the right side of the future as well. A year ago, National Geographic told readers that “religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been, even to people who live in countries where faith has affected everything from rulers to borders to architecture.” But as Rodney Stark documented in his recent book, “The Triumph of Faith,” that statement is wrong. In fact, it’s the opposite of the truth. According to Stark, “The world is not merely as religious as it used to be. In important ways, it is much more intensely religious than ever before . . .” This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. For years, Chuck Colson, John Stonestreet, and I have been telling you about the explosive growth of Christianity around the world, especially in what is called the “global south.” We’ve told you about what’s happening in places like sub-Saharan Africa, and even China, which, by some estimates may have more Christians than any other country by the middle of this century. But the story that Stark tells goes beyond these two examples. The growth of Christianity in Latin America is, in many respects, just as amazing as its growth in Africa. That might sound strange, since Latin America has been ostensibly Christian since the sixteenth century. But until the mid-20th century, it was largely a nominal kind of Christianity. As recently as the 1950s, only between 10 and 20 percent of Latin Americans were “active in their faith.” The arrival of Protestant missionaries, especially Pentecostals, changed this. Not only did they succeed in turning nominal Christians into practicing ones, they also forced the Catholic Church to, as they say in sports, “up its game.” This, in large measure, took the form of the Charismatic renewal. Today, Charismatic Catholic rallies fill the same stadiums as Pentecostal ones. And the result is that in large parts of Latin America, sixty percent or more of the people attend church on at least a weekly basis. Another largely untold story is what’s happening in India. The son of a BreakPoint colleague recently traveled to India. One Tuesday, he went to Mass. When he arrived, he was stunned to see that the church was full—so full that the worshippers poured out onto the street. On a Tuesday. Late last year, Christianity Today ran a story on “Incredible Indian Christianity.” Since 1980, the number of pastors sent out by the Delhi Bible Institute has grown from 100 per year to nearly 7,600 in 2015. As CT tells us, part of India’s so-called “tribal belt,” which runs across central and northeast India, is becoming India’s “Bible belt.” But even in Europe and the United States, the rise of secularism has been overstated, if by “secularism,” you mean “denying the supernatural.” For example, sociologists consider Iceland to be one of the most secular nations on Earth. Yet, here’s a list of things that a significant percentage of Icelanders believe in: reincarnation, elves, gnomes, fairies, fortune tellers, and Spiritualism. You find similar results across so-called “secular” Europe. Here in the U.S., the same period that witnessed the rise in the religiously unaffiliated did not witness a decline in church attendance or an increase in atheists. The increase in the so-called “nones” was a function of people who rarely, if ever, attended church finally admitting as much. Those who claim that people of faith were “on the wrong side of history” have it exactly backwards. Religion, especially Christianity, is not in decline. It’s going from strength-to-strength. You just need to know where to look, or, in this case, what to read.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ryan Messmore: Part 2, "In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage"

Jun 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part II of Warren Cole Smith’s interview with Ryan Messmore, author of “In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage.” What is love? What is the purpose of marriage? Is there such a thing as Mr. or Mrs. Right?

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Michelle Carter and Doctor-Assisted Death

Jun 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

The recent, disturbing criminal trial of Michelle Carter not only tests new legal boundaries, it’s a mirror held up in front of our society. On June 16th, a Massachusetts judge found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy. Because Carter wasn’t with Roy when he committed suicide, many legal analysts found the verdict surprising. In 2014, Conrad Roy met Michelle Carter while on vacation. As New York magazine put it, theirs was a “thoroughly modern teenage romance: texting, telling each other their secrets, saying they loved each other, but only meeting in person, as far as his family knows, a couple of times.” Roy had a history of psychiatrists call “suicidal ideations,” which were the subject of many of the text exchanges between him and Carter. But instead of urging her boyfriend to get help, Carter encouraged him to take his life, often asking him “when are you going to do it?” And in the most damning exchange, Carter reproached Roy: “You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. You just have to do it.” Finally, Roy did it by filling his truck with carbon monoxide, while on the phone with Carter. When he tried to get out of the truck, Carter, as she told a friend in a text, told him to get back in. Transcripts of the texts are now public. And while legal experts debated whether Carter’s actions were actually a crime, the court of public opinion has been unanimous: her actions were heinous. But lost in the outrage and debate over Carter’s action is an appreciation of the irony at the heart of this story: Carter’s messages were only an exaggerated and specifically directed version of the messages our culture—including policy and media leaders—send already to fragile and vulnerable people all the time. The most obvious example is physician-assisted suicide. As Wesley J. Smith has said, our “society broadly accepts the agenda of killing as an acceptable end to human suffering . . . We eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferers.” And to an extent that few people understand, that suffering is mental not physical. “Only 22 percent of patients who died between 1998 and 2009 by assisted suicide in Oregon . . . were in pain or afraid of being in pain, according to their doctors.” As Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, wrote in the New York Times, “Patients [who request physician-assisted suicide] say that the primary motive is not to escape physical pain but psychological distress; the main drivers are depression, hopelessness and fear of loss of autonomy and control.” “In this light,” Emanuel continues, “physician-assisted suicide looks less like a good death in the face of unremitting pain and more like plain old suicide.” Despite this, two-thirds of Americans believe that physician-assisted suicide should be legal. And the media, in Michelle Carter-like fashion, is also guilty of encouraging suicide by glamorizing it. A recent episode of The Daily, the New York Times podcast with Michael Barbaro, told the story of a Canadian man choosing the time of his death on his own terms surrounded by friends and family. The episode, which told nothing of doctors who have recused themselves from the procedure because of regret or families who wish their loved ones had chosen life instead of death, ended by telling us how much we can learn about dying from such a beautiful story. What Carter did was reprehensible, perhaps even criminal. But while her actions were extraordinary, her belief that suffering is best dealt with by eliminating the sufferer isn’t. Our culture is largely clueless about what gives life value and what gives us dignity. Because we don’t know what a life worth living looks like, we don’t know what a truly good death looks like, either. This cluelessness, and the evil it begets, will be with us long after we forget the name “Michelle Carter.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Justice Declaration

Jun 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

A declaration is being released today that would have been near and dear to Chuck Colson’s heart. Reflecting on his seven-month stint at the Maxwell Federal Prison in Alabama, Chuck Colson wrote in “Born Again,” “I found myself increasingly drawn to the idea that God had put me in prison for a purpose, and that I should do something for those I had left behind.” And so, for the next four decades, that “something” turned into something(s), under the auspices of Prison Fellowship, the organization he founded to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to men and women behind bars. But Chuck, in his thorough study of Christian theology and worldview believed there was more to living out the faith than evangelizing the lost, as important as that is, of course. And so he also committed time, energy and thought leadership to criminal justice reform. Chuck knew from experience that prison often amounted to little more than warehousing offenders, which left them completely unprepared for the day they were released, which is why three-quarters of those released from state prisons are re-arrested within five years. Twenty-years ago, when America went on a prison-building/lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key frenzy, Chuck forcefully criticized this approach and began developing and advocating the biblical idea of Restorative Justice. Whereas our criminal justice system views crime as an offense against the state, restorative justice insists that there are three parties to the crime: the offender, the victim, and the community, which includes the offender’s family. While protecting the community is the first goal of restorative justice, it isn’t the only goal. The ultimate goal is the restoration of all relationships broken by crime. And so Chuck advocated for alternatives to incarceration for less-dangerous offenders. In addition to being less expensive than incarceration, these alternatives help maintain ties to the community, including Christians in the community. And of course, Chuc insisted that victims must be treated with respect and dignity. Where possible, they should receive restitution and be kept abreast of the developments in their case. Chuck also advocated for what are known as “Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs,” where offenders learn how their actions affected their victims. While not for everyone or in every case of crime, this process can bring a measure of healing and even forgiveness where before there was only brokenness. While Chuck’s commitment to criminal justice reform may have been occasioned by his stay in prison, his ideas and beliefs about the need for reform grew out of his Christian worldview, especially his beliefs about the imago dei and the responsibility of the church to engage the brokenness in the world. The church, Chuck knew, possessed resources the state did not, And thus there’s a unique role for the church, particularly in the task of moral formation. The lack of moral formation in communities, especially connected to broken families, was another chief factor, Chuck believed, contributing to the explosion in the prison population during his lifetime. And so the Colson Center has joined with Prison Fellowship, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the National Association of Evangelicals to sponsor “The Justice Declaration,” which is being released today at a press conference in Washington, D. C. The Declaration calls on Christians and churches to create a “justice system that is fair and redemptive for all.” While Christians can and will differ on how best to accomplish this and other goals, what we can’t differ on is the need to emulate Chuck Colson in his desire to “do something” about the situation in our prisons and in our communities. Which is why nearly 100 Christian leaders have signed the Justice Declaration. Please come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary to read the Justice Declaration. And please, consider adding your name.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ryan Messmore: "In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage"

Jun 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part 1 of Warren Cole Smith’s interview with writer and speaker Ryan Messmore about his new book “In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage.” Ryan talks about the view of betrothal and marriage in biblical times—and how deeply intertwined they are with the teaching and sayings of Jesus.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Overdoses Hit Close to Home

Jun 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

An opioid epidemic is ravaging communities across America. What can we Christians do about it? A recent edition of the New Yorker contained one of the saddest collection of stories I’ve ever read. The article described in detail the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on one small city—actually more like a large town—in West Virginia. This article literally hit close to home for me. Martinsburg, West Virginia is less than half an hour away from where I grew up, and I still have family members who live in the area. Margaret Talbot’s article begins with a harrowing tale about two parents who overdosed while watching their daughter’s softball game. While paramedics administered Narcan, “a drug that reverses heroin overdoses,” other parents were livid that their kids had to witness what had just happened. Their anger may be justified, but as Talbot makes clear, it’s the kind of event more and more kids are witnessing in Martinsburg and in similar towns across America. While the opioid epidemic is usually associated with white, often rural, communities like Martinsburg, it’s also beginning to spread to African-American communities in places like Cleveland as well. In Martinsburg alone, between mid-January and early April, “emergency medical personnel responded to a hundred and forty-five overdoses, eighteen of which were fatal.” And if anything, “this underestimates the scale of the epidemic, because many overdoses do not prompt 911 calls.” Numbers like these partially explain why two-thirds—yes, you heard that right—two-thirds!, of the county’s emergency medication budget is spent on Narcan. What it doesn’t explain is why so many people have turned to opiates such as heroin for comfort and solace in the first place. There’s a terrible hopelessness settling over a large part of America. It isn’t only seen in drug abuse. At the same time the New Yorker told the story of Martinsburg, the Washington Post ran a story about a family in rural southeastern Missouri where four generations are or have been on disability. So what’s a Christian to think and do about all of this? The first answer is pray. There’s a joke I’ve heard, borrowing from a famous quip by Churchill, that “Christians can be counted on to pray, after they’ve exhausted all other possibilities.” We can’t do that here. We need to pray for wisdom and guidance, not only for ourselves but for our leaders. What’s going on requires right policies but ultimately it transcends policies and even good ideas. We need to pray for compassion. It’s tempting to point to people’s bad choices, in part, because there are plenty of bad choices to point to. If we go that route, we may be mimicking Jesus’ disciples whom, upon seeing a man who was blind from birth, asked, who sinned: him or his parents? The multi-generational brokenness described in both the New Yorker and the Washington Post articles is the backdrop for this opioid epidemic. We should recall Jesus’ reply: “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” We’re called to do the works of God in the midst of a hurting world. This, not assigning blame, is what restoration looks like. Finally, we should pray for a spirit of gratitude and generosity. We should never forget that we are the beneficiaries of grace. For the Christian, there’s no such thing as a “self-made” man or woman. As the King James Version of 1 Chronicles 29 famously reads, “For all things come from Thee, and from Thine own have we given Thee.” And pray that God will mobilize us, His people, to follow the examples of Christians throughout history who, finding themselves in times and places of significant crisis, social brokenness, and suffering, ran into the mess—not away from it. May we not be like the priest and Levite who walked around the beaten, bloody man on the road. May instead we be like the Samaritan, willing to get our hands dirty to help the multitudes of half-dead people left on the side of the road across this country. And please, forward this commentary to your friends so that they can be in prayer, too.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Marriage Mending

Jun 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

Divorces are sky-high in Tinseltown, and we can’t blame Liza Minelli for all of them. Find out how we can avoid their marital failures. Do Hollywood people know what marriage is all about? Let’s count up the splits just in 2017. Scarlett Johansson and her husband Romain Dauriac broke up after just two years of marriage. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck held it together for ten years and three kids before deciding to untie the knot. David Schwimmer and Zoe Buckman hung on for seven years. And while we’re at it, who can forget the ten-million-dollar wedding between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, whose marriage lasted just 72 days? Not kidding. So what do Hollywood marriages teach us? The answer, according to NewsMax writer Juliette Fairley, is to get a good prenup. I hope we can do better than that. And in fact, I know someone who DOES provide much better advice for protecting marriages: Mike McManus, founder of Marriage Savers. Mike and his wife, Harriet, spend much of their time traveling the country teaching churches what they can do to protect marriages—even before couples exchange vows. The first thing an engaged couple ought to do, they say, is take part in a premarital diagnostic program called PREPARE. The couple separately answers a lengthy questionnaire, and then meets six times with a mentor couple—one that’s been married for decades. The goal is to help the couple identify the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship and learn how to better communicate and resolve their differences. Of those who complete PREPARE, some 20 percent abandon their wedding plans—which is actually good: better a broken engagement than a broken marriage. But an amazing 90-plus percent of those who do marry are still together twenty years later, says McManus. Marriage Savers offers other programs, as well: RESTORE helps pull couples back from the brink of divorce. It’s taught by those whose own marriages nearly crashed and burned. For instance, as Mike notes, “A couple who recovered from adultery can tell a couple in crisis, ‘This is what we did to restore trust.’” Four out of five couples who took part in RESTORE were able to mend their marriages. Then there’s RECONCILE for people whose spouse wants a divorce. The spouse who wants to save the marriage goes through the program with a friend of the same gender. About half of the spouses who undertake RECONCILE avoid divorce. And for step-families—a group that suffers a shocking 70 percent divorce rate—Mike recommends a Stepfamily Support Group. Eighty percent of these couples stay together. America’s divorce rate is the highest in the civilized world. And not all of them happen in Tinseltown, or among non-believers. It’s happening because too many of our neighbors have lost the biblical view of marriage: It’s designed to be a monogamous, lifelong commitment—physical, emotional, and spiritual—intended for the nurturing of any children they may be blessed with. Instead, whether they fully realize it or not, couples absorb a view taught by our secular culture: that marriage is based on nothing more than mutual affection—an arrangement that may be broken when the excitement fades, difficulties appear, or when somebody else catches the eye. When people view marriage this way, sadly, their weddings become little more than expensive parties. Which is why I need to ask this question: What is YOUR church doing to support marriage? If you visit Mike McManus’s website, www.marriagesavers.org, you will learn how to involve your church—or an engaged couple you know—in programs that lead to strong, life-long marriages.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: The Shooting, the Baptists, and the Pro-Aborts Unhinged

Jun 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed discuss the shooting of Republican Congressmen and staff in Virginia, the Southern Baptist Convention and the "alt-right," and how abortion supporters must be getting desperate, because they're getting downright silly

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Katy Perry Talks About Evil

Jun 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

I love Dr. Seuss, but in the real world, joining hands and singing a musical number is not an effective strategy against evil. Just over a year ago, Omar Mateen, claiming allegiance to the Islamic State, gunned down 49 people at an Orlando night club. It was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. And in Europe, there have been terror attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Berlin, and London. Only one word describes the sort of carnage being perpetrated by radical Islamists: “Evil.” These attacks, which deliberately targeted innocents, all in the name of God, are among the vilest crimes imaginable. And it only makes it more troubling that these attacks continue to take place in a time when the West is least equipped with the moral framework necessary to describe them, much less respond to them. I’m thinking of cringe-worthy responses by celebrities like singer Katy Perry, who said on a talk show after the Manchester bombing that “the greatest thing we could do is just unite and love on each other, and like, no barriers, no borders…we all need to just co-exist.” Jodi Picoult one-upped Perry when she took to Twitter and compared the attack to Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” “When terror attacks happen,” she wrote, “I think of the Whos…singing after Xmas is ruined. It isn’t fear/hate that changes [the Grinch], it’s love.” No, I’m not kidding, she really said that. It should be unnecessary to say this, but as one commentator noted, Islamic terrorists don’t carry out attacks because someone was mean to them. They do it because they’ve embraced a deadly ideology that teaches mass-murder is the will of God. Another distressing response was a television spot produced by a Kuwaiti mobile phone company. The commercial, which aired during Ramadan, depicted a suicide bomber in an explosive vest being confronted by his many victims, who urge him to “bomb violence with mercy.” Charred and caked with blood, the procession of men, women, and children, led by an Emirati pop star, pursue the bomber, chanting in Arabic, “We will counter their attacks of hatred with songs of love, from now until happiness.” Now don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that entertainers in the Middle East are trying to undermine terrorism. But we should also admit that this mawkish ad is right in line with the West’s least effective responses. The creators of both seem to imagine that all the world needs now is love, sweet love. But what they’re selling isn’t really love at all. It’s just sentimentality. Anyone who understands the supernatural and apocalyptic claims of radical Islam should see that calling terrorists to “bomb violence with mercy” is futile. Not to mention, Islam—particularly in its radical expressions—has no grounding for mercy in the first place. It’s a very different worldview than Christianity, where mercy is grounded in God’s character, and the life of Jesus Chris, God the son. I remember at the Colson Center’s 2014 Wilberforce Award dinner, Canon Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad,” told us that he once invited ISIS leaders to dinner. While this Christian minister knows what true love in the face of evil looks like, he’s not naïve. Which is why he withdrew the invitation after ISIS informed him they would come to dinner…in order to cut off his head. In the end, love does more than call terrorists to “just like, coexist.” True love steps between murderers and victims, names evil for what it is, fights for justice for those whose blood “cries out to God from the ground,” and prays that killers would learn to call their own acts what they really are. Evil is evil, but the secular West, with its atrophied moral vocabulary, refuses to recognize or name evil when it shows up. I can think of few better illustrations than this that ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Depressed Teens

Jun 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

When it comes to anxiety and depression, our young people don’t need safe spaces. They need Jesus. The numbers are shocking. According to the journal Translational Psychiatry, more than 36 percent of teen girls in America are depressed or have had a recent “major depressive episode.” For boys, it’s a slightly less alarming—but only slightly less—13.6 percent. It wasn’t always this bad. Writing at the National Review Online, Mona Charen reports that rates for depression and anxiety “were much lower during the Great Depression, World War II, and the turbulent 1970s than they are today.” Mental-health issues are spreading like wildfire on college campuses, too. Ohio State, for example, reports a 43-percent jump in students seeking mental-health counseling in the last five years. As Charen writes, “Something is robbing young people of happiness and well-being.” Indeed—but what, exactly? Charen looks at several factors, eventually landing on changing family dynamics, such as divorce and single parenting. And this is right, as far as it goes. Not having a mom and dad at home can be very hard on young people. But it goes deeper. I think religious myopia has something to do with it, too. Back in 2005, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton described a corruption of the historic Christian faith growing among young people in America, including those in our churches, which they call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. It is, they say, “centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amicably with other people.” Obviously, that’s straight out of today’s relativistic, individualistic culture, and it’s far from the heart of biblical faith, which stresses, among other things, a holy God, a fallen humanity, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, salvation through faith, and the necessity of repentance and a holy life. But despite Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’s focus on feeling good, it’s clear that many young people don’t. The question is why? Perhaps what they need is not more encouragement to be nice, but more opportunities to encounter Love Himeslf—who gives them not a list of do’s and don’t’s, but an invitation to a banquet. “Come to me,” Jesus says, “all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28). Somewhere deep inside, unhappy young people know that they were meant for more, much more, than this world can possibly offer. As Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” It’s not about mere happiness. As C.S. Lewis said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that.” And yet Lewis claimed that there is something beyond mere happiness. He called it Joy, saying that the Lord uses it to draw us to Himself. “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong,” Lewis wrote, “but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us…. We are far too easily pleased.” So how do we connect young people with Jesus? Well, we need to pursue and know Him with this same holy dissatisfaction ourselves. Do we? You cannot share what you don’t have. We also need to know the ways our culture shapes them. That’s why I commend my colleague John Stonestreet’s latest book—“A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World”—written with Brett Kunkle. Check it out at BreakPoint.org, and you’ll see why so many adolescents are struggling today—and how you can help them meet, not religion, but God.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Who Was Abraham Kuyper? Part 2 of an Interview with Craig Bartholomew

Jun 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today we present part 2 of John Stonestreet's interview with Dr. Craig Bartholomew, author of "Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition." John and Dr. Bartholomew discuss the life and impact of Abraham Kuyper.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Tim Tebow vs. Harvard

Jun 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

Even with all of our modern devotion to moral relativism, people still know virtue—and vice—when they see it. Chuck Colson liked to quote Karl Barth’s observation that Christians should do theology with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Now I’m not sure what Chuck would have thought of podcasts, but Barth’s quote came to mind while listening to a recent episode of the Tony Kornheiser Show. In the final segment, Kornheiser and his guests talked about two stories in the news. The first was an article in the Washington Post about Tim Tebow playing in baseball’s Single-A minor league after his stint in sports limelight. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the University of Florida. And while his NFL career wasn’t nearly as successful, he still had great moments. But what has long set Tebow apart, of course, is his Christian faith. It’s drawn millions of people to love him. It’s also why he has been the object of what George Weigel called “irrational hatred,” despite his many charitable efforts and the fact that he doesn’t force his faith on anyone. Recently, the Post’s Barry Svrluga spent a day in Hagerstown, Maryland, watching Tebow in action. And he admitted that his initial skepticism (maybe even cynicism) quickly changed when he saw Tebow interact with fans, some of whom had driven hundreds of miles to see him. He talked about Tebow’s “prom experience for kids with special needs” called “Night to Shine.” Svrluga had this to say to those who are cynical or dismissive about Tebow’s decision to now play minor league baseball and to question his motives: Before you form your opinion about Tim Tebow, “Talk to the people who made the pilgrimage here,” he said, “and look at the smiles in right field in the early evening.” Everyone on the show agreed. Kornheiser, who’s Jewish, even joked that if he had spent a few more minutes with Tebow he might have ended up converting. He and his guests could not say enough good things about Tim Tebow. Then the conversation turned to a very different subject: Harvard’s rescinding of at least ten offers of admission to members of its incoming freshman class. Harvard took this highly unusual step because of a Facebook group created by members of that class. Their posts contained “offensive jokes about school shootings, the Holocaust, [sexual perversion] and the death of children and minorities.” And these are just the ones we can mention on this commentary. All the guests on the Kornheiser show agreed—and so do I: Harvard did the right thing. But it’s the juxtaposition of the Harvard story with Tebow that brought to mind what C.S. Lewis said in “The Abolition of Man”: “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” The kids on that Facebook group represent the pinnacle of American educational achievement: They got into Harvard. Their problem is not a lack of “digital literacy” as the New York Times suggested. It’s a lack of any governing sense of right and wrong, what Lewis called the chest. The problem isn’t that they lacked discretion; it’s that they lacked decency. But we know that no one will ever say that about Tim Tebow. Listening to the Tony Kornheiser podcast it’s clear that for all the cultural devotion to moral relativism these days, people still know virtue when they see it. The Bible calls this the law written on our hearts, and it underscores to Christians who think that all is lost—it’s not. God’s world is still deeply embedded with God’s moral laws. And a life well-lived still stands out. Now sometimes the reaction will be admiration and sometimes it will be scorn, even mockery. But that doesn’t change the fact that the difference between virtue and vice is unmistakable, no matter how much our culture wants to deny it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Who Was Abraham Kuyper?: An Interview with Craig Bartholomew, Part 1

Jun 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today on the BreakPoint podcast we present part one of John Stonestreet’s interview with Dr. Craig Bartholomew about the life of Colson Center icon Abraham Kuyper. Who was Kuyper, and how did he shape our understanding of Christian worldview and Christian involvement in all areas of life?

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Civility Now

Jun 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

Democracy requires that citizens actually talk with each other. When we’re no longer capable of that, things fall apart. If there’s an emblem of the hysteria gripping American politics these days, it might just be comedienne Kathy Griffin holding what looks like President Donald Trump’s bloody, severed head. Griffin apparently thought her joke to be some kind of brave political message, but nobody laughed, least of all CNN, who fired her. Now Griffin says she’s receiving abuse and death threats. To which some political commentators have responded, “if you can’t take it, Kathy, don’t dish it out.” But there’s an even more urgent point to this story—Our political discourse has gone off the rails. And if we don’t rein it in, our democracy cannot last. Whether it was violent protests at U.C. Berkley and Middlebury College over conservative speakers, or the Montana Republican congressional candidate who allegedly punched a reporter, both sides of the political spectrum seem to have lost civility and decency. No incident better illustrates this than the chaos at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Protests and counter-protests were punctuated by a campus-wide lockdown last Thursday after someone called 911 saying he was headed there with a gun to “execute as many people” as possible. The Washington Post reports that students and others were walking around with baseball bats destroying campus property—so far over $10,000 worth. What started all of this? Well apparently, biology professor Bret Weinstein dared to question Evergreen’s so-called “Day of Absence,” which this year involved white students being asked to leave campus during lectures on racism and privilege. Now get this—Weinstein is a progressive, but thought that this reverse-segregation wasn’t a great idea. Students not only disagreed, but dozens of them stormed his class, “screaming about racism, white privilege, and even white supremacy.” When the college’s president, George Bridges, came to Weinstein’s defense, students screamed obscenities at him, too, and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, these racist teachers have got to go.” Frank Bruni—another progressive—observes in the New York Times that these students aren’t really protesting at all; they’re “staging an inquisition.” Yale professor Nicholas Christakis knows all about student rage. Back in 2015, he and his wife were shouted down for daring to question that school’s warning to students not to wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes. Commiserating with Weinstein on Twitter, he wrote, “[My wife] spent her whole career” working with “marginalized populations,” “but they still came for her.” It seems there’s no room left on modern college campuses for the cherished academic value of civility. “Increasingly,” writes Erika Christakis, colleges “have become places of censure and prohibition.” Her suggestion for students? “Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society.” It’s good advice, but at the root of this problem is a society trying to maintain fragile concepts like human dignity and decency while long having abandoned anything to ground those concepts in the first place. Ad so it falls on Christians to be models of civility—in how we treat each other within the body of Christ (remember that the next time you’re on Facebook), and how we show respect and love to non-believers, even those trying to shout us down. This doesn’t mean we’re to be weak or even silenced—not at all. Even if they keep shouting, as Chuck Colson said on this very program years ago, “Out of honor for the God we worship, and for the sake of our country, we should—we must—refuse to be silenced.” Because in the end, the blessing of democracy depends in part on our willingness to debate those things that matter the most. And history shows us that if we continue losing our minds like this, someone’s eventually going to lose a head—but this time, maybe for real.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Bernie Sanders, Transgender Athletes, and Assisted Suicide in Britain

Jun 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

Senator Bernie Sanders, the runner-up for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said while grilling a Trump budget appointee that Christians who believe in the exclusivity of Christ aren’t the kind of people “this country is supposed to be about.” As Emma Green at The Atlantic observed, this functions as a religious test for office, which is prohibited by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. Our hosts also tackle news of a biologically male transgender athlete in Connecticut who beat high school girls at the state track championship. John and Ed issue a challenge to parents to speak up graciously, rather than remain silent when their daughters are unfairly pitted against men in the name of transgender ideology. Finally, the elections in the U.K. have raised the issue of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide once more, which is currently illegal there. Our hosts refer back to an editorial by Steve Doughty urging Britain to heed the warning of the Netherlands, where the “right to die” has quickly devolved into a duty to die.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Saved by an Atheist

Jun 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

Find out how a famous atheist started a secular humanist on the road to faith in Jesus Christ. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker was on the fast track to academic stardom. A native of Australia, Sarah had won the University Medal and a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake her Ph.D. in History at King’s College, Cambridge. Sarah’s secular humanist perspective fit right in at King’s, and her views of Christians—that they were anti-intellectual and self-righteous—seemingly were confirmed. Yet, as she details in an eye-opening testimony from the Veritas Forum, a strange thing happened to Sarah inside her secular bubble. Somehow, the truth got in. After Cambridge, Sarah said she attended some lectures at Oxford by the atheist public intellectual and Princeton ethics professor Peter Singer. Singer, as you probably know, has stirred worldwide controversy by advancing the notion that some forms of animal life have more worth than some human life. Singer doesn’t believe in God, and therefore he sees no basis for any intrinsic human dignity. During the Oxford lectures, Singer asserted that nature provides no grounds for human equality, pointing to children who have lost their ability to reason through disability or illness. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker’s comfortable secularism was suddenly rocked. “I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo,” Sarah writes. “I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.” A few months later, at a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion, Andrew Briggs, a Professor of Nanomaterials and a Christian, asked Sarah a perfectly reasonable question: Do you believe in God? Again, Sarah was flummoxed, fumbling something about agnosticism. Briggs replied, “Do you really want to sit on the fence forever?” “That question,” she now says, “made me realise that if issues about human value and ethics mattered to me, the response that perhaps there was a God, or perhaps there wasn’t, was unsatisfactory.” Fast forward to Florida, where Sarah was conducting research. She began attending church as a seeker: And she was overwhelmed by Christians living out their faith: “feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.” And when she started reading the likes of Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, she saw the intellectual depth and profundity of their Christian faith. Then this: “A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night,” she wrote, “I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.” Sarah’s journey from doubt to faith—which you can read in full by coming to our website and clicking on this commentary—reminds me a little of another formerly atheist denizen of Cambridge and Oxford—C.S. Lewis. Lewis saw the bleak implications of his worldview, stating, “Nearly all I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real, I thought grim and meaningless.” And just like Sarah, Lewis had good, well-informed Christian friends and colleagues such as J.R.R. Tolkien to point a disillusioned atheist gently to Christ. As Chuck Colson would say, while there are many good ways to share the good news with people, even scholars, one is to help them follow their worldview assumptions to their logical conclusion. The fact is, the grim, atheistic worldview simply can’t carry the weight of human significance on its bony shoulders. Created in the awesome image of God, men and women know that life has a meaning beyond “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” People everywhere see the True, the Beautiful, and the Good and long to know their source. And, thank God, He has revealed Himself!

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Here Comes the (Aaron) Judge

Jun 8, 2017 - 00:00:00

How ‘bout some good news today? Like a story about a humble, likeable and rising baseball star. As a lifelong New York Mets fan, it kind of pains me to say this, but the athlete who has taken the Big Apple by storm is wearing black pinstripes, not blue ones. His name is Aaron Judge, and almost every piece you read about him not only tells readers about how extraordinary Judge is on the field, but also how extraordinary he is off the field. You can probably guess where this story is heading, but first let me tell you about Aaron Judge the player. Judge is a big deal. I mean that literally. At 6’7” and 280 pounds, he may be the largest man to ever play in the big leagues. As ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian told his ESPN colleague Tony Kornheiser, Judge fills the entire door opening when he passes through it. Of course, none of this would matter if Judge weren’t good at baseball, and one-third of the way through his rookie season, he has been good, historically-good. In May, he became the first player to hit 13 home runs in his first twenty-five games. As of this recording, he leads the American League in home runs, is third in runs batted in, and is second in slugging percentage. When you combine his offense with his fielding, he’s been, by most estimates, the second-most valuable player in the American League. This kind of production on the field is part of the reason Judge and the Yankees are the talk of the town while my Mets are making headlines for having their mascot, Mr. Met, make an obscene gesture at the fans. The other part is Judge’s character. It’s difficult to read a profile of the Yankees outfielder without coming across words like “humble” and “unselfish.” Former big leaguer and now baseball analyst Eduardo Perez told MLB Radio that he was impressed by Judge’s humility and kindness. His manager, Joe Girardi, paid him the ultimate compliment when he said “He is a little bit like [Yankee legend Derek] Jeter for me . . . He has a smile all the time. He loves to play the game. You always think he is going to do the right thing on the field and off the field.” Words like “humble,” “unselfish,” and “do the right thing” raise the specter of what my friend Terry Mattingly calls a “religion ghost.” They should prompt the question “why is Judge humble and unselfish?” For the answer, look no further than Judge’s Twitter feed. The first words you read are “Christian. Faith, Family, then Baseball.” Scroll down a few tweets and you will read, “Happy Easter to Everyone. He is Risen!” The nexus between Judge’s faith and family is apparent when you read what he has to say about his parents. He says “I’m blessed.” “My parents are amazing, they’ve taught me so many lessons . . . I honestly can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.’’ “What they’ve done” began with adopting him when he was two days old. “I feel they kind of picked me . . . I feel that God was the one that matched us together.’’ Crushing baseballs, Christian faith, and adoption—not all the news is bad. There are things in our culture that are worth celebrating. You just have to know where to look, and, in my case, overlook the color of the pinstripes.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jennifer Marshall: Bringing Clarity, Conviction, and Compassion to the Marriage Debate

Jun 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

Heritage Foundation V.P. and Colson Center Board Member Jennifer Marshall addresses the Wilberforce Weekend conference. Jennifer challenges us to recapture the biblical vision of marriage as the key to stem what she calls the “relational decay” in our culture. But we must do so with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Abortion is What Planned Parenthood Does

Jun 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

What does Planned Parenthood do? Everyone seems to know the answer except Planned Parenthood. When I say “Colgate,” what comes to mind? Well, toothpaste, of course. Too bad no one in the 1980s explained that to Colgate when they launched a line of frozen dinners named “Colgate Kitchen Entrees.” Understandably, customers found the idea of eating food from a toothpaste company less than appetizing, and the whole experiment bit the dust. But there’s another brand today trying very hard to convince the public that it sells more than one product. Planned Parenthood has spent the last few years insisting that its clinics offer all kinds of services besides abortions. As the latest stunt in this ongoing campaign, they’ve partnered with “Avengers” director Joss Whedon to produce a high-budget ad titled “Unlocked.” In this three-minute propaganda piece, Whedon depicts a world without Planned Parenthood. It’s a dark and scary place where a mother dies of cancer because she can’t get screenings, where a couple breaks up because of a sexually transmitted disease, and where a young woman’s dreams of college are crushed by a positive pregnancy test. Speaking with TIME magazine, Whedon said that if Planned Parenthood shuts down, “millions of people lose access to basic health services” like contraception, cancer screenings, and sex ed. In other words, he’s parroting the talking points we’ve heard non-stop from Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and others who insist that the organization “does so much more than abortion.” But as our friends at Save the Storks point out, Planned Parenthood’s 2014-15 annual report shows that they perform a meager 1 percent of the nation’s pap smears, and less than 2 percent of all clinical breast exams. The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute reports that over 80 percent of teens receive sex ed instruction from somewhere besides an abortion clinic, and contrary to repeated claims by Planned Parenthood’s leadership and advocates, they perform a grand total of zero mammograms. In other words, all 650 Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics in the U.S. barely participate in real healthcare. In fact, Americans so rarely choose this abortion giant for other services, we hardly notice when the few clinics not offering abortions close. LiveAction News reports that Planned Parenthood quietly shuttered three of its six New Mexico facilities, all of which were dedicated to those “other services.” Apparently, they weren’t covering expenses. Waving off the closures as no big deal, a Planned Parenthood regional official said—get this—that community health centers could pick up the slack. She might as well have admitted her organization’s services were not needed. Colgate sells toothpaste, and Planned Parenthood sells abortions—more than anyone else in the business. In fact, it’s where over a third of all abortions in America happen. We know how Planned Parenthood’s bread is buttered, and Planned Parenthood employees know it, too. Recent footage from undercover investigator David Daleiden captured affiliates at the National Abortion Federation conference who spoke openly of Planned Parenthood “selling” fetal body parts to “increase revenue.” Some also joked about pulling unborn babies apart and how “gross” it is when tiny eyeballs fall into their laps. YouTube quickly removed the video, and now U.S. District Judge William Orrick is considering contempt sanctions against Daleiden, who’s already facing fifteen felony charges for taking this undercover footage in the first place. Planned Parenthood wants to be known for nicer, less horrifying, less controversial services. But ladies and gentlemen, at the end of the day, their name means one thing: abortion. And lives depend on putting this big-name brand out of business.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Disappearing Christians

Jun 6, 2017 - 00:00:00

We can’t say it often enough: Christians are disappearing from the Middle East. They need our prayers and support. More than 20 Coptic Christians massacred in a bus on their way to Mass . . . the grisly double bombing at the Mar Girgis church near Cairo that slaughtered at least 45 people on Palm Sunday . . . these are only the latest outrages against Christians in the Middle East. Such attacks by ISIS and other Muslim terrorist groups—accompanied by the studied indifference of governments that claim to care about religious minorities—have sparked a tragic exodus of believers from their homelands. That’s bad news not just for Christians, but for everyone. “The exodus leaves the Middle East overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, whose rival sects often clash, raising the prospect that radicalism in the region will deepen,” says Maria Abi-Habib in The Wall Street Journal. “Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have erupted across the Middle East, squeezing out Christians in places such as Iraq and Syria and forcing them … abroad” to “Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.” The phenomenon of disappearing Mideast Christians is one of the most massive and under-reported stories of our time. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary says that in 1910, 13.6 percent of the population of the Middle East was Christian. But after a century that saw the explosion of Christianity elsewhere in the world, by 2025, followers of Christ, if current trends hold, will constitute just over 3 percent of Middle Easterners. My colleague Warren Cole Smith recently interviewed WORLD Magazine Senior Editor Mindy Belz for our BreakPoint podcast. She has seen firsthand the challenges Christians face in the Middle East. Mindy has been visiting the region since the Gulf War in 2003, meeting local Christians and hearing their plight. At one point she set aside her strict journalist’s code, and she told Warren, “became an accomplice to Iraq’s Christians.” One stalwart Iraqi Christian woman asked Mindy to carry money across the border so she could minister to the church, and after serious soul-searching, Mindy did. You can hear the entire fascinating one-hour conversation between Warren and Mindy when you subscribe to the BreakPoint podcast. You’ll also hear about Mindy’s outstanding and moving book, “They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East.” In the interview, Warren asked Mindy what she thought of the Iraq War. “I was hopeful,” she said. Many minority groups “felt like the U. S. invasion represented a new day for them … that they would finally have new-found freedoms and be able to worship freely and live freely and run their businesses freely. “It’s a myth that things were better under Saddam Hussein,” she continued, “because every Christian I talked to in those early years had been jailed or somehow harassed under Hussein.” But of course, for many reasons, things did not go as planned. In 2003, Iraq had about 1.5 million Christians. Today, only about 300,000 remain. There’s a similar tale of disappearing Christians as a result of the chaos in Syria. Since 2011, that country’s once-sizable Christian population of 2.5 million has been cut in half. “Today,” according to Maria Abi-Habib, “more Arab Christians live outside the Middle East than in the region. Some 20 million live abroad, compared with 15 million Arab Christians who remain in the Mideast.” And all of them deserve our prayers. Please come to our online store at BreakPoint.org and check out Mindy’s book for an up-close look at the trials facing our brothers and sisters. And do subscribe to our BreakPoint podcast wherever you download apps. We have great interviews with folks like Mindy, Joni Eareckson Tada, George Barna . . . and special talks by Chuck Colson and more.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ravi Zacharias: How Do We Live in a Time Like This?

Jun 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today on the BreakPoint podcast we present Ravi Zacharias’s talk at last month’s Wilberforce Weekend Conference. Ravi’s question for us: How do we live in a time like this? For answers, Ravi turns to Joseph in the book of Genesis.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Opposing the Transgender Craze

Jun 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

It doesn’t matter that you’re one of the world’s leading psychiatrists if you question the new orthodoxy about sex and gender. Galileo Galilei was an advocate of Copernicanism when Copernicanism wasn’t cool. Galileo, the father of experimental physics, was an early advocate for the scientific idea that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. Church authorities, however, at first claimed the theory to be “philosophically [that is, scientifically] foolish and absurd, and is considered official heresy because it explicitly contradicts the meaning of Scripture in many places.” Now there’s a lot more to the Galileo story, which became a mistold part of the “religion-opposes-science” trope ever since. But today I want to ask, who is opposing science these days? Take the case of Paul McHugh, the Henry Phipps Professor and Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975 to 2001. Today, McHugh has been labeled a heretic of psychiatry. What did he do to deserve that label? Well, in 1979 he ended “sex reassignment surgeries” at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, saying that “producing a ‘satisfied’ but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.” Later, in an influential essay in The Wall Street Journal, McHugh pointed to a study from Sweden showing suicide rates in those who had undergone such procedures to be 20-fold higher than in the “non-transgender population.” He also cited a study showing that 70 to 80 percent of children with transgender feelings who received no medical or surgical treatment spontaneously lost those feelings. McHugh writes, “Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse.” And for this, he’s been labeled a “transphobe.” And worse. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest homosexual-transgender lobby organization, McHugh “has used his platform as a psychiatrist affiliated with Johns Hopkins University to peddle myths about transgender people—not just in his writings, but in courtrooms and state legislatures across the country. … [McHugh] has no expertise in gender or sexuality,” they write. That’s hilarious. Over his illustrious career McHugh has received the Paul Hoch Award of the American Psychopathological Association, the Joseph Zubin Award of the American Psychopathological Association, and the highest award of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences’ Institutes of Medicine. And now he’s being called a peddler of “junk science” because he disagrees with the Human Rights Campaign. So, you can be an internationally renowned expert in your field, but if you tick off the cultural power players, suddenly you’re a hack. Galileo once wrote to Johannes Kepler, “My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?” Now McHugh could write something similar of the new obscurantism, but he seems optimistic that science eventually will win out, telling LifeSite News that the “fad” of transgenderism will fade away, even though Johns Hopkins has resumed the surgeries. “I keep telling them that they will come to regret it someday,” McHugh says. “This craze is going to come apart, as crazes always do.” And like McHugh, we too can hope for a Copernican-type revolution in which science—not to mention common sense—wins out over ideology. In the meantime, however, there are too many lives, including young ones, being sold false hope and false salvation. They’re the victims of bad ideas, and that clarifies our Christian responsibility. Christians are always at their best, not only when they stand for truth, but when they care for victims. And this time will be no different.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Turning Children into Jewelry?

Jun 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today I’m going to talk to you about frozen characters—and I don’t mean those in the Disney film. A hundred years ago, ladies often clipped hair from a deceased relative and fashioned it into a brooch. It was a way of remembering loved ones. Today, an Australian company has brought back the idea in a frankly bizarre and repulsive way: They are turning fertilized human embryos—that is, children at the embryonic stage—into jewelry. It’s a stunning example of how far we have fallen in terms of treating children as commodities. The Baby Bee Hummingbird company has for years been making keepsake jewelry containing drops of breast milk or baby’s first tooth. But now it is turning frozen human embryos left over from In Vitro Fertilization into jewelry. Each mother sends in her “leftover” embryos, which are contained in what’s called a straw. The straw is reduced to ashes and set in resin. The jeweler then designs a piece of jewelry around it. And the company calls this “sacred art.” One anonymous mother, who bore three children through the IVF process, told the New York Times, “My embryos were my babies—frozen in time.” When she and her husband felt they’d had enough children, she says it just “wasn’t in my heart to destroy [the extra embryos] . . . Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake”—a pendent she wears next to her heart. Yeah, but she had to kill her babies to do it. And the reality is that all she’s really wearing is the straw the embryos were stored in. Dr. Jeffrey Keenan is a reproductive endocrinologist with the National Embryo Donation Center who has performed over a thousand transfers of frozen embryos. Writing at the Gospel Coalition, he notes that the embryos themselves are “microscopically small.” When the straws they are stored in are cremated, “the embryos themselves would be essentially vaporized,” which means the so-called “embryo ash” is nothing but the “burnt remnants of the devices in which they were stored,” he writes. Dr. Keenan smells a hoax, and so do I. But hoax or not, how did we become so blind to the inherent value God places on each of us? Wesley Smith at the Discovery Institute says that IVF has undeniably brought great joy to parents. But it has also “unleashed a terrible hubris around human reproduction, mutating it into a form of manufacture.” IVF has brought us “such staples of industrialization as special orders for style, warehousing, quality control, harvesting natural resources to support the industry, and independent service contractors who facilitate productivity and efficiency.” In other words, having children has become a business. No wonder we’re beginning to view children as product, as raw material to be turned into jewelry. The Founder of Baby Bee Hummingbird makes no apologies for her so-called “sacred art.” “What better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewelry?” she asks. Well, I’ve got an idea—how about letting them live, grow up, contribute to the world, to marry, and have children of their own? Scripture tells us to do justly and love mercy, and to look after orphans in their distress. How just, how merciful is it to kill our tiny, helpless offspring, and then hang them around our necks as fashionable accessories? IVF has become a popular option, including among Christians. There are now over a million frozen embryos living in cryogenic tanks. If you know couples who’ve undergone this procedure, and have, as a result, some very cold children they don’t know what to do with, I have a suggestion. Rather than destroying them, these parents might consider allowing other couples to adopt their embryos through Nightlight Christian Adoptions, or the National Embryo Donation Center. Because every human being, from conception until natural death, is made in the image of God, and is worthy of life and dignity.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: The HHS Mandate, Bearing False Witness, and Persecution in Egypt

Jun 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

Ed and John discuss the leak of a proposed Trump Administration rule that would give religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor relief from the HHS mandate. Also: Ed Stetzer's Christianity Today article on the need for Christians to repent of spreading conspiracy theories, and the growing persecution of Christians in Egypt.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Terrorists and Moral Discourse

Jun 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

So what motivates radical Islamist terrorists? Like we say over and over again on BreakPoint, worldview matters. The day after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 50 more during an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, President Trump expressed both his condolences to the victims and their families, and his solidarity with the British people. And then he expressed outrage at the perpetrators. “So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term,” he said. “They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are.” Now the president’s choice of words didn’t come as a surprise. Trump’s communication style is, of course unorthodox and colorful in a way that some linguists believe reflect his New York upbringing. And it’s endeared him to millions, which is why I don’t suspect we’ll see it change anytime soon. And there’s absolutely a sense in which the perpetrators could be called “losers.” A recent study by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) found that many ISIS recruits in Europe had criminal records. Twenty-seven percent of the jihadis studied were radicalized in prison. As Newsweek put it, “Some prisoners also wish to redeem themselves for the behavior that landed them in prison, turning to religion and a cause they believe to be honorable, essentially another outlet for their violent nature.” As if to emphasize this last point, an ISIS recruiting poster features a young man holding a gun with this caption, “Sometimes people with the worst past create the best futures.” This potent mixture of ideology, false religion, and counterfeit redemption is why we shouldn’t, however, settle for calling the terrorists “losers.” When people hear the word “loser” it brings to mind a sort of incompetence or a failure to succeed in life. But what drives ISIS and its recruits is something much more than the word “loser” suggests. They’re living out their deeply held beliefs about God, humanity, and history—beliefs that are not just mistaken or wrong but are, at root, evil in the rejection of God and truth. As Graeme Wood chronicled in a must-read piece at the Atlantic, ISIS offers, like all worldviews do, an alternative to Christianity’s “creation-fall-redemption-restoration” story. Except in its version, restoration takes the form of seizing and holding territory, followed by the imposition of what it deems a more authentic form of Islam. All of this is the prelude to its version of the battle of Armageddon and the revelation of the Mahdi, “a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world.” Dismissing ISIS and its recruits as “losers” relieves us of the need to understand these beliefs. But without understanding these beliefs, we can’t hope to understand what drives people like Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British subject turned suicide bomber, and others that are inspired by ISIS. And even more importantly, it relieves us of the responsibility to offer the True story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration—centered on Christ—that gives life instead of taking it and that gives people a reason to love instead of one to strap on a suicide vest. Chuck Colson spent the last four decades of his life helping people with the “worst pasts” create “best futures” characterized by love, not hate, and forgiveness, not revenge. They may have been so-called “losers” when they entered prison, but they left being called something else: sons and daughters of God. Now Christians of all people, who follow the Word made flesh, know that words matter. They shape the way that we see the world, and just as importantly, they give us insight as to what the world can become.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Join the Parenting Teens Summit

May 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

Navigating the culture today is not easy, especially for teens and their parents. Thankfully, there’s some help for all of us. I’ve been teaching Christian worldview to teenagers for nearly 20 years. I’ve seen, and so have you, how much the culture has changed—we might even say, devolved. Could we ever have imagined how quickly things would go from being unthinkable to unquestionable? That men could marry men? That school teachers and doctors could encourage gender-confused boys and girls to start hormone therapy before puberty? That our teens would be spending this much time in front of screens each and every day? The pace of cultural change today is simply mind-boggling. I sympathize with those parents who feel they just can’t keep up. But at the same time, we can’t send our kids out to navigate these treacherous cultural waters alone. So what should we do? I’m pleased—actually thrilled—to announce today that The Colson Center is partnering with Axis.org and several other organizations to sponsor a free, digital conference with parenting experts and Christian thought leaders. The Parenting Teen Summit begins tomorrow, June 1st and runs through June 15. More than 40 of the best informed Christian authors and thoughts leaders will share unique insights on parenting teens. Featured speakers include Ravi Zacharias, Gary Chapman, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, Roxanne Stone, J. Warner Wallace, Kara Powell, D.A. Horton, and others—including me. As my friend and Axis President David Eaton says, the Parenting Teens Summit is like taking some of the best ideas from the life work of 40-plus experts and condensing it into something specifically for parents, pastors, and teachers who serve junior high and high school students. If you can think of a topic, it’s covered: money, technology, sexuality, discipleship, apologetics, pornography, sports, reading the Bible, you name it. The Parenting Teen Summit covers topics in three different categories: First, “Know Their Culture”: Here it’s all Snapchat, Selfies, and Chance the Rapper… pop culture, smartphones, social media, and entertainment influence teenagers. We know that. So this category of sessions will help you make sense of youth culture where it’s at its loudest. The second category is “Connect the Generations.” The Secret Sauce for building a lifelong faith in teenagers is intergenerational community. The Parenting Teens Summit will help you bridge the generational gap between you and your teen. The third category is “Develop Their Heart.” In the face of the huge conversation topics teens face every day at school, with friends, and online, parents must become the most significant conversation partner their kids have. These sessions will show you how to build a deep relationship with your teenager. By the way, each session is in conversation format, so it’s not just lectures here. Registration is now open for the Parenting Teens Summit. Starting tomorrow, each day for two weeks, a new presentation with a different parenting expert will be posted—starting with my opening conversation with David Eaton. Each talk remains online for free for 72 hours, and then you can choose to purchase a lifetime pass. So come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll provide you with all the information you’ll need to get signed up for the Parenting Teens Summit. I should add if you sign up for a lifetime pass to the Summit (which does involve a fee), you’ll also receive my new book, which I wrote with Brett Kunkle, “A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World.” Look, taking part in the Parenting Teens Summit is one of the best things you can do to help your kids stay strong in the faith in this difficult cultural moment. Again, come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary to sign up.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Os Guinness: "Covenant" and the American Republic

May 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

Speaking at this month’s Wilberforce Weekend Conference, Os Guinness argued that the key to the restoration of a healthy American Republic lies in the concept of “covenant”—as rooted in Judaism and recaptured by the Protestant Reformation.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Americans and Infidelity

May 30, 2017 - 00:00:00

In this age of uber-tolerance on all the other pelvic issues, you’d expect Americans would be getting more tolerant of infidelity, too. But not so. Stay tuned to BreakPoint. A recent article in the New York Times magazine provocatively asked “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?” Given the worldview of the New York Times, we shouldn’t be surprised that their answer was “probably.” And the response to the article was also not surprising. Rod Dreher argued that if open marriages became common and accepted, the result would be “the dissolution of family and eventually of society.” In keeping with his new book, “The Benedict Option,” he told Christian readers that “there is no point in trying to argue with this culture anymore,” and urged them to “shake the dust off your feet.” But wait a minute. Despite the article, are open marriages becoming more common and more accepted? The Times article just offers a series of anecdotes. And as statisticians will remind you, “anecdote” is not the plural of data. The term “open marriage” has been around since at least the 1960s, and while people are more willing to talk about it, there’s no evidence that people in actual marriages, as opposed to merely “relationships,” are more willing to dispense with the “forsaking all others” part of their vows. As a point of fact, according to the General Social Survey, which tracks Americans’ attitudes and practice on a range of subjects, there has been little, if any change in Americans’ attitudes towards infidelity since 1972. They still hate it. In contrast to the shift in beliefs on almost all the other issues concerning marriage and sexuality, Americans are steadfast in their condemnation of extramarital sexual relations. In fact, they’re slightly more likely today than in 1973 to say that a “married person having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner” is “always wrong.” What’s more, there’s very little, if any, difference between older and younger Americans on this point. These results align with the findings of the Gallup organization, which found that only six percent of Americans found adultery to be acceptable under any circumstances. As I said, this steadfastness stands in marked contrast to shifting attitudes concerning sexual ethics on many other issues. “Many other” but not all. There are other exceptions to this liberalizing trend, most notably abortion. There, according to Gallup, American attitudes have held steady despite strong cultural messages that sought to normalize the taking of unborn life. Why? Part of the answer is that it’s easier to articulate and see the harm caused to others by both adultery and abortion. Ideas like “consent” and “avoiding harm to others” are practically the only moral criteria Americans can agree on anymore. It’s no coincidence, then, that practices where a victim can be readily identified—the innocent spouse and the unborn child for example—are most resistant to the siren songs of the Sexual Revolution. But as we’ve said repeatedly on BreakPoint, the Sexual Revolution has created countless additional victims as well. The most obvious being the children of broken and never-intact families. The data couldn’t be clearer: Kids need both a mom and a dad at home. Anything less puts them, according to all the research, at risk for “adverse outcomes.” And this is only one example. There are many more. The ‘free love’ freight train has run over a lot of people—exploited women, reluctant divorcees, spouses who were cheated on, and more and more. Since harm seems to be the argument people are most prepared to consider, it behooves us to learn about this harm so that we can set the record straight, especially since, as Jennifer Roback Morse documents in her book, “The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims,” it’s a reality our culture doesn’t really want to talk about. But talk about it we must. Because the issue isn’t whether yet another, even more radical departure from Christian teaching about marriage and sexuality will make us happier. It’s about how miserable our previous transgressions have already made us.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Alan Sears: Never Stand Down in the Fight for Religious Freedom

May 29, 2017 - 00:00:00

Alan Sears, the 2017 recipient of the William Wilberforce Award, warns us about never standing down in the fight to defend religious freedom, because, as he said, “Those seeking to silence the truth never stand down.” Alan is introduced by Colson Center President John Stonestreet

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
How Will You Honor the Fallen?

May 29, 2017 - 00:00:00

So, how is your Memorial Day shaping up? Heading to the pool or the beach? Having friends over for a barbecue? Or maybe catching that sale at the car dealership? Yep, Memorial Day is almost here: the semi-official start of summer with a three-day weekend thrown in. So much to do. In fact, if you go to Google and type in “Memorial Day what to do,” you’ll get all kinds of activities in your area: food and film fests, music concerts, baseball games. And you might, just might, learn how you can honor America’s war dead. I say might, because Memorial Day has morphed—for the most part—from a day of remembrance to, as one city magazine put it, a “beloved three-day weekend [to] get a taste of all of the exciting outdoor events as . . . summer officially kicks into gear.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing with friends and families and celebrating the arrival of summer. But I want to challenge you and your family to find ways to pay homage to those who have given their lives for the sake of our country and our freedoms. And I have some suggestions for you. But first, a little context. Since the Revolutionary War, more than 1.3 million Americans have died during our nation’s armed conflicts. More than half of those were casualties on both sides of the Civil War. If you can imagine, more than two percent of the American population perished during that savage conflict—that would be like 7.7 million Americans dying today. It was after that great conflagration that Americans, primarily in the northern states, chose a day to honor the war dead: May 30th, 1868, was the first Decoration Day, as it was called because citizens were asked to decorate the graves of the fallen. After World War I, the day became a time for remembering all war dead, not just those of the Civil War. It wasn’t until 1968 that Congress moved the date from May 30 to the last Monday in May. And in 1971, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday. So, what can we do to remember and show our gratitude? First, fly the flag. At home and in your town. You might want to check over at your local town hall and ask if the flag will be displayed properly on Monday: Flown at half-mast until noon. As the USMemorialDay.org website puts it, “The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.” Second, attend your local Memorial Day parade. Don’t be shy: Don your patriotic gear and stand with your fellow citizens. Third, visit a national cemetery and decorate graves. Or simply walk the grounds quietly and pray. Fourth, you might attend a memorial service. Many Veterans of Foreign War posts hold special services to honor the dead. Fifth, take your children to a military museum or battlefield. Teach them about the sacrifices made by so many. Instill in them a respect for the men and women who to this day volunteer to serve their country in the armed forces—knowing they may be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice. Sixth, observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00PM on Monday. Since 2000, Americans have been asked to “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.” Finally, consider donating to organizations that help our nation’s veterans and families. And get your church to reach out to military families in your area. So yes. Enjoy your long weekend. But find a way to honor those who, through their sacrifice, made this weekend possible.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Terrorism, Planned Parenthood, and the Cultural Tide

May 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

On Monday night, an Islamic terrorist carried out a suicide bombing at a Manchester concert, killing 22 people and injuring many more. John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer talk about the need for a robust moral vocabulary to name this kind of evil, and what the right response for world leaders will look like. Our hosts also cover another shocking undercover Planned Parenthood video, and a new book John co-authored with Stand to Reason’s Brett Kunkle on helping your kids navigate a culture without going adrift.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Full-Time Christianity

May 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

We just held the Colson Center’s biggest event ever. Let me give you a little taste of what you missed. “Live and let live” has got to be the motto of our age. Any Christian who has expressed his or her beliefs in public will have heard this countless times. Here’s the problem with it: Sooner or later, conflicting beliefs collide. And as Alliance Defending Freedom Founder Alan Sears can tell you, it’s usually Christian beliefs that are expected to give way. A dauntless champion of religious liberty, Alan was this year’s William Wilberforce Award recipient. Contrary to a little jab I made at the conference, he was, in fact, our first choice. And it was an unbelievable privilege last week to join him, along with Os Guinness, Ravi Zacharias, Emily Colson, Rod Dreher and many others to explore what it means to engage our “live and let live” culture with courage, clarity, and compassion. As Alan told over 700 attendees, the Christian life does not consist merely in believing a set of propositions within the walls of our churches. It means living out that truth in a visible, public way. As John Stonestreet likes to say, Christianity is personal, but it’s not private! We are called to be full-time Christians, at work, at school, in the home, and at play. Our Republic was chartered on the idea that everyone has the inalienable right to do just that: to practice their faith publicly without threat of punishment. Speaking at the conference, Os Guinness described the Constitution as a “covenant” that enshrined in the First Amendment a freedom the founders considered second-to-none. Today, despite an electoral reprieve, that freedom is under attack. BreakPoint listeners will recognize names like Elaine Huguenin, Barronelle Stutzman, Blaine Adamson, Kelvin Cochran, and others who have been told they must choose between their Christian convictions and their livelihoods. This photographer, florist, t-shirt-designer and fire chief are just a few examples of Americans who have gotten the short end of the “live and let live” stick. They’ve been sued, threatened with unemployment, and in some cases, face the prospect of losing everything—simply because they refused to betray their deepest beliefs. Their Christianity is profoundly personal, but it’s not private. They know that what happens outside the walls of our churches is the testing ground for what we profess inside those walls. What Alan Sears gave our packed house last weekend wasn’t just a charge to protect our first freedom. He also challenged each of us to ask ahead of time what we will do if that freedom vanishes. So ask yourself: What is my line—the boundary in my soul that I, like those florists, photographers, and bakers, will not cross? If our allegiance is to “laws that are higher than any laws adopted by man,” then “nothing on earth—no threat, no punishment—should be more compelling to us” than those mandates. Living a faith that shapes more than our private beliefs and spills over into our every relationship and action—this is what the Wilberforce Weekend is all about, and why I’m so thrilled by the work of the Colson Center. Let me just say, everyone on the team is exhausted right now, but we’re also pumped after our largest gathering ever. If you missed it, don’t worry. We’ve got videos for you on the BreakPoint Facebook page, and if you visit WilberforceWeekend.org, we’ll tell you how to join the over 100 people who’ve already signed up for next year! Folks, I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this, not just because I get to make wise cracks on stage, but because what happens at these events is truly unique. The Colson Center is uniting Christians and equipping them to follow the example of luminaries like William Wilberforce, Chuck Colson, and Alan Sears, whose faith refuses to stay confined to Sunday.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Don’t Argue the Exceptions

May 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

“But what about the . . . ?” Has a rare exception every stumped you when making the case for life or anything else? Here’s how to respond with grace and truth. “Humans have ten fingers and ten toes.” Now that shouldn’t strike anyone as a controversial statement, since almost every person ever born has had twenty digits. But what if someone argued in response that, because there are exceptions to this—people who because of injury or genetic defect lack a digit or two—we ought not describe ten fingers and ten toes as normal or descriptive of being human? We’d rightly think that a silly argument, of course. So why do we tolerate this same kind of reasoning in modern social debates? Take abortion. Perhaps you’ve heard someone challenge the prolife view with this exception: “Well what about rape and incest, or the life of the mother?” Or take gender. Folks ask me all the time, “But what about those born with ambiguous genitalia?” These objections stop a lot of Christians in their tracks. But they shouldn’t. When pro-choice activists insist that we can’t outlaw abortion because some pregnancies result from rape and incest, or endanger the life of the mother, they’re ignoring the fact that in nearly all abortions none of these considerations are factors at all. Rather, healthy babies are killed simply because they’re inconvenient. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t support the intentional taking of unborn life under any circumstance. As Live Action President Lila Rose often points out, the unborn are human beings no matter what the circumstances of their conception. Rape and other sexual crimes are monstrous, but abortion doesn’t undo those wrongs, it only creates another victim. Arguing about exceptions like these only muddies the waters. And sometimes, that’s exactly what the pro-choice side wants. The same thing happens when someone brings up ambiguous genitalia in the transgender debate. This condition is tragic, and the subject requires great care. But it’s also extremely rare—by most estimates, in fact, occurring in just one in twenty-two-thousand births. In other words, when we allow this tiny fraction of a percent to control the entire debate, we obscure the overwhelming reality. And so, for the sake of discussion, instead of arguing about the exceptions, why not just grant them? When someone challenges you about extreme cases for abortion, try replying this way: “Okay, let’s say we keep abortion legal in these rare cases. What about the other ninety-six percent of abortions that are elective? Can we end those?” Nine times out of ten, you’ll hear crickets. Likewise, when it comes to gender, grant that in cases of ambiguous genitalia, there really is a biological basis for doubt and that we must rethink medical practices that too quickly label someone male or female if the physical evidence isn’t clear. By granting the exceptions, we force the other person to face the real questions, or admit they’re using rare cases as wedges for their real agenda. But more importantly, these exceptions actually prove the principles we believe in. Here’s what I mean: If someone says, “if a baby was conceived in a crime, we have the right to kill her,” that person is appealing to the circumstances under which the baby was conceived. To then argue that abortion should be legal in all cases is to admit that circumstances don’t in fact matter. That my friend, is called a contradiction. Same thing is true with transgenderism. To argue that biology matters in the case of ambiguous genitalia and then argue that biology doesn’t matter with clearly defined genitalia is nonsense. Our response should be: Biology matters or it doesn’t. Pick one. Look, rare cases are tough and complicated. But that doesn’t mean that all or even most of the other cases are. So the next time someone argues for abortion or gender fluidity from an exception, grant it and then confront them with the vast majority of cases. And if they refuse, just ask them how many fingers and toes they have.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
George Barna: Who's Got a Biblical Worldview?

May 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

What percentage of Americans have a biblical worldview? Better yet, what percentage of born-again Christians do? Today on the BreakPoint Podcast, Warren Cole Smith interviews Christian pollster and researcher George Barna about his latest survey.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Dog Boomers

May 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

For proof that our culture has gone to the dogs, look no further than the bizarrely parental ways many Americans talk about our furry friends. If you haven’t seen a series of new commercials from the wireless company, Sprint, consider yourself fortunate. The ads feature Instagram star Topher Brophy, who—besides bearing an uncanny likeness to Warner Sallman’s painting of Jesus—has established an odd relationship with his wire-haired pooch. “Who’s that?” asks the cameraman. “He’s my son,” replies Brophy. He and his dog, Rosenberg, get easily confused, Brophy informs us, “because there’s a resemblance.” Welcome to 2017, when nary an ear perks up at the suggestion that animals are equivalent to children. “Fur-baby” and “pet parent” are replacing terms like “owner.” Viral social media posts like the Dog Mom Rap grace our newsfeeds, and the $11 billion pet care industry has given us such essential products as pooch strollers and canine costumes. Americans—particularly young Americans—seem doggedly determined to turn their pets into progeny. BreakPoint senior writer Shane Morris suggests in The Federalist that this “replacement baby” phenomenon has become a kind of society-wide delusion of misdirected instincts. He draws attention to historically low birth rates in his own millennial generation, combined with statistics showing an unprecedented boom in the number of pets. The Washington Post reported in September that three-quarters of Americans in their thirties—prime childbearing years—own dogs, and half own cats. Compare that with the population in general, only half of whom own dogs and a third of whom own cats, and the recent cascade of critters becomes obvious. To put it simply, children are in the doghouse and young Americans are replacing them with animals. When Shane wrote his article, he knew the reaction wouldn’t be a walk in the park. But I don’t think he knew just how badly he was stepping in it. Many commenters on Facebook and Twitter called the article the most ridiculous and insulting thing they’d ever read. “Typical judgmental Christian!” they wrote. “You need psychiatric help.” “Stop trying to force your views on me,” protested others. Many brought up the debunked idea that our planet is overpopulated and that not having children is therefore a noble cause. Some fellow millennials insisted that Shane must be jealous that he can’t live the party life with his three kids. But amidst the howls of protest unleashed by his article, one message appeared over and over: “I don’t like kids. I like dogs better.” A few even admitted to hating children, and used obscene and degrading terms to describe babies. No wonder Chuck Colson had a bone to pick with “pet-parents.” Back in 2009, he observed that blurring the distinction between humans and animals is more than ridiculous. It goes hand-in-paw with a culture that views babies as burdens, not blessings—burdens, I might add, which society sees fit to dispose of at will. In other words, Shane is barking up the right tree, here. Now let me repeat what Chuck often said: I like animals, and pets can be incredibly special. I myself have a dog. But as Christians, we believe humans are uniquely called to steward the natural world and show kindness to all of God’s creatures. But the ways we talk about our pets—not to mention the emotional roles we let them fill—matter. If a generation of young people replaces families with fur-babies, we could be facing the same demographic crunch currently hitting Japan and parts of Europe, not to mention a culture and economy that punish parenthood, instead of rewarding it. Pets, in other words, are great. They are! But in the midst of a culture actively turning them into little people, we’ve got to remind ourselves that the image of God has two legs, not four.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“Fake” News, “Real” News, and Good News

May 23, 2017 - 00:00:00

There’s a battle raging in the media about so-called “fake news” vs. “real news,” but let’s not forget the good news. Let me read you something by a gentleman named Eden Chen: “I met a missionary couple from Germany and a missionary from Florida who helped reignite my search for God. These missionaries had lived in the inner-city projects for extended periods, and materially speaking they had next to nothing, but they were the most joyful people I had ever met. I had always assumed that more riches and possessions led to greater joy. …” He continues: “After returning home, I embarked on an all-encompassing search for God. I studied the major world religions—Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. I figured that if God was real, then he would probably make himself known. I read C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, the most logical expression of faith that I had encountered. All of a sudden, it struck me that running away from Christianity would require more faith than running toward it.” You’ll find “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say, in Christianity Today. Whatever you think about the “fake news vs. real news” debate, I trust you realize that you won’t find such good news like Eden Chen’s in The New York Times or The Economist. C.S. Lewis once said, “If one only had time to read a little more: We either get shallow and broad or narrow and deep.” So with summer around the corner, to borrow another phrase, let’s go both deep and wide and read just a little bit more. And because there’s so much bad news in the world—whether “fake” or “real”—let’s try to focus on the good. And just where do Christians find this good news? Of course, it’s found supremely in God’s Word, the Bible, which speaks to all times and seasons. And Christian books are another source of good news. But today I want to focus on the sometimes-neglected world of Christian publications, especially magazines, websites, and blogs. The story about Eden Chen I read from a moment ago is just one bit of good news you can read about from talented and godly journalists, editors, and writers who daily—sometimes, hourly—give us a Christian perspective on events and trends. They introduce us to kingdom people doing things the “fake news” and “real news” crowd has no interest in. They help us see the world with a Christian worldview. Some of my BreakPoint colleagues have written great articles for just such outlets, including Shane Morris at the Patheos blog, Warren Cole Smith at WORLD magazine, and Gina Dalfonzo and Stan Guthrie at Christianity Today. I have time to mention only a few of these purveyors of good news—that is, stories and articles that provide hope and a Christian perspective on the events of the day. First, of course, is our own BreakPoint.org website, which provides the text and audio of every commentary like this one. Our site also offers columns, The Point commentaries by John Stonestreet, and everything you need on the topics of Christian worldview, life and human dignity, the Church, arts and the media, science and technology, and religious liberty. I also commend for your reading edification and pleasure First Things magazine, which is published by The Institute of Religion and Public Life “to advance a religiously informed public philosophy”; Christ and Pop Culture, which seeks “to acknowledge, appreciate, and think rightly about the common knowledge of our age”; Aleteia, which offers a Christian and Catholic “vison of the world”; and the website for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, just to name a few. So come to our BreakPoint website for a longer list, along with the links. Should you get all your news from Christian publications? Heavens no. But for finding good news and views that will inspire you to think and act Christianly, you can’t do better than the Christian publications and sites I’ve just mentioned. Again, check out our list at BreakPoint.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Alan Sears, Serving God and Protecting His People

May 22, 2017 - 00:00:00

Courage and perseverance in the face of injustice. These are the marks of those who receive the Colson Center’s William Wilberforce Award, and this year’s award winner, too. In 1987, Chuck Colson established the William Wilberforce Award to recognize individuals who vividly exemplify the passions and principles of the British 18th-century abolitionist and statesman, William Wilberforce; men and women who show perseverance and selflessness in combatting injustice and making positive change in the values and character of society. Past winners include Canon Andrew White, who ministered for years to Christians in Iraq, Congressman Frank Wolf, the indefatigable defender of human rights, and Joni Eareckson Tada for her work on behalf of people with disabilities. And on Saturday, at our annual William Wilberforce Weekend, the Board of Directors of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview bestowed the 2017 Wilberforce Award on Alan Sears, the Founder of the Alliance Defending Freedom. I for one am thrilled. Chuck Colson so admired Alan Sears and the work of ADF. And why not? Over the past 23 years, Sears and ADF have built a comprehensive legal strategy of training, funding, and advocacy to defend religious freedom, especially for those who are most at risk of losing it—from medical professionals to artists and bakers and scientists, from hospitals and pro-life pregnancy centers to Christian schools and colleges. And the results speak for themselves: ADF has contributed to 49 victories at the U. S. Supreme Court and the training of more than 1,900 lawyers in 45 countries. These attorneys have provided more than $200 million in pro-bono/dedicated time to pro-life, religious liberty and related causes. With his educational and legal pedigree (from Stanford to Harvard to the Justice Department), Sears certainly had many and more lucrative options than starting a non-profit organization to defend religious freedom. But Sears had a higher calling than legal stardom: “To serve God and protect his people.” Alan Sears’s tenacity mirrors that of William Wilberforce. For more than two decades, Wilberforce faced bitter and powerful opposition to his work to end the slave trade. But he never gave up. On this program years ago, Chuck Colson remembered the story of a tired Wilberforce, sitting in his chair studying the Bible. An old letter that he had saved “fluttered from between its pages,” from none other than John Wesley. Wilberforce re-read the letter: “Unless God has raised you up for this very thing,” Wesley wrote, “you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing.” Certainly in defending human life, religious liberty and traditional marriage, Alan Sears has faced the opposition of men and devils—and their radical agendas. Oregon florist Baronelle Stutzman, who refused to participate in a same-sex “wedding,” and the Mennonite business Conestoga Wood Specialties, which refused to obey the HHS contraceptive mandate, are among ADF’s clients. Sears is clear-eyed about what he has been up against: “This agenda,” Sears has said, “is one that believes in taking no prisoners. It’s the opposite of tolerance—it’s about punishing those who disagree. And the target is above all else the faithful to the Scripture and to the word of God.” Well thank you, Alan Sears, for standing in the gap. We’re so grateful for all you’ve done to serve God and protect His people. It was a privilege to see you receive the award in person. If you’d like the privilege of seeing next year’s Wilberforce Award winner and participating in our annual Wilberforce Weekend conference with great speakers and teaching, plan now! Special early registration pricing is available at wilberforceweekend.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Joni Eareckson Tada: Reflections

May 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

Warren Cole Smith interviews Joni Eareckson Tada about her 35 years of radio ministry and her passionate commitment to helping those with disabilities to “find the grace and healing power and hope of Jesus.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: May 20, 2017

May 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
“The Handmaid’s Tale” Come True?

May 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

We’re being told that the new adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is “prophetic” and “timely.” And I agree, but just not in the way that feminists and leftists mean. One of the most talked-about shows on television is “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This Hulu series, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, has been called “timely” and “essential viewing for our fractured culture.” Perhaps, but definitely not in the way that critics suppose. The context of Atwood’s dystopian novel is the theocratic successor to the United States called the “Republic of Gilead.” Gilead is a kind of evangelical Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden to read, and select women, the “handmaids” of the title, are given as concubines to high-ranking officials for purposes of breeding. Now, when Atwood’s novel was published three decades ago, its conjuring of a theocratic United States was, to put it charitably, overwrought. And today, that idea is, to put it charitably once more, absurd. The countries closest to this sort of treatment to women are clearly Islamic countries. American women today are in absolutely no danger of losing their freedoms, especially so-called “reproductive freedom.” Abortion may be, in some places, a bit inconvenient, but it’s still legal and widely available. Contraceptives have never been easier to obtain, and you can even get the so-called “morning after pill” without a prescription. So to call “The Handmaid’s Tale” “essential viewing for our fractured culture,” only illustrates just how out of touch with reality a certain class of Americans has become. Not to mention blind. In addition to the barbaric treatment of women in many Islamic countries, there’s another way that this series and the novel it’s based on are “timely,” but it’s the result of increased “reproductive freedom,” not its curtailment. In fact, that timeliness was explained in an article in Britain’s left-wing magazine written by a feminist who goes by the pen name of “Glosswitch.” The author, after taking note of all the invocations of Atwood’s novel following last November’s elections, writes, “There’s something about the current wallowing in Atwood’s vision that strikes me as, if not self-indulgent, then at the very least naive.” She then cites a book published the same year as “The Handmaid’s Tale” which predicted that “Once embryo transfer technology is developed, the surrogate industry could look for breeders—not only in poverty-stricken parts of the United States, but in the Third World as well. There, perhaps, one tenth of the current fee could be paid to women.” Unlike Atwood’s so-called “prophecy,” Glosswitch’s prophecy was the one that came to pass. “Today there are parts of the world in which renting the womb of a poor woman is indeed ten times cheaper than in the US. The choice of wealthy white couples to implant embryos in the bodies of brown women is seen . . . as a neutral consumer choice.” Another name for this “consumer choice” is “surrogacy tourism.” In India, the number of women renting their wombs for affluent white foreigners was so high that the government enacted a law limiting the practice to Indian couples. All that did was open the “market” to other desperate Third World women. “Glosswitch” wonders “why, if the fate of the fictional [handmaid] is so horrifying to western feminists today, the fate of real-life women in surrogacy hostels is causing so little outrage?” The most likely reason, apart from self-centeredness, is that, in the West, freedom and “reproductive freedom,” which means complete control over one’s sexual choices and its consequences, are synonymous. To question any practice or technology, such as surrogacy or the in-vitro fertilization that facilitates this control, is to call our ideas about freedom and autonomy into question. And protecting those ideas requires a willful blindness to the fact that, as the New Statesmen put it, parts of Atwood’s tale “have already come true—just not for white Western women.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Building the Next Master Race?

May 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

The attempts to create a master Aryan race is not the stuff of science fiction or history books anymore. I’m going to tell you a story about an attempt to build a strong nation by breeding better babies. These babies “would be superior in quality, intelligence, looks, and other aspects.” They would be taller and fairer in complexion that their peers. These babies hold the key, we are told, to national greatness. Now you’re probably thinking the story comes from the Third Reich or maybe a science fiction novel. But you’d be wrong. This story is not from 1930s Germany nor is it the stuff of dystopian novels. It’s from contemporary India. A group in India, Arogya Bharati, which means “Indian Wholeness” in Sanskrit, is working with couples to produce, in its words, “customized” babies. It hopes to “have [produced] thousands of such babies by 2020.” Its long-term goal is to build a strong India through these children. What’s required to produce such a child? “Three months of [purification] for parents, intercourse at a time decided by planetary configurations, complete abstinence after the baby is conceived, and procedural and dietary regulations.” The pay-off? According to the head of Arogya Bharati, “extremely bright,” “fair-complexioned,” and “tall” babies born to less-bright, dark, and short parents. As this suggests, the groups methods aren’t rooted in modern genetics. Instead, they’re indebted to a combination of Indian folk medicine, astrology, and Hindu beliefs. Yet it would be unwise to discount the seriousness of what’s taking place here. When one commenter said that the group’s project was “straight out of the Nazi playbook,” it wasn’t hyperbole. While the two groups’ methods may have differed, their goals were the same: strengthening the nation by promoting racial purity. In fact, the groups share more than just a common goal; they share a central idea–the Aryan. While the Nazi myth of the Aryan is well-known, what’s not as well-known is that “Hindutva,” the Hindu nationalist ideology of groups like Arogya Bharati and its parent movement, the RSS, also has the idea of the Aryan at the center of its national myth. Unlike the Nazis, who believed that the Aryans were from what’s now the border between Kashmir and Afghanistan in the Himalayas, Hindu nationalists insist that the Aryans were from northern Indian. Despite this disagreement, the RSS expressed admiration for Nazi efforts to promote racial purity. In 1938, its Supreme Leader said that Germany “has shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole.” He called it “a good lesson for us in [India] to learn and profit by.” It’s a lesson his ideological successors are now trying to put into practice, not in birthing clinics but in the curtailment of religious freedom across India, which, in recent years, has become an increasingly hostile place for Christians, as well as Muslims. And I’d be remiss if I left you with the impression that this quest for “customized” babies was only limited to religious fanatics and Nazis. The (un)holy grail of modern genetics is to, as some have put it, “shape our own evolution.” While proponents of this quest would howl in protest if they heard me say it, this, too, is a quest for a kind of racial purity. While their definition of “race” is infinitely more generous than the people in India, never mind the Nazis, it’s still an endeavor that has no place for the weak, no matter how the planets align. Now before I leave you today, I want to remind you that the Colson Center’s annual Wilberforce Weekend starts this Friday. The event is sold out, but you can listen live online all weekend to our great speakers, like Os Guinness, Ravi Zacharias and others. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to the livestream.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Hopeless World of “13 Reasons”

May 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

If you haven’t heard of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” I guarantee your teens have. Here’s what you need to know about it. Ten years ago, Jay Asher, a novelist specializing in Young Adult fiction, saw his novel about a high school student who commits suicide become what the New York Times called “a stealthy hit with surprising staying power.” The book eventually reached the top of the Times’ paperback best-seller list. And ten years later, that novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” was turned into a Netflix series and is a cultural phenomenon. If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve heard about the series. If you’re a parent in a place like Colorado Springs, where literally dozens of teenagers have committed suicide in recent years, you’re probably asking yourself whether the show will only make a bad situation worse. I’m not certain about the answer to that question. What I am certain about is that it most certainly won’t help. As my colleague Gina Dalfonzo wrote in her superb article at BreakPoint.org, while the creators thought that they were striking a blow against teen suicide, “the limited and flawed worldview they brought to it meant that they were deeply, dangerously wrong.” “13 Reasons Why” is set two weeks after a high school student named Hannah commits suicide. As Gina writes, “While her fellow students are still creating memorials and taking selfies in front of her locker, a bombshell drops on her friend Clay Jensen . . . A shoebox full of cassette recordings that Hannah created before her death is left with him—recordings addressed to 13 different people whom she says gave her reasons to kill herself.” Told in a combination of “flashbacks and present-day stories,” Hannah’s tale is set in a depiction of the high school experience that, in Gina’s words, “makes ‘Lord of the Flies’ look like ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ Drugs and alcohol flow freely, bullying and sexual assault are facts of life, an innocent photograph or a few whispers can wreck a reputation, and the person who’s your best friend today could turn on you tomorrow.” It’s an experience that leaves the viewer wondering “how anyone could survive.” The answer seems to be “you can’t, unless you’re a sociopath.” Where does this leave non-sociopaths? Certainly not with hope. As Gina points out, nothing presented onscreen gives any reason to believe that the “poisonous atmosphere” can, much less will, get better. Against this backdrop, Hannah’s carefully-orchestrated suicide-plus-audio-revenge seems like a viable option. In fact, and this is the key flaw of the series, she seems to wield a power in death that she never did in life. Except, of course, she doesn’t. In real life, the kind of sociopaths and jerks who tormented her in life aren’t going to be too put out by an audio-cassette from the beyond. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face times infinity. The only person tormented is the one Hannah admired, Clay. And he’s left “haunted by the thought that Hannah died because he was ‘afraid to love her,’” an idea that owes more to the movies than to real-life. In any case, as Gina points out, neither Clay nor his classmates have any “concept of the kind of love that actually does save.” As Gina correctly concludes, “Troubled kids need and deserve better.” The National Association of School Psychologists agrees, having issued the following statement: “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.” Parents, we need to understand the impact that shows like this can have on our teens. And ultimately, we need to show our children what love really means—and where our hope in life truly lies.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Chuck Colson: What Is Truth? (Part II)

May 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part II of Chuck Colson's address “What Is Truth?”, delivered in 2003 at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in San Francisco. Chuck talks about the power of worldview, and about truth and how we can know it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
‘Adult’ is Not a Verb

May 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

There’s a new word touted by Webster that exposes a crisis in our culture of generational proportions. It’s been called a lot of things: “Peter Pan Syndrome” or my favorite, “failure to launch,” but whatever the term, the phenomenon is undeniable. A record number of young people today are getting stuck in the transition between childhood and adulthood. Despite attending college in record numbers, millennials seem to struggle to move on to the next phase of life. Just a decade ago, a healthy majority of young adults were able to successfully fledge. Now, those who’ve managed to leave the nest are a minority. Of course, the recession and a sluggish job market are factors. Millennials do have tougher career prospects than their parents did. But the economy isn’t the only explanation, and the language young people use to talk about adulthood makes that obvious. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that Twitter had turned the noun “adult” into a verb. “#Adulting” is what kids post on social media to congratulate themselves for the rather ordinary feats of paying the bills, finishing the laundry, or just getting to work on time. “I adulted!” goes the saying, as if fulfilling daily responsibilities is somehow above and beyond the call of duty. “Adulting” has become so universally recognized that the American Dialect Society nominated it for the most creative word of 2015. “To a growing number of Americans,” writes Sasse, “acting like a grown-up seems like a kind of role-playing, a mode of behavior requiring humorous detachment.” This isn’t just the complaint of a crotchety old man about young whipper-snappers. What we’re witnessing today, insists the senator, is a trend toward “perpetual adolescence,”—a “coming-of-age crisis,” that shows up as a real and measurable reduction in the difference between 10-year-olds and 30-year-olds. But if our kids don’t know what it means to be adults, parents, we should be asking ourselves, are we teaching them? Isolation in peer groups of the same age, widespread complacency toward history and ethics, unbridled consumerism, and even those infamous participation trophies have all contributed to this crisis. We’ d do well to remember what C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man” of those who “remove the organ and demand the function,” who “make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise,” who “castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” Senator Sasse offers steps to reverse the trend of perpetual adolescence and to help kids from an early age understand the meaning of adulthood. Teach them the difference, he says, between a “need” and a “want,” embrace hard work together, travel meaningfully, and read widely. These are all important steps to forming mature citizens. And in our new book “A Practical Guide to Culture”, my co-author Brett Kunkle and I have a chapter entitled “Perpetual Adolescence and Castrated Geldings.” In it, we offer even more suggestions for helping teens grow up. Come to BreakPoint.org to find out how to get your copy. But the Senator’s most important suggestion? Older generations must start investing in the lives of young adults. Summarizing relevant research in 2013, The Boston Globe reported a staggering statistic: Only a quarter of Americans 60 and older had discussed anything important with anyone under 36 in the previous six months! Exclude relatives and that figure dropped to a mortifying 6 percent. How alien this would have sounded to the Apostle Paul, who in Titus 2 urges older men and older women to teach the younger. Only by connecting and investing in their lives can we reasonably expect our kids, our grandkids, and their peers to understand that “adult” is not something you do. It’s someone you are.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
France and Down Syndrome

May 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

One of the great men of French history had a daughter with a disability. His faith saw him—and her—through. Late last year on BreakPoint, I told you about an extraordinary bit of censorship by the French government. What was censored was an ad featuring a smiling, happy child with Down syndrome. The ad, entitled “Dear Future Mom,” told potential mothers about the joy and love that these children can and will bring into their lives. So, why was it banned? Because the French government believes that the ad is “likely to disturb the conscience of women” who had aborted their babies after learning that the child had Down syndrome. Now I’m going to tell you a story about a Frenchman who saw things very differently: Charles de Gaulle. You probably weren’t expecting to hear that. To most Americans, de Gaulle was, as one writer put it, “an obnoxious, overly ambitious man who, in the grand French manner, strutted sitting down.” He may have been some or all of these things, but there was a side of Charles de Gaulle that few people know about, and that side revolved around his love for his daughter, Anne. Anne was born on New Year’s Day, 1928, the third of Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle’s three children. In De Gaulle’s words, Anne was “un enfant pas comme les autres,” a child not like the other children. As you’ve probably guessed, Anne had Down syndrome. Only it wasn’t called “Down syndrome” back then. The children were called “mongoloids,” and, as a recent story by Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute in the Catholic World Report told readers, “it was common [back then] for French families to place disabled children permanently in hospitals that were woefully ill-equipped to care for them.” That’s not something that de Gaulle and his family did. As de Gaulle put it, “God has given her to us. We must take responsibility for her, wherever she is and whatever she will be.” And so the family worked hard to make a place for Anne. While Yvonne worked on the logistics, Charles worked on the affection. You heard that right: the affection. Anne was the apple of his eye. As the article tells us, “The tall army officer infamous for his air of haughty disdain as leader of Free France during World War II and later as French President didn’t hesitate to unbend to play on the floor with Anne.” He sang to her, read her stories, and taught her how to pray. Every night, Anne would “painstakingly . . . repeat each word after her father.” In turn, de Gaulle would proudly tell his relatives that “she knows her prayers!” As Gregg tells readers, de Gaulle was well aware of how the Nazis treated children like Anne, and this, in turn, inspired his refusal to surrender to the Nazis. His “act of resistance” was a way of “safeguarding his defenseless daughter from those who viewed her as sub-human.” As he later said, “Without Anne, I could never perhaps have done what I did. She gave me the heart and the inspiration.” The contrast between de Gaulle and his successors in the Elysée Palace is almost too painful to contemplate. He refused to surrender to the Nazis to protect children with Down syndrome. After Anne’s death, he and his wife established a foundation, staffed by nuns, to care for people “who are not like the others.” De Gaulle was a complicated man—most great men are—but one of his complications was his Catholic faith that enabled him to love Anne. It was a love that, as Gregg put it, helped restore France’s honor, the same honor that was tarnished when, out of fear for hurting people’s feelings, it denied the humanity of the people de Gaulle worked tirelessly to save. To read Samuel Gregg’s outstanding article, “A Father’s Love: The Story of Charles and Anne,” please come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to it. Further Reading and Information France and Down Syndrome: The French Government Should Learn from Charles DeGaulle Read the touching account of Charles de Gaulle and his great affection for his daughter Anne, born with Down syndrome. The article, written by Dr. Samuel Gregg, is linked below.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Chuck Colson: What Is Truth? (Part I)

May 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

“What Is Truth?”, delivered by Chuck Colson in 2003 at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in San Francisco. Chuck talks about the power of worldview, and about truth and how we can know it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Comey, the Courts, and '13 Reasons Why'

May 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

This week, President Donald Trump set off quite a media frenzy by firing FBI director, James Comey, allegedly over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. The move also inspired fresh speculation about whether he colluded with Russia to undermine the November election, and drew comparisons between Trump and president Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. In light of the president’s encouraging judicial nominations to lower courts, our hosts suggest Christians cautiously recognize when our leaders accomplish good, but refrain from unconditionally defending them–even if they share our party affiliation. Our hosts also discuss the rise of teen suicide and the push for assisted suicide in the light of the controversial new Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Russia’s Crackdown on Religious Minorities

May 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

Hooray! We are finally focusing on religious liberty again—but let’s keep in mind it doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. After eight years of seeming neglect, it appears that protecting religious liberty is back on the nation’s agenda. Now folks can debate the strengths and weaknesses of President Trump’s new executive order, but at long last America’s first freedom is getting some long overdue recognition from the White House. During a May 5th ceremony in the Rose Garden, where I was actually privileged to be to witness it, Mr. Trump signed an executive order “promoting free speech and religious liberty” that instructs the Internal Revenue Service to “not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization” that endorses candidates. “We are giving churches their voices back,” Trump said. “This financial threat against the faith community is over.” It also instructs various departments to consider amending regulations in the Affordable Care Act requiring religious employers such as Wheaton College and the Little Sisters of the Poor to cover contraception in employee insurance plans. While we’ll have to see the effects of the President’s executive order, it is a beginning, and I appreciate his good words. The Founding Fathers knew how important religious freedom was to the success of the new Republic, and it is no less vital today. As John Witherspoon said, “There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.” We cannot expect our society to continue to prosper if religious liberty is undermined. But if this is true about religious freedom at home, it’s true elsewhere, too. America has an interest in religious freedom around the globe, and we need to make it a bigger part of our foreign policy, for all God’s children. And we might as well start with Russia. Why Russia? According to the latest annual report of the State Department’s U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Russia’s ongoing persecution of religious minorities—including evangelicals—and of missionaries and evangelists over the last year has earned it a place for the first time among the world’s worst countries for religious liberty. That puts it alongside regimes like China, Iran, and North Korea. According to Christianity Today, Vladimir Putin’s government is persecuting religious minorities in the occupied areas of Crimea and Donbas and cracking down on “non-Orthodox Christians in its heartland,” too. As well, Russia’s Supreme Court has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses nationwide. CT also says, “Russian evangelicals, who make up less than 1 percent of the population, continue to push back against the restrictions, which have resulted in arrests, fines, and confiscated materials for Protestants found guilty. They have risked punishment to continue to spread the gospel.” That’s for sure! Sergey Rakhuba, president of Mission Eurasia and a former Moscow church planter, has told the magazine, “They say, ‘If it will come to it, it’s not going to stop us from worshiping and sharing our faith.’ “The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.” Amen! May we here in the West have the same kind of determination, whatever the government does. And let’s stand up for our brothers and sisters undergoing persecution in Russia and around the world. Let’s encourage the Trump administration to follow through on religious liberty not only here, but there, knowing that protecting freedom of conscience is not only good for the soul; it’s good national and foreign policy as well! Please come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll link you to organizations that support persecuted Christians and that promote religious liberty.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Delaying Marriage and Parenthood

May 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

More and more Americans are delaying marriage and parenthood. Let’s talk about the consequences of “emerging adulthood.” Arguably the most consequential cultural shift of the past 50 years that too many people are unaware of is the rise of what demographers call “median age at first marriage.” Two simple numbers, one for men and the other for women, tell a great deal about where marriage and family rank among our culture’s priorities. In 1950, the median ages for first marriages were 22.8 years old for men and 20.3 years old for women. As late as 1970, the median ages were 23.2 for men and 20.8 for women. And then those ages started rising, and they’re still going up. The figures as of 2013: 29 and 27, respectively. What’s going on here? What does it mean? Those questions are raised in an important new study by the Census Bureau. The study, entitled “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016,” opens with a sobering conclusion: “What was once ubiquitous [for younger Americans’] during their 20s is now not commonplace until their 30s. Some demographers believe the delays represent a new period of the life course between childhood and adulthood, a period of ‘emerging adulthood.’” The “delays” referred to by the study are not only those involving marriage and child-rearing, but also other hallmarks associated with what we used to call “growing up.” As the report says, “In prior generations, young adults were expected to have finished school, found a job, and set up their own household during their 20s—most often with their spouse and with a child soon to follow.” Now we’ve previously talked here on BreakPoint about declining labor force participation, so let’s take a closer look at the “setting up their own household” part. Forty years ago, more than half—57 percent—of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 lived with their spouse; only 26 percent lived with their parents. Not anymore. Today, only 27 percent of that group live with their spouse; 31 percent live with their parents. Even if you add in the percentages of those living with unmarried partners or living alone, the number of 18-to-34-year-olds living independently is ten percentage points lower than the percentage of those living with their spouses just 40 years ago. What’s more, they don’t seem to be in any sort of hurry to establish their households, much less have children. While more than 95 percent of those surveyed rated completing your education and getting a job as “extremely” or “somewhat” important, less than half said the same thing about getting married and having a child, and three quarters of these only rated marriage and child-rearing as “somewhat important.” I repeat, this is consequential. One obvious consequence is demographic. Delaying marriage means fewer children, which in turn means fewer workers to support an aging American population. It’s not working out well for Japan and China, and it’s not going to work out well for us, either. Another consequence: fewer and smaller extended families. Fewer children will have cousins, and if trends continue, their children will have fewer aunts and uncles. The support and social capital generated by extended family networks will become a thing of the past. It’s fair to say that more and more of our elderly will become, by necessity, wards of the state. Now are all called to marriage? Scripture and Christian history tell us clearly not. In fact, my colleague Gina Dalfonzo is releasing a book in June called “One by One,” which reminds us how vital singles are to the life of the Church. We have info about that at BreakPoint.org. But for those not called to singleness, the command “be fruitful and multiply” is still in effect. It’s a command we ignore not only at our peril, but our future’s, as well.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Canada, the “Right to Die,” and the Mentally Ill

May 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

We could have predicted this: Canada may extend the “right to die” to the mentally ill. It’s an evil idea. In 2015, Canada legalized physician-assisted suicide. We have talked about the Canadian decision several times on BreakPoint. In March, in fact, we talked about how many Canadian doctors who had originally indicated a willingness to be the “physician” in “physician-assisted suicide” were having second thoughts. Now, there’s a campaign to extend what Canada calls “physician assistance in dying” beyond the terminally ill to include the mentally ill. This comes as no surprise to those who have followed the trajectory of Belgian and Dutch laws, which have served as a model for the rest of the world. Not only is this a terrible idea, it’s also what’s to be expected if, as Wesley J. Smith told Fox News, “society broadly accepts the agenda of killing as an acceptable end to human suffering . . . We eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferers.” But even if you don’t believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, and even if you could rationalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, extending this “right” to the mentally-ill is an idea that should be resisted at all costs. The reason why lies in how “mentally ill” is defined. The expression “mental illness” is a broad category that includes different psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and clinical depression, to name but a few. While these disorders are different in their symptoms and how they are treated, they share one vital characteristic: a disconnect between what the person’s mind says is true about, well, almost everything, and what is actually true. As a friend of mine has put it, “our minds can be terrible liars.” There’s a reason that arguably the greatest book ever written about living with mood disorders was entitled “An Unquiet Mind.” People who live with mental illness, especially bi-polar disorder, depression—as I do—and anxiety disorder, spend a lifetime reminding themselves that just because they think something—a “something” that nearly always portends evil, suffering, and despair—does not make it true. And that’s just the medical side. As 1 Peter tell us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The “devouring” takes various forms, one of which is to make us miserable. How? By lying to us about, well, everything. The Adversary’s goal is to induce despair, which Thomas Aquinas defined as “ceasing to hope for a share of God’s goodness,” and make us call God a liar when He tells us in Psalm 34, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.” The distortions caused by mental illness, coupled with what Christians know about our Adversary, render the notion of consent in the Canadian proposal absurd. When you hear, “please let me die,” you can never be certain whose words you’re hearing: the person’s, the illness’s, or the Adversary’s. None of this is to deny that mental illness can be painful, even excruciating. Even for the devout Christian, it can seem like a dark wood from which there is no escape. But in virtually every instance, that, too, is a lie. The late James Cavanaugh, a Jesuit priest, once wrote that “If we could count the fears, both small or large, that once hounded us, and then thank God for each dreaded outcome never met, we would reach no end to gratitude.” The Canadian proposal, if adopted, ensures that vulnerable people will never know how wrong they could be and, thus, experience the gratitude Cavanaugh wrote about. All of which makes assisted suicide for the mentally ill a terrible idea based on a terrible lie.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Chuck Colson: Jesus the Logos

May 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

Chuck Colson talks about the fantastically enormous implications of Jesus as the Word of God—the Logos, the meaning of everything. Addressing members of Congress at his capitol Hill lecture series, Chuck presses home the point that in Jesus, all things hold together: the cosmos, our culture, our politics, even the strands of our DNA.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: The Executive Order, The Declining Mainline, and the Image of God

May 6, 2017 - 00:00:00

John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer discuss the disappointing executive order on religious freedom and how the battle for religious freedom must first be won in the culture. They also discuss Ed’s Washington Post article about the decline of Mainline Protestantism (and how math is math and doesn’t care about our feelings), and, in the wake of another tragic police shooting, what makes each human life precious.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
President Trump’s Religious Freedom Order

May 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

President Trump’s long-anticipated order on religious freedom reminds us that salvation won’t come on Air Force One. Yesterday, on the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty. Unfortunately, though it was a “first step,” it was a small one, an order Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation called “woefully inadequate.” Now, let me be clear: there are things in the order worth praising. The president said that “No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith.” I couldn’t agree more. And I’m thankful that at least so far this administration, unlike the last one, isn’t forcing that choice on Americans. Still, protecting religious freedom requires more than just noble sentiments. And here is where the executive order disappoints. After directing the federal government to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom,” the measures set forth in the order are, well, less than vigorous. The order instructs the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and HHS to “consider amending existing regulations” to address “conscience-based objections” to the HHS mandate. Words like “consider” aren’t exactly a guarantee that anything will change. As Ryan Anderson told The Atlantic, the “regulatory relief” promised to groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor may very well amount to, “Well, you have to do it, because [the Supreme Court] told you to do it,” but, it “doesn’t move the ball” on religious liberty. Nor does the emphasis on the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and other charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates. First, the Johnson Amendment is bad law, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. So the order effectively tells the IRS to continue doing what it is already doing. Second, the inability to endorse candidates from the pulpit on Sunday isn’t the problem with religious freedom in this country. The problem is the increasing inability of Christians and other people of religious conviction to practice their faith Monday through Saturday. Yesterday’s events suggest that, as I said after the election, the incoming administration has offered us a reprieve on religious freedom, but not a champion. Or as Chuck Colson often put it, salvation doesn’t arrive on Air Force One. So, with or without the executive order we really wanted, we have to know this: The case for religious freedom must be made both in our churches and over our backyard fences. Even had we gotten the executive order many of us had hoped for, it would have been, at best a temporary help. Why? Because our cultural understanding of religious freedom is currently not strong enough to offer or to sustain a long-term political solution. Like the understanding of marriage was lost in the cultural imagination way before Obergefell, so the understanding of religious freedom has been lost in the culture. Many are just frankly ignorant about what the free exercise of religion means and why our founders thought it so important. For most Americans, religious freedom means the ability to “attend the church of your choice.” The logical corollary of this would be, “what happens in church stays in church.” Of course, if Christians took that idea seriously, there would be a lot fewer religious hospitals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. Government can’t even begin to fill the vacuum left should these institutions be forced out of business. Americans must be reminded that believers ought not be made to choose between obeying their conscience and serving their neighbor. And it would help if Christians understood this better. In too many churches, being a Christian is about how God can make your life better, not how you can work with God to make the invisible kingdom visible. This is where the battle for religious freedom will be fought, and either won or lost, no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Exploding Heads, Fragile Worldviews

May 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

If we can’t even entertain challenges to our basic beliefs without our heads exploding, we might have what I’ll call a fragile worldview. April 28th marked the debut of the New York Times newest columnist, Bret Stephens. Stephens, who won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at the Wall Street Journal, was already a controversial hire for many Times readers, who apparently felt that Ross Douthat and, depending on the topic, David Brooks, are more than conservative enough for their fragile bubble. The phrase “fragile bubble” may sound harsh, but consider the reaction to Stephens’s first column. The subject of the column was the relationship between data and certainty. Citing examples of the 2016 Clinton campaign and how their data-driven models led them to disregard signs they were underestimating Trump, Stephens wrote, “There’s a lesson here.” That lesson is, quote, “We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris.” As Stephens said, “We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous.” Now by itself, this statement shouldn’t be controversial at all. But when he applied it to climate change, things got crazy. Stephens quoted a former Times environmental reporter who recently wrote that he “saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” In Stephens’ words, “The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority, weren’t.” He added that “while the modest [1.5 degree Fahrenheit] warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities.” Again, this shouldn’t be controversial. It is literally true: climate change projections are mathematical models whose possible outcomes are expressed as probabilities. But as Stephens himself predicted, people’s heads “exploded.” Twitter blew up, followed by a campaign to cancel subscriptions to the New York Times just because of the column. While it’s unclear how many people will actually cancel their subscriptions because of the column, as opposed to usual reasons such as moving or cost, what is clear is that many people want to live in a world where their opinions go unchallenged. That’s what I mean by a “fragile bubble.” There’s a famous military maxim that says “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Today’s cultural equivalent seems to be “no worldview survives contact with a dissenting opinion.” And this is exactly what’s behind the increasingly illiberal environment on so many college campuses where students, instead of debating with those whose views they disagree with, seek to silence them instead. And it’s what’s behind the attempt to silence people who disagree with the current sexual orthodoxy. It’s not enough to disagree with people who hold those views these days. It’s not even enough to prevail in the courts. The mere existence of opinions outside of the new orthodoxy is now considered wholly unacceptable. Thus the heretics must be silenced, and even, when possible, punished for their dissent. It doesn’t matter if, like Stephens and climate change, you’re in basic agreement with part of the orthodoxy and your goal is to avoid discrediting the idea by making unsustainable claims. For the people going nuts over Stephen’s column, their beliefs about climate change are like the game of Jenga in which removing a single block can bring the whole edifice down. Now just as no one would want to live in a house made of Jenga blocks, nor should we build our lives on worldviews so unstable and so fragile. And that includes Christians. We shouldn’t be fragile either.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Opening Closed Minds The Chick-fil-A Way

May 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

A new fast-food restaurant on campus should have been a no-brainer. Sadly, closed minds don’t work that way. Some college students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University are claiming, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling. Sadly, given these crazy times, that’s no longer really news. We’ve seen a steady stream of reports about scholars being driven off campus by mobs of triggered students, of speakers being disinvited or losing announced awards because of their Judeo-Christian beliefs—all in the name of tolerance, diversity, and “safe spaces”! Truly, though, the kerfuffle at Duquesne shows what we’re up against. In March the university announced that the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A would be opening in the Catholic school’s main food court. Instead of cheers for a company that donates generously to charity and makes a great chicken sandwich, the decision brought jeers from some students, who claimed this would put their “safe place … at risk.” One leader of a gay student group said Chick-fil-A has “a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.” A petition that says bullying is a problem on campus demands that Chick-fil-A be banned, while Niko Martini, the president of the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance, says that the school should, at the very least, “acknowledge there is still some tension.” So, what has Chick-fil-A done? Well, Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, has publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the company’s foundation in the past has supported Christian organizations such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family that have taken faith-based stances on human sexuality. By that standard, lots of people of faith are “questionable” in the eyes of some campus groups. But of course they’re wrong, and we’re not. Dan Cathy is a case in point. A few years ago, you may recall, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO reached out to Shane Windmeyer, who was organizing a national boycott of Chick-fil-A as the executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students. Before they met, Windmeyer thought Dan Cathy was a fiend. What he discovered after months of discussion was that Dan had become his friend. His mind began to open. “Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level,” Windmeyer wrote in an eye-opening article in The Huffington Post. “He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’” There was no marginalizing here, no destruction of safe spaces, even as Dan Cathy made no apologies for his beliefs, while conveying respect and a peaceable witness to Windmeyer. I wonder whether those Duquesne students might gain a new perspective about Chick-fil-A—and about Christians—upon reading that article. Even better, what might happen if Christians like Dan humbly came alongside them and became, not a debating partner, but a friend? Let’s face it, folks, convincing people who’ve fallen for the new sexual propaganda that we’re not out to scare or marginalize them won’t be easy. Through long years of indoctrination in academia and popular culture, their minds have been closed to a Christian worldview. Sadly, they really do think we have horns and tails. But we don’t, and we’ll need to more consistently emulate the patient, loving approach of Dan Cathy if we’re ever going to change their minds. To get started, come to BreakPoint.org for some helpful resources, including the Huffington Post article by Windmeyer and a link to Chick-fil-A’s charitable giving. Because although the sky isn’t falling when it comes to Chick-fil-A, it would be nice to have some facts at hand to prove it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Mindy Belz: They Say We Are Infidels, part II

May 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today we present part II of Warren Cole Smith's interview with WORLD Magazine Senior Editor Mindy Belz about her book, "They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Peresecuted Christians in the Middle East."

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A New Rain (Reign?) of Faith in Europe

May 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

Has the demise of Christianity in Europe been greatly exaggerated? There are some encouraging signs of life. It’s become customary to refer to Europe as “post-Christian.” But this is an overstatement—and it obscures large differences in religious practices across the continent: For instance, Poles are far more likely to attend church on a weekly basis than Scandinavians—and even more likely than Americans. Still, it’s difficult to dispute the idea that Christianity’s influence in Europe, on both a personal and societal level, is in decline. But a pair of recent stories suggests that this may be changing. The first story was a column in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. The headline read “Our politicians are more devout than ever—so it’s time we started taking their faith seriously.” In it, Nick Spencer, whose just-released book is entitled “The Mighty and the Almighty: How political leaders do God,” notes that rather than European politics becoming a “God-free zone,” one of the “most striking trends of the last generation or so is how many Christian politicians have risen to the top of the political tree.” Whereas in the thirty-five years following the end of World War II, only one Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, could be described as “devout,” since then, at least three of his successors—Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and now Theresa May—could be described that way. And it’s not only Britain. As Christianity Today recently told readers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christianity is “deep,” “genuine,” and “important” to her life. Even in France, the country that invented and institutionalized modern secularism, what the French call “laïcité,” Catholicism has become a kind of “X Factor” in the upcoming presidential elections. And that brings me to the second story. In the most recent issue of the Jesuit magazine, America, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry told readers that a few years back, he noticed that “Whenever I was less than five minutes early for Mass, I had to go to the overflow room.” His church “was filled to the gills every Sunday, with young families and children most of the time.” He decided to see how widespread this phenomenon was, so he visited parishes all over Paris and found the same thing: Sunday high Mass is packed in most parishes in Paris. The same is true in France’s second largest city, Lyon. It’s even true, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, in his family’s home village. What was once a revival that “you could fleetingly smell in the air,” has become more tangible, nowhere more so than in the movement called La Manif Pour Tous, “protest for all.” La Manif got 200,000 people in Paris alone to march in protest against legalizing same-sex marriage. This in turn spawned other Christian movements in a country that supposedly had moved beyond that sort of thing. What these movements share is an opposition to liberalism, which in the French context means “a drive for ever-greater individual liberty.” As Gobry writes, “Liberalism, in this view, is responsible for sexual depravity and the culture of death,” and “leads both to abortions and to quasi-slaves in third world factories making disposable consumer items of questionable worth.” While French Christianity still has a ways to go, what Gobry describes brings to mind the “cloud as small as a man’s hand . . . rising from the sea” Elijah’s servant saw in 1 Kings 18. Secularism has left Europeans “in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Let us pray that God sends much-needed rain to both sides of the Atlantic. Now, if you’d like to be a part of a growing movement to promote the faith in all areas of life here in the U. S. you’ve got to check out the Colson Fellows Program. Great teaching, great fellowship, and great preparation for a lifetime of Kingdom work. And you can apply online! Visit colsonfellows.org. That’s colsonfellows.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Muslim Baby Boom

May 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

A baby boom on the horizon could radically change our world. Here’s another connection between family and faith explained. It’s been said that demography is destiny. If true, and if current trends continue, then the future will look very Muslim indeed. According to the respected Pew Research Center, as reported by Christianity Today, between the years 2030 and 2035, for the first time in history, the total number of babies born to Christian mothers will be fewer than those born to Muslim mothers. While the difference may seem relatively small—225 million births for Muslims to 224 million for Christians, it reflects a demographic pivot that, in just 20 years, could change the world. Globally, Muslims and Christians, in that order, have more babies on average than any other group. “By 2060,” CT notes, “such growth will result in the global population of Christians and Muslims approaching parity—totaling 3.1 billion and 3 billion, respectively—with each tradition accounting for nearly 1 in 3 people on earth. Over the 45-year period, the Christian population is predicted to hold steady at 31 percent [of the world population], while the Muslim population is predicted to rise from 24 percent today to the same level.” In other words, contrary to what you might have heard, the world is getting more religious, not less. The future belongs to the religious, and the coming Muslim baby boom suggests that the dominant religion—at least by the numbers—will be the one founded by Muhammad. Of course, prognostications like this are only as good as the assumptions that underlie them. If these predictions of a Muslim future are to come true, current trends will have to continue without interruption. But the fact is, God specializes in divine interruptions. When Moses was alone in the desert tending sheep, God interrupted him and changed the course of history. When Zechariah entered the Temple to light incense, God interrupted him and set in motion a series of events that led to the coming of the Savior. And He can do the same kind of thing today when it comes to the Muslim world. In fact, as we’ve often discussed here on BreakPoint, we’re already seeing a disruption in the record number of Muslims becoming Christians around the world—a disruption well-documented by missiologist David Garrison in his book A Wind in the House of Islam. Statistically speaking, however, the numbers of Muslim to Christian converts isn’t enough to counteract the Muslim baby boom. Any further disruption will have to involve ordinary Christian believers, like you and me. Here’s how. First, Christian couples need to, if possible, have babies. God gives children as a natural expression of the self-giving love between husband and wife. The command to be fruitful and multiply has not been rescinded. The fact that most Western countries are shrinking demographically at the same time that marriage rates are plummeting is a clear reminder that a Christian worldview of sex, marriage, and babies has been lost amidst a culture-wide addiction to convenience, efficiency, and choice. And there’s more that Christians can do to respond to the Muslim baby boom. We can join with the Lord, who is actively working even now to bring Muslims to Himself. As Garrison has well-documented, unprecedented movements of Muslims into the Christian faith have occurred over the last 20 years. On factor behind that is prayer—which is why I love to tell people about how they can join the global prayer movement for Muslims to come to Christ, while learning more about Islam and how to talk with the Muslims around you about Jesus Christ. The 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World happens each year during Ramadan which this year starts near the end of May. Over 100,000 Christians in North America alone pray each year using the 30 Days prayer guide. Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll tell you how to get one. Demography is destiny, but we can see that change if we stick to the basics—making babies and sharing the good news.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: The Abortion Party, HHS Mandate, and the Marriage Gap

Apr 29, 2017 - 00:00:00

The Democratic Party sent signals this week that pro-lifers are not welcome in its ranks, making abortion arguably its most important issue. John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer argue that doubling down on death is a bad move for Democrats, and one that will leave America more sharply divided than ever. President Trump has also just appointed pro-life champion, Charmaine Yoest, as assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, signaling a likely reversal of President Obama’s policy of forcing contraceptive coverage. Finally, our hosts discuss the growing marriage gap between middle-class and poor Americans, and ask along with an insightful Washington Post editorial: “Why can’t girls be tomboys, anymore?”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story

Apr 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

Major league baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on the day before Easter. It’s a fitting coincidence. April 15th marked the seventieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line in major league baseball. Very few, if any, sporting events have ramifications that transcend the playing field, but this one did. As George Will wrote on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Robinson’s debut, “[Babe] Ruth reshaped baseball; Jackie Robinson’s life still reverberates through all of American life.” Martin Luther King Jr. said of him, “Robinson was ‘a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.’” It’s a history-altering story—and one that has Christianity at its center. I’ve told Robinson’s story before, most notably in my book “Seven Men.” But a new book “42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story,” by Ed Henry of Fox News, and more importantly, of Astoria, New York (which is where I’m from!), fills in the details in a way that reinforces the central role of Christian faith in this story. As Henry told me on the “Eric Metaxas Show,” the book had an unlikely origin involving an embassy dinner with terrible food and overly long after-dinner remarks. Having had enough, Henry excused himself to the woman seated next to him and told her that he was going home to watch the World Series, to which she replied “my late father-in-law played a role in Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line.” Curious, Henry sat back down and listened as she told him that her father-in-law, a pastor in Brooklyn, heard a knock on the door late one night in 1945. A man walked in and paced back and forth not saying much. Finally, he announced “I’m going to sign Jackie Robinson.” The man, as Henry guessed, was Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. People familiar with the Robinson story know that Rickey, like Robinson, was a Christian. What Henry didn’t know before he heard the woman’s story was the extent of Rickey’s doubts about signing Robinson. This was the starting point of Ed Henry’s journey to discover 1) if Robinson knew of these doubts, and 2) what role the Christian faith played in the Robinson story. The result is a portrait of two Christians who changed history precisely because they were Christians. Through countless interviews, Henry learned, as the subtitle put it, “the rest of the story.” One part of that story is the role that Robinson’s mother, Mallie, played by instilling the faith that made it possible for her son, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, to become Jackie Robinson, American icon. As Henry tells readers, she “taught her kids to get down on their knees and pray each night before bed, a habit Jackie would continue right through his days as a famous baseball player.” She would tell them that “prayer is belief.” Then there was the Reverend Karl Downs, the pastor at the church Robinson’s family attended. One day, while Robinson and his friends were hanging out on a Pasadena street corner, Downs pulled up in his car and asked “Is Jack here?” When no one, including Robinson, answered, Downs said “Tell him I want to see him at junior church.” Thus began a relationship that, in Henry’s words, led to “a spiritual awakening for Robinson.” In the short term, the relationship gave him purpose and direction, and in the long term, it helped him to “figure out how to persevere over Jim Crow.” The rest, as they say, is history. More importantly, as Henry makes clear, it’s history made possible by two very different men’s shared Christian faith. Come to BreakPoint.org to learn how you can get a copy of Ed Henry’s “42 Faith,” as well as my book “Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Trinity Lutheran before the Supreme Court

Apr 27, 2017 - 00:00:00

Okay, so government cannot “establish religion.” We get that. But can it discriminate against religion? We’ll find out. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in what David French, over at the National Review called “the most important case about recycled tires in American legal history.” Now French was, of course, being facetious. As he made clear, while the case did involve recycled tires, the critical thing is its potential impact on religious freedom. The basic facts of the case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, are as follows: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, operates a licensed pre-school and day-care facility. Its facilities include the type of playground that you and I played on as kids. In other words, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and, perhaps, a lawsuit waiting to happen. Fortunately, or so it seemed for Trinity Lutheran, the state of Missouri has a program which provides “funds for qualifying organizations to purchase recycled tires to resurface playgrounds.” Trinity Lutheran applied for such a grant and seemed to have easily met the qualifications. I say “seemed,” because it was then informed that such a grant would, in Trinity’s case, violate a provision in Missouri’s state constitution that “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.” The provision is one of 36 so-called “Blaine Amendments” in state constitutions. These amendments were originally aimed at Catholic schools and were born of the now-incredible belief that the public schools were a principal instrument in safeguarding America’s Protestant Christian character. I know, ironic. The church sued the state government, claiming that this kind of singling out of churches violated the free exercise of religion. After all, whatever else the free exercise of religion means, it should, at a minimum, mean that you can’t be denied a government benefit available to similar organizations solely on account of your religion. Case closed, right? Well, unfortunately, no. The First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Thus while Trinity Lutheran argued the “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” part, the state emphasized the “no law respecting an establishment of religion” part. If you’re wondering how protecting kids from scrapes and broken bones constitutes “an establishment of religion,” well welcome to the tortured world of establishment clause jurisprudence. The late justice Scalia wrote that the cases involving Christmas displays required “scrutiny more commonly associated with interior decorators than with the judiciary.” While I can only speculate what Scalia would have made of this case, it was clear from oral arguments that the majority of the court was skeptical of Missouri’s claim that protecting kids on a playground constitutes an establishment of religion. If there was a theme to most of the questions, it was just how “extreme,” to use David French’s word, Blaine amendments like Missouri’s are. Justice Breyer asked the lawyer defending the law if, under the constitution, a city could deny fire and police to places of worship while providing it for everyone else. The reply was a hedged semi-“yes.” While it’s always risky to predict the outcome based on oral arguments, French is right when he predicts that Trinity Lutheran will win. Actually, it already has. Missouri’s new governor has announced a change in the policy that will permit Trinity Lutheran to apply for the grant. But Missouri’s Blaine Amendment, and three dozen similar provisions across the country, still stand. So while the Court could declare the case moot, let’s pray that it decides the case in a way that deals a major blow to laws like Missouri’s across the country. Because the damage done by them to religious freedom is a lot worse than just skinned knees.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Christian Abortion Supporters

Apr 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

Can you claim to be “born-again” when you won’t allow others to be born in the first place? Here’s how abortion strikes at the heart of the Christian faith. Catholics and evangelicals are often told how obsessed we are with so-called “culture war” issues like marriage, religious freedom, and abortion. If we’d only stop being so political and focus on proclaiming Christ, say some, we’d win a lot more converts. But this isn’t how a Christian worldview works. The Scriptural premise, that God made human beings in His image, naturally leads us, as it has Christians throughout history, to protect and cherish those who bear that image. Ignoring evils perpetrated against bearers of the divine image denies what we know to be true about God. In other words, a distorted view of human beings always goes hand-in-hand with a distorted view of God. Take, for example, a new book by self-proclaimed “born-again” Christian, Willie Parker titled, “Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice.” As Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission describes, the book is a would-be manifesto on the morality and even godliness of abortion. Parker, an OBGYN, has performed countless abortions. He describes working a circuit of Planned Parenthood clinics in the South, performing abortions “over and over, like the athlete who goes to the gym after practice to shoot three-pointers.” And as the recipient of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger award, it’s clear Parker has made the fight to keep abortion legal a major life goal. But unlike most pro-choice activists, this OBGYN tries to root his case for killing the unborn in his Christian faith. Citing writers like C. S. Lewis (who would definitely take exception), Parker argues that abortion is consistent with Christian love. He even claims that Jesus Himself would have been an abortion supporter. In a 2015 New York Times piece, Parker recasts Christ’s beloved parable of the Good Samaritan as an endorsement of the so-called “right to choose”: “It is the deepest level of love,” he writes, “that you can have for another person, that you can have compassion for their suffering and you can act to relieve it. That, simply put, is why I provide abortion care.” Not surprisingly, Parker radically dehumanizes the unborn to reach his conclusion that killing them is an act of love. To call a fetus a “baby,” he argues, is to “anthropomorphize” the entity in the womb. Even liberal women do this, he complains, when they come in for ultrasounds and hear their babies’ heartbeats. He can’t understand what he calls the “fetishization of motherhood and children.” Little wonder for someone who compares killing the unborn to practicing basketball. But he also finds it necessary to depersonalize God along with His unborn image-bearers. Parker chides believers for viewing the Almighty as a personal Being Who judges the living and the dead, calling this a “tendency to anthropomorphize God.” And the idea of conception or birth as “a miracle,” he writes, “does an injustice to God.” He prefers, instead, to view life as a “process.” As Russell Moore points out, Parker’s willingness to strip the unborn of their identity has led him to strip God of His identity. Let me be clear: there’s nothing biblical—and therefore nothing Christian—about Parker’s views about either God or man. And so, there’s nothing Christian about his views of or participation in the killing of innocent unborn life. And Parker’s Judas routine just makes matters worse. Only his thirty pieces of silver takes the form of fawning endorsements from Cecile Richards and Gloria Steinem, both of whom are more than happy to gloat, “See, you can be a Christian and support abortion.” But moral issues like abortion are inseparable from the core beliefs of Christian worldview, like the imago Dei. To embrace abortion requires rejecting what God has revealed about both Himself and about humanity. Parker and other self-proclaimed Christian abortion supporters may claim they’re doing “life’s work.” But what they preach is no good news at all. It’s a gospel of death.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Mindy Belz: "They Say We Are Infidels"

Apr 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

Warren Cole Smith interviews WORLD Magazine Senior Editor Mindy Belz about her book, "They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Peresecuted Christians in the Middle East."

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Liberalism in a Lab Coat

Apr 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

It seems every weekend brings a march for one cause or another in D.C. Last weekend, folks marched for science. Or did they? In his preface to “Mere Christianity,” C. S. Lewis explains what happens when words lose their original meaning. Take the word “gentleman.” Once upon a time, Lewis writes, a gentleman was “one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone ‘a gentleman,’ you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact.” Gradually, however, “gentleman” evolved into just that—a compliment. A true gentleman was no longer someone who met the objective qualifications, but a person whom the speaker liked. Thus, concludes Lewis, “gentleman” became a useless word. I think another important word is undergoing this same redefinition. That word, alas, is science. There was a time when “science” meant the systematic pursuit of knowledge through experimentation and observation. But it’s rapidly becoming a synonym for progressive politics and materialist philosophy. To be labeled a “science-denier” in 2017 often just means you’ve upset someone who insists on teaching strict, Darwinian orthodoxy in schools, or who advocates particular climate legislation, or who supports ethically fraught research on embryos. In contrast, being “pro-science” has become a shibboleth for supporting progressive ideology. Think of a recent ad by National Geographic with the caption, “Stand behind the facts. Stand with science. Stand for the planet.” But just weeks prior, National Geographic had run a cover depicting a nine-year-old boy dressed as a girl. Because, as we know, they stand with science. But if there were ever going to be a ceremony inaugurating this new and useless definition of science, it’s got to be last weekend’s “March for Science” in the nation’s capital, co-chaired by Bill Nye, “the science guy.” Nye, a children’s TV host from the nineties with no formal training as a scientist, has recaptured the spotlight with his videos on climate change, abortion, women’s rights, and other topics. To say his arguments in some of these videos are embarrassing is being kind. For instance, in one odd and rambling speech promoting abortion, Nye claimed that because many lives end through natural causes before they leave the womb that it’s okay for us to kill the unborn ourselves. That’s like saying it’s okay to kill adults, because millions die of natural causes. That does not stop Nye’s supporters from honoring him as a champion of science. But not all of the marchers are fans. After issuing several revisions to his massive “Statement on Diversity and Inclusion,” the organizers of the March for Science are fending off critics who complain that Nye is a white male whose fame is the result of privilege. One wonders who, exactly, was in charge of this debacle. An official tweet, which has since been deleted, declared that “Colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, ableism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ[omic] justice are scientific issues.” Heather Wilhelm at National Review got it right when she wrote that the whole event was collapsing into a civil war of competing left-wing agendas. I hope someone—anyone—who still believes science has a definition independent of politics will speak up. Because whether it’s the denial that life begins at conception, the denial of sex and gender as biological facts, the denial of decades of research proving that children do best with their father and mother, or the denial of dissenting voices on Darwinism, the left has proven quite capable of ignoring science. Language is powerful. Words matter. And “science”—real science—is too important a word for us to let go the way of “gentleman.”

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Know the Truth, Know the Culture

Apr 24, 2017 - 00:00:00

You’re a Christian. You sense God has more for you. You want to go deeper. You want to make a difference. I meet folks all the time who sense that things have changed. What Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson once called “a post-Christian” culture has become a “post-Christian-and-darn-proud-of-it” culture. Living out your faith is, well, difficult these days. And it’s frustrating. Yet here we are. We, like every other generation of Christ followers, are still called to share our faith in this cultural moment. We’re still called to live our faith out in our communities, places of work, neighborhoods, etc. But how do we do this? The most important thing, Chuck Colson believed, was to be equipped in Christian worldview, with the ability to communicate it in what he sometimes called “prudential language.” Here’s Chuck describing what that means. While we have to be immersed in scripture and understand it fully, we also have to know when and how to use it in public discourse. Let me give you an example. G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them. Everybody expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.” When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.” The point is that oftentimes we need to understand things that aren’t covered in the Bible. And we need to understand things that help us apply biblical teaching to all of life. This is why I teach biblical worldview. A man once told Oswald Chambers that he read only the Bible. Listen to what Chambers said: “My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight…The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.” And when it comes to making a biblical case on any hot topic—taxes, the deficit, homosexuality, whatever—we need to understand the issue and how to make that case in a way that is accessible to believers and non-believers alike. The sad fact is that today, starting a conversation with “the Bible says” will often cause the listener to stop listening. So what you do is make arguments based on what the Reformers called common grace, or what historically has been known as natural law. This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts. He thoroughly engaged their culture. And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel. This is why we’ve got to study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well. That vision led Chuck to start an exclusive nine-month training program for Christians that is now known as the Colson Fellows. The program is intense: reading the best worldview books, participating in teleconferences with top Christian leaders, and attending three in-person residencies with the best worldview teachers in the country. Now it’s not for everyone, but if your heart is being tugged to go deeper in the way that Chuck described, it may be for you. The next class of Colson Fellows will begin their study near the end of the summer, and the deadline to apply is May 15. Visit ColsonFellows.org to learn more.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Remembering Chuck Colson's New Life in Christ

Apr 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

Eric Metaxas: It is impossible for me to overstate the influence Chuck Colson had on my life and on the lives of millions: from the prisoners he visited to the listeners of this radio program. And I miss him so badly. So today, on the fifth anniversary of his death, I’d like you to hear the story of Chuck’s birth: That is, his re-birth in Jesus Christ. And I’d like you to hear it from him. Here’s Chuck, talking about the thirtieth anniversary of his conversion. Thirty years ago today, I visited Tom Phillips, president of the Raytheon Company, at his home outside of Boston. I had represented Raytheon before going to the White House, and I was about to start again. But I visited him for another reason as well. I knew Tom had become a Christian, and he seemed so different. I wanted to ask him what had happened. That night he read to me from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, particularly a chapter about the great sin that is pride. A proud man is always walking through life looking down on other people and other things, said Lewis. As a result, he cannot see something above himself immeasurably superior — God. Tom, that night, told me about encountering Christ in his own life. He didn’t realize it, but I was in the depths of deep despair over Watergate, watching the president I had helped for four years flounder in office. I had also heard that I might become a target of the investigation as well. In short, my world was collapsing. That night, as Tom was telling me about Jesus, I listened attentively, but didn’t let on about my need. When he offered to pray, I thanked him but said, no, I would see him sometime after I had read C. S. Lewis’s book. But when I got in the car that night, I couldn’t drive it out of the driveway. Ex-Marine captain, White House tough guy, I was crying too hard, calling out to God. I didn’t know what to say; I just knew I needed Jesus, and He came into my life. That was thirty years ago. I’ve been reflecting of late on the things God has done over that time. As I think about my life, the beginning of the prison ministry, our work in the justice area, our international ministry that reaches one hundred countries, and the work of the Wilberforce Forum and BreakPoint, I have come to appreciate the doctrine of providence. It’s not the world’s idea of fate or luck, but the reality of God’s divine intervention. He orchestrates the lives of His children to accomplish His good purposes. God has certainly ordered my steps. I couldn’t have imagined when I was in prison that I would someday go back to the White House with ex-offenders as I did on June 18 — or that we would be running prisons that have an 8 percent recidivism rate — or that BreakPoint would be heard daily on one thousand radio outlets across the United States and on the Internet. The truth that is uppermost in my mind today is that God isn’t finished. As long as we’re alive, He’s at work in our lives. We can live lives of obedience in any field because God providentially arranges the circumstances of our lives to achieve His objectives. And that leads to the greatest joy I’ve found in life. As I look back on my life, it’s not having been to Buckingham Palace to receive the Templeton Prize, or getting honorary degrees, or writing books. The greatest joy is to see how God has used my life to touch the lives of others, people hurting and in need. It has been a long time since the dark days of Watergate. I’m still astounded that God would take someone who was infamous in the Watergate scandal, and soon to be a convicted felon, and take him into His family and then order his steps in the way He has with me. God touched me at that moment in Tom Phillip’s driveway, and thirty years later, His love and kindness touch and astound me still.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Chuck Colson, Christian Worldview, and Religious Freedom

Apr 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

John and Ed remember the impact of Chuck Colson, who died five years ago this weekend. They also discuss Christian worldview and the "post-truth" era and the Trinity Lutheran religious freedom case before the Supreme Court.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
No Sin, No Forgiveness, Either

Apr 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

So, traditional morality is out, and freedom of everything is in. Then why does everybody feel so guilty? In 1966, Time Magazine infamously posed the question “Is God Dead?” on its cover. Recently, it ran the same cover, only with the word “Truth” instead of God. The literal answer to both questions is, of course, “no.” But both questions point to an issue that has haunted the West for more than a century: How do you justify morality in a society that increasingly lives as if there was no one to hold them accountable and define the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood? Ironically, while we’ve reached the point where we’ve effectively cut the legs out from beneath the idea of sin, we are still very much in the thrall of guilt. That was the subject of a recent column by David Brooks in the New York Times entitled “The Strange Persistence of Guilt,” which, in turn, was inspired by an article of the same name by Wilfred McClay in the Hedgehog Review. And here’s what makes the persistence of guilt “strange”: The dominant worldviews of our age, as Alasdair MacIntyre wrote in “After Virtue,” have turned beliefs about right and wrong, good and evil, into little more than expressions of feelings. They should have freed us from feelings of guilt. And yet we still feel guilty. Instead of the easy-going relativism that should logically follow from believing that right and wrong, guilt and innocence, are a matter of feelings, we live in what Brooks calls “an age of great moral pressure.” We may “lack the words to articulate it,” and “religion may be in retreat, but guilt seems as powerfully present as ever.” Thus, as McClay writes, “Whatever donation I make to a charitable organization, it can never be as much as I could have given. I can never diminish my carbon footprint enough, or give to the poor enough . . . Colonialism, slavery, structural poverty, water pollution, deforestation—there’s an endless list of items for which you and I can take the rap.” If we are tough on ourselves, we are merciless toward others. In Brooks’ words, “society has become a free-form demolition derby of moral confrontation,” such as “the cold-eyed fanaticism of students at Middlebury College and other campuses nationwide.” This “strange persistence” of guilt leaves contemporary Westerners living in the worst of all possible worlds. Secularism and relativism have not liberated them from the need to “feel morally justified,” nor has it freed them from feelings of guilt. What it has done is to deprive people of the means to do anything meaningful about their sense of guilt. As Brook says “we have no clear framework or set of rituals to guide us in our quest for goodness. Worse, people have a sense of guilt and sin, but no longer a sense that they live in a loving universe marked by divine mercy, grace and forgiveness. There is sin but no formula for redemption.” That’s because if there were true forgiveness and redemption, there would have to be an acknowledgement that there was something that needed to be forgiven and something about us that needs to be redeemed. At this point, I’m left thinking about the passage from Matthew, where we’re told that when Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Brooks ends by saying that what people need is more “than the cheap grace of instant forgiveness.” They need a way to prevent the “private guilt everybody feels” from being “transmuted into a public state of perpetual moral war.” And they need a personal introduction—or re-introduction—to the Good Shepherd who has already shown how far He will go to love and forgive them.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Peter Singer Defends Abuse

Apr 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

We say it often: ideas have consequences; bad ideas have victims. And a certain, consistent Princeton bioethicist continues to show just how true that is. How do we know what’s right? Great minds have wrestled with that question for much of history. Is it doing our duty regardless of the consequences? Is it doing whatever a virtuous person would do? Is it doing what brings the most happiness to the most people? That last option—the greatest good for the greatest number—is the basic premise behind an ethical theory called “utilitarianism,” whose main champion today is Princeton Professor Peter Singer. In his book, “Practical Ethics,” he presses this logic to chilling, yet consistent, conclusions, arguing, for example, that killing babies who are born disabled is not only acceptable, but may be morally necessary. Why? Singer believes the happiness of able-bodied persons trumps the rights of those with disabilities. Such beliefs are horrifying enough in the classroom, but they rarely stay there. Enter Rutgers ethicist Anna Stubblefield, who, in 2015, was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to twelve years in prison. Her victim, a thirty-year-old man with cerebral palsy, identified as “D.J.,” has never spoken a word in his life, and is dependent on caregivers for his basic needs. Using a controversial technique known as “facilitated communication,” Stubblefield claims she helped D.J. break his lifelong silence by supporting his hands as he typed on a keyboard. Eventually, D.J.’s family came to believe he had the mental capacity of an adult, and even enrolled him in college courses. Then Stubblefield made an announcement to D.J.’s family that changed everything: “We’re in love.” Believing she had received D.J.’s consent via facilitated communication, the married Stubblefield consummated a romantic relationship with this disabled man. A New Jersey jury decided that the act constituted sexual assault. In response, in a recent op-ed at the New York Times, Peter Singer and Jeff McMahan argue that Stubblefield’s 12-year sentence is too harsh and that D.J. was capable of more communication than the judge or jury give him credit for. But their next argument is truly horrifying. “If we assume,” they write, “that he is profoundly cognitively impaired, we should concede that he cannot understand the normal significance of sexual relations between persons or the meaning and significance of sexual violation. In that case, he is incapable of giving or withholding informed consent…” They go on to claim that D.J. probably enjoyed the experience, so it wasn’t that monstrous of a crime. In other words, because those with profound disabilities can’t fully comprehend what’s happening, assaulting them isn’t the same as assaulting a person in possession of full mental faculties. Now, let me be clear: this reasoning is fully consistent with Singer’s utilitarian ethics, which teaches that net happiness—not objective concepts like human rights, dignity, or duty—is the standard of right and wrong. And this story shows why ideas like this are so much more than academic debates. Utilitarian reasoning justifies all numbers of atrocities, from experimenting on prisoners in order to advance medicine, to harvesting vulnerable people’s organs to help others. In fact, this logic has been used to justify eugenics and forced sterilization, and is used today to defend abortion and euthanasia. In contrast, Christianity teaches the intrinsic and equal value of every human person, regardless of physical or mental abilities. This idea, rooted in the image of God, means that a man with disabilities who’s never spoken a word is no less valuable than a university professor like Singer. And crimes against him are no less reprehensible. Again, ideas matter. They have consequences. And bad ideas have victims. That’s why I care about this whole worldview thing, and that’s why we’ve got to speak out against the moral reasoning of thinkers like Singer. Because the ones who will pay the highest price often can’t speak for themselves.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Second Chance Month

Apr 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

You’re listening to BreakPoint thanks to a few Christians who once gave an ex-prisoner a second chance. Some 2.3 million Americans are behind bars. That’s more than any other nation in the world, in absolute terms and as a percentage of the population. The U.S., which has five percent of the world’s population, contains nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. By some estimates, the number of Americans “under penal supervision . . . even rivals the number of Russians in the gulag under Stalin.” What’s more, the explosion in prison populations continued even after crime rates took a nose-dive starting twenty years ago. Making matters worse, the punishment doesn’t end when people leave prison. For many, their so-called “debt to society” can never be paid in full. By some estimates, there are 48,000 laws adversely affecting people with a criminal record. Many of them are applied automatically without consideration of “public safety, the seriousness of the offense, the time passed since the offense, or the individual’s efforts to make amends or earn back the public’s trust.” This scarlet “O” for “offender” includes “an inability to regain voting rights, volunteer in the community, and secure housing, admission to institutions of higher education, and employment.” That’s why Prison Fellowship and a coalition of more than 60 Christian and secular organizations have declared April 2017 to be “Second Chance Month.” The goal is “to remove unnecessary legal and societal barriers that prevent individuals with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society.” Lawmakers are also taking up the cause. U.S. Senator Portman of Ohio has and co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle have introduced a resolution declaring April as Second Chance Month. If there ever was an effort that deserved the support of Christians everywhere, it is “Second Chance Month.” If you’re hearing my voice, it’s because Christians, many of whom had been his political enemies, gave Chuck Colson a second chance. They believed in God’s power to transform the human heart. And that, for Christians, forgiveness and mercy are not optional. Chuck, in turn, freely gave what he had freely been given. The most visible sign of this was, of course, Prison Fellowship. But he also devoted much of his life to trying to make life better for men and women once they got out of prison. Chuck believed in the government’s God-ordained role of preserving order and promoting public safety. But he never confused that with the punitive impulse that has dominated our criminal justice system. He knew the difference between being tough on crime in a smart way and piling on excessive penalties to score political points. Better than anyone, Chuck knew the odds against prisoners once they were released. He knew that the key to beating the odds was the combination of spiritual transformation and a supportive community, including familial reconciliation. He would have regarded the kind of measures that made it harder for people with criminal records to pursue higher education and find gainful employment, and negatively affected the well-being of their children and families,” as well, frankly, stupid. While we’re already half-way through Second Chance Month, it’s never too late to educate yourself, your church, and friends on the obstacles former prisoners face when returning to society. Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to resources to promote Second Chance Month, including a toolkit for churches interested in hosting a Second Chance Sunday and graphics and hashtags you can use on your own social media platforms. We will also have information on how your church can support successful re-entry, and of course, get involved in the amazing in-prison ministry of Prison Fellowship. Again, that’s at BreakPoint.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
John Stonestreet: Faith . . . Personal, not Private (Part II)

Apr 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

Part II of John Stonestreet's talk about the very public events of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Power of Names

Apr 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

The British government asked the public for help in naming a new ship. The name the people chose really rocked the boat. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Voters offered up a few dignified suggestions: The David Attenborough, named for the famous naturalist; The Shackleton, for a polar explorer. Others thought “The Endeavour” was a nice choice. A few voters offered up names that—how shall I put this—did not quite reflect the grandeur of a ship devoted to important research. Suggestions included “What Iceberg?” “It’s Bloody Cold Here,” and “Big Metal Floaty Thingy-Thing.” But BBC employee, James Hand came up with a name that really blew the contest out of the water: “Boaty McBoatface.” The name quickly caught on. More than 30,000 people voted for “Boaty McBoatface.” Their enthusiasm caused the Research Council’s website to crash. Although the Council said it was “delighted by the enthusiasm and creativity” of the British public, it decided to name the ship “The Royal Research Ship David Attenborough” instead. The “Boaty McBoatface” kerfuffle is a reminder to Christians that names matter—not only for ships, but also for children. Long ago in the journal First Things, the late Richard John Neuhaus noted a trend in baby names: Boys were given serious names like David, Matthew, or Christopher. But girls were often given “cute, toy-like names,” or the names of popular film stars. What these names are telling people, Neuhaus writes, is that “girls are cute, boys are for real.” This is not a message Christian parents ought to send about their daughters. In choosing a name, Neuhaus said, “We say something about what we hope the child will grow up to be.” Many Christians look to the Bible for ideas; they choose names like Esther, after the brave young woman who saved her people, or Ruth, who demonstrated such love for her mother-in-law. Other parents choose names like Faith, Charity, or Joy, in the hope that their daughters will embody these characteristics. Yet other parents honor relatives who have lived honorable lives. A first name is the first gift we give our children, and one of the most important. Scripture makes clear that names, and their meanings, have great significance. God Himself chose names for Jesus, Jacob, and Abraham. The names of other biblical characters have a special meaning. For instance, the name Job means “persecuted.” Adam named his wife Eve, which means, “the mother of all living,” because God had told them she would bear children. As Amy and Leon Kass write in First Things, our names are more than “arbitrary and conventional handles that serve simply to . . . pick us out of a crowd.” They suggest that our names, “like those given by God, have power to shape our lives.” Indeed, some researchers suggest that the right name for a child can mean greater success in life. In other words, names mean something. It’s why the U.S. Navy chooses names for ships that honor heroic people, like “The Sullivans,” five brothers who died for their country during World War II. The importance of names is why the British government refused to give a silly moniker like “Boaty McBoatface” to an important ship. Now, the Environmental Research Council did throw those disappointed “Boaty McBoatface” fans a bone: It recently gave the name to a robot submarine. It’s painted yellow, which ought to please Beatles fans, as well. What’s in a name? It may be true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet—but the right name can make all the difference as we plough the seas of life.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Putin, Gorsuch, and Holy Week

Apr 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

With rising tensions between Russia and the United States over the events in Syria and the contentious confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice here at home, it’s easy to get distracted from the commemoration of what Jesus accomplished in His death, burial, and resurrection. Our hosts on BreakPoint This Week review the major news of the last few days from a Christian perspective, but remind listeners that the greatest news is over two-thousand years old: Jesus took the suffering and sin of this world onto His shoulders and triumphed over Satan, Hell, and the grave. Be sure to take advantage of the resources linked below, especially the Colson Center’s free worldview reflection on the last seven sayings of Jesus from the cross.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
BreakPoint This Week: Putin, Gorsuch, and Holy Week

Apr 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

Ed and John discuss the changing relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, Justice Gorsuch and "the nuclear option," the success of "The Case for Christ" movie, and the implications of Holy Week.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
"I Thirst"

Apr 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

Today, on Good Friday, we remember, honor, and reflect on the God who entered the world of human suffering on our behalf. “I thirst.” Only John’s Gospel records these words. They were uttered by Jesus, we’re told, not as a guttural physical response, but with intention: “Knowing that all was now finished,” Jesus said, “I thirst” in order to fulfill the Scriptures (John 19:28). And yet, we ought not think these words are manufactured or insincere either. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had, on the last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles, “stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’.” (John 7:37). “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). And now, on the cross, He who said these words was Himself thirsty. Why are we told this? Why is the fact that Jesus thirsted important? The world changed on All Saints Day in 1755. In Lisbon, Portugal, a ten-minute earthquake, followed by a tsunami and fires, killed an estimated 60,000 people, many crushed by collapsing churches where they had gathered to celebrate that Christian holy day. According to moral philosopher Susan Neiman, for many Western intellectuals this incident of natural evil proved that God could no longer be trusted. The French philosopher Voltaire offered scathing words in a poem: “Are you then sure,” he wrote, “the power which would create The universe and fix the laws of fate, Could not have found for man a proper place, But earthquakes must destroy the human race?” And so in the modern era, trust moved from God to man. And it seemed to work: the next few centuries were marked by technological advances, scientific progress, and scholarly criticism of the Bible. However, the peak of modernism was the 20th century, which revealed that trust in man was badly misplaced: the mechanized slaughter of millions in two world wars, Communism, Auschwitz, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. So where do we turn now if we can’t trust God or man? The cross directly addresses this world of moral and natural evil: As the prophet Isaiah foretold, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Is 53:5). The cross proves that God is not aloof from human suffering as Voltaire had imagined, nor will human evil have the final say. Our God once thirsted, like we do. He bled, as we do, in this existence of fallen people and a fallen world. In Christ, God entered the world of human suffering, suffered Himself, defeated suffering and now has the scars to prove it. Nearly two centuries after Voltaire, theologian Edward Shillito, offered a poem with a very different take on the suffering we experience. Here are two stanzas of that poem: “If we have never sought, we seek Thee now; Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars; We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow; We must have Thee, O 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.” Today on Good Friday, we remember, we worship and proclaim this God, Jesus of the scars. To Him be all glory and praise forever and ever. Amen. And before I leave you today, I want to invite you to come to BreakPoint.org for a free pdf that the Colson Center team has prepared on the seven last sayings of Christ from the cross. It’s a beautiful booklet, with reflections from our team and sacred art to help you reflect this Easter season on what Jesus suffered and said for our benefit. Again, it’s at BreakPoint.org.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Jesus, the Last Adam

Apr 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

What do the first man and Jesus Christ have in common? Well, the writers of the New Testament tell an exciting story for you, and for the whole world. Sally Lloyd-Jones’s “Jesus Storybook Bible” is a favorite in my house for a lot of reasons. But the best part may be the prologue. In it, Jones explains that although the Bible contains laws for moral living, it’s not mainly a book of rules. And although it tells of great men and women of God, it’s not a book of heroes, either. Rather, it’s a story about one Hero in particular. As Jones puts it, every story in the Bible whispers this Hero’s name. And there’s no time of year when that is more clear, though many of us miss it, than at Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday, running through today (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and finally, Easter Sunday, we have the benefit of seeing not only Jesus’ story unfold, but of seeing the culmination of the whole story of Scripture itself. This was a benefit the Disciples didn’t have. For Christ’s first followers, His words at the Last Supper, His arrest, His trial, and crucifixion were a bewildering defeat. It was only in retrospect, when Jesus opened the Scripture to them, first on the road to Emmaus and later in the upper room, that they understood, and even then, not fully! Only after Christ’s ascension could a restored Peter stand before Jerusalem and proclaim the punch line of Holy Week: “Let all of the house of Israel therefore know assuredly,” he said, “that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.” The rest of the New Testament shows how the Holy Spirit continued to reveal Christ’s presence throughout all of Scripture. Paul, for example, sees Jesus in the Bible’s very first chapters, calling Him “the Last Adam,” and contrasts the two men as heads of the human race. One failed and brought death on all His descendants. The other was faithful, bringing life through His death and resurrection. And if we take the time to read Scripture more carefully, we see how deeply the parallels run. The ways in which Jesus is similar to, and yet better than Adam, are astonishing: The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face. The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.” We celebrate this last event today—Jesus’ final meal with His Disciples, and His new command that we “love one another.” In giving Christians this meal, He sealed His role as Adam’s replacement. Do you remember how, when Mary Magdalene saw the risen Christ, she mistook Him for a gardener? Through His body and blood, the Last Adam restored what the Forbidden Fruit destroyed, inviting us back to a restored Garden-City in the New Heavens and Earth, where the tree of life grows around the throne of God, free for the taking. That’s what His story, our story, the story—and this week—are all about. Good Friday is tomorrow, and it’s easy to rush through this dark reminder of our sin, and look forward to Easter. But please, stay here a while. The only way to Sunday is through this week, and the events and the words Jesus spoke before His death are worthy of our reflection. To help you, your family, and your small group drink deeply of these precious words, my colleagues and I at the Colson Center have put together a PDF booklet of reflections on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll tell you how you can get a free copy of it.

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Assisted Suicide Freight Train Hits the Brak