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

Aug 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Eichmann in All of Us

Aug 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Whoa, Bethsaida!

Aug 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Suicide and the Logic of Utility

Aug 16, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 15, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
America’s Suicide Crisis

Aug 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Joni Eareckson Tada

Aug 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Western Baby Bust

Aug 9, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Genetic Arms Race

Aug 8, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Missing the Canaanites in Plain Sight

Aug 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Killer Bonus

Aug 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Aug 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Brownback Tapped as Religious Freedom Ambassador

Aug 2, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The Witness of Forgiveness

Aug 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 31, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Digging Up History

Jul 28, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
One by One

Jul 27, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 26, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
French President Macron and African Babies

Jul 25, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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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
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
BreakPoint This Week: Religious Freedom's Roe v Wade

Jul 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Beauty and Faith

Jul 21, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 20, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
The African Famine

Jul 19, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 18, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Clutter Gone Wild

Jul 17, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Who Lives, Who Dies?

Jul 14, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 13, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Darrell Bock on Evangelicals and Evangelicalism

Jul 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
A Genderless Child?

Jul 12, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 11, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 10, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Embracing Courtesy

Jul 7, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Charlie Gard’s Death Sentence

Jul 6, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Time to Thicken up the Church

Jul 5, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Why We Must Love Our Country

Jul 4, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Being Pro-Life at Google

Jul 3, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jul 1, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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

Jun 30, 2017 - 00:00:00

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

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Colson Center for Christian Worldview
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE
#606 - Randall Carlson

Feb 4, 2015 - 3:09:16

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