Isn’t it rude and closed-minded for Christians to say that Jesus is the only way to God? This is a common complaint that I hear about the Christian faith. People say that Christians should be more open-minded and recognize that there are many ways to God and that all religions are equally valid. I am convinced that, while this may sound nice, there is nothing rude or closed minded about the claim that Jesus is the only way.

Imagine a doctor prescribing a particular medicine that could save the life of your child. On your way home from the doctor’s office you walk past street venders selling, among other things, alternative medicines and remedies. Each vendor claims that your child could be saved by their special mixture of herbs and vitamins. You get home and call the doctor and ask her if her prescription is really the only cure for your child. Is it closed minded or rude for your doctor to insist loudly that the various vitamins and herbs being sold are unable to cure the particular disease that your child has and that only the medicine she has prescribed can cure? Of course it is not. In fact, if she did anything else she might be charged with malpractice. It is important to tell the truth. There is nothing rude or closed minded about it.

All of humanity has a particular sickness called sin. The scriptures tell us that the death and resurrection of Jesus provided the cure to that sickness. And Jesus stated that he was the only way (John 14:6). Like the good doctor we are called to be honest about these facts. It is important to tell the truth. We should do so with kindness and understanding but with the firmness that comes from the conviction that faith in Jesus is what is really needed to heal the wounded soul.

The Christian Century

February 25, 2011

Phillip Jenkins, a professor at Penn State, once remarked that the 20th century will go down in history as “The Christian Century.”

Christian growth in Africa is nothing short of astonishing. There were 8.7 million African Christians in 1900; there are 389 million African Christians today.Similar things can be said of China, Korea, and much of the rest of the global south.

Christianity even increased slightly as a percentage of the world 33 up to 35% which is actually quite remarkable given that most of the world’s growth was in regions that were not traditionally Christian (China, India, Africa, etc). It is even more remarkable when you consider that major portions of the historic Christian strongholds were overthrown by explicitly atheist regimes (Russia, Eastern Europe, etc). /

Bottom line? Christianity grew remarkably well in the 20th century. Will it go down in history as the “Christian Century”? That depends on what happens in the 21st. I am convinced that the 21st century may see even more impressive growth.

That is my prayer anyway.

Mean People Suck

February 16, 2011

There are some bad people out there who call themselves Christians. These people lie, bully, cheat and steal. Looking at Christian history it is not hard to point to moments in history in which self professed Christians did butchery to their fellow man. This fact will lead many people to conclude that perhaps Christianity is the problem. This attitude can be especially pronounced if one has a few personal bad experiences coupled with some good experiences with non Christians. It is not difficult to understand why someone might have the attitude that we should get rid of this religion with all the hypocrites and the problem is solved.

The error with this approach, of course, is that assumes that the cause behind these acts of hatred is Christianity. But it is not fair to compare Christianity to a perfect utopia. There are some jerks who call themselves Christians. That is undeniable. Christian history has all sorts of warts and bruises. But if you look at the history of every society that ever existed (Atheist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Hindu etc), you will also see some pretty nasty things. You cannot blame Christianity for the fact that people are not perfect. You have to blame people for the fact that people are not perfect.

Instead the question must be: ‘Does Christianity make people better than they would be without it?” That answer is undoubtedly yes. When I ministered to prison inmates, I saw the impact it made when hardened criminals converted. When I served the homeless, I saw the impact Christianity made people converted. Most of all I saw the impact that Christianity has made on my own life.

Are big jerks who become Christian still jerks? In many cases, yes. But hopefully, they are a little better. Maybe a little less mean. Maybe a little more merciful. Not perfect….but better.

Christianity makes individuals better and society is simply made of a bunch of individuals. So, did Christianity make the societies that converted better? In almost all known cases, yes. The Roman Empire used to kill almost half its baby girls. That stopped thanks to Christianity. The Roman Empire used to gather together in stadiums but instead of watching people kick a ball around they would watch lions eat people as they screamed in pain. That stopped largely due to Christianity.

If your background includes painful experiences with hurtful jerks who called themselves Christians, I am very sorry for that. I will not defend them or their actions. But it is not Christianity that made them jerks. I have met jerks who were irreligious, jerks who were Muslim, jerks who were neo-pagans. Jerkiness happens. “Mean people suck.” It is a sad fact of life.

But Christianity doesn’t tell people to be jerks. It tells people to be kind and gentle and good. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”

If the people you know were not loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self controlled then they did not suffer from too much Christian theology but not enough.

This is a repost of something I posted in the comments section of a previous post.

Merry Christmas

December 9, 2010

Shut down the youth group

October 4, 2010

Anyone involved in youth ministry should read this.

One of the reasons that I am convinced that Christianity is true is that it makes sense of a lot of parts of our life. For example, the idea that our lives have purpose. Here is a famous sermon by John Piper about the purpose of life. I highly recommend watching.

There are two ways that one would think that the “supernatural” could be proven but both of the available options are rejected outright by those who assume that there is no supernatural. The two ways are: 1) Miracles and 2) Unexplained Phenomena.

The biblical word for “miracle” is actually “wonder”. The point of a miracle, biblically speaking, is to draw attention to a certain event in history so that people can be clear as to what God is doing. Miracles would only get attention if they were infrequent. The person who walks around yelling all the time gets ignored. The person who yells once in a while and only for a good reason gets attention.

Naturalists reject miracles because they are not repeatable. They can’t be brought into a lab and “confirmed”. You have to rely on testimony. They reject the testimony by definition if it claims a miracle.

Regarding unexplained phenomena let’s look at gravity. It is interesting that when Newton defined gravity as an immaterial force, he was roundly ridiculed by most of the European intelligentsia because an “invisible force” that had no known natural cause sounded to them like God. Was Newton saying that God held the planets in line? That is one of the critiques Newton had to deal with. But Newton, who was completely at peace with the idea that God held things together, didn’t shy away….the math worked. Is gravity a supernatural force that is so common we don’t think of it as supernatural? I sort of think so but I don’t know. It is not a biblical question because the bible doesn’t say one way or the other.

Today there are many models that attempt to explain gravity naturally. For example idea posits that gravity is an emergent phenomenon of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. So, let us not mistake ‘is not explained for certain’ with ‘is not explained yet’ and ‘cannot be explained at all’. That is not what I am saying. I actually don’t have a dog in the fight on gravity. Maybe it is a natural phenomena. Maybe gravity is pure miracle all the time. I don’t really care. My point is simply to note that naturalists have a deep trust that whatever phenomenon are not currently explained by natural explanations will some day.

So naturalism is unfalsifiable:

1. Miracles are rejected

2. Current unexplained phenomenons are assumed to be natural even without evidence.