Author Archive

[255] Faith Crisis in Xian Colleges

The August 30, online edition of Christianity Today included an article suggesting that doubting one’s faith is “part of the process” for many students at Christian colleges.  It reported a study done by Christian Higher Education showing how common faith struggles are among students at these schools.

“Contemporary leaders at Christian colleges and universities don’t really have to push students to spiritual crisis,” says the article. “They expect students to come to this point in their faith and prepare to help them through it.”  The article also tells of how evangelical missionaries of the past “almost always talked about their college experience as a time of spiritual struggle,” according to historian, Adam Laats.  The big concern is to get students to acknowledge their doubts rather than hide them in guilt.

From there, the discussion moves to how to minister to this population of doubt.  There is much variety among colleges on that front, much of which involves individual or group support.

I have two suggestions for how to do that.

First, in the context of any Christian worldview, confront postmodernist thinking at every point.  The notion that non-material truth is relative, or a function of one’s personal perception, is arguably the single most destructive force facing Christianity.

Second, offer a required course on Christian apologetics.  Much doubt among students is rooted in intellectual challenges to the faith—what Paul calls the wisdom of men vs. the foolishness of the gospel.  We have powerful, intellectually-defensible reasons for why we accept Christianity as truth.  Armed with those reasons, the labels of foolishness and wisdom are quickly reversed. DC

[255] Abortion

With all due respect, if abortion is taking a human life, what is the moral difference between early, mid, or late-term abortions?

If abortion is not the taking of human life, what is the moral difference between early, mid, or late-term abortions?


[254] Properity

According to Christianity Today, the prosperity gospel is taught to 40% of evangelical churchgoers.  This heresy is the notion that believers have to do something on their end to gain material rewards from God.  Works not grace.  In short, it makes the money tossed in the collection plate not a tithe or offering, but an investment for which a return is expected.

There are regional and denominational differences with respect to adherence to a prosperity gospel, according to LifeWay Research, that published its findings in 2018, but the very existence of the prosperity heresy is disturbing.  It makes our faith about material gain rather than the glory of God.  It replaces the cost of discipleship with an investment strategy.  It essentially repudiates all of the verses about persecution sprinkled through the New Testament, and all but ignores the very biographies of the apostles—eleven of whom gave their life for the faith, with the twelfth dying in exile.

To the extent that this toxin has found its way in Christian colleges, how does this prepare students for a life of discipleship?  Particularly considering the increasingly secular culture in which they will be living that life.  The gospel is about earning alright.  It is about having earned God’s rage, only to receive his gift of salvation instead.  God owes us nothing but his condemnation.  We owe him everything. That envelope in the collection plate is not a seed planted for an eventual harvest benefiting us, as the grinning, well-dressed, heretical televangelists past and present try to lead us to believe..  It is a symbol of our total indebtedness to him.  DC

[254] Guns

Forget trying to confiscate or “buy back” guns.  Anyone talking that talk is merely expressing his sociological naivete.

In 1970, former Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, made an impassioned plea for gun control in this book, Crime in America. He acknowledged that among the chief challenges for gun control advocates was the number of guns already present among the populace.

He estimated that there were between 50 and 200 million guns out there.  In 1970!  In a population of about 200 million!  What do you think it is now, with a population of 300 million?

It is too late to pick up even a fraction of the guns.  Again, to propose that is lunacy.

The only legal way to curtail violence via guns is background checks, and that is a rather impotent action, as many dangerous people can pass them.  Worse, with all the hardware out there, almost anyone who can’t pass, can still get a gun.

The issue is not guns.  Gun violence is a symptom, not a cause.

We live in a secular society, one in which life (even at birth, if we listen to the extreme pro-choicers) is of little value–disposable.  We are a nation that eats and drinks itself to death.  We treat symptoms, not causes of ill health.  We are a society that values narcissistic pleasure more than meaning, because we have largely rejected the existence of objective metaphysical truth.  Hence, we have reduced the real value of life.

The biggest antidote to wanton violence are Judaeo-Christian values that affirm life and right relationships, values emanating from a tradition the US has all but rejected in recent years.  A return to internalizing Judaeo-Christian norms would make this nation much safer than trying to ward off random violence with feckless legislation.


[253] Cos and Locals

Many years ago I read an article about college faculty, dividing them into two groups: Cosmopolitans and Locals.  Cosmopolitans were faculty establishing a name for themselves in their discipline through publishing and conference presentations.  The Locals confined their activities to the local college.

This split is sharply evident in Christian colleges.  There is a minority of faculty, Cosmopolitans, that do publishable research—books, articles, and conference presentations.  By doing so, they put themselves and their institutions on the larger academic map.  The majority, however, are Locals.  Often because these colleges are “teaching institutions,” they opt to limit their activities to teaching, committee service, and publishing in non-academic, denominational periodicals, often claiming these endeavors consume all of their time.

This is unfortunate.  Please understand, teaching a worthy priority.  Committee service can make a contribution.  Writing articles in denominational magazines have their place.  But none of these are terribly difficult to do, and they certainly do not establish oneself as a scholar in one’s field.  In fact, they hardly constitute a full-time job.  I know that firsthand.

What is even more unfortunate is that many Christian colleges not only do not encourage cosmopolitan activity, but have faculty that–perhaps out of jealousy—subtly denigrate colleagues who go more widely. I experienced that as well.

In short, in many of these schools you can become a full Professor without having done a shred of research beyond your doctoral dissertation, provided of course that you taught your classes, served on designated committees, and carried out the other pedestrian tasks of your employment.  Conversely, publications and research are generally not highly regarded.  In fact, you may be penalized should your research take you away from campus with any frequency.

Christian colleges need to address this.  Ideally, faculty that do research should have accommodations made in their workload, affording them more time to do scholarship.  At the very least, these institutions need to recognize, encourage, and applaud their Cosmopolitans who are making a mark for Christ in secular academe.  It is the Cosmopolitans who are models of what scholarship really is.  It is they who are preparing their students, by example, to serve Christ in the world. DC

[253] True Believers

We will all remember what dud Mueller’s testimony was.  Yet the impeachment movement—though out of the news for the most part–grinds on.  Why?  So a group of evil, pathological Trump-haters can destroy his presidency?  Is that why?

Methinks not.

There are a sizable number of political figures who truly believe that Trump, in fact, colluded with the Russians in their attempt to fix the 2016 election, and he went on to obstruct attempts to uncover his wrongdoing.  They are committed to this belief to a point of near fanaticism.

Social philosopher, Eric Hoffer (1898-1983) became famous for coining the term, true believer.  Hoffer went beyond the first wave of the term—a genuine belief at the individual level—to how those committed to certain beliefs manage to turn them into social movement.  It is in the social movement phase that the commitment of the true believer has force.

The campaign to impeach Trump is—if nothing else—a genuine social movement. It has millions of enthusiasts.  According to Hoffer, in his book, The True Believer, “A [social] movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of actions.” But there’s more, something that rings true of so much of today’s politics.  Hoffer states that the bandwagon is populated by large numbers of frustrated people, who out of the emptiness of their lives, invest themselves in a movement that will bring radical change. This investment, however, becomes an escape from the self, not a genuine life purpose that fulfills their individual aspirations.  “A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation,” wrote Hoffer.  The quest for impeachment is one such movement.

Maybe the impeachment adherents are right, and Trump is guilty on all accusations.  But that is not the point here.  The point is that we live in a society filled with purposeless people—people who have no sense of a providential God.  There is emptiness all around.  Issues like impeachment become emotional highs in a life with few points of healthy elation.  All it takes are a few true-believing zealots to strike the ideological match and millions will welcome a movement (pro or anti-Trump) as an opportunity to escape their vapid lives. DC

[252] PM as Philosophy

Postmodernism (PM) is everywhere, even in the Christian College.  A professorial colleague of mine lamented at how PM has seeped into many of this presumably Christian students.

The pernicious notion that objective metaphysical (spiritual) truth does not exist undermines the foundation of the Christian faith.  For the believer, as certainly as you cannot drive anywhere but north from St. Louis to get to Chicago, you cannot be a disciple without accepting immutable, unbending, spiritual truths.  Truth is the pathway to Christ.  In the King James version of the Bible, truth appears 118 times.  PM, by making truth subjective, contradicts the teachings of scripture.

The Christian college needs to confront this heretical strain eroding the structure of their students’ faith.  More particularly. PM needs to be treated as a philosophy, and critiqued as such in basic philosophy, apologetics, and theology courses.  The stability of their students’ faith may depend upon it.  DC

[252] The R Tag

I have had a bellyful of people being hit with the R Tag–called a racist–simply because they do not agree with a person of color.  The tag has moved from among the last canards to be thrown at an ideological or political opponent to among the first.  And this verbal bomb is nearly daily thrown because, going back 60 years, the label has been among the most repugnant tags one can have.  Trump is regularly deemed a racist largely because of Tweets that are not complimentary of the words and actions of some people of color.  Biden has been zinged because he negotiated with segregationists in the Congress decades ago.  Even Pelosi has taken the racist hit from the AOC crowd.

None of these people’s words or actions pass a serious test of racism.

Sociologically, racism is simply the belief in the moral or intellectual superiority of one race as compared to another.  In the US it has historically taken the form of white supremacy.  Again, the actions or words of Joe Biden, Donald Trump, or Nancy Pelosi cannot realistically be deemed racist.  You may well believe that one or all are racist, but nothing they have said or done publicly crosses the racial goal line.

This near random use of the R Tag is damaging.  Not only does it unfairly tar people’s moral reputations, all but paralyzing them in terms of influence, but perhaps more important, the noise of these meaningless accusations results in a lack of understanding of the truly toxic nature of racism, creating an ideological fog in which genuine racists can find camouflage.  There are white supremacists out there.  More than you think.  And I am sure they are happy that no one is noticing them because the “white” noise of reckless use of the R Tag.  DC

[251] Hate Crimes

Despite being a sociologist, I have never been comfortable with the concept of “hate crimes.”  The reason is that it creeps into identity politics and First Amendment issues. I have a hard time understanding the legal concept, as many such crimes are crimes regardless of motivation.  And while we are at it, all crimes have some motivation but we do not take that into account upon arrest, conviction, or sentencing for most felonies.  First degree murder is just that, irrespective of its motivation being that of hate, greed, or revenge.

More important for the faith and learning adherent is how the hate crime focus soon tumbles into condemning hate speech.  Just exactly what is hate speech?  Oh, I know there are nifty-worded definitions, but that is not the issue.  At what point does speech become hateful?  I can answer that for you.  It becomes hateful at the point at which it violates secular political correctness.  You are well to pick your words very correctly when you speak about race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation or the hate finger will be pointed your way.

How long do you think it will take before the gospel will carry that hate speech label?  Think about it.  From a secular standpoint, what is more offensive than being told you will spend your eternal life in hell if you do not commit yourself to an invisible person who claims to be divine?

The early Civil Rights leaders focused on law.  Martin Luther King said it well.  We cannot legislate hate, but we can make shooting people, because of our hate, illegal.

Prosecute crime, not intent, and let all of us say what we want to say.  DC

[251] Spirit of Error

As our nation departs from its Judeo-Christian moorings it enters a spirit of error.  The Judeo-Christian tradition is rooted in a set of beliefs; high among them is that humans are flawed, error-ridden by nature, and unable to find their way to non-material truth apart from engaging the truth of their creator.  The writings of the founders are anchored to this belief.

Secular progressivism denies the very existence of that creator, and hence the very existence of that truth.  Instead, humans are viewed as the highest form of life in the universe.  Furthermore they are viewed as an ever-evolving, ever-improving life-form—and therefore capable of determining ever-better prescriptions for human thought and behavior.  In short, they can determine what is politically correct.

In the secular-progressive world, there is no metaphysical truth because there is no metaphysical foundation to life.  In other words, we humans are on our own.  For the Christian, the consequence of this thinking is inescapable.  It means flawed humans are now attempting to construct our national sense of reality.  Moreover, because of their flawed natures, it is impossible for their constructions to be accurate.  We hear more and more public pronouncements, often from political figures, that run counter to Christian values.  They are disturbing, and they should be, because they are the outflow of a society lost in a spirit of error.  DC

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