Recent Point Posts

Every now and then we post something about atheist gatherings that simulate the church experience. (Here's one example.) But for Alana Massey, writing in the Washington Post, such gatherings aren't going far enough. While she doesn't want them to have a connection with God, she wants them to have a different focus: Read More >
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I came across this abominable argument via screen grab on a Christian Facebook group today, and couldn't help reading the responses in the comments section. Most, of course, were very critical of the defense of abortion raised here, if not quite erudite. Needless to say, more thoughtful pro-lifers have excellent ethical responses to the scenario the post raises.

But what really got me thinking were the comments along the lines of "If only God would open this woman's eyes to see that she's defending death," and "My, how the depraved human heart justifies wickedness."

Now, on some level this is well and good. As a Calvinist I'll be the first to profess that no one will seek good consistently without a supernatural work by the Holy Spirit (Romans 3:10-18). But on another level, these kind of tut-tutting answers to strong pro-choice arguments are counterproductive, lazy, and just plain wrong. Read More >
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I think I understand the reasoning behind this trend. Commentators far and wide are saying that the United States is guilty of “institutional racism” and “systemic racism.” That means that even if all the individuals in the U.S. were to stop being racist, the “system” still would be. Therefore, to eliminate racism, we need a new and different system, and new and different institutions. The way forward is not via reform, but revolution; riots are just the beginning. The flag, to the revolutionaries, is a symbol of what will be torn down and replaced. The new order will usher in freedom, equality, and brotherhood . . . just like the French got after they guillotined a lot of people. Until, that is, Napoleon took over as dictator.

So with Germany under the Kaiser and again under the Fuhrer, Russia under the Bolsheviks, China under Mao, the Middle East under Islamism, Cambodia, Vietnam, and so on. Revolutionaries often think they can outsmart history. But they can’t.

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While I had heard of Rachel Held Evans, this is the first piece of hers I can recall reading. It suffers from one obvious problem and many small ones.

First, it is, empirically speaking, questionable. How do I know this? A simple logical inference. In any given city in the USA, be it Indianapolis, D.C, or, say, Atlanta, there are going to be far more millennials worshiping in "hip" churches, or even -- gasp! -- megachurches than people like Evans worshiping in Episcopal churches or other Protestant liturgical churches. She has universalized her experience. That's okay, I do it, too. But I don't commit it to writing and certainly not in the Washington Post.

A subtler problem came up when I Googled her after reading this. Over at Patheos, an Australian Anglican named Michael F. Bird "asked" Evans five questions. Here is the first one:
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A number of observers of this weekend's fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather were troubled by Mayweather's record of domestic abuse. But if you were on social media this weekend, you may have seen people complaining that Pacquiao is a homophobe -- and that this makes him every bit as bad as a man who beats women. I saw it twice, myself. And here's a Huffington Post story to back it up (with the additional charges that, not just content to be an evil homophobe, Pacquiao adds the evils of being pro-life and anti-contraception).

Here's some background on the homophobia accusation, from back in 2012. The Village Voice clears Pacquiao of the worst charges against him, but acknowledges that he is one of those Christians who believe what the Bible says, "as idiotic as it may be," and so probably do want homosexuals to die, even if he didn't actually say so. With friends like these . . .
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Brian Donnelly of HeraldScotland writes about Professor Jane Dawson's new book "John Knox," based on newly uncovered letters between Knox and his best friend, Christopher Goodman. Among its reported highlights:
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New York Times columnist David Brooks' talk about his new book "The Road to Character" at The Trinity Forum can now be viewed online at TTF's site. It will also air on C-SPAN 2 this Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern. Go here to read a BreakPoint Radio commentary from last summer about some of the ideas Brooks discusses in this book.
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I’ve just been catching up with Matthew Lee Anderson’s “Naïve Young Evangelicals and the Illiberal DNA of the Gay Rights Movement” (which we linked here). Excellent piece.

I would add only one thing: liberalism, as in the "political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality," i.e., the liberalism of the American founding, is itself illiberal as regards religion in public life.

At the risk of becoming a bore, I submit that liberalism defines the ends of human existence as the maximization of human freedom. While it can tolerate myriad expressions of that freedom, it cannot tolerate those who call its definition into question publicly. Thus, for liberalism, religion is a private matter that serves public ends, such as guaranteeing social order, what Michael Burleigh in "Earthly Powers" called "Christians by Fear."

When religion goes beyond propping up the current order and actually challenges it in a meaningful way, liberalism becomes, almost instinctively, illiberal.
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Simcha Fisher at Patheos has an incredibly wise and funny article up about "that most deadly intellectual predator: the hobby horse." If you've ever found yourself claiming that all of life boils down to one particular topic or idea -- as too many of us do -- then you just might be riding a hobby horse. As Fisher says, "Hobby horses are toys, for children to play with.  And yet so many adults ride them every day."
Topics: Ethics, Worldview
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I have fantasized about Dave, Douglas Minson, and myself flying into Buenos Aires, renting a car and heading south into Patagonia and Southern Chile. I would take care of the Spanish, and Dave could step in when we passed through towns where the inhabitants are descended from "immigrants" from Germany and Austria circa 1946.

What strikes me about this story is that the eruption came as a surprise. For all our pretense to an increasing omniscience, we are almost completely in the dark about the ground literally beneath our feet. I believe it was Will Durant who said that "civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice."
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In "The Screwtape Letters," C. S. Lewis describes through the mouth of his professorial senior demon something he calls "the Materialist Magician":

"I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise [human] science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The 'Life Force', the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls 'Forces' while denying the existence of 'spirits'—then the end of the war will be in sight."

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John Stonestreet and Sean McDowell just finished three broadcasts with FamilyLife Today on the topics of sexuality, marriage, and families. Obviously, I work with John every day, but hearing him on another program helped me realize that he (along with Sean) is becoming a leading spokesperson for a loving, grace-filled, and unwaveringly orthodox approach to all of these issues.

I recommend all three broadcasts: What Do We Do Now? What Is Marriage? and Preparing our Children.”
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Our eyes see only a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. To the rest--radio waves, microwaves, infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, etc.--we are utterly blind without the use of technology. Similarly, our ears can only detect sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hertz--just a sliver of what the animal kingdom can pick up.

Not only that, but our meager five senses leave us "blind" to many other components of reality other creatures tap into, like electrical currents, the earth's magnetic field, and body heat.

But what if we could expand our range of senses?
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This from Colson Center theologian T. M. Moore, via Bruce Van Patter:

"Interesting to see the way secular people just can't get away from the impact of the Gospel. Harald Bluetooth was a 10th-century Christian king who unified Norway and Denmark. From Wikipedia:

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In a compelling piece for The Stream, Alan Eason reflects on Chuck Colson's words from February 2012, in the wake of the HHS mandate:

"We have come to the point — I say this very soberly, where if there isn’t a dramatic change in circumstances, we as Christians may well be called upon to stand in civil disobedience against the actions of our own government. That would break my heart, as a former Marine captain, loving my country — but I love my God more. And you all may have to face that."
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