Professor battles bible illiteracy with new website

Here’s how the article begins:

“Sing it, see it, study it,” is the key to Bible professor Kenneth Berding’s new program “Bible Fluency,” designed to combat biblical illiteracy. The website launched on Sept. 28 and received about 6,000 views as of Oct. 24.

Throughout Berding’s 13-year career at Biola, he has seen incoming students’ amount of biblical knowledge trending downward. Biblical illiteracy is a hot button issue at the forefront of church discussion, Berding said.

“We’re complaining all the time about biblical illiteracy,” Berding said, “and it’s a real problem, as serious as they’ll come. 150 years ago, people knew about the Bible. Now, they don’t. I decided to do something about it.”

(2 min read; 575 words)

Professor battles bible illiteracy with online program « The Chimes | Biola University.

An Open Letter to Mick Mooney

To Mick Mooney:

Having read your post – WWJD: What Would Jesus Do? Do You Really Want to Know? (link below) – I feel the responsibility to rebuke you.  And since your post was public, my response is public.

It is, of course, a bad thing when someone sins.  What’s worse, however, is when someone encourages others to sin.  What’s worst of all, though, is using the words of God to encourage others to sin – because it makes it seem as if God Himself is okay with sinful behavior.  In this post you have written, you are doing what’s worst of all.  You are selectively referring to – and distorting – passages of the Bible to make a point that violates the very spirit and intent of the Bible.  You are proving that the most despicable kind of lie is the half-truth – a lie disguising itself as the truth.

You say Jesus “had become friends with prostitutes, was hanging out with ‘sinners’,” but that’s misleading.  The truth is the prostitutes and sinners, precisely because they were ashamed of their prostitution and sin, came to hear His teaching about righteousness (Luke 5:8; 19:7-8).

You say Jesus bought “people who were already drunk yet another round of beers,” but the story of turning water into wine gives no indication that the people at the wedding were drunk (John 2:1-11).  And the people Jesus designated to pass on His teaching – the apostles – warned repeatedly that drunkenness was something to be avoided, not embraced (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3-5)

You use the example of Jesus defending the woman caught in adultery from being stoned as if He had justified her behavior.  Yet He told her, “From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).  Therefore, your analogy supporting abortion is based on the misrepresentation that Jesus had no problem with adultery – which He obviously did (Matthew 5:27-30; 19:9; Luke 18:20).  His opposition was to stoning – not to a moral standard.

When you say that Jesus opposed the Pharisees you are right, and when you suggest that He despises how the modern-day institutional church merchandises His life and truth you are right as well.  However, when you go on to suggest that the alternative Jesus offers is to leave people in their drunkenness, adultery, abortions, and other sins – and even to justify those behaviors – you have done Him and your readers a terrible wrong.

In response to the Pharisees’ laws, you are presenting Jesus as offering lawlessness or licentiousness as an alternative.  On the contrary, Jesus’ alternative is a greater law than that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).  For example, while the Pharisees said adultery was bad, Jesus said that even thinking about it was bad (Matthew 5:27-30).  The Pharisees’ laws went only so far as outward behavior (Matthew 23:25-28) while Jesus’ laws went to the heart – where sins – like adultery, abortion, and drunkenness – first take root.  A person who took Jesus’ rules concerning adultery seriously would never commit it because he or she would never engage in the thoughts that could ultimately lead to that act.

Therefore, Jesus’ opposition to the Pharisees is the half-truth of your post.  Your lie is about the reason for His opposition.  You suggest He had no moral standards, when the truth is that He was opposed to the Pharisees because 1) while they had good standards they did not live up to them (Matthew 23:3) and therefore were hypocrites, and 2) their standards were not high enough – that is, they practiced their righteousness only before men instead of before God who sees the heart (Matthew 6:1; 23:5).

The greater law of Jesus is love.  Love forgives sin, but it does not condone sin.  Therefore, I can forgive you for writing a post like this, but I cannot condone it.  I cannot condone it because it is particularly reprehensible – making victims of readers who are only casually familiar with the Bible.  They will recognize your allusions to actual Bible passages but lack enough knowledge to understand exactly how you are distorting them.  I can forgive you because you did not come up with this idea on your own.  You were influenced to think this way, and those who influenced you therefore deserve more condemnation than you do.  You’ve simply bought into modern society’s cherished hope that Jesus, if He exists at all, is upset only by religious hypocrisy, and, other than that, practically “anything goes” when it comes to the pursuit of human pleasure.

Your post presents a false dichotomy: either side with those who think adultery, abortion, drunkenness and other such things are okay or else be a Pharisee.  There is a third way, and it is the way of Jesus.  The way of Jesus is to live up to the moral standards of God – to walk before Him thinking only thoughts of which you’re sure He’d approve.  The way of Jesus is to get the log out of our own eyes for the specific purpose of then being able to remove the speck from our brother’s – not to go around saying that foreign objects in the eye are not such a bad thing.

What would Jesus do (WWJD)?  Certainly not what you propose.  For if God’s intention was to leave us in our sins (as your post suggests), then what need was there for Him to subject Himself to rejection, torture, and death?  Did mankind really need the crucifixion of the Son of God in order to make them feel okay about getting drunk, having an abortion, or cheating on a spouse?

Mick, I pray that you’ll repent and seek to undo the damage you have done with your post.  (Until then, I’ve written this post on your behalf.)  Jesus is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  He came to lift us from our sins – all our sins, whether they be sins like adultery or sins like religious hypocrisy.

WWJD: What Would Jesus Do? Do You Really Want to Know? | Mick Mooney.  (2 min read; 302 words)

A Nation That Rejects Judeo-Christian Values Is Not Going to Promote Religious Liberty

Do you think it coincidence that our society’s departure from Judeo-Christian moorings has been accompanied by a diminishing of religious liberty?  It is no coincidence at all.  Religious liberty is a Judeo-Christian value.

Do Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and the rest of the evangelical religious establishment think that America is going to ignore them on matters of marriage and morality and yet heed them on the subject of religious liberty?  It is a false hope.  The same impulse that drives immorality drives suppression of religion.

A country that adopts so-called same-sex marriage is not going to be a country that supports religious freedom.

Government: Conduct Same-Sex Wedding or Go to Jail | Ryan T. Anderson

Ryan Anderson reports:

 Just this weekend, a case has arisen in Idaho, where city officials have told ordained ministers they have to celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time.

Given the evidence in recent months, it has become quite evident that the persecution Christians are facing for not supporting so-called same-sex marriage is real and substantial.  God bless the stout-hearted believers who, at significant cost to themselves, refuse to bow the knee to sin.

(4 min read; 991 words)

Government: Conduct Same-Sex Wedding or Go to Jail.

Miscellaneous Notes for October 17, 2014

Al Mohler, Russell Moore, Eric Metaxas, and other Christian leaders are continuing to complain about the city of Houston issuing subpoenas for pastors’ sermons.  Don’t they realize that we demand our rights to religious liberty that we are behaving as just another political faction?

Is the city of Houston trampling religious liberties?  Of course, it is.  Is it wrong to do so?  Of course, it is.  But a Christian response is not to demand our rights.  It’s to bear witness to the truth…and bear up under the consequences.

The truth is that sexual promiscuity – which has reached the stage of sexual insanity – is destroying the family, and thereby the culture.  Christian leaders must testify to this reality, no matter how little our fellow citizens want to hear it.  If the only way we can get the word to them is by sending them our sermons, then by all means let’s do so.

#####

 I saw a news story quoting Billy Graham as saying, “America is Just as Wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah Ever Were.”  My heart lept – not because it is true (it certainly is true, but that it’s true makes my heart sink, not leap), but because Billy Graham said it and there are many people who will pay attention to things he says.  Maybe he could wake up a few more people to the terrible track our country is on.

However, in reading the article you realize that Graham said this half a century ago – in a January 7, 1962 radio program, to be specific.  Now, the quote is still valuable, and the cultural decline of the last 50 years suggests that Graham might feel even more strongly about the point today.  However, there is no contemporaneous quote from Graham because he “is 95 and reportedly often bedridden at his home in Montreat, N.C.”  You don’t get to this information until the fifth paragraph in the article.  I feel underwhelmed, and misled by the headline.  Are people this desperate for clicks on the Internet?

Let us not conclude, however, without reaffiming the most important point:  Billy Graham was right when he made the statement in 1962, and he’d be right if he made it again today.  In fact, sad to say, he’d be more right.

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Christianity is not “us against the world.”  It’s “us for the world.”  They just don’t know it.

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North Carolina Magistrate Resigns His Office Rather Than Violate His Conscience

From Yahoo News [Editorial note January 4, 2017: Unfortunately, Yahoo News is no longer maintaining this page.] today:

A county magistrate has resigned a day after North Carolina officials were warned that refusal to perform gay marriages could lead to their being suspended or fired.

The memo said state magistrates who refuse to marry same-sex couples are violating their sworn oaths, but Rockingham County Magistrate John Kallam Jr. said Thursday that when he took the oath, he didn’t know he’d be required to perform gay marriages.

The state directive came after a county official refused to marry two men, citing religious objections, and others followed. A federal judge last week struck down North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban.

God bless this man.  His conviction cost him his job.  All over the country, people are paying a heavy price to bear witness to the truth.  The news media may ignore their courage, but God does not.

Miscellaneous Notes for October 16, 2014

Most preachers would love it if more people were curious about what they preached.  Why then are preachers in Houston, and elsewhere, bothered that the government there wants to subpoena sermons?  Granted, the interest is hostile and not friendly, but a listener is a listener and the truth is the truth…so why not give the government the word of the Lord that they’re asking for and let the chips fall where they may.

Besides, secular society is attempting to redefine freedom of religion as freedom of worship, which in their minds means “you can do whatever you want as long as you keep it in the four walls of your church and don’t talk about it in public.”  Therefore, when ministers say “our sermons are private and privileged and we won’t give them to you,” they are unwittingly agreeing to the restrictions secular society wants to place on them.

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 America’s founding fathers wanted freedom of religion.  Today’s secular American society thinks that means freedom from religion.  That’s a big difference.  A big, big difference.

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The Victims of Artificial Reproduction

The site to which I refer below is the creation of Alana S. Newman.  Here’s a Huffington Post article critical of her (which is the equivalent of a badge of honor).  I have heard Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute talk about the victims of the sexual revolution and even particularly about the victims of artificial reproductive techniques, but Alana’s web site is my first direct exposure to the voices of those victims.  (I learned of this site from Greg Koukl’s Stand to Reason podcast.)

Here’s the mission statement for Alana’s website:

The Anonymous Us Project is a safety zone for real and honest insights regarding third party reproduction (sperm & egg donation, and surrogacy). We aim to share the experiences of voluntary and involuntary participants in these new reproductive technologies, while preserving the dignity and privacy for story-tellers and their loved ones. All stories are contributed anonymously because “anonymity in reproduction hides the truth, but anonymity in story-telling helps reveal the truth.”

Alana – who calls herself “Alana S.” on the site – was herself “donor-conceived.”  She speaks directly and poignantly to the difficult issues that artificial reproduction creates.  She also conveys the confusion and pain suffered by the victims of these processes – which are, essentially processes designed to separate families.

Most people who think little or superficially about these issues think of terms like “freezing eggs” and “donating sperm” and “surrogacy” as ways of helping add to families.  In fact, they are often just the opposite.  It’s not just the money changing hands that taints the techniques, it’s the very techniques themselves.  You don’t have to think about them too long or too deeply before you realize that they are “man putting asunder what God has joined together” (Matthew 19:6).

After listening to four of the podcasts (which are only about 15 minutes each), I feel like someone has gone over my heart with a cheese grater.  It comes through the anonymous testimonies that the adults who create children in this way are thinking about themselves and not the children.  As in the case of abortion, it appears hardly anyone involved is thinking about the child being created and what life will be like for him or her.  In one testimony, I heard that a donor-conceived child is eight times more like to be sexually abused than a naturally-born child.  It can be hard enough to survive this world with a mother and father who love you and each other.  Why intentionally make it harder that that for someone?

Society’s adoption of so-called same-sex marriage is going to bring more money into the artificial reproduction industry, meaning there are going to be even more broken lives – lives broken from their very beginning.

About the Anonymous Us Project.

Attention City of Houston: You Can Subpoena My Sermons

The city of Houston, Texas is demanding that its pastors turn over any sermons that have to do with homosexuality, gender identity, and related issues.  (There’s a controversy about a local ordinance involving bathroom usage.)  Some Christians are objecting to this demand on religious liberty grounds.  I’m not a pastor, but I have written blog posts and recorded podcasts in which I have spoken of homosexuality as a sin and gender as God-given.  Houston’s attorneys are hereby notified that I’d be happy to comply with their subpoena.  In fact, they don’t even need to serve me with a subpoena;  they can just go to my blogs and find it all.

Some of you will say, “But, Mike, are you alarmed about government intrusion into religion?”  I am alarmed, but not for the pastors’ sakes.  It’s good news for the pastors because it means they’re preaching the truth.  It’s quite natural for the truth of God to draw the hostility of world.  Remember: Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.  Good for the pastors of Houston.  The ones I’m alarmed for are the government – and for the people represented by the government.  They are inviting judgment upon themselves.  I pray for them.  The pastors aren’t in trouble; the people supporting the government position are.  Remember what happened to ancient Israel in the wake of the crucifixion of a wholly-innocent man.  Within a generation it was destroyed.

Don’t pray for the pastors of Houston who are preaching against homosexuality and all other forms of marital infidelity.  Instead, pray for the city of Houston.  They’re the ones who’re going to need it.  And, by the way, don’t forget that Houston is just a microcosm of America.  The judgment that Houston is inviting on itself, America is inviting on itself as well.  American society, founded on Judeo-Christian ethics, has become hostile to Judeo-Christian ethics.  It’s a very sad state of affairs.

City of Houston to Pastors: Turn Over Your Sermons

What a Texas City Is Demanding These Pastors Do With Their Sermons About Homosexuality

Al Mohler: The Briefing 10-16-14 (3rd item)

Facebook and Apple Now Pay for Women to Freeze Eggs

Excerpt:

“Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning,” wrote author Emma Rosenblum.

I could not discern anywhere in the article or the two related videos a sense that the practice of freezing eggs might be medically or morally questionable.  There was a moral sensibility in the article, but it was focused on the potential misuse of the benefit by the employer (e.g. encouraging women to postpone child-bearing).  And there was a moral sensibility in the first video, but it was focused on the presumed wisdom that men should not comment on this “women’s issue.”  So it’s not that none of the parties in this news story (whether those reporting or those being reported on) have scruples, it’s just that their scruples involve male-female equality and apparently little else.

This business of freezing eggs raises all sorts of questions that this news story does not address:  What will become of these frozen eggs?  Who will own them if the woman dies or becomes incapacitated?  What laws govern what may be done with them?  What laws govern which sperm might be combined with them?  And that’s just for starters.

This idea of “freezing eggs” reminds me that Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6).  Separating the eggs from the woman or the sperm from the man would seem to easily qualify as a violation of this principle.  However, since the church of Jesus Christ has routinely disregarded these words when it comes to divorce, it should not surprise us to see that it doesn’t even enter the minds of worldly folks that “egg freezing” might not be a good idea.

It is futile to expect the world-at-large to take seriously anything that Jesus has said when His own people think of His directions as optional or antiquated.

(5 min read; 1,139 words – with two videos of 1:06 and 2:16 each plus commercials)

Perk Up: Facebook and Apple Now Pay for Women to Freeze Eggs – NBC News.com.