Child Preacher

Exploitation: Children in the Pulpit

Child Preachers

A few nights ago my wife and I happened upon a National Geographic documentary about child preachers called “Pint-Sized Preachers”. My wife said I shouldn’t watch it because she knew it would elevate my blood pressure.

She was right.

There are certain things that I consider grounds for engagement and exploitation of children is prime among them. This documentary contained three examples of such exploitation and three examples of adults that were either clueless or intently malicious.

Read more

Tebow, The Bible, and the Christian Persecution Complex

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t start this post out with a certain disclaimer:  I don’t know a thing about football and have never cared much for what I estimate to be the most unintelligent of all the sports (hate mail can be directed to this address) – I’ve only recently  heard about Tim Tebow and couldn’t personally care less about his football career – I just think his recent success gives rise to a great opportunity to discuss a few things that I find to be vitally important

 

Tebow, God’s Favorite Quarterback:

I hang out  and socialize with an inordinate amount of Christians, it’s something I’m open to and greatly enjoy – but rather recently it seems that the most common topic among many of them is now none other than Tim Tebow, the quarterback (he throws the football) for the Denver Broncos (a team in the NFL). Tebow’s iconographic rise to Christian stardom seems to be the result of his willingness to make public expressions of his faith.

From a Superbowl commercial in 2010 with a decidedly pro-life message (and sponsored by Focus on the Family) ,to the now trademark Tebowing that seems to be a new spontaneous fad among all sorts of Christians, and frequent mention of his faith during interviews you cannot avoid the fact that Tim Tebow is a Christian and proud of it. Christians seem to have been desperate for a well known sports star to call their own and they’ve found one in this Heisman winner and are quick to defend any ill words directed his way.

In yet another example of how sometimes we atheists only need to sit back and wait for someone to say something ridiculously stupid his pastor, Wayne Hanson of Summit Church in Colorado, has even gone so far as to attribute a 6 win streak earlier this year to being “God’s Favor“.

The God of the Christian Bible has a vested interest in American Football.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

Read more

Keeping Church and State Separate – Without Compromise

Many of you have heard by now of The Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church, in Pike County Kentucky whose membership recently voted to disallow membership, marriage, and some participation in worship services to interracial couples.  You’ve also likely heard the many voices in the atheist  and Christian communities calling to have the government intervene and have this church closed down. I’ve seen a few – but I’d rather not call any names.

As a white Southerner I’ve been raised by the adults in my life to believe that “race mixing” is wrong.  I’ve been raised with the idea that black people are somehow inferior to whites and that it’s best that we just avoid associating with one another. The ‘ N ‘ word was probably the most commonly used word in my family growing up. None of these things are atypical of white people raised in the community I come from. In fact, my county is still arguing over Confederate flags – I couldn’t be more embarrassed by this fact.

Read more

Reason for the Season

The time of year has come again where Christians all over the US are proclaiming that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and that they intend to “Keep Christ in Christmas” in response to what many view as a secularization of a holiday that is solely dedicated to the birth of their Christ. This claim being erroneous has done nothing to stifle the annual fervor many believers get caught up in when a retailer uses “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”- many of the same people that I’ve sat down to discuss the pagan and secular origins of this holiday continue making the same chants every year.

This year, rather than discussing the pagan origins of the Christmas holiday (and others) or going off on yet another rant about how frustrated this whole thing makes me I’m going to ask that the members of the Christian faith that are reasonable enough to know that they don’t have a monopoly on holidays during the winter months hold the less scrupulous believers around them accountable for their words and actions. I’ve made this plea before – but in this instance it is a matter of timing.

Read more

Praxis Presup Debate ft. Matt Oxley and Brian Knapp

I was recently challenged to a debate with Christian Pressuppositional Reformed Apologist Brian Knapp. The debate took place on November 13 through Skype and was really fun and enlightening.  I thank Brian and Chris Bolt for having me and for providing the audio recording for the debate.

Brian Knapp writes for ChoosingHats.com

If you prefer to download and listen later or on your MP3 Player you can download it Here.

(total run time is about 1 hour and 47 minutes)

 

I’ll have a commentary on the debate shortly, in the mean time please feel free to provide critique of my positions (or Brian’s) in the comments below.

Wasted Potential: Church Buildings and Charity

Over the last two months or so I’ve been attending a weekly Bible study with a group of men at my local coffee shop (Yes, they all know I’m an atheist) and one of the recurring themes we’ve been going over in our study is the purpose, structure, and call of the Christian Church as established and described in the New Testament Epistles.  Last week I mentioned to the group that it was worth noting that when Paul wrote an Epistle to a group of believers he wrote it to “THE Church at (Thessalonica, Phillipi, Collosae, etc)” as opposed to “The Second Baptist Church on 4th Avenue”.  I think this not only highlights a problem with the modern church when compared to the Church of the Bible – but also a slap in the face to the ideas of charity and caring for widows and orphans (James 1:17).

Read more

(Another) Former Atheist Embraces Faith

The world of Christian news has been buzzing lately with news that Rich Suplita, Professor of Psychology for University of Georgia and former sponsor for the campus’ atheist club UGAtheists, has renounced atheism and embraced the Christian faith.

Suplita isn’t the first atheist turned Christian to be used as fodder by the evangelical camp; Anthony Flew, Lee Strobel, and others are all well known as “former atheists” that saw the “light” – nor will he be the last. These types of conversions excite the evangelical community around me, they think that seeing a man like me return to faith for whatever reason will eventually break whatever barrier they believe prevents me from being a believer. I pay attention to why people believe though, and Rich’s stated reasons fall short of reasonable.

Read more

Taking the Bible “Out of Context” – Apologia

I always find it quite humorous and frustrating, when using verses from the Bible in my discussions with Christians, the frequency in which I’m accused of taking a verse “out of context”.  This happens often and it usually comes from those that haven’t spent 1/10th of the time I have studying the Bible and earnestly seeking to understand its context, the accusation of my faulty context is often one made in blind faith about my understanding.

I like to discuss religion and ask difficult questions about faith. I like to ask people questions that I found myself asking not too long ago, not to make people uncomfortable, but to normalize the processes of doubt and skepticism and to challenge concepts too easily assumed to be true. Sad few understand this, most believe that my goal is to simply debate and argue but this has never been the case. I’d like to make the case that not only am I doing the Christian faith a great service, I’m holding the believer to the standards and expectations set forth in the New Testament.

“I don’t have to defend my faith to you,” or “this is what I believe because the Bible says so, take it or leave it” are common objections  I hear – occasionally someone with a high regard for his or her intellect will point out that by discussing religion with me they are “casting pearls before swine“, believe me when I say that I know what that feels like and discussing matters of faith with unbelievers isn’t what is being objected to here.

Read more

Bad Reasons for Rejecting Christianity

I make it a habit to read any book that a Christian is willing to purchase and send to me, or at least to give it a shot. A few months ago a local Christian youth pastor gave me a copy of the book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller, I began reading it a couple weeks ago.

I’m only about six chapters into it so far but the first few chapters have left me with a certain notion that perhaps many Christians don’t quite understand why it is that people find themselves capable of rejecting their particular brand of god. These first few chapters contain rebuttals by Mr. Keller to common objections to the faith that he hears at his church in NYC and so far all of these objections have been superficial at best.

Read more

Appropriate Conduct for Christians

Twice in the last three weeks I’ve been witness to two different Christians in group settings openly ridiculing atheists and science. I’ve also in the past seen believers ridicule other believers of a different sort, a double standard by my book.

The first was at my favorite coffee shop, I was there early in the morning and a group of 12 or so men were having a Bible study. I was a little early for work so I decided to sit down for a bit and finish reading The Blind Watchmaker. I overheard one particular gentleman comparing any non-christian with dogs by saying that he expected  bad behavior from non-believers and other faiths because that’s just who they are just like he expected a dog to lick his behind. The same gentleman later said, “What takes more faith; believing that we crawled out of a swamp, or that god created us?” to much agreement from the group.

In this situation I patiently held my tongue, though I couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust.  I did later send an email to one of the participants that I happened to know, and last week I attended the study myself. Turns out these guys are really nice, were open to my discussion points on the parts of the Bible they were discussing, and welcomed me into the group very openly. I’ll continue attending. (I do intend to discuss their offenses eventually and write about this entire experience here on the blog.)

The second offense was from a guest pastor that held a moment of reflection at an event I volunteer for every couple months, a live music show that benefits my local arts guild. The pastors first words were a quote of Psalms 14:1, “The Fool hath said in his heart, there is no god”.  He continued to deliver a plea for salvation at a clearly secular event. I’ve yet to email this gentleman but I intend to explain that he need not pity this fool.

The point I’m trying to get to is that for some reason it’s ok to make fun of people and beliefs that aren’t your own in the Christian world and to even do so in a public setting, often with the assumption that those beliefs are so rare in your community that there won’t be anyone particularly offended by such things (and for those few that are, well – obviously they deserve it).

Read more