Archive | August, 2014

3 Mistakes Our Definition of God Must Address to Avoid Atheism

It’s important for a Christian ministry to have a good definition of God (tongue in cheek). In fact, the definition I’m proposing will turn billions of religious people into atheists by the end of this article. How many people in the world are already religious? How many profess a belief in a divine being?

The way we define our terms will take center stage in our athe-izing much of the world’s religious population.

The Definition of God Determines Who's An Atheist

Further Reading:

Atheists comprise about 2% of the world’s population. Those who claim no religion at all (or “non-religious”) make up 16%. Atheists number close to 140 million. Combined with the non-religious, this add up to just over 1.2 billion. Christians make up close to 2.2 billion of the world’s population. Muslims hoover around 1.2 billion. The next largest religious population is Hindus at one billion.

Half the world’s population believes in God and half does not.

It looks like the those who believe in God greatly outnumber atheists, but I don’t think this is the case. In fact, I think half the world’s population believes in God while half does not. That’s about 3.5 billion people on each side. How do I come up with such figures? Let me explain.

Continue Reading →

21 Things Christians Say That Hurt Their Credibility

Michael Patton (President of Credo House) has written a series of 21 articles called, “…and other stupid statements”. Obviously the title is meant to provoke curiosity. But the issue of credibility is one that Christians are well aware of. The Bible, after all, is full of miraculous events and people.

But there are some things Christians say that Michael believes are “stupid statements”.

Credibility Problems of Christians

The reactions to Michael’s articles have been quite varied.

After reading some of these articles you may even find yourself saying:

  • What could he possibly mean by that!
  • I’ve said that before!
  • I’ve heard that so many times and it always annoyed me!
  • What the big deal with that?
  • Who cares?

Whatever your reaction is, we hope that you’ll find one that piques your interest.

21 Things Christians Say that Hurt Their Credibility

Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain – What Does it Really Mean?

The answer to this question might seem self-evident, especially to those of us who grew up in a western Judeo-Christian society.

Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Please be warned, I’m going to use a phrase that is offensive to many.

For most, the ultimate violation of the third commandment is to say “God damn it.” You can use just about every other word or phrase, no matter how bad, but when your vulgarity includes the utilization of this phrase, many believe you’ve crossed the line. You might even be charged with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

In fact, more people would confidently answer this question than could list the Ten Commandments, name the gospels, or explain the difference between the New and Old Testaments.

At Odds with the Third Commandment (As Some Define It)

I’m going to take a stand that’s at odds with the most popular understanding of the third commandment. That’s why I used the word “really” in the title of this article. With all the talk about cursing pastors, the evolution of swearing in the blogosphere, and the general confusion around this issue (even in Christian circles), I thought I’d take a stab at explaining what it really means to take the Lord’s name in vain.

If I’m right about the third-commandment, we have a serious issue of folk theology that’s damaging the character of God by misrepresenting what Christian speech is.

The question that must drive the understanding of any biblical passage is:

What did the author intend for his audience to understand by his writing?

The third commandment was given to a specific people, at a specific time, in a specific place, with a specific purpose. We’ll never know what it means today if we don’t first know what it originally meant.

What About the F-Bomb, S-Word, etc?

The third commandment has nothing to do with what we commonly call cursing. Use of the F-word, S-word, etc. is a separate issue. The Bible certainly has a lot to say about speech:

Continue Reading →

Apocalypse – What is it? Should We Be Afraid?

What is the Apocalypse

This is the fifth of six Credo Clips about Revelation and eschatology.

In this short video, Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) explains to us his definition of apocalypse.

Credo Clips with Mark Hitchcock

Video Transcript

Well the word apocalypse is the Greek word, it’s basically just transliterated, it’s apokalupsis (ἀποκάλυψις) in the Greek.

It’s the beginning there in the book of Revelation. It’s the apokalupsis or the unveiling of Jesus Christ. That’s what the word means, apocalypse, it means to take the veil off of something or to take the cover off.

Continue Reading →

5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist

Modern atheism is suffering a great deal. This is due to the growth of a new, evangelical type of atheism. Many have labeled its adherents the “New Atheists”. They’re new only in the sense of mission, drive, purpose, and appeal. There’s nothing new in their arguments. Nothing has been discovered that should increase their enthusiasm.

5 Ways to Be a Better Atheist

Nevertheless, here they are. And despite my claim that they’re suffering, their impact is far-reaching. Their appearance on the cultural center stage is truly affecting people’s beliefs: confirming some in their atheism and causing many theists to tremble.

In spite of this, I believe that this movement is in desperate need of help. While they’re having an effect, its intellectual weaknesses will cut it short.

The New Atheists – A Movement In Need of Help

The New Atheists are filled with emotional rage, relying on their personalities for inspiration. I have some advice to help shape them during this volatile time in their history. Ironically, I truly want them to listen and improve. Why? Because I want every worldview to have good representation. It does me no good in my pursuit of truth to have my worldview challenged by an impotent and weakly opponent. Modern atheism can improve in five key areas which I’ll lay out in detail below.

1. Make More Concessions.

After listening to and reading many of the most popular atheists today, I’ve found that (generally speaking) there’s an incredible lack of intellectual honesty. These volumes are filled with claims that smack of propaganda:

  • Christianity has no evidence.
  • Theism is completely irrational.
  • People believe in God because they are uneducated.
  • To be a Christian is to commit intellectual suicide.

I wish this was the exception and that most public atheists didn’t speak in such a way, but it’s not, and, they do.

Don’t get me wrong… I understand the atheist who says that the case for theism is not compelling enough or, for them, does not make a sufficient case. But to say that there is no evidence for God or that Christianity requires a lack of education is not only an incredible overstatement it’s intellectually uninformed at best and dishonest at worst.

Continue Reading →

Making Sense of All Suffering – What is the Telos of Pain?

What’s the point of all the suffering Christians go through? What is God trying to accomplish? What’s the goal? The Bible talks a lot about this using the Greek word “telos”.

The Meaning (Telos) for Suffering

Telos (τέλος) Origin Greek[1]:

  1. A point of time marking the end of a duration.
  2. The last part of a process.
  3. The goal toward which a movement is being directed.
  4. Last in a series.
  5. Revenue obligation.

Telos Examples from Scripture

1st Peter 1:9 obtaining the outcome (telos) of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end (telos) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (ESV)

James 5:11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose (telos) of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (telos).” All of these scriptural quotations are taken from the ESV.

Of course, the book of Job probably says more about pain and suffering than any single other book of the Bible.

Clearly, telos is a very flexible word. However, in this article we’re focusing on the “goal” aspect of it’s usage.

Telos in Conversation at the Credo House

While working behind the bar of the Credo House the other day (yes, I do make coffees!), a man came to talk to me about something that had been weighing on his heart. “Michael,” he said, “how do you know what God is trying to accomplish through the suffering that we go through? What is his end, purpose or goal.” Continue Reading →

What is the Rapture? A Simple Definition

What is the Rapture? A Simple Definition

This is the fourth in what will be a collection of seven Credo Clips about Revelation and eschatology.

In this short video, Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) gives us his definition for the concept of the rapture.

You can catch up on the other videos in this series:

Video Transcript

Yea, the rapture is a word that is not found in the Bible, it’s that english word. And that bothers a lot of people who say, “The word rapture isn’t even in the Bible.” Continue Reading →

Will God Protect My Children?

Will-God-Protect-My-Children

Will God Protect My Children?

My friend was not a Christian, but he was seriously considering it. He was one of my wild friends from my younger, crazier days. We used to drive from bar-to-bar looking for nothing but trouble.

We often talked about Jesus. I was one of those dichotomous Christians who did what he could to evangelize while neck deep in the clutches of carnality (now I am just dichotomized in other ways!).

He was an atheist and pretty determined to stand his ground. Initially, our reconnect involved uncomfortable re-telling’s of our former days of sin along with some (compromising?) laughter about such.

But we spent the next year talking about Christ Here we were a decade later having the same types of conversations during a different stage of life. He’s married with kids. I’m married with kids. He’s thinking about bigger, more profound things. I’m teaching about bigger and more profound things.

Continue Reading →