What Do I Actually Believe? Part 3 of 3

This is the final part of my response to an article by Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

In her article, Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s no longer talking to most conservatives. I find most disturbing about her irrational rant is that she seems to actually believe that the claptrap collection of ridiculous misrepresentations she puts forth is how most conservatives actually think. And, based on the comments on the page, an alarming number of people actually seem to agree with her.

What I have done is to go point-by-point through her collection of straw-man arguments and ad hominem attacks to explain what I, as a libertarian-leaning, conservative Christian actually believe, while at the same time pointing out the irrationality of her arguments, and poking a little fun at her ignorance. I covered points 1-10 and 11-20 in previous posts. In this post, I will address her final 8 points.

21. It’s impossible for you to see your privilege.

If you were born into a family and a place that allowed you to thrive, you’re blessed and fortunate. This isn’t the norm. A lot of success and stability depends on the structure that we have during our formative years. The vast majority of young Americans have not had your advantages and I can’t seem to make you understand that. I’ve stopped trying.

First, I want to agree with her that if a person was born into a family and a place that allowed them to thrive, they are blessed and fortunate. I also agree that this isn’t the norm.

Because I am a white, male baby-boomer, I have had some advantages over most non-whites and women. It’s not impossible for me to see the privilege; I readily acknowledge it. With all due respect, my question is, what would Willis and others like her expect me to do about it? I can’t change who I am, or how I was raised. All I can do is work to help others succeed, regardless of their backgrounds.

The liberal premise that success is almost entirely dependent on birthright and privilege is simply false. There are numerous examples of people who have risen to greatness from disadvantaged beginnings. Barack Obama is a perfect example of someone overcoming disadvantage to achieve success. There are also numerous examples of people who had every advantage in life, yet squandered it. While ethnicity and gender obviously give some advantage and others disadvantage, the primary reason people are successful in life while others are not has more to do with personal drive and persistence. The notion that ethnic minorities cannot succeed because of the color of their skin is racist, and the idea that women cannot succeed because they are women is sexist. These ideas are promoted far more by liberals such as Willis, in arguments such as the one she makes here, than by conservatives. If Willis and other liberals really want to end “white privilege,” stop telling non-whites and women that they can’t succeed without handouts. Instead, empower them to overcome the disadvantage, work their butts off, and succeed despite their ethnicity and gender.

22. You don’t care about children.

You care about fetuses. Once those fetuses begin to breath outside the womb, your concern is gone if they’re born into a poor family that needs help.

Or how about poor children who are in school? Most of you want to do away with free and reduced lunches, for God’s sake. And let’s not even talk about free breakfasts for kids. What is wrong with you people??? There is no better investment that we can make as a nation than in the early childhood health of our children.

UnbornFirst, fetuses ARE children, and, yes, I care about them a great deal.

Second, the claim that conservatives don’t care about children is nothing more than intolerant bigotry and emotionalism. An ad hominem attack of the lowest sort.

Third, giving children free or reduced lunches does not solve the problem of poverty. Indefinite handouts perpetuate the problem of poverty rather than eliminating it. This has long been the strategy of liberals: Force people into poverty, then give them handouts designed to keep them there. Then, poor people will vote for the liberals, because they give them free stuff. The “best investment” we can make as a nation is to grow the economy to the point it can provide well-paying jobs to all who want them, and by empowering the poor to overcome the obstacles and succeed.

SchoolLunchFourth, most conservatives have no problem with providing free and reduced price lunches – and breakfasts – to those in need. Many of our own kids have benefitted from these programs, especially under the Obama economy. However, we see free and reduced lunches as a temporary solution, rather than a long-term entitlement. The solution is to raise families up out of poverty so they don’t need assistance.

23. You’re greedy and miserable.

You spend more time bemoaning what is being taken from you that you do in being thankful that you have enough to share.

scroogeWho is more greedy, liberals or conservatives? According to most studies, such as one reported by Fiscal Times and another in Newsmax, conservatives actually give more to charity than liberals. Of the first 20 or so results that turned up in my Google search, al said that either the giving by liberals and conservatives is roughly the same, or that conservatives give more. No studies showed that liberals give more to charity.

Liberals like Willis seem to think that wanting to keep the money one earns is greed, but forcibly taking money from others is not greed.

Who is more miserable, liberals or conservatives? Again, according to studies reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post, conservatives are happier than liberals.

So much for the stereotype of conservatives being unhappy misers.

The basic difference between conservatives and liberals is conservatives favor voluntary, personal giving while liberals favor forced redistribution. Most conservatives would give the shirt off their backs to help someone in need. And most liberals are also happy to give the shirt off the conservative’s back to help someone in need.

As for myself, although my family has struggled financially over the last few years, I give often to charitable causes, both of my money and of my time. I’ve also taught my children to do the same.

24. You think our religion is the only one.

I’m a Christian — a proud follower of the most amazing man I’ve ever studied. Most of what is good about me comes from the teachings of Jesus. I love my religion and my Holy Book. I use the Words in Red as a compass. But who am I to look at other people who feel exactly the same way about their own religions and judge them?

ALL religions think they’re the only one. And, all religions proselytize and try to convince others they are correct.

Willis claims it’s wrong to judge – as she judges conservatives. She’s quite the hypocrite.

The problem is, logically, they cannot all be the truth. They contain mutually exclusive claims. The idea that Willis seems to espouse – that all religions are equal – is utter nonsense.

John146Willis claims that as a Christian, she loves her religion and her Holy Book. But, she then says she uses the “Words in Red” as her compass. If she actually read the “Words in Red,” she’d realize that Jesus affirms the entire Bible as truth, not just the “Words in Red:” “ For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).  She’d know that Jesus claimed to be the only Truth: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

Willis is correct; I do believe that Biblical Christianity is the only true religion. And yes, I tell others about Jesus, and I hold to the Bible as the truth, and all other religions as false. Although I believe other religions and worldviews are false, I will defend a person’s legal right to believe what they choose to believe. I even defend the right of Willis to write irrational rants attacking my beliefs in the name of tolerance. However, I will also speak out about why I believe that Jesus is the only truth, and all other religion is a lie. To not do so would be hypocritical.

25. You are lazy and you refuse to read.

I provide sources for you that will debunk most of your BS, or at least help you to see it a little differently. You refuse to read it. You stick to Fox News, World Net Daily, etc…You refuse to ever entertain another point of view.

The very fact that I have taken the time to refute point-by-point all 28 of the reasons Willis refuses to even speak with most conservatives refutes the idea that conservatives won’t read other points of view. I initially ran across this article on the Facebook page of an atheist friend of mine. Rather than ignoring it, I clicked on the link, and read the article. I maintain Facebook relationships with people whose views are diametrically opposed to mine, and actually read what they have to say.

Ironically, the majority of the sources in Willis’ article simply link back to other articles Willis has written on her own website.

26. Your misfortune is God’s blessing.

When something bad happens to you, you sanctimoniously think it’s God testing you and making you stronger. When something bad happens to me (or gay people or atheists or etc…), you think it’s God punishing them.

I think bad stuff happens to people because of sin. And all of us sin. I also believe that because I have placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and have become “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17), God does deal with my sin differently from how He deals with the sin of a non-believer. If Willis loved her “Holy Book” as much as she claims she does, and read more than the “Words in Red,” she’d know that.

27. “Everyone has their lot in life.”

Except you, of course. Well, no….you do have a lot. Your lot is to have every privilege and entitlement and make sure your children have the same.

See my response to #21 (above).

28. You think you’re the only one working and paying taxes.

“My tax dollars….” Here’s a clue: you’re not the only one paying taxes. Liberals pay taxes, too. Just how far do you think your $2,000 a year in income taxes goes?

The difference between liberals and conservatives regarding taxes is that liberals see high taxes as a means to Taxesredistribute wealth. Nobody should have more than anyone else. Conservatives believe in limited taxes to support essential government functions, like the military and building infrastructure, not as a means to redistribute wealth.

Conservatives support lower taxes for all because people have a right to keep what they earn. Liberals support progressive taxation with high taxes for the rich in order to equalize incomes through redistribution of earnings.

Liberals think taxes are too low for the wealthy. Conservatives think taxes are too high for everybody. I’m with the conservatives on this one.

Final thoughts…

I enjoy intelligent conversation and debate with people with whom I disagree. Rational debate allows for personal growth and for better understanding between people with different worldviews. However, this article by Ms. Willis is neither intelligent nor rational. It’s nothing more than an angry, hateful rant. The title alone, “28 Reasons I’m DONE Talking To Most Of My Conservative Friends And Family Members,” demonstrates just how closed-minded and intolerant Willis is. I do not call her stupid or amoral for being a liberal. I call her ignorant and intolerant for posting such drivel, rather than intelligent discussion, to support her views.

What Do I Actually Believe? Part 2 of 3

A Facebook friend recently posted a link to this article by blogger Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

Ms. Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s done talking to most of her conservative friends and family members. Her reasons contain some of the greatest stereotypic misrepresentations of what most conservatives actually believe. Whether Willis is simply ignorant, or whether she’s deliberately creating straw-man arguments, perpetuating such ignorant caricatures is divisive and hateful. Willis comes across as a very angry, very intolerant, and very ignorant person.

As a libertarian-leaning, evangelical conservative, I’d like to go through each point of this rant to explain how what I actually believe is quite different from the caricature Willis paints of conservative views. While the views I express are mine alone, they are reasonably representative of what most of my conservative friends believe. Not every conservative will agree with every point, however. I hope that this will lead to better understanding of what many conservatives actually believe, and can lead to productive dialog rather than ignorant rants.

I addressed reasons 1-10 in a previous blog. In this blog, I will address reasons 11-20, and will cover reasons 21-28 at another time.

Here are the next 10, along with some of her comments, and my responses:

11. The Creation Museum — that is all.

You think this is OK. It’s not. These people just make stuff up. Do you really think kangaroos floated from Africa to Australia on rafts? Why are you condoning this ignorance?

I can only assume that “journalist” Matt Stopera is deliberately misrepresenting the Creation Museum in the article Willis links to as her sole argument against the Creation Museum. If he actually spent three hours reading the material in the exhibits, he knows his mocking comments are absolute gibberish. As a former employee at the Creation Museum, I find his nonsensical comments offensive and hateful. I can only assume Willis is either ignorant or just as hateful as Stopera. It’s ironic and hypocritical that she says, “these people just make stuff up,” when that’s precisely what she and Stopera do.

I also find it ironic and hypocritical that the vast majority of arguments I see from evolutionists against creation are mocking rants like this one, or simply saying, “evolution is fact,” without ever providing any actual scientific facts to support the claim. In most debates/arguments on creation vs. evolution, it’s the creationists that argue from the actual evidence, while evolutionists usually use arbitrary unsubstantiated claims, ad hominem attacks, straw-man arguments, and mocking as the basis of argument, while sidestepping all actual scientific discussion. For myself, it was the evidence-based scientific arguments from the creation side and the lack of any real evidence from the evolution side that convinced me that the Bible’s straight-forward account of origins makes more sense than evolution or some sort of mixture of the two.

I have many questions which the evolutionary doctrine simply cannot answer, but which the young-earth creation model provides very simple answers. Here are three of them:

  1. How did life arise from nonlife? Although this is technically not evolution, per se, but abiogenesis (sometimes chemical evolution), molecules-to-man evolution is dependent on non-living matter somehow becoming alive. Even if all the ingredients for life (DNA, RNA, “left-handed” amino acids, etc.) could somehow arise through non-living natural processes, and assemble themselves into the correct structures (ribosomes, mitochondria, lysosomes, and so forth), how would they become alive? Evolution has no answer.
  2. What about carbon dating? Carbon-14 has a half-life of only 5,730 years. After 5,730 years, 1/2 of the C14Decaycarbon-14 present when the organism was alive would be gone. After 11,460 years, 3/4 would be gone, and after 17,190 years, 7/8 would be gone. After about 50-60,000 years, there should be no detectable carbon-14 left in a fossil. Yet, nearly all fossils, including dinosaurs, contain carbon-14 in significant quantities. Coal and diamonds also contain carbon-14. The amounts of carbon-14 in most fossils date the fossils at only a few thousand years old, not the millions of years required for evolution. How can dinosaurs, coal, and diamonds be millions of years old when they still contain significant amounts of carbon-14? Evolution has no answer.
  3. What about the fossil record? Evolutionists usually portray the supposed common origin of all lifeforms as a sort of branching “tree,” with a single “root” in the ancient past, and “branches” representing different phyla, orders, species, etc.
    evolutiontreeHowever, this is not what the fossil record actually shows. The fossil record only shows the “tips” of the branches, more like a lawn or garden, not a single tree.
    orchard-family-tree
    If all life is descended from a common ancestor, why doesn’t the fossil record support this? Evolutionists have proposed a number of hypotheses, but don’t have any actual evidence to support any of them that I’ve seen.

These are just three of the numerous scientific problems I see with evolution. Again, it was scientific arguments like these that convinced me to abandon evolution in favor of creation.

If Willis wants thinking people to take her seriously, she needs to come up with a better argument than nonsensical misrepresentations of creation, while simultaneously claiming creationists are “ignorant.”

12. You’re liberal in youth, yet grow conservative in age.

I call this the Dead Peter Syndrome in men and/or the Formerly Hot Syndrome in women… many women who embraced the sexual revolution are now taking a stance against women’s rights and suggesting that I’m killing babies with my IUD. You don’t get to live it up as a young person and then try to take a moral high ground when you get old and aren’t interested in living anymore.

Willis actually makes a good point: People generally become more conservative as they get older. Even most of the older liberals I know are less liberal than when they were young.

Why do people become more conservative when they get older? It probably has a lot to do with getting wiser with age. Willis may call it the “Dead Peter Syndrome” or the “Formerly Hot Syndrome.” Conservatives call it “growing up.”

Willis also unintentionally points out another problem in the thinking of many liberals. She complains that it’s wrong to “live it up” when you’re young and liberal, then try to “take the moral high ground” when you’re old and conservative. She’s basically saying, “It’s not fair that you got away with crap when you were young, and now you won’t let others get away with crap.” For many liberals, life is all about “living it up.” “How much can I get away with, morally? Right and wrong are whatever I want them to be.” For conservatives, it’s a lot more about doing right, because it’s right. As people get older, most come to understand that morals exist for a reason. The “if it feels good, do it” philosophy eventually leaves one empty. Most people start to realize this when they get older, abandon relativistic morality, and grow more conservative, although some people never seem to get it. It isn’t that people who have become more conservative as they have gotten older “aren’t interested in living anymore.” It’s that they realize they weren’t really living a worthwhile life in the first place.

In my own case, the transformation from liberal to conservative happened between the ages of 18 and about 22. The change was triggered by my becoming a born-again Christian as a college freshman. At the age of 18, I voted against Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election, because I thought he was an extremist who was going to start WWIII. By the 1984 election (at age 22), I was a die-hard Reagan supporter. So much for growing conservative at an old age.

13. You don’t want people who disagree with you to vote.

Oh, Gerrymandering, you ugly devil, you. But do we question why this is so common and seldom questioned by people on the right? It’s because you, my conservative voter loved ones, agree with it. You think it’s perfectly acceptable (and necessary) to suppress the vote. It’s for the “good of the nation.”

I once heard someone tell his wife to not inform her Democratic friend how and where to vote. “She’ll cancel out your vote.”

The argument that, “I once heard someone say…,” is just plain lame. I “once heard someone say…,” a lot of stupid things. It’s irrelevant.

Gerrymandering is a two-way street. Liberals don’t mind it when they get to redraw the lines. California District 38, for example, was gerrymandered to create a Hispanic majority.

California_District_38_2004

Conservatives are more commonly accused of voter suppression because most want to require voters to have a valid identification to vote. Voter ID has nothing to do with suppressing legal voting; rather, it is to prevent voter fraud. People already need an ID to drive, get a job, get welfare or food stamps, to buy alcohol or cigarettes, and any number of other things. Since any legal voter can get a valid ID with very little cost or effort, claims of “voter suppression” are nothing more than propaganda.

I would generally support bi-partisan boards setting district boundaries, but all that would do is shift the problem from, “who gets to draw the districts?” to, “who gets to appoint the board?”

14. Some of your best friends are black. Or Mexican.

A conservative I know professes that “my best friend is black” and balked when I called him and his wife racist. Why did I call him racist? Because my little girl — at that time about 12 — went to a movie with one of her African American friends and his mother. The conservative and his wife were “very concerned” about me allowing my little girl to consort with “blacks.” But oh, no, they’re not racist, are they?

I don’t care how many black or Hispanic friends you have. If you think that mentality is OK, then yes, you’re racist.

Another, “I once heard someone say…,” argument. This is known as a hasty generalization fallacy or an anecdotal fallacy. It’s an irrelevant argument.

Willis is correct that racism is wrong. She just has an intolerant, ignorant way of expressing the point. No matter whether the racist is conservative or liberal, black or white, Christian or atheist, or anything else, racism is wrong. I’ve discussed my views on racism elsewhere, so I won’t repeat myself here.

15. You scream about undocumented immigrant children at the border, but you hire Mexicans to do your dirty work.

I live in Texas. Duh! Every single upper-middle-class or wealthy person I know has at one time hired cheap labor to do their menial tasks like home repairs, yard work, housekeeping, and childcare. They actually seek out Hispanic people because they know that they do good work and that they’ll work for cheap.

OK, yes, it’s hypocritical to hire illegal aliens while opposing illegal immigration. Both wealthy liberals and wealthy conservatives do it. What does that have to do with the debate over illegal immigration? This is a typical red-herring argument. It’s nothing but a distraction from the actual issue.

Here is my take on illegal immigration:

We already have laws on the books to allow legal immigration. All immigration must follow existing law. Is this such a difficult concept to grasp?

ImmigrationThe concept of “law-abiding, undocumented immigrant” is an oxymoron and misnomer. Immigrants who have entered the country illegally have already broken the law. They should be arrested and deported to their country of origin, because they broke the law. The matter of children born in the United States to illegal immigrants, or children born elsewhere who have lived and grown up in the U.S. since a young age, is problematic. If the parents hadn’t been permitted to enter the country illegally in the first place, in accordance with law, there wouldn’t be any dilemma.

Anyone who knowingly entered the United States illegally should be deported. Those who came here as children and have been here for the majority of their lives should be given temporary visas, and given the opportunity to follow existing law to become permanent residents and citizens. No person who has entered the country illegally should be eligible for public assistance. All income should be taxed the same as anyone else.

The United States needs to secure its borders. An electric fence with high-tech monitoring would help significantly, as would immediate arrest and deportation. Additionally, arresting and/or fining individuals and companies in accordance with the law who hire illegal workers would eliminate the incentive for illegal immigration.

If liberals feel the current laws are unjust and unfair, they need to work to have the law changed. Simply ignoring the law, then granting amnesty, is immoral and unethical. It’s not actually about children, race, or justice – it’s about growing the Democrat voter base. Hypocrites!

16. You insist on calling undocumented immigrants “illegals” and “aliens.”

They are human beings. They are undocumented immigrants. Many of them are children. It reallyyyyy makes me furious to see you deliberately depersonalizing these human beings who are doing nothing but seeking the American Dream that you are so proud of.

And you do this on purpose. You know what you’re doing. You’re proud of your very unethical and un-Christian attitude towards these human beings.

Let’s look at a few definitions, shall we? (all definitions quoted from dictionary.reference.com)

Illegal [ih-lee-guh l] adjective

  1. forbidden by law or statute.
  2. This is NOT what conservatives mean by "illegal alien."

    This is NOT what conservatives mean by “illegal alien,” despite what some liberals claim.

    contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.

alien [eyl-yuh n, ey-lee-uh n] noun

  1. a resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization (distinguished from citizen ).
  2. a foreigner.
  3. a person who has been estranged or excluded.
  4. a creature from outer space; extraterrestrial.

undocumented [uhn-dok-yuh-men-tid] adjective

  1. lacking documentation or authentication.
  2. lacking proper immigration or working papers.

Immigrant [im-i-gruh nt] noun

  1. a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.
  2. an organism found in a new habitat.

These definitions speak volumes.

Conservatives see illegal aliens – people from a foreign country who have entered our country in violation of the law.

Liberals see undocumented immigrants – new, permanent residents who have simply forgotten to get paperwork.

Again, most conservatives have no problem with legal immigration, nor do we oppose changing laws to allow more people to legally immigrate. What we oppose is ignoring the law. The term “illegal alien” is neither dehumanizing nor unethical, any more than calling a person who steals a “thief” or a person who tells falsehood a “liar.” There’s nothing “un-Christian” about calling someone what they are. Jesus called law-breakers, “hypocrites,” “whitewashed tombs,” and “sons of Hell.” Conservatives call people from a foreign country who have entered our country in violation of the law “illegal aliens.”

Calling them “undocumented immigrants” is to devalue the rule of law and justice, which you claim to be so proud of. And you do this on purpose. You know what you’re doing. You’re proud of your very unethical and disdainful attitude towards the law.

17. You don’t mind using force against “lesser” groups to get what you want.

Case in point, protesting outside of abortion clinics.

Or protesting at the funerals of gay people. And yeah, I know that is Westboro Baptist Church and not you, but if you refuse to speak out against them, then you’re a part of the problem.

Frankly, you don’t seem to mind using force against “lesser” groups to get what you want.

Case in point, going inside of abortion clinics and getting abortions.

Or forcing Christian-owned businesses to bake cakes for gay weddings. Or subpoenaing sermons in Houston to intimidate preachers. Or not permitting children to read Bibles in class during “free reading” time. Or boycotting Chic-fil-A for supporting traditional marriage. And yeah, I know that is someone else and not you, but if you refuse to speak out against them, then you’re a part of the problem. By the way, Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church was a life-long Democrat, and many conservatives have spoken out very strongly against him.

Oppression is always wrong. Disagreement and protesting do not equal oppression, however.

18. You love war, death, and destruction.

And why do you love war, death, and destruction? Because ‘Murica. Because you think this somehow makes us superior. We may be militarily superior, but we are ethically inferior.

Even when confronted with the lies, now confirmed officially, that got us into the Iraq war, you don’t care. You like for America to be the world’s largest terrorist organization and the world’s most formidable bully.

The claim, “You love war, death, and destruction,” is a baseless ad hominem attack. It was pretty much the same accusation as in #8, “You get excited about people dying.” The statement is just as stupid, offensive, and hateful when framed either way.

Conservatives abhor war, death, and destruction as much as liberals do. Unfortunately, many of our enemies do not. Terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS truly do love killing people – it’s part of their extremist religion. Unfortunately, the only way to keep them from killing us is to kill them first. Diplomacy and compromise won’t work with them any more than it worked with Nazi Germany.

As for the Iraq war, the following Senate Democrats voted for the Iraq War:

Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Breaux (D-LA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carper (D-DE)
Cleland (D-GA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Edwards (D-NC)
Feinstein (D-CA)

Harkin (D-IA)
Hollings (D-SC)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Miller (D-GA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Schumer (D-NY)
Torricelli (D-NJ)

(Obama had not yet been elected to the Senate).

I suppose that means all of these liberals also “love war, death, and destruction?”   And that they “like for America to be the world’s largest terrorist organization and the world’s most formidable bully?”

Willis makes the statement, “We may be militarily superior, but we are ethically inferior.” Many conservatives, myself included, believe the reason our country has become morally bankrupt is because we have rejected Biblical morality and instead adopted relativistic morality. Whatever people think is right is right, and whatever people think is wrong is wrong. There is no longer any objective basis for morality. If ethics and morality are relative, what basis does Willis have for saying one set of ethics is better than another? It’s just her opinion. What objective basis does she have for saying war, death, and destruction are absolutely wrong, if morality is relative? It is only because God established an absolute basis for ethics and morality that there is any objective basis for saying anything is ethical, other than simply expressing an opinion.

The rest of the comments made by Willis in her argument for this point are nothing more than more ad hominem attacks and drivel, and not worth the bandwidth it would take to refute.

19. Speaking of war, you think draft dodging is OK and military service is for the little people.

Why doesn’t it bother you that Dick Cheney et al are draft dodgers? Or that Mitt Romney has an entire baseball team of sons and not one of them served in the military?

Cheney received a legal deferment when he became a father. Federal law exempted a parent from military service due to “extreme hardship on dependents.”

Romney had very high draft number, meaning that although he was eligible for military service, his number was never called. He also received a legal religious deferment during the time he was doing Mormon missionary work.

Receiving a legal deferment and being a “draft dodger” were two entirely different things. One was legal, and the other was illegal. The draft ended In 1973, and the U.S. went to an all-volunteer military. Romney’s sons were never eligible to be drafted.

I’m not sure what “et al” Willis is referring to. Far more liberals supported draft dodging than conservatives did. Far more conservatives serve in the current all-volunteer military than liberals. Since the draft has been out of use for over 40 years, current support for draft dodging is a rather moot point in 2015. Nobody currently supports draft dodging, since there isn’t a draft.

20. You claim to care about the Constitution, but in reality you don’t.

Oh yes, you scream “CONSTITUTION” at the top of your lungs, but when idiotic Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently tried to strip the Constitution of the 5th and 6th Amendments, where were you? Where was your outrage?

You love the parts of the Constitution that please you personally — NOT the entire Constitution.

Yet another, “I once heard someone say…,” argument.

Willis cites one example of one conservative – Ted Cruz – who introduced a bill to revoke the citizenship and passport rights of any United States citizen who commits treason by joining a terrorist organization. You can read the bill here. Willis makes the outlandish claim that Cruz wants to deny Constitutional rights to traitors under the 5th and 6th Amendments. While I would agree that the Expatriate Terrorist Act (Senate Bill 247) needs to be amended to provide due process, to use it to claim that Cruz – and all conservatives – don’t really support the Constitution is ludicrous. To cite one example from one conservative to make a claim about most, if not all, conservatives is just plain stupid.

The Constitution of the United States was established as the foundational law of the land. Conservatives believe it needs to be interpreted as written, and as it was originally intended. Liberals believe it is a “living document” that can be interpreted and reinterpreted to suit their wants and needs. The reason they believe this is because they completely disagree with many of the Constitutions very straight-forward, conservative principles – and want to get rid of them.

Constitution

Items 21-28 of Willis’ list will be addressed in a future blog.

What Do I Actually Believe? Part 1 of 3

A Facebook friend recently posted a link to this article by blogger Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

I have seldom seen such a collection of ad hominem attacks and straw-man arguments crammed into a single rant. Misrepresenting the views of others in this manner simply to argue for your own view is fallacious and divisive. It leads to arguments rather than positive dialog. If Americans actually want to get along, we need to understand what others actually believe, rather than caricatures and misrepresentations.

As a libertarian-leaning, evangelical conservative, I’d like to go through each point of this rant to explain how what I actually believe is quite different from the caricature Willis paints of conservative views. While the views I express are mine alone, they are reasonably representative of what most of my conservative friends believe. Not every conservative will agree with every point, however. I hope that this will lead to better understanding of what many conservatives actually believe, and can lead to productive dialog rather than ignorant rants.

Ms. Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s done talking to most of her conservative friends and family members. Her list is more than I care to address in a single chunk, so here are the first 10, along with some of her comments, and my responses:

1. You support revisionist history.

When I was in a high school history class, I’ll never forget one thing our teacher taught us: what you read in history books isn’t always accurate. The example she used was history books in the Soviet Union, now known as Russia. She informed us, to my shock and horror, that the Soviets pretty much included what they liked in the history books and left out everything else. As a result, she said, there were generations of Russian students who were misinformed.

Oh we were dismayed, my classmates and I! Those poor little Russian kids who were being taught false history. But wait….you guys on the right are trying to do the same thing right here in the Good Old U.S.A.

I certainly do not support revisionist history. The evils of slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, and the civil rights movement all should be covered in history classes. However, so should the role of historyChristianity in the formation of the United States and the fact that it was mostly Democrats who supported slavery and opposed civil rights for Blacks. Revisionist history is a two-way street. Considering that the public education system in the United States is primarily run by far-left-leaning organizations such as the NEA would support that history is being revised to support liberal ideology far more than to support conservative ideology. The best way to teach history is to go back to source documents, then present both sides of the issues, rather than simply indoctrinating students with revisionist malarkey.

2. You cite Jesus as your reasoning for rejecting marriage equality.

Yet the Bible only mentions homosexuality six times. Six. Times. 6. This many:

SixFingers

So why is this one of the biggest issues on your agenda? Why are you putting so much energy and hate into an issue that clearly wasn’t one of God’s major concerns?

As Christians who are pro-family, why would you deny people the right to the sanctity of marriage? If marriage strengthens families, why would you not want everyone to have this, even if you disagree with their choice of mate?

YOU (we) have destroyed the sanctity of marriage. There is no possible way that gay marriage can do more harm to marriage than heterosexuals have done. Yet we seldom hear a sermon bemoaning the divorce rate or people living together before marriage. Why is that? Because the pews would be empty.

First, the number of times the Bible mentions something is irrelevant. The Bible’s teaching on the subject is very clear: practicing homosexuality is sin.

Second, the main reason gay marriage is so high on the list of discussion topics for conservative Christians is because it’s so high on the list of discussion topics for others. The issue is being forced on Christians, so Christians are responding.

Third, disagreeing with homosexuality and calling it sin is not “hate.” The term “hate” is so misused today that it has become almost meaningless. Disagreement and opposition do not equal hate. I want people to understand that homosexuality is sin because I want them to turn from sin and be saved. I don’t want people to go to Hell. Wanting people to come to know Jesus is not hate. True, some professing Christians hate gays. However, doing so is completely inconsistent with clear Biblical teaching.

Fourth, it is precisely the sanctity of marriage we are defending. Marriage is between one man and one woman, not because we say it is, but because that’s how God clearly defined it. Biblically speaking, gay marriage doesn’t exist. Calling a gay relationship a marriage doesn’t make it a marriage, any more than calling a cat a dog makes it a dog.

Fifth, I mostly agree with her last point: Divorce and adultery have destroyed the sanctity of marriage. It is precisely because most of the church has compromised on divorce and adultery that homosexuality and other perversions are being accepted by people who profess to be Christian. It is the abandonment of Biblical values that is eroding morality in American culture.

3. You use Biblical scripture to excuse yourself from feeding the hungry.

There is nothing you do that makes me more disgusted with you than your abuse and misuse of 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

You are deliberately taking the scripture — ONE VERSE! — out of context when you use them to justify your own hatred of poor people. And again, you’re showing your ignorance.

First – there are many passages that talk about working and laziness, not just one. The book of Proverbs is loaded with them. The argument that 2 Thessalonians 3:10 is only referring to Christians who stopped working in anticipation of Christ’s return is not supported by the text. Don’t take my word for it; look it up for yourself in context.

Second – the passages of scripture that discuss helping the poor and disabled are always directed at the church or individuals – NEVER the secular government. Using the Bible out-of-context to try to support government entitlement programs is a misrepresentation of God’s Word. In the United States, Christians have always led the way when it comes to helping the poor. There are numerous Christian-based food pantries, food lines, education centers, hospitals, and support groups for the needy. I’m only aware of a handful from atheists and other religions.

Third, nobody I know, conservative or otherwise, is opposed to helping the truly needy. The issue is identifying who is truly needy, and how to help them. Many liberals seem to think most people are needy, and believe the best way to help them is for the government to give them stuff. Conservative tend to believe that we need to help the most needy – the elderly, the disabled, and orphans, for example. There are others who are physically able to work, but don’t have jobs. The government should support the truly needy, with the assistance of the private sector. The government needs to work with the private sector to grow the economy in order to provide jobs to the able-bodied, not long-term handouts. Give the unemployed temporary assistance until they can get jobs, absolutely! But also, help the private sector – especially small businesses – create well-paying jobs. Private-sector jobs are by far the best way to end poverty!

Last, statistics show that there have always been far more Christian charities helping the hungry than non-Christian charities. Don’t insult me by telling me I don’t care about feeding the hungry. You don’t know what you’re talking about. My Eagle Scout service project was to organize a food drive to restock a small food pantry. My church supports a food pantry around the corner from the church building. When I was unemployed, people from my church brought us food. Claiming that conservative Christians don’t care about the hungry is ignorant.

worldvision

4. You lie when you say you value “freedom of religion.”

I had lunch with some conservatives a while back, and the topic of freedom of religion came up. They expressed concern at the “war on Christianity.” I cited a recent event that had occurred in which protesters interrupted the U.S. Senate’s first Hindu-led prayer. The response from my fellow diners? “Good.” I don’t know how educated people can be so ignorant. Seriously. You can’t even see your own contradictions.

While I would agree that there are some conservatives that only value freedom of religion for Christianity, most of us support freedom for all religions.

firstamendmentPlease don’t misunderstand – I am certainly not arguing that all religions are equally true. Jesus said, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I believe that the only true religion is a relationship with God through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All other religions, philosophies, and worldviews lead to Hell. What I am saying is that while I believe most religion is in error, I will defend a person’s right to believe what they wish under the Constitution of the United States. Religious freedom is a sort of two-way street. If the government can impede the free exercise of religions I find abhorrent, there is nothing to prevent government from impeding the free exercise of Biblical Christianity. In the United States, if someone wants to be Muslim, or Mormon, or worship a sacred rock, or claim they worship nothing at all, it should be their right to worship, either publicly or privately, as they see fit, as long as those beliefs and practices don’t harm someone else.

And, seriously, I don’t understand how an educated person like Willis can’t see her own contradictions, either.

5. You claim God speaks to you and tells you to do things.

Over and over and over, we see right wing nutjobs in the news saying they’re doing this horrible thing or that horrible thing because God told them to…But conservatives believe these nuts. Here is what I think: not only should sensible conservatives not believe these nuts, you need to start speaking out against them. These are the false prophets that the Bible warns us about, in my humble opinion. Most of you lack the courage to take a stand against these idiots even when you know they’re nuts.

First, religious “nutjobs” are certainly not all conservatives. How many crazies do things to protect their “Mother Earth?” Recently, when Craig Stephen Hicks gunned down 3 Muslims in a dispute over a parking spot, the liberal media was quick to condemn him as a religious conservative nutjob – until it was revealed that he’s actually a liberal militant atheist. Suddenly, the liberal media isn’t talking about the incident at all.

While I do believe God speaks to His followers through the Holy Spirit, Christians are instructed to “test the spirits” to determine if it is actually God speaking, or a demonic voice. The voice of God will never contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.

I agree with Willis on this point: the Bible clearly warns of false prophets. However, Willis seems to have no clue what makes a person a “false prophet.” I believe that anyone teaching anything that contradicts the clear teaching of westborothe Bible is a false prophet. This would include all non-Christian religious teachers, as well as “Christian” teachers that deny any part of the Bible as anything other than the inspired Word of God. I also agree with Willis of this point: “Most of you lack the courage to take a stand against these idiots even when you know they’re nuts.” Far too many people, from all ideologies, refuse to speak out against evil. The liberal media was quick to denounce Hicks for murdering Muslims, until they found out he’s a liberal atheist. Many Christians won’t take a stand against other Christians, and those that do are usually severely criticized for being “divisive.” For example, most conservatives vehemently oppose the likes of Westboro Baptist Church and Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ. However, many are also slow to publicly condemn them, and when they do, the liberal media tends to ignore it.

Most conservative Christians do not claim they do things because they heard voices telling them to do so. We base our beliefs on the written Bible. It’s the liberals who tend to base their beliefs on whatever passing fancy is in vogue at the time, on the “voices” of popular opinion.

6. You question my faith.

“Christian Left is an oxymoron.”

Oh my, I’ve heard that so much from the right, and believe it or not, I often hear it from my “friends.” First of all, your questioning of my faith genuinely means very little to me. What it does is destroy my opinion of you; I now view you as self-righteous hypocrites… Keep questioning my faith, though, my people, because you can be sure I’m questioning yours. One thing I won’t do, however, is accuse you of not being a believer as you do me. What I will suggest to you is that my faith may be stronger than yours. I’ve educated myself, dared to question all things, and STILL believe. Most of you are too afraid to even learn. It may, after all, test your faith.

Do I question people’s faith? Sure, I do. I know that it doesn’t matter how much faith a person has, if that faith is placed in anything other than Jesus Christ. I know that people will burn in Hell for eternity, unless they place their way_truth_lifefaith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). The Bible says we will know people’s faith by their fruit. If a person truly has a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, their words and actions will begin to mirror the teaching of Scripture. If a person’s words and actions continue to contradict the clear teaching of the Bible, it is completely appropriate to question their salvation.

I find it interesting that Willis denounces people who question her faith as self-righteous hypocrites, yet then states, “Keep questioning my faith, though, my people, because you can be sure I’m questioning yours.” Doesn’t that make her a self-righteous hypocrite as well?

Willis then states that her faith is stronger than a conservative’s faith because she’s educated herself and questioned her beliefs. She claims conservatives are “afraid to even learn.” This is nothing more than a baseless ad hominem attack. I have news for Willis: Conservative evangelical Christians are just as willing to study and learn as she is; we question our beliefs, and grow as we learn. It is because I questioned my beliefs that I became a follower of Jesus Christ in the first place. It is because I studied the Bible that I came to believe it is the inspired Word of God. It is because I continue to examine myself daily that I continue to grow in my relationship with God and in my understanding and beliefs. Those of you who have been following this blog since I began it three years ago have probably noticed changes in the types of things I write about, and subtle shifts in ideology. That’s due to growth.

For Willis to claim that only liberals question themselves, educate themselves, and grow in faith is nonsense. For her to accuse conservatives of hypocrisy for questioning her faith, while she questions the faith of conservatives, is self-righteous hypocrisy. The fact that we find your beliefs to be false doesn’t mean we’re uneducated or afraid to learn. It means we have different beliefs and have come to different conclusions.

So, yes, I question her faith. I question everyone’s faith. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian will enter Heaven. Unfortunately, many will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you.” I even question my own beliefs on a regular basis. I no longer question my belief in Jesus as Savior, because I’ve had it confirmed repeatedly. But, I do question my beliefs on specific issues, and regularly adjust my thinking to conform more closely with Biblical teaching.

7. You care more about your guns than you do about children.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, and following other similar tragedies, I asked many of you if you loved your guns more than you do children. I made the statement of “I’d give up my gun forever if it would bring back even one of those children.” I asked you if you’d do the same. You admitted that you would not.

This is an absolutely ridiculous claim. First of all, it’s an example of the fallacy of the false dilemma. The argument is framed as either A) you love guns, or B) you love children. In reality, this isn’t an either/or issue. Supporting gun rights has nothing to do with loving children. There are some very good arguments that support the position that armed-teachersarming teachers would actually prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook.

This argument is also little more than an appeal to emotions. Willis gives no facts to support her position; rather, she appeals to the emotions of her readers: “It’s for the children.” How can anyone oppose children?

Lastly, the question, “if giving up guns could bring back even one of the Sandy Hook children, would you do it,” is purely hypothetical. It’s also an example of a complex question fallacy. If the person answers yes, they support gun restrictions. If they answer no, they hate children. In reality, there is no way to bring back a dead child. The question is not based in reality. It’s a carefully constructed fallacious question for which there is no correct answer. It’s a lot like asking, “Do you still hate your mother.” Answer yes, you admit you once hated your mother. Answer no, you admit you still hate your mother. It leaves no room for the fact that you never hated your mother. The question Willis asks leaves no option for the perfectly rational belief that widespread gun ownership actually prevents gun violence. Passing laws making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns will do nothing to keep criminals from getting guns illegally, since criminals generally don’t follow laws in the first place.

8. You get excited about people dying.

You really, really like to see death. And not just to terrorists. You love the death penalty. You love war. You love seeing kids like Trayvon Martin being shot. They deserve it, you say. But his murderer has shown — again and again — since his acquittal that he is a dangerous person.

Wow. How do I even respond to such a stupid, ignorant, hateful statement?

Willis is incredibly hypocritical for calling conservatives out for supporting the death penalty and war, while she herself supports abortion, which has killed far more people than all of the wars and death penalty executions combined.

Conservatives hate death just as much as liberals do. We hate wars, murder, and abortion. The main difference between liberals and conservatives on the issues of war and the death penalty is that we see them as sometimes being necessary evils. War is, unfortunately, sometimes necessary to stop evil people from doing evil. Imagine what might have happened differently if military action had been taken against Hitler in 1935, when Hitler ignored the Versailles Treaty and ordered Germany to re-arm? Or, if the United States had gotten involved in World War II against Germany in 1939, rather than waiting until after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor? Would ISIS be a serious threat today in the Middle East and elsewhere if Obama had kept American troops in Iraq instead of pulling them when he did?

The Bible teaches that humans were created in the image of God. All human life is sacred. Death is the penalty for sin, and we all have sinned. We all die. The only questions are when we will die, where we will die, how we will die, and where we go afterward. As a Christian, I oppose abortion, war, and murder. Although I hate war, I understand that it is sometimes necessary in a fallen world. Although I hate death, I see the death penalty as just punishment for committing murder. We don’t like the death penalty, but see it as regrettably necessary for justice.

No, we don’t like seeing kids like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown being shot. However, we also don’t immediately assume they were the victims because of their ethnicity. We don’t immediately jump to the conclusion the shootings were racially motivated. We wait to see what the facts turn out to be, and if the facts warrant it, fully support the prosecution and conviction of the assailants in a court of law. In the cases of both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, the conflicting evidence made determining innocence or guilt extremely difficult. I personally believe that both Martin and George Zimmerman made mistakes that led to Martin’s death. I agree with Willis in that Zimmerman has since been shown to be a danger to society, and in retrospect, there is good reason to believe he was probably the aggressor. However, the evidence wasn’t strong enough to warrant a conviction at the time. In the case of Michael Brown and officer Darren Wilson, again, both parties made serious mistakes that led to Brown’s death. Brown was a thug who had just robbed a store and attacked a police officer. Wilson was an incompetent officer who allowed himself to be put in a dangerous situation, and then panicked.

The claim that conservatives “get excited about people dying” is a baseless ad hominem attack. It is a complete misrepresentation of conservative beliefs. It is a hateful smear, and reprehensible.

9. You assume that everyone who needs help are losers and parasites who refuse to work.

Approximately 47 million people receive food stamps, and most of them are children or the elderly, in addition to people who are employed. The numbers, from a 2012 USDA report:

  • 45 percent of SNAP recipients are under 18 years of age

  • Nine percent are age 60 or older

  • More than 40 percent live in households with earnings

Again, this is a baseless ad hominem attack. Willis makes a claim, and offers no evidence whatsoever that it is true. Her entire argument on this point is to quote statistics about food stamp recipients.

As I stated in point #2 above, many needy people are truly needy. Very few conservatives are opposed to helping the disabled, the elderly, or orphans. We also recognize that many able-bodied, hard-working Americans need temporary assistance while looking for work. What we are opposed to is institutionalized long-term handouts to people who can and should be working.

While the statistics Willis quotes are true, they don’t really support her claim that conservatives assume anything.

Food-Stamps-YearlyIn fact, what most conservatives believe is that liberalism is one of the primary causes of poverty in America. An important statistic Willis leaves out of her discussion is the fact that the number of SNAP recipients has nearly doubled under the Obama administration. Conservatives generally do not oppose SNAP or other assistance programs; rather, we oppose the liberal economic policies that have made more widespread assistance a necessity. The decline in unemployment is not due to more people having jobs; it is due to people giving up on finding work. Annual median household income has dropped every year under Obama, according to the US Census Bureau, to a level not seen since 1995, and workforce participation rates have dropped to their lowest levels since the late 1970s. Conservatives, including myself, believe that liberal policies are the reason for these statistics.

Workforce ParticipationI believe that liberal politicians have an economic policy that is designed to deliberately force more middle-class citizens into poverty, while blaming the Republicans. As more people become impoverished, liberals then give them handouts, and take credit for helping the very people their policies hurt in the first place. The end result is more people voting for Democratic candidates, because they have been duped into believing liberal politicians actually care about them. I do NOT believe that everyday liberal citizens believe this is right. I don’t even think they have any idea how liberal economic policies actually work, and if they did, they’d be appalled. And, honestly, I don’t think the Republicans are much better.

I was unemployed for the end of 2012 and most of 2013. Although I was grateful for the government assistance I received during my unemployment, I would much rather have had a job. I blame the Obama administration’s economic policies for making it so difficult to find another job. After 10 months of unemployment, I was forced to take a position in a different industry and occupation than I had previously worked, with a 39% drop in income from my previous job. Again, I blame liberal economic policies for stifling small business growth, which has decreased the number of available jobs, and dropped hourly wages.

Along with most conservatives, I fully support long-term government assistance for the truly needy, as well as temporary assistance for able-bodied workers who can’t find a job. We oppose policies that make it more difficult for small businesses to grow and create more jobs, as well as policies that encourage multi-generational poverty and government dependence for people who can work, but won’t. We do NOT assume all people on assistance are lazy parasites – but, some are, and they need to be encouraged to work their way out of poverty, not given handouts to gain votes.

10. You weren’t concerned about uninsured people– including me.

… I didn’t want a free ride. I was eager to pay for my own insurance. Obamacare opened that door for me and millions of other hard-working Americans and disallows insurance companies from rejecting millions of Americans who were previously rejected. But without even knowing fully what the Affordable Care Act is, you chose the path of ignorance. You didn’t care.

Again, this is a complete misrepresentation of what most conservatives believe. We believe health insurance should be made affordable for all Americans. We also believe Obamacare is an asinine way to accomplish this.

While Obamacare has made health insurance more affordable for the poor and self-employed, costs have skyrocketed for the working middle-class. Mine have gone up significantly. The plan I was on last year was eliminated by my employed, and I was forced onto a plan with much higher deductibles and premiums.

Most conservatives understand that Obamacare has little to do with health insurance, but rather is a scheme to redistribute wealth from the middle and upper classes to the poor.

Two of the main forces driving up medical costs are malpractice insurance and drug costs. Many conservatives, including myself, believe the way to make health care more affordable to everyone, including the poor, would be to limit malpractice lawsuits, and limit patents to drug companies. Obamacare does neither of these, and in fact has driven both costs up even further. Eliminating frivolous malpractice lawsuits and multi-million-dollar payouts would drive down malpractice insurance costs, and limiting drug patents would open drug manufacturing up to competition, driving down costs.

As for opposing Obamacare before we even knew what is was, it was Nancy Pelosi who famously declared, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

It isn’t that conservatives aren’t concerned about the uninsured – we are. We just believe Obamacare is a stupid way of dealing with the issue.

 

Items 11-20 and 21-28 of Willis’ list will be addressed in future blogs.

The Parable of the Selfish Geneticist

science bibleOnce there was a geneticist who stumbled upon a series of genes responsible for human aging. He also discovered a method to turn those genes off, allowing people to live to fantastic ages of 1,000 years or more. However, being incredibly selfish, he told no one about his discovery; he kept the knowledge and the treatment to himself. Eventually, as others around him aged, yet he remained young, his secret was discovered. The selfish geneticist was condemned by all for his selfishness. They said, “Millions of lives have been needlessly lost, all because this selfish man kept the knowledge of how to prevent aging to himself, rather than telling the world about his fantastic discovery!” The selfish geneticist lived for more than another thousand years, guilt-ridden with the knowledge that he could have saved millions of lives, but didn’t.

A number of people have recently asked why I spend so much time and effort on Facebook and with this blog arguing for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Much like the selfish geneticist, I have discovered the reason people die. It would be selfish of me not to tell others about it.

What I have discovered is not new; I’m certainly not the only person who knows about it. In fact, it’s been known for thousands of years, and millions know about it today. The answer to eternal life isn’t something I figured out on my own through superior insight or intelligence; rather, it’s so simple a child can understand it: The reason all people die is because we all sin. The cure is forgiveness for sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. So simple, yet so profound.

Yet, there are many billions of people who either have never heard, or who refuse to listen. I believe with all my heart that when any person dies without first receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, they are destined for an eternity separated from God in Hell. Sin separates us from God, and there is nothing that any person can do on their own to remove sin from their lives. Only by entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ and having sin removed by His death on the cross can anyone avoid Hell.

This is why I am so passionate in my efforts to evangelize. I would be a hypocrite not to.

SpeakTheTruthMany people who read my blog and/or Facebook posts would argue that God does not exist, or that absolute spiritual truth either does not exist or is unknowable. Yet, I know God exists, because I know Him; He lives in me. I know absolute moral and spiritual truth exist, because God has shown them to me. It’s not because there’s anything special about me; God wants everyone to know Him and to know the truth. I argue for the absolute truth of the Bible, not to win an argument, or to try to make myself out as some sort of spiritual genius, but because I want to expose the lies people cling to that prevent them from coming to true faith in Jesus Christ.

God has blessed me with an analytical mind, so I tend to take a very analytical, logical approach to sharing and defending the Gospel. I realize that this approach isn’t for everyone; I often wish I was better at expressing myself in other ways. I’m working on it. But, since God has gifted me the way He has, I will continue to use what He has given me to try to help people understand that He exists, that He loves them, and that there is only one way to be reconciled to Him, through Jesus Christ.

I know why people die. I also know the cure. It’s not a genetic disorder; it’s a spiritual disorder. The cure is Jesus Christ. Of this I am absolutely convinced: Millions have died and continue to die, and will spend eternity apart from God, unless they turn from their sin and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What kind of horrible monster would I be if I kept this truth to myself?

Being Thankful When I Don’t Feel Thankful

This Thanksgiving, I don’t feel particularly thankful.

My family’s going through a rough time. My wife and daughter have had long-term medical issues; my hip has been hurting for the last 2 ½ years, and I found out two weeks ago that I need a total hip replacement. We’ve been financially stressed since I left my teaching career 5 ½ years ago, and just as we were finally getting some financial stability, I lost my job last week. With the job loss goes the semi-affordable insurance I need to pay for my hip surgery. Sometimes, life just stinks.

The economy stinks, so it may be a while before I can get another job where I can make enough money to pay the bills. The prospect of going broke and losing everything I’ve worked for has left me depressed, and I’m tired of the constant physical pain in my hip. And, yes, while I realize I still have more than most people in the world, it’s not a whole lot of consolation. And yes, of course, I still have my family. But, from the perspective of a middle-aged American who sees his health and the American Dream slipping through his fingers, there’s not an abundance to be thankful for this year.

Fortunately, as a follower of Jesus Christ, there is much more to life than economic security and physical health. God has promised many things those of us who have chosen to follow Him.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” What things is He talking about? In verse 25, Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” He continues in verses 31-32: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” So, when He says in verse 33, “these things shall be added to you,” He is talking about our material needs. God promises to meet the material needs of those who “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Note that this does not say He will meet our desires, only our needs. There is no “prosperity gospel” in the Bible; there is only the promise that God will provide for the basic needs of those who are truly seeking Him.

But far beyond meeting my physical needs, God has promised to be with me through the trials of life. This is not just some pie-in-the-sky future reward after death, but a promise to walk with me, guide me, and comfort me through the trials of today. One of my favorite passages in all the Bible comes from Romans 8:31-39:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

First, notice that this is written for the present, not just the future: God is for us; Christ makes intercession for us; we are more than conquerors; the love of God is in Christ Jesus out Lord.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, the most important thing in all of life is my relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. My sin separated me from God; the blood of Jesus has provided reconciliation. Because I have confessed my guilt before holy God, believed and received forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and repented of my sin, I am reconciled with God and have become an adopted child in His family. And nothing can change this. God never promises that His children won’t ever face “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.” But, He does promise that by and through His grace, mercy, and love, I am able to conquer all these things. God loves me so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sin (John 3:16). And, He promises that I can never be separated from His love.

This Thanksgiving, I’m not thankful for my health issues, or my unemployment, or the depression that accompanies these things. But, despite the fact that I don’t feel especially thankful, I am thankful for a wife and family that stands by me despite my shortcomings, and I’m especially thankful for the love and grace of God through Jesus Christ, and His promise to see me through the trials of this life.

Sometimes, Life Stinks.

Sometimes, life just plain stinks.

Last week, my orthopedic surgeon informed me that I need a total hip replacement.

Yesterday, I lost my job.

My immediate reaction to both issues was to get angry, then depressed. And honestly, I’m still more than a little upset.

How should I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, respond when bad stuff happens?

First, it’s important to understand why evil exists.

God created this world sinless and perfect. There was no death, no illness, no unemployment, and no sin. There was no anger, no depression, and no crap to deal with. It was a perfect world.

Until Adam sinned.

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. (Romans 5:12-15)

All of the sin, death, illness, anger, natural disasters, depression, other problems, and other evils are a direct consequence of Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin changed the perfect world that God designed, and polluted it.

However, we can’t blame it all on Adam. Our sin has added to the problem.

Sometimes, bad stuff happens as a direct result of our own sin. We make bad choices that lead to bad consequences.

But sometimes, bad stuff happens, and it has nothing to do with anything we personally did; it’s a result of the sin in the world. It can be the result of demonic activity, and it can also be the result of God’s judgement for the sin of society. Evil can have different causes, but those causes all trace back to the same root cause – sin.

In any case, how should followers of Jesus Christ handle the crap that life serves us?

For me, the key is to realize the sufferings of this life are temporary. The perfection God planned for the human race will be realized in eternity.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. (Revelation 22:3)

Life on this earth is but the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of eternity. The junk we live through in this life is only temporary. For followers of Jesus Christ, the current life is the worst it will ever be; for unbelievers, unfortunately, this life is the best it will ever be.

The other thing is that, even though we must face a lot of pain and suffering in this world, as a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit living inside me to comfort, guide, and direct me through the junk of life.

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 
As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

While I’m still hurt, depressed, and scared about both my hip and my job situation, I am holding on to the promises God has given me in His word. God never promised to keep His followers from the difficulties of life, but rather promised to walk with us through the difficulties. And, while I know I’ll struggle during the next days (or weeks, or months, depending on when I find another job and/or have my surgery), I know that God is with me through the process, and that He is in control of the situation.

Personal Log, May 6, 2012

Life is full of changes.

Sometimes, change is for the better; sometimes, it’s for the worse.

Most people don’t like change. We get comfortable with the way things have been. Change interrupts our routines and comfort – it’s an inconvenience. Yet in reality, the only constant in life is change. Well, OK, and taxes.

For the last five years, I have worked for the Answers in Genesis ministry, in several different roles. I worked in the Dragonhall Bookstore at the Creation Museum; I have worked in the AiG warehouse, shipping out hundreds of thousands of books, DVDs, and other materials to thousands of people. I have written articles for Answers Magazine, and Junior High curriculum materials for the new Answers Bible Curriculum. Along the way, I’ve been tremendously blessed by the incredible people I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with. They will never know, this side of Heaven, how much they have encouraged me and how much I have learned from them. I can only hope I’ve been half the blessing to them that they’ve been to me.

May 18th, 2012 will be my last day at Answers in Genesis, at least as a full-time employee.

God has led me to take a new job at AdvancePierre foods as an inventory analyst.

I’m entering a new mission field.

The biggest drawback of working in ministry or with a non-profit organization is that the pay isn’t all that great. It’s been a struggle for my family and I to make ends meet on the salary I’ve been earning. This isn’t a complaint; it’s a sacrifice I’ve been willing to make for the last five years, because I know that God placed me at AiG for a reason. God has always provided enough money to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, and often provided more than enough for us to have many of the things we didn’t necessarily need. Sometimes, His provision has been downright miraculous. I praise God that He has seen always provided enough.

This new position will pay significantly more than what I earned at AiG. My prayer is that this will allow me to focus less on finances, and more on ministry. My greatest desire is to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am praying that this new position will give me more time and resources to be able to minister to people through my church, Fairfield First Baptist, and elsewhere.

Please pray for my family and me as we go through this transition. Pray also for my teammates in the AiG warehouse, as they transition as well. Most of all, please pray that God will use this new situation in my life, and that I will allow God to use me as He sees fit to reach people for His kingdom.

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

What’s So Good About “Good Friday?”

As a kid, I never understood the term, “Good Friday.”  What was so “good” about the execution of a first-century religious leader?

Before I became a Christian, I realized that the death and resurrection of a man – even a very good man – could not in any way take away my sin, or give me eternal life.  The question was, who was Jesus?  Was he a good teacher, or a prophet?  Or, was he something more?  What did it mean that Jesus was the “Son of God?”

What I came to realize was that Jesus never claimed to be a mere rabbi or prophet; he claimed to be God.  If this claim is true, then Jesus’ death and resurrection could take away my sin; I could ask Him to be my Savior, and be saved.  If this claim is not true, then Christianity is utter nonsense.

If Jesus claimed to be God, but he wasn’t God, then he was either a liar, or else he was crazy.  As I studied the record of his life as recorded in the Gospels, I found no indication that Jesus was a liar.  Nobody would be willing to die for a lie, yet Jesus willingly died for his belief that he was God, and that he could save the world.  I also found no indication that he was crazy.  Jesus made some of the most profound statements ever made.  He had a singular purpose without any signs of the erratic behavior of a delusional lunatic.  I came to the conclusion that since Jesus was neither a liar nor a crazy man, He must be Who He claimed to be – God.  As a result, I asked Jesus Christ into my life, received Him as my Savior, had my sins forgiven, and entered into a relationship with the Living God.

What’s so good about Good Friday?  Good Friday is the commemoration of the day nearly 2,000 years ago that Jesus Christ died for my sin.  As 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  God the Father took my sin, and placed it on His only Son, who knew no sin, but paid the penalty for my sin in my place.  Because of my sin, I deserve eternal separation from God; but, because Jesus paid the penalty for me, and because I have asked Jesus Christ to forgive my sin and to be my Savior, I instead have eternal life and an eternal, intimate relationship with God.

The best part is, Jesus Christ also died for the sins of everyone who chooses to accept Him as Savior.  He took the sins of the world upon Himself when He died on the cross that Friday; and His resurrection on the first Easter Sunday is the guarantee to anyone who chooses to receive Him that they will have eternal life.

That’s what’s so good about Good Friday!

BC by Johnny Hart
April 9, 2004

The Word

One of my favorite passages of scripture is from the Gospel of John, Chapter 1.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Before I received Christ as my Savior, I struggled with the question, “Who is/was Jesus Christ?”  I wondered if Jesus was a prophet and a good teacher, or something more.  As I studied this question, I realized that the Bible – and Jesus Himself – claimed he was no mere mortal, but actually God in the flesh.  I also realized that if Jesus was just a man – even a very good man – then the crucifixion and resurrection meant nothing.  If Jesus had been just a man, then he had sin, the same as all men.  The only way Jesus could take away my sin is if he was actually God, come to earth in human form, without a sin nature, and living a sinless life.  Only then could the crucifixion and resurrection take away sin and guarantee eternal life.

One night, as I tried to sleep, these verses from John kept swirling around in my head.  Somehow, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, it suddenly “clicked.”  I understood that Jesus was indeed Who He claimed to be – God, in the flesh.  And, as God, He had the ability and power to take away my sin, and to forgive me.  I re-read John 1, and came to these verses:

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own,and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I understood that all I needed to do was to receive the forgiveness God offered through Jesus Christ’s death, and eternal life through His resurrection.  At 1:04 am, on October 22, 1979, I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life.  I was forever changed.  Thirty-two years later, I am more in love with Jesus than ever before.  He is continuing to change me, continuing to mold me into His image.  I long for the day when I will meet Him face-to-face.  In the meantime, I will continue to serve Him, and to grow in my relationship with Him.

If you have never received Jesus Christ as Savior, contact me.  I’d love to help you to come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

If you have already received Christ as Savior, but are struggling with your faith, I’d love to pray for you, and help, if I can.  Contact me.

Hearing from God

One of my Facebook friends recently posed the question, “Are you struggling to hear from God?” He then makes the following point:  We sometimes must wait and trust God’s timing.

I’m pretty much in the same boat as my friend.  I know God has called me to full-time ministry, and I sense that God is preparing me for a ministry that goes beyond anything I’m currently involved with, but it seems that God is silent as to what that ministry might be.  God knows that my heart’s desire is to serve Him wherever He chooses to put me.  I know He’s blessed me with gifts and talents far beyond my natural abilities, and that He wouldn’t have done so if there isn’t a purpose.  I’m having difficulty waiting for God’s direction, though.

The Bible talks quite a bit about waiting for God:

Psalm 27: 14

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 37: 9

For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.

Isaiah 40: 31

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

What should our attitude be, when we’ve been waiting, and it seems God is not answering our prayers?  I’ve found that there are five things that I need to pray for when I am waiting to hear from God.

  1.  I need to pray for the patience to wait, rather than making a hasty decision, just because I think I’m supposed to be doing something.  Too many times, I’ve made a decision without waiting for God’s answer, and in retrospect, it’s never been the best decision.
  2. I need to pray that God will prepare me for whatever it is He is getting ready to call me to do.  I need to stay in God’s Word, stay in prayer, and stay in fellowship with other believers, learning whatever God is trying to teach me, so that when God does give me clear direction, I’m prepared to do it immediately.
  3. I need to pray for God’s protection from being deceived.  I need God’s protection and discernment so that I won’t listen to the devil’s attempts to divert my attention, or to do something other than what God wants me to do. I pray that God protects me from my own ambitions and my natural tendency to be impatient.
  4. I need to pray for God to give me clear direction.  I pray that when He does speak to me, I will have no doubts that it is indeed His voice I am hearing, and that I will have a clear understanding of His answer.
  5. Lastly, I must pray that when I do hear His voice, I will immediately obey.  I can have no reason to expect God to speak, if I am not prepared to immediately do whatever it is that He tells me to do.

I’ve found that when I pray for patience, preparation, protection, clear understanding, and a will to obey, that I am better able to wait for God.  Sometimes it’s still frustrating when my sinful nature gets in the way, and I get impatient when it seems God isn’t answering me as quickly as I think He should.  How arrogant of me!  But, when I trust in God’s goodness and omnipotence, I can wait for His answer in His timing, and I find myself better able to obey when I do hear His voice.

Yes, I am struggling to hear from God right now.  As I was writing this, my Media Player “randomly” played the song “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns:

Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of Truth

I’d very much appreciate your prayers as I seek the patience to wait for God’s clear voice, and to obey.