I grew up viewing the term "evangelical" as a guarantee of quality. I believed that evangelicals were the most faithful and orthodox followers of Christ and that they offered the closest approximation of the New Testament church. But while I regularly used the term "evangelical" to identify "good" Christianity, I would have been hard pressed to give a concise definition of the term. So what, exactly, does it mean to be an evangelical?
These days, so much of apologetics is focused on debates. On the downside, the entire debate format tends to reinforce tribalism (more on that anon), competition, and spin-doctoring/motivated reasoning to the end of winning the debate.
Like many in my generation, I grew up with a copy of Josh McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict on the bookshelf. Over the years, I frequently consulted Evidence to quell doubts and provide ammunition to fire back at the skeptics on topics like evolution and the authorship of Daniel.
What is particularly ironic about the proliferation of village atheism is the fact that the online atheist/skeptic community persistently tries to brand itself as being especially rational, critical, and objective. And yet, the widespread and vocal opinions of the village atheists directly contradict this aspirational branding.
All this prompts the question: how many people reject Christianity because the word 'God' makes them think of him?
Some years ago, a friend of mine told me how, after losing his wife to cancer, he encouraged his embittered young adult children to return to church. One kid asked, "Dad, if God answered all those prayers, why didn't he answer ours?"
Dementia in its various permutations impacts countless families and as it does, it raises a nest of extremely difficult questions about the nature of suffering and the goodness of God.
The existence of God is a topic that tends to elicit strong passions. People have their beliefs about whether God exists or not, but they also have their hopes. Many people hope God does exist, but some prominent voices express a hope quite to the contrary.
I informed my audience that I had taught the Apostles' Creed to my daughter. One of the students spoke for many when she insisted that children should be raised without "religious dogma". Instead, they should be free to "make up their own minds" about what to believe.
Is it worth debating people if you can't change their mind? Is a conversation only worthwhile if your interlocutor has an open mind?
In his new book Disarming the Church, biblical scholar Eric Seibert defends the second view: to follow the Prince of Peace, he insists, requires a radical and categorical rejection of violence.
Growing up, I was taught to think of the Bible as like God's hotel fire evacuation map for the human race. After spending the last fifteen years as a seminary professor, I can say without a doubt that the Bible is most certainly neither brief nor succinct.
Some people will be drawn to the book because they are troubled by the ethics of the genocide of the Canaanites. In the last fifteen years, the problem of biblical violence generally and the ethics of the Canaanite genocide, in particular, have exploded like a brush fire on a tinder-dry field.
From the perspective of hospitality, I may not agree with the taboos of Japanese culture, the rigors of animal rights vegans, or the Muslim fast, but I shall try to accommodate to each of these folks as I am able. So why wouldn't I likewise accommodate to Caitlyn Jenner and Miriam Knoppow?
I learned that psychopathy is a disorder which renders individuals utterly incapable of grasping moral principles of good and evil or right and wrong. Perhaps most disturbingly, the evidence suggested that psychopathy is untreatable.
Several different reactions were evoked upon hearing that John McCain reportedly does not want President Trump to attend his funeral. Some were appalled at the sheer bitterness of such a comment. Those who are devoted to God, however, felt deep sadness over apparent entrenched unforgiveness in the heart of someone who has not long to live.
Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once observed, "when I pray coincidences happen, and when I do not pray coincidences do not happen." Many Christians can resonate with Temple's wry description of answered prayer. Skeptics ask, "What about all the time when you prayed and those 'coincidences' didn't happen?"
Over the last few decades, Christian apologetic defenses of the historicity of the New Testament have typically pursued a minimal facts approach according to which one seeks to establish a basic set of core claims about the life and death of Jesus which are most widely accepted by biblical scholars. The fact is that there are other apologetic strategies which offer a more robust historical defense of the New Testament documents.
Over the last couple months, I've heard the song "Reckless Love" played at two different churches. What should we make of the central claim that God's love is "reckless"?
Even if New Atheism no longer grabs the headlines, it has left behind a significant and very unfortunate legacy of incivility and anti-intellectualism. Incivility was always a New Atheist hallmark.
If segregating the congregation into special-interest services isn't the answer, how might we begin to change attitudes on the nature of church and worship?
I know what you're thinking: a post-apocalyptic film in which people are hunted by killer aliens? What's Christian about that?
Calvinists insist that perseverance of the saints is a scriptural doctrine. Calvinists have also often argued that perseverance has a clear pastoral advantage in that it grounds our assurance of salvation in the faithfulness of Christ rather than our own unreliable human wills.
What would it take to persuade you that your brother is the long-expected Messiah?
Salvation is like fire insurance: it's simply too late to buy the insurance after your home burns down. If you miss your chance, all that is left is weeping and gnashing of teeth that you never purchased the policy.