Tag Archives: Entertainment

Why did the lead vocalist of a Christian rock band abandon belief in God?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Carla told me about this celebrity singer who decided to leave Christianity. Since we’ve had a few high profile departures, I thought it might be worth giving my very controversial view on Christian musicians, artists, athletes and celebrities. I’ve always been suspicious of celebrities claiming to be Christians and there’s a very simple reason why.

Anyway, here is the story from Christian Post.

It says:

Jon Steingard, the Canadian Christian rock band Hawk Nelson’s lead vocalist, has declared on social media that “I no longer believe in God,” explaining “it didn’t happen overnight.”

[…]“After growing up in a Christian home, being a pastor’s kid, playing and singing in a Christian band, and having the word ‘Christian’ in front of most of the things in my life — I am now finding that I no longer believe in God.”

He has three objections, the first being the problem of evil, the second being Old Testament violence, and finally the doctrine of the atonement:

“If God is all loving, and all powerful, why is there evil in the world? Can he not do anything about it? Does he choose not to?”

[…]”Why does he (God) say not to kill, but then instruct Israel to turn around and kill men women and children to take the promised land?” and “Why does Jesus have to die for our sins (more killing again)?”

[…]I am not looking for a debate at all — just a chance to share my story in the hopes some good can come from it.

He mentions having his “heart changed”, and that’s how most people these days approach religion. Whether they accept it or not depends on their feelings, experiences, and peer approval. Their Christian worldview isn’t compelled by logic and evidence. They have a non-STEM approach to religion. If they like it, they keep it. And this is why so many people who are raised in the church give it up in high school and college. They feel that Christianity isn’t truth in the same way as math, science, engineering or history. Christianity, they are taught, is about their family, their feelings, their community. If it feels good, and helps them fit in, they keep it. But when they get to high school or college, they find things to do that are more fun, feel better, make them look smarter, and make their new friends like them more.

Regarding his three objections. For the problem of evil, William Lane Craig answers that in “Hard Questions, Real Answers”, or more technically in “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview”. For the Old Testament challenge, Paul Copan answers that in “Is God a Moral Monster?” The third objection is just philosophical theology. William Lane Craig has written on the logic of the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, for example, and found parallels in the insurance business. These topics are debated in formal academic debates, but Mr. Lead Vocalist probably won’t find the answers by watching TV and asking his artist friends.

By the way, the Christian Post article notes that he was objecting to the moral demands of the Christian life prior his atheism:

In 2015, talking about the song “Live Like You’re Loved” from Hawk Nelson’s album Diamonds, Steingard told The Christian Post that it was “inspired by growing up and learning the dos and don’ts of Christianity and how to be a good Christian.”

[…]“I just had an epiphany … all this running around and trying to do everything exactly right, these are not the things that bring us closer to God. Our relationship with God is already secured with what was done on the cross. What if we went into life with confidence of knowing we are already loved?”

Lyrics to “Live Like You’re Loved” include: “So go ahead and live like you’re loved, it’s OK to act like you’ve been set free / His love has made you more than enough so go ahead and be who he made you to be / And live like you’re loved.”

He had an epiphany. Doing what the Bible teaches isn’t how you love God. No, no. You just follow your heart, and God will love you for that. That’s so convenient and very popular in the feminized church today. But it’s also exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches:

1 John 5:1-3:

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

I don’t know his personal life, but I know a lot of Christians who went nuts in college drinking and having sex, and then subsequently found “reasons” for thinking Christianity was false.

I meet so many Christians whose entire reading life consists of reading fiction, romance novels and popular female preachers. Instead of learning how to engage against challenges to the faith like socialism, feminism, atheism, etc. we’re more focused on entertaining ourselves, and trying to be liked. Not only is this narcissistic, it also doesn’t result in a stable and influential Christian life.

Most of the adult Christians I know today slipped into the wild life of atheism as soon as they left home. They came back to the faith later, but they’re still politically liberal and they have a non-cognitive understanding of Christianity. They may have returned to the faith and church, but it’s still all about their feelings, experiences and peer approval. They aren’t working for God, they’re making God work for them.

This is the exact opposite of my experience of Christianity. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I wasn’t raised in a church. I don’t sing songs. I don’t have fun. I am not trying to be popular. I don’t drink. I’m a virgin. I have multiple STEM degrees. I work in a STEM field. I read evidential apologetics. I engage in debates with non-Christians. I’m a non-white immigrant. My view of Christianity is masculine, not feminine. It’s effective, not emotional.

Christian scholars are more important than “Christian” entertainers

I don’t think that Christians should waste their time on Christian entertainers and celebrity preachers. And I’m going to lump in pastors and preachers who focus on feelings and experiences into that group. If you’re going to pick someone to look up to as a Christian, then choose people who have put in the time to study the truth claims of the Christian worldview enough to defend them to other scholars, using arguments and evidence.

I admire people like William Lane Craig, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Licona who actually debate non-Christians on university campuses and other public forums. In contrast, an entertainer isn’t usually qualified to defend truth claims in public settings. Defending Christian truth claims is a low priority for most Christian entertainers and celebrities. Don’t be like them.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Why do so many Christian musicians, artists, athletes and celebrities leave the faith?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Several people sent me the story about a former Hillsong worship leader who decided to leave Christianity. Since we’ve had a few high profile departures, I thought it might be worth giving my very controversial view on Christian musicians, artists, athletes and celebrities. I’ve always been suspicious of celebrities claiming to be Christians and there’s a very simple reason why.

Anyway, here is the story sent to me by Tiasunep, published in the Christian Today.

It says:

Hillsong worship leader has reportedly walked away from the Christian faith after posting a – since removed – Instagram update in which he said he was “not in anymore”.

[…]”Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith.. and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.. it’s crazy / this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it.

“How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.

“Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more.”

[…]Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion,” he writes.

“Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real.

[…]The news has saddened many in the Christian scene who were still getting over a similar announcement made a few weeks ago by Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Within the space of a week, he announced that he was separating from his wife and that he had fallen away from the Christian faith.

It looks to me like no one has ever made the evidential case for a Christian worldview to him, and he’s just crumbling because he doesn’t have answers to basic, ordinary questions.

In modern secular America, authentic Christianity is spelled A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S

In primitive areas of the world, a person could be a sincere Christian without knowing how to answer basic questions about scientific evidence for a creator, historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, philosophical defenses to the problems of evil and suffering, etc. But this is modern America, and there are atheists in the universities and in the workplace and just everywhere. If you meet someone in America who claims to be a Christian, it’s guaranteed that this person will have met atheists in these places. If this Christian has not put in any effort to learn how to answer basic questions about God’s existence, the resurrection, the problem of evil, etc, and they are regarded as very pious and spiritual, you should immediately distrust their claim to be a Christian.

1 Peter 3:15-16
1 Peter 3:15-16

Authentic Christians will be appropriately moved by the existence of people who not only do not accept a Creator, but also deny Jesus as Lord and Savior. And since the example of using reason and evidence to respond to skeptics is everywhere in the Bible, then sincere Bible believers will likewise want to find a way to answer people who question the Christian worldview. If you look at a Christian, and you can’t find anything in their writings or words that interacts with Christian scholarship and responds to popular challenges to the Christian worldview, then you’re looking at a fake Christian. Such a person is merely posing as a Christian for feelings, fame and peer approval. Every real Christian is concerned about defending God’s reputation and character. And the way that this is done in the Bible – and today – is with evidential apologetics.

There is no mature Christian worldview that majors in praise hymns, social justice, essential oils, devotional reading, etc. Today, right now, your co-worker is an atheist. Today, right now, your child’s professor is an atheist. If you haven’t put in the time to prepare a defense to the challenges right in front of your face – challenges that affect you and your legacy in Christ – but you have plenty of time to major in the minors for fame and fortune, then that’s a sign that you don’t have a Christian worldview. If all your Christianity is just having feelings, devotional reading and singing praise songs, then you need to ask yourself whether you’re not on the same road as this Hillsong worship leader.

Young people should be learning apologetics from their parents, pastors and other Christian leaders

It’s not surprising to me that the Hillsong worship leader is an apostate. What’s surprising to me is that anyone at all who is raised in any American church is able to preserve their faith for very long after leaving home. The churches in America do a poor job of equipping Christians to answer the most basic questions about the Christian worldview. Questions that could easily be answered after a few Lee Strobel books, or some True U DVDs. But in Christian homes and Christians churches, young people are never exposed to the challenges of non-Christians. They never do any investigations to learn how to respond to them. Then when they get to college, they feel (rightly) as if they’ve been brainwashed and indoctrinated by people in the church who were divorced from reality. And then they quit on Christianity. I see it all the time.

If you’re going to pick someone to look up to as a Christian, then choose people who have put in the time to study the truth claims of the Christian worldview enough to defend them to other scholars, using arguments and evidence. I admire people like William Lane Craig, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Licona who actually debate non-Christians on university campuses and other public forums. In contrast, an entertainer isn’t usually qualified to defend truth claims.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

What worldview does the maker of Star Wars movies want you to accept?

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

I heard that there was a new Star Wars movie out, and that many of my Christian friends were going to see it. I passed on it, because there is something about that whole series that is creepy to me.

It looks like my concerns have some justification. I noticed a couple of reviews of the movie from Come Reason Ministries and Bnonn Tennant.

Here are 3 points that Lenny makes at Come Reason: (H/T Brian)

  1. Faith and tradition are disposable
  2. You don’t really need to put in years of work to be competent
  3. Men are inconsequential

All three points he makes seem to me to be exactly what the movie communicates, but I want to focus on point #3:

The most obvious message The Last Jedi sends is the one that Johnson clearly sought to send, that is that men offer nothing uniquely beneficial to society. The main protagonist, Rey, is female. So are all the leadership of the Resistance. Kylo Ren and Snoke are bad guys and are men. The double-dealing code-breaker is a man. The arms dealer is a man.

[…]As the film progressed, its agenda became more overt and more satirical. It is the women in this film who time and again save the day while the men just mess everything up. Poe is a hotshot who recklessly expends a number of lives taking out a ship that makes no difference in the rest of the film. His later plans are shown to be useless as Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Holdo had a plan in the works all along.

[…]The egregiousness of this fiction is distressing. Men have long been the punching bags of media. War is an ugly thing, but it is and has always been men who time and again put their lives on the line to protect us from the evils that threaten our way of life. Men would willingly die to save women and children because they understood the weaker needed protection by the stronger. But now our society says the unique thing that makes men men is itself dangerous. It needs to be checked and men need to behave more like women. When you take away a man’s self-understanding as provider and protector, you rob him of his place in the world. Why then would men in this or future generations stand up and put their lives on the line when a real enemy?

I really like what he had to say here. Let’s look at one more from Bnonn Tennant, then I’ll say something. (H/T Wes)

Excerpt:

Throughout the second act, we are led to believe that Holdo [female] is an incompetent coward who has effectively frozen under pressure—stuck in a holding pattern rather than chancing anything risky in the hope of saving the fleet. An entire story arc is developed to support this assumption, where Poe [male] takes matters into his own hands with a dangerous hail-mary—building to a great anti-climax where this B-plot finally flops instead of paying off as the audience expects, and Holdo is revealed to have had a better plan all along. Many reviewers have expressed their frustration at how pointless this lengthy arc was—a misdirect and plot twist for the sake of saying “gotcha” rather than creating a payoff in terms of character development or plot advancement. But they are interpreting the movie through the framework of what makes a good story rather than what makes a good leftist porno. From that perspective, this was feminist gold.

In a scene reminiscent of Isaiah 55:8–9, the revelation of Holdo’s providence is unveiled—a mystery kept secret for long ages. We discover that she has been leading the fleet to a secret rebel base all along, sacrificing ships like chess pieces along the way in order to establish an unassailable stalemate in the end-game, rather than lose the king. (Sorry, the queen—in this chess game, the king and the queen swap places—obviously.)

It is the perfect feminine plan: one without fighting, in which the security of the collective is ensured. And by contrast, we see that Poe’s plan was reckless and foolhardy—pointlessly risking his life, and the life of Rose (who herself serves no particular purpose except to meet the racial-diversity-body-positivity quota), on a gambit that ultimately failed. His masculine impulse to solve the problem through direct action blinded him to the greater feminine wisdom. Worse, it nearly cost the entire Resistance their lives, as he sabotaged the female leadership through mutiny—and it did cost Holdo her life, as she had to buy the Resistance time after Poe’s plan backfired and alerted the First Order to the fleeing transport ships.

But why didn’t Holdo just confide her plan to Poe in the first place? Because she shouldn’t have needed to. Ultimately, Poe’s greatest sin was not his taking action—it was his taking action out of a failure to recognize and trust in the transcendence of feminine wisdom. His sin was faithlessness. Masculine arrogance prevented him from faithfully submitting to Holdo.

Women know how to do everything through intuition, and men with their “skills” and “experience” and “courage” and “problem-solving” just screw it all up.

I guess I want to say that this is why I don’t give money to Hollywood. I have not owned a television since around 2002. The only time I see what’s on television is in the gym, or at my parents’ house for family gatherings. I wouldn’t want to give my money to people like Clinton-donor and sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein or Kathleen Kennedy, the radical feminist president of Lucasfilm. I don’t like art that misleads, and pretty much everything that comes out of the entertainment industry these days misleads entertainment-addicts about what is real and true.

We are living in a culture where Christians have – for decades – failed to steward their money properly. Instead of refraining from funding secular leftist enemies in the entertainment industry, we have been giving them money for the rope that they are using to hang us. Politics is downstream from culture, and we made the culture by enriching secular leftists in the entertainment industry. Why? Because we couldn’t be bothered to hold every thought captive to Christ. We had to have our fun, and we are sure that God, if he exists, really just wants us to act to satisfy our desires so that we can be happy. We have to have our NFL football, our Comedy Channel news, our 50 Shades of Grey books, our Game of Thrones and our House of Cards. “Take our money”, we tell the secular left. If the special effects and CGI are good, then we’ll eat the sewage.

Brian Godawa: what “The Imitation Game” tells us about homosexuality

I usually only go to see about one movie in the theaters per year, because I don’t share the same worldview as most people in Hollywood, and I share Plato’s concern about the power of drama to move me to accept their worldview through my emotions. Art is wonderful when it tells the truth, but most of what comes out of Hollywood doesn’t tell the truth.

This related blog post is from Brian Godawa’s blog. I thought it was very interesting.

He writes:

The story of Alan Turing, the brilliant yet troubled mathematician who led the cryptographic team that defeated the Nazi Enigma code in WWII and created the world’s first computer.

Wow, this Oscar season offers a slew of amazing performances. This one by Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing is a riveting and pathos filled drama that views like a gay version of the Oscar winning A Beautiful Mind.

This movie is a riveting, solid, well-told story. Brilliant in its machinations and exciting in its imagination. It explores the nuance of moral decisions in war, the complexity of social classes and issues, the alienation of mental illness, and the pain and irony of genius.

Who could have thought that there could be such exciting suspense, such heart-stirring pity, and such powerful moments of cheerful dramatic victories in a movie about a group of weird nerds penciling out mathematics and building a computer? But The Imitation Game is all that.

And it’s a brilliant artistic masterpiece for the homosexual agenda.

How so?

The Imitation Game is a similar timely metaphor. It tells the story of an oddball man who was rejected by the very society that he saved because of his genius. A tragedy of greatness. It is about breaking down our personal and social prejudices by showing that the very kind of people we often reject are the ones who do great things, such as, oh, save the world. History definitely bears out the repeated theme of the movie, “Sometimes, it’s the very people that no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine.” Society too often rejects the misfits, who may offer the most to bring balance to the world. And who of us doesn’t at some time in our lives feel like such misfits and oddballs who feel out of place?

[…]Storytelling does not make logical arguments so much as emotional arguments. It incarnates logic or worldviews which touches us existentially as storied human beings. Story makes its most powerful connections emotionally through such rhetorical techniques as montage. The concept is that by placing two or more disparate images or storylines next to each other, viewers make emotional connections between those things, whether or not they are logically connected.

[…][The movie] shows us Alan’s alleged autistic Asperger’s type social awkwardness. Well, who among us would not feel sorry for such innocent suffering? The poor guy can’t help it, and he’s really quite sweet underneath that rudeness and lack of emotion and sensitivity. Heck, understanding people is like cracking a code for him. And of course, it is precisely that autism that blesses him with the mathematical brilliance to break the Enigma code of the Germans that ended the war early and saved millions of lives. But that is not all. That autism that we would see as “abnormal” resulted in figuring out the world’s first computer, one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

So, you can see the litany of injustices that are laid out, with which the viewers could not disagree.

[…]Americans are suckers for the underdog. If you want to engender sympathy for a character, make them suffer persecution, unfairness, injustice. In other words, make them a victim.

[…]The thematic cleverness of The Imitation Game lies in its montage connection of Turing’s homosexuality with his genius and with all these other civil rights issues with which we have all come to agree upon. The movie creates a touching tragic homosexual love story from Turing’s past to show his deep pain of loss. And then it lays it on heavy with a bookend story of Turing’s tragic arrest and conviction of his homosexual acts in a time and place in British history where it was illegal. Who wouldn’t feel sorry for the suffering of chemical castration that he had to endure as a legal penalty? Again, more victimization, more emotional sympathy.

It will never occur to many viewers that there is no rational justification for claiming sexual behavior as an innate civil right, that there is no logical or rational connection between Turing’s homosexuality and his genius, his saving the world, or other civil rights protections. There doesn’t have to be. An emotional connection was made through montage and analogy, and that is just as powerful on the viewer’s psyche. Emotionally, the viewer feels the connection of Turing’s homosexual identity with greatness and with saving the world. The irrational, yet emotional conclusion is that to be against homosexuality is to be against greatness and saving the world.

When I talk about movies, video games and other forms of entertainment with Christians, I am often told that I am analyzing too much and I need to enjoy art for art’s sake. But my mind works more like Godawa’s does. I am always disregarding the obvious stuff that is happening on the screen, and thinking about what the artist is trying to get me to believe. If it’s good stuff, like in the BBC production of “North and South”, then after a few minutes of watching and thinking, I lower my guard and enjoy. But if it’s bad stuff, then the guard stays up, and it’s no fun for me at all. I don’t play video games where there is a heavy-handed anti-conservative or anti-Christian message, either. Certainly I am not going to pay to be told by Hollywood leftists that my Christian / conservative views are wrong, when all they use to persuade me are emotional tricks.

Something to think about when you decide where to spend your money.

New study: pro-gay television shows have shifted public opinion on gay marriage

Life Site News reports.

Excerpt:

Ipsos MediaCT, a global market research company, have just released a study…

According to the report, 18 percent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 said that television has directly contributed to their increasing support for same-sex “marriage.”

That’s nearly double the number (10 percent) who reported television had increased their opposition to marriage redefinition.

“Based on this data, I think we can conclude that TV has, at least in part, moved the needle of public opinion to see same-sex marriage in a positive way,” Ben Spergel, Senior Vice President and Head of TV Insights at Ipsos MediaCT said in a statement.

“With everything from higher profile portrayals of gay characters, to celebrity support of gay marriage, to last year’s groundbreaking endorsement by President Obama, we are seeing a shift in our culture that is being influenced by popular culture,” he said.

Last month, liberal writer Andrew O’Hehir wrote an article for Salon crediting the American movement toward homosexual acceptance to television shows like “Will and Grace,””Roseanne,” “The Real World,” “Ellen DeGeneres,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Modern Family,” and “Glee.”

“From ‘Soap’ to Ellen DeGeneres to Richard Hatch on ‘Survivor’ to the macho male couple who won season 4 of ‘The Amazing Race,’” O’Hehir wrote, “televisual images of sexual diversity have gradually moved away from victimology and ‘gay best friend’ stereotypes toward a ‘normalizing vision’of LGBT culture.”

“While the startling public shift on gay marriage – something few people of my generation, straight or gay, thought they’d ever see — is not solely the product of TV, it represents the ultimate fulfillment of TV’s vision of sexual equality,” O’Hehir added.

Support for same-sex “marriage” is on the rise in the United States. Recent polls show more than half of Americans support redefining marriage to include homosexual couples, and several states now allow gay nuptials in defiance of federal law.

One reason I don’t have a TV in my house is because television is used as a way to change people’s minds without making rational arguments or showing evidence. It’s easy enough for gay-friendly Hollywood to make TV shows where all the gay characters are funny, hard-working, faithful and moral. But that doesn’t reflect what studies tell us about gay relationships. They are non-exclusive, short-lived, have higher rates of violence and abuse, etc.

If gay marriage were to become legal, then marriage would would no longer be permanent, faithful, or child-centered, as this gay activist recently explained.

It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago.

I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally. . . . I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three. . . . And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.

The purpose of gay marriage is to normalize and celebrate any arrangements that makes adults happy, whether or not it provides for the needs of the children. Evidence from large-scale studies shows that gay relationships are not as good for children as natural marriage. But people who watch TV and don’t read studies will have their minds changed by TV, and then they will vote. And children not yet born will have to grow up without mothers and fathers because of it.

In a very real sense, stupidity and selfishness are destroying the next generation of children. It’s not just the crushing 17 trillion dollar debt being run up by selfish adults for their entitlements. It’s not just that our public schools are insulated from reform by powerful politically connected teacher unions. It’s not just that we liberalized divorce laws so that women can divorce men when they are not “happy” any more. It’s not just that we force employers to ship jobs overseas by raising their corporate taxes and burdening them with nonsense regulations. It’s not just that government pays irresponsible women to have babies out of wedlock. It’s not just that we abort the next generation of taxpayers because we can’t be bothered to get married and make a home for them before having sex. Now, we have to go beyond all that . We have to go even further. Now we have to formalize and normalize the complete supremacy of selfish adults over the needs of children. God help us all.