Category Archives: apologetics

Stone-Caster or Stone-Catcher?

woman-in-john-8A recent edition of Smithsonian Magazine focused on a handful of individuals who had won the magazine’s American Ingenuity Awards.  It highlighted one person who made an outstanding contribution to science, cinema, teaching, and social justice.  As an attorney, I was drawn immediately to an article about Bryan Stevenson.  Stevenson is a Harvard-educated attorney who has devoted his career to representing minors who face the death penalty.  (To set you at ease, this post isn’t about the constitutionality of putting minors to death.)

There were discussions about his religious upbringing, attending a Christian college, and what had drawn him into defending accused minors.  Towards the end of the article, he indicated the reason for his chosen career path; he said, “There is no such thing as being a Christian and not being a stone catcher.”  He spoke about Jesus’ actions in “defending” the woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery in John 8.  Christ’s willingness to protect this stranger – who everyone present knew was an adulterer and worthy of death under the law – seemed to be his inspiration! While he did not say so explicitly, it seemed he was just trying to stand between those who were undoubtedly “guilty” of some wrong but who faced a world ready to levy the harshest penalty allowable under the law.  He called himself “a stone catcher.”

“There is no such thing as being a Christian and not being a stone catcher.”

I was immediately convicted. While I would readily admit that mercy-and-truth and mercy-and-judgment must be balanced, I thought of times when I, like the scribes and Pharisees in John 8, was ready to pronounce swift and harsh punishment because it was “deserved.”  I thought to myself, “How many times have I been the stone caster rather than the stone catcher?”

Stone catchers must get in the way.

When someone has damaged their reputation or fallen into sin, the easiest thing to do is – well – nothing!  But Galatians 6:1 commands something very different.  It states: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  Frankly, I don’t know if there is a verse in the Bible that is less practiced in today’s Christian world.  But God has been clear.  If you are “spiritual,” it is your duty to get involved in restoration of the fallen – to become a stone catcher.

Stone catchers might get hurt.

If you get truly involved in protecting or restoring those who need it most, you might get hit yourself by those throwing stones.  That is, despite your innocence, you may become a target based on nothing more than your affiliation.  This can hurt.  However, there is another, more hurtful possibility.  The person you intervene on behalf of – the one in whom you invest time, effort, and love –  may let you down by rejecting your offer or reverting to their old ways.  Both are likely reasons why some are afraid to become stone catchers, but neither is a legitimate excuse for not get involved in the stone catching ministry.

Stone catchers many times get heckled.

If you make the decision to become a stone catcher, I can guarantee you that you will not be the most popular person with certain people – including some “religious” ones.  Questions, jokes, or insults might come if you take up stone catching.  Sadly, most prefer to talk to others about someone’s problems rather than talking with the person about their problems.  But what did Christ do with the woman caught in adultery?  He encouraged, and He restored.  When Christ extended mercy instead of harsh judgment, the scribes and Pharisees were not happy!  And if you review the chapters that follow (including John 9 and 11), you will see that the Pharisees began levying attacks with new fervor following this incident.  This also should not deter us.

Commit this year to mentoring a struggling teenager and taking him out to lunch, or to sending a note of encouragement to and regularly praying for someone who is rumored to have gotten upset about something at church, or, most importantly, to practicing mercy like Jesus did.  Give up your stone casting and take up stone catching.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

Articles

Advertisements

Changing Our Dress Standards

After months of prayer and study, my wife and I have reached a different conclusion on an issue that is big in some circles. After reflecting on the issue, I’m amazed that it is so big. The issue is whether a Christian lady must only wear skirts or not. The issue of clothing is, of course, broader than that, but the explosive issue is skirts versus pants. (To my readers who wonder what in the world I am talking about, this issue is big in the Independent Baptist world as well as some other Christian groups. While you read my disagreeing with some in this blog post just remember that I am disagreeing with friends and not fighting enemies.)

Our position now can be stated in 2 simple points: 

1. The Bible demands modesty.

We have always believed this to be true. We believe that we have lost focus on this subject by taking ourselves away from the issue and reorienting on clothing styles. The idea is that a style of an article of clothing defines modesty more than the covering itself. For example, a skirt could be more immodest than a pair of pants by being too short, or even if longer, by carelessly sitting, etc. We maintain that the issue is not showing the private areas of the body. Despite what has been preached and taught, any honest, godly man can tell you that the issue is not along a simple divide of pants versus skirts, but along the divide of revealing versus not revealing. There are women in skirts that a godly man must quickly turn while his eyes away from while there are very attractive women in pants that he doesn’t have to turn his eyes away from. The issue isn’t pants versus skirts but modesty versus immodesty. One incites lust of men who want to do right and the other does not.

2. The Bible does not teach that pants would be wrong on a woman.

There is no Bible passage that states this idea. There are places where some wonderful people believe an inference is made and I will discuss these items later. Still, there simply is no passage that expressly teaches it.

There are many arguments given and many feel they can conclude “no pants” from principles of the Bible. I’d like to carefully discuss some of the most common ones, ones that I have thought deeply about as I tried to determine exactly what the Lord was really asking of us.

1. This violates the Biblical prohibition of cross dressing.

Deuteronomy 22:5 is always given as the key verse that would prohibit a woman from wearing pants because it would be man’s apparel. Whatever that verse means, it couldn’t really mean what it is often said to mean here. In fact, those sincere people who use the verse this way forget that they might wear the same t-shirt or socks as their spouse. Logically, you can’t pick and choose if the verse means what some say. I would think that would refer to what is obviously for one sex. I’d worry about the man who wore a pink, frilly shirt! Some would argue that pants are that distinctly male, but most would disagree with you.

biblical-dress-1Have you ever looked carefully at pictures of clothing from Bible times in any Bible dictionary or encyclopedia? Look at this picture:

Do you notice anything? Just how different is the clothing for male and female? Many cite Aaron’s “breeches”, but they were under his robe-like garment and weren’t that noticeable. At least you would have to admit that the difference between male and female dress in Bible times is not as large as the difference between pants and skirts now? Skirts are fine, but can they be demanded when the difference required is greater than that when the cited Scripture was given? The verse likely refers to battle apparel, but in any event, it can’t be pushed farther than the context allows.

2. Pants are a giving in to modern culture.

It is true that 70 years ago all women wore skirts only. It is also true that our culture changed. Perhaps it would be fair to say that those who first changed were making a statement that ladies today are not necessarily making. It was not culturally acceptable then. What I am afraid we fail to see is that cultureis the last line of consideration for the Christian after the issue of covering our nakedness is addressed. For example, walk up and tell some burly Scottish guy in his kilt that he looks feminine or girly and as you pick yourself back up off the ground, you will probably realize he was all man and a cultural issue was involved.

Why won’t you wear the outfit of the people in the above picture from Bible times to church, or even Wal-mart?  Because you know that people would roll their eyes at you. In other words, it isn’t socially acceptable. And if some measure of changing with culture within the confines of modesty is wrong, how are the church dresses of today acceptable? They don’t look like those worn in the 1800s. Dresses went to the floor then and the sight of even the ankle was a scandal. (My Alicia says we are a long way from Adam and Eve’s furs too). Alicia and I were talking with some good friends of ours one day and wondered how the 1950s became the standard for all time. That more or less is the look of most who hold the stricter position today. It is an attractive look, but can it honestly be said to be the God-given standard for today? I don’t feel there is any way I could honestly hold that position.

It is true that there are things acceptable in our culture today that are unacceptable to the Christian. But we dodge that error by our first line of defense: modesty. Modesty means I particularly cover the private or sexual parts of my body so as not to enflame others with lust. It means drawing the wrong kind of attention. To put it simply, there are 2 factors that determine what we wear: 1) modesty, and 2) culture.

3. To start wearing pants is a move to the left and therefore wrong.

There is no Scripture on it being a sin to move to the left. Actually, the only thing the Bible teaches is that you adjust to the Biblical position no matter if you need to go right or left to do it. That really is an argument for appearances. What we are all called to do is figure out what the Lord is saying to the best of our ability and adjust accordingly.

4. Ladies should not wear pants in order to take the highest road.

It is an assumption to say it is the highest road. Is it a higher road to wear a button-up shirt over a polo shirt? Is it a higher road to have a land line instead of a cell phone? How do you know that is true? In any event, I so support anyone who feels they need to not wear pants for the Lord. But in fairness, let’s support those who do not feel that way equally. If there are no clear Biblical guidelines then it must be along the lines of Romans 14:6 (“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”)

A Plea For Consistency

Is pants- versus- skirts the big issue in the Biblical idea of modesty? Do we do the issue justice to reduce it to one area? Men, do you turn your head from every woman in pants? Or just from those who are flaunting their bodies? That really proves the point, doesn’t it?

Are pants worldly and a leaving of “the old paths”? Why do we pick this one modern development? Didn’t some think the same thing at other times about automobiles, or makeup, or jewelry, or cell phones, or electricity? Can’t you imagine some Christian years ago lamenting the shameful worldliness of bringing indoor plumbing into your home? Why would someone else get the privilege of picking and choosing such things for me?

Do you really believe that pants are a form of homosexual cross-dressing? Really? For every woman you know who wears pants? Are there not some women you admire as Christians who wear pants?  Does, then, a lesbian putting on a skirt make her straight? Doesn’t this show how far adrift we are in our thinking? Cross-dressing? Where’s the outrage for issues the Bible takes care to often discuss on the level of what we see here? Is pride or anger a lesser issue than pants when you read the entire Bible? Then why are these issues not getting at least equal publicity with the pants issue?

Is the entire issue of avoiding lust on women’s shoulders? (My Alicia feels strongly here). Does the man, who is truly a visual creature, not have some of the responsibility? If a lady wears something she shouldn’t, is he off the hook for wherever his mind goes? Let’s get real—does every pair of pants give men problems? If it does, could maybe he have a problem? Can a man not lust after a woman in a skirt? Even if a woman is immodestly dressed, is a man still not 100% responsible before God to keep his thoughts pure? On the other hand, does this not mean that there could be something called modest pants?

Finally, isn’t it true that there is no “thou shalt not wear pants” command? Isn’t it true that the Scriptures used are not as clear as some say? Isn’t it true that many of the arguments used are not Biblical, but are philosophical at best? Isn’t it true that where the Bible doesn’t clearly speak it is each Christian’s responsibility to seek the Lord? Do we, then, have a right to be upset if a brother or sister in Christ doesn’t arrive at our same conclusion?

Speaking for me and my family, these things settle it for us.

Read More: “Why Am I Making A Point To Discuss This Hot Issue” & “What This Means For The Reagan Family”

Article by Jimmy Reagan

fb:jimmy.reagan.5

Articles  |  Bio

Believe It or Not!

I recently had an opportunity to share the Gospel with a co-worker.  When I asked if he was a Christian, his response was, “No.”  As we continued talking he shared that he did not believe in God, Heaven or Hell.  The cliff-notes version of what he said was evolution explained our presence here, though no one knows how evolution started (meaning no one can answer how the first organism came into existence.)  When we die, he simply believes nothing happens…we die and that is it.  I did not attack his beliefs, but rather sat and listened trying to understand his point of view.  That only seemed fair since I was hoping he would do the same when I voiced my beliefs.

Although I was praying fervently throughout our trip, few answers came to me.  In sharing the Gospel and using Scripture as support, he commented that he believed many Bible stories to be historically true, but by no means believed all of it.  He viewed it as he would any other piece of literature.

I felt completely inadequate because, without the Bible,
I had nothing to stand on. 

Later that evening, as I pondered our discussion, I realized the true difference between a believer and non-believer; Faith and hope.  Perhaps the truest statement I made to him was that I did not have enough faith to believe in evolution.  To believe this world just came to be from an explosion or some other event with no order whatsoever takes a big leap of faith.  Then to believe a single-celled organism somehow appeared and evolved into everything around us is…well, as I said, I don’t have that much faith.  My faith is rooted in the Word of God.  The only thing I accepted from the start is the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  It is true, it is real, and it is without error…that’s it.  From that one belief, everything else is explained.  I can show you when the earth was created and in who’s image we are created.  I can explain the relationship between a man and woman.  I can even tell you why there is great evil in the world today and who we have to thank for our constructive nature, tools and music.  Those are just in the first four chapters of the first Book in the Bible.

What He Was Missing…

It sounds funny doesn’t it; a Christian not having much faith?  But there is something at the core of what I believe that I think my co-worker is missing – HOPE.  I find hope in the fact that there is a God and He is the creator of everything.  I find peace in the fact that God gave His creation free will to sin or rebel against Him only to provide a way to overcome that sin through His son Jesus Christ.  And most importantly, I have hope in the fact that this if not the end.  I do not have to endure the horrors in this world just to have it end when I die.  I can look forward to spending eternity with my Creator and Savior.  It makes the time I spend on this rock a little more bearable.  (All of that is in the Bible too.)  But then there is the question of how can I believe the Bible is true?  It may have started with a small amount of faith, but believing God’s word gives us true, eternal, awe inspiring hope.  God showed me so.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 Peter 3:15

Article by C.S. Depew

email

Articles

Don’t Believe in God?

One existence that cannot be denied, a new sign has just been erected near the Kentucky State Fair and Expo Center and it has the city buzzing. Lifted high above the roadways near the Louisville airport a giant billboard reads: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

An advertisement for the Louisville Coalition of Reason, the billboard is said not to be an offense to anyone but actually proclaim a positive message. The coordinator of the organization has said they “want to reach out to others with like-minded beliefs,” “let others know [they] are here,” and “want to be accepted as an equal part of the community at large.”

Others who oppose the message on the billboard have said they believe the real intent of the message is “an invitation to a dead-end path,” or to “draw people away from God.” But according to one news reporter, the local organization has stated that the purpose of the billboard is to educate. “Our answer is not so much what we turn people away from, but what we turn them to, which is rational thought, and evidence based thinking [and] belief.”

A new kind of atheism is on the rise and America is under the influence. Because we live in a country that is tolerant and respectful of alternative views, it appears that this is only the beginning of what is to come. Already similar models have been appearing all over the nation, from St. Petersburg to Seattle, with messages such as: “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

These bold assertions are a once radical idea that has gradually shifted into a new cultural trend. While there have always been people that are skeptical about the existence of an all powerful God, only more recently has anyone put forth this kind of effort to prove what they believe does not exist.

Atheism, from the Greek word atheos, means “without – deity,” or “without – god,” and has been around long before its name. Some 3,000 years ago the Psalmist wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1). But disbelief in the existence of something and taking out a personal vendetta to prove that it does not exist are two different things; for one is a lack of faith while the other requires it for consistency.

If no threat exists, why go to such great lengths to prove something instead of just letting it go? After all, preaching against something non-existent is pointless; or is there another reason for all the fuss? The Bible says, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Billboards and bus signs are nothing more than smoke and mirrors set in place to distract people from the one true God. If the world could be rid of religious belief and practice, it still would not change the position of God as Creator of the universe and Redeemer of mankind. Which is why the Bible says, “For what can be known about God is plain (to them), because God has shown it (to them). For his invisible attributes…have been clearly seen” (Romans 1:19-20).

A message about the disbelief in God is a good trick to pull on unsuspecting people but the illusion will not last long. God won’t simply disappear because people stop believing and He cannot be disproved; however, He must be accepted by faith. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

Articles  |  Bio

Buddhism: Why God Still Matters

A reader has asked the question in response a recent article about Tiger Woods, “If Tiger Woods is a Buddhist, then why does he have to ask God to forgive him?” It’s a good question; a curious one too. After all there are large differences between the two religions. Buddhism sees God mostly as an illusion while Christianity teaches that God is the Creator of the universe and present in our everyday lives.

In his apology to the world, Woods said, “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside [myself] causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.”

Buddhism teaches the idea of redemption as achieving Nirvana — the highest state of being for an individual to reach — a realization that sets one free from greed, hate, and delusion. That is much different from the teachings of Christ whom taught that fullness in life is not something that can be acquired but that through him when our physical bodies die, our souls can be ascended into heaven.

Many are familiar with Fox News anchor Brit Hume whom, when asked how Tiger Woods can recover from what has recently taken place in his personal and public life, stated, “The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

However, Hume did not explain what he meant when he said Christianity offers forgiveness. Will converting to Christianity completely erase what Tiger has done and remove the burden of offense that he has brought upon himself? Will it repair the damage that has been done to his personal and private life, completely restoring his integrity to the watching world? I believe the answer is no.

Christianity does not offer a “get out of adultery free” card, nor any other crime committed against mankind; the consequences are still left to bear. Simply converting to the Christian religion alone will not change anything about Woods’ current status before God. Christianity is far more than religion, it is about the forgiveness of sin. So then why is it important that a Buddhist or any other person from a different religion humble themselves before the Christian God and seek forgiveness?

To answer this question it is important first that we take into account that the Bible is unlike any other religious material in that it is held to be the actual living word of God. In it, not only do we find complete and fulfilling instructions for living, but also the necessary requirements for attaining eternal life, not your best life now. Other religious materials that have been handed down throughout the course of history were written by men who claim authority for themselves; however, the Bible rests on the authority God, not men. In it God has revealed Himself to us that we may know him and have a relationship with him.

In the Bible we find that God, Creator of the universe and everything in existence, has very specific expectations for our lives and how we live them. And although God reveals his law to us through His word, He has also written his laws on our hearts that we may know sin apart from the law (Romans 2:12-15). Woods verified his understanding of this when he said, “I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply…I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.”

Regardless of what religion one belongs to, the Bible says that all of mankind has sinned against God’s perfect law (Romans 3:23) and that we will all face God some day and be judged by Christ according to how we have lived our lives compared to his perfect standard (2 Corinthians 5:10). Anything contrary to God’s law is sin.

The Bible says there is a specific punishment for sin: “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and so the only way one can be redeemed from the sin he or she has committed in this life is to turn to God for forgiveness that has been made available only through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. For the Bible says the gift of God to us is eternal life through Christ (Romans 6:23).

Turning to Christ will forgive the offense of sin before God, not before man. By trusting in Christ for the only solution to the problem and consequence of sin, the Bible says whoever does so will be saved.

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

Articles  |  Bio