Critical Thinking: Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

Critical Thinking:

Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

Why the Bible Matters: Defining Right and Wrong

keyThere is a right and wrong to every question—Paying attention to your conscience is what helps you develop good character.

Do what is right; be faithful and fearless.

right-wrongsignOnward, press onward, the goal is in sight.

Eyes that are wet now, ere long will be tearless.

Blessings await you in doing what’s right!

Do what is right; let the consequence follow.

Battle for freedom in spirit and might;

and with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.

God will protect you; then do what is right!

~Anonymous; The Psalms of Life, Boston, 1857

 

See More Defining Moments

 

 Birthright Covenant Series

birthright_cvr

Birthright Covenant Series-Young Adult Christian Books

picnicwyouthIn this excerpt from the historical  Birthright Covenant series college history professor Jacob Nobles uses discovery teaching and ancient ruins at a historic site to lead his students in a discussion of truth, and discerning right from wrong.

      “Okay—” Preston spoke with caution. “I’ll give you that the Bible is actually a history. But why does it matter?

                “That is the million-dollar question …” Jacob smiled. “And you can find the answer here—for free!

                Jacob held up the Bible. “Now, Preston, you have asked why the Bible matters. Would you agree that the Bible is a history of God’s dealings with man?”

creationhands                “I guess you could say that. Apparently, somehow God’s version of the creation was given to Moses, and Moses wrote it down,” Preston commented carefully.

                “It makes sense to take God’s word for it,” Allison remarked with her usual bluntness. “After all, He was there when it happened—a distinction the rest of us cannot claim.”

                Preston shook his head. “Still, none of us were there for the creation process—not even Moses.”

                “That’s true.” Jacob chewed thoughtfully on his ham sandwich and inclined his head. “Hmm. So we have here two explanations for the Creation process—to keep it simple, we’ll call them two different stories. Since we were not present for the event, we’re forced to accept either one story or the other—on faith.”

                Puzzled, Preston tilted his head.

“What is faith, anyway?”

  “Well now, faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true,”[1] Josiah Bianco said.

 shepherdboy               Folding his arms across his chest, Preston surveyed the surrounding hills and glimpsed a boy leading a few sheep. “Are you saying that everybody just blindly follows …” He paused. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to offend.”

                “No offense taken.”

                “Don’t worry,” Ben said. “We all have done the same thing.”

                “Really?”

                “Of course. It’s called academic freedom.”

  “Sure. Bring it on!” Allison took a sip out of her can of grape juice. “Only frauds and liars are afraid to answer questions.”

                “Why is Dr. Marlow so afraid of other points of view?” Nola asked.

                “He doesn’t want to lose the debate!” Allison interjected.

“Yes. Debate is an important part of academic freedom, but anyone can win an argument without teaching truth. A friendly discussion with free exchange of ideas is more effective in discovering truth.” Jacob chuckled. “However, when you prefer to control what others say and think, truth can get in your way.

   “Now that we are away from the university, we can actually look at more than one point of view! We will look at two stories of the Creation—one, in the Bible, and the other, Dr. Marlow’s version.”

                “The Bible version seems too simple,” Preston said.

                “Well, what is Dr. Marlow’s version called?” Nola inquired.

                “Dr. Marlow believes in a theory called Natural Selection which, simply put, proposes that everything somehow creates itself by chance,” Jacob replied.

                “That doesn’t make sense.” Nola frowned in disagreement. “The human body—and mind—are complicated. Something can’t be produced by nothing.[2] My experience has shown me that nothing worthwhile happens by chance. Everything takes work, and effort, and planning.

                “Yes, Nola. That’s why some scientists say that the Bible history discloses an intelligent design, a purpose, or an orderly plan.”

                “Aren’t Bible stories for children?” Preston wondered.

                “Men struggle to explain their philosophy. The Bible explains the Creation so a child can understand—so that parents can teach their children through the ages. Who is more intelligent?” Jacob shrugged. “Anyway, the important thing is, who is telling the truth—Man, or God?”

                “Can you just assume there is a God?”

Preston asked.

Jacob laughed. “We can look at some evidence. Where is evidence of chance?”

            No one answered for a moment.

            Josiah Bianco chortled. “Shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?” he quipped, quoting Isaiah.[1]

[1] Isaiah 29:16

“What about evidence of design?”

                “The ability to think, for one thing,” Allison said, “ …one of many.”

                “As I said, the human body,” Nola added, “and life itself. I know many very intelligent scientists and doctors, but no one can earimageduplicate an eye or an ear.”               

  Preston’s gaze rested momentarily upon Nola’s face—round blue eyes, delicate sculpted features like a work of art. “All right,” he said. “Let’s say God is the intelligent Creator. Couldn’t He have made man out of apes?”

“Of course, He could, but would He? He is a God of order. As Creator of earth and all living things, He set up the rules for justice and science. Why would He violate His own laws?”[3]

         “What do you mean?”

                “Okay, if the Bible is really a history, and if it is true that we humans are created in the image of God, how are we different from animals?”

                “We can reason, while animals use instinct,” Preston said. “You’ve already established that.”

teotihuacanserpent               “Humans can draw, read, and write,” Allison said. “I have yet to see an animal who could carve something like this creature.” She poked her finger into the big teeth of the dragon carving, but withdrew her hand quickly. “Yikes! I don’t think an animal would make something this weird, even if it could!”

Free Will

  Jacob grinned. “True. Also, you chose to come here today, others did not. Ruben left early; the rest of you stayed. What does that mean?”

                “People have the power to choose,” Ben said.

                “Yes, that’s called Free Will. We have no empirical evidence of such a thing, but let’s suppose we have here a creature who is half man and half ape—by whose laws would this creature live—by the laws of man or nature? You’re the law student here, Preston. What do you think?”

   “Uh …”

                “If the creature is half man, would it be fair to make him live like an animal? Or if he is half animal, and cannot reason fully as a man, would it be just to impose upon him the laws of men?”

                “This is really getting confusing!”

   “Yes, Preston, it is confusing. But when He had completed the creation, God blessed human beings and all living things to multiply, each after their own kind.[4] There is nothing confusing about that.”

                A flutter of wings announced the arrival of a dove which lit next to his mate upon a limb of the tall tree.

How Do You Know What Is True and Right?

“The human soul can never die. So you see, it is created, not evolved, because God is not the author of confusion.[5] Therefore, to avoid confusion, would you agree we need some kind of law to bring order and justice to our lives?”

                “Absolutely,” Preston said. “We must have justice.”

 KJV Bible              “Let’s think for a moment about the two kinds of laws—which law provides true justice? Dr. Marlow makes no distinction between humans and animals. His law is simple: those who are strong rule and prevail over everything and everyone else.” Jacob placed his right hand firmly upon the rock and continued. “The law of Nature requires animals to kill other animals for food. In the law of the Bible, on the other hand, God tells us not to kill or eat other people. Why not?”

“It’s wrong!” The students exclaimed indignantly, in vigorous unison.

                “How do you know it’s wrong?”

                Jacob waited.

                “Well,” Preston began slowly. “There simply is no justice in murder and cannibalism. I don’t know why … Somehow I just know that.”

compass liahona   “Men often create laws to try to change God’s commandments,” Jacob continued, “but God’s laws never change. When He created our eternal souls, He planted those unchangeable moral laws in our minds and hearts. It’s called—”

                “Our conscience.” Preston nodded. “Of course! I see that now.”

                “Yes. The Bible contains our true moral compass in writing. And that, Preston, is why the Bible matters.”

More About Birthright Covenant series

[1] Isaiah 29:16

[2] John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Great Books of the Western World, vol.35

[3] These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator Himself in all His dispensations conforms. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:59-60

[4] Genesis 1:22,24

[5] 1 Corinthians 14:33

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Critical Thinking: Moral Compass, Morality Definition

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Skills

Moral Compass, Morality Definition

September 2018 – After decades of being fed tolerance and relativism, people are less interested in discerning what they should believe and more compelled by why they should care about their beliefs. This is the premise from which author and apologist Josh McDowell wrote his latest book, Set Free to Choose Right.

The what of morality
“In this generation there is such emphasis on asking, not what is true, but how does it feel?” McDowell said in an interview at AFA*. “People used to say, ‘Prove to me it is true.’ Now you hear something more like, ‘What right do you have to say that?’”

This is brought to light in Set Free, which deals with teaching kids to make proper moral judgments, using a storyline that centers on a son and father teaming up together to conquer the issue of pornography addiction. McDowell chose pornography as the subject of his case study for a reason.

“When rating moral issues, 56% of Christian young people say not recycling is a moral issue. But only 32% say pornography is a moral issue,” McDowell said. “Almost all Christian kids and adults I meet say they know what is wrong and what is right, but I almost never find anyone, including pastors, who can explain to me why it is wrong or right.”

Why the Bible Matters

The why of morality
Communicating the rationale of moral judgments, as with the issue of pornography hashed out in Set Free, begins with properly understanding the Bible.

“If your only answer [to moral questions] is ‘the Bible says,’ or ‘the Bible says thou shall not,’ you’re teaching legalism,” McDowell said.

“Absolutely nothing is morally right or wrong because of the Bible, but because of the God of the Bible. The Bible was given to us that we might know God. We learn morality to understand the character of God.”

 

For example, McDowell described, faithfulness is moral because God is moral. Justice is moral because God is just. Lying is immoral because God is truth. Killing is immoral because God is life. The Bible reveals these attributes of God and the morality of practicing them in Christian living.

The Who of morality
“It’s so important that one of the first things we do is get to know who God is by His attributes, and then start relating that to others,” McDowell said. “That is why I wrote the book Set Free – to help people understand why things are right or wrong and how to communicate that to their children. Because if you don’t get to the issue of why something is wrong, you’re raising your children legalistically, and there’s no faster way to rob kids of their joy in Christ.”

McDowell added: “I cannot remember ever saying to one of my four children, ‘Because the Bible says,’ but instead, ‘Why does the Bible say that?’ Then I would explain about the person, nature, and character of God, and what the Bible says about Him. That is the difference between raising your children legalistically and raising them in relationship with God.”

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Culture Wars: Church and State Issues and Illegal Immigration

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Culture Wars: Church and State Issues and Illegal Immigration   Critical Thinking Church and State: Where do we draw the Line? C .A. Davidson The overall responsibility of our nation is to protect her citizens from foreign invasion and crimes … Continue reading

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Critical Thinking: Media Bias, Identity Politics, Mob Rule vs. Democracy Facts, Constitutional Republic

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Critical Thinking: Media Bias, Identity Politics, Mob Rule vs. Democracy Facts, Constitutional Republic Rush Limbaugh Media Bias against the Constitutional Republic “The subversion of democracy was the explicit intent of the framers.” Wait. What? “The subversion of democracy was the … Continue reading

Critical Thinking: Character Values vs. Political Correctness, Leftist Views, and Self Esteem

Critical Thinking:

Character Values vs. Political Correctness, Leftist Views, and Self Esteem

 

“Does it Do Good?” vs. “Does it Feel Good?”

Why socialist policies are so popular—but so harmful

 

keyThese [leftists] are using a technique that is as old as the human race,—a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery, and then enslave them. ~ David O. McKay

 

Dennis Prager

A fundamental difference between the left and right concerns how each assesses public policies. The right asks, “Does it do good?” The left asks a different question, [as shown in the following examples].

1) Minimum Wage

1987

The New York Times editorialized against any minimum wage. The title of the editorial said it all –“The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00”

redistsocialismillustrated              There’s a virtual consensus among economists,” wrote the Times editorial, “that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market. …More important, it would increase unemployment … The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable—and fundamentally flawed.”

Why did the New York Times editorialize against the minimum wage? Because it asked the conservative question: “Does it do good?”

27 years later

The New York Times editorial page wrote the very opposite of what it had written in 1987, and called for a major increase in the minimum wage. In that time, the page had moved further left and was now preoccupied not with what does good—but with income inequality, which feels bad. It lamented the fact that a low hourly minimum wage had not “softened the hearts of its opponents”—Republicans and their supporters.

 

2) Affirmative Action

Study after study—and, even more important, common sense and facts—have shown the deleterious effects that race-based affirmative action have had on black students. Lowering college admissions standards for black applicants has ensured at least two awful results.

One is that more black students fail to graduate college—because they have too often been admitted to a college that demands more academic rigor than they were prepared for. Rather than attend a school that matches their skills, a school where they might thrive, they fail at a school where they are over-matched.

The other result is that many, if not most, black students feel a dark cloud hanging over them. They suspect that other students wonder whether they, the black students, were admitted into the college on merit or because standards were lowered.

It would seem that the last question supporters of race-based affirmative action ask is, “Does it do good?”

 

3) Pacifism

reagan-peace-strengthThe left has a soft spot for pacifism—the belief that killing another human being is always immoral [unless it is killing unborn babies]. Not all leftists are pacifists, but pacifism emanates from the left, and just about all leftists support “peace activism,” … and whatever else contains the word “peace.”

The right, on the other hand, while just as desirous of peace as the left—what conservative parent wants their child to die in battle?—knows that pacifism and most “peace activists” increase the chances of war, not peace.

Nothing guarantees the triumph of evil like refusing to fight it. Great evil is therefore never defeated by peace activists, but by superior military might. The Allied victory in World War II is an obvious example. American military might likewise contained and ultimately ended Soviet communism.

reagan-quote-appeasement               Supporters of pacifism, peace studies, American nuclear disarmament, American military withdrawal form countries ins which it has fought—Iraq is the most recent example—do not ask, “Does it do good?”

Did the withdrawal of America from Iraq do good? Of course not. It only led to the rise of Islamic State with its mass murder and torture.

 

                So, then, if in assessing what public policies to pursue, conservatives ask “Does it do good?” what question do liberals ask? The answer is, “Does it make people—including myself—feel good?”

Why do liberals support a higher minimum wage if doesn’t do good? Because intakes the recipients of the higher wage feel good (even if other workers lose their jobs when restaurants and other businesses that cannot afford the higher wage close down) and it makes liberals feel good about themselves: “We liberals, unlike conservatives, have soft hearts.”

Why do liberals support race-based affirmative action? For the same reasons. It makes the recipients feel good when they are admitted to more prestigious colleges. And it makes liberals feel good about themselves for appearing to right the wrongs of historical racism.

The same holds true for left-wing peace activism: Supporting “peace” rather than the military makes liberals feel good about themselves.

narcissismThe Folly of the Self-Esteem Movement

Perhaps the best example is the self-esteem movement. It has had an almost wholly negative effect on a generation of Americans raised to have high self-esteem without having earned it. They then suffer from narcissism and an incapacity to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks. But self-esteem feels good.

And feelings—not reason—is what liberalism is largely about. Reason asks: “Does it do good?” Liberalism asks, “Does it feel good?”

 

Critical Thinking: Freedom of Conscience Definition Changes Affect First Amendment Rights—History Timeline

Critical Thinking

History Timeline

Freedom of Conscience Definition—Changes Affect First Amendment Rights

We do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men. . .the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience. We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. ~D&C 134:4

Update: Winning—SCOTUS ruled in favor of Freedom of Conscience in  case of Christian baker

David Barton

If Americans want to see a return to the historical understanding of the rights of conscience, it will begin with disciplined study and learning. That learning must then be applied and exercised. Those applications and exercises will have to be defended. And when this generation has done all this, they will have to teach the next generation to study, exercise, and defend their right to conscience anew.  

 

Alert! History Timeline shows how Changes Affect First Amendment Rights

Note the narrowed definition, and consequently the assumed narrowed protection of our liberty. ~C.D.

“We have to be careful to define terms here, and unpopular isn’t the best word. Freedom of conscience is not the idea that it is the government’s responsibility to protect minority dissenting ideas from the majority.” ~David Barton

 

  • “In the 1700-1800s, we never talked about freedom of religion,” Barton said. “We always talked about freedom of conscience.”
  • In the 1900s and 2000s, the language changed to freedom of religion.
  • In the 21st century, we are changing it to freedom of worship.

“Each one of these is a smaller subset of the bigger one. Freedom of conscience is the biggest one of all and that is what the First Amendment protects.”

 

Heart of Liberty Is Freedom of Conscience

Teddy James

Report with quotes by David Barton

The first step to restoring freedom of conscience in America is to learn about it. ~Teddy James

“We have to be careful to define terms here, and unpopular isn’t the best word. Freedom of conscience is not the idea that it is the government’s responsibility to protect minority dissenting ideas from the majority.” ~David Barton

 

A critical difference in Understanding Freedom of Conscience Definition

 

Many mistakenly believe freedom of conscience primarily exists to protect people with unpopular beliefs. David Barton said this understanding can be dangerous and lead to harmful court rulings and public policies.

Barton said to look no further than Engle v. Vitale, the 1962 case that removed prayer from school. It was believed the 3% of Americans who were atheists needed to be protected from the 96% who held to praying faiths. That is not to mention the 30 states with laws protecting traditional marriage being overruled by the Supreme Court due to 2.6% of the population being homosexual.

“You have to be careful where you draw the line,” Barton said. “Freedom of conscience is not about unpopular belief, but solely about beliefs that are not to be limited by civil government.”

Even though the government has crept across its jurisdictional lines for generations, hope is far from lost.

The first step to restoring freedom of conscience in America is to learn about it.

“Knowing what the rights of conscience are will affect what you do and what types of policies you tolerate,” Barton said. “When you know the rights of conscience, what they encompass and what they don’t, you are prepared not only to defend them, but also practice and assert them.”

How to teach Freedom of Conscience and Impart Biblical Values to Youth

To learn about the rights of conscience, Barton said, “The old history books are exceptionally good. They describe the purpose and application of those rights with clarity and approachability.” (See below.)

Reading the old books is important. Modern books focus on freedom of religion instead of freedom of conscience. While it seems subtle, there are real differences. 

”The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth” by Currier and Ives

July 2018 – In recent decades, religious liberty has captured headlines on every Christian and conservative platform. Governments of all levels have ignored their God-ordained jurisdictions to bombard America with anti-Christian rulings – all in the name of equality, tolerance, and freedom.

Ironically, a battle over religious liberty would have been foreign to American colonists and the Founding Fathers. Their battles were over the broader category of freedom of conscience.

History of freedom of conscience

America did not plant the tree of the freedom of conscience. However, America is one of the earliest and largest fruits from that tree.

“To understand freedom of conscience, we have to go back a lot further than America,” David Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, told AFA Journal. “We must look to John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and the like. But to understand them, we have to go back to 391 AD.”

The setting is Rome, and Emperor Theodosius is ruling over a unified eastern and western Roman Empire. He would be the last to do so.

Theodosius, a Christian, declares everyone under his domain would either be Christian or be executed.

Even though the Roman Empire split after his reign, the unified church and state continued.

“For the next one thousand years, governments told people what doctrines they could believe and practice,” Barton said. “One emperor went so far as to create a crown that would fit over the clerical hat of the era. He literally wore both hats at the same time.”

Fast-forward to 1517 and a group of Christians began challenging the status quo. Historians would call this the Protestant Reformation.

“During the Reformation,” Barton said, “leaders advocated that the state and the church should be two entities. Dividing the two, it was argued, would restore the rights of conscience and rebuild the voluntarism of Christianity.”

The Protestant Reformation reached England when King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife and the Pope wouldn’t allow it. Henry split from Rome and established the Church of England with himself as its supreme leader. Pilgrims and Puritans objected to this power grab on theological grounds, stating Jesus Christ is the only leader of the church.

The result was the crown persecuting the dissenters, leaving them no choice but to find new homelands.

 

Jurisdictions of freedom of conscience


On the shores of the New World, freedom was strengthened, but still faced obstacles.

“The Pilgrims and Puritans held separate elections for civil and religious offices, recognizing the separation of church and state,” Barton said. “But there were Puritan colonies that did not honor the freedom of conscience.”

Massachusetts, a Puritan colony, required members to believe and practice Puritan doctrines. If a person believed differently, he was free to do so, but must live somewhere else.

Roger Williams, a Puritan minister, did believe differently and was forced to leave the colony. Subsequently, he founded Rhode Island.

“But Roger Williams is just one chapter in a very long book,” Barton said. “In America alone, it includes the establishment of Maryland, New Hampshire, and parts of Connecticut.”

These colonies held to the idea that government existed to protect the rights and liberty of its people, not to guide their religious beliefs and practices. That was the distinct and special role of churches.

“Nothing is secular,” Barton said, “but there are [secular and religious] jurisdictions. The temple is not to run the sword because God gave the sword of justice to government.”

That is not to say someone should get away with just any outrageous thing and claim freedom of conscience.

“Every colony had a provision in regards to rights of conscience. Individuals could not use rights of conscience for licentiousness,” Barton said.

 “In other words, people did not have the right to have fourteen wives, physically harm others, or undermine the morals of the state.”

The divide between church and state was strong and stable; they had a symbiotic relationship. The modern era has seen a shrinking of that divide and a weakening of the relationship.

 

Assault on Freedom of Conscience


Update: Winning—SCOTUS ruled in favor of Freedom of Conscience on this case

“Right now the American government is crossing jurisdictional lines across the country,” Barton said. “It is crossing into territory God ordained for the church, claiming it is within its jurisdiction to tell Christians what they must believe and do. Bakers must bake cakes for ceremonies that would violate their consciences. The same goes for photographers’ and florists’ [services].”

 

 

Culture Wars: Jesus, Charity Organizations, and Role of Government

Culture Wars—

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Jesus, Charity Organizations, and Role of Government

My Questions on Jesus and Charity

Rush Limbaugh

Jesus-question-charityRUSH:  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a question, maybe a couple of questions here, and I ask these questions simply because I would like the answers.  And these questions derive from what I have heard on television today during our obscene profit time-outs here. I very rarely do this, but I turned the audio up, I actually listened, and I’ve caught a couple of guests on Fox and they’ve been asked, “Are you aware that people like Rush Limbaugh are calling the pope Marxist?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re aware of that, and the pope is clearly aware of it, too, but like the pope said on the plane yesterday, he’s not a leftist.  It’s just a misinterpretation.”  And this one guest said, “There’s nothing liberal about the pope. He’s just a good Catholic.” He started rattling off charity and concern and all these other things that define Christianity and said that’s all the pope is.

Okay, so I have a question, because this seems to be a major point of contention.  I have long maintained that whenever it happened in our welfare state, and we could probably find this with enough deep research.  When welfare became or started to become categorized as charity is when liberalism began to be attractive to churches.  Churches quite naturally are big on charity both as recipients for distribution and donors.  They do both sides.

So along comes this pope now and his not apologists, but the people translating for him or explaining, interpreting, “Oh, no, no, no, this ideological, pope is not liberal, no, no, no, no, no.  Don’t be so silly.  Don’t be so foolish.  Don’t be so small-minded.  He’s simply a Catholic, simply Christian, this is what Christians and Catholics do.”  And then, “It’s what Jesus did, simply what Jesus did.”  So my question is this.  I need some legitimate help on this.  I know that Jesus preached charity.  Did Jesus tell people to give their money to the Romans so that the Romans could then distribute it?

In other words, did Jesus tell people to give their money to whatever governing entity there was, or entities there were at the time, or did he preach charity as an individual thing?  In other words, was Jesus a big-government charitable advocate?  It seems to me that it might have been the opposite, that Jesus had some problems with governments.

These are just open-ended questions to which I’m asking if people have the answer.

These are not rhetorical questions.

welfare-government-charity-madisonWell, I don’t think there’s anything offensive about these questions.  One, I’m trying to understand, because it’s come up today.  One of the undeniable truths in our culture is that the modern day Democrat Party does not like religion.  They don’t like Christianity.  That’s not even arguable.  (interruption)  Well, certain big government didn’t like Jesus, but my point is when it comes to chair, the pope seems to be advocating that governments need to do all of these big things, and our interpreters on TV are saying, “Yep, that’s what Jesus did.”

Is that right?  I am not a theologian.  I have never used this program to preach or proselytize.  As you well know, I don’t go into any of these arguments. Faith is a deeply personal, private thing. That’s why I don’t even condone arguments about it on this program, so I’m just asking here.  (interruption)  No, I’m not asking if… (interruption)  When Jesus told people to be charitable, was he telling them to pay higher taxes and let the Romans take care of it?  (interruption)  He wasn’t, right?  The Romans ran the show. 

I mean, the Romans were the government then.  They were the federal government.  There might have been some local pretenders and so forth, but that’s all I’m asking.  He said render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but he also then had a qualifier after that which made it clear that Caesar was not entitled to everything.  I mean, you can interpret it, “Yeah, pay your fair tax and get the hell out of Dodge.”  But this is why I’m asking the question, because it’s being interpreted today.  The left — I find this fascinating.  The left, which does not hold any really great love for the Catholic Church or organized religion at all is now all of a sudden trying to portray themselves as Christ-like. 

And it’s all in the name of big government, all in the name of trying to portray now what the Democrat Party’s doing, the American left is doing as Christ-like, taking advantage of the visit of the pope in order to create that impression with people.

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Critical Thinking: Defining Biblical Worldview, Judeo-Christian Culture

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Critical Thinking Skills: Defining Biblical Worldview, Judeo-Christian Culture Worldview: What is Yours? Stacey Long American Family Association “I grew up in a Christian home and made a profession of faith at a very young age, but when I got to … Continue reading

Culture Wars: Contrasting Biblical Worldview with Secular Humanism, part 1

Culture Wars:

Contrasting Biblical Worldview with Secular Humanism

part 1

 “We remember this eternal truth. Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God. It was Thomas Jefferson who said the God who gave us life gave us liberty. Our Founding Fathers believed that religious liberty was so fundamental that they enshrined it in the very First Amendment of our great beloved Constitution.” ~Donald Trump

Why do the leftists (still) rage? Part 1

Dr. Stephen McDowell

 The response of many Americans to the election and early administration of Donald Trump reveals there is a great divide among the American people. One may think that the left side of the divide – those opposing Trump – are predominant since their actions and words make the headlines of the major media outlets, and their ideology is embraced by a large majority of academia and Hollywood.

The left has become increasingly hostile, radical, and perverse, not only pushing homosexuality as normal and requiring special protection for LGBTs, but also attempting to force transgenderism upon the nation and encouraging the harboring of illegal immigrants. Their tactics of violence and intimidation, suppression of free speech, and lying about positions of their opponents are becoming the daily norm. While they have cried out in the past, there is a new savagery in their words and tactics.

However, amidst the left’s acrimony and deplorable action, there is some good news. A map of the results of the 2016 presidential election by counties (above) shows most areas of the nation reject the extreme liberal ideas of the progressive left, since only 16% of counties voted for Hillary Clinton. While President Donald Trump is not a paragon of virtue, he does support many biblical virtues (life, property rights, freedom of religion, parental rights, the rule of law), and he has appointed many Christians and biblically thinking people to his cabinet. The “red counties” also reflect growing conservatism in government, with the GOP now controlling both the U.S. House and Senate, 33 governors’ mansions, and 32 state legislatures. While all of the Republican leaders are certainly not Christians nor principled conservatives, there is, in general, a clear difference in the worldview and morality of the people represented in the red and blue counties on the map.

The great divide


There is a clear divide in the nation – a divide that seems to be more distinct than ever. The divide is not just about the role of government in issues like helping the poor and public education (where Christians may have different positions). The divide is much more pronounced. It centers on such important issues as life, the family, and morality – views on which the Bible is clear. It also involves ideas on property rights, the role of government in business, and constitutional laws and liberties.

The blue-state liberals have general agreement of worldview. They are pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, for big government, and against biblical morality.

The red-state conservatives do not all have a biblical worldview – while about one-half of these voters were evangelical, their depth of biblical reasoning varies greatly – but a majority do adhere to a common set of principles rooted in a biblical philosophy of man and government and expressed in the Declaration of Independence. They believe in truths rooted in God, embrace limited government, support freedom of religion, conscience, and speech, and are for Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty, and property. Throughout most of our history, the vast majority of Americans believed these principles, but, unfortunately, that has been changing in recent generations.

Why is this? Why do an increasing number of Americans think homosexuality and transgenderism are OK?1 Why are an increasing number of Americans embracing a socialist/secular worldview? One primary reason is that public schools and most colleges have been controlled by the left for many generations.2 The great tool of socialist indoctrination has not had the overall effect its proponents had hoped it would. Yet, it is also a mystery that so many people still embrace leftist/socialist ideas because they always produce bad fruit wherever they are tried. They do not work.

What is behind this great divide in the nation? At the root of the conflict is a war of worldviews, between one that is Christian and one that is humanistic.

Two views of law


Comparing the Christian and humanistic philosophies of law reveals why the left has such apoplectic rage at having lost power and why they are willing to do anything to regain it, while conservatives accept liberals ruling with relative calm.

Law, from a Christian perspective and as the founders of America viewed it, originates in the will of God, revealed in general to man through nature and his conscience, and more specifically in the revelation of the Scriptures. Law from a humanistic view is rooted in man, ultimately autonomous man, but practically in the state, and in the consensus of the majority, or of a powerful minority.

From a biblical perspective, man is fallen and fallible, has a sinful nature, and thus needs to be restrained. The biblical purpose of civil law is to restrain the evil action of men in society. True law reveals what is right and wrong, and hence, exposes law breakers. But law in itself cannot produce what is right, nor can it change the heart or attitude of man; therefore, the Christian acknowledges the inability to legislate “good,” or to make people moral by passing laws. However, the Christian recognizes the moral basis of all laws. Laws against murder reflect a moral belief. Laws against theft are based upon the command to not steal. All law has a moral concern. The important question to the Christian is “whose morality does it legislate?”

From a Christian presupposition then, the law cannot change or reform man; this is a spiritual matter. Man can be changed only by the grace of God.

Humanists see the evils in society and in man, but explain them differently than Christians. To the humanist there is no higher being than man. There is no incarnate Savior. From a humanistic perspective there is no hope of internal regeneration to save man; therefore, any salvation or transformation that occurs in men or nations must come from man.

Having no other means of provision, of salvation, or of peace, humanistic man attempts to regulate and provide all things through government and law.

Therefore, it is not surprising that in the last election (as well as all recent elections), the vast majority of people receiving food stamps, public housing, medicaid, disability, Obamacare subsidies, and various welfare benefits voted for liberal Democrats, who promised to continue and/or expand such programs.3

From a Christian perspective, law can restrain sinful man from acting evilly, for the fear of punishment is a deterrent, but he cannot be changed by law. Unless the evil heart of man is changed, there will be no advancement toward a better society. Humanistic law seeks to save and change man internally. Since the government (and laws issued thereby) are the instrument for such change, government becomes the savior in a humanistic society. This might not be overtly proclaimed, but is demonstrated by actions.

Footnotes
1 A recent survey shows that 43% of Americans think it is morally okay to change the gender you were born through either surgery or taking hormones; 42% think it is wrong to do so. AFA Journal, October 2016, Tupelo, MS: American Family Association, p. 4.
2 While most colleges are liberal, conservative colleges are on the rise. See source.
3 Source

Culture Wars: Critical Thinking and Christian Character Education

Culture Wars:

Critical Thinking and Christian Character Education

 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” ~Romans 12:2

Think. . .  it’s counter-cultural

Teddy James

March 2017 – In 1970, the average American was exposed to 500 ads per day. Today that number has risen to over 5,000, according to Jay Walker-Smith, president of the marketing firm Yankelovich.

“This has had a huge impact on our behavior,” Phil Cooke (philcooke.com), a Christian film producer, told AFA Journal. “The result is massive changes to our behavior and the way we process information. Recent studies from the Wall Street Journal and others have revealed that when you meet someone for the first time, you decide what you think of them in under eight seconds.”

It goes beyond deciding whether to like a person or not. People today make many important decisions at breakneck speeds.

This makes perfect sense considering the number and methods of messages bombarding the average person. There isn’t enough time to thoughtfully consider what is important and what can be ignored. This can be good because it forces the development of a strong mental filter. But this strong, proficient, secure filter comes at a cost.

And for the believer, that cost can be a spiritual one.

Recognizing the 30-second culture
America recently underwent one of the most vitriolic and sensationalistic elections in living memory. Ten-year-old sound bites and broken sentences from leaked emails flooded news programs, radio shows, and social media feeds.

The dust from one scandal hardly settled before a new one exploded. Even in the presidential debates, there seemed to be more energy devoted to headlines, tweets, and sound bites than to issues.

A study released by the Media Insight Project (3/17/14) reveals how much thoughtful attention average news consumers actually devote to the details of news stories. The MIP is a platform of the Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center.

The study revealed that a third of the American population keeps up with news throughout the day (33%) and others prefer a dedicated time slot in the morning (24%) or evening (26%).

But no matter when they get their news, few details are considered. Only 41% reported watching, reading, or hearing any news story beyond the headlines in the last week. Additionally, nearly 60% said they read news headlines and nothing else.

Why it works
The 30-second culture exists because it works. Snappy headlines and catchy commercials are designed with one goal in mind: get attention.

A short video, image, or message can be powerful not because of the words contained in it, but because of the emotions generated by it. “The Influence of Implicit Attitudes on Consumer Choice when Confronted with Conflicting Product Attribute Information,” a paper by professors Melanie Dempsey (Ryerson University) and Andrew Mitchell (University of Toronto), shows that people often make irrational consumer choices based on conscious or subconscious manipulation through products, logos, or advertising.

In a telling experiment, participants were given a choice between two pens. Pen A was described as better in every way including its grip and the fact that it would not smear like Pen B. But before participants were allowed to make a choice, they had to watch a screen flashing images of Pen B and positive words. Over 70% of participants chose Pen B.

This illustrates why headlines and short news segments are so powerful, and why news consumers rarely seem to go beyond a surface understanding: the first few lines evoke strong emotions, and few people continue reading or listening after the initial feeling has dissipated. Most quickly click away from one news story looking for the next story and another high experience of emotion.

This desire for positive feelings from advertising and entertainment impacts consumers outside the realm of products and advertising.

According to statisticbrain.com, a website dedicated to compiling applicable statistics for everyday life, the average current attention span is at 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. To understand that in actionable terms, the website states 17% of Internet page views last less than 4 seconds, only 4% of page views last longer than 10 minutes, and people read only 28% of the articles they click on.

But all hope is not lost for the discipline of focus and attention.

Not all bad news
“It is hard, but we must become incredibly intentional,” Cooke said. Cooke is the author of several books, as well as executive producer of the movie Hillsong: Let Hope Rise. He is also producer of The Insanity of God, a movie based on the book of the same name by Nik Ripken.

“What that intentionality looks like from a practical standpoint is to make sure we are reading,” Cooke continued. “But not just reading whatever comes into sight. We have to be intentional about reading books of substance, long-form articles, and listening to lectures and sermons. We have to fight everything battling for our attention and do the work of focus.”

Others agree with Cooke. The number of physical books purchased has increased for two consecutive years according to Nielsen BookScan which tracks around 80% of print sales in America. Over 652 million physical books were sold during 2015.

Top Fifty Best-Selling Nonfiction Books In 2015 Were Adult Coloring Books.

Of that 652 million, more nonfiction than fiction books were purchased. While the gross numbers may seem encouraging, it must be noted that eight of the top fifty best-selling nonfiction books in 2015 were adult coloring books.

This is illustrative of the fact that people are hungry for a break from the constant messaging barraging their minds. Cooke said mindfulness is a trending word describing this desire.

Mindfulness is becoming really popular today,” he said. “It means to take a second, breathe, and think thoroughly about what you are doing and where you are in life. In the Christian life, mindfulness can be carried over in a really powerful way. It used to be called meditating on Scripture or quiet time.”

John Piper, on his podcast Ask Pastor John, was recently asked why it is important to think deeply about God. He echoed Cooke’s comments by quoting Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

Christians have always been called to be counter-cultural. One of the most important ways Christians can and should stand apart from the world today is in their ability to think systematically and thoroughly about an issue. That can come only from having their minds transformed by the power of the gospel.

Piper said, “If we are going to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, Paul assumes it comes through a renewed mind. And what minds do is think.”

Suggestions re: training yourself to think
▶ Read and meditate upon long passages of Scripture.
▶ Research a news story using several sources.
▶ Read a book or listen to a lecture about improving your mental focus.

▶ Recommended: John Piper’s Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. The book is available as a free ebook download or for purchase at desiringgod.org.