Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘Christian apologetics’

Jesus in the Lion’s Den

 

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We were camping on the veldt in Tsavo National Park in Kenya.  Our long line of tents was set up facing an elephant watering hole about fifty yards away.  As we turned in for the night, a sentry armed with a rifle paced between the campfires burning to ward off the animals.

After 11:00 PM a solitary male lion approached our camp on his way to the waterhole. We were an unexpected barrier blocking his access; the fires and the sight of the guard all very intimidating.  So the big cat began to roar as he skulked along the rear line of our tents, first one direction and then the other, back and forth. I fell asleep to the distinctive lullaby of a snarling lion, the king of beasts expressing his violent displeasure.

It called to mind 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  And it struck me, lions don’t roar when they’re hunting.  They roar when they’re angry or threatened.   When Peter warns us to be alert because Satan is like a roaring lion, he’s also tipping us off: all that racket means our adversary is angry and frustrated. It doesn’t sound like a successful hunt, does it?

That’s why we in the Kingdom continue to hear the same old snarling cliches and tired slogans recycled from Hell again and again. Don’t the enemies of Christ ever come up with new material?  If it doesn’t work the first time, then roar louder the next time, right?

Just this morning, a friend asked how to answer an insult hurled endlessly in print and conversation.  How can Christians be offended by Islamist terrorism when we did the very same things during the Crusades?  I just smiled.  In the first place, the Crusades happened a thousand years ago. How is it that people who cannot remember 9/11/01 have such vivid memories of 1095 AD?  But more importantly, the Crusades were launched as a defensive measure to resist the unrelenting slaughter and kidnapping of peaceful pilgrims hoping to visit the Holy Land and walk where Jesus walked.  The motivation was never about claiming new nations for Christ or forcing anyone to convert. The Crusaders were always a last ditch response to foreign aggression. Quite notably, the Christian pilgrims were not being killed and kidnapped by offended atheists.  (For details, read God’s Battalions, Rodney Stark’s highly acclaimed defense of the Crusades.)

Earlier this week, I found myself offering encouragement to a frustrated professional who came by my office. He had fallen away from another church years ago and was attempting to explain his rationale for rejecting the faith.  Along the way he assured me that all religions are the same: “Islamic extremists kill people but so do all those Christians who bomb abortion clinics.” I didn’t lose my smile, but I did politely interrupt.

“Which evangelical abortion clinic bombers do you have in mind?” I asked.  Abortion clinic bombings are so incredibly rare that death by falling into vats of chocolate must surely be more numerous.  And just because we know a bomber hated abortionists, doesn’t mean we know he loved Jesus.  In fact, killing innocent people is compelling evidence he didn’t know Jesus Christ and was simply deranged or just mean.  That’s a far cry from the armies of suicide bombers and masked executioners who carry the Koran and shout “Allahu Akbar,” as they wage bloody war on civilians.  The man in my office sighed as he conceded the point.

With all due respect to the sincerity of Islamic State killers and Boko Haram rapists, you don’t have to be a sociologist to recognize those kinds of activities are ghastly and unthinkable to followers of Jesus Christ! There are no Christian majority nations where angry mobs stand in the streets chanting for death to any other nation or even another religious group. Nothing could be more unlike Jesus.

Angry, snarling pagans are still trying to toss Jesus into the lions’ den.  But their arguments are toothless.  Their facts are just fake news.  And even a spoonful of Truth seasoned with gentleness and respect can often shut the mouths of the lions- or at least enlighten the spectators watching from the gallery.  Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel, and don’t let mindless slogans and bogus history lessons lie there unanswered.  But speak the truth in love, with all gentleness and respect.

And lift up the Cross!

 

The Morality Police

Kirk Cameron appeared on the Piers Morgan Show last week, presumably to talk about his latest movie project.  He seemed a bit surprised when the host suddenly changed topic and asked, “Do you believe gay marriage is a sin?”  Not surprisingly, the actor shifted in discomfort.  He hadn’t booked the appearance to talk about social issues, and clearly wasn’t looking for a chance to “impose his morality” on a few million American viewers.  So he attempted to finesse the question, but Morgan persisted.  “I find these questions interesting,” Morgan added.

Over the course of three minutes, the ensuing conversation went something like this.  Cameron finally suggested that he believes that gay marriage is “unnatural.”  Marriage has been around as something between a man and a woman since the beginning, and we shouldn’t monkey around with it.  Morgan then asked what Kirk would do if his son pulled him aside to confess, “Bad news, Dad, I’m gay.”  Kirk replied, “I’d sit down and have a talk with him.  There are thousands of feelings out there, and you don’t have to act on every one of them. I’d talk with him about it, pretty much the same way you might talk with your son. ”

But I wouldn’t have a talk with my son,” the host responded.  “I’d simply say, ‘Great son. Do whatever is necessary to be happy with your life.” Having dragged his guest into the discussion, Morgan went on to hector him on how destructive it is to ask children to deny their natural feelings.

Ever the diplomat, Kirk Cameron actually wondered aloud why it was unacceptable for him to take a moral position about an issue, yet perfectly acceptable for Morgan to speak openly about a contrasting moral position.  And this is the crux of the position in which we Christians find ourselves today.  Freedom of speech has become extremely restricted in this country, and freedom of thought is utterly forbidden.

When the secular American Left takes a position, the debate is over and the issue is settled.  Whatever the term “consensus” used to mean, it now means that the Entertainment Industry has made a decision.  (Madonna has announced that she will use an August concert in Russia t0 denounce new laws there that discourage the promotion of homosexuality.  No one has called her a Nazi for imposing her moral standards on a foreign nation.) Piers Morgan mentioned twice that seven states have now voted to legalize gay marriage.  Seven!  “Doesn’t that mean something?” he wondered.  Maybe, but what does it mean that 43 states plus most of the people and most civilizations in the history of the world have agreed that same-sex marriage is unnatural and unthinkable?

Watch the interview on YouTube.  You’ll see Kirk Cameron behave diplomatically, choose his words carefully, and even admit that he considers his own sins to be greater than those of anyone else he knows.  He didn’t bring up the topic of gay marriage.  He concedes these were things “I believe.”  Within 24 hours he will be pummeled all across the media as some kind of idiotic, bigoted, moralistic Nazi trying to impose his morality on everyone else.

The Hollywood Morality Police have an APB out for anyone who refuses to swallow the New Morality and be happy about it.  If you speak the truth in love, they denounce you.  If you refuse to say anything, they win.  So be prepared to gently speak the truth in love and accept the blows with grace.  If you have the chance to choose between social issues and Jesus, just talk about Christ.  Consider it another occasion in which the saints must pick up the cross and follow Him.

Lift up the Cross!

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