Cultural Issues

How Do We Deal With a “Post Truth” Mentality?

Most of us, if we have been actively sharing the Gospel at all, have run into a rather troubling attitude increasingly more often – especially with those under the age of 30.

I’m referring to what I call the ‘post truth mentality’, and it is a direct result of the relativistic naturalism propaganda foisted upon us by the public school system, colleges, and mass entertainment media for the last three generations.

The logical result of an ingrained belief that all moral truth is relative is a mindset that believes that feelings are paramount – and any ‘truth’ must be subservient to them.  Therefore, any moral or spiritual truth statement is not evaluated upon the merits of its truthfulness or falsehood, but upon whether it feels right (“feel the Force, Luke”).

And so, we should not be surprised when discussing topics such as the truth of the Gospel, abortion, and especially LGBTQ issues that a common response is something like, “well, that may be true, but it doesn’t feel right (or good) to me”.

Sadly, another common response is to call anyone who disagrees or objects to their view as hateful, bigoted, or racist.

I’m always a bit shocked by this response, especially since I try very hard to show Christ’s love and am careful to present my arguments opposing their lifestyle as concern for their welfare – but I shouldn’t be.

You see, we’re seeing the results of education, entertainment, and political systems that have consistently taught us that truth is an illusion, self is paramount, and anything that makes a person less than superior in every way (especially in moral and spiritual choices) is hurtful, and if it goes against the current cultural obsession is hateful and must be silenced.

No wonder when you point out that there is not only objective truth, but objective spiritual truth that you are labeled intolerant and hateful. Should you point out that those denying you the opportunity to voice and defend that view are just as hateful and intolerant as you are being accused of being, then you are obviously a bigoted bumpkin.

So how do you best present the gospel to someone who has been indoctrinated to be aggressively offended by anything that suggests that their feelings could possibly be wrong?

First of all, be aware of three things :

1 = There are no quick or easy answers

2 = I don’t have all of them, and

3 = None of the suggestions I have will work every, or even most of the time.

But that’s OK – we’re called to present the gospel in the most effective, winsome, loving way we can;  the results are up to God. My attitude is this: 

Our job is to present and live out Truth as consistently and godly as possible so that we don’t get in God’s way while he works on the hearts of the lost and doomed people we meet.

That means that in most cases, we’re in it for the long haul. It may be YEARS before we see any “progress” or “results” – but that isn’t our primary concern. Our PRIMARY concern in presenting the gospel to those locked into this destructive and illusory world view is to give them God’s truth (and all real truth is His) presented in a manner and with an attitude that reflects Christ’s nature.

So, how do we do that? Well, I have a few suggestions, given in no particular order:

-) LISTEN and ask questions designed to make them clarify and explain their position. Questions like “what do you mean by that?”, “are yo saying that….?”, and “If that is true, then isn’t _____ also true?” asked with an inquiring attitude rather than a judgmental attitude are good ways to get them to think about the logical results of their statements.

-) Don’t be bullied, and don’t be a bully. Sometimes, you will be personally attacked and called hateful, bigoted, etc. The best response is to calmly point out the error of the assessment, and that whether they chose to believe that or not, you will not stop treating them with love and respect just because they disagree with you.  While not always the case, it is usually a good idea to leave your disappointment with their unwillingness to do the same unsaid.

-) Present the Gospel and a Biblical world view as clearly and concisely as possible. 

-) One thing that I find myself saying more and more often when presenting a Biblical world view is “I don’t believe the Bible because it  makes me feel good or because I like it, but because it is historically and factually true.” 

-) As much as possible, be thoughtful, loving, firm, and consistent. What you DO and HOW you do it is often more telling than what you say.

Christians and Politics

Sometimes I wonder just how out of touch I really am about what issues people really have with either Christians or the Christian faith. Recently, I asked a friend about topics I should address here in the Corner, and one of the topics he mentioned I mostly ignored, assuming that the answer to the question was so obvious that it didn’t even need consideration.

Boy, was I wrong! In less than a week, I heard the same question or comments directly addressing the question more than FIVE times! Here it is:

“Should Christians be involved in politics?”

I’ve heard and read very passionate arguments both for and against God’s people participating in political debate and working in politics, so it looks like it is time to just jump right into it!

Many Christians in the U.S. will answer the question with an adamant “no”. Most of those will give one or more of three basic arguments.

The first, and, in my opinion, the least compelling is based on United States tax law. The majority of churches in the U.S. are incorporated as tax exempt organizations under IRS code 501(C)3. One of the requirements for maintaining tax exempt status is that the organization and its representatives (staff, especially the clergy) may not endorse or encourage it’s clientele (parishioners) against voting for or against any political candidate while representing the church. Many (wrongly) interpret this as a prohibition of political discussion at all.

Therefore, the argument goes, Christians as a whole should not be involved in politics, especially the clergy, because if it is illegal for the clergy, it is at least unethical for the rest of God’s people.

I have two problems with this argument. First, it is a prime example of the Pharisee’s habit of taking a commandment and expanding it to ridiculous levels in order to safeguard from violating the original command. It is like the ‘Sabbath light’ – a lamp designed to automatically turn on and off during Sabbath because to flip a light switch is considered work, and work is prohibited on the Sabbath. Likewise, endorsing a candidate from the pulpit is prohibited, therefore no Christian should engage in politcs. Utterly nonsensical.

Second, there is some debate over whether the prohibition is Constitutional. I’ve provided links below to the official IRS statement about the Johnson Amendment (the rule in question) and arguments against it. Personally, I tend to believe that a pastor should preach what God has given him to say, and if it violates the tax code the church should seriously consider giving up tax exempt status in order to allow the pastor to preach freely.

In any case, there is no legal prohibition for Christians to engage in political activity other than as official representatives of a 501(c)3 organization – at least not yet.

The second basic line of reasoning against Christian engagement in political activity is that since we are instructed to be ‘in the world but not of it’ (a phrase not found in Scripture, although the concept is presented throughout) we should, as Paul says in Romas 12:18 to be at peace with all men. With the guarantee that any political view you hold will offend many and enrage some, we as Christians should limit our political activity to prayer.

The problem I have with this way of thinking is that throughout the Bible, from Samuel who anointed and advised the first political leader of the new Israelite kingdom to the Apostle Paul, who not only spoke of truth and justice to kings and political leaders but used his status as a Roman citizen to proclaim the Gospel to Roman authorities, God’s people have been active in political discourse. Beyond Biblical accounts, it is God’s people acting upon their conviction of God’s justice that have been actively responsible for the abolition of slavery on two continents, the establishment of laws designed to insure justice for the underprivileged, destitute, and marginalized and the founding of the United States. How then should we turn our back on our responsibility to bring as much of Gods justice and mercy to our land as possible?

Which brings us to the last argument, which is this: As Christians, we are citizens of God’s kingdom, and as such our allegiance is to Him rather than our government. Therefore, our engagement in the political arena should be limited to prayer, living a godly life, and obeying the laws of the land when they do not contradict God’s law. Anything else is idolatry.

The issue I have with this argument is that it ignores Scripture that indicate that withdrawal from attempts to influence our culture (and all politics is ultimately culture driven) is discouraged by our King and Savior. As the author of one of the articles linked below put it, “Rather than engage in the political process, Christians have a duty to elevate it.” In other words, when we express a political opinion, seek political office, and vote, we are called to “do politics” in a way that models Jesus’ teaching.

I believe that a large part of the confusion over whether Christians should engage in politics is due to the fact that we live under a governmental system that was unknown during Biblical times. The fact is, that the vast majority of people in Biblical times had absolutely no political influence at all in ANY nation, and the concept of voting for or participating in a political campaign is not addressed in Scripture – at least not directly.

However, throughout Scripture we are given examples of prophets, priests, and the leaders of the Church speaking God’s truth to the authorities as well as instructing them (and the people) to act justly, care for the poor and infirm, and protect life and property.

In theory, at least, in our country the ultimate political authority rests in “we the people”, who appoint (by election) representatives to enact and uphold those laws that will best benefit our nation. As Christians, we know that all nations are under God’s authority, and any laws that encourage actions or advocate against God’s principles will not benefit our country.

Given that, it is our duty before God not only to vote with wisdom and prayer, but to speak out in truth and (Godly) love about political (or politicized) issues that impact our individual and collective ability to follow a Godly lifestyle. It is also important that we speak out against wickedness and injustice whether it is popular or not.

Keep in mind that engaging in the political arena does NOT mean to descend to the mean-spirited name calling, ad hominem attacks, and emotional screeds that tend to pass as arguments of late. What I’m advocating is a calm, factual, Biblically based presentation of why you believe your stand on an issue is correct. If you can be persuasive, excellent, but if not, at least be peaceful.

Here are some links to articles that give some further perspective:

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Should Christian Leaders Stay Out of Politics? is an article by Michael Brown gives a bit more depth to the topic

Relevant Magazine has an excellent article entitled 7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics.

The entire article by Shane Idleman is a good read, but I think this quote is the most important:

“If God has called a man to preach and teach His Word, that will be his passion. If God has called a Christian to pursue politics, that will be his or her passion, and so on. Problems arise when we become judgmental and fail to respect our differences. Activists should not expect everyone to share their passion for politics, and those who believe Christians should stay out of politics must understand that God clearly calls some Christians to the political arena. God established the concept of government, why would He not desire godly leadership?”

This article gives more discussion, with plenty of Scripture, on the topic

Christians-count.org has a very good article about why Christians should be involved in politics, starting with the premise that we need government.

The IRS 2007 statement on Charities, Churches and Politics explains the Johnson Amendment.
The Regent University Law Review (vol. 21, 2011-2012) has an article by Erik W. Stanley entitled LBJ, THE IRS, AND CHURCHES: THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE JOHNSON AMENDMENT IN LIGHT OF RECENT SUPREME COURT PRECEDENT. It begins with a description of “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”, which has since become an annual event.

The “One Less God” Argument

Richard Dawkins and other popular atheist authors and advocates are quite fond of the ‘one less god’ argument, and I’ve heard and read quite a few different self-proclaimed atheists using it lately.

It goes something like this: “We’re both atheists; neither one of us believes in Zeus, Pele, Odin, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just believe in one less god than you. So, believing in YOUR god is just as ignorant and silly.”

I have to work very hard to be charitable when presented this argument. First, it really isn’t an argument; it is a statement of belief. Second, as an argument it is not only logically nonsensical, but relies on a category error to reach the conclusion offered. Continue reading

The Power of Questions

Here’s a question all of us apologists have asked at least once if we are serious about presenting Christ to those who are steeped in a different worldview:

“How do I effectively show them that their worldview is false and destructive without alienating them or shutting them down completely from hearing the Gospel?”

The usual answer I hear is profoundly true: “Follow the leading of the Spirit, and do so with love and an attitude of peace” BUT it isn’t really a complete answer.

You see, God has given us tools to use, and it is foolish for us to either ignore them or fail to learn and be able to use them when appropriate.

One tool is that of the simple question. Simply asking pointed questions with the proper attitude can point out the fallacies and consequences of a worldview without being snarky or confrontational.

Remember, the goal of presenting the Gospel to those who are skeptical or even decidedly opposed to Christ is not to ‘make the sale’; it is to give them enough information and reality to think about for them to come to the point where they can clearly see who Christ is, and then decide whether to follow Him or not. It is God’s work to bring them to Him; it is our task to live our lives and present His truth in such a way that they will hear His voice. Continue reading

LGBT Responses pt. 2

In the last post, I promised to give a few brief answers to the most common objections I hear to the Biblical worldview concerning the LGBT lifestyle. Here they are:

-) Homosexuality is not a sin.
I expect this one from non-Christians; when you deny God’s right to define sin then anything is acceptable as long as you want it to be. What surprises me is when someone who professes to be a disciple of Christ asserts this.
The Bible is very clear, as is Jesus Himself. I explained that in my first post on this subject, but it bears repeating. Both in the Old and New Testaments, homosexual activity is presented as a sin.

Some relevant passages are: Matthew 19:3-5 (discussed in an earlier post here), Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:24-27, 1 Timothy 1:10

-) Homosexuality is not a choice, therefore it cannot be wrong.
This is a not very subtle variation of the “it isn’t a sin” argument, and is far from the ‘fact’ it is usually presented to be. While there are studies cited that indicate that there may be a genetic propensity for homosexuality (cited in the link list below), not only do the most recent concur that the influence is marginal at best, there are no less than eight studies of identical twins that disprove even this theory (also linked below). Continue reading

A Christlike Response to Those Who Support the LGBT Lifestyle

(Note: instead of citing Scripture throughout this article as usual, I will list relevant passages at the end)

The comment I hear quite often about Christians is that we are bigoted/intorlerant/hateful just because we refuse to condone and enable a lifestyle that we disagree with.

Granted, there are a few “Christian” groups and quite a disturbingly large number of people who claim to be Christian that oppose the LGBT supporters and practictioners in ways and with words that are hateful or demeaning in tone. Some of that is in response to the hateful, derogatory, and malicious rhetoric that constantly flows from the LGBT activist community, some out of personal animosity – but all wrong and unChristlike.

The other extreme of Christian response is to either remain silent (and by doing so giving tacit approval) or to actively approve the lifestyle. This approach is often taken out of fear of reprisal or public disapproval, sometimes out of a belief that the LGBT stand is appropriate – but this response is equally wrong, and equally (perhaps even more) unChristlike.

Unfortunately, the constant LGBT rants and name-calling, setting up straw men to knock down, and focusing on the extreme opponents that descend to their methods of public discourse is quite effective in drowning out those of us who attempt to share Christ’s view of this matter in a gentle but firm way.

I’ve noticed that there is a basic reluctance on both sides of the fence to try and really understand the worldview and perspective of the other side. I expect that from the LGBT support side; I find it disturbing from the Christian side. How can we hope to have any kind of an impact, or expect the other side to even consider our view if we refuse to listen to them?

So, here’s a short summary of what I understand both sides to believe. Keep in mind that these are general statements. Continue reading