A Debate: “Does Atheism Exist?” Featuring Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Sonny Hernandez

25360405_10155243032768526_193338861_nIt was my pleasure to welcome Drs. Michael Shermer and Sonny Hernandez to debate a rarely, if ever, asked question: does atheism exist? Yes, we all know many call themselves atheists. But can true atheism exist? That is, can it justify its own foundations? Dr. Shermer is an internationally-recognized atheist, editor of Skeptic magazine, and author of several New York Times bestsellers. Dr. Hernandez is a presuppositional apologist and author of five books. Enjoy the dialogue!

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

 

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When Did We Become the Weird Ones?

1407531543565-street_preacherSee, in your mind’s eye, a street preacher. Someone who, perhaps with a Bible in one hand and a portable speaker attached to his waist, proclaims biblical truth to a public audience. Maybe he is at a major sporting event encouraging the crowds to repent. Maybe he (or she) is at a busy bus depot downtown. Maybe he is in front of an abortion clinic. When you see such a person in your mind’s eye, or perhaps with your actual eyes, what do you think of them? What is your impression?

Most of us intuitively think that anyone willing to be so public with just about anything – religious or otherwise – may have a few screws loose. And, in fact, by Lutheran standards, it is true that many who dare to preach so publicly do hold to different theological views than we do. And yes, some people engaged in street ministry may be downright certifiable. Still, should we write them all off as a little nutty, especially if the words they are saying are a perfectly Biblical presentation of the Gospel?

It may not surprise you that this preacher’s answer is “No.” Public proclamation is a pretty normal occurrence in the Bible. The prophets sure did it. John the Baptist did it. Jesus did it. Peter and Paul did it. You get the idea. And before you say that times were different or the cultures were different, that in itself doesn’t make the practice strange today. Indeed, I would prefer a public culture where the free exchange of ideas can take place in a healthy and robust fashion rather than all of us retreating to our favorite echo chambers on our screens and radio dials.

But, again, granting that some public personalities may be doing it for all the wrong reasons, why do such public presences make us uncomfortable? We tend to lump them all with the more extreme voices (Fred Phelps, anyone?). But in many cases, those who dare to preach in public places are not crazy bigots or unhinged lunatics. They are simply men and women who realize that since the world is increasingly unlikely to enter their church doors, they are going to go to where the people are. Yes, in today’s boundary-respecting era, we tend to think of these people as strange. But I would say that if the best of the street preachers are weird, then every serious Christian is equally weird. And we had better be prepared for that.

You see, we used to be the mainstream. And, not to be Chicken Little, in many ways the Christian view of things still is mainstream. (Indeed, because we are made in God’s image, it should be the most normal thing in the world for God’s Word and ways to be normative for anyone at any time.) But obviously things have changed. A full-throated, unashamed, biblically-influenced view on everything from education to abortion to worship to marriage is strange. Even accounting for all the variation within the many Christian “camps” out there, those who defend the Bible as God’s Word and then purport to live accordingly are considered strange.

Consider, for example, the Christian baker who refused to prepare a cake for a same-sex wedding, whose case is before the Supreme Court. His last recourse of defense is the law. It is not “common sense”, the culture at large, or a local magistrate. It is a well-compensated, highly-educated team of lawyers who will defend the baker, not on moral or biblical grounds but on the basis of mere constitutional language and precedent. If the baker is victorious, it will be because his lawyers did enough to convince one Supreme Court justice that their view of the Constitution is correct. Even if the baker wins, the fact that his case made it to the Supreme Court at all is an indication that we have already lost in the culture at large.

Or consider the preacher outside the abortion clinic. Do we really dare say that he is the weird one? Imagine what is happening inside! The law, the courts, Hollywood, the academy and even some in the church support the doctors, nurses and office personnel that oversee the termination of life every single day, perhaps 100 times a day. They do nothing to stop it. And the guy outside pleading for life…he’s the weird one?

Look, we are not all street preachers; but in many ways, Christians are becoming the weird ones. We had better embrace it and get used to it. Here are some tangible goals:

  • Strategic and noticeable withdrawal should become our norm in the future: by not participating in things on the world’s terms, we will be acting “weird” and sending a message.
  • More public proclamation is needed: you don’t need to be ordained to have a public presence on college campuses and other public places.
  • Use social media: if everyone is on Facebook, let the world know how you live out your faith there.

There you have it. You’re all weird. Now act like it!

Pope Francis, Megachurches and Nostradamus. Sin Boldly Episode 122

sub-buzz-9212-1468299162-9On this solo episode, I look at a handful of episodes before my voice absolutely gives way. What should we take from Pope Francis’ Christmas Eve homily regarding Joseph, Mary and modern-day migration? A defense of megachurches (compared to mainline liberal congregations) is offered. And we look back on 2017 predictions by Nostradamus and try to see just how accurate he was. Or was not.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

Can Catholic Priests Be Gay? With Patti Henry. Sin Boldly Episode 121

Gregory Greiten cI was joined by psychotherapist and Unitarian Universalist lay minister for a bit of an experiment on the Sin Boldly Program. Patti Henry joined me to discuss a number of topics, but it really ended up only being one interesting article about a Roman Catholic priest who came out as gay to his congregation – to a standing ovation. Patti is admittedly to my left, so there was quite a bit of back and forth. This may be a regular feature of the show, if KPFT is interested. We shall see! For now, the goal was to have a bit more built-in debate.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

Were Nazis Inspired by Christianity? Sin Boldly Episode 120

gott_mit_unsDr. Danusha Goska joins me for a second time on the show, this time to look at her lengthy essay on whether or not the Nazis were influenced by Christianity. It is often claimed that 2,000 years of Christian anti-Semitism led (inevitably) to the horrors of the Holocaust. Without whitewashing much evil committed by those who called themselves Christian, Dr. Goska looks at all the other influences that led to such evil.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

A Debate: Is Prosperity a Main Theme of the Gospel? With Dr. Richard C. Leonard. Sin Boldly Episode 119

1514I was delighted to be joined by Dr. Richard C. Leonard to discuss some articles he had written defending the Prosperity Gospel. In truth, it has been hard for me to find someone willing to defend the Prosperity Gospel, so I really appreciate him coming on and arguing for it. My main contention is that neither a “Prosperity” Gospel or a “Poverty” Gospel are THE Gospel. I think you’ll find the exchange respectful and interesting.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

Law and Gospel: The Essentials. Sin Boldly Episode 118

img-9Pastor Tom Baker, a man whose teaching I have admired for years, joins me on this episode to discuss his speciality: the Lutheran understanding of Law and Gospel. Luther said that “The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian.” Pr. Baker joins me to look at the Lutheran distinctives in understanding Law and Gospel. You’ll love this teaching.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

Responding to Matt Chandler on the Charismatic Gifts. Sin Boldly Episode 117

Matt-Chandler-Preaching-1Matt Chandler of The Village Church in DFW recently gave a sermon expressing his desire that the Village Church would embrace the Charismatic gifts, presumably of prophecy, healing and tongues. I reviewed the sermon and the issues behind it.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

On Closing Pandora’s Box. Sin Boldly Episode 116

box-she-s-told-not-to-open-in-it-the-gods-had-placed-all-the-evils-9vbl9q-clipartGiven the daily drumbeat of scandal, I thought it was worth spending time looking at the contradictions of our time. On the one hand, Christian morality is mocked. On the other the side, the effects of exploited freedom are all around. What is the Christian response to these scandals? And what would truly benefit women? More freedom in the name of “art”? Or more Christians living as they ought?

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here.  That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below.

On Being Thankful in a Consumerist Age

Pastor Evan McClanahan

checkPrime._CB507233612_The other day I bought myself a new vacuum cleaner. A nice vacuum. A German vacuum. I decided I’d had  enough of bagless vacuums and I wanted one with an ideal attachment for wood floors. So, in what may be called by Millennials an “adulting” enterprise, I went to a store that only sells vacuums and paid a little extra for the real deal. My floors have never looked better.

Of course, we had a working vacuum at home. So my wife’s question was, “Why did we need another vacuum?” I told her not to worry about it, to just consider it my birthday present. Oh, and the wood-burning smoker I bought earlier in the year? That’s my Christmas present. See how nice I am? No one even has to shop for me because I buy myself everything I need!

We are near the Thanksgiving season, the time we deliberately take time off to reflect on what we are thankful for. I suppose taking for granted all that is good in our life – most notably life itself! – is a historical reality for man so being intentional with this time off is necessary. Still, I wonder if it is not harder than ever to truly be thankful in this consumerist age. After all, we have everything we need. So is it harder to be thankful when we are so sated?

I think it is. Americans live primarily as consumers. Like Pavlov’s dog, we have been trained to be consumers since we were born. Capitalism (a perfectly moral economic system, mind you) has been the system through which men and their corporations have sought to make a profit by selling you a product that you need…or want. And since having the freedom to voluntarily purchase the products we want is a far better alternative to being forced to buy products we do not, capitalism it is! I mean, do any of us desire a Soviet-era car or do we seek to emulate North Korean-style farming production? (That’s not to mention the lesser-than-outright-communist examples of socialized welfare, medicine and education that leave a lot to be desired.)

Still, even if capitalism is the best game in town, it at the very least produces a cycle of innovation, marketing, and purchasing. Much about that cycle is good. But there are the frequent sideshows of coveting, greed and corporate/government manipulation that accompany that cycle. The housing bust of 2008 is a perfect example that kind of interruption in a “pure” capitalist cycle. So we have, then, an imperfect way of collecting information, manufacturing products or offering services and purchasing them as consumers. And we have an absolute barrage of marketing campaigns thrown our way from birth to death to get us to participate in that imperfect system.

With such marketing campaigns comes the comfort of being the envy of the corporate world. They all want us, you see? The car company, the toy manufacturer, the grocery chain…they all want something from us and to get it, they appeal to us. They spend millions on focus-tested messages. They tell us the “customer is always right.” They generate sales and coupons for us. They hope we had a “great experience” with their product and they hope to “see us again”. In short, consumers are pampered. And we are nothing if not consumers.

It should be obvious that that kind of pampering and marketing to religious consumers has taken over the American evangelical church. It should be obvious that historic, confessional churches that remain committed to the Bible and do not cater to religious consumers face an uphill battle in “attracting” adherents. And it should be obvious that those committed to being consumers will naturally have very little to be thankful for. For, don’t you know, they already have everything they need because they were catered to, marketed to, and sold to?

It is possible, even if hard, to defend a free market and to preach against a consumerist mindset. And the Church must do both of those things well. For in the end, a free market reflects a free people, and people with dignity are worthy of freedom. But when it comes to consumerism, we should know that God will not cater to us, pamper us or appeal to our needs. Yes, He is loving, and merciful and just, to be sure. But He is also holy and true and uncompromising. So we cannot be consumers of God, and we cannot even dare to approach Him with such a mindset.

For behind the vacuums, phones, televisions, cars, guitars, houses and furniture that we consume is the God of the entire creation. This Thanksgiving season, let us try to set aside our freedom as consumers for just a moment and acknowledge our debt to God.