Recent Point Posts

I am a skeptic. Sure, I am a Christian. But I am naturally skeptical about extraordinary claims. While my worldview makes room for near-death experiences, I have never found the evidence that compelling. There is just too much abuse, overstatement of the evidence, and exaggerated stories.

Recently, however, I decided to probe more deeply into the evidence for near-death experiences (NDEs) for the class I teach on the resurrection. To put it simply, I was stunned at both the quantity and quality of cases that pose a challenge for naturalism.

[To read more, go to Sean's blog!]
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Recently I had a chance to interact with Dr. Erik Strandness, a worldview educator from Spokane, Washington. His story instantly intrigued me! After all, you don't hear about many medical doctors leaving their profession after two decades to teach worldview to high school students (Hint: He didn't do it for the money).

[For more, go to Sean's blog!]
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The Ebola Outbreak of 2014 is past, but its consequences remain.

Some of those consequences are indirect.  Liberia was slowly recovering from decades of civil war when the first cases of Ebola hit in the spring of 2014.  So the brokenness you see all around you when you drive through or fly over Liberia is a sign not just of war, but of the high barrier the disease erected to recovery:  every pothole in the country’s few paved roads, every shell of a building abandoned during construction, every street vendor still selling gas out of mayonnaise jars.

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On September 15, Wheaton College will hold a symposium on Lilias Trotter, the artist and missionary who was the subject of Laura Waters Hinson's splendid documentary "Many Beautiful Things." For those in the area, this should be worth attending! Details are available here.
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A combination gas station/convenience store may seem like an unlikely symbol of Liberia’s rise from disease and economic decay, but it has become just that.

After more than two decades of civil war and the brutal dictatorship of Charles Taylor, by 2003 the economic, transportation, and energy infrastructure of Liberia was virtually nonexistent. Even gas stations were non-existent. If you owned a car, or—more likely—a motorcycle, you bought gas from street vendors who sold the gas out of large jars. These vendors still dot the streets, with their “mayonnaise jars,” as they call them, though it’s not obvious what was originally in the glass containers.
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As I wrote in my previous post, Liberia is a badly broken country.

For a Christian, this fact is a particularly frustrating one. Frustrating because, everywhere one turns in Liberia, there are signs of a Christian presence. Churches are everywhere. Posters and billboards announce Christian meetings and crusades. Christianity in one form or another has been a steady presence in Liberia since its founding in 1847 by former American slaves, some of whom brought Christianity with them. The first Baptist missionaries came to Liberia in the 1820s. Even today, the country debates whether officially to declare Liberia a “Christian nation.” In 2013, 700,000 Liberians signed a petition saying, “Yes.”

So it is fair to ask: If Christianity transforms not only individuals, but also communities and whole societies, why has Liberia not experienced that transformation?
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(Note: I’m in Monrovia, Liberia, this week to see the work of Samaritan’s Purse on the one-year anniversary of the country being declared “Ebola-free.” I will be sending dispatches from Monrovia all this week.)

The first thing you notice about Liberia when you approach from the air is that it is dark.

When you approach most cities at night—especially cities as large as Monrovia, the country’s capital, with a population of 1.5 million people—you are suddenly surrounded by light. The lights of the city itself, of course, but also bright lights of the airport that signal that you have arrived.

Not so Monrovia.
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It was perfect timing, really. Yesterday, Wesley Hill published a blog post titled "The Long Defeat, and the Long Loneliness," about his life as a celibate gay believer. It's a stark, utterly honest reminder of a question that we Christians often fear to ask: "Is God in Christ the sort of God who would ask His children to embrace a lifelong loneliness, a long defeat?"

This morning, though I don't know whether she saw his piece, Bromleigh McCleneghan answered Hill's question in the Washington Post. Her answer was no.
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Focus is re-broadcasting a 2010 interview with Chuck about faith and politics, today and tomorrow. You can listen here!
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I had trouble believing my ears as I listened to a piece on National Public Radio a couple of days ago. The segment began this way:
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SEAN: What does “Biblical authority” mean?

JOSH: Biblical authority means having the Bible as the source for your worldview. It means trusting God to provide the answers to the big questions in life, such as where right and wrong comes from. In reality, the Bible is not really the source of morality itself. Nothing is right and wrong just because the Bible says it. For instance, lying is not wrong because the Bible says, “Thou shall not lie.” Rather, the Bible says we should not lie because God is truth (John 14:6). The character of God is the foundation of right from wrong, and this is revealed through the Scriptures. Consider another example: killing is not wrong just because the Bible says it. Rather, the Bibles says, “Thou shall not kill,” because God is life in his very character and we are made in His image.

[For more, go to Sean's blog!]
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While watching the Olympic Games in Rio a few days ago, I was shocked to learn that the young relative (30 years old) watching with me had never heard about the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist group at the Munich Games in 1972. This happened 14 years before she was born, but still . . .

As a teenager, I was a member of a swim team, and was glued to the television set for each of Mark Spitz’s seven races. When the attack came, it received the first worldwide coverage of a terrorist event (in part, I expect, because the world’s news media was already gathered there). In the end, thanks both to lax security measures and a deeply flawed response to the attack, all 11 athletes were murdered.

When I looked up articles about the attacks to send to my relative, I was shocked again. Horrific details had been suppressed for decades. For instance, the hostages were tortured as well as murdered, and one was castrated; German officials had denied the existence of reports and photographs before finally releasing them, under pressure, decades later.
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It was the fall of 1981. The United States was coming out of a deep recession. Ronald Reagan had been president since January. Among his first acts in the White House had been to dramatically cut spending for social programs. And the woman sitting next to me on an airplane was not happy about it.

She worked for an organization called Camp Fire Girls (now Camp Fire USA), and she made it clear she could not stand Ronald Reagan. I asked why, so she described an after-school program she ran that served hundreds of poor children. The program had received about $100,000—almost its entire budget—from the federal government. Reagan had eliminated that funding.
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Last week, two articles at The Gospel Coalition demonstrated that (1) racial reconciliation is difficult and (2) it's still worth trying for.

The first (now removed, but discussed in this Washington Post piece) was an article by Gaye Clark about her African-American son-in-law. Though Clark meant well, lines such as “Glenn moved from being a black man to beloved son when I saw his true identity as an image bearer of God, a brother in Christ, and a fellow heir to God’s promises” caused a backlash, with many readers pointing out that a black man cannot and should not be expected to move past being a black man, as that is exactly what God made him to be. The general tone of the piece struck many as unfortunate, with its implications that Clark's daughter's marriage was a hardship or obstacle to be overcome. Read More >
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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it would keep marijuana classified as a “Schedule 1” drug, one defined as having no medicinal value and in the same category as heroin and LSD.

The ruling, announced on Thursday, August 11, leaves unchanged a federal policy first enacted in 1970, even though 26 states have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
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