Thursday, June 28, 2012

American Muslims Attack Christians in Dearborn, MI

For the past few years an Arab Festival in Dearborn, Michigan has been a place of controversy.  Various Christian groups have been hassled and even arrested.  This year a Christian group went to hold signs and they were met with even more vehement opposition.  I'm not saying that this was the best manner in which to engage the Muslim community.  Nevertheless, they do have legal protections to assemble and voice their beliefs.  The police officers in this video do not seem to understand how their behavior rewarded riotous behavior.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE.  For those who watch please pray for those you see engaging in this kind of persecution behavior.  Let every mention of vile speech be an opportunity to pray for these real individuals who need the grace of the Lord Jesus.

**IMPORTANT UPDATE (7/5/2012):  Please see this post More on Muslims Attack Christians in Dearborn.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Movie on Hell--"Hellbound?"

There's a new movie on hell coming out this Fall...

It's a documentary and includes such people as: Brian McLaren, Bob Larson, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung, Mark Driscoll, Greg Boyd, Peter Kreeft, and Frank Schaeffer.  It also includes someone called "Oderus Urungus" who is billed as a vocalist from "Gwar"--he looks as weird as his name (he's the "guy" on the right; guy on the left is Dee Synder).

You can check out trailer for the movie and comments from director on the official website: Hellboundthemovie.

The Destruction of the Canaanites

The so-called "new atheists" like to attack the morality of the Bible by pointing to God's command to Israel to destroy the Canaanites.  There have been various responses to this objection (for one lengthy piece addressing this issue see HERE) but a recent essay deserves special mention.

Clay Jones teaches in the Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University and has written an article on this topic that was published in Philosophia Christi in 2009.  His article is entitled: "We Don't Hate Sin So We Don't Understand What Happened to the Canaanites: An Addendum to 'Divine Genocide' Arguments" and is very enlightening.  Dr. Jones states in the beginning of his essay:
For example, do we genuinely comprehend the depth of Canaanite sins?  Do we understand the significance of God's having all but destroyed Israel for committing Canaanite sins?  Could it be that because our culture today commits these same Canaanite sins we are inoculated against the seriousness of these sins and so think God's judgment unfair?  How might a theology of the human heart and its sinful condition illuminate a motivation for "divine genocide" claims?  In short, most of our problems regarding God's ordering the destruction of the Canaanites come from the fact that God hates sin but we do not.  (p. 53)
Dr. Jones goes on to detail out the kinds of sins that the Canaanites participated in as a culture: idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality.  His discussion is graphic at times as he meticulously footnotes the horrific immorality of both the Canaanites and our culture.

When discussing the concept of idolatry, Jones helpfully shows the connection between idolatry and immorality.  The one leads to the other.
Idolatry is not some mere individualistic, private religious hobby that a person does (for example, "he committed an act of idolatry").  To the contrary, it can form an entire group identity and a way of life because those who commit idolatry do so as a result of being idolatrous.  Idolatry is a form of worship because it involves ascribing attention and affection to something considered worthy.  Worship, regardless of its object, is inescapably  whole-life formational.
Moreover, the concept of idolatry lends itself to a polytheistically formed mentality and culture that has pervasive social consequences.  In such a context, "worshipping the one, true God" is a morally, culturally and socially unpersuasive (if not also a repulsive) idea.  Within polytheism, a person cannot be idolatrous.  If polytheism were true, it would not make any sense in what way someone or some act could be considered idolatrous.  Moreover, a follower of polytheism can even happily engage in falsehoods (for example, worshipping deities that are contradictory) or calling something otherwise "unnatural," "natural" (for example, bestiality), which is evidenced by Canaanite culture.  (pp. 55-56)
In the final section of his paper (pp. 68-72), entitled "Our Sin," Jones details the same kind of sins in contemporary American culture.  It makes for disturbing reading in that the vileness of our own culture is brought forward and analyzed.  I appreciated that this kind of analysis of contemporary sinfulness was brought up in a philosophical journal.  And I especially liked how Jones ended his article:
[W]e do not appreciate the depths of our own depravity, the horror of sin, and the righteousness of God.  Consequently, it is no surprise that when we see God's judgment upon those who committed the sins we commit, that complaint and protest arises within our hearts: "This is divine barbarism!" or "This is divine genocide!"  But studying these things over the years has led me to wonder if the Canaanites might not stand up at the Judgment and condemn this generation.  (pp. 71-72)
Dr. Jones has done the church a service with this essay.  You can also find a shortened and condensed piece by Jones on the same topic HERE.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mending the Soul--New Video

Mending the Soul ministries is doing amazing work around the world.  The book Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse by Steve Tracy is an important work that helps deal with issues of abuse and healing.  Mending the Soul has a new promotional video out that gives a flavor of their work.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

VeggieTales and Christian Morality

Phil Vischer, the creator of the famous VeggieTales was interviewed recently by World magazine.  He speaks of how he nows views what he was doing with his approach to the talking veggies.  He writes:
After the bankruptcy I had kind of a forced sabbatical of three or four months of spending time with God and listening to Him. I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, "Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so," or "Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!" But that isn't Christianity, it's morality.
Vischer's new endeavor is an attempt to go more deeply into the Bible:
That realization led me to a quest to say, all right, I need a new vehicle for teaching where I can go in much, much deeper but still in a fun, lighthearted, witty way. For my new series, What's in the Bible, I wanted to create the equivalent of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. It was this groundbreaking miniseries in the '80s that explained the entire world, the entire universe, to families. I want to do that with the Bible, not just for kids but for families. It's not a kids' show, it's a family show.
Let's hope Vischer is faithful to this new vision and that God grants him success in this endeavor.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Francis Schaeffer on Reading the Bible

One of my favorite quotations from Francis Schaeffer:
We should read the Bible for various reasons.  It should be read for facts, and it should be read devotionally.  But reading the Bible every day of one's life does something else--it gives one a different mentality.  In the modern world we are surrounded by the mentality of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system, but as we read the Bible it gives us a different mentality.  Do not minimize the fact that in reading the Bible we are living in a mentality which is the right one, opposed to the great wall of this other mentality which is forced upon us on every side--in education, in literature, in the arts, and in the mass media.  He Is There and He Is Not Silent in Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy (Crossway, 1990), p. 334.