A Brief Note on “Phobias”

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””

The Disparagement of Apologetics

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”

“Shut Up, Bigot!”: The Intolerance of Tolerance

On Wednesday August 12, 2015, my article, “‘Shut Up Bigot!’: The Intolerance of Tolerance,” was published by The Public Discourse. In it I explain the origins of the “bigot” accusation hurled at anyone who holds to traditional sexual norms. The root of this problem is a false understanding of tolerance, which is animated and propped up by postmodern epistemology. To encourage civil discourse and mutual understanding, we must oppose postmodern thinking that pervades our culture and practice true tolerance. Here’s a link to the article:

“Shut Up, Bigot!”: The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Injustice of Sparing James Holmes the Death Penalty

On Friday August 7, 2015 the jury in the case of James Holmes, the 2012 Colorado Aurora movie theater shooter who killed 12 and wounded 70, reached a verdict: they decided not to sentence Holmes to death, but instead gave him life in prison without parole. This is a disappointing verdict, and a miscarriage of justice. Holmes was guilty far beyond a reasonable doubt; he massacred the lives of 12 innocent persons, who, just like you and I do every month, were attending a movie – the showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Their lives were snuffed out and ended in an instance by an evil and heinous act. Continue reading “The Injustice of Sparing James Holmes the Death Penalty”

First Things Student Essay Contest 2015

Earlier this year, the journal First Things, a prominent publication on American religion and public life, held its first student essay contest for all college and graduate-level students. Contestants had three prompts to choose from, focused around essays and material the journal had covered in 2014-15. I became aware of the contest late in the spring semester but quickly forgot about it as final assignments and papers came due. However, at the last minute, I decided to enter. I chose to respond to prompt #2: In a recent issue of First Things, Mary Eberstadt wrote, “Everybody who cares about social justice ought to deplore the new intolerance.” I would encourage you to read Eberstadt’s article first, before reading my essay. Unfortunately, I didn’t win (first place, second place), but it was fun to compete all the same! Perhaps next year I’ll try again. Below is my essay. Continue reading “First Things Student Essay Contest 2015”

Understanding Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry (Obergefell v. Hodges). The country has practically erupted in simultaneous celebration and deep disappointment, and news stations and social media have carried numerous discussions and debates. The conversations surrounding homosexuality and same-sex marriage will continue for some time, but it’s important to maintain kindness and civility with one another, even when we strongly disagreed.

I am currently working on a response to both Supreme Court decisions, but this morning I saw a well-known millennial Christian leader post a good question on Facebook (Rachel Held Evans). I want to respond to her question, as I think it is a genuine question that many people have and that needs answering. Continue reading “Understanding Rights and Same-Sex Marriage”

A Factual Faith: Response to T. M. Luhrmann

Note: I originally wrote this short piece on May 15, 2015 as part of an assignment for a writing for publication class this last semester.

In a provocative New York Times Sunday edition opinion piece entitled, “Faith vs. Facts,” T. M. Luhrmann, professor of anthropology at Stanford University, attempts to explain the differences between factual belief and religious belief, and why she thinks many religious people ignore the facts. Relying upon the work of a group of scholars that have investigated the cognitive nature of belief, Luhrmann presents three pieces of evidence. First, the very language used by religious adherents when they talk about their beliefs supposedly reveals the irrelevance of facts for those beliefs. Saying, “I believe in God” reveals that God is not self-evident and that others might not believe in God, neither of which are necessary when apprehending the material world around us. Second, she suggestions that with religious belief, the truth of a belief matters less than the pragmatic mileage one can squeeze from that belief. As opposed to caring about the way things are, religious folk are more invested in shaping their destinies, creating purpose, and constructing a world they want to exist. Third, Luhrmann posits that religious and factual beliefs represent different ways of interpreting the same occurrence, as factual beliefs seek to explain how something happened and religious beliefs try to explain why it happened. Continue reading “A Factual Faith: Response to T. M. Luhrmann”