Category Archives: culture

Praying to bless abortion

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BreakPoint: Costly Views on “The View” Don’t Crack Under Cocktail Party Pressure

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You’re in the spotlight and you’ve just been asked about a controversial issue. What do you do?

Martin Luther, the Christian reformer who challenged the sale of indulgences five hundred years ago, is often credited with this stirring quotation:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him.”

Okay, well maybe Martin Luther didn’t actually say that. Nor did Abraham Lincoln say, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” But just because a quotation is mis-attributed doesn’t mean it’s an inaccurate summary of what the purported author believed. As a matter of fact, this passage not only closely mirrors something Luther wrote in a personal letter, but it’s consistent with the life he lived.

More importantly, this quote is true. The temptation is strong to faithfully proclaim every aspect of God’s Word except the one most controversial in our time.

We saw that recently when well-known pastor Carl Lentz appeared on ABC’s “The View.” Lentz spoke boldly and in no uncertain moral terms about the issue of racism. As well he should. Christians should condemn racism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

But when asked directly about abortion, and whether or not he considers it a sin, Lentz couldn’t give a straight answer. Instead, he spoke of having a “conversation,” of finding out a person’s “story,” where they’re from and what they believe. “I mean, God’s the judge,” he concluded. “People have to live by their own convictions.”

Predictably, the progressive studio audience heard this as an affirmation of the so-called “right to choose,” and rewarded Lentz with thunderous applause.

This upset a lot of pro-lifers who felt that this highly visible pastor had squandered a chance to speak up for the unborn. Lentz quickly took to social media to defend his word, but the damage was done. A watching world had heard a famous Christian pastor buckle on a crucial issue of our time, right after taking principled stands on other issues—issues, and this is key, that wouldn’t cost him anything with the ladies or audience of “The View.”

Now Lentz is not unique. He’s just the latest victim of what my friend Michael Miller calls “cocktail party pressure,” the urge to tone down or disavow Christian beliefs found to be distasteful in our culture. Typically, these are the so-called “culture war” issues like life, marriage, or religious liberty.

Watching Lentz on “The View” reminded me of the doctor-assisted suicide vote in Colorado last year. I was heartbroken when pastors of Colorado churches told me they didn’t want to take up the issue from the pulpit, because it was “too political.” But many of these same pastors have no hesitation whatsoever when addressing issues that are also so-called political ones, like racism or refugees.

Contrast this with someone like Ryan Anderson from the Heritage Foundation. Although not a pastor, Ryan is among the most articulate defenders of natural marriage even in the face of blistering ridicule. I’ll never forget the image of him on Piers Morgan’s show, banned from the stage, seated in a hostile crowd, graciously explaining the Christian view while the liberal hosts hurled abuse at him.

Folks, it’s so very easy to be courageous on issues where our Christian convictions are in agreement with talk show hosts and the larger cultural ethos. But we’re not just called to proclaim the truth when it’s easy. Faithfulness means standing up for what’s right precisely and especially when it’s unpopular—even when it will cost us, socially, financially, maybe even mortally.

And it’s all of us, including those of us not on television, who face this kind of pressure ourselves—the pressure to tone down or abandon what we believe. That’s why it’s crucial to decide ahead of time—before the talk show or the cocktail party—where we stand, and to always be ready to give an answer when we’re asked.

 

Costly Views on “The View”: Don’t Crack Under Cocktail Party Pressure

Check out the links in our Resources section for great materials that will help you be equipped to stand for truth, remembering the Apostle Peter’s words: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. and do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. . . 1 Peter 3: 14-15 NASB

 

Resources

The Faith: Given Once for All

  • Charles Colson, Harold Fickett | Zondervan Publishing Company
How Now Shall We Live?

  • Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey | Tyndale House Publishers | September 1999
 

BP This Week: “We Don’t Have Answers; We Do Have Christ”

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John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer mourn yet another mass shooting, this time of brothers and sisters in Christ in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Even if Christians don’t know what to say, they can offer support and hope—just like other churches in the area are doing.

John and Ed also talk about the misguided effort to kill the adoption tax credit, and the continuing fallout and revelations stemming from Harvey Weinstein scandal. How should we respond?

Images courtesy of tillsonburg at iStock by Getty Images and Google Maps. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.

Resources

How Christians can respond to this latest church shooting

    • Ed Stetzer

 

    • CNN

 

  • November 6, 2017
  • Listen to the program here.

An Act of Deception, and the Anti Christian Union has a party over the death of a baby ( sad )

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Closed minds

 Thirty years ago, Allan Bloom wrote the book, The Closing of the American Mind. Charles Koch wrote an op-ed with the same title. There are some similarities between the two, but also one important difference.

Charles Koch looks back at the revolutionary technological advances we have made and now take for granted. He is concerned that government and the academy are stifling progress. When he attended MIT, he discovered that “scientific and technological progress requires the free and open exchange of ideas. The same holds true for moral and social progress.”

In America, we used to believe that progress comes from this free exchange of ideas and from challenging other people’s views and hypotheses. The spontaneous process of collaboration and challenge led to the technological advances we have today.

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Three Reasons You Should Go Trick or Treating Halloween can be a time to be on mission and build relationships that will deepen throughout the year.

This holiday has sparked quite a bit of controversy in Christian circles over the years. Halloween, as most know, has a mix of origin stories, some of them Christian, some pagan, and some occult. Its dark history certainly should concern us as believers and factor into our decision regarding how we and our families plan to engage in the festivities on the night of October 31st.

And it’s just that—your family’s decision. My family does not promote holiday myths (as in, our kids did not believe in Santa Claus), but we do participate in trick or treating.

Let me explain why.

To Trick or Not

Many believers feel that they can faithfully don their creative costumes and pumpkin-shaped candy buckets without violating the tenants of their Christian beliefs. Others feel that this holiday’s emphasis on all things spooky and scary, coupled with its complex past, should motivate us to steer clear of any Halloween related events.

For me, the question we really have to answer here is this: As Christians, what does it look like to engage culture in a Christ-like manner?

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 to never conform to the pattern of this world, because we serve a God who frees us from all its burdens and baggage. But, interestingly enough, Jesus—during a prayer to his Heavenly Father in John 17—acknowledges that “they” (the disciples) are “not of the world” but also adds that he isn’t asking the Father to “take them out of the world.”

So, it looks like even amidst this earth’s real dangers and difficulties, Jesus still wants us here. Furthermore, he doesn’t just ask us to sit around lazily waiting in anticipation for his second coming, but instead gives us a Great Commission: to make disciples of every tongue, tribe, and nation.

When it comes to Halloween, trying to live in the tension between our earthly bodies and heavenly homes can be difficult. Some believers will feel compelled to bring their faith to bear amidst all the Reese’s and Gummy Bears, while others might decide to abstain from the festivities altogether.

Right now, I want to make the case for the latter decision. I am going to argue that Christians not only can but should put on their costumes, pass out candy, and greet guests at the door each time Halloween rolls around.

Here are three reasons you should plan on trick-or-treating tomorrow.

First, this is likely the only time all year when neighbors will flock from near and far, ring your doorbell, and want to have face-to-face interaction with you.

When guests arrive at your porch, take time to let the conversation go past celebratory exclamations of ‘trick or treat.’ Remember their names, take down their numbers, and convey your interest in being a part of their lives. This night is a once-a-year opportunity to do something so simple, yet so critical: get to know your neighbors.

We are planning a bonfire for our kids’ friends even while we pass out candy to the neighbors.

 

Of course, you can meet your neighbors any time—but on this day, they are coming to your door.

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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 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.

Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Tim Murphy and the soul of America

The United States recently witnessed a tragic example of hypocrisy in high office on the question of the s anctity of human life.   Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Tim Murphy has a voting pattern of defending the sanctity of human life and only lately was amongst those who voted to ban abortion after 20…

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BreakPoint: The Catastrophic Vision of Hugh Hefner

The man who embodied the sexual revolution has died. We’ll talk about the consequences—and victims—of his vision.

Back on September 27th, Hugh Hefner the founder of Playboy, died at ninety-one.

An ancient Roman maxim says that one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but it would be irresponsible to not take note of his ideas and cultural influence, along with their consequences and victims.

Much of the coverage of his death has been admiring or even adulatory. The New York Times’ obituary, while mentioning Hefner’s feminist critics mostly in passing, emphasized how successful and influential he’d been. There’s been a lot of “he changed the game,” “he lived on his own terms,” and “he lived life to the fullest” sort of language about him.

CNN said that while “Some critics dismissed him as a relic of a sexist era, especially in his later years . . . many men envied his adolescent-fantasy lifestyle.” The Washington Postcalled Hefner’s legacy “complicated” and then proceeded to quote gushing tribute after gushing tribute. This sort of adulation for a man best-known for wearing his pajamas all day and spending nights with women young enough to be his granddaughter should embarrass even the media.

Eleven years ago, Chuck Colson put Hefner’s legacy into proper perspective. On the occasion of Heffner’s 80th birthday, Chuck said that “Hugh Hefner did more than anyone else to turn America into a great pornographic wasteland.”

Hefner’s journalistic eulogists are celebrating his rebellion and ultimate triumph over the “puritanical elements of the [1950s].” You know, that “dark and joyless time in America,” as writer Matthew Scully put it, “when one could actually go about daily life without ever encountering pornographic images.” Without Hefner’s pioneering vision, “American males could not avail themselves of hundreds of millions of obscene films every year—as they do now.”

That our pornographic wasteland is filled with so many victims is also part of the man’s legacy, which can only be fully understood in light of the larger story of the sexual revolution.

You see, Hefner once claimed to have changed America, and it’s hard to argue that he didn’t. He took Alfred Kinsey’s ideas of sex separated from morality and embodied them in images and words, making them seem glamorous, sophisticated, and respectable.

Along with the birth control pill, porn was the other tangible artifact of the sexual revolution and catalyzed the separation of the sexual act from its God-given purpose. Instead of a self-giving, life-giving act in the context of marriage like God intended, sex became an act of selfish pleasure in the cultural imagination.

Porn turned image bearers into objects to be enjoyed instead of subjects to be respected and honored, while giving the illusion that there were no consequences or guilt. Hefner was what I call “the artist” of the sexual revolution, granted a loosely-used modifier here. Ideas alone can’t change culture; they need champions, and the most effective champions are artists and educators.

The problem, as my BreakPoint This Week co-host Ed Stetzer often says, is that no one even won the sexual revolution, but everybody lost. Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims.

Hefner’s legacy includes fatherless homes, objectified women, porn-addicted and trafficked children, and the sexualization of all aspects of culture. And in a supreme bit of irony, a decreased interest in sex with real-life women by addicted men.

All of this is the result of what Hefner called the “Playboy Philosophy”: ultimately the divorcing of sex from its God-given context—marriage—and its God-given consequences—children.

 

I posted about Hefner’s legacy on Facebook soon after his death, and one commenter quoted Jesus, “For what will it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” And thanks in large part to Hugh Hefner, the same might be asked about our entire culture.