The idea of faith is probably the cornerstone of Christianity. The Reformation doctrine of sola fides declares that we are saved by faith alone, and that salvation by faith as opposed to self-righteous works is itself is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10) . Due to this, faith is preached to us from the time we are children, and when we do believe it’s not a one-off thing, but a continually growing and dynamic faith that we exercise throughout our life. So faith is common, but do we understand it? Sometimes things are obscure and difficult to understand because they are uncommon or hidden, and rarely see the light of day. Other times, however, ideas and events that are ubiquitous can be just as obscure and mysterious precisely because they abound in our lives. Perhaps faith is one of these: we hear about it, practice it, and teach it to others, but if we were asked to explain what it is and what it is not, could we do it? Continue reading “Faith, Doubt, and Sight”
Every four years Americans elect a president, and every four years Americans engage in passionate dialogue, discussion, and argument about who should be elected and what role the voting citizen should play. Inevitably, every election cycle also brings with it certain platitudes, talking points, and pithy remarks that make the rounds on social media and in our conversations. Many of these perspectives are unhealthily myopic or downright false, and despite attempts to bring clarity to the conversation, these bad ideas just won’t disappear. Here I address the most egregious examples that have lodged themselves into our political discourse in the hopes of transforming us into a more flourishing body politic. Continue reading “Misguided Political Beliefs in an Election Year”
Following up on my Public Discourse essay from last August (“Shut Up, Bigot! The Intolerance of Tolerance”), I have written a second essay that addresses the central objection I encountered to my original piece. The main objection was that tolerance for traditional views of human sexuality and marriage (i.e., opposite-sex relations that are exclusive and permanent) is impermissible, because traditional views are discriminatory and harmful — on the same level as racism, misogyny, and banning interracial marriage. To see how I respond, read my essay below. Continue reading ““Shut Up, Bigot! Civil Rights and Same-Sex Marriage” – Explained and Defended”
I never thought this would happen, but Donald J. Trump is now the nominee of the Republican Party for the 2016 election. Much could be said about this. How sad, pathetic, and self destructive it is. How the other candidates attacked each other and never took Trump seriously. How the anger and ignorance of the GOP voters has gotten us into this pickle and given Hillary Clinton the greatest gift one could give her: a head-to-head match up against a buffoon, who can draw a majority of Republican voters, but who will be hard pressed to do the same with the general public (there’s a chance Trump could beat her, but it will be tough). Continue reading “The Republican Party and Conservatism”
The Donald. What a migraine you have been for the Republican Party this election year! From loud mouth to bad mouth, from funny antics to acidic behavior, from rude to outrageous, Donald J. Trump has shocked us all. We never thought he’d get this far; oh, that he hadn’t! Yet here we stand, on the verge of Super Tuesday March 1, and the beginning of the two week critical stretch to the winner-take-all primaries on March 15. This is when we’ll find out if the GOP electorate really want a candidate like Trump as their nominee. This is when we’ll discover if the other four candidates (Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Carson) have what it takes to challenge the front runner (obviously Kasich and Carson don’t, and why they’re still running is a mystery to us all), and if they do not have what it takes, if they then have the humility to bow out to let a worthy challenger to Trump emerge. These are critical days and weeks. Continue reading “Donald Trump: On Issues and Behavior”
The results from the New Hampshire primary are in.
Bernie crushed Hillary 60-38%, snagging 13 delegates to her 9, putting him ahead in the delegate race 34-30 (not counting super delegates).
This is bad for the Clinton campaign, although the entire Democratic ticket is in trouble. They get to choose between an economic ignoramus and utopian dreamer in Sanders, or a thoroughly corrupt and venal candidate in Hillary — a choice between “very bad” and “just a little worse.” Continue reading “The Presidential Field After New Hampshire”
Recently I’ve observed an interesting social phenomenon. It is fashionable these days to consider bigotry and exclusion to be a great sin in an American society of tolerance and pluralism. To automatically shut out entire people groups simply because they are different than us, whether by failing to assimilate, accept, and socialize with these groups, or by punishing those who do, is a great offense and roundly condemned by many. The focus currently is on LGBT individuals and Muslims, both of whom are considered minority groups who are routinely marginalized (whether or not they are truly marginalized is another topic for another day; i.e., what objective criteria to we have for determining marginalization and what evidence is there for this in America today?). Continue reading “Please, Drop the ‘Bigotry’ Charge and Avoid Defeating Yourself”
After reading and researching the gun rights, gun control debate over the past three years, I have decided to collect some of the most essential resources and make them available (as much as possible; some you must purchase). Below you will find everything from books to white papers to peer-reviewed journal articles to websites and articles.
Both sides of the debate are presented, but because I am convinced that the evidence, best arguments, and truth lie on the side of gun rights and conceal carry, there will be more resources tilted toward that perspective (can you blame me for wanting to present the truth?). Regardless, I encourage you to read both sides in order to become familiar with the debate and sift through the arguments, finding those that are valid, those that depend upon straw men or distortions, and those which are blatantly false. Realize that although there are almost always two (or more) sides to every issue, that does not mean that both sides are equally valid in terms of evidence or argument. We must be willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads, not cherry-pick the evidence to craft a conclusion to match our predilections. Continue reading “Gun Debate Resources”
Yesterday I read this article: “Evangelical Islamophobia.” I was not a fan; here’s why.
A trending movement these days is to attach the suffix “phobia” to something (homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc.) and then describe a particular individual or group as suffering from one or more of these “phobias.” If this successfully catches on with the public, you can effectively dismiss this poor phobia-suffering individual/group while simultaneous conjuring up feelings of both outrage and compassion for such backward folk. This is a favorite tactic in gaining intellectual and moral superiority without having to think or discourse with others. It is, however, a sign of intellectual and cultural poverty. Continue reading “A Brief Note on “Phobias””
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
1 Peter 3:15 is a familiar verse to Christians who regularly engage in apologetic ministry. It is the primary verse used as biblical justification for apologetic engagement, and it has long been understood as a valuable and non-negotiable part of the Christian life. However, recently in western Protestantism, there has been a movement to reconsider the classical approach to Christian apologetics. With publications such as John Wilkinson’s No Argument for God (2011) and Myron Penner’s The End of Apologetics (2013), some Christians argue that apologetic argumentation and reasoning is counterproductive for Christian witness. Peter Enns, the Abrams S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, has also written along these lines, and a couple weeks ago penned a brief post on his Patheos blog articulating his view of apologetics. The article has spawned 259 comments to date, a substantial interaction that demonstrates public interest in this topic and thus its importance. Continue reading “The Disparagement of Apologetics”