Archive | February, 2013

Why I Think the Christian Crusades were Necessary

I remember the first time I heard J. P. Moreland, Christian philosopher and apologist, speak. I was already a J. P. fan after reading his book Love Your God with all Your Mind, but this speaking engagement turned him into a didactic master in my mind. I don’t really recall what he was speaking on—something to do with philosophy and defending the faith—but I do remember an encounter he had with an antagonist to the faith in the crowd. Some guy raised his hand to ask a question. J. P. called on him. But this person was one of those guys who raises his hand not to inquire about something that is confusing him, but to stand up, take the pulpit, and wax eloquent on the subject. This guy’s statement was, for me, very intimidating. Whoever he was, he knew what he was talking about. Whatever he was saying (I could not understand a bit of it) seemed to be beyond what J. P. knew. For a brief moment it looked as if he had single-handedly dismantled over an hour of J. P.’s presentation. I was scared for J. P. However, J. P. handled this guy with finesse and power. J. P. knew that no one understood what this guy had said, and he knew that getting into an extended irenic dialogue with him would leave the rest of the audience out in the cold. So he took him out of the equation as quickly as possible. J. P. showed, in a matter of forty-five seconds, that he understood what the guy was saying, he quickly illegitimized it by referencing the idea’s source (something the guy was not aware of), and he showed why it had been philosophically rejected by virtually all scholars. J. P. flexed his muscles for less than a minute, and then returned to earth with the rest of us. The guy sat down, speechless. I felt sorry for him. I thought someone needed to go give him a hug. J. P. really made this guy look like a fool and I am sure he did not feel great about doing so. But that is what men like J. P. must do when necessary.

Shortly after 9/11, America went to war with Iraq. The reason given to the public for this war was the presence of weapons of mass destruction in this country. This was enough to get the American public on the side of the Bush administration (generally speaking). Shortly after the war began, the weapons did not turn up in Iraq. Because of this, many accused Bush of trumping up the evidence so he could go on his “crusade.” Since then, thousands of people have not been on Bush’s side, claiming that he will go down in history as a terrible president, at least in part because of this. However, I’m not sure if I buy into this. I am open to the idea that the claims about weapons were (at least) somewhat trumped up (although I am no expert at all). But I think Bush’s invasion of Iraq, while a very difficult move to make, may have been a necessary evil for the safety of America. I also think that comparing Bush’s “campaign” to the Christian Crusades, while meant to be derogatory, is a pretty decent description. . . so long as we understand both.

Now, turn with me again to the Crusades . . .

The “Christian Crusades” were a series of battles that took place from 1095 to 1291, in which Christendom waged war against Islamic aggression; their primary purpose was to take back the Holy Land, which had been occupied by Muslims since 638. You see, early in the eleventh century, a deranged Muslim ruler, Abu ‘Ali Mansur, destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Soon all Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land were cut off by Muslims. This guy was a lot like Saddam Hussein. He was crazy and no one really knew where his loyalties stood. He did not attack Christendom directly, but showed contempt for them by this act (along with destroying 30,000 churches in the Middle East). On top of that, the history of Muslim aggression against the West, their disregard for personal property and land, and their hatred of all “infidels” (non-Muslims) had people in the West a bit on edge about what the future held. Even so, it was not until Constantinople, the largest Christian city in the world, was threatened that the West decided something needed to be done. (After all, Constantinople was a buffer between Islam and the West.) Continue Reading →

How The Credo House Changed the Life of this OIF Veteran

Allow me to introduce myself…

My name is Kevin and I want to share with you the impact this ministry has had on my life.

Take four minutes to watch this video and let me share my testimony with you.

You know what is crazy?

I have received multiple emails from members and supporters with the same conclusion.

The Theology Program changes lives.

I am living proof and am amazed at the stories that I am hearing everyday.

Your feedback is what helps me to wake up every morning excited to come to work here.

So….

If you have a story about how Credo House Ministries has impacted your life or someone you know, let me know!

I will be sure to pass it along to the rest of team (and trust me, this is just the encouragement some of them need).

Also if you have any theology questions or subjects or product ideas you would like us to cover let me know and I will be sure to relay it to Michael and Tim.

Leaving (Christ)ianity

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I sat down with a young lady not too long ago and had a conversation. This was a conversation about faith—her faith. Better put, this was a conversation about a faith that once was and is no more. She was a very interesting and bright lady—inquisitive, well-read, and very suspicious. She began by telling me that she had been a Christian, but had since left the faith. Christ was once a part of her confession.  However, after a long voyage of not finding sufficient answers for her doubts, she came to the conclusion that she believes she has had no choice but to follow her own integrity and renounce Christ all together. That said, when I asked her to share with me what her particular problems were, she became very emotional. It was just as if I represented Christianity, and she was ready to take all of it out on me.

Ignorance. Pity. Shame. These are all word descriptions she associated with Christianity. However, through these superficial word descriptions, it was evident that the best root word to describe her feelings was “betrayal”.  She had been betrayed by the Church, because they duped her into a belief not unlike that of the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. When she discovered this “betrayal,” no one could provide a valid answer or excuse. So she left. She is now an unbeliever—a soon-to-be evangelistic unbeliever no doubt. I discussed the issue with her for quite a while.  However, she seemed to have come to the point in this process that she was no longer open to counsel, no matter what I said.

As many of you know, a part of my ministry is dealing with people who doubt their faith just like this young lady. I possess well over a dozen books containing a plethora of autobiographical sketches of people who once proclaimed to be Christians.  Yet, these same individuals are now professing evangelistic atheism, agnosticism, or skepticism.  They are “evangelistic” in that their avowed goal is to convert, or rather “unconvert”, others to their world view system of  unbelief. I have received e-mails, phone calls, and personal visits from numerous people who have either already, or are on the verge of leaving the Christian faith.  On a positive note, may I say that many of those individuals have been restored to a faith in Christ. Continue Reading →

Atheist Counseling During Tragedy

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What is the meaning of life for atheists? Searching for such a teleology for atheists is not easy. Atheists don’t really have a message to those who are suffering, especially when there is significant loss involved. Trying to find out why a loved one died, why the cancer spread, or why one lost their job is way above any given atheist’s pay grade. Why? Because asking “why” about anything implies some sort of transcendent reason, rationale, or purpose to life. In order to believe in such, God must be invoked. Therefore, if one were to give some sort of “meaning of life” answer for tragedy, for the atheist this is, at best, only a conventional crutch to help cope with pain. At worst, it is a destructive lie.

Recently, I read a response one atheist gave another who had just suffered great loss.  Realizing that his friend, also an atheist, was searching for hope, the atheist did not compromise his worldview for the sake of convention. Staying true to his atheism, he spoke from the heart of his worldview, giving the best he had to offer:

You asked for a logical reason for why and what life is, and I’m going to disappoint you. In my opinion, questions like “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why are we here?” (as traditionally asked) only exist when one assumes that there is a deity or some other force behind existence that intended things to be the way they are. As an atheist, I’m sure you would agree that there is no such force, so I would ask you to put those questions aside as meaningless. Continue Reading →

Finding Trustworthy Scholars

Right now, in my home office, I have material about the Crusades all over the place. It is a paradise to me. I have notes and random thoughts scribbled on various pieces of paper, DVDs, self-made maps, and my precious notebooks which, in theory, contain the most articulate expression of my teachings – before it all gets transferred to PowerPoint for the didactic finale. It is a mess, but I love it.

As with most of my studies, I have a lot of people I rely on to get the information I need. After all, I was not present at the Crusades, so my job is to find the best sources to tell me exactly what happened. My favorite source has been Thomas Madden. He is a modern writer on the Crusades and he is easy to follow. He also seems to write objectively. But I have other sources as well. Of course there is Jonathan Riley-Smith, who is a standard-bearer in this field. As well, Thomas Asbridge provides great work that reads like a novel. Then there is Maalouf’s work which helps me see things through Muslim eyes. And there are others. But all of these are modern writers. We call these “secondary sources.” In order to be more objective, one should also consult “primary sources.” These are works from writers who were actually there. For this, I have an excellent work called The Crusades: A Reader. This is a compilation of dozens of first-hand accounts of the Crusades from Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim sources. I even have on my Kindle is a biography of Alexios I, written by his daughter, called The Alexiad.

Here is a picture of some of my sources (please note: I do not endorse all of these works, but most are very good):

books-on-the-crusades

I have been at this study since I started teaching on the Crusades a few months ago. Yet, I am far from an expert on the Crusades. In fact, were I to keep this up for the next few years, expert status would still be far off. I will never be an “authority” in this area. I don’t have the brain power or the time. Therefore, I will always rely heavily on others for an understanding of the Christian Crusades, and I am content with this. Continue Reading →

Questions About Satan

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What is his real name?

We don’t really know of any formal name. He is called many informal names, which are derived from his character (Satan, “the evil one,” the devil, etc.). Some believe his name is “Lucifer.” This name is unfortunate. It comes from the Latin translation of “morning star” found in Isaiah 14:12-15. Some believe this passage describes the fall of Satan; however, this is hotly debated, as the context does not really suggest as much. The association seems to have been popularized in the intertestamental period through the books of Enoch. Unfortunately, the King James Version, following this popularization, actually uses the term “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12-15. Most modern translations have corrected that. So we don’t really know any formal name for Satan.

Can he read minds?

There is no reason to believe that Satan has the power to read minds. He is not omniscient (he does not know everything). While his power is greater than ours (relatively speaking), his power is very limited.

Where is he?

We don’t know. I imagine that he has never been in your room, seen your house, or taken a ride with you in your car. He probably does not even know your name. Remember, he is not omnipresent (everywhere) or transcendent (above time and space). Being a created being existing in our universe, he is spatially limited just like us. Therefore, he is only in one place at time. I don’t know how fast he travels or his mode of transporation. I don’t know if he walks, runs, flies, or hitches a ride on a car. I just know that he is not everywhere.

Where does he live? Continue Reading →

On My Journey to Become Charismatic

Theological opinions are hard to change. Once they have set in, they are usually there to stay. The theological glue that makes ideas stick early in your studies is, for better or worse, rock solid. It must be that same stuff they use on your teeth. I have one fake tooth glued to the root of the old tooth. I can’t believe that sucker is still holding. Strong stuff.

Ironically, I am in the business of changing theological opinions. Well, that is not entirely accurate. Sometimes – a lot of times – it is just solidifying opinions, rather than changing them. However, I don’t change my own opinions too much. In terms of my basic theological confession, I am pretty much the same person I was twenty years ago. I can still sign the same confessions (even though some of them cause me to raise an eyebrow or two).  I am still Protestant, Evangelical, Calvinist, dispensationalist. I believe in inerrancy, I hold to a pre-tribulational view of the end times, and I believe in dunking rather than sprinkling. I am a complementarian, a traducianist, and a memorialist with regard to the Lord’s supper. Heck, I even believe in a young earth! The point is that I rarely change my positions. Life is just more comfortable that way.

Don’t get me wrong. I have actually tried to change some of these opinions. I really want to change some of these opinions. What I mean is that many times, I find the view that I don’t hold to be more palatable or, for lack of a better word, more likable than the one I do. For example, I really want to be a charismatic. I desire so deeply to believe in and experience that miraculous divine intervention the way that charismatics do. I salivate as I look at their worship, hope, and engagement with God. However, though I have studied, argued, prayed, talked to the right people, and prayed some more, I am still not a charismatic (and doubt I will ever be).

The funny thing is that I know I am wrong about so much. When I stand before God, I expect to be surprised at how many of the things I taught, preached on, blogged about, wrote books about, and shouted from mountain tops were wrong. Obviously, I don’t know which ones these are or I would change them now. However, for the most part, I don’t think I will be in too much trouble. The best I can do is believe that those things I will be wrong about were sincere. In other words, I believe that the things I might end up being wrong about are difficult issues that “could go either way.” Continue Reading →