Category Archives: education

Christmas gifts something more than socks ( books ) from Breakpoint

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Looking for Christmas gifts for Christian parents, kids, or history buffs? I’ve got three solid ideas for you.

You ever rip open that package on Christmas morning and find…socks? Now, maybe somebody out there genuinely enjoys getting socks on Christmas. That person, like Saint Paul, has apparently learned the secret to being content in all circumstances.

But when you go shopping for all other members of the human race, think beyond the old standbys. This year, why not give the gift of engaging, exciting, and worldview-enriching reading?

I’ve got a few recommendations—a sort of BreakPoint shopping list for the readers in your life—one that emphasizes the importance of standing for the truth of our faith in a time when it is under attack.

First up, something for parents who feel lost trying to raise their children and teenagers in an age of smart phones, social media, and everywhere-all-the-time connectivity. My BreakPoint cohost, John Stonestreet, and Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason, have written a manual for befuddled parents, grandparents, teachers, and pastors who are trying to understand that bewildering and ever-changing thing we call “culture.”

Their book, “A Practical Guide to Culture,” charts the treacherous waters surrounding your home and church, into which you and your kids venture every day: It explains the powerful influence of things like pornography, the hookup culture, sexual orientation, consumerism, addiction, entertainment, and racial tension.

More importantly, the book is exactly what it claims to be: practical. John and Brett provide specific strategies, discussion questions, and action steps.

Next, something for the kids, themselves—especially the 8-to-12-year-olds who are just beginning to make their parents’ Christian faith their own. It’s a time in life they need to learn not just what they believe, but why they believe it. How do they know the biblical accounts of Jesus, His life, miracles, death, and resurrection really happened? How do they talk about their faith to others? And most practically, how do they stay interested in a book long enough to learn more about the faith at all?

Well, longtime Los Angeles cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace, along with his wife, Susie Wallace, take a brilliant and truly original approach. Jim, a former atheist and now a Colson Senior Fellow, has written several other books for older teens and adults, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith. Like these, “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids” applies the skills he learned as a criminal investigator to Christianity.

It turns out evaluating the claims of the Bible is remarkably similar to evaluating testimonies about a crime. For instance, kids will learn how to recognize and rule out a conspiracy theory, how to test the reliability of witnesses, and what constitutes compelling evidence in a courtroom. The Wallaces teach all of this with surprising depth and accessibility. This book will keep young readers riveted.

Last, but I’d like to say not least, there is my new book, “Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World.” This one is for history and theology buffs on your list. But I like to think anybody who cracks it open will be as captivated as I was by the character and faith of this gutsy German monk who sparked the Reformation. And on this 500th year since Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses, there’s no better time to learn about the figure behind not only Protestant Christianity and its re-emphasis of the Gospel, but much of the world as we know it. And of course, Luther’s courage in standing on the Word of God no matter the consequences is precisely what we need in a culture increasingly hostile to our faith.

Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll tell you how to pick up copies of all of these great books, so those hard-to-shop-for loved ones can find more in their stockings this month than more stockings.

 

Season’s Readings: BreakPoint’s Christmas Shopping List

There’s sure to be a book for everyone on your list from the selections Eric highlighted. These titles, and many more, are all available at the Colson Center online bookstore. So why not give the gift that keeps on giving!

Resources

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World

  • John Stonestreet, Brett Kunkle | David C. Cook Publishing | June 2017
Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

  • Eric Metaxas | Viking Publisher | October 2017
Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective

  • J. Warner Wallace | David C. Cook Publishing | October 2016
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Is Average Good Enough?

Listen to what Dr. James Dobson thinks. 

Great Jurist, Great Writer, Great Speaker, Great American

There have been a lot of positive reviews of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s recently released book of speeches. This will be another one. What’s not to like? The speeches were selected by his son, Christopher Scalia, and a former law clerk, Edward Whelan, from the many the justice delivered over the last 30 years or so of his life. They show not only an articulate and scholarly jurist with a well thought-out and consistent view of the law, but a full-service human being, full of insights and humor about the roller-coaster we call life, which he was very good at living.

 

Those who’ve read Scalia’s opinions, especially his occasionally acerbic dissents, know he was a clear, persuasive, and amusing writer. (I lift up 2004’s Scalia Dissents — Regnery — still available.) Can you feature it? Legal opinions that one can read for pleasure. What next?

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The Point: Give It Five

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Give it five minutes. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

You read an article online and you’re torqued. You type a comment, you’re about to hit send . . . Don’t. At least give it five minutes.

Same thing is true on Facebook, or at that school board meeting. Or over coffee with a co-worker who has a different view about life. Give it five.

That’s the advice of Baylor’s Alan Jacobs—a man who should know, because he’s stuck between two worlds. He’s an academic, and an evangelical Christian.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Jacobs talks about the many academics who can’t imagine evangelical Christians who help the poor with no spiritual strings attached. Just like there are many evangelicals who can’t fathom liberal secular professors who are fair to students who don’t share their worldview.

These days, as Jacobs writes, people are known and accepted in large part for who they hate—the “culturally repugnant other.” But civil folks do exist. It’s possible for each side to get to know each other and to discuss differences civilly. But it takes effort.

And taking five minutes helps, too.

 

Resources

Can Evangelicals and Academics Talk to Each Other?

  • Alan Jacobs | Wall Street Journal | October 20, 2017

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.

( Listen to the rest of the commentary, Download file | Play in new window | Size: 1.52M, or read the whole commentary. )

 

Breakpoint: Teaching the Bible in the schools, and Billy’s thoughts on reaching the students

( Billy’s thoughts – Before I post today’s Breakpoint radio commentary which I support,some thoughts of my own. Teaching the Bible in the schools is good but unless students meet the Savior who is Jesus teaching the facts about the Bible won’t mean anything. Though teaching the Bible might open them up to hearing about the God who loves them with an everlasting loving. So it is good to teach the Bible. Also I am part of a ministry called Campus Life which is part of Youth for Christ which is reaching non church youth. One week this middle school kid told me he had never heard of the first book in the book. That excites me. Because he is coming to Campus Life. Pray for the Bible being taught in the schools,along with ministries like Campus Life to be used to impact many students. )

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We told you about having your kids take their Bibles to school. But what about teaching the Bible there?

Last month I told you about a growing movement in the U.S. called “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” organized by our friends at Focus on the Family. It’s part of a growing national movement to encourage our kids to bring their Bibles back to public schools, and perhaps 500,000 young people participated this year! But that’s not all we can do, not by a long shot, despite what you may think.

As you probably know, prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murray v. Curlett, that ended devotional Bible-reading in public schools in 1963. Schools then threw the baby out with the bath water and stopped teaching the Bible academically, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The results, speaking modestly, have been disastrous. In our schools, suicide, pregnancy rates, and violence have risen dramatically, while our scores in reading, writing, and math have plunged. Of course, while it’s not causation, the correlation is hard to miss.

Bible knowledge, a foundation of Western civilization, has also collapsed. According to Gallup, only a minority of American teens are “Bible literate.” It’s no wonder that over half of the graduating high school seniors in one poll thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount! Truly, Johnny can’t read … the Bible!

It’s simply impossible for kids to be fully educated without basic knowledge of the world’s greatest book. Without the Bible, students can’t really understand fully the English language, English literature, history, art, music or culture—and the experts agree. In a poll of high school English teachers, 98 percent said that students who don’t know the Bible are disadvantaged when reading English literature.

Another survey of English professors from Harvard, Yale, and other prestigious institutions found that 38 of 39 agreed that “an educated person, regardless of his or her faith, needs to know the Bible.” Indeed, there are more than 1,200 documented references to the Bible just in the 36 plays of Shakespeare.

That’s why the global campaign “Teach The Bible In Schools” is so important. Started in the United States in 2005 through the Bible Literacy Project, the nonprofit Essentials in Education created a textbook and constitutionally safe instructional resources to help school districts implement a Bible course in the public and private schools that follows federal law.

In the U.S., the course can either be a language arts elective or a social studies elective for grades 9-12. The textbook is called “The Bible and Its Influence,” and it’s being used in 640 schools with 140,000 students in 44 states.

Nine states have passed laws that encouraging teaching of the Bible academically in the public schools. And the latest state is Kentucky. But that’s just the beginning.

“The ‘Teach The Bible In Schools’ goal is two-fold,” says my friend Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education. “We want to get the other 41 states to endorse Bible literacy as a supported academic course and to spread that legislative backing across the globe.”

This is indeed an international movement. Campaigns are underway in Australia, Great Britain, Finland, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. “The Bible and Its Influence” is already being used in Canada, Rwanda, Taiwan, South Korea, and even in China.

If your state does not yet support courses in biblical literacy, I strongly encourage you go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org to see how you can be a part of this vital campaign. Or, of course, come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to it.

Folks, we’ve just marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which brought the Bible to the masses. And up ahead is National Bible Week. Now is the perfect time to make sure that Johnny can read, and understand, the Bible!

Why Johnny Can’t Read … the Bible: The “Teach the Bible in Schools” Campaign

Find out more about the campaign to get the Bible and its influence taught in the classroom. Go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org.

 

Resources

The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches

  • Ed Stetzer | Christianity Today | July 6, 2015
The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

  • Albert Mohler | AlbertMohler.com | January 20, 2016
Bible Study in Public Schools Sought In New State Laws

  • Jackie Zubrzycki | Education Week | March 17, 2016
Kentucky allows public schools to teach Bible classes

  • Aida Chavez | Thehill.com | June 29, 2017

Too Catholic for Georgetown

Will Catholic students be allowed at this Catholic school? For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Love Saxa, a student group at Georgetown University, the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit school, advocates “a monogamous and permanent union between a man and a woman.” But for a number of fellow Georgetown students, that’s a problem.

Leaders of campus LGBT groups have lodged complaints that Love Saxa supports hatred and homophobia, demanding that Georgetown defund and remove it as an officially-recognized student group.

Love Saxa’s views on marriage, of course, are just identical to the teaching of the Catholic Church. As one theology professor at Catholic University of America remarked, “I suppose the question for Georgetown is whether they think Catholic kids can still be Catholic there.”

Of course, Georgetown isn’t a conservative school. But the fact that LGBT leaders there don’t think the historic Christian view on marriage should exist on campus says a lot. The strategy’s familiar: Paint all who dissents from the new orthodoxy as unworthy of a place at the table. It’s a purge, not a debate. And whatever happens at Georgetown, it won’t stop there.

 

 

BreakPoint: Let’s Talk About the Talk

There’s a battle raging right now over sex education, and our kids are in the line of fire.

“Your teacher told you what?” These are the first words of too many parents when they discover what their teens and pre-teens are learning in health class. Happily for Ashley Bever, the mother of an 11-year-old in San Diego public schools, she found out before class started.

The curriculum was called “Rights, Respect, Responsibility,” and it was put together by a group called Advocates for Youth, which unsurprisingly, is affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

Among other things, this course uses non-gender-specific pronouns, taught students that they can be attracted to any gender, and described in vivid detail sexual practices I cannot mention on air.

Worse still, this course informed middle-schoolers that they can self-refer to a clinic “like Planned Parenthood” without telling their parents, and warned that abstinence education websites lie.

This is the new face of what’s called “comprehensive sex education.” As Emily Belz explained at WORLD Magazine, it’s not just a problem for ultra-liberal school districts in California. Progressive and LGBT organizations are pushing to implement such standards nationwide. By “comprehensive,” it seems these groups mean curriculum that actively encourages sexual experimentation among teens.

School districts around the country are locked in a battle between groups that prioritize abstinence as the only 100-percent effective method of protection, and groups that teach casual sex, gender ideology, and abortion. “Sex ed curriculum,” Belz explains, “is often determined through a battle of PowerPoint presentations at the school board meeting.” Frequently, all it takes is one vote to transform your child’s school from a place of education to a place of sexual indoctrination.

In response to all of this, some churches are stepping up and offering alternative sex education that’s consistent with a Christian ethic and worldview. That is great, and I applaud the pastors doing it. They have a vital role to play in “equipping the saints for the work of ministry.”

But we should also recognize that sex ed is not primarily the church’s job. As Abraham Kuyper might have put it, the church is only having to step in because the sphere that’s most responsible for rearing children is failing. And that sphere is the family. It’s here we learn to walk, to talk, and what love means. It’s also here that kids should be learning what it means to be male and female, and what God’s intention was when He created image-bearers in two sexes.

So we parents have to do the thing we dread: give our kids “the talk,” (which should really be “talks”—many of them, over several years). In the process, we have to avoid the mistake common to virtually all modern sex education, even some well-intentioned, abstinence-first programs. When teens are taught about sex, what they usually hear is a list of dos and don’ts. They learn about “the birds and the bees.” But they seldom learn what sex is for. 

As T. S. Elliot said, before we decide what to do with something we need to know what it’s for. And that’s what good sex education—real sex education—must do.

 

As parents, we’re responsible to teach our kids more than how not to get pregnant. We’re charged with teaching them God’s design for marriage, procreation, human flourishing and community, and how all of this reflects Christ, the Church, and the central place of love in creation. It’s in these truths that parents must ground their children’s understanding of sexuality. And it’s in these truths that they’ll find the arguments and will power to stand up to “comprehensive sex ed” and the culture behind it.

6th-grade ‘sexual identity quiz’ infuriates moms

The mother of a student at a public middle school in Georgia is not alone in voicing outrage after the school’s health teacher assigned a “sexual identity” quiz to her sixth-grade class – an assignment that included LGBT terms such as “bisexual” and lesbian.

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UNLV prof to class: Trump to blame for Vegas tragedy

A  history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas told her students that President Donald Trump is to blame for the Las Vegas country music festival shooting that killed 58 and wounded more than 500 – alleging that he frequently incites violence.

UNLV professor Tess Winkelmann made an unsubstantiated claim before her students – without citing a shred of evidence or giving any logical reasoning.

“Despite no known political association nor motive for the shooter, Winkelmann was sure that the tragedy – which occurred just five miles away – was related to Trump,” Townhall reported.

 

 

( Read the rest of this story. )