Thursday Roundup (12/15/16)

I’m pleased to announce another free webinar scheduled for next month: “Understanding the Old Testament Law Today,” from 7:30-8:30pm EST on Monday, January 9, with a recording available if you can’t make the live event. We’ll look at the three types of Old Testament Law and what each type has to say to today’s Christians. You can watch this frustratingly ill-informed scene from The West Wing to get in the mood for the webinar… Both Christians and unbelievers alike often misunderstand how the Old Testament applies today, but it’s a topic with much relevance to our daily lives and to modern debates over morality. Details and registration here. As always, please share this with any friends or family who might be interested!

Today’s video looks at a second-century heretic and what his list of books he accepted as Scripture can tell us about our modern Bibles. The Answers for Ambassadors podcast considers Richard Dawkins’ attempt to explain “the roots of religion.” I’m afraid the theme of this week’s links ended up being civilizational collapse (Merry Christmas!), but it’s not all doom and gloom, as several good articles remind us why Christians can always live with hope.

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“If you are hopeless, there may be many contributors, but two are certain: 1. You have placed your hope in something other than God… and it has let you down. 2. You may understand that Jesus conquered death, but you live as though He is still in the grave. All hopelessness is ultimately a denial of the resurrection.”
~ Edward Welch

Latest Video

Was the Bible created by God’s inspiration of first-century apostolic authors, or was it created through political decisions by the fourth-century church hierarchy, picking winners and losers from among competing gospel accounts? This video looks at one piece of evidence: a list of books which a heretic named Marcion declared he accepted as Scripture in the 140s AD. What can a heretic’s list tell us about the composition of the modern Bible? You’ll just have to listen to find out…

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Answers for Ambassadors Podcast

If there is no God, why is almost everyone religious? For an atheist like Richard Dawkins, it’s a puzzling question; one which he tackles in Chapter 5 of The God Delusion. This episode looks at Dawkins’ attempt to explain away religion as an “evolutionary byproduct.” He sketches a plausible hypothesis, but Romans 1 offers a different explanation for the roots of religion.

Answers for Ambassadors is available via SoundCloud or by searching in iTunes and most other podcast players. You can also direct your podcast player to the podcast RSS feed.

Best Reads of the Week

This list of the Intersect Project’s top 10 most-read articles in 2016 has too much good content for me to link just one. There are a variety of topics, but many of the articles and videos are thoughtful takes on biblical sexuality and gender identity.

“The American dream is dying,” David French declares. And the answer lies in cultural change, not politics. What a lovely line: “On the very day that he was packing to leave home, to live with his alcoholic and unstable father, his church arrived.”

Speaking of civilizational collapse, last week I linked to an article about France’s decision to ban an ad showcasing the value of Downs syndrome children because it might make people feel guilty about aborting them. Now the French legislature has passed a bill which appears to criminalize posting any sort of pro-life information online. Because choice means only having one side of the story.

In America, a Christian bed and breakfast owner was just fined $80,000 for refusing to host a same-sex marriage ceremony. I suspect this sort of persecution is going to get worse before it gets better. We need to pray for God’s mercy and focus on teaching and living a consistent biblical sexual ethic—which means being as worked up about pornography and unjustified divorce as we are about homosexuality. But don’t be discouraged! A faithful testimony can shift our culture: statistics show that abortion is down 21% this decade.

More civilizational collapse: Charlotte Hayes discusses the push to put women on the front lines. “That is what this is all about: breaking down barriers, loosening gender roles and using the military as a vehicle for social engineering, damn the torpedoes. Requiring women to register for the draft is not about winning wars, helping military women, or advancing civilized values—quite the contrary. All these causes can be sacrificed to achieve a politically correct military.”

But there is an answer to every sort of collapse, sin, and even death itself. Randy Alcon’s thoughtful answer to the question, “Why Didn’t God Send Jesus Right After Adam and Eve Sinned?” reminds us that our God is wise, good, and trustworthy.

Another good piece from Michael J. Kruger: “Five Myths About the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism.”

After all the talk of “fake news” over the last couple weeks, this article is a compelling reminder that the collapsing credibility of “real news” created the vacuum which allowed fake news to flourish. Lack of integrity has consequences in public life as well as private.

Photo of the Week

Purple hydrangeas

My wife and I stumbled across this beautiful multicolored hydrangea bush at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina. Hydrangeas are usually either blue or pink, depending on soil acidity, but this bush had quite a lovely range of color.

(Check out other photos at my Etsy shop.)

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