Don’t Be Stereotypical

Loving God and loving others means it’s real, sincere, genuine, and tangible. 

Having great intentions or thoughts to love God and people is not authentic.

The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) adjusted his life at a crucial moment in order to help the injured man. His love was authentic.

Shouldn’t ours be the same?

We all struggle in this area. So, don’t be discouraged if you recognize how much you fall short. Know that you’re among friends here at Changing the Face of Christianity.

We don’t need to ask you, “What is Christianity?” We know you have at least a basic understanding that it is having a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We have faith in God. We know we can cry out to Him, “God please help me”, when we need it. And we often know how to pray to God.

The question is whether as a Christian we are struggling towards that ideal of being like the Good Samaritan … or if loving God and others authentically is even on our mental radar. You might know of  Christ or about  Christ, but do you know  him enough to obey  him? 

Don’t be discouraged if you recognize how much you fall short. Know that you’re among friends here at Changing the Face of Christianity.

In reality, we cannot love unless the Spirit of Love Himself dwells in us. Changing the Face of Christianity is all about helping Christians understand the truth that Jesus dwells in us by his Spirit. We help genuine people really get to know him through:

  • Bible studies
  • A mentorship program
  • Learn to love God and others with sincerity, because God loves each of us.
  • Encourage them to attend and support their local church

Sometimes the simplest way to understand something is to know what it is not. If you want to authentically love God and people, then you may want to start with the Negative Christian Sterotypes Bible study. It’s an eye-opening expose of false perceptions people often have about Christians.

It’s backed up by many recognized studies done by Barna group, Lifeway Research and more.

  • It’s free.
  • It’s fun.
  • It’s eye-opening!
  • Make surprising discoveries about what people in our society really think about Christians
  •  … and maybe even discover a few surprising beliefs you hold yourself.

Download your free Negative Christian Sterotypes Bible study now

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home

Slide1Every Imperfect and Normal Family wants their kids to turn out right. So, we establish goals for character development and try to create an environment where our kids can mature. Church, school, sports teams, family relationships… each of these provides a context where our kids can learn to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Unfortunately, our “good” objectives might have absolutely nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we inadvertently end up raising pagans instead of Christians.

 We end up teaching the wrong thing because we have the wrong objectives.

Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral. It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble. The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.

We end up teaching the wrong thing because we have the wrong objectives.

This sentiment was stirred in me afresh when I read an interview with Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer. He was reflecting on how the “Christian message” he was trying to teach wasn’t Christianity at all…

“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . .

And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god.”

So what is your objective?

Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.

I want my kids to be good. We all do. But as our kids grow up, the truth of the gospel can easily get lost somewhere between salvation (where we know we need Jesus) and living life (where we tend to say “I’ve got this”). My experience is that the vast majority of parents are encouraging moral behavior in their kids so that God will bless their (usually self-centered) pursuits. It’s the American Dream plus Jesus. And it produces good, moral pagans.

Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones.

Consider the key objectives you have for your kids. Seriously, take a minute to think about what would deem you a successful parent. If your goals are focused on your kids’ behavior, their happiness, or their accomplishments (but don’t include a dependence upon Christ and a submission to His will and work), then you might want to make some adjustments.

Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones. What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer, but who intimately know a God who has everything they need.

*I have added a follow-up post that offer some suggestions of How to Guide Your Kid to a Faith That Lasts. I hope it’s helpful!

*Check out my brand new book: The Talk(s): A Parent’s Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. It has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it provides practical help to help your kids to make wise choices in a messed-up world. Find out more at www.infoforfamilies.com.

 

About Barrett Johnson

Barrett Johnson is the husband to Jenifer and the father of five great kids (including four adolescents). He serves as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church outside of Atlanta and his blog, INFO for Families, has more than 40,000 views each month. He has recently released his first book, “The Talk(s): A Parent’s Guide to Critical Conversations About Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables.” It has been created to help every parent to equip their kids to make wise choices in a sexually-charged culture. Find out more at www.infoforfamilies.com.

9 Questions Atheists Might Find Insulting

After taking a hiatus from reading atheist-leaning material, I happened across this article today and decided to respond to it:

http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-questions-atheists-might-find-insulting-and-answers

Sometimes, the truth hurts and comes across as offensive no matter what, and it’s our duty to still speak the truth. However, other times it serves no purpose other than to shut the other person down from even listening at all.

That being said, this is my own blog and I’m not saying this directly to anyone in particular, so I decided to write my own responses to the opinions she presented. The author’s portions are excerpted in italics.

1: “How can you be moral without believing in God?”

The answer: Atheists are moral for the same reasons believers are moral: because we have compassion, and a sense of justice. Humans are social animals, and like other social animals, we evolved with some core moral values wired into our brains: caring about fairness, caring about loyalty, caring when others are harmed.

I agree that asking this question to atheists is a bit short-sighted for a number of reasons. First off, we should already know that according to naturalistic beliefs, human behaviors are supposedly adaptations that increase the chances of survival. Things that are beneficial to a group tend to persist in a flourishing species. So atheists would naturally turn to these sorts of answers when it comes to morality.

God created ALL people in His image. This means a moral sense was instilled in every one of us; it is built into our nature.

But this question is also short-sighted because as Christians, we should know a very simple and fundamental truth:God created ALL people in His image. This means a moral sense was instilled in every one of us; it is built into our nature. So whether or not someone believes in God is independent of whether they have a basic moral code. True, specific moral duties and responsibilities may differ (hint: when the Bible explicitly commands us to do something, it’s usually because we naturally do not want to do them).  But we all have a basic sense of right or wrong. The question is, how do we objectively define what’s right or wrong?

You have to wonder, from a naturalistic perspective, if morals are simply an adaptation to promote survival, why not kill off unproductive members of the herd? Why bother taking care of the elderly or even barren women? Why not save our resources instead of taking care of handicapped individuals who can give nothing back? What practical benefit is there to some of these “good” deeds? As Christians, we know that every person has intrinsic worth as an image-bearer of God, but what value is there from a naturalistic standpoint?

And if someone disagrees with your sense of “good,” what right do you have to condemn them for it? If Hitler thought he was making the world a better place by killing Jews, how can we prove that he’s wrong and we’re right? Apart from some higher objective standard, we can’t. But if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we know deep in our bones that killing humans is wrong, and it’s not just some arbitrary adaptation ingrained in us over time.

What’s so special about human survival anyway? From the environment’s perspective, we are actually bad for the health of this planet, and doesn’t the planet’s needs take higher priority than our own? Since it is home to every other creature we know about, maybe it’s not right to exhibit this form of species-ism. Maybe we should depopulate…war and killing could be of great practical benefit to the world.

I could go on and on about this, but I think the point has been made. We are all made to be moral creatures, but only with God as an objective standard can it really become something more than just some arbitrary result of probability and undirected adaptation.

2: “How do you have any meaning in your life?” Sometimes asked as, “Don’t you feel sad or hopeless?” Or even, “If you don’t believe in God or heaven, why don’t you just kill yourself?”

The answer: Atheists find meaning and joy in the same things everyone does. We find it in the big things: family, friendship, work, nature, art, learning, love. We find it in the small things: cookies, World of Warcraft, playing with kittens. The only difference is that (a) believers add “making my god or gods happy and getting a good deal in the afterlife” to those lists (often putting them at the top), and (b) believers think meaning is given to them by their god or gods, while atheists create our own meaning, and are willing and indeed happy to accept that responsibility.

We Christians find joy in a lot of those same things as well, and indeed, we believe a lot of them were given to us by God for the very purpose of making life on this earth more bearable.

we would love to accept the “responsibility” of creating “our own meaning.”

But enjoying something is a far cry from having a deeper, firmer sense of purpose. And trust me, as humans with prideful desires, we would love to accept the “responsibility” of creating “our own meaning.” Who wouldn’t? It’s fun to play boss. But at the same time, we have come to grips that living like this is just playing an empty game. In the end, it’s all pointless apart from a greater purpose.

From the atheists’ point of view, the purpose in life is to enjoy every moment and to derive “meaning” in relationships and activities. But if you think about it, this sense of meaning is completely illusory. If humans are nothing but a collection of matter, randomly thrown together for no apparent purpose or design, then why are your family and friends special? Why are nature and art to be admired when they’re just an accident of impersonal and random forces?

What is “love” from a naturalistic purpose? Isn’t it simply a means to reproduce and to increase the chances of successfully raising offspring? Well, in modern day America, I think it’s safe to say that very few children die of starvation, even without monogamous parenting, so why not spread our seed as widely as possible? Why bother with marriage or commitment anymore?

If atheists are always accusing Christians of living in a fantasy world, I think it’s time that they come to grips with the illusions and mental tricks they are playing on themselves. Their sense of meaning and purpose are parlor tricks, and the prominent atheist Nietzsche is an example of someone who honestly understood these implications. He seemed to grasp that with the “death of God,” objective truth must necessarily break down. What’s ironic and sad is that while he referred to Christianity as a depressing and pitiful belief system, he himself ended up suffering a mental breakdown.

As for the last part of the question (“why don’t you just kill yourself?”), I really hope no one says this to an atheist. Apart from being cold-hearted or gimmicky at best (in trying to make some kind of poignant point), it is useless to wish death upon someone, especially if there is still time and a chance for them to find God. Better late than never.

3: “Doesn’t it take just as much/even more faith to be an atheist as it does to be a believer?”

The answer: No.

The somewhat longer answer: This question assumes that “atheism” means “100% certainty that God does not exist, with no willingness to question and no room for doubt.” For the overwhelming majority of people who call ourselves atheists, this is not what “atheism” means. For most atheists, “atheism” means something along the lines of “being reasonably certain that there are no gods,” or, “having reached the provisional conclusion, based on the evidence we’ve seen and the arguments we’ve considered, that there are no gods.” No, we can’t be 100% certain that there are no gods. We can’t be 100% certain that there are no unicorns, either. But we’re certain enough. Not believing in unicorns doesn’t take “faith.” And neither does not believing in God.

Ah, the good ol’ unicorns comparison to God, as if they were on equal levels as far as logic and evidence would direct us. But I won’t go into that now because I think I touch upon it frequently in some of my posts. The short version is this: we have solid and defensible reasons to believe in the existence of God; there are no such reasons to believe in the existence of unicorns. Itt sure does make a catchy (and extremely popular) argument, though.

Anyhow, I largely disagree with the author’s assessment that atheism doesn’t take the same (or greater) measure of faith as being a believer in, say, Jesus Christ. The honest answer should be “yes,” and let me explain.

As Christians, we have come to the conclusion that there is a specific God based on a number of influences and sources. These things can range from emotional leadings to stone-cold logic. Archeology and even science can lead some to the conclusion that there is a god. For example, Dr. Francis Collins—a prominent geneticist who led the Human Genome Project—believes that our DNA is actually the “language of God” and cannot be explained by purely naturalistic means. And yes, sometimes people believe without deeper investigation, but that’s usually because the existence of God seems so inherently obvious to them that they don’t feel a burning need to look deeper. While I would much prefer Christians to be better informed about their faith and able to defend their faith more competently (as the Bible even exhorts us to do), it’s hard to fault them too much for trusting their intuitions and common sense. In the end, we come to a conclusion we feel is reasonable, although there is that little hop of faith left on our part.

atheists believe that a lot of the things we know and feel intuitively are not objective or real at all

Now, with atheism, a similar track is usually followed. They emotionally feel things that turn them away from religion, such as anger at abuses in the church or judgmental attitudes. Perhaps it’s an abusive religious father or even strong homosexual tendencies that make the Bible’s teachings against this behavior highly objectionable to them. (This builds in an added incentive for such atheists to believe the Bible is wrong because its truth would put them in an uncomfortable spot. Perhaps that’s what motivated the author of this article, who happens to be a lesbian.) Then there is some form of “logical” thinking that takes place that utilizes catchy arguments to make the Bible seem ridiculous (but to be honest, I have yet to see any line of reasoning that holds up to any deeper scrutiny). Archeology says that a certain detail from the Bible cannot be corroborated (yet), and then science seems to take away the “need” for God, even if nothing directly contradicts His existence. Then, there is the apparent obviousness in thoughts like, “if there really were a God, why wouldn’t He show Himself? Why would there still be evil in the world?” With these seemingly reasonable lines of evidence, the last little hop of faith takes place when they trust their own intuitions and the conclusions of other people in published works or speeches, even if they could feasibly be wrong. Apparently, a smart-sounding and somewhat condescending British accent also helps greatly. The sad truth of the matter is that a mocking and sarcastic tone often comes with a built-in aura of superior intellect, for some reason.

Furthermore, atheists believe that a lot of the things we know and feel intuitively are not objective or real at all. They believe that the entire universe and life within it is nothing but a big cosmic coincidence, devoid of any purpose or design. They believe that science is conclusive and true, despite having a track history of being wrong and needing revision. They believe that anything that feels objectionable to them must be false, even though these feelings cannot be reliable as beacons of truth if they are merely adaptations for survival. They believe that fulfilled prophecies are merely math-defying coincidences or that they were manipulated in some way—even without any evidence of tampering. They will believe radically fringe ideas such as “Jesus never even existed” sooner than they will believe the words of first-hand witnesses who were martyred without recanting.

So yea, it’s not so ridiculous to say that it takes “the same (or greater) measure of faith” to be an atheist.

4: “Isn’t atheism just a religion?”

Calling atheism a religion assumes that it’s an axiom accepted on faith, not a conclusion based on thinking and evidence. And it shows that you’re not willing or able to consider the possibility that someone not only has a different opinion about religion than you do, but has come to that opinion in a different way.

This one is much like #3, so I’ll just quickly say that a religion can involve thinking and evidence as well (or at least from what I’ve seen, Christianity can). And truthfully, from what I’ve encountered, atheists don’t seem like the most “willing or able” to consider that they’re wrong either…not even on clear and simple points! Read any back-and-forth between a believer and an atheist and you’ll see a willing blindness to even acknowledge a legitimate point made. So this accusation goes right back to the author of this article.

5: “What’s the point of atheist groups? How can you have a community and a movement for something you don’t believe in?”

The answer: Atheists have groups and communities and movements for the same reasons anyone does. Remember what I said about atheists being human? Humans are social animals. We like to spend time with other people who share our interests and values. We like to work with other people on goals we have in common. What’s more, when atheists come out about our atheism, many of us lose our friends and families and communities, or have strained and painful relationships with them. Atheists create communities so we can be honest about who we are and what we think, and still not be alone.

I think this answer is very legitimate and well spoken. Humans were made to be social creatures by design because we are not to fight this fight (of life) alone.

I suspect, however, that it’s also fun to get together and mock religious types. I can’t say this for all atheist groups, but it’s hard to imagine them feeling much genuine sympathy for the rest of us, whereas Christians earnestly pray for nonbelievers all the time…sometimes with tears. I watched a video of four prominent atheists gathered in one room talking to each other, and it felt like a big religion-bashing fest where all parties involved were highly amused and reveling in each other’s apparent brilliance and wit.

And again, if atheists believe they are doing meaningful work, they need to be truly honest with themselves. If their efforts are at all difficult or costly, they really shouldn’t waste their time and energy on it. Why champion a cause if it takes away from their own resources and enjoyment? The world around them is just a fleeting and random collection of matter. In fact, it’s all steadily leading toward maximum entropy and will cease to exist eventually. There are no REAL concerns of lasting consequence. What difference does it make to them personally what others believe if they believe we’re all just going to die and return to dust anyway? It’s an exercise in futility if you ask me.

At least the social aspects mentioned by the author give us a more realistic, honest, and digestible answer to help us understand.

6: “Why do you hate God?” Or, “Aren’t you just angry at God?”

The answer: Atheists aren’t angry at God. We don’t think God exists. We aren’t angry at God, any more than we’re angry at Santa Claus.

And honestly? This question reveals how narrow your own mind is. It shows that you can’t even consider the possibility that you might be mistaken: that you can’t even conceive of somebody seeing the world differently from the way you do. This question doesn’t just make atheists mad. It makes you look like a dolt.

I think it’s disingenuous to completely deny this point, but I could be mistaken. Quite frankly, this is a line that atheists can stick to until death and there’s really no concrete way to prove that they’re angry at God (and they know it).

They seem to hate or mock God’s laws

Maybe we’re all wrong about them. Maybe their way of expressing themselves is different from all other forms of human interaction I’ve ever seen. To me, name-calling, rolling eyes, and biting sarcasm directed at God usually indicate some form of emotion…dare I say, anger or bitterness. But what do I know?

They seem to hate or mock God’s laws. They ridicule passages from the Bible that seem outdated or absurd. They ask questions like, “Where was God when…?” And not in a purely speculative or investigative way, either. You’ll notice that error found in other areas rarely evoke the same amount of impassioned speech and mockery that surround religious discussion. Why is this?

I don’t buy that they’re only angry at the believer, not an “imaginary God.” Much of the time, the believer has good intentions, so are you telling me you just get THAT angry when someone disagrees with you or doesn’t see things the way you see it?

If atheists weren’t angry with God on some level, you’d expect a much different tone from them than what you actually see. I also find the author’s accusation of narrow-mindedness and being a “dolt” puzzling considering her own choice of words.

7: “But have you [read the Bible or some other holy book; heard about some supposed miracle; heard my story about my personal religious experience]?”

The answer: Probably. Or else we’ve read/heard about something pretty darned similar. Atheists are actually better-informed about religion than most religious believers. In fact, we’re better-informed about the tenets of most specific religions than the believers in those religions. For many atheists, sitting down and reading the Bible (or the holy text of whatever religion they were brought up in) is exactly what set them on the path to atheism — or what put the final nail in the coffin.

Why you shouldn’t ask it: As my friend and colleague Heina put it: “‘Have you heard of Jesus?’ No, actually, I was born under a f**king rock.”

There are some interesting and semi-valid points given here.

First off, atheists did not become atheists by accident. They had to weigh information and decide to be that way, so of course they will already know some of the basic truths of religion. Asking them these simplistic things can come across and obvious and insulting. I concede that point.

As for whether atheists tend to be better-informed about religion than most religious believers…

I’d have to say yes and no.

Yes, they may have spent more time reading the scriptures or doing such highly academic exercises such as using Google to read the opinions of others. Sadly, many believers know precious little about the very truths they are staking their entire life and eternity on.

So far:       Atheists’ knowledge of the Bible > Casual/young believer’s knowledge

Then an interesting factor comes into play here. On a spiritual level, that factor is the Holy Spirit and “scales” falling off of our eyes. But even on a human level, there is another important differentiator: passion and motivation.

Imagine on one side, you have an atheist who thinks Christianity is foolishness. On the other, you have a curious and thorough Christian who wants to know God to the deepest level possible. Who do you think will understand the Bible better?

The atheist comes across a difficult passage, and already assuming that the Bible is flawed and man-made, he immediately concludes that the passage is in error. It’s a contradiction or an oversight. Then he laughs about it, but does his diligence in remembering the details so that he can equip it in his next argument with a Christian. At this point, he can already stump the ho-hum Christian who knows nothing of the Bible.

The motivated Christian comes across the same passage and feels conflicted about it. How can that make sense when it sounds so off? Then, he remembers a related passage, perhaps 1,000 pages later that adds another layer to consider. Then he checks cross-references, commentaries, and draw upon his deep well of understanding to finally decipher the true meaning of the passage. It now makes sense and is crystal clear. Through this deep probing, he now has a better sense of the truth and even God’s character, even if the final conclusion is much different than what he initially thought or expected.

In the end, this Christian has a far better understanding of the passage than the atheist does. Why is that? It’s not because of superior intelligence, but it’s because of his motivation and willingness to stretch his thinking to allow truths to come to him rather than dictate things with his own intuitions and biases. It’s his humility and deep desire to know God that opens up the words on the page to him. Otherwise, they would remain hidden.

Before you scoff at this idea, you should know that this applies in a lot of other areas as well—for instance, simple things like sports or even frivolous things like video games. *Warning: Geek speak is about to follow, so you may want to tune out.

You could be the smartest guy out there, and even naturally gifted at video games. You could quickly excel to a certain point without a ton of effort. But unless you actually care about a game and devote yourself to it on a deeper level, you will never unlock your true potential in it.

People who have never been at an elite level in gaming (or other areas) will find this hard to understand and agree with, but it’s true. Lots of capable gamers will try out a game, see what they recognize to be an obvious flaw or limitation, and decide not to play it competitively. They write it off as shallow and unworthy of their efforts.

atheists fail to see the deeper level of truth beneath the surface. That’s because they assume there isn’t any.

But the dedicated gamer will go deeper. He will see what looks like an “unfair” flaw and discover ways around it. What seemed like a broken imbalance is now just one mechanic that has been solved and pushed aside. Then other mechanics are discovered underneath. A deeper, richer game is uncovered for this gamer, but it never would have happened if he was haughty and decided the game was as simple as it first appeared.

(When it comes to the Street Fighter series, I could go on and on about frame data, spacing, the meta game, P-linking, conditioning your opponent…but you get the gist by now. It’s never just as simple as the characters you see on the screen.)

In the same way, atheists fail to see the deeper level of truth beneath the surface. That’s because they assume there isn’t any. They also overestimate the power of their intelligence, as if they should be able to immediately crack any code presented before them.

Here’s a news flash: no one is as smart as they think they are. (I’m constantly reminded of this, which is one of the useful, humbling quirks of marriage.) Here’s another one: If the Bible was inspired by God, do you really expect to be able to figure it all out with a few hours, months, or even years of half-blinded study? Even if it were man-made, scholars over many centuries have written countless volumes about the Bible that would astonish you in their complexity. Are you in a position to top that? If you can’t master Shakespeare in a couple of years, what makes you think you’d be able to master something this comprehensive and grand?

I can honestly tell you that every time I read a passage after not reading it for a while, I see something new jump out of the page. And that’s with passages I’ve read numerous times before! How much more complex would it be to piece together the entirety of the Bible logically and theologically? I can tell you right now, from what I’ve seen, the more you know, the more it fits…often in ways you never expected.

The conclusion is this: unless an atheist somehow had the right mindset (and the Holy Spirit’s guidance) while poring through the pages of scripture, it’s erroneous to say that they know it “better” than informed believers. It’s not their fault, but it’s just the reality.

8: “What if you’re wrong?” Sometimes asked as, “Doesn’t it make logical sense to believe in God? If you believe and you’re wrong, nothing terrible happens, but if you don’t believe and you’re wrong, you could go to Hell!”

What if you’re wrong about Allah? Or Vishnu? Or Zeus? What if you’re wrong about whether God is the wrathful jerk who hates gay people, or the loving god who hates homophobes? What if you’re wrong about whether God wants you to celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? What if you’re wrong about whether God really does care about whether you eat bacon? As Homer Simpson put it, “What if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we’re just making God madder and madder!”

Are you really that ignorant of the existence of religions other than your own? Has it really never occurred to you that when you “bet” on the existence of your god, there are thousands upon thousands of other gods whose existence you’re “betting” against?

I agree that using Pascal’s Wager as the sole or primary argument to believe in God is a foolish exercise. In my opinion, it can’t be completely discarded, but there are a lot of other considerations that all contribute to making a firm commitment.

there is a good reason to believe Christianity is the real truth

Yes, Christians are “betting” on our God in some sense, but it’s not a blind bet at a roulette table full of equally appealing choices. For some of us, it’s a weighed and informed decision that appears more and more in our favor as we inform ourselves.

Again, I go into a lot of this stuff in my other posts, but there is a good reason to believe Christianity is the real truth as opposed to the other religions. In fact, a little effort quickly reveals how shockingly little credibility any other religion has.

It’s not a simple game of luck we’re playing. Like any reasonable person, we learn what we can and make the best decision based on what we know.

9: “Why are you atheists so angry?”

The answer: I’ve actually written an entire book answering this question (Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless). The short answer: Not all atheists are angry about religion — and those of us who are angry aren’t in a constant state of rage. But yes, many atheists are angry about religion — and we’re angry because we see terrible harm being done by religion. We’re angry about harm being done to atheists… and we’re angry about harm done to other believers. We don’t just think religion is mistaken — we think it does significantly more harm than good. And it pisses us off.

Organized religion has indeed done many wrongs in this world. The church is not exempt from this unfortunate fact. But none of these wrongs were directly in line with God’s will or the scriptures. They were a result of manmade institutions and corruptions due to the flesh. If you’re going to get mad about something, get mad at what we humans have molded religion to be.

But being mad about these transgressions is wholly separate from the truth of God’s Word. Furthermore, you might as well be constantly mad at everything and everyone because nothing is exempt from great sin.

Heck, I’m glad to be an American but does it make sense to continually stew in anger at my countrymen because of the corruptions in our government? Or to hate white people for the injustices committed against people of other races and the indigenous people on this continent?

We’re ALL at fault in some way because we are all wretched sinners. That doesn’t change the truth of the gospel one bit. Using past wrongs to justify unbelief is not only a cop-out, it’s logically incoherent.

About Joe Kim

Joe Kim grew up in the church and thought himself to be saved at a young age. However, as he got older, the hypocrisy he saw in the church caused him to have doubts. It wasn't until he started confronting atheism head-on that he dug deeper in apologetics and found the answers he had longed for. With his inner doubts resolved, a fire was lit in his heart and he has been passionate about Jesus Christ ever since. Joe lives in Virginia with his lovely wife, Maryanna. He is currently pursuing an M.Div at Liberty Theological Seminary and plans to work full-time in the ministry. Read more articles by Joe Kim at live2believe.org

Christian Testimony-Deliverance from Abuse

Victory over Homosexuality

Editors Note:

This is a personal testimony of a friend of mine named Larry K., published with his permission. After you read it, please share some love and encouragement with Larry or maybe share some thoughts about how you can relate to his story. He is very brave for sharing his testimony with us.

Larry K.:

I was born in 1956, the second of three boys. I don’t remember much about my younger years, but I do know that my mother was a Christian, and she made church attendance a priority. I’ve gone to church all my life. Being in church at least once a week however, did not make me a Christian.
[Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

Do You Love or Hate Your Christian Brothers and Sisters?

love and hate words

We are commanded by Jesus and the apostles to love one another. Hating one another is a sin. But the apostle John says it like this:
[Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

Random Musings About God and the Meaning of Life

bigstock-Bible-Study-5363901

How many of you wish that something in your life were different?  “If only “this” or “that” were different, then I would be happy”….  Happy….  What in the world made any of us think that we were put on this earth to be happy?
[Read more...]

About laura deleon

In 2004, at the ripe old age of 23, Jesus Christ met Laura DeLeon, His beloved prodigal daughter, in a hopeless pile of shame and regret on her bedroom floor. It was here, that the truth that she had always known traveled from her head and into her heart. His brilliant love and forgiveness altered her life's path and the great adventure of following after her King began. Having also struggled with severe depression and anxiety in different seasons of her life, she feels that she has been given a special ministry in helping others who walk down this road as well. Just as He called and continues to call her from her ashes and into a life of beauty and redemption, she now hopes to inspire other captives into His precious Arms. Laura is an Air Force wife, mother of 3, and a student at Liberty University, pursuing her degree in Christian counseling, with the purpose of showing others that Grace has no limits and that nobody is beyond Christ's reach.

You Will Know Them by Their Apps

Mobile Phone with cloud of application icons flying arround

There used to be a saying “You will know them by the friends that they keep.” Meaning, if someone spends a lot of time with lazy people, they are probably lazy themselves.  If you hang out with criminals, you are probably a criminal yourself. There is a lot of wisdom in that saying, but I think this saying should be replaced with an updated saying: “You will know them by their apps.”

Instead of looking at your friends, look at your smart phone or tablet apps. What do you find there? [Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

Identity In Crisis

Gay Identity

If you feel like getting into a heated debate or argument, just mention the topic of homosexuality and the Church’s position on it, and you will most assuredly find yourself smack dab in the middle of one. It is one of, if not THE most divisive issues in America today, and I would venture as far as to say that more people are kept from the Gospel because of this than anything else.  How did this happen? Why homosexuality in-particular ?  And as Christians how should we respond?
[Read more...]

About laura deleon

In 2004, at the ripe old age of 23, Jesus Christ met Laura DeLeon, His beloved prodigal daughter, in a hopeless pile of shame and regret on her bedroom floor. It was here, that the truth that she had always known traveled from her head and into her heart. His brilliant love and forgiveness altered her life's path and the great adventure of following after her King began. Having also struggled with severe depression and anxiety in different seasons of her life, she feels that she has been given a special ministry in helping others who walk down this road as well. Just as He called and continues to call her from her ashes and into a life of beauty and redemption, she now hopes to inspire other captives into His precious Arms. Laura is an Air Force wife, mother of 3, and a student at Liberty University, pursuing her degree in Christian counseling, with the purpose of showing others that Grace has no limits and that nobody is beyond Christ's reach.

Good Enough FOR Me

Survey questionnaire

Do you believe that there is such a thing as “good” people?  Or perhaps, you know some “good” Christians?  We throw this word “good” around all of the time; usually in reference to people that we love and admire and in response to something positive that they did.  I’d like to challenge you to consider the fallacy of this type of thinking, and ask you to consider that it is performance driven rather than Grace driven, thus contrary to the Word of God.  I believe that this subtle and seemingly innocent false perception often times grows into something quite larger and can in effect have a negative impact on non believers, believers, and ultimately the Body of Christ.
[Read more...]

About laura deleon

In 2004, at the ripe old age of 23, Jesus Christ met Laura DeLeon, His beloved prodigal daughter, in a hopeless pile of shame and regret on her bedroom floor. It was here, that the truth that she had always known traveled from her head and into her heart. His brilliant love and forgiveness altered her life's path and the great adventure of following after her King began. Having also struggled with severe depression and anxiety in different seasons of her life, she feels that she has been given a special ministry in helping others who walk down this road as well. Just as He called and continues to call her from her ashes and into a life of beauty and redemption, she now hopes to inspire other captives into His precious Arms. Laura is an Air Force wife, mother of 3, and a student at Liberty University, pursuing her degree in Christian counseling, with the purpose of showing others that Grace has no limits and that nobody is beyond Christ's reach.

Is the “sinner’s prayer” a legitimate way to get saved?

Hands in prayer

If you’ve been in the American church for any amount of time, you are probably familiar with the concept of the “sinner’s prayer.” Basically, a preacher asks people in the congregation to repeat after him if they are interested in having Jesus Christ come into their hearts and save them. The prayer will generally go something like this: “God, I know I’m a sinner, and without you I am destined for eternal punishment. I repent of my sins. Please forgive me and come into my heart. Be my Lord and Savior. Amen.”

Poof! If you’ve repeated this prayer, then you’re now magically saved, right? Well, not exactly. It doesn’t work like a flu shot.

[Read more...]

About Joe Kim

Joe Kim grew up in the church and thought himself to be saved at a young age. However, as he got older, the hypocrisy he saw in the church caused him to have doubts. It wasn't until he started confronting atheism head-on that he dug deeper in apologetics and found the answers he had longed for. With his inner doubts resolved, a fire was lit in his heart and he has been passionate about Jesus Christ ever since. Joe lives in Virginia with his lovely wife, Maryanna. He is currently pursuing an M.Div at Liberty Theological Seminary and plans to work full-time in the ministry. Read more articles by Joe Kim at live2believe.org

My Personal Logical Path to Christianity

PathtoCross

Like I often do, I’d like to start with a disclaimer…

This is my own way of thinking and it works for me, but it is by no means authoritative or complete. No one can actually come to believe in Christ without the Holy Spirit, but it helps to be able to fall back on logic in times of doubt and weakness.

I encourage people to think through these steps (or steps like these) and really dig at the heart of the issue. It perplexes me still just how little people delve into these things when literally everything is riding on them. Keep in mind that this is a logical path, so things like feelings, personal preferences, and predispositions need to be kept in check as much as possible. We are making probabilistic judgments along the way and ignoring what we like or dislike. As humans, these things seep into our decision-making and conclusions all the time, but it has little relevance here.

This is a very surface-level post, so don’t expect it to be comprehensive, but I think it’s a good basic overview. This is my simple three-step path to deciding that Christianity is the one true religion.

OK so the very first step is to decide for yourself:

1. Is there a personal creator of the universe? Yes or no? There are only two options.

Most people claim to believe “yes” to this question because some things seem inherently obvious (of course, many simply state “I believe there is a higher power somewhere” and leave it at that). The universe is not eternal—as skeptics used to propose—and therefore was created or came into being at a finite point in our past. Nothing comes from nothing, so there had to be some external first-cause, right? Natural causes couldn’t sufficiently handle this creation duty, and what natural causes are there to speak of anyway when “nature,” matter, and even time didn’t exist? (Yes, even time came into existence at the Big Bang, most scientists agree.) A personal being had to choose to create the universe rather than there being nothing.

Things like the Cosmological Argument and the impossibility of an actual infinite come into play here…and in my opinion, common sense. When we look around and witness the beauty and intelligence around us, it seems almost preposterous to think it all happened by chance from inanimate and impersonal matter.

So for me, this question is a YES. That leads me to the next question…

2. Did this personal creator choose to reveal itself to us? Yes or no.

One could imagine a scenario where a disinterested creator or god brought this universe into being, and then stepped away to leave us to our own devices. It’s possible. But when we have to decide probabilistically whether this is the case, it’s hard to defend.

In my view, why would a powerful and personal creator make this world (and the resulting intelligent life) and have no interest in it? Why would this creator bother making humans who yearn for answers and even for worship in some form? Why would this creator be satisfied in making such splendor and complexity and being completely detached from it? Doesn’t it make more sense that this creator would ultimately try to make contact with us and for us to recognize him/her?

In my view, it makes more sense that if this grand creator bothered to make us, then a relationship of some sort would naturally follow

.In my view, it makes more sense that if this grand creator bothered to make us, then a relationship of some sort would naturally follow. If you don’t agree, it’s hard to convince you otherwise (but I’d love to hear your train of thought on this).

Now, if this creator has revealed information and truths to us in some way, I think that would constitute what we refer to as a “religion” or set of beliefs. The question now becomes something else entirely…

3. Out of all the world’s religions, which is most likely to be true? Which one is the right one?

Before we delve into this, let me stop some of you peace-loving hippies (or postmodernists even) out there. No, not all religions can be right, and they do NOT all point to the same thing. They all state contradictory “facts” about this greater power and are mutually exclusive from each other. The issue is not “what’s true for you” because truth is true whether or not you feel it. Someone can believe with all their heart that 2+2 = 3, but they’d be wrong. Like it or not, there is objective truth…some things are right, some things are wrong. What we’re dealing with at this step is figuring out what’s right. And if this great creator has such incomprehensible power, you can safely assume that he/she would make sure that the right set of beliefs is correct all the way. You can’t pick bits and pieces from different sources. Wouldn’t that be a rather incompetent higher power?

Anyway, a likely obstacle you’d come across at this point is this: “you can’t prove whether a religion is true. It’s all taken on faith, not evidence.”

Yes, there is a measure of faith in the unseen and incomprehensible; I understand that. But what we’re trying to decide is which religion is most likely to be true, given what we know and have available to us.

From my study of the major world religions, it was easy to notice some predictable patterns. Some dude has a dream or vision, and then tells other people about it. Sometimes, they are just the person’s own ideas. The hearers of these so-called truths or revelations sense conviction in that person’s voice and demeanor, and they decide he is not lying. Being superstitious and gullible, they start believing and following this original source. Eventually, their numbers increase and you have an established religion.

(Don’t get me wrong…it is my belief that many of these religious leaders believed their own story. There was not much understanding of dreams back then, and visions can come from various places and for different reasons…possibly were even demonic.)

Sometimes, the religion spreads by word of mouth in light of little or no opposition. Other times, it spreads by military might or government mandate.

In almost all cases, the source can be primarily traced to one man who in his enlightenment, writes some scriptures for people to follow. It takes maybe a few months or years. Nothing within these scriptures can be proved or disproved because they largely deal with the metaphysical. This person likely enjoys a heightened status as a leader of a new movement. Who doesn’t like having followers looking up to you, right?

But one religion stands out in stark contrast: Christianity.

The Bible was not written by one person trying to get followers, but rather 40 different authors spaced out over thousands of years.

The Bible was not written by one person trying to get followers, but rather 40 different authors spaced out over thousands of years. If you know your Bible well enough and pay close attention, you’ll notice a striking continuity and an unmistakeable unified purpose throughout. No single author or leader received all the glory, and if anything, they were severely persecuted or even martyred for their teachings.

We have the Synoptic Gospels, which all tell the same story (with varying levels of detail), so there is multiple attestation making it more credible according to methods that help determine historicity. Keep in mind that these people weren’t collectively working on something known as “the Bible” today. They were not collaborators, but rather were people who in some cases didn’t even know each other directly.

We also have biblical stories squarely entrenched in the midst of actual known human history. We see Caesars, Xerxes, and other known figures throughout. These are not fables in mythical settings with made-up events, but are real locations with historical details being confirmed by archeology and ancient historians continually (even including lost civilizations that modern scholars initially claim never existed…until they are proved wrong by the next excavation). The Bible even contains startlingly accurate prophecies regarding the man of Jesus and even the rise and fall of empires. The Dead Sea Scrolls and other finds confirm that these prophecies were recorded well before the actual events took place.

For me, the fact that the Bible tells us things we don’t want to hear even helps confirm its truthfulness. What other religion tells us that we are held accountable even for our thoughts? Or that we are unable to come to good standing with our own works and effort, but rather are completely dependent on the mercy of Jesus? That the love of money or wealth itself can be bad for you and is dangerous?

If I made a religion, I’d tell people to get as rich as possible. This would help support the cause, right? Other religions try to tell you things that make them appealing, like having multiple wives or the promise of 72 virgins in the afterlife…true biblical Christianity is hard and humbling.

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Nothing else even comes close.

Does this make Christianity a certainty? Of course not, but you might be compelled to agree that it’s the best candidate for the one true religion.

If this is true and the Bible is the true word of God, then at this point, does it really matter what you feel? Does it matter that you like Buddhism’s teachings better or that you find things in the Bible to be objectionable? You should know as well as anyone that you are fallible and prone to mistakes. What you believe one day can change the next.

The crux of the issue is what is true.

And that is the basic gist of why I believe Christianity to be the one true religion. It’s hard to capture it in a readable blog post, but I hope you get the idea.

About Joe Kim

Joe Kim grew up in the church and thought himself to be saved at a young age. However, as he got older, the hypocrisy he saw in the church caused him to have doubts. It wasn't until he started confronting atheism head-on that he dug deeper in apologetics and found the answers he had longed for. With his inner doubts resolved, a fire was lit in his heart and he has been passionate about Jesus Christ ever since. Joe lives in Virginia with his lovely wife, Maryanna. He is currently pursuing an M.Div at Liberty Theological Seminary and plans to work full-time in the ministry. Read more articles by Joe Kim at live2believe.org

Watered Down Gospel?

Jesus 

Is today’s Gospel watered down?

Follow Me

David Platt’s video, “Follow Me” start with a story of a man who was trying to escape going to hell.  This man one day says the “sinner’s prayer” and is told he does not have to worry about hell any longer.  David Platt then question the significance of this statement, Is this what it means to follow Jesus?

A Palatable Gospel

The video then goes on to discuss the type of commitment that Jesus wants from us.  Is it as easy and simple as saying a short prayer or does following Jesus require a lot more than that?  Have we water down the gospel to make it more palatable?

Follow me – David Platt


 

 

What do you think?

Use the comment section below to let us know what do you think about this subject and/or this video.  We would love to hear your opinion.  Thanks!

About Karen Smith

Karen Brooks Smith is a guest blogger and passionate volunteer at Changing the Face of Christianity. Karen became a Christian in her early adulthood. She isn't religious, but has a relationship with Jesus Christ. Karen recognizes the differences between the church of this world and the church of the Bible and is motivated to reconcile those differences in our culture. Karen enjoys volunteering with her Church’s youth group, her children’s school and with the Girl Scouts. However, her most important blessing and ministry is her wonderful husband and three delightful daughters.

The Difference Between Grace and Love

Love and the cross metaphor

What would you say is the difference between grace and love?

More particularly, God’s grace and God’s love?

I was in a conversation the other day about the wording, and we hung up on whether we should use grace or love, and it got me to thinking about what the real difference is between the two.  Both words come with their own presuppositions and baggage.

Both words come with their own presuppositions and baggage.

It’s troubling to think that so many Christian words have been misused for long, they’ve lost their real meaning. That, as Christian communicators, we have to over-concern ourselves with them due to fast food meanings people hold in their heads versus the concepts and ideas the words truly represent. We could run the gamut on words that have little or misapplied meanings to our society. There’s grace and love, of course, but also there’s evangelism, mission, mercy, faith, justice, holiness, and so on and so on. Maybe we should blog about them all individually (there’s an idea).

OK, back on topic. Grace and love.

Different or The Same

The two are ultimately inseparable. But the idea of grace, to me, forms the greatest expression of God’s love because of what it encompasses. Grace, for me, brings love into the story of the Gospel while properly accounting for justice. God is equal parts love and justice, which is why sin so separates us from him. To speak only of, or even to solely introduce God as, love, is to facilitate an ego-Christianity that sees God only for the benefits He brings us.

Without the proper understanding of grace, John 3:16 holds no real meaning to us. Or, it holds a weakened meaning. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” is not only nonsensical to the thinking non-believer, it’s a bad plan altogether. Why would an all-powerful god allow such a situation in the first place? Why is “sending his son” such evidence of love? Why not simply forgive and forget? These are question met with dismal answers without mention of grace.

Love, on its own, left undefined, is not powerful enough to change the heart. Because love is one of those slippery words that we bring our suppositions to when we define it.

But grace, amazing grace, takes the powerful nature of love to the next level.

But grace, amazing grace, takes the powerful nature of love to the next level. Grace is the width, and depth, and breadth of love reaching out, rippling across the ponds of time to reach into the hearts of the lost and searching. Grace is the freeing element of love, it’s God’s best play. It’s the complete character of God on full display, in all its justice and mercy (two opposing ideas, mind you).

It’s the grace of God that fuels my love for him, and fuels my service in his ministry. Grace is the way to introduce God to the world, because grace frames love in such a fashion that it reveals God’s character more fully to all who are willing to hear it.

Your Thoughts

I could go longer, but I think you guys get the gist. Comment below and tell me your thoughts on the matter.  What would you say is the difference between love and grace?

Originally posted on Candid Christianity at http://antwuanmalone.com/the-difference-between-grace-and-love/Copyright © 2013 AntwuanMalone.com. Republished with permission

 

About Antwuan Malone

Antwuan Malone is a Christian author and Lifegroup/Connect Associate at Legacy Church in Plano, TX. He believes in being authentic, open, and real. He exposes the concealed thoughts, doubts, fears, and contrarian, cynical opinions we keep in our heads by asking tough questions and engaging in meaningful, soul-searching "Candid" conversations. Read all of Antwuan's articles on his Candid Christianity blog at http://CandidChristianity.net.

To Calvinist or Not To Calvanist

God and Devil

Normally, the conversation of Calvinism (or predestination) should probably be had “in house.” For a couple of reasons. First, the general Christian public often gets riled up so much that having a real “conversation” is nearly impossible. A subject like this often leads to shouting matches and battles of biblical wits. In such interactions, I wish not to participate.

The second reason is for the potential damage it does to the seeking/new believer. The doctrine of predestination has been a “stumbling block” (as Apostle Paul might call it) to many, and thus should often be discussed among those more ready for the concept. To this, I agree. And since my audience spans seekers to seasoned believers, I ask all who engage to keep in mind the eyes reading this post and its comments.

Covering Calvinism and predestination in a short 1000 word blog is impossible. But I decided to post anyway. I was discussing Calvinism and predestination last week and became fascinated again with the topic. It was Tim Keller, my favorite Christian author right now, who ushered in the topic. Unbeknownst to him, I’m sure. While I highly respect Tim and his ministry (I’m reading his Center Church book now, which is absolutely fantastic so far!), I understand he is a Calvinist… and I disagree with that stance.

What is Calvinism?

Calvinism is named after John Calvin, a Reformation era theologian. It basically suggests God has complete control over all things. That is, God has ordained (or is in the driving seat for) all things.

Calvinism is named after John Calvin, a Reformation era theologian. It basically suggests God has complete control over all things. That is, God has ordained (or is in the driving seat for) all things. I personally think we need to better define what we mean by “control” and “ordain,” but these are the terms in use. I take it to mean that God is directing, in some way, all actions. At first glance, this may sound exactly right. A sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing God is the perfect candidate for “control” of all things.

The problem (for today) comes with how this affects “salvation.” One of Calvinism’s five key points suggest the notion of predestination. And predestination is the idea that God has already chosen who will spend eternity with him, and who will not. It suggests that God has pre-determined who will accept him and who will not. This, Calvinism teaches, is the epitome of grace. The reasoning goes that, since grace is a gift for which we do nothing to receive, then ultimately it is not up to us to allow it take effect. Grace places the salvation of the individual completely in God’s hands, and completely out of our hands. Biblical verses that are often referenced include:

  • Romans 8:29-30
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  • Ephesians 1:3-6
  • Ephesian 1:11

What about Love?

The verses in those passages are hard to dispute. Hence the great debate over this topic for centuries. It is especially difficult when considering verses like Romans 10:9, John 3:16, and 2 Peter 3:9. In the Peter passage, we learn “God does not want anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance,” which is especially interesting to me considering that God will not get what he wants. Rob Bell asks the question about whether God gets what he wants in his provocative book “Love Wins.” You can see my retort here. It is an interesting point of contention for this conversation, especially considering that Calvinism pretty much puts all control in God’s hands. One does have to ask how it is God doesn’t get what he wants when he’s the one in full control.

There are two ways in which I reconcile the grace of God (not by work, even the work of ”believing”) and the free will of men (the importance of choosing God on our own).

I believe that Jesus paid the price for all sins. Every one of them. That means we are all saved from the penalty of Hell and eternal separation. This salvation is for all men: past, present and future. To this end, Jesus gave us all eternal life. So the question is not whether we will be saved from Hell because we deserve to go there. Yes, we do deserve to go, and the grace of God found in the sacrifice of Jesus clears all of us from such a destination. The question is, what will we do with our newfound freedom.

Consider a man sitting in jail. Another man comes and pays his bail. The guards then open the jail doors and says, “Your bail has been paid. You’re free to go.” At that point the jailed man is free. Actually, he was free as soon as the bail was paid, whether he knew about it or not. The question is, will the man now choose to walk out of the jail cell and embrace his freedom, or will he remain in jail, skeptical that he is being conned or tricked into something. And if he stays, is he really “saved” or not?

This is the grace of God in action, Jesus has paid our bail. We are free to leave the prison.

This is the grace of God in action, Jesus has paid our bail. We are free to leave the prison. But we are still left with a choice to embrace our salvation or to stay put. Where our salvation leads us is up to us. It’s an broken analogy (for the “faith” needed to accept the salvation you’ve already been given produces a spiritual change), but serves us to make the point that salvation and choice can, and does, coexist.

Which brings me to the second point of free will. I understand the purpose of God creating humanity was to form a relationship with him. I believe God wanted to give and receive true love with us. I also believe love is the product of free will; that without choice, love does not exist. Thus, Calvinism and the idea that God is doing the choosing, calls to question whether every Christian who ever existed actually loves God, as opposed to being manipulated by God to look as though they love him. In other words, if I don’t make an independent choice to engage in a loving relationship with God, then I am a mere technology functioning in the way my creator made me. You may say, “Exactly!” But I’d ask you, do you feel your car loves you when you push the gas and it goes? Or when you hit the power button on your remote control and it turns on the TV? No. Creator and created don’t often share “love” relationships.

But God is amazing in that he breaks this creator/created mode. He created us to love him, but in order to do that, he must relinquish some of his control to our free will. It’s the only way we can actually fulfill the purposes for which he made us.

So the problem with Calvinism, for me, ultimately comes to this. Do I really love God? Or, can I really love him, if I am not choosing to love on my own accord?

Your Thoughts?

Oh, there’s so much more to be said, but I’m already over my word limit. Let’s continue in the comments though. You tell me… what are your thoughts on Calvinism and Predestination?

Originally posted on Candid Christianity at http://antwuanmalone.com/to-calvinist-or-not-to-calvinist/ Copyright © 2013 AntwuanMalone.com. Republished with permission

 

About Antwuan Malone

Antwuan Malone is a Christian author and Lifegroup/Connect Associate at Legacy Church in Plano, TX. He believes in being authentic, open, and real. He exposes the concealed thoughts, doubts, fears, and contrarian, cynical opinions we keep in our heads by asking tough questions and engaging in meaningful, soul-searching "Candid" conversations. Read all of Antwuan's articles on his Candid Christianity blog at http://CandidChristianity.net.

You Can’t Legislate Morality…or Can You?

 

“You Can’t Legislate Morality.” “You CAN Legislate Morality.” I’ve heard both statements with equal zeal. On the surface these two statements seem diametrically opposed, contradictory, and mutually exclusive. 

These two statements are put forth by intelligent folks on both sides of the debate. So is one side just plain wrong and the other side just plain right? Or am I missing something?

[Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White