Category Archives: Culture

Americans Worry About Moral Decline, Can’t Agree on Right and Wrong

“We are shifting very fast from a world where right and wrong didn’t change to a world where right and wrong are relative,” McConnell said. “We are not all on the same page when it comes to morality. And we haven’t reckoned with what that means.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Most older Americans say right and wrong never change. Younger Americans—not so much.

A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found a significant generation gap in how Americans view morality.

More than 6 in 10 of those older than 45 say right and wrong do not change. For those 35 and younger, fewer than 4 in 10 make that claim.

That’s a huge shift between generations, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. Older Americans grew up at time when ideas about morality were more stable, he says. That’s no longer true for younger Americans.

“We are shifting very fast from a world where right and wrong didn’t change to a world where right and wrong are relative,” McConnell said. “We are not all on the same page when it comes to morality. And we haven’t reckoned with what that means.”

Worries about moral decline

LifeWay’s representative survey of 1,000 Americans found most worry moral behavior is on the decline.

Researchers found 81 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “I am concerned about declining moral behavior in our nation.” Nineteen percent disagree.

Worry about morals differs across demographic lines, but remains consistently high. Most Americans older than 65 (85 percent) are concerned about declining moral behavior, as are those 18 to 24 (71 percent.)

Those with graduate degrees (72 percent) agree, as do those with a high school degree or less (85 percent). So do Christians (85 percent), those of non-Christian faiths (70 percent) and “nones”—those with no religious affiliation (72 percent).

White Americans (82 percent), African-Americans (86 percent), Hispanic Americans (73 percent) and Americans of other ethnicities (75 percent) agree as well.

Yet Americans disagree over whether morality can be legislated.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) agree with the statement, “Implementing laws to encourage people to act morally is not effective.” Thirty-seven percent disagree.

On the other hand, fewer than half (44 percent) agree with the statement, “The fewer laws regulating moral standards, the better.” Fifty-six percent disagree.

Men (49 percent) are more likely to agree than women (39 percent). Nones (55 percent) are more likely to agree than Christians (39 percent.)

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Ravi Zacharias: Millennials Have Abandoned the Church and Christian Sexual Ethics to Seek Answers and Fulfillment—They Have Found Neither

Ravi Zacharias Millennials

After speaking at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, D.C., apologist Ravi Zacharias sat down with the Christian Post to discuss millennials and the church. Among his observations, gleaned after answering hundreds of questions posed to him by college students across the country, Zacharias believes millennials have abandoned the church and Christian sexual ethics in order to find answers and fulfillment.

The topic of sexuality comes up in practically every speech or talk Zacharias does, regardless of how unrelated the topic of the speech may be. Speaking to Christian Post reporter Brandon Showalter, Zacharias explained millennials have replaced real spirituality with sexual expression as a means to finding fulfillment. “And what they have done is burned themselves out before they are even in their mid-20s and they have come away empty-handed as well.”

In essence, millennials are looking to sex to give them spiritual fulfillment. The problem with this, Zacharias explains, is that “if the body indulges itself you’re going to come away empty.” Only by “touching the soul” will one be fulfilled. The challenge to Christians is to communicate the beauty of sexuality and the fact that God’s laws surrounding it are actually liberating and not repressive.

The approach of helping people see the heart of Christianity seems to be what Zacharias is advocating for. He shared the example of coming to Christ in a hospital room on a “bed of suicide” after someone took the time to come and talk to him about Jesus. Christians should be moved to action by compassion, and not just “identify [non-Christians] as an opposition.”

Millennials “have come to the conclusion that there are no answers anywhere,” Zacharias says. He recounts an encounter he had with a university student who left the faith after 18 years to pursue answers he never felt were given in the church. In a telephone call, Zacharias asked the young man if he had found the answers, meaning, and purpose he was looking for outside the church. The answer was no.

Which leads Zacharias to encourage Christians everywhere to approach their unbelieving neighbors with compassion and not to see them as opposition.

The post Ravi Zacharias: Millennials Have Abandoned the Church and Christian Sexual Ethics to Seek Answers and Fulfillment—They Have Found Neither appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

CultureWatch: The Collapsing Christian Worldview

On a regular basis, sadly, I find myself in debates with fellow believers who seem woefully clueless as to the biblical worldview. They seem to just regurgitate pagan thinking, beliefs and practice, yet still somehow think they are being good Christians.

worldview 1Too many Christians simply think and act like those in the surrounding culture, and they seem blissfully unaware that they really should not be doing this. But I am not alone in seeing such worldly Christianity out there – unfortunately researchers keep finding the same thing. Let me discuss one of the latest bits of research on this.

Summit Ministries started in America in 1962 and was led for nearly fifty years by David Noble, a champion in worldview studies. It has been the premier worldview course in the US with tens of thousands of young people profoundly impacted by it over the years.

And George Barna has been engaged in Christian research for almost as long, gauging the state of play of American Christianity. Now Summit and Barna have teamed up to measure just how much of a biblical worldview American Christians actually have. Sadly, the findings are not very encouraging.

A quick overview of the findings has shown that among practicing Christians:

-61% agree with ideas rooted in New Spirituality.
-54% resonate with postmodernist views.
-36% accept ideas associated with Marxism.
-29% believe ideas based on secularism.

Wow, that does not sound very good. But first a word about how the research was gathered. The researchers say this:

Research with practicing Christians (who go to church at least monthly and consider their faith very important in their life) included 1,456 web-based surveys conducted among a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 in each of the 50 United States. The survey was conducted in March 2017. The sampling error for this study is plus or minus 2.4%, at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.
1Barna has tracked beliefs that make up a “biblical worldview” since 1995, with the data included in this article (17% of practicing Christians have a biblical worldview) coming from an OmniPoll conducted in an online study of 1,066 U.S. adults in July of 2015. Barna defines “biblical worldview” as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

So let’s look at the findings a bit more closely. Consider the issue of the “New Spirituality”. This would include things like the New Age Movement, alternative religions, such as Eastern religions, as well as various aberrant Christian teachings. Here is what the researchers said about their findings:

Practicing Christians find the claims of New Spirituality among the most enticing, perhaps because it holds a positive view of religion, emphasizes the supernatural and simultaneously feeds into a growing dissatisfaction with institutions. For instance, almost three in 10 (28%) practicing Christians strongly agree that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.” Further, the belief that “meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is” has captured the minds of more than one-quarter of practicing Christians (27%).
The New Spirituality worldview has also inched its way into Christian ethics; one-third of practicing Christians (32%) strongly agree that “if you do good, you will receive good, and if you do bad, you will receive bad.” This karmic statement, though not explicitly from scripture, appeals to many Christians’ sense of ultimate justice. For example, another Barna study found that 52 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree that the Bible teaches “God helps those who help themselves.”

While practicing Christians have long tended to hold a range of views regarding politics, economics and the like, the research results were also quite worrying in terms of all those flirting with or adhering to the tenets of Marxism. The authors found this:

Marxism as a worldview stands in opposition to the economics of capitalism and falls more in line with socialist or communist political ideologies. Marxism, though, is also founded on an irreligious—or even religiously hostile—foundation. Though not a single practicing Christian says they would actually vote for a communist party candidate (0%) and only 3 percent for the socialist party, some of the key economic and political tenets of a Marxist worldview are supported by practicing Christians, though less so than other worldviews.
For instance, only one in nine (11%) strongly agree that “private property encourages greed and envy.” This is more pronounced among practicing Christian Millennials (20%) and Gen-Xers (22%), who are four to six times as likely to believe this when compared to Boomers (4%) or Elders (5%). For socialists, reigning in greed is the purview of the state, and 14 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree that “the government, rather than individuals, should control as much of the resources as necessary to ensure that everyone gets their fair share.”
In total, Barna found that 36 percent of practicing Christians embraced at least one of the Marxist statements assessed in the research.

The idea that there is no real objective truth is a key tenet of postmodernism, not biblical Christianity. Yet incredibly it seems that many practicing Christians have abandoned biblical absolutes for the relativism of postmodernism:

Almost one-fifth of practicing Christians (19%) strongly agree that “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life.” A similar perspective also resonates with many Christians when it comes to views of morality: Almost one-quarter of practicing Christians (23%) strongly agree that “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.” Less educated Americans (high school or less) are more likely to affirm this view than their college-educated counterparts (31% compared to 21%).
As a whole, more than half (54%) of practicing Christians embrace at least one of the postmodern statements assessed in the research.

By way of summary the researchers say this about their findings:

“This research really crystalizes what Barna has been tracking in our country as an ongoing shift away from Christianity as the basis for a shared worldview. We have observed and reported on increasing pluralism, relativism and moral decline among Americans and even in the Church. Nevertheless, it is striking how pervasive some of these beliefs are among people who are actively engaged in the Christian faith,” Brooke Hempell, senior vice president of research for Barna, says.
“What stood out most to us was how stark the shift was between the Boomer and Gen-Xer generations,” Hempell remarks. “We expected Millennials to be most influenced by other worldviews, but the most dramatic increase in support for these ideals occurs with the generation before them. It’s no surprise, then, that the impact we see today in our social fabric is so pervasive, given that these ideas have been taking root for two generations.
“The challenge with competing worldviews is that there are fragments of similarities to some Christian teachings, and some may recognize and latch on to these ideas, not realizing they are distortions of biblical truths. The call for the Church, and its teachers and thinkers, is to help Christians dissect popular beliefs before allowing them to settle in their own ideology,” Hempell says. “Informed thinking is essential to developing and maintaining a healthy biblical worldview and faith as well as being able to have productive dialogue with those who espouse other beliefs.”

Orthodoxy – right thinking about God – is essential for the Christian. Yes as this research shows, plenty of Christians are not really thinking at all, let alone thinking rightly. Throughout Scripture we are told about the importance of right belief and right teaching.

And believers are also told not to let the world shape our thinking. As Paul put it in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Yet sadly far too many Christians are doing just what Paul warned against. They are thinking just like pagans, and wondering why they have so little impact and influence on the surrounding culture. But if we think and act just like the world does, how can we expect to change it?

Let me conclude with a few brief quotes from some important Christian thinkers who certainly saw the vital importance of the Christian worldview. First, two quotes from Charles Colson:

“The world is divided not so much by geographic boundaries as by religious and cultural traditions, by people’s most deeply held beliefs – by worldviews.”

“The church’s singular failure in recent decades has been the failure to see Christianity as a life system, or worldview, that governs every area of existence.”

And as Francis Schaeffer reminds us, we need both orthopraxis as well as orthodoxy:

“As Christians we are not only to know the right worldview, the worldview that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that worldview so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can.”

http://www.barna.com/research/competing-worldviews-influence-todays-christians/

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The post The Collapsing Christian Worldview appeared first on CultureWatch.

It is not ‘character assassination’ for the church to be the church

Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, contends “for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” In this piece, he takes on “Progressive Christians” and deals with their propensity to erase 2,000-years of Church history in an effort to see that the Church becomes more inclusive, more relevant, more open-minded.  In other words, PC’s are “re-imagining” Christianity to look less like historic orthodox Christianity and more like the world. Burk writes:

Photo credit: RightNow Media

Last night, Jonathan Merritt penned an article for Religion News Service excoriating Christians who have distanced themselves from Jen Hatmaker. He writes:

Hatmaker’s original sin is that she broke ranks with the evangelical powers-that-be on same-sex relationships. In an interview with me last October, Hatmaker stated that if she found out one of her children were gay, she would love that child just the same. If an LGBT friend of Hatmaker’s got married, she said she would attend the wedding. And Hatmaker said she believed LGBT relationships could be holy.

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Source: It is not ‘character assassination’ for the church to be the church

CultureWatch: The Case for Christ

It was a key principle of Plato’s Socrates that one should follow the evidence wherever it leads. He also said that the ‘unexamined life is not worth living’. Thus those who claim to be seekers after truth need to carefully investigate the evidence, and be willing to change course if that is suggested by the evidence.

People on a religious quest, including agnostics and even atheists, need to do the same. Unless their minds are already made up, they need to be open to new evidence, to new data, which may result in them changing direction in terms of previously held beliefs.

strobelAdmittedly this can be a risky path to be on. For example, more than one atheist has dared to look into the evidence for Christianity – often with a view of proving how false the whole thing is – only to end up being roundly convinced by all the evidence, and becoming Christians – or at least theists – as a result.

Many such cases can be mentioned here. Frank Morrison for example was a lawyer and an engineer who wanted to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So he set about on a serious course of study, only to find that the resurrection was a historically verifiable fact. Thus he wrote his famous book Who Moved the Stone? in 1930.

One of atheism’s heaviest hitters, Antony Flew also examined the evidence, and as a result, in 2004 he renounced his atheism and became a theist. I tell his story here: billmuehlenberg.com/2007/11/21/a-review-of-there-is-a-god-by-antony-flew/

Another noted atheist who set out to prove that Christianity was a bunch of hogwash is Lee Strobel. Most Christians would know of his story. He was an atheist and a rising star as an investigative journalist, writing for the Chicago Tribune. One of his news stories he turned into a book when he was just 28.

Much to his chagrin however, his wife became a Christian in 1979, and two years later after much prayer and love from his wife, and much research on his own, Lee too became a Christian. He wanted his newspaper to print his story of a real life sceptic who became a believer, but his editor refused.

His wife suggested that he write a book instead, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1998 his book The Case for Christ came out and it has sold millions of copies since then. Strobel has gone on to write many more books, including: The Case for Faith (2000); The Case for a Creator (2004); and The Case for the Real Jesus (2007). I have already reviewed some of these volumes:

billmuehlenberg.com/2005/01/17/a-review-of-the-case-for-a-creator-by-lee-strobel/
billmuehlenberg.com/2008/02/21/798/

His first book has now been made into a full length feature film, which I have just returned from seeing. So let me speak a bit more to both the film and the book. After his wife’s conversion, Strobel was greatly troubled, wishing she would let go of this foolishness and go back to the woman he used to know.

But she clung to her newfound faith, despite the insults and nasty reactions of her husband. But he was really bugged by all this, and his journalist side was intrigued. Indeed, some of his Christian colleagues challenged him to do the same thing with Christianity as he would with any other news story: investigate things carefully and look at all the evidence.

So a lengthy process of exploring the evidence in detail and following it wherever it would lead resulted in Strobel not just reading heaps of Christian writers, but actually meeting and interviewing many key Christian thinkers, apologists and writers.

In the film some of the ones presented in the book are featured (played by actors of course). They include: Dr. Gary Habermas, Dr. Alexander Metherell, and Dr. William Lane Craig. As he spoke to these authorities he slowly found his many objections and criticisms melting away in the face of all the solid evidence.

A few personal dramas, including the death of his father, also helped to prepare Strobel for finally seeing his need of admitting that God exists, and that he needs to come to terms with him. So the film shows us all the struggles and turmoil he went through, and all the resistance he put up, until he finally realised that the evidence pointed only in one direction.

Thoughts about the film

I of course strongly urge all of you who have not yet done so to get the book. It is a terrific presentation and examination of the evidence for the Christian faith. But I also urge you to go see the film, which is only out on a brief and limited release.

I should mention that my wife was rightly cautious about going to see the film, knowing that many previous Christian films have been poorly done, overly preachy, not very well written or produced, poorly acted, with bad plots and stilted characters, and so on. But she was pleasantly surprised that this was indeed a very well done film.

And I quite enjoyed it too. It certainly was well done, and I think this sort of film a Christian could easily take a non-believing friend to see, and then discuss it afterwards over a cup of coffee – or a can of Dr Pepper. Of interest, Rotten Tomatoes has given the film a 79% review rating thus far, and an 84% positive audience score.

Since Strobel was a Chicago boy, I found it of interest to see some familiar places (I was from Wisconsin just to the north, and I lived in Chicago for some years. Thus I sometimes went to the same church Strobel did – back then the converted movie theatre that Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church used.

On a side note, one of the most interesting and ironic moments of my viewing happened just before the film actually started. As is usually the case, trailers for other films about to appear or are now showing were featured. One of them was for another popular religious film, The Shack.

I thought the contrast could not be greater. If The Case for Christ is all about evidence, facts, apologetics, good theology and the use of the mind, The Shack is all about emotions, feelings, and bad theology. But I have reviewed the book version of the film here:
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/04/11/a-review-of-the-shack-by-william-young-part-one/
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/04/11/a-review-of-the-shack-by-william-young-part-two/

And the author’s newest book I have reviewed here:
billmuehlenberg.com/2017/04/20/william-paul-young-heretic-part-one/
billmuehlenberg.com/2017/04/20/william-paul-young-heretic-part-two/

Suffice it to say that if Christians asked me which book to read and which film to see, it would be YES to Strobel and NO to Young. Sadly however I suspect that there may be more Christians going to see The Shack than The Case for Christ. That in good measure helps explain why the Christian church in the West is in such bad shape today.

A few believers who have already seen the film mentioned that it did not end with a call to repentance. My reply to them would be this: every Christian film does not need an altar call at the end to round it off. Even the Apostle Paul did not always do so – see his outreach at Athens for example. And the gospel message was certainly presented throughout the film nonetheless.

So please, if you can, go see the Strobel film. You will be glad you did, and your faith will be greatly strengthened along the way – mentally as well as emotionally.

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The post The Case for Christ appeared first on CultureWatch.

Barna Update | Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians

In partnership with Summit Ministries, Barna conducted a study among practicing Christians in America to gauge how much the tenets of other key worldviews—including new spirituality, secularism, postmodernism and Marxism—have influenced Christians’ beliefs about the way the world is and how it ought to be.

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LifeWay Research: Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually Read It

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,000 Americans about their views of the Bible and found significant splits in how familiar they are with the Christian scripture. One in five Americans, LifeWay Research found, has read through the Bible at least once. That includes 11 percent who’ve read the entire Bible once, and 9 percent who’ve read it through multiple times. Another 12 percent say they have read almost all of the Bible, while 15 percent have read at least half.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Americans have a positive view of the Bible. And many say the Christian scriptures are filled with moral lessons for today.

However, more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible.

Less than a quarter of those who have ever read a Bible have a systematic plan for reading the Christian scriptures each day. And a third of Americans never pick it up on their own, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

Small wonder many church leaders worry about biblical illiteracy, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“Most Americans don’t know first-hand the overall story of the Bible—because they rarely pick it up,” McConnell said. “Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”

Many unfamiliar with biblical text

Almost nine out of 10 households (87 percent) own a Bible, according to the American Bible Society, and the average household has three.

But Bible reading remains spotty.

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,000 Americans about their views of the Bible and found significant splits in how familiar they are with the Christian scripture. One in five Americans, LifeWay Research found, has read through the Bible at least once. That includes 11 percent who’ve read the entire Bible once, and 9 percent who’ve read it through multiple times. Another 12 percent say they have read almost all of the Bible, while 15 percent have read at least half.

About half of Americans (53 percent) have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories.

Americans also differ in how they approach reading the Bible. Twenty-two percent read a little bit each day, in a systematic approach. A third (35 percent) never pick it up at all, while 30 percent look up things in the Bible when they need to. Nineteen percent re-read their favorite parts, while 17 percent flip open the Bible and read a passage at random. A quarter (27 percent) read sections suggested by others, while 16 percent say they look things up to help others.

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The Fallacy of Uniformitarianism

Code: B170426

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the earliest days of the GTY Blog. As we recently culled through the ministry archives in preparation for a new blog series on God’s work of creation—which coincides with the broadcast of The Battle for the Beginning sermon series on “Grace to You”—we believed this post deserved further consideration.]

The hypothesis that the earth is billions of years old is rooted in the unbiblical premise that what is happening now is just what has always happened. This idea is known as uniformitarianism. It is the theory that natural and geological phenomena are for the most part the results of forces that have operated continuously, with uniformity, and without interruption, over billions and billions of years. Uniformitarians assume that the forces at work in nature are essentially fixed and constant. Scientists who hold this view explain nearly all geological phenomena in terms of processes that are still occurring. The uniformitarian sees sedimentary rock strata, for example, and assumes that the sediments that formed them resulted from the natural, slow settling of particles in water over several million years. A uniformitarian observes the Grand Canyon and assumes the natural flow of the Colorado River carved that immense chasm over many ages with a steady (though constantly decreasing) stream.

Uniformitarianism was first proposed around the beginning of the nineteenth century by two British geologists, James Hutton and his best–known disciple, Charles Lyell. Lyell’s work Principles of Geology was an explicit rejection of creation and flood–based explanations for geological formulations. Lyell insisted that all the features of earth’s geology must be explainable by natural, rather than supernatural, processes. He regarded all biblical or supernatural explanations as inherently unscientific and therefore false. In other words, he began with the presupposition that Scripture itself is untrue. And his work essentially canonized atheistic naturalism as the basis for “scientific” research.

As we have noted previously, naturalism itself is a religious belief. The conviction that nothing happens supernaturally is a tenet of faith, not a fact that can be verified by any scientific means. Indeed, an a priori rejection of everything supernatural involves a giant, irrational leap of faith. So the presuppositions of atheistic naturalism are actually no more “scientific” than the beliefs of biblical Christianity. That obvious fact seems to have escaped Lyell and many who have followed him.

Nonetheless, Lyell’s uniformitarian theory was enormously influential on other scientists of his age. (Darwin even took a copy of Lyell’s work with him when he sailed on the Beagle in 1831.) And from the first publication of Lyell’s work until today, the hypothesis that the earth is ages old has dominated secular science. The theory of evolution itself was the predictable and nearly immediate result of Lyell’s uniformitarian hypothesis.

Of course, modern scientists have expanded their estimates of the age of the earth beyond anything Lyell himself ever imagined. But the basic theory of uniformitarianism first emerged from Lyell’s antibiblical belief system.

The opposite of uniformitarianism is catastrophism, the view that dramatic geological changes have occurred in sudden, violent, or unusual events. A catastrophist observing sedimentary rock formations or large canyons is more likely (and more accurately) to interpret them as the result of massive flooding. Of course, this yields a much younger time frame for the development of earth’s geological features. (A sudden flood, for example, can produce a thick layer of sediment in a few hours. That means a large stratum of sedimentary rock, which a uniformitarian might assume took millions of years to form, could actually be the result of a single flash flood.) Catastrophism therefore poses a major challenge to the evolutionary timetable, eliminating the multiple billions of years demanded to make the evolutionary hypothesis work. And for that reason it is rejected out of hand by most evolutionists.

But a moment’s reflection will reveal that the fossil record is impossible to explain by any uniformitarian scheme. For a living creature to become fossilized (rather than to decay and turn to dust—Job 34:15), it must be buried immediately under a great weight of sediment. Apart from a catastrophic deluge on a scale unlike any observed in recent history, how can we explain the existence of massive fossil beds (such as the Karoo formation fossil field in Africa, which is thought to hold eight hundred billion vertebrate fossils)? Natural sedimentation over several ages cannot explain how so many fossils came to be concentrated in one place. And every inhabited continent contains large fossil beds where millions of fossilized species are found together in large concentrations, as if all these creatures were destroyed and buried together by massive flooding. Fossils of sea creatures are even found on many of the world’s highest mountain tops. How do uniformitarians explain such phenomena? The only way they can: They constantly increase their estimate of the age of the earth.

Scripture expressly condemns uniformitarianism in 2 Peter 3:4. Peter prophesied that this erroneous view would be adopted in the last days by scoffers—men walking after their own lusts—who imagine that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” The apostle Peter goes on to write, “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5–6).

In other words, the plain teaching of Scripture is that this world’s history has not been one of uniform natural and geological processes from the beginning. But according to the Bible, there have been at least two global cataclysmic events: creation itself and a catastrophic worldwide flood in Noah’s time. These would sufficiently explain virtually all the geological and hydrological features of the earth as we know it.

In fact, large–scale catastrophic forces are the only really plausible explanation for some geological features. Not far from where I live is an area known as Vasquez Rocks. It has the appearance of a rugged moonscape (and is a familiar site in science–fiction films, where it is often employed as a setting for scenes depicting exotic planets). Its main features are massive shards of jagged rock strata, broken sharply and thrusting out of the ground to great heights. Whatever force stood those rocks on end was obviously sudden and violent, not slow and gradual. The entire region is filled with similar evidences of catastrophe. Not far away is the notorious San Andreas fault. There, where the roadway has been cut into the hillside, travelers may observe violently twisted rock strata. These features are mute evidence to extraordinary forces that have shaped the topography of Southern California—far exceeding the power of any known earthquake. Such phenomena are what we might expect, given the historicity of the biblical record. Scripture says, for example, that when the Flood began, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11). No doubt the Flood was accompanied by volcanic activity, massive geological movements, and the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates. Such a catastrophe would not only explain twisted and upthrust rock strata, but it would also easily explain why so many of the earth’s mountain ranges give evidence of having once been under the sea. Uniformitarians cannot agree on any feasible explanation for features like these.

A massive flood would also explain the formation of the Grand Canyon. In fact, it would be a better explanation of how the canyon came to be than any uniformitarian hypothesis. The features of the canyon itself (extremely deep gorges with level plateaus at the rims) suggest that it was formed by rapid erosion. A strikingly similar formation is Providence Canyon, near Lumpkin, Georgia—a spectacular canyon that covers more than eleven hundred acres. In the early 1800s the entire area was flat farmland. By the mid 1800s, farmers had completely cleared the area of trees and their root systems, leaving the area susceptible to erosion. In 1846, heavy rainfall began forming small gullies and crevices. These expanded with every successive rainfall. By the 1940s, nearby buildings and towns had to be moved to accommodate the growing canyon. Today the canyon comprises sixteen fingers, some more than one mile in length. At places the distance from the canyon floor to the rim is as high as a fifteen–story building. Today it is a scenic area, lush with trees and wildlife, often called “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon.” Its features are indistinguishable from canyons geologists claim took billions of years to form.

Douglas F. Kelly writes:

The uniformitarian assumption that millions of years of geological work (extrapolating from present, slow, natural processes) would be required to explain structures such as the American Grand Canyon for instance, is called into serious question by the explosion of Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington on the 18 of May 1980. Massive energy equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT destroyed 400 square kilometers of forest in six minutes, changing the face of the mountain and digging out depths of earth and rock, leaving formations not unlike parts of the larger Grand Canyon. Recent studies of the Mount St. Helens phenomenon indicate that if attempts were made to date these structures (which were formed in 1980) on the basis of uniformitarian theory, millions of years of formation time would be necessarily postulated. [1]

Christians who reinterpret the biblical text to try to accommodate the uniformitarians’ old–earth hypotheses do so unnecessarily. To imagine that the earth was formed by natural processes over billions and billions of years through slow and steady evolution is to deny the very essence of what Scripture teaches about the earth’s creation. It is to reject the clear account of God Himself that He created the earth and all its life in six days.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)

 


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Barna Update | Media Habits in the Age of “Fake News”

The media world is rapidly changing, and traditional news organizations are struggling to find their footing. But what role does news media continue to play in informing the public? Which outlets are earning trust (and clicks)? And what do Americans make of “fake news?” Drawing from a number of Barna studies, we take a look at this complex media moment in history.

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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the BioLogos Disaster”

Genesis 1:1

Code: B170428

How important are the first three chapters of Genesis—the creation and fall accounts? Does it matter if we allegorize the text to allow for billions of years rather than read it as a straightforward narrative? Does it matter if we allow for death prior to Adam’s fall? There are many—even in the Reformed camp—who argue that these are trivial issues in comparison to getting the gospel right. And while that may sound persuasive, it’s actually a misleading argument.

Driving a wedge between soteriology (doctrine of salvation) and our view of creation creates a dichotomy when there should be a dependency. The good news of the gospel is only good because of the bad news recorded in Genesis—that sin and death are intrusions on what was God’s glorious and perfect creation.

Moreover, if we are allowed to take subjective liberties with the first three chapters of the Bible, what’s stopping us from doing it elsewhere? And then there’s the question of biblical perspicuity—or clarity. Has God spoken clearly about the origins of the universe and man or has He spoken to us in metaphors that modern science can decipher? The stakes are infinitely high when it comes to God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture.

For that reason, Phil Johnson interviewed John MacArthur several years ago to discuss modern assaults on the veracity of the creation account in Genesis. In “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the BioLogos Disaster,” they take aim at the supposedly Christian organization known as BioLogos.

“BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.” That’s their mission statement and it’s a clear agenda. In recent years they have labored tirelessly to bring Genesis into conformity with Darwinian evolution. They argue that the scientific data is simply too compelling to ignore and Scripture needs to fall into line.

In the interview, John doesn’t hold back in stating the seriousness of their crimes, and those of anyone else who dares to tamper with the plain meaning of Scripture:

Is there a more deadly, more devastating, a more destructive, a more ungodly act than to openly and purposely and publicly denounce the veracity of the Bible? Is there a worse crime? Is not that the crime of all crimes? Because if you can’t believe what the Bible says, all is lost. And if you think because you have a Ph.D. in microbiology that you are the judge of all the earth and you have a right to edit what God has revealed by His Holy Spirit, then we better run over to wherever you are and bow down, because we need to worship you since you’ve got it right and the writers of the Scriptures, though inspired by the Holy Spirit didn’t get it right. I mean, there is no more serious crime than that. That is the ultimate crime, is to attack the veracity of Holy Scripture at any point.

And listen, this is not because there are alternate readings of Genesis. Let’s get that straight. This is not because we have some kind of manuscript diversity of Genesis. This is not because we’ve got five different accounts of Genesis and they’re all over the place. No. The manuscripts that we have of Genesis are all in absolute agreement, uniformity. This is exactly what Moses wrote and said, “This is the Word of the Lord.” This is a firsthand, eyewitness account by the Creator Himself.

So I don’t know that there’s a more heinous crime than destroying people’s confidence in Scripture. And if you start tampering in Genesis 1 and 2, where can we trust this book?

We should never treat our interpretation of the biblical creation account as theological hair-splitting. In “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the BioLogos Disaster,” John MacArthur and Phil Johnson show us that the inerrancy, authority, and clarity of Scripture is at stake. They show how the truth of the gospel stands or falls on the truth of Genesis. And they compel us to take up arms in the war against God’s truth.

Click here to listen to “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the BioLogos Disaster.”

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170428
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CultureWatch: Faith Versus Feelings

The Christian life is meant to be based on faith, not on feelings. Followers of Jesus are to seek to know and understand God and what he desires of us and then act upon that. Thus we are to use our minds to read and study God’s Word and use our wills to obey it.

How we feel about all this is of little consequence. Or should be of little consequence. Feelings come and go and are unreliable guides to truth and what is right. Sure, God created us with emotions and there is a place for them. But they should follow, and not lead.

Yet sadly there are millions of Christians who seem to base their entire Christian life on how they happen to feel at any given moment. The idea of living their lives in alignment with the Word of God and engaging in daily disciplines to become more Christlike seems to elude them.

emotion 5They just glide through life running on emotion. If they feel like praying, they might. If they feel like reading the Word, they might. If they feel like obeying, they might. If they feel like fellowshipping, they might. But their feelings basically determine how they go through life.

We all have seen blatant examples of this. We all have heard of so-called believers defending even clearly defined sinful activities because it “felt right” to them. How many nominal Christians for example engage in things like fornication because it ‘feels so good’ and ‘seems so right’?

I encountered another example of this the other day on the social media. One popular Christian writer whose books are becoming more and more heretical by the day had a film made of one of his earlier books. Christians are flocking to see the movie just as they did his book.

I saw one group of Christian women absolutely gushing over the film. There was zero rational and intellectual assessment or discussion of the film. Everything said about it was entirely on an emotional level: ‘It touched my heart.’ ‘It really moved me.’ ‘It made me feel so good.’

On and on they went like this, simply reporting on their emotional reaction to the film. There was not an ounce of theological or biblical interaction with the film. It was as if their brains turned to mush while watching the film. Or perhaps they simply checked their brains at the door before going in to the theatre.

Their biblical discernment seemed to be nonexistent. Their ability to think critically and offer a rational and biblical evaluation of the film (and book) seemed to be quite beyond them. Their only frame of assessment was how they reacted emotionally.

And because they emoted positively about the film, it was a real winner in their eyes. Why do I suspect that they might view everything else through the clouded lens of emotions? Why do I suspect that they would evaluate everything in terms of how they feel about it?

If a homosexual came along and offered a sob story about how he really wants to marry but he can’t because of our “discriminatory” and “unloving” laws, why do I suspect that these sorts of Christians would fully side with him, no questions asked?

Why do I suspect that if a threesome said they had a really neat, loving relationship and they too should be given full marital rights, these believers would support their cause and demand we change our laws to be more “compassionate” and “inclusive”?

Why do I suspect that if a Muslim came to their church and said he worships the same God and he would like to read the Koran and pray in Arabic in their congregation’s worship service, these Christians would find it a pretty cool idea and think it was “Christlike”?

My friends, the Christian life was never meant to be run on mere feelings. Knowing about God and his will and obediently following him are the basics of Christian discipleship. Knowing what is right and choosing that which is right is the heart of the Christian life.

It certainly is not mushy emotionalism and sappy sentimentalism. Christians should know better than to depend on their feelings. Yet we have plenty who are doing this very thing. And that is why so much of the church today is in such a wretched condition.

A Christian mind and biblical discernment have been replaced with emotion. Such believers emote their way through life, and if something feels good they will run with it, and if it feels bad they will reject it. That is simply a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully God’s choice servants throughout church history have known the dangers of all this, and have warned against it. Let me finish by simply offering a few of their wise words here on these matters:

“It is Christ who is to be exalted, not our feelings. We will know Him by obedience, not by emotions. Our love will be shown by obedience, not by how good we feel about God at a given moment. And love means following the commands of God. ‘Do you love Me?’ Jesus asked Peter. ‘Feed My lambs.’ He was not asking, ‘How do you feel about Me?’ for love is not a feeling. He was asking for action.” Elisabeth Elliot

“There is nothing so deluding as feelings. Christians cannot live by feelings. Let me further tell you that these feelings are the work of Satan, for they are not right feelings. What right have you to set up your feelings against the Word of Christ.” Charles Spurgeon

“Obedience means marching right on whether we feel like it or not. Many times we go against our feelings. Faith is one thing, feeling is another.” D.L. Moody

“Faith has nothing to do with feelings or with impressions, with improbabilities or with outward experiences. If we desire to couple such things with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God, because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.” George Mueller

“Sight is not faith, and hearing is not faith, neither is feeling faith; but believing when we neither see, hear, nor feel is faith; and everywhere the Bible tells us our salvation is to be by faith. Therefore we must believe before we feel, and often against our feelings, if we would honour God by our faith.” Hannah Whitall Smith

“Consecration is not the act of our feelings but of our will.” F.B. Meyer

And a final, longer quote from R. C. Sproul who calls these emotional believers “sensual Christians”:

Many of us have become sensuous Christians, living by our feelings rather than through our understanding of the Word of God. Sensuous Christians cannot be moved to service, prayer or study unless they “feel like it.” Their Christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. When they experience spiritual euphoria, they are a whirlwind of godly activity; when they are depressed, they are a spiritual incompetent. They constantly seek new and fresh spiritual experiences, and use them to determine the Word of God. Their “inner feelings” become the ultimate test of truth.
Sensuous Christians don’t need to study the Word of God because they already know the will of God by their feelings. They don’t want to know God; they want to experience him. Sensuous Christians equate “childlike faith” with ignorance. They think that when the Bible calls us to childlike faith, it means a faith without content, a faith without understanding. They don’t know the Bible says, “In evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20). They don’t realize that Paul tells us again and again, “My beloved brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (see, for example, Rom 11:25)
Sensuous Christians go their merry way until they encounter the pain of life that is not so merry – and they fold. They usually end up embracing a kind of “relational theology” (a curse on modern Christianity) where personal relationships and experience take precedence over the Word of God. If the Scripture calls us to action that may jeopardize a personal relationship, then the Scripture must be compromised. The highest law of sensuous Christians is that bad feelings must be avoided at all cost.

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The post Faith Versus Feelings appeared first on CultureWatch.

Dethroning the Judge

Code: B170424

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the earliest days of the GTY Blog. As we recently culled through the ministry archives in preparation for a new blog series on God’s work of creation—which coincides with the broadcast of The Battle for the Beginning sermon series on “Grace to You”—we believed this post deserved further consideration.]

Evolution was introduced as an atheistic alternative to the biblical view of creation. According to evolution, man created God rather than vice versa. The evolutionists’ ultimate agenda is to eliminate faith in God altogether and thereby do away with moral accountability.

Intuition suggests a series of questions to the human mind when we contemplate our origin: Who is in control of the universe? Is there Someone who is sovereign—a Lawgiver? Is there a universal Judge? Is there a transcendent moral standard to live by? Is there Someone to whom we will be accountable? Will there be a final assessment of how we live our lives? Will there be any final judgment?

Those are the very questions evolution was invented to avoid.

Evolution was devised to explain away the God of the Bible—not because evolutionists really believed a Creator was unnecessary to explain how things began, but because they did not want the God of Scripture as their Judge. Marvin L. Lubenow writes,

The real issue in the creation/evolution debate is not the existence of God. The real issue is the nature of God. To think of evolution as basically atheistic is to misunderstand the uniqueness of evolution. Evolution was not designed as a general attack against theism. It was designed as a specific attack against the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible is clearly revealed through the doctrine of creation. Obviously, if a person is an atheist, it would be normal for him to also be an evolutionist. But evolution is as comfortable with theism as it is with atheism. An evolutionist is perfectly free to choose any god he wishes, as long as it is not the God of the Bible. The gods allowed by evolution are private, subjective, and artificial. They bother no one and make no absolute ethical demands. However, the God of the Bible is the Creator, Sustainer, Savior, and Judge. All are responsible to him. He has an agenda that conflicts with that of sinful humans. For man to be created in the image of God is very awesome. For God to be created in the image of man is very comfortable. [1]

To put it simply, evolution was invented in order to eliminate the God of Genesis and thereby to oust the Lawgiver and obliterate the inviolability of His law. Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him (cf. Romans 1:28). By embracing evolution, modern society aims to do away with morality, responsibility, and guilt. Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences.

It’s important to remember that evolutionary theories (e.g., favorable mutation, millions of years) did not arise from honest scientific inquiry—evolution is science with an agenda. Evolution began and continues in rebellion against the Creator, ignoring the Lawgiver and dethroning the Judge. Even its science is afloat on a sea of irrationality, supported only by the murky depths of contradiction and speculation.

Many professing and influential Christians are ignoring that evidence these days—i.e., the origins of evolution—when they encourage us to harmonize evolutionary theory with the Bible. Why surrender the ground to unlawful rebels? Why dialogue with the enemy about this? Why give the interloper a voice?

There are far too many who claim Christ’s name but are not delighted with His law; they are not content to meditate on God’s Word day and night. Rather, they are intimidated by the counsel of the wicked (evolutionary theory), are attracted to the way of sinners (desire for relevance and academic credibility), and are longing for the seat of scoffers (positions of respect and influence). Try as they may, there’s no dethroning the Judge; they’ll meet Him one day.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)

 


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