Guest: Dr. Mike Adams, professor, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Higher education in America today almost exclusively adheres to a radically humanistic worldview. The “tenured radicals” who teach your sons and daughters in college want nothing more than to undermine the Christian faith you’ve taught them.
In Hour 1 of The Christian Worldview this weekend, we’re going to get an inside perspective from a tenured professor at a major university, Read more
Guest: Dr. Robert Carter, scientist and researcher, Creation Ministries International
A couple hundred years ago, most people in America believed the universe was created by God. That changed when an Englishman named Charles Darwin took a boat ride to the Galapagos Islands off South America in the 1830’s.
With the printing of Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” (yes, that is the full original title), the educated elite and then the regular folks began to believe “the lie”. Read more
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Italian cabinet for a series of joint meetings with the Israeli cabinet. He also hosted a gala dinner for the Italian delegation at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Netanyahu described the leader from Rome as “one of Israel’s greatest friends, a courageous leader who is a great champion of freedom and a great supporter of peace.” Netanyahu said this despite the fact that the Associated Press reports Italy is the leading trading partner with Iran in the E.U.
Berlusconi was one of only three leaders in Western Europe who voted against the anti-Israel U.N. resolution last fall regarding the Goldstone Commission Report (the other two were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende). Rome was Netanyahu’s first stop on his first trip to Europe upon becoming Prime Minister in 2009, specifically to see Berlusconi. Likewise, Avigdor Lieberman headed straight to Rome to see Berlusconi as his first trip as Israeli Foreign Minister.
“I can think of very few nations who have made such a contribution to Western culture as our two nations. In Rome and Jerusalem, the foundations for Western culture were laid,” Netanyahu said Monday night.
Berlusconi, who brought eight senior members of his government, returned the compliment saying that Rome considers Jerusalem one of its closest allies and considers Israel a part of Europe. “As long as I am one of the shapers of politics,” the Roman leader stated, “my greatest dream is to include Israel among the European Union countries.” He invited Netanyahu to come to Italy for another round of meetings.
The meetings were described by some in the media as “historic.” They also had echoes of Bible prophecy. The Hebrew Prophet Daniel indicates that in the “last days” Israel will sign a peace treaty with her many neighbors that appears to be brokered or negotiated or confirmed in some way by a leader from Rome (see Daniel chapter nine). It’s too soon to say definitively that yesterday’s events were in any way part of those prophecies, but they were certainly intriguing to those tracking geopolitical events in light of End Times prophecies. Developing….
The central argument in favor of same-sex marriage or overturning “Don’t ask don’t tell” contains a fatal flaw. In fact, this is the flaw at the heart of the entire gay rights movement.
Joint Chief Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen dutifully proclaimed the flaw as truth the other day when speaking in favor of ending the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. He said, “I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”
Lie about who they are?
Sorry Admiral, but as a former ROTC instructor and legal officer in the United States Navy, I helped deny entrance to potential recruits and prosecuted existing service people for all sorts of behaviors that were incompatible with unit cohesion and military readiness. As you know, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice prohibits numerous behaviors that are not criminal offenses in civilian life (including adultery, fraternization and gambling with a subordinate), yet I never once saw anyone excused for their behavior by claiming that’s who they are.
The military is essential to our survival as a nation. It’s not a social experiment and serving in it is not a right. People have to qualify and then make sacrifices. Military people must subordinate many of their individual rights to advance the national interest. Recruits must agree to give up some of the freedoms that civilians enjoy, including certain sexual freedoms and even the freedom of speech! So even if homosexual behavior is permitted in society, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be permitted in the military.
Having served, I believe that the military needs as few sexual distractions as possible, be they from men and women serving together in combat or open homosexuality. The job is too difficult and critical to be complicating matters sexually.
More could be said, but I want to zero in on the fatal flaw in most gay-rights causes, and the one the Admiral repeated. It is the failure to distinguish between desires and behavior. Having certain sexual desires—whether you were “born” with them or acquired them sometime in life—does not mean that you are being discriminated against if the law doesn’t allow the behavior you desire.
Take marriage as an example. Despite complaints by homosexual activists, every person in America already has equal marriage rights. We’re all playing by the same rules—we all have the same right to marry any non-related adult of the opposite sex. Those rules do not deny anyone “equal protection of the laws” because the qualifications to enter a marriage apply equally to everyone—every adult person has the same right to marry.
“But what about homosexuals?” you ask. The question would better be stated “what about people with homosexual desires?” Put that way, you can see the flaw. If sexual desires alone are the criteria by which we change our marriage (or military) laws to give people “equal rights,” then why not change them to include polygamy? After all, most men seem born with a desire for many women. How about those who desire their relatives? By the gay rights logic, such people don’t have “equal rights” because our marriage laws have no provision for incest. And bisexuals don’t have “equal rights” because existing marriage laws don’t allow them to marry a man and a woman.
If desires alone guarantee someone special rights, why are there no special rights for pedophiles and gay bashers? The answer is obvious—because desires, even if you were “born” with them, do not justify behavior, do not make anyone a special class, and should have no impact on our laws. (See Born Gay or a Gay Basher: No Excuse.)
Laws encourage good behavior or prevent bad behavior. Desires are irrelevant. We enact all kinds of laws in the country and military that conflict with people’s desires. In fact, that’s why we need them! We wouldn’t need any laws if people always desired to do good, which is why James Madison wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
In other words, there should be no legal class of “gay” or “straight,” just a legal class called “person.” And it doesn’t matter whether persons desire sex with the same or opposite sex, or whether they desire sex with children, parents, or farm animals. What matters is whether the behavior desired is something the country or military should prohibit, permit or promote. Those are the only three choices we have when it comes to making law.
The standard comparisons to race and interracial marriage don’t work either. Sexual behavior is always a choice, race never is. You’ll find many former homosexuals, but you’ll never find a former African American. And your race has no effect on your military readiness, but your sexual behavior often can. Likewise, race is irrelevant to marriage while gender is essential to it. Interracial couples can procreate and nurture the next generation (the overriding societal purpose of marriage), but homosexual couples cannot.
The truth is that our marriage and military laws do not discriminate against persons for “who they are”—they discriminate against the behaviors in which they engage. But so what? That’s what most laws do. For example, the Thirteenth Amendment discriminates against the behavior of some businessmen who might like to improve their profits through slavery, but it does not discriminate against those businessmen as persons. And the First Amendment’s freedom-of-religion protections discriminate against the behavior of some Muslims who want to impose Islamic law on the entire nation, but it does not discriminate against those Muslims as persons. Likewise, our marriage and military laws discriminate against the desired behaviors of homosexuals, polygamists, bigamists, and the incestuous, but they do not discriminate against them as persons.
Now some may object to my comparison of homosexuality to polygamy, incest or pedophilia. I agree that the behaviors are not the same, but the point here is that the logic used to justify homosexuality is the same. “I was born with these desires” could also be used to justify polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and even gay bashing—“Don’t blame me. I just have the anti-gay gene!”
That’s the logic reduced to the absurd. And that’s why people who want to make a case for same-sex marriage or homosexual practice in the military should use different arguments. Claiming you “are” your sexual desires, is a case of don’t ask don’t think.
(If you’d like to think more about this admittedly complicated and sensitive issue, get the compact book from which this article is adapted: Correct, Not Politically Correct: How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.)
When FOX News Channel contributor Brit Hume expresses his opinion that Tiger Woods should seek Christianity rather than Buddhism to find redemption and forgiveness from his marital infidelities, the secular world goes apoplectic with scorn. Why is that?
When Focus on the Family creates a Super Bowl commercial that features Pam Tebow, Read more
Guest: Iain Murray, minister and author, Evangelicalism Divided
Last week in Part 1 of our interview with revered Scottish writer and minister Iain Murray, he told us about his background, his service with the great English preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, and the first of two areas that Evangelicalism has been divided in the last 60 years — ecumenism, or attempts at unity Read more
Theological liberals do not intend to destroy Christianity, but to save it. As a matter of fact, theological liberalism is motivated by what might be described as an apologetic motivation. The pattern of theological liberalism is all too clear. Theological liberals are absolutely certain that Christianity must be saved…from itself.
Liberalism: Saving Christianity From Itself
The classic liberals of the early twentieth century, often known as modernists, pointed to a vast intellectual change in the society and asserted that Christianity would have to change or die. As historian William R. Hutchison explains, “The hallmark of modernism is the insistence that theology must adopt a sympathetic attitude toward secular culture and must consciously strive to come to terms with it.”
This coming to terms with secular culture is deeply rooted in the sense of intellectual liberation that began in the Enlightenment. Protestant liberalism can be traced to European sources, but it arrived very early in America—far earlier than most of today’s evangelicals are probably aware. Liberal theology held sway where Unitarianism dominated and in many parts beyond.
Soon after the American Revolution, more organized forms of liberal theology emerged, fueled by a sense of revolution and intellectual liberty. Theologians and preachers began to question the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, claiming that doctrines such as original sin, total depravity, divine sovereignty, and substitutionary atonement violated the moral senses. William Ellery Channing, an influential Unitarian, spoke for many in his generation when he described “the shock given to my moral nature” by the teachings of orthodox Christianity.
Though any number of central beliefs and core doctrines were subjected to liberal revision or outright rejection, the doctrine of hell was often the object of greatest protest and denial.
Considering hell and its related doctrines, Congregationalist pastor Washington Gladden declared: “To teach such a doctrine as this about God is to inflict upon religion a terrible injury and to subvert the very foundations of morality.”
Though hell had been a fixture of Christian theology since the New Testament, it became an odium theologium—a doctrine considered repugnant by the larger culture and now retained and defended only by those who saw themselves as self-consciously orthodox in theological commitment.
Novelist David Lodge dated the final demise of hell to the decade of the 1960s. “At some point in the nineteen-sixties, Hell disappeared. No one could say for certain when this happened. First it was there, then it wasn’t.” University of Chicago historian Martin Marty saw the transition as simple and, by the time it actually occurred, hardly observed. “Hell disappeared. No one noticed,” he asserted.
The liberal theologians and preachers who so conveniently discarded hell did so without denying that the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine. They simply asserted the higher authority of the culture’s sense of morality. In order to save Christianity from the moral and intellectual damage done by the doctrine, hell simply had to go. Many rejected the doctrine with gusto, claiming the mandate to update the faith in a new intellectual age. Others simply let the doctrine go dormant, never to be mentioned in polite company.
What of today’s evangelicals? Though some lampoon the stereotypical “hell-fire and brimstone” preaching of an older evangelical generation, the fact is that most church members may never have heard a sermon on hell—even in an evangelical congregation. Has hell gone dormant among evangelicals as well?
Revising Hell: A Test Case for the Slide into Liberalism
Interestingly, the doctrine of hell serves very well as a test case for the slide into theological liberalism. The pattern of this slide looks something like this.
First, a doctrine simply falls from mention. Over time, it is simply never discussed or presented from the pulpit. Most congregants do not even miss the mention of the doctrine. Those who do become fewer over time. The doctrine is not so much denied as ignored and kept at a distance. Yes, it is admitted, that doctrine has been believed by Christians, but it is no longer a necessary matter of emphasis.
Second, a doctrine is revised and retained in reduced form. There must have been some good reason that Christians historically believed in hell. Some theologians and pastors will then affirm that there is a core affirmation of morality to be preserved, perhaps something like what C. S. Lewis affirmed as “The Tao.” The doctrine is reduced.
Third, a doctrine is subjected to a form of ridicule. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral, known for his message of “Possibility Thinking,” once described his motivation for theological reformulation in terms of refocusing theology on “generating trust and positive hope.” His method is to point to salvation and the need “to become positive thinkers.” Positive thinking does not emphasize escape from hell, “whatever that means and wherever that is.”
That statement ridicules hell by dismissing it in terms of “whatever that means and wherever it is.” Just don’t worry about hell, Schuller suggests. Though few evangelicals are likely to join in the same form of ridicule, many will invent softer forms of marginalizing the doctrine.
Fourth, a doctrine is reformulated in order to remove its intellectual and moral offensiveness. Evangelicals have subjected the doctrine of hell to this strategy for many years now. Some deny that hell is everlasting, arguing for a form of annihilationism or conditional immortality. Others will deny hell as a state of actual torment. John Wenham simply states, “Unending torment speaks to me of sadism, not justice.” Some argue that God does not send anyone to hell, and that hell is simply the sum total of human decisions made during earthly lives. God is not really a judge who decides, but a referee who makes certain that rules are followed.
Tulsa pastor Ed Gungor recently wrote that “people are not sent to hell, they go there.” In other words, God just respects human freedom to the degree that he will reluctantly let humans determined to go to hell have their wish.
Apologizing for Hell: The New Evangelical Evasion
In recent years, a new pattern of evangelical evasion has surfaced. The Protestant liberals and modernists of the twentieth century simply dismissed the doctrine of hell, having already rejected the truthfulness of Scripture. Thus, they did not enter into elaborate attempts to argue that the Bible did not teach the doctrine—they simply dismissed it.
Though this pattern is found among some who would claim to be evangelicals, this is not the most common evangelical pattern of compromise. A new apologetic move is now evident among some theologians and preachers who do affirm the inerrancy of the Bible and the essential truthfulness of the New Testament doctrine of hell. This new move is more subtle, to be sure. In this move the preacher simply says something like this:
“I regret to tell you that the doctrine of hell is taught in the Bible. I believe it. I believe it because it is revealed in the Bible. It is not up for renegotiation. We just have to receive it and believe it. I do believe it. I wish it could be otherwise but it is not.”
Statements like this reveal a very great deal. The authority of the Bible is clearly affirmed. The speaker affirms what the Bible reveals and rejects accommodation. So far, so good. The problem is in how the affirmation is introduced and explained. In an apologetic gesture, the doctrine is essentially lamented.
What does this say about God? What does this imply about God’s truth? Can a truth clearly revealed in the Bible be anything less than good for us? The Bible presents the knowledge of hell just as it presents the knowledge of sin and judgment: these are things we had better know. God reveals these things to us for our good and for our redemption. In this light, the knowledge of these things is grace to us. Apologizing for a doctrine is tantamount to impugning the character of God.
Do we believe that hell is a part of the perfection of God’s justice? If not, we have far greater theological problems than those localized to hell.
Several years ago, someone wisely suggested that a good many modern Christians wanted to “air condition hell.” The effort continues.
Remember that the liberals and the modernists operated out of an apologetic motivation. They wanted to save Christianity as a relevant message in the modern world and to remove the odious obstacle of what were seen as repugnant and unnecessary doctrines. They wanted to save Christianity from itself.
Today, some in movements such as the emerging church commend the same agenda, and for the same reason. Are we embarrassed by the biblical doctrine of hell?
If so, this generation of evangelicals will face no shortage of embarrassments. The current intellectual context allows virtually no respect for Christian affirmations of the exclusivity of the gospel, the true nature of human sin, the Bible’s teachings regarding human sexuality, and any number of other doctrines revealed in the Bible. The lesson of theological liberalism is clear—embarrassment is the gateway drug for theological accommodation and denial.
Be sure of this: it will not stop with the air conditioning of hell.
I am always glad to hear from readers and listeners. Write me at email@example.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler.
Guest: Dr. David Noebel, president of Summit Ministries
Life is a clash of worldviews. Whether we realize it or not, there is a constant war being waged over which ideas, values, and beliefs will control public policy, media, culture, and personal behavior.
Recent events are a perfect example of this war of worldviews. Republican Scott Brown was shockingly elected to fill the Senatorial seat that Democrat Ted Kennedy held in Massachusetts for decades which resulted in Read more
Guest: Iain Murray, minister and author, Evangelicalism Divided
We are going to have the rare opportunity the next two weekends to hear from Iain Murray, a Scottish minister, prolific writer, and Editorial Director of Banner of Truth Trust, who has had a profound influence on Evangelicalism for the last 50 years.
In the late 1950’s, Mr. Murray served as assistant to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of England’s greatest preachers, at Westminster Chapel in London. Read more
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