Regrettably, in the aftermath of ISIS’s inexcusable attacks on innocent people in Paris, amidst admirable calls for support and assistance for victims and their families and the people of France, conservative policymakers are also calling for a response that plays right into the hands of radical Jihadists. Twenty-six U.S. governors don’t want Syrian refugees in their states for fear of terrorist attacks. Much of the rhetoric on the Right further polarizes the West and Muslims. Most policymakers are only concentrating on a military solution to the problem and are ignoring the ideological war that needs to be won.
Here are three peaceful ways the West can fight ISIS on the more important Ideological Front:
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We learned this week that while in the U.S. the Pope had a secret meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. Apparently, he offered her support for standing up for what she believed. (Later reports say it was not a private meeting and the Pope does not back her position). But we also know this Pope has reached out to gays and lesbians more than any other pope. When asked once about a gay person’s condition, he responded, “If he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
So, why are evangelicals so quick to judge gays and lesbians? We get the answer in the recent ABC interview of Kim Davis. READ MORE >>
Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason (Outskirts Press, 2012)
BOOK REVIEW: Deconverted is Seth Andrews’ (The Thinking Atheist) transformational story; his evolution from devout, fundamentalist Christian to staunch but sympathetic atheist, full of brutally honest reflections and passionate pursuit of truth. Well written, deeply personal, and unabashedly critical of religious anti-intellectualism, I highly recommend it as a good example of common faith shifts people walk through when coming out of conservative Christianity. >>>
I often talk about the dangers of black-and-white thinking I encountered in my evangelical past. American conservative religion puts things in nice, neat boxes, with defined boundaries. The Bible is inerrant, they claim. If it wasn’t, it couldn’t be trusted at all (a strange concept considering no one claims that about any historical document). People are “sinners” steeped in original sin and totally depraved unless they are regenerated by conversion to Christ. One is either saved or under God’s wrath; on the way to heaven or destined for hell. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks the case of county clerk Kim Davis (refusing to give out marriage licenses to gay couples in Kentucky) is proof that there’s a movement toward the criminalization of Christianity, based on the belief that anyone who allows or tolerates gay marriage just can’t be Christian. There’s a line drawn in the sand and heaven forbid if you cross it and try to create a gray area, between these stark spiritual “realities.”
Yes, there are pressing problems in the world this very day: A refugee crisis in Europe, a war-torn Syria, and grinding global poverty, to name a few. But according to Global Health expert and statistician, Hans Rosling, focusing on all the bad news in the media masks the real gains our world has achieved. I’m an advocate for taking every world problem we have seriously and focusing on finding real solutions. But let’s do so from a worldview with hope for the future and not one of gloom and doom. Here are 5 facts that many people don’t know: READ MORE >>
Michael Hardin is brilliant in taking us back to the Jewish historical and cultural way of thinking at the time of Christ to correct the traditional Evangelical way of reading the Bible, as if everything is equally authoritative and true, what he calls a flat reading of the Bible. Open your eyes and heart to a new way of finding the fingerprints of God through the lens of Jesus, not by swallowing everything you read hook, line, and sinker, but by viewing the sacred texts in their historical/cultural context with Jesus as the window. A refreshing perspective! Thoughts? (23:14)
There are many secrets in American Christianity. Unfortunately, a chunk of them are dirty little secrets that fester for years before eventually breaking open in popular media. The sexual confessions of Josh Duggar from the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting” is the latest of these. Last year it was the scandal involving church leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and their alleged cover up of child sexual abuse. In years past, it was Ted Haggard’s confession of drug use and involvement with a male prostitute. And, of course, there is the well-known documented pedophilia of Catholic priests. All these now-exposed scandals and many more examples suggest the best kept secret might have something to do with a link between fundamentalist teaching on sexuality and predatory behavior. As reasonable as I think that notion is, it’s not the secret I am referring to. READ MORE >>
When people of faith, particularly the Christian faith, don’t get the historical facts right, they can come up with some wild and wacky theologies, e.g. church authority and hierarchy, the Rapture, the imminent Return of Christ in our lifetime, etc. As imprecise as history is, it does follow a scientific method. Check out what our study group learned about why history matters >
To most people, the title of this blog seems contradictory. Aren’t atheists rebelling against God and leading people astray? Well, for the most part, no. One of our discoveries in our group’s research is that most atheists (or their cousins, agnostics) are good for people of faith because their honesty keeps us honest. They can help us learn to think for ourselves. READ MORE >>
Amy, a younger, energetic woman sat across from me during a speech at our local Rotary Club. Dave Brooker, known as “That Gratitude Guy,” was speaking on the power of gratitude to change one’s life. He gave us an exercise to drive home a point. Amy and I partnered up.
“On the card, write as many adjectives you can think of about the other person that would finish the sentence, ‘I see you as…’“, he instructed. READ MORE >>
Have you ever puzzled over things you hear/observe at church or read in the Bible? Like how can an all loving God allow anyone to suffer in hell forever? Or, if people go to hell, why is the door to repentance and forgiveness closed? Or, why do religious people and systems often seem so unloving?
Fifteen years ago, I started to investigate the answers to these and other perplexing questions. READ MORE >>
The Inescapable Love of God (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2014)
BOOK REVIEW: This was the first book I read that took seriously the problem with Western Christianity’s doctrine of hell and presented a sane and biblical view of Universalism. I love this book, cite it often, and am so glad Wipf and Stock published a second edition that adds more up-to-date material and dramatically improves the cover!
Thomas Talbott takes us on a journey to find the real heart of God and shows us how far off many of the Western theologians throughout history were (Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, Acquinas, and modern conservative scholars). He makes a overwhelmingly persuasive plea that traditional theology is one of fear, where each human is either pre-determined to be saved or damned (Calvinism) OR must freely choose redemption even if they are cut off from a true Christian message and have the capacity to lose their salvation (Arminianism). Both fear-based views see all humans as depraved sinners who, by default, deserve eternal torment by a retributive, exclusive God.
Talbott makes an impassioned, reasoned case that, historically and linguistically, there’s always been a third, more consistent, and solidly biblical position called the universal reconciliation of all humankind–a view that is intellectually, scripturally, and historically honest. For example, it beautifully reconciles God’s love with his judgment and explains in depth why most have misread hell and the afterlife.