Douglas Groothuis on the Six Enemies of Apologetic Engagement

I found a link to this article by Doug Groothuis on the importance of Christian apologetics over at Truthbomb Apologetics. He doesn’t necessarily endorse my snarkiness in this post, though.

Doug’s article is call-to-arms for Christians who do not view the defense of the faith as an integral part of their Christian life. In this post on why men are fleeing the feminized church I argued that apologetics is a necessary part of a healthy two-way relationship with God and that it also engages the men to express their masculinity in a Christian way.

Groothuis starts by recommending 3 books on the lack intellectual rigor in the evangelical church, and he then goes on to lay out 6 “enemies” to the task of apologetics.

First, the 3 books:

Mark Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” (Eerdmans, 1994) explores the historical roots of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Os Guinness’ “Fit Bodies, Fat Minds” (Baker Books, 1994), discusses some of the historical problems and also outlines what a Christian mind should look like. J.P. Moreland’s “Love Your God with all of Your Mind” (Navpress, 1997) explains why Christians don’t think, develops a biblical theology of the mind, and offers helpful apologetic arguments and strategies to empower the church intellectually.

I’ve read all of them and LYGWYM is by far the best. J.P. Moreland is a warrior. Videos and audio of his university campus lectures are here.

Enemy #1: We don’t really love God or our neighbors

If we really cared about God like we say we do, then we would care enough to defend his reputation in public. If we really loved our neighbor and believed that they need to follow Jesus in order to be reconciled with God, we would tell them that. But we don’t really care enough about God when his reputation is slammed in public. We don’t care that our neighbor has false beliefs, such as a belief in the eternal universe.

Groothuis writes:

Too many Christians don’t seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded in our culture. They may complain that this “offends” them (just as everyone else is complaining that one thing or another “offends” them), but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian world view in a variety of settings. Yet Scripture commands all Christians to have a reason for the hope that is within them and to present this with gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15).

Our attitude should be that of the Apostle Paul who was “greatly distressed” when he beheld the idolatry of sophisticated Athens. This zeal for the truth of God led him into a fruitful apologetic encounter with the thinkers gathered to debate new ideas (see Acts 17). It should for us as well. Just as God “so loved the world” that he sent Jesus to set us right with God (John 3:16), Jesus’ disciples should so love the world that they endeavor to reach the lost by presenting the Gospel and answering objections to the Christian faith (John 17:18).

Enemy #2: We distort Christian teachings in order to avoid disputes with other religions

As a result of the feminization of the church, we have altered our theology in order to “get along” with other religions that conflict with ours. Instead of wrestling with the competing truth claims of other religions, we just change the nature of our religion from objective knowledge to personal preference. If the Bible claims that Jesus rose from the dead, we reinterpret that historically testable claim as a preference claim. If the Bible says that the universe began to exist, we reinterpret that scientifically testable claim as a preference claim.

And it goes double for moral judgments and soteriological claims. The easiest way to make peace with people in these other religions is by dropping everything that offends our neighbors in other religions, like moral judgments and exclusive salvation. We simply decided that if Christianity claimed X and some other religion claimed not-X, that both could somehow be right. But this irrationality divorced Christianity from reason and made it into a personal preference instead of objective knowledge. It’s now just another option in the self-help buffet.

Groothuis says:

For some Christians, faith means belief in the absence of evidence and argument. Worse yet, for some faith means belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. The more irrational our beliefs, the better–the more “spiritual” they are… When Christians opt for irrationalism, they become just another “religious option,” and are classified along with Heaven’s Gate, the Flat Earth Society, and other intellectually impaired groups.

Enemy #3: We refuse to learn the evidences that support Christianity

We spend almost no time reading the kinds of non-fiction books that would inform us so that we are prepared to defend our beliefs. Instead, we put our best effort, our money and our thinking into school, work and other secular pursuits. We give Christianity a piece of our lives, and only allow it to serve us. We never serve it. We read fiction, watch TV and movies, pursue romantic relationships and play video games. But we have no time for preparing a defense based on actual facts and arguments.

Groothuis says:

Many Christians are not aware of the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). This is largely because many major churches and parachurch organizations virtually ignore apologetics… Few evangelical sermons ever address the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the justice of hell, the supremacy of Christ, or the logical problems with nonChristian worldviews. Christian bestsellers, with rare exceptions, indulge in groundless apocalyptic speculations, exalt Christian celebrities (whose characters often do not fit their notoriety), and revel in how-to methods.

Enemy #4: We refuse to defend God if it means being unpopular

Somehow, we have gotten the idea that the purpose of Christianity is for us to be happy. Being popular and accepted by non-Christians makes us happy. Therefore, we want to be popular. To be popular, we avoid being divisive with non-Christians. Moral judgments are divisive. Exclusive salvation is divisive. Christianity teaches moral rules and exclusive salvation. Therefore, we don’t talk about Christianity in order to avoid being divisive so that we can be popular and have the happy feelings that God wants us to have. But this is nowhere in the Bible.

Groothuis says:

In our pluralistic culture, a “live and let live” attitude is the norm, and a capitulation to social pressure haunts evangelicalism and drains its convictions. Too many evangelicals are more concerned about being “nice” and “tolerant” than being biblical or faithful to the exclusive Gospel found in their Bibles. Not enough evangelicals are willing to present and defend their faith in challenging situations, whether at school, at work, or in other public settings. The temptation is to privatize faith, to insulate and isolate it from public life entirely. Yes, we are Christians (in our hearts), but we have difficulty engaging anyone with what we believe and why we believe it. This is nothing less than cowardice and a betrayal of what we say we believe.

He goes on to exegete Colossians 4:2-6, Matthew 5:11-12, 1 Peter 4:14, Romans 1:16 and Matthew 28:18-20. The Bible just doesn’t support this anti-apologetics stance that seems to be so popular in the feminized church.

I’m out of space: …I’d like to say something about the other 2 enemies, but I am out of space. But that will just encourage you to click on the link and read the rest of the article, right?

Walter Williams evaluates Sweden’s single-payer health care system

Walter Williams is my second favorite active economist, just behind Thomas Sowell. (I also like John Lott, Robert P. Murphy and Jennifer Roback Morse – see my blogroll for links) In a recent article, Williams takes a look at how well Sweden’s single-payer, socialized health-care system is working out for its customers. The productive Swedish taxpayer forks over a lot of money to the government. What do they get in return?

First, what is socialized medicine? (which we are moving toward, since porkulus passed)

  1. Producers pay huge amounts of taxes to the government .
  2. Low-achievers pay nothing, since they have no income.
  3. When you want treatment, you have to get in line behind everyone else – especially behind special interest groups, such as people wanting sex-changes.
  4. The taxation is compulsory, the treatment of patients is at the government’s discretion.

Williams begins his article by evaluating the UK’s National Health Service:

A recent study by David Green and Laura Casper, “Delay, Denial and Dilution,” written for the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that the NHS health care services are just about the worst in the developed world. The head of the World Health Organization calculated that Britain has as many as 25,000 unnecessary cancer deaths a year because of under-provision of care. Twelve percent of specialists surveyed admitted refusing kidney dialysis to patients suffering from kidney failure because of limits on cash. Waiting lists for medical treatment have become so long that there are now “waiting lists” for the waiting list.

And then there’s Canada single-payer socialized system:

…after a Canadian has been referred to a specialist, the waiting list for gynecological surgery is four to 12 weeks, cataract removal 12 to 18 weeks, tonsillectomy three to 36 weeks and neurosurgery five to 30 weeks. Toronto-area hospitals, concerned about lawsuits, ask patients to sign a legal release accepting that while delays in treatment may jeopardize their health, they nevertheless hold the hospital blameless. Canadians have an option Britainers don’t: close proximity of American hospitals. In fact, the Canadian government spends over $1 billion each year for Canadians to receive medical treatment in our country.

The article cites Sven R. Larson, who recently completed the book “Lesson from Sweden’s Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt,” published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Spring 2008). The first thing about socialized health care is that you don’t pay for treatment like you shop at Wal-Mart. The government takes your money and makes sure that everyone is treated equally, regardless of each individual’s earned income and lifestyle choices.

Mr. D., a Gothenburg multiple sclerosis patient, was prescribed a new drug. His doctor’s request was denied because the drug was 33 percent more expensive than the older medicine. Mr. D. offered to pay for the medicine himself but was prevented from doing so. The bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.

When health care is free for consumers, demand increases. Doctors and drug companies stop producing since the government won’t let them make a profit. Since the government is the single-payer, then the only way to stop the shortage is to ration medical services, often based on leftist victim ideology. Socialists don’t trust you to make your own decisions about how you earn income or how you spend it.

Here’s a bit more from the article:

Malmo, with its 280,000 residents, is Sweden’s third-largest city. To see a physician, a patient must go to one of two local clinics before they can see a specialist. The clinics have security guards to keep patients from getting unruly as they wait hours to see a doctor. The guards also prevent new patients from entering the clinic when the waiting room is considered full. Uppsala, a city with 200,000 people, has only one specialist in mammography. Sweden’s National Cancer Foundation reports that in a few years most Swedish women will not have access to mammography.

Wow, that smacks of fascism! But that is where socialism inevitably leads. In Canada, you can’t even buy your own drugs and treatment, even if the government puts you on a waiting list (dying list?), or if it won’t pay for treatment at all. Private purchases of health care or medical drugs are illegal in Canada. (except for Quebec, oddly enough, because of a recent court decision).

The problem with a system in which low-risk producers pay for the services, but don’t use them while high-risk victims use the services, but don’t pay for them, is that there is no incentive for people to be healthy. As people act more and more recklessly, the government steps in and starts controlling their lives in order to reduce costs. Fascism.

Socialized medicine redistributes wealth in order to equalize the outcomes of good lifestyle choices and poor lifestyle choices. The more that lifestyles are equalized, the less personal responsibility there is among the citizens. Eventually, the government takes control of people’s lives to reduce costs. This article shows how it’s happening in Canada, as they try to ban trans fats:

A mammoth government program is a poor excuse for further encroachment on people’s lives–maybe fewer government entitlements would encourage smarter and healthier habits. If the ban is the sword of the nanny-state crusader, surely the health-care system represents his shield.

Freedom means deciding how much security to want, based on your own free choices and the risks you assume.

A useful podcast on health care and government, featuring Sally C. Pipes on the Dennis Prager show is here. For a good explanation of supply, demand and shortages, see this Von Mises Institute article.

UPDATE: Saw this UK Telegraph story on a single NHS hospital (H/T Stop the ACLU):

NHS managers were yesterday accused of putting targets and cost-cutting ahead of patients as a report into at Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals trust found up to 1,200 people may have died needlessly due to “appalling standards of care” at a single hospital.

…Last night patient groups voiced concern that managers who should have spotted failings at the trust but did not raise the alarm have been promoted to key jobs in the NHS and health care regulation.

…The investigation into care between 2005 and 2008 found overstretched and poorly trained nurses who turned off equipment because they did not know how to work it, newly qualified doctors left to care for patients recovering from surgery at night, patients left for hours in soiled bedclothes and reception staff expected to judge the seriousness of the condition of patients arriving at Accident and Emergency.

Doctors were diverted from seriously ill patients to treat ones with minor problems to make the trust look better because it was in danger of breaching the Government’s four-hour waiting time target.

New podcasts on academic freedom and intelligent design

I found a couple of new podcasts on intelligent design on Post-Darwinist!

Here is the skinny:

Academic Freedom Update: Where Are We in 2009?

On this episode of ID the Future, CSC’s Casey Luskin gives listeners an update on what’s going on with academic freedom legislation around America. Academic freedom bills submitted in five states already this year, including Oklahoma, Iowa, New Mexico, Missouri and Alabama. Listen in to today’s podcast as Luskin explains how Darwinist opposition to the bills is showing why academic freedom legislation is necessary to protect teachers from a climate of intimidation.

Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence

On this episode of ID the Future, CSC’s Robert Crowther highlights one of the foundational books of the theory of intelligent design. “No Free Lunch“, the sequel to mathematician and CSC senior fellow William Dembski’s Cambridge University Press book “The Design Inference”, explores key questions about the origin of specified complexity. No Free Lunch demonstrates that design theory shows great promise of providing insight in the field of evolutionary computation.

Do you know what intelligent design is? The definitive statement of the what intelligent design is was first published in 1998 by Cambridge University Press. The name of that book is “The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities”.

Here’s a little bio of the author, William Dembski. And here are some of his earned degrees:

  • Ph.D. philosophy University of Illinois at Chicago 1996
  • M.A. philosophy University of Illinois at Chicago 1993
  • Ph.D. mathematics  University of Chicago 1988
  • M.S. statistics  University of Illinois at Chicago 1983

If you put together the IQs of all the journalists who have ever written against intelligent design, the total number is actually lower than the IQ of William Dembski’s pinky finger nail clipping. An introduction to intelligent design is here. A chapter explaining intelligent design from a book published by Michigan State University Press is here.

Or, you can just read this sentence: intelligent design is what happens when you select letters and form sequences that have function. Like writing blog posts or software code. That’s intelligent design, and that’s all it is. Surprise! I do it all day at work. I’m doing it right now while I write this post. And it’s in your DNA, too. Sequences of amino acids and proteins arranged to have biological function.

My Dad, who reads everything I tell him to read because he’s such a great Dad, just finished Dembski’s new book “Understanding Intelligent Design: Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language”. He assures me it is extremely easy to understand, even for you helpless squishyheads who dropped math in grade 10.

Here is a good debate on whether the biological information in the simplest organism requires an intelligent designer.

Mark Sanford and Bobby Jindal refuse bailout funds

Governor Mark Sanford
Governor Mark Sanford

I noticed some posts at the Maritime Sentry about Governor Mark Sanford. If Bobby Jindal can’t save us in 2012, then Mark Sanford is my second choice. Everybody knows that Jindal is turning down bailout funds. Here is Bobby Jindal on the Hugh Hewitt show explaining why he is refusing the bailout funds, on how he intends to deal with the economic downturn in his state budget. Dynamite!

But Maritime Sentry has the story on Mark Sanford’s refusal to take bailout funds. Here, they link to this Forbes article, entitled “Why Mark Sanford Matters: Small-government conservatives have found their champion.”

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Sanford’s opposition to President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and in particular his insistence on using up to a fourth of his state’s stimulus funds to pay down debt or refusing it outright, has fast made him a folk hero to conservatives.

I am a little concerned by his opposition to the Iraq war, because I feel that it was a successful action against terrorism with strategic gains that far outweighed the costs. I approve of his small government stand, though. The National Taxpayer’s Union also approves:

The 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has applauded South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for their decisions this week to refuse part of the federal stimulus package earmarked for their respective states. Sanford will accept $700 million only if the President allows him to use it to pay down debts rather than create new spending obligations. Perry has refused outright $555 million for expansion of state unemployment benefits.

Maritime Sentry also links to this 5-minute video, in which Sanford explains why he is turning down the bailout money. He doesn’t want Obama to be able to impose taxes on his state later, if he takes the bailout money today.

The Democrats doesn’t like federalism much. The DNC is even running ads in South Carolina against Sanford for refusing to take the money, and the attached strings. I found a statement about these DNC ads over at his blog. Jindal is also taking heat from unions and other economically-illiterate left-wing groups in his state.

UPDATE 1: Here is the transcript of Bobby Jindal’s interview on the Hugh Hewitt show. (H/T Binky @ Free Canuckistan!)

UPDATE 2: Here is the first part of an interview with Mark Sanford conducted by the Acton Institute, which specializes in free market capitalism and its relationship to religious liberty. (H/T Binky @ Free Canuckistan!)

Obama’s federal budget: thinking beyond stage one

House Republican Leader John Boehner
House Republican Leader John Boehner

Everyone who reads Thomas Sowell knows that the most important question to ask when talking about any economic proposal is “And Then What Happens?” That was the point of his one-two punch of introductory books on economics, “Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy” and “Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One”. Don’t examine the intentions of the proposal. Examine the incentives it creates.

But this idea goes back even earlier to Henry Hazlitt, who wrote about it in “Economics in One Lesson”. (The link goes to a statement of the “one lesson”)

…the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence:

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

Well, what are the long-term effects of Obama’s federal budget, for all groups?

Congressman John Boehner has a breakdown of some of the budget numbers on his blog.

The President’s budget calls for $1.4 trillion in new taxes that will affect every American.  There’s a $646 billion “cap and trade” energy tax; a $636 billion tax on income and small businesses; new  taxes on investors by raising capital gains and dividend rates; a resurrection of the death tax; and a reduction in charitable deductions which will result in $4 billion less in donations each year to charities across America.

But it’s worse than that. A while back, I wrote about how Obama wanted to discriminate against religious schools by denying them renovation funds. In the budget, he continues his anti-religious trend by de-funding private charities. This is the part that Christians who voted for Obama need to pay attention to, because this matters to us.

Boehner notes:

The proposed reduction in charitable deductions is especially troubling, since it would hurt charities at a time when American families are struggling and in need of assistance.

But remember, when government expands, the state becomes more secular. The capabilities and influence of private religious groups decreases as the state de-funds them and takes over their duties. Instead of people depending on their neighbors’ charity, they now depend on the state. Instead of letting workers decide where to give charity, workers are forced to fund secular government programs.

Boehner cites this Wall Street Journal piece:

According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, total itemized contributions from the highest income households would have dropped 4.8% — or $3.87 billion — in 2006 if the Obama policy had been in place.  That year, Americans gave $186.6 billion to charity, more than 40% from those in the highest tax bracket.  A back of the envelope calculation by the Tax Policy Center, a left-of-center think tank, estimates the Obama plan will reduce annual giving by 2%, or some $9 billion.

Before Obama’s budget, you might have given charity to a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Now that money could be spent by the government on coerced abortions abroad. Before Obama’s budget, you might have given charity to support William Lane Craig’s web site Reasonable Faith. Now that money could be spent destroying human embryos. Elections matter.

Representative Mike Pence
Representative Mike Pence

Congressman Mike Pence goes over the budget numbers on his blog.

The following is a summary of the Administration’s plans to increase taxes by $1.4 trillion over the next ten years.

Taxing Small Businesses: In 2010, the President’s budget will increase taxes on all taxpayers that earn more than $250,000. The majority of the burden for this $637 billion tax increase will be borne by small businesses that pay taxes as individuals. Small businesses create 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs in America. These new taxes will stifle job creation and economic growth in the midst of a recession.

Taxing Energy Consumers: The budget also proposes to raise taxes by $646 billion on consumers of oil, coal, and natural gas through a complicated “cap and tax” program that will increase the cost of energy for every American. These carbon-based fuels provide about 85% of all energy output in the U.S. This new tax will increase the cost of energy by up to $3,128 per household annually, taking more money out of the pockets of hard working families struggling to pay their bills each month.

Taxing Investors Part I: Under the President’s budget, taxes on capital gains and dividends would increase from 15 to 20 percent, increasing taxes on investors by $338 billion over ten years. These taxes would directly affect investors and shareholders, including many 401k holders and pension funds, most impacted by the declining stock market and would further discourage investments during a time when new investments are essential to jumpstarting our economy.

Taxing Charitable Giving: The budget also caps the value of itemized deductions at 28% for those with an income over $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single), which will reduce charitable giving by $9 billion a year. The current economic crisis has severely damaged charitable organization’s ability to provide for people who are most affected by the recession, and the budget would leave these charities with at least a $9 billion deficit.

Taxing Death: The budget reinstates the death tax scheduled to be fully repealed in 2010. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the death tax has “broad economic effects” and one study has found that the death tax is responsible for lowering overall employment by 1.5 million jobs.

Taxing Investors Part II: The budget would more than double taxes on carried interest, increasing taxes up from the capital gains rate (15%) to the income tax rate (35%). Carried interest is interest gained on profits from investments and is generally used to pay investment fund managers based on the fund’s performance for investors. This tax hike is yet another attack on profit, private equities, and investments in the middle of a recession.

High taxes and big spending is not good for business, and therefore not good for job growth. I predict double-digit unemployment (around 12%) by year’s end as a result of this socialist budget.

Already, Gateway Pundit is reporting that Caterpillar has laid off 2,454 employees, with more layoffs on the way. Hot Air has video on the layoffs here: Obama saying that his bailout will reduce layoffs, and the CEO saying that the bailout will not prevent layoffs.

Ooops.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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