Tag Archives: Pastor

What do pastors teach Christian women about relationships and marriage?

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

I enjoy reading Dalrock’s blog. Recently, he posted a couple of posts (first and second) about theologian Doug Wilson. A friend gave me Wilson’s book “Reforming Marriage”, and I did not find it to be a helpful guide to marriage. So, I was interested to see what Dalrock found in Wilson’s other writings.

Here’s one quote that Dalrock found:

As the apostle Paul is urging young women to marry, he lets a very interesting comment fall in passing. “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim. 5:14). The word translated here as “guide the house” is oikodespotein. The wife is to be the ruler or despot of the home.

And:

A wife therefore has true authority over her home which no one, including her husband, can take away from her.

[…]In a certain sense, a husband… is an honored and permanent guest… he should learn to see himself as a guest.

Now, that seems to contradict the traditional view that men are supposed to be leaders in the home. I don’t think that Christian women are well-served by pastors who dispute the traditional view.

Apparently, lots of women are being told that the traditional meaning of the Bible doesn’t apply to them. I heard Ben Shapiro talk about a church-attending Christian woman who was raging at the Jewish men she had relationships with, because they had not married her. (in his latest podcast, H/T David)

Shapiro mentions this article from the radically-leftist Washington Post:

At my very first job in New York, a colleague jokingly informed me: “You came in a WASP, but you’re leaving a Jew.”

That statement was in reference to the demographics of the office’s staff. Almost everyone who worked there was Jewish, and I, a recent college graduate who had spent my adolescence in a largely Christian community in the South, was not.

[…]Over almost seven years and two serious relationships with Jewish men who at first said religion didn’t matter — and then backtracked and decided it did — I’ve optimistically begun interfaith relationships with an open mind twice, only to become the last woman these men dated before settling down with a nice Jewish girl.

[…]There were times at church that I saw couples worshiping together and felt pangs of jealousy. But I told myself every relationship had its problems and these were relatively minor.

She attended church, but she thought that a difference in religion was “relatively minor”. Nevermind what the Bible says about it. I think that this woman was taught by her pastor that her feelings had more authority than the teachings of the Bible. And that she could retain the label of “Christian” and attend church, despite holding to a worldview that was essentially feminist at its core.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve met “Christian” women raised in the church who thought that the Bible should not have any authority over their choices in relationships. Most woman I met in my teens and 20s believed that. Their only guides were their feelings and intuitions, and that even led some of them to shack up with atheists. And many of the men they chose were just children studying in non-STEM programs, living at home, and racking up debts. They had empty resumes, and empty bank accounts. Nothing I said to these women from wisdom or from the Bible put a dent in their priorities. And in more than one case, pastors backed them up against me.

What prompted me to write this post today was the conjunction of the Dalrock posts with what a friend of mine told me about the Christian woman he is currently dating. So let’s talk about that second part.

My friend is an absolute stud of a Christian man. He has a STEM career, tons of money, his own house, and he has spent a lot of time studying apologetics and engaging in debates. He also attends church and Bible study weekly, and runs an apologetics discussion group. On paper, this guy has everything.

So I was asking him how things were going with the lady. He was telling her about his adventures debating some moral issue. Rather than asking him for details about the exchange, or saying her own view, she completely shut down and refused to discuss it at all! And she wouldn’t even recognize that what he was doing was praiseworthy, in order to encourage him. You would think that a guy would be able to impress a self-described Christian woman with his adventures as a Christian man. But it turns out that a lot of Christian women don’t look for anything seriously Christian in a man or in a marriage.

The experience my friend described basically summarizes what I saw in my teens and 20s, until I met my friend Mary through my blog. Mary is a serious Christian woman who is chaste and active in apologetics. She can run circles around me in debates, and has a computer science degree. She works in computer science, too. Since Mary, I have even met other single and married Christian women with conservative politics, STEM degrees and solid careers and/or marriages, who read apologetics and engage in discussions with non-Christians. They do exist. But I don’t think that any of these great Christian women learned to value these things in church.

I think most pastors fear hurting women’s feelings by expecting them to take the Bible seriously when it comes to relationships and marriage. They minimize the obligations on women to be chaste, to date Christian men, to be focused on marriage while dating, to let husbands lead in the home, etc. It really bothers me that traditional conservative “complementarian” pastors are either unable or unwilling to tell women that the Bible has something to say about how to prepare for marriage, and who they choose to marry. Pastors are free to push their new revisionist feminist version of marriage. But I didn’t get BS and MS degrees in computer science with the plan of putting in 45 years of full-time work in the private sector for a “marriage” that’s been degraded by radical feminism. I offer a lot, and therefore I won’t accept anything less than a Christian wife and a Christian marriage.

People wonder why men are not marrying as often as they used to. I think it has something to do with the fact that pastors are teaching women that husbands ought not be the leaders of their own homes. A Christian man will want his wife to be chief of staff in the home. She should be intelligent, accomplished and effective. Of course he will consult with her before making decisions on how to proceed. But men don’t marry unless we are going to be entrusted with that leadership role. Male leadership in marriage is non-negotiable. And that’s why women need to be wise about choosing the right man for that job – by relying on her mind, instead of on her feelings. Not everything a woman feels like doing is wise.

If you’re a young woman wanting to impress a Christian man with your qualifications for marriage, then check out my marriage questions, and see how you do.

Why did Dan Barker leave Christianity for atheism?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Unbelievable’s  radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex or getting drunk in clubs with friends. They dump Christianity in order to have freedom to seek happiness in this life.
  2. They want to make decisions based on their emotions, rather than wisdom. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly. When God disappoints them by not make their recklessness “work out”, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with non-Christians. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely. This happens to a lot of young Christians the moment they hit college / university.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true, they drop it, so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. Some of this is my interpretation of his real motivations, based on my experience dealing with former-Christians.

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

Barker was generating an income from donations from churches where he entertained them. Gradually, his family grew to the point where conservative churches were not enough to support him. He had to change his message to appeal to liberal churches in order to cast a wider net.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. But Christianity is not a feel-good religion. It’s not a tool to make people like you. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. Christian apologists learn how to provide evidence for claims that non-Christians find offensive or hard to believe, but Dan hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so he couldn’t defend it. It’s hard to speak unpopular truths when you have nothing to back it up except your music composing. Eventually, Dan just quit making the truth claims entirely.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message. The Christian life requires a certain amount of wisdom that Dan did not have.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science, so that I don’t have to rely on donations. Additionally, I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

I actually met someone like Dan Barker recently. She grew up in an anti-intellectual hippy Christian home. Her mother came from a good family, and decided on a whim to marry a non-Christian. Like Barker, the family exalted feelings and irrational expectations of miracles from God for “fearless” acts. She got herself into trouble with alcohol and promiscuity in her 20s, by making emotional decisions and mixing with the wrong crowd. Her way of fixing this was to fly off on a one-year missions trip, wrecking her resume and finances. Now, she is in her late 30s, unmarried, and literally blaming Jesus for putting too many demands on her that she doesn’t have time for, e.g – morning quiet time. This causes her to feel guilty, and make her want to reject Christianity. She had no intellectual conception of basic core doctrines like God’s existence or Jesus’ resurrection, which might have acted as a bulwark against her emotions. When I explained to her how I had structured my education and career so that I could have an influence without testing God, she seemed bored and said that I was too “fearful”.

This is apparently widespread, especially among anti-intellectual denominations. Another ex-Pentecostal atheist woman I heard about from people who knew her when she was young decided to drop out of college to travel around North America doing pro-life work. When she found herself penniless, unmarried and without children in her mid-30s, she decided to have a baby out of wedlock. The government will pay for it, she said. Rather than trying to justify this decision as a Christian, she blamed God for not making her madness “work out”. She is now an atheist, because God did not reward her decision to live fearlessly for him with a husband and children. It was all God’s fault. There is a whole subculture within Christianity, where the pursuit of fun and thrills can be masked with pious language, and all talk of prudence and restraint is seen as cowardice and lack of faith.

The Christian life requires a certain level of intelligence, a certain level of practical wisdom, and a certain level of self-control and discipline. Make sure that you don’t walk away from God because of your own bad choices.

William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

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

I saw that Triablogue quoted an interesting passage from William Lane Craig’s newsletter.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive. And yet those are the things that men like to talk about most: right and wrong, public policy, evidential apologetics.

Can we raise declining marriage rates by telling men to “man up”?

Marine prays with his wife on their wedding day
Marine prays with his wife on their wedding day

The latest Prager University video features pro-marriage scholar Brad Wilcox:

I watched this video, and, as a card-carrying member of the Christian men’s rights movement, I was concerned that nothing was said about how radical feminism has weakened the attractiveness of marriage to men. I mean specifically things like women carrying debt, having liberal political views, being unchaste and even promiscuous, initiating the majority of divorces (70%), withholding sex if they do marry, and denying men child visitation if they divorce, single mother welfare making men superfluous, big government replacing men as providers, etc. The consequences of divorce for men are catastrophic, and I don’t just mean financially, but emotionally as well.

I contacted Wilcox to ask him why he did not recognize how radical feminism undermines the value of marriage to men, and he pointed me to this article he wrote in the leftist Washington Post.

He writes:

These days, 20something marriage has gotten a reputation for being a bad idea. That’s partly because parents, peers, and the popular culture encourage young adults to treat their twenties as a decade for exploration and getting one’s ducks in a row, not for settling down. In the immortal words of Jay-Z, “Thirty’s the new twenty.”

Indeed, the median age-at-first marriage has climbed to nearly 30 for today’s young adults, up from about 22 in 1970. Of course, there’s an upside to that. As my coauthors and I report in  Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America, women who put off marriage and starting a family earn markedly more money than their peers who marry earlier.

And here he sort of takes on my concerns about chastity, delayed marriage, and fertility:

First, you are more likely to marry someone who shares your basic values and life experiences, and less likely to marry someone with a complicated romantic or family history.  Those who marry in their twenties, for instance, are more likely to marry someone who isn’t previously married and shares their level of educational attainment as well as their religious faith. Marrying at this stage in your life also allows couples to experience early adulthood together. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, a 31-year-old woman who married in her mid-twenties, “My husband and I got to grow up together—not apart. We learned sacrifice, selflessness, compromise, and became better people for it.”

Women who marry in their 20s generally have an easier time getting pregnant, and having more than one child, than their peers who wait to marry in their thirties.  You’ll also be around to enjoy the grandchildren for longer.

You’re less likely to lose the best possible mate for fear of getting started too young on the adventure that is married life. One single, thirtysomething woman struggling to find a good partner put it this way to psychologist Meg Jay, the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now, and whose TED Talk on twentysomethings has garnered 6.9 million views: “The best boyfriend I ever had was in my mid-twenties. I just didn’t think I was supposed to be [married] with someone then.” And as psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb explains in her book, Marry Him, there’s a higher likelihood of finding a true peer and more appealing partner-for-life in one’s twenties, before those most appealing potential mates marry somebody else by their thirties.

I cannot fault Wilcox or Prager for being ignorant of the social changes that have undermined the value proposition of marriage for men, and that have also undermined men’s ability to fulfill their roles. Far from being a man-blamer, Prager is a warrior against radical feminism, and just today Wilcox tweeted a study showing the boys benefit from single-sex education – a position I favor myself. But I do want to head off the common “men need to man up” objection made by those who deny that the real problem is radical feminism.

Contrary to the “be a man / man up” crowd, my objections to marriage don’t come from a desire to be lazy about education, career and finance. Rest assured that I have a BS and MS in STEM, and nearly two decades of STEM work experience (internships, summer jobs, full-time employment). I do make six figures, like the person Wilcox discussed in the video, and I have the savings you would expect with a gapless STEM resume. So, complaining about “man up” isn’t going to work on me, and probably not on most men who have concerns about marriage.

Radical feminism causes women to delay marriage in order to have fun, travel and ride the carousel of promiscuity in their 20s. Women have been told that they will have more fun by delaying marriage and staying single in their 20s. Church leaders, friends and family should be discussing and demonstrating the value of marriage to women, and showing them how the lasting contentment of marriage is better than the temporary fun of drinking, sex, travel and career. Marriage is a better platform for lasting joy and for quality relationships. It’s up to the woman’s friends and family to make the case for marriage as more fun and fulfilling than the alternatives offered by radical feminism. Her friends and family need to be countering the feminist message that is everywhere in the culture: marriage is boring, children are a burden, and that husbands are needy and demanding fools. And women need to be told how spending a decade being selfish in their 20s undermines their suitability for marriage.

A woman’s friends and family should train her not to view the moral and spiritual leadership of a man as threatening and dangerous, just because it disagrees with her feelings and desires. Instead of recoiling in horror when a well-educated, successful, wealthy man tells a woman with a history of poor decision-making to get a full-time job, pay off her debts, and start investing, her friends and family ought to welcome it. A good man’s practical advice should not be seen as stifling a woman’s freedom to “follow her heart”. And her friends and family certainly should not celebrate when she chooses a penniless, unemployed, empty-resume man who never questions her reckless decisions. Women should be encouraged to choose men who have demonstrated ability as protectors, providers and moral and spiritual leaders, even if she would rather have a doormat who lets her be wild, selfish and irresponsible. Doormats are not intimidating, but they are also not decisive about marriage. When a man wants to marry a woman, he is very interested in encouraging her to be practical and responsible. This is a good thing.

Lesbian relationships are the most unstable and shortest-lived relationships. This suggests that there is a tendency in women to reject commitment when it goes against their feelings and self-interest. Women’s emotions can make them unstable, and less capable of commitment. Friends and family need to recognize that tendency, and help women to learn practicality, responsibility and unselfishness at a young age, so that they are capable of making commitments.Men look for women who have demonstrated that they are able to complete things that they start. We know that women initiate 70% of divorces, and mostly because of feelings of unhappiness. Finish a tough STEM degree, work a tough job for a few years, pay off debts, pay off a car loan, etc. Men look for women who can make and keep commitments through good times and bad times, even when it goes against their self-interest.

A good basic book to read on this issue is Helen Smith’s “Men On Strike“.

Here’s a short video about her book:

A longer interview from News Max:

And an even longer interview with a homeschooling man:

Some men are ignorant of how radical feminism makes women less suitable for marriage while simultaneously making school and work more difficult to boys and men. It is these men who need to “man up” and “be a man” by challenging women to reject radical feminism and embrace early marriage to strong men who lead. If you’re not willing to fight the radical feminism that causes the underlying problems, then you can’t complain when men wisely reject marriage to women who aren’t ready to be wives and mothers.

Simon Brace on the nature of spiritual warfare and a plea to churches

C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you
C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you

This passionate, challenging lecture has been getting shared a lot on Facebook, so I thought that I would do a summary of it.

First, you can grab the MP3 file here.

Note that this talk is given by a very conservative evangelical Christian who is speaking to Christians. So this is not intended for a non-Christian audience. However, non-Christians are free to tune in if you want to hear a really passionate, fire-breathing conservative evangelical go non-linear over the superficial turn that the evangelical church has taken. If you are familiar with J.P. Moreland’s view that spiritual warfare is really about disputing speculations and falsehoods using logic and evidence, then you’ll know the meaning of the term “spiritual warfare” he has in mind. When he says spiritual warfare, he means apologetics: knowledge and preparation.

I would really caution you not to listen to this if you are not passionate about defending God’s honor. It will overwhelm and upset you. Having said that, this lecture reflects my convictions about the churches need to drop anti-intellectualism and take up apologetics. And not pre-suppositional apologetics, which I think is ineffective, but evidential apologetics. Evidential apologetics is effective, which is why everyone in the Bible used it.

About the speaker:

Simon Brace is the Director of Evangelism of Southern Evangelical Seminary. Simon was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. Simon has a construction background and has lived in a number of countries and travelled extensively. He has a MA in Apologetics and BA in Religious Studies and is currently working on an MA in Philosophy at SES. Simon leads TEAM which is the missions program of SES on local, national, and international trips. In addition, Simon has worked with Ratio Christi at SES, and has an extensive knowledge of Ratio Christi’s history and operation. Simon currently resides in North Carolina with his wife Nel and children, Eva and Olivia.

I liked the second part of the lecture more than the first part, so there is less summarizing of the first part.

Topics:

  • What does the New Testament say about spiritual warfare in Ephesians?
  • Christian slogans about spiritual warfare sound pious, but they are mistaken
  • Today, Christianity is focused on piety and zeal, not on study and knowledge
  • The result is that Christianity in the West is in a state of erosion and decline
  • What we are doing about spiritual warfare is not working to stop the decline
  • Preaching, publishing, programs, retreats, etc. are not very useful for spiritual warfare
  • Enthusiasm and passion without knowledge  are not very useful for spiritual warfare
  • The Church has a theoretical understanding of spiritual warfare, but no real capability
  • Doesn’t work: trying to make Christianity seem popular and cool
  • Doesn’t work: making Christian music and art that non-Christians will like
  • Doesn’t work: pastors trying to be relevant by having cool clothes and cool haircuts
  • Doesn’t work: fundamentalists getting angry about peripheral issues
  • Doesn’t work: not read things apart from the Bible and sound foolish when speaking in the public square
  • Doesn’t work: church leaders think that careful exegesis and expository preaching is a good answer to skeptics
  • What works: we need to train people who are prepared and willing to defend the truth of the Christian faith
  • Evangelicalism has a deep suspicion of reading things outside the Bible, so they are unable to refute anything
  • Evangelicals are hyper-spiritualized and hysterical, focusing on demons, prophecy and end-times, etc.
  • Evangelicals have a pagan view of using their minds to alter reality, which is irrational and superstitious
  • Evangelicals like conservative celebrity preachers who do nothing to correct anti-intellectualism in the church
  • Evangelicals are focused on their personal relationships with Jesus instead of their whole worldview
  • Evangelicals focus too much on homeschooling and not enough on how to impact the secular universities
  • Church programs for youth are about “strumming guitars and eating pizza once a week”, not apologetics
  • Evangelicals have an over-inflated view of the effectiveness of their (non-intellectual) evangelism methods
  • The primary focus and primary responsibility in spiritual warfare is not dealing with supernatural evil
  • The real focus and responsibility in spiritual warfare is specified in 2 Cor 10:3-5
  • What we ought to be doing is defeating speculations (false ideas), using logical arguments and evidence
  • Defending the faith is not memorizing Bible verses and throwing them out randomly
  • Defending the faith is not just preaching the gospel
  • Demolishing an argument requires understanding arguments: premises, conclusions, the laws of logic
  • We should exchange our pious Bible memorizing skills and the like for a class in critical thinking
  • The New Testament requires that elders be capable of refuting those who oppose sound doctrine (Titus 1:9)
  • It is not enough to preach a good sermon, elders have to be able to defend the Christian faith as well
  • People who run conservative seminaries do not mandate that M.Div graduates study apologetics
  • Famous pastors like Driscoll, Begg, etc. need to teach other pastors to emphasize apologetics in church
  • People in church won’t engage the culture unless they have reasons and evidence to believe Christianity is true
  • We need a balance of both piety and intellectual engagement
  • We need to make our evangelism rooted in the intellect in order to have an influence at the university
  • Mission organizations also have a responsibility to defend the faith and not merely preach (1 Peter 3:15)

And here is his closing quote from C.S. Lewis:

To be ignorant and simple now not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground would be to throw down our weapons and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

I was really humbled by this, because I sort of knew that the church was anti-intellectual, but I didn’t really reflect on how everyone else in society thinks that we are anti-intellectual. It’s troubling. The quickest way to make Biblical Christianity respectable again is to hit the books and defeat all comers in intellectual disputations. Are we ready to make the sacrifices to do that?.