Tag Archives: Church

The importance of teaching Sunday school lessons as history

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data

Lindsay has a post up about it at Lindsay’s Logic.

She writes:

Those of us who grew up in church have many fond and nostalgic memories of the Bible stories we were taught. We remember David and Goliath, Sampson and Delilah, Noah’s Ark, Jesus and the Feeding of the Five Thousand, Baby Moses in the Bulrushes, Zacchaeus the Wee Little Man, and many others. The problem is, we often have the same fond memories of many other childhood stories like Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Emperor’s New Clothes. Both sets of stories were short, entertaining, and had some moral lesson. They were often surprising or funny. They had kings and miracles. Their heroes did great and marvelous deeds. Unfortunately, we may not have understood that one set of stories was completely made up while the other is entirely true historically.

Now, many of us grew up and learned the difference between truth and fairy tales. We know that the Bible is true. We take it seriously now. But some children grow up and are told (often in school or in college) that the Bible is just a collection of myths. At best, it was a collection of tales passed down for many years and full of wishful thinking and primitive beliefs (or so they are told). And if those people haven’t learned better – if they have not been shown the historical evidence for the truth of the Bible – they often fall prey to this faulty view.

To help prevent this from happening, it is important to teach the Biblical account, not Bible stories. They aren’t “stories,” they’re true. There are several very serious problems with teaching the Biblical account as stories.

This is the one that rang true for me:

3. The Biblical account is not given its proper historical context

A big part of helping children (and others) to understand the historical nature of the Biblical account is including discussion of its historical context. Don’t just emphasize the moral lesson, talk about it as history. When children are taught about George Washington, Nero, Florence Nightingale, Genghis Khan, or any other historical figure, we talk about when they lived, their culture, their motivation, their language. In short, we put them in historical perspective and we talk about them as real people with real lives. Why don’t we do that with Biblical figures?

How often do you hear someone talk about what year the Flood happened? Whether dinosaurs were on the ark? Who Cain married? Why Eve didn’t freak out when a snake talked to her? Where the Garden of Eden was (there’s no way of knowing that, by the way)? Have you ever wondered why Jonathan didn’t hate David? Where the different races came from? Why God instituted animal sacrifice? Why Jesus came when He did? Why the particular 66 books of the Bible are Scripture and other ancient texts aren’t? These and many others are questions that today’s young people wrestle with. And they often are not getting answers.

If we neglect to talk about the Biblical account in realistic terms, we aren’t preparing our youth to answer the questions they will undoubtedly have. If they go long enough with unanswered questions, if they can’t figure out how what the Bible says can possibly make sense, many will start to wonder if it is really true. While we may not be able to answer every question definitively, we can at least have a serious discussion and offer reasonable possibilities for consideration. Without such reasonable discussion, why should they find it reasonable to believe it?

I never went to Sunday school, and that might explain why I never had this problem of outgrowing Christianity the way that kids outgrow fairy tales. Maybe it comes down to who is teaching in the Sunday school? Are the Sunday school teachers being selected because they are rational people with STEM degrees, STEM careers and some sort of practical outlook on life? Or are they very emotional, irrational, and desire-driven? Seems to me that we ought to be placing people who are more interested in the good old divisiveness of truth and facts in the Sunday school, and keeping out the people who are more interested in feelings and community stuff. I’ll never understand why the church seems to lack respect for practicality, and want to put in all these impractical touch-feely people to teach the young instead.

I remember when I was a teen, I served as a volunteer camp counselor with an older Catholic woman who was just starting her second year of college. She was raised in a very devout, sheltered Catholic family, and would not even say swear words like the s-word. She had this Sunday school, fairy tale view of Christianity. And she liked to tell me that God was a “she” and that Hell wasn’t real. After all, if religion is just about making up stories that make you feel good, then you can change it to be whatever you like best. She studied English in college and got into all kinds of radical feminism, anti-war, Marxism, and gay rights material. After a couple of graduate degrees that drove her further to the secular left, she eventually got a job teaching the young in a Catholic school. But her descent into secularism and leftism started with this super-nice, polite, fairy tale view of religion-as-niceness, rather than being about history and fact. She just had never been taught to make connections between the Bible and the real world, so her feelings were constantly allowed to override the truth claims of the Bible.

I think the bottom line is that the more we make Christianity about feelings, the more young people will leave it when they hit college and find out how the world works (not really) from their never-worked-in-the-private-sector liberal arts professors.

I was on vacation last week, and after bingeing on video games for 3 days (hello, Darkest Dungeon), I decided to spend the rest of my time studying JQuery, AngularJS and Bootstrap. I did this learning at the kitchen table, with training videos playing on the laptop, and me entering commands in the NetBeans IDE and seeing what the output was in the browser via the Chrome NetBeans Connector. At times, I would stop the video lecture, call my parents over and show them things that I was trying that were “off the beaten path” to find out how the components really worked. I also messaged JoeCoder with questions, since he is a client-side programmer, and I am primarily a server-side programmer. I was even able to put JQuery to work right away in my ad-blocker (uBlock Origin) which uses JQuery expressions to select elements to block. The point is that I was learning, and learning means being free to experiment and try things out. But always, it is about practice, not feelings. No one cares how you feel about code, they only care what you can use it to accomplish in the real world. The point of it is that teaching is not meant to make you feel good, or make students like you, or make people in think that you are really spiritual after all the drunken sex you had in college, hooking up with atheist guys. The point of teaching is to convey useful, accurate knowledge that can then be put into practice immediately to achieve good results. Sunday school should be more like learning how to program, not about singing, coloring, having fun, feeling good.

Barna poll: what would people like to hear about in church sermons?

Church sucks, that's why men are bored there
Church sucks, that’s why men are bored there

This is from Glenn Beck, not someone I pay any attention to. But the poll was done by Barna, and the results are interesting.


An prominent Christian pollster joined Glenn on his T.V. program Tuesday night to unveil the findings from a new poll, which sought to identify the top issues church-goers want to hear about from their pastors. The findings fascinated Glenn, who has been saying for a long time the way to wake our country up should be through our churches.

Joined by historian David Barton, pollster George Barna from the American Cultural & Faith Institute presented his research in which nearly 3,000 active church-goers were surveyed about the issues they want to hear about most in church.

Top 12 Issues the Church Wants to Hear:

1. Abortion: Beginning of life, right to life, contraception, adoption, unwed mothers. 91%

2. Religious persecution/liberty: Personal duty, government duty, church response, global conditions. 86%

3. Poverty: Personal duty, government role, church role, homelessness, hunger, dependency. 85%

4. Cultural restoration: Appropriate morals, law and order, defensible values and norms, self-government. 83%

5. Sexual identity: Same-sex marriage, transgenderism, marriage, LGBT. 82%

6. Israel: Its role in the world, Christian responsibility to Israel, US foreign policy toward Israel and its enemies. 80%

7. Christian Heritage: role of Christian faith in American history, church role in US development, moder-day relevance. 79%

8. Role of Government: Biblical view, church-state relationship, personal responsibility, limitations. 76%

9. Bioethics: Cloning, euthanasia, genetic engineering, cryogenics, organ donation, surrogacy. 76%

10. Self-governance: Biblical support, personal conduct, impact on freedom, national sovereignty. 75%

11. Church in politics/government: Separation of church and state, legal boundaries, church resistance to government. 73%

12. Islam: Core beliefs, response to Islamic aggression, threat to US peace and domestic stability. 72%

David Barton went on to present several Action Steps that church-goers can do right now, to help get their churches off the sidelines and their pastors preaching about these important issues.

Well, I certainly found these poll results interesting, and that’s why I try to have a variety of topics on this blog.

The first thing I thought when I read that list is that pastors would have to be reading about things outside the Bible in order to know how to speak about them. For example, to talk about abortion, it helps to read books by Scott Klusendorf, Frank Beckwith, Robert George and Christopher Kaczor. Now, I’ve talked to some friends who have been through seminary, and it sounds to me that they read very little on the substance of these kinds of issues, and a lot about spiritual fluff. Maybe, instead of focusing so much on the packaging, they can focus more on the content. The list is pretty clearly a list of serious controversial issues. But in church I feel that the emphasis is always on feelings and agreement.

So, let’s see. How should we go about getting the churches to speak about these issues? I really have no idea, and I’m not holding my breath waiting for them to start to talk about how the Bible is supported by evidence, or about what anti-Christians skeptics say, or about how the Bible applies to issues in the real world. The pastors just seem to be not interested in all the most interesting things in the world, for some crazy reason. I love the list – I wish I heard these things discussed in church.

Darrell Bock and Eric Chabot discuss the challenges of campus ministry

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

My good friend Eric Chabot did an episode of the The Table podcast, which is the culture podcast of Dallas Theological Seminary. Eric does campus ministry at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the United States. He has a frontline view of the challenges that Christians face on campus, which is a battle I am so passionate about.

Here’s the podcast:

The MP3 file is here.


  • 00:15  What does a typical RC meeting look like at Ohio State?
  • 02:44  Key social issues facing Ohio students
  • 05:30  How do you engage with the same-sex issue on campus?
  • 11:01  How do you engage with political issues on campus?
  • 13:08  How do you engage with social justice issues on campus?
  • 16:19  How would you describe the Christian environment on campus?
  • 18:33  Advice for parents considering Ohio State for their child

I give this podcast and the discussion my highest recommendation. It’s so practical, and so different from what you hear in church from pastors who seem to be totally unaware of how worldviews conflict on the university campus. This podcast is practical and hands-on.

There is also a transcript (PDF).

I just want to excerpt a few questions to get you interested enough to listen:

Dr. Darrell Bock:

Ok. Well, that’s the intellectual background. Let’s move on to the other questions I told you we were going to discuss. The social pressures of campus? This, and I’ve done a handful of these interviews, in fact I think you’re the 5th or 6th campus that we’ve done.

We’ve done UCLA, UC Irvine, California, San Diego, A&M and Princeton, and the interesting thing is that as we move from campus to campus and I go to social issues, that – those kind of are more varied than the intellectual stuff. The intellectual stuff seems to be pretty consistent from campus to campus.

But the social challenges really are a reflection of the environment of the campus itself and certain emphasis are tied to certain campuses. So, what are the social challenges that students face in terms of their walk at Ohio State?


Dr. Darrell Bock:

Ok. Well, let’s turn our attention to the final two questions that I want to be sure and get through, and that is you’re giving advice – let’s start with parents – you’re giving advice to parents. They’re thinking about, you know, sending their kid to Ohio State.

What do you regard as the, as keys for the preparation of that student that a parent should be thinking about? Perhaps in particular, thinking about their junior and senior years, they’re getting ready to think about college and the way you prepare a student for college and the choices and the freedom that they’re gonna fall into. How do you, what advice would you give to parents?


Dr. Darrell Bock:

Ok. This may seem like a related question, but I do think the demands are slightly different and that is what advice do you give to youth leaders and to pastors as they are preparing kids who are going through their church programs for university?
And here, I sorta have in mind what kinds of things would you hope a youth leader who’s dealing with high school students, what kinds of issues do you hope that they’re dealing with and treating so that the student is prepared for the campus experience?

That’s why I focus so much on same-sex marriage and politics on this blog. We really have to explain to young people why natural marriage is best, and why the free enterprise system is best. We are seeing now the challenge that the combination of same-sex marriage and big secular government (socialism) poses for religious liberty.

Was Hitler a Christian? Is Nazism similar to Christianity?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

One of the strangest things I have heard from atheists is the assertion that Christianity is somehow connected to the fascism, such as the fascism that existed under Adolf Hitler. Two posts by Jewish author Jonah Goldberg from National Review supply us with the facts to set the record straight.

Let’s start with the first post.

Here are some of the points:

1) Hitler wanted Christianity removed from the public square

Like the engineers of that proverbial railway bridge, the Nazis worked relentlessly to replace the nuts and bolts of traditional Christianity with a new political religion. The shrewdest way to accomplish this was to co-opt Christianity via the Gleichschaltung while at the same time shrinking traditional religion’s role in civil society.

2) Hitler banned the giving of donations to churches

Hitler banned religious charity, crippling the churches’ role as a counterweight to the state. Clergy were put on government salary, hence subjected to state authority. “The parsons will be made to dig their own graves,” Hitler cackled. “They will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes.”

3) Hitler replaced Christian celebrations with celebrations of the state

Following the Jacobin example, the Nazis replaced the traditional Christian calendar. The new year began on January 30 with the Day of the Seizure of Power. Each November the streets of central Munich were dedicated to a Nazi Passion play depicting Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch. The martyrdom of Horst Wessel and his “old fighters” replaced Jesus and the apostles. Plays and official histories were rewritten to glorify pagan Aryans bravely fighting against Christianizing foreign armies. Anticipating some feminist pseudo history, witches became martyrs to the bloodthirsty oppression of Christianity.

4) Hitler favored the complete elimination of Christianity

When some Protestant bishops visited the Fuhrer to register complaints, Hitler’s rage got the better of him. “Christianity will disappear from Germany just as it has done in Russia . . . The Germanrace has existed without Christianity for thousands of years . . . and will continue after Christianity has disappeared . . . We must get used to the teachings of blood and race.”

5) Hitler favored the removal of mandatory prayers in schools

In 1935 mandatory prayer in school was abolished…

6) Hitler favored the banning of Christmas carols and nativity plays

…and in 1938 carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely.

7) Hitler abolished religious instruction for children

By 1941 religious instruction for children fourteen years and up had been abolished altogether….

And now the second post.

8) Hitler opposed the ideas of universal truth and objective moral absolutes

…Just as the Nazi attack on Christianity was part of a larger war on the idea of universal truth, whole postmodern cosmologies have been created to prove that traditional religious morality is a scam, that there are no fixed truths or “natural” categories, and that all knowledge is socially constructed.

Practically everything this man believed was 100% anti-Christian. But he fits in fine on the secular left.


Adolf Hitler was a man influenced by two big ideas: evolution and socialism. His party was the national SOCIALIST party. He favored a strong role for the state in interfering with the free market. He was in favor of regulating the family so that the state could have a bigger influence on children. And he favored the idea of survival of the fittest. His ideas are 100% incompatible with Christianity and with capitalism as well. Christians value individual rights and freedoms, small government and the autonomy of the family against the state. The differences are clear and significant.

J. Warner Wallace explains how to prepare young Christians for college

Here’s a podcast from the master of evidence-gathering and case-making himself, J. Warner Wallace. In this episode, he tries to convince Christians to take the questions that young people ask seriously, and explains what is likely to happen to them in college.

The MP3 is here.


  • our nation is becoming more and more secular
  • secularism makes it harder for us to defend our faith and values in public and influence the culture
  • why is secularism happening? it’s because young people are walking away from the faith
  • young Christians are leaving the faith in high school and college
  • this is where the real battleground is – and that’s where apologists need to focus
  • we need to be focused especially on junior high school and high school, and to a lesser degree college
  • it’s good that we have lots scholars working physics, philosophy and biology
  • but what we really need is ordinary Christians to get serious about apologetics and work on young people
  • some people believe that there is no great youth exodus problem: are they right to doubt the statistics
  • it’s undeniable that young people are inarticulate about their faith – that much is certain
  • what young people in church actually believe is not Christianity, but moralistic therapeutic deism
  • young people: life is about feeling good, being liked, and nice people of all religions are saved
  • young people think that there is so little substance to Christianity that it can’t even be discussed
  • the focus among young people today is not on true beliefs, but on being kinds to others
  • even in churches, there is higher respect for helping others than on having knowledge and evidence
  • instead of focusing on the worldview that grounds good works, the focus is on good works
  • young people have learned to minimize discussions about specifics of theology
  • teachers and college professors are hostile to public expressions of evangelical Christianity
  • television is also hostile and much less Christian than it used to be
  • even if young people come back to the church, they come back for the wrong reasons
  • the adults come back for tradition and comfort but they don’t really believe Christianity is true
  • they want to pick and choose what they believe based on what they like, like going to a buffet
  • they return to church when they have kids so that their kids will absorb values – but not truth
  • that’s what we have sitting in the pews: people who think Christianity is false, but “useful”
  • and that’s why so many christians are so liberal on social values (abortion, same-sex marriage)
  • they don’t really accept the Bible as authoritative, they pick and choose what they like and don’t like
  • if Christianity is taught as “useful” then they will dump it when they find something more “useful”
  • people who leave the church are exposed to Christianity, but it doesn’t stick
  • young people lose their faith before college, and then when they escape the nest, they act it out
  • the disconnecting from the faith occurs in high school, but it only becomes public after they leave home
  • young people are becoming more focused on redefining “the good life” with consumption and materialism
  • the typical experience of young adults involves alcohol use, drug use, and recreational sex
  • young people actually want more than niceness – they want real answers to serious questions
  • young people have doubts and questions, but no one in the church or home is equipped to answer them
  • adults have to be involved in the education of young people
  • parents who are engaged in teaching their children Christian truths see much better retention rates
  • we need to stop teaching people (one-way preaching) and start training them (two-way interactive)
  • when you give a young person a definite goal – a fight with a date certain – then they will be engaged
  • when people know that they will fail unless they can perform, then they will be more engaged in learning
  • church needs to be in the business of scheduling battles, and then training young people for the battles
  • there is no sense of urgency, risk and purpose in young people, so the teaching is not effective

I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this very practical podcast.