Tag Archives: Pop Culture

Good Christian Bitches: why Christians should not support Hollywood

From Newsbusters.

Excerpt:

At the same time Washington was ablaze with outrage at the idea that Rush Limbaugh insulted a woman as a “slut,” ABC premiered a new Sunday night show called “GCB” – shortened from “Good Christian Bitches.” Limbaugh apologized. ABC displays no such contrition. They insulted only those Christians. In the midst of this trashy debut, ABC promoted a new sitcom coming in April titled “Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23.”

ABC advertised the debut of “GCB” with a photo of actress Kristin Chenoweth in a choir robe cut way above the knee, as if such a thing exists. “Love One Another,” it read, dripping in sarcasm. That’s Hollywood’s definition of a “good Christian.”

Chenoweth plays Carlene Cockburn, the wealthy “queen bitch,” who routinely quotes Bible verses with venom on the show. When her realtor friend won’t help her ruin the lead character, Amanda, Carlene threatens her business: “Read Job 1:21, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” She launches wicked plots while the auto shop puts a “John 3:16″ decal on her car. She tells her fellow plotters “God hates failure.”

Time TV critic James Poniewozik protested “I have a hard time believing that anyone will see themselves insulted by GCB: its target is not Christians but phonies.” Not so. There are certainly Christian hypocrites that can make for great grist in entertainment. But this show offers the viewing public no authentic Christians at all.

Notice how the Hollywood people think that being a Christian means refusing to judge immorality, and that everyone who takes Biblical morality seriously is to be attacked as a hypocrite. It’s good to be clear on this. That’s their view of Christianity.

Frankly, I try to see one movie at most in theaters per year. I want to give as little as possible to be in Hollywood, because to me Hollywood is mostly populated by Roman Polanski types and supporters of Roman Polanski types.

What frustrates me is that Christians are the ones providing these people with revenues. We shouldn’t be shoveling money to these anti-Christian bigots in Hollywood, and pastors should be speaking out about it. Frankly, I think that we shouldn’t be spending anything near the amount of money we spend on entertainment – I don’t even have a TV, and I certainly don’t have cable. We need to be more careful how we spend our money. The way we spend our money is like a painting we produce for God – it ought to reflect our values and be constructive and helpful to him.

UPDATE: Luanne posts an another Newsbusters article on Facebook.

Is Oprah Winfrey a Christian?

Consider this article from CNN.

Excerpt:

Lofton, a professor of U.S. religious history at Yale University and the author of “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon,” was intrigued that Winfrey had mentioned Jesus, since she had used his name sparingly on air.

“Early on (in her career) she was more comfortable in saying that but over time began to use this more universal language of ‘spirit,'” said Lofton, who wrote about Oprah’s final show for CNN’s Belief Blog.

Lofton says Winfrey wants to be viewed as someone who “translates and understands herself as a Christian woman” but reflects a modern attitude about religion and religious institutions.

And that has angered a few folks.

In 2008, Winfrey endorsed the book “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” helping it sell more than 3.5 million copies after the talk-show host selected it for her book club. Winfrey and the book’s author, Eckhart Tolle, took part in a webinar in which she angered some Christians by saying that Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross.

“It really was about him coming to show us how to do it, how to be, to show us the Christ-consciousness that he had and that that consciousness abides with all of us,” she told the audience.

One viewer even asked the question on the Oprah.com message boards: Is Oprah a Christian?

Pistis07 wrote: “I was surprised because I had always thought she was a Christian but after flicking through her website and watching clips of more shows where she seems to be promoting a type of New Age religion and books from ‘New Age spiritualists,’ I really doubt that she is a Christian in the way Jesus explained and most Christians understand. Or perhaps she’s just confused about the nature of God.”

It was an issue her critics seized on. They said she wasn’t promoting the God of the Bible but instead was indoctrinating her audience into a New Age spiritualism.

Authors Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett say as much in their book, “‘O’ God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah’s Spirituality.” Sterrett told Crosswalk.com in October 2009 that Winfrey “reflects the common American practice of choosing whatever beliefs seem most attractive and leaving the rest.”

Her message in the final years of her show was that the truth of life was within the individual, several commentators have said.

“Christians aren’t people who have gotten in touch with their inner selves, but those who actually have Christ living inside of them through the Holy Spirit,” McDowell told Crosswalk.

What Winfrey tried to get across is her belief that there wasn’t just one right way to be connected to God, Lofton argues.

“The only right way is the way that she herself articulates and embodies, which is multiplicity,” she said. “You can be many things. There are many paths to God, she says. It’s that multiplicity which very much marks contemporary religious life.”

Some people evidently think that she is not. And I agree with those people.

Consider this article by William Lane Craig about salvation and religious pluralism.

Excerpt:

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4.12). So proclaimed the early preachers of the gospel of Christ. Indeed, this conviction permeates the New Testament and helped to spur the Gentile mission. Paul invites his Gentile converts to recall their pre-Christian days: “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2.12). The burden of the opening chapters of Romans is to show that this desolate situation is the general condition of mankind. Though God’s eternal power and deity are evident through creation (1.20) and the demands of His moral law implanted on the hearts of all persons (2.15) and although God offers eternal life to all who seek Him in well-doing (2.7), the tragic fact of the matter is that in general people suppress the truth in unrighteousness, ignoring the Creator (1.21) and flouting the moral law (1.32). Therefore, “all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God…'” (3.9-1 1). Sin is the great leveler, rendering all needy of God’s forgiveness and salvation. Given the universality of sin, all persons stand morally guilty and condemned before God, utterly incapable of redeeming themselves through righteous acts (3.19-20). But God in His grace has provided a means of salvation from this state of condemnation: Jesus Christ, by his expiatory death, redeems us from sin and justifies us before God (3.21-26). It is through him and through him alone, then, that God’s forgiveness is available (5.12-21). To reject Jesus Christ is therefore to reject God’s grace and forgiveness, to refuse the one means of salvation which God has provided. It is to remain under His condemnation and wrath, to forfeit eternally salvation. For someday God will judge all men, “inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (II Thessalonians 1.8-9).

It was not just Paul who held to this exclusivistic, Christocentric view of salvation. No less than Paul, the apostle John saw no salvation outside of Christ. In his gospel, Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14.6). John explains that men love the darkness of sin rather than light, but that God has sent His Son into the world to save the world and to give eternal life to everyone who believes in the Son. “He who believes is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3.18). People are already spiritually dead; but those who believe in Christ pass from death to life (John 5.24). In his epistles, John asserts that no one who denies the Son has the Father and identifies such a person as the antichrist (I John 2.22-23; 4.3; II John 9). In short, “He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (I John 5.12). In John’s Apocalypse, it is the Lamb alone in heaven and on earth and under the earth who is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals, for it was he that by his blood ransomed men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation on the earth (Revelation 5.1-14). In the consummation, everyone whose name is not found written in the Lamb’s book of life is cast into the everlasting fire reserved for the devil and his cohorts (Revelation 20.15).

One could make the same point from the catholic epistles and the pastorals. It is the conviction of the writers of the New Testament that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (I Timothy 2.5-6).

Indeed, it is plausible that such was the attitude of Jesus himself. New Testament scholarship has reached something of a consensus that the historical Jesus came on the scene with an unparalleled sense of divine authority, the authority to stand and speak in the place of God Himself and to call men to repentance and faith.{1} Moreover, the object of that faith was he himself, the absolute revelation of God: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11.27) .{2} On the day of judgment, people’s destiny will be determined by how they responded to him: “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12.8-9).{3} Frequent warnings concerning hell are found on Jesus’ lips, and it may well be that he believed that most of mankind would be damned, while a minority of mankind would be saved: “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14) .{4}

A hard teaching, no doubt; but the logic of the New Testament is simple and compelling: The universality of sin and the uniqueness Christ’s expiatory sacrifice entail that there is no salvation apart from Christ.

The Bible is very clear that belief in Christ’s atoning death on the cross is required for a right relationship with God. I find it interesting that so many Christians, especially Christian women, have so much respect for a person who is not even a believer. Can you really rely on a non-Christian to give you advice about morality and spirituality? Is she an authority on the Bible? An authority on logic? An authority on science? An authority on history? Has she debated her views with scholars who disagree with her – as might be done in a courtroom where evidence trumps feelings? Shouldn’t you rely instead on the Bible, and the work of authentic Christian scholars who accept what the Bible teaches?

What’s the best way to combat the trend toward “village atheism”

A village atheist is an atheist who is very convinced about his atheism but whose reasons for atheism are completely naive and superstitious, and who is completely unaware of the scholarly evidence for theism. Letitia wrote a post recently on her blog in which she expressed her concerns about the idea that the public may be trending towards village atheism, just because atheism is being presented as the most intelligent view in popular culture, and because Christians are not getting their scholarly arguments and evidences heard.

Excerpt:

While reflecting on his debate with Sam Harris and the audience questions that came after, Dr. William Lane Craig wrote the following about the makeup of the audience that night:

I wonder is something culturally significant is going on here. Several years ago, I asked the Warden at Tyndale House in Cambridge why it is that British society is so secular when Britain has such a rich legacy of great Christian scholars. He replied, “Oh, Christianity is not underrepresented among the intelligentsia. It’s the working classes which are so secular.” He explained that these folks are never exposed to Christian scholarship because of their lack of education. As a result there is a sort of pervasive, uninformed, village atheism among them. I wonder if something like this could be happening in the States. I was surprised to see the number of blue collar folks from the community buying Harris’ book and thanking him for all he has done. They didn’t seem to have any inkling that his views had just been systematically exposed as logically incoherent. The intelligentsia have almost universally panned Harris’ recent book (read the reviews!). Yet it is lapped up in popular culture. Wouldn’t it be amazing if unbelief became the possession mainly of the uneducated?

This comment causes my heart to sink. Personally, I like to think that I am fairly observant of the religious cultural shifts here in the U.S. and their bearing on what Christians should do to respond to them. However, I have to admit that Dr. Craig’s note above catches me a little off guard, even alarming to a degree as I realize what his observation, if truly symptomatic of an eve of a significant change, means for Christian apologists in this day and age. An inculcation of “New Atheism” among the blue collar/working class here would be a dramatic reversal of the religious landscape of America. I cannot help but feel that such a situation might be more “dismaying” than “amazing.”

[…]I have no doubt that the inculcation is taking place. It is being impressed upon the public through books by New Atheists like Sam Harris that are aimed on the popular level, both to adults and youth (e.g. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials). In the public classroom, atheism is the default worldview in the disciplines of both the hard and social sciences. Atheism is marketed as the new neutral position in almost all of public literature, television, and many commercial media outlets. Atheists pronounce that atheism is the only viable alternative for fair-minded people once they have shed the evil “superstition” of theism and Christianity that has existed here since the Pilgrims brought their Bibles off the Mayflower. Pair the New Atheists’ media blitz of book tours and public appearances and the fruits of declining Christian influence over American culture, I suppose we should expect an eventual ‘atheism-of-the-masses’ to emerge.

She then finishes the post with three ideas on how to counter this trend: 1) Christian scholars should try to appear on television shows, 2) Christian scholars should try to submit opinion columns to newspapers, and 3) Christians who are prepared to discuss theology and apologetics should participate in public discussions. I’ll just point out that it is excellent for Christian women to be concerned about these things, and to come up with solutions to the problems they raise. We need more women like Letitia to be concerned about these things, and to come up with effective plans to do something about it. (You’ll recall that she has a conference coming up in Arizona where she will be speaking – so she has chips on the table).

She also posted her post on Facebook, and got a few interesting replies. I’ll just paste a few of them in anonymously.

Here’s one from P:

The culprit here is government-controlled education. Secular progressives control teacher certification, teacher and administrator education, curriculum construction, textbook writing and selection, and just about all curriculum selection. …Virtually everybody but the very wealthy are required to spend 12 years under this regime. The consequence is uniform inculcation of the young in America, from kindergarten to high school graduation, with the same ideas that we just heard come out of Sam Harris’ mouth.

That echoes my comments earlier about how Christians should support school choice and oppose a public school monopoly.

But there’s more from S:

[D]on’t you think we (the church) ought to be more supportive of our congregants who wish to pursue doctorate level work within their particular field of discipline? It seems that if we had a individuals …with full-on Christian worldviews who have risen to the highest levels of authority in places like the educational system, that they could make just as much impact as what is happening now.

And then I chimed in and recommended that the church bring more scholars to speak in the on issues of policy and apologetics, so that the congregants would have something to talk about with their neighbors, and so that the children would get ideas about what they could study in order to have an effective influence.

I would like to see churches turn to questions like 1) is Christianity true? 2) how do we know it’s true from science, philosophy and history? 3) which economic policies are the best for Christians to support? 4) how do you use evidence and arguments to convince other people to be pro-life and pro-traditional marriage? 5) why do Christians have so many rules about sex and relationships? 6) how do you respond to the arguments made by non-Christians? 7) what is the best way to prevent wars – disarmament or deterrence? 8) what should Christians think about secular fads like global warming and feminism? And so on.

When the church starts to become interesting again, by actually having lectures, debates and disagreements about what’s true, then people in the culture will take it seriously. Right now, I think we are too focused on not have debates, not pursuing truth, not making exclusive theological claims, not making moral judgments, and just putting on a show that will make people have happy feelings and a sense of community. Eventually, when people in church notice that there are no men in the church, and consequently no children in the church, then we may decide to try something else.

How to respond to postmodernism, relativism, subjectivism, pluralism and skepticism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

Being a Christian is fun because you get to think about things at the same deep level that you think about anything else in life. Christianity isn’t about rituals, community and feelings. It’s about truth.

In case you want to see this in action with yours truly, check this out.