Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

College Student Banned From Religious Studies Class After Saying There Are Only 2 Genders

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 13, 2018

A student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania claims that he has been barred from a religious studies class he needs to graduate this May and asked to apologize after voicing his belief that there are only two biological genders.

Last week, IUP student Lake Ingle took to his Facebook page to let his disbelief be known. He is being punished, he wrote, by the university for his response after the professor of his class on “self, sin and salvation” showed a TED Talks video featuring transgender woman Paula Stone Williams.

Ingle detailed his “best and fairest” account of the incident that transpired after Dr. Alison Downie showed the video to the class on Feb. 28, in a now-deleted Facebook post.

“On Wednesday, February 28th, in one of my major-required courses, the instructor played a ‘Ted-Talk’ during which a transgender woman discussed her previous experiences of manhood as well as her current experiences of womanhood,” Ingle wrote. “During her speech, she gave accounts of things such as ‘mansplaining’, ‘male-privilege’, and ‘sexism’ and deemed them systemic. She also alluded to the REALITY of the gender wage gap, stating women ‘…work twice as hard for half as much.'”

After the video ended, Downie opened the floor for a discussion on “mansplaining,” male privilege, sexism and the gender wage gap and allowed only women to voice their thoughts first.

Ingle stated that after about 30 seconds of silence, he voiced his objection to the “use of one person’s anecdotal accounts of the previously mentioned experiences as fact.”

“I also took this opportunity to point out the official view of biologists who claim there are only two biological genders, as well as data from entities such as The Economist on the gender wage gap and how the claims made in the video were far from the empirically supported evidence,” Ingle wrote. “I then objected to the instructor’s, as well as the Religious Studies Dept.’s misuse of intellectual power, of which I have become familiar over the past few semesters.”

“It was at this point others in the class entered the discussion,” he added. “Class proceeded normally, thereon.”

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(PHOTO: LAKE INGLE)Indiana University of Pennsylvania Academic Integrity Referral Form and Documented Agreement

According to Ingle, he met with the instructor the next morning to discuss class project he is working on. During that meeting, Ingle wrote that he was presented with an “Academic Integrity Referral Form and Documented Agreement.”

The form alleges that Ingle had a “disrespectful objection to the professor’s class discussion structure.” It also accused the student of talking out of turn and of having “angry outbursts in response to being required to listen to a trans speaker discuss the reality of white male privilege and sexism.”

Additionally, Ingle was accused of making “disrespectful references to the validity of trans identity and experience.”

The form also called for him to issue an apology in front of the class on March 8 for each of the “disrespectful behaviors” described by the professor. The form states that after giving his apology, Ingle would have had to “listen in silence” as students in the class share how they felt during Lake’s “disruptive outbursts.”

Ingle denied the professor’s claims in his Facebook post.

“Though the documents attached present a narrative of disrespect, disruption, anger, and intolerance — I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth,” Ingle said.

The Christian Post reached out to IUP for clarification about Ingle’s alleged “angry outbursts.” However, a university spokesperson told CP that no comment could be provided because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as it pertains to student education records.

Ingle wrote in his post that he received a second document that lists further details of the violation.

“After these documents were handed to me, I read them carefully several times. I asked for one line to be revised and was answered with ‘no’ and was told it was the instructor’s job to recount what took place, not mine,” he wrote. “I then commented on the total misuse of intellectual power in a university setting, at which point I was asked to leave.”

The next morning on March 2, Ingle received a letter from Provost Timothy Moreland telling him that he is barred from attending the class and barred from speaking with Downie until the charges against him have been adjudicated.

“[T]he wording in the documents below is not only exaggerated, but more than one line is entirely untruthful and is done so purposefully to discredit my views and paint me as intolerant and ignorant,” Ingle said. “THE FACTS ARE: I did not object to the views of the speaker (Paula Stone). Rather, I objected to its misuse as hard evidence to support the ‘reality’ of phenomena that are not only a matter of opinion, but also empirically unsupported (wage gap statistics).”

“It is my belief that the instructor’s decision to file these sanctions is an attempt to bully me into redacting my views, making it a matter of free speech,” he continued. “I will be battling the university, as well as my instructor, to ensure I am not permanently removed from the class, which would mean my inability to graduate as scheduled this May.”

Ingle is subject to a hearing before the school’s Academic Integrity Board. The ruling from the hearing will be announced on March 19.

In another Facebook post, Ingle explained that he was advised to remove the initial Facebook post detailing the situation with the school after he received legal counsel.

Courtesy of



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Residents Banned From Holding Bible Study, Praying in Condo’s Common Area

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 12, 2018

A Florida woman filed a federal complaint after her homeowners association barred her from continuing to host a Bible study in the common room of her own condominium complex.

Last week, attorneys representing residents at the Cambridge House Condominiums in Port Charlotte, Florida, sent a Fair Housing Act complaint letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The complaint explains that Donna Dunbar, a Seventh-day Adventist lay minister who runs a nationally recognized soup kitchen with her husband, held a small women’s Bible study in the social room of the Cambridge House complex for two hours on Monday mornings for nearly a year.

The group consisted of less than 10 friends, some of which are not Cambridge residents, and is too big to fit into Dunbar’s small condo.

About three months after a the Bible study began, Dunbar was told by the then-treasurer for the Cambridge House Board of Directors that the group would have to acquire insurance for the meeting.

No other groups that use the common areas are required to acquire insurance for their meetings, according to First Liberty Institute, a legal group that represents Dunbar. But after disputing the need for insurance, Dunbar went ahead and complied with the demands so that the weekly Bible study could continue.

However, the Cambridge House board of directors passed a resolution on Feb. 6 that states: “Prayers and other religious services, observations, or meetings of any nature shall not occur … in or upon any of the common elements.”

Following the resolution’s passing, Dunbar was also sent a letter that explained that the new resolution “prohibits Bible Study meetings in the Social Room.”

Dunbar’s complaint alleges that a sign was even placed on top of the organ in the community room saying that “ANY AND ALL CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS BANNED!”

“The Cambridge House Resolution, both in text and in application, is discriminatory and violates the Fair Housing Act because it prohibits Mrs. Dunbar and other Christian residents from accessing common condominium areas for any religious activity, while allowing other residents to use those same facilities for similar non-secular purposes,” the complaint states. “In effect, the Resolution manifests profound hostility to Christians, and indeed all religious residents and discriminates against any resident who wishes to express their faith beyond the walls of their private residence.”

The complaint explains that the resolution does not ban groups from meeting in the common rooms to discuss a secular book, a secular movie or sing secular songs but prohibits Dunbar’s group from doing those activities simply because it is Christian in nature.

“The Cambridge House Resolution is so broad that it even prohibits residents from unobtrusively praying silently — before a meal or otherwise — in one of the condominium common areas,” the complaint argues.

Moreover, the resolution requires that all religious items in common areas be removed — including a statue of St. Francis of Assisi that was donated by a resident in memory of their loved one.

“We want to be there for those in this building, as well as those on the outside,” Dunbar told Fox4. “Just be there for them, support them. It’s like a support group.”

The complaint asks HUD to investigate the claims and take appropriate action if it deems the Cambridge House violated the Fair Housing Act by barring religious activities from the common areas.

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex and disability when they are renting, buying or securing finances for a home.

“The unequal treatment of citizens in the community simply out of hostility to religion violates federal law and the First Amendment,” Lea Patterson, judicial fellow at First Liberty, said in a statement. “We are confident that Secretary Ben Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will resolve this issue quickly.”

Courtesy of

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Atheist Group Objects to Class Creation of Cross Memorials as Part of City’s Remembrance of Fallen Veterans

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on December 10, 2017

The nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist organization has expressed objection to the creation of cross memorials at a Georgia high school as part of a city effort to remember fallen soldiers.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter earlier this year to the attorney for Catoosa County Public Schools to assert that the crosses, made at Ringgold High School, were unconstitutional.

“We write to request assurances that, in the future, Mr. Elliott nor any other district employee will include religious messages in student assignments, allow school-sponsored religious activities, or otherwise promote or endorse religion in their official capacities,” it read.

The organization also took issue with another school in the district, as it had learned that Heritage High School’s leadership class had partnered with a Christian missions organization to build a school for the poor in Nicaragua. The district’s director of students services had recommended the group Nicamerican Missions after Principal Ronnie Bradford suggested the class partner with a school in the third world.

FFRF’s correspondence has just now come to light.

“It is laudable for the district to encourage students to become active, charitable, and involved in their community by volunteering and donating, but the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to support a religious organization with a religious mission,” the letter read in part.

“Partnering with any one of the numerous secular charities doing important work throughout the world would serve HHS’s purpose without running the risk of the district sending a message of religious endorsement,” FFRF asserted. According to the Times Free Press, students raised $20,000 last December from area businesses in just two days, and a student-faculty basketball game was also held in February as a fundraiser for the effort.

In regard to the crosses, which were made by construction classes at Ringgold High School for the biannual Festival of Flags event, FFRF requested that the district direct teacher Tim Elliott to discontinue the project with his students.

The crosses, which bear the names of fallen soldiers, are placed in the ground throughout the city for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. American flags fly atop each small memorial.

“Public school teachers may not assign students to create religious symbols,” the letter from the Church-State separation group read. “… This assignment violates the principle that ‘the preservation and transmission of religious beliefs and worship is a responsibility and choice committed to the private sphere.’ It also sends a message that the government only cares about the deaths of Christian soldiers, not other non-Christian and non-religious soldiers.”

Catoosa County Public Schools has just now responded to the controversy, explaining in a recent press release that while the district attorney is researching the matter, officials are supportive of the projects at issue.

“Catoosa County Public Schools supports students’ participating in service activities,” said Superintendent Denia Reese. “The flag holders that the RHS construction class built to support honoring our veterans, and the money that our HHS students raised to build a school for underprivileged children, are examples of our students working to serve others.”

“The system’s attorney is thoroughly researching the allegations from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and when he has completed this research he will respond to them explaining how our students can continue to participate in these service activities,” she explained.

In his 1823 book “Letters to a Young Man Commencing His Education,” Noah Webster, also known as the father of American education, wrote, “Let it then be the first study of your early years, to learn in what consists real worth or dignity of character. To ascertain this important point, consider the character and the attributes of the Supreme Being. As God is the only perfect being in the universe, His character, consisting of all that is good and great, must be the model of all human excellence, and His laws must of course be the only rules of conduct by which His rational creatures can reach any portion of like excellence.”

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Judge Gives FEMA 3 Weeks to Change Policy Banning Churches From Receiving Disaster Relief

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 12, 2017

A Houston federal judge has given FEMA three weeks to decide if its going to change its policy of denying disaster relief to religious institutions, rejecting FEMA’s attempt to delay a challenge by three Texas churches.

Since the devastation by Hurricane Harvey in late August, FEMA has denied houses of worship access to federal disaster aid grants due to their religious status while allowing other nonprofits and businesses to apply, but Judge Keith Ellison has given the agency until Dec. 1 to change that policy.

If FEMA fails to change the policy within the deadline, the judge said he would issue a ruling.

“Christmas may come early for hard-hit houses of worship in Texas — the court has set the clock ticking on FEMA’s irrational religious discrimination policy,” Daniel Blomberg, counsel at Becket, the nonprofit religious liberty law firm that represents the churches, said in a statement. “It can’t come soon enough.”

(PHOTO: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA/FILE PHOTO)A Federal Emergency Management Agency employee waits for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump during a visit at FEMA headquarters in Washington, U.S., August 4, 2017.

Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle and Rockport First Assembly of God, which were among the first to respond in Harvey’s aftermath and continue to provide aid to their communities, sued FEMA in September.

Last month, a Roman Catholic and a Jewish group submitted friend-of-the-court briefs siding with the three evangelical churches.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston pointed out in its brief that FEMA’s policy is “especially unfair,” given that many houses of worship are often at the “very forefront” of providing “immediate aid to persons in need, regardless of faith, in the aftermath of serious tropic storms and other natural disasters.”

The Congregation Torah Vachesed synagogue of Houston noted that Hurricane Harvey was “particularly unforgiving” to the city’s Jewish community. “Despite this, Jewish institutions have been greatly involved in relief efforts throughout Houston. FEMA’s policy against funding otherwise qualifying religious institutions, however, would deny these same institutions equal access to public assistance to repair flood damage,” it wrote.

Secular groups, such as the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, said earlier that FEMA’s policy should remain as is. “The government can help many individuals and nonprofits rebuild, but not churches. It is a founding principal of our nation that citizens may not be taxed in support of religion and churches,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor argued.

“Discriminating against houses of worship — which are often on the front lines of disaster relief — is not just wrongheaded, it strikes at our nation’s most fundamental values,” said Blomberg.

In September, four Republican senators introduced a new bill, Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which is aimed at giving houses of worship the right to receive federal assistance in the wake of natural disasters.

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Dabbling in Darkness: Harmless or Not?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on October 30, 2017

By Leslie Ludy

Today we have Halloween coming up this week, and it inspired me to take a fresh look at where our culture is at in the area of darkness and death.

One thing that I have noticed, and you’ve probably noticed it too, is that in the past decade or so – especially in the past five or six years – the culture has really escalated in celebrating death and darkness and glorifying things that are evil; even trying to make things that are dark, evil, and demonic attractive, trendy, popular, and cute.


Leslie Ludy: It’s really easy for us, I think, as Christian women to overlook that and not take it very seriously. But there’s a Scripture in Proverbs that is so interesting to me. It’s talking about true wisdom and it says, “… those who hate me [meaning the wisdom of God] love death.” (See Proverbs 8:36.) Those who hate God’s wisdom love death! That’s what you see when you look around our world today. There is a love for things that are representative of death. You see sculls and skeletons everywhere. When I was in high school it used to be on the t-shirts of kids who were really into heavy metal bands, rode skateboards, and had long, shaggy hair. It was sort of a sub-culture of people who loved skeletons and skulls, and now it’s absolutely everywhere. It’s got sparkles on it and it’s on scarves and jewelry. I even remember a few years ago, I bought a pair of swim trunks for one of my boys. He was probably three or four years old at the time, so they were little kid/toddler swim trunks, and I grabbed them off the rack thinking that they had a beach scene on them, and when I got them home I took a closer look and this “beach scene” was actually in the shape of a skull! Here is clothing actually made for little kids that celebrates darkness and death, and you see these little babies wearing skull and skeleton t-shirts. You see girls wearing sequins, skulls, and skeletons on their purses and bags. There are even aisles that my kids and I have to completely avoid in the toy store because the toys in those aisles are so demonic. You just walk down the aisle and it’s like you’re assaulted with violence, blood, and gore – and that’s in a toy store! So that just shows you how far our culture has come in this area of celebrating darkness.


Leslie Ludy: We did an article in the Set Apart Girl Magazine several issues ago called “The Dangers of Making Darkness Cute,” or making evil cute. And that’s really what you see. All the trendy, fun accessories and clothing in our culture even all the way down to little baby clothes trying to make evil and darkness cute. It’s easy to overlook this because we think, Well, it’s just everywhere. It’s just a trend right now. But really, this is not a light or casual thing in God’s sight. It’s something that we need to be taking very seriously as well, especially in a week like this where you see the culture rallying around a holiday like Halloween, which is a celebration of darkness.

Many women that I know are very stymied in moving forward in their spiritual life because they’re being constantly hounded by the enemy. Maybe they’re plagued by fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, confusion, family problems, financial problems, spiritual defeat – whatever it is, the enemy oftentimes has today’s Christian women under his thumb, and his goal seems to be to keep us totally preoccupied with our own emotional problems and really unable to live out the glorious, set apart life that God has called us to live. A lot of women today spend most of their time stumbling through the darkness instead of truly being the light of the world. So many of us are hounded by the enemy, and I’d like to explore some of the reasons why that might be happening.

Christ said in Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” That if that is the reality that Christ purchased for us on the Cross, why are so many of us living helpless to Satan’s schemes and his control?

I love this quote by Tauler, he wrote, “A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring.” That is such a convicting statement because so many of us are too careless towards darkness and evil. The things that are not of God that are all around us don’t seem strange and jarring to us. They’re just completely normal and some of us even go out of our way to purchase and accept those things and treat them as normal.

Pop-culture is flooding our minds and our senses with things that are truly not of God. There is glamorized sin and darkness all around us, but if it’s not strange and jarring to our soul, then that’s a good indication we’ve become too comfortable with the things that are not of God. We’ve accepted them and treated them as normal and some of us even spend a lot of our time and money on those things. We allow those things – those images, sounds, and sights of the world – to capture our mind, our emotions, and our attention, and then we wonder why our lives are filled with fear, anxiety, defeat, and depression.

The Bible says that “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly … who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high, his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure” (Isa. 33:15-16). God provides incredible strength, blessing, and freedom for each of us, but in order for us to truly walk in this pattern, He requires us to live by a sacred decorum – to come out from the world, to be separate, to touch not the unclean thing, to ruthlessly remove all uncleanness and darkness – no matter how small from our lives. As women seeking to be set apart for Jesus Christ, seeking to be free from the enemy’s control, there is not to be even a hint of darkness in our daily existence. We aren’t to go out of our way to participate in those things.

It says in Deuteronomy, “There shall not be found among you anyone … who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…” (Deut. 18:10-12a). Now most of us who grew up in church probably don’t consider ourselves vulnerable to things like witchcraft or Satan worship, but sometimes we overlook things of darkness that seem harmless but really they’re associated with the very same things – the kingdom of darkness instead of the Kingdom of Light.

The Bible makes it clear that there really cannot be any fellowship between light and darkness. In the book of Acts when the Gospel of Christ was preached, the people who believed, it says that they came and openly confessed their evil deeds and a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly (Acts 19:19 NIV). That’s incredible! They realized that they could not walk in cooperation with the kingdom of darkness and embrace the Kingdom of Light at the same time. They realized they had to completely destroy the things of darkness that they were harboring in their lives. Those books and things, they totaled up the value and it was extremely valuable, so it was very sacrificial, but they still chose to burn them publicly as a statement that they are no longer associated with the kingdom of darkness.

Really, the same principle applies to us as set apart daughters of the King. If there is any object or activity in our life that’s associated with darkness, the only appropriate way to deal with it is to destroy it completely just as those Christians did in the book of Acts. Even though the culture tries to glaze and gloss over darkness and tries to tempt us to treat it very casually, I think there’s a good rule of thumb that says, “When in doubt, don’t mess with it.” If it even hints as being part of the kingdom of darkness, it really doesn’t belong in our lives. I encourage you, especially as we go through this week and we see the culture reveling in darkness, that you would take some time to ask God to reveal anything in your life – maybe past or present – that could be associated with darkness or satanic activity. Now let me get specific with some things that could be stumbling blocks in this area of your life that you may or may not have ever thought about before.


We mentioned earlier things like jewelry, clothing, or bags that somehow promote death and glorify evil. Maybe they have skulls, or skeletons, or other symbols of darkness on them. Just because you put a little bling on them, or they’re covered in sequins, or they have glitter or gloss on them, or they’re pink doesn’t change the fact that it’s still glorifying and celebrating death. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that … more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).

Now though we will all experience a physical death unless Christ comes first, we have passed – spiritually – from death to life when we give our lives to Christ. Even when we die, our spirit will live forever with Him. He has conquered death on the Cross. His Word says, “Where, O grave, is thy victory? Where, O death, is thy sting?” (See Corinthians 15:55.) Clearly, death is not something to celebrate and parade about, it’s been conquered by the blood of Jesus. We are to celebrate life – our life in Christ – not death!


There are a lot of other things that symbolize pagan religions like Buddha statues and a lot of things that have to do with the Buddhist religion are very popular in household decor today. You see symbols of zen and New Age all over the place. Our culture has glossed these things over so that they seem to promote this idea of tranquility, peace, harmony with nature, but in reality, these things represent a demonic stronghold, a false religion that has deceived millions of people throughout the centuries. Why would we decorate our house with those things and celebrate those things in our daily lives?


There are also horoscopes, which again seem harmless and fun, but they’re basically a form of fortune-telling, and they allow the enemy to access your heart and your mind.


Probably one of the biggest areas that many of us stumble over are books, movies, and TV shows that glorify demonic spiritual activity. They become stumbling blocks for us all the time.

Several years ago a lot of women were really into the Twilight books and movies, and if you study the history of vampirism you realize how absolutely satanic and horrific it is! Probably the biggest danger of some of the newer movies or books like Twilight in relationship to things like vampires is that they make the evil character into a desirable hero rather than an evil villain. A few years ago, when those books and movies were popular, you would even see magazine covers promoting this “vampire” as somebody who was desirable and attractive to women. The line between good and evil is being so blurred today by Hollywood, and we know things are twisted when something so dark and so demonic becomes the object of desire and becomes the hero of a movie.

You can’t exclude light-hearted or funny movies, music, and books from this area as well. Even if those shows seem light-hearted and they make light of things like witchcraft, fortune telling, and things like that – they might seem ridiculous and maybe you don’t take them seriously, but they still portray messages of darkness and ungodly spiritual power. If you’re going purposely to watch these things, or allowing these things into your life, or reading these books thinking, Oh, it’s not a big deal. It has a little bit of weird, spiritual stuff in it that I’m going to overlook that. You’re really opening yourself up to the enemy to have access to gain territory in your heart, mind, and soul.


I would encourage you if you’ve been participating in these things, if you have decor in your house, if you have jewelry, clothing, or other accessories that glorify death or false religions, I would encourage you to ask God to forgive you and to cleanse those things out of your life. If you’ve been reading and participating in ungodly books that glorify darkness or watching movies or shows that glorify darkness, I would encourage you to make those things right with God, cleanse those things out of your life, and take back any ground that you may have given to the enemy by your participation in those things.

One time I was counseling with a young woman who was constantly having nightmares, and she was plagued by fear. Casually, one day she mentioned that she had just come from a movie, and it was a horror movie that she had just watched, a really dark movie about an ax-murderer or something like that. I began talking to her about it, and she didn’t even realize that watching those kinds of movies could have any correlation with the fact that she’s having all of these dark dreams and nightmares. I encouraged her to not only cut those things out of her life but to repent and ask God to cleanse her from her participation in those movies. As she did, those nightmares and that depression and everything that she was struggling with went away because the enemy no longer had that access point into her life.

One of the ways to live a truly, God-honoring life is by allowing Him to completely transform us from the inside out and cleanse the darkness out of our lives. It’s not about becoming a nun or living as a hermit in the backwoods somewhere and cutting ourselves off from this world. It is very possible to be in this world but not of this world. We can walk into a store and turn our eyes away from the things that are dark. We can avoid the books, the movies, the clothing, the paraphernalia that is celebrating darkness. We can be lights in this dark world by submitting ourselves completely to His transforming work, taking every thought captive, and meditating on the things of Light rather than darkness, then we truly can become His lights that shine in the midst of a perverse generation as it says in Philippians (see Philippians 2:15).

When we yield ourselves to become the holy, undefiled dwelling place of the most High God, He makes His home within us. When we allow Him to remove everything that is carnal, dark, sinful, or selfish that stands in the way of us being His light, that’s when we are able to live a strong and fortified, victorious Christian life unharmed and unhampered by the enemy.


This week I encourage you to fix your eyes upon Jesus, cleanse anything of darkness out of your life, and celebrate the life of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, for more on this topic, please visit us at and consider subscribing to our magazine which is a bi-monthly, ad-free resource that can strengthen your walk with Christ with every page that you read! I pray that you have a blessed and Christ-centered week!

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Southern Poverty Law Center Should Rename Its “Hate Map” to “Groups We Hate Map”

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on September 1, 2017


The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) admitted its fault and removed a town from its “Hate Map” this week. That map irresponsibly mixes religious organizations with violent hate groups. This time it included the town of Amana, Iowa because an unknown source alleged some people who might have been associated with The Daily Stormer met once in a restaurant for coffee. This is one of many inaccuracies and gross over-characterizations that can be found on SPLC’s map.

Amana, an innocent town, was blacklisted by the SPLC. People living there were brought under a cloud a suspicion because of the improper, sweeping accusation of the SPLC. The SPLC makes wide generalizations and then seeks to harm those within its self-proclaimed classification of others.

In a similar manner, the SPLC targets anyone who disagrees with them on issues related to the LGBT agenda. Then it claims civil disagreement as “evidence” for falsely classifying a peaceful organization as “hateful.” This is just as wrong and even more harmful than the SPLC’s mischaracterization of the city of Amana. If the SPLC were intellectually honest, it should re-title its “Hate Map” into “Groups We Hate Map.”

We have complied a comprehensive answer to SPLC’s false name-calling of our non-profit Christian ministry and its pro bono work in the legal field. In addition to our many ministries, Liberty Counsel has a humanitarian relief program and had been providing help to victims of Hurricane Harvey, regardless of their beliefs, status, background or actions.

“As a pastor, before becoming an attorney, my heart then and now is for hurting people,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. We exist to help other people. Right now, we are focusing resources on helping victims of Harvey. We believe that every person is created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. We are putting those beliefs into action in Texas.

In direct opposition to the SPLC’s false campaign, we are reaching out with kindness and truth to all Americans.

Courtesy of Liberty Counsel


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Altars Against God

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on August 5, 2017

Excerpted from Jesus Among Secular Gods by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale (Nashville: FaithWords, 2017). Used by permission of the Hachette Publishing Group.

It was years ago when I was speaking at an openly and avowedly atheistic institution that I was fascinated by a questioner who asked what on earth I meant by the term God. The city was Moscow; the setting was the Lenin Military Academy. The atmosphere was tense. Never had I been asked before to define the term in a public gathering. And because I was in a country so historically entrenched in atheism, I suspected the question was both hostile and intentional. I asked the questioner if he was an atheist, to which he replied that he was. I asked him what he was denying. That conversation didn’t go very far. So I tried to explain to him what we meant when we spoke of God.

It is fascinating to talk to a strident atheist and try to get beneath the anger or hostility. God is a trigger word for some that concentrates all his or her stored animosity into a projectile of words. But as the layers of their thinking and experience are unpacked, the meaning of atheism to each one becomes narrower and narrower, each term dying the death of a thousand qualifications. Oftentimes, the description is more visceral and is discussed with pent-up anger rather than in a sensible, respectful discussion. More than once I have been amazed at the anger expressed by members of the atheist groups at one or other of the Ivy League schools in the United States to which I have been invited to speak, anger that I was even invited and that I had the temerity to address them.

In theory, the academy has always been a place where dissent serves a valuable purpose in helping thinking students to weigh out ideas and make intelligent choices. And, dare I say, had I been a Muslim speaker, there would have been no such dissent as I faced. Evidently, being able to instill fear in people has a lot to do with how much freedom of speech you are granted. But alas! For some, at least, civil discourse is impossible. To her credit, at the end of a lecture, one senior officer in one club stood up and thanked me, a veiled apology for the resistance vented before the event. I did appre­ciate that courtesy.

This unfettered anger on the part of some is quite puzzling to me. I was raised in India where I was not a Hindu and, in fact, never once gave it any serious consideration. For that matter, I’m not sure if I even really believed in God. I was a nominal Christian but never gave that much thought, either. Most of my friends were either Hindu or Muslim or Sikh, with a few others of different faiths. I never recall feeling any anger or hostility toward those who believed differently than me, no matter how ludicrous their beliefs may have seemed to me. Nor do I remember ever being on the receiving end of such anger and hostility because I did not have the same belief.

But the likes of Richard Dawkins are renowned for their bully­ing and mocking approach toward opposing views, an attitude from an academic that makes one wonder what is really driving such an intense temperament. A questioner at a gathering in Washington, DC, once asked Richard Dawkins how one should respond to a per­son who believed in God. “Mock them,” he actually replied. “Ridicule them.” When someone at an event asked me what I thought of that response, I reflected that, were Dawkins to practice that same method in Saudi Arabia, chances are he would not need his return ticket. One thing is for sure—he would at least find out that not all beliefs in God are similar and not all imperatives, equal.

But his “ridicule them” posture remains unchanged. In an inter­view in The Independent with Maya Oppenheim (May 23, 2016), he said, “I’m all for offending people’s religion. It should be offended at every opportunity.”1 Really? Is this how one arrives at whether or not a belief is valid? He went on to add, “In the case of immigrants from Syria and Iraq, I would like to see special preference given to apostates, people who have given up Islam.”2 If Donald Trump had said the same, there would have been a session in the British Houses of Parliament to decide whether or not he should be allowed into the country anymore. But Dawkins says it and it’s acceptable, because atheists who love him and his style of atheism have their own absolutes and their own legitimized prejudices.

Intolerance, prejudice, disrespect, hatred, and offense are all within the fruit of Dawkins’ philosophy. In creedal form, his philos­ophy is hate, discriminate, judge, mock, castigate, eliminate, stop…do whatever you need to do to put an end to belief in God. Ironi­cally, he condemns God for being prejudiced, hate-filled, egotistical, judgmental, and demeaning to those who don’t agree with Him. He derides the attributes of God by making a caricature of Him, but justifies the same attributes in himself without caricature. I would rather trust the judgments of a good and gracious person than one who spends his time and energy in mocking people and their sacred beliefs. And he is not alone. The hallmark of the so-called “new athe­ists” is the anger and ridicule that is hurled toward anyone’s belief in the sacred.

Need I add, not all atheists have the same disposition. In fact, many find the hostility of the new atheists an embarrassment. I have met many a cordial conversationalist who is atheistic in his or her belief, and we’ve had the best of conversations. Many have remarked that they have been able to take only so much of Dawkins and his followers and then stopped even reading them. Whatever worldview we espouse, dialogue and debate should take place with civility and courteous listening. But our times make that ideal so elusive. Hold­ing a supposedly noble belief and reducing it to ignoble means of propagation makes the one who holds that belief suspect.

To be sure, many in the so-called “religious” category have pro­voked strident responses. The pulpit can sadly be a place of bullying people into guilt and remorse and other emotions that make them want to escape from the voice hammering away at them, to say noth­ing of the anti-intellectualism among Christian ranks that brands even a hint of philosophy or science heretical.

History has taught us to beware of extremists in any camp that sacrifice cordial conversation at the altar of demagogic enforcement. Views and opinions are aplenty in our world of tweeting and Insta­gram, but civil discourse is rare. And rarer still is the ability to defend one’s beliefs with reason and experience. I sincerely hope that as my colleague Vince and I examine the differences among secular belief systems (that are, in fact, also religions), we will be able to effec­tively demonstrate where these differences really lie, and that the Judeo-Christian worldview has the most coherent answers to the inescapable questions of life that we all have, regardless of our beliefs.

Questioning the Question

The story is told of an Indian sitting in a plane next to Albert Einstein. To pass the time, Einstein proposed that they play a game. “I will ask you a question, and if you can’t answer it, you pay me fifty dollars. Then you ask me a question, and if I can’t answer it, I will pay you five hundred dollars.” The Indian knew he was no match for Einstein but figured he had enough philosophical and cultural knowledge to be able to stump Einstein sometimes, and with a ratio of ten to one, he could manage to stay in the game.

Einstein went first and asked the Indian how far the earth was from the moon. The Indian was not sure of the exact number and put his hand into his pocket to give Einstein fifty dollars. Now came the Indian’s turn, and he asked, “What goes up the mountain with three legs and comes down with four legs?” Einstein paused, pon­dered, finally dipped his hand into his pocket and gave the man five hundred dollars. Now it was Einstein’s turn again. He said, “Before I ask you my next question, what does go up the mountain with three legs and comes down with four legs?” The Indian paused, dipped into his pocket, and gave Einstein fifty dollars.

Like that Indian, we often ask questions that are manufactured to trip up the other person, while having no answers to the question ourselves. In his book The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom, Robert Morey points out the seven leaps atheists have to explain: How…

Everything ultimately came from Nothing

Order came from Chaos

Harmony came from Discord

Life came from Nonlife

Reason came from Irrationality

Personality came from Non-personality

Morality came from Amorality3

But more than that needs to be asserted. The questions in life are not just in the sciences. They are not just of mathematical or empir­ical measurement. Two people sitting next to each other in a plane may both be going to the same destination. They may know how many hours the journey takes and how many miles they may cover. One may be going to give a talk on science and the other may be going to bury his grandson. But think about this. The scientist may have his subject well in hand, but still have unanswered questions on the meaning of life, while the person next to him may have unan­swered questions on the value of the constants in the early formation of the universe, yet have the knowledge of what life really means. He may have in his heart the deep conviction that this present sorrow is only a punctuation mark because eternity awaits. One discipline may answer “how” in a material explanation, but the most import­ant question answers the “why.” Why is it that we are here in the first place, and who will see us through the anxieties and pains of life itself? These questions are different yet equally relevant, but for dif­ferent reasons. Life requires some understanding, and the struggles we face need explanatory power. It is when we get the two subjects and their reasons for existence mixed up that we end up with verbal attacks and needless hostility.

Many an atheist asks questions for which he or she admittedly has no answers or believes the answers to be “on hold,” but we are expected to give credence to the whole worldview for merely raising the question. I understand. As a young man I was like that, think­ing that putting another person down automatically justified what I had said in response to his position. This book is about examining the “gods” secular thinkers “worship” and how repeatedly they leave their own questions unanswered.

The points of tension within secular worldviews are not merely peripheral. They are systemic. Indeed, they are foundational. I have dealt with the philosophical debate on these matters in other writ­ings. Here, I wish to examine their answers to questions about life and its meaning in distinction to the answers Jesus gives to the same questions. That’s where our philosophical rubber meets the road of life. But hopefully, more than that, we will state why the answers of Jesus have stood the test of time, truth, and coherence.

Remember the insight of G. K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy that, for the atheist, sorrow is central and joy peripheral, while for the follower of Jesus, joy is central and sorrow peripheral. The reason that statement is true is that for the atheist, the foundational questions remain unanswered while they have answers for the peripheral ques­tions; hence, sorrow is central and joy peripheral. For the Christian, it is reversed: The foundational questions have been answered and only the peripheral ones remain in doubt.4 Hopefully, as the content of this book unfolds, Vince and I can sustain that claim.

Life Seeks a Balance

My favorite essayist, F. W. Boreham, has written an essay enti­tled, “A Baby’s Funeral.” Anyone who has read Boreham knows the beauty of his language and the depth of his writing. He has authored over fifty volumes of essays. In this particular essay, which I have references in two of my previous books but in this new context per­fectly illustrates how all of life must be grounded in truth, Boreham begins by describing the scene of a distraught woman he saw one day walking back and forth outside his home, pausing as though wanting to enter his garden and then backing off.

Finally, Boreham stepped out of his home and wished her a good morning. She asked if he was the pastor of the church nearby and he admitted that he was. She entered the house at his invitation and struggled to pour out her story. She had had a baby, born terribly deformed, who had died shortly after birth. She desired for the baby to have a proper burial and wondered if he would do that for her.

Boreham promptly responded that he would. He took out a pad to get the information. Did the child have a name? Who was the father? So went the questions. She answered them and the date for the funeral was set. The woman left and Boreham and his wife con­tinued with their plans for a picnic that morning. Throughout the day the woman was on his mind and he told his wife that there was something that didn’t quite sound right about her narrative. He did not know what it was but hoped he would have more clarity before the day of the burial.

When they returned home, the woman was standing outside their home and asked if she could come in. She sat down, rubbing her hands nervously, and said, “I have not been honest with you. The baby was born illegitimately, and I have given you a made-up name for the father.” The story unfolded and Boreham comforted her as best as he could.

The day of the burial came. It was pouring rain, and to add to the desolate reality, the cemetery was a new one and this was to be the first body interred. Boreham remarks on the total feeling of alone­ness for this poor woman. An illegitimate, deformed baby. Pouring rain as the three stood under their umbrellas, the grave digger stand­ing by ready to lower the casket into the soggy ground. A tiny body about to be buried in a place where no other had ever been laid to rest. No one else, just the minister and his wife and the bereaved mother present for this tragedy, and they too were strangers.

Boreham suddenly switches the scene and begins to write about being on a train journey years later with a superintendent in his denomination. It was a whistle-stop trip where, at every station the superintendent would step out, meet with a group of his ministers, listen to them, pray for them, and then would leave these parting words with them, “Just be there for your people. Be with them in their needs, in their hurts, in their pains. They will never forget your presence and your kindness.”

Boreham continues that as he listened to this advice being given to the younger pastors, his mind flew back over the years to the day a young woman walked distractedly back and forth in front of his home, a woman whose child he had buried in a lonely cemetery. He realized that through the years, rain or shine, every Sunday since then that same woman had been in his church and lived a life in a quiet relationship with her Savior.

This very type of story was reinforced just two days ago. I had just finished speaking to a full church in Jakarta, Indonesia, and there was a silence as the music played softly for the closing moments. I was near the platform, having stepped away from the lectern, and my eyes caught sight of a young mother with two little children. Her arms were gently bent at the elbows, palms open, reaching outward while the two little ones, one on each side of her, held on to her skirt. As soon as the benediction was over, the two of them ran up the stairs to give me a hug, though I had never met them before. And as they left, my interpreter said to me, “Almost exactly to the day, a year ago their father was murdered. The little boy looks just like his dad.”

What a statement that suddenly changed the context and my emotions from witnessing a young family at worship, absent the father, to realizing a young single mother reaching out to her heav­enly father and raising her two children without bitterness or anger. I spoke to her afterward and my heart still recalls her words. “Yes, I’m alone now, but my God is with me.”

You see, there is an intellectual side to life but also a side to life where deep needs are experienced. We falsely think that one side deals with truth and the other with fantasy. Both need the truth, and the elimination of one by the other is not the world in which God intends for us to live. A mockery of the sacred reveals an animosity that staggers not just the mind but shows the character flaw in one such as that. The words of Blake are appropriate here:

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;

Mock on, mock on, ’tis all in vain!

You throw the sand against the wind,

And the wind blows it back again.5

It is my hope that the reader will stay the course with an open mind to judge fairly how unique and splendid is the message of Jesus Christ, reaching to the deepest hungers and questions of the heart and mind. To be truthful, I wouldn’t waste a solitary moment in this task if I didn’t truly believe that as the world is skidding out of con­trol—politically, socially, economically, and racially—Jesus’ answers are unique and true and provide the only coherent worldview, combining truth with relevance to bring hope and meaning.

Every day, the news carries stories of tragedy and atrocity. News is thrust into our consciousness whether we want the information or not. Behind many an act and behind all responses is a worldview that filters reality. The follower of Jesus sees what is happening through the lens of how Jesus describes the human condition and the answer He gives. The contrast with the secular gods of this age is huge. A fair-minded person must at least give a hearing as to why that is so and, if indeed the answers of Jesus open up vistas for one’s own individual life, see the world through a different set of eyes. With that goal in mind, I enter into this journey of thought.

Your Worldview Matters

The Great Books of the Western World, published in the 1950s, gave the longest space to the theme of “God,” addressed by the most notable Western thinkers of the day. When Mortimer Adler, the edi­tor, was asked why that theme occupied such length when many other notable themes were given less space, he answered without hesita­tion, “Because more consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.”6

The questioner was silent and nodded.

Yes, indeed, more consequences, on every matter of value and relationship, follow from one’s genuine belief or disbelief in God than from any other issue. This alone ought to remind us just how critical is the foundation to every life when it comes to God. The follower of Jesus Christ must take serious note of this. That belief has meaning and must make a difference.

I will never forget talking to a former Muslim who had com­mitted his life to Jesus Christ and who gave me a fascinating word picture. He drew two circles and put a small dot in each of them. Pointing to the first, he said, “As a Muslim, I believed the circle to be my faith and the little dot to be my life.” Then he pointed to the next circle and said, “Now, as a follower of Jesus, I have seen the differ­ence in the cultural tension. To many Westerners, the circle is his life and the dot is his faith.”

In other words, a Muslim believed that life was expendable, his faith paramount. The Westerner, he charged, regards his life more important than what he believes. “That is why,” he added, “the West will ultimately be overrun. Faith, in the West, is sort of an extracur­ricular interest and a mere aspect of life for the sake of inner peace. But faith seldom enters the conscience as a conviction.”

That was truly a sobering revelation of just how faith is viewed by most in the West, let alone the plurality of faiths that exist. In fact, the very word faith is now used in less than flattering terms. The real world is considered intellectually rigorous, and the world of ulti­mate reality—faith—fanciful, not to be entertained in factual terms. How fascinating that is. So the values by which we live are parked on the shifting mix of quicksand the skeptic calls “faith,” while the world of pragmatic and real understandings is supposedly built on the bedrock of the sciences called “reason.”

Is my friend right?

If he is right, I will go so far as to say that the West is on the verge of collapse at the hands of its own secular intellectuals. It is only a matter of time. The Christian faith brings with it convictions by which to stand and build a moral framework. The secular thinker, with his implicitly amoral assumptions, imagines that knowledge without a moral base has enough sustaining power. It simply doesn’t.

Watch Europe cower under the heel of Islamists who have not forgotten that they were stopped from overtaking Europe and beaten back by Charles Martel thirteen centuries ago. Now, with patience and the clever control of demographics and a gullible media, they stand by, ready to one day take over the structures and edifices built by a different ethic and a different belief system. It is only a matter of time, and they are in no hurry. Thirteen centuries ago, Europe was able to stop the theocratic Islamic tidal wave because it had a faith to defend. The value-less culture of today will not be able to withstand the attack.

Years ago, while Hitler was making plans to overrun the world and some were attempting to placate him in order to save themselves from having to make a moral justification for war, Winston Chur­chill made a telling speech in the House of Commons on October 5, 1938. (“The Munich Agreement” is also known by the title “A Total and ‘Unmitigated Defeat,’” referring to the mollifying treaty brought back by Neville Chamberlain.) Quoting from Scripture, Churchill declared, “You have been weighed in the balances and found want­ing” (Daniel 5:27). Then he ended his speech saying, “And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recov­ery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”7

After Hitler visited Paris in 1940, André Boulloche, a courageous member of the French Resistance, penned a letter to his father, say­ing: “The country can only be saved by a complete moral resurrec­tion, something that will require the work of all men of good will.… I think I can contribute a great deal. And if more troubles lie ahead, isn’t my duty present?”8

Indeed, the preservation of a nation’s ethos is at stake at all times. This is especially true of a nation such as America whose values of trying to balance liberty with law were clear from the beginning. That balance is easier stated than done. John Adams said it well: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”9

So I ask: Should one’s belief in God and destiny be more import­ant than life itself?

The answer truly depends on what that belief is and whether it is true. The irony is that for the atheist, the answer can only and ultimately be found in one’s political theory or, by default, in one’s cultural cradle, and cannot be mandated by a supervening world­view that pursues truth as an objective fact over and above all else. Every other discipline is dismissed as being outside truth, reflecting merely cultural and career desires. That’s all life is about. The natu­ralists control truth and then give license to other disciplines to live without absolutes. That is the deadly fallout.

In a commercial I saw recently, a couple of bandits are hold­ing the tellers at a bank at gunpoint and demanding money. All the customers are ordered to the floor. One man whispers to a security guard, “Do something, you’re armed!” The security guard replies, “I am on duty not to do anything but only to determine if a robbery is underway.” Then he pauses and reassures the customer, “Yes, indeed, this is a robbery.”

The naturalist is somewhat like that. Unable to respond to where the truth leads, he is useless to a person hungering for rescue and safety for life itself. He just states what is and does nothing about what should be.

Why do I make the connection between a nation, a people, and a culture? In the current climate, the political arena is fraught with language and views that are scary and disorienting. In one instance, a trail of lies makes no difference to the electorate, proving that the most valuable thing in human discourse, truth, is an expendable value if power is obtained. In another instance, even extreme and sometimes pejorative statements on people and views don’t seem to matter, and the dignity of office is replaced, once again, by the quest for power.

Candidates coming to the fore propound ideas that are creat­ing anger and protests that make the future very fearsome. For one, “dishonest” sums it up. For the other, “disrespectful” or worse, “prej­udice” is the charge. Whether these are legitimate assertions or not is secondary to the assumption that morality matters.

Ironically, the protestors protesting the candidates themselves resort to injurious means. But what is obvious is that statecraft has become soulcraft, and a nation that formally wishes to deny God finds its imperatives in a deadly mix of conflicting worldviews and hate-laden words on a path to power. What has happened? The answer is clear. The discussion in the public square is now reduced to right or left, forgetting there is an up and down.

These matters alone remind us that we had better understand this philosophy called atheism and why it leads where it does. Strange, isn’t it, that atheists in the West want the term marriageredefined while their counterparts in Russia and China will have nothing of that redefinition? Both have their own reasons, and there is no common point of reference. That’s precisely the edifice built on the bedrock of naturalism. Each person is a law unto himself.

Remember in the Old Testament when people wanted a king and God said that He wanted to be their ruler? The people fought back and said they wanted to be like every other nation and, in fact, have somebody else to fight their wars while they could go about their lives. They got what they wanted and found out that the greatest battles were ultimately for the rule of one’s heart. Once that becomes autonomous, culture and politics become lawless. And when those battles are lost, the war that looms is of huge proportions. This is, at best, the unintended consequence of atheism.

As Old as the Hills

We think atheism is some kind of newfangled thinking, that sci­ence and its bequest gave way to autonomy and our solitude in the universe. That is simply not so. The formalization of it and giving it intellectual respect may have taken time, but the question goes back to the beginning of time. Right from the start the question was not the origin of species but the autonomy of the species. We are more prone to quote from the Wilberforce/Huxley debate or the Galileo/Church conflict than to look back and see where such real tensions began.

We think Darwin buried God, but in fact, in Genesis 3, the very first in the created order wished to bury Him too. All the way to Calvary, the first attempt at death was the death of God. The kill­ing of God was followed by the killing by Cain of his brother, Abel. The Bible addresses this conflict from the pre-Mosaic era. After all, the battle in Genesis was really based on two questions. The battle between theism and atheism is the oldest philosophical debate. It didn’t take the French philosophes or the British empiricists to get it all going.

What are the two questions that existed for humanity from the beginning of creation? The first salvo hurled against God in the Gar­den was “Did God really say?” In the gospel story, the temptation of Jesus resurrects the same question, either by questioning a text or by wrenching it free from its context. The test brought to Jesus in the desert, the same test brought in the Garden, was “Has God said?” and “Is it true?” Those questions implicitly asked whether there was an up and a down. Is there a prescriptive backdrop to life? Can I not be my own definer of good and evil? Am I subject to some higher non-tangible authority?

In his article on “Religion,” Thomas Paine picks up this tension as if it is something new and makes some incredible statements questioning whether one should actually believe that God reveals and speaks. Here’s what he says:

As to the bible (sic.), whether true or fabulous, it is a history, and history is not revelation. If Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, and if Samson slept in Delilah’s lap, and she cut his hair off, the relation of those things is mere history, that needed no revelation from heaven to tell it; neither does it need any revelation to tell us that Samson was a fool for his pains, and Solomon too.

As to the expressions so often used in the bible, that the word of the Lord came to such an one (sic.)…it was the fash­ion of speaking in those times…. But if we admit the suppo­sition that God would condescend to reveal himself in words, we ought not to believe it would be in such idle and profligate stories as are in the bible.… Deists deny that the book called the bible is the word of God, or that it is revealed religion.10

That is a fascinating mix of prejudice and perversion. One feels he must ask if Paine was present in the Garden right from the begin­ning. He takes the stories of Solomon and Samson and puts them in a “history” category. Would he do the same with the crucifixion and the resurrection or does a different kind of narrative now take place?

The key here is that he simply does not believe God would reveal Himself in propositional truth. Paine didn’t invent that predica­ment. It existed from the beginning. Revelation was not in a vacuum of belief. Revelation was sustained by evidence and propelled by a reality check, time and again. The very means by which we ascertain truth is not merely an inner voice but the rationale of why we are here in the first place.

The question should really be why we even think of a supreme being. Why do we ask if there is a sovereign power over the universe?

Is it because we are deluded into thinking there should be, or is it because reason demands a cause and a purpose? Is it possible that deep within our hungers is this quest to know why we are here in the first place, and the naturalist’s cavalier dismissal of that question falls upon questing souls that search for a reason as much as the body yearns for water?

There were no professors of science in the original created order to question revelation. From deep within the human soul arose the challenge for autonomy over against a boundary within which to live. So let’s get over two blunders—the one that thinks this is mod­ern man in revolt, and the other that thinks intellectuals disbelieve in God and only the naïve or stupid continue to believe in God. I have met intellectuals on both sides of the issue, and it is not merely an intellectual struggle. It is a struggle of bridge building, of trying to tie theoretical structures to heartfelt and heart-hungering realities. 

As Real as Now

The second question that originated in Genesis came in the form of a challenge: “You will not surely die! You will be as God, defining good and evil.” For Darwin, as for our polite modern thinkers, hell is anathema. Why would any self-respecting human being think up hell? Interestingly, these who challenge the existence of God are the very ones who are willing to punish others for their beliefs. “Destroy the livelihood of those who believe in the sanctity of marriage!” “Don’t give them a place in academia if they really believe God exists!” Such is the retribution of self-worship, imposed by those who call God vengeful, a “joy-killing monster,” and “a freedom-re­stricting tyrant,” if you don’t give Him His due place. Fascinating how we wield power when we own it and then mock others with power for giving in to the same expression.

The enemy of our souls basically counters the claims of God, not merely by questioning them, but then by asserting that by dis­obeying God’s commands one will actually be promoted to taking God’s place. Once again at the heart of all temptation is the desire for autonomy and power. The human scene was steeped in the battle for autonomy and power right from the beginning. Did God speak? Is it true what He says about good and evil? Are we going to believe the truth, or are we comfortable with the lie because of the power it promises to give us?

It seems as though the ultimate destination point, then and now, is the power to control culture and destiny. Very recently, a Russian business tycoon gave Stephen Hawking one hundred million dollars toward his endeavor to find extraterrestrial intelligence. Hawking has opined that it is critical for us to find them before they find us, saying that if we don’t find them before they find us, they could wipe us out of existence. After the slaughters in San Bernardino, Belgium, Paris, the Boston Marathon, Turkey, Baghdad, Orlando, Dallas, and the list goes on endlessly, we want to get to other planets without fixing our own and destroy them also?

I found his comment fascinating. My first reaction was cynical. Yes, I thought, since we don’t see much intelligence on this planet any more, let’s go looking for it elsewhere. Then another thought kicked in. It is fascinating that the “world’s brightest mind” thinks an intel­ligence possibly exists out there that could destroy us, but no intelli­gence exists as Creator.

Then yet another thought. Professor Hawking himself, had he been left at the mercy of a pragmatic “life is not human in the womb,” or not worth saving by virtue of a degenerative disease, would have been destroyed and we would never have seen the likes of his genius. It would have been our loss. You see how intrinsic value decisions are in the choices we make? The scientific single vision does not give us values; it gives us only what is and cannot give us what ought. Is it any wonder that in this scenario where science is our single vision, existence is the circle and what we believe—our values—are merely a dot, as described by my friend?

Another personal note, from having lived in Cambridge in the early nineties: Hawking’s first wife, Jane, was and is a devout Chris­tian, an intellectual in her own right. Hawking himself has paid her the finest compliments. Living side-by-side with one of the brightest minds in the world did not take away her deep belief in Jesus Christ and in the created order. That alone should tell us that what is at issue is not as simplistic as an intellectually determined faith. Much more goes into this.

So then, right from the beginning, in the face of choices, two questions determined the future: 1) Did God say? 2) Do you really think you’re going to die or can you become like God, determining good and evil? 

The Theoretical Backdrop

What does it mean to be an atheist? What does the “ism” of the atheist hold? Is it monolithic? Are all atheistic systems the same in political theory? How did that philosophy become a formal system, and how does one respond to its claims?

Let’s go back to the philosophical and categorical roots of this so-called belief, to its philosophical and cultural viewpoint. The very Greek word from which we get atheism is really a simple conjoining of the negative with the divine. The alpha is the negative and theos is the word for God. At its starting point, from the very structure of the word itself, the philosophy of atheism means no personal, self-existent, autonomous, intelligent first cause of reality.

Ironically, in particular cultural milieus the word gets watered down so that in the days of the early Church, Christians were called atheists because they denied the existence of the gods of Greece and Rome. By the seventh century, Muslims branded Christians polytheists because of their cardinal doctrine of the Trinity. One can readily see how important it is to understand, from the orthodox point of view, what the beliefs really are rather than attributing cultural nuances to a system.

In two of my previous works, I have quoted the standard texts and definitions that provide the starting point for this discussion. I would like to refer back to that before I move forward and bring the positions up to date. Frankly, in a subject such as this, there really is ultimately nothing new under the sun. People such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Krauss, and others who promote the aggressive side of this belief muster not a single new argument to defend their position. That is why even other prominent atheists or agnostics con­sider them an embarrassment and say so. In fact, Dawkins’ remark on Harris’s explanation in The Moral Maze—that he provided the last strand against theism—is embarrassing to other atheists, to say the least. I doubt he truly believed that.

The well-respected Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Paul Edwards defines atheism as follows: “An atheist is a person who maintains that there is no God, that is, that the sentence ‘God exists’ expresses a false proposition…a person who rejects belief in God.”11 In his book on atheism, Étienne Borne says, “Atheism: the deliber­ate, definite, dogmatic denial of the existence of God.”12So while the bottom line of the view is a denial of God’s existence, in fairness it is really within the spectrum of agnosticism that ranges from a soft-boiled agnosticism where one claims not to know whether God exists to a hard-boiled agnosticism that postulates that one simply cannot know. The next stage is a rigorous denial of the existence of this Being we call God. That is the hard-nosed idea that God is not in the realm of meaningful statements, and that if He/She/It does indeed exist, it is up to the theist to prove it.

Now this latter assumption is terribly prejudiced by culture and, one might dare say, flies in the face of how philosopher Alvin Plantinga, a longtime member of the faculty at Notre Dame, would describe belief in God—a “Properly Basic Belief” so common and so self-evident to the masses of humanity that, to them, no defense is needed. Of course, other philosophers take issue with that and say that in any debate this description would not stand the test of argu­ment. Plantinga contends that the masses of people are not in the arena of debate; they intuitively believe that there is a power greater than themselves, and they seek ways in which to connect with that supreme being. Raised in India, I have seen this firsthand. Though it was not my personal belief, it was indisputably intrinsic to the main­stream of life, both for the unsophisticated and the highly educated.

It is important to recognize that the Greeks, who really are the forerunners in systematic philosophical thought in classical philos­ophy (and as an extension of that came democratic government), attempted to define ultimate reality in abstract terms. Their musings and ponderings on ultimate reality cause some to even argue that Plato was probably moving toward a high monotheism. Whether one accepts that or not, what is important is that in their view, ulti­mate reality was inseparable from virtue and ethical norms.

For many in Greek thought, the power of reason was supreme, and the freeing of philosophy and science from the mystical was a deliberate and purposeful discipline. But, I repeat, for the Greek thinkers, though they did not posit a God, one thing was certain—virtue and harmony were the emergent implications for life.

There is a striking similarity between our so-called doctrine of tolerance and the early Greeks. For example, the oration at the funeral of Pericles gives fascinating insight into the hub and spokes of their reflections on life and destiny. We owe to Thucydides the reconstruction of that eulogy. Here it is:

[J]ust as our political life is free and open, so is our day-to-day life in our relations with each other. We do not get into a state with our next door neighbor if he enjoys himself in his own way…. We are free and tolerant in our private lives; but in public affairs we keep to the law….

When our work is over, we are in a position to enjoy all kinds of recreation for our spirits…in our own homes we find a beauty and good taste which delight us every day and which drives away our cares….

Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extrava­gance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft…. As for poverty, no one need be ashamed to admit it: The real shame is in not taking practical measures to escape from it.

We make friends by doing good to others, not by receiv­ing good from them. This makes our friendships all the more reliable…. [E]ach single one of our citizens, in all the manifold aspects of life, is able to show himself the rightful lord and owner of his own person, and to do this, moreover, with exceptional grace and exceptional versatility.13

Tolerance the New Virtue

Actually, that philosophizing would fit into Buddhism, Hindu­ism, Jainism, and the new tolerance of Western Secularism. That is the new god of this age. One look at this and you can see how a politi­cal framework addresses the soul of a people when God is not known or sought. We can readily see how critical it is that values be upheld for the public good. In reality, this is possibly the basis of a noble humanistic credo, but we shall deal with that later.

For now, we see how the early Greek philosophers and early non­theistic spirituality or mystery religions believed in a structure of vir­tue for one’s individual life and destiny. There were, however, very important differences in terms of why they thought this way and what they believed the purpose of life to be. That, to me, is key. As I have travelled for some four decades and have literally met with thousands of individuals, either one-on-one or in small groups after the public forums, there are really a handful of questions that emerge.

The first question is of life’s purpose and meaning: What does life and living really mean? Then there comes the question of plea­sure and enjoyment: How do I fulfill my desires? The pursuit of pleasure is at the core of our existence. We work, we earn a living, we return to our homes, but then we make decisions for our enjoy­ment: Are there any boundaries for pleasure? Then there is the third question: What does one make of all the suffering and pain we see in this world?

There you have it. Meaning, pleasure, pain. And all of these hang on the hinge of the fourth major question, a very defining one: How and why am I here in the first place? This was the very bedrock of questioning that Solomon pursued. He was not raised a Greek. He was raised in David’s family, a Jewish family with a definite belief in a personal God. There had to be a father-son disjunction here for Sol­omon to live as a hedonist but be regarded as a moralist, renowned for his wisdom.

That defining question is answered confidently by the atheist that we are here by accident. Turn back the clock and try the same thing again and it will never happen once more. Our presence is a cosmic accident for which there is no script for life or preassigned purpose. But let us be absolutely clear: The atheist has placed all other definitions of life’s imperatives on this one hinge, that we exist on this earth and struggle with human personality, morality, and reality without a personal, moral, or real first cause. That’s the leap of faith—to believe that ultimately life is matter and that it therefore doesn’t really matter. If you submit to the first conclusion, you are inextricably bound to the rest that follow.

Take for example Stephen Jay Gould:

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial crea­tures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dino­saurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise avail­able (so thank your lucky stars in a literal sense); because the earth never literally froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa, a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a higher answer—but none exists. This answer though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must con­struct these answers ourselves—from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.14

Gould states unequivocally that meaning is not decipherable by us. No higher answer exists, he says, and we have to find the answers on our own terms. This incredibly answerless answer is what sends Western values on the slippery slope of nihilism. But there is more. If meaning is not within the purpose of our existence, the second struggle is whether to seek a boundary for pleasure or eliminate all boundaries.

The difference between a nontheistic religion and an atheistic worldview is literally worlds apart. The difference comes from the explanation for theistic thinking. Both the realities of pleasure and of pain demand answers and explanation, whether life has meaning and whether there is a solution to the problem of pain. To arrive at a formal and creedal denial of a supreme being opens the door to all kinds of debates and arguments on the entailments of such a hope­less foundation.

From that starting point the remaining three answers are liter­ally up for grabs, so let’s see how the religious nontheist and the sec­ular atheist deal with the entailments of their starting points. When you start off with “no god,” you end up with the strangest of mental manipulations to keep you from the logical arc of reasoning. And the first mistake for the atheist is to position science into doing what it was never supposed to do.

Scientists themselves question their fellow authorities in this field. The agnostic physicist David Berlinski has written a trenchant critique of Dawkins in his book The Devil’s Delusion, a challenge to Dawkins’ The God Delusion. On the inside flap of the book, intro­ducing his subject, he writes,

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?

Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe and why it is here?

Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?

Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe anything so long as it is not religious thought?

Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?

Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?

Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?

Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?

Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual con­tempt?

Dead on.15

One has to commend Berlinski and others like him for call­ing the bluff of those hiding behind science and making sweeping assertions against belief in God. In fact, there is so much contradic­tion even within the exact sciences that anyone who speaks for all obviously does not respect the different disciplines within science. I know scholarly thinkers in the field of chemistry who have issued challenges to others, asking them to show evidence from chemistry that the move from primordial slime to Homo sapiens is even theo­retically possible. Professor James Tour of Rice University is one such scholar. In fact, cosmologist John Barrow said to Dawkins, “You have a problem with these ideas, Richard, because you’re not really a sci­entist. You’re a biologist.”16

Interesting, isn’t it, how the methodology and implications vary between the disciplines? It was this very challenge that caused Chan­dra Wickramasinghe and Fred Hoyle to postulate that an earth­bound theory explaining origins is mathematically impossible. But that is the foundation on which all the debunking of religious belief takes place. My colleague in this book will be dealing more exten­sively with the hazards of a scientific single vision. For my purposes here, let us agree that the extension of the discipline takes it outside its range.

That, then, brings the implications of the existential struggle into the no-man’s-land of meaninglessness.

A Rootless Culture

In Western cultural speak, we have basically gone from being a rootless society to a ruthless society. In America, we say that we are a nation of laws. That sounds fascinating. Are we implying that other nations are nations without laws? No culture on earth has more laws than the Islamic world. Their laws extend to what you eat and when you eat, how you marry and whom you marry, how you bank and with whom you bank, when you fast and how much you give, which way you face when you pray and how many times…laws ad nau­seam. They pride themselves on it.

So we are a nation of laws. Let’s move further. To use a meta­phor, law forms the roots from which our culture is built. The trunk then becomes the political system; the branches and the leaves or the fruit of the tree become the expression of the culture. That’s the figurative description of how we build a culture. When you think about it, it is actually circular. We act as if law just came into being and is self-evident. The question should really be, what holds the law in place?

The laws that legitimized slavery were railed against by a moral intuition that this exploitation and dominance of a people was morally wrong. Ironically, in their songs both the slave and the slave owner called upon God to rescue them or validate them. They weren’t calling upon nature to do so. Even in the context of the dominance of the Indian people by the British, Bertrand Russell, of all people, said that it was doubtful the plea from reason would have succeeded against the British except that it appealed to the con­science of a Christianized people.

This is where worldviews come into play. What holds the laws of a nation? It is the moral soil that must hold the roots. As G. K. Chesterton put it, lawful and legal do not mean the same thing and the moral soil is indispensable to aesthetic flourishing:

We are always near the breaking point, when we care only for what is legal, and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as mar­riage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.17

Nothing sublimely artistic has ever arisen out of mere art, any more than anything essentially reasonable has ever arisen out of pure reason. There must always be a rich moral soil for any great aesthetic growth.18

Recently I saw a movie titled Irrational Man. The well-known actor Joaquin Phoenix plays the role of an esteemed and atten­tion-drawing professor of philosophy. Before he arrives at the school at which he will be teaching, he already has a reputation as a bit of a loner and an eccentric. As the story line builds, we become aware that his goal is to influence his students toward the ethical system he subscribes to, built on the existentialists.

One day he overhears the story of a woman who was wrongly victimized by a judge’s ruling and becomes irate over that injustice. He ponders how to set this right and decides to kill the judge. That accomplished, one of his students discovers that he is the killer and, aghast, gradually pins him down with the truth. He has one option left, to kill her as well, even though he was romantically involved with her. In the end, in a struggle near an open elevator shaft, she gets the better of him and instead of her, as he had intended, he is crushed under the weight of the elevator.

It is interesting that though reason was his discipline, he was crushed by the weight of the immoral reasoning he had justified in his own heart as the right thing to do…until he was found out and had to explain it.

Law, philosophy, love, education, justice…all are built not on reason alone but on moral reasoning. This is the discipline under which atheism fails, and the ideas of atheism will be crushed under the very system constructed to make the one who points the guilty finger ineffectual.

The hunger of the human heart is for meaning, reason, purpose, and value, and atheism simply does not have either the answers or the explanatory power to make it possible to build a life on the foundation it offers. That is why some of the best of them discover at life’s termination point that their philosophy was reasoned into irrationality and their temporary victory, pyrrhic—it cost the victor more than it cost the vanquished.

To wit, Antony Flew and A. N. Wilson, two prominent thinkers who climbed the tree of atheism to great renown, only to concede that its trunk is hollow and its branches, deadly. The unanswered questions made Flew question the philosophy. An Easter Sunday walk to church with his family where he observed the followers of Jesus and heard the truth claims of their resurrected Lord made the difference for Wilson, the difference between life and death, sub­stance and hollowness, purpose and meaninglessness, love and hate, living a lie or living by the truth.

The chapters to come show the difference between Jesus and secular “isms” in the why of life itself. Our first comparison will be a deeper exploration of atheism—the general “ism” underlying all other secular worldviews. Then we proceed chapter by chapter to confront the secular gods that guide our neighbors and our nation. So far we have glimpsed only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s see where the differences really take us.



Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.


Maya Oppenheim, “Richard Dawkins: Atheist academic calls for religion ‘to be offended at every opportunity,’” The Independent (23 May 2016),­fended-at-every-opportunity-a7043226.html. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

2 Ibid.

Robert A. Morey, The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1986), 98.

4 G. K. Chesterton observes, “It is said that Paganism is a religion of joy and Chris­tianity of sorrow; it would be just as easy to prove that Paganism is pure sorrow and Christianity pure joy…. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsa­tion of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled. Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 236–237, 105. Also available online at Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

William Blake, “Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau” in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Third Edition, general editor M. H. Abrams (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975), 1338.

6 Mortimer Adler, The Synopticon: An Index to the Great Ideas, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Britan­nica, 1952), 543.

7 Winston Churchill, “The Munich Agreement,” Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

Charles Kaiser, The Cost of Courage (New York: Other Press, 2015), 51.

9 “Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798,” in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1848), 266.

10 Thomas Paine, The Theological Works of Thomas Paine (London: R. Carlile, 1824), 317.

11 Paul Edwards, ed., Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 175.

12 Étienne Borne, Atheism (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1961), 61.

13 Thucydides, “The Funeral Oration of Pericles,” History of the Peloponnesian War, M. I. Finley, editor, translated by Rex Warner (New York: Penguin Classics, 1972), excerpt online at­cles.htm. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

14 Stephen Jay Gould, quoted by David Friend and the editors of Life magazine, The Meaning of Life(Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991), 33.

15 Citation from book jacket, Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

16 John Barrow quoted in Julia Vitullo-Martin’s “A Scientist’s Scientist,” Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

17 G. K. Chesterton, As I Was Saying, ed. Robert Knille (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1984), 267.

18 G. K. Chesterton, “A Defence of Nonsense” in A Defence of Nonsense and Other Essays (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1911), 8.

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Liberty Counsel Condemns the Inhuman Treatment of Unborn Children

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 16, 2017

ATLANTA, GA — Today Liberty Counsel files an amicus brief in the case of West Alabama Women’s Center v. Miller defending the Alabama law that prohibits dismemberment abortions of live unborn babies, known as Dilation and Extraction (D&E), based on the medical evidence of their ability to feel intense pain.

Liberty Counsel’s brief lists ample evidence that unborn babies feel pain. “[I]t is entirely uncontested that a fetus experiences pain in some capacity, from as early as 8 weeks of development.” testified Dr. Maureen Condic before U.S. legislators. Early on in fetal development pain transmitters in the spinal cord are abundant, but pain inhibitors are sparse until later, according to Dr. Colleen Malloy. This medical information shows that premature infants have greater pain sensitivity than do full-term infants. Another demonstration of this is how premature babies actually require greater concentrations of medication to maintain effective anesthesia during surgery than full-term babies, as explained in the book Neonatal Pain.

If the vilest criminal has human dignity that protects him from an inhuman, painful punishment, then how much more should our laws protect an innocent unborn child that science proves is inherently human and experiences significant pain? Dr. Condic states “[I]gnoring the pain experienced by another human individual for any reason is barbaric.”

Doctors performing the D&E abortions are acutely affected by the child’s humanity and experience deep emotions and even nightmares. One deeply pro-choice abortionist was brought to tears when her own unborn child kicked at the exact same time that she severed another’s foot in a D&E abortion. “Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes” said Dr. Lisa Harris. “It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics.”

“We give our pets greater legal protections than we provide to the future citizens of America who have proven their humanity and their sensitivity to pain,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.  “Alabama’s law is a common sense solution to a barbaric and gruesome procedure,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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Examining Religions

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 6, 2017

truthBy Ravi Zacharias

It was years ago when I was speaking at an openly and avowedly atheistic institution that I was fascinated by a questioner who asked what on earth I meant by the term God. The city was Moscow; the setting was the Lenin Military Academy. The atmosphere was tense. Never had I been asked before to define the term in a public gathering. And because I was in a country so historically entrenched in atheism, I suspected the question was both hostile and intentional. I asked the questioner if he was an atheist, to which he replied that he was. I asked him what he was denying. That conversation didn’t go very far. So I tried to explain to him what we meant when we spoke about God.

It is fascinating to talk to a strident atheist and try to get beneath the anger or hostility. God is a trigger word for some that concentrates all his or her stored animosity into a projectile of words. But as the layers of their thinking and experience are unpacked, the meaning of atheism to each one becomes narrower and narrower, each term dying the death of a thousand qualifications. Oftentimes, the description is more visceral and is discussed with pent-up anger rather than in a sensible, respectful discussion. More than once I have been amazed at the anger expressed by members of the atheist groups at one or other of the Ivy League schools in the United States to which I have been invited to speak, anger that I was even invited and that I had the temerity to address them.

In theory, the academy has always been a place where dissent serves a valuable purpose in helping thinking students to weigh out ideas and make intelligent choices. And, dare I say, had I been a Muslim speaker, there would have been no such dissent as I faced. Evidently, being able to instill fear in people has a lot to do with how much freedom of speech you are granted. But alas! For some, at least, civil discourse is impossible. To her credit, at the end of a lecture, one senior officer in one club stood up and thanked me, a veiled apology for the resistance vented before the event. I did appreciate that courtesy.

This unfettered anger on the part of some is quite puzzling to me. I was raised in India where I was not a Hindu and, in fact, never once gave it any serious consideration. For that matter, I’m not sure if I even really believed in God. I was a nominal Christian but never gave that much thought, either. Most of my friends were either Hindu or Muslim or Sikh, with a few others of different faiths. I never recall feeling any anger or hostility toward those who believed differently than me, no matter how ludicrous their beliefs may have seemed to me. Nor do I remember ever being on the receiving end of such anger and hostility because I did not have the same belief.

But the likes of Richard Dawkins are renowned for their bullying and mocking approach toward opposing views, an attitude from an academic that makes one wonder what is really driving such an intense temperament. A questioner at a gathering in Washington, DC, once asked Richard Dawkins how one should respond to a person who believed in God. “Mock them,” he actually replied. “Ridicule them.” When someone at an event asked me what I thought of that response, I reflected that, were Dawkins to practice that same method in Saudi Arabia, chances are he would not need his return ticket. One thing is for sure—he would at least find out that not all beliefs in God are similar and not all imperatives, equal.

Need I add, not all atheists have the same disposition. In fact, many find the hostility of the new atheists an embarrassment. I have met many a cordial conversationalist who is atheistic in his or her belief, and we’ve had the best of conversations. Many have remarked that they have been able to take only so much of Dawkins and his followers and then stopped even reading them. Whatever worldview we espouse, dialogue and debate should take place with civility and courteous listening. But our times make that ideal so elusive. Holding a supposedly noble belief and reducing it to ignoble means of propagation makes the one who holds that belief suspect.

To be sure, many in the so-called “religious” category have provoked strident responses. The pulpit can sadly be a place of bullying people into guilt and remorse and other emotions that make them want to escape from the voice hammering away at them, to say nothing of the anti-intellectualism among Christian ranks that brands even a hint of philosophy or science heretical.

History has taught us to beware of extremists in any camp that sacrifice cordial conversation at the altar of demagogic enforcement. Views and opinions are aplenty in our world of tweeting and Instagram, but civil discourse is rare. And rarer still is the ability to defend one’s beliefs with reason and experience. But we do well to examine the differences among secular belief systems (that are, in fact, also religions). We do well to examine where these differences really lie. I continue to find that the Judeo-Christian worldview has the most coherent answers to the inescapable questions of life that we all have, regardless of our beliefs.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.


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America Relies on God: Public Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving During the American Revolution

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 24, 2016

god_bless_americaAs America has humbled herself before God and been obedient to His commandments, He has poured out His blessings upon this nation in innumerable ways. It was by God’s hand and for His purposes that America came into being as the world’s first Christian republic, but it was through the people who covenanted themselves with God that He was able to do His work. Almost all the people who colonized America, though they were from different denominations and Christian persuasions, embraced the Puritan doctrine of Divine Providence, seeing God in history as “directly supervising the affairs of men, sending evil upon the city . . . for their sins, . . . or blessing his people when they turn from their evil ways.”1 Looking to the Scriptures for the source of their law, both personal and civil, they firmly believed God’s blessings would come upon those who obey His commands and curses would come upon the disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26). This is why during times of calamity or crisis both church and civil authorities would proclaim days of fasting and prayer; and when God responded with deliverance and blessing, they would proclaim days of thanksgiving and prayer. From 1620 until the American Revolution at least 1000 such days were proclaimed by governments at all levels, and many more by various churches.2 This continued during our struggle for independence, through our first century as a nation, and, in some measure, even up until today.

The First Great Awakening Beginning in the late 1730s and continuing for about two decades, a great awakening occurred in America. This revival of Christianity set on fire the hearts of the people all over the colonies, which in turn produced a greater morality and godliness than before existed in this nation. This was quite phenomenal for virtue had always permeated America.

One example of this is attested to by historian James Truslow Adams, who said, “I have found only one case of a colonial traveler being robbed in the whole century preceding the Revolution.”3 The Great Awakening had such an impact upon the colonies that in some towns almost the entire populace was converted to Christ. Benjamin Franklin wrote of this time period that “it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”4 This revival of Christianity in the hearts of the people had “expression not merely in church attendance, but in all the activities of life.”5

Universities such as Princeton, Rutgers, Dartmouth and Brown were founded in order to supply all the colonies with learned and influential clergy. These universities produced not only Godly clergy but Godly leaders in civil government, business, and every other aspect of life. Providentially, this awakening occurred while our future Founding Fathers were young men. The men who won the Revolutionary War, formed our Constitutional Republic, and set our nation properly on course were thus equipped with the virtue, morality, self-government, and Biblical worldview necessary for their future stations.

Even the non-Christians, as Franklin and Jefferson, were affected in this way. Franklin said he “never doubted . . . the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His Providence;. . . that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.”6 The ideas upon which our nation was birthed — the right of man to life, liberty, and property— had their origin in God. As they originated in God, they were also secured due to His blessings upon this nation. He blessed not only individuals, but the entire nation. As America humbled herself before God by obedience to His Word and acknowledgment of her dependence upon Him for success in the Revolutionary War and the formation of the new nation, God not only provided wise and virtuous leaders, but also supernaturally intervened on behalf of the American army on many occasions. From the initial conflict with Britain, the American Colonies relied upon God.

George Washington’s words to his wife upon departure to take command of the Continental army, reflected the heart of the American people: “I shall rely . . . confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me.”7

To punish Massachusetts for its action at the Boston Tea Party, England closed the Boston port on June 1, 1774. The response of the colonies revealed in Whom they looked for help. The Virginia House of Burgesses, in resolves penned by Jefferson, “set apart the first day of June as a day of fasting and prayer, to invoke the divine interposition to give to the American people one heart and one mind to oppose by all just means every injury to American rights.”8 On that day large congregations filled the churches. This occurred not only in Virginia but throughout the colonies. Action followed this prayer as the colonists began to voluntarily provide aid and encouragement to Boston as that city’s commerce was cut off by the British blockade. This voluntary and universal action revealed that “beneath the diversity that characterized the colonies, there was American unity.”9 The American people recognized this unity came from a common Christian bond among the people of all the colonies.

In response to the charity that flowed into the city, the Boston Gazette of July 11, 1774, responded by writing, “my persecuted brethren of this metropolis, you may rest assured that the guardian God of New England, who holds the hearts of his people in his hands, has influenced your distant brethren to this benevolence.”10 A few months later, in September of 1774, the first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia. The first act of the first session of the Congress was to pass a resolution calling for the opening of Congress the next day with prayer by Rev. Duché. The next morning Rev. Duché did pray and read from the thirty-fifth Psalm, as Washington, Henry, Lee, Jay and others knelt and joined with him in prayer. John Adams wrote about this scene in a letter to his wife: “I never saw a greater Effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that Morning. . . . It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.”11

God’s involvement in the founding of America is again seen on April 19, 1775. This day marked the battle of Lexington, of which Rev. Jonas Clark proclaimed: “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.”12 It was his parishioners who shed the first blood of the Revolution, and it was on his church lawn that it occurred. God made certain that on this day His people had proper support, for on April 19, the entire colony of Connecticut was fasting and praying. On March 22, when the Governor of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull, proclaimed April 19 as a “Day of publick Fasting and Prayer,” he probably did not realize the significance of that date; but the One who rules heaven and earth and directs the course of history undoubtably knew and was able to direct the humble hearts of the colonists to pray. In part, Trumbull’s proclamation asked, “that God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us, to bring us to a thorough Repentance and effectual Reformation, that our Iniquities may not be our Ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the Liberties of this, and all the other British American Colonies, and make this Land a mountain of Holiness and habitation of Righteousness forever.”13

Connecticut was not the only colony to lay the foundations of the War for Independence in prayer, for on April 15, 1775, Massachusetts officially proclaimed May 11 to be set apart as a “Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” — a day where all their confidence was to be “reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but foolishness — and all created Power Vanity.”14 America continued to humble herself before God and show her reliance upon Him throughout the war. Frequent days of prayer and fasting were observed, not only by individuals and local churches, but also by the Continental Army, and all the newly united States of America.

Immediately after the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, they appointed chaplains to Congress as well as ordering chaplains to be provided for the army. These chaplains were paid with public funds. As God’s people and the nation humbled themselves and prayed, He moved mightily on their behalf. He gave wisdom to America to know when and how to respond to the injustices of Britain. He worked Christian character into the American people, her leaders, and her army so they could endure many hardships and not give up their fight for liberty, even in seemingly hopeless situations. He also controlled the weather and arranged events to assure eventual victory for the new nation.

One such miraculous event occurred during the summer of 1776. During the Battle of Long Island, Washington and his troops had been pushed back to the East River and surrounded by the much larger British army. Washington decided to retreat across the wide East River, even though it appeared doomed to fail. If it did fail, this probably would have marked the end of the war. Yet the God in Whom Washington and the nation trusted came to their aid. He caused a storm to arise which protected the American army from the enemy, then stopped it so as to allow the Americans to escape. He also miraculously brought in a fog to cover the retreat. In addition, He directed a servant, sent to warn the British, to those soldiers who would not understand him— German-speaking mercenaries. Thanks to God, 9000 men with all their supplies had miraculously retreated to New York. Here we see, as American General Greene said, “the best effected retreat I ever read or heard of.” This event was so astonishing that many (including General Washington) attributed the safe retreat of the American army to the hand of God.15

On October 17, 1777, British General Burgoyne was defeated by Colonial forces at Saratoga. Earlier, General Howe was supposed to have marched north to join Burgoyne’s 11,000 men at Saratoga. However, in his haste to leave London for a holiday, Lord North forgot to sign the dispatch to General Howe. The dispatch was pigeon-holed and not found until years later in the archives of the British army. This inadvertence, plus the fact that contrary winds kept British reinforcements delayed at sea for three months, totally altered the outcome at Saratoga in favor of America.16 In response to the victory, the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and praise to God. In part, they stated, “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God, . . . and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of His common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war for the defence and establishment of our inalienable rights and liberties, particularly in that He hath been pleased . . . to crown our arms with most signal success: it is therefore recommended . . . to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December, for solemn thanksgiving and praise.” They recommended for everyone to confess their sins and humbly ask God, “through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance” and thus He then would be able to pour out His blessings upon every aspect of the nation.17

This is the official resolution of our Congress during the Revolutionary War! No wonder the blessings of God flowed upon this nation. Similar resolutions were also issued by the Commander of the American army, George Washington. When Benedict Arnold’s treason was providentially discovered in September of 1780, both Congress and Washington acknowledged it was by the Hand of God.

Congress declared December 7, 1780, a day of Thanksgiving in which the nation could give thanks to God for His “watchful providence” over them. In a letter to John Laurens, Washington wrote, “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the Post and Garrison of West Point from Arnold’s villainous perfidy.”18 In Washington’s official address to the Army announcing Arnold’s treason, he stated, “The providential train of circumstances which led to it [his discovery of Arnold’s treason] affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection.”19

This Divine protection of the liberties of America was seen over and over again during the Revolution — at Trenton and the crossing of the Delaware; during the winter at Valley Forge; in France becoming America’s ally; during the miraculous retreat of the Americans from Cowpens; and at the Battle of Yorktown.20 Throughout all these events America consistently gave thanks to Almighty God, humbled herself before Him, and sought to obey Him in all spheres of life. This released the blessings and grace of God upon this nation which enabled America to be victorious in her struggle for freedom.

Some years later, God’s grace provided wisdom to establish the United States Constitution, and in so doing provide a Christian form of government through which the Christian spirit of this nation would effectively flow. For America to continue to be a citadel of liberty and prosperity, we must continually humble ourselves before Him who gave birth to this nation and acknowledge with George Washington in his first inaugural speech of April 30, 1789, that “no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished, by some token of providential agency.”21

In 1787, a committee of all the states of the United States of America, gratefully looking back over all the preceding years, set apart October 19, 1787, “as a day of public prayer and thanksgiving” to their “all-bountiful Creator” who had conducted them “through the perils and dangers of the war” and established them as a free nation, and gave “them a name and a place among the princes and nations of the earth.” In that official proclamation they wrote that the “benign interposition of Divine Providence hath, on many occasions been most miraculously and abundantly manifested; and the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance, whose name be praised.”22 God is the One who laid the foundation for America and the One Who assured her birth and growth as a nation. Apart from His continued influence, we cannot expect our nation to be maintained.

Stephen McDowell

End Notes 1. W. DeLoss Love, Jr., The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895), 41.

2. See Love, pp. 464–514 for a list.

3. James Truslow Adams, A History of American Life, Vol. III, Provincial Society, 1690-1763 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1927), 161.

4. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: Walter J. Black, Inc., 1932), 217.

5. Adams, p. 284.

6. The Autobiography of Franklin, p. 182.

7. William J. Johnson, George Washington the Christian (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1976, reprint), 69.

8. The Christian History of the Constitution, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1980), 336.

9. Ibid., pp. 338-339.

10. Ibid.

11. The Book of Abigail and John, Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975), 76.

12. They Preached Liberty, Franklin P. Cole, editor (Indianapolis: Liberty Press), 39.

13. Copy of proclamation in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder, Verna M. Hall, compiler (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976), 495.

14. The Christian History of the Constitution, p. Id.

15. See Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell, America’s Providential History (Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 1991), 158-161.

16. America, Great Crises in Our History Told by Its Makers, A Library of Original Sources, Vol. III, Issued by Americanization Department, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Chicago, 1925, p. 211.

17. B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), 531.

18. Beliles and McDowell, 163-164.

19. America, p. 285.

20. See Beliles and McDowell, America’s Providential History, Chapter 11.

21. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson (Washington: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), vol. 1.

22. B.F. Morris, 542-543.


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