Andrew Walker warns of our society’s need for allowing religious dissent and the danger of denying religious liberty:
Protecting religious dissent is at the foundation of America’s history and constitutional legacy. As Madison and Adams argued, religion is prior to the claims of the state. It provides the grounding for democracy necessary for ordered liberty. And if religion is prior to the state, its importance looms larger than the state’s reach. This understanding wasn’t a secondary feature to America: it was, arguably, its distinguishing feature. Seen in this light, the Constitution didn’t bequeath religious liberty. Rather, religious liberty helped bequeath a penumbra of other rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.
Two of the reasons why undermining religious liberty undermines our society: 1) Constricting debate by disallowing dissenting voices “is the enemy of reason itself.” 2) Removing the religious foundation of our society’s concept of human dignity and rights endangers everything that was built on that foundation:
Denying true religious liberty communicates that participation in civil society is conditioned exclusively by accepting contested categories for participation in communal life. This reality paves over the conscience by declaring some issues untouchable and beyond debate. Untouchable orthodoxies that are given official government sanction will treat any dissenting voice as an enemy to be vanquished. Secular progressivism isn’t only the enemy of religious liberty and civil society; it is the enemy of reason itself.
Religious liberty contributes to the diversity of civil society. By its very nature, civil society will be contested territory. Contested debate helps give rise to democratic order, and democratic governance relies on spirited debate. Societies, of which governments are but a reflection, consist of various voices, movements, and ideologies vying for acceptance. In the interest of advancing justice, prophetic difference and prophetic dissent are necessary ingredients if progress is to occur. Allowing citizens the freedom and space to appeal to transcendent duties forces reason to determine what is true or false. From our deepest understanding of truth, we order our lives accordingly, and our lives bear witness to whether our values benefit society. Signaling that Christians aren’t welcome in the public square undermines the public square by robbing it of the religious-ethical system responsible for fostering norms and values that protect individual rights and a humane public morality.
The Third Way – Scientists who argue against Neo-Darwinism. From their description: “The vast majority of people believe that there are only two alternative ways to explain the origins of biological diversity. One way is Creationism that depends upon intervention by a divine Creator. That is clearly unscientific because it brings an arbitrary supernatural force into the evolution process. The commonly accepted alternative is Neo-Darwinism, which is clearly naturalistic science but ignores much contemporary molecular evidence and invokes a set of unsupported assumptions about the accidental nature of hereditary variation. Neo-Darwinism ignores important rapid evolutionary processes such as symbiogenesis, horizontal DNA transfer, action of mobile DNA and epigenetic modifications. Moreover, some Neo-Darwinists have elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems without a real empirical basis. Many scientists today see the need for a deeper and more complete exploration of all aspects of the evolutionary process.”
Tim Barnett wrote this month’s Solid Ground to help you prepare for conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He says the best thing you can do is to focus on the most important question:
A host of issues can get you sidetracked with Jehovah’s Witnesses if you’re not careful—soul sleep, celebrating birthdays or Christmas, blood transfusions, Heaven, Hell, war, even the Holy Spirit. Don’t go there. None of these are the most important issue. The goal of your conversation is to answer only one question: Who is Jesus? How you answer this question changes everything.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the archangel Michael was the very first being in the universe created by Jehovah-God. Michael was then used by God to create the rest of the universe. Later, at the appointed time, Michael was born to the virgin Mary as a human being, thus ceasing to be an angel. Then after His spiritual resurrection, Jesus resumes His identity as Michael. That is the Jehovah’s Witness answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” Jesus, is the archangel Michael incarnate….
The salvation of anyone, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, depends on an accurate understanding of and belief in God the Son. Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). Here Jesus is claiming to be the “I AM” recorded in Isa. 43. The irony is that Isa. 43 is the chapter where Jehovah’s Witnesses derive their name. Isaiah writes, “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He” (Isa. 43:10).
Jehovah says His true witnesses will believe of Him that “I am He.” Yet, Jesus says true believers must believe of Him that “I am He.” In fact, this claim, coupled with Jn. 8:58 (“…before Abraham was, I am”), was the reason the Jews tried to stone Jesus (Jn. 8:59). His point was clear: Rejecting Jesus’ deity is rejecting salvation itself. That’s why our question, “Who is Jesus?” is the only question we should focus on.
Tim goes on to explain how a simple comparison between Psalm 102 and Hebrews 1 can help you demonstrate to your Jehovah’s Witness friend that Jesus is Jehovah. Read the rest of this month’s Solid Ground here.
Are you (or is your child) ready to stand firm in your trust in Jesus Christ on your college campus? Do you know what’s waiting for you there? Can you answer the challenges you will hear from professors and fellow students?
Brett discusses the need to be prepared in this motion graphics video:
We have resources for students that go along with the four questions Brett says students need to settle in their own minds before they go away to college:
Does truth exist, and can we know it?
Does God exist?
Does God act in the world?
Does God communicate with us in Scripture?
These resources can be found at STRNextGen.com. Remember that URL, and pass it along!
Some people claim Muslims and Christians worship the same God. I disagree. I’ve already written my rationale here. You can also watch my explanation here.
There’s another problem, though. Claiming that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is an expression of Islamic theology, not Christian theology. But why affirm an Islamic teaching? It’s the Qur’an that claims that the God of Islam is the same God in Christianity (Surah 2:139, 29:46). That means you affirm the Qur’an is correct when you claim Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Now, I’m not saying that everything the Qur’an teaches is false. It can certainly make true claims. But affirming it’s correct on this point leads to another problem.
You have to rewrite biblical history. Why? On Islam’s view, there has only been one true religion since the beginning of time: Islam. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and even Jesus are all prophets of Allah according to Islam. True followers of Moses (allegedly Allah’s prophet to the Jews) and true followers of Jesus (allegedly Allah’s prophet to the Christians) believed in and worshipped the God described in Islam. But that’s not biblical history. Jews and Christians never worshipped Islam’s God. You have to believe the Qur’an and its revision of biblical history to believe they did. This leads to yet another problem.
You have to believe the Muslim claim that the Bible has been corrupted. Why? As noted above, Islam claims that the original and true followers of Christ never worshipped Him, but instead worshiped Allah. That, of course, is blatantly contradicted by what the New Testament teaches. Early Christians never worshipped Allah, but did worship Jesus as God. Muslims get around this by claiming the parts of Scripture where Jesus claimed to be God or was worshipped have been corrupted. Therefore, in order to believe Christ’s original followers worshipped Allah, you have to accept the Bible is corrupted, as Muslims claim.
This is a big price to pay. To believe Muslims and Christians worship the same God, you have to accept a component of Islamic theology, believe a qur’anic teaching, accept the Muslim revision of biblical history, and believe their claim that the Bible is corrupt. Is that worth it? I think the answer is no.