Tag Archives: Europe

Making a difference as a Christian doesn’t mean doing dramatic, reckless things

Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek
Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek (10/12/2015)

What’s the ideal balance between work and missions? In this post, I will argue against going abroad to do full-time missions.

Do apologetics ministry in your spare time, and work full-time

A full-time job and part-time ministry makes the most sense from a cost-benefit point of view. I have friends who are software engineers who studied enough science, history, and philosophy part-time, who are able to do public debates with atheists, which influence many more people than one-on-one interactions. One of my friends has several Masters degrees, and is in a PhD program, but his full-time career is in software and network management. He is 100% self-funded. He has worked in a successful apologetics career with a full-time career in technology, and he is debt-free. This is the best option . Your debts get paid off. Your resume stays gap-free. You bring a nest egg to your future spouse. You can afford to have children. You can afford a stay-at-home mom. You can afford either homeschooling or private schools, should you decide to go that route.

You have to start saving and investing early if you want to be independent in your old age. With full-time work and part-time ministry, you still make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom over time, while avoiding a financial crisis that could cost you your family, your friends, and even your faith. This is an especially wise way to proceed, given the economic struggles we are likely to face from housing bubbles, student loan bubbles, rising interest rates, entitlement crises, state pension underfunding, environmental regulations, the ever increasing national debt, demographic crisis, etc. Read the culture and be cautious about the future.

Use the Internet to make a difference in other countries for free

One cost-effective way to make a difference is by using the Internet to reach other countries. You can work full-time, and then use your spare time to blog. This blog gets an average of 24,000 page views per week. About 45% of that traffic comes from NON-USA countries. If you keep working full-time and just start a blog for free, then you can maintain your gap-free resume and have a much easier time marrying and raising children.

The university next door is a great place to have an influence

I do think full-time ministry is OK in two cases: if you don’t go abroad, or if you go abroad with a full-time job or full-ride scholarship. My friend Eric Chabot was able to host Frank Turek at Ohio State University last night (see photo above), for example. He got a great crowd. He is donation-driven, but he runs a lean operation since he lives near the campus where he serves. When it comes to having an impact, the American university is the place to make a difference. We have enough trouble in our own country, especially in the universities, where so many young people lose the faith of their childhood – there’s no need to travel and incur heavy expenses.  I think it also makes sense financially to go abroad for missions, if you get a scholarship that pays your way or if you have a job offer where you can work full-time and do missions part-time. What does not make sense is sending an unskilled missionary to a foreign country at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars that could be used much more efficiently in smaller, effective Eric-Chabot-style operations.

Your feelings and desires are not God speaking to you

Now some people who want to go into overseas missions will tell me that they feel led to go. This method of decision making is not Biblical, as I explained in one of my previous posts. If you believe the Bible, then feelings are a pretty poor way of determining what God wants from you. In fact, left to themselves, humans typically choose what feels best for them, not what does best for God. If God really calls you to do something, like he called Jonah, then you probably won’t feel like doing it. Missionary work is especially suspect when God is supposedly calling you to go to a country that you always dreamed of traveling to while you were a non-Christian. Normally, conversion causes you to have different desires – not the same desires you had as a non-Christian. Unless you hear an audible voice, like an Old Testament prophet would, then it’s best not to think that God is speaking through your feelings and desires. A good book to read on this is “Decision Making and the Will of God“, by Garry Friesen.

Don’t go into missions in order to have fun or go on an adventure

I am suspicious of people who try to turn Christianity into a mechanism for achieving the same goals that non-Christians want to achieve. These days, it seems as if everyone wants to travel to exotic places. If there is evidence of hedonistic, fun-pursuing, thrill-seeking behavior in your past, then consider that you may just want an “adventure”. I have a friend who went to Russia for a year just after graduating college, and she admitted to me that she just went “to have an adventure”. To me, that’s not a good reason to spend thousands of dollars, and put gaps in your resume. It’s not a cost-effective way to make a difference, given the other alternatives. Your goal should be to make yourself defensible so that you can put out a sustained effort that lasts, not burn out and then be ineffective for the rest of your life. Think about what J. Warner Wallace says about living wisely and prudently so you position yourself to make a steady contribution in the second half of your life. Don’t wreck your long-term impact for short-term fun. God will not honor that.

Don’t go into missions to make up for an immoral past

Anyway, if you look in your past and see lots of wild behavior – drinking, drugs, premarital sex, cohabitation, abortions, gambling, divorces, etc., then consider that you may be interested in missions for the wrong reasons. You don’t need to go on a missions trip to dramatically declare to everyone that you are now completely reformed from your wild party days. I actually managed to talk a friend out of a short-term missions trip who felt that it was a good way to do something meaningful to “make up” for her past. By being responsible with her job and saving money, she’s managed to avoid burning out, and to instead put out a steady stream of effective activities. And she was financially stable enough to get married and have children, as well – another excellent way to make a difference.

Do not go into missions if your resume and balance sheet do not demonstrate maturity

We already talked about the need for sound planning in the Bible study we did with Wayne Grudem.  The Bible praises hard work, stewardship, prudence and wisdom. And this is especially true for people who are getting older and need to be thinking about marriage, children and retirement. It’s not a good witness for Christians to be financially unstable. When you are able to stand on your own two feet financially, and help others from your earnings, you gain credibility with non-Christians. We don’t want people to think that we are doing this for the money. The best option is to be self-funded, like Paul and his tent-making-funded ministry.

By the way, if you’d like to read a related post by Eric Chabot, this one is a good one.

Daughter of senior EU official raped and murdered by Afghan refugee

Maria Ladenburger, daughter of prominent EU official
Maria Ladenburger, daughter of prominent EU official, killed by Afghan refugee

The UK Daily Mail has the story about a tragic rape and murder that resulted directly from Angela Merkel’s open-borders immigration policy in Germany.


A teenage Afghan asylum seeker has been arrested in Germany for the rape and murder of the 19-year-old daughter of a senior EU official.

Medical student Maria Ladenburger, who volunteered at a refugee home in her spare time, was found dead in the university city of Freiburg, near the border with Switzerland in mid October.

Her father is Dr. Clemens Ladenburger, a lawyer who works as the right hand man to the legal director of the European Commission.

It is unclear whether she ever met her murderer before he took her life.

The suspect has confessed to the murder, according to police. He was arrested on Friday and will go before the courts next year.

Maria was drowned after being raped, her body found in the River Dreisam on October 16.

[…]David Müller, head of the police’s Special Commission, said at a press conference: ‘Through interviews and a web-based survey, we were able to reconstruct Maria’s final hours.

‘The 19-year-old student had been at a party. By 2.37am, she left the party. Maria then cycled home, as usual.

‘The young woman had been the victim of a sexual offence and a violent crime.’

[…]Police are now trying to establish if he may also be responsible for the death of another girl in the area.

Carolin G., 27, was raped and murdered at the beginning of November while jogging in Endinge, just 18 miles away from Freiburg.

My parents would have killed me if I had been out at 2:37 AM in the morning, much less leaving a party. I’ve never even BEEN to a party filled with 19-year-olds. When I was 19, I was learning computer science and working two jobs.

Anyway, some people tell me that illegal immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries don’t commit crimes at a rate higher than other people. Is that true?

Breitbart News has the numbers from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.


While illegal immigrants account for about 3.5 percent of the U.S population, they represented 36.7 percent of federal sentences in FY 2014 following criminal convictions, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission data obtained by Breitbart News.

According to FY 2014 USSC data, of 74,911 sentencing cases, citizens accounted for 43,479 (or 58.0 percent), illegal immigrants accounted for 27,505 (or 36.7 percent), legal immigrants made up 3,017 (or 4.0 percent), and the remainder (about 1 percent) were cases in which the offender was either extradited or had an unknown status.

Broken down by some of the primary offenses, illegal immigrants represented 16.8 percent of drug trafficking cases, 20.0 percent of kidnapping/hostage taking, 74.1 percent of drug possession, 12.3 percent of money laundering, and 12.0 percent of murder convictions.

Now a lot of those convictions will be related to immigration… what happens when we take those out?

The sentencing rate is still higher than normal:

Eliminating all immigration violations, illegal immigrants would account for 13.6 percent of all the offenders sentenced in FY14 following federal criminal convictions — still greater than the 3.5 percent of the population illegal immigrants are said to make up.

I don’t like it when supporters of open borders and taking in refugees make pious statements in public so they can feel good about themselves.  I think that they being generous with other people’s money, taking risks with other people’s lives. So often, politicians love to be generous with illegal immigrants and Muslim refugees. But they don’t pay the taxes for the education, health care, and increased law enforcement. Private sector employers and their workers pay those taxes.

I am very much in favor of expanding and streamlining immigration processes for skilled immigrants, especially for areas where there is more demand than supply. But I am not in favor of letting in refugees or other unskilled immigrants, especially if they will be eligible to collect benefits paid for by other working taxpayers.

The Daily Signal explains what the cost is:

On average, a nonelderly adult immigrant without a high school diploma entering the U.S. will create a net fiscal cost (benefits received will exceed taxes paid) in both the current generation and second generation. The average net present value of the fiscal cost of such an immigrant is estimated at $231,000, a cost that must be paid by U.S. taxpayers.

[…]Converting a net present value figure into future outlays requires information on the exact distribution of costs over time. That data is not provided by the National Academies.

However, a rough estimate of the future net outlays to be paid by taxpayers (in constant 2012 dollars) for immigrants without a high school diploma appears to be around $640,000 per immigrant over 75 years. The average fiscal loss is around $7,551 per year (in constant 2012 dollars).

Slightly more than 4 million adult immigrants without a high school diploma have entered the U.S. since 2000 and continue to reside here. According to the estimates in the National Academies report, the net present value of the future fiscal costs of those immigrants is $920 billion.

I think we need to draw a distinction between giving voluntarily to charity, and having money forcibly taken by a secular government to give to people whose votes they want to buy. Charity is Biblical. Taxing one group in order to buy the votes of others is socialism.

You can’t be “generous” by forcing a secular government to tax others to pay for your “generosity”. You can’t be “generous” by allowing innocent people to be raped and murdered for your “generosity”.

Correcting four myths about the history of the Crusades


Here is an interesting article from First Principles Journal.


The verdict seems unanimous. From presidential speeches to role-playing games, the crusades are depicted as a deplorably violent episode in which thuggish Westerners trundled off, unprovoked, to murder and pillage peace-loving, sophisticated Muslims, laying down patterns of outrageous oppression that would be repeated throughout subsequent history. In many corners of the Western world today, this view is too commonplace and apparently obvious even to be challenged.

But unanimity is not a guarantee of accuracy. What everyone “knows” about the crusades may not, in fact, be true. From the many popular notions about the crusades, let us pick four and see if they bear close examination.

The four myths:

  • Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  • Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  • Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  • Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Here’s the most obvious thing you should know. The Crusades were defensive actions:

In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula.6 Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? Most people actually know the answer, if pressed—though for some reason they do not usually connect the answer with the crusades. The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Islam’s neighbors. Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. The attacks continued, punctuated from time to time by Christian attempts to push back. Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus and began to island-hop across from North Africa toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. In the hundred years between 850 and 950, Benedictine monks were driven out of ancient monasteries, the Papal States were overrun, and Muslim pirate bases were established along the coast of northern Italy and southern France, from which attacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them.

If you asked me what are the two best books on the Crusades, I would answer God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Baylor professor Rodney Stark and The Concise History of the Crusades by Professor Thomas F. Madden. If you get this question a lot from atheists, then I recommend you pick these up. Anything by Rodney Stark is useful for Christians, in fact.

As Christianity declines in Europe, churches are put up for sale

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

This sad story is from the Wall Street Journal.


Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.

This is the Arnhem Skate Hall, an uneasy reincarnation of the Church of St. Joseph, which once rang with the prayers of nearly 1,000 worshipers.

It is one of hundreds of churches, closed or threatened by plunging membership, that pose a question for communities, and even governments, across Western Europe: What to do with once-holy, now-empty buildings that increasingly mark the countryside from Britain to Denmark?

[…]The closing of Europe’s churches reflects the rapid weakening of the faith in Europe, a phenomenon that is painful to both worshipers and others who see religion as a unifying factor in a disparate society.

[…]The Church of England closes about 20 churches a year. Roughly 200 Danish churches have been deemed nonviable or underused. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has shut about 515 churches in the past decade.

But it is in the Netherlands where the trend appears to be most advanced. The country’s Roman Catholic leaders estimate that two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be out of commission in a decade, and 700 of Holland’s Protestant churches are expected to close within four years.

[…]As communities struggle to reinvent their old churches, some solutions are less dignified than others. In Holland, one ex-church has become a supermarket, another is a florist, a third is a bookstore and a fourth is a gym. In Arnhem, a fashionable store called Humanoid occupies a church building dating to 1889, with racks of stylish women’s clothing arrayed under stained-glass windows.

In Bristol, England, the former St. Paul’s church has become the Circomedia circus training school. Operators say the high ceilings are perfect for aerial equipment like trapezes.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, a Lutheran church has become a Frankenstein-themed bar, featuring bubbling test tubes, lasers and a life-size Frankenstein’s monster descending from the ceiling at midnight.

Jason MacDonald, a supervisor at the pub, says he has never heard complaints about the reuse. “It’s for one simple reason: There are hundreds and hundreds of old churches and no one to go to them,” Mr. MacDonald said. “If they weren’t repurposed, they would just lie empty.”

Many churches, especially smaller ones, are becoming homes, and that has spawned an entire industry to connect would-be buyers with old churches.

The churches of England and Scotland list available properties online, with descriptions worthy of a realty firm. St. John’s church in Bacup, England, for example, is said to feature “a lofty nave as well as basement rooms with stone-vaulted ceilings,” and can be had for about $160,000.

There are many reasons why Christianity has declined in Europe, but surely the widespread embrace of left-wing economic policies – even by evangelical Christians – is one of the largest.

Here’s a fairly recent paper (PDF) that explains it:

What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance and non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory and the religious economy perspective, we assert that cross-national variation in religious participation is a function of government welfare spending and provide a theory that links macro-sociological outcomes with individual rationality. Churches historically have provided social welfare. As governments gradually assume many of these welfare functions, individuals with elastic preferences for spiritual goods will reduce their level of participation since the desired welfare goods can be obtained from secular sources. Cross-national data on welfare spending and religious participation show a strong negative relationship between these two variables after controlling for other aspects of modernization.

I have many friends in the UK who classify themselves as evangelical Christians. They almost all embrace moderate to leftist economics, and they complain to me about why the church is in decline, why there is no interest in apologetics, why they can’t find Christian girlfriends, why they can’t get speaking engagements. The answer is, of course, that by majoring only in theology and apologetics, they have crafted the rope that their secular allies in government are using to hang them. Leftism is embraced by European Christians in part because they don’t want to be like those dastardly Americans with their free enterprise system and their rule of law and their private property and their law-abiding gun ownership.

It just goes to show you why Christianity suffers when we focus on piety at the expense of practicality. Too much A. W. Tozer, not enough F.A. Hayek. I doubt my well-meaning UK Christian friends – who are so proud of their laughable NHS health care – even know who F.A. Hayek is. To think that Lady Thatcher ones brandished “The Constitution of Liberty” by F.A. Hayek and declared “this is what we believe!”. But ordinary UK Christians do not believe what she believes, and now they must reap what they sowed with their knee-jerk rejection of the free enterprise system. Ignorance of economics killed Christianity in Europe, and pious, risk-averse Christians were willing participants in the murder.

Which government policies enable terrorist attacks like the one in Belgium?

So, there was another terrorist attack in Belgium, and before I have a stab at explaining what caused it, I want to hear from 5 prominent Democrats about what they think about terrorism.

Here’s Bernie Sanders explaining his view:

And here’s Hillary Clinton explaining her view:

And here’s Obama and John Kerry explaining their view:

And Obama’s attorney general Loretta Lynch explaining her view:

Well, that’s what Democrats think about radical Islamic terrorism.

But what is the real cause of the frequent terrorist attacks in Europe that are committed by radicalized Muslims?

Muslim populations in Europe
Muslim populations in Europe

The left-leaning The Atlantic has an article that talks about radical Islamic terrorism in Belgium:

French authorities say they believe Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian man, masterminded the November 13 attacks in Paris.

The focus on Abaaoud helps emphasize how tiny Belgium has taken on an oversized role in the European theater of jihad. The country has provided a steady flow of fighters to ISIS in the Middle East—including Abaaoud—and has been the site of planning of attacks in Europe. (The Daily Beast has a good timeline of incidents involving Belgian militants.)

Abaaoud was already suspected of planning a prior attack that was foiled by Belgian authorities in the days after January’s Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Two suspects were killed in the operation. At the time, Slate’s Joshua Keating warned: “The Belgian police may claim today to have ‘averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo,’ but it’s clear that the country’s radicalization problem is much larger, and will take more than police raids to address.” Those words proved prophetic.

Belgium has just 11 million people, and Pew estimated that about 6 percent of the population was Muslim as of 2010. But Belgian and French nationals make up around a quarter of the Europeans who went to fight in Iraq in the mid-2000s. While the government has acknowledged that hundreds of Belgians have gone to fight with ISIS or for other groups in the Syrian civil war, Pieter Van Ostaeyen, an independent researcher, calculated in October that 516 Belgians had fought in Iraq or Syria, far higher than the government’s figures. Based on his numbers, Belgium has contributed more fighters per capita to the fight in the Levant than any other European country.

[…]Belgian jihadism seems to mimic French Islamist militancy, only more concentrated—as befits the smaller country. Both have large numbers of immigrants who are poorer and isolated from the dominant culture.

So, it’s not just that the generous European socialists in Belgium took in lots and lots of Muslim immigrants, it’s that they took in lots and lots of unskilled Muslim immigrants, who struggle to integrate because they struggle to find work. Belgium, like other socialist countries in Europe, offers generous welfare programs to those who do not work. That’s a big draw to people in Middle Eastern countries.

The problem with offering generous welfare programs and welcoming in millions of illegal immigrants who cannot easily assimilate is twofold. First, eventually, socialists run out of other people’s money with which to bribe their unskilled immigrants. Second, everyone knows that making your own way through your own work is what makes people happiest. No one who is dependent on others (via social welfare programs) can truly be content. All of us deep down have a desire to be the author of our own success – to eat the food that we have earned with our own productive labor. Skilled immigrants can make their own way, but unskilled immigrants cannot.

It is good to have a system of legal immigration, in order to attract the a few of the best and brightest from other countries. If we take in a few at a time, then there is time for them to assimilate. And they can earn their own pay because they are skilled immigrants who came into the country to work. But it’s a mistake to let in millions and millions of unskilled immigrants who often cannot even speak the languages of Western nations.

So why did so many European countries import so many unskilled immigrants? The answer is simple.

Consider this article from the UK Daily Mail.


Ministers today faced calls for an inquiry into claims that their open-door immigration policy was designed to make Britain more multicultural and allow Labour to portray the Tories as racists.

A former Labour adviser alleged that the Government opened up Britain’s borders in part to try to humiliate Right-wing opponents of immigration…

The Daily Mail reported on Saturday the controversial claims by Andrew Neather, who worked for Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

He said Labour’s relaxation of immigration controls in 2000 was a deliberate attempt to engineer a ‘truly multicultural’ country and plug gaps in the jobs market.

He said the ‘major shift’ in immigration policy was inspired by a 2001 policy paper from the Performance and Innovation Unit, a Downing Street think-tank based in the Cabinet Office…

Ministers were reluctant to discuss the move publicly for fear that it would alienate Labour’s core working-class vote, Mr Neather said. But they hoped it would allow them to paint the Conservatives as xenophobic and out of touch.

‘I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date,’ Mr Neather added.

The parties of the left in Europe viewed mass immigration of unskilled immigrants as a way of creating a voting bloc that could be counted on to vote for bigger government, higher taxes, and more spending. The frequent terrorist attacks that we are seeing now are nothing but the outworking of this policy of deliberately bringing in millions of unskilled immigrants in order to get their votes for more welfare spending when they could not find jobs and pay their own way. We should be very careful about doing the same here. We must learn from the mistakes of leftist policies that have been tried in other places, in other times. We have to look beyond the compassionate rhetoric and ask “then what happened next?”.