Category Archives: apologetics

Freemasonry and the Christian Conscience

On what day of the week to hold church services, going to see rated R-movies, eating or abstaining from pork and shellfish, drinking alcoholic beverages, shopping at Target, getting circumcised, boycotting Disney, dressing casually at church…these are matters of Christian liberty…these are matters of Christian conscience. What about membership and participation in the Masonic Lodge, though?  Is Freemasonry a matter of Christian liberty?  No; not at all.  Calling it a matter of Christian conscience is error.  It should be called what it really is: sin.

The seminal biblical example of Christian liberty is found in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians.  This epistle was written during a time when pagan temple worship was a very visible and common way of life.  Judeo-Christian values were obscure and certainly did not influence the prevailing culture and governance of the Roman Empire.  Pagan mythologies explained how the world worked and ordered religious exercise.  Sacrifices to the gods were a part of everyday life.  Out of this darkness, the Lord began drawing people to Himself in the city of Corinth.  These early Christians were being drawn from paganism to Christianity.  They were being drawn from the pagan temple to the Christian Church.

“Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.  Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-8

Today’s Christians, especially in the Bible belt, are often drawn to the Lord from one part of the church building to another.  Kids who have grown up in Sunday School and been taught the Bible from birth come of age in Christian environments and make professions of faith.  Nothing about their religious environment changes.  They repent of their sins on one Sunday and return to the same place of worship that they were raised in on the next.  Since ~54 AD, When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, Christendom has greatly expanded.  The Judeo-Christian worldview is no longer obscure and has exerted great influence over the governments of Western society.  Science explains how the world works; pagan mythologies have been relegated to the translations exercises of 10th grade Latin classes.  Sacrificing animals for religious purposes is completely foreign to today’s Western Christians.  They have never seen such practices.

But they have seen a meat market.  Every week, Western Christians peruse fresh, USDA-certified beef in their local supermarkets.  Friendly butchers provide eye-pleasing, safe, and affordable cuts of meat as often as their customers desire it and in whatever amounts are demanded.  Customers know exactly where the meat comes from: farms.  Modern industrial farming has made protein-rich meat more affordable than it has ever been.  For today’s Western Christians, eating meat is a daily expectation.  In the Bible-belt, meat with three vegetables and a cup of sweet tea is a lunchtime staple.  It’s such a popular meal that an entire category of eateries known as “meat and three restaurants” has sprung up. Meat is relatively cheap (and vegetables are even easier to come by).  Even if today’s society was permeated with pagan practice, few people would sacrifice beef.  It’s not costly enough.  Sacrifices are supposed to be costly.  Meat has become a very affordable commodity.

Meat and three was unheard of in ancient Corinth.  The ancients were lucky to have clean water, sweetened drinks were a luxury.  So, too, was meat.  That’s why animals were a source of sacrifice.  The gods were to be provided with something of great value.  Once an animal’s blood was spilled and the gods were satiated, there was a valuable by-product of the religious enterprise: meat.  Ancients were just an enterprising as moderns are; they weren’t going to let this item of value go to waste.  So, the meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols was placed for sale in the meat market.  From there, consumers would buy it. Today, Ingles, Kroger, and Publix sell meat from big corporate farms. The ancient Corinthian meat market sold meat from both farms and pagan temples.  Pagan temples, unlike farms, are inherently sinful.

Certain gentile Christians, who came from pagan backgrounds, were aghast that their fellow Christians would purchase or consume meat that had been used as an essential component of a pagan religious ceremony.  The meat had been sacrificed to false gods.  In their minds, it was tainted by pagan worship.  Having come out of pagan idolatry, this meat reminded them of their old selves.  As new creatures in Christ, they wanted nothing to do with anything remotely connected to paganism.  Other Christians, especially those of Jewish background, were not as a concerned.  They understood that these pagan idols weren’t real gods.  To them, buying or being served meat that could have been used in a pagan ceremony wasn’t an issue.  They understood that earth and everything in it belonged to the Lord.  They harbored no painful memories of being involved in pagan worship.  It was nearly as foreign to them as it is for a modern young boy raised in a Southern Baptist Sunday School program.  They knew who God was and they knew who God wasn’t.  Meat sacrificed to idols became a source of controversy in an already contentious Corinthian church.  The Apostle Paul had to address it.  He determined that it was a matter of Christian liberty, but not one to be enjoyed at the expense of the conscience of wounding the conscience of those brothers who were abhorred by it.

“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” 1 Corinthians 9:-13

Eating meat sacrificed to idols was not equivalent to pagan worship and eating it was okay as long as it didn’t offend other Christians.  Going further, Paul was clear that no one was under obligation for making sure that the meat he obtained did not come from a pagan temple.

“Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:25-32

Looking at Paul’s example, some Christians have determined that membership in the Lodge is an equivalent issue of Christian liberty.  It may sear the conscience of some Christians to go the Masonic Lodge, swear secret blood oaths, and pray to “The Grand Architect of the Universe”.  So, they could never bring themselves to be a Mason.  Yes the Masonic lodge is a temple, with a Chaplain, Deacons, and a Worshipful Master.  Yes, some people at the Lodge may treat it as their religion.  Yes, Freemasonry teaches a works-based salvation.  But the Christian members of the Lodge understand who God really is.  They don’t really believe the religious tenets of Freemasonry.  They believe salvation comes by the grace of God, not works.  They agree with the Baptist Faith and Message.  So, it’s a matter of Christian Liberty for them to participate in the ceremonies of the Lodge even if their fellow church members couldn’t’ do the same.

Wrong.  Dead Wrong.

Paul never said it was acceptable to participate in a pagan worship service.  Paul said it was okay to accept the by-product of that worship service.   There is a major difference between participating in a pagan ceremony where an animal is sacrificed to a false god and eating meat that went from the pagan temple to the meat market to the dinner table.  A modern is example is helpful for understanding this difference.

Imagine a soup kitchen that serves hot meals to the local homeless population.  It receives food donations from local churches, local businesses, and the local Masonic lodge.  Is a Christian who eats at the soup kitchen obligated to ask if his particular bowl of soup was provided by the Lodge before he eats it?  No.  Furthermore, a fellow church member who chastises the poor brother for eating soup that could have come from the lodge legalistically denies the Christian liberty of his brother in Christ.  There may be some homeless Christians, former Masons, who choose to go hungry rather than possibly eat Masonic soup.  That would be a matter of their conscience, just like it would be a matter of liberty for any homeless Christians who choose not to accept meals from the soup kitchen.  Eating the soup is not participating in Masonic practices.

But Christian Liberty stops and the front door of the Masonic Temple.  A Corinthian Christian committed no sin to consume meat that had been sacrificed at a pagan temple.  However, a Corinthian who participated in the ceremony that slaughtered the animal committed idolatry.  When a pagan Corinthian became a Christian, his days a practicing religion at the pagan temple had to end.  About this Paul was exceedingly clear.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

To draw a parallel from ancient Corinth to modern times, Freemasons aren’t eating meat which was sacrificed to idols; they are sacrificing the bull to the false god.[1]  Christians who participate in Masonic religious ceremonies commit sin.  Numerous examples could be provided to demonstrate this but only one is required.  Consider the practice of Masonic funeral rites.

All Master Masons are entitled to a Masonic funeral.  Anyone who believes in a Supreme Being is eligible to become a Master Mason.  There is no requirement to profess salvation in Christ by grace alone through faith alone.  There is no requirement to be a church member.  It is a historically and biblically demonstrable fact that there are Master Masons who die and spend an eternity in Hell because they have not received Christ.  Despite this, they receive Masonic Funeral rites which proclaim that the reward of their virtuous living is spending an eternity with The Grand Architect of the Universe (God) in the Celestial Lodge (Heaven).  The following is the funerary language from Akin’s Lodge Manual with the Georgia Masonic Lodge:

“Most Glorious God, Author of all good and Giver of all mercy, pour down  thy blessings upon us and strengthen our solemn engagements with the ties of sincere affection. May the present instance of mortality remind us of our approaching fate; and by drawing our attention towards Thee, the only refuge in time of need, may we be induced so to regulate our conduct here that when the awful moment shall arrive that we are about to quit this transitory scene, the enlivening prospect of thy mercy may dispel the gloom of death; and after our departure hence in peace and in thy favor, may we be received into thine everlasting kingdom, and there enjoy, in union with the souls of our departed friends, the just rewards of a pious and virtuous life. Amen!”[2]

pious and virtuous life

This language is to be read by the Worshipful Master of the Lodge.  (Sadly, it is not uncommon to come across Worshipful Masters who are progressing Christians.)  According to this funeral language, which is proclaimed in front of the deceased grieving friends and family members, entering into Heaven is the “just rewards of a pious and virtuous life.”  This contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-1

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:16

Furthermore, it gives false hope to non-Christians (and their grieving loved ones); non-Christians die without hope of ever seeing Heaven or being reconciled with God. Freemasonry teaches a works based gospel.  If a Christian Freemason recites the Masonic funerary language, he proclaims a false gospel.  If he doesn’t truly believe it, he sins further by telling a lie.  If he does truly believe it, he denies the very words of Christ.  How can his fellow church members countenance that?

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:8

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight” Proverbs 12:22

Is the gospel a matter of Christian liberty? We can look to Paul’s words to the Romans for the answer:

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For it is written,

‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.’

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14

Paul is clearly talking about Christian liberty in this verse, but as in the case of 1 Corinthians 6, he is talking about matters of everyday living (what to eat, what to drink, etc…).  Essentially, Paul is addressing the difference between living under grace and living under law.  Forcing Christian brothers to adhere to Jewish ceremonial regulations keeps them under law.  Under the grace of Christ, they have liberty.  There is absolutely no permission in the passage of scripture above for the Christian to participate in Freemasonry.  That is what makes defenses of Freemasonry as a matter of Christian using Romans Chapter 14 so insidious.  Freemasonry proclaims a works-based gospel, essentially putting adherents under law.  This is antithetical to Christianity which proclaims a grace based gospel.  So, the question is answered.  Participation in Freemasonry is not a matter of Christian liberty.

Is bearing false witness a matter of Christian liberty?  No

Is denying the claims of Christ a matter of Christian liberty? No.

Freemasonry does both.

Whether or not the Christian Mason truly believes the dogma of Freemasonry is immaterial.  There is absolutely no room for Christian Liberty where Masonry is concerned.  Do the same Masons who go to church and tell their pastors that they don’t really believe in the religious claims of Masonry but just go as a social club go to the Lodge and tell their Masonic brothers that they don’t really believe the religious claims of Christianity but just go as a social club?  Maybe.  But what’s it really matter?

This case has been made.  Christian masons participate in idolatry, lying, proclaiming a false gospel, and denying the words of Christ.  The Bible demands that their fellow church members hold them accountable.

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves”. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:11-12

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

Will you stand for the Holiness of your church and the love of your brothers no matter what the cost?  Wake up, O’ Sleeper.  Freemasonry in your local church must be addressed and excised.  It may be a tough battle, perhaps even fraught with spiritual resistance from the demonic realm.  It may cost you something to challenge Masonry and stand for the holiness of your church, but, remember, sacrifices are supposed to be costly.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-13

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

[1] I am speaking metaphorically here.  I am not saying Freemasons sacrifice live animals at their temple.

[2] Akin, J. W. (1911). Akin’s Lodge Manual With the Georgia Masonic Code. Mrs. John Akin. (p. 137-138)

Dear Dr. Craig, About Andy Stanley….

Dear Dr. Craig,

Do you remember when Gracie met Truthie? I do…but I’ll come back to that later.

On your last Reasonable Faith podcast you defended Andy Stanley’s “the Bible Tells me So” sermon remarks, specifically against the written criticism of Dr. Albert Mohler.  Before you defended Stanley and provided your analysis of the difference between doing theology and doing apologetics, I wonder if you read or listened to anyone else’s criticism of what Stanley said.  There was quite a bit of it.  When Stanley’s controversial comments first came to light to those outside of the walls of North Point Church, James White did some fine criticism of what Stanley preached.   I hope you took that in before providing your own response.  Now, I understand if you didn’t pay attention to what White said.  Maybe you didn’t want to listen to him drone on about cycling for twenty minutes before he got to the subject at hand.  Maybe you didn’t want to follow him down his near-constant “Debate me, Dr. Craig” rabbit trail.  (Quite frankly, his constant debate challenges to you remind me of Chris Jericho challenging Bill Goldberg to wrestle circa 1998).  I hope you’ll listen to me, though.  Your defense of Andy Stanley was way, way off.  I was disappointed to hear it.

Hear me out.

I’ve listened to every single episode of Reasonable Faith.  I’ve listened to every single episode of Defenders I and Defenders II.  I’m almost caught up on Defenders III.  I recommend Defenders to everyone who asks for my podcasts recommendations.  I teach my own Sunday School class using your basic course outline.  I’m 3 courses away from an MDIV in Christian Apologetics from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary – I changed my original major to Apologetics after I read Reasonable Faith.  Before I read that book I thought apologetics was not worthwhile.  I realized it was.  You were the subject of my main paper in my Apologetic Method class – It was called William Lane Craig: Evangelist, Philosopher, and Apologist.  I like you as much as I like Nick Saban, Roll Tide.  One of my kids is named after you.  In short, I am not your typical reformed detractor.  I think you’re the best apologist in the world.

Andy Stanley is a pastor.  I think he might the worst pastor in the world.  He’s at least in the running with Steven Furtick and Perry Noble.  What I think Albert Mohler understood and you didn’t is that Stanley said what he said in a sermon.  Context is key.  Remember what you said about doing apologetics and doing theology on your podcast?  Well, aren’t pastors supposed to be doing theology in their sermons?  Can a pastor of a New Testament Church really trade in Mere Christianity?

I want to give you an approximate quotation from Andy Stanley’s recent book Deep and White:

“Don’t get all theological on me.”

Dr. Craig, I’d like you to read Deep and Wide if you haven’t read it (Furtick and Noble endorsed it by the way).  It is profoundly disturbing.  If you read it, I think you’d agree with me as a theologian (and I know you are a theologian, despite what your critics say, I’ve seen your CV and listened to about 1,000 of your Sunday School lessons).  Stanley’s vision for North Point Church is a “church that unchurched people love to attend.”  I know I don’t have to explain to you the theological problems with that, so I won’t.  If you take a hard look at what he is doing you’ll see what tipped Mohler off to begin with.  Stanley is more of a goat-herder than a pastor of sheep.  His messages (he usually doesn’t call them sermons) aren’t really meant to challenge believers with scripture.  He fancies himself as more of a “leader” than a pastor.  What the Bible says, right or wrong, clearly isn’t as important to him as getting people in the door, even people who don’t really love Jesus.  Let’s get back to when Gracie Met Truthie.  We don’t have to go all the way back to Goldberg-Jericho 98.  We can go to 2012.  Mohler criticized Andy Stanley for what goes on at his church.  He had two actively homosexual males serving on his hospitality team.  They were in a sexual relationship with one another.  Stanley barred them from serving, not because they were actively sodomizing one another, but because one of them was still married to his wife.  Do you see how participation in the organization works out at North Point?  It’s a systematic problem with Stanley.  He’s dangerous.  He’s basically made a seeker-sensitive youth group for adults…and franchised it.  Check Stanley out Dr. Craig, don’t just go off the sound bytes and current news.  Really check him out.  He called verse-by verse preaching “cheating.”  He said it’s not how you “grow people”.  What do you think your own pastor, Bryant Wright, thinks of a comment like that? What do you?

You can’t have a church for non-Christians.  That’s paradoxical.  You’re a philosopher, you know this. 

You see, Dr. Craig, you were so gung-ho to define and defend the apologetic enterprise you seemed to have entirely missed Stanley’s context.  He’s a pastor; at least he is supposed to be.  He doesn’t do what you do.  You’re a philosopher/apologist/professor.  He’s supposedly in the care of souls.  He takes such ill care of them.  You can do mere apologetics for mere Christianity, but at the local church level, it must be deeper and more biblical than that.  I hope you’ll agree.

You’re Christianity’s boldest apostle.  Please don’t let your influence be used to further Stanley’s kingdom.  Keep furthering God’s. 

Your Brother,

G. Seth Dunn


*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 Harmful Effects of Christianity – #23

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4

This post is the twenty-third in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #23: The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.

As is the case with the previous “harmful effect” addressed in this series, this particular harmful effect is not limited to Christianity.  History provides notable examples of the destruction of art by fascist (ex: Nazis), communist, and Muslim groups.  Certainly, communists wouldn’t destroy art because it was “blasphemous” given that communists are inherently atheistic.  However, communist China has outlawed what it deems to be pornography since 1945.  So, even by narrowing down the destruction of art to reasons of pornography and blasphemy, the atheist author(s) of this list can’t limit the destruction of art for particular reasons to Christianity.  Once again, he has merely pointed out a tendency of humanity that is not unique to Christianity and would in all likelihood exist without it.

Furthermore, his claim is feeble by its very nature.  Beauty, it is often said, is in the eye of the beholder.  What is a “great” work of art in the opinion of one may terribly lacking in the eye of another.   At best, the author can lament “the destruction of works of art that some people think if great by other people who don’t think it’s so great.”  In other words, “Somebody else did something I don’t like to something that I did.”  To this harmful effect, the Christian critic can curtly respond, “boo-hoo.”

Christians can, along with all others, recognize that aesthetic judgments about art are ultimately subjective.  However, ultimate moral judgment is grounded in the nature of God.  There are things, such as blasphemy, that God has expressly forbidden.  The destruction of blasphemous and pornographic works of art is a God-honoring action, despite the objections of those who don’t fear the Lord.  At the same time, the art produced by Christians can be aesthetically pleasing, even to those outside of the faith, while objectively respectful God’s moral demands.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #24: Slavery condoned by religious texts.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

 

40 Harmful Effects of Christianity – #22

“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.” Joshua 11:23

This post is the twenty-second in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #22: Holy wars – followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.

Harmful Effect #22 is further evidence that the author(s) of this list didn’t give particular attention to Christianity but rather opined upon what they saw as the harmful of effects of religion in general.  If, for example, followers of Islam and polytheistic paganism warred against one another, this would not be a harmful effect of Christianity; nor would it be a harmful effect of Christianity if followers of Sunni and Shia Islam warred against one another.  Yet, both of these hypothetical situations (which have also been real situations in history) qualify as “harmful effects of Christianity” according to this list.

From a Christian point of view, God is (as this harmful effect points out) “benevolent, loving, and merciful.”  Therefore, any war sanctioned by God would be just given that it would flow from His perfect nature.  An example of such warfare would be the expulsion of the Canaanites by the Hebrews from the Promised Land after the iniquity of the Canaanites had become full.  Any warfare carried out in the name of God but not sanctioned by God, by Christian standards, is sinful.  The very problem with such religious warfare is that it is a rejection of the wishes of God.  To be specific, religious wars are not inherently harmful; unjust religious wars are.

Of course to declare the net effect of a war, religious or otherwise, as “harmful” is to engage in subjective judgment.  Those who win a given war might not deem its prosecution harmful, on the net, at all.  To declare a war objectively unjust requires an objective standard of morality, which atheism can’t provide.  I contrast, Christian theism can provide such a standard.  The Christian theist can, for example, deem the Crusades unjust.  These wars were religious in nature but prosecuted in an unjust way which defied the wishes of God.

Religious wars, it should be considered, are the minority of recorded history’s warfare. Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history. Of those wars, the authors categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.  War exists in plentiful supply without religious motivation.  Even wars which are overtly motivated by religion, such as the Crusades, are arguably motivated by other factors such as nationalism, greed, or a lust for power (the same factors which underlie “non-religious” wars).  The counterfactual, “Religious wars would have been prosecuted for reasons other than religion if religion didn’t exist” can’t be proven, but it’s arguably plausible.  History shows that people have a tendency towards violence and religious motivations are hardly needed to beget war.

Harmful Effect #22 falls flat along with an atheist worldview.  The Christian worldview provides, at the very least, an explanation for why wars exist and which ones are just.  Furthermore, where there is death, war, and carnage, Christians can take comfort in the blessed hope of eternal life promised to them by the Lord Jesus and recorded in the Holy Bible.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #23: The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists. 

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #14

“..do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:8-10

This post is theoiourteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.

The author(s) of this list didn’t do its readers the kindness of citing a source for this statistical claim. Thus, I cannot quickly determine whether or not it is veridical.  It’s just as well, since, from a biblical worldview, such statistics just aren’t relevant. What is relevant is what the bible teaches about sexual morality.  Its teaching is clear:

It’s not morally permissible to have sex with someone unless one is married to that person. 

I can remember a particular occasion when I was a teenager upon which an individual came to speak, about sex education, to the youth of the church which my family attended.  During the course of his talk, this individual claimed that condoms were not always effective.  He spoke about the size of sperm in relation to the integrity of the latex membrane of condoms in support of this claim.  I was perplexed and a little outraged.  I can remember thinking, “What does it matter if condoms work well or not?  The Bible says not to have sex outside of marriage.  Why isn’t this man just teaching everyone what the Bible says?”  This speaker was trading on statistics and a utilitarian ethic.  Such an ethic hasn’t much place inside the church of Jesus Christ.  This man was doing the youth of the church and their parents a disservice by putting stock in statistics instead of the sufficiency of God.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

It should be noted that this speaker was teaching the youth about the usage of condoms.  It was clear from his presentation (not that many in his audience didn’t already know) that condoms are useful in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  However, unlike abstinence, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  Any responsible non-Christian sex education program teaches this as well.  Considering this, let’s analyze what “harmful effect #14” really says more closely:

“Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness result in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies than do non- “Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness.

What an absurd claim.   Further scrutiny should only make the claim appear more ridiculous.

We’ve not explored the implied assertion that formal “abstinence-only” sex education programs are biblically-prescribed endeavors.  We’ve not explored the assertion any marriages which result from teenage pregnancies are either “ill-fated” or prescribed by the bible.  Having proven the claim absurd, it’s not necessary to chase these rabbits.

In closing, I would like to challenge non-Christians to consider what society would look like if everyone faithfully followed a Christian sexual ethic.  This would be a society without STD epidemics, unwanted pregnancies, or the emotional turmoil caused by adultery and divorce.  Such a society may not be achievable before the return of Christ, but it would nonetheless be prudent to strive for one.  We are not, as Richard Dawkins claims, “machines for propagating DNA” (by the way, if Dr. Dawkins is correct, trying to prevent pregnancy seems counterintuitive and futile) but rather moral beings made in the image of God for the purpose of glorifying Him.

(Jesus) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #15: Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.