“Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.”
This quote is printed on the last page of the rifle data books issued to every U.S. Marine for their annual marksmanship qualification. The source of the quote was General Alfred M. Gray, the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps and the only commandant to have his official photograph taken in a camouflage utility uniform. The message was sent loud and clear: Every marine is a rifleman.
Since the War for Independence, the U.S. Marine Corps has been distinguished by its dedication to marksmanship. Every recruit is trained early and thoroughly. Regardless of their military occupational specialty (MOS), be it infantry, technician, food service, or music, every marine is expected to be proficient with a rifle.
Here’s the thing…
I believe Christians would do well to learn from this legacy. There are certain things that are so intrinsically tied to the Christian identity that no Christian should go without. There are certain subjects every Christian ought to learn early and thoroughly, namely theology.
Every Christian to one degree or another ought to be a theologian. Continue reading “Every Christian a Theologian”
This is the first installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.
At first glance, worldview seems like an arcane topic reserved only for the more philosophically minded. Discussing worldviews can get tedious and sometimes downright arbitrary. However, worldview thinking is becoming increasingly necessary for Christians to understand the world around them properly. Continue reading “Say It with Me: Worldview”
What do one million dollars look like? Well, that depends.
If you want to see a million dollars in $100 bills, I am afraid it is not all that impressive, fitting into an oversized briefcase. If you wanted to see a million in $20 bills, it is a bit less underwhelming. At least it would be something that could qualify as an actual pile of money.
However, if you wanted to see a million dollars in $1 bills, now that actually looks like a lot of money. At Chicago’s Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum, a rotating “cube of cash” is on display. One million $1 bills fill a 64 cubit foot case and weights over a ton. As a single stack, it would reach nearly four hundred feet in height.
What does Christian apologetics look like? Well, that depends. Continue reading “Would-be and Wouldn’t-be Apologists”
I had honestly never thought about it before. So the first time I was confronted with this question, I was dumbfounded. I had thought through why God would send people to Hell, but this is the other side of the coin.
This question resonates with me. I get it. According to the Bible God offers forgiveness—and therefore salvation, and therefore Heaven—to the worst people. Terrible people. I get a lump in my throat to think of it. How could God forgive them? Pick the worst sin you would dare imagine. For one moment, try to entertain the thought of the very possibility of that person finding forgiveness from God and getting to spend eternity in Heaven. Outrageous!
I believe that the longing behind this question is justified. We want to see justice come to the serial killer, the child molester, and the rapist. We want them to get what is coming to them, to feel the pain they caused. We want no loopholes, no way out. Yet, isn’t that what God offers?
We deal in terms of what people deserve, and there are monsters in this world who deserve no mercy, no forgiveness, and certainly no Heaven.
However, the topic of what people deserve is a much broader topic than we like to admit. We point the question to extreme wrongdoing, as if to differentiate between our “not so bad” wrongdoing. We focus on God dealing with extreme evil in the world, and ignore the “nobody’s perfect” evil in our lives.
But, here’s the thing…
If nobody is perfect, then everybody is guilty.
So, the question really seems to be that if God is righteous, how can he forgive anyone? Continue reading “How Could a Righteous God Allow Bad People into Heaven?”
The problem of Hell is one of the most frequently asked questions about God, and one of the hardest to answer.
As with most questions about God, there is a lot behind this question. How do we reconcile the Biblical descriptions of Hell with a God who does not just show love, but as the Bible says is love? How could Jesus show so much compassion for people, and yet talk so explicitly about eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth?
What is behind this question differs from person to person. Some people would word their question better by asking, “Why would God send a person who sinned for a few years to hell for all eternity?” Some would ask, “Why would God not just forgive everyone so no one would have to be punished?”
Whatever emphasis resonates, the basic question remains the same. Why would a loving God send good people to Hell?”
Here’s the thing…
When we take our time to clarify what we mean in what we are asking, the answer reveals itself.
When we clarify certain things about God, we see that God’s love and judgment are complementary, not contradictory. When we clarify certain things about ourselves, we see that God’s justice is exactly that, justice. When we clarify certain things about Hell, we see that the solution for it is not the eradication of it; it is salvation from it. Continue reading “How Could a Loving God Send Good People to Hell?”
How do we deal with the whys of this generation or any generation for that matter?
As always, the conflict with the cultural current drives us back to an ancient book. God has blessed us with His Word which transcends all cultural whims and addresses every cultural concern. In the middle of the Apostle Peter’s first letter, we find a command, which presents a solution to the question at hand, why.
A Modern Misconception
For many people, the term “blind faith” is redundant. The popular assumption is that a sort of blindness is inherent, and often intentional, in religious faith. This notion is prevalent in popular conversation on the topic. Famous quotes are thrown around, like that time that Mark Twain quipped, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Or there was that one time Ayn Rand wrote, “Faith is the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof.” In his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian identified his two favorite definitions of faith as “belief without evidence” and “pretending to know things you don’t.”
By definition—at least by popular definition—faith is blind.
Consequently, faith and rationality are often seen as incompatible, mutually exclusive terms. They are treated as opposite approaches to truth. On a popular level, it is assumed by many unbelievers that if a person is rational, they have no need for faith. On a personal level, it is assumed by many believers that if a person has faith, there is no need for rationality.
But why do we assume that there is this great divide between faith and reason?
Here’s the thing…
I don’t know.
The Bible describes a marriage between faith and reason, not a divorce. Besides, everyone’s worldview at some point rests on accepting a foundational idea by faith, no matter how much rationality precedes it.
Continue reading “No Blind Faith Here”