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The Good Dr.

Brilliant doctor, bad bedside manners. If you think you’ve seen that TV show already, think again. I’ve got a great recommendation for you.

Thirteen years ago, producer David Shore introduced TV viewers to one of recent television’s most memorable characters, Dr. Gregory House, a medical genius with, to put it mildly, poor bedside manners.

Last month, in “The Good Doctor,” Shore introduced viewers to yet another doctor with almost other-worldly powers and questionable beside manners. Yet the characters could not be more different.

Gregory House was described as, among other things, a “misanthrope,” “cynic,” “narcissist,” and “curmudgeon,” to which I would add “nihilist” and “drug addict.” Shore’s new creation, Dr. Shaun Murphy, the “good doctor” of the show’s title, is none of these things. His questionable bedside manner stems from the fact that he is autistic. To be specific, he’s an autistic “savant.”

For those unfamiliar with the term, “savant” refers to people who demonstrate “one or more profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal, while also having significant deficits in other areas of brain processing.”

Murphy’s “prodigious” abilities include near-perfect recall and the ability to make connections that other people cannot. This makes him, like Gregory House, an extraordinary diagnostician. His deficits lie in the areas of interpersonal communication. He does not make eye contact, and is largely oblivious to the non-verbal cues that most of us take for granted.

If this were all there were to the character, who is brilliantly portrayed by Freddie Highmore, “The Good Doctor” would be an uplifting “fish-out-of-water” story, which, given most of what’s on TV, would be a welcome change of pace.

But it’s more than that. In many ways, Shaun Murphy is a kind of “holy fool.” In Russian Orthodoxy, “Holy fools pose the question: Are we keeping heaven at a distance by clinging to the good regard of others, prudence, and what those around us regard as ‘sanity’?”

A classic example of the holy fool is Dostoyevsky’s novel, “The Idiot.” In it, a kind, guileless, and compassionate Prince Myshkin is taken by his cynical, egotistical, and worldly acquaintances to be, well, an idiot. But he’s nothing of the sort. He is, as Dostoevsky puts it, the embodiment of “the positively good and beautiful man.”

As in Dostoyevsky’s novel, the presence of Murphy’s holy fool causes some people to do some long-overdue self-examination.

As we learn in flashbacks, Murphy cannot lie, even if lying means the difference between eating and going hungry. He may say inappropriate things, but his sincerity and honesty are never in doubt.

In contrast, his colleagues have no problems with dishonesty. They take credit for his accomplishments or fail to report those who do because it will further their careers.

While Murphy has no discernible ego, they are driven by little else. When one character, who had initially dismissed him as weird and threw him out of the hospital, acts friendly towards him after seeing his skills in practice, he points out the differences and asks her “Which is the real you?”

It turns out that the “good” in the show’s title refers to much more than Murphy’s medical abilities. The most important differences between him and his colleagues have nothing to do with his autism.

And that makes “The Good Doctor,” which is pulling in “terrific numbers,” despite some negative critics’ reviews, well worth checking out.

 

Editor’s note: As with any present-day network TV show, some situations depicted in “The Good Doctor” do not comport with Biblical values. Parental discretion is therefore advised.

The NFL player protest against the flag is not Constitutionally Protected

NFL players kneeling to protest the national anthem isn’t going away. Two owners say their players must stand; now the Commissioner wants a rule requiring all NFL players to stand. Vice President Pence famously walked out on the protest.

 

But here’s one thing you should know that many don’t: Even though the phrase free speech is thrown around, the players have no constitutionally protected right to protest the anthem.

( Read, or listen to the rest of this commentary here. )

Right focus during a sad event

Have you ever gone through something that shook you to your core? My friend, Monty Williams, the well-respected Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant Basketball Coach, experienced a tragedy. His wife died in a tragic car accident in 2016.

During the memorial service, Monty surprised those in attendance with his response to his wife’s death. He said, “I love you guys for taking time out of your day to celebrate my wife.  But I didn’t lose her. When you lose something you don’t know where it is. I know exactly where my wife is. I’ll miss holding her hand. I’ll miss talking with my wife…but she is in Heaven.” 

Wow! When I heard his speech, I got tears in my eyes. Despite losing his spouse, Monty – a very committed Bible believer – let his faith be his guide. And in doing so, he showed the thousands of people who watched his televised speech what an unshakable faith really is. Maybe you’re experiencing a tragedy in your own life. Maybe you lost a loved one, or experienced a serious illness or injury. In any case, you have two choices. You can give in to the anger and sadness that usually accompany those events, or you can keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, His promises and presence. 

Acts 2:25 in the Bible says, “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Keep your heart focused on Jesus. And regardless of what comes your way, you will not be shaken. 

 

This is Luis Palau

The job of publishing the Bible is not complete

Listen to a commentary here.

The Point: The Boy Scouts Are Lost

In a world without paths, everyone is lost. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

The Boy Scouts recently announced they’ll welcome girls. It was an inevitable move given other recent decisions; but I’ve heard from countless scouts, both young and old, that this represents a kind of death for their beloved organization.

Now let me be clear—the problem is not girls in scouting. The problem is that boys no longer have many places left to be boys. As Trevin Wax put it at The Gospel Coalition, boys are running out of paths toward manhood—something the Boy Scouts long provided.

Our culture right now is obsessed with obliterating both distinct paths and distinct roles, demanding everyone be the same, even though they’re not. Though the rallying cry is diversity, in reality we’re committed to monotony—no boys, no girls, no husbands, no wives, no men, no women, no right, no wrong—just undifferentiated “persons” expressing individuality that, ironically, all starts to look the same.

 

The Boy Scouts aren’t the only casualty of this revolution, but they are one worth mourning.

Trump’s timely evangelical appeal

There hasn’t been a time more important in recent history to clearly support traditional Christian values and unabashed American patriotism – and President Trump is stepping up. That’s why his relationship with evangelicals is growing stronger.

President Trump addressed this year’s annual Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC. He is the first sitting U.S. president to do so. (See related story)

The Values Voters Summit is hosted by the Family Research Council, an organization whose mission is addressing public policy and culture from a Christian point of view. My organization CURE works closely with FRC and I have been a regular speaker at this Summit for years.

Its base is largely evangelical Christians, and this is why President Trump deemed it appropriate to appear.

Eighty-one percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, the highest percentage of evangelical support for any Republican in the last four presidential elections.

 

According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of the electorate self-identifies as evangelical Christian, so it’s indicative of Trump’s strong political instincts that he has gone out to actively engage this important and significant base of support.

( Read the rest  of this column by Star Parker. )

Who is Jesus to you

 

 
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Who is Jesus? It’s a foundational question, and one many Christians struggle to answer.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

“Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But who do you say that I am?”

These days, increasingly odd and just plain wrong answers to Jesus’ question seem to be floating around everywhere, and churches are one of the easiest places to find them. This shouldn’t surprise us, however. As we’ve said before on BreakPoint, beliefs come in bunches. So when you see increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about sex, marriage, and the human person coming from religious leaders, you can bet they’re also entertaining increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about truth, the Bible, and even God Himself.

For example, Dr. Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, recently offered this message to her flock:

“Too many folks want to box Jesus in,” she wrote, “carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. [But] the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out.” Jesus had “bigotries and prejudices,” she added, even sins which He had to learn to overcome.

Wait, Jesus can be an “idol”? As John Lomperis with the Institute on Religion and Democracy remarked, “[A]n idol is something other than God, usually something created by human hands, improperly worshipped as a god.” But Jesus is God. For Dr. Oliveto to suggest that it’s improper to worship God is like suggesting it’s improper to love your spouse.

And a Jesus who sinned wouldn’t have been God, nor worthy of our worship. Ironically, this bishop’s imaginary Jesus would be the idol—along with the Jesus of the Arian and Unitarian heresies, which teach that Jesus was a good man but a created being, not God in human flesh.

But before we give Dr. Oliveto too much grief, we ought to ask where our own theology is.

A 2014 LifeWay Research survey of self-described evangelicals found that while nearly all profess belief in the Trinity, one in four say God the Father is “more divine” than Jesus. That’s similar to what the Arians believed, it’s the error the Nicene Creed was written to combat.

In another survey conducted last year, LifeWay talked only with those who held core evangelical and conservative beliefs. Yet an astonishing seven in ten said Jesus was the first being created by God—again, a defining feature of Arianism. And more than a quarter held that the Holy Spirit is not equal with either the Father or the Son.

This sad mess shouldn’t just bother theological eggheads. These errors strike at the heart of Christianity, giving fundamentally unscriptural answers to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

Answering this question correctly is itself an act of worship. It’s a vital part of knowing and loving our God as He is. And it impacts Christians’ lives at the most basic level.

For example, because Jesus is equal with the Father and fully God means He can truly pardon us. As the scribes in Mark 2 correctly observed, “Only God can forgive sins.”

Yet Jesus is also fully human. In order to serve as our High Priest, He became like us in every respect, as Hebrews 2:17 says. In order to redeem Adam’s race, the Last Adam had to belong to it.

This God-Man was not only sinless, He is entirely worthy of our worship. In reply to His question, “Who do you say that I am?” We should be able to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and with Thomas, who fell on His knees before the risen Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God.”

Please come visit us at BreakPoint.org.We’ll link you to books and other resources that will help you and your family walk through these essential truths and answer the fundamental questions of the Christian worldview

A death row inmate changed, and like him we all have a need

Listen to a commentary.

BreakPoint: Chuck Colson’s Conversion One Night in a Driveway

Listen to the commentary or read it below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Chuck Colson’s birthday. To hear Chuck talk about his “born-again” day, stay tuned to BreakPoint.

Today, October 16, is the anniversary of Chuck Colson’s birth. He would have been 86 years old.

Most of you know about his life, how God used President Nixon’s former “hatchet man” to take the Good News of Jesus to prisoners around the globe, and become one of the great Christian leaders of the past hundred years.

But today, I want you to hear Chuck tell how his life changed forever—one night in a driveway. Here’s Chuck.

Thirty years ago today, I visited Tom Phillips, president of the Raytheon Company, at his home outside of Boston. I’d represented Raytheon before going to the White House, and I was about to start again.

But I visited for another reason as well. I knew Tom had become a Christian, and he seemed so different. I wanted to ask him what had happened.

That night he read to me from Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, particularly a chapter about the great sin that is pride. A proud man is always walking through life looking down on other people and other things, said Lewis. As a result, he cannot see something above himself immeasurably superior—God.

Tom, that night, told me about encountering Christ in his own life. He didn’t realize it, but I was in the depths of deep despair over Watergate, watching the president I had helped for four years flounder in office. I’d also heard that I might become a target of the investigation as well. In short, my world was collapsing.

That night, as Tom was telling me about Jesus, I listened attentively, but didn’t let on my own need. When he offered to pray, I thanked him but said, no, I’d see him sometime after I read C. S. Lewis’s book. But when I got in the car that night, I couldn’t drive it out of the driveway. Ex-Marine captain, White House tough guy, I was crying too hard, calling out to God. I didn’t know what to say; I just knew I needed Jesus, and He came into my life.

That was thirty years ago.

I’ve been reflecting of late on the things God has done over that time. As I think about my life, the beginning of the prison ministry, our work in the justice area, our international ministry that reaches a hundred countries, and the work of the Wilberforce Forum and BreakPoint, I have come to appreciate the doctrine of providence. It’s not the world’s idea of fate or luck, but the reality of God’s divine intervention. He orchestrates the lives of His children to accomplish His good purposes.

God has certainly ordered my steps. I couldn’t have imagined when I was in prison that I would someday be going back to the White House with ex-offenders as I did on June 18; or that we’d be running prisons that have an 8 percent recidivism rate; or that BreakPoint would be daily heard on a thousand outlets across the United States and on the Internet.

The truth that is uppermost in my mind today is that God isn’t finished. As long as we’re alive, He’s at work in our lives. We can live lives of obedience in any field because God providentially arranges the circumstances of our lives to achieve His objectives.

And that leads to the greatest joy I’ve found in life. As I look back on my life, it’s not having been to Buckingham Palace to receive the Templeton Prize, or getting honorary degrees, or writing books. The greatest joy is to see how God has used my life to touch the lives of others, people hurting and in need.

It’s been a long time since the dark days of Watergate. I’m still astounded that God would take someone who was infamous in the Watergate scandal, soon to be a convicted felon, and take him into His family and then order his steps in the way He has with me. God touched me at that moment in Tom Phillip’s driveway, and thirty years later, His love and kindness touch and astound me still.